Friday, 1 February 2013

Edinburgh Wedding Project: Here comes the bride

For those of you recently engaged, you’ll know just how exciting a time it is. And that excitement keeps coming as you start looking at venues, thinking about guest lists, and of course, the part of the process that excites us girls the most, the search for that one perfect dress.

Having recently entered the world of wedding, I have found out quite a lot about myself. This was the first surprise, as I was convinced I knew myself inside out. If like me you were taken by surprise and thrust – albeit ecstatically – into the role of bride, you will likely find yourself in one of two camps. The first are the girls who have been planning their wedding since they were old enough to utter the word. And then there’s the other girl, who has been wistfully wondering through life without a care for veil or no veil, satin or lace. I was that girl.

As a lover of fashion, I was surprised at how little direction I had when it came to my wedding dress. But, if anything, I knew what I didn’t want – big, ruffles, sparkles. Three words, in my opinion, that should never sit anywhere near the words 'wedding and dress'. 

Bearing this in mind, I concentrated my search on four Edinburgh shops that nod more in the direction of sophistication and elegance than gypsy wedding. From a vintage wedding dress specialist to bridal couture, here’s my tuppence worth on four of Edinburgh’s premium bridal boutiques.


Caroline Castigliano: This boutique is more for your classic bride. I visited in late December when they were mid sample sale and had some remarkable discounts – dresses that would normally retail at over £2,000 were on sale for just under £1,000 in some instances. The shop policy is to only see one bride at a time, so you have the staff’s undivided attention. We were offered wine, tea and coffee when we went in, and I was free to try on as many dresses as I saw fit. This is a premium shop and the prices do reflect that, but the dresses did feel luxurious. Dresses bought at full price are made-to-measure, and it’s worth bearing in mind that this adds roughly an additional £400. A beautiful shop, with helpful staff and a great range of accessories, Caroline Castigliano is a must for those looking for a more traditional offering.


Pan Pan Bridal: Edinburgh’s only stockist of Jenny Packham, Pan Pan’s collection of innovative bridal gowns got me really excited. Their policy on appointments allows for two brides at any one time – I was lucky during my appointment as I was the only one there. We were asked to wear gloves before we touched the dresses, which I didn’t mind, and I could understand the logic. I picked from a wide range of dresses, and was given good advice throughout my consultation. The assistant that worked with me was helpful, made suggestions, and helped me visualise how the dress would look when it was in my size, rather than the sample. Despite a great range of dresses and the all important Jenny Packham range, I didn’t find ‘the dress’ here. However, Pan Pan was helpful and I was advised alterations would cost somewhere in the region of £200.

Rachel Scott Couture: Rachel Scott can only be described as a true master of her trade. Quite quickly she spotted the style of dress that would look the best on me, helped me choose gowns that would complement my shape and had a very unique way of pinning dresses so that sample sizes seemed to magically fit. She also gave great advice on hair, with clips and accessories to complement every gown, pinning my hair up when it looked best with a backless number and letting it lie loose for something strapless. She was patient, helpful and clearly knew her boutique inside out. I was all but ready to put in my order for a beautiful Amanda Wakeley gown, when a dress at my final boutique gave me the long-awaited ‘this is the one’ feeling. I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Rachel Scott Couture.


Lamesley Bridal: It was love at first sight with this boutique. A local resident, passing the shop on a daily basis filled me with excitement, as the gowns in the window spoke for themselves; elegant, sophisticated and simply stunning. A vintage wedding dress specialist, the whole experience plays homage to this era. Appointments are on a one-to-one basis, and you are greeted by tea and cake, whilst the dames of the 1930’s music scene lull in the background. Amongst a range of original vintage gowns, Lamesley Bridal stocks Stephanie Allin, Ritva Westenius and The Vintage Wedding Dress Company exclusively in Edinburgh. This boutique really does make you feel like you have stepped back in time, in the best possible sense. After trying on five dresses, all beautiful but not quite me, the last dress I slipped on was my dress and there was no doubt about it. Ecstatic, the wonderful shop assistant advised against purchasing the dress on that day, as there was a designer day two weeks later, where I would save 10% on my purchase. This was a lovely touch – I had no idea about this event, and would have merrily purchased the gown had the helpful assistant not stepped in. This topped off an already great experience at Lamesley Bridal. Alterations at this boutique are capped at £150, and it has a wide range of accessories and veils to choose from.

Each of these boutiques has something different to offer, but I hope this small guide will encourage you to put each one of them on your wedding dress go-to list.

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