What Sophie Did….Planned a Dress Hunt!

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Hi peeps, Adam here… Please give a massively super warm bride-to-be welcome to Sophie, the second lovely lady to write for RMW from our brand new real brides class of 2013/14…

Sophie: Wow, first post! This is slightly surreal but very exciting. Thanks for having me everyone!
Where to begin? Well, we have officially passed the one-year-to-go mark and so far I think we’re in pretty good shape. When we started planning the wedding there were a few priorities which stood out:

1. A beautiful venue in the heart of the Tuscan countryside (more on this to come).
2. Delicious local food and drink.
3. Gorgeous white, ‘poufy’ flowers (a word which, as my dear friend Nicola put it, is too seldom used!)
4. timeless, to-die-for photography.

Number 1 is ticked off (whoop!).

Numbers 2 & 3 will hopefully be ticked off when we head out to Italy in June, and number 4 is most definitely ticked off, which is where I must start as this is also where the wedding planning started.

My Name Is Sophie, And I’m A Wedding Addict

I have a confession: My name is Sophie, and I’m a wedding addict. Ok, so not much of a confession to anyone who knows me and knows that I’ve had a wedding file under my bed since I was 7 (no joke) but a tad embarrassing that at my age I still have that file, and have been replenishing it regularly over the last 20 years. But there you go, it’s out there now. You know those girls who get engaged and say that they’ve never really thought about how they want their wedding day to be? Yep, I’m nowhere even close to being that cool. I’d love to be, but I’m just not.

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When I was a little girl my weekend treat wasn’t a My Little Pony magazine, or Shout magazine, it was a wedding magazine; something which my parents found very odd. But I used to love nothing more than cutting out those pictures of brides and sticking them in a picture book. I’d spend hours planning mine and my friends’ perfect weddings. Thinking back on it, I had some very patient friends. I think Freud would tell me I had delusions of one day getting my parents married off. Apparently my Mum is just always too busy…I’ll get my way on this one day.

Luckily, Simon found this all strangely endearing rather than bunny-boiler-psycho, and I’ve actually never been in a huge rush to get married. Honest. I just knew that one day, when it happened, I would really enjoy the planning process.

Dominique Bader Wedding Photography

Times have of course moved on, and the world of blogs meant that I no longer needed to wait a whole month to buy new editions of magazines (not that it really stopped me….). I could now get my fix online daily, and I found that there was no better place than on photographers’ own blogs. RMW soon led me to the blog of one particular photographer who immediately grabbed my attention. I very quickly fell in love with the work of Dominique Bader. She is just amazing. Plus, she now has possibly the cutest baby girl I have ever seen (seriously, go and check out the photos of Baby Ava on Dominique’s blog. Your heart will melt!), making her blog even more irresistible. Dominique was the very first thing I booked as soon as we got engaged – before we even had a date! She was exactly the style that Simon and I wanted. Relaxed (herding of guests and hundreds of overly posed shots – no thank you) and somehow she just catches moments perfectly. I’m so excited that she will be there to shoot our wedding. We feel very luckily to have her.

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The Super Speedy Dress Hunt

Aside from helping me get my wedding fix on a daily basis, the internet, I am finding, can be quite useful for other things too; particularly when you are planning a wedding on a different continent. People often tell us that we must be mad for trying to do this from so far away whilst we’re both so busy with work. Something which I’m sure the other international Real Brides will commiserate with. But the honest answer is… it’s actually not too hard. Yet! A big fat caveat of a yet! We were lucky that we managed to squeeze in one quick trip to Italy before the big Texas move, when we booked our venue. But ever since then we have done a lot via email, and even found our entertainment on YouTube (although this is a bit scary – more on this on another day). But the one thing no amount of internet searching is going to let me conclude on is the dress. This is something I have to do in person.

And so, during a super speedy trip home to London in June I have booked appointments for the big dress hunt (when I say big I refer to the hunt, not the dress. Don’t panic Simon, I promise no meringues). I have a number of designers in mind but ultimately the booking process became, dare I say it, a game of efficiency. It was about covering off as many of my favourite designers in as few boutiques as possible. This was a challenge. There were spreadsheets and pins in maps involved. And so I’ve whittled it down to 4 stores in Central London – Mirror Mirror, Angelica Bridal, Morgan Davies and Pronovias, and also Ellie Sanderson in Beaconsfield – 1 more for luck.

