Let’s talk THE dress.
Oh yes! For many, if not most brides – the dress has to be top of the wedding planning list (after the groom perhaps!) Mrs T Weddings works with specialists in luxury bridalwear that supply bespoke designers, in some cases, being the only stockist in the country for a particular gown.
Ellie Sanderson has made a name for herself in the wedding fashion industry as the owner of Bridal Boutiques in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. She is passionate about the exceptional quality and modern luxury of the dresses she stocks, from world-class designers Sassi Holford, Suzanne Neville, Jesus Peiro and Love and Liberty.
Mrs T & Ellie Sanderson
Here are some of the stunning gowns from Ellie’s Oxford boutique that I used in a styled photoshoot at Oxleaze Barn, photographed by Nikki’s Moments, and featured on Guides for Brides.
The first gown is a Suzanne Neville, a firm favourite at Sanderson’s boutiques. This clean, soft crepe hugs the figure but at the same time has stretch to allow great movement and comfort. This effortlessly clean design is modern and fuss-free and a total show-stopper. It can be carefully accessorised with dainty elegant touches as showcased by Rachel Sokhal bridal accessories.
For fans of lace, Ellie Sanderson supplied me a Jesus Peiro two-piece. The dress and jacket can create two wonderful outfits. The versatility of the jacket can be used to mask any insecurities over upper arms and provide warmth on cooler days. Removing the jacket for the evening gives the gown a new lease of life, revealing a stunning fitted dress that is fun and flirty and ready for the dancefloor.
And finally, how could I not include this stunning statement-maker from Kelly Faetanini? Ellie Sanderson has sole exclusivity of this New York label in the UK. Made from layers of hand-stitched soft pink tulle to create soft clouds of volume, this is a dress that turns heads. This look is topped off with a pearl and crystal head band exclusively available at Ellie Sanderson.
I met with Ellie to talk about the latest bridal fashion, her special relationship with her world-class designers, and what she thinks makes for the perfect luxury wedding dress experience.
So Ellie, how did it all begin for you?
“I started Ellie Sanderson 13 years ago, before that I worked in corporate retailing. To this day I still believe 100% that you can’t buy a wedding dress online – you don’t get that feeling.
I work with about 450 brides a year and I want each of them to feel they’ve had a piece of me and my team. They’re looked after all the way down the line, I don’t want to be a faceless brand.”
Some of my brides are newly engaged but won’t be getting married for 12-18 months. They can’t wait to look for a dress but are quite nervous thinking, “Is it too soon? What if the fashion might have changed?” How quickly do bridal fashions change?
“I always used to say wedding dresses are not fashion items, and they’re not really, but the styles do change.
One of Sassi Holford’s early designs is one of my all-time favourite dresses. I could still sell it today – it is called Samantha and there’s a special place for that dress in my heart. It’s one of those timeless, classic English Rose, beautiful, soft ball gowns. That will never, never date.
The classic styles remain, but there will always become an influence and in recent years that has been led by celebrity or royal brides. Kate Middleton (thank you Kate!) brought back sleeves. Then Meghan brought back a solid sleeve and she showed how it could be done elegantly and simply. She brought back into fashion clean, minimal, understated crepe dresses and I can’t get enough of those at the moment. My brides absolutely love them. They’re adding their own style, they’ll modernize it. If you want to add a stylish flair and a bit of personality to it, that’s what you do.”
What trends are you seeing now?
“I’ve recently brought in a phenomenal collection of short dresses from Suzanne Neville. We’re seeing lots of girls buy those dresses. Some girls are buying them to have for an intimate civil ceremony. Some girls are buying them as a second evening dress.
We are also starting to see brides re-wearing their dress! We’ve got a couple of girls who’ve worn their dress and they’ve brought it back. We’ve cleaned it, we’re restoring it and we’re going to jazz it up and add sleeves – or there’s one where we’re taking the back off, to make it more evening.
Then we’ve got jumpsuits and trouser suits for girls that want to do something a bit more relaxed for a small wedding.
Sassi Holford has been with me from the beginning. She’s got an amazing collection this year. Beautiful puff sleeves, big cuffs, lots of buttons, polka dots.”
- Do think bespoke. Talk to your boutique. Ellie tells me that very few brides have the dress that’s hanging on the rail when they come in, whether that’s an, “I need a sleeve” or, “I don’t like a sweetheart”. Talk to your boutique and see if they can make it happen.
- Think about the kind of service you want. Ellie is still very hands-on in her boutique. She knows each dress personally and lives and breathes her business. I love that about her. I recommend finding a boutique where you can get the dress, the veil, the accessories, the seamstressing – the whole shebang!
- Take a couple of people you trust. Don’t overload yourself with opinions.
- Relax and enjoy! The experts are there to help you. Ellie understands that buying your wedding dress is probably one of the most emotional and frightening things you’ll ever do! The fitters will talk to you and listen to any of your concerns – and then as the professionals, will find you a dress that makes you look and feel phenomenal!
Check out Ellie Sanderson’s Bridal Boutiques at elliesanderson.co.uk