What a gorgeous day!! It reminds me of my walks through Central Park, New York, the week before last.  Talking of which, it's about time I told you what I got up to over there right? :)  

I was in the Big Apple having been invited by The Wedding Channel Couture Show, to exhibit during 'Bridal Market', along with my colleague Nicola of Propose PR (who represents a number of wedding industry brands).  So for those of you unfamiliar with 'Bridal Market' over in New York City, I'll try to briefly explain…

 
Bridal Market, New York…

'Bridal Market' happens twice a year in April and October, during which, two major trade exhibitions take place; The Wedding Channel Couture Show, and New York International Bridal Show.  Also, a whole lot of designers host private/by-invitation-only catwalk shows and trunk shows all across the city and those with boutiques will open up to invited clientele to showcase their latest collections.

Propose PR was invited to the show to add a touch of British flair in a celebratory fashion, given that everyone is so excited over in America right now about the upcoming Royal nuptials.  They were also asked to offer a resource to exhibitors and visitors who wanted to learn more about the UK Wedding industry.  As a Blogger, I was invited to join Propose PR in actually exhibiting at this trade event – a nod to the growing influence and role of wedding blogs in the wedding industry today. Nicola from Propose PR said…

"As a PR agency we have recognised over the past 12 months the importance wedding bloggers have in delivering advice and content to brides-to-be. Not only are brides-to-be getting their inspirations and advice for their big day from wedding magazines and wedding websites but wedding blogs are playing a huge part in their pre-wedding reading."

 The entrance to the Wedding Channel Couture Show, which was held at the Intercontinental New York Barclay Hotel 

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Two Photographs Below Copyright (c) 2011, Propose PR

219318_214802108532942_149728808373606_908823_5620950_o

219318_214802101866276_149728808373606_908821_2767453_o


It's fair to say,  didn't know what to even begin to expect in New York. In fact, if I'm honest, at first, I felt a little bit like a fish out of water.  However, everything soon fell into place and made sense.  The The Wedding Channel Couture Show organisers were incredibly hospitable, very welcoming and they went out of their way to look after us. As did the members of The Knot, who co-host the event. 

I decked out my allotted area in the Astor Ballroom Suite of the Intercontinental New York Barclay Hotel with a spin on the Union Jack and with details that paid homage to the Royal Wedding.  The show organisers and visitors are CRAZY for the Royal Wedding! Packing and hauling over my exhibiting material was a bit of a nightmare, however, my efforts paid off; I had a tonne of people stop by my stand to talk about the Royal Wedding, to ask me who were the designers to watch in the UK right now, who was the emerging talent, what is on trend, where are the best designers stocked etc etc. I was in my element chatting to these people who represented buyers, bloggers, event organisers and the like.

MASSIVE thanks again to Sugalily, I Am Nat, Leafy Couture, The Biscuiteers and Charlotte Thomson for helping make my stand look so fab ;)  Sorry for the yellow tinge in the images below… 

Love My Dress Wedding Blog, from here on, all Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Love My Dress

IMG_4470 IMG_4478

IMG_4474

IMG_4475

IMG_4480 IMG_4483

I tied up some of my illustrated postcards using red white and blue ribbon, and had some cute little Love My Dress magnets produced – they went down a storm!

IMG_4477

IMG_4472 

 

Who I Met…

I loved the whole vibe of New York Bridal Market.  I was thrilled to have met some fellow Bloggers and Wedding Industry Professionals too, including Anne Chertoff who founded The B-List (a professional Association for American Wedding Bloggers), Publicist Editor and Wedding Consultant Lisa M Barr, Robin Fisher of Polished Image who also writes for Eco-Beautiful Weddings Magazine {who I'm looking forward to working with soon}.  I also met several members of The Knot who were just wonderful.

Unfortunately I had left my stand when Mark Niemierko and Miranda Eason {Cosmopolitan Bride and You & Your Wedding Magazine Editor} popped by to say hi! I was at the Matthew Williamson boutique :)

It was also great to see the Brit's out there too. Exhibiting were David Fielden, Sassi Holford, Polly Edwards and Joanna Hehir {pronounced 'Hair'} – all brilliant designers flying the flag for the UK.  I gather there will be a lot more UK designers out in New York for October Bridal Market. Let's hope so :)

 

Designers I LOVED.

