I would describe Victoria as that classy lady you want to take with you to choose your bridal wedding gown. She is stylish, incredibly personable and knows what she likes. She knows a thing or two (or five) about designers but above all, what works and what doesn’t! I was fortunate to meet her at a whitewed.directory networking meeting a few months ago.
When chatting with Victoria, the first thing that struck me was her passion for her luxe bridal boutique and the experience she provides. I thought to myself, I have to go and see for myself!
After chatting some more, we set up a meeting for me to visit Willoughby & Wolf which is nestled in the popular market town of Marlborough.
After a brief trip over the glorious Marlborough Downs I arrived and parked up. This wonderfully delicious boutique is at the town hall end of the High Street right next to a zebra crossing, which may I add was very handy. Just approaching the shop front I felt excited at what I was about to find inside. When I opened the door my jaw just about hit the floor, it far exceeded my expectations.
I can honestly say, I’ve never seen anything like it. The swanky name above the door, Willoughby & Wolf really fits. Unique, stunning gowns and pretty lighting against such a sumptuous background of bluey green walls (Farrow & Ball none the less!) with lots of gold accents. It was such a treat for my little eyes.
Another thing that was immediately apparent to me was the amount of gowns there were. This luxe bridal boutique is obviously aiming at the stylish bride whose looking for something a little different for her wedding day. Taking a minimalistic approach, not a sea of white but a great selection of individually chosen designer wedding dresses, carefully arranged to show of each dress.
Now I see for myself why Victoria was so passionate about her wonderfully special boutique, I would be too if it were mine.
After I stopped myself dreaming we sat down with a cuppa and starting chatting once again. I was curious to find out a little more about Victoria; has she always been in the wedding industry? Victoria told me that in 2016 she tried to find a wedding dress for her own wedding but simply couldn’t find a dress that was unique and classy, up to date but not a fashion statement. Victoria told me that:
“just about every dress I tried on, there was no originality, they were all just carbon copies and nothing that really made me fall in love. I’m a second time around bride that wanted something classic and a little bit different. It was not a great experience. I have to say, I’ve had a better experience buying a handbag than buying a wedding dress”.
She told me this is where her idea came from to open a luxe bridal boutique in a town where her passion for excellent service and giving her clients an amazing experience would be appreciated.
In 2016 Victoria finally found her dream dress. She tells me she visited shop after shop and tried on way to many dresses. She tells me:
“the final shop I visited, the lady was completely honest to tell me I was trying on the wrong dresses and asked me to try on the dress that I actually bought. She gave me plenty of time to think and she didn’t rush me. I remember thinking to myself she is more like it”
At the time Victoria was working in the Justice sector with young offenders, which she really enjoyed. At the end of 2017 she took redundancy, then did A LOT of day time TV watching (especially Saying Yes to the Dress!!). After doing some consultancy work, 2018 was knocking at the door. I hated what I was doing and knew I was destined for better things. After her awful experience of finding her own wedding dress she decided her new destiny was to set up a luxe bridal boutique.
“I absolutely love doing research so I set to it and looked at designers, buying trends, colours, what brides ‘really’ want but above all, where to have my boutique. My hubby and I spent hours looking at different shops to rent and finally, fell in love with where we are now. Its super good for all road networks, dead close to the M4 with lots of parking and its in Marlborough which has a bustling high street too.”
After reams of spreadsheets, long hours of research and agonising over paint colours Willoughby & Wolf opened it’s doors on the 20th September 2018. Full of beautiful designer wedding dresses and a huge amount of appeal it has to be the first bridal boutique on your list.
As mentioned earlier, Victoria is a stickler for research and keeping up to date with current trends. Visiting the Harrogate Wedding Show and Barcelona to buy her high end designer gowns is just the tip of the iceberg. She is always on Instagram stalking styles and what’s new but staying true to her brand and the general ethos of the boutique. Victoria tells me
“There are so many amazing designers out there, I have to be careful not to over stock and give to much choice. I have 6 designers and all are different and quite unique in their offerings”
Willoughby & Wolf is all about the luxe bridal experience. The boutique is by appointment only, and can be made online via the website giving the bride and her party of 3 exclusive use of the boutique to view and try dresses.
