Proudly We Were Voted The Best!

Abi K Rob national win

Well January went off with a bang! So on January 15th, as proud double regional winners for The Wedding Industry Award’s (East of England) ‘Menswear Retailer of the Year’ and ‘Bridal Retailer of the Year’ – we were invited along to the national finals in London!  We got all dressed up and I squeezed into the sparkliest of all sparkly bodycon dresses (brave yes I know, lol) and hair sprayed my beehive hair do to within an inch of its life! I then tottered along in ridiculously high heels side by side with Husband Rob and our lovely Shop Manager Kirsty to The Café De Paris and it has to be said it all felt rather exciting, swanky and glamorous!

Chink Chink, Cheers!

Chink Chink, Cheers!

We sipped champagne, nibbled on divine delights and excitedly awaited the awards!  It was an absolutely sensational evening because we were awarded the UK’s ‘Best Menswear Retailer of the Year’ and also received a highly commended trophy for the ‘Best UK Bridal Retailer of The Year’….  We were all so so so so so thrilled, excited and utterly over the moon!  Customers voted in their hundreds and we have received all of the feedback from the awards team.  We are a passionate and enthusiastic team hell bent on delivering exceptional customer service and an amazing shopping experience, these awards mean the blinkin’ world to me, my Husband Rob and the team because they are voted for by you our amazing customers, and it is not based on the sheer quantity of votes it’s based on scores and detailed feedback and Judges at a seriously high level by industry professionals I respect a great deal.  From the bottom of our hearts THANK YOU…. We’re so flippin’ proud we even put them in our  window…..Awards

Abigail’s Collection Of Awards

So we are feeling very happy, and proud and, well, pleased as punch with ourselves right now!

We’re really thrilled and excited to report that on Monday night we scooped two impressive industry award titles at a prestigious awards event in Norfolk.  The Wedding Industry Awards (TWIA) are the only client-voted regional and national awards in the wedding industry and bravely earlier this year we decided to enter two categories; Menswear Retailer and Best Bridal Retailer.

It was an epic evening as we won in both categories for the East Anglian region!  If you know us as a business then you might have found that we’re all genuinely passionate about delivering a high level of customer service and strive to be the best that we can but of course we also know that the East of England has a lot of passionate and committed wedding suppliers, so to win these awards based on votes and customer feedback in both categories against some very strong businesses was simply flippin awesome!

With over 3000 established bridal retailers in the UK and over 100 in Essex alone.  It’s a significantly competitive industry and we retailers have to work hard to impress!  Our amazing customers often send us the most wonderful cards and thank you gifts following their wedding days but this was the ultimate thank you from our customers who voted for us!  Winning these awards means so so much; we literally haven’t stopped smiling since our names were announced!

The team now go forward to the National Finals of The Wedding Industry awards held in London on 15th January 2015.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU if you voted for us, it was the best Christmas present ever!

Buying, Boogieing and Cheesy Chips!

We’re just back from Harrogate (the British Bridal trade expo) where we do our wedding dress, bridesmaid, Mother of the Bride and menswear buying each season and Boy oh Boy we are sooooo excited!  We’ve bought some more gorgeous new curvy girl wedding dresses for our beautiful plus size ladies from the award winning Sonsie label.  Also selected were some extremely stunning new wedding dresses for our main 2015/16 bridal collection. We’ve got lace, we’ve got texture, we’ve got drama and we’ve got elegance!!  The new bridal styles that we’ve chosen from our designers are simply divine, we are thrilled with the new designs! And we’ve totally nailed our new look Mother of the Bride collection with some beautiful new designs sourced for their drop dead gorgeous look and ultra impressive (and accessible) Mother of the Bride price tag!!!

Rob got busy shopping for the latest for our trendy Gents in The Groom’s Room where we continue to offer tailor made, bespoke and ultra smart hire wedding suits, all at amazing prices and still extremely well made and cut! Before visiting Harrogate, we asked you, our amazing customers what it was that you wanted from us and basically that’s what we’ve just popped out and bought!  Sure we went a little nuts with all of the razzle and the dazzle!  We swooned at the swishy fabrics on the catwalk and Oooo’d at the bridal bling, you could say that we’re all terribly excited and we just know that our Brides and Grooms are going to L O V E what Abigail’s Collection has to offer going forward!

