Fashion Friday: Fantasy bridal shoes from Aruna Seth

Whether you picture yourself walking down the aisle in skyscraper, midi or flat shoes, at Aruna Seth you’ll find a large selection of stunning designs to make you feel amazing. The London based designer has built a reputation for creating stunning heels with unique embellishments over the past seven years — no wonder she’s a favourite with brides and celebrities alike! 

Shoes fit for a princess 
Aruna Seth’s bridal collection contains designs ranging from elegant simplicity through to elaborate statement pieces. Born from a childhood dream and inspired by her father’s success in the footwear industry, Aruna decided to dedicate her career to designing shoes fit for a princess. 

The omnipresent butterfly (farfalla) theme in her designs stemmed from her personal obsession with secret gardens, magic fairy dust and butterflies. With Aruna’s shoes, it’s super easy to add a pop of colour to your reception look — the styles come in an array of soft hues and vibrant shades to suit most scheme.  

Handmade in Italy, her luxurious line of bridal shoes are both elegant and comfortable, so you can treasure them long after the wedding day. Using the finest finishes — Italian satin, Austrian crystal and French Chantilly lace — you are sure to find the perfect pair that gives you happy feet.

Aruna Seth

7 Tips for choosing an engagement ring

What’s sweeter than chocolate and more romantic than a bouquet of red roses when it comes to wowing your loved one on Valentine’s Day? A well-planned marriage proposal, of course, sealed with a stunning engagement ring!

Romance is still very much in the air as we get nearer to Valentine’s — one of the top five most popular times for popping the question, after Christmas and New Year. But how do you choose the perfect piece of jewellery for your leading lady? Whether you’re planning to whisk your future fiancee on a romantic getaway or cooking a surprise dinner menu, you need to read these top tips for getting the ring right from Ruth Donaldson of Heirloom London first.  

1. Stick to the first ‘one’ you like
On average, finding the engagement ring takes three months. This is because you’ll go online, talk to everyone, go in store, go back online, go to other store, etc. To save you time and hassle, stick to the first ring that you love rather than waste weeks comparing and debating over several different ones. 
2. Take safety measures
As soon as that ring passes into your hands – it’s your responsibility! So look after it and make sure that you have it insured. 

3. Be romantic, yet practical
The location of your intended proposal may influence what you do with the ring and whether it’s recommended to bring it with you:
  • A winter sun beach holiday: If you are in a hotel or apartment with a safe, then you’ll have somewhere safe to keep the ring. But if you are in a beach hut this may not be a safe bet. Also think about what you are going to present your ring in. The elegant wooden box may not look as romantic full of sand.
  • A city break: Care should be taken in romantic locations where pickpockets are known to operate. Also take care, if you are presenting a ring on a balcony, bridge, or anywhere else it could be dropped.
4. Consider the surprise element
If your beloved tends to react physically to surprises, you may want to propose first, and then present the ring once she has finished waving her arms around or punching the air triumphantly. 
5. Keep it safe
A large ring box looks very nice and romantic in the store, but if you are going overseas, it is not something that wants to be placed in the hold, with the ring inside it!  How do the professionals move rings? Often wrapped in tissue paper, in a discreet little plastic bag. Not the most romantic, but it protects the ring in your wallet, which is a good safe place to keep it secure while you are moving through the airport.
6. If the ring fits
It is always better with a proposal that the ring is too big, rather than too small.  An organised store should be able to provide a ring insert, to ensure that it will at least stay on.  If the ring is loose, then it may be too risky to wear until it has been re-sized.  
7. Cherish the moment
Never confuse fashion with style when choosing an engagement ring. Your buying decision should focus around the latter, rather than former. This is probably one of the longest discussions I have with my clients, but also the most rewarding, as I can then present eight designs to choose from. Following that, some men may choose a bespoke style to create a ring highly personal to her.

Finally, don’t imagine that getting professional help will be expensive or result in you spending tens of thousands of pounds on the ring. A jewellery concierge can take the pressure off, save you hours of time and angst, and ensure your budget (whatever it is) goes as far as possible – meaning you get more ring for your money. With the right help, choosing the perfect ring for your partner does not need to be stressful – in fact it should fun!

