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It’s wedding season!

It’s not often we Brits can say we’ve been enjoying the summer weather, but the last few weeks have been glorious here in Boroughbridge. We’ve had some very lucky brides who have been able to take full advantage of it with beautiful outdoor weddings – they’re always a risk when you book them, but sometimes it really pays off!

Of course, all this sunshine brings its own problems. We’re always reminding brides that, even though it’s good to relax if you get the chance, sunbathing in the days before the wedding can leave unsightly tan lines which don’t match the shape of the dress. Keep the sun cream to hand when you’re out and about if you want to avoid the problem!

Of course, the weather plays a big part in the style of dress, too – nobody wants to be sweltering in a lot of layers for a beach wedding in the Seychelles. Equally, a floaty summer dress will leave a bride shivering for outdoor photographs in December. The unpredictable British weather means it can be hard for brides, grooms, bridal parties and guests to know how to dress at any time of the year.

Naturally, we have a lot of experience in helping our customers to find outfits which can be adapted to suit changing conditions. Shrugs, pashminas and boleros are all options for cool weather, while everything from wellies to umbrellas which coordinate perfectly with bridal gowns can help to make a stylish statement on the wettest of days.

Summer is the most popular season for weddings as there is the highest chance of good weather. The rise in the number of weddings at this time of year means there is always an increase in the stream of brides coming through our door. These busy months just fly by as we take our brides from their first appointments to their final fittings just before the big day, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re always delighted to help brides find the perfect gown – whatever the weather!

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…

When the weather is hot, everyone wishes they could go and work at the beach – but not everyone gets to do it.

Well, we did! We’ve been speaking to Sian Foster from Ella Georgia, a fabulous shop near us in Boroughbridge which specialises in ethical and fair trade jewellery, about doing a beach photo shoot for a while. When the temperature rose, we headed out to Sandsend and the Hole of Horcum for the day – and it wasn’t just an excuse to have an ice cream and get a sun tan.

It's anyone's guess what the girls were laughing at...

The aim of the shoot was to get some great photos for Sian to use to promote her wedding range. To make sure we got the best possible shots for her, we had hair and make-up artist Helen Guy with us, as well as our own brilliant Ruth Sturdy helping to style our dresses. The effect was finished off with creative floristry by Joanna McCrae at Twisted Willow.

We were also lucky enough to have events stylist Pamella Dunn casting her expert eye over everything and of course our photographer friend Joe Dodsworth, who always delivers incredible shots for us.

As part of the shoot, one of the models was photographed in the sea – which resulted in one very soggy dress! After all, we do have to make occasional sacrifices in the name of art.

We had a fantastic day, but it has to be said that it was incredibly hot and there was a lot of work to be done. However, it was very productive and we can’t wait to see the photos once they’re ready –at least they’ll prove that we weren’t just having a jolly at the beach!

Still, when you’ve travelled all that way, it would be rude not to have just the one ice cream, wouldn’t it?!

Ladies’ Day at Ripon Races

Curvy Bridal was a very proud sponsor of Ladies’ Day at Ripon Races this year.

We had a fabulous day out at the course and really enjoyed all the racing, as well as seeing some great outfits on show. As part of our sponsorship, we got to choose the best-dressed woman.

Wendy Bennett

The award went to Wendy Bennett, who looked very smart in a two-piece suit with coordinating scarf and extremely trendy bowler hat. Her outfit was finished off with a striking blue ribbon which we just loved, and the overall effect was hugely stylish.

Her prize for such brilliant fashion sense was £1,500 and a gown from Curvy Bridal. We’re looking forward to welcoming Wendy to the shop in Boroughbridge and helping her choose another stunning outfit that’s just right for her.

Of course, we couldn’t let the side down, so our outfits had to be pretty special – and how could we go wrong with the help of our fabulous designer Ruth Sturdy? Claire Spooner of Quaintrelle Hats was also with us to make sure we were looking tip top from head to toe!

Ready to race!

