Blackburn Bridal is a luxury British bridal boutique who caters for the bohemian and romantic modern bride.
Located at no. 56 on the aptly named Tranquil Vale in Blackheath, london, this haven of bridal loveliness is a leader in beautiful bridal fashion. As well as gowns by Anna Kara, Anna Campbell, Fran Rios and upcoming British designer, Katy Britton, Blackburn Bridal has its own couture line of bridal gowns, designed by Blackburn Bridal founder, Russell Blackburn. The Secret Garden Collection is beautiful collection of gowns that Russell has created, inspired by the beauty of English country gardens.
Today, we want to welcome you in to the world of Blackburn bridal, introduce you to its founder and alert you to an upcoming event where you can save 10% on your wedding dress order.
Russell please introduce yourself…
Hello, I am Russell Blackburn owner of Blackburn Bridal Couture and Creative Director of my own label, Blackburn Couture. Our boutique is based in the heart of Blackheath Village, now in our 17th year of business, we are very proud to have earned the reputation as one of the most successful independent bridal boutiques in the UK and have just been awarded the long-Standing Retailer Award at the Bridal Buyer Awards 2022.
Over the years, the boutique has earned quite a following with brides, celebrities and the press.
You may well have spotted myself and the shop in numerous TV appearances. Fashion-forward, cool, elegant and bohemian, brides travel from all over the world to visit the boutique and choose from the extensive selection of exclusive designers we carry.
I have dedicated my entire career to the bridal industry, myself and my small team are extremely passionate about our role in helping brides to discover new and exciting dresses and having the best experience along the way.
How did you start out in bridal fashion & what keeps you here?
I had a love of fashion from an early age, I adored the Classic Hollywood starlets of the 1940’s & 50’s and their grace and elegance. My career started out in publishing; I was Fashion Director at ‘You & Your Wedding Magazine’ for over 10 years.
In 2005 I fulfilled a lifelong dream and launched my own bridal business – opening Blackburn Bridal in a bijou boutique in Blackheath. We quickly outgrew the space and a few years later we moved to our current home where we serve our brides in our beautiful shop in the heart of Blackheath.
I would honestly say that the thing I love the most is helping brides to find that perfect dress. It is without doubt the most beautiful dress a woman is going to wear in her life and I take great pride in being a part of that process, it’s such a milestone moment in a woman’s life.
It’s an exciting and joyous occasion and the effect that finally finding ‘The One’ can have, often after women have been so overwhelmed by the shopping process is transformative!
Can you tell us more about the boutique – what kind of experience can brides expect?
We aim to offer a very personal approach to finding ‘the dress’ we understand how daunting and overwhelming the experience can be and do our utmost to ensure our brides feel totally cared for throughout the process – we never take for granted how special this journey is for all of our brides.
We have a small and extremely experienced team who have all been with me for over a decade. We have created a warm and welcoming environment – we want to have fun with you in your appointment and banish any nerves.
Our aim is for you to come away feeling amazing in your chosen dress – we are so passionate about helping you find the dress that both looks and feels amazing – when we hear our brides say ‘this dress just feels like me’ we know we have achieved our goal.
We are there to guide our brides throughout the entire process. All fittings can be held in-store with our talented team of seamstresses so our brides will see the same team members throughout – resulting in a seamless and stress-free experience. Our word-of-mouth referral and the number of families that come back is a testament to this. Our brides become a part of the Blackburn Bridal family and we feel very much a pivotal role in their wedding planning.
What do you love most about working with brides?
I love it when a bride comes to us who may not feel overly confident or is a bit apprehensive of being the centre of attention – helping them to find their dress and seeing how it brings out their confidence is a wonderful journey to be a part of.
When they find a dress that makes them feel amazing that moment is priceless! We form a close bond with our brides over the course of their dress journey – most of our brides use our seamstresses so we really do see them right up until they come to collect their dress just days before their big day.
We are with our brides through the ups and downs of their planning.
What bridal brands can brides try on at Blackburn Bridal?
We pride ourselves on offering a hand-picked selection of designers that we have scoured the world for. We ensure location exclusivity so brides often travel from all over the country (and often the globe) to try on our Designer’s collections.
