Sarah Willard Couture

We did it!

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We still can’t quite believe that this happened last night!


Thrilled and very excited to say that this beauty is now sitting proudly in the studio. We’re regional winners West Midlands best dressmaker designer at The Wedding Industry Awards. Again!!

The biggest thank you to our wonderful customers who voted for us, not only have we been privileged to make perhaps the most important dress of a lifetime, but you have been amazing to work with. And to our past customers who helping us to shape the business we have today. And last, but not least to our nearest and dearest that have supported us through wedding season after wedding season.

And a huge thank you to The Wedding Industry Awards for understanding how important recognising quality is in a crowded marketplace, and especially to an artisan business like ours. Next stop - the national finals in London in January!

In the meantime we’ve some beautiful dresses to finish, and some stunning toiles on the go for next year.

But this evening the celebrations continue! Pass the bubbly! 

Sarah Sign Off.jpg


Sarah ShorttComment

My head is still spinning from a recent trip to London to view the new fabric collections.  

Twice a year the fashion production world gathers in London for a very special event, Textile Forum is THE trade show for Couture and bridal designers. So off to London I go, armed with a cappuccino, a notebook, and that modern day visual recorder, my trusty iPhone.  

It's held in a  very special place. One Marylebone sits at the top of Great Portland Street, with all the hustle and bustle of Euston Road passing by. But inside it is the most stunning space, with architecture that just inspires. The staircases are a magical place to pause for a while, they are straight from a fairytale.

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So here's my guide to the latest fabric trends:

Guipure Lace

Pippa Middleton was ahead of the trend and before the curve! There was Guipure lace a plenty in both traditional and more modern geometric designs. This is a fabric trend of the moment.  

Guipure lace

Guipure lace


 Made popular by the bohemian trend, often in softer fibres such as cotton  so that they drape and flow. But now with a clean and modern feel to them, more  city chic modern bride.

Geometric lace designs

Geometric lace designs

Modern organics

Laser cut motifs are everywhere too,  leaf patterns falling down a panel of soft tulle, and 60s inspired florals too.

Modern organics with laser cut leaf shapes

Modern organics with laser cut leaf shapes


Silver, gold, rose gold on tulle. Subtle colour with tiny beads and sequins that glint in the light. Often in modern and clean shapes and designs, perfect for a bride with a fine art vibe. They could be used to dramatic effect in an all over design, or shapes could be cut from the Lace to add subtle accents. This is so much more subtle than diamanté bling, and I can’t wait to incorporate this into my designs. 

Gold embroidered tulle

Gold embroidered tulle



Re-embroidered Lace

With gorgeous surface texture, with large scale flowers, cording, beads and sequins. 

Re-embroidered lace

Re-embroidered lace

Large scale flower designs

So romantic and pretty, large floppy laser cut flowers and leaves on soft tulles and on Lace backgrounds. A modern take on the country bride.  

Three dimensional large scale flowers with beading and diamante detail

Three dimensional large scale flowers with beading and diamante detail

Fabrics that float

Tulles and soft fabrics galore, all waiting to be incorporated into the trend for softer skirts and more floaty bridal gowns. 

English Lace

Think of the reinvented Burberry coats of a couple of seasons ago, the geometric patterns in Cluny Lace put Nottingham Lace back on the radar. But there’s softer floral laces too, and edgings a plenty, which could be used to great effect with soft tulles and chiffons. And it’s made on old fashioned Leavers looms in England! Yes! 

Cluny lace edgings

Cluny lace edgings


Perfect for a winter bride, allover feather embellished fabrics, perfect for a bridal cape or collar, and fabrics embellished with soft wispy feathers for a soft romantic feel. 

Delicate  feathers and pearls on tulle

Delicate  feathers and pearls on tulle

So I headed home with a notebook full of scribbles, an iphone full of images, and a happy heart from catching up with old friends. 

And I'm left feeling so inspired that my head is full of design ideas! It is the perfect designer day out! 

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Autumn Wedding Inspiration On Love My Dress

Bridal InsprationSarah ShorttComment

September is one of my favourite months, with misty mornings, dewy cobwebs, long shadows, golden light, and fruit and berry colours. So this shoot by the Fine Art Wedding Boutique is something that is so beautiful, and I am so excited to be able to finally share the images with you. It featured recently  on Love My Dress.

