It's hard to believe that it's been a week since the doors closed on Bridal Week Harrogate. You can read our full WIN report and feedback here, but we also thought we would find out what some of our favourite boutiques saw and bought back from the UK's biggest bridal trade show.
How was Bridal Week Harrogate for you?
Rob: Mind blowing, as always! How do you choose new gowns when you have everything already?! We also launched our home fragrance range Bustle and Bertie, which included sponsoring the Platinum Lounge – where nominated buyers could relax with complimentary refreshments served throughout the show. We also supplied Maggie Sottero and Gaia Bridal on their stands, and the whole place smelt amazing! We also loved meeting up with friends for dinner.
Laura: I found BWH to be a very laid-back affair this year. Maybe because I wasn’t actively trying to source a new label, or maybe because I’d already seen video previews of the new dresses I would see from my current designers. I hate buying from pictures, so seeing the dresses in the flesh is imperative for me, but seeing the photograph first does put me in the shoes of our brides because they do the same with us wedding shops. It's also interesting to see which dresses match up to their images, which ones we must have because the imagery is so strong, and which ones are let down by their photography and so will need a bit more of a push in store! Obviously, being the kind of person I am, I love Harrogate for the social aspect and I loved catching up with so many of the great and good at the RBA Awards.
Amy: Oh my goodness – we loved it! I’m not sure how they do it but our designers exceed our expectations every single time and we LOVED so many of the dresses we saw. It really is the home of bridal and was so great to see so many industry friends, rub shoulders with designers and chat DRESSES! We obviously worked hard (if you can call it that) but also loved spending time together!
The Dress Me Pretty Team loved Bridal Week Harrogate
What did you think was different this time around?
Rob: We saw the return of the RBA Awards. Unfortunately, we couldn't attend this time, but we are so glad to see them back.
Laura: In the halls, I liked the area upstairs for the coaching sessions, and the fact that everything was spread out and thankfully nice and cool, especially given the unseasonal temperature outside! The RBA Lounge was fantastic and a real jewel in the crown for the members, with food and drink on tap virtually all day. Other than than that I’d say the only difference was that there appeared to be fewer big groups walking around – maybe shop owners only took one or two team members this time?
Amy: The buzz (excuse the pun) was so great and we feel super excited for our brides.
The return of the RBA Awards was a massive hit!
What did you like?
Rob: It was lovely to catch up with fellow boutique owners and friends.
Laura: I loved the RBA awards being held on Sunday night, and the fact that they were a relaxed affair with no stuffy dress code! I liked the selfie box outside, and the feeling that, finally, after a long hard road, bridal retailing is coming back!
Amy: I secretly love getting lost in those halls - ha ha! After ten years of visiting I still don’t know my way around - maybe I just get distracted by beautiful dresses. The location, atmosphere and ease of it all. The main catwalk was great and a nice end to the first day.
Rob and Andrew Pearce on stand with one of their top labels, Gaia Bridal
Was there anything new that you didn’t think worked so well?
Rob: We think that location must be looked at again – Harrogate is a long journey for many. We used to fly but the flights have stopped, so now it's a six-hour drive or a long train journey.
Laura: I heard about a memory wall, but never found it! Also, I’d like to see more hair accessory designers with more variety - the selection is very limited and although you could argue that it is because brides don’t buy as much for their hair any more, it becomes a vicious circle - they don’t buy also because the choices on offer are uninspiring - or ridiculously expensive - or look like something from eBay. Someone needs to do a big push in this department and get brides interested again!
Laura Daly at Bellissima Weddings loved the show and the RBA Awards, which she co-hosted
Did you take any new labels?
Rob: Not this time, no.
Laura: Not this time, but I did see some lovely dresses on the Casablanca stand as I walked past - also the Paul Zeni dresses looked fab, and Ellis always looks so gorgeous. Until someone invents expanding walls and rails for bridal shops - I had to turn my head and walk away!
Which of the labels impressed you the most?
Rob: We think all our labels offered something different. We saw a lot of colour florals, which filled a gap!
Laura: I’d have to say, Josephine Scott - she’s definitely one to watch and support - she could easily go on to be the UK’s biggest and most famous wedding dress designer because she has it all. I love how she’s listening to her stores and working with them while keeping her identity in her designs - that can’t be easy! I’m her biggest fan, and I don’t mind if everyone knows it!
Amy: Madi Lane blew our socks off!
Are you looking forward to being back in Harrogate in March?
Rob: Travelling is exhausting so we are not looking forward to doing it again.
Laura: I am looking forward to March actually - definitely for the social side, the ‘over-a-drink’ chats with people I only chat with online, the feeling of all in it together that only Harrogate seems to be able to provide, but also because it's important to see the overview of what’s on offer from the whole industry - it helps our shops to keep current and ensure we have a good mix on our rails. Hopefully, the Bridal Buyer Awards will be held as well and will return to their former glory because we all need things to aspire to and to push ourselves to be the best, otherwise the industry doesn’t move forward.
Amy: I always look forward to our Harrogate trips so yes, absolutely!
Thank you so much to our experts for your input. See more from our boutique hub here and contact us if you would like to get involved - your opinion matters!