Ellis Bridals love hearing back from our brides, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the pure joy and happiness that our Ellis Bridals wedding dresses get to be a part of. Recent bride, Layla, got in touch to tell us about her special day in her Ellis Bridals layered slip dress. This fine fluted dress blends ornate floral motifs with a delicate charmeuse overlay slip. The real beauty in this dress is in its sheer versatility, a dress that offers the option of letting the appliqués sit atop the coloured slip or remove it and the lace will create an almost magical second-skin effect.
When and where did you meet your husband?
We met at an exercise class, boxercise in fact, so we met punching each other! We both went alone, so often we were paired up together, and hit it off, literally. We would laugh throughout the session, and would go for drinks afterwards, and then one day, he suggested meeting in Leeds one night for food. We went for an Indian on our first date, and he was so nervous he ordered a side dish for a starter and two starters for side dishes! Obviously afterwards he claimed he did this on purpose, but…he so didn’t!
How did you know he was the one? He was funny, and made me laugh. Also, he had the best smile I’d ever seen! What I truly loved about him, was that he had spark and that we bounced off one another.
A friend of mine, after meeting Miles for the first time, said “Layla has met her sparring partner!” He’s kind, and romantic, and generous, and I really can’t imagine life without him now.
How did he propose?
He was amazing! He surprised me for my 40th by telling me to pack for a trip away between Christmas and New Year, destination unknown, but pack for ‘cold’. Expecting a cosy winter trip to somewhere in England, early one morning he drove us both to the airport and said we were going away. I had no idea where…even at check in, I stood at a distance and just waved to the check in clerk who checked my passport…he was given the boarding passes and I didn’t have a clue where we were going! We went for a coffee and I was banned from looking at departures on the screen. We walked to the gates and then he stopped at one for New York! I was totally blown away and started crying, but then, that soon turned to panic! “But I haven’t got any dollars, I haven’t got a visa, I haven’t told my parents!”. But he produced a wallet with dollars and a visa and informed me my parents had known for months! We had an amazing few days away, wrapped up in hats and scarves in a very festive, wintery New York. On Dec 30th, he said we are actually staying one more night, for New Years Eve, which I was soooo excited about. For the big celebrations, we decided to do what New Yorkers do, and totally avoid the ball drop, and instead get tickets to go out on a cruise and so we could avoid the crowds and madness, and eat and drink as we saw the New Year in. On the boat, which aptly was named ‘The Jewel’, as the clock struck midnight and the fireworks started over Manhattan, the DJ played Jay Z‘s Empire State of Mind (it’s the little things you remember), I turned to say to Miles how fantastic it all was, and realised he was down on one knee. He said the sweetest words and produced the most beautiful trilogy diamond ring, (bonus well done, I’d never wanted a solitaire). And of course…I said yes! The boy did good!
When and where did the big day take place?
We were both totally in synch with our wants…not a church, not too formal, a wedding ‘weekend’, outside if possible, and really important to me, a summer wedding. We got married in York at the Marriott hotel on the 28th July 2018.
We wanted somewhere with the option of outside although, were always totally realistic about an English summer and how, even with a budget of Kim Kardashian, you cannot control the weather! But it was nice to have the option… Plus, after speaking to a few wedding coordinators at various venues, you soon get a feel for how professional and well run a place is, and the Marriott stood out head and shoulders, listening to our vision for the day, having solutions to any issues we had and just being there for us, totally took the stress out of the day for us. We also both wanted a modern wedding, which was relaxed, but with a nod to tradition, otherwise what’s the point? It was important to us that the bride gave a speech as well.
It seemed mad to us that the person who spent the most time planning the day, couldn’t say her thanks!
When did you start planning?
We initially planned to have a good few months, just enjoying being ‘engaged’, however, ha, we very quickly realised that wasn’t going to happen if we wanted to get married in the next decade! Some of our initial enquiries to suppliers were a sharp wakeup call, as their availability wasn’t for at least 3 years…unless, of course, you wanted a random Tuesday in November!
Where did you get your dress?
We went to Precious Bridal in Garforth, Leeds; a gorgeous little bridal shop, run by the equally gorgeous Donna, who just couldn’t do enough for a bride! I always wanted a British designer, so it was great that I knew that Precious Bridal stocked Ellis, a British wedding dress designer since 1912. I purchased my veil from here too.
