Our lovely bride Charlotte tells us about her fabulous destination wedding and details her journey to finding the perfect dress at the Bride. Read on to hear Charlotte’s top tips on finding and buying your dress and on planning a wedding abroad.
Charlotte’s wedding took place last August at the most beautiful Church, Sainte Justine in Gevezé with the reception then taking place at the equally beautiful Chateau de Montmuran, in Brittany. The setting of this wedding looked incredible and in her own words the day was ‘Surreal, idyllic, unforgettable’ and we can see why!
We asked Charlotte all about the dress and how she knew it was the one. Charlotte wore Allegra by Sassi Holford, a beautiful A line dress with a deep V neckline softened with lace detailing. The lace is a delicate English lace, one of the last of its kind and makes the dress truly unique.
Charlotte explains her thoughts on the dress. ” I loved the fact that it was simple, classic and timeless. I wanted something that felt unique, had a show-stopping train but that didn’t detract from me as the bride. The lace detailing added a touch of elegance and the silk skirt felt amazingly luxurious! Lynsey told me at the time ‘you should be wearing the dress rather than the dress wearing you’ and that’s exactly how I felt! The dress fitted like a glove and I felt like the most beautiful version of me, which is exactly how I wanted to feel on my wedding day of course! It might sound silly but having a British designer was really important to me as I was getting married to a Frenchman in France – I wanted to ensure I represented my country!
I actually changed my mind on my wedding dress! I initially chose a dress at The Bride and I just kept looking at photos of me in it and deep down I didn’t feel like it was the best I could possibly look. I called Lynsey and she was absolutely amazing and totally understanding. I went back to the shop to try it on along with several others. In the end I didn’t even try on my original dress choice because I tried the ‘Allegra’ dress and it just felt right. It perfectly highlighted my natural shape and also hid the parts I don’t like, plus it was classic yet a bit sexy with the low-cut neck and back – I was in love!
Everyone at the wedding commented on how amazing my dress was. A lot of people used words like ‘classic’, ‘elegant’, ‘timeless’, ‘unique’ and I still get people commenting today after they’ve seen the photos. Most importantly, my husband absolutely loved it and said it was perfect when I reached the end of the aisle!”
We also asked Charlotte about her overall dress shopping experience and whether she had any advice for brides starting on this journey. When being asked ‘ Was there anything that made your dress shopping experience extra special she answered “ The glass of prosecco – seriously nowhere else offered it and for some reason I had imagined me and my mum and sisters all with a glass of prosecco happily trying on dresses and having fun so it fitted with the idyllic shopping experience I had in mind!” Great answer – who doesn’t love to share a tipple with your loved ones, whilst having fun trying on dresses!
Charlotte’s advice would be “Be open-minded, don’t reject any styles initially unless you really know that you will hate it (I knew I would hate strapless due to my shape!). Don’t make any rash decisions and always trust your own gut rather than what everyone else around you is saying (even if it’s your Mum!). Listen to your own voice when making the decision, it’s something that I regretted once I had made my first choice.
Also think the venue and destination of your wedding. The Catholic church was a big consideration as I didn’t want anything too revealing and I wanted it to be traditional and classic whilst also making me feel beautiful and not too old and stuffy! We had a big chateau for the reception so a simple boho dress would have looked out of place so again this was a factor. I actually tried on a beautiful Jenny Packham dress but it was more suited to a boho or beach wedding and I (reluctantly!) didn’t choose it as a result.”
We asked Charlotte how she chose to accessorise the dress.
She said “I had a big Catholic church wedding so I wanted to be really traditional. I chose a simple hair vine from Etsy and a cathedral length two-tier veil from The Bride to tie in with the long train of the dress. I chose earrings and a necklace from Monica Vinader which were very simple and understated. I didn’t want anything that detracted from the subtle style of the dress and I absolutely love Monica Vinader jewellery – another nod to the British!
I found the hardest accessory to buy was my shoes as I have really wide feet and strappy shoes just don’t work! I eventually saw that Jenny Packham had released a line of shoes with L.K. Bennett so I went to try a few styles on. As soon as I put on the shoes I eventually bought, they just felt perfect. Really comfortable but also stylish and a little bit different. I had kept hold of some Jimmy Choo shoes I bought about a year before the wedding and kept trying to squeeze my feet into them and convince myself they fitted! However knowing now how much standing and walking (plus all the dancing) there is on the wedding day I’m so glad I put more thought into it and finally accepted that my feet just aren’t delicate enough for strappy sandals! Comfortable shoes is an absolute must!”
