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Perfect Day, Lurgan

Proprietor: Bernie O’Neill

Tell me about your business Bernie?

We are a small independent business based in Lurgan. We operate a one to one appointment system which the brides love and we have just recently won Best Bridal Retailer in NI 2007/08 which was a great achievement for a small business like ours. There are larger, longer established bridal shops about and to think that we beat them was great as it is the brides who voted for us.

How long have you been trading?

I will be in the bridal wear business six years this May 2008, but I have always helped my hubby Ciaran O ‘Neill with his business over the years, so I have being dealing with brides for about 15years now.

What brands of dresses do you stock?

Our main ranges are White One (which is a sister company of Pronovias – very similar in style but not as expensive) Ronald Joyce, Stevies Gowns, Alice James, Imogen, Lucca, Poinsetta and Tia. These are just a few of our wedding dress designers, We tend not to go for the big designer names because a lot of brides want a dress that is not shown in every bridal magazine or one that their friends might have tried on in other shops, so we like to stock stylish affordable dresses and designers who do not flood the NI market with their dresses.

What sizes do you cater for?

Most wedding dresses are available from size 8 – 28 our sample sizes are sizes 10 – 24. This means most brides will have something to try on when they come to us – and also remember if it doesn’t fit properly we can pin it onto you so at least you will get a reasonable idea of what your own dress will look like.

What seems to be the most popular style of dress?

The long established strapless dress is still the most popular but if you can get brides to try on other styles it is surprising what they find are lovely on. I think the problem with strapless dresses is that they have been about for about 8yrs or more now and most brides who are getting married will never have seen many other bridal dresses, and assume that you have to wear them. It is great when we get someone who is more adventurous – we can get them into halternecks, straps etc… and 9 times out of 10 they go for this style of dress. More brides now are starting to ask for dresses other than strapless but strapless is by far the main seller.

What style of wedding dress suits pear shape, curves, etc..?

If you have a slim-hipped figure and a full bust, the Full Skirt shape will balance top and bottom perfectly, giving you that "fairytale bride" look. This style or Princess are generally thought of as the most romantic shapes.

Starting the waistline beneath the bust works well for smaller busts, and the long line makes petite brides look taller. For the ultimate romantic style, this one won't let you down. The Empire line with an A-line skirt will also do a marvelous job at concealing wider hips. An Empire Line with a column skirt adds height and balances a smaller bust.

A fitted bodice shape with an A-line skirt that hugs the waist, so it flatters slim waistlines while making the most of the bust is perfect if you have wider hips, the A-Line will cover them up effectively.

Show off well-toned arms and beautiful shoulders and neck by choosing spaghetti straps. These have a young and modern look and are very attractive on the right girl.

Strapless neckline is a particularly elegant look if you have a long neck, good shoulders and well-toned arms. A strapless dress is a fine opportunity for beautiful jewellery. Strapless looks good with a medium bust.

Halterneck tops expose beautiful shoulders and well-toned arms, while the continuity of line makes you look taller if you are petite. The halterneck top echoes the lower half of the dress, so if you have slim hips the halterneck will be an excellent counterpoint. There are many different variations on the halterneck style; collar with straps, single strap wrapping round the back of the neck, covered or exposed V to the bust. A halterneck style can also hide that little underarm "pouch" that we are sometimes prone to!

The V-Line style plunges to the bust and is particularly complimentary if you have a larger bust and would like a little cleavage. The angle of the V-Line varies and may be on or off the shoulder, so expose beautiful shoulders but cover them up if they are angular.

Sweeheart is a pretty and romantic neckline, forming a natural heart shape and giving you a sweet and innocent look. It also works with larger busts as a sexier style, showing a hint of cleavage.

What styles should brides avoid?

Avoid the Full Skirt if you are not full busted, as it will make your bust look smaller. If you are petite, avoid this option because you will disappear into the dress! If you have wide hips, avoid the Full Skirt because it will over emphasize them.