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Now I know what you’re thinking, surely that is enough appointments to find a dress. The challenge is that these are all being squeezed very tightly into 2 days. This is likely to be a tad overwhelming! Have any other ladies visited these stores or have any top tips for my visit? I’m really hoping that I can find a dress during those days; otherwise I will have to find one in Houston which means going on my own. This would be kind of sad given that during the London trip I will have the dream team of my mum, Simon’s mum and my sister on hand for opinions. Fingers crossed!

So this then brings me to one of the biggest challenges of planning this wedding from Houston – dress fittings. I need some advice on this one please ladies. Has anyone else been in this predicament of buying a dress in one country but needing to be fitted in another? Now the obvious answer is to try to fall in love with a dress that I can buy in the US, but what if I fall in love with a Suzanne Neville who you currently can’t buy in Houston?? Believe me, I’ve looked! This means I would have to buy it in London, have it shipped to Houston and then find a seamstress here who can fit me. Tricky, very tricky.

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Anyway, enough from me for now. Next time, the venue and stationery that dreams are made of. To quote our dear Charlotte – ‘I die’! And of course I need to introduce you to the girls. In the meantime, here’s a sneaky peek of our little slice of heaven.

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Love,

Sophie.

Author: Adam Crohill
Adam likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

26 thoughts on “What Sophie Did….Planned a Dress Hunt!

  1. Hi Sophie!!
    Thank goodness – it’s a relief to find someone who is a worse wedding addict than me!!
    Can’t wait to hear more about your venue, Tuscany is so beautiful.
    I really enjoyed reading your post – good luck with the dress hunt!
    And great choice of photographer – your photos will be stunning 🙂
    Fern x

  2. Congrats Sophie, first one done! So exciting, your venue looks amazing totally jealous, and wow I wish I could help on the dress front but that’s a tricky one? Let us know how you get on… am sure you will have an amazing 2 days trying on dresses, I loved this part. Safe trip back to Texas xx

  3. Hi Sophie,
    My friend who is getting married in two weeks time has been living in the US this year and bought her dress out there. She actually had her fittings done whilst state-side but said that fittings over there are much more expensive than over here, and wished she’d waited. I’m not sure if you’re actually returning to the UK before the wedding, but if you are it might be worth holding on?
    Love,
    Becs

  4. Well Done Sophie! Love you’ve had a wedding file since you were 7! 🙂 I concur with Beth… Whilst I live in NZ and planning from here for a wedding in Wales, I am getting my dress in the US! Very global I know. My face nearly hit the wall when I heard it can cost up to $1000 for fittings over there. Fingers crossed that’s not a requirement! Happy hunting! Its one of the beat bits X

  5. Hellooooooo! 🙂
    Your day sounds lush!!
    The only thing I would say about dress hunting is make sure you give yourself plenty of time at each shop – most allocate an hour but in the shop I got my actual dress we ended up spending just under 2 hours there! (But it was definitely worth it!! 😀 )

    I feel a little sad that I wasn’t quite as obsessed with wedding before hand but I think I have more than made up for that in the last 18 months!!!! 😉 heehee
    I just don’t know what I’m going to do once the big day has come & gone?! I don’t think I can give up all the wedding pretty!!! Eeeek! 🙁

    Good luck for the next 346 days – I promise you it will go pretty darn quick! (did I mention I only have 9 days left!!! heehee 😉 )
    xxx

  6. Wow, just wow. That venue, a slice a heaven indeed! Those photos! You have a great photographer there! I swooned over the natural lighting on the beach in the Vintage Voyage wedding!!

