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21 Jun

Kirstie Kelly on Weddings: Designer Tips on Selecting the Perfect Bridal Gown

Posted by Kirstie Kelly in Blog, Bridal, E, Garden Collection, Kirstie Kelly

Courtesy of Kristie Kelly

If you're tying the knot soon, you just  might be a tad overwhelmed with an abundance of planning details ranging from floral arrangements and centerpieces to music selection and cake tastings.

And last, but certainly not least—you've got to find the wedding dress of your dreams! No pressure, right?

We tapped couture bridal designer Kirstie Kelly for her expert advice on shopping for that gorgeous gown. 

Here are her 10 tips for wedding dress shopping:

PHOTOS: See our 2013 wedding gift guide under $50

1. Enjoy Your Time:Trying on wedding gowns with a small audience would make anyone feel a little nervous. Remember that this is your time to have fun dressing up and share it with your closest friends and family! 

2. Keep An Open Mind: Feel free to entertain any direction you might be thinking. Many brides go in with one vision and leave with a gown they normally never would have tried on in the first place. Trust your consultant and follow your heart. Just like your future husband, finding the one is a natural process particular to each individual bride.

3. Wear Proper Undergarments: It may seem unimportant, but wearing proper lingerie and shoes can help you get a better idea of how each gown will fit after tailoring. Corsets, strapless bras and figure-hugging shape wear in neutral colors will help you put your best foot forward when you step out of the dressing room and onto the pedestal. And, bring your heels!

PHOTOS: See our 2013 wedding gift guide under $150

Kirstie Kelly, Wedding GownsElizabeth Messina

4. Size Is Just a Number: Bridal gowns are generally sized smaller than average ready to wear collections. Don't be surprised if you end up purchasing a size 14 when you are normally a size 10.  Also keep in mind that a good consultant will suggest you order a size relevant to your curviest body part—bust, waist or hips. In doing so your gown will be custom tailored around your other measurements without running into a sizing problem. Remember: It's always easier to take a gown in than it is to let it out. 

5. Communicate at All Times: When working with your consultant, talk to her as much as possible. If you already have a vision or a venue picked out, share this information with her so that she can help guide you as you consider options. Bridal consultants live and breathe wedding details, so you might even get a few great ideas if you chat it up!

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6. Be Nice to Your Budget: If the budget for your gown is smaller than you think it should be, don't worry. Bridal gowns in high quality are available at reasonable prices if you know where to look. Brides are beautiful because they are beautiful brides, not because they spent a fortune on a gown. Stay positive and keep the faith; you will find the perfect gown. 

7. Mind Your Body: But in a positive way! Rather than gawk at your arms or your premature cellulite in the mirror, focus on highlighting what is already uniquely beautiful about you. Every woman has distinctive features that can be enhanced by a beautiful gown—focus on bringing that out.  

8. Be Selective With Your Group. Bringing your best friends, family, entire bridal party and sorority sisters may seem like an exciting way to kick off the gown search but it can often lead to too many opinions in too tight of quarters—and ultimately can make you feel overwhelmed. We recommend bringing about three people with you who are equally excited, supportive and stylish so you get the best feedback in the most encouraging way.

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9, Plan Ahead: It might seem unnecessary, but unlike regular shopping stores, bridal salons require appointments. Call in advance so you can make sure to have undivided attention from a professional consultant. It's worth it!

10. Go For It! This is a day to celebrate and look your best while marrying the man of your dreams. Embrace the excitement and beauty of this time—you deserve it!

PHOTOS: See gorgeous wedding shoes for every bride 

06 Jun

To have and to hold: Find the Perfect Gown with Kirstie Kelly Couture

25 Mar

Wedding Gown Designer Program Brings Shopping Experience into the Home

Posted by Kirstie Kelly in Blog, Borrow Me, Equally Wed, Garden Collection

Searching for the wedding dress should be one of the most memorable experiences of the wedding planning process. There’s something to be said about the moment you look into the mirror after trying on who-knows-how-many styles and being able to picture yourself walking down the aisle toward your future wife.

But not every salon experience is as cinematic as movies portray. Whether you’re a shy bride who prefers to make the decision without the fuss, or you’ve experienced not-so-nice stylists at your local shop, there is no “right” way to choose your wedding dress, which is why we are loving wedding gown designer Kirstie Kelly’s Borrow Me program.


