Celebrity Wedding Dress of The Year?

I’m just going to come out and say it; I was a bit disappointed with Amal Alamuddin’s wedding dress.

amal-alamuddin-wedding-dress-photo-people-coverDon’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely dress, designed and constructed by the magnificent Oscar de la Renta who regularly dresses the world’s most beautiful women. And Amal looks gorgeous because she is a gorgeous woman… but let’s face it, she’d have looked gorgeous if she’d wrapped herself in bog roll and floated down the aisle.

I quite like the lace, I quite like the off-the-shoulder straps reminiscent of my favourite Disney princess, Belle, but I think that’s my problem: it’s classic, it’s sweet, it’s safe… it’s just a bit Disney. I suppose I expected something with a bit more chutzpah from the hugely accomplished, internationally-acclaimed human rights lawyer who has fascinated the world by winning the affections of Our Sexiest Bachelor. Isn’t safe just a bit boring?

There’s a ridiculously long train, of course, as there always is with stupidly expensive weddings. She can’t walk around freely, but MONEY HAS BEEN SPENT, PEOPLE. Although, of course, it’s highly unlikely she actually paid for her dress which leaves me wondering- is this lovely, lace confection truly reflective of Amal and her personality? Is this what Oscar de la Renta would have designed for a strong, chic, dynamic and HOT 36-year old woman should she not have been such a huge public figure and much-anticipated bride to be?

Perhaps. Perhaps Amal knew exactly what she wanted to wear on her wedding day and this was it. Perhaps I’ve got it all wrong and am just being unnecessarily critical. Perhaps she loves Beauty And The Beast as much as I do. Perhaps I’ve got a little wound up about just how much exposure and media hysteria their wedding created last week. I’m thrilled that they’ve found each other and I’m thrilled they’ve tied the knot. Best of luck to them; they seem genuinely happy and in love. But to make the 6pm news three days in a row? To have Susannah Reid flown to Venice to report on the lead-up? To tout this perfectly nice dress as The Wedding Dress Of The Year?? (Good Morning Britain, I’m talking to you.)

No. Not in my books. That accolade would go to the lovely Fearne Cotton, I reckon. For having the chutzpah to wear something cute, unique and oh-so pretty that represented her in every way, and for pulling it off with effortless aplomb.


Disagree? Who (or what) would win your Celebrity Wedding Dress of the Year?

Sama xxx




Selling On The Dress of Dreams

I think it’s time.

I know, I know- how could I? Why would I want to get rid of the most beautiful dress I will ever own? Don’t I want to get it out of the wardrobe once a year and put it on/ dance around the landing/ do the ironing in it/baulk at how it no longer fits? Might my hypothetical future daughter want to wear it herself one day? Does money mean more than memories??


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My beautiful Chantilly dress by Claire Pettibone. Image by Dominique Bader.

From the moment I chose my dress Paul was petitioning for me to sell it once the wedding was over. He even made a joke about it in his speech (which went down a treat, annoyingly). The idea didn’t fill me with horror, but I also wasn’t sure if I’d want to. Consequently in the months that followed our wedding I had a handful of brides-to-be contact me to find out if I was willing to sell my dress but I always politely declined. It felt too soon and made me feel bizarrely disloyal to this beautiful silk and chantilly lace creation that had made me feel so, so beautiful and special.

But I have to admit something’s changed now. Our wedding was 15 months ago and I’m relieved to say I no longer mourn it’s passing. Our brilliant, happy, laughter-filled day is securely locked in the old internal memory box, and there are visual reminders throughout our house- from the shot of me and my bridesmaids on my office shelf to the polaroid guestbook that has taken up formal residency on our coffee table.

My dress, however, resides in the spare room wardrobe, forgotten and unloved. I’ve put it on twice since the wedding day and both times it’s made me feel a bit sad; sad that I’m never going to have the chance to wear it properly again and sad that it’s now too tight. This is not a dress that’s had it’s day. This is a dress that is clean and sparkly and wants desperately to have its moment in the spotlight again. And who am I to begrudge it of that opportunity?