    I love your file. Oddly and coincidentally, didn’t start think about weddings until I was with Ciaran and encouraged by living with girls and all we talked about were weddings and babies, haha. So by the time Ciaran proposed I had it sorted 😉

    I am of no help in wedding dress hunt advice, as my journey to purchasing a dress was quite unnecessarily hurried and accidental. However I can whole heartedly recommend Miss Neville’s glorious creations. I look forward to hearing how it goes, but I can tell you those two days will be such fun!
    Good luck
    x x x

  7. I’m also planning a wedding from the U.S, I’ve still got plenty of time to organise everything, but the dress does pose a slight problem when you’re in a different country. I’ve decided to get mine in the UK when I go home next summer. My main concern would be traveling a long distance with the dress and trying to keep it looking just as nice as the day I purchased it – I guess this all depends on what type of dress you’re looking for, bigger dresses will be more of a problem when packing your suitcase. I think you should stick to your 2 day plan in London, and I hope you find the dress of your dreams. 🙂

  8. Thank you all very much for the warm welcome!! And all the tips on fittings in the US. This is good to know!! I had no idea that fittings in the US were so expensive! Eeek! Xxx

  9. Sophie, thank you for such a wonderful write up! I would have to agree with you about Ava 🙂 I am so excited to be shooting your wedding, the venue looks incredible. I hope the dress situation doesn’t prove too difficult, but it will all work out in the end! I’m sure the efficiency will pay off!

  10. Hi Sophie, I also crammed a lot of appointments into one weekend, in my case because my mum travelled to be with us. I too went to Angelica Bridal! It was one of my favourites, and is on a little street with some lovely cafes, I definitely needed a sit down and a nice cake after all that! It was exhausting, and overwhelming, but also great fun!

  11. Sophie-

    I too am getting married in Tuscany but in 2 months time!! (which is a little scary) in castellina in chianti. As you said it actually isn’t that difficult! I look forward to hearing all about your plans-and wish you luck!

    x

  12. Sophie – I too visited all of those shops and also added in Teokath of London (Wimbkedon) which is where I eventually bought my beautiful dress from. I tried on 90! Well, you only do it once! Have a fabulous time trying on!
    Liz xxxx (57 days until Wday)

  13. Welcome Sophie! It was a pleasure reading your first post! I sadly didn’t have a wedding file, but I admire your enthusiasm! Also Domninique’s photos are incredible, the wedding the link led to is one of my absolute favourite here on RMW! I’m very much looking forward to reading more from you and am not the least envious of your venue…at all 😀

  14. Holy wow, everything sounds so lovely, your photographer and venue are just stunning!
    I can’t recommend enough where I got my dress, with Annalise at Morgan Davies (I went to the one in Islington), she and all the staff there are so friendly and helpful (which actually can’t be said for most of the shops I went to), and really listened to what I wanted or rather, what I knew I didn’t like, and got me to try on different things based on that! And she didn’t actually smirk when I told her what my budget was (which again, happened more than it should have in dress shops that weren’t half as nice or professional!). I also visited Suzanne Neville in Knightsbridge and absolutely fell in love with a dress there – I defy you to not fall in love with at least one or two, they are stunning.
    x

  15. Hi all!

    @ Becs and Sarah – thank you both so much for the tip on fitting prices in the US. This has really got me thinking about how we are going o do this.
    @ Heidi – we went to Angelica today and completely agree on the area. How cute is that?? It would b worth buying a dress from there just so I can go back to that place!
    @ Rebecca – is it really only 9 days?? That is so exciting!! Huge luck lovely! I hope you have the day of your dreams!
    @ Sophia – that’s so funny! We went to Morgan Davies today and were served by Annalise! She was amazing and actually sold me THE dress….I think! One more appointment tomorrow! ;o)
    @ everyone else!! Thank you so much to the other real brides, international brides and Tuscan brides! I really appreciate the warm welcome!
    Xxx

  16. I planned a wedding in Surrey from Dubai and like you, gave myself just 2 days to find my dress! My top tip would be don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Chances are you will find the one (I fell in love with the 5th one I tried) but don’t feel you HAVE to decide – the last thing you want is to end up with a dress you don’t love. Good luck and enjoy! Am so envious you still have the super fun part to come! x

