Standing in the rain on a dark Friday morning at 7am waiting for a coach isn’t one of my favourite ways to start the day, but today was going to be something different – a trip to London to visit the Designer Wedding Show in Battersea Park. This event, held in February and October, showcases the best in bridal couture and has over 100 of the best wedding suppliers in the country – suppliers are strictly vetted and there’s even an approval panel that decides who can exhibit!
I learned years ago that rush hour in London’s best avoided, so using the coach was an obvious solution and we even got to Victoria Coach Station on time – not bad considering the traffic! On the short walk through Belgravia to Sloane Square (where a complimentary shuttle service had been laid on to whisk us across to Battersea and the Event Centre) I came across this fantastic pink creation – Peggy Porschen cakes!
I resisted the temptation to drop in, but it was just inviting to look at, so next time I’m in London it’ll certainly be on the “to-do” list.
At Battersea the first stop after 3 hours travelling was the stylish and elegant coffee bar by caterers Mosimanns for a much-needed caffeine intake!
As a wedding photographer, the idea of my visit was to check out the latest trends and look for different ideas and suppliers that I could recommend to my Brides – the web’s useful, but it’s so much better if you can actually see the products. This isn’t a comprehensive review of all of the exhibitors, but a mini-review of some of my favourites from the show. (Links to websites are shown in blue)
Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photographs because the organisers banned photography – I can understand this for the fashion show, but they banned any shots at all in the show – even if the owner of the stand gave you permission!
The dresses showed a good blend between glamour, vintage and volume, with some quirky ideas thrown in for good measure! Mind you, they all looked good on slender, elegant models!
My personal favourites were those from Sassi Holford, Maria Grachvogel and Annette Carey Couture. I had a chat with Sassi and her husband when the catwalk parade had finished – her gowns are really elegant, and you can view them locally at Beautiful Bridal Boutique in Westbourne. Sassi’s Indulgence collection has “a real 1940’s Hollywood-glamour feel” with slipper satin, vintage lace and silk georgette. Lace also seems to be a favourite amongst the designers this year.
Image copyright Sassi Holford
Venues included Maunsel House and Babington House, both in Somerset – locations where I’ve photographed previously. For brides looking further afield there were locations in Scotland, Italy and Austria.
Jewellery seemed to be aimed mainly at vintage designs, with Magpie Vintage, Naomi Tate and Gillian Million standing out. Naomi told me that all of her designs for chokers and cuffs use authentic materials such as Victorian silk and gold lame, and the detailing and craftsmanship is obvious. Gillian Million were really busy with their stand of headbands using antique pearls and vintage jewels.
Image copyright Magpie Vintage
Image copyright Naomi Tate
For wedding stationery the choices are almost as mind-boggling as the number of photographers(!), but as with everything at a wedding you get what you pay for! Traditional letterpress printing from Noble Fine Art has a quality feel to it with contemporary designs, but if you want something totally unique have a look at Louise Richardson Stationery. Louise’s work is themed to your taste and she has a really creative nature – “I supply my clients with an initial draft and then we refine it with second and even third drafts to make sure they’re satisfied” she told me. This attention to detail obviously comes at a cost, but your guests will be taking away their place cards and menus and framing them as momentos, believe me!
Cakes were a feature, with exquisite couture cupcakes proving to be popular from Rosalind Miller Cakes, and really stylish and creative cakes from Linda Fripp Design near Salisbury. Linda’s designs range from traditional to contemporary, with some stunning cakes on display.
Image copyright Linda Fripp Design
The champagne bar and dining area were popular with brides-to-be and their mothers, with models gliding past in gorgeous outfits. I resisted the temptations of the champagne bar and had some lunch instead.
Several florists were at the show, along with table setting designers By Appointment Only Design who had several stunning displays, one of which is a favourite with brides at the moment featuring mixtures of pastel shades which reminded me of the 50s and 60s – elegant and very stylish.
If you want unusual favours, then check out Jo Heckett – she specialises in gorgeous wedding favours and gifts made from the finest porcelain. They can be personalised with the name of each guest, or bought off the peg, but they’re great fun!
Image copyright Jo Heckett
The journey home was relaxing as I typed up my notes and let the coach driver deal with the hassle of the traffic jam through South Kensington and up to the motorway! A really enjoyable day and the chance to look at some stunning products!
With over 100 exhibitors there were many more I could have written about, but this review is just to give you a taste of what you can expect to see at this great show. Is it the show for you? Well, if you want to see everything that the industry has to offer, you’d be better off going to one of the Nationals (London or Birmingham), but be aware that the crowds can be horrendous and that you may be stacked 5-deep trying to look at a particular stand. However, if your priority is to see wedding products from the top-end of the market, then the Designer Wedding Show is for you, and it’s a much more relaxed and laidback affair.
The choice, as they say, is yours …….
Dorset Wedding Photographer