My 4 Bridal Looks: Natalia Ikigai
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I always knew I wanted our civil ceremony to be outdoors, and before we even booked Euridge Manor as our venue, I had a vision in mind. I’m quite a spiritual person so I wanted to incorporate lots of greenery, and elements like water and fire. For that reason, I knew I wanted quite a heavy silk and nothing too floaty – I wanted there to be lots of contrasts in the fabrics and colours. Initially, I tried on about five dresses at Brown’s Bridal in London and was surprised at how flattering the different corset styles suited me. I also found out how well ivory worked well with my skin tone. I then went to Vivienne Westwood directly and met Rosie Boydell-Wiles who helped me make a few tweaks to this dress, so it fitted me perfectly and brought my vision to life. She understood that I wanted to look like an elevated version of myself. The process was seamless and I enjoyed it from start to finish. Unexpectedly, I did lose a little bit of weight right before the wedding so I did struggle with the fit around my chest on all my dresses, but at the end of the day no one notices small things like that. These outfits are so fun to wear, regardless.
In the evening after our civil ceremony, we had a welcome party for all our guests ahead of our Indian wedding the following day. We did an outdoor movie night (Father of the Bride) so I knew I wanted to wear something quite laid-back, and choose something that would be easy to re-wear in the future. This Aje dress fitted the bill perfectly. I found it when I was shopping in Liberty with my sister for her wedding outfit. I knew the brand and owned quite a few of its pieces already – they’re great for holiday and just totally my vibe. My sister found one in hot pink and I quickly spotted the white mini. She immediately told me to buy it for the evening party, so it all fell into place very easily. I kept the same shoes on from Jennifer Chamandi, and my hair and make-up was done by BOTIAS. I felt totally myself – classic but with a modern twist.
Traditionally for a Hindu wedding, the bride wears red, but really the only hard and fast rule is not to wear black. Because I’m more of a spiritual person, I felt I could pick the elements I felt most connected to – and wearing red wasn’t necessarily one of them. It isn’t really my colour and I didn’t think it would work that well with the décor I had in mind. Originally, I went for soft pink. There’s an awful lot of craftsmanship that goes into these kinds of pieces – everything is hand-dyed and you can have up to 30 people working on the beadwork at any one time. In the end, Suffuse struggled to find the exact beads to complement the soft pink I envisaged, which is why it looks more silver in the photos. People might assume this is my most meaningful outfit, but in some ways it was the most stressful. Working with couture designers in another country adds a layer of complication to the process, and I’m very grateful I was able to work with a local tailor who helped me make some final alterations. In the end, the result was really beautiful and I felt good in it.
For the evening reception, I wanted something glam and a bit different. The dress code was black tie and I think most people expected me to wear a long silk gown in a rich colour – I wear quite a lot of colour on a day-to-day basis. People might be surprised to hear I took my now-husband with me to all of my fittings and he helped me choose this dress. He was the one who spotted the Vivienne Westwood. I found La Bourjoisie on Instagram – a Lebanese couture designer – and reached out to them. Despite being based in Kuwait, they suggested we meet in Dubai to do a fitting with the wonderful Rita. It took three weeks to make and it fitted like a glove when it arrived on my doorstep.
Natalia’s Shopping Tips…
I always knew I wanted multiple looks, but I had no idea where to start or what would suit me. I’d never tried on anything bridal before I was engaged, and I think that’s what can make it quite daunting for a lot of women. I brought my fiancé with me because we’ve been together 15 years and no one knows me like him. He’s also my best hype man and knows how to make me feel good about myself. He’s also completely honest and I knew I could trust his judgement. Ultimately, try to have fun with it – when else will you get to wear this many looks in as many days? Plus, you’re the one in control the dress code. Don’t overthink it either – follow your instincts and don’t take on too many outside opinions. If there’s anything I’d have done differently, it would probably be wearing a cool pair of trainers on the movie night – my feet were pretty sore the next day and there was still lots of dancing to come!
Follow Natalia @Natalia.Botanicals & visit NataliaBotanicals.co.uk.
Photography: @EshantRajuPhotography & @MuseMotionPictures
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