Eeeeek, excited, us?  Naaaah, not much lol lol …. just wait and see ….

PS – Okay sure, we didn’t win Menswear Retailer of the Year this time which was disappointing  BUT we’re not really doing badly having won 16 awards to date including two Bridal Buyer Oscars and 5 customer service beaut’s so all in all we can’t really complain about our awards record and anyway, you win some, you lose some….. and yes we really did party the night away regardless, it was as they say, a total blast and we had such a great evening.  The glamour and glitz came to a major halt however when we decided that we needed cheesy chips in order to avoid a major hangover!  So we all tottered (in our tuxes,  heels and long evening gowns) to a classy kebab!!  And yes I can confirm that thankfully hangovers were averted, phew!

A Big Day, A Big Deal.

Spains Hall Shoot EDITS043 (Copy)
Let’s face it – your wedding day is a BIG day!  It’s huge!  It’s the one day when you really have to look and feel your most fabulous!  It’s the one day when all eyes are on you, when you have to dig deep into that bag of positive self esteem and drag from it all of the self confidence that you possibly can.  I’ve been there too and although in the main I’m quite a confident person I’ll be honest looking back at my wedding day and (particularly) to the build up to it I know that I was actually extremely nervous and the pressure of how I was going to look for what felt like the performance of a lifetime was actually a lot for me to deal with!  I got stressed, I got vain, I got emotional and I got caught up with the notion of chasing a sort of bridal perfection!!!

I think these days it’s a big deal for most Brides whatever their look, size, shape or physical insecurities are – And most Brides have them you know; at the time of my wedding I was insecure about a tonne of stuff!  For me it was my ears (one’s smaller, no hole, it’s deformed basically), my boobs – back then I was a 32AA (concave), Oh and I hated my upper arms (still do) and at a dress size 14 I needed a wedding dress that was going to zinch me in at the waist and skim off my curvy hips.  Oh yes and to top it all off I get that major blotchy red rash up my neck and face when I’m feeling self conscious, or if I drink wine!??! Both of which I did on my wedding day – All in all quite marvellous, not, lol….

But looking back and in the grand scheme of things I didn’t really have a great amount to worry about.  I was marrying the man that loved me (and still does, mwahh), that wanted to spend the rest of his life with me warts and all (nope, don’t have any of those)…..  my friends, family and loved ones were there were to support me on my big day, not judge me.  And to be honest any that might have dared to ‘judge’, well quite frankly they could jolly well judge off!

The moral of this here little blog is this; Celebrate your imperfections, celebrate your bridal style whatever that may be, bin the OTT vanity, have fun planning your wedding, don’t let the bridal pressure of looking amazing get to you and spoil it.  Remember the day is all about you and your loved one saying ‘I do’, it may feel like a performance but in truth it’s your wedding ceremony, and it will, I’m pretty sure by a beautiful, fabulous day! …. Don’t forget for morale support, styling advice and assistance with any aspect of your wedding day outfits, just shout, we’re here to help you any which way we can x

We just love Mia Mia!

Adaline and GwenOver the years we’ve always loved chatting to Alan Hannah and his Wife Marguerite, they’re an extremely likeable and talented husband and wife bridal dress designing duo that head up the fabulous bridal business that is ‘Alan Hannah’.

We’re absolutely thrilled to be Essex Stockists of the Alan Hannah ‘Mia Mia’ wedding dress collection … And it so utterly beautiful! Mia Mia by Alan Hannah offers brides a slice of couture at an accessible price whilst still using luxurious fabrics and detailing. MiaMia gowns really are very affordable, retailing at between just £1100 and £1800.

The gowns have a bohemian feel with beautiful touches of beading which highlight the fluid silhouettes and lovely movement of the gowns.  Silk duchesse, silk slipper satin and silk organza are the fabrics of choice.  These dresses are charming, elegant and graceful!  Stylish and thoroughly gorgeous!

Legato and EstelleMarguerite Hannah trained as a couturier in Cyprus and has been the designer for the Alan Hannah label since 1990.  In 1995, Marguerite won the first of eight British Bridal Awards presented by Condé Nast Brides in the UK.  Marguerite has won a number of awards recognising her unmistakeable talent in bridal couture, including Bridal Buyer Designer of The Year, Retail Bridal Association Designer of The Year and British Bridal Association Designer of The Year.

We welcome these beautiful gowns to our shiny silver dress rails and CANNOT wait to show them all off to our beautiful brides whom we know will, just like us, fall completely in love!

The Pleasure is All Ours!!

Abi-52I’m not going to lie, it’s hard work owning a bridal shop sometimes, especially a busy one with lots of customers and lots of staff!  But the truth is (get ready for the cheese) aside from being a Mummy it is one of the most rewarding, challenging and genuinely wonderful things that I will ever do – no doubt!  Sometimes something happens at work and I’m reminded of what an absolute privilege it is being able to assist with the styling of so many amazing people for one of the biggest days of their lives.  And sometimes I’m reminded what an absolute difference that we as bridal consultants can make.  This letter made me cry.  I decided I’d like to share it with you……  That’s all….

Dear Abigail and Team … I’ve tried so many times to start this letter of thanks and upmost gratitude to you personally and to Rob and the team and somehow I can’t muster the words to explain how amazing you all are. The battle that I went through, even to get a dress was outrageous.  As a plus sized lady the amount of shops I visited across Essex and beyond and the amount of times I was told ‘we have nothing in your size’ was heart breaking.  I found so many people that generally couldn’t give a care in the world as to my feelings. Then by chance after really long day I walked past Abigail’s Collection. I rang the bell and was greeted by Rob, he said you had to make an appointment instantly I thought ”not interested in me” but Rob said ”please make an appointment, Abi and the team would love to help you” …. I made the appointment for the following week and from the very first moment I came to see you I felt equal to other brides and not a burden.  Instead you sat with me and my Mum and you listened to me bang on about a dress (you had) and that I’d based everything around it.  And as polite and friendly as you are, you told me that it wasn’t the dress that you could see me in and that it just wasn’t right for me. You then told me that you had a vision of me in another dress but you were a little nervous to show me it but when you did I instantly said ”wow it is beautiful”.  I tried it on ……….. I never felt embarrassed or uncomfortable and you made me feel very special and that hour and a half consultation was all about me. So private and personal.  You wouldn’t even let me have a sneaky peek until you accessorised me. My mum cried and so did I.  When I turned to look myself I was blown away!  I was waiting on that reaction from my mum from day one and I never got it, not until we came to you.  One consultation, one dress and you knew.  After that I bought my daughter’s dress and all the Boy’s hired suits in The Groom’s Room.  Since then I’ve sent four friends to see you, you have looked after all of them and they have all said the same ”amazing”.  Anyone I know who’s getting married or even wants a suit, I send them to you. There is a true gift to what you do, the ability to make all shapes and sizes desirable and the customer service you provide is nothing other than outstanding and second to none.  Any plus size lady or anyone out there who wants to feel truly beautiful should without a doubt, come and see you all.  I love your honesty and passion for what you do. In fact they should make articles about you in magazines, I’d be the first to comment on you! I’m more disappointed that you don’t cater for the everyday fashion industry too.  So that’s why you received the business awards that you have, and so you should!  I only wish that there was other ways that people could know how wonderful you all are then just a simple letter from me saying so.  It just doesn’t do you justice.  I have no doubt in my mind that you will have a blooming bridal shop for many years to come.  Most of all  thank you for being truly amazing and making all of my dreams come true ….


Who Says Romance is Dead?

So did you and your other half do anything super duper special n’ romantic for Valentines day?  Yep? Well we did too – although some would say we got sucked into the commercial vacuum that is ‘V day’ too….  My brother Alex calls it ‘Clintons Card Day’ which makes me laugh but in truth I love a bit of romance and I’m a lucky lady really because 13 years later and I still get beautiful roses and dinner together somewhere special….. My husband Rob arranges it always, he is a total darling, I love him!

This year we popped to one of our all time favourite restaurants; ‘The Blue Strawberry’ at Hatfield Peveral, it was absolutely wonderful as usual and anyone who has visited there will know what I mean when I say that it really is one of the best eateries in Essex, if you haven’t been then what are you waiting for?  Get your bums along; the food is excellent, the service unbeatable and atmosphere utterly wonderful….

