Bridal Fluff, Air Kisses & Wedding Industry Fakery

The Hengrave Collection by Terry Fox (Images by Adam Alex Photography) – Marie Antoinette-inspired awesomeness

So yesterday I was invited to a prestigious industry preview event in London. Basically a posh trade fair where wedding designers (mainly dresses but a few bridal accessories too) congregate to sell their newest lines to the gaggle of press and various bridal boutiques across the world. People come from all over the globe to attend and get the first glimpses of the designs by some of the most decorated British bridal designers. It’s billed as a great place to go to spot new trends and to meet anybody that’s anybody in the wedding industry.

So I went along and even though I wasn’t sure it would be ‘my thing’ I felt it was an event that I should be at. I got up early (for me…hey, I work from home in my PJ’s usually!) and boarded a commuter train to London.

I walked in at 10am, looking forward to seeing the first catwalk show of the day but was instantly met with a feeling of depression…not the giddy, excitable feeling that I usually get when I go to work events. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about this show left me cold. Something was missing and had been replaced by clinical white booths, air kisses and expensive cups of coffee.

Matthew Williamson‘s first ever bridal collection stole my heart

I have to say a few things at this point. I toyed for hours whether to post this or not. My mind was plagued with thoughts of ‘Will I get ostracized for saying these things?’ and ‘Am I cutting my nose off to spite my face/ biting the hand that feeds me’ (and other such metaphors) by saying how I really feel? However I do think that sharing my experience can overall be a positive one, and that even though I left yesterday feeling disappointed, that these feelings did confirm to me that actually I LOVE that I’m different and not swayed or influenced by what everybody else is doing.

So let me get one thing straight, I did get to chat to some lovely people yesterday – the girls from various wedding magazines mainly and a select group of amazing designers who were, interestingly, mainly the new kids on the bridal block. These were the kinds of people that were actually genuinely interested in me and my blog and didn’t simply turn away when I entered their booths…pink head, inked arms and all.

These are the kinds of designers I’d encourage you to check out for your own weddings (I’ve listed my favourites at the end of this article and images from their latest collections illustrate this page.) However apart from these few choice rock stars, the majority of what I saw was pretty much exclusively pretentious and (as I like to call it) expensive ‘fluff’.

Claire Pettibone‘s ground-breaking designs

In all seriousness I left feeling deflated, uninspired and rather disheartened. Was this really the ‘crème de la crème’ of the UK bridal market right now? The best of the best? The people to aspire to? And more importantly was this the stuff I was supposed to be excitedly writing about? I literally left wondering if this was even the right industry for me.

I got home in a funk and put this message on my Facebook fan page wall:

“I have to say…there are only so many pretty dresses you can look at. I left the show today feeling deflated… but now I’m even more inspired to be DIFFERENT, UNIQUE and an alternative choice to the usual wedding fluff. Who’s with me?”

And you know what…you guys 100% came to rescue my sanity with your comments of agreement and support.

Rachel Simpson Shoes‘s new spring line is a feast of colour and new design ideas.

I didn’t get into this industry to smooze my butt off and ‘talk the talk’. I didn’t want to be the same as everyone else or sharing the same things as the rest…and you know what? I utterly hate air kisses and industry fakery.  These people are not my friends. You are. The bride at home stressing about getting her DIY projects finished on time; the photographer who’s just starting out and desperately trying to get better; the designer who’s working from a small home office and pretty much lives in a sea of fabric swatches or paper samples.

I know in my heart that hanging out at the white booths is not the right path for me, the blog or you. I hope you all know that if I don’t like something there’s no way I‘ll be promoting it on Rock n Roll Bride. I won’t be bowled over by brand names, the next big thing or the hottest current trend. I want to blog things that you guys will love…that you guys will be inspired by and that you guys will actually bloody use for your own weddings. YOU are the key to what makes this blog great. Yes, YOU!

I felt totally disheartened yesterday, but after some reassurance from my wonderful readers and friends, I’ve realised that it’s actually a bloomin’ good thing I went and felt so awful afterwards. If I featured the same old designer tat that every other blog or magazine did then you’d probably lose interest or think I’d ‘sold out’ huh? And quite rightly so.

