Tag Archives: Cathedral Gowns

Becoming a Bridal Consultant

I’ve been writing this blog for two years now, but I’ve only just realised that I’ve barely introduced myself! I reckon it is about time that I told you about myself, my background and explain why I’m qualified to write all these articles about wedding dresses! My name is Catherine Massey, and I am 32 years old.  I have been running the family bridal boutique for the last nine years, and just so you know ‘bridal’ was never my plan!

Catherine Massey, Cathedral Gowns

My mum and aunt decided to open the boutique when I was 18 and in the midst of my A-level exams.  To tell you the truth, I barely even noticed. I took myself off to university in England and four years later, after completing my degree (BSc Hons Communications & Society from the University of Leicester), I moved home with the plan to get a job in PR in Belfast. It was the middle of August aka bridal mad season, and mum was run off her feet and needed a hand, so I went to work with her. That was 9 years ago!

Cathedral Gowns, shop front

Somehow I got the bug for bridal and it turned out that I was actually pretty good at it. It’s bizarre to think how this all came about by pure accident, but somehow everything I had studied had somehow led me to be doing this.

My favourite subject at school was history of art and I can hardly believe now how much that prepared me for what I am doing – I reference something I learned there nearly every day. And as for my degree… I use it all the time, especially my marketing and PR skills.  However, more than anything, it was the film studies portion of my degree that informs my decisions regarding looks, details and accessories the most. If you’ve ever had an appointment with me you’ve probably heard me get excitedly geeky about ‘old hollywood’ and the imagery of ‘film noir’. Even just today I told a girl how her look in a particular dress was very ‘Veronica Lake’ and described the kind of way she should wear her hair.

Cathedral Gowns, wedding dresses on a rack

Sometimes it feels like fate brought me here. One of my first bridal clients was a girl I went to primary school with, her name is Katrina. During her time visiting us she told me how she’d always known that this is what I would be doing when I grew up.  Apparently all I ever did at school was draw dresses – if I wasn’t going to be a designer she was sure I was at least going to be doing something in the fashion realm!

I started out as a bridal consultant, but as time has progressed, mum passed on more and more responsibility on to me and now I am running the boutique and take care of everything except the accounts. I get to go to trade shows, meet the designers and buy our dresses.  Whilst I enjoy all those adventures the part I love the most is meeting brides and introducing them to their dream dress!  There is nothing quite like the buzz of suggesting a dress to a girl, and watching her fall in love with it. I never thought a job could be so fulfilling but I genuinely leave the boutique every day with a smile on my face, and I never dread having to go to work!

Article by Catherine Massey

Catherine has been writing Bi-Weekly Article for us since the 8th May 2012 and is our very talented Bridal Specialist. Catherine is a Bridal Stylist for their family Bridal Boutique, Cathedral Gowns. Find them onlineat http://www.cathedralgowns.com or on Facebook.

Any questions, email catherine@thebeautycloud.co.uk

Dress of the Month ~ May 2014

My favourite dress in May only arrived a few weeks ago and already has me so distracted! The stunning Rosa is an exquisite beaded lace fishtail gown with a beautiful neckline and capped sleeves.

Allure-Bridals-C207-Wedding-Dresses_2 (1), DOTM, beaded lace fishtail gown , Dress of the month, capped sleeves, Swarovski crystals , gold, rosa, cathedral gowns, downpatrick, northern ireland

Every element of this dress is gorgeous and of such amazing quality, it really is a beautifully made dress – the inner corset ensures the fit of the dress is fabulous, the Swarovski crystals twinkle, and the lace detailing is impeccably finished. But what makes this dress stand out so much for me is the amazing pale gold colour!

Allure-Bridals-C207-Wedding-Dresses_2 (1), DOTM, beaded lace fishtail gown , Dress of the month, capped sleeves, Swarovski crystals , gold, rosa, cathedral gowns, downpatrick, northern ireland

In a shop full of ivory gowns, of course it’s going to stand out, but there is something just delicious about this shade – it is mega flattering against Irish skin! Somehow it works as well on dark haired girls as it does on blondes. I cannot wait to see which bride buys her first!

Allure-Bridals-C207-Wedding-Dresses_2 (1), DOTM, beaded lace fishtail gown , Dress of the month, capped sleeves, Swarovski crystals , gold, rosa, cathedral gowns, downpatrick, northern ireland

Allure-Bridals-C207-Wedding-Dresses_2 (1), DOTM, beaded lace fishtail gown , Dress of the month, capped sleeves, Swarovski crystals , gold, rosa, cathedral gowns, downpatrick, northern ireland

For more information about this dress or to try it for yourself, please contact Catherine at Cathedral Gowns (Tel: 028 4461 2532)

Dress of the Month ~ January 2014

This month my favourite dress has to be the lovely Kerry.  It may be that it’s the soft satin in this style that has captured my attention over all the tulle and lace styles that are filling our rails, but there is just something gorgeous about Kerry!