I am thrilled to be a member of the Fine Art Wedding Boutique. Not only is it such a talented group of designers, but also there is a  real creative vibe and we inspire each other. So being involved in an inspirational shoot is a dream come true.

This autumn bridal inspiration, with it's jewel colours, autumn leaves, fruit and an orchard setting is just sublime.

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Featured Suppliers

Fine Art Wedding Boutique

Creative Director: Kate Cullen

Photographers: Bowtie and Belle Photography

Videographers: Baxter and Ted

Hair and Make Up: Victoria Fergusson

Stationery: Gemma Milly

Floral Design: Bramble and Wild

Crockery: Classic Crockery

Hair accessories and jewellery:  Tilly Thomas Lux Judith Brown Jewellery

Ring: Sarie Joynes

Cake: Vanilla Pod Bakery


Silk ribbons: Kate Cullen

Bridal wear: Sarah Willard Couture


A Real Bride On Whimsical Wonderland Weddings

Real BridesSarah ShorttComment

Our very beautiful bride's English wedding featured on Whimsical Wonderland Weddings

We had so much fun creating  Sophie's bridal outfit for her. She knew she wanted something very simple, chic and elegant - she chose separates from the bridal collection. In the end we didn't quite dress her from head to toe ( as she found some incredibly pretty Ted Baker sandals to wear with her dress) but her dress, overblouse, hair accessory were all very Sarah Willard Couture. Sophie's mum didn't miss out either, we created a dusty pink silk silk dress and jacket for her to wear too. 

Steve Bridgwood is a legend! Sophie and Daryl, in fact the whole family are so much fun, and Steve completely captured the love and laughter of the day. And Sophie's bouquet by The Mulberry Tree is beyond beautiful. So put the kettle on, grab a coffee and enjoy! 


Sarah Sig Mailchimp.jpg

Featured Suppliers

Photography Bridgwood Wedding Photography

Venue Dunwood Hall

Flowers The Mulberry Tree

Car Princess Wedding Cars

Church St Chads Church, Longsdon

Grooms Bow Tie Mrs Bow Tie

Bride and Mother of the Bride Sarah Willard Couture

A Couture Wedding Dress Designed For You?

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Are you thinking of having a beautiful bridal gown, designed and handmade just for you? 

You may have fragments of ideas about your dream dress – images from childhood, dreams, a time period in history or style icons; pages ripped out of glossy magazines, or doodles on a page? Our skill is the ability to capture these ideas and use them to create an elegant and stylish gown that reflects your personality and ensures that you will see your dream dress become a reality. It’s like going on a journey – you may not quite know your destination, but you will discover things about yourself on the way and when it is over, take with you a fabulous array of memories and experiences. It’s exciting and a lot of fun! 

We begin to develop your design by listening – we want to know what ideas you might already have, what the dress will be expected to do and what the wedding venue will be like. It does help if you bring some ideas too, whether that's pictures in magazines, images on an iPad or Pinterest.  And if that all sounds a bit daunting thinking about what you think you definitely don't want is often a great starting point! 

There are plenty of dresses to try on, books and designs to look at, Vintage dresses for inspiration and rolls of fabric to choose from, beads, laces, trimmings. And we usually end up doodling our ideas on paper. Above all it's fun! You will be able be to talk through your ideas and thoughts, before having the opportunity to try on dresses and separates from the Collection. This allows you to play with different ideas and find out what style of dress will suit you – you may be surprised at how your original thoughts change in the first stages of the couture experience! 

Design Sketches

Sketches are then drawn and your measurements taken. It’s also the time to choose from an extensive range of luxurious fabrics including silks, lace and velvets; browse through boxes of trimmings; tip out jars of pearls, beads and crystals and let your imagination run wild.

“Having my dress made by Sarah was an amazing experience – she knew what I wanted even before I did and the end result was perfect.” 
“I went to Sarah with a vague idea of a look I liked, and she worked so quickly and with so much vision that it wasn’t long before we came to something truly beautiful. On our big day and still now, I have comments of how beautiful my dress was, many saying it was the loveliest one they had ever seen.” 

