‘Love Your Dress’ – Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed

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It might seem like a bit of a no-brainer on a blog with this name, but I want to tell you about why you should love your dress. I’ve been a Love My Dress fan ever since Annabel  first posted way back in the middle of my engagement, and I never really gave any credence to the title other than the fact that she had loved her dress when she had her wedding. It was only when I put my own wedding dress on that I realised that it is, in fact, vital that all brides love their dress because this is the metaphor you should carry through for every decision you make about your wedding.


The Dress

When I had my initial consultation at Clifton Brides in Bristol, the lovely assistant showed me about six different gowns in a variety of styles. Even though I had told her I was after something quite slinky and more in the style of evening dress, she said it was important that I tried on different styles so I could be definitely sure of what I wanted.

My inspirations were Jenny Packham and Amy Michelson, but I knew I’d never be able to afford either. Imagine my joy therefore when I was presented with a Benjamin Roberts gown that looked strikingly similar to the JP Elizabeth gown but was a third of the price!

Love My Dress Wedding Blog  – Photography Copyright (c) 2010, Source Images

'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images.

I knew that I wanted a dress that I wouldn’t have to worry about, that I could run around in like an over-excited child, that didn’t make me feel constricted, rigid or uncomfortable, that I could dance in with gay abandon and that my new husband would like. In the end I was so happy in it that I didn’t even care about traipsing it back and forth through the garden and covering it in grass stains, or accidentally putting my heel through the hem.

I’m pretty proud of these scars on the dress actually, as I think they’re mementos of what a great day we had and how well the dress stood up to the task of being worn by me!

'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images.

The funny thing is, I hardly looked in a mirror all day so didn’t really know what I looked like. It was only when we got the photos back after the wedding that I realised I kept stroking the pictures of my dress as it was the first opportunity I’d had to see the whole of myself in context. I loved my dress because it made me feel amazing, even when I couldn’t see what I looked like.

'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images.

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The Venue

Aside from the fact that I’m a massive geek and knew that I wanted to get married somewhere with enormous historical value, it was important that the venue also felt personal to us. Nick had a hard enough time trying to get his head around the fact that there would be people – lots of people – looking at him all day, the last thing he needed on top of that was to be put in the middle of a really ostentatious, austere room that made him feel even more uncomfortable.

'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images.

I’ll be honest, I loved Ettington Park Hotel from the second I first saw it. It was a pitch black, bitingly cold February evening when we went to view it. The drive up from Bristol through the Cotswolds was a winter wonderland and then as we drove down the long country A-road, I saw it lit up in the dark from across the fields. I loved it!

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Luckily Nick loved it too. All the function rooms were just the right size for what we needed and not over-the-top. It really did feel like a house that happened to have a lot of bedrooms. I loved the fact that ‘reception’ was a table by the front door. The rooms themselves were all big and comfy and given that we had to use 15 of them as part of our package, we thought they would be a treat for our guests to stay in.

Obviously we were both hoping for a balmy September day, but we also knew that if the weather wasn’t on our side we wouldn’t be too gutted because a) we were using a whole variety of rooms inside for various parts of the day and b) the stunning Gothic architecture of the exterior would look beautifully dramatic against the backdrop of more severe weather. The ruined remains of a 12th century chapel in the garden where we were to have our blessing following the civil ceremony was just crying out to be used in a photoshoot too – I do love a good Gothic arch.

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And what better place to get married than somewhere that has “Loyal Je Suis” as the family motto? It was carved into every fireplace, around the doorways and even tiled into a mosaic on the floor. If ever there was a good omen…!

I guess aside from its beauty, its accessibility and its luxuriousness, the reason that we booked Ettington on the spot was because we immediately felt comfortable there. In fact, we were so comfortable that we rather began to think of it as our new home after so many visits, and were a bit gutted when we had to leave the day after the wedding! 

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The Photographer

It’s hard to believe now but once upon a time I knew nothing about weddings, and as such I budgeted about £400 for our wedding photographer. How naive I was! However, as I surfed my way around the worldwide web of weddings it began to dawn on me that there’s a reason why photographers take up such a large percentage of your budget – because they’re worth it.

Once you’ve packed up your dress and put away the last of your wedding presents, the real memories of your day are there for you in print. Your photos are the best way of remembering your day and I passionately believe that they are worth the investment.

'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images.

'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images.

'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images.

With this in mind, we booked Jordan Banks of Source Images, on the back of me picking up one of his flyers at a wedding show and very much liking that it all it had on it was a stunning image, their name and phone number. Sold. It’s very important to get a photographer who can capture your day in the style you want, but even more so who you don’t feel intimidated by.