Is that the sort of dress you thought you would go for or was it a surprise?
I had no preferences on actual style, but I knew I didn’t want anything bling or ostentatious. As it would be a summer wedding, I was very keen that it would be lightweight and that also it would be comfortable…I’ve seen too many brides dealing with ill-fitting sweetheart necklines and badly designed boning digging into their hips! I wanted something willowy, traditional, and that would hopefully stand the test of time. Not too much to ask, yeah? After trying the dress and feeling how lightweight and satin smooth it was and how gorgeous it looked – and so thinking yes, this is it; there was a surprise to come.
Donna returned with me to the changing room, and then removed only the lace, exposing the most beautiful satin evening gown for a special extra effect for the night celebrations. It was just the perfect dress; a delicate, luxurious look which felt oh so easy to wear and with the added bonus of the versatility of two looks.
Who came dress shopping with you?
I went with my lovely mother, my two ‘grown up’ bridesmaids, Kate and Fiona and my stepdaughter Imogen. It’s great to have people who you trust and well, tell it like it is. The last thing you would ever want are people pleasers who say you look great when actually, the dress just does not work for you.
Where did you get your bridesmaid dresses?
I hoped for the same dress for all the bridesmaids, however they were so very different in age and body shape, one would even be 8 months pregnant on the wedding day, I did wonder if that would happen! However, we all went shopping in Leeds together and found that Debenhams had some beautiful designs which were light, flowy and not too ‘prom-esque’! After trying on lots of designs, we decided on an elegant full-length empire line dress with lace bodice and eyelash lace edging.
The back had the most beautiful key hole detailing that complimented my dress.
What style of maids and groomsmen did you go for?
For the bridesmaids, I was keen to have a similar look to mine, i.e. light and flowy and neutral, so I decided upon a buttercup colour. I quickly learnt to avoid the word yellow, or even lemon, as you get some rather erm, striking fluorescent shades which would only really work well at a neon rave! I wanted this mixed with a modern, but understated, grey, with a strong green; so the bouquets were going to be foliage and traditional white and buttercup coloured English flowers, more like a traditional posy.
The flower girl was dressed simply in a white knee length dress from Marks and Spencer’s which again, had a keyhole back; which she just loved as she matched the older girls and me. And for the guys…we decided on a more modern, lightweight (thinking of that July temperature again!), slim fitting, grey 3-piece suit (top hats and tails just weren’t our thing), with buttercup tie and pocket square.
How did you arrive at the ceremony?
We stayed at the hotel the night before and were lucky that about 50 of our guests came to a drinks reception and meal that evening. I didn’t realise how much this would help us to relax! It made it so much less intense. Even on the next day, walking down the aisle, it felt less pressured as I had seen so many of my friends and family already. I stayed in a room with my pregnant bridesmaid, no wedding eve late night partying for me! The next morning, all 4 bridesmaids and 1 flower girl and my mother were in my room having hair and makeup done and drinking a little prosecco; all very chilled.
Our photographer Kirsty was brilliant taking lots of pictures of us getting ready and having fun. About 1pm, the registrars called us down when they were ready for us…and that’s, when the nerves kicked in!
Did you have anything unusual during the ceremony?
My two brothers led my mother down the aisle to her seat, which was a lovely moment.
Then my flower girl, a very brave 7 year old, led the bridal procession, walking to a violin instrumental of Elbow’s ‘One Day like This’, which is such a beautiful song we both love. It also refers to beautiful eyes… and sorry, reach for the sick bags, we both love each other’s blue eyes! The bridesmaids all walked down one by one, which made them all look serene and very calm.
Unfortunately, all 4 of my grandparents have passed away. It was important to me that they were ‘there’, and so I carried on my person an item of both my grandmothers’ which my mother had. I carried my Grandmother from my mother’s side’s necklace entwined in to the handle of my bouquet and I carried my Grandmother from my father’s side’s silver hairpin in my hair to secure my veil. It meant a lot to me that they were ‘there with me’ walking down the aisle. I knew they would have been so proud and happy to be there had they been alive, and I know they would have loved Miles. My mum said as the trees above the ceremony swayed in the wind, she knew that they were there looking down on us all.