Once you have chosen the style and design of your dress, the next step is a block pattern fitting, an important first stage in the couture dress making process. This isn’t very exciting, but vital as the block is the first draft of the basic pattern specific to your measurements. It’s often a simple shift dress, and nothing like your wedding dress, but it’s really important to get the fit of the block right, as all the patterns for your dress come from this master template. 


For your next fitting, a ‘toile’ (a mock-up of the dress design in cotton calico) will be created. The toile fitting ensures that we are on the correct wavelength and you will begin to see the ideas that we had on paper spring into life as the is tweaked so that it is the perfect fit for you. The design can then evolve, as we keep working on this stage until we are all happy, the toile looks amazing on you, we’ve finished pinning, and usually you are so excited you want to wear the toile home! 

Beads and Sequins

Only then do we begin the dress in it’s actual fabric. The first silk fitting is exciting, as you begin to see how you’ll dress will look, how the fabric feel and falls. The dress will not be finished at this stage, but we begin to make alterations to ensure that your dress fits perfectly. There may be a couple more fittings depending on the complexity of the design, as details are added, any necessary alterations are made and the hem is finished. 

Wedding Dress Work In Progress

You will be made to feel extremely special at each fitting and be able to have an input at every stage of your dress’s development. Once all the work on your dress is complete and your anticipation and excitement levels have reached their peak, you will be able to collect your finished dress. Not only will you be thrilled with the result, you will also never want to buy another dress off the peg again! 

“Sarah is amazing, she has that rare creativity and I walked down the aisle wearing a very special dress. The whole process was an amazing experience from the first appointment through to the finished dress. I knew my dress would be just perfect.”  
“I expected a nice dress for my wedding... What I received was a one off, special, intricate masterpiece! I’ve never seen another dress like it which is exactly what I wanted! I feel very honoured to wear such a beautiful piece of fashion led wedding style! 

Unsure whether you’ll like your dress and unsure that all this may be a bit of a risk? Well we have plenty of happy customers who say that they loved the experience and that it was one of the best things about planning a wedding. And our advice, start early. If the toile stage is completed several months before your wedding date, then when people start asking about your dress you already have the answers… you’ve seen the prototype, and already know that having a dress made for you is a dream come true! 

Sarah x

Introducing The New Home Of Couture HQ

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We've moved! Up to the prettiest attic opposite the magical Sugnall Walled Garden. With beams, light, and the most wonderful view that it's hard not to feel inspired. On a sunny day we can throw open the windows and listen to the birds sing!

Sugnall Walled Garden Collage.jpg

My designs have always been inspired by nature and the beauty and fragility of flowers. So I simply can't wait for a spring afternoon that's warm enough to ponder on a bench in the garden with my sketchbook. And I can even sit in the coffee shop making plans with my notebook, a lovely cup of tea and scrumptious cake! How I love my "job"!

Atelier Sarah Willard

In fact my heart misses a beat every time I turn the key in the lock... it really is a dream come true. Our brand has always been about creating dresses with love in the heart of the countryside. And now we do!

We'd love to show you are new home. As always you can contact us, we'd love to hear from you!

Much love,

Sarah xxx

Wedding Dressmaker Designer Of The Year - A Win For Sarah At The Wedding Industry Awards

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WE DID IT!!!. We won it !!  (Finally!) Wedding Dressmaker Designer of the Year at tThe Wedding Industry Awards! Whoop!

Our couture bridal business has reached the National finals of the Wedding Industry Awards for four years in a row, and so Mr Couture and I put on our finest rags and headed for the big smoke. And enjoyed an amazing evening at the Cafe De Paris in Piccadilly. There's one thing for certain, the TWIA brigade definitely know how to put on one heck of a party! 

So the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur! Apart from trying to negotiate a staircase in heels after too much fizz to collect this stunning trophy. 

TWIA National Trophy 2017 Wedding Dressmaker Designer of the Year

The following morning we sat down to read our voter feedback. It's often an emotional moment, but ladies you reduced me to happy tears! Here's what the brides of 2016 had to say:

“Sarah truly understand my idea for an elegant classic couture dress, and made the dress exactly as I envisioned it. Her advise regarding material and cut of the dress was superb. I knew from her collection that she would be my ideal designer for what I had in mind, and she didn’t disappoint at all.”