Brides have the option to actually try on the beautiful gowns in the comfort of their home, while still receiving the impeccable advice, remotely, from Kelly’s talented team. “In today's shopping market, we have had the privilege of being able to purchase clothing online,” explains Sarah Alderete, bridal stylist and Borrow Me program manager. “We wanted to bring that option to brides as well. With busy work schedules, family obligations, etc., we wanted brides to be able to try on wedding gowns in the comfort of their own home around friends and family.”

 For $35, brides can borrow a gown for two days, taking her time with the decision-making process. Sarah is as hands-on as needed, helping you learn how to take your own measurements (bust, waist and hip), deciding which size to select, assisting in fit and fabric choices, and more.

“All brides are uniquely different in their own way,-but I have noticed that working women love the option of trying the gown at home,” Sarah explains of her typical client. “Brides who live in busy cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York love the option of not having to deal with traffic and cab fare. Additionally, brides in rural areas that are limited to local shops can now try on the gowns they didn't have access to before. Brides who want custom gowns are more prone to go to a bridal salon.”




Choose from Kelley’s frothy Anemone gown (left), classic Lily (middle), fashion-forward Dahlia (right), and more. You can also borrow accessories and bridesmaid dresses. “A bride can try on as many gowns as she chooses, it all depends on what she loves,” says Sarah.

And the experience is completely up to you -- have friends over for a viewing party, complete with Champagne and cake, or make it intimate with just your fiancée or best friend. No two brides are alike, and, when it comes to shopping for the dress, it’s nice to know that we have options.

25 Mar


I’m thrilled to welcome a new addition to Bridal Musing’s team of contributors. Meet the lovely Sama, our resident wedding dress expert.

Sama is a bridal consultant at top London bridal boutique, Blackburn Bridal Couture, where she helps stylish brides, just like you, to choose their dream dress. She is also a bride to be herself and editor ofThe Utter Blog where she obsesses about all things weddings. (A girl after my own heart).

Lucky for us she will be stopping by regularly with her hints tips and advice on finding the perfect wedding dress – straight from the fitting room!

Well, hello there Bridal Muso’s, and thank you so much Elizabeth for inviting me on to your gorgeous blog! For those who don’t know me (erm… probably 99% of you), my name is Sama and I’m lucky enough to work at the utterly fabulous Blackburn Bridal Couture – one of London’s BEST bridal boutiques, if I say so myself.

I’ve been there a couple of years now, and it really is a wonderful job with a wonderful team, and despite my fears that it would put me off weddings for life, it absolutely hasn’t. I genuinely love helping brides find their wedding dress, and I’m pleased to say I’ve come a long way since my very first day when, channeling my inner professional woman, I turned up in a little black number and 4″ heels.

(Note to self: do not wear stilettos in a job where you barely sit down.)

Blackburn Bridal Couture, London

The gorgeous Blackburn Bridal Couture, London 

Not only do I now work in the industry, but I’m a bride-to-be myself (just over 4 months to go – yikes!) so have experienced the highs and lows of dress shopping from both sides of the fitting room curtain, so to speak.

For me, the essence of my job comes down to building a relationship with the person standing semi-naked in front of me and listening to what they have to say; to finding out all about their wedding plans and becoming their confidante when Mum is screaming ‘you’re too exposed!’ or friends are thinking more about what they’d wear rather than the person they’ve come to support.

Wedding dress shopping is an emotional minefield; at times enjoyable but more often than not stressful and bloody confusing! Every bridal shop works differently and your experiences will vary greatly. You have been warned.

So to kick off this series on Bridal Musings, I thought I’d condense everything I’ve learnt in the last couple of years in to one Top-Tip style post.

It may seem brutal at points but I consider it essential reading for all brides-to-be out there about to make the biggest purchase of their life. I hope you find it helpful…

*Disclaimer: These are my personal views, please take lightly*

1. Wedding dresses are expensive - do your research.

Scrap that – wedding dresses are bloody expensive. Before working in bridal I’d always imagined I’d spend around £1000 on a dress but in reality the choice at that price point is really very limited. We meet a lot of brides who have started dress shopping with a figure in their heads and have quickly upped it when they’ve realised what they get for their money. There’s a lot of fabric in a wedding dress, and good quality fabric comes at a cost. Do your research. When you see a wedding dress you like the look of in a blog or magazine, ring the shop and find out the price. Once you have an idea of how much you’re going to spend, call the shops you have your eye on and make sure your price range fits with theirs. There’s no point going to a shop that starts from £2k if your maximum budget is £1500.