As well as the racing, we were delighted to put on a fashion show for all the visitors and show off some of our wedding gowns and occasion dresses. Ruth also had another chance to show some of the incredible work she has done during her fashion course at Harrogate College.

It was a really lovely day and we’re very grateful to everyone at Ripon Races for their hospitality. We’ll definitely be back!

Some serious fashion talent

Ruth's collection on the catwalk!

Wow. We know there are some seriously good up-and-coming fashion designers out there, but we were blown away by the Harrogate College Graduate Fashion Show.

It’s a fantastic event, showcasing the hard work of students at every level – from First Year Fashion Design & Production through to the BA (Hons) Applied Creative Design final collections.

Our own Ruth Sturdy was among this last group, so of course we were there to cheer her on. We may be a bit biased but her designs are amazing and we just know she’s going to have an incredibly successful career. (She’s already caught the eye of Ian Stuart, bridal designer extraordinaire, with her work.)

Good to see the equally gorgeous creations of Claire Spooner of Quaintrelle Millinery on the catwalk too – they set off Ruth’s collection perfectly!

We should also mention the final collection of the evening, a range for children by Demelsa Haughton. The young models (and we mean young!) didn’t seem at all fazed at being in the public eye and received possibly the loudest cheer of the evening.

It was a fantastic event – well done to all those who worked so hard to arrange it.

We were honoured to be there and would like to offer our congratulations to each of the students whose work was featured – truly impressive. We’ll be watching out for all of you in the years to come – when you’re household names, we’ll be able to say: “I knew them before they were famous!”

Fabby Abie!

We were absolutely thrilled that our lovely Abie Blades was shortlisted as Employee of the Year at the Ackrill Media Group Business Awards.

Although she didn’t win, Abie was the only finalist in her category to be highly commended by the judges, who recognised all the hard work she puts in and all the extra things she does to make our brides feel fabulous.

It was a real honour for us and for Abie to be recognised in the awards, which cover the whole of the Harrogate district.

We really enjoyed the awards ceremony at Harrogate International Centre and were delighted to have been part of a wonderful evening.

Congratulations to Abie for being highly commended – it was very well deserved.

Roll on next year!

PS While we seem to be on a roll with awards, please take a minute to vote for us in the North of England Wedding Awards. Curvy Bridal is competing in the Bridal Gowns category and, having won last year, we’re hoping to hang on to our title this time around!

Wow – what a year!

No matter how we look at it, 2012 has been nothing short of amazing. There have been so many highlights, but above all we’d like to thank everyone who has let us be part of their lives.

To be allowed to share in such a special time is a real honour – it’s something we treasure with each and every bride-to-be.

As well as national celebrations such as the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 – not to mention the euphoria of Team GB’s brilliant performance at the latter – we’ve had one or two things to cheer about here at Curvy Bridal too.

We had a taste of reality television when a crew from hit US show My Big Redneck Vacation came to film ahead of star Tammy’s wedding, and we were beyond thrilled to win Bridal Gown Retailer of the Year in the North of England Wedding Awards.

This was extra-special because it meant our customers had taken the time and trouble to vote for us. We’re a close-knit team – we laugh a lot, we work hard and, above all, we’re devoted to helping everyone who works through the door. We pride ourselves on making each and every one of our brides-to-be feel special and it means everything to know we’ve succeeded.

We’ve also had some amazing video and photographic shoots – Ripon Cathedral, Thorp Perrow and Goldsborough Hall to name a few – and we were delighted to become the recommended bridal retailer for such prestigious venues as Aldwark Manor, Hotel St George in Harrogate and Hazlewood Castle.

Not to mention the excitement at being the first in the world to showcase the new Olivia Grace collection, and we had the new designer collection from Veromia too…and did you see our full-page spread in Wedding Ideas magazine?

So we’re on a bit of a high as 2012 draws to a close – which is just as well as we’ve got exciting times ahead in 2013. Anyone who knows the lovely town of Boroughbridge, where we’re based, might have noticed the goings-on at a shop just a few doors along…..

Let’s just say that, before too long, bridegrooms-to-be looking for beautifully designed morning suits need to come and visit the town, not to mention anyone seeking that perfect prom dress or ball gown.

