Finding the perfect wedding dress is a huge part of planning for the big day. In our new series, Monica Mills shares their journey to finding ‘The One’ – A bespoke dress by Northern Atelier Designer, Emma Beaumont.
Monica Marriott-Mills 28 and Alexander Brown 32 married on the 21st September at Gosfield Hall. They went for a classic, trend-less and elegant wedding, with a Parisian twist. From 1807 to 1809, the house was Gosfield Hall loaned to the exiled King Louis XVIII of France and his wife Queen Marie Joséphine Louise of Savoy.
Having worked in the wedding industry for almost 6 years, I was determined to keep the wedding trend-free, as sustainable as possible and to use the internal beauty of the venue as the main form of decor (its’ gold guilt ceilings, high ceilings and grounds really did the talking). Alex is a musician with a university degree in Jazz, so music was also a huge part of day, I’m a luxury marketing consultant and run a slow fashion/luxury fashion social media page.
I always knew I was going to have my own dress made bespoke, having a predesigned dress wasn’t ever an option as I had never seen something which encompassed all of the design elements that I had envisioned (despite having seen lots of stunning dresses)
I discovered my dress designer Emma Beaumont, when scrolling through my Instagram Explore page, I loved Emma’s designs for their perfect balance between timeless elegance and edgy contemporary attributes. Emma has the most magical way of complimenting a woman’s body in a beautiful way, whilst combining her true style and personality and all of the craftsmanship which makes a wedding dress so special.
I got engaged during lockdown, so as a result, my first couple of design consultations with Emma were actually over skype. I created a mood board of the exact elements I wanted to have featured in my dress. They included;
Statement shoulder pads, full sleeves (a must). Either a high neck or very deep but think plunge neckline (we later decided on the plunge as I am only 5ft, so felt this complimented my dimensions better). Dramatic A-line silhouette, waist belt to give the modern twist, lots of buttons and feathers!
Once I had discussed with Emma the exact requirements of the dress and how I wanted it to look, she then sketched it all together and posted out the original sketch from Cheshire to Camden ( I now have this framed in my house, such a special factor in the bespoke journey).
She sent me swatches of the feathers and also some other materials to have a play with. I knew feathers were the only way!
One of my friends in the industry took my measurements and I emailed them to Emma ahead of the first toile fitting. The first toile fitting was surreal, a dress made entirely to my unique measurements, it fit like a glove. It was from this point that the fun really started!
Each fitting was more and more exciting, with the elements slowly coming together. I gave myself a good 1.5 years for this process to really allow myself to enjoy the process.
First fitting – the toile in the toile fabric
Second visit- the dress in the silk crepe made from the toile dimensions
Third visit – the dress shoulder pads were added and I saw the silk belt for the first time
Fourth visit – this one was big, this is when the hand sewn feathers were finally added! As were the beautiful silk covered buttons.
Final fitting – this was the final tweakments and the day I took it home!
I had worked in bridal for 4 years at this point and felt that I had seen pretty much every style that was out there but nothing that I loved in its entirety. I knew the elements of a wedding dress that I loved. For me, my wedding day ensemble wasn’t to be ‘sexy’ or overly revealing. My favorite wedding dresses are often the more modest looking gowns, full sleeved and high neck – much like the dresses of the Royals; Princess Eugenie, Princess of Wales and Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco.
I knew exactly what I wanted and knew that Emma would be the perfect designer to execute the look with precision and creative flair.
I had always wanted to create a gown using beautiful fabrics, which I could later repurpose and transform into something. I will be turning my dress into a jacket and a feather strapless dress in the coming months, it has no use being boxed up in the attic!
The full dress was made in Silk Crepe and the skirt was made of 1000s of hand sewn feathers, truly a work of love and art.
I knew I wanted to incorporate some of the classic features that I had loved on other dresses I had seen over the years.
Sleeve and back buttons – the dress featured over 50 buttons down my back and on my sleeves, they were also covered in the same silk from the dress.
Shoulder pads – I love shoulder pads in my daily wear and I really wanted my dress to reflect my true style. I also feel like shoulder pads give a beautiful bold shape and strong structure, which contrasts so beautifully with the feathers.
Belt – Again, a waist belt is something I wear pretty much most days with a secondhand blazer or crisp white shirt. I wanted to ensure I would have a piece of the dress which I could easily wear again and incorporate into my wardrobe after the wedding. We went with a silk buckle belt, nothing over the top or ‘overly bridal’ – I love creating the juxtaposition between bridal and ‘non-bridal’ – it creates something more interesting and exciting.
