I’ll be honest, I’m not great first thing in the morning so a 5am alarm call on Sunday wasn’t the best start to my day. Once I’d hit snooze (twice) and remembered why I was waking up this early I can’t say that I bounded out of bed (being 40something means I don’t “bound” anywhere especially not first thing in the morning!) but I did move with more vigour than normal.
Myself and Sarah were heading to the Bridal Mecca that is Harrogate. Twice a year designers flock from all over the world to this beautiful spa town to showcase their forthcoming collections and designs. We are really proud of the relationships that we have with our UK based designers and it’s agreat opportunity to catch up both professionally and personally with them whilst saying hello to fellow bridal boutique owners from all over the country.
The day passed in something of a whirl, Emily and Alana were kept incredibly busy modelling the dresses and proving that, once again if it doesn’t look good on the hanger it will look amazing when filled with womanly curves! I had fantastic opportunities to meet, help and give advice to new business owners (shout out to Tanya who is opening her boutique soon!) and chat with existing stockists about how our businesses are developing and growing. We may be choosing from the same collection but what is popular in one area of the UK may not do so well in other areas and it was fascinating to compare notes on what brides are looking for.
We finished our day with a front row table and complimentary bottle of Prosecco as Tian was showcasing her gowns in the Fashion Show (we are normally in the cheap seats at the back so this was a real treat). I always love the Fashion Shows as it gives a glimpse into the new collections from a variety of designers and the dramatic staging and models professionalism never disappoints.
After a full day on my feet the “10 minute” walk back to the hotel became a 40 minute hobble when I fell over after leaving the restaurant. Trying valiantly to save myself I flayed around (I wouldn’t have looked out of place at a 1990’s Acid House Rave) but to no avail and ended up face down on the pavement with my handbag a couple of feet away. Sarah hurried to my handbags rescue, after all it did have her iPad in it and once she had confirmed said device wasn’t broken attempted to assist me.
A number of our contemporaries were off to the Bridal Buyer Award Ceremony, parties and soirees thrown by the designers or just catching up with friends but, flagging somewhat after our early start, we made it back to the hotel for about 10.30pm and sat in bed with a hot chocolate and ginger biscuit each reflecting on the day. Bridal doesn’t get much more rock n roll than this….
After a hearty hotel breakfast we started our “10 minute walk” arriving in plenty of time to catch up with a few of our designers, Twilight, Justin and Ashley along with House of Nicholas, before the doors officially opened. Once again, the day flashed by in a whirl of satin, tulle and hand beaded delights and before I knew it 6pm had come and gone and we were headed back down the M1.
I always enjoy my time in Harrogate and it was great to experience it from a different perspective. I met small business owners from all over the UK whose bride demographic varied considerably but the overriding constant factor was the underlying passion to provide exceptional customer service for all our brides. I was introduced to boutique owners who pour their heart and soul into creating memorable experiences and who can instantly recall brides names and the dresses they wore. Boutique bridal is one of the only high street retail experiences where personal one to one service still exists. Where your Bridal Consultant will have full knowledge of fabrics and dress construction along with a personal relationship with the designer. They can offer an end to end service from choosing your dress to potentially making changes to reflect your theme and ensuring a truly bespoke dress to dressing the bridal party on the big day itself. They truly love their jobs and this passion shines through.