All will be fully revealed in due course. In the meantime we’d like to wish everyone a truly merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful New Year.

2012 has been a blast – we can’t wait for an even better 2013!

Diary of a woman of a certain age – now married for the second time, again!

Good grief, how time flies when you’re planning a wedding. The last time I put index finger to keyboard I was still searching for the perfect foundation garment to squeeze between me and my dress.

Well, I did it…found the bra, and got married, that is! It was magnificent! The bra, I mean. And the day was pretty special too!

It was a gusty (and busty) day, but me and Mr D went with it. We had photos by the brilliant Joe Dodsworth, who made us look younger, thinner, moody, windswept and, well, generally fabulous! Our gorgeous flowers from Joanne at Twisted Willow were elegant and stunning and she was amazing. We had the usual little hiccups – latecomers, buttonhole-refusers, AWOL dickie bows and alcoholics…..but enough about my mother! The confetti went straight up with the wind, the vintage car windows flapped, and my son tripped on my dress, walked into the church door and nearly knocked his teeth out. But these were minor things.

The reception, at The Crab and Lobster in Asenby, was gorgeous. I ate so much lovely food it’s taken me until now to lose the few pounds that such good living has stuck to my backside.

I danced, a lot. I completely forgot that I was of a certain age and it felt lovely. Any apprehensions that I was a bit long in the tooth to dress up like a princess and mosh to Abba all night long left the minute I saw myself – and my incredibreasts in the mirror. Our guests were all so lovely and thank goodness Louise was there to hitch my skirts up, and eat, drink and be merry with us. Hurrah for you, Lou Lou xx

So that’s it. We did it, and it was fun, hard work and very bloody expensive. And I recommend it, if you really want it. It’s never too late, you’re never too old and your boobs are never too big to get married for the second time, again.

A picture paints a thousand words…..

What’s the most important element of a wedding? That’s a debatable question…but given the longevity they have and how many people see them, fantastic photographs have to be in with a chance.

Each picture evokes a raft of memories for those who were there, gives those who weren’t the story of the day – and, years later, are still taken out, looked at and cherished by the bride, groom and their families.

We love the kind of images taken by Joe Dodsworth of Joe Dodsworth Photography – he’s lent his own special magic to many of our Curvy Bridal photo shoots! We caught up with him to find out more about his work.

Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer?

I used to love art at school and enjoyed all mediums – photography was one, but it was later on that I channelled it properly.

What made you realise that you wanted to take photography from being a hobby to a professional level?

I was always told off at school for taking too many pictures as part of the art projects we were set – that’s what made me see it as a way forward and a good career.

What made you decide to work in wedding photography over other areas like fashion or landscape?

I just love being around people and I realised I had a special skill for capturing emotion. I still wouldn’t say I consciously chose wedding photography – I’m just good at capturing situations and stories.

I don’t try to create what people think a wedding picture should look like – I just see the true value of an image, of the emotion when a bride sees her husband-to-be for the first time or how elegant she looks in her dress (which is from Curvy Bridal, of course!).

What inspires you the most when taking a photograph?

The brides and grooms. I just love being part of their day, knowing I’m creating something they will look at time and again in the years to come. I especially love the ones who have some crazy creative ideas and working together to get the perfect shot that brings them to life!

Define the Joe Dodsworth style in three words.

Emotive. Classic. Organic.

We loved your New York exhibition. What can we expect from you in the coming year – will there be any more?

I hope so! Nothing has been confirmed yet but there is plenty in the pipeline – keep checking my website!

I update my blog regularly with news of what I’m up to, events I’m going to and, of course, some of the pictures I’ve taken at weddings and photo shoots!

The Ancient Charms of Ripon

We’re very lucky to live and work in one of the most beautiful parts of the country….and luckier still to be granted access to the fantastic Ripon Cathedral for one of our recent photo shoots.

It’s a gorgeous place, steeped in history – just one of its claims to fame is that some of the medieval woodcarvings found inside were the inspiration for Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland. The young Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – to give him his proper name – spent a lot of time there as his father was a canon.

