Alice in Weddingland – The Perfect Punk Rock Princess Dress

For most brides-to-be the dress is the number one most important thing they’ll choose for their weddings. In fact in the mind’s of many girls it’s the most important dress they’ll ever wear so getting it just right is key. This month, our resident intern Alice talks about her hunt for the perfect punk rock princess wedding dress…and one that wouldn’t break the bank! (and I’m pretty chuffed that I was able to help her out with that one)

Enjoy, and as always, show some love in your comments…

♥  ♥  ♥

I’ll be perfectly honest with you; a wedding dress was never high on my to-do list when it came to planning my own wedding.  In fact, until I went to the Designer Wedding Show I had never even seen a wedding dress in the flesh before!  Through watching their Designer catwalk show I was able to see examples of all the things that were previously foreign to me, and began to develop my own ‘bridal taste’.  I knew from one look that the Delphine Manivet short dresses were right up my street, and that the Lisa Redman dresses were perfectly whimsical and modern at the same time.  I was like a kid in a candy shop!

I fell in love with the gorgeous short dresses from the Lisa Redman range

Delphine Manivet ‘s dresses are the perfect mix of quirky and classic but with a hefty price tag!

Taking all these ideas home was wonderful, and I collected look-books from all the designers that were there, so that I could go over them with Graham and see what he thought.  Some may say that involving the groom-to-be in the dress decisions in unlucky, and untraditional, but I disagree.  It was lovely seeing these beautiful outfits from a male perspective, and especially through my man’s eyes.  Our wedding is a loving collaboration, and why should the dress be treated any differently?  One part of this experience I didn’t like (at all!) was the hefty price tags that some of these dresses had attached to them.  For many of the designers I liked, their off the peg range started at nearly £2000, which they were definitely worth, but I just couldn’t afford.  It began to upset me when the thought kicked in that I would never be able to have the punk rock princess wedding dress of my dreams.  It was as I vented these feelings on the coach to Sloane Square with Kat that a certain Brighton dressmakers name was mentioned: Joanne Fleming

I googled Joanne’s name and found not only a lovely website but rave reviews from other brides that had used her design-making genius for their own weddings.  This was a lovely bit of assurance, knowing that she had a lot of very happy customers!  I sent an email to her and she invited me to come along for a (free!) consultation where we could look at fabrics and discuss ideas etc.  I took a friend along for moral support, and went along to her studio in Brighton a couple of months ago.  As soon as Joanne opened the door and I got a view of her studio I swear I thought I was in a vintage-themed heaven.  A huge rail full of Jo’s creations lined one of the walls, and a number of mannequins wore some of her dresses.  Half an hour later and I left the studio, with the promise that within a week she could send me an email with a full design of the dress that her and I had discussed, with details on fabrics, embellishments and the all important quote.  Needless to say, that week couldn’t go quick enough!

When the email arrived-well, I’ll let the photo speak for itself!  Absolutely stunning.  And with Joanne’s bespoke prices starting at less than £1000 it was a luxury I could actually stretch to!  Being able to help design your wedding dress is the kind of thing that you may think is completely out of reach, but I think I am proof that it really isn’t.  Sitting in my living room and going over satin and chiffon samples with Graham is an experience that money just can’t buy, and something that I will cherish forever.

If you do decide that the bespoke option is for you then word of mouth really is the way to go.  Ask your other vendors (venue, hairdresser, florist etc) if they have any contacts that they would recommend.  This way you are more likely to find a hidden gem, and get a competitive price.  Also networking at wedding fairs is priceless…people in the industry will have a wealth of experience in dealing with other industry personnel, and so a good recommendation will be worth its weight in gold.  Shop around and get quotes from all your local bridal stores, as you can nab a designer gown at high street prices if you’re a savvy shopper and wait until sample sales.  Having a good rapport with your dressmaker is key too; they are going to be a major part of your life for months, and your memories forever.  If there’s no natural spark between the two of you, and a coherence of ideas and vision, then it’s unlikely it will be an enjoyable experience.

My dress. I can’t wait to wear it!

So in the new year I am going for my first fitting (I have to have five!) where apparently she will take my measurements and make a ‘mock-up’ of my dress design for the first few fittings. The beauty is that I can change/alter/introduce any elements at any time during the whole process, a freedom that creatively is so freeing, and so very Rock n Roll.

For more of Alice’s adventures in Weddingland, be sure to keep up to date on her blog, Petticoats & Poisons.


  1. Katie

    This is a very informative post! I went through the same thing finding a dress and ended up having a custom one made for less than the dresses I was looking at. Excellent topic because most brides-to-be on a budget wouldn’t look into it because their assumption is that it is incredibly expensive. Thanks Alice and Kat- this should give your readers confidence to explore the custom avenue.

  2. I LOVE Joanne Fleming!!! Not in a big girl crush way, though she is gorgeous and lovely but she puts magic in those dresses. The last 2 weddings I have shot had brides in her designs and they were right up there with my all time favourite brides to shoot. The finish and fit is exceptional but the dresses bring out a frothy, sassy side to the wearer and are crying out to be twirled. I left both weddings with the brides rocking the dance floor and totally having the time of their lives. Alice is going look beautiful, so glad she found Jo. x

  3. I fell in love with the Delphine Manivet dress on the left when I was working at Wedding magazine and we called it in, but sadly it is way over my budget! I agree though that if you shop around you can find something that you adore that’s affordable – I found my dream vintage dress the other day on eBay for £90!

  4. On involving your mister with dress choice, I took mine along too. The first shop didn’t bat an eyelid that he was there, or that I was actively considering something not in the general region of white. (Eventually we got my dress from them.)

    The second shop was full of girls and their mums. I’m in my 30s and my mum lives in another country (and isn’t particularly into weddings anyway) and the gasp when we walked in was audible. As we sat down to wait one of the mums said

    “It’s a MAN.”

    My mister took it brilliantly. He said, generally but in her direction:

    “Yes. Yes, I am a man.”

    And when he said that I fell a bit more in love with him. Dress shopping with your man is a really lovely thing.

  5. This is a useful article for brides to be who can’t afford vast sums on their dresses. I got married nearly 2 weeks ago and designed my own dress which I then got a marvellous local dressmaker to bring to life for me. Like you, I loved the shorter 50s style dresses and so created my own so that it was exactly as I wanted it. Also like you, I had several fittings and the mock up dress so I could adapt it as it went along – I ended up changing from round to v neck and adding a belt and I totally loved how it turned out. Your design looks stunning (and not unlike mine as I had burgundy shoes and netting!!) and I am sure you will totally rock it!! Look forward to hearing your next weddingland instalment!

  6. Pie

    Excellent post. I too am having my dress custom made. It’s not cheap as what I’m having is quite involved structurally but so much better value than the designer shop that offered me a £2500 dress, with no corsetry and in the option of 1 colour! WTF? Anyway, the whole process was fab. You’re going to LOVE it Alice. I collect my custom made corseted colour of my choice frock on Monday *excited*

  7. Joy

    I did something that may seem terrible, but I got my wedding dress made in China for £42 and £50 postage. I knew the designer was good because my sister in law had used her and the dress was a style I loved. I wish I had known of a local seamstress though as then I would have been certain my dress fitted and got to try it on more often. On a budget, things are difficult though!
    Love the design, can’t wait to hear more about your plans 🙂

  8. Wow you are going to look amazing, and what a great idea to have your dress made. I actually cried a little bit when I scrolld down and saw the samples and design, I am so excitted for you!
    Great idea getting your man involved…… I can’t wait to hear about your dress and more about your wedding journey


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