With an added day to February, 2016 brings along an exciting tradition for couples, meaning that ladies can pop the question for a change. Now the only question remaining is which one of you will be asking the question first. 

Don’t forget to check out Ruth Donaldson’s advice feature on spotting  the difference between real diamonds and synthetics here.

Heirloom London 

Find your happily ever after at St Audries Park

A momentous day for Country House Weddings Sunday, 31st January, as three of their multi-award winning wedding venues are holding open days: St Audries Park, Leez Priory and Gosfield Hall. Each of these beautiful venues offers unique features for engaged couples helping them create their wedding day dreams. 

Here in the South West, nested within 100 acres of tranquil deer park, lies St Audries Park — a fairytale manor house winner of prestigious industry awards. It’s perfect location in rural Somerset, yet within easy reach of the M5 make it accessible for weddings. 

What makes St Audries Park the perfect location for weddings is its gorgeous features — a Victorian Orangery for ceremonies, a banqueting hall that can seat up to 130 guests and the option to hire the entire house for bigger wedding parties of up to 250 guests.

Following extensive renovations in 2015, the venue can can now accommodate over one hundred guests on the estate. There’s also great news for 2016 as St Audries Park is one of the first few venues to offer even more dates for the two-day wedding experience read our feature about this exciting new service here. When one day is simply not enough, couples can extend their wedding celebration for longer!

You can arrange your appointment for the open day on Sunday, 31st January by calling: 01984 633 633. 

St Audries Park
Address: West Quantoxhead, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 4DS
T: 01984 633 633


The Big Wedding Weekend

Is there anything that could get us more excited than the fact that it’s Chocolate Cake Day today? The answer is ‘Yes’! The Big Wedding Weekend coming up this Saturday 30th & Sunday 31st January at Aztec Hotel & Spa, Bristol, is going to be amazing! Doors will be open from 12pm on 30th and from 11am-2pm on 31st January and entrance is free. 

Brides, take your grooms, bridesmaids and mums along to this unique event and enjoy a fun day of pampering, live entertainment, creative workshops and inspiring ideas for your wedding. 

Wedding masterclass
On Saturday, these will be a series of workshops and demonstrations from a range of talented local suppliers, including:

  • Live cake sketched with Iced Magic Cakes
  • First dance workshop with The Dance Factory
  • ‘Go Circus’ skills with Clare’s Circus – great fun for children
  • Balloon art with Party from a Box
  • Learn how to make feather buttonholes with Beez Neez Bunting 

Whatever aspect of your day you’d like to DIY, it’s easier to turn your dreams into beautiful bespoke pieces with the right guidance and tips — just let the experts show you at the Big Wedding Weekend! 
It’s pamper time
Helping to relieve some of the pre-wedding pressure and nerves, the Aztec Spa team will be on hand to provide ladies with complimentary hand massages and manicures, and taster classes for couples. In addition, everyone will be treated to a complimentary lunch on Sunday prepared by the venue’s Head Chef. 

Aztec Hotel & Spa
Address: Aztec, West Almondsbury, Bristol, BS32 4TS

T: 01454 201090 

New bridesmaid dresses from Amanda Wyatt

When bridal designer Amanda Wyatt launched a new bridesmaids range late 2015, we knew it was nothing short of fabulous. Just like her bridal designs and accessories — see the Promises of Love collection here — the bridesmaids capsule illustrates Wyatt’s passion for quality and style. 

The bridesmaid gowns are available in over 40 colour shades and an array of styles and silhouettes — from short to long, strapless, one-shoulder neck and more. With Amanda Wyatt’s collection, you can easily find the right style to match your wedding dress while also giving your girls the chance to express their individuality. 

Indeed, your bridesmaids will look glamorous in photos and feel comfortable on the day. The choice of fabrics ranges from chiffon to satin and lace, and each style spans from sorbet pastels to bright pops of colour.   

We simply had to share with you these beautiful photos to inspire your wedding planning. Don’t the flower girls’s dresses look adorable!

Clearwell Castle – a picturesque wedding setting

Clearwell Castle, in Gloucestershire, is without a doubt the ultimate romantic wedding destination. If your dream is to be king and queen for the day, then you need to visit this beautiful historic setting on Sunday, 24th January for the open day event.

