Tuesday 27 September 2016

The List: Ireland's Top 30 bridal boutiques

Jillian Bolger

Published 20/03/2016 | 02:30

27. The White Room
27. The White Room
12. Lilac Rose Bridal.
15. Ophelia Bridal.
14. The Courtyard.
23. The Bridal Outlet
28. Tracy Bridal
29. Vintage Pearl.
20. Sharon Hoey.

From vintage to designer, slinky to tea-length, these are the go-to shops for the perfect dress.

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1. Áibhéil of Adare

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What: The gorgeous Paloma Blanca label is just one of the trump cards at Ann Gilvarry's stylish bridal boutique. Keeping good company with labels like Pronovias, Enzoani, Maggie Sottero, Mikaella, Anna Kara and La Sposa this is a bastion of high style in the serene setting of Adare. With an up-to-date website brides can browse the extensive offering before a visit, a smart way to focus for your appointment. Look out for quirky headpieces including birdcage veils and some head beading. Appointments are required, except on Saturday July 2, their next sale day.

Where: Adare, Co Limerick.

See: adarebridal.ie; (061) 396026.

2. Alice May Bridal

What: One of the country's newest boutiques, Alison Daly's carefully curated selection of bridal labels has seen Alice May Bridal win immediate fans from fashion-forward brides. With Dublin area exclusivity on Catherine Deane, Willowby by Watters and Tara Keely, they also stock Nicola Ann and Raimon Bundo's elegantly embellished gowns. Five minutes from Enniskerry, the luxurious shop has lots of room for a comfortable shopping and fitting experience, with parking outside the door. Bridesmaid dresses from Dessy and Jenny Yoo are stocked alongside bridal headpieces, veils, shoes, bags, jewellery and belts. Appointments can be booked online too, which is a smart touch.

Where: The Kilternan Gallery, Enniskerry Road, Kilternan, Co Dublin.

See: alicemay.ie; (01) 295 0006.

3. Amarra Bridal

What: Amarra Bridal's collection is quite classic, stocking big sellers like MGNY by Mori Lee and Justin Alexander. Slinky silhouettes, lots of lace and beautiful detailing permeate the collection which also features the streamlined tailoring of Ronald Joyce's Victoria Jane collection. With one of the best selection of bridesmaids' dresses around, you can choose from all the Dessy group's popular lines, including Dessy to After Six and Lela Rose and the versatile Jenny Yoo collection.

Where: The Avenue, The Whitewater Shopping Centre, Kildare.

See: amarrabridal.ie; (045) 432 148.

4. Amore Mio

What: Wedding dresses are just one part of the draw to Mariam O'Donovan's popular Killaloe boutique where she stocks a mean line of over 35 labels including occasion wear, bridesmaids' and flowergirl dresses. The collection has broad appeal and includes gowns from labels like Justin Alexander, Ronald Joyce and Allure Bridal. Mariam's known for her gorgeous accessories too, especially headpieces, and shopping here is a fun and relaxing experience.

Where: Church St, Killaloe, Co Clare.

See: amoremio.ie; (061) 622 333.

5. Archive 12

What: Stylist Claire Leese's Archive 12 is an Aladdin's cave of vintage loveliness. Started in 2014, the New York loft-style boutique stocks original and unique vintage wedding dresses and handmade flower crowns. Each dress is one of a kind, carefully chosen to appeal to the modern bride. All the collections are original vintage with Minna Bridal arriving exclusively in store in April. With dresses from the Edwardian era through to the 1970s, Leese finds 1960s tend to be good sellers. It also has a range of accessories, cover-ups and veils, and a bespoke service making handmade flower crowns for the bridal party to suit your colour palette.

Where: Conway Mill, 5-7 Conway St, Belfast, Co Antrim.

See: archive12.com; (048) 7968 336 123.

6. Bridal Bliss

What: There's a definite theme of romance running through the rails of Bridal Bliss in Cork. Serving Munster brides for nine years, Rachel McAuliffe and Mona Holden's contemporary store stocks a selection of irresistibly romantic labels like Allure, San Patrick, Essense of Australia, Stella York and Madison James. A collection of veils, jewellery and headpieces have been carefully chosen to complement the glamorous range.

Where: 4 Kilnap Business Park, Old Mallow Rd, Cork.

See: bridalbliss.ie; (021) 439 6822.

7. Barnardos Bridal Rooms

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What: Before you make any assumptions, Barnardos does not sell second-hand wedding dresses. With locations in Wexford and Dún Laoghaire, these dedicated bridal boutiques only stock brand new wedding dresses donated by some of Ireland's top bridal retailers, wholesalers and designers. You can snap up a serious bargain knowing the proceeds are going to Barnardos children's charity to help vulnerable children. Prices start at €250 (amazing value for a new dress!) and the shopping experience feels as special as it does in any privately run boutique. As with all wedding shops an appointment is necessary.

Where: 8 Upper George's St, Dún Laoghaire and 11a Selskar St, Wexford.

See: barnardos.ie/bridal; (01) 280 1246 and (053) 912 2679.

8. Belladonna

What: When a bridal salon stocks over 14 designers, amongst them names like Jesús Peiró, Charlotte Balbier, Pronovias and Novia D'Art, you know shopping here will be a thrill. That's the case at Galway's Belladonna, a spacious, elegant boutique where west of Ireland brides have huge choice, both with brands and budgets. Dresses start at €900 and go up to €4,000, they stock sizes up to 32, and they have lots of great events and sales throughout the year.

Where: Centrepoint Liosban, Tuam Road, Galway.

See: belladonnaglaway.com; (091) 755 139.

9. Ciara Bridal

What: Jo Flood and Paula Comiskey run Ciara Bridal which has been dressing brides for an impressive 33 years. Don't be fooled by the compact exterior: the shop may look small but it stocks 10 designer labels, including the popular Ronald Joyce and Remy Couture and the elegant Sadoni, which is exclusive to them. With a good range of headpieces and veils, brides can enjoy a 10pc off any new orders until the end of March.

Where: Powerscourt Centre, South William St, Dublin 2.

See: ciarabridal.ie; (01) 671 1545.

10. De Stafford Bridal

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What: Synonymous with stylish brides, Kathy De Stafford creates beautiful wedding dresses and also stocks an impressive selection of labels at her three stores. Based in Dublin city, Howth and Nenagh, her shops offer an eclectic mix of glamorous choices, including Inbal Dror's fairytale creations (exclusive to Howth), Novia D'Art (exclusive to Tipperary) and Herm's Bridal whose pretty designs are available at her Exchequer Street store. Her eponymous dresses are her best sellers and there's a lovely selection of accessories to complete your big-day look.

Where: 21 Exchequer St, Dublin 2; 48 Kenyon St, Nenagh, Co Tipperary; Boyd House, Howth, Co Dublin.

See: destaffordbridal.ie; (01) 679 8817.

11. Dirty Fabulous

What: Even the name is sassy and Dirty Fabulous does a mean line in sassy frocks. Kathy Sherry and Caroline Quinn stock a huge vintage bridal collection from the 1920s to the 1970s, with 1950s tea-length dresses a speciality. Many are designer or lovingly handmade with superb tailoring, ranging from short and flirty to full-length lace. Most of the ever-changing collection are original vintage, making them completely unique. The dynamic duo is launching their own vintage-inspired dress collection soon and you'll find perfect period pieces to accessorise the look.

Where: 21 Wicklow St, Dublin 2.

See: diartyfabulous.com; (01) 611 1842.

12. Lilac Rose Bridal

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What: Lilac Rose's eclectic collection is cleverly chosen to appeal to all tastes. From the romance of Rosa Clara Soft (exclusively stocked here) to the fabulous tea-length gowns of Lou Lou Bride, Charlie Brear's understated designs to the opulence of Eliza Jane Howell's dresses, it offers great choice and style. The thoughtful accessory offering includes Rachel Simpson shoes, headpieces from Willow & Wild, Sharon Galvin and White Ivy headpieces, as well as veils, shrugs and stoles. There's a sample sale coming up on March 26 with up to 70pc off at this Limerick boutique.

Where: George's Quay, Limerick.

See: lilacrose.ie; (061) 419 338.

13. Little White Dress

What: A shopping trip to Castleknock's Little White Dress is guaranteed to make fashionistas weak at the knees. The international, mostly exclusive, collection reads like a who's who of fabulousness: Temperley London, Belle & Bunty, Vicky Rowe, Anna Campbell, Elizabeth Stuart, the list goes on. Hollywood glamour and boho chic permeate much of the swoonsome collection, which is underpinned by LWD's team's motto: "We don't stock any dresses that we wouldn't be dying to wear ourselves." A true treasure trove of high-end gorgeousness.

Where: First floor, Exchange House, Main St, Castleknock Village, Dublin 15.

See: littlewhitedress.ie; (01) 824 8000.

14. The Courtyard

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What: For red carpet glamour, brides should make a beeline for Kinsealy where celebrity favourites Caroline Castigliano and Badgley Mischka gowns are waiting to be admired. Exclusively stocked at this luxurious boutique, they're in good company with San Patrick and Private Collection By TM Couture, a capsule collection designed specifically for The Courtyard. Spacious and stylish, the store delivers top customer service and caters for bridesmaids with Badgley Mischka and TM Couture dresses.

Where: Kinsealy, St Olave's, Co Dublin.

See: thecourtyardprive.ie; (01) 803 8152.

15. Ophelia Bridal

What: Aoife O'Broin's lovely Drogheda store knows how to get the best from any dress. With an end-to-end service where all alterations are carried out in-house by their own seamstress, they're experts at bespoke design changes too, if you fancy tweaking something to make it a once-off. With nine years' experience, they stock beautiful brands like Luna by Rosa Clara, La Sposa, and Essense of Australia, alongside a top selection of bridesmaids' dresses like Watters, WT00, Belsoie, Sorella Vita and True Bride. We like their shoe offering too, and comprehensive accessory selection.

Where: Farney Villa, Dyer St, Drogheda, Co Louth.

See: opheliabridal.ie; (041) 980 1778.

16. Myrtle Ivory Bridal Couture

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What: Fashionista brides flock to Marina & Meghann Mills' city centre boutique. The mother and daughter duo have a keen eye for all things chic and their pretty shop numbers style maven Amy Huberman and Rosanna Davison among its satisfied customers. (Both wore Stephanie Allin, see page 28.) Other great designers include Claire Pettibone, Ines Di Santo, Romona Keveza, Amanda Wakeley and the super stylish David Fielden. Expect a special shopping experience and a treasure chest of dazzling accessories to finish off your look.

Where: 3 Anne's Lane, Dublin 2.

See: myrtleivory.com; (01) 675 3519.

17. McElhinneys Bridal Rooms

What: With traditional service, a great reputation for customer service and large choice of brands and price points, the family-run McElhinneys has been serving customers since 1971. The large store can fit out the bride and her mum (they'll stop selling bridesmaids dresses this year). The bridal offering extends to 10 designers including best-seller Pronovias, and Atelier Pronovias, Justin Alexander, Ronald Joyce and Mori Lee. They have exclusivity on the glamorous Hayley Page collection and slinky Julie Vino dresses and a great range of accessories. Weekend appointments can book up to six weeks in advance.

Where: Ballybofey, Co Donegal.

See: mcelhinneysbridalrooms.com; (074) 913 1217.

18. Petticoat Lane

What: In the pretty village of Hillsborough you'll find Petticoat Lane, a luxurious bridal store run by mum and daughter Denise Patterson and Katie Larmour. Stockists of Ian Stuart's seductive range, you'll find a great mix of styles and labels including Emma Hunt, Hayley Paige, Enzoani, Charlei Brear and Tara Keely's impossibly glamorous gowns. Outfits for the whole bridal party, from mums to maids to flower girls, can be found here, alongside expert service and attention to detail.

