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

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

Meeting an Olympic Legend

I was the tender age of ten when iconically bald and fabulously talented swimmer Duncan Goodhew won Olympic Gold in the Moscow Games in 1980. He was a legend then, and, as I discovered, is still – completely – a legend now.

Southeastern railway continued their fab idea of naming their Highspeed Javelin Trains after sporting heroes and today, Monday 10th June 2013, Duncan Goodhew MBE graced St Pancras International Station‘s platform 13 with his enigmatic and humourful presence.

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He is gentle and the perfect professional. He is fab in front of the camera – bringing his Duncan (from Thomas the Tank Engine) book along…

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…and amazing with children – who loved his medal!

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He is known for his support as President of BT’s Swimathon and he’s also a keen supporter of Variety, the Children’s Charity for disadvantaged kids. Alongside being a dad, devoted husband and a thoroughly nice bloke too.

More photos here: http://smu.gs/11RswRw

Meeting an Olympic Legend

Rude Graffitti

During a gentle walk from Tottenham Court Road back to St Pancras I began to spot a felt tip pen graffiti “artist” spreading their words of wisdom around Camden. This tagging style is not my favourite, but there was something mildly amusing, if a little risque at times…

If you are sensitive about swearing (aka “cuss words” for my American chums) then please look away now…

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Nuff said really…

Rude Graffitti

Polly and Simon

I was so excited to be photographing a Spring wedding in St Pancras International Station (Saturday 6th April) and delighted that Polly and Simon were the wonderful, fun couple involved. It was a privilege to photograph their preparation, the ceremony, the fab afternoon tea (at Searcy’s Grand Brasserie) and their evening reception – all in and around the Station.

As an extra bonus I was approached by Camden Registry Office to provide images for publicising their Wedding and Civil Partnership services in the borough. With Mr and Mrs Quinn giving me the OK I provided a selection of images and now their photos can now be seen:

On the Camden Registry Office website:

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In the Registry office on a pull up banner:
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On the front cover of the Registry Office brochure:

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AND on bus shelters all over Camden:

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Polly and Simon love their photos and we’re due to meet up in the near future to talk albums! I wish I could do weddings at St P everyday, wonderful!

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Otto Schade

I first came across this artist during the three-week Tiger Tracks campaign in March for Savethewildtiger.org in conjunction with The Clinton Partnership, Born Free Foundation and hosted at St Pancras International Station.

His mixed media tiger image was on display in the station from 1st-21st March and was viewed, posed at and discussed by thousands of visitors, commuters and tourists throughout the month:

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I wanted to find out a little more about the man behind the art and started following him on Facebook and then discovered he had an exhibition in Hoxton.

Otto allowed me to take a photo of each of his displayed pieces ranging from the arty to the surreal, the comic to the thought-provoking… Whilst I could not quite afford an original there was an array of good value prints for sale – and here’s Otto posing with the one that will be on display in my flat.

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Keep an eye out for his work around East London too – including this piece on a wall nearby the gallery:

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Otto Schade