Choosing your wedding dress should be one of the most memorable moments of your life. Because, think about it: your wedding day might be the only opportunity you ever get to spend all day swanning around in a designer, bejewelled gown. We’re not saying you can’t do your weekly supermarket shop dressed like that, but you’ve got to admit, it’s verging on impractical.
So getting the dress that makes you feel beautiful and extraordinary but most importantly, still you (on a very good day) is why we’re here. At Tilly’s, we pride ourselves on being more than an ordinary wedding dress shop; we’re a luxury, designer boutique with a level of service to match. Not sure exactly what that entails? Let us enlighten you.
The First Appointment
This is the one where you need to come with tingling anticipation, a couple of your girls and an open mind. Once we’ve got you settled in (we lock the doors so you won’t be disturbed – precisely why we operate an appointment-only system), we’ll sit down and find out about you and your wedding. We aim to recommend dresses to you that not only reflect your vision for the day but also your personality.
After our chat, we’ll take you through our designer collections and together we will select around 6-8 gowns for you to try. Once you start to put the dresses on, we will then use our wealth of experience and styling know-how to showcase each gown’s potential.
Just so you know, the average size of our sample gowns is around UK 12-14, but don’t panic, the sample rarely fits anyone. That’s why it’s a sample; it’s meant to be pinned here and tucked there. We’re able to dress many shapes and sizes but sometimes we may need a little ‘creative license’ so it’s best to just trust us. And besides, your final gown will be in a different league from the sample. Consider that a promise.
And, if you find your dress with us? Well, firstly HUGE CONGRATULATIONS. Secondly, we’ll need 50% of the final cost in order to order it. The remaining balance won’t be payable until your dress arrives in around 8 to 10 months time. At that point we’ll call you and get you booked in for your styling session
The Styling Appointment
This is when the process reaches peak fun. Your dress has been crafted by the designer and delivered to us. Now it’s time to try it on. (Although, do bear in mind that it will probably require some alterations to fit perfectly – that comes later.)
For now, you can start trying on veils, and belts, and hairpieces, and jewellery to see what works. Browse through the incredible accessory collections we stock in the boutique but equally, feel free to bring in any pieces you’ve found on your travels. Either way, by the end of this session you should start to see your final look coming together.
The First Fitting
Make sure you’ve purchased your wedding shoes as this is when your dress becomes bespoke. You will try on your dress again (so you’ll need to bring said shoes any relevant under-garments) and meet our gifted seamstresses to discuss alterations – although you are absolutely under no obligation to use their services. They will use their vast experience to pin the dress around your shape, creating a beautiful silhouette. Want sleeves? No problem. Want some extra support building into the bust? It’s all do-able.
As a general guide, alterations should take place around eight weeks before your wedding with the final fitting slotting in no later than two weeks before the big day. We have a basic alteration package available for £250; it includes three fittings and standard tweaks such as sides, hem, straps and bustle. If you require something more complex, that’s priced on a case-by-case basis and agreed between the seamstress and yourself.
Alteration appointments take place at Tilly’s throughout Tuesday afternoons and evenings – you will be given a time when you book. Three fittings are usually sufficient although one further fitting may occasionally be required.
The Second Fitting
At this point, the seamstress has worked her magic and the initial alterations have been made so you’re here to try on your bespoke gown and review the changes. If further shaping is required, it’s not an issue – the seamstress will simply pin your gown to the relevant specifications.
The Third Fitting
The final fitting is simply for you to make sure everything is perfect. We recommend you bring your ‘dresser’ on this appointment so they can be shown how to bustle up your train and most importantly, get you in and out of the dress. (We’ve all experienced the sweaty ‘stuck-in-clothes’ moment in a shop’s changing room. Don’t let this be you on your wedding day.)
Dresses will be steamed when they are returned for your final fitting (fabric permitting), but we are perfectionists at Tilly Trotter’s Brides, so we may steam your gown again before you collect it. We will keep your dress – and veil, if you’re having one – until you are ready to pick them up.
Need to know
Do I have to book?
Yes, that’s a must – we don’t take walk-ins. We want our brides to feel extra-special and completely comfortable so we lock the shop for every appointment. Naturally, weekend appointments are in high demand so if you want one of them, expect a four-week wait.
Is there a booking fee?
Yes. Due to the high demand of weekend appointments we require a £25 booking fee to secure your slot. This fee is non-refundable, but we will deduct if from the price of your dress should you be lucky enough to fine The One!
If you’d rather not pay a booking fee it’s no problem, just let us know and we can book you in for an evening or week day appointment of which there is no charge.
I’m an hour early – can I come in and browse?
Alas, no. We don’t have a waiting area as we like to offer our brides the full run of the shop. But don’t despair. Leamington Spa is teeming with cafes and bars. We’re particularly keen on Vinteas, which offers an afternoon tea that would put Claridge’s to shame. Conveniently, it’s also next door.
I want to bring my entire wedding party! Can I?
We don’t advise it. We comfortably seat two or three people per party – any more and it gets a little hectic. Similarly, we find children and sparkly things are a messy combination, so please leave them at home if at all possible.
What’s the deal with parking?
To circumnavigate any stress, we recommend heading straight for Royal Priors multi-storey on Park Street as there are literally hundreds of spaces.
Help! Something’s come up. I need to cancel.
Don’t panic. As long as you tell us 48 hours beforehand, there shouldn’t be a problem. As we book up weeks in advance, we do like to offer cancelled appointments to the brides on our waiting list. However, if you don’t give us two days’ warning or fail to attend your appointment, we do have a cancellation fee of £25.
My wedding budget spreadsheet is starting to scare me. What’s the damage?
Our collections currently start from £1,100 and extend to £8,000; the average price of our dresses is currently around £2,000. However, for the money-savvy bride, we have an outlet called Mabel and Maud Bridal Studio, in Rugby, Warwickshire where you can buy Tilly’s gorgeous ex-sample gowns at unbelievable prices. (firstname.lastname@example.org; 01788 577600).
And while we’re on the subject, we don’t offer discounts or price match. We are enormously proud of our collective experience, our bespoke service and the calibre of designers we stock, and we feel this is represented in our prices. Saying that, we do run regular promotional events where, for instance, we discount certain designers so keep your eyes on our Instagram