Welcome back to wedding week on SoSueMe.ie!
I’m so glad you all enjoyed yesterday’s blog post all about the ballroom decor and venue details.
Today, I decided to blog about my main dress because I have been inundated with Snaps, emails, and comments asking all sorts of questions about my gown, the designer, etc.
For those of you who already read VIP Magazine, you guys will know that I was designed my own bespoke wedding dress in conjunction with the renowned American designer Hayley Paige and McElhenneys Bridal Rooms in Ballybofey, Donegal.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hayley Paige, she is a young American designer and is already renowned for her work! Lots of celebs have worn her pieces on stage and on the red carpet, two of which include Chrissy Teigen and Olivia Culpo.
I actually started my dress hunt just before Christmas last year, which I know some people would consider a bit late, but I had 4 or 5 boutiques that had either been recommended to me by friends, or that I had researched myself, and I was confident I would find my dress in one of them.
That said, before I began actually visiting the boutiques, I did have a few moments of absolute panic that maybe I had left it too late!
Anyway, last December, myself, my mam, and my chief bridesmaid Sarah got started on the search for the perfect dress. In the first couple of boutiques, I tried on a variety of different styles. This is something I would recommend to brides-to-be.
Don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone and try out some styles that are very different to what you thought you would go for. When it comes to finding your dream wedding dress, this is the only way to ensure that you know what works and what doesn’t.
When I was searching for my dress, I tried on the kinds of dresses that I thought I wanted but looking back, I should have tried on lots of different styles to what I normally go for help build the idea of what you REALLY want.
After one or two boutiques, I still hadn’t found THE dress. Sometimes this lack of progress can panic a bride-to-be. Trust me, don’t let it faze you. You will always find the one you are looking for! Your instinct will also let you know as soon you step inside a boutique whether or not it’s going to be a hit, so listen to your inner voice!
This is exactly what happened to me when I walked into McElhenneys Bridal Rooms – I knew the second I walked through the doors that I was going to find something I loved there.
To start, the customer service and the way we were greeted and treated was second to none. Caroline is the lady I dealt with for most of the time and she was an absolute dream to deal with. I loved her honesty, how patient she was and her input. Not once did I ever feel pressured or rushed and that in my opinion is 5-star service for any bride to be, it is not a decison that can be made in seconds. Moving on, they had by far the biggest selection of wedding dresses I have ever seen! To answer the questions I received about the boutique where I got my dress, yes they have a huge array of designers and there is absolutely something to suit all tastes and budgets there.
Moving on, they also had by far the biggest selection of wedding dresses I have ever seen! To answer the questions I received about the boutique where I got my dress, yes they have a huge array of designers and there is absolutely something to suit all tastes and budgets there.
What I liked most about it, however, was that they had private bridal rooms so you can go in there with whoever is with you and try on dresses to your heart’s content. The rooms are all lined with mirrors too so you have a view of the dress from every angle and can see exactly how it looks on.
I loved this element of the experience because it can honestly be pretty daunting trying on a wedding dress, let alone having to step out in one in front of people you don’t know, so by having a room to yourself, it keeps the whole experience really personal and you don’t feel as self-conscious either!
When it came to selecting dresses to try on, the Hayley Paige rail was one of the first to catch my eye. Her dresses were all so full of volume and had gorgeous beading and embellishments. They were just so glamorous!
I tried on three of Hayley’s dresses and it was the third one that I thought I would go with. I genuinely loved it and really thought, yep this could be the one for me!
Fast forward 6 months, and after a long day, I was having a bath and trying to stop my mind from running through a million different things! The one niggling thing I could not shift from my mind, however, was about my dress and whether or not it really was ‘the one’. It was beautiful but there was just something about it that I couldn’t put my finger on. So, right there and then in the bath, I googled a picture of the dress. I hadn’t seen it since that day in the boutique so figured I would instantly know how I really felt about it if I saw a picture of it. As soon as I saw the picture, my heart sank. I knew what was bugging me, it wasn’t detailed enough, the lace wasn’t as intricate as I wanted it to be and there were a few other elements I wanted to change instantly, which isn’t a good sign.
I sent the picture to my mam straight away and asked, ‘be honest. Do you think is this the wow dress for me? Mam text back, ‘honestly, seeing that image – no’.