As a wedding venue, it’s pretty much in a league of its own – and a number of Curvy Bridal gowns have swished their way down the aisle.

We were also proud to be part of the first Ripon Cathedral Wedding Show in 2011 – not only was it the first such event to be held inside a cathedral, but the installation of a catwalk for a bridal fashion show turned a few heads too! Building work meant there was no show in 2012, but we’re already looking forward to 2013 – put Saturday, January 26th in your diaries!

In the meantime, we wanted to share some of the photo shoot images with you, taken by the wonderful Joe Dodsworth….and featuring our own Ruth Sturdy!

And the winner is. . . . .

Ok, it was a week or so ago now…..but we’re still absolutely buzzing about being named Bridal Gown Retailer of the Year in the North of England Wedding Awards!

A fab team - Nycol, Abbie, Louise & Ruth.

We honestly didn’t expect it – there are so many great bridal shops out there, and when we saw the shortlist we knew it would be a tough contest. After all, their customers no doubt think they’re the bee’s knees too.

And there’s the heart of it, the bit that really makes us glow – with pride and with pleasure. It’s knowing that our brides – that fabulous bunch of ladies we’ve got to know over the weeks, months and sometimes years – think we’re worth voting for.

Anyone who knows Curvy Bridal knows the passion we have for what we do. We’ve heard too many horror stories of brides who’ve been treated appallingly by an industry that, by and large (no pun intended), peddles the myth that only skinny Minnies can expect to look and feel like a princess on their wedding day.

What a load of rubbish! If you’ve found your dream dress, then it shouldn’t matter if you’re a size 8, 18 or 28 – you should have it. We try to make that happen.

The awards evening itself was wonderful. We all got a bit excited and went to town on the preparations….. Well, how often do you get the excuse to really pull out all the stops?

York Racecourse was a lovely venue and when it was announced that we’d won – well, it was the perfect end to the evening.

So thank you, everyone who voted for us. It means the world to know that what we’re doing makes you feel good and contributes to making your wedding day the dream-come-true it should be. We think you’re pretty fabulous too – and you can rest assured we raised a glass to you all on awards night!

If you want to get ahead…

Hats and headpieces play a key role in weddings. Time was when nobody would dream of attending without one – now there’s much debate about whether it’s still the done thing or if it’s too formal. We think they’re the perfect finishing touch – and anyway, why not take the chance to glam it up when you can?

One of our favourite local designers is Claire Spooner of Quaintrelle, based at the King Street Workshops in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire. She’s incredibly talented and produces amazing headwear – you can see examples in our own photo shoots.

We persuaded Claire to spare us a few minutes to answer some questions…..

Describe what you do as a milliner.

I design & make ladies’ hats, specialising in wedding and occasion wear and cocktail hats & headpieces in particular. The sort of smaller hats like those worn by the Duchess of Cambridge are very popular.

A best seller in perfect plum. Picture by Patrick Proctor.

What’s your day like?

No two days are the same – I might have a fitting with a client, source some special materials or take my hats to a photoshoot. I also run millinery workshops and do talks, and every other minute is spent blocking (making the base of a hat), hand-sewing, dyeing and trimming.

What first got you into millinery?

I started making hats five years ago after taking part in a millinery workshop with my mum. I loved the whole process, especially that you then got to wear what you’d worked on! I found a BTEC Millinery course at Leeds College of Art & Design and jumped at the chance to do it. I then managed a hat shop for a while before going on to set up Quaintrelle in 2010.

What’s your favourite hat style?

Ooh, it changes every week – I research a lot of period designs which all influence my work. Millinery has a lovely long history (the word “milliner” can be traced back to the 1500s) so there’s so much inspiration! At the moment I love everything 1920s’ – feathered skullcaps, fabulous beadwork, deco appliques and of course the cloche.

A fun piece for a day at the races. Picture by Joe Dodsworth Photography.

Any tips on hat-wearing?

