When I was a little girl, I was bridesmaid on a couple of occasions and both times, I simply couldn’t wait to wear ‘the dress’. For young maids and flower girls, a wedding day is a dressing-up opportunity not to be missed, a chance to pull on a party frock par excellence and bring to life all of those childhood dreams of princesses and pretty dresses with huge skirts, bows and sparkles.
So today, it’s an absolute treat to share with you this interview with Nicki Macfarlane who designs dresses that send little bridesmaids into raptures. Nicki’s designs are beautiful, timeless and come complete with all of those accessories and details that are loved by the wearer and by the bride as well. Indeed, we all admired Nicki’s designs at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as the young bridesmaids made their way up the aisle at Westminster Abbey wearing iconic ballerina-length, box pleated full dresses made of ivory silk satin gazar, layered over organza, wild silk and generous petticoats complete with Nicki’s signature extravagant bow at the back.
But, let’s hear from Nicki, who so kindly tell her story and share her experiences with us here at Love My Dress and with you all…
Can you give, for readers who don’t know your story, a little overview of how you came to be a designer of such beautiful dresses for bridesmaids and flower girls?
Having designed children’s clothes for my entire adult life, this all came about by accident – or serendipity. I was asked, as a one-off commission to make 22 bespoke bridesmaids’ dresses for one wedding and loved it so much that I started the eponymous company with a view to producing special occasion dresses made to a very high standard.
When you start to design a new collection, what is the process? Do you start with an overview of what you want to collection to be or a mood board with the elements you want to include?
Usually we have an initial concept of the new collection’s theme based solely around a single fabric or style idea. Once that first sample is mocked up, we then build the collection outwards from that and it evolves as we go. We have learned from experience that this works better that having the whole lot on paper before anything is made up. This way the collection finds its own direction, we can see the gaps and it is more cohesive.
When this wedding dropped into my inbox I couldn’t contain my excitement. Scrolling through the images I was a teeny tiny bit envious of the amazing pub venue with long wooden tables, quirky décor (antlers!) and neon signage. This couple’s aim was a fun and relaxed day spent with only their closest family and friends.
Melanie and Asa tied the knot after a six month engagement at The Bell in Ticehurst, East Sussex on the 12th of April this year and their photographer was Dale Weeks. Forgoing some traditions such as a first dance and being ‘given away’, they created their ideal day on their own terms complete with a very sweet first-look shot. I hope you love this wedding as much as I do!
“I didn’t want to get hung up on trying to create something ‘perfect’ – we were going for a relaxed, informal and enjoyable day so small budget, no theme, no colour scheme. I figured that if we just went with things we liked it would all work fine.”
“We met at a friend’s birthday party then shared a taxi. I drunkenly kissed Asa then hopped out and legged it home – of course he got out too, paid the taxi only to find I’d disappeared leaving him a long walk home. Clearly impressed he got my number from the mutual friend the next day. 5 years later, Asa asked if I wanted to go ring shopping. It took me a while to realise he meant an engagement ring!
I was adamant that we have an intimate wedding, only inviting those we really wanted there, which meant a guest list of 38. I work in Ticehurst so knew The Bell already. It’s a lovely, quirkily decorated pub and licensed for ceremonies. ‘Stable with a Table’ is a terrific room at the pub, it was the perfect size. “
“I have always hated the idea of being ‘given away’ and even if my Dad were alive I wouldn’t have done it. I walked in by myself, to the instrumental part of ‘La Vie en Rose’ by Louis Armstrong then Asa came towards me and we walked the rest together. The remainder of the song was played during the register signing, along with ‘Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)’ by Flight of the Conchords.
We walked/danced out to ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ by Morecombe and Wise.”
“Alison from Fleur-Essence, opposite the venue, did the beautiful flowers. I gave her a teeny budget and a few pointers as to what we liked but left it pretty much up to her. The Bell didn’t need much in the way of decor – the flowers just softened it and made it look more ‘weddingy’. She did a really terrific job.”
“Our photographer Dale Weeks was fantastic. I love his photos and he’s a lovely guy, quiet and unobtrusive – lots of the guests commented on how great they thought he was.”
It seems that our little introduction to the fabulous event that is Brides The Show has certainly picqued the interest and we know that lots of you have got your tickets all booked. So, just to whet your appetite a little more (and convince those of you that haven’t yet cleared your diary that you need to hop along), we’re going to take a little look at some of the exhibitors that you can look forward to seeing.
Today, we’re featuring all things fashion from gorgeous gowns for brides and maids to accessories and boutiques.
To be completely honest, we’re already super excited to browse the stands of the designers at the show. The prospect of rails full of tulle, chiffon and silk is almost too much. But, we’ll try to control ourselves as we run through some of the exhibitor you’re going to fall for…
I just adore this wedding! There are so many little touches that make it extra special and bride Amanda obviously worked really hard to bring the whole day together. It seems like such a charming, relaxed day. I always love photographs taken in early spring light and Campbell Photography capture both the ambience and the happiness of the occasion beautifully. The traditional irish ceremony sounds so romantic too. This is an all-round gorgeous day!