“The moment I entered Sarah’s shop I knew I would find the dress of my dreams.The shop was different from any other bridal shop I went to,filled with creative and original dresses and the added details of buttons and thread lying around.Sarah was so friendly and exciting!After discussing what I was looking for a trying on numerous samples I honestly felt like Sarah knew what I wanted and what would suit me more than I did myself! She created the most perfect dress and visiting the shop was a joy!”

“Sarah did an amazing job for my dress and my mum’s outfit. We both felt truly spoiled by the experience and were sad when it was over because we enjoyed the whole process so much! Sarah was so friendly and clearly talented, we felt she understood exactly what we wanted and made fantastic suggestions. I had an incredible response to my dress at the wedding, much better than I could’ve imagined. I felt completely comfortable in my dress. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Sarah again. Highly recommended.”

“Sarah was fabulous, showed a genuine interest in me and my day and was always available. It was lovely having a dress designed and made just for me and any ideas I had were always taken on board and incorporated into the design. The whole process from start to finish was very exciting and always felt special.”

“Sarah made me feel completely at ease from the moment I met her. She made suggestions and the whole process was so easy and stress free.”

“Sarah was amazing. I told her what I wanted in the style of my wedding dress and she made it. It was very fitted and backless and It fit like a glove and the tailed flowed at the back just how I wanted it to. I had so many comments not just from guests but from strangers as I was going into the registry office in Stafford. I am so particular with what I wear I was so confident that Sarah would make exactly what I wanted. The dress was amazing, stunning, and I felt so special, Thanks to Sarah”

"It was a wonderful ’experience’ to work with Sarah as we evolved the design of my outfit together - nothing was too much trouble. I felt comfortable and relaxed during the whole creative process; she kept me informed at every stage, she made me feel good and we always had fun. Quite a joyous experience.” 

“Sarah is amazing. She understands exactly what you are thinking and interprets your ideas into a stunning dress and with wealth of experience she help you create the perfect dress for you. Totally bespoke. The quality of her work is outstanding. I would recommend Sarah to everyone. She makes you feel so comfortable and gives so much time to you and makes you feel so special. You never feel rushed or that you have taken too much of her time.” 

“Sarah was incredible, from the moment I walked into her shop, I knew that I was in extremely professional and talented hands. Within about 20 minutes Sarah had designed my dream dress, I received a gorgeous hand drawn design to take away with me which I’ll frame and hang up, as its totally gorgeous. Sarah kept me informed and I felt totally at ease and included in the design process. I could not have asked for more from her. My dress was incredible, so many lovely comments from our guests."

“Working with Sarah to design & develop my dress was without doubt the most enjoyable experience of planning my wedding. I knew I wanted something unique, stylish & ’vintage with an edge’ & I wanted to show my shoes off but that’s all I knew! Sarah interpreted this patchy brief with talent, flair, & patience. The result exceeded all expectation. I loved wearing my dress, it fit perfectly & I felt special & beautiful. The groom cried & his mates are still talking about it - that’s how good it was!”

“I have definite ideas of style that aren’t always easily understood by others. My brief was a tough one - a two piece with pockets that was super comfortable but also made me look fabulous. It needed to be edgy and modern with a bit of boho thrown in. It had to be a wedding dress without being ’weddingy’!! Sarah patiently extracted my ideas to gain an understanding of what I wanted whilst also guiding me on what would and wouldn’t work. The outcome was truly unique & amazing! And a lot of fun!”

“Sarah totally understood what I wanted for the day and was always offering ideas. My dress was original and I felt really special wearing a dress that was made just for me.”

“The originality of my dress was unlike any other dress I had seen before (and there were a lot!) I knew it was original and was designed and created with real care and love. She was able to sketch out what I was describing putting the picture in my head onto paper, a real expert. Sarah herself was so friendly and warm but she also had a real buzz for her work and I could feel the energy coming from as the dress evolved. I honestly looked forward with excitement to the appointments with Sarah and miss visiting the shop. The shop its self is an Aladin’s cave of buttons, pearls and vintage charm. I couldn’t stop looking around in awe whilst I was there. Thank you Sarah, I’d lost all hope of finding an original dream dress before I found you.” 

