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Expert Advice on How to Say Yes to Your Dream Dress
April 2024
Reading time 2 Minutes

Saying yes to the right dress can be hard

Living North chats with Claire Parish, owner of the award-winning The Bridal Box Boutique in Stocksbridge, to find out about wedding dress trends, how to choose a dress and just how Claire can make the whole experience very special.

The Bridal Box Boutique, regional winner at the 2024 Wedding Industry Awards, is an independent and carefully-curated bridal shop in Stockbridge which stocks a variety of hand-picked designer gowns. With a new year upon us, and another new wedding season, we catch up with owner Claire to find out more about choosing the perfect dress.

How do you curate your collection?

A lot of it is based on what I like, what I think is a little bit edgy, a little bit different, and something that stands out. When I’m pulling together from each year’s collections, it’s really just about what I love and what I think my brides will love. Nothing that’s too run-of-the-mill, something that’s a little bit different. I do like to follow some of the trends, although nothing too excessive, but if they bring out any new ones in the collection that stand out, something unlike what I’ve already got then I tend to go for those. I don’t like a boring wedding dress. 

What trends can we expect for 2024?

Dresses need an element of longevity to the style so when people look at photos in 10 years time, they don’t want to be in something that’s mad. There are a lot of things like puff sleeves that are in at the moment and they look really good, it’s just trying to get them to look pretty and bridal without making them look too ‘80s. I think plain, simple, satin and chic is very much asked-for and in right now. I definitely do think the sleek silhouette is there. 

wedding dresses L: Claire Parish, The Bridal Box Boutique M: Malmoby Rosa Clara Couture R: Alameda by Nicole Milano

How should a bride prepare for her appointment?

There isn’t anything they really need to do to prepare because it’s all about them. When they arrive, there isn’t anything they need to worry about. A lot of brides are nervous and it’s almost like fear of the unknown. My advice is always if you’re really not sure about what the appointment will hold, then call me beforehand and I’ll talk you through it. Be prepared to try different styles and be prepared to try different necklines. Don’t end up down a rabbit hole of style that you absolutely, definitely know you want because the chances are when you try that on, it will look completely different, and if you’ve built yourself up to that too much then it can be really disappointing. Most of the time, brides will always choose something different to what they thought they were going to choose, so I suppose the message in that is be prepared to be surprised. 

How do you make it special?

One of the things I try to do differently is three-and-a-half-hour appointment times. For a lot of people, that feels like a long time but it’s actually not. It really does go quite quickly, but it means that you can try as many dresses as you want on without that time pressure behind you. Come prepared to try a lot on, because I will have you in and out of dresses. If you don’t like something I’ll have you in something else within a matter of minutes.

L: The Bridal Box Boutique M: Nicole Milano Ombretta R: Nicole Milano Benjamina

Do you have any do’s for brides-to-be?

Do be prepared to try different styles on and do take advice on styles. Go in with a budget in mind and a bit of movement on it. Research the shop you’re going to and see what their price points are, because if you try a dress on that’s out of your price point and you fall in love with it, you will never get it out of your head. You’ll spend the rest of your life trying to find a version of that dress and it just doesn’t happen. So do have a price point in mind, but do have some flexibility with it.

And don’ts?

Don’t go for something that you don’t absolutely love with your entire being, and don’t be talked into a dress. You will know whether it’s right or not. If it’s not right, it’s not right, you keep looking. Ignore the logistics of a dress as well, it will either work or it won’t work. Don’t be too focused on the specifics and don’t bring too many people. Choose those that are going to be supportive. 

Do you have a favourite trend?

Puff sleeves – I love them, I think they’re amazing. They’re my favourites, they’re just a bit different aren’t they? Embossed prints are nice as well, rather than it being lace. I always think lace has its place in bridal looks but I do like the embossed prints and printed fabric. It’s just personal preference isn’t it?

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