I wanted to experience a bit more of Bridal Market whilst I was out there, so I made a trip to Matthew Williamson's boutique in the trendy Chelsea area – where there were live models showcasing his beautiful dresses in his shop window.  I'd missed out on the London Event so it was great to be able to explore some of Matthew's New York showroom…

W1

Mw2

IMG_4563

The surrounding area in Chelsea is a haven for designer fashion, made popular by the likes of Diane Von Furstenburg and Stella McCartney

Dvf

New York International Bridal Show was a big hit for me. A very different set up to The Wedding Channel Couture Show {with a venue much more like the Designer Wedding Show in London} I met with some incredible designers, some of which are already stocked in the UK, but some of whom weren't and NEED to be.  The following left a BIG impression with me…

♥  Ivy & Aster – OMG, I cannot tell you how in love with this brand I am.  Will someone PLEASE stock these gorgeous wedding dresses in the UK?!!?
♥  Fancy New York – Soooo Carrie Bradshaw! Beautiful cashmere knit bodice & princess tulle skirts and pretty vintage inspired tea length wedding dresses. Simply and utterly divine. ALSO looking for a UK stockist.
♥  Claire Pettibone – I actually met Claire {and her lovely Husband Guy} and had a bit of a tongue-tied star-struck moment! To see and touch Claire Pettibone's designs in the flesh was a REAL treat. Click here for UK Stockists.
♥  Ceci New York – 'Downtown style meets classic elegance' with this luxury wedding stationery brand that ships to the UK! Beautiful stuff {exhibited at the Matthew Williamson Boutique in Chelsea, New York}.
♥  Judith Behr Hair Accessories & Belts – To. Die. For.  Currently stocked at the Jenny Packham boutique in Belgravia.  Some of the most distinctive and stunning designs I've seen in a long time.
♥  Lusan Mandongus – the detail, oh the detail.  I adored every single gown…

I should add – I wasn't allowed to take photos during the shows – they were really quite strict about this.

All the above brands will be profiled on Love My Dress soon.

Photography Copyright (c) Elizabeth Messina, for Ivy & Aster

Ivy&aster_messina1027 Ivy&aster_messina1006

Ivy&aster_messina1154

Ivy&aster_messina1055 Ivy&aster_messina1065

Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Fancy New York

Fn1 Fn2

4 5

1 2 

 

Where we Stayed…

Our accommodation for the week was the very stylish Room Mate Grace Hotel – a chic boutique hotel just off Times Square at 125 West 45th Street.  Booked via Mr & Mrs Smith.

You will read in a lot of the 'cooler' guides that the best places to stay in New York are the West Village (Greenwich Village), The Lower East Side, The Meatpacking District or Chelsea Area. We chose to stay mid-town because this was closer to the locations for Bridal Market. 

Despite being literally just 2-3 minutes walk from Times Square, our hotel was peaceful and had a very relaxing ambiance. It was also ultra clean, beautifully presented and very welcoming.  We had a 'Deluxe' room which comprised a wardrobe area and fridge ready to self-stock, a nice big walk in shower and bathroom area, a raised bed and space to work with a table and chair etc.  Some comfort items included; bath robes and in ipod docking station.

With the exception of a dodgy wifi service, I could not fault the Room Mate Grace Hotel.  I loved the dinky swim up bar downstairs which hosts a DJ every Friday and Saturday evening and the receptionists were very welcoming.  And because we booked via Mr & Mrs Smith on a 'no refund' basis, we qualified for a 20% discount on our booking.  

Highly recommended.

Boutique Hotel New York, Room Mate Grace Hotel

IMG_4237

IMG_4240

 

What we did…

♥  Ate hotdogs from a street vendor. Delicious.