Located in the Forest of Dean and within close proximity to the Cotswold, Clearwell Castle makes the perfect venue for a grand wedding celebration. In 2015, it underwent a series of refurbishments including the complete refurbishment of the Cellar Bar, which now offers a modern and vibrant space to dance the night away, and adding a majestic gold aisle carpet to the Ballroom.

In addition, 2016 will see the complete refurbishment of the Baynham Suite, one of 15 luxury bedrooms available for the night of your wedding. Offering a picturesque alternative for summertime nuptials, the Wedding Gazebo can host an outside ceremony overlooking the Castle. 

Booking a visit is easy — contact 01594 832 320 to arrange a suitable time for a chance to meet the team and discuss your wedding options. 

Clearwell Castle
Address: Clearwell, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire GL16 8LG
T: 01594 832 320

Interview: Vicky Rowe talks couture wedding dresses

A specialist in made-to-measure heirloom wedding dresses, Vicky Rowe combines contemporary design with couture craftmanship in her bridal designs. Here, Vicky discusses how she got into bridal fashion and the inspiration behind her stunning designs.

Photo by Ria Mishaal
What first sparked your interest in bridal design and how has your journey led you to where you are today?
It was my own wedding in 2009 that got me interested in bridal design. At the time, I couldn’t find anything that was really ‘me’ and found myself wanting to wear something a bit different. It made me question what was ‘traditional’ in bridal wear and, if I’m honest, I didn’t enjoy the dress shopping experience. I actually felt nervous about setting foot in a bridal shop.   

That’s when I decided to make a career change. Having trained and worked in surveying, I felt creatively unfulfilled so decided to do something about it. Although this was a very tough decision, it was the start of a new road for me. 

I took evening and weekend classes, learnt millinery, dress making and beading. Later on I worked as a milliner in Bristol for a few years and, in a twist of fate, got a job selling reproduction 1920’s dresses. Luckily, this led onto me doing custom orders for brides, which snowballed. It was then that I started to design what I really wanted to have worn on my own wedding day. 

In 2012, I decided to take the plunge and leave behind the reproduction gowns. London stockist Luella’s Boudoir saw my initial designs and stocked them, and they’ve been extremely supportive considering I had only been on the scene for such a short time.  Things have developed from there and I am now getting quite exciting, particularly in relation to the USA which I can’t talk about yet! I’ll be in New York Bridal Fashion Week though next October.
Photo by Ria Mishaal

Can you describe what your wedding dress looked like? 
My dress was a reproduction of an original 1920’s style. I’m 6ft tall and not of model proportions, so I’d never have got in an original. It had a car wash hem and it was fun but most definitely a compromise because what I was looking for wasn’t out there.

What is the best part of your creative role? 
Watching a dress develop from the initial sketch idea into something so intricate and tangible feels great. Each design has its own back story and is an expression of how I feel. These dresses are a creative outlet, which I find so fulfilling, and as it enables me to design from the heart. For a bride to wear one of my creations on their day is the ultimate honour for me, being part of such a special occasion in someone’s life does feel wonderful .
Photo by Ria Mishaal
How do you go about designing a wedding dress?
The process usually starts in my studio or my kitchen table! I have sketch pads everywhere.  I usually have a theme I stick to initially otherwise ideas can get out of control quickly and it keeps me on track. I start with the overall silhouette of the gown and get some ideas for shapes — does it have a low back, sleeves, plunging neckline etc? 

Then comes the real fun part. I am a big fan of pattern and colour, and don’t shy away from this with wedding gowns, so I work on the overall ‘look’ of the beading. For example, my Rose gown took inspiration from a rambling rose which blooms in my garden for a few weeks each year and the scent is mind-blowing — everyone comments on it. When I was designing that collection, the rose was out and it just happened. Next I make my toiles and on the paper patterns sketch my beading designs. Finally I get the sampling done by my beaders; I go out to India for a month and work with them there getting the collection finished, selecting beads etc.

