Whether you're engaged or just browsing (hey, no shame, us too) the thought of wedding dress shopping can be equal parts thrilling and terrifying. Yes, you get to try on lots of frothy dresses and have an excuse to be as picky as you like. But with that, comes the added pressure of finding THE dress. You also want to actually the experience, too. Luckily, Ireland is home to a plethora of bridal designers - such as Patrick Casey, Don O'Neill and Sharon Hoey, to name a few. With that in mind, we devoted an entire category to find the cream of the Irish bridal boutique crop in our inaugural IMAGE Boutique Awards. Let us help in finding your dream wedding dress with our definitive list of the best bridal boutiques around the country. Don't forget to vote for your favourite, too!
Where: Dublin (6 Merrion St Lower, Dublin 2)
Why we love them: With more than thirty years of experience, Sharon Hoey is one of Ireland’s best-known bridal atelier for one-of-a-kind luxury wedding dresses.
What we're buying: A graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, designer's Eliza Jane Howell bridal collection are made for brides who want to take inspiration from the glamour, sophistication and decadence of the golden age of fashion. Taking inspiration from exquisite vintage gowns, the Eliza Jane Howell collection is the epitome of grown-up glamour.
The Gigi dress by Eliza Jane Howell, available at sharonhoey.com
Why we love them: The White Tea Room in Mullingar pride themselves in creating the perfect experience for soon-to-be-brides. From appointment to fittings, their experienced fitters will help you choose from a curated edit of dresses from Irish and international designers including Caroline Castigliano, Daalarna Couture, Savannah Miller and Sylwia Kopczynska. Their online store frequently updates their sale section, too, if you're looking for a bargain.
What we're buying: This exaggerated neckline is daring, elegant and very sexy. Wear yours with a confident smile and simple pearls.
Sweetheart neckline gown by Pronovias Delco, €1,200 at thewhiteroom.ie
Why we love them: Blanaid Henney's Folkster has become the go-to location for occasionwear and bridalwear, and it's easy to see why. Blanaid and her dedicated team travel the globe in search of the perfect pieces; from shoes and bags to sophisticated shawls and bejewelled ball-gowns.
What we're buying: Having a summer wedding? Nothing says you're prepared for an Irish summer quite like an embellished cape. It won't only come in handy if a gust of wind picks up, but how stunning does it photograph?
Embellished cape, available at folkster.com
Who: Dirty Fabulous
Where: Dublin (21 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2)
Why we love them: Dirty Fabulous is an emporium for vintage in the heart of Dublin city and specialises in beautiful bridal and occasion wear from the 1920’s to 1960’s and beyond. This little boutique is a treasure-trove of pre-loved and new wedding gowns and accessories, whether you're having a rockabilly themed wedding or a grand affair in a hidden-away estate. This quirky little boutique will help you to uncover your own individuality while remaining true to your own personal style.
What we're buying: No wardrobe ensemble is complete without the appropriate accessories. We love this vintage peacock-inspired headpiece. Wear with simple curls or a chic updo.
Vintage headpiece, available at dirtyfabulous.com
Why we love them: Hazel Comyn, multi-award winning Irish designer and owner of Hazel Comyn Bridal and Lace in Kerry, is helping to set the standard for bridal boutiques on Ireland's west coast, with an exciting and modern bridal edit. Hazel's selection of bridal-wear represents the modern woman, with a traditional, heritage-driven charm. She travels all over Munster, taking inspiration from the beauty in nature and the clean lines of modern architecture.
What we're buying: As well as a plethora of dresses, this boutique also creates one-of-a-kind accessories including belts, veils, headpieces, garters and gloves and jewellery. We love this delicate golden branch belt: the simple addition of orange and gold detailing will add a touch of colour to any dress.
Golden branch belt, €98 at bridalandlace.com
Why we love them: Established in the 1960's, McElhinneys of Donegal is rich in heritage and history. The original owner John McElhinney brought a new type of shopping experience to Ireland's north-west; catering for occasionwear, suit hire and bridal wear. The shop has a large selection of gowns and dresses in a range of prices, which makes this boutique a great choice if you're unsure of what style to try. what's more, your soon-to-be husband can find a complimentary suit here, too.
What we're buying: The vintage-inspired button-down detailing and lace panel on the back of this Justin Alexander gown is worthy of any wedding aisle.
Long-sleeved crepe wedding gown by Justin Alexander, available at mcelhinneysbridalrooms.com
Where: Dublin (3 Anne's Lane, Dublin 2)
Why we love them: Mother and daughter duo Marina and Meghann have travelled the world to hand-pick the best dress-makers. Among their growing repertoire of designers is Irish designer Patrick Casey, whose designs are show-stoppingly beautiful and modest in price. They also have lots of useful information on their website about the day of your fitting (like knowing how many people to bring and when to arrive) so they can make your experience memorable and enjoyable.
What we're buying: Myrtle Ivory encompasses luxury and elegance. We want to walk down the aisle in this new-season couture Patrick Casey gown. The heavy embellishments and superb lace detailing are perfect for any elegant black-tie affair.
Heavily embellished lace gown by Patrick Casey, from €3,500 - €3,950 at myrtleivory.com
Where: Dublin ( The Kilternan Gallery, Enniskerry Road, Kilternan)
Why we love them: Set at the foot of the Dublin mountains, this tranquil little boutique will give you headspace and peace to try on and think before saying yes to the dress. Boutique owner Alison Daly's carefully curated selection of bridal labels is what sets her above the rest; stocking more than ten Irish and international designers to choose from. We imagine wearing Alice May's dresses in far-off fairytale castles somewhere or on a remote tropical beach by the sea...
What we're buying: Feel like a princess in this exquisite ivory organza bridal ball gown. This delicate gown comes with an Alencon lace bodice with Venise lace applique and features a deep-V plunging neckline, ribbon sash at natural waist and chapel train.
Ivory organza bridal ball gown by Tara Keely, available at alicemay.ie
Where: Cork (74 South Mall, Cork City)
Why we love them: BCork’s first vintage and vintage-inspired specialist bridal boutique. The space specialises in one-of-a-kind, vintage dresses, so you can bet that we're taking home something with a retro flair to it. Boutique owner Lucy Mitchell stocks her shop with exquisite vintage dresses sourced from all over the world. Each dress is beautifully cleaned and restored before finding its new owner (just take a look at their real stories section).