Wedding Dress shopping @ MODE Bridal Private Studio, Hove

Oh So Hitched

If you read my interview with Jana Svalbe, you’ll know she has a wonderful wedding studio, MODE Bridal, at her home in Hove.

The special thing about buying your wedding dress from a private studio like MODE Bridal, is you can book in for a shopping experience that’s a little bit more personalised than a high street wedding dress shop.

Unlike many bridal shops which people can drop in and out of, a studio gives you that little bit more privacy. And as I found when I recently visited MODE, it allows you to enjoy a wedding dress shopping service that has a slightly more bespoke, and luxurious feel.

MODE Bridal

After taking a Saturday morning train from London to Hove, I arrived at Jana’s lovely studio, just a few streets up from the seafront.

Bottle of bubbles opened, Jana laid out a lovely tray of biscuits and vintage champagne glasses. She then gave me a bit of time to peruse the rails of beautiful dresses.

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As you may already know from my Q&A with Jana, MODE Bridal stocks two key designers – British designer Terry Fox and Italian designer Anna Tumas.

Terry Fox

For a little bit of background info, Terry Fox is an award winning British designer who has worked with some big names including Emanuels (the designer who created Princess Diana’s wedding gown). She creates dresses that are theatrical and romantic.

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Terry Fox dresses on the rail at MODE Bridal. (Dress on the mannequin is Anna Tumas)

Anna Tumas

Anna is a renowned Italian designer and all of her dresses are handmade in her studio in Rome. She uses high quality Italian fabrics, French Chantilly lace (which is known for being some of the best in the world) and she tends to feature some amazing corsetry in her gowns.

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A rail of Anna Tumas dresses at MODE Bridal

As Jana knew I was planning a destination wedding, she already had a few dresses in mind that were lighter in weight and more suitable for wearing in the heat. They were four Terry Fox dresses and one Anna Tumas dress. All were on the lighter side, with fewer layers, but varied in design. 

A Tip for Wedding Dress Shopping

While I wouldn’t recommend you buy your wedding dress shoes before you choose your dress, it might be a good idea to bring a pair of shoes that have a similar heel height to what you think you might wear on your day.
If you don’t, it’s not a problem as Jana has shoes that you can borrow while you’re trying the dresses on.

If you are planning a wedding that could be potentially held on a beach, you may be considering a barefoot ceremony and then some heels or wedges for the celebrations afterwards. In that case, always have the dress made to the maximum length you’ll need for when you’re wearing heels. It’s ok wearing a dress that’s a little long when you’re barefoot, but having a dress that’s too short once you put your shoes on just isn’t a good look.

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The dresses at MODE Bridal

The first dress I tried was one that Jana initially introduced me to at the Wedding Fair in February – the Lovestruck gown by Terry Fox. One of the lovely things about this dress is the tulle straps and lovely silhouette with lace overlay. It was nice to try it again as it’s so easy to forget how a specific dress felt when you’ve tried on so many.

Here’s the second dress (below) I tried by Terry Fox called Pearly Queen – a very lovely full lace strapless dress with a heart shaped neckline.

What I loved about this one was the ribbon detail around the waist and the beautiful vintage feel, helped by the champagne shade of fabric. Jana then placed a lace bolero-style jacket around the top that you can wear for the ceremony so you get two different looks throughout the day. The shape was quite straight at the bottom and MODE Bridal can be very flexible if you want to increase or decrease the size of the train.

I’ve tried on various shapes of wedding dress and I still really like a skirt that accentuates my shape, like the fishtail. However I wanted to try this dress to see if the classic look worked. It could also prove to be a bit cooler in the heat!

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The third dress, ‘Whisper’, really took me by surprise. When I saw it on the hanger, I was a bit unsure about the shade of blush pink. Once on, the colour was pretty and more subtle than I anticipated, and the lace and floral detail very pretty and summery. I especially liked the delicate flower detail along the edge of the skirt and could just imagine wearing it barefoot with flowers in my hair.

Jana explained that if any of the detail was too much, it could be altered to suit my taste. I loved how light and flowing the skirt felt on this dress and I preferred the v-neck shaped neckline and lacey straps to the strap-less look. This one also had ribbons that crossed over the back which I really liked.

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Those brides-to-be who like a straighter skirt with a tailored but ‘flowing’ feel, will love the Persephone dress which I tried on next. It had very subtle lace detail on the top half but an almost 70s feel to the skirt (well I thought so, anyway). It also had great movement so I imagine you could get a great variety of different looks in your wedding photos with this one.

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Jana saved one of the most special dresses until last – this stunning strapless gown by Anna Tumas (below) called ‘Vesta’ which has a real Roman Goddess style, (hence the name!)

As Jana explained, if you’re planning to get married on a beach somewhere tropical, it’s worth considering going for a white dress like this one. That’s because darker, more champagne colours can blend into the sand a bit too much and make for less striking photography. With a destination like the Caribbean, you’re also more likely to carry a bouquet of locally sourced flowers that are bright and tropical. The ‘pop’ of colour tends to look better with the white and may drown out a champagne coloured dress. Of course, this isn’t a written rule, just something to consider, and something I am sure you can work around with your photographer.

This one was a little big for me, but you can just imagine how stunning it would look with a bit of added height (or on a taller bride!)

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With the long train chiffon drapes, unique tailoring and silver embroidered belt, I imagine you could get a really dramatic look with this one too.

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As well as dresses, MODE Bridal stocks a range of bridal accessories and veils which you can also look at during your wedding dress shopping. You are also welcome to arrange a visit to the studio purely for the accessories, even if you’ve bought your dress elsewhere, which many brides also do.

The selection of accessories includes hair combs, hair vines, and head pieces as well as gorgeous bags by British designer Donna Crain. All of them are handmade from her studios in Guildford using handpainted leaves and flowers, soft leather, and Swarovski crystals.

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Shoes are also available to buy from the studio. Or you can bring in your own bought pair and they will arrange for some signature, or bespoke embellishment for you, also by Donna Crain.

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By the end of the two hours with Jana, she had opened my eyes to the variety of different looks I could go and practicalities to consider for my wedding day. We discussed various features I liked from more than one dress and how they could arrange for the designer, Terry Fox, to combine these features and sketch out a bespoke dress that worked for me should I want to return.

The service was relaxed yet fun and it felt like a really luxurious and professional way to shop for your perfect wedding dress.

I’d highly recommend you consider MODE Bridal, whether you’re getting married in the UK or abroad. And the exciting news is, Jana has TWO new designers coming soon:

– In August, they will become the exclusive stockist of Lambert Creations – a collection of chic yet affordable dresses from France. To celebrate the new arrival, MODE Bridal will hold a launch event on 16-18 September where brides will receive Donna Crain accessories worth up to £250 with every purchase they make.

– And in July and September, new collections by Alan Hannah Couture will arrive into the studio. To mark the occasion, MODE Bridal will hold a launch event on the 15-17 October where brides purchasing dresses from the new collection will receive 10% discount, a free Alan Hannah accessory and a sketch of the dress signed by the designer.

So keep your eyes peeled on the MODE Bridal website for details.

Until next time x

For more information on MODE Bridal, or to discuss a visit to the studio, contact Jana via the website. You can also follow them on twitter @ModeBridal and via their Facebook page.