However, two sisters are hoping to make the life of the bride a little easier by selling the stylish wedding dresses at half the normal price.
Belle Bridal Wedding Dress Shop in London
Belle Bridal, set up by Claire Chapman and Jo Cowan, sells shop samples, runway examples and prototypes at discounted rates while offering a one-on-one service to help the ladies find the right dress to make them feel a million dollars.
“We always wanted to have a business of our own, but before Belle Bridal we hadn’t officially been in business together. We saw an opportunity after the interest from people in London in our mother’s business, Berkshire Brides,” Jo, 36, said.
They converted the top floor of Jo’s house into the showroom and office and started trading in Baxendale Road, Whetstone, in August 2009.
The partnership’s unique selling point is that the dresses are sold directly to the bride, so the sisters can offer huge reductions compared to retail prices.
“The dresses have either been shop samples, designer prototypes or used in catwalks or photo shoots. They have not been pre-worn and are not second-hand,” Claire, 34, said.
She added that they try to provide brides with “a much more personal service”.
“There is only ever one bride in the showroom at any time, so brides get our undivided attention. We are also able to offer very flexible appointment times. We offer evening appointments at 7.30pm from Monday to Thursday and open on Saturday and Sunday to help account for the brides’ busy schedules.”
Since Kate Middleton’s showstopping dress at her wedding in April, the sisters have seen “more of an interest in lace – but not from every girl”.
The sisters’ successful business began as the pair also became mothers to young children: Claire had her baby five weeks before the business started, while Jo’s young daughter was born six months before.
But Jo added they had their husbands’ backing: “We’ve got a fantastic support network, including our husbands, who said ’go for it!’”