The Perfect Dress for the Perfect Day

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There are some big investments for the ‘Perfect Wedding Day’ and the venue, the photography and the dress are probably in the top three. But the priority one gives to each element is a very individual experience – I know one groom to be who paid £1,000 for his shoes, I know one bride to be who bought her own flowers and made her bouquet on the morning, so it’s safe to say that everyone is going to have a different priority.

But when it comes to the dress – is it all about the dress?

I’ve heard of brides that spend £20K on their dress, one recent one who just couldn’t quite justify her £4K ‘favourite’; and then there was one who spent just £25 making some alterations to a ‘hand-me-down’, (albeit originally costing £900), raw silk dress.

It’s good to know there are choices out there, but where to start and what to do?

For some this is a big decision and needs a lot of thought – there is the vision, planning, discussion with close and discreet family and friends, the fairs, the try outs, the alterations and the re-tries (often after losing weight, often after gaining weight).

For others, it’s a last minute scrabble – possibly borrowed dress, sometimes bought second hand / pre-loved in a charity shop, sourced cheaply online or more often than not rented.

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Last year I met with a relatively new start up bridal boutique at a The Covent Garden Wedding Fair at the Kingsway Hall Hotel in Holborn. I Do Couture had a beautiful range of dresses hanging from their rails and a lovely team ready to help eager brides with their perfect choice. Realising that I was a bit ignorant of the whole process I thought I would pop to their boutique in Old Street and meet with Claire and Selina to find out more…

Tell me a little bit about the team and how you got together…

There are five of us and we were all economic undergraduates at Cambridge University, same year, same college. We’ve created the business just over a year ago and have been building the brand ever since.

Why did you decide to move into this competitive area?

Two of our group were getting married (Claire and Charles) and Claire had real trouble finding her ‘perfect dress’ – a process that took well over a year to sort. She hit upon three key problems 1) Dresses she liked were priced from £3K and above; 2) Alterations and design changes could take too long – at least six months; and 3) The designs were simply not flexible enough. She visited five or six boutiques and tried on 30-40 dresses and did not want to compromise on her perception of perfection.

We had a friend who owns her own boutique in China and who’d studied at a prestigious design school in France and within four months Claire had her perfect dress. The seeds of a new business were sewn.

What makes your dresses unique?

The products themselves – we have our latest range of 20 designs available to try on at all times. There is a selection of styles from Princess and A-line to Fish Tale and Empire, with a wide range of detail finishes. We have mainly ivory and white/cream, made of satin and silk, but our design service can cater for all requirements We also believe we are priced very reasonably – up to £2,500. And we provide a dress hire service for £150-200 per dress for up to three days – plus dry cleaning an additional £50-60.

We design our own dresses, we don’t have a supply chain of wholesalers and manufacturers and there are no middle-men or salesmen – this enables us to have a sleek process and speedy turnaround so we can offer affordable prices.

And if you want something ‘a little bit different’?

We have our own designer based in China. We take a small deposit on order and dresses get made within 4-5 months. Tailoring is done locally.

What has been your most unusual request?

Well, black wedding dresses do get asked for; and, even though it is not ‘unusual’ for Chinese people, we can get asked for eight wedding dresses for pre-wedding shoots!

What would you say was the most popular style in 2014?

Definitely the Princess style – which is simple, elegant and not too much fuss. Lace-up backs are still very popular.

How long do your brides take to make a decision?

We know from Claire’s experience the decision can take many months – but we have had some brides literally walk off the street, try on just the first dress they pick and decide that is ‘the one’. A sale in ten minutes! Admittedly instant decisions are rather rare!

And finally, any top tips for brides ready to help them find their perfect dress?

  1. Don’t necessarily have a pre-set idea of what you want – be open minded, you could surprise yourself.
  2. Try on all different shapes and sizes to see what suits you not what you suit.
  3. Lace, pattern, jewels etc are all detail points and choices for you to consider.
  4. Never chose from photos, dresses always look different on different people with different body shapes and sizes. Beware the cheap online options.
  5. Try on at least four or five dresses to give yourself some options. You will just ‘know’ when it feels and looks right.

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I did ask the team what dress they would recommend to me (a 40-something, ahem, somewhat ‘curvy’ sized 14-16) and they said ‘Princess and A-Line dresses are very accommodating’. They also offered to let me have a good old ‘dressing-up-and-feeling-like-a-princess session’. Hmmm, maybe in the future!