So the decision’s been made; she’s up for sale. (I can’t keep calling her ‘it’, she’ll get the right hump). I’ve had a chat with her and she’s excited. Of course, whether there’s a bride-to-be out there who wants to buy her is another question, but I know that Claire Pettibone has quite the following and Chantilly is one of her most sought-after dresses, so here’s hoping this lil’ post will reach the right person.

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The glorious Chantilly back. Image by Dominique Bader.

I shall let you know how I get on and as and when she leaves Hextable for pastures new. As well as this blog post, I’ve also put ads on Sell My Wedding Dress and the Undress section of Rock My Wedding- so it may be interesting for those considering selling their own dress which medium I have the most luck with. Please do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about sizing/price etc.*

In the meantime I’d love to hear from you- would you/could you sell your wedding dress? Did you buy your dress with the full intention of selling it on after the wedding day, or does the idea fill you with horror? For those who have said goodbye to their own Dress of Dreams, which website/shop did you sell through and how long did it take?

A big wave to everybody from me to thee as well. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I have lots to catch up on having just finished my Utterly Wow 2014 season, but for now I’m enjoying a well-earned breather. I’m massively looking forward to getting back to regular(ish) blogging though.

Lots of love to all!

Sama xxx

*In putting the RMW link on I’ve noticed they’ve temporarily closed their Undress section due to persistent scammers. I was actually immediately approached by a scammer after submitting my details to Sell My Wedding Dress. The profile picture of a young pretty girl was quite convincing but sadly the fact ‘she’ wanted to buy the dress immediately without trying it on or asking questions, the random story of how she was deaf, in a wheelchair and buying it for her cousin, and the fact she could only pay by PayPal made it pretty obvious she/he was lying out of her/his arse.

I Dream of Tulle

I do.

Specifically big, pouffy, swishy tulle skirts paired with a casual top and a pair of skyscrapers à la style icon, Carrie Bradshaw.

A tulle icon. Image via Groove Girl

Image via Groove Girl

Worn badly the tulle skirt is the epitome of tackiness, with nasty prom dresses and those fluorescent-pink mini tutus we all crack out for eighties nights springing to mind. Worn well, like these fashionable so and sos below, and you have the height of style and femininity; a nod to 1950’s elegance combined with modern day, urban rock and roll.

Image from top left: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

Image from top left: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

In the wedding world, I adore tulle skirts when worn as a statement piece like the hipsters above. I’m not a girly girl; I wouldn’t wear a tiara unless it was for a fancy dress party, and if Paul ever dared to call me ‘his little princess’ I’d poke him in the eye, but in another life I dream about donning tulle on my wedding day.

Whether it’s worn short and sweet with a leather jacket and glittery Kate Spade heels like this gorgeous bride…

Image by Levi Stolove

Image by Levi Stolove

… Or rustic and romantic with full-length tulle and a casual lace top like the Swedish beauty below…

… there’s no denying it; tulle rocks.

But here’s the sticking point. You have to be slender and delicate up top. I’m talking a diddy waist and a small bust; neither of which I have, hence why I dream of tulle rather than actually wearing it. Sigh. In another life maybe.

If, like me, you would love to wear tulle but don’t have the body for it, or if you do have the body for it (lucky sod) but don’t have the confidence to step out in such a bold look, then I implore you… find a small child and put her in a vest top and a massive tulle skirt.


Sama xxx

PS. I have actually have photo evidence of the one time I have ever successfully worn tulle. I was 5.


Dress Crushing

And I don’t mean the type of crushing that turned Walter White’s  RV-come-meth-lab in to a piece of flat pack furniture, yo. I’m talking the kind of crushing that gets your heart racing and your pupils dilating. (Although, to be fair, the meth lab probably did that too.) The kind of crushing that I had on Jared Leto when I was 13 and on Leonardo di Caprio when I was… well, now.