A huge thank you to our wonderful bride who took the time to vote for us, it really does mean the world. And to The Wedding Industry Awards for recognising that it is about providing an honest award that recognises quality and customer satisfaction regardless of the size of your business. It enables the little guys to compete on an even playing field, which makes winning a national award possible for a passionate artisan like me! 

So we'll celebrate for a while, but we won't let it go to our head. Winning an award does bring lots of opportunities, but don't worry we won't let it go to our heads! There's some beautiful dress designs to be created for our bespoke brides this year and we can't wait to get sewing. 

With lots of love,

The award winning and somewhere over the moon but back soon Couture Girls


Don't Miss Our Sample Sale!

Sarah ShorttComment

Our wedding dress sample sale starts this Saturday 7th January at 11am.

Many of our past season's dresses will be reduced at prices of up to 70% off. This is an great opportunity to own a silk designer wedding dress at a fraction of the price. 

Here's a few of the dresses in the sale:

We have made the dresses with lots of love and know them inside out! So we are able to undertake alterations and re-trimming too, which means a sample dress could easily be transformed into the dress of your dreams! 

“On the first visit I found a sample dress I loved and after the initial consultation Sarah took time to understand the look I wanted, and explained her ideas and the process. After this first meeting I knew that Sarah would be an excellent choice - exceptional service made completely individual and unique.”

— A Sarah Willard bride who wore a sample dress 2015

And then we only have a few evening wear pieces left, but these will be in the sale too, both online and in the studio in Eccleshall. 

We have a handful of spaces left for bespoke wedding dresses for 2017 and are now booking to the autumn of 2018.  

During the January sale new orders for bespoke or made to measure wedding dresses will also qualify for a £175 voucher for accessories, which could be a veil or a headdress to coordinate with your dress. 

We don't hold our sales very often so if you would like to book an appointment please contact us or call 07815 740116 to reserve a time .  We'd love to meet you and help you find the dress of your dreams! 


The Best Of 2016

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Wow! What a year that was! So many lovely brides, and some lovely designs await for 2017! And we created a new bridal ready to wear collection, a gorgeous new logo and rebranded our website. And winning the regional finals at The Wedding Industry Awards for the fourth time in a row!

Fascinated to see that the most popular images on Instagram were glimpses behind the scenes of our couture atelier!  We are so proud be be artisans and we really do make everything by hand ourselves!

A huge thank you to everyone who supported us this year, from our suppliers, fellow industry friends, our loyal customers, and most of all to the brides who trusted us to make the dress of their dreams. Can't wait to see what 2017 brings! Wishing you all the Happiest New Year!


A Christmas Wishlist For A Couture Girl...

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Here's our edit of present ideas for Couture Girls! Now is the time to drop that subtle ( or not so subtle?) hint! Or go on, treat yourself. You're worth it! 

What about an evening wear top? Perfect for layering for Christmas and New Year parties, and as there are only a few ready to wear sizes left, they're 25% OFF!

Stocking fillers

Or a little something for a Christmas stocking!

And it's not too late!


Europe including Ireland 18th December
UK mainland 20th December
or 21st by next day delivery (£5)

Happy last minute shopping! 


Glamorous, Timeless, Elegant, Romantic...

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Cue drum roll.........…. because we're so excited to share this with you!

Treasured… our evening wear collection

Every time we made a lace or sheer cover up for a bride, the couture girls would say that they would love one in a different colour, to wear with jeans. And so the seeds of a new collection were sewn. We just love dressing up for glamorous occasions, but we often go out for drinks to catch up with the girls, or to parties with friends for dinner. After a long day at work we also feel confident more covered up, but also want to feel very elegant and alluring too. 


So here's our solution for all you couture and fashion loving lovelies! ... Understated and stylish wardrobe essentials that can be dressed up or down depending on your mood and the occasion, that can be worn in different ways time and time again! A little bit of luxury that will take you from an informal night out with friends to a more formal dinner party and to a grand country house event too. 


Here's evening-wear separates in soft spotted tulle and sheer fabrics, delicate French  laces and soft silk satins. There's also the tiny details for which we are well known; glass pearls, seed beads and velvet ribbons that add elegance and allure. 

