My Wedding Dress | By Australian Designer ‘Karen Willis Holmes’


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My Wedding Dress….



Since our wedding at the end of December, I have had a lot of lovely ladies contacting me asking for advice and recommendations for choosing a wedding dress.  Today,  I thought I would share a few photograph’s with detail’s of my wedding dress as well as giving a few tips to future brides for choosing your wedding dress.

Looking for a wedding dress that reflect’s both your personal sense of style and personality can indeed be a tricky task!  It is a very personal choice and there is SO much choice available out there now that choosing a dress can sometimes feel a little overwhelming.  When we got engaged, I didn’t actually start the search for my wedding dress until we were around 6-7 months engaged which might surprise some of you!  I didn’t want to rush into it and I knew I would find my dress eventually.  I always seem to do things at my own pace.  I think that is actually important as people can put pressure on you and that is when you rush your decision and possibly end up unhappy with your choice.  My advice for choosing your wedding is to to take your time and do not settle!

When I started to visit bridal boutiques, I kept an open mind and tried on broad range of different dress styles from ball gown, fish tail, sleeved dresses to some fabulous vintage gowns.  I very quickly started to learn what suited me and what didn’t. I found that wider princess/ballgown shaped dresses drowned me entirely and that A-line dresses suited my shape the best. I knew that I wanted a dress that would flatter my figure rather than the dress drowning me out or looking too over the top. I always said that I wanted to look like myself on my wedding day. You have to be honest with yourself I think and stay true to your own sense of style and taste.  I wanted to look natural. I also knew that I wanted to be able look back on photograph’s in years to come when I am old and wrinkly and to know that my dress was a timeless gown and not just a passing trend.






Ordering & Alterations….


There were a lot of different opinions on time framed with ordering dresses and alterations.  Some women I had been speaking to who got had married that I should order my dress 12 months in advance of the wedding date which stressed me out a little bit.  So many people told me that and lot’s of people found it ‘strange’ that I didn’t start looking for my wedding dress immediately when we got engaged.  Looking back, I do think that people can get carried away and when we got engaged we just wanted to enjoy that time, soak it up and not get swept into the craziness of wedding planning too soon.  I am glad I didn’t rush any of my decisions.  After seeking advice from a wide range of bridal boutiques, I found this idea of having to buy your dress 12 months in advance was actually nonsense.  Lot’s of boutiques told me that you can buy your dress 6-7 month’s out from your wedding date as long as it would not be shipped from New York, Australia or further afield.  Of course, you also have to take alterations into consideration.  I would take the advice of the bridal boutique on this one, just in case!!  I kept my wedding dress search close to the North west and visited boutiques around Sligo, Donegal and the North.  I didn’t want to drag my poor mother and bridesmaids around half the country on the weekends looking for my dress either. My dress is a bespoke ‘Karen Willis Holmes’ ivory gown which had to be shipped over from Australia so I bought it in March and our wedding was at the end of December ’17,  so I had plenty of time for it to arrive and for alterations.  I had three fittings in total – one after the dress arrived in store in August, one in October and then my final fitting two weeks before the wedding day.  I ended up losing weight in the final two weeks leading up to the wedding as I was so so busy and let’s face it the stress and pressure probably did creep up on me so with this in mind I would definitely recommend getting your final fitting as close as possible to your wedding day so any little last minute things can be altered.




Choosing my Embellished dress…….


My bespoke ivory wedding dress is by an Australian designer ‘Karen Willis Holmes’ and this particular dress is called ‘Lottie’.  Karen Willis Holmes stocks her stunning range of bespoke dresses in only two bridal boutiques in Ireland.  I always knew that I wanted a dress that was timeless, elegant and most importantly, which I felt fantastic in. I guess I definitely had a certain look in mind from the get go.

