We pride ourselves on really knowing the suppliers we put in front of you. We vet them before adding them to our directory and give them our stamp of approval, but it doesn't end there. You see, behind the scenes we meet up with our suppliers, see how things are going, and we often see them at our wedding shows. We get excited when they bring out new services and offers and we love seeing them grow. So we decided we'd go out of the road every now and again and find out more about the businesses on our directory and bring you all the goss. Alex visited Swindon bridal boutique Harmony Brides and here what she found...
When you walk into Harmony Brides you instantly step into a friendly, welcoming environment. Harmony Brides is a family run business, opened in 2005 and has maintained a fabulous reputation since then as a truly professional, friendly and well stocked bridal boutique where many local (& some not so local) brides have found their dream wedding dress.
A lot of time was spent before opening, plotting and planning their launch, and carefully selecting designers and collections they would be offering. More about the dresses later...
The team at Harmony Brides consists of four wonderful ladies, each with a clear passion for making sure each bride gets the VIP treatment and enjoys the whole process of buying their wedding dress. The whole Harmony Brides team firmly believe that enabling women to see the best in themselves is one of the most pleasing aspects of their role & feel privileged to be part of such an amazing journey, the bride-to-be journey. Many customers when they first arrive in store will lack confidence and understandably be a little unsure as to what will suit them, watching their customers flourish in confidence is what makes their job so rewarding. Julie and Sharon run the shop with help from Kandy their part-time stylist and Helen, their seamstress.
The ladies at Harmony Brides offer a bride the complete service, from when you first book an appointment to try on dresses through to arranging/conducting your bridal fittings in store with the seamstress and finally liaising with you to organise a suitable time for you to collect your dress a day or two before the your wedding. The appointment booking process is super easy and understanding of the busy bride. You can call, email, PM or send an enquiry through their website to arrange a convenient time to book your initial appointment. Once you’re in the boutique they’ll be eager to know more about you and your wedding, so they can guide you in your search for your dream dress that will suit you and your personality and fit in with the style of wedding you have imagined (have saved on Pinterest!). They also have an amazing array of ‘finishing touches’ such as belts, veils and hair accessories to complete your look.
You’ll be pleased to know there are no egos in Harmony Brides - they want brides to enjoy the dress finding experience and encourage brides to look through the rails of stunning dresses, picking out a few of their favourites they’d like to try on. You get the best of both worlds where you can pick things out that you like the look of but you get the expert help and advice by qualified stylists with almost 15 years experience in the industry. They know what cut will suit your frame, they know what colour fabric will enhance your skin tone, they know what accessories will finish the look and they will throw wildcards your way to get you trying something you may not normally go for that could just be the one.
So more about the dresses. How on earth do they decide what dresses to stock in the first place?
Julie says "There are a
variety of styles across any one collection, so each designer we stock will
have a range of looks they can create. We also work with designers who share our values
on customer service, quality and timescales.
Quality is number one priority, followed by a good variety of styles and reliability along with a healthy online presence. We stock the Sweetheart collection by Justin Alexander which is not only a beautiful collection of dresses that hit an outstanding price point (Justin knows how to dress a woman) but they have an online portal with accurate stock counts and we have the ability to order a dress and have it in store within 4-5 days. Fantastic news for any last minute brides!
We also only ever add dresses to our collections that will be realistic to alter. Wedding dresses are intricate pieces and making big changes isn’t always possible. We know each dress we stock and whether they can be altered without losing the shape or integrity of the dress. It’s always easier to make a dress smaller than larger. It’s always sad to see brides who have bought a dress elsewhere on the assumption a panel could be put in if they didn’t loose the weight they wanted to. Why put pressure on yourself to lose that much weight? We advise you order a dress in the size you are now and then have it taken in nearer the time. Surely it will more uplifting having a dress taken in than taken out?!
A further designer that they we stock, Kenneth Winston, offer design changes such as half sizes, petite and extra length, additional fabrics (for customisation in-house – sleeves etc) and various fabric colour options. We offer our expertise to explain what can be done with a dress to make it fit like a glove."
