Charlotte Balbier’s wedding diary: making the dress

Who'd have thought finding the perfect wedding dress would be so tough for a bridal designer like Charlotte Balbier?!

Charlotte with one of her designs

Shock horror! – I still don’t have a dress. Yes, you read correctly, the wedding dress designer who’s getting married in 8 months still hasn’t found The One. Well, when I say found, I mean finished, because I’m creating my frock from scratch.


Since I first put pencil to sketchbook, I’ve designed four gowns that were in the running to be my wedding dress, but in the end they didn’t feel quite right for me. That’s not to say they weren’t beautiful dresses, in fact I’ve included two of the styles in my 2014 collection because I adore them so much and know they’ll look perfect on the right bride.
Although I haven’t finalised my creation just yet, there are some things that, as a designer, it was helpful for me to decide early on. First things first was the shape of the dress, which was based on the shape of my body. I’m a cross between an apple and triangular shape, so I look good in a classic A-line style, with a slight drop waist. That’s not to say I’m unlike most brides in hankering after other styles (fishtail, slinky, backless, anyone?) but after 15 years of bridal experience I know that the right wedding dress has to be a shape that flatters and suits your figure. I keep trying different styles but I have to accept that no matter how much exercise or dieting I do, my body shape will never change and I am what I am so I must embrace this. If you’re not sure what kind of shape you are or what styles flatter you the most, buying from a specialist bridal boutique is key. The ladies who work at these shops have dealt with so many brides and dresses, they’ll know your perfect style the moment you walk in (brides – please no internet buying, it’s just not right when making one of the most important purchases of your life).

Another challenge that I’ve faced in making my own W-day dress has been choosing what fabrics I want to work into the design. I’m practically obsessive when it comes to lace, so it will come as no surprise to learn that my dress will feature some lace, although I still don’t know whether it will be a completely lace affair. I also love soft silk tulle, it’s so luxurious and romantic, so perhaps this will make an appearance along with some French lace. Even while writing this my mind is buzzing with ideas. What about spotted tulle, oh fun, kitsch spotted tulle (look out for my ‘Sarah’ dress in the new collection…). Then there’s the beading, detailing and embellishments to think about. Am I a bling bride? Or more of a subtle beading bride?

Fabrics and detail in the mix

So, to the task at hand. I’ve sketched several new designs, new fabrics are arriving daily from my suppliers and I think I ‘m getting closer to finalising what will be my perfect dress. It’s been a long and difficult process, and I admit I’m feeling huge pressure to create something totally unique and amazing (as everyone expects my dress to be spectacular!). But as long as I love it and feel amazing in it, that’s all that matters.
All this to-ing and fro-ing reminds me to pass on one piece of advice to any brides reading this. DO NOT wait until eight months before your wedding to find your dress! I’m super lucky that I can design and make dresses very quickly but, brides, you should give yourselves at least 8-12 months before the wedding to order your gown, to allow time for alterations and avoid any last-minute panics. If I was to be buying my dress from a bridal boutique, I’d be one very lastminute.com bride right now!

Oh, and before I go, a declaration of sorts. A lot of people within the wedding industry and brides that I work with have predicted that I’ll be wearing pink for my wedding, given my love of the colour. But it’s time to put this rumour to bed. I won’t confirm or deny what shade I will be wearing on the big day, but I can tell you that I will not be wearing pink! That’s your last clue, before I spill the beans entirely.

Until next time, happy dress-hunting fellow brides-to-be! Keep me posted….


With love,
Charlotte xxx