Where: Hillsborough, Lisburn St, Co Down.

See: petticotalanebridal.co.uk; (048) 9268 9974.

19. Ruben Bridal

What: Pretty as a picture, Ruben Bridal is a charming Kildare boutique catering exclusively for plus-size brides since 2007. Run by Catherine McCann and Janet Wall they stock sizes 16 up to 32 with five different labels, including the popular Venus Bridal. All alterations are carried out in store by Janet, ensuring a relaxed and attentive shopping experience. Bridesmaids' dresses are stocked in all sizes and there's a selection of pretty accessories on sale too.

Where: 1 Whitehaven, Calverstown, Co Kildare.

See: rubenbridal.ie; (045) 485 489.

20. Sharon Hoey

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What: A Dublin favourite, Sharon Hoey not only designs gowns but also stocks some of the sexiest bridal names around. We're talking Jenny Packham, Sassi Holford, Blue Bridalwear, Lambert Creations for starters, as well as her eponymous best-selling label. Brides can choose from 13 designers in the Georgian setting, including Suzanne Neville, Eliza Jane Howell, Augusta Jones, Rembo Styling, Marylise, Modeca and Elbeth Gillis. With a full range of veils designed by Sharon, and many beautiful headpieces, the whole collection is a delight.

Where: 6 Lower Merrion St, Dublin 2.

See: sharonhoey.com; (01) 676 2772.

21. The Attic Bridalwear Boutique

What: A lovely new shopping experience in Limerick city, Orlaith Carroll is a fashion designer and her sense of style shines through in her choice of stock at this glamorous, year-old venture. A graduate of LSAD, she has worked with top designers Alexander McQueen and Derek Lam, and will be adding her own bridal collection to the rails this year. In the meantime, you can peruse gorgeous gowns by Elbeth Gillis, Anna Georgina, Herm's and Margarett.

Where: 8 Roches St, Limerick.

See: theatticbridalwearboutique; (061) 314 655.

22. The Bridal Corner

What: One of the longest running wedding shops in Ireland, the pros at The Bridal Corner in Glasnevin know a thing or two about dressing a stylish bride. Stocking an eclectic mix of labels, including Essense of Australia, Enzoani, Allure Bridal and Benjamin Roberts, they manage to cater to all tastes and styles, from the classic bride to someone looking for a slinky and chic little number.

Where: 1 Prospect Avenue, Hart's Corner, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

See: bridalcorner.ie; (01) 882 8083.

23. The Bridal Outlet

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What: The choice of gowns at The Bridal Outlet is vast. The 2,000 square-foot store stocks an impressive 17 labels offering something for every budget and body shape. Margaret McMahon has been running the business for 14 years and lists Margaret Moreland (designed and made in Ireland), Justin Alexander and Mori Lee amongst her best-sellers, alongside international labels, Lusan Mandongus and Eddy K and vintage favourite Lou Lou. Stocking a wide range of accessories, including shoes and lingerie, brides can get tricked out head-to-toe here with ease. Their annual sale on Sunday April 3 sees up to 70pc reductions off stock wedding dresses.

Where: 9 Abbey Business Park, Baldoyle Industrial Estate, Dublin 13.

See: bridaloutletireland.com; (01) 839 5358.

24. Marian Gale

What: Donnybrook's smart boutique is synonymous with occasion wear and debs dresses but the long-running shop also stocks a strong selection of contemporary bridal gowns. From slinky silhouettes to lace confections and beautiful tailoring, the collection is romantic and eclectic. Despite the swanky postcode Marian's gowns are very affordable and there's a fabulous collection of colourful gowns that are perfect for bridesmaids.

Where: 8a The Mall, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

See: mariangale.ie; (01) 269 7460.