Unusually the tranquillity at The Blue Strawberry was interrupted for a few minutes this valentines …. A couple booked into another part of the restaurant had an explosive and very public row, it was over as quickly as it started and really didn’t spoil the evening for anyone else, in-fact in an awkward kinda’ way I think everyone felt lucky that it wasn’t them involved with the situation and snuggled back to their dinner and intimate conversation with ease.  No idea why or what was really going on but put it this way; the language was remarkably loud and extremely colourful, accusations flew and you could say that their valentines day dinner was anything but romantic!!  Ours was lovely though and their public display of disrespect, dishonour and blatantly crude and distasteful behaviour served as a great reminder of how lucky we are to have each other… Hope you had a Happy Valentines Day and for anyone who didn’t go out of their way to show their other half how much they care, well, better late than never, do something lovely this week instead!



Yaaay!!! Wedding Ideas Award Finals – Whoop Woop!

Thank you vote pic

Okay so yeah, sure – You could say that we are a little bit chuffed!!!  As if our year couldn’t get any better??!  Not only have the team and I enjoyed a record few months at the shop and then boogied our pants off at the amazing charity party that we threw at Prested Hall where we raised a tonne of cash for the Help for Heroes charity but we’ve just had some more awesome news….

The team and I are well known for entering awards competitions and this year we thought, why not?  Let’s go for  it and enter The Wedding Ideas Mag awards.  We haven’t entered them before so we decided it was about time that we did so and anyway I watched the party stream live last year and though ‘Hmmm, that looks like a LOT of fun, we must enter, we must go!’

So the Wedding Ideas Team hold totally totally fab do in London where the cream of the crop get together and celebrate excellence in the wedding industry, it takes place in January and it’s when the winners will be announced.  In order to make the finals you have to persuade your customers and business friends to place a vote for you online.  So we launched a ‘Vote For Us’ campaign via Facebook and twitter last month and I understand from my team that all sorts of pleading, emotional blackmailing and nagging took place via e-mail … lol ….. Well, we’re delighted to say that it was all very much worth while because enough of you thought we were worth a vote and this sees us proudly sitting in the top 6 bridal shops now competing for the UK’s ‘Best Bridal Retailer’ title.  How absolutely fantabulous is that???

The next step is the judging process during which we shall no doubt be placed under all sorts of secret scrutiny!  We’re looking forward to it and I can’t wait to celebrate (win or lose) with a great media team, other great bridal shops and businesses and with my wonderful team at Abigail’s Collection & The Groom’s Room… Well done Guys, am really proud and a MASSIVE THANK YOU if you voted for us.  It means a huge amount to us all, lots of love!  xx

WI mag Finalist


Bridal Interview with Rachel

Bride’s Credentials…

Rachel Forbes-Pyman (née Livermore). Age 27. Home town Colchester. Now lives in London. Enjoys friends, baking, cocktails and being outdoors.

rachel 1

A bit about the Groom…

Jolyon Forbes-Pyman. Age 27. Home town Colchester. Now lives in London. Enjoys anything sport related.

Wedding date 14th September 2013

I have known Jolyon longer than I care to remember! He used to go to cricket coaching with my cousins. As he reminded everyone during his speech his first memory of me is as a 6 year old when my Dad was combing through my hair in order to tie it back for a Gymnastics class.

We then parted ways until we were at Secondary School. Although we were good friends we never dated. We remained close friends through our time at University and then one fateful summer we both seemed to have a movie moment and realise that we wanted to be more than friends. Jolyon then hounded me until I agreed to go to Southampton for a weekend to visit some mutual friends. We went out for dinner, and the rest is history! I fell in love with him almost immediately.

The proposal… We both very much enjoy being outdoors and often go to my Step-Mum’s holiday home in Wales. It was whilst on a holiday there that I realised that Jolyon was the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We were there again for a long weekend in February and were out on a long hike. We reached the summit and stopped for a picnic and to enjoy the beautiful views. As we were packing up to carry on I turned round and Jolyon was on one knee! I was so shocked that I shouted ‘No!’ in disbelief. Obviously tears and a ‘yes’ quickly followed this!

Jolyon had remembered that one of my old work colleagues husband’s designs and makes engagement rings so we then had a very fun day looking for ideas followed by a day with Lea and multiple stones to choose from.

rachel 4

What shopping at Abigail’s Collection / The Groom’s Room like…

We are both very glad that we decided to shop at Abigail’s.

I booked in for an appointment and from the moment I arrived the team were helpful and welcoming. The delicious cake in the reception area helped! Having been to a couple of other shops it was so nice to meet Katie, who genuinely cared about the sort of dress that I wanted. The dressing rooms are beautiful and individual. Katie is very talented and when I was unable to choose between two dresses, she was able to help design additional touches so that the dress I chose included the elements from the other dress that I also loved.

Jolyon also decided to use the Groom’s room for his suits. Rob was excellent and managed to co-ordinate suits for all of our bridal party. He also managed to source material for Jolyon’s cravat so that it exactly matched the colour of our bridesmaid dresses.

The wedding venue…

We got married at All Saints Church in Great Horkesley and then had the reception at Dove Barn in Groton. We chose to have a peach and mint green theme. Jolyon even arranged a surprise green camper van to take my Dad and me to the Church. We decorated the venue with ribbons and home made pompoms. Susan May created the most stunning flowers and was able to wire in green succulents so that I could recreate a beautiful and unusual bouquet that I had seen online. We had an old Polaroid camera so that guests could write a message under their picture for the guest book. I also made activity packs for the children to use during the speeches and there was a small room at Dove Barn where they could play. Gemma Haining provided the most delicious food and we are still having requests to find out where she got the cheese from for her Suffolk cheese board.

rachel 3

Most memorable moments…

– Having a fabulous morning of bubbles, giggles and make up (Thank you Blush Studios)

– Walking down the stairs in my dress so that my Dad could see me for the first time.

– Having some of our guests sneak past me to run down the aisle as they had arrived late.

– Kissing Jolyon as we became Mr and Mrs

– Doing the Bolt and Mobot as we walked out the Church

– Taking a time out for some photos at Dove Barn (Thank you Lewis Cabuche)

– The speeches.

– Having EVERYONE on the dance floor for our ‘Power half hour’ of favourite songs.

– Sophie catching the bouquet (not that it was planned) and then Steve popping the question a few months after the wedding.

Advice for Brides to be….

– Don’t lose sight of reality; there is no excuse for being a bridezilla.

– Learn to love pintrest other wise you may forget some of your best ideas.

– If you so wish plan to the second in the weeks preceding the wedding, but on the day, let it go!

– Everyone says it, but its true. The day goes in the blink of an eye. Step back and take some time to appreciate what is happening.

Bridal interview with Robina Chappell

Bride’s Credentials…

Robina Chappell (was Clough). Had my 36th birthday 3 days before our wedding, which actually meant that nearly everyone totally forgot about it this year! We moved to Essex from south London as soon as we got engaged so we could start our new life together somewhere we really wanted to live. I wouldn’t count myself as a particularly “girly” girl (my main hobby is golf for a start) and I absolutely hate being the centre of attention but I still wanted to be a princess just for this one day.

A bit about the Groom…

David Chappell. He’s my toy boy – a whole 10 months younger than me. Fortunately his favourite hobby is also golf, so it’s great that we have something we can enjoy together.

We met on a commuter train when we both lived in south London. He started talking to me out of the blue, which, for anyone who has lived in London will know, is a really controversial thing to do on the daily commute. It took a few more chance meetings (and some not so chance meetings I later found out) before we actually went on our first date – which was a very romantic trip to buy bathroom tiles.

What she loves about him…

Well of course I think he’s gorgeous and sexy, but I love him for how much he cares about things – like me, our cats, even my goldfish. In some ways he’s a super geek- and I love him for that too – just my kind of man.

The proposal…

It was Christmas day 2011. We were staying at my parents and the whole family took the usual early Christmas day walk around a local country park. It was freezing cold, so I’d borrowed his jumper, which didn’t match my outfit, and I was wearing a Santa hat to keep my head warm. I looked super sexy. He started telling me how much he loved me and then produced “the box”. I cried and put the ring on, but I’m told in all the emotion that I didn’t actually say yes for quite some time. He knew I would anyway. I found out later he had asked my dad’s permission the night before – I can’t believe they kept it a secret even just for one night!

What shopping at Abigail’s Collection / The Groom’s Room like…

I chose Abigail’s as my first port of call from all the positive reviews I’d seen. I’m sure wherever you go to buy your dress it will be an exciting experience, but as soon as I walked in the door with my mum and my chief bridesmaid as my “advisors” I got that “it’s all about me” feeling straight away (which, let’s be honest, it is!) I had no idea what kind of dress I wanted, so I was willing to try on a whole range of different styles. I fell in love with the first dress I tried on, well the top half anyway and although I tried others, I kept coming back to the first one. But I wasn’t so keen on the skirt part of the dress, it was too big for my liking, so I thought that was that. But the girls at Abigail’s knew that this particular designer would be able to change it a little and worked with me to make it into the perfect dress. The team also helped me pick out all my accessories, making great suggestions based on what would work with the style of dress and my own personality. The whole experience was absolutely fantastic.

Because I’d come home and raved about Abigail’s my husband-to-be decided to check out the Groom’s Room. Neither him, nor any of the male members of either of our families, are in the slightest bit interested in clothes shopping, so I thought it would be a bit of a chore for them – kind of walk in, we’ll have those and off we go again. But actually, they were in there longer than I was choosing my dress! I got a phone call asking me to go and approve their final choices and I was stunned at the fantastic combinations of suits, waistcoats and ties they had come up with, with Rob’s help.

We also got our bridesmaids dresses from Abigail’s, which was a really light-hearted and fun afternoon out. It was nice that I could sit back and relax (and enjoy a glass of wine!) whilst the girls paraded about it some beautiful (and some quite frankly shocking) dresses in a whole range of styles and colours.

The wedding venue…

The West Wing at Ickworth in Bury St Edmunds. It’s beautiful old building set in amazing grounds, but with a contemporary feel inside. It was only the second venue we visited and we both knew it was perfect straight away.

Wedding day theme…

(Possibly …Any special colour or use of theme in any way)

We didn’t have a particularly theme – we wanted quite a traditional wedding, rather than the currently popular country/vintage/shabby chic themes. Our main colour was navy blue, which was both of ours favourite colour (well actually I love pink, but I knew that wasn’t going to work for either the groomsmen or the bridesmaids). As a lover of diamonds and all things sparkly, I wanted to incorporate this into the theme as well, which I mostly did with all my bridal accessories and the lighting effects in the venue.

Special touches…

(Possibly …. Anything unique, handmade, special guests, anything unusual for something old something blue etc?)

One of our favourite special touches was something my chief bridesmaid arranged as a surprise for David and I. Obviously our cats couldn’t be with us for the day – but she had someone make two very good sugar replicas that appeared on the cake table before the reception. Seeing them for the first time actually brought a tear to my eye.

Most memorable moments…

Possibly my dad’s mobile phone ringing just before he walked me down the aisle! Actually, it was the wedding ceremony itself, when we said our vows and exchanged rings. I remember feeling so happy and the beaming smiles on our faces (and those of our parents) said it all. We even high-fived after. The speeches really stuck in my mind too. All three of the chaps managed to get the guests both laughing and crying

Any ‘wish I had not dones?…

I don’t think there’s anything I wish I hadn’t done – the whole day was just what we wanted it to be. Perhaps what I would have done in hindsight is delegate more. I’m a bit of a control freak and arranged most of our wedding single handedly. On the actual day, there were a few (albeit minor) things that weren’t quite right (not helped by the fact that our venue wedding planner wasn’t there on the day) and it would have been less stressful if we had perhaps given the bridesmaids and the groomsmen a bit more prepping on what was supposed to be what, rather than having to deal with things during the event. But, they were such minor things in the grand scheme of things and none of the guests even noticed and everything ran pretty smoothly.

Money saving methods…

Find out what your friends and family are good at and how they might be able to help! A distant relative made our beautiful wedding cake as a gift to us. Our photographer was my oldest friend who has recently set up a wedding photography business, so whilst we still had to pay her, we got a lot more than we would have with someone else. Another friend works in the corporate branding field and was able to arrange massive discounts on the printing of the wedding stationary I had designed.

Advice for Brides to be….

One of the best bit of advice I was given was to take time during the actually big day to stop, breathe and take a mental picture of everything going on our around you. It’s true that the day goes by so quickly, but because I took this advice on board, there aren’t any little details that I don’t remember and I can still run the whole thing through my head as if it were on video. Of course, it helps if you don’t get too carried away with the champers as well.