♥  Drank at 'The Back Door' – a secret/hidden speakeasy style bar, a dimly lit but elegantly decorated bar where gin is served in teacups and beer in paper bags with a live DJ set. We LOVED this bar. 102 Norfolk St, New York, NY, US, 10002 {look for a toy company sign, embark down the nearby staircase and follow your nose…}.

♥  Visited National Museum of the Native American Indian – incredible collection of artifacts.

♥  Strolled down The High Line, a converted rail track now a raised urban park that spans the Chelsea/Meatpacking district area – beautiful views of The Hudson River and trendy shopping area of Chelsea…

IMG_4589 IMG_4583

IMG_4587

♥  Went to the top of the Empire State Buildling at night time – INCREDIBLE views…

IMG_4621

♥  Visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art – just incredible!

IMG_4269

♥  Walked through Central Park – the blossom was out in force. One of my favourite things to do in New York…

IMG_4484

IMG_4493 IMG_4513 

♥  Took the subway to get the Staten Island Ferry

IMG_4364

IMG_4369

IMG_4372 

♥  Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and ate lunch in Williamsburg…

IMG_4457

IMG_4459 

♥  Walked past the former site of the Twin Towers & observed the activity around the new build…

IMG_4442

♥  We shared our visit with the President – who was in town to give a presentation (LOTS of policemen on duty!)

IMG_4330

 

What we ran out of time to do, but would do next time:-

♥  Tiffanys
♥  A Live Jazz Bar in the West Village…
♥  A concert at Carnegie Hall…
♥  Visit The Magnolia Bakery. It was in Sex & The City, therefore, it has to be done.
♥  Macys or Bloomingdales – "I WENT TO NEW YORK AND I DIDN'T GO SHOPPING!".  There, I've said it.  Not only was I part working during this trip & so had limited R&R time, I walked past Macy's TWICE and chose not to go in. Call me weird, but the idea of battling it with a million other shoppers really didn't float my boat. For me, it was all about experiencing the food, culture and spending time getting to know the real people of New York {my Husband dropped into a Barber shop in Greenwich Village for a cut – it was great getting to spend some time with, and know the locals!}
♥  Discover more great places to eat and pre-book into those we couldn't get into this time :) Pastis being number one on my list.
♥  Enjoy more of the entertainment scene; a musical on Broadway, an art-house cinema movie, a new film prior to it's UK release…
♥  Visit the Gugenheim Museum {not strictly true – Phil my Husband visited whilst I was exhibiting, as he did the Museum of Modern Art, or 'MOMA'}

IMG_4538

 

My Top Tips for Visiting New York:-

♥  Take comfy/flat shoes!  And plasters (for blisters!)
♥  Don't be afraid to use the subway.  It's just like the London Underground. Apply common sense.
♥  Don't live by the Tourist/Guide book. Be adventurous and venture off the beaten track. Learn to find YOUR New York.
♥  DON"T be conned into the 'NY Skyride' at the Empire State Building – complete rip off.
♥  Avoid the Statue of Liberty – instead, take the views of this iconic statue via the Staten Island ferry ride.
♥  Remember that tipping is a way of life in New York. If you're planning a visit, allocate an additional 20% to your budget JUST to cover tips.
♥  If you need a reliable wifi connection whilst out and about – go to Starbucks.
♥  If you're looking for somewhere more contemporary to stay with a boutique hotel feel, book through Mr & Mrs Smith – I cannot fault their service in any single way
♥  If you are keen to dine out at any particular restaurant, or enjoy the entertainment at a club, my recommendation would be to ALWAYS make a reservation – you can mostly do this online via the venue's website.

♥    ♥   

So, would I go back? Well, I've been invited back, and I would love to be there in October – apparently the MUCH busier season as all the buyers are in town.  Maybe next time I'll be more of a free agent so that I can explore more and report back more of the fashion and style I love to my readers.  I didn't experience the catwalk shows this time as I'm such a newbie to the whole scene over there, but that would be different next time {I've made some great connections who could help me out in that aspect}.   I also had discussions with the British Consulate about supporting other British brands who'd like to go out and exhibit during Bridal Market.

