Our Very Own Wedding Dress Expert...

Bride in wedding dress looking over shoulder

Choosing your wedding dress can be one of the most exciting, yet daunting, parts of wedding planning. With so much choice and so many opinions, it’s no surprise that it can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Don’t worry though because here at Hothorpe Venues we have our very own bridal expert – Bethan. Not only is Bethan one of our fantastic wedding co-ordinators she (very handily) happens to be a shared owner of Courtyard Bridal Boutique, so we’re making the most of her experience and expertise.

We sat down with Bethan for five minutes to pick her brains about the massive job of finding THE dress…

How long before the big day should I start looking for my dress?

Choosing a dress is one of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding and you most probably want to start as soon as you get engaged (or even before!), although we do advise to wait until around 12-18 months before your wedding day to start looking – this means you will be trying on the most current trends, gives you plenty of time to visit different boutiques, try on many different styles, revisit your favourites and then still have time to order your dream dress.

Generally we ask you to order your gown around 6-9 months before the wedding day, so we have plenty of time for your dress to be made and delivered. It also means we have time for accessory appointments and alterations. Don’t worry if you don’t have that long though, we stock amazing gowns from English and European designers who create their gowns in house so we can get custom dresses in a shorter amount of time.

Sometimes brides will try on a dress before 18 months, but the reason we advise against it is because dress designs can be discontinued, and it breaks our heart if a bride comes to order her dream gown 9 months before the wedding and it’s no longer available.

However, my advice is based on my own boutique where we stock samples of gowns and then re-order your gown just for you. There are other types of bridal shops where you can buy off the peg which works in a different way so it’s important to research the shops you want to visit.

Also, never worry about asking questions, you most likely have never been wedding dress shopping before so we are there to answer everything and anything.

How will I know what style of dress will suit me?

Wedding gowns are very different to ‘normal’ clothes, the construction can be nothing like you have ever tried on before, so it difficult to know what will suit you until you’ve started trying some on.

When you come and see us, we will ask about your wedding day plans to see what vibe/feel you are going for then once you have tried a few dresses on we will soon get to know what shape makes you feel the most confident, beautiful version of yourself.

Where do I even begin looking, is it best to go into a shop with an idea of what I want, or is an open mind always better?

If you can, a little bit of both. Here’s why, wedding dress shopping can be very daunting. Walking into a boutique full of amazing dresses can be unnerving and leave you thinking where do I start?

We suggest have a look at Pinterest, Google etc. and if you see a dress that catches your eye your more than welcome to bring photos with you. Whether it be through photos or asking questions, once we have an idea of what you are thinking for your day we will find a couple of dresses that fit with your ideas.

From there comes the fun part, trying on. You’ll soon realise what bits of each dress you love and hate and together we will be able to see which silhouettes you suit. At this point it is good to have an open mind. We will often choose a coupe of ‘wild card’ dresses for you to try on that we have in mind from getting to know you and your ideas!

Currently, what are the most popular trends?

We have been open for 17 years so have seen nearly all the trends over that time, currently I would say ‘simplicity’ is on trend. Elegant gowns with clean lines made from plain but luxurious fabrics creating an effortless beauty.

Once I’ve chosen the dress, what happens next?

Once you have found the perfect gown, we will order it in the closest size to you. It will then be made and in the meantime you can enjoy our accessory evenings to find the perfect extra sparkles. When your gown arrives you try it on and the tailoring process begins around 8 weeks before the wedding. We alter all our dresses in house, in fact my mum is our main seamstress, so we can be sure the dress will fit you like a glove. We also have the ever helpful Rachel, and my sister and I also know how to alter, so we will all be on hand too!

Due to the nature of your shop, you must meet so many brides, how does this help when co-ordinating a wedding?

Wow, I don’t think I could even fathom how many brides I have met over the years! Every bride is individual, no two are the same. I think this helps me on your wedding day as I am aware of expectations and I have a very keen eye for detail. I can move those little things that are out of place that no one other than a bride (or a coordinator) would notice!

What is your favourite part about helping someone find a dress of their dreams?

Without a doubt it’s when you see a bride’s confidence grow when she’s in her dream gown! Finding the dress can be so emotional with so much happiness and excitement from so many different people. It is such an honour for me to be part of it. Our brides are all so amazing and I am the luckiest person to be able to see them all through their bridal journey, all the way to the time they say I do!

Take a look at Courtyard Bridal Boutique: