It’s a funny thing, but when you’re a designer and you’re making your own wedding dress, the pressure is really ramped up,” mused Hannah Weiland. It was late May, and the 28-year-old designer, whose brand Shrimps is a go-to for London’s most influential girls thanks to its offhand charm (its Antonia beaded bag is an Insta-celebrity in its own right), was engaged to marry Arthur Guinness, in June, at her family home in Wiltshire.
While many elements of the nuptials looked set to fit the English country wedding mould – albeit, with a series of spectacular twists – Weiland was adamant she wouldn’t be embarking upon a customary troop around a slew of bridal shops. Instead, she set about designing the ethereal wedding dress of her dreams.
“It’s quite Victorian, high-necked with tiered sleeves,” she said. “The fabric is an embroidered silk georgette, from a mill I work with a lot in Italy. They make my most expensive fabric that I use in my collections – I call it ‘special treat’ fabric because I am only every allowed to use it on a sleeve. It felt so luxurious to be able to make a whole dress out of it.”
The ivory embroidery, which sat atop an ivory base, was constructed from Weiland’s drawings, each depicting moments, places and things that had a special resonance for her and Guinness: “Our star signs, the Ship Inn pub in Bristol where we met, the Guinness harp, animals we love, our dog Lionel, lyrics from a nursery rhyme about a moon that I sometimes sing…” she reeled off. “From far away you wouldn’t be able to see the embroideries, but I’m excited for Arthur to see them for himself.”
Come 9 June 2018, as the sun beat down and guests filed into Holy Trinity church in Bradford-on-Avon, full to bursting with blousy Scarlett & Violet flowers and silver birch trees, Weiland’s gut instinct to include a substantial train was proved correct. “I didn’t think I needed one, but every fitting it got longer and longer,” she laughed. She wore a vintage embroidered veil from Jane Bourvis’s treasure trove of a vintage bridal shop in Portobello (her ‘something old’) – “I chose it quite early on; it’s got a beautiful scalloped edge” – and Saint Laurent velvet leopard print shoes. “They were designed by my friend Lotte Selwood when she worked there, and I got them at Bicester for £100. They reminded me of my Nana – she wore all leopard print, and I suddenly felt this pang to have an ode to her on the day,” she said.
As for her advice to aspiring brides seeking the perfect dress? “Feeling like yourself is so important,” she counselled. “It’s so weird when the bride has a big bouffant and no one really recognises her. I think you should look like the best version of your normal self, so that’s why I went for natural hair, classic red nails and a Shrimps bag. I didn’t change for the evening party, either; you only wear your wedding dress once, after all.”