Not long after, I had my first fitting in May at McElhenneys and when I tried on the dress, we all knew it wasn’t going to the one – we all agreed something was missing…. so with that, we went back to the drawing board. I knew I wanted to wear a Hayley gown, but not this one.
McElhenneys got in touch with Hayley, and she and I ended up having a Skype call a few days later to talk about the kind of dress I had in mind.
We had a really long chat and I explained to her what I had liked about the other gowns from her collection that I had either looked through or tried on. I remember I loved the corset on one style and the beading on another. The bottom half of one particular dress from her collection was stunning, while the lace on another was to die for. Following that chat, Hayley wanted to create the dress of my dreams, she was just so lovely to deal with.
I remember when I was in Mauritius with Dylan and my parents, Hayley would send me email updates with pictures of the dress pinned to a mannequin as they were making it and I had butterflies watching it all coming together. It was such an exciting time.
In the end, what we went for was a corset bodice that was heavily embellished with pearls and beautiful intricate lace that I had chosen from the lace swatches Hayley had sent me. I never knew there could be so many choices when it comes to lace, but I knew the one I wanted the minute I saw it!
I had wanted it to be quite full from the waist down and to achieve this, we used a hoop under the dress to really give that princess vibe. For the additional wow factor, the McElhenneys team custom made the detachable train that I attached to the dress like a very subtle belt for the church and photographs! McElhenneys were a HUGE part of the design and the finished look and all of us were so happy in the end – it was a vision in real life, I still get goosebumps when I look at it.
I got quite a number of questions about the veil I chose. Originally, I had always wanted the three-tired veil that you wear over the face in the church but when I tried it on, it didn’t do anything for me or the dress so, in the end, we opted for a cathedral veil that was the same length as the train.
Hayley had sent the McElhenneys team some extra lace and tulle to create the train and veil and from there they hand-stitched the lace to the rim of the veil and it was WOW. Seriously, the amount of painstakingly detailed work that goes into one dress is just unreal! I take my hat off to anyone who does it.
When it came to jewellery, I kept it very simple. The dress was very detailed and glam, so I just wore small diamond pearl drop earrings.
My shoes were Christian Louboutin sandals with Swarovski crystal embellishments. When I was choosing my wedding shoes, I wanted a pair that would be seriously special to me, but also ones I could wear again and again.
I know I’ll be wearing these to death!
I also had a small clutch bag with me on the day, just for little things like my lippy, and I bought that in TK Maxx.
Brides-to-be, they have some gorgeous clutch bags if you are on the search for one!
My wedding fragrance was from Jo Malone and the scent I chose was tuberose angelica – it is a stunning scent, I loved it.
I decided to go with a different scent to the one I normally wear (aka lime, basil & mandarin) because I wanted one that I would wear only on special occasions, and that would instantly bring back memories of what was undoubtedly the best day of our lives.
The main piece of advice I would give to brides-to-be in search of their dream gown is to go with your instinct. I did and had I not, I know I would have massively regretted it.
I would also advise that you don’t decide on a dress too fast because you may just have a change of heart as you look at more and more styles.
I remember reading really good advice that when you do find your dream dress, you shouldn’t bring it home with you right away because you will only keep taking it out and looking at it and by the time the big day comes around, you won’t have that same special feeling about it because you will have seen it a thousand times already. This is so true!
Try not to look back on images of yourself in other dresses you have tried on, because trust me, it will wreck your head and that’s the last thing you need. Just go with your own instinct.
And remember, every bride worries about whether their dress is nice enough, but as long as you love it, that’s all that matters.
I’m so glad I listened to my instinct when I did. It’s the most important day of your life and you will be looking at your wedding photos 50 years from now, so naturally, you will want to look back and still feel nothing but butterflies for your dress too!
I did have three dresses, and there is a story behind that, but I will keep that for another blog post. The dress I wanted to fill you in on today was the dress I wore for the church and reception – my most important one.
I will tell you all about the other two dresses in detail later this week.
I have also been getting a lot of questions from brides-to-be about the suits worn by Dylan, his groomsmen, and my dad. They were all from Louis Copeland but to ensure I answer all your questions, I will be posting a blog about it this week also, so if you have any other questions about the suit process, just pop them in the comment box below!
Have a great evening, guys!