Weddings are finally back, and if there is a season for English nuptials it is undoubtedly summer – when stately buildings give on to glorious grounds and the sound of laughter and clinking of cut crystal converges its mellifluous marital melody across rolled lawns on mellow summer nights. Warm climes are ripe for all kinds of dress, flowing trains, bouquets that are ever more fragrant, when gazebos beckon dancing under the moonlight and the scent of honeysuckle in the air forms the perfect accompaniment to berry-decorated sweets and fine English wines.
“The London wedding market is huge – a lot more people shop for their dress here than anywhere else in the world.” Mark Niemerko, an UHNW wedding planner whose coups have included securing the British Museum for an intimate 18-person ceremony and transporting a wedding party to Oxford via the Belmond British Pullman. Indeed, there’s a legion of dedicated outfitters primed for the marriage market – specialists in everything from wedding jewellery to floral arrangements, bridesmaid’s dresses to cakes.
Opening the door of by appointment only Browns Bride in the boutique heartland of Marylebone, our stylist wastes no time in posing the second most important question you’ll ever be asked: “Would you like a glass of Champagne?” After stroking and cooing over the otherworldly silhouettes of Vera Wang and directional textiles and haute couture cuts of Galia Lahav in the showroom, we are led into our private dressing room – the occasional giggle and gasp of our fellow fiances drifting over the effervescent atelier’s Champagne-laced air.
Choosing the most important dress of your life – be it via a dedicated designer’s showroom such as Bruce Oldfield, Jenny Packham or Caroline Castigliano or one of London’s multi-brand luxury bridal boutiques – The Mews Bridal or Browns Bride come recommended – has much the same premis as a made-to-measure consultation. Building on a base discerned by preferred or rejected shapes, considering practicalities such as weather, scale, use and setting, then how the textures and materials compliment or collide with the skin tone, style, event, accessories and hair, the perfect style and designer is eventually pinpointed.
Most men will opt for a bespoke suit, of which London has a legion of outfitters – Timothy Everest and Gieves and Hawkes are among the go-to British tailors. Then there’s everything from the cavalcade to the seating plans; the caterers, venue and music list – though perhaps the choice of what you dance the first dance to was decided decades ago. Indeed, your wedding day might just be the single largest expense, after a house, you ever make on a day – although, of course, nothing compares to divorce.
But possibly if you are reading this you are attending a wedding – and apart from the golden rules of never wearing black or white, the big question for any guest is what to gift – many department stores have dedicated consultants to guide you through the bridal wave of Baccarat crystal, Lalique and Faberge tableware. Monogrammed nightwear can never fail, and may be less predictable than tableware. The most important accessories to bring into 2021’s summer of love, however, must surely be a generous smile and warmth of spirit.