See more

Team with a glamorous satin skirt or frothy ballgown to make a grand statement, or over a LBD for a less formal Audrey-esque affair. Or be casual and dress down with your favourite denim and long boots too. 

Shop the collection


The photo shoot for the collection was the most amazing day at The Heath House, one of Staffordshire's most beautiful venues. The very talented Jade Osborne captured these stunning images in natural light, with gorgeous hair and make-up by Caro Millington and jewellery from Judith Brown's new Opulence Collection. 

Quintessentially British, glamorous, timeless, ethereal, elegant and romantic. Designed in our Staffordshire atelier and lovingly "Made in England". And now available to purchase online


ps. There's same day dispatch on in stock items, order by 3pm on December 22nd to secure delivery for Christmas.

Shop online

Behind The Scenes

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The "Couture Girl" on work experience...

She has grown up with the world of Couture, and for as long as she can remember fabric and thread have been part of her everyday life. She is one of the original "Couture Girls"! Even if she sometimes has to alter her own clothes!

Now Miss Willard is a keen dressage rider who would rather spend all her waking hours with her beloved horse, and left to her own devices she would sleep in the stables too. It is where she is the happiest!

She is also turning into a keen photographer,  and so this is what happens when my daughter spends some of her work experience week at the studio . Apparently it's better than being at school ;-) Well only just! And the result is some great photographs and a short film too...

And a film too ... 

So please excuse me if I'm just a teeny weeny bit proud of her!


Are You A Bespoke Bride?

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How do you know if having a dress made especially for you is the right thing to do? How do you decide whether you are a "bespoke bride"?

There are many advantages to wearing a bespoke couture wedding dress. Here's just a few. 

A bespoke dress is designed for you, right from the beginning of the process. From the design details, to what elements might flatter you most are all incorporated into the design. You can choose your fabric, the colour and all the trimmings, laces, sparkle, pearls and buttons to create the perfect unique wedding dress. And because the dress fits and flatters you, you'll feel a million dollars and so comfortable that you'll feel truly special.

Here are just a few reasons why you might be a bespoke  bride.

1) You have dreamt of your dress:

You have a very clear idea of the dress that you're going to wear on your wedding day. And you know that a shop simply won't have what you are looking for and you'll need to find someone to create your vision for you. 


2) You just can't find the dress of your dreams:

If you have been hunting or the perfect dress and simply not found it. If you like part of one dress and part of another the two elements (or more!) can be combined to create the dress of your dreams.

A bespoke designer can use their years of design experience to make sure that all your ideas are woven into a dress that works, so that your dress doesn’t look just “dressmade”, but is a truly beautiful couture design.


3) You’re  a creative soul who would love to have something made for you:

If getting married is as much about the journey as the day itself, choosing to go down the couture path will provide you with memories to treasure. It’s perhaps a once in lifetime experience to become a dress designer too, and work alongside someone to create an heirloom quality one of a kind dress to cherish. 


4) Wedding dress shopping just isn’t for you:

Perhaps you’re quite shy, and the thought of being the centre of attention in a hard sell environment fills you with dread? The last thing you want to do is stand on a box in front of a large mirror in public, in a dress that doesn't fit you, only to be told that you look amazing when you really don't feel it.

When you have a dress created for you it’s about building a relationship with the person who is going to make the most important dress of your life. There’s no selling, it’s much more "can we work together?" A skilled designer will listen because it’s an emotional experience for the both of us and we all need to love the dress we are creating too. 


5) You’re not Miss Average:

Don’t worry no-one is! We’re certainly not! But if for example you are are tall, or petite you might find yourself worrying about whether your dress will fit and later you in all the right ways.

There is nothing more flattering than a dress designed especially for you, made to your own measurements and cut to flatter you. You can create illusions of being taller, slimmer, curvier and give yourself the inner confidence to feel so completely comfortable that you can relax and enjoy your day. 


6) You might just be a bit of a control freak!

You don’t have to worry about all the finer details at the beginning. Or about whether you will change size in the months leading up to the wedding day. You’ll get to see your dress gradually develop months before your wedding, as its created in a toile, (or mock-up in cotton first .) There’s no anxiety about whether you made the right decision about a dress many weeks ago, and no “Don’t Tell The Bride” nerve-wracking big reveal moment! And you can select every element of your dress, from the fabric to the buttons, beads and trimmings too. 


