A woman who runs a Belper bridal boutique which has helped 1,500 women have ‘the happiest day of their lives’ says she wouldn’t do anything else.
Leanne Whysall, 34, who was born and bred in the town, owns and runs Stately Brides which has been a fixture on King Street for the last four years.
And such has been the success of the shop that she has just opened a second with business partner Melissa Fletcher in Duffield.
She said: “This is the only thing that interests me and bridal is my absolute passion.
“To see the moment when a dad walks in and sees them in the dress for the first time and how amazing they look - it is a properly emotional moment.
“We can be working with them for up to two years and the relationship we build up is more like a friendship than anything else.”
Leanne describes Stately Brides as her ‘baby’, but says she knew that she would need some help opening a second shop.
So, for Duffield’s Ivory White, Leanne and Melissa have gone in together.
“I have a four and a seven-year-old and we do a lot of evening appointments after the children have gone to bed,” explains Leanne.
“When I had my eldest child I didn’t want to work full-time and be juggling being a mum as well. I am sometimes in here until 10 o’clock at night - it’s never a chore though.”
Leanne says the dresses take eight or nine months to make and the altering after they have arrived can take eight weeks alone.
“Something that happens now - that didn’t happen so much when I got married - is people losing weight for the wedding,” she said.
“We have people losing a bit more and a bit more which obviously means that altering needs to be done more than once.”
Their dresses cost between £700 and £2,000, and Leanne says many brides end up with something very different than what they had in mind.
She added: “This is one of the only days in their lives when they can show off their true personality so you can end up with brides in something very different than they would normally wear. When they find the one they want though, it is a special moment.”
‘We have a really good night...’
Leanne said one of the highlights of the year for them is their annual ‘Bridal Ball’ which they hold at the nearby Morley Hayes Golf Club.
The event gives brides the opportunity to recreate their wedding day by donning their dresses to wow people all over again.
“This year will be our third and we have had up to 100 people in the past,” she says.
“Brides turn up in their original wedding gowns if they still have them, or can come just looking great in something else if they don’t. I wear mine as well and we just have a really good night.
“But as well as showing off, we raise money for the neo-natal baby unit at Derby Royal Hospital and Prostate Cancer, which are charities that quite a few of my friends have been affected by.”
She adds: “One of the things people often ask me is if I try the dresses on when no-one is around, and the answer is no - honestly.”