One for the ‘maids: how to dress the bride on the big day

Photo: McLellan Photography

“If you follow the seam down this side of your train, you’ll find the first popper,” the saintly, patient stylist explained, running her expert hands over the golden embroidery. I was at my final wedding dress fitting at Eleganza Sposa, attempting to understand how a bustle, or, more specifically, my bustle worked.

Thanks to the supremely fragile, embellished tulle gown I’d opted for (think butterfly’s wing), gathering up the layers of skirt and train off the ground sufficiently enough in order for me to dance at my reception required quite a feat of engineering. I was so astonished at the magical series of poppers the alterations team had came up, and how they seemed to disappear completely into the delicate, sheer fabric, that I forgot to pay attention to her tutorial. Huge mistake.

Fast-forward to the big day, and I was standing in a corridor with no less than eight of my female guests, including my maid of honour, flitting around me, trying to make sense of those damn poppers. Their vanishing act had us floored. Under a haze of prosecco, it took me, my friends and my family some forty minutes to figure it out, by which point I had missed three of my favourite songs out on the floor.

Though you most likely won’t have a stylist on standby come w-day, you will likely have a brigade of bridesmaids and a mother at your disposal. They will be the ones who will dress you in the morning and look after you and your gown throughout the day. Since you can’t do it without them (you’re not a contortionist), we enlisted four of Scotland’s top boutiques to offer up their advice for the bridal squad and give them a crash course on styling you. No more bustle fiascos.

Photo: The Curries

“Allow plenty of space in the morning for the bride to step into her dress. Make sure that all the bridesmaids are on hand to avoid makeup and hair disasters when putting it on. During the day, ’maids should be prepared to put the bride first. Keep her calm and entertained while getting ready and – before they get carried away glamming themselves up – check that the leading lady is finished first! Sometimes attendants can get wrapped up in the hype of the day and forget who the main focus should be. Protect the bridal gown and bridesmaids’ dresses by using waterproof mascara only and be on veil- and train-watch all day to reassure the bride that she’ll be picture-perfect at any given moment.” Emma Sinclair, Brides of Scotland

“Prep should start the moment the bridal party wakes up. It sounds simple, but please discourage the bride from wearing a bra of any kind on the morning of her wedding – especially if her gown is backless or illusion-backed. Any underwear will leave visible lines. Ensure the bride takes care when stepping into her gown. If it’s a zip-back with fiddly buttons on top, a little tip is to use a crochet hook for quickness and to make sure you don’t snap any delicate button loops in the process. For the evening, we produce bespoke bustles for every gown we alter in store. These are made to be invisible and will maintain elegance, even though you are pinning the train out of harm’s way. Depending on how much champagne has been consumed and what shapes the guests are cutting on the dancefloor, be aware that a bustle can still be broken (it just takes a shoe buckle to catch on the lace), so it’s worth picking up a mini SOS sewing kit and have it to hand in the bridal suite. Should the bustle fail on the night, the MOB or bridesmaid can sneak the bride up to the room and, a few stitches later, she’ll be good to dance the night away again!” Jolene Taylor, Apple Blossom Time

Photos: Jarvie and Jones

“A bridesmaid attending one of the bride’s appointments or fittings can be useful. That way, they can see how the gown should sit ahead of her wedding day. When dressing the bride, be careful of transfer if you’re wearing fake tan or nail polish, particularly when fastening buttons or zips. During photographs, it’s worthwhile being present to adjust and fix her dress or train if required. All the hard work should be done before the wedding, so try to enjoy yourself and make the most of this special day!” Anna Cirignaco, Eleganza Sposa

“We often get to meet the mother of the bride or the bridesmaids during dress shopping or fittings, and they will usually ask questions like, ‘is there a bustle?’, ‘is it buttoned all the way up?’ and ‘how does the bustle work?’. If that hasn’t been the case, we would recommend brides bring at least their chief bridesmaid or maid of honour to the final fitting, so that we can show them how to fasten the dress, tie the bustle and fan out the train. In the morning, take the time to check that the corset, if there is one, is tied up properly and tightly, as this can alter the fit of the gown. Ensure that all buttons are fastened, including the ones that go over the zip as these can easily be forgotten. In the evening, a bridesmaid should be on stand-by to tie up the bustle and prevent any damage to the dress.” Huda Abdulgader, Pan Pan Bridal