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'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images.

Nick and I were so ambivalent about photos that Jordan’s very chilled out, friendly personality was just what we needed, along with his focus and direction to try and get a couple of snaps where we didn’t look totally gormless. Jordan was both a professional and a gentleman and we are very happy with the images he captured.

The Details
Sometimes the internet is a magical place. Thanks to the wonder of Twitter, I managed to source my hair accessories from Chez Bec and my bracelet from Liberty In Love to go alongside my beautiful vintage earrings that belonged to my great-grandmother…

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My most important find though was Make-Up by Katy. I cannot recommend her highly enough. In the same way that I think you should love your dress, feel comfortable in your venue and have a laugh with your photographer, I also think you should feel great about yourself. I’m so ambivalent about my own beauty regime that had I have been left to my own devices, I’d have walked down the aisle wearing little more than tinted moisturiser and a lick of mascara.

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Luckily, Katy came to my rescue and transformed me. I don’t just mean physically, I mean mentally. I don’t know whether it was having her calming presence with me whilst we were getting ready, or just the fact that I could look at myself in the mirror and actually like what I saw, but my confidence grew exponentially as a result and I have to say that having the luxury of someone to do my make-up and take that worry off my hands really did make my day.

As sad as it sounds, I loved our very simple blackboard table plan in a gilded frame, which came to a grand total of £1.05 for the chalk and the black card, as the frame was out of my husband’s pub. I think it looked pretty good for such a cheapskate option!  My Mum had been to one wedding fayre on my behalf and managed to come back with Nyree Desiree’s Cake Boutique enlisted to make the cake and Jennie Cooke to do the flowers. On both counts I was keeping to a black/white/pewter palette, so tried to keep things as minimal and unfussy as possible.

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And finally, I must mention the wonderful Rebecca and Tom of RT Acoustic Duo, who very wonderfully provided the soundtrack to our ceremony and drinks reception with beautiful versions of modern and classic songs. I know our guests appreciated the chilled out atmosphere as they sipped their Pimms in the afternoon sunshine, and I’m particularly grateful that she learnt Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing for us to walk out of the ceremony too – we can’t help grinning whenever we hear it now!

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What did we learn?

I think it is so important that every decision you make about your wedding sits right within you because it’s not about pleasing other people or trying to toe the traditional line – it’s about your personalities and doing what makes you feel comfortable.

There are going to be so many things happening on the wedding day that are so completely out of the ordinary and remove you from your comfort zone, that you should do everything possible to provide yourself with the opportunity to be relaxed enough to enjoy it all without being completely overwhelmed.

'Love Your Dress' - Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed - Photography by Source Images...

Love your dress, love your wedding and love each other!

Emma  xx


Since writing this piece in 2010, Emma Woodhouse has gone on to establish The Wedding Reporter, and has also written a series of posts under the title ‘Notes on a Wedding’ for Love My Dress.

6 thoughts on “‘Love Your Dress’ – Wise Words of Advice from a Newlywed

  1. Given I found out 2 weeks ago I’m to be made redundant (i know nice xmas present!), my Jenny Packham dreams have been shattered so I am so happy this morning to see this bride looking so lovely in her benjamin adams dress. This has totally made my day!!!!!

  2. Lovely photographs and sensible advice! Beautiful venue, my friend is looking into it as a potential, I’ve just emailed her this page link,
    Just out of interest how was the wedding dress? It’s lovely.

  3. Hi Lemmy and Betsy, thanks for your comments – Betsy, I believe the Benjamin Roberts dress is ‘around’ the £700 mark as it is one I tried on too! I also recall it has a lovely internal corset (am I right Emma?) and that the fabric fell beautifully.
    Hope this helps! 🙂
    Much love,
    Annabel xXx

  4. Thank you all so much for your lovely comments…and for your interest in the dress! Annabel is quite right, it was £680 and the internal corset was amazeballs but completely invisible from the outside. The silk chiffon material is really lightweight and comfy the only thing I would say if anyone does go for it is practice walking in it! I didn’t and kept getting all twisted up in my train (until I remembered I could shorten it by tying it up).
    And as for Ettington – I can’t recommend it enough for being a really personal venue. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for it now! I think it’s really quite reasonably priced and the staff were so kind and helpful, nothing was too much trouble for them.
    Once again, many thanks for your comments and if anyone has any questions about any of it then please feel free to drop me an email.
    Emma x

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