The bride and her friends are always greeted at the door by Victoria with a welcoming smile and the offer of refreshments, including bubbles of course! Victoria likes to find out who the bride has brought with her and get to know their names, as it’s just as important to know who the bride is turning to for advice and support. A short consultation with the bride, confirming details, budget, theme, style, venue then happens, this helps Victoria understand a little about the brides special day and how she wants to look and feel. I’ll let Victoria explain this bit:
“Everyone has a look at the dresses, between them they find 5 dresses for the bride to try on, I explain every dress has the price tag inside. They then know what to expect before they try them on. They all get offered a glass of proscecco or a cuppa, it’s always 6 o’clock somewhere in the world you know! We then work through the dresses they’ve picked. I encourage the bride to rate each dress from 1-10; 10 being ‘I want it’, 1 being ‘please get this dress off of me’! During their exclusive appointment the bride to be usually tries on about 6 dresses. By dress 4, in my experience the bride will come out in front of the mirror dancing and everyone just know’s this is ‘the’ dress”
Victoria knows what works and what doesn’t so can help to guide the bridal party into finding the right dresses. She explains that she always works to the brides budget and will never pull a dress to try that is more than the agreed price, it’s not fair. If the bride falls in love with a dress they can’t afford, it can cause a lot of heartache.
Victoria has two designers that can deliver within 12 weeks but she will sell of the peg if needed. When the bride buy’s her wedding dress, she will get a lovely gift bag with a little present and a card. She love’s to capture the moment with a polaroid picture with her group by putting the picture in a frame saying ‘the day I found the dress’. Going home empty handed after buying your dream dress is so sad, Victoria want’s the bride to remember this amazing experience forever.
I know very little about wedding dress designers so I’m going to let Victorias website tell you all about these beautiful collections:
Jesus Peiro – Ranging in price from £1600 to £2850
Watters – Price ranges from £2000 to £5250
Marco & Maria – Ranging from £3000 to £5600
Theia – Pricing from £1000 to £2400
Katya Katya – Prices range from £1600 to £2500
Jessica Turner – Please ask for pricing
A ha! I’ve found a question which has stopped her dead in her tracks! After some thinking she tells me:
“It has to be two dresses, not one! A Marco Maria dress and Jessica Turner called Royal” I asked “Why?” “They are so different, the Marco Maria dress is a great destination wedding dress, relaxed wedding, beautifully embroidered and beaded. The Jessica Turner dress is a local designer, you know when you just love something, this was that dress. I had to get this dress in the window, it is absolutely stunning, different and ethically souced silk and lined with bamboo cotton. Willoughby and Wolf are exclusive stockists you know!”
“I would say we are a seriously relaxed, chic and totally unpretentious bridal boutique, that caters for the stylish and fashion concious bride. If you want a wedding dress that looks like everyone else’s we are not the boutique for you ;-)”
Wahoo, my favourite bit and Victoria did not disappoint! True to style she amazed me and made me laugh out loud!
Q – Tell me something about you that nobody else knows?
A – “I used to be a bingo caller!! I loved it. I worked with the most amazing girls and had such a laugh. Two rubber ducks, 22”.
Yep that made me laugh a lot!
Q – What is your favourite time of day?
A – “Evening time, dinner time. We are a family that likes to sit down, have dinner and chat about our day. No TV or distractions just a little bit of background music. I love it, it’s our time as a family”.
Q – If you were a pair of shoes, what would you be and why?
A – “It would be, oh I can’t think, I have two pairs! It depends!! It has be my short biker boots because I would be going to lots of music festivals. They go really well with dresses and shorts, they are my absolute fav’s”
Q – What do you love about your boutique the most?
A – ” I love the different types of people that come through the door. I love meeting new people and being part of a brides day. We never get to see her on her big day but helping her choose ‘the’ most important outfit she is going to wear, it’s just amazing”.
Thank you for taking the time to read about Victoria and her wonderful luxe bridal boutique. I certainly had fun writing it. Do let me know if you found this useful. I strongly suggest you go and visit Victoria for yourself if you’re in the market for a beautifully designed unique wedding dress.
Wedding Photographer – Covering Wiltshire and the Cotswolds. Capturing your special day as it unfolds, naturally.
If you would like to find out more about my style of photography, pricing or would just like to discuss the plans for your big day, my contact details can be found here. Examples of my work are also available on my portfolio page for you to view at leisure.