We love creating bespoke wedding dresses and know that the most beautiful dresses are the ones that are a joy to make and handcrafted with love. 

How much does this cost?

Well not as much as you think. For about the same price as  a quality off the peg dress you can have your bespoke dream dress, designed, cut to your individual measurements and tailored to fit and flatter you perfectly.

And it will be a completely unique dress, no-one else will have one exactly like it! And you’ll treasure the memories of a truly special experience forever. 


PS. We undertake a limited number of bespoke commissions each year. For further information please contact the studio. 

A Country House, A Secret Garden & A Staffordshire Bride... An Inspirational Shoot

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Buried deep in the Staffordshire countryside is a country house, filed with heirlooms of past generations and a secret garden, with an ancient stone wall and blood red fairytale roses.


And there's polished wood interiors, sandstone, high garden walls with climbing roses, and a table underneath the trees piled high with vases and Staffordshire china.

And so we were inspired to use this as the inspiration for a photoshoot, with our "Staffordshire Bride", whose wardrobe includes Wellington boots, a riding jacket with a very modern take on tweed and a couture dress or several. Here is someone who is at Glastonbury one week, a private view in London the next, and who comes home to celebrate her wedding.

Sublime photographs by Caroline Burley captured our couture dresses in these elegant surroundings, with beautiful blooms and styling by the extremely talented Sean Hirst . Hair by Francescos in the village of Eccleshall and hair and make-up by Fiona Brunt . 


A huge thank you to everyone who took part. 


Featured Suppliers

Dresses Sarah Willard Couture | Hair by Francesco Group Eccleshall | Flowers and styling by Sean Hirst Flowers Etc | Photography by Caroline Burley | Make up by Fiona Brunt

A Truly Couture Dress

Sarah Shortt1 Comment

Today  I'm sharing with you the story of a very special dress. So reach for your tea and be prepared for an incredible amount of sheer prettiness.

One of the joys of being a Couture designer is the ability to create something completely unique, to take a brief and an inspiration and push the boundaries to make a piece of art. This commission was certainly that. It was and never will be "just a garment."

Here is a dress created for a Gatsby party, vintage inspired, but certainly not costumey, fashion forward and modern too.

Oh my... cue lots of thought and lots of dreaming. 

Our "Great Gatsby" Pinterest board.

Our "Great Gatsby" Pinterest board.

A mood board of ideas

A mood board of ideas

We, ( and it is "we" because my client and I worked closely together,) began an inspiration board on Pinterest. A completely brilliant way of collecting ideas, refining a brief and establishing a design direction.  

And then the fabric sourcing began. We loved the mix of soft colours and metallics. Our shortlist of gold, silver, pastel colours and sparkles made us feel so inspired.

Once we had set upon this gold lace and soft pink silk satin, we allowed the fabrics to dictate a direction. We loved the dresses worn by Carey Mulligan in the film "The Great Gatsby", and wanted to create the soft prettiness of some of the dresses she wore as Daisy Buchanan. Although the 1930s was the Art Deco period, we wanted to capture the softness of layers of bias cut fabrics and floating panels that would fly with movement and dance. Flowers were cut out and used as applique on the high low hem, both on the lace layer and the linings underneath.  

.... soft, pretty, organic and dreamy!  

And then we fell in love with the idea of a detachable cape, with delicate appliqué, using the edge of the lace and the flowers too, 

And beaded with tiny glass seed pearls in gold and dusky pinks. And vintage sequins too. 

For couture designers this was a dream come true. We were given the opportunity to create something truly special that was hand finished with lots of love. We hope ( actually we're pretty sure we know for certain!) that this couture piece will be treasured for many years to come. 

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Our Sample Sale Is Nearly Here!

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Sarah has been designing her brand new bridal collection, so some of our sample dresses need to find happy "brides to be" to treasure them. Sarah's little boutique is becoming  so crowded, a treasure trove of bridal beauties, and some! We thought we had so much space, but our little house of bridal treasures has shrunk again! So much as we love them,  we will be selling off our existing collection dresses to make way for our brand new designs. 