Dress of the Month, Bridal
We have her in size 20 and I feel that she does all kinds of favours for us curvier girls. The way the pleats hang along the body curve will emphasise an hourglass silhouette. For those of us with more of a thick waist, the deep sweetheart neckline and criss-cross effect through the waist will create a nipped in effect.

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This dress features a lace up corset back and superior interior corsetry which also contributes to that perfect silhouette.

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I love that the beaded detailing on this gown is concentrated to one small area – enough to add that mandatory bridal Swarovski sparkle but minimal enough not to be overwhelming.

I pair this dress with a headpiece featuring the same beading, worn on the opposite side of the head for balance, and a ribbon edged veil cascading the full length of the train.

For more information about this dress or to try it for yourself, please contact Catherine at Cathedral Gowns (Tel: 028 4461 2532)

Why does it take so long to buy a Wedding Dress?

I’ve noticed a huge trend recently for girls to leave bridal gown shopping until it’s almost too late! I hear lots of different reasons; some girls simply have only just gotten engaged, some girls have been dreading and putting off shopping, some haven’t had the money until now and others have been enjoying shopping too much and don’t want it to end!

The unfortunate reality of the wedding dress process is that they take quite a long time to be made and delivered to the bridal boutique. So when you leave it too late you really do limit your dress choices and options, and choosing a dress is hard enough!

Wedding Dress, Shopping, Order, Make time, Delivery Time, Cathedral Gowns

A wedding dress is typically made for the specific bride who buys it and orders it through a bridal boutique. The dress doesn’t exist until you order it, which is why it takes so long to be delivered. Bridal designers don’t operate like Marks and Spencers with epic warehouses filled to the rafters of spare stock, they might have twenty or so of their bestselling dresses available but the vast majority of dresses are made to order.

The time it takes to manufacture and deliver a wedding dress can vary. It will depend on how elaborate it is, whether the fabric is readily available, if appliqué and beading needs to be sourced etc. Contrary to popular fantasy, bridal gowns are not created by magical fairies! They are made by very talented seamstresses either in ateliers (high end designers) or factories (mainstream designers). The delivery time will obviously depend on where the dress is being manufactured, and how much the designer is willing to spend on shipping.  The whole chain of manufacture and distribution is longer, more complicated and long winded than you’d ever imagine!

Wedding Dress, Shopping, Order, Make time, Delivery Time, Cathedral Gowns

Most bridal gowns can be delivered to us within five and a half months of placing the order with the designer, but certain gowns and certain designers take much longer. I prefer a minimum of 7 months as it means that even if the dress takes six and half months to arrive we still have two weeks to organise fittings and the final prep and steaming of your dress. I do always encourage girls to order sooner though, just to make sure that the process is as stress free as possible.

Since a lot of girls don’t have the luxury of so much time, standard delivery isn’t an option, so what do you do when you are faced with this predicament? The most common option is the ‘rush cut’, where the designer can prioritise your order over all the other brides who have already ordered their dresses. Obviously since this equates to you bumping the queue and will require extra work behind the scenes for both the designer and the boutique, you will incur extra costs. Most rush cuts will be at least an additional £100 on top of the dress price, but can easily be more especially if you are really short on time. If the designer has to organise expedited shipping to get the dress to the shop as quick as possible, this can easily cost more than £100 alone. If you opt for the rush cut option be aware that any delivery dates will be approximate and the dress might only arrive with the shop days before your wedding.

Since a lot of bridal designers have noticed the trend for more and more ‘last minute brides’, they are trying to keep a lot of their most popular styles and sizes in stock, ready for immediate dispatch. But like I said before, they don’t have vast warehouses full of dresses, more like a few racks in a room next to their accounts office, so they may only have 20 or so dresses available. We are lucky that some of our designers will email us every few weeks with a list of what they have available, so you might be lucky and find that the dream dress you want is already made and ready to be posted!

Wedding Dress, Shopping, Order, Make time, Delivery Time, Cathedral Gowns

If the designer doesn’t have a dress in stock, and a rush cut is not an option or sounds like way too much stress, you will find that buying a dress ‘off the rack’ is your best option. Lots of bridal boutiques keep a clearance rail of dresses that they are willing to sell from stock, but your choices will obviously be very limited. On occasion the boutique might be willing to sell off the rail from their full price stock, but be aware that since these dresses are current the shop might not want to sell you their stock dress. Popular dresses are very valuable to a bridal boutique and to be without their best dress for several months could cost a bridal boutique a lot of customers, especially in peak busy season. If you are lucky enough to be allowed to buy the stock dress, don’t expect a discount. Be aware that the shop are doing you a favour by letting you have their dress. I know of shops that actually charge you more since it’s such an inconvenience for them to lose a top dress. So if you must have it, be nice to the girls in the shop and they’ll be more inclined to help you out.

