If there’s anything The Curator loves more than a wedding, it’s wedding dress shopping. And London. And meal times. And cobbled lanes. And sinking into a blush pink velvet chair, while sipping on champagne. Actually, it’s all of the above. Which is why, after hundreds of clicks on our Auckland Bridal Feature (thank you everyone), we’ve decided to throw our UK-based brides a big, British bone by showcasing some of London’s best in bridal wear. Whether you’re in London for the long haul, living the OE dream, or just escaping the NZ winter – these bridal boutiques will make planning your wedding from afar feel all the more exciting.
We believe dress shopping is more than just a job to tick off – it’s an experience. And, what makes any experience even better? Drinks, snacks and beautiful places to rest weary legs. So, as an added bonus, we’ve decided to add a few of our favourite pit-stops to the mix. A selection of establishments so beautiful, welcoming and delicious, we simply had to share them with you.
So, grab your brolly, load up your Oyster Card and get ready to fall even deeper in love with London.
Nestled on a Victorian cobbled street (did we mention we love cobbles?) is Angelica Bridal – a boutique store with plenty of variety on offer. With brands like Liz Martinez and Karen Willis Homes (both Curator favourites), something is sure to catch your eye.
With two boutiques in two different locations, The Wedding Club really does have it all. In Knightsbridge, you’ll find high-end luxury offerings – with designers like Carolina Herrera, Steven Khalil and Berta adorning the racks. The South Kensington store is more relaxed, with boho lux designers, including Costarellos, Temperley London and Chosen by One Day hanging in pride of place. If you’re looking for the best store to start in, we suggest either (or both) Wedding Clubs, as the ranges are so varied, the locations are beautiful and the Victoria Percival hairpieces are out of this world.
Tuck in your shirt, wipe the tube-sweat from your brow and get ready to enter the holy grail of bridal stores. It’s beautiful, it’s infamous and it’s very, very expensive. Designers include Galia Lahav, Ines Di Santo, Viktor and Rolf, Lihi Hod…the list goes luxuriously on. If you’re at the higher end of the spend – Browns is the place for you. And, once you’ve dropped a few pounds on your dress (the cash, not the weight) we suggest continuing the fun by popping into The Ivy London for lunch.
When you’re done falling in love with everything in Browns, make sure you pop down the road to the equally exquisite (and five times as large) Wedding Gallery. Think 20,000 sq ft of wedding dresses, shoes, accessories, beauty, men’s suiting, bridesmaids’ dresses, mother of the bride extravaganzas and (most likely) beautiful toilets. Oh, and it was named as the world’s finest wedding department store by Harper’s Bazaar. The Gallery features a huge range of dresses from big name designers like Vera Wang, Bo and Luca, Halfpenny London, Inbal Dror and Oscar De Le Renta. This city-centre gem operates by appointment only – so make sure you’ve locked it in well in advance.
Jenny Packham is a British designer whose dresses embody fun, femininity and art. Her most recent bridal range was inspired by Horst P. Horst – an iconic 20th century photographer – which is fitting, as her gowns radiate a kind of old school elegance that will never date. Think traditional silhouettes with a stylish, fashion forward edge.
If you’re a romantic, classic, elegant kind of gal, Pronovias could be the place for you. With a heavy focus on beading, lace and the dress’s silhouette, Pronovias’ expert seamstresses pride themselves on their abilities to transform fine fabrics into stunning haute couture designs.
Having been in business since ‘89, Mirror Mirror is pretty well-established in the London bridal scene. Offering an eclectic combination of diverse international labels and bespoke couture designs, Mirror Mirror is a great place for people who have a bit of vision, an eye for a bargain and a love for beautiful, flattering design. Great prices, experienced staff – well worth a visit.
Alongside their well-priced dresses, Morgan Davies Bridal offers something a little extra – a bespoke veil service. Here, you can either embroider your veil (to give it a little personal touch), or you can design your veil from scratch, from a selection of lace and tulles. The team at Morgan Davies also believe in the power of great underwear (amen to that) and stock a great range of underthings to keep you feeling fabulous all day long.