I loved every second of it! I am a very decisive person and knew exactly what I wanted, mainly because of my background in weddings – I can totally see why it could be overwhelming for brides with so much out there.
Emma is a really warm person and the entire experience was quite frankly a dream come true, I cannot thank her enough!
STYLING THE SUPPORT NETWORK / THE STYLE SUPPORT?:
No, I felt more opinions would only cause me to second guess myself… but I am lucky to have lots of friends in the industry who inspired me along the way. I really wanted to showcase the talents of my friends, so I chose both of my veils by my friends and also my tiara was handmade by two of my friends.
THE EVENING LOOK:
I changed into a custom dress for the evening. Again, I’m all about voting with your money. I wanted to support a smaller designer and chose an independent brand based in Ukraine called ‘have.dress’ – I customised one of their pre designed dresses, to put my own spin on it.
I wore a second-hand Bulgari Serpenti bag, in a bronze shade – a piece that works both for an evening out, a special occasion or your wedding! I believe that your wedding day ensemble shouldn’t just be worn for one day, I am all about finding pieces that can be transformed for all life occasions, it’s the most sustainable and cost-effective way to shop in my opinion.
My earrings were thrifted for four dollars in Ontario, i had worn Chanel earrings for the day dress but knew that by evening I would want to dance and party, so a more affordable pair of earrings seemed less risky.
My second veil was a handmade veil made by one of my bridesmaids, Izie and my shoes were my Hen Party shoes, from Giuseppe Zanotti.
I am all about supporting small and independent brands, voting with your money is one of the best things you can do when it comes to a small business and their success!
I knew I wanted a tiara, I felt it matched the venue just perfectly. Pearls are one of my favourite jewellery accessories, so incorporating pearls into my tiara was the goal! My amazing friends at Doleck Bridal make intricate, handmade Tiaras in London and I am such a huge fan of their work.
My veil was a wedding gift from one of my bridal clients, Mirror Mirror Bridal in North London – They’re a family run business, known for their friendly service and 34 years of service to the bridal industry..they really know their stuff! Their seamstress Sham, a friend and colleague handmade my cathedral but simple veil – with a feather dress and a tiara, the veil didn’t need to be overly detailed or intricate.
My earrings – I wanted to buy something that would hold its value, something that I could wear time and time again and also something that I could pass down to future generations. For this reason, I chose a pair of statement drop Pearl and Gold Chanel earrings from their 2021 collection – I love them even more today than I did on the day I bought them! They’ll be coming out on our first anniversary!
Shoes – I chose YSL Canvas Knot Platforms as they worked really well for my style outside of the bridal realm. I felt I wanted some shoes which would lend themselves to many more life occasions. I find a lot of ‘bridal shoes’ scream BRIDAL, whereas I think you’ll get more for your money if you look at the shoes in a more expansive way.
THE SECOND DAY OUTFIT:
I went to breakfast the next day in fluffy Nadine Merabi bridal PJs and bridal crocs! Let’s be honest, the day after your wedding all you want is comfort! We then drove to a hotel called the Marquis in Suffolk, it’s a luxury 5-star hotel where we enjoyed room service and films to take some downtime following the wedding!
ADVICE FOR BRIDES:
MOODBOARDS!! Create yourself a moodboard on pinterest, in a scrap book or on your phone – don’t let trends sway you, use your moodboard as your referral point.
It’s so easy to become worried and second guess your decisions, but it’s important to remind yourself of why you made the decisions you have made.
Never allow yourself to be pressured into making a decision. Its YOUR dress, YOUR day and the end of it all, only YOU that will be wearing the dress, so don’t be afraid to go with your gut.
I have two favorites. My first is this photo in the ballroom with Alex.
I love this photo because it was a natural, quiet moment that Alex and I took, to view the Ballroom of the venue, where I could see all of the hard work come together. Our vision for the wedding had come together and we felt content and relaxed walking around the venue.
I also love the way that my dress has movement no matter if i’m still or in motion, the feathers lend to its wonderful texture and swanlike elegance.
The second photo I love is this one, I had always dreamed of a dress which was unique whilst still with-holding traditional attributes. I think Tina (our photographer) captured the uniqueness of this dress magically in this photo.
Rings : The Diamond Store London
Second outfit veil: handmade by my bridesmaid Izie Holt
Second outfit bag: Secondhand Serpenti Bulgari Bag
Second outfit earrings: thrifted in Canada
Related Article: The Dress with Alessandra Frame