I Do Couture is based at 207 Whitecross Street, Old Street, London EC1Y 8QP and offers free appointments all week with busiest times on Saturdays and Sundays. Plan for around an hour. Call 020 3581 8484 or email tell.me.more@idocouture.co.uk.

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The Perfect Dress for the Perfect Day

Are you selling products online?

jewelleryIf so, how much importance have you put on the quality and professionalism of your product images, especially for ‘catalogue style’ with brilliant white backgrounds and consistent lighting? Or perhaps in-situ for a more stylised shoot but keeping a consistent look and feel?

We have experience in photographing products and still life in both studio and in-situ photo shoots – from food and drink to jewellery and other luxury products. See this case study from our recent Client, The Jaunty Flaneur; and this one from jeweller Robert Vining.

socks1With over 20 years of marketing and photographic experience we offer a consultative approach to deliver you high quality images optimised for web as well as professional images for advertising and other marketing communications.

The exact price depends on how many products you have to photograph; whether we come to you or you send us the products; and a few other details that we’d iron out when we consult on the brief. But fundamentally we want to help raise the standards and help you sell more.

Why not ask us for a quote? – and we will work out a perfect package to fit your budget and exceed your expectations. Get in touch today

Are you selling products online?

January Offer: Headshots and Portraits

Book a Corporate Headshot or Social Portrait session today and get up to £50 off!

Corporate Headshots

Whether you need a new LinkedIn Profile Picture (YES, MANY OF YOU DO) or some decent photos for the company website or a ‘better than a selfie’ headshot for your Facebook or Dating Website, why not get some professional headshots?

Book an hour with us and you will have a set of digital images you can use however you wish! We have a relaxed and fun style to put you at your ease whether you are a seasoned poser or reluctant participant.

This Offer Includes:

  • Approximately one hour session at your Office or Home or a location of your choice (where allowed).
  • We bring equipment – you can have outfit changes and you will be given direction for poses as needed.
  • We will do light editing on the images (if required) – everyone has a natural beauty although further photoshopping can be done if you really, really insist ;0)
  • All hi-res, full colour and selected B&W images will be available for you to review, share and download from a password protected online gallery within 24 hours of the session.

(Note that Make up and hair styling are not included in this offer although we can make recommendations if required).

Terms:

  • Executive Headshot sessions are normally £250ph (offer price £200); Social Portrait Sessions are normally £150ph (offer price £125)
  • Booking must be made by 31st January 2015 and Photo Session must take place before 31st March 2015.
  • Sessions can be booked from 8am-8pm any day of the week where we have spaces!
  • Sessions can involve more than one person and even pets if desired – but remember you only have an hour ;0)
  • Travel expenses are included within M25; and passed on at cost and/or at 50p per mile mileage.
  • Social Headshots – no deposit necessary and payment must be made in full before images are released.
  • Corporate Headshots – PO or reference required at time of booking and invoice will be emailed at the same time as the image link. Payment within 30 days.

Make an Enquiry or Book now!

January Offer: Headshots and Portraits

Poppy-tastic! Meet The Poppy Man of St Pancras

There’s been a lot of talk about poppies this year – from The Tower of London installation to all the 11/11 commemorations across the country and so it was more like an accident that I stumbled across a chap called Ron Wiltshire (@RonWiltshire17) who was drumming up support via Twitter for sales of 1914-2014 poppy pin badges.

This East Midlands Trains train advisor set out to collect £25,000 via on-train and at-station collection boxes along the EMT route covering Corby, Leicester and Sheffield as well as the lines terminating at St Pancras International.
The first tweet I saw he was at £18K and had just starting selling them on ebay:
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It was a few DAYS later that he hit the target (only to set a new one of £35K):
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By 11/11 he was over £43K and preparing for his last “poppies on a train” collection round:
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So I jumped at the opportunity to meet him when he called into St Pancras International to pick up all the boxes and do the final tally on 12th November. Just a handful of badges remained from the 14,000 they had at the beginning. The National Ticket Office at the station managed to raise an impressive £4,351 from badges and poppies – which is way ahead of last year’s £452!

As we were speaking a lady came up to Ron asking, “Are you the Poppy Man?” then asked for a pin badge and Ron promptly removed his lapel badge and gave it to her (for a donation of course).
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Ron started raising money for the Royal British Legion eight years ago after a heart attack left him yearning for something positive to give back. Each year he gives up two weeks of his holiday time to follow his mission – the last two years of which have been wholly supported by his employer.

