There might be two wedding days. Or there might be one long day. Stephanie Smith finds out how Yorkshire brides and designers are stepping up to showcase a variety of nuptial style.
When Ellie Goulding married Caspar Jopling at York Minster in August, she wore a bespoke Chloé gown, demurely high-necked and long-sleeved, designed by Natacha Ramsay-Lévi and embroidered with white Yorkshire roses and glass beads.
But this was just the first of five outfits worn by the singer on her big day. For the reception at Castle Howard, Ellie changed into a Stella McCartney design (just as Meghan did in 2018), an off-the-shoulder silk number with a side slit. Her third wedding look was a Ralph & Russo ensemble with a bodice of pearls and an evening skirt, which she later switched to white tailored trousers. Finally, her party look was a mini dress by Olivier Rousteing at Balmain.
Excessive? Perhaps. But brides now have so much choice, it’s no wonder if some are deciding to go for more than one outfit, perhaps a traditional wedding gown for the ceremony and then a jumpsuit or a shorty, racier dress for later on.
In August this year, Sam Ward, head of comms at Taylors of Harrogate, married Ben Naughton, digital marketing manager at his family business, Lights4Fun (they met working on Little Urn, the Yorkshire Tea van). Sam had not just two dresses, but two weddings – in France and in Harrogate. Sam says: “We couldn’t legally get married in France (you have to be resident there for 30 consecutive days), so we did the legal part at the Register Office in Harrogate, then had a big party at our friends’ pub, Blind Jacks in Knaresborough.
“My French dress was from the Harrogate Wedding Lounge. I tried on five or six, but none was right. The lady in the shop had been listening to everything I’d liked or disliked and asked me to try one more. I didn’t like it on the hanger, because it was so traditional, but I put it on and burst into tears – it was crazy, having such a strong reaction. When I stepped out to show Ali, my mother-in-law, she burst into tears, too.”
Sam, who has a daughter, Ruby, eight, adds: “I had spent quite a bit on the French dress, so had to be a bit careful with my budget for Harrogate. I scoured Still White and ebay, looking for the perfect one. I stumbled across a Deco-inspired Jenny Packham ex-display dress that had been used for a couple of photo-shoots. It was meant to be almost £2,700 new, but was listed for £750. I sent a cheeky offer of £475 and it was accepted. The best part was the name of the dress: Ruby. It was fate.”
Going bespoke is another option for brides in search of their dream gown. James Steward is a multi award-winning bridal, occasion and red carpet design house based in Wetherby, run by James and his sister, Hannah Moody. “A bespoke dress gives a bride the vision she’s had in her mind - whether that’s been since she was a little girl or something that has influenced her more recently,” says Hannah.
“Every bride who walks through our door wants something different, whether it’s a winter wedding or a wedding abroad. We work with them to interpret their ideas, sketching a number of versions until the design on paper reflects their vision. We also offer guidance to brides using our years of experience - understanding the bride as an individual, the type of wedding, its location and the time of year, which are all key factors that need considering.”
There has been a shift, says Hannah, away from traditional silhouettes in dupion silks to more of a vintage feel using lace, embroidered tulle and silk crepes. “In more recent years, social media has had a huge influence as it’s giving brides a great access to styles, shapes and detailing,” she adds, predicting that for 2020 we will be seeing more deep v-necks, backless detailing, full sleeves and bridal jumpsuits.
At bridal shops, brides-to-be can try gowns by a variety of design houses and compare styles. In Leeds city centre, The Bridal Emporium has designs to cater for boho brides with fringe and flower detailing, although they point out there are signs that clean lines are on their way in. “For 2020 we’re predicting a move towards simple, fit and flare wedding dresses with classic details,” they say.
In York, Rolling in Roses specialises in free-flowing bridal dresses for the wild at heart, with ethics a core value. The new Sappho collection is for brides who want to “experience their wedding day unrestricted, and the freedom to dance the night away with their lover”, says owner and designer Hayley Neil.
Individually made to order by seamstresses in York, expect statement back details and sheer lace panels, delicate lace trims made by a ninth-generation family of lace makers in Nottingham, and subtle gleams of gold and sequins.
“Our materials include organic chemical-free peace silk which is friendly to silkworms and the environment, a vegan alternative to silk made of orange fibre, a sumptuous satin made from organic rose petal fibres, and even a super-soft lightweight crépe made entirely of recycled bottles,” Hayley says.
Meanwhile, in Middlesbrough, bridal and special occasion designer Kate Fearnley says she is seeing a definite nod towards a dramatic, romantic look. “The bigger skirt has made a huge impact on the catwalk. We are seeing a lot of layering, particularly with tulle, and brides are becoming braver with higher and deeper necklines.
“As well as the classic alabaster, rosy hues, soft blush and dreamy greys have become a popular option for the more fashionable, daring bride. Pocket detailing is also a popular request. All in all 2020 is very much the year of the fairytale wedding,” says Kate.
The National Wedding Show (at Manchester Central October 26-27) surveyed 6,600 millennial couples as they plan their weddings and found:
92 per cent of newlyweds chose to spend the night before their wedding apart, despite having been together for an average of four to seven years before getting married.
52 per cent of grooms observed the tradition of asking the bride’s parents ahead of proposing. 43 per cent of millennials are paying for their own wedding, while 56 per cent are relying on parents to help them foot the bill.
Say Yes to the Dress presented by Gok Wan is looking for Yorkshire Brides to take part in the new series. Email email@example.com
Anita Massarella will hold bridal showcases at Grantley Hall on October 10 and Goldsborough Hall on October 13. Call 0113 268 7783.