After the ceremony, to create an impact, we had Confetti Bombs as we walked back down the aisle! I have often seen the ‘confetti moment’ be a bit of a damp squib due to high winds resulting in a lack of confetti in said shot, even after lots of ‘staging’ by a meticulous photographer. So, instead of Pageboys, we assigned two ‘Chief Confetti Bomb Dischargers’, who were my cousin’s sons Cain and Tommy. The Confetti Bombs created seriously loud bangs and so provided a fabulous auditory and visual impact! Plus, my husband was able to source some great natural biodegradable ones so no damage to the gorgeous gardens and the environment.
In order to make our ceremony a touch more personal, we both had written our own vows to each other. We had hidden these in the wedding ring boxes, so that was a very touching moment when we delivered those to each other.
How did you accessorise to make your wedding day look unique?
I was keen that we avoided at all costs any diamanté or bling, and any fake flowers were a no for us; if your budget can afford it, the smell and feel of real flowers on a wedding day is just a beautiful thing.
For me it was a balance of being able to pay a florist to provide some beautiful flowers and some finishing touches that I would certainly not have time to sort but, providing some premade touches of our own. We made our own sweet table and signs and a real focal point was a selection of black and white photographs of our siblings, our parents and our grandparents on their wedding day. We also had some cool black and white pictures from our pre-wedding shoot framed and on display. These were done by our photographer Kirsty in Leeds city centre as we wanted to move away from an outdoor ‘country’ themed style shoot to a more edgy, urban vibe.
We also wanted low level centre pieces… too high and your guests can’t actually see each other across the table, and so we sourced some gorgeous brass terrariums which we decorated with beautiful foliage and fresh English white and buttercup coloured flowers… very pretty.
What was the inspiration or colour theme for your wedding? We didn’t want anything too brassy or bright, so we decided upon white (obviously, can you have any wedding without some white?!), grey, buttercup and olive green. We felt these really suited a classic, relaxed summer outdoor wedding and we loved the finished look. Plus, in all our research, we didn’t come across anything similar, so we loved that it hadn’t been a popular or well used look and the look felt a little retro.
What kind of food did you have? After the ceremony we had canapés and drinks (we had a Prosecco bar at one end and a Peroni bar at the other) as it can quite often be a long time before guests sit down to eat, so we felt it was important to ensure no one was too hungry. For the wedding breakfast we had poached chicken salad with crispy bacon and an egg and mustard dressing to start, pork fillet with crispy sage and onion, caramelised pear and potato gratin for our main and then a dark chocolate tart with orange crème Anglaise for pudding, we also had Green and Blacks chocolate for favours. There were lots of clean plates at the end! For the evening, we had a buffet of hot beef or hot pork sandwiches with wedges and dips; nobody wants anything too formal then!
Our cake was just divine! We wanted a simple cake, elegantly decorated with cascading foliage; neither of us are fans of either formal royal icing cakes or at the other end of the scale, the ‘deconstructed’ or ‘naked’ cakes. We had four tiers; two fruit and two lemon and elderflower, catering for guests who love a traditional wedding cake and those who prefer a lighter, more summer cake. Our cake-toppers were homemade and were 3 simple grey frames with black and white shots from our pre-wedding shoot.
What tips do you have for new brides picking their wedding dress? You must feel comfortable in your dress; mine felt like a second skin.
Yes, the look is important, of course it is, but it has to feel right for you. Oh, and you just must be able to dance the night away in it; it is a party after all! 😊
Where were your photos taken?
There were lots of the bridal parties and groom parties getting ready in the morning, but the ceremony and the more formal group shots were in the garden in the grounds and our photographer Kirsty, managed to get some cracking evening shots of us where we said our vows earlier in the gazebo, using the striking dusk light.
What was your favourite moment from the day?
For my husband it was, and I quote, ahem “When the music started playing, and I turned to see you walk down the aisle, and I could feel that lump in my throat, and I thought, this, this is what I’ve been waiting for.”
For me, it was during the reception after the ceremony; holding my husband’s hand, our family around us smiling, the sun shining, canapés being served, everyone congratulating us, the sounds of glasses chinking, people laughing, the violinist playing cool 60s and indie songs, and just thinking…….wow, we did it, and boy do I love him!” (Side note: Can I do it all again next year?!)
We would love to hear from all of our Ellis Brides! If you would like to share your story please get in touch: email@example.com