All photography by Holly Clark
Co-founder of the style communications agency MGC London, Gabriella Nassif was always going to become a reference point for other fashion-forward brides-to-be! With clients ranging from London’s emerging talent Richard Quinn to the evening-wear label 16 Arlington, Gaby is one of those girls who’s always just effortlessly in the know. From how she went about creating her custom wedding dress to why she tasked White Dossier’s Bridal Concierge to source her after-party look, Gaby shares her tips on looking and feeling more beautiful than ever before when it comes to your big day.
Gaby’s Bridal Style
Was what you ended up wearing on your wedding day similar to what you initially saw yourself in?
When I was younger, I always dreamt of getting married in a Cinderella dress! Something with a huge skirt; heavily beaded; and with the longest train in the world. Oh was I wrong! Turns out you can feel like a princess without necessarily looking like one.
You had a custom wedding dress made – was this something you’d always wanted to do?
I’ve always had a solid vision of how I wanted my wedding dress to look. I think when that vision is so detailed, you’re always setting yourself up for disappointment when sourcing it – nothing will ever tick all the boxes. In the back of my head, I always knew I’d have to go down the custom route if I wanted my dream dress, and also knew it would be so much more enjoyable to create my look from scratch as opposed to just buying something off the rack. I wanted every step of the process to be as memorable as possible, so custom was the only way to have the full experience I wanted.
You got married at The Ritz, followed by lunch at Petersham Nurseries, and an after party at your favourite pub in Marylebone. Did your choice of venues influence what you wanted to wear?
Absolutely! My wedding dress needed to be timeless enough for the backdrop of The Ritz, and bohemian enough to complement the exotic setting of Petersham Nurseries. For the evening, I wanted something which was the perfect balance of low-key and bridal but also a mega statement – quite the contradiction, but White Dossier was spot on with sourcing the Alexia Maria jumpsuit for me, which was perfection!
Working in fashion, did you feel a lot of pressure around what you would wear for your wedding?
No, not at all! I just wanted to wear something that made me feel great. Not once did it cross my mind what anyone else would think of it. I was only concerned whether my fiancé would like it.
Why do you think the experience of putting together a wedding wardrobe is so overwhelming?
You only get one chance to perfect your wedding look. It’s the most important look of your life so understandably, it can be quite overwhelming. I was constantly wondering if I’ve got it totally wrong – but then realised that you can’t get it wrong if the dress makes you feel more beautiful than you’ve ever felt before. That’s the ultimate test.
How did you end up working with White Dossier’s bridal concierge?
It all began when I started working with White Dossier to launch the platform and handle their PR. From there, we developed a friendship out of a mutual love for all things fashion and bridal. I just so happened to be in the process of planning my own wedding, so the timing was perfect! It was the most natural decision which I didn’t even have to think twice about. The team are so talented and have an incredible eye for discovering emerging designers from around the world. They have extensive experience in the fashion industry and look at every detail through a stylish lens, offering the most valuable advice that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
So what did White Dossier source for you?
Not only did they source the Alexia Maria jumpsuit for my wedding party, but they also acted as a sound board and support system throughout the whole planning process.
With hindsight, if you were to give yourself a piece of advice when creating your wedding looks, what would it be?
The only advice I’d give is stick to your guns. Everyone has an opinion, but none of them matter so long as you feel like a million bucks on the big day!
Wedding Dress: Custom Emma Victoria Payne
Did you find it easy, or difficult, to decide what to wear for your wedding day?
I’ve always had a vision of how I wanted to look on my wedding day so that was a good starting point. However, it all went downhill when I did a round of the bridal boutiques and realised that my dream dress didn’t exist. I was after something that was the perfect balance of bohemian and timeless but every dress I tried on was either overly-embellished or resembled a cupcake. I got more disheartened with every appointment and finally decided that I’d have to go down the custom route if I wanted to bring my vision to life and find something that ticked all the boxes. So, I put together a detailed mood board and went knocking on designer Emma Victoria Payne’s door to help me organise my thoughts and get the ball rolling.
How did you choose the designer who made your dress for you?
Emma Victoria Payne not only designed my sister’s wedding dress but also my maid-of-honour dress for her wedding. We had such an amazing experience with her then, so she was the only designer on my list. She has an immaculate eye and is open to all suggestions – no matter how wild they are, she always finds a way to make it work! I can be quite OCD sometimes and bombarded her with emails and inspiration pictures. I sourced images online and sent her hundreds of pictures of dresses I had in my wardrobe – including necklines which have worked for me in the past and silhouettes which have been flattering. Somehow, she took all my craziness and transformed it into the vision I had in my head. I never in a million years thought that the dress would be so perfect – she nailed it!
