The Tables are Turned

the-tables-are-turned-1Award winning British bridal designer Charlotte Balbier and her partner Edward Bedford celebrated their marriage in December 2013 in the idyllic Shropshire countryside. At the recent White Gallery bridal exhibition, Features Editor Amber O’Shaughnessy snatched a bit of time with the famous designer for an exclusive chat about her big day.

Creating Wedding Fashion is your daily business as a bridal fashion designer. Nevertheless, was it something special for you to create your own wedding dress?

I created a couple of dresses for my big day. The day dress was a silk organza full ball gown skirt with a deep French lace trim. The bodice was fitted and boned with a sheer tulle neckline and three-quarter sleeves.

The train was cathedral length with diamante buttons all the way down. The dress had a zip fastening and an oversized hand-tied bow.

The gown was a traditional ivory wedding dress.  The evening gown was a small A-line skirt with godet fit and flair. I used French lace fabric with a small spot tulle over a soft champagne satin. The evening gown was fitted to the natural waist with a pearl and diamante beaded belt detail. Both these gowns will be in my 2015 Iscoyd Park collection, the day gown is called ‘the Charlotte’ and the evening gown ‘Iscoyd Park’. They will be in boutiques from May 2014 onwards.

How difficult was it to design your own dream dress?     

Did you know from the beginning what you wanted and how your dress should look like?Designing my own wedding dress was one of the hardest things I have had to do. It took me well over a year as I changed my mind several times and had over 15 gowns that were ‘nearly the one’. The two gowns that I ended up wearing I  designed only a few months before the actual wedding. My evening gown was very last minute as I found the lace only in mid-October and it was love at first sight. I designed the gown around the lace and luckily it all turned out perfectly. I did have some just in case stand by evening gowns though too!

What was the most important point for you regarding your bridal styling including hair, make-up and accessories?

I wanted a timeless, elegant look that was very feminine and stayed true to my style and personality. I have always adored Grace Kelly’s look on her wedding day as even today her gown and overall wedding style still looks relevant and beautiful. In my own way I wanted to create this so in years to come I will look at my wedding dress and styling and it will still look modern and fresh but, most of all, elegant. For bridal hair and make up I am a great believer in always staying true to yourself and just looking the very best version of you. I had the best team working on my look on the day so I knew I was in very safe and capable hands.

the-tables-are-turned-2For the day accesories, I am friends with the very talented Freya Rose. Freya invited me down to London to her shoe boutique in Islington and together with my Mum and Freya we chose the perfect shoes.

For the jewellery I kept it very simple –  just a few rings.  As a surprise on the day, my partner Teddy sent to me (via my godson) a beautiful diamond bangle that was made to match my wedding and engagement rings. It complemented my look perfectly.

For the evening I had some gorgeous Jimmy Choo shoes and jewellery. For the day, I had a full length cathedral silk veil that was a bespoke design by Joyce Jackson. After the ceremony I removed my veil and wore an Amanda Wyatt hairband that was an Art Deco inspired design made to complement my ring. I also had a marabou fur wrap that I borrowed from my grandmother.

Your Mum is a wedding dress designer as well. What did she say, when she saw you as a bride? 

My mother was obviously very proud to see her only daughter walking down the aisle on her wedding day. She looked absolutely gorgeous in a silk-satin dress with black spots bought from a small Cheshire boutique that flattered her triangular shape; she felt wonderful in it.

Did she support you during the design of your wedding dress or is the dress completely your own creation?

My mum was such a great help and support as she gave me guidance and direction when I had many a meltdown about my bridal dresses! I knew my bridal dress was the one instantly though; it just felt right when I put it on.

Your wedding dress is now part of your collection. Every other bride can buy it. Is it no problem for you to share your dress with other women, because most brides want to have a unique dress?

We decided to put the two dresses in the collection because they have gained such an overwhelming response. I am more flattered that brides would love to wear the same wedding dress as me for their big day. It’s a massive compliment and I am glad I can share it with so many brides.

The decoration at your wedding has been a dream in pink and gold. Please tell us a little about the special features and about what was the most important for you.

If you look at the Charlotte Balbier logo I have a love for pink and golds so Teddy had to take a step back on this and let me have my way. The colours are part of the Charlotte Balbier signature style. The floral arrangements comprised masses of nudes, blush, peach, pink and ivory coloured blooms to create a real wow factor.

The abundance of flowers was really impressive. Which flowers did you use? What was the reason to choose these flowers specifically? How much has it cost?