My job in the bridal boutique means I turn up to work and am surrounded by gorgeous things. I get new crushes every day; when a bride shows me the most exquisite engagement ring, or when she puts on a dress and it just floors the entire room. Bridal boutique owners and employees are literally falling in love every day at the moment, and you know why? Because the SS14 dresses are arriving, folks. Never has the grumpy man from UPS been so welcome.

Now I may be biased but I’m going to put it out there and say that Blackburn Bridal has The Best Dresses. Bohemian romance, old-school glamour and total originality are what we do, and today I thought I’d share just some of the sumptiousness that is brand new in for the upcoming season.

Brides-to-be, I am so jealous of you right now.

Jenny Packham

I don’t think there’s a person in the entire world who hasn’t heard of Jenny now, thanks to a certain Duchess. Her gowns are glamorous, luxurious and totally timeless. She has created some absolute beauties this year but my favourites have to be Genevieve for it’s simplicity, feminity and intricate, opaque white beading, Tilly for it’s nod to 1970’s bohemia, and Kathleen, because it’s slouchy. And covered in beads. ‘Casual-glamour’ would be an accurate description for this Boudica-esque beauty, I feel.

Genevieve by Jenny Packham

Genevieve by Jenny Packham

Tilly by Jenny Packham

Tilly by Jenny Packham

Kathleen by Jenny Packham

Kathleen by Jenny Packham

Leila Hafzi

Leila Hafzi is a new and very welcome addition to the boutique rails. These dreamy, bohemian, feminine gowns fuse high-end fashion with sustainable, ethically produced garments… so perfect for the stylish, eco-conscious bride! Made from the lightest silk chiffon in either ivory, champagne or the palest of pinks, my favourite is Fariba. Wear her with bare feet and a big old flower crown and you can’t really go wrong.

Fariba by Leila Hafzi

Fariba by Leila Hafzi

Charlotte Casadejus

Oh man, we love this lady. And her collection of original, vintage-inspired gowns were a no-brainer when we spied them at The White Gallery in May. Charlotte LOVES genuine vintage and antique fabrics, so when it comes to lace sleeves and belt buckles, no two dresses are ever the same- which is something I find very exciting! Cecile is the epitome of 1930s glamour, whilst Coco is… well, Coco is just fabulous. Utterly niche and too cool for school, we can’t wait to meet this bride. (Or should I say ‘anti-bride’?)

Coco by Charlotte Casadejus

It’s a shirt dress! Coco by Charlotte Casadejus

Claire Pettibone

Does Claire really need an introduction? I wore one of her gowns myself and she has boho brides travelling to us from all over the world to try on her stunningly romantic designs. Her Découpage collection consists of only six pieces, but the stand-out has to be Wren. A beautiful guipure and chantilly lace top, fluid silk skirt, and a keyhole back to make all other keyhole backs feel totally inadequate; this dress is going down a treat in the boutique right now, and it’s easy to see why.

Well, I feel much better for getting those out of my system. I must confess to having tried all bar two of them on… (well, when you work in a bridal boutique it would be rude not to, right?) and they feel as good as they look. There are a few dresses to come in still, meaning I will have more to share with you in the coming weeks courtesy of Suzanne Neville, Clinton Lotter and Sarah Janks, but for now I want to know… which is your favourite??

I’m going with Genevieve. No, Wren. No, Geneveive… gah!

Sama xxx

The Wedding Dress of Dreams

I’ve only gone and bloody done it.

I have finally chosen the dress I am to be married in.  And let me tell you, for a girl who works in a bridal shop, writes a wedding blog and is generally obsessed with all things nuptial, that is no mean feat.