Our line up includes renowned Australian designer Anna Campbell, Polish designer Anna Kara, UK designers Fran Rios London and Katy Britton and of course our own label – Blackburn Couture available exclusively in the boutique.
Our dresses are far from traditional, we are constantly looking at the trends and what is happening Internationally to bring our brides something different. Our brides often comment on our extensive collection of dresses and remark on how unique they are.
We constantly strive to bring our brides the highest quality dresses using the finest fabrics and intricate embellishments.
Tell us more about your own collection, Blackburn Bridal Couture
In 2013 I launched my very first collection for the Blackburn Couture label. I would describe my signature style as modern and romantic, and always with a glamorous edge.
Drawing upon my experience having dressed thousands of brides, from sleek and form-fitting to soft romantic designs, the Blackburn Couture collection quickly became our best-selling line in the boutique.
We pride ourselves on our exclusivity and following this philosophy the collection is only available at the boutique – brides won’t find it anywhere else.
I am extremely hands-on with our brides and will often be there during appointments when brides are choosing their dresses.
This allows a great level of flexibility so if a bride feels one of my designs would work better for them with a slightly different fit or with sleeves these are all tweaks that we can work on and design together – ultimately creating a very bespoke element to my designs.
What is your favourite personal design?
My favourite design from the new collection is the Petal fitted gown. This dress with it’s 3D floral embellishment, square neckline, low scoop back and fitted train is a relaxed glamorous look – it can be dressed up with accessories and a veil to really make a statement.
You are renowned for supporting new and break through designers – can you tell us more about this?
One of the aspects I love most about running the boutique is discovering new designers who we know are just right for our aesthetic. Over the years this has included the wonderful Claire Pettibone and a chance meeting in New York lead us to carrying Australian designer, Anna Campbell.
Sustainable Wedding Dresses, Made in England
Most recently closer to home we are now carrying British designer’s Fran Rios (see image above) and Katy Britton (see image below).
Our brides love that these designers are British – sustainability and customisation is key with both designers with each dress made to order. Fran Rio and Katy brittons designs have really added something different to our offering. Fran Rios has such a cool ultra modern look with her wide leg jumpsuit and cropped top and skirt combinations, whilst Katy Britton offers a really contemporary take on a relaxed bohemian look – her cut out embroidery designs are so unique.
What would you say are the top concerns brides might arrive with at their first dress appointment, and how do you advise them?
I would say that our most common concern that brides arrive with is complete overwhelm – it may be their first shopping experience and they don’t know where to start.
Or, in contrast to this they may have been to a huge number of boutiques and be completely confused, almost paralysed by the number of styles available and unable to make a decision.
In both scenarios, we look to take the pressure off and enjoy the appointment with us. If it’s a bride’s first-ever bridal appointment we will aim to try on a few different silhouettes to try and narrow down the style best suited to them. If a bride has tried on almost too many dresses we will encourage her to go with her gut and choose a dress that ‘feels’ most like her style.
How soon should brides order their wedding dress?
In an ideal world we recommend you start your shopping quite early on, 12 months (or more) before the big day is perfect! Bridal designers tend to have a 6-8 months lead time, this then allows you 8-12 weeks for your fittings to ensure everything is carried out in a timely manner with no stressful rush at the end.
However, if you have a shorter time frame it is always worth speaking to us as our designers can offer flexibility and can work to a shorter timescale but rush fees may be incurred.
We also have the option of buying some of our samples ‘off the peg’ which would just need alterations – we always try to find solutions to accommodate our brides so it’s worth asking the question!
Best advice for brides looking for a wedding dress?
Firstly congratulations on your engagement! The shopping process can be quite daunting but try not to panic and enjoy the journey. Start by researching styles and shapes – browse blogs like Love My Dress, Pinterest and magazines.
You may find that you are drawn to certain styles and maybe even specific designers.
Then find out which shops carry these designers and book some appointments. I suggest no more than 3-4 as you don’t want to get too overwhelmed with choice. It’s always best to start the process as early as possible – ideally 12 months in advance as designers have long lead times so this avoids any last minute rush!
Most important of all, try to enjoy the process! Dress shopping is a hugely special milestone in your life and it’s important you try and enjoy the experience.