By Wedding Industry News Editor Rachel Southwood: We can’t believe it, but another Bridal Week Harrogate has come to a close. We were trying to work out how many times we have visited the show over the 20 years we have been in the wedding industry and I think it is probably around that – 20 times. Of course, for some years it was twice a year, which it will be again in 2024.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the UK’s biggest bridal trade show, and we saw lots of nods to the anniversary around the halls, including a wall where you could attach a card detailing your favourite memory. It would have been lovely to have had the time to read more of those – I hope that Ocean Media publish some of them for us all to read and reflect on soon. Congratulations to the team, most notably Wendy Adams on the great achievement. Great to see Georgia and her baby too – she is the cutest!
So, how was it for you? For Pippa and I it really did feel like going home, so the hashtag #homeofbridal seemed particularly apt. Nothing beats seeing our old friends face to face, or the opportunity to make new friends and build new relationships, which is what I think we do best.
We got Pippa into a wedding dress! Thanks to Patricia Barclay, who showed solo for the first time at Harrogate
The show appeared vast and sprawling. Maybe because we used to have a stand as a base, and perhaps wouldn’t walk right through the halls more than once, it felt bigger somehow. (Maybe we have shrunk?!) The busiest stands were in Halls A and M – the Madi Lane and Morilee/Ronald Joyce stands always seemed so busy but stands were generally smaller than yesteryear – we can remember the days of the biggest brands having a monopoly on some of the halls. We also recall when there were more ‘breakout’ areas and adjacent hotels, housing other brands and labels like Maggie Sottero who were back in the halls this time, with a wonderful stand and adjoining space for their own private catwalk. Justin Alexander (Justin himself is about to become a father and so not in attendance this year!) and the sister brands in that portfolio were again at the Majestic, as were Allure. The rapidly expanding Romantica of Devon portfolio took over the Crown in an impressive takeover and brilliant use of space. Wonderful to hear they had such a great show.
I have no idea what the headcount was – attendance appeared to be relatively low but it’s impossible to say if that really was the case with a show so large. The general consensus seemed to be that the cost-of-living crisis is hitting hard, with fewer people attending, but those who did were spending more, so quality over quantity thing. “Steady” and “fine” were two words we heard a lot of.
A combination of factors led to me finding Hall Q very warm, and on Sunday it was also hot and humid outside, so I was a bit of a sweaty mess, but still, it was lovely to see some of our faves, like Josephine Scott London with her new Avenue and Robes de Reve Collections, TH&TH Bridesmaids and Gaia who we tip our hat to for creating the box of detachable accessories and ‘add ons’ like belts, bows and trimmings, which work to transform any Gaia dress from two looks in one and to tap into all the latest trends. Genius!
Josephine of Josephine Scott London shows off her exciting new Avenue Collection
Elsewhere we loved Jessica Couture, who had flown in from New Zealand to Harrogate for the first time, bringing her divine designs, a bevvy of beautiful minis, and three different but all equally beautiful collections at sensible price points.
The minis from Jessica Couture's Sky Light collection
It is always a pleasure to chat to David Emmanuel, who was based on Dando London’s stand on the Sunday. Christine showed us what she has been working on and spoke so passionately about her new collection True Love, which features everything from frills to feathers. Her stand was popular and not just because of David.
We were so lucky to spend time with David, who shared some of his favourites from the new Dando London collection.
Sensational new styles from the True Love collection by Dando London
It was hard not to be bowled over by the passion and professionalism of Crystal Lu, the creative director of Casablanca Bridal. It was a busy stand and she played to the gathering crowd perfectly, with a convincing catwalk commentary that really engaged customers – existing and new.
A peek at the gorgeous new designs from the latest Casablanca Bridal collection
Personally, I loved having Veromia back in town with their multi-award-winning Sonsie collection, which paved the way for plus-sized fashion labels for some time, as well as Veromia Occasions and Dressed Up – two of the occasion wear brands that the company now focuses on. For Pippa and I Veromia was always one of those brands that ‘made’ Harrogate with a big, welcoming stand and the team's enjoyment of the many social events over the years. To that end, one of my own personal favourite memories is of the BISCO, an event we used to support – a chance for all at the exhibition formerly known as ‘BBEH’ to get together and let their hair down. I remember with a smile the time that Andrew from Creatiques (an amazing dancer along with everything else he’s good at!) invited Pippa to dance while we watched on with 50% admiration and 50% trepidation! It was fab to catch up with the Creatiques Boys – who are also industry stalwarts and who brought with them their amazing Bustle and Bertie fragrance brand, which you may have experienced in the VIP area. It's absolutely perfect for bridal boutiques…
This year the RBA Awards offered that same opportunity to let our hair down. Credit should go to Laura Daly and the rest of the RBA team for hosting a fun event. Congratulations also to all the winners!
Team RBA hosted a fun and fabulous event at The Old Swan Hotel
Celebrations for the lovely Della Bond from TDR Bridal Birmingham, who picked up the Special Recognition award
We also enjoyed catching up with Ruth of Lark Bridal who was showcasing The Dessy Group on their return to Harrogate with a show-stopping collection and bold, bang-on-trend designs.
This year AB Agencies' Claire and Tony Bromilow based themselves on the Eddy K stand, with its beautiful collections, which were strong and sophisticated, with a real design flair. Definitely a label to watch!
And so that as they say, is that. We will publish the trends over the next few days and of course, our social media @weddingindustrynews continues to be populated with the great content we created over the past few days. We have been much complimented on our social activity and much enjoyed being back in the business of love. Until March 2024…