Photo by Ria Mishaal

Where do you take inspiration for your gowns? Do you keep an eye out for current or emerging trends?
My inspiration for the dresses has its roots in two places. I’m always referring to beautiful gowns of the past but equally I’m besotted by current Haute Couture and watch the catwalks. These are passions of mine, so I just look all the time. Then it’s personal interests that filter in such as Art Nouveau and Deco Architecture, as well as my travels. 

When the time comes for me to work on a new collection, I simply black everything out and just sketch. I never choose a ‘trend’, because they are just that, I aspire to design dresses that are timeless. The truth is everything I read and love is influencing what I do, so a few emerging trends may sneak in there if it captured me, but I don’t design a style because it’s popular; there’s enough people out there doing that already.

Photo by Ria Mishaal

Your second couture collection entitled ‘2016 Nouveau’ was inspired by the 1970s style. Why have you chosen this particular era and what would you say are the key features of this collection?  

I’m a child of the 70’s and was on a nostalgic revisit to those looks and ended up experimenting a bit,  so the dress silhouettes are all 1970’s inspired,  they have a relaxed bohemian feel but then I wanted to introduce some nouveau style beading which I love and see what happened, and the overall look is very chic. 

Photo by Ria Mishaal

Do you have a favourite dress from your collections so far? If so, which one and why?
I have two: Petra and Celeste. They are my show stopper dresses and I feel like they really capture the very essence of what I’m about as a designer. Petra’s beading was inspired from an Art Nouveau comb; it has a low back and long sleeves with big beaded cuffs and a full train. It’s a dramatic dress but my goodness it feels amazing to walk around in — so chic yet comfortable. And Celeste — a real statement dress with the wide beaded collar — is the dress I would wear down the aisle again (to renew vows), it’s Art Nouveau meets Egypt and very me.

Photo by Ria Mishaal

As a keen supporter of bygone eras, who would you consider your favourite bride of all times?  
There are many, but I think Grace Kelly. 60 years on and her style is still being emulated by brides and her dress — more complex and embellished than it looked and rocking a Juliet cap, which I’m a big fan of — still serves as inspiration for designers.
Another bride I admire is the Queen Mother. I was taught millinery by the Queen Mother’s milliner, who specialised in 1920’s style hats. I heard many a wonderful tale about the Queen Mother whilst learning to sew hats that had me laughing out loud at it totally changed my perception of the elderly lady in pastels that we all remember. 

Indeed I was pleased to discover what a rebel the Queen Mother was — her wedding dress was totally different from what was expected of her. Although not quite made for her shape — the designer in me would have tweaked it slightly — I admire her for stepping out in something so bold and different; it spoke volumes about her character and that is what you see when you see the photos of her.  

Photo by Ria Mishaal

Could you describe the 2016 bride, who wears one of your designs?
The bride who chooses a Vicky Rowe wedding dress is creative, smart, individual and stylish. My gowns are statements and a bride who wears one is proud to be showing the artistry and craftsmanship that has gone into them.
Vicky Rowe

Let The Bristol Wedding Show begin!

Combining a glorious location for weddings and the region’s most distinguished vendors, The Bristol Wedding Show brings the ‘wow’ factor to engaged couples. Prepare to be totally amazed this Sunday, 17th January from 11am to 3.30pm as Ashton Court Mansion opens its doors for The Bristol Wedding Show. 
Proud organisers of prestige wedding shows and wedding fairs across the country and with many years experience, Wow Wedding Shows carefully select each venue. Indeed, the location for this week’s event is no less than impressive. Once a favourite of Bristol’s richer class, Ashton Court Mansion features Gothic stonework and Georgian panelling that make it a true historic venue. Why not try the VIP tours of the venue’s The Great Hall and Winter Garden Bar to find out about their wedding services for 2016? 
At the show, you can check out bridal bouquets and seasonal flower ideas, see and sample bespoke wedding cakes, and find help with other aspects of your day that you’re unsure of. Whether it’s the style for your invitations or deciding what favours to include for your guests, you’ll find all the advice you and your groom need. 

Bridal boutiques and professional photographers will be on hand to answer any questions and advise on the most suitable style for your chosen venue and time of year for your ceremony. 

With free entry and parking facilities, brides will be treated with goodie bags and free copies of the West Weddings magazine. Keep up with all upcoming WOW Wedding Shows and wedding events on our Wedding Fair Calendar page!