It’s all about proportion. A great tip is to look for brims with the same width as your shoulders. Cocktail hats and fascinators should sit on the same side as your parting. My mantra is that a hat should you, your outfit and the occasion!

Any famous clients?

I think every milliner would love to design for royalty – I’ve had hats at the Royal Garden party and in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, so I’m getting closer!

Describe where you work.

I’m very lucky to have a unit at the King Street Workshops in Pateley Bridge. I’m with other designer-makers and the workshop was purpose built – the light is perfect for all the hand-sewing I do. Visitors are welcome to pop in.

A peep inside the Quaintrelle workshop.

Best bit about the job?

The thrill and satisfaction of seeing a client wearing one of my designs with their full outfit – it’s so lovely being shown wedding photos. I’m very lucky to do a job where most of my clients have an exciting and happy event to go to.

Diary of a woman of a certain age, about to get married for the second time – again

Smash and grab! I’ve got it! My bra – I’ve actually got it! The Bra Fairy really does exist – she’s called Karen Halder and is at Affair Lingerie in Pontefract.

She looks a bit like a fairy actually – very tiny, with wings. Well ok, not really – but she is tiny and can do real magic.

She made me feel so relaxed that I forgot how worked up I’ve been over this blummin’ bra fiasco. Strapless and stress-free will I be, I’ve done the trampoline test and the hanging-from-the-chandelier test – everything stayed where it should with no complaints from either boob, and all sprinkled with a little magic fairy dust. Plus the matching knickers that don’t disappear into the dark as soon as I pull them up, if you know what I mean.

I was so happy I went on a bit of a foundation garment binge. Of course, as is the case for most of us ladies, I was wearing the wrong size. 32 FF is where I am now – stop laughing – so I was persuaded to get some T-shirt bras, which Mr D calls my stab vests. Not pretty, but so comfy – I really am sinking in to middle age, aren’t I?

The wedding rings have been ordered. The shop – won’t say where it is, you’ll see why in a minute – was en route to somewhere else so Mr D and I thought we’d pop in to see if we could pick the rings up at the weekend.

On our approach Mr D was distracted by a very low-flying police helicopter. “Ooh, look at that’ he said, before his admiring gaze was drawn to police cars all over the road in front of us.

We suddenly realised why the place was so busy – the jeweller’s had been ram-raided! We slipped quietly passed. As yet, we haven’t managed to ascertain whether our lovely wedding rings are safe in the safe or in some elicit melting pot.

We went for a quick recce of our wedding venue, the gorgeous Crab and Lobster at Asenby. I love it so much, I may move in. They don’t need our guest list for another three months, the French are so laid back so I can relax…OK, WHATEVER!!

To be continued…

Diary of a woman of a certain age about to get married for the second time, again.

Thursday morning at the Palladium

No luck with the bra. I may have to resort to duct tape, which will be sexy!

Never having taken chemistry at ‘O’ level, (I’m of a certain age, remember) I’d never even heard of Palladium. Apparently it’s the new platinum and there are loads of wedding and engagement rings available for a fraction of the cost. Armed with this new knowledge of the periodic table, me and Mr D went to have a look. We found a little jeweller’s where they make rings for Elton John and The Queen, no less. He showed us some mahoosive creations with trap doors and flashing lights on the side which hid little messages of something or other. BUT not for me. Your bog standard wedding rings however, aren’t as exciting as engagement rings I have discovered, mainly because I have to buy one for Mr D and it’s more expensive than the one he has to buy me. I don’t know what to do, my engagement ring is platinum, quite posh. I know you can’t tell the difference with the naked eye but what if, in 400 years, a descendant of Tony Robinson digs my body up and finds that not only are two of my teeth false, (to date) but also that I was cheap because my rings don’t match. Devastating. I admit to having had dreams of leaning my nose against Tiffany’s window and coming away with a little turquoise box but it’s possible that we may have to resort to buying our symbols of love and fidelity off the internet, which will be romantic. I am partial to a bit of thrift though.