We absolutely agree with Charlotte with regards to making sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. As a bride, we know you want to look gorgeous on your day and shoes are a part of that, however there is nothing gorgeous about a bride who can no longer walk in the shoes that she is wearing. Luckily there are lots of choices available that are stylish yet comfortable too!
We asked Charlotte to write a few words about her overall experience with us here at The Bride. She said
“I did the typical ‘wedding shop’ google in St Albans where I live and they had such good reviews that I just had to visit. I started out with a very open mind, I only knew that I didn’t want a strapless dress but other than that I was willing to try anything. I think this is the best approach as you can quickly identify which styles are a big no but you may also be surprised at what suits you!
The Bride were really flexible on my first appointment and asked me to choose a few dresses that I liked and then offered advice if I needed it. I much preferred this as I had been in a few shops where they tried to force me into styles I knew I didn’t like and also offered opinions on everything rather than letting me decide for myself! As I’ve already mentioned, I changed my mind on my dress (I think I let my mum and sisters convince me on my first choice rather than just listening to my gut) and when I went for the second time (alone) Lynsey was so patient and I trusted her advice completely.
Rani the seamstress is so lovely and again I totally trusted her to get my measurements just right. I also had a toile made which really helped me to ensure that any adjustments I had made to the dress were perfect – I would strongly advise doing this if you change any details (for me it was the depth of the V neck).
I really liked the fact that we were treated as individual clients and I felt like I was made a fuss of rather than being just another customer. We were given total privacy and a glass of prosecco which made the whole experience extra special.”
A Destination Wedding
Charlotte planned her French wedding, whilst living and working in the UK. Planning a wedding is time consuming and can be quite stressful at the best of times, let along trying to plan one in a different country. We asked Charlotte to tell us all about her day and how she found the planning process:
Planning a wedding abroad is tough! We didn’t have a wedding planner so did everything ourselves. We had a dry hire venue which means we rented the venue but had to find all of the suppliers ourselves. As we both speak French it was fairly easy to organise and we did a few trips out there to meet the suppliers and to do food and wine tasting. Being in France it was easy to combine these trips with visiting family so it made sense. It was also an amazing experience to see how the French approach a wedding vs the English and working out how to combine the two cultures.
The biggest challenge was the amount of paperwork. There was a lot to submit in order to get married in a church abroad as we had to get permission from our priest for another priest to marry us in another diocese. So be warned if you want a church wedding to leave yourself plenty of time as it takes a good few months! We also had to get married in a registry office first before getting married abroad which is again something to be aware of. Other than that, our main challenge was working out which parts of the wedding would follow English tradition and which would reflect French traditions. This is no easy task especially when you’re both stubborn like us!
My final piece of advice would be to ensure you read up on what paperwork you need before getting married abroad as soon as you can. Try and use a wedding planner if your budget allows, especially if you don’t speak the language or if you’re getting married in a place that’s difficult to visit for regular ‘planning’ trips. Don’t stress about the weather! We got married in France and I thought that would guarantee sunshine. However it was torrential rain in the days leading up to the wedding and I spent all my time worrying about it and feeling unlucky. You can’t control the weather even if you have a wedding abroad so don’t pick it purely for this reason. On the day it was beautiful sunshine but I honestly didn’t think about the weather once when I was getting ready on the actual day. It’s definitely not as easy as planning a wedding in the UK so consider whether you’ve got the time and budget to dedicate to a destination wedding. However, it does make it extra special to bring your guests to an amazing location that they can also combine with a holiday.
Charlotte said her favourite moment was “The first step walking down the aisle. My Dad by my side, seeing my husband waiting for me at the altar with a huge smile on his face, walking past all of our loved ones who had travelled so far to witness our marriage and the realisation of the commitment we were about to make, bringing into focus what this day is really all about. It’s a special moment.
All of our guests made the day – I honestly couldn’t believe how many people made the effort to travel from far and wide to come and celebrate with us. We both felt so loved and so lucky to have such amazing friends and family.”
What an amazing wedding! Charlotte a huge thank you for sharing your thoughts on your experience. it is so lovely to share all the details of your special day, and it was an absolute pleasure to help you.
We think you will agree Charlotte looks fantastic in her Sassi Holford ‘Allegra’ dress and we hope some of her insights into what to look for when planning your dress search will have been useful. If you would like any further details on Charlotte’s dress or any of the Sassi Holford collection please do call us at the Bride on 01727 848900.