  17. Hi Sohpie,

    I feel your pain about the dress, I was in a similar situation. I live in London, my Parents live in New York, my bridesmaids are in Ireland and my maid of honor, my sister, is in New Zealand so buying my dress was a logistical nightmare. I visited all of the stores that you mentioned, did it in 2 days also when my mom and my aunt flew over to London for 4 days and I had nightmares that we wouldn’t find anything and I would end up having to shop for a dress on my own which I just didn’t want to do. I don’t know if you are like me in this sense but my mothers opinion and reassurance on my dress was vital to me making my choice. In the end I went to Morgan Davis and met the brilliant, and very honest, Anneliza. When you call them ask for an appointment with her, she really really knows what she is talking about and will make suggestions that are not what you might have thought of yourself. I’m getting married in Tuscany in 8 weeks, i have my first fitting next week and she good an advising on the types of material I should stay away from in the heat and the shapes that would suit me. She will be able to give you advice on the fittings also and taking the dress back to the US.

    Good Luck

  18. I bought my dress in NYC and got it shipped over to London and altered here, wasn’t too difficult but my dress was much cheaper in the US so I’d definitely check the prices there before you buy here 🙂 xx

  19. I am also planning from abroad. I live in Germany and plan my wedding in England. Venue is booked, notice is given…But the dress! I will go to London for dress-hunting in September for 3 days. I think my schedule will look similar to yours. I will have to squeeze in as much appointments as possible with the boutiques that have my favourite designers. I have set my heart on having a dress of an English designer and they are difficult to get in Germany. So I also worry how to get my dress back to Germany and what to do with the fittings… I have still a year to plan, but time flies…

  20. Glad to hear that I’m not the only one in this predicament!! Thanks everyone, really appreciate all if the advise. I think I’ve decided that trying to have fittings in the UK is worth the hassle just for the peace of mind. Fingers crossed that this will be feasible! X

  21. I have a confession to make… the second thing I did after getting home from Fiji this afternoon and putting my first load of washing on (post holiday washing = 🙁 ) was to click on my RMW bookmark to read about the next Real Bride. Congrats Sophie on a lovely post.

    Although your 2 day hunt might sound a bit overwhelming, it is also going to be one of the most giddy days ever, how exciting. I used to live in Islington and see a couple of those stores on a weekly basis and look at them and just go ahhh…. one day. I am sure you are going to find your dream dress with your ladies in toe and it sounds like the fittings will all pan out in the end.

    I can’t wait to hear more about your plans in what looks like a bloody lush venue and the stationary (my fav part!)….

    Good luck on your hunt lovely, will be sending positive dress wishes 🙂

    xxx

  22. I have a confession to make… the second thing I did after getting home from Fiji this afternoon and putting my first load of washing on (post holiday washing = 🙁 ) was to click on my RMW bookmark to read about the next Real Bride. Congrats Sophie on a lovely post.

    Although your 2 day hunt might sound a bit overwhelming, it is also going to be one of the most giddy days ever, how exciting. I used to live in Islington and see a couple of those stores on a weekly basis and look at them and just go ahhh…. one day. I am sure you are going to find your dream dress with your ladies in toe and it sounds like the fittings will all pan out in the end.

    I can’t wait to hear more about your plans in what looks like a bloody lush venue and the stationary (my fav part!)….

    Good luck on your hunt lovely, will be sending positive dress wishes 🙂

    xxx

  23. Ahh thanks Nicola! I hope you had an amazing trip to Fiji. I’m not jealous at all…..! Looking forward to reading your first post. I’m hoping for some glitter!! 😉 xxx

  24. Sophie,
    what can I say….. Your wedding plans so far sounds amazing and I’ve loved reading your first blog. Im so pleased im not the only one with the obsession with the bridal mags 🙂 I can’t wait to here how the dress shopping went. Your venue looks out of this world and so romantic. Good look lovely,
    Xx

  25. Very late to the game on your post, I have a valid excuse that I was in stunning Mexico on our honeymoon when it was posted! Just catching up, and WOW! Love the look of everything so far and can’t wait to read more.

    I hope your dress shopping trip was a successful one, I found my dress in the second shop I went to so hopefully you have your very own beauty on order as we speak!

    Kitty x

  26. @ Kitty – Thanks so much! Late comers are more than welcome. And you’re right, that is a VERY good excuse! :o)
    Luckily, the dress hunt went well. Too well in fact! It was a really hard decision! But the dress is on order so no going back now. More details to come…!! x

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