Surprisingly, the final decision was easier than I ever imagined.  But that’s skipping to the end.  To tell a story we really must start at the very beginning…

*   *   *   *   *

I have always thought about what I’d wear when I got married.  Way before I worked in bridal, way before I got engaged, way before I even met Paul, in fact.  Here’s an embarrassing confession: in my teens I went through a nasty bout of insomnia and to calm myself down and try to send myself to sleep I would imagine myself walking down an imaginary aisle in my imaginary wedding dress.   The man waiting for me at the end was a blur- actually he wasn’t even important at that time- but the dress soon became crystal clear.  It had straps and a v-neck, it drew in to my waist with some sort of beaded or lacy detail, and it came over my hips (I never wanted a big dress) before finishing with a soft, fluid, floaty skirt.  I suppose a bit like the Saskia by Jenny Packham.  But minus the over-sized shoulder bows.

Saskia by Jenny Packham

Once I’d got engaged (or it could have been before- I’ve been trying dresses on ever since I started working at the boutique if I’m totally honest), I did try the Saskia and liked it very much.  The feeling of wafting around in a cloud of chiffon is quite divine, let me tell you; but in the end I didn’t find the dress flattering enough, I felt a bit frumpy, and it was quickly discarded.

And there we get to the first major battle of my wedding dress search: feeling fantastic versus feeling frumpy.  Once I’d started trying dresses on I quickly learnt two things about myself; 1. that I’m incredibly self-critical and will automatically look for the fat bit when trying a new dress on (“chunky arms- get it off”), and 2. that my insomnia-induced dress instinct was right- as a busty, fairly top-heavy person, the dress had to come over my hips and show off my whole shape in order to make me look and feel slim.  This meant that princess, empire and a-lines were out; soft fishtails were in.

In the end there were only really four dresses that made me feel fan-bloody-tastic, and one of them was way over budget (and not from my shop, sshhh).  That was, of course, the Lihi by Mira Zwillinger.  I’ve mentioned this dress before, and even though I broke the number one rule of wedding dress shopping (Don’t Try On What You Can’t Afford!) I snuck away with my Mum one afternoon to ‘test’ the rule I preach daily. Ahem.  It was beautiful but I couldn’t afford it. As predicted. Pointless exercise completed, although we did have a lovely afternoon 🙂

Cue the first of a couple of strategically zoomed-in and Instagrammed peeks at me in dresses (as I know Paul will be reading)…

Lihi by Mira Zwillinger with a stunning £900 Toni Federici veil

Real Contender Number 1, and the first dress to properly steal my heart (and cause the most angst throughout the entire dress deliberation) was the Luna by Jenny Packham.  Of her 2012 collection, this was the dress I couldn’t wait to arrive in store the most, and when I put it on I didn’t want to take it off.  It shimmered, it swooshed, it flattered my figure and it made me feel like a movie star.  Not to mention it was in a very pale blush colour which I loved. I knew that it was everything that Paul would hate, but I told myself that he’d like the silouhette (as a very sexy dress it is indeed), and that if I liked it, he’d like it.

The incredible beadwork of ‘Luna’ by Jenny Packham

Surprisingly so, my Mum didn’t get it either (we usually have such similar taste).  Where I saw sexy, sparkly and romantic, she saw “70’s showgirl”. I was disappointed but it remained a very strong contender.  Nay, the front runner.  Rebellious ’til the end, me.

Real Contender Number 2 was a Sarah Seven dress called Fields of Flowers.  On the hanger it didn’t look like much, and I’d dismissed it a) for the A-line skirt, and b) for the high lace neck.  However, once I started putting it on brides I realised it was an incredibly flattering dress; girly and feminine but with a dash of rock n’ roll in the underwear style corset top and modern, sparkly belt.  I tried it on, it gave me a waist I never knew I had; I felt like a bride.

Nipped in and sparkling away- ‘Fields of Flowers’ by Sarah Seven

And there I was, stuck between a rock and a hard place for the last six weeks or so.  My head was telling me to go for classic with a twist- Paul would get it, my guests would get it, I wouldn’t look back in twenty years time and think, what was I thinking??  But my furiously pumping heart was jumping up and down and waving ‘Luna is The One!’ placards. It was pink, it was unique, it was glamorous and swishy; it made me feel ah-may-zing.  Paul would just have to suck it.