So now that you know the options, I encourage you to book your appointments and to make sure to tell the girls how soon your wedding is. If I know my next appointment has a very close wedding date, I’ll call our suppliers to find out which dresses I can get in time for you, since there’s no point in me letting you fall in love with a dress that you cannot have. I’m not that mean!

Dress of the Month ~ December 2013 (A little late, we know, but gorgeous none-the-less!)

This month my favourite dress is the beautiful ‘Betty’, who we’ve had in store at Cathedral Gowns for quite a while! It’s funny how a dress can hang on our rails with little attention for a year and then all of a sudden everyone loves her! I guess some bridal looks just hit the boutiques before brides are ready for them.

DOTM, Cathedral Gowns, allure bridal, wedding dress, gown

This dress features a gorgeous fifties inspired silhouette with a dramatic nipped in waist and full skirt. The shape of this dress will flatter a lot of body types but tends to work best on broader shouldered girls since the width of the skirt will really flatter their proportions.

The neckline is a deep curved sweetheart which can be super flattering on more petite girls since the dip helps create extra length between the chin and chest which can definitely make you look taller. The pleated bodice also works well as a figure flattering tool since the way the pleats are formed draws the eye towards your waist. There are all kinds of optical illusions in this dress!

DOTM, Cathedral Gowns, allure bridal, wedding dress, gown

The fabric is a gorgeous lustrous satin which holds a really nice full shape in the skirt, but the addition of a two hooped petticoat works fantastically to really exaggerate the soft fullness of the skirt. Another benefit of a petticoat is that it can help distribute the weight of the dress and make it a lot easier to walk in.

This dress features a beautiful button detail which goes right down the train, after every third button there is a gorgeous little beaded design.

DOTM, Cathedral Gowns, allure bridal, wedding dress, gown

But what makes the biggest statement about this dress is the elaborate Swarovski beaded waistband! It is stunning both from a distance and up close.

I love ‘Betty’ so much I’ve made her our feature dress in our Christmas window display! Pairing her with a faux fur cape and muff definitely transforms this dress into the perfect snow queen wedding gown!

For more information about this dress or to try it for yourself, please contact Catherine at Cathedral Gowns (Tel: 028 4461 2532)

Dress of the Month ~ November 2013

My current favourite dress is the amazing Leonora by Charlotte Balbier. I love her! It features a gorgeous dropped waist silhouette with a full aline skirt, which is so flattering on lots of figures, but especially on curvier girls.

Charlotte Balbier Wedding Dress Lace

The bodice features amazing corsetry which really pulls in the waist and flattens a tummy, and holds a fuller bust in place. The benefit of the lace up back really helps to achieve a gorgeous fit. It does a really good job of lifting your bust and really showcasing your waist, so it is the perfect dress choice if you are heavy in the bust department. Another reason this dress is perfect for bustier ladies is the fact the beautiful scalloped lace detail offers extra cleavage coverage.

Charlotte Balbier Wedding Dress Lace

The skirt of the dress is a soft full aline in tulle with a beautiful lace hem detail which definitely edges towards princessy. I feel like this dress is super girlie as well as super flattering.

I love pairing her with a beaded belt at the waist and a lace edged veil.

For more information about this dress or to try it for yourself, please contact Catherine at Cathedral Gowns (Tel: 028 4461 2532)

Dress of the Month ~ September 2013

Is it weird that when I sat down to write about my favourite dress this month, the first dress that came to mind wasn’t a wedding dress?! My absolute favourite dress right now is a stunning bridesmaid gown in chiffon and lace by JLM Couture.

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Apparently inspired by Pippa Middleton’s famous bridesmaid gown – this dress is a stunner! It features a lovely curved, yet floaty fit that so far has suited every girl who has tried her on. It defines the waist, curves around the hips and bum and glides down into a fabulous sweep train. But what is so unique about this dress is the lace sleeve and enclosed back detail!

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Very few bridesmaid dresses feature this amount of stunning lace detail. To me this is the sexiest of all bridesmaid dresses, very glamourous and red-carpet but still demure and classy enough to be worn in church. Don’t you just love her?!

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This dress is the perfect accompaniment to a lace bridal gown, but could actually be worn as a bridal gown itself! The dress can be ordered in various shades of ivory and blush that would make a stunning and fabulously priced wedding dress!

For more information about this dress or to try it for yourself, please contact Catherine at Cathedral Gowns (Tel: 028 4461 2532)