We don’t need to tell you that 2012 has been an amazing year for the UK – the Queens Jubilee, the Olympics & Paralympics and more recently, the announcement of a Royal pregnancy. In the next couple of weeks, there will, no doubt be a whole host of reviews of the year on TV, Radio and in the newspapers. So we thought we’d do our own round-up of what’s been happening in our little Bridal world!
In January, Sarah & Roxann headed off to the Ricoh Arena to exhibit at our first ever Prom Fayre. We spent the day chatting to dozens of extremely excited young ladies about their perfect prom dress and then spent the next couple of months making their dreams come true!
We formed the Coventry Wedding Professionals Association, alongside some other highly reputable, long-standing businesses. Our aim, to ensure that Brides receive the highest quality products and customer service on offer. Other members include Fairytale Flowers, Graham Emery Photography, Bella Carte Stationary, SugarRush Bakery, Jessica Claire (Chair Covers) & Mark Andrew Menswear. We spent a great day in West Orchards, Coventry telling Brides to Be all about us. Expect to hear more about CWPA in the new year!
The first couple of months of the year are always busy with Wedding Fayres and we spent our Sundays at various different hotels around the area, including, amongst others, The Royal Court, The Hilton, Mallory Court, Brandon Hall, Coombe Abbey & The Manor Hotel at Meriden. The first Wedensday evening of every month finds us at The Village Hotel in Coventry for their regular Wedding Wednesday.
Our favourite venue, Woodside in Kenilworth, invited us to bring some of our models along to their Open Day in February. The girls all had their make-up and hair done by professionals and then showed off some of our new styles to visitors. Bridal Gallery customer and September Bride, Emily, joined us for the day and modelled a dress that was as different from the one she was going to wear on her big day, as we could possibly make it!
Lisa in Rollers!
Leanne with her own personal stylists!
Leanne, Liz, Lisa, Emily & Crystal looking fabulous!
Nikki from Greatest Day Photography in action!
In February Sarah spent a day at Warwick House Hotel assisting Aristocuts Hair Designers with their photoshoot. Nikki from Greatest Day Photography took some fabulous photos and Sarah managed to juggle gowns, models and her 9 month old niece all at the same time!
In March we made a return to the National Wedding Show at the NEC in Birmingham after a 2 year break. It was just as hard work as we remembered, but we loved meeting hundreds of Brides to Be. Lisa joined us for the first time as show staff, and Hannah returned to work with us for the first time in 5 years. We were kept going through three very long days by Sarahs Mums’ packed lunch featuring her legendary sausage rolls and flapjacks!
We were thrilled, in March, when our Bridesmaid dresses by Impression Bridal was named Best Bridesmaid Collection by the bridal industry. With the huge range of fabulous styles and colours that they offer, we always knew they were the best!
Our Sparkle Evening in April was great fun! Lots of Brides joined us for a glass of bubbly and the chance to chat to hairdressers, make-up artists and nail technicians about their beauty requirements for the big day. We also had our new range or tiaras. veils & jewellery on show for them to try on.
In May we did our first ever Designer Weekend, showcasing the full collection of gowns by the fabulous Opulence Couture. Brides were invited along to view and try on dresses that weren’t yet even available in the shops. Several girls found their perfect gown . Helen offered to model one for our Facebook page. Don’t worry, it’s not ”the one”, but she did look amazing in all of them!
May and June were our busiest months for Bridal, Holy Communion & more especially, Prom. The workroom was organised chaos and, once again, our fabulous bridal seamstresses pulled out all the stops to ensure that all dresses were ready in time. Sometimes it felt like we were slowly disappearing until huge swathes of brightly coloured satin, tulle and sparkle. But we survived!
We also found time in June for our Bloomin’ Great Tea Party in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. We transformed the shop into a Tea Shop for the day and the staff all baked their little hearts out creating some scrumptious goodies for visitors. We were thrilled to raise over £260 for this brilliant charity.
The hard work of our staff was recognised in June when we were awarded the British Bridal Retailers Association ‘Retailer of the Month’ Award, as voted for by our customers. Many thanks if you were one of the many that voted for us! We now go forward into the Retailer of the Year Award – fingers crossed!!!
The summer months were the busiest we’ve ever had. SugarRushUK, our Bakery & Candy Buffet Company was inundated with requests for Cakes and Candies and an average weekend would see days at the shop interspersed with trips out to hotels to either deliver or collect a variety of cakes, cake stands, candies & glassware etc.