What were the highlights of having a custom dress made?
The full experience of immersing yourself into the design process is so rewarding. After every fitting, my mum and I would get into the car and give each other a high five. Watching the dress start off as a toile and get better with every fitting was so incredible and we loved being heavily involved in the process. Every time we visited Emma we would tweak and make slight changes – the full transformation was an incredible thing to be a part of. I wanted every step of the process to be as memorable as possible, so custom was the only way to have the full experience.
What advice would you give to a bride considering having a dress made from scratch?
When considering a custom dress there are so many things that have to be considered before committing – from the neckline to the fabric, shape, silhouette and most importantly the wearability. It’s easy to forget things such as how heavy the dress will be and you have to ask yourself questions like ‘how wide is the aisle?’, ‘will my dress my knock over the flowers?’, ‘can I sit down for a long period of time in it?’ – these are all the things that Emma helped me figure out, down to the little details like which corset type is most comfortable and gives me room me to breathe properly all day! To go down the custom route you have to be aware of all the minor details which brides who are buying off the rack might not consider. The key is to try on as many dresses as possible before committing to anything. The best starting point is to go through dresses you’ve worn in the past, finding styles that you’ve felt incredible in. Think about which necklines and silhouettes were most flattering and take it from there – the rest will fall into place.
Where did you get your wedding shoes? Did they stay on all night?
I toyed with so many shoe ideas – from bedazzled Manolo’s to sky-high Jimmy Choo’s, and ended up making comfort my top priority. I wanted to enjoy the day as much as my guests and couldn’t have imagined anything worse than being in pain and not being able to run around and let loose. I ended up buying the perfect pair of flats from Jennifer Chamandi – a Lebanese designer who has the most beautiful collection which is perfect in its simplicity. I had planned to change into Aquazzura heels for the evening, but ended up wearing the flats throughout the day and into the night. I was having too much fun jumping around and dancing with my new husband that I couldn’t bear the thought of changing into heels.
What jewellery did you wear on your wedding day?
I went for a simple jewellery look – a pair of diamond earrings which belong to my mum as my ‘something borrowed’ paired with my engagement ring and new wedding band. I didn’t want anything to take away from my rings – it’s the one day you get to show them off!
Did you wear any accessories? If so, what were they?
I was on a mission to find the perfect headpiece to pair with my evening outfit but really struggled finding the perfect one. The day before the wedding, on my way to my final dress fitting, my mum and I were strolling around Fulham and came across a tiny shop which she naturally wanted to go into because she can’t walk past anything without checking it out. With a huff and a puff I went in with her, and my eyes lit up when I FINALLY found the headpiece of my dreams – the ultimate last minute purchase.
Describe your wedding make-up and hair to us…
I always wanted my hair and make-up to be as simple as possible because it was really important to me that I looked like myself, and my future husband could look into my eyes and see ME when I walked down the aisle. I worked with a hairdresser that has done my hair for years, so knows me inside out and always does my hair just the way I want it. We went with simple beach waves and a half up/half down look so my hair wasn’t on my face and I didn’t have to worry about it all day. We accessorised with a hair piece by Emma Victoria Payne – which I tried on every time I went for a fitting for fun, but didn’t realise how perfect it was until the day before, and it ended up being another last minute addition to my look. I went down a similar route for my makeup and chose an artist who I’ve worked with for the last few years, so we just had a quick trial the day before and went for my usual, quite natural look with a smokier eye than usual and a little extra highlighter – cheekbones are key for wedding photos!
Did you do any beauty prep in the lead up to your wedding?
I tried a bit of everything – teeth whitening, eyelash extensions, amped up workouts at Heartcore and Face Gym sessions. Although, when it came to the big day I still felt exhausted and stressed, so I’m pretty sure it was the whiskey shots I took in the morning that gave me the glow!
What was your fiancé suited and booted in?
I was very involved in the process of getting my fiancé suited and booted. We got a tuxedo from Ozwald Boateng on Savile Row, a bespoke waistcoat from Neal & Palmer and shoes from Christian Louboutin. I almost enjoyed putting his look together more than mine! I love shopping for him and getting him all dressed up – he has the best taste so it was a dream to pick out his wedding suit. He looked incredibly dashing, I must say!