Talking of the fitting process, choosing your dress is just the start! Once you say "yes" to the dress, Harmony Brides will order your dress from the designer and your dress goes into production. The dress arrives in store at least 6-8 weeks before the wedding to allow time for fittings, but if it arrives sooner they will store it in the shop for free. Note that ladies! Lots of shops charge for storage or don’t even offer it. You wont have to try and hide the dress at home or squeeze it under a bed, and there will be no worries about anything spilling on it or it soaking up cooking/pet smells.
You are invited in for your first fitting 6-8 weeks before the wedding where your very own dress will be steamed to perfection to iron out any creases from transportation and you’ll get to try it on for the first time. These appointments are a great opportunity to try accessories and see the whole look. Helen the seamstress will be on hand to meet you and get to work making your dress fit to perfection. Good news for brides managing busy working lives is that the shop offers bridal fittings on a Saturday once a month which is unusual to come by.
A further visit will be organised for a couple of weeks later for your second bridal fitting, you’ll go back and try on your dress again to check everything fits and Helen will check for further tweaks that may be required.
Finally, a day or two before your wedding, your dress is steamed once again to make sure it's absolutely perfect and ready for your big day. That's when you can collect your dress from the shop and the ladies can wish you well.
What we adore about independent boutiques is the level of care and expertise they provide all as part of their service. The price of the dress doesn't reflect just the dress-it's the entire bridal experience so many women look forward to and should enjoy as part of the planning process. Your wedding dress is probably the most important (and most expensive) clothing purchase of your life-the photos of you wearing it will be around for the rest of your life and you'll be wearing it to celebrate one of the best and most important days of your life. Why spend your hard earned money anywhere other than at a boutique? You'll be guided by expert stylists specialising in bridal gowns, to ensure your money is well spent on a dress that will make you feel like a million dollars and will fit like a superstar couture gown! Prices at Harmony Brides range from £750-£1700 and there is a sale rail with dresses from £250 that can be purchased and taken away the same day.
Julie says "A bride to be’s journey should be enjoyed with memories to cherish long past the actual wedding day", a great number of their customers have been personally recommended, or bridesmaids who come back as brides is proof that Julies ethos comes across in the service Harmony Brides provide. No two brides are the same and therefore every bride who walks through the door at Harmony Brides will be given the VIP treatment with a glass of fizz served, sweets, biscuits, tea and coffee on offer.
We love hearing insider tips and snippets of wisdom we can pass onto our brides. Here are some fab bits of advice from Julie and Sharon...
Aim to bring a maximum of three guests with you and make sure they are people who know you well and have your best interest at heart. Stuck on keeping to three? Why not stagger them and bring a couple to your fittings so they can feel involved and perhaps help with picking out accessories?
Don’t start looking for your dress until you’ve found your venue. Your venue will set the tone of your day and the style of your dress.
A sale dress is only a bargain if the finished look is actually achievable. A fishtail dress won't look like a fishtail dress if you need most of the length cut off for example.
Dress for comfort on the day, make sure that your underwear, shoes, headbands, clips etc are comfortable and you won’t be fiddling with them throughout the day. Spanx always sound like the go to under garment but think about your comfort in the midday heat in the height of summer.
Wear shoes with the same heel height the whole way through the day. Why go to the trouble of having your dress hemmed beautifully only to change into flip flops and have it dragging on the floor? Have a back up pair of same height shoes that you know are comfy. Take a note from celebs and have a pair that are a size larger to allow for your feet to swell.
Surround yourself with calm in the morning of your wedding.
Try out your wedding day perfume before the day to make sure you don’t have a reaction to it (some bring on migraines which you definitely want to avoid)
Eat breakfast and stay hydrated!
Try on dresses that aren’t in your comfort zones or your usual style-your wedding dress isn’t like any other dress you’ll buy so treat the buying process a bit differently too
Wedding dresses aren’t seasonal and wedding dress boutiques don’t work in seasons. We stock a range of styles from our designers that will work or can be altered to any season.
That's all great advice and shows again that the ladies at Harmony Brides have their brides best interests, comfort and feelings at heart.
The ladies at Harmony Brides do all they can to ensure a stress free dress buying experience. They joke that they like to sleep at night so you won’t find them winging it with orders and deadlines! They are kind and caring ladies who we love having on our directory and could not recommend them highly enough!