Ron not only personally walks the trains and visits the stations with the collection boxes and badges, but he also took to Twitter just a few weeks ago to help raise awareness and also set up an online shop on ebay. The online orders are personally fulfilled every day and in just one evening he had over 500 emails taking him three days to clear.

Ron, 62, is a kind and gentle man who has been taking the new-found media interest in his stride: “I had my photo taken in Sheffield and they printed a piece in today’s Star”. He humbly adds: “My legs are aching from all the walking, but it’s been really great and people have been so kind.”

He’s been away from home for the most part of a fortnight and he’s looking forward to a week off with a proper well-deserved break. His wife just about remembers what he looks like and at least Ron remembered to send her a postcard from London last week!

What a lovely man, what a fabulous cause and I hope the final figure is as near to £50,000 as possible!

See the story on Stpancras.com (12th November 2014)

Please note there are some delightful people on ebay selling poppy pin badges at twenty times the original recommended donation value – and we cannot guarantee that any or even some of the proceeds are going to the Royal British Legion. Ron is an official collector and only offering the pin badges for £2.50 with all proceeds going to RBL.

Poppy-tastic! Meet The Poppy Man of St Pancras

Five things (most) brides only do on their wedding day

For most brides, it’s a one-off, once-in-a-lifetime, possibly even an I-dreamt-of-this-day-since-I-was-a-child occasion, and there’s very little personal experience to draw on apart from attending other peoples’ weddings and/or being a bridesmaid. So I had a think about what I believe most brides only do on their wedding day and here are the top five from my photographer’s perspective…

1 Wear a strapless/big/expensive dress

It can be all about the dress – full and flowing or slim-fitting and elegant?; Stunning impact or fine detail?; Backless and strapless? Big or small?… the choice is endless and is probably one of the biggest decisions for the bride – especially if money is an object. But let me share a few observations. Firstly – Wearing Strapless is an Art Form.

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If you have never worn strapless before – practice; or try one on for a day. It can feel quite exposing, you can feel self-conscious, you may want to constantly pull your dress up…

And – unlike these lovely brides (Heather above and Kate below) – not every bride has the body shape to carry it off. (Just saying!).

Secondly – Going Big specifically needs careful planning – consider how easy it will be to move, sit, dance and go to the facilities. Even getting the dress on and laced correctly needs the help of a small crew.

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And thirdly – whatever you do decide to spend on your wedding dress – it is an expensive item of clothing that you will probably only wear once – you will get marks on it, people may step on it, it may catch on something (eg your ring), you may spill something…

All I recommend is that you consider wisely the practicalities so that the day is not all about keeping the dress up, avoiding tripping over and re-mortgaging your house.

Oh, and whilst I am at it don’t forget to ‘break in’ your shoes by walking in them around the house – I’ve photographed many a shoe with the price tags still on them ;0)

2 Carry a bouquet

Unless you’ve already been subjected to the bridesmaid version, this is in my mind one of the weirdest things a bride gets to do on her wedding day. Gorgeous as flowers look (and smell) and how they can make a photo, it is actually pretty awkward to hold onto something out front and on display for most of the day (just try doing that with your handbag or phone for ten minutes then you’ll see!). According to ‘Howstuffworks“The practice probably originated from the time of the Plague, when people clutched the herbs over their noses and mouths in a desperate effort to survive.” Nice.

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I do love the bouquets though and one tip I mention to my brides is to always hold the bouquet further down than you think as it looks more natural in the photos… I’d also suggest some practice holding flowers before the day too – discuss the best holding position/shape and size when you meet with your florist…

3 Wear a veil

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It’s another traditional element that can look great in photos but can also lead you to wonder why you bothered giving yourself yet another thing to worry about…and an additional expense and a bit of a faff hoping you don’t lose it. Tradition states that the veil symbolised the virginity of the bride. And Wikipedia goes on to state “Further, if a bride is a virgin, she often wears the face veil through the ceremony, and then either her father lifts the veil, presenting the bride to her groom, or the groom lifts the veil to symbolically consummate the marriage, which will later become literal.” So there we go!

If you do decide to go for a veil, (as did the fabulous Simone above), tips from me include practice veiling it over your face and unveiling off your face with your hair done – perhaps get a friend to help. And at least mention the process to your partner – they will be so confused as to what they have to do when they see you at the aisle as if he wasn’t nervous enough!