2. Have a budget and stick to it.

At my boutique we always ask if there is a budget at the beginning of the consultation. This is not to judge you and laugh you out of the shop if you don’t have a huge spend. This is to keep your shopping experience enjoyable and positive and, ultimately, to help you find a dress. Yes, you want to try on the most expensive dress in the shop – of course you do, it’s beautiful – but what will you do if you like it more than any other dress you try? It’s very unlikely that you’re going to buy it. It’s more likely you’ll get depressed. Everyone has a budget, even if you don’t think you do. Try and establish what you’re seriously prepared to spend up to, and stick to it.

 Elizabeth Messina via Once Wed

3. Keep your guests to a minimum – and choose wisely!

Dress shopping is supposed to be fun. The temptation is to gather a group of your friends and family and to spend a lovely day ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ and quaffing champagne together. But the reality is slightly different – a) very few shops actually offer champagne (sorry to disappoint you), and b) do you really want 5 different opinions? Are you sure you want to be zipped in to a dress that puts a big smile on your face, only to be told ‘No!’ or ‘I don’t like that one’, as you step out of the changing room? We would always advise doing the initial round of shops either on your own or with one person who you trust implicitly (mum, sister, best friend etc). Once you have established what you want and made a short list (short list I said – that’s 3, not 12) of your favourite dresses, then you can ask your wider circle for their valued opinions.

4. To sample sale or not to sample sale…

I’m going to be blunt here: if you have more than 6 months to go ’til your wedding and a healthy spend, don’t bother with a sample sale. Sample sales are fantastic for brides who are short of time or have a very limited budget. But if you have a specific idea of what you’re after (“vintage lace with a v-neck, and possibly 3/4 length sleeves”), then you’re very unlikely to find it at a sale. Dresses being sold as samples are generally those that have been discontinued by the designer or have proved unpopular in the shop. That gorgeous Jenny Packham gown that you’re seeing all over the magazines? It’s not gonna be in the sample sale (sorry). But most importantly, don’t go to a sample sale if you’re at the start of your dress shopping journey as it’s very unlikely you’ll be ready to buy a dress that day, and you will be pressured to do so.

5. Trust your sales consultant – she is very wise.

Or she should be, if she’s any good at her job! No-one knows the dresses better than the person helping you. She’s not a Jedi Knight – she won’t necessarily pull out the dress of your dreams the moment you walk in. But when you’re approaching the end of your consultation and you’ve ‘quite liked’ some but haven’t gone crazy over any, and your friends are running round plucking more off the rails that they like but have no idea what they look like on, turn to the lady helping you and ask ‘what would you recommend?’. If she knows her stuff she should, at that point, be able to suggest something that ticks most or all of the boxes, but that you didn’t necessarily pick out at the beginning of the consultation.

Elizabeth Messina via Style Unveiled

6. ‘It’s how you feel, not how you look.’

This has actually become my mantra at work but it’s true. There is a reason that many bridal shops do not allow you to take photos: 1- There is a copyright issue. 2- Photos taken on a camera phone in a beige room under dodgy, artificial lighting when you have no make-up on and your sister is too close/far away/rubbish at taking photos are not going to be a true representation of how you actually look in the dress. You do not need to remember every single dress you try on; you will naturally remember (maybe not in detail, but you will remember) the dresses that felt the best. And they are the ones that you put on your short list and visit again. I have seen too many confused brides who have image after image on their phones and who are dismissing dresses because ‘my arm looks fat’ or ‘the third flower from the left is too big’. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably doesn’t look right. If it does feel right, and by this I mean if it makes you feel sexy or elegant or demure or relaxed or however you want to feel on your wedding day, well then, you’re on your way to finding your dress.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

I’m not diminishing the importance of The Wedding Dress here. It is, after all, the most amount of money you will ever spend on an item of clothing, ever. But when you have narrowed it down to your final three and you’re stressing out because you love them all and you don’t know how you’re ever going to choose… Stop. Take a step back and say to yourself: ‘It’s just a dress. It’s just a lovely dress that makes me feel happy and special and that I’m going to wear the day I marry Bob/Jamie/Tarquin.’ Because that’s why you’re having a wedding after all; to marry the love of your life. And he’s just going to be happy that you’ve turned up.

Thanks so much Sama, those are some super helpful insider tips right there!

Now for those of you who prefer your wedding planning in bite sized chunks, here’s a pinnable / cut out and keep version of Sama’s essential dress shopping tips:

Please do let us know if you have any wedding dress related questions or you’d like advice on a particular aspect of wedding dress shopping or style.