Tobi Hannah designs only short wedding dresses – perfect for Rock n Roll Brides

The great thing about being an independent voice and working for myself (i.e. not having to answer to a publisher, not having to trying to sell my product to the masses to make money, and not having to worry (too much) about offending my advertisers, who are exclusively awesome small businesses with a like minded attitude to mine) is that I can write about whatever I like and in the style that I like – yeah bad grammar and all. Basically If I don’t like something then I’m flat out not going to write about it…no matter who the hell they are.

Ending on a positive though, the show wasn’t a complete bust. Please do check out these designers that rocked it. It really wasn’t all bad no matter how negative I’m sounding right now these guys really are doing awesome things and pushing the bridal boundaries.

♥ Terry Fox

♥ Tobi Hannah

♥ Matthew Williamson

♥ Rachel Simpson Shoes

♥ Vivien Sheriff

♥ Claire Pettibone

Vivien Sheriff – making traditional bridal headwear a thing of the past

The industry is in such a state of flux at the moment. In fact I can almost feel the impending shift from the domination of designer ‘fluff’ to the independent bad ass designers. After the show I wanted to cry but in retrospect I now want to scream out loud for all to hear “YEAAAH! Let’s do this and do it OUR WAY!”

So here’s to being different, here’s to being alternative, here’s to being punk rock and here’s to being goddamn Rock n Roll!

Claire Pettibone


  1. Post author

    just have to say that your comments make my heart sing..yes even the girl that said i was annoying (i am annoying sometimes!)

  2. Great Post! I’ve been in that position many times, and awkwardly liberating. People don’t always “get it” when you try to be different, especially in an industry built on a tradition. Experts have their idea of how things “should” be done.

    On a side note, I DIE over those Rachel Simpson Oxfords!

  3. Charlotte

    THANK YOU for this post – your comments while at the event yesterday (not that I was reading twitter while at work…) were a BREATH OF FRESH AIR compared with some…

    I totally appreciate that this type of event is PERFECT for some people and if they’re lucky enough to work in what they love, then that’s great, good luck to them, but some of it all smacked of being…I don’t know, a bit disingenuous sometimes…thankfully you were able to keep it real 😉

    As the blog where I found links for my dress and a myriad of other completely immense stuff, you spoke the minds of many in this post I’m sure. Keep up the awesome work!!


  4. What a bloody great post! I’ve stopped exhibiting at wedding fairs because its just the same old thing and noone seems to be up for anything different … I’m sure its the same at these trade fairs.
    And to echo the other comments .. those dresses from Claire Pettibone are unbelievable!

  5. I am just starting out in the wedding industry as a photographer and the times I have heard in the past year “this is not how we do it” is countless. I think there is room for everything, every couple is different, every wedding is different. I just want to shoot photos that the couple that booked me is happy with, it’s their big day and I do my best (and hopefully better and better) to capture those memories. The ego, the “but we have done it like this for 25 years” and the “there is no room for someone new”… well I leave that to others.

  6. TheWarles

    I think this post really sums up the mood of a lot of Brides to be, I went to the National wedding show last year as I was newly engaged and had been told it would be amazing and was shocked at how uninspiring it was.
    I went with my best friend with the view to make a day of it and was there less than hour!(We jumped on the tube and went for afternoon tea instead)
    Every vendor seemed to want to be my best friend, plying me with their leaflets and trying to extract my email address so I ended up trying avoid eye contact with anyone to avoid the long drawn out sales pitch. (One company grabbed my arm to try and pull me into there stand!)
    It is the same with some Bridal boutiques that treat you like an intruder trying to gage your budget and how serious you are, from the moment you step through the door whilst giving this fixed kind of smile.
    It seems as though there is this code you have to follow to have your carbon copy wedding to suit their range NOT your taste!
    I now avoid wedding events like the plague and only deal online where I can get a good look and make comparisons without fear of being judged or backed into a corner by an over zealous sales person. My experience has been that online vendors seem to care more about the individual as much as their product.
    Wicked post Kat!

