Something borrowed, something blue... and something bespoke.
Ailva Barker spends her days pouring her heart and soul into creating bespoke veils and bridal accessories. However, the 30-year-old's obsession with weddings stems right back to her childhood.
With her attention fixed on intricate detailing and premium finishing touches, her veils are anything but off-the-shelf.
Here, Ailva speaks to Irish Tatler about living vicariously through the brides she meets every day and the 'Meghan effect'.
Q: Tell us about your background and how you got into making bespoke veils…
I studied Fashion Design in the Grafton Academy for three years and from there, I interned and worked with some of Ireland’s top designers and retailers.
In 2016, a friend asked me to create a bespoke wedding dress and veil for her wedding and when her wedding featured online, the requests started coming in.
I love designing and have a particular passion for applique, embroidery and beading - so incorporating these elements into my veils really excites me. Talking to the brides about their day, their plans and all the details are such fun too.
Q: Have you always been obsessed with weddings?
Yes absolutely! As a child, I had the ‘Fashion Plates Wedding sketcher kit’ and was obsessed with it and I used to spend my days sketching and designing wedding dresses. I always went straight to the ‘real weddings’ section of magazines and I had every detail of my own wedding planned long before I was even engaged.
Q: Much like most items in fashion, veil styles change over the decades, do you have a favourite era/style?
I enjoy watching how the styles evolved over the years and I particularly like and take influence from the long statement veils from the 1920s, edged with ornate beading and lace. Personally, my favourite style is a single tier, Cathedral length wedding veil.
Q: Do you think a veil is an option for every bride, regardless of her dress style or wedding vibe?
An option? Of course, if it’s what you really want. Does it always work? Honestly, no.
A veil should suit the shape of the dress, the brides own style and the overall look and feel of the wedding too. Sometimes a veil just isn’t the right option.
That's why I work hard with each individual bride to achieve the look they really want - be it by creating intricate lace tops for over simple dresses, beautiful bridal capes, and more recently, showstopping hairbands.
Q: Have you noticed the ‘Meghan Effect’ spawning a trend of brides embellishing their veils with sentimental/nostalgic messages?
Absolutely, I think veils are becoming a meaningful attribute to a brides look rather than just an add on.
I have had brides request certain elements in their lace that have special associations for them, as well as brides having their mother's or grandmother's veil either recreated or redesigned.
Q: This year’s ‘Wedding Season’ is firmly upon us, but what wedding hair accessory/veil trends do you think will everywhere in 2020?
For 2020, I think we will see a lot more flower/ petal embellishment on veils as well as some metallic embellishment, or little simple geometric clips.
Bridal capes are definitely becoming increasingly popular and I believe they will continue to be a big trend for next year.
5 Expert Tips To Consider When Creating Your Perfect Bespoke Veil
Start with the dress
I generally like a bride to wait until they have their dress bought, before thinking about the veil design too much. I like to take inspiration from the dress and incorporate elements into the veil.
Do some research
It’s great when a bride has a fair idea of what they like in terms of veil style - say a single tier, two-tier, drop veil etc.
Nothing needs to be standard
Lengthwise, the cathedral is the most popular length, but as each veil I create is bespoke, the length can be whatever the bride wants or what suits the dress best.
Detail is everything
The small details that go into a bespoke veil are what gives it value and character. Anything from single appliqué flowers towards the base of the veil or an intricate vintage lace trim - all details should reflect the vibe of the dress.
Allow plenty of time
As with anything that isn’t just off-the-shelf, the more time that's allowed for the veil, the better. I typically advise a minimum of 12 weeks.