Amanda and Graham were married on 17th April 2014 at Brooklodge Hotel and Spa in County Wicklow, Ireland. This is a bride with some really savvy words of wedded wisdom – but you’ll need to scroll to the end of the feature to find out what she has to say
“As we like lots of different things we didn’t just want to be limited to having a set theme. Overall our aim was to have a fun day so I guess you could say it was quite eclectic; 50′s glamour meets rustic charm with a twist of festival fun. As “Love” was what brought us both to this special day we wanted that to be the message that stood out on the day.
We decided to go DIY on the wedding pretty early on. This was down to budget but also because we are both pretty handy and are partial to a bit of arts and crafts. This meant that we were styling and making most of the props ourselves. We made the invitations to start and this was where our theme developed from.”
Amanda’s full skirted lace dress was from Candy Anthony. With her incredible beehive hairstyle and yellow shoes she just looks so retro-glam don’t you think?
“I did a lot of research online looking for short 50′s style dresses and came across Candy Anthony in London. I exhausted all options here before I decided to fly over and try on my dream dress. I am so happy I did, as I fell in love the minute I tried the dress on.”
“It fit like a glove and this was only a sample! The dress I went for in the end was a Nottingham lace overlay with ¾ sleeves and a scalloped hemline. It sat over a winter white satin gown with a four layer petticoat. I wanted a colour pop somewhere in my look so I went with the marigold ruched sash with big bow at the back.
I love everything about this dress, it is the ultimate party dress and was so comfortable. I twirled around the dance floor all night in it, it was so much fun!”
“My sister Erika is the most amazingly gifted hairdresser. She was also a bridesmaid so she was very busy on the morning of the wedding. She knew exactly what I had in mind and did such a fabulous job. It was a modern take on a beehive. I love big hair and it was definitely that! My two sisters had short hairstyles so we used a Marilyn Monroe image as inspiration for their hairstyles. They looked so amazing in their swing dresses.”
“As I couldn’t find the exact style of headpiece that would compliment this style of dress I decided to make my own. I studied costume design at college so no better opportunity to put my skills to use. I had an oversized winter white taffeta bow with birdcage veiling. I absolutely loved wearing and it just completed the whole look. I have since set up my own Etsy store, ‘All Bells & Whistles’, where I design and make bespoke bridal headpieces for other brides to be.
The only item of jewellery I wore on the day were my earrings. They belonged to my nan and she sadly passed away two weeks before the wedding. They were a gorgeous vintage looking drop pearl. I was delighted to have something of hers with me on the day so they were very special.”
“Our polaroid guestbook table was such a fun idea and people loved taking their picture and sticking it in our book. We made an instruction chalkboard and labelled it “shake it like a polaroid picture”. We thought it was a nice alternative to the photobooth idea and a nice keepsake for us to look back on in years to come.”
“Kristi and Neal are The Campbells and I can’t say enough about this couple, they are so talented. We couldn’t have imagined some of the pictures that they captured on the day. They have an intuition for a great shot and saw potential in the most unexpected of locations. They prepared a preview slideshow of our wedding and we were truly moved by the beauty of it. They captured all of our favourite moments and helped us to relive the day. It felt like we had been given the best present ever.
Big Day Films captured our video on the day. We chose a retro style highlights video which was a snapshot view of the day. It is such a fun video and to watch it back really puts a smile on our faces. It’s so nice to have footage of our nearest and dearest and to see their reactions and how they enjoyed themselves. I could watch this over and over as it just sums up the whole day.”
As I was preparing this wedding, I couldn’t help but smile at the photographs of bride Louise – she just looks so happy, and I mean a genuine, beautiful happiness, the kind that catches you out smiling with your head tilted slightly when you’re watching a really good film – a sign of some great photographs, surely?
“Tom grew up in Bridport, Dorset, and we try and spend as much time there as possible. We love the Dorset countryside and so we wanted to base our wedding around a Dorset country theme. From our Ukulele band ‘Mother Ukers‘ at our garden reception, barn dance in the evening, and our traditional Dorset cream tea wedding breakfast, we wanted everyone to feel like they’d come to country village fete rather than a wedding.”
“Tom and I met 10 years ago at University, I was a Fresher and Tom was in his third year. We endured a long distance relationship for three years before I moved to London after graduating at uni. We got engaged on Durdle Door beach down in Dorset in June 2013, where we had spent many evenings there during my summers living with Tom and his parents in between my university years.
Oue venue was Crepe Farmhouse in Dorset. My family are from the Northwest so we wanted a venue that could sleep all 17 of them ☺ It was the perfect setting for our country themed wedding. We hired it for the whole week which meant we could plan onsite in those final stages, and it was perfect.”
I found the whole dress shopping experience not as fun as I thought it would be. I had no idea what sort of dress I wanted, I just knew I wanted to be comfortable, and feel like me. I shopped all over the country, and eventually found this particular boutique on my doorstep – which thankfully made up for the experience I had had up to then.
Originally, the dress had a satin belt which I had taken off, but I loved the back. It was sexy, and elegant, and seeing as 100 people were going to be staring at my back for an hour I was glad it was a feature! It was comfortable and light, and the quality of the lace really stood out from other dress’ I tried on.”
“Our photographer was Ruth Atkinson Photography, who was everything we wanted in a photographer. Her style was perfect for our day, very relaxed and discreet. She captured the day perfectly, making everyone, including a photo shy husband, feel at ease. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough.”