We chose to use a local company called Red Floral Architecture because they are experts in flowers. Red Floral are amazing because they specialize in wedding styling and this helps to emphasize the overall theme of the wedding and show a venue in all its glory. Red Floral transformed the marquee into a magical wonderland, dressed with chandeliers adorned with flowers, as well as walls of mirrors and hundreds of candles. Having so many props amongst the wedding flowers can enhance the overall theme of the flowers.

“We chose flowers based on Charlotte’s signature style. We filled the marquee with blooms in her favourite colours of pink and gold. The arrangements received an amazing response, they make such an impact en masse.” Florist, Mat Hepplestone.


The flower girls and bridesmaids also looked so beautiful! What was the idea behind their look?

On the day there were eight adult bridesmaids and two flower girls.  For each bridesmaid I designed a different bespoke gown.  I wanted each bridesmaid to wear a gown that was the perfect shape for them: their figure, style and personality. Every gown was midnight blue and created from chiffon fabric but each design was very different. They all wore midnight blue marabou fur wraps. Each maid also wore a pearl and diamante cuff by Amanda Wyatt. They wore midnight blue lace shoes with matching lace clutches, dyed to match the gowns. I wanted the adults to look glamorous, stylish and red carpet ready. My inspiration was old Hollywood glamour, Oscars style. The two flower girl dresses were designed by me, the flower girls wore pure shot silk fabric with a tulle overlay. Like me, they had a sash with an over-sized hand-tied bow. They were completed with a little frill shoulder detail, marabou cape with pom-poms, little bows and white bunny bears in their hair instead of flower bouquets. They both wore shoes by Rainbow Club, I wanted them to look like little fairy-tale princess and totally adorable; they most certainly did. Has there been a special theme for your wedding?

The theme was glamorous golds, pinks, metallic and ivory hues. 

Did you plan any surprises for your wedding guests? 

We tried to make the wedding unique; every guest was handed a kissing bell when arriving at church. The kissing bell had a little poem attached so guests knew what to do with them. We also had two baskets of vintage cotton hankies for guests’ happy tears. When leaving the church, guests were handed fresh pressed flower petals to throw. At the reception we had our own unique cocktails blended up called The Buster Bear, dedicated to our dog. This was a chocolate, creamy style cocktail (he’s a chocolate Labrador).Then the The Tilly Woo Woo, which referred to my parents’ dog. This was a take on the classic woo woo cocktail.

Where did you get your wedding stationery from?

We chose to order our stationery from Rose & Ruby paper Co. as she does amazing work. Rose created all of our wedding stationery with the gold and pink blush hues of the wedding in mind. We had our own crest C&E that was on all stationery such as the save the date cards and printed envelopes, invites, RSVP cards and Order of Service. Rose & Ruby cared about all the little details and the wedding stationery all looked fabulous.

Where did you get all the ideas from and did you plan your wedding completely alone?

I will be honest in that the styling was very much my own vision, all the guests and suppliers said it was very ‘Charlotte Balbier’. Teddy absolutely loved every detail and I am lucky as he loved the colours I chose. For me it’s all about the detail and I planned every single detail to be executed perfectly. All the guests loved that from the moment they arrived

at the church they were greeted with surprises and looked after well. I like to ensure that people who are guests of mine or ours, whether it is work or pleasure, are always looked after. I tried to think of everything so every guest felt special.

What was the best or most beautiful part of your wedding?

For me, it was the church and the vows. Also, the look on the guests’ faces when they saw the marquee - that was priceless! The DJ set by Graeme Park was fabulous, as well as having all the people I love share our special day.

Would you do everything in the same way again or is there something that you might have done differently in retrospect?

Everything on the day was absolutely perfect. The whole day was captured by Polly Alexandre Photography who is absolutely amazing. Her work is top-class.

“Charlotte and Teddy were a dream to work with, involving me in the planning of their day right from the start. I explained that for the best possible bridal preparations images, light, high ceiling locations with pale walls work best.
The ceremony was set for noon which allowed plenty of light for photographs even in December. It also allowed the couple to have a relaxed day with plenty of time to spend with their guests. Charlotte also trusted me to lightly direct where/how things happened on the day, for example when I brought her out into a beautiful hallway in her dress for the first time with the bridal party lined up to see her. It made for a breathtaking moment and was obviously a great photo opportunity.”
Polly Alexandre, Bridal Photographer

Your personal wedding tip for all brides..

I’d advise that the first thing to do is get a wedding planner and a well-known one with a good reputation and experience in the industry. Only use a professional photographer like Polly Alexandre to make sure your wedding day is captured in the best possible way. Do your research and work with the best suppliers in the business. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration. I’d also advise brides to buy their wedding dress at least six to eight months before their wedding to allow time for all the alterations to be done.

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