The English Bride
England, the land of princess brides, is the trend-setter. The 2011 wedding of Kate Middleton to Prince William held the entire world in thrall, harkening back to the late Diana, ‘England’s Rose.’
Fashion commentators breathlessly reported on Kate’s gown, which was so, well, modest. Experts wondered — was Kate setting a trend away from the naked shoulders and deep décolleté of the last decade?
Debra Turvey, the English proprietor of Sunflower Bridal, specializes in modest wedding clothing for British brides. In this exclusive Regina interview, she reveals all — about not revealing all.
What inspired Sunflower Bridals?
In October, 2009 one of my daughters got engaged. She didn’t want a dress that needed a jacket or camisole, but did want to be covered for religious reasons.
We visited many bridal boutiques but it was impossible to find one in the UK, so Emily looked on the internet. She found a dress she fell in love with, found a source for the dress in Utah and we called them and ordered it. Her father was able to pick the dress up on a business trip there.
However, as a mother I missed the experience of trying dresses on with Emily and finding that one special dress. So Sunflower Bridal was born. I began trading in September 2010.
Do you think Kate Middleton’s dress has had an impact on modest wedding clothing?
I think Kate Middleton has had some impact; her dress was so beautiful and elegant. I think however that brides are just wanting to be different and follow their desires, rather than fashion.
Certainly Kate Middleton showed that a bride should wear what she is comfortable with and what makes her feel good. She shouldn’t feel compelled to simply follow fashion.
“Brides like to feel comfortable, demure and elegant. Many don’t even realize that they have a choice.”
How and why do brides seek out Sunflower Bridals?
It’s exciting to see how my business is growing. My brides either come from word of mouth, or by internet search, looking for ‘wedding dresses with sleeves’ or ‘modest wedding dresses’. (They find us at http://www.sunflowerbridal.co.uk) My brides come to Sunflower Bridal for all sorts of reasons: religious, coverage, size (at both ends of the spectrum), or because they want something different because of their age or second marriages.
“Brides are relieved that they have found dresses they can try on in the UK. They are happy and excited and travel great distances to come.”
One of the first reactions I get from bridal enquiries is simply an expression of relief that they have found dresses they can try on in the UK. They are happy and excited and travel great distances to come and try them on.
I’ve had brides from all over the United Kingdom, and even some from mainland Europe. Because brides are often travelling a long way to get here, I try to keep a good selection of styles and sizes and often the bride can take her dress away with her. I also encourage brides to try lots of different styles so they can see for themselves which suits them best.
England has always been a tastemaker, particularly in weddings and coronations. Do you see growing interest in modest wedding clothing among English brides?
I have been surprised how many brides I have seen who simply want to be a little more covered, purely to suit their own taste, and not necessarily for religious reasons.
‘Dare to bare’ might work for some on a beach but not for such a special occasion as a wedding. Brides like to feel comfortable, demure and elegant and I see that there is definitely a growing interest in wedding dresses with a little more coverage.
Many brides don’t even realize that they have a choice.
I encourage brides to try lots of different styles so they can see for themselves which suits them best.”
England has always been a taste-maker, particularly in weddings and coronations. (Below: The 1953 coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth II, designer’s rendering.)