Empire line makes tall brides look taller. If you have a marvelous figure and want to show it off, a figure-hugging dress might be preferable, but it is difficult to find too much wrong with the Princess style, which is probably why it is so popular.

If you have a fuller figure, you may choose not to have a dress which hugs the form quite so closely. The tighter bodice will tend to draw attention to a smaller bust.

Use a strapless bra with spaghetti straps so that there are no distractions. Keep angular shoulders or large arms covered up. Spaghetti straps also emphasize the neck, so be sure it looks good if you choose them. You can also use a necklace effectively to compliment the straps.

Don't leave everything uncovered unless it looks great - there are plenty of other styles to hide shorter necks, square shoulders or full arms. If you have a very full bust, strapless is unlikely to be able to give you the support you will need throughout the day.

A halterneck top may over-emphasize your upper body if you have a larger bust, though it will provide good support. It will also emphasize your hips in counterpoint - so if you have larger hips, avoid this style, unless the skirt is A line.

Avoid the V-line if you are small busted, as it will tend to draw attention to this.

The Sweetheart style exposes a central panel of neck, so if this is not your best feature, you may want to look at alternatives such as a halterneck. Alternatively, a Sweetheart can lend you the romantic look you seek, with a pretty item of jewellery as an accessory to improve the look of your neck.

What is the most popular colour of bridal gown?

Ivory is the most popular colour – with brides liking white when they try it on. It seems they do not seem to try on many white dresses as they feel they will not suit them and they are usually the brides who love the white when they get a chance to see what it looks like on!!

Do you also cater for Bridesmaid Dresses?

Our main designer for bridesmaid’s dresses is Dessy of which we are probably the main stockist in Northern Ireland. They are stylish elegant dresses which come in a great range of colours and fabrics and they will not break the bank. Just this year we have introduced a new range of bridesmaids dresses which will start from £99

Do you stock accessories for the bridal party?

Yes we tend to keep a lot of accessories, and brides who have not got their dresses from us would come to us for us to match up their accessories.

What is most popular with brides today, is it tiaras, fascinators?

Fascinators and crystal side pieces both on combs and bands would be more popular than tiaras, but we do still sell a lot of tiaras. It will depend on your dress as to what you wear on your head.

Do most brides have a veil?

Most brides when they come in say they don’t want a veil but when you try them on 95% of them love them – the longer and sparklier the better!!

What brand of shoes do you cater for?

We do quite a lot of shoes, Pink, Belle, Benjamin Adams, Fillipa Scott and Fifi – all of the shoes are dye able.

What are your opening hours?

We open from 10am – 5.30pm Mon – Sat and late night 5.30pm – 9pm Tue & Thur but during the mth of Jan we open Mon & Wed late night too.

Are visits by appointment only?

Yes we advise an appointment as we only have 1 changing room it is best to book in especially if you are coming along distance – evening and Sat appointments book up weeks in advance so be organised and book your appointment early.

When should the bride start to look for her dress?

I think about 6-9mths before is plenty of time-although we do take bookings from girls a lot sooner than that. It will depend on how decesive you are and if you will change your mind in between ordering it and it arriving in.

When looking for a dress what should I be thinking of?

Good quality, affordable price, that it suits your shape and personality, that it will be comfortable to wear for approx 12 hrs – that you can dance, walk, sit etc… in it. And the main thing is that YOU LOVE IT – not your mum, bridesmaid, sister etc… IT IS YOUR DRESS!!!

Do you provide an alteration service?

We do not have an in-house dressmaker but we can provide brides with a list of dressmaker’s right across the country and we do have two dressmakers in Lurgan who do the bulk of our alterations so a bride will never be left without someone to finish off your dress. Alterations are a separate bill and this will be paid by the bride to the person who alters your dresses for you. So do allow for this in your wedding budget.


Bernie’s Top Tips for choosing your perfect wedding dress.

On your wedding day you will want to look your best, after all it’s the only day you get to feel like a princess. It’s your perfect day and hopefully these tips will help you select your dream dress.