 4 Drink Alcohol (…from the moment they get up)

For some this actually might not be that unique, but if you are not used to drinking champagne whilst you get ready at 8am in the morning, don’t forget – pace yourself, everything in moderation and drink enough water too. (Nice pic of Emma-Lee being sensible).

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And especially if you have a big dress, consider the consequences of needing to go to the loo more often (where your Maid of Honour/Chief Bridesmaid comes into her own). And if your favourite tipple is red wine, beware of the dress! Perhaps you can adopt the ‘protect the dress at any cost’ pose as shown by the gorgeous Deborah below:

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5 Be the centre of attention ALL DAY

You’ll never be photographed as much as you will on your special day (unless you are a celeb) and it’s quite unnerving spending so much time in front of a lens if you are not used to it. Practice poses, get to know what works for you and get a practice photo-shoot in if possible – we’ll get to know whether you are a blinker, a smirker, a gurner or a super sweaty person and help guide you to ensure every photo is a keeper.

Anyone want to predict what the ‘five things a groom (only) does on his wedding day’ blog will cover?

Five things (most) brides only do on their wedding day

Five Cool Things I’ve Seen at Weddings

By popular vote (25%) this was the blog post to publish next. Hope you like seeing the Five Cool things I’ve seen at weddings…

Let me know what you think by completing the quick poll at the end ;0)

1. Change of shoes from hot pink to gold baseball

Polly and Simon got married in April 2013 in St Pancras International Station – as Simon had proposed to Polly whilst at sister station Grand Central in NY. A lovely, fun couple, Polly had mentioned her hot pink Vivienne Westwood shoes would be a detail of the wedding day she’d like us to capture, and we did – very eye-catching! And after a full day she changed into a super cool set of gold baseball boots – great memories for the day.

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2. Brides not wearing white

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Sarah and Beaty looked stunning on the day of their Civil Partnership in January, opting for wonderful deep green and purple outfits instead of the wedding dresses of tradition. And what’s more their outfits had another meaning – they were the outfits they both wore to a wedding of one of their guests. Beaty wore a deep green broderie anglaise trouser suit with satin jacket and Sarah wore a wonderful purple flowing full length outfit complete with spotted tights. Fabulous!

3. Guests getting involved

Fab couple Dougie and Simone hired out a whole Youth Hostel next to Loch Lomond as their October wedding venue for friends and family both local and international. All the guests (including me) took part in pumpkin hollowing as well as decorating the dining/dancing area with a Halloween theme. Fabulous fun and a great way to keep the costs down.

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3.1… And Kite Surf Kites as a backdrop

The aforementioned Dougie and Simone met on a Kite Surfing adventure in Costa Rica and got married on a beach out there. Back in a more ambient Scotland, they had a humanist service on the banks of Loch Lomond with the brightly-coloured Kite Surfs gently fluttering in the wind. Unique to them and great for colour splashes and backdrops…

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4. Involving the Furkids

I’ve been at a wedding where the couple’s dog was essentially the ‘best man’ and carried the rings up the aisle, but last year photographed a wedding at Camden Registry Office (where no pets are allowed) and then went onto Geoffrey and Lesley-Ann’s house to meet with their lovely doggie who enjoyed the photo shoot immensely!

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5. Taking the School Bus

Last Summer Joff and his gorgeous wife Emma-Lee hired an old School Bus to transport their guests from the hotel in Stamford (where they thought the ceremony was taking place) to the lake-side Chapel at Rutland Water where the ceremony was actually taking place. A lovely touch.

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In my mind it’s always the little things that make the day even more memorable – whether it is ‘something borrowed, something blue, something old or something new’, fab outfits, quirky decor and different transport. And it’s great to have something exciting for us photographers to focus on. Thank you creative couples!

Five Cool Things I’ve Seen at Weddings

Weddings from a Photographer’s Perspective

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My first wedding of 2014 – with the fabulous Sarah and Beaty – totally inspired me to write a number of blogs about weddings from a photographer’s perspective. During their planning, on the day and afterwards, we talked about so many things from format to special details, from budget to traditions and I drafted some blog posts to articulate a few further thoughts. Of course it’s my perspective and gratuitously ultimately I am looking to get more business, but I thought I would put it out there and start some debates – most of the posts will have a poll attached to gauge current thinking. I’m interested in comments and feedback, especially from other photographers and couples…

Here are the topics, probably in publishing order, and I’m planning to release one a week depending on interest! Select as many as you think:


Let me know if this could be interesting – I would not want to waste your time!

Weddings from a Photographer’s Perspective