The Bristol Wedding Show
Venue address: Ashton Court Mansion, Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9JN

Fashion Friday: Wedding World glamour and style

Happy Friday! It’s time to get excited about the South West’s largest and most glamorous wedding fair — Wedding World — taking place at the prestigious Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel on Sunday 10th January between 10.30am and 4pm. This is where you’ll meet the region’s most talented people, who can help you create your wedding day dream.

Top bridal boutiques from the West Country region will be on hand to discuss the latest trends for 2016 and showcase their latest designer collections on the catwalk. A highlight of the day, the two fabulous fashion shows (scheduled for 12.30pm and 3pm) will feature a selection of stunning dresses — from glamorous and romantic pieces to classic and vintage designs for brides-to-be and their bridal parties. 

Beautifully accessorised, each style will help you imagine the kind of look you’d like for your ceremony. Bridesmaids and flower girl outfits in an array of colours and designs will also feature in the Wedding World show. Similarly, for the grooms and best men, there will be inspiration from high street names and luxurious brands, which will also feature on the catwalk. 

In addition, meet over 65 wedding suppliers displaying their stunning work and find out some great planning tips. Visitors will be entertained with live performances from singer Lewis Hutton, harpist Claire Dibble, dance group A.Y. Dance,  and the brilliant caricaturist Ian Lloyd.

Entrance is free with the complimentary ticket below. For more tickets, contact: 

Now, make sure to get there early on the day to secure front row seats and enjoy the show! For more details about future Wedding World shows, visit our Wedding Fair Calendar page or go to:

Behind the scenes: Winter wedding photoshoot

The festive season may be almost over, but you can still dream of a winter wonderland wedding with all its magic. Just imagine having a cosy ceremony in front of a fireplace, decorating your reception venue with snow-white blossoms, sparkly sequins and fairy lights, and serving your guests hot chocolate and marshmallows for the evening party. To inspire and help you visualise some of the options, take a look at our ‘Behind the scenes’ feature!

Our 1930-inspired photoshoot was set at the magnificent Bristol Grammar School. Styled by the award-winning wedding stylist Kirsten Butler from Little Wedding Helper and captured by Emma Eirene Photography, the shoot provides unique ideas and valuable tips from local vendors for organising your own wintry nuptials. Just think of it as our late Christmas gift to you! 

The gorgeous selection of dresses from The White Collection, accessories from Bridezillas and shoes from Freya Rose made our bride Rachel look –and feel– like a Hollywood star. Sporting the James Bond look, our groom Tamer wore a black dinner jacket with matching trousers and white shirt from Anne Harding

To create the bride’s classic glam look, Sally Bracey from Sally Bracey Make-up Artist mixed bright red lip colours with subtle eye contouring. The soft curls and stylish updo were the work of award winner Tracy Pallari

A stunning white three-tier cake in white with delicate gold leaves showcased the baking and sugar crafting skills of talented Emma Buston from Bake My Cake

In order to transform the Great Hall into a wedding-worthy setting, we had a little help from LightHaus Events, who provided the LOVE letters and pretty gold beaded tableware and banquet chairs from Prestige Event Hire
For an extra touch of sparkle, the top table was covered in gold sequin tablecloth from Pudding Bridge. To complete the Art Deco look, we had beautiful flower arrangements from Tin Can Floral and themed stationery provided by Shutter and Flash.  

Bristol Grammar School – venue
Emma Eirene Photography – photographer
Tracy Pallari – hair
Sally Bracey – make-up
The White Collection – dresses
Anne Harding – menswear
Bridezillas – accessories
Freya Rose  – shoes
Triggols Vintage Cars – car
Lighthaus Events – light-up letters / props
Shutter & Flash – stationery
Bake My Cake – cake
Tin Can Floral – flowers
Prestige Catering Hire – venue table dressing
Rachel Harvey – bride model
Tamer Latif – groom model
The Little Wedding Helper – shoot stylist
For more ‘Behind the scenes’ ideas, check out our previous post here. Don’t forget, you can also keep up with all the latest news and tips on our Facebook and Twitter pages.