First of all no matter what shape or size you are don’t worry there is a dress out there to suit every bride. Most importantly ensure that you have plenty of time to find that dream dress, as many dresses take up to 6 months or more to make and don’t forget all the fittings that will need to be done. Wedding gowns are very personal and should be chosen based on your individual style preference, the type of wedding you plan to have, the place of your wedding and your budget. Almost anything is acceptable - - - so remember, this is YOUR day. Do it YOUR way. Your wedding day will be the only day when all eyes are on you and when your groom sets eyes on you, you want him to be wowed by your dress, so take time and have fun finding that dress with the ‘wow’ factor

Searching out the ideal wedding gown can be a demanding task, because there is so much to choose from. It’s best to have some idea of what you are looking for before you begin to shop. Do your research before you start looking, cut out pictures from magazines, off the internet and make up a portfolio of styles and shapes that you like – it will give the bridal shop a better idea of the style you like – and also be open minded and if a shop assistant thinks a dress will suit you do try it on – it may surprise you! Also limit yourself to 4 or 5 bridal shops – the more you see the more confused you will get and you may forget about a dress that you really loved.
When you visit a bridal shop of your choice, make sure that you have a clear vision of your wedding's theme. Do not hesitate to let the staff know what you have planned for a budget. Take advantage of the advice you receive after all these people are doing this every day and do know what they are talking about.

When you go to choose your wedding dress, make sure that you bring your mother or bridesmaid. If neither of these people can be there, take a friend whose opinion you trust. If nothing else, this friend can provide you with some moral support if you are in doubt. Do not bring lots of people as they will all have their own opinion on wedding dresses and will only confuse you – also you want your dress to have that WOW factor and it won’t if you show everyone it. You should plan on at least six-nine months to decide on your dress and for alterations. It will take at least three – six months for your order to be placed and your gown to be made by the manufacturer. Then you can plan on your alterations. If you do not have six months, relax. You can still get everything done in time. It will just cost a little more to rush your order.
Your alterations should take place approx 6 weeks before your wedding. The last thing you should worry about on your wedding day is whether or not your gown fits. So make sure your gown is ready early.

Do not purchase a dress that is out of your price range. Wedding dresses can range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds. Take some time to think about your selection. It may help to sleep on the idea and make a commitment on a different day. Remember that wedding dresses come with many unforeseen expenses. Don't spend all of your allotted money on the gown itself. Save a little for alterations and accessories.

Make sure you have a contract from your bridal shop outlining your dress size, colour and price. If you have queries or concerns do not hesitate to ask questions. This way you know exactly what you are getting, what you are paying for and if there are any other extras you have to allow for. Also it is best to use a long established business. It is not difficult to imagine the chaos that can result if, on the appointed day for delivery of your gown, you discover that the shop with whom you are dealing is no longer in business. The reliability of the shop with whom you are dealing with is particularly important in the field of specially manufactured wedding gowns, because a non refundable deposit is always required at the time the gown is ordered. A quality firm will also be able to assist you if problems are encountered in the manufacture or delivery process.

Your wedding day is going to be very hectic. Allow yourself at least two hours to get ready before your wedding is scheduled to begin. If you are planning to have photographs taken before your ceremony, start getting ready two hours before your session is scheduled to begin. Take your time when getting ready, and enjoy the company of those around you. Bring an emergency kit. This kit should have sewing supplies, extra makeup, extra tights, and tissues. You should also bring a pair of comfortable shoes such as flats with you. During the wait before the wedding, you will not want to be running around in heels. Your feet may never forgive you!


Other Helpful Tips
• This is your perfect day. Make sure your gown makes you feel like a princess when you put it on. When you look good, you feel good.
• Wedding gowns tend to run small. You will probably need a gown that is a size or two larger than your normal size.
• When you go for your fittings, consider wearing a strapless bra. This will help you get a better feeling of how each gown would look during your wedding
• Expect to give an initial down deposit of up to 50 percent of the cost of the gown.

Perfect Day
29 William Street
Tel: 028 3832 1607