  7. I agree with almost all of your sentiments except for the part about bad grammar. Please don’t let me down Katizzle. You know where there’s proofreader if you want one 😉

  8. Jenna

    How refreshing!!

    I am glad i didnt go, it wasnt the main show anyhows ( the main arena is in Harrogate in March and September) and if you search hard enough, beneath all that fluff you will find some cool stuff. I like to be a wee bit quirky, and so this sometimes comes across in my buying, but dont be put off by that fluffy event, it was aimed at high end retailers! It had the new and up and coming ones , I could have ordered a peacock dress this year in march , and I mean a dress head to toe made in peacock feathers, I looked at the bloke and thought.. different.. your trying at least, so will be going back in the next season to look.

    I have ordered a custom made black wedding dress for one of my brides this year, and soo looking forward to the results, and custom made bouquets and head bits and basically a lot of custom stuff!! Totally fab.

    Moda may be the better option for you though …( according to one of my suppliers!!)

  9. This is why you are successful at what you do. You are a person and you show it giving your readers the courage to “do your own thing” and not get sucked into the norm.

    Way to go Kat!!!!
    * Claps hands*

  10. Here here! Love this post! I’m for people with their own unique vision who design THEIRday and not simply buy everything. If you see something you LOVE get it but only if it speaks to your heart and not because it’s this seasons ‘must have’. Paddle your own canoe!

  11. warly

    Ha you do make me laugh with how nervous you get before you post one of your rants. I don’t think you’ve ever had a response that wasn’t an overwhelming amount of people tell you how brilliant you are.

    It’s probably just through my regular stalking of your blog that I’ve been subconsciously converted to the idea of getting married at all – the daily reminders that it doesn’t have to be done ‘properly’ and that perhaps it could be a day that wouldn’t make me feel horrible/stressed/not good enough/awkward/embarrased/all of the above.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, proud of you.

    (By the way, don’t get excited yet I’m not getting married but I no longer hate the idea. Baby steps!)

  12. I don’t like to comment to often on blogs, only when something, I feel, needs to be commented on! I love your post today! I am not really part of the ‘industry’, I write my blog for fun, not a business, but even I see the fluffiness and really pisses me off!! I love that you can tell it how it is!!! xxx

  13. tee hee now then….because of my comment re the ready meal homogenous brigade…one of them is getting very prickly over on Twitter…feeling threatened methinks…..funny!

  14. Yeah!! I agree 1 million percent Kat! I went to one wedding fair during my entire planning phase and it only reaffirmed my love for DIY, being a different bride and a desire for a wedding that was totally me. It was so uninspiring to see regulation table centres, boring bridal gowns and cookie cutter cakes. I love that you write for you – that’s what makes your blog so inspiring!

  15. MissKimberlina

    Here here! 🙂 well said Kat! I love that you speak for all of us real brides x

  16. As a newcomer to this industry I have been amazed at how sterile, uninspiring and safe some of the concepts to a wedding can be – so I am 100% with you when you say ‘Do it our way’ because it is important to be ‘different’ and stand out in the crowd rather than just blend in with all the others – love your blog xx

  17. Don’t you dare feeling disheartened, you should feel elated for the fact that you DO what you feel is right for YOU and your readers .
    Unique and Rock n Roll that how we like it and why we get inspired …
    Bloody good for you for posting this Missy…X

  18. Great post. Turn that negative into a positive!

    It was well worth your train fare if only to reassure yourself that you are absolutely following the right path by being true to yourself and to your readers.

    Don’t let ’em grind ya down!

    Now feel smug that you don’t have to spend hours & hours in pokey white boxes with THEM! 🙂

  19. Bran

    Well said Kat, your blogs are honest and pretty much say what other people whisper about anyway. I absolutely adore Rachel Simpson Shoes and can’t wait for her new collection next month. Plus there will be more of these amazing designers at the Designer Vintage Bridal Show you blogged about on Friday. Looking forward to seeing you there! x

  20. I totally agree with you, and thank you for not being part of the wedding machine. Your unique voice is what makes your blog so amazing and my morning go to everyday! Thanks for keeping it real and inspiring for all of us, brides and independent small business!

