Though few would care to admit it, most women have dreamed of their wedding dress from an early age. If you're anything like me, you may well have even sketched a few designs over the years. It's not something to be ashamed of. The wedding dress is the most important item of clothing a woman will ever buy. It's the centrepiece of a wedding, and the one thing everyone talks about.
It's very easy to get caught up in the romance of dress-shopping and forget about what actually suits your body shape. "I would never put a girl in a dress if I didn't think she was going to look stunning in it," says occasionwear-turned-bridal designer Patrick Casey, from Ballymahon, Co Longford.
If you're looking for sumptuous and slinky, but at the same time soft and feminine, Patrick is your guy.
The dresses are made with the finest craftsmanship, using the best fabrics. All are silk-lined and hand-made; essentially, what Patrick offers is a demi-couture service: nothing is too much trouble. While his debut bridal collection is best suited to sizes 8, 10 and 12, he is working on more traditional, 'body-friendly' shapes.
Any item in his 26-piece collection can be tweaked to a customer's specific requirements. If your arms are an issue, Patrick will happily design a bolero to accompany the dress. "It will pick up the style without mimicking the dress, but instead adding to it," he explains.
Patrick even reconditions wedding dresses if they have been damaged.
A low back is a common trend in Patrick's dresses. "For church weddings, for the first hour and a half, you're looking at the bride's back," he explains.
Also, many of the dresses are ornately adorned with Swarovski crystals and pearls, but if your budget doesn't stretch to such luxury, Patrick will happily design the same style of dress using less expensive materials. He advises allowing a three-month timeframe to ensure you get the best possible service.
Through the boom times, Patrick was synonymous with colourful, high-octane eveningwear worn by high-profile Irish women, including Rosanna Davison, who won Miss World wearing one of his gowns.
At that time, he was employed by a London-based company, although he operated under his own name, but when times got tough, the relationship dissolved. However, his ambition to have his own label never went away.
Having disappeared off the radar for the last number of years, it's really wonderful to see such a genuine talent return.
All dresses by Patrick Casey, tel: (086) 857-5339, or email email@example.com
Stockists: Rhinestones, 18 St Andrews St, D2, tel: (01) 679-0759
Photography by Stuart Weston Assisted by Colin Ellis
Styling by Paula Hughes Assisted by Kelly Barnes and Michelle McKeown
Hair by Zara Cox for Queen Beauty Emporium, 66/67 Aungier St, D2, tel: (01) 478-9633, or see www.queenbe.ie
Make-up by Zoe Clark, see www.zoeclark.com
Model: Olivka, Premier Model Management, London
Shot on location at Newcastle House, Ballymahon, Co Longford.
Available for wedding hire, see www.newcastlehouse.com