In a word – beautiful. The dresses at Elie Saab are incredible, with just the right amount of everything. Experts in lace and embellishments, each dress is a work of wearable art. Glamorous, elegant and oh-so flattering, this must-see range is located on the dedicated bridal floor in their London flagship store. Needless to say, we highly recommend the Elie Saab experience.
When you’re done searching for Hugh Grant near the blue front door, we suggest you head on over to The Mews. Specialising in French bridal couture, this boutique offers gowns from designers such as Rime Arodaky, Delphine Manivet and Isabella Boutin. They also have a range of outfits for younger guests – Le Petit Mews. In true French style, the dresses are unique, elegant and effortlessly beautiful.
NZ born and bred – Emilia Wickstead is one of our most fashionable exports. Her designs are sophisticated and timeless, adorning the bodies of more than one royal, with architectural elegance and structured necklines working alongside soft textures and romantic sheerness. If you like the sound of clean silhouettes and lines, a touch of tradition and a modern interpretation of femininity, then Emilia Wickstead is an absolute must.
Australian bridal house, Grace Loves Lace, is a modern brand with effortless luxury, quality and style at the forefront of all their designs. Handmade from European laces and silks, their gowns are for women with a bit of fire and passion. Home to the dress that garnered 2.5 million re-pins on Pinterest (highest pinned dress of all time), their non-traditionalist gowns have soul, originality and authenticity in every stitch.
Set on the edge of trendy old Soho, the elegant salon bar is the perfect space to drop your bags, flop into a (very stylish) chair, and sip on something cool and refreshing. Designed in collaboration with Martin Brudnizki – and inspired by the vibrant 1920’s party scene – the room sings with its coral coloured walls, bespoke glass chandeliers and stunning marble bar. We guarantee you’ll leave refreshed, revitalised and possibly a little bit drunk.
Or, for a breath of fresh air (if the coral is getting too much), we also love the Dalloway Terrace. Fully-heated in winter, this elegant, poetic and quintessentially English space is a year-round delight, offering a great little spot for a breezy afternoon snacking and sipping, or a chilly mid-day garden escape.
Set in the most unassuming of locations (not too far from Grace Loves Lace), Violet Cakes is truly delightful. Energy running low? Stop for a cake. Feet getting sore? Stop for a cake. Haven’t started shopping yet but feeling a little peckish? Honestly, stop for a Violet cake. Oh, and Claire Ptak (Founder and pastry chef) also made the cake for Meghan and Harry’s wedding, which basically makes her the queen of cakes. A perfect place to discuss cake flavours, icing thickness and royal gossip.
Set in two beautiful locations, Petersham Nurseries are restaurants, teahouses, garden centres, al fresco havens and inner-city sanctuaries, all in one. The spaces are brimming with bougainvillea and fragrant jasmine, draped with Indian blinds and decorated with antique furniture, mirrors and paintings – embodying all things luxurious for your big day out. Perfect for a long brunch, mid-shopping lunch or well-deserved afternoon tea break.
After some spicy sustenance to get you started? Exhausted from the dress-day and desperate for a dinner? Craving a bit of afternoon chai? All of the above?? We get it, us too. With multiple locations across the city, there really is no reason for you to give Dishoom a miss. The atmosphere hums, the food is epic and the double bacon naan roll is worth travelling across the globe for. Just go.
Set within an old banking hall, surrounded by eight restaurants and a beautiful hotel, Millie’s Lounge is the epitome of elegance. We highly recommend a Millie’s full English with a crisp glass of champers, in one of their stunning coupes. Drink in the vaulted ceilings, verdite columns and rich wood-panelling…and the bathrooms – oh, the bathrooms. Located under-ground, the loo’s marble floors and original bank vault detailing will leave you desperate for one more wee.