But then a New Kid On The Block came along.  Not an actual 80’s popstar, but a dress that I hadn’t tried on or even previously considered.  We’d had it in the shop when I first started working there but sold our sample shortly afterwards. A year or so later and it had slipped back on to our rails relatively unannounced, and although I admired it’s beauty I’d dismissed it for myself because it didn’t have the waist detail I was after, and I feared it would make me look matronly.

It didn’t make me feel matronly, it made me feel… special. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Not ah-may-zing like the Luna or ‘bridey’ like Fields of Flowers, but softly sexy and special. A very special dress for a very special occasion.

Last weekend my Mum and my bridesmaids came to the shop at the end of a long Saturday at work.  I knew which one I was going to choose but we went through the motions anyway.  The Luna got a very muted reaction and I surprised myself with how quickly I eliminated it, having clung on to it for so long. Fields of Flowers got lots of positive noises and looked fantastic with the bridesmaids dresses. A very worthy runner-up.  I saved The New Kid On The Block till last and came out of the changing room beaming.  The New Kid On the Block became The One.  My manager cried (from relief probably- I’d been trying on dresses for the last eighteen months!) and glasses were clinked.  My bridesmaids and I met up with our men to celebrate and I got very, very drunk. Job done.

So what can I tell you about The One?

  • Well, I think it’s a perfect balance between the glamour of Luna and the ‘brideyness’ of  Fields of Flowers.
  • It’s not pink. (Paul breathes a sigh of relief.)
  • I showed my step-father-to-be a picture of me in it and after a moment he said, “Mmmm, very woodland nymph”, which wasn’t quite what I was after but is better than “70’s showgirl”.  I also think the flower garland I had on my head may have had something to do with his thought process.
  • It looks fantastic with said flower garland.
  • It has an amazing back.

Is it everything I ever dreamed of?  Erm, actually no.  I dreamt of swathes of chiffon and a much, much floatier skirt like the Saskia at the very beginning of this post.  But in reality it didn’t work on me.  The One is actually a bit of a slinky malinky; still very soft and fluid, but much more fishtail than I ever thought I’d have.  I am, however, 100% head over heels in love with it and cannot wait to wear it- even though I have to plank my way from now ’til May to lose the little tummy pouch that a waistband can magically hide.

So there we have it.  Well done and thank you for reading until the end if you’ve made it this far of a rather epic post.

I’ll leave you with a little lesson I learnt the other day.  When downloading pictures of you in your dress on to your laptop and meticulously hiding them away in a folder he will never find, don’t leave your favourite image minimised when you think you’ve actually closed it.  Because he will go on to the laptop later in the evening when you’ve forgotten all about it, and open said image.  As Paul did last week.  He made a little yelp of surprise and closed it down pretty sharpish, but a glimpse he has seen none the less.

In all honesty I’m not that bothered.  I’m not superstitious and we are both fairly relaxed about the whole thing (we’re staying together the night before the wedding, for example),  but I still deserve a slap on the wrist.  Still, he proved another point I make on a daily basis when I asked him how much he actually saw later on that night.

“White”, was his response.  And he made a slinky little hourglass shape with his hands.

Which just goes to show ladies, it’s all about the colour and the shape for our men of simple pleasures.  Appreciation (or depreciation) of the detail that consumes us will come much, much later.  When you’ve pointed it out to him perhaps.

Seven months today!

Sama xxx


Claire Pettibone Trunk Show at Blackburn Bridal Couture

Oh hello weekend! And hello dearest Uttersons…

I’m slipping in a cheeky little post today to publicize an extra-special event taking place at the boutique I work at next weekend.  Claire Pettibone is one of my favourite bridal designers, and I’m so lucky to work somewhere that not only stocks her beautiful creations, but is also her main UK stockist (and exclusive in London!).