25. The Town Bride

What: Dressing brides for 20 years (including yours truly!) this atmospheric Powerscourt Centre stalwart offers a relaxed and personal service from Colm and his crew. Their best-selling label is White Rose Bridal and they've a strong offering of international brands including Oronovias, Ladybird and Richard Sherman, a label renowned for its dramatic trains, and Private Label's impressive tailoring. Bridesmaids can choose from the Sorella Vita's on-trend collection and wedding favourite Kelsey Rose. With dresses from €850 the boutique has a reputation for impeccable in-house alterations and attention to detail.

Where: 1st floor, Powerscourt Centre, South William Street, Dublin 2.

See: thetownbride.ie; (01) 677 0991.

26. The White Gallery

What: For four years Rachel Morgan has been dressing some of Ireland's most glamorous brides. The White Gallery in Co Down is packed full of A-list style with gowns to make you swoon. Everything she stocks is high-end, with all nine designers exclusive within Ireland to her boutique. From Laure de Sagazan to Yolan Cris and Maison Floret to Divine Atelier there's huge choice for luxe-loving ladies. Bridesmaids and flower girls are catered for too with chic accessories from the likes of Luna Bea and Eliza & Vale. Saturday appointments book up six-to-eight weeks in advance (late evenings Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) and there's a Halfpenny London Designer Day coming up on April 16.

Where: 14a Upper Burren Rd, Burren, Warrenpoint, Co Down.

See: thewhitegalleryboutique.co.uk; (0044) 7565 221 331.

27. The White Room

What: It's hard not to be impressed with The White Room's bridal offering. Frances McElwain has built up a great brand over 12 years, that currently stocks 11 exciting labels. Our favourite (and their best-seller) is Jesús Peiró, the Spanish design house renowned for edgy silhouettes and sublime tailoring. With best-sellers like Pronovias, Mikaella Bridal, Paloma Blanca, Rembo Styling, Charlotte Balbier, Enzoni and Daalarna Couture there's a dress for every bride and budget. There are five private fitting rooms and appointments are 90 minutes, which is a little longer than the norm. There's a sample sale starting March 31 and the Jesús Peiró Preview 2017 collection is now in store.

Where: 3D Lough Sheever Corporate Park, Robinstown, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

See: thewhiteroom.ie; (044) 934 7661.

28. Tracy Bridal & Evening Wear

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What: In business for 26 years Tracy Gilmore is quite the expert in pleasing brides. With nine labels to choose from you'll find a good mix of classic and romantic styles at this large Galway store. Think big-sellers like Justin Alexander, Sincerity, Lillian West, Maggie Sottero, Sottero Midgley, Ronald Joyce and Victoria Jane. Strong on customer service Tracy Bridal also has a good offering for bridesmaids, namely True Bride, Mark Lesley, Ronald Joyce and Corizzi.

Where: Bohermore, Galway.

See: tracybridal.com; (091) 380 660.

29. Vintage Pearl Bridal

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What: Located in a beautiful Georgian building in Galway's West End, Vintage Pearl offers brides a fun, relaxed experience. Owner Michelle Burke looks after all her brides, with one-to-one consultations that take you through her lovely collections. Alongside vintage-inspired designs by Latvian designer Katya Katya Shehurina, French designer Cymbeline, and 1950s-inspired tea-length dresses by House of Mooshki, she also stocks original vintage wedding dresses. Rachel Simpson's 1920s-inspired shoes, veils, headpieces and accessories by Emmy McCormick complete the offering.

Where: 34 Eglinton House, Dominick St, Galway.

See: vintagepearlbridal.ie; 086 868 1499.

30. White Willow

What: The stock in Kenmare's White Willow has been brilliantly selected to deliver impressive choice to modern brides. From boho to vintage to contemporary styling, savvy owner Kate Cremin has selected a smart mix of top brands like David Fielden, Caroline Atelier, Rembo Styling, Lizzie Agnew, Johanna Hehir, and Ella Rose. Add in a good selection of accessories and bridesmaids' dresses and this lovely boutique punches well above its weight.

Where: 1st floor, Henry St, Kenmare.

See: whitewillowkenmare.ie; (087) 786 2340.

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