After Party Look: Alexia Maria Jumpsuit
How did you decide what to wear for your after party?
I had no idea what I wanted to wear to the after party, so I asked White Dossier to help me organise my thoughts and track down the perfect look. It was the best decision I made! I was so flustered with all of the logistical aspects of the wedding that I didn’t have the time or energy to think about my evening outfit so looked to the Bridal Gods (White Dossier), and asked them to lead the way. They found the most beautiful convertible jumpsuit from Alexia Maria, which was both modern and bridal with a bit of an edge – it was the dream look and I didn’t want to take if off at the end of the night! I would typically have never opted for a jumpsuit but the beauty of working with White Dossier is how they broaden your horizons by introducing you to new styles and shapes that you wouldn’t have naturally chosen for yourself.
We loved that you also had a hair change…
For the evening, I had a little more fun with my look and put my hair up into a ponytail, accessorised with feather headpieces and added a red lip.
21st July 2018
Ceremony at The Ritz Hotel
Wedding lunch at Petersham Nurseries
After party at The Cavendish pub
Number of Guests
We spent months deciding what type of wedding we wanted and struggled to put our finger on it. So, along with our wedding planner Liz Linkleter, we decided to combine all three “visions” into one full day of multiple venues with different vibes for our guests, giving them totally different experiences throughout. It started with a quintessentially British ceremony at The Ritz Hotel with a whimsical and elegant ambience, giving us the perfect setting to say our vows in front of our families and friends. We then shuttled everyone over to Richmond for lunch at Petersham Nurseries – the most gorgeous setting in London (in our opinion!). We wanted to take our guests on a trip down the Italian Coast with our designs inspired by Dolce and Gabbana campaigns, incorporating bright colours and vibrant prints. To complete the Italian experience, our guests were serenaded by The Gypsy Queens who sang staple summer tunes along the lines of Volare, L’Italiano, and L’Americano, making us all feel like we were having lunch at a beach club in Capri. After lots of rosé under the sun and bougainvillea, we were onto our last venue – our favourite London pub! This was our final stop of the day and a chance for our guests to let loose and dance the night away in an Arabian Nights themed setting. I’m originally of Lebanese/Egyptian descent so the theme was perfectly fitting and was completed with Lebanese catering including Shawarma wraps and all sorts of Lebanese mezze favourites. The Gypsy Queens started us off with an incredible street party and once the sun set, we headed upstairs to the dancefloor to finish the night with a bit of disco funk courtesy of Soho House DJ Storm Mollison.
Imogen Gaitskell designed our stationary in line with the Italian theme – it was gorgeous!
Flowers & Decor
Paul Thomas handled the floristry at the Ritz which was breathtakingly opulent, and Liz Linkleter and her team worked closely with the inhouse florist at Petersham Nurseries to select the flowers at lunch – the brief read ‘the more colour the better’, and it was WOW!
Honestly, the bouquet was not something I gave too much time or thought. I gave Paul Thomas my full trust and left it to be a surprise on the morning of the wedding. I’ve never been very in-tune with the floristry world, so I didn’t trust my instincts enough. They’re the experts so I left it to them and couldn’t have dreamt of a more beautiful bouquet.
The food at Petersham Nurseries is incredible so choosing our menu was really hard – we wanted to have everything! We settled on a Mediterranean family style menu followed by a Victoria Sponge cake by Le Papillon Patisserie.
Holly Clark, who refers to herself as ‘Frank’ from my favourite bridal movie Father Of The Bride! She has the most incredible energy and was militant with timings. I was very fortunate to have my very own Frank by my side.
The most memorable moment from your wedding
The doors opening for me to walk down the aisle and seeing a tear in my fiancés eye. I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion and couldn’t control the water works – I was worried about my mascara running throughout the whole ceremony.
One thing you wish you’d known before planning your wedding
To take everything in my stride because it all works out in the end.
We went straight to Sardinia for a minimoon which was pure heaven! We stuffed our faces with pasta and drank our bodyweight in wine whilst going through all the photos our friends took at the wedding. A couple of weeks later we flew to San Francisco and hired a mustang for a road trip along Route One. We stopped off in Sonoma, Big Sur and finally ended up in LA. Our honeymoons were planned so last minute, and we didn’t even think they were necessary, but now I couldn’t have imagined going back to work without that special time I got to spend with my new husband digesting everything that had happened. The whole thing was magical.