I’ve got a couple of bra ladies searching for my magic bra. When asked, I was met with sharp intakes of breath and shakes of the head, like a plumber does when your pipes need plunging. Surely it must be out there somewhere. Do you remember when Joanna Lumley made shoes out of her bra? I could do that but the other way round, I have a nice pair of Japanese flip flops which might just do the trick.

The next job is the guest list for the reception. Is it ok to say to everyone, ‘every man for himself, or herself, sorry again mum, and leave it at that, I wonder? Yikes, it’s just occurred to me, I’m inheriting another Mother in Law, help.

 

Diary of a woman of a certain age about to get married for the second time, again!

Still January

Do I REALLY have to have my photo taken? I don’t like seeing pictures of myself. I can see my mother! Sorry mum, but I can’t pretend to be 30 still, with photographic evidence to the contrary on the in laws coffee table for the next few years. However, Mr D and I have picked the best photographer in the world for our medium sized day.

I first met Joe Dodsworth when he was still at school. Such a nice young man and a wonderful, conscientious student. Then he ran away to be a photographer and left his teachers standing! Now, he is highly established, accomplished and really cool, he really is my favourite photographer, in the world, indeed the universe!

I got a bit nervous before Joe came to see Mr D and I at home, so I had a little drinky to take the edge off. By the time he arrived I was a bit sozzled. I answered the door and there he stood, with albums and iPad images for us to look at. The examples of his work are just superb. I think I asked him for a job at one point, embarrassing.

It seems, in these modern times, that most brides are ok with their photographer taking their pictures as they are getting ready to walk down the aisle. I’ve seen them, they look lovely and clean in their fluffy dressing gowns, drinking champagne, all nails, hair and teeth. I can’t do that. If I start with champagne in the morning I’ll go blotchy and images of me waxing my moustache and pummelling the cellulite would not be a best seller for Joe, I fear. I’m doing my own hair and makeup mainly so that I don’t scare any young beauticians into running for the hills, vowing to go into something more glamorous, like bog dredging. I think it would be best if Joe waited until I waft down the stairs, washed, waxed and little wasted, lest he ruins his life forever.

Having admitted my shortcomings in the glamour department, I trust Mr Dodsworth to do a fabulous job for us. He knows I like big skies, huge landscapes and teeny tiny subjects at the bottom somewhere, a bit like ‘Where’s Wally!!!’ Go Joe x

Diary of a woman of a certain age about to get married for the second time, again!

More January

Dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner, fat pants!!!

I’ve discovered ‘Pull Me In’ pants, the ones that are somewhere between the flappy Union Jack pants I normally wear and the Full Metal Jacket jobs. They’re keeping me in, which is great after the Christmas and New Year excesses but I don’t want to rely on them. I dream of wearing a nice frilly pair on my wedding day, so the protein shakes are back on the menu. My greatest debacle however, (I looked up debacle on t’internet, it means ‘a sudden disastrous collapse’) is that of my bridal bra. I am of ample bosom. I had my boobs ‘done’ in my thirties, (made smaller, that is)and they were fabulous for a few years, but they’ve come back with a vengeance and finding the right foundation garment, one for which you need planning permission and can spot from space, is tricky. I need an impossible creation that holds ‘the boys’ (or is that buoys? ) upwards and outwards. The problem is, there ain’t no back in my dress. What was I thinking? I can only hope that I find a bra that has no straps (scary) crosses low at the back and ties in a bow round the front. I can’t go ‘no bra’, I tried it in the Wedding dress shop and I looked like I was carrying two turkeys in a carrier bag. Help.

I dragged Mr D to the florist. I’ve asked the lovely Joanna at Twisted Willow to do her magic. We had chocolate biscuits, which gave Mr D something to concentrate on! Secretly harbouring Diva like qualities, I was worried that I could end up looking like Dame Edna Everage, chucking gladioli’s at everyone, thus giving Mr D second thoughts. Jo was very calm and helpful, a true artist, and now I can happily tick another job off the list.

So, onwards and upwards, I’m a bit more excited now. Photographer next,

‘All right Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my close up…’ gulp!!

 


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