One thing – everyone was TWITTER CRAZY out there!!! Which was kind of frustrating because technology was definitely NOT my friend on this trip {wifi at the hotel hated me, and my iPhone packed in and refused to do the whole international roaming thing as soon as we got there!}

Whatever happens, next time, I'd aim to work with a professional photographer with press-clearance. That was one limitation I didn't plan for this time round – however it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the whole experience.

I LOVE New York. I love the sights, sounds, smells, the people, the architecture, the every single sensation that is this amazing, amazing city – my favourite in the whole wide world. Perhaps it is telling that on our taxi journey to Newark Airport for the journey home, the taxi driver, a New York native, told us that attitudes had changed a lot since 9/11 … "we feel like one big family now – we care more…we care more about ourselves and we care more about the people who visit us, we appreciate that, you know? We godda great city, an amazing city, we love it…

Thank you NYC for making me so welcome on my first trip out to Bridal Market. I'll be seeing you again soon :)

♥    ♥   

I'd LOVE to hear your New York stories :) Let's share some Big Apple Style! Where did you stay? What did you do? What are your tips? Would you go again? Any restaurant recommendations?

Much love all,

Annabel xXx

Leave a Comment!
  • Emily

    Wow this is a great report and insight into your trip! I’ve been following your journey on twitter. Wanted to go to NY for ages and will use some of the things on here as a guide. You are so lucky and thanks for sharing your experience.
    Emily x

  • http://www.exhibitemotions.com Dasha

    Awww, so great to hear and read about your amazing experience! I heart NY, and I met my husband in the USA, so it’s a special place for us, looking at your images brought back the memories))

  • http://loveaudrey-loveaudrey.blogspot.com/ Loveaudrey

    REALLY enjoyed reading this post.
    I love NY but it’s over 10 years since I visited. I was 16 and the highlight of my trip was (as you can imagine) having my photo taken in front of Tiffanys!
    I would love to go back again, preferably with the Mr and sans children (although they’d have field day in FAO Shwartz).
    I remember loving Central Park and the Guggenheim a lot. And breakfast was always my favourite meal of the day in the states, they know how to do it in style. Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, mmmmmm!!
    Loveaudrey xxx

  • http://www.emily-jayne.com Emily Jayne

    Wow, it all sounds amazing Annabel, thanks for such a great report, and I can’t wait to see some of the designers featured on your blog.

  • Melissa

    Great report, so lucky of you to be involved, i love your blog and all that you have accomplished with it since you started, I’ve followed you from the YAYW days!

  • Lynsey

    I just want to go now!

  • http://www.london-bride.com Charley – London Bride

    Just a quick read as at work but sounds a wonderful and successful trip Annabel. I can 100% vouch for Magnolia Bakery and Pastis – Nom. For me, it’s all about the meatpacking district. Oh man you’ve made me want to go back… Oh we splashed out (it was our 5 year anniversary) and did a helicopter ride at dusk over the city. Ahhhhhmazing xxx

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Ooooh Charley, how much was the copter ride? I’d really like to do that next time – it did cross my mind this time also, but having been up the ESB at dusk/night time, I just HAVE to do it!!!!
    Thanks for your lovely words everyone :))
    Annabel xXx

  • http://www.hotchocolates.co.uk Chocolate Fountain Hire

    You lucky, lucky thing… it must be an amazing experience being there! :) x

  • http://www.queensandbowl.com Kate – Queens & Bowl

    Hi Annabel, sounds like you had a blast!
    I HEART NYC BIG TIME, as you know ;)
    Some other great places / things to do include a drink in the Mandarin Oriental bar, overlooking Central Park at dusk, the roof bar at the Met Museum overlooking the park too(opens May time I think) and a mooch around Chelsea Market. Dinner at Pastis and a kumquat mojito at Spice Market (both Meatpacking District). Late night, old-school cocktails at Employees Only (Hudson St) – look for the ‘Psychic’ neon sign. Love the High Line in Chelsea too. Ahhh, ho hum……

  • http://www.fineandfunkyevents.com Kim – Fine & Funky Events

    Orr wow Annabel sounds like you had an amazing time! Love hearing all about your adventures. I went four years ago to my cousin’s bat mitzvah, I had the most amazing time. I made sure I went to a Yankee game which I absolutely adored! I also spent about 6 hours in the MET wondering about, love! Like you though, I was so busy I didn’t get time to hardly do any shopping! xxx

  • http://www.s6photography.co.uk Jon S6

    you did great with the camera!
    Hope you went to Tao?

