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Friday, 28 January 2011

Nice Day for a White Wedding: Gioia Mia Designs

When I was little, I wasn't like a lot of the other girls in my class. I didn't talk about what my wedding is going to be like or dream about dresses and flowers and all of the other things that come as part of the bride 'experience'. As I got older, nothing really changed and as the girls around me talked with even more enthusiasm about what kind of veils they would have and could rhyme off the whole event like a well planned-MI5 operation. They had (and I'm sure still have) their wedding day plans down to a fine science. I guess I just don't have that 'bride gene' (as some people call it), I'm not one of those girls (as lovely as you all are).

Not having been to many weddings I haven't had much reason to look at the fluffy white world of bridal wear. This year, all that is going to change. Two people very special to me are getting married and for the first time I have been asked to be a bridesmaid (twice), which is a total honour (if a little daunting) and I have also been selected to help style one of the brides. No pressure then! This means I have to sit up and start paying attention to what I used to normally call "all that bride stuff" and start to get familiar with all that comes with being involved in a wedding. As much as I am being pushed out of my comfort zone, I am still looking forward to it and have already started to look at different designers (although I have still managed to avoid cracking open a bridal magazine). Being the magpie that I am, I have eased myself in by looking at accessories first.

Bridal wear is a vast and successful industry, there are countless designers specialising in everything from shoes to fascinators. It's pretty overwhelming. There are dozens of magazines solely dedicated to advising brides on what to wear and whole events set up to help people plan their perfect wedding. Where possible, I like to check out local designers and was so pleased when Gioa Mia got in touch with me as they are just what the doctor ordered - local, talented, down-to-earth and unusual. It was enough not to scare me off (some of those bridal shops in town can just be plain scary).

Bracelet: Sterling silver, Swarovski crystal, freshwater pearls, glass (£120)

Gioa Mia are a bespoke bridal jewellery and accessory design company based in the West End of Glasgow. They have been trading for 6 years and over that time have been building up a great reputation for good customer service and attention to detail. I caught up with designer Sonia, who started the company in 2004 after designing and making all of the jewellery and accessories for a friend who was getting married. Sonia explained that her unique designs are bespoke, so each piece is created through getting to know her customers and understanding who they are, what ideas they might have and the overall feel of their wedding. Understanding what your customers want and tailoring to their needs is a huge plus point (just ask Mary Portas) and I should think that attention to detail is probably important in any bride-to-be's book.

Tiara: Swarovski crystal and Swarovski pearl (£180)

Gioia Mia designs are currently made on a commission-only basis directly from the designer which sounds expensive but the prices are very reasonable starting at £15 for earrings and can range up to £150 - £300 for a bridal tiara. The pieces are made from high-quality materials including Swarovski crystals, gemstones and sterling silver.

Earrings: Sterling silver and Swarovski crystal (£100)

It's clear that a lot of the pieces have an antique-y, whimsical feel too and it was no surprise when Sonia revealed that a lot of her designs are influenced by historical costume and design - such as Renaissance costumes or Neo-classical paintings. An excellent example can be seen in this pretty floral tiara:

Tiara comb: Swarovski pearl and crystal, freshwater pearl, rose quartz, paper buds and flowers (£160)

Giving customers the "personal touch" is certainly what sets this company apart and even the website has a warm, almost journal-like approach with real-life customer testimonials and photographs of the brides wearing the pieces as opposed to a hard, corporate sell. As well as the commission based designs, last year Sonia created her ready-to-wear collection which is aimed to be sold online and from a selection of hand-picked stockists. The ready-to-wear collection has already had a massive impact with requests from magazines and photo shoots coming in before the collection was even finished! It's no surprise that Gioia Mia continues to go from strength to strength with plans to launch an online shop later this year.

You can find more information on Gioia Mia on their website, and by joining the mailing list at And as for my journey into the world of bridesmaid duties? I'll keep you posted.

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