Restyled heirloom wedding dress – REAL BRIDE Belle


My elegant REAL BRIDE Belle, and Liam were married in October after postponing their wedding due to covid.

When Belle and I first started talking about her ideas for her bespoke wedding dress, I was so excited. This is her story:

I recently came across your website when looking for a wedding dress seamstresses / designer. I am looking to combine / redesign my Aunt’s wedding dress for my own wedding next October 2020. My idea is to take my Aunt’s dress, Mum’s veil and my Nan’s head piece to create my own bespoke dress. I was wondering if you would be able to give me some advice as to whether this would be something which you would be able to do and how I would go about the design process?

So we met up and ideas gradually evolved as I began taking apart her Aunt’s magnificent 1980s Phillipa Lepley champagne silk couture gown. Belle also brought with her, her mother’s white satin wedding dress, from which she wanted to take some pearls.

Belle loved the bardot style of the original Lepley dress, and didn’t want anything too fitted. “I also love the idea of having pearls or embellished stars on the veil. I would like the dress to be adaptable, so it is almost like having two looks, one for the ceremony and one for the evening reception.”

So we designed a separate overskirt in tulle which would be worn over the champagne dress for the evening.

As fittings progressed (slowly through the thoes of COVID lockdowns), Belle’s ideas crystalised and she emailed to say “I have been doing some thinking about my dress design and considering some other options. The more I think and look at the V shape of the bodice, the more I am going off of it so I thought of another possible idea to cover it. I was wondering if it would be possible to cover the V with an ostrich feather trim? So it will hang and be a bit like a belt? (I have attached a picture). What do you think, would this be possible?  Would it be able to be detachable or then sit over the waistband of the overskirt?”

I loved this volley of ideas and questions, and we did indeed make an ostrich feather belt which looked fabulous! The ideas kept coming…

“I have decided that it would look better to have the veil and over-skirt made from the same material so, I will buy some appliqué stars and embellishments to add to the skirt as opposed to buying an already “starred” fabric. I then thought of keeping the veil more simple and plain, maybe adding a few of the pearls from my mums dress, if there is enough”

So I sewed the pearls from Belle’s mum’s dress onto a new soft tulle veil.

By September 2021, it ws time to re-start fittings, however, Belle felt a little concerned about my ‘lockdown’ weight gain as we all did! However, then came lockdown 2.0. Luckily, we held fire on taking the dress in because…

By the time we came out of lockdown 3.0, I received another email with exciting news…

” I hope you have been keeping well. Can’t quite believe how time is flying by and we are in June already! Would we be able to arrange a catch up soon, I have some news which I think is going to cause a few issues….I am pregnant! I understand this is going to cause some major adjustments and I wouldn’t want to put any extra pressure on you so would love if we could meet to talk through some options (if there are any!).  I am so excited to see the dress again, the beautiful skirt and veil.”

This wonderful news did somewhat change our plans, but happily the base dress now needed virtually no alterations around the top part, just an introduction of a lycra panel to accomodate a beautiful growing bump!

In August 2021, Belle came for an interim fitting to position the stars on her tulle overskirt and to pick up her veil for her boudoir shoot with wonderful photographer Rebecca Searle:

She returned for a few maternity fittings and then collected her dress a few weeks before her wedding day in October.

Belle contacted me afterwards to say:

“The day went perfectly and I felt so comfortable in my dress despite feeling like I had expanded a little more that week! I truly felt so special in my dress and all my guests as well as my husband (feels very strange writing that!) loved it. Everyone commented on how beautiful the starry skirt was and how it was perfect for ‘party, party’ time. Thank you so much for all that you have done over the past few years. Words cannot express how thankful I am to you for bringing my vision to life and creating my absolute dream dress.

From start to finish you have been so helpful and understanding especially when I announced the dress may need to be tweaked a little. Every time I stepped into your bridal room I immediately felt at ease and any worries or concerns I had about my dress immediately disappeared.  I can’t quite believe that I will no longer be visiting you every few months to talk wedding dresses.

Thank you once again, you truly are a super star and such a lovely person who I have enjoyed getting to know over the past few years.”

She also shared the news that her beautiful baby girl had arrived – Lois Vivienne.

It was such a pleasure to make Belle’s dress. Although the fittings were spread out due to the various lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, this meant we were able to work at a leisurely pace, and accomodate the unexpected changes she experienced and the wonderful final outcome.

Thank you so much, Belle and Liam, for sharing your stunning photos by Rebecca Fulton. I had an absolute blast making your dress. Much love for the future xx



Bespoke restyled Dress by Caroline Arthur

Original couture gown by Phillipa Lepley

Photographer (wedding day) – Rebecca Fulton

Florist- family member

Bridal party bouquets – Bramble and Moss, Richmond (@brambleandmossflowers)

Venue – Ufton Court (@uftonweddings)

Hair – Rivervale Beauty (@rivervalebeauty  @grace.iaaysalon)

Make Up – Becky Howie (@beckyhowiemua)

Catering – Fosters Catering (@fosters_catering)

Lighting – Oakwood (@oakwoodevents)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Caroline

I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line with your thoughts and questions – I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

© Copyright Caroline Arthur 2020