  21. Love this post! I have stopped doing wedding fairs (apart from the good vintage ones) as it is the same old stuff all the time and you get nowhere fast PLUS I am planning my own wedding this year and have already become quite depressed with some of the stuff I have seen and how I have been treated by some people in the industry!!! So well done Kat, here is to being individual and not being afraid of your own style!!!

    ps – I am looking for some fab 1950s head wear to go with my 50’s dress so if you have any tips I would really appreciate it!

    Julie x

  22. Gabrielle

    I find the whole industry to be like this even some of the smaller fairs, I’m so glad that I get enough sales through my website that I don’t have to bother with all this fakery nonsense anymore, (written whilst sat in my home studio buried in a sea of fabric)!

  23. Amy Georgina

    THIS is why I come to your blog, it was the first one I came to and the only one I still come to, youve proved that I can have the wedding I want, MY way and you won’t catch me dead in a bit of indetikit fluff!

    Keep doing what you do coz I freakin love it (even if I am totally jealous of your photoshoot action!!)

  24. The Matthew Williamson dress is my favourite, as for wether you should be saying what you have said, then I think you done right girl, always speak your mind, but I dont need to tell you that Kat.

  25. Kennon

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Right on, Kat.

  26. Great post! I can’t stand pretentious fluff either or people who are close-minded to things and people that are new and different. It’s great if you are more traditional and want to go that route, but it doesn’t mean everyone has to. I’m SO over the whole traditional wedding crap that dictates that you have to follow what everyone else does just because – it’s your day so it should be about you and what you want, and so often it becomes about what other people think you should have and want and that’s too bad. I’m glad there are people like you out there who are preaching a different gospel and who are giving voices to unique spirits and attitudes!!

  27. OMG I’m totally in love with that sparkly Claire Pettibone dress, stunning!

    The beauty of blogging is that it’s personal, it’s about being yourself and following your passions…. newbie bloggers like me are learning slowlynhow how to do this but you are leading the way. There’s a reason why you’re the best wedding blogger in the UK!!!

    Chloe x

  28. Petey Pete

    Wow Kat, what a lovely heartfelt and bloody honest account.
    So lovely to hear what inspires you and your wonderfully colourful world!
    It is brilliant to have you out there, pretty much spearheading the alternative take on the ‘Wedding Industry’ It does seem that a lot of things in this country get so bogged down with tradition and playing by the archaic rules. We have so many amazing creative people out there trying to carve out careers on their own and not knowing if they can do it, if they are good enough to make a go of it, but being brave enough to at least give it a go…..And right behind them/alongside them for the ever changing ride is YOU.

    Thank you Kat.

    Pete xx

  29. Horrible, wasn’t it? As a fairly new member of the bridal industry (we stock lots of Claire Pettibone for all you CP lovers tho!), I went for the first time yesterday afternoon and was deeply disappointed by how clinical, intimidating and uninspiring it was. I went with my ‘when I have my own boutique, I will stock…’ hat on and came away with bugger all. Boundary breakers were probably priced out of this particular show though as it was apparently incredibly expensive to exhibit.

  30. Louise

    I was so disappointed that not everyone in the industry is as lovely as the people I have been lucky enough to meet so far! I thought it was just beacause I’m a newbie, apparently not. Great to hear an honest voice, and inspired to keep on doing it my way.

  31. Ruth

    I rarely comment on blog posts but just want to say how refreshing it was to read this. I’m starting out in the wedding industry working as a freelance wedding planner for a wedding & events company and unfortunately, have noticed how fake people in this industry can be! They’re either in it for the money and trying to make couples spend a small fortune or they’re in it because they genuinely care and want to help the couple in every way they possibly can. I think it’s pretty easy to spot which ones are genuine!

    1 more thing & on the subject of wedding fairs….if you can make it to Derby in October check out the Save the Dave wedding event. I attended this event in February and it was absolutely fantastic, great atmosphere, lovely exhibitors & organisers, just what the industry (and brides) need right now.

