Finding the perfect wedding dress is a huge part of planning for the big day. In our new series, Leonora Smee shares their journey to finding ‘The One’
Leonora Camilla Madeleine Smee wed Mark Cosgrove Smith in an elegant English wedding in August 2021 at the Hambleden Valley. The reception was held at Leonora’s family estate.
I first went to The Wedding Gallery – sadly, now closed down – but it was this magical wedding dress gallery underneath the iconic One Marylebone. It had every luxury wedding dress designer from Vera Wang to Oscar de La Renta to Elie Saab, and the store was lead by industry experts. I found the initial dress search rather a lot to deal with! I thought I knew what I wanted but the more dresses I tried, the more uncertain I became. Everything was so breathtakingly beautiful that I got a touch overwhelmed and began to think that what I was looking for didn’t exist and maybe my ideas were all wrong. A few months went by and I was invited to attend a Vera Wang private viewing of the latest collection. It was there I fell head over heels in love with a dress that was most certainly NOT me, NOT English and NOT timeless but no less mesmerizing for that and, to this day, the craftsmanship still takes my breath away. My mother was with me at the time and, as a very supportive mother, I remember her saying, are you sure darling?! While I was gazing into the mirror, admiring this exceptional gown, little did I know my mother was running around like a headless chicken trying to find ANYTHING that would change my mind. I’ll never forget it. She came in with three dresses, told me to close my eyes while she mangled these three masterpieces together, trying to create what I had told her was my dream wedding dress. I opened my eyes and there it was. It was at that moment I knew, whatever happened, I would be a Suzanne Neville bride.
The next day I booked an appointment at Suzanne Neville’s flagship boutique in Beauchamp Place, London and from the moment I stepped in, it was a dream come true.
I knew I wanted a lace bodice, long sleeves, a waisted silhouette and an enormous, cathedral-length train. Suzanne and her talented team asked me to try on a few different dresses from her latest collection, and we chose every single design feature I had dreamt about and began the fully bespoke Suzanne Neville experience.
I found it a huge pressure, you (hopefully) only get married once and it had to be perfect!
THE STYLE SUPPORT
With my mother, Suzanne, and her exceptionally talented team, I knew I had the most experienced style and support network.
THE EVENING LOOK
Yes, I did change due to the fact that I had an extremely long train and I wished to dance the night away! I wanted something sexy, sparkly and different! We went to The Wedding Club and chose a mesmerizing Valentini Spose gown. We then spent months and months chopping it up, adding a sparkle tulle underneath the skirt and strategically placing handmade silk flowers to the skirt – and it was PERFECT!
I wore a bespoke Suzanne Neville 6-foot-long veil, with a lace trim that matched the bodice of my main wedding gown. I paired this with a breathtaking Tivon Fine Jewellery tiara and my mother’s diamond and pearl earrings that were passed down from my late grandmother. Shoes were Jimmy Choo and the overall finishing touch was the heavenly scent of Peony and Blush Suede from Jo Malone.
THE SECOND-DAY OUTFIT
Due to the church restrictions, we were only allowed 80 guests at the Friday ceremony. So next day, I wore my main wedding gown for a few hours so all my guests could see ‘THE DRESS’. I then changed into another magnificent Suzanne Neville creation called The Adelaide, an off-the-shoulder with floral pale greens and purple, paired to perfection with a Tivon Fine Jewellery necklace of rare gemstones and diamonds.
ADVICE FOR BRIDES
Go with an open mind, try to stay calm and go with what makes YOU feel like a princess!
List of suppliers:
Saturday Garden Party Dress @suzanneneville
Hair Stylists – La Medusa Henley on Thames @lamedusahenley
Makeup Artists – Cassandra Lusi @cassandralusi_mua Kelly Dawn Bridal
Related Article: The Dress with Alexandra Dudley