On my search, which took me to five bridal boutiques, Pearls and Lace in Donegal town, Mc Elhinneys in Ballybofey, Panadee Bridal in Carrick, Lamelia bridal just outside Sligo and then I finally found my dress in Ultimate Dresses based in Dungiven in the North.  I had tried on Sooooo many different styles and types of wedding dresses during the search for my wedding dress and came across some beautiful gowns but had not found anything that I really loved or that I felt like myself in.  I definitely felt deflated at times but I knew that my dress must be out there, as cheesy as that probably sounds!!!

As soon as I spotted this Australian designer dress hanging in the Ultimate Dresses boutique, I instantly knew that was my dress. It ticked all of the boxes for me. Once I tried it on I fell in love with it and my mind was made up there and then.  It was such a great feeling, almost like a weight off my shoulders when I finally found a dress that I was excited to wear on our wedding day.

With this dress, I feel like I stayed true to myself and my personal sense of style.  I did not choose a dress to please others or a dress that would cause a big reaction. Instead, my dress was simple and timeless and this was exactly the look I was going for.  When it comes to bridal style, it is obvious a case of personal taste.  Personally, I have always loved more natural simplistic look’s and I was never drawn to bridal looks that were too fussy or over the top.  I knew that when it came to my own wedding day, I wanted to look like myself. This dress was exactly what I was looking for. The dress was understated yet also glamorous.  I love the embellished detailing throughout.  I have always loved embellished dresses and what better time to wear a dress that sparkles than for a winter wedding. Despite how it may look, it was an extremely heavy dress to wear with the entire dress from top to bottom being embellished.  Someone commented that it reminded them of snowflakes as it glittered when I walked up the isle and the sunlight hit off it.  I felt very happy, confident and relaxed in this dress.




  To finish off the look, I added a simple one tier ivory veil which I felt gave the look a more bridal feel. As I mentioned, I wanted to stay true to my own personal sense of style so I wore my hair up in a loose up-style created by he fabulous Kiera in Patrick Gildea’s in Letterkenny.  I then added in a embellished side clip which I bought in a jewellers in Derry. I added some simple diamond drop earrings to finish off the look. For my bouquet, again I wanted to keep it simple and didn’t want a bouquet that would take away from my dress, so I opted for a baby breath bouquet by Olga of ‘The Flower Shed’ in Sligo.  I think it tied in nicely with my look.

I spent AGES looking for the ‘right shoes’ but when I spotted these bow embellished soft gold heels in River Island I got them right away. They were exactly the style of heel that I had been searching for and guess what – they were on sale!!! I know a lot of brides do splash out on designer heels for their wedding day but that is just not me – I have never been a designer shoe kinda girl! I also did not see the point on splurging on wedding shoes that would cost me a small fortune as let’s face it you will only wear your wedding heels once! I was delighted with my find in River Island!

I had also ordered a little custom made balero to wear over my shoulders for the church but when it arrived it was too small so I couldn’t wear it but looking back now, I think it was nice to show off the dress instead covering it up,  even though it was a winter wedding and a little chilly inside the church to say the least!!  Luckily, my quick thinking sister Lisa brought along her fluffy white jacket that I could throw over my shoulders when we got photos on the beach, which was a stones through away from our wedding venue, Rathmullan House. Thankfully the sun was shining for us all day but it was very cold standing on the beach in the wind for our photographs so I needed something to throw over my shoulders!!



Keep reading to see a few photo’s of my wedding dress below…………….




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If you are on the hunt for your dream wedding dress, my advice is that you do not settle! Try on as many different styles as you can to see what really suits your shape and figure and be honest with yourself.  I also suggest visiting a wide range of bridal boutiques to get an idea as to what is available out there. I am very happy that I did not settle until I found this dress, it really is my dream wedding dress and I absolutely loved wearing it.

The very best of luck to any future brides who are on the search for your perfect wedding dress. It is out there, stay patient and do not settle for anything else than the dress that you had always visualized yourself wearing on your wedding day.














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