  32. I salute you, Kat.
    Thank you for being a voice for independence. It might take a while, but you are changing the face of weddings for the better. I don’t think you realise your power, but I’m hoping that the response of your post will make you push towards even bigger things!!
    It’s about time.

  33. As an independent designer I appreciate the loan voice of honesty. My brides would always appreciate an honest opinion over a glass of bubbly and a smoozing hard sell, although the glass of bubbly is nice!

    Unfortunately in fashion of any kind the majority rule and once something cool becomes a trend it loses it’s magic, I particularly like Claire Pettibone’s dresses in the article.

  34. Susie

    It’s a funny old industry that’s for sure. I had my own business as a wedding planner for 9 years and totally lost my mojo two years ago and moved onto parties. I haven’t been near a wedding since! It’s disappointing but so few couples really do want to do anything truly unique, even if you lay out the most amazing designs on the table. As a business you have to work how your client wants you to and at times it’s soul destroying. I recall one show where I came home and said “if that’s what people want, I’m in the wrong career”. We can guide and encourage true personality but I’m afraid some people would rather stay in the box :0)

  35. A great post Kat. As a newbie to the wedding industry (biased towards photography though) I’m learning about the nuances of the industry all the time. I have a lot to learn, but one thing I realised pretty quickly is that being different from everyone else and not following the crowd is extremely important and you are a shining example of that. Well done! I just need to try and take onboard some of the advice myslef! 🙂

  36. I’m glad you stay true to yourself and refuse to conform. The industry is changing and it’s definitely for the better! As a newbie myself I plan to remember how hard it has been to get myself out there in a world full of ‘old timers’ and help out whoever I can with advice I learn on my journey.

    I also look forward to the day I get married (if I ever do!) because there are so many fab small businesses out there who treat people as individuals rather than pound signs. It’s all about being made to feel fabulous while you’re planning for the most special day of your life. Companies missing that point, will just miss out completely on the change that is coming. 🙂

  37. your public honesty is inspiring:) i often find myself sitting in rooms overwhelmed by the same thing; wondering how people don’t question tradition and the way other people think things should happen/be/go/look like. you’re the best of the best, kat!

  38. I am getting married next year…I started off by looking at loads of sites and feeling exactly the same way Kat! Disheartened and a bit weird because I was looking for something really different and not finding it!! I think in everyday life you should just be yourself, no one else. For me that’s party dresses in the day time and loads of black eyeliner and sparkles at all times – and my wedding will be the same way! THANK YOU for being true to all that sail in your Rock and Roll ship and pointing out that a LOAD of wedding stuff is all about the money and “fake kissing” and more about who’s seeing it than all about the love and effort that you have to go through to make the special day your own. DIY is the way to go – if you’re not inclined then fine, have a copycat wedding with plastic flowers and a dress that one hundred brides have worn! Long live Rock and Roll Brides! xx

  39. So friggin proud to be a Cliare Pettibone bride! Have to admit – the only fair I’ve enjoyed so far {I’d I’ve only been to three} was Bristol Vintage…small and perfectly formed, the was no ‘hard sell’….

    But, some of my wedded friends have truly loved the experience of going to these events and adored being treated like a princess!

    Not for me, but there’s a small part of me who would probably enjoy the schmoozing…and trying on the big fluffy frocks…all the while sporting chipped nail varnish and stubbly legs, ha!

  40. I like this. I like you for having an opinion – and for putting it online when you know it won’t please everyone.

    I have friends who exhibit at the show, I know there are some great and inspiring people there. They’re not the same ones you’ve mentioned – we all have different tastes. Which is how this whole thing works and it’s also why it works.

    And it’s why you work for so many people. While I don’t envy you the actual reaction from the stallholders who didn’t like tattoos (and you, Annabel – same goes for the ones who haven’t heard of blogs) – can’t have been fun – it’s good to remind the snooty ones that they’re not the best.

    Most of all, Kat – you’re the bravest blogger in terms of saying what you think, especially the bad side of this industry. And there’s plenty of the frilly snooty old fashioned stuff about, as well as old fashioned attitudes that need to change.

    I’m happy to see a RRB post that’s brutally honest because it needs to be. Even if I am last to read it. As always!

    C x


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