It was a summer of long days starting in the early hours and going on until the late evenings. We donated a colour co-ordinated Candy Buffet to support a Tea Party to raise Myton Hamlet Hospice, and then later in the year, another at an evening to raise funds for a Memorial Fund in rememberance of Paratrooper JJ.
Our lovely Ashleigh off to Uni!
Our lovely Saturday girl Ashleigh left us in July, in order to prepare for her forthcoming University course. After 5 years with us, we’re going to miss her dreadfully. However, she will be dragged back (probably kicking and screaming!) for the National Wedding Shows! She’ll be replaced in the new year by her younger sister, Sophie, who has been lined up for the job since birth!
Poor old Liz came a cropper in the August, falling over and fracturing her cocyx. Nikki, Alison and Annette swung into action to cover her shifts and saved the day by keeping the shop ticking over, enabling Sarah to be where she needed to be, either in the workroom, sewing, or in the SugarRush kitchen baking to fulfil all the wedding cake orders we had for that month.
Annette made herself so indispensible over this period that at the end of August she joined us on a permanent basis. As Sarah sister, she’s always been involved with the business, helping out on busy Saturdays and especially at shows. She brings with her a huge amount of experience and a back-ground in customer service, having worked in the corporate world for many years. Some of her new ideas and a couple of new systems have already been put in place, to the benefit of all!
The summer saw the launch of our Bridal Dressing Service. The idea was planted when a couple of our brides asked if we could be on hand on the day to lace them into their corset-backed gowns. If our customers request……. we do our best to oblige! So, most Saturdays will now find either Liz, Roxann, Annette or Sarah nipping all over the county assisting members of the wedding party and ensuring that they look their absolute best. As we’ve found out, there’s a little more to it than lacing up corsets. So far, we’ve also secured corsages and buttonholes, tied cravats, carried bouquets, packed Brides into cars, re-applied lipstick, removed deodorant stains, made tea, re-threaded a string of pearls, entertained small, bored bridesmaids, mended a Mother of the Brides’ broken fascinator, washed up, hemmed a pair of trousers, re-hearsed a best mans speech, calmed a very nervous bride with breathing exercises and changed a nappy. Not all at the same wedding, I hasten to add! Think that makes us worth out weight in gold!!!
Roisin trying to hide behind a mannequin!
September saw the arrival of Roisin. our new apprentice. In addition to learning from the best bridal seamstresses in the business, she’ll also be learning the ropes in the shop from advising customers to liasing with suppliers and designers. Her arrival was heralded by features in two of the local papers, including a double page spread in the Coventry Telegraph and also a half-page article in the trade publication, Attire magazine.
Liz, Roxann, Annette & Sarah nipped up to Harrogate for 2 days to select our collection of gowns for next season. If you want the all the details, read our most amusing Blog post ’4 Women in a Fiat500 Head for Harrogate’!!!
September was the start of the Autumn Wedding Fayre season which ran to the end of November and once more included the National Wedding Show. Again we started to forget what it was like to have a Sunday off! It was good to have newbies Mags and Alison with us for several of these events. We attended a fabulous run of events organised by Perfect Brides, and at each of these Sarah gave a presentation entitled ‘Keep Calm…….And Plan Your Wedding’. Aimed at brides who are in the early stages of planning their weddings, it offered hints and suggestions on how to plan the biggest day of your life. She was thrilled to have so many couples attend and to receive fabulous feedback. She’ll be presenting again in the New Year.
In November we had a bit of a first. Louise M & Tracey L celebrated their Civil Partnership and we were delighted to provide gowns to both girls! One Wedding, Two Dresses!
We were also nominated for Wedding Ideas Magazine ‘Retailer of the Year Award’ in November. However, as the old saying goes ‘you can’t win ‘em all’! We’ll just have to try harder next year won’t we!!!
We rounded off the year by inviting this years Brides to pop along to the shop on our last open Saturday before Christmas to join us for a glass of something sparkly, a festive snack and to show us their wedding photos, if they’ve not done so already. It was great to see so many of our brides again and to catch up on their news. We were hugely excited that one of our girls will have her wedding (and our dress!) featured in the massively popular Rock My Wedding Blog! Don’t worry, we’ll let you know when it’s available to see!
Forward into next year, we’re planning the Open Evening we’re having at the Village Hotel on 9th January to launch our new collection, we’ve got a season of local wedding shows booked, and we’re off to the NEC again for the National Wedding Show in March. The new lease on the shop is due to be signed in March and we’ve got so many other things planned as we go forward into our 21st year.
This has been a fabulous year, we’ve had great fun and many, many laughs, been joined by new staff, had difficult challenges that we’ve met head on and most importantly met some wonderful customers. Here’s to more of the same in 2013!