Our next sample sale will begin on Saturday 19th March 2016. It’s a special opportunity to own a designer  wedding dress at a fraction of the normal price. The sale includes beautiful handcrafted silk wedding dresses in sizes 8-12 that capture the air and romance of a bygone era, Vintage inspired but Modern too! 


There's also flower girl dresses, suits for Mother of the Bride and Vintage frocks all to be found new homes at a fraction of the usual price you would expect to pay. 

A sample dress is a great opportunity to buy a couture gown at a discount, and because we design and make them ourselves they can be adapted and re-trimmed too.  too.  Sarah will be on hand to help you make your selection  and advise on how a frock can be altered to make it your dream dress. 

"On the first visit I found a sample dress I loved and after the initial consultation Sarah took time to understand the look I wanted, and explained her ideas and the process. After this first meeting I knew that Sarah would be an excellent choice - exceptional service made completely individual and unique."


Here's just a few of the dresses available in the sale. You can see more here.


In addition if you order a brand new made to measure collection wedding dress between 19th March and 15th April 2016 you will also qualify for a voucher for up to £175 of accessories. We are now taking bookings through to summer 2017.

Join us from 12 noon until 4pm on Saturday 19th March 2016. See you soon!

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Hearts, Lace And Lots Of Love

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The studio is based in a Georgian dolls house with Dickensian windows. And although we don't have large picture windows in which to display our dresses we do have tiny planes of glass to embellish. Ours is a "Curiosity Shop" reminiscent of the "Tailor of Gloucester."

We have scraps of fabrics, boxes of lace and jars of beads and trimmings. And we used these to create Valentine's hearts to hang in our windows.

Wired and backed with organza to give a sheer structure and embellished with bows, flowers and tiny pearls and crystals...

So here's our pretty little shop, with lace love hearts in the windows...


Hope your Valentine's day is filed with love and life's tiny pleasures too!

Sarah x

All The Lovely Things Our Brides Say About Us...

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A few days ago Mr Couture and I made a trip to London for the glittering National Final of The Wedding Industry Awards at the Cafe de Paris. Well... what a night... ! The Wedding Industry folks sure know how to put on THE party of the year! 

Acrobats, magic, music, lots of friends to catch up with and oops ... far too many cocktails! 

We didn't win the National Final, but hey there's always next year! But were so honoured to have made it to London where we had a completely brilliant time celebrating as Regional Winner West Midlands Best Dressmaker Designer.

The day after the awards is when we finally get to see what our 2015 brides had to say about us! The following morning, with just a bit of a head ache and sore feet (when will I ever learn!)  I was in need of a strong coffee (or several!!) . And with blurry eyes I could finally open my voter feedback.

The first of several coffees! 

The first of several coffees! 

Oh WOW! … Not only did our 2015 brides trust Anna and I to create the most important dress in a lifetime, but they completely bowled us over with the wonderful things they had to day about us! Here's just a snippet of the fantastic feedback we received:

"Sarah does not keep up with current fashions, she keeps a hop, skip and a jump ahead of them. It is rare to find someone with both the creative vision to lead a market, the intricate seamstress talent to realise every idea to such a high standard and the people skills to source and manage her team and make each and every customer feel like they are receiving a premium service for their special day. What more could a bride want from her dressmaker?"

"Sarah is amazing, she has that rare creativity and I walked down the aisle wearing a very special dress. The whole process was an amazing experience from the first appointment through to the finished dress. I knew my dress would be just perfect."

"Sarah just has that intangible creative touch, that special indefinable something, that makes her creations stand out from the rest."

"From the minute I met Sarah in her wonderful shop I knew I wanted her to make my wedding dress, from the initial discussions right up to the morning of our wedding Sarah and Anna were fantastic, putting my ideas into reality adding their own touches and dealing with a Christmas bride! They made me feel like I was the only customer and nothing was a problem (even making a dog collar to match my dress!) My dress was perfect and I felt like a princess when I walked up the aisle."

"Sarah made the whole experience of developing and perfecting my wedding outfit a truly enjoyable and memorable experience. At each stage I was made to feel special and Sarah made every effort to produce a dress that I was delighted with, I loved wearing my outfit."

Needless to say, we love our jobs more than ever right now!! Thank you lovelies!