The beautiful ‘Toulouse’ by Claire Pettibone

Claire’s bridal designs are the epitome of bohemian romance.  Soft, fluid, colourful, intricate, whimsical, delicately embellished and as light as a feather; season after season she brings out a collection that is a cut above the rest in terms of quality and originality… in my humble opinion, of course 😉

Queen Anne’s Lace by Claire Pettibone. Image by Sarah Gawler

Mystere by Claire Pettibone. Image by Gia Canali

Midnight by Claire Pettibone

Ok ok, so she does stunning dresses, but what’s this Trunk Show all about then?

Well, next weekend (Friday 5th and Saturday 6th October), Blackburn Bridal Couture will be hosting an event to showcase all three of her stunning collections: the Continuing Collection (with favourites such as Queen Anne’s Lace, Kristene and Willow), the 2012 french-inspired Beau Monde Collection, and her brand spanking new 2013 Windsor Rose China Collection.

Not only will there be over 40 dresses of hers to coo over and try on, but there are some fantastic suppliers coming along on the Saturday to bring a little extra je ne sais quoi.  Ana Ospina will be in store giving mini-makovers, Kate Ruth Romey will be showcasing her bespoke stationery creations, Rosalind Miller will be providing the cake (Claire Pettibone inspired of course), and Jay Archer will be on hand to talk boho blooms.

So this is a last call for all you discerning brides out there still searching for The Dress, as there are only a few Saturday slots left!  Got your dress already?  I bet you know someone who hasn’t… so spread the word and pass this post on.

Want more pretty? Oh go on then- here are some of our beautiful Claire Pettibone brides looking simply resplendent…

Rosie in ‘Juliet’- via Love My Dress

A high-fiving Rebecca in ‘Orange Blossom’- via Whimsical Wonderland Wedding

Laura in ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’- via Love My Dress

Gemma in ‘Mystere’- via Pocketful of Dreams

Katie Melua in ‘Arwen’- via OK Magazine

Yeah, that’s right. I just casually threw a celebrity in there. (And quite possibly the nicest I’ve ever met.)

There are only a few Saturday slots left, so to book your place at the Claire Pettibone Trunk Show next weekend (and spend an hour of your day with me, yay!) simply get in touch.

Enjoy the weekend, oh wonderful ones.

Sama xxx

Sarah Seven In Da House!

This week has been aaaaaaaaaaaall about Sarah Seven.

If you’ve not heard of this über-cool San Francisco designer before, then fret not.  Until now she’s only really been stocked stateside…

…But not any more!

My new favourite rail.

The first batch of her dresses arrived at the boutique this week and I was a squealing, clapping, high-fiving-myself ball of excitement as I opened up the box of goodies.  We’re talking gold spun fabric, coffee-coloured chiffon, lace, ruffles and sparkly belts galore.  She brings everything that is cool about California over to the UK in a small but oh-so perfectly formed collection of quirky, modern, edgy, young, fun and undeniably romantic wedding gowns.

Can you tell I like them?

I’m not going to lie; I’ve tried most of them on already.  One of them has become an incredibly strong contender for my own wedding.  Such has been my excitement for this new arrival that I was even compelled to battle against my technical demons and attempt an online mood board.  I have called this one Autumnal Amour, inspired by the Amour gown by Sarah Seven.  Think coffee and cream tones, rustic romance and an eclectic mix of textures and materials…

Autumnal Amour- created using Olioboard

From top left: 1. Image via Wedding Chicks, 2. Amour by Sarah Seven, 3. Image via Pinterest, 4. Image via The Natural Wedding Company, 5. Luskey’s Western Store, 6. Dress by Desire Clothing

Here’s some more of her gorgeous 2013 collection to see you in to your weekend, available now at this super-cool bridal boutique… Enjoy!

Ruffles and lace.

Silver beads and a cowl neck back.

The Goldie. Yes really. So beatueous it shares the same name as me …

Pretty, frilly, fun.

Accessories too… check out the statement bib necklace!

I have to go and lie down.

Who wants to be a Sarah Seven bride?

Sama xxx