  • http://www.butterflowflowers.com Lauren

    wow! This is a fantastic report and a fab blog all around. Well done x

  • http://theweddingreporter.co.uk/ Cloggins

    Thanks for your report, really interesting read. I agree that in general mid-town is a great place to stay for geographical ease as it’s so easy to get to everywhere from there, especially if it’s an inaugural visit. Save the cool zipcodes for your next trip(s)! I can recommend the Softiel on 46th, as long as your budget isn’t too tight and you don’t mind a decidedly ‘French’ atmosphere sometimes. ;-)
    Do hope you get to go back in October and sample more of the city AND the industry.

  • Lisa

    Great report, you’ve made me feel homesick for my adopted country!
    Glad you had fun, how can you not in NYC?!

  • Marla

    Gosh it sounds like you had the most amazing time! Well done Annabel, I love your write ups x x

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you so much everyone :) I am taking notes of all the recommendations! xXx

  • http://www.konfral.com Konfral

    Oh wow! Looks and sounds like quite an adventure!
    BTW, your stand must have knocked everybody’s socks off. I looks absolutely fantastic.
    Love your illustrations, too!

  • http://www.yoursinbridal.wordpress.com Lisa / Bridalease

    Brilliantly reported!! It sounds like you had a great time and I will say that it was truly wonderful to have met you. I really can’t wait until you return in October when the air will be crisp and true bridal market will be here in full force. Make sure you are comfortable and have a few days on either end of your trip to really enjoy NYC. Thank you for reporting on my home and from across the pond I send my best to you.
    Warmly,
    Lisa

  • Lisa B

    OMG I HAVE to go to New York now!!! Thanks for sharing your experience and trip Annabel! LOVED IT! Can’t sleep tonight and this has really been great reading in the early hours x

  • http://www.zucchiniweddings.com Kim Koniotes

    The most wonderful place NYC….love, love, love it….would go back in a heartbeat!
    If you do get back there Annabelle go to The Spotted Pig in Greenwich village….adorable! The food is too die for and the ambience electric! http://thespottedpig.com/links.php Enjoy!

  • Ali – alison Groves Photography

    Do you need a volunteer to be your official photographer next time???? I may be persuaded!!! xxx
    Looks my photography lesson paid off – you did great with the shots!!!

  • http://www.focusweddingphotography.co.uk Lorna

    Great report, I love New York so much

  • http://www.andrewbillingtonphotography.com Andrew Billington

    Great report. Thanks for flying the flag!

  • http://www.pazazz-weddings.co.uk Maria Kirk

    It sounds like you had a fantastic time! I would love to go to the NY bridal show. Thanks for posting

  • Milly

    You have the best job in the world! Looking forward to future NYC reports!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lovemydress Love My Dress

    Thank you so much guys! Hugely appreciate your kind words.
    Ali – you were so kind giving me the crash photography course before I left but I forgot how to make the image less yellow – I think I need a refresher!!! hehe :))
    Much love,
    Annabel xXx

  • Trish

    I heart New York – got married in Central Park 6 months ago – wish I could do it all over again!

  • http://www.abcglab.org/ diamond grading

    Thanks for sharing your experience and trip Annabel! I really can’t wait until you return in October when the air will be crisp and true bridal market will be here in full force. Make sure you are comfortable and have a few days on either end of your trip to really enjoy NYC.

  • http://www.weddingpics.com/pics Nasheeka

    Great post and beautiful pictures too. Thanks for posting them.Keep up the good work.

  • Charlene Ford

    I went to New York in December of last year, my boyfriend took me for my graduation and he also proposed in Central Park!! It was the best trip ever and reading this blog makes me want to go back tomorrow. As this was our first time there we did all the tourist things, although next time we will be more adventurous. I can’t wait. x