Sama and I are all ears and we’d love to hear from you. So don’t be shy, leave us a question or comment below!

ps. I highly recommend hopping over to The Utter Blog for even more of Sama’s lovely, bubbly musings on her upcoming wedding and exciting new ventures.

pps. There’s a whole host of other talented wedding industry experts I’m also looking forward to welcoming, who will be sharing their exclusive insider tips with all you lovely Bridal Musings readers. More info to come very soon but for now let’s just say I’m excited!

~ More Wedding Planning Posts on Bridal Musings ~X

20 Mar

I said YES to the dress

Posted by Kirstie Kelly in Blog, Bridal, custom dress, Grey Likes, Kirstie Kelly

Here’s what I didn’t expect: dress shopping was more emotional and exhausting than I had anticipated. I was unprepared to feel so tired after every appointment. I mean, the whole process of finding “the one” is high stakes, so it’s natural for there to be a little drama. But for me it was tougher than that–it was impossible to find the combination of the fit and feel that I was looking for. I now know to tell brides to take a deep breath before going in. You ready for my story?

Wedding Blog I said yes to the dress!

One of the issues I had during my dress search (which is something I’m guessing many brides experience–or am I the only crazy one?) was this disconnect between FIT and FEEL. I needed something that looked great on me, while still evoking the bridal, romantic feel I wanted to experience. I was fighting trends too and looking for a silhouette that designers just AREN’T creating. Sounds dramatic, but it sure was exhausting trying to track down something that just doesn’t exist! Throw in a tiny thing called a budget, plus my aversion for certain fabrics and detailing, and oh my! I get tired just thinking about it–totally not what I expected! I tried dresses on all over the place–including wonderful salons, like THE WHITE DRESS in Corona del Mar and GABRIELLA BRIDAL SALON in New York. (If you live in CA or NY–these places are a MUST visit!) There were soooo many lovely dresses, but “the one” availed me.

Wedding Blog I said yes to the dress!

At this point, I had figured out exactly what type of cut/look I wanted. I wasn’t the kind of bride that just couldn’t decide–rather, I just couldn’t find the elusive dream! So I hit the web, started looking around, and asked some friends. My wedding guru girlfriend, Leila, from BE INSPIRED, recommended I go in to KIRSTIE KELLY. And that’s when things changed. Because rather than go into a bridal salon and try on tons of dresses by different designers, I went straight to the designer.

Wedding Blog I said yes to the dress!

At this point, I had figured out exactly what type of cut/look I wanted. I wasn’t the kind of bride that just couldn’t decide–rather, I just couldn’t find the elusive dream! So I hit the web, started looking around, and asked some friends. My wedding guru girlfriend, Leila, from BE INSPIRED, recommended I go in to KIRSTIE KELLY. And that’s when things changed. Because rather than go into a bridal salon and try on tons of dresses by different designers, I went straight to the designer.

Wedding Blog I said yes to the dress!

I actually got to meet Kirstie during our appointment. We talked. I told her about my dad’s fight with cancer and my sister moving states away. We cried together. I told her about our wedding and how I wanted to feel and what I wasn’t finding. I told her how exhausted I felt. And then I tried on dresses. And then I tried on pieces of dresses–and that’s when the magic happened. Kirstie was able to get my vision and understood what I wasn’t finding. And suddenly the solution seemed so simple. She’s making me a custom dress. Which sounds absurdly expensive, but it really wasn’t. She’s just combining pieces of her line into one dress, just for me.

Custom is NOT for the faint of heart. You’ve got to be able to envision the final product, and commit to a gown only by viewing her in bits and pieces. But for me, it was exactly what I needed–someone who could give that perfect combination of fit and feel. This isn’t something you can do in a normal bridal shop where you are working with consultants who know how to adjust simple things like the neckline. Working directly with the designer means she can actually tell you–yes that’s possible! Kirstie let me pick and choose fabrics, hold each one up, we discussed the difference between ivory and almond, we talked about heel height–the whole thing was so personal and totally what I needed.

Wedding Blog I said yes to the dress!

So I’ve said yes to the dress. You’ll have to wait until after the wedding to see pics (I mean–we can’t risk Bryan getting any hints!). Not that I could show you pictures anyway–I mean, my lady dress is being sewn as we speak. But I will say this–every time I close my eyes and imagine our wedding day, the first thing that comes to mind is me in the dress–walking to see Bryan. And that’s what I’m most excited about.

Gowns above all by KIRSTIE KELLY with images by ELIZABETH MESSINA.