My Customer Experience at To Have & To Hold by Claire Blackwood


I’ve received this lovely account of Claires experience, buying a wedding dress from us 

I’d lived in Mirfield for two years before my other half proposed. During those two years I had driven past ‘To Have and To Hold’ on my way home from work almost every day, and could not help but admire the beautiful dresses in the window display. The times I slowed down so I could have a good gaze at the shop window

When I got engaged in May 2013 I didn’t waste much time and cracked on with the task of finding ‘the dress’. The date was set for October 2014. I’d always planned to buy my dress from To Have and To Hold – not only as I like to support local businesses but because I’d always admired the dresses I’d seen on display in the window. Clare’s taste was obviously right up my street! I made my appointment and couldn’t wait to try them.

To Have and To Hold has a great website and this was really helpful as I was able to choose exactly what I wanted to try on in advance, which meant that my appointment time was spent trying on dresses rather than looking through them all. I took my friend along to the appointment too. It was nice to share the experience and get another opinion. It was lovely to meet Clare too. The experience was really fun and Clare was so friendly – it felt like I was visiting a friend, which was lovely as wedding dress shopping can be nerve-wracking. I tried on four different dresses in two different styles – fitted A-line and fishtail. All looked absolutely amazing (if I do say so myself – a credit to the designers I think!).

Clare asked me if I wanted to try anything else on after I’d tried everything I’d chosen from the website. I told Clare I’d like to try another fishtail style. Clare had one in mind and when she described it to me, I knew I was in for something special. When Clare brought me the dress, I instantly knew that this was ‘The One Dress to Rule Them All’. I’d found it.

I returned to To Have and To Hold a few weeks later with my mum, a couple of days after visiting one of the larger bridal boutiques in Leeds where nothing had come close to ‘The One Dress’. What’s more, the service hadn’t been as personal or warm as what I’d experienced from Clare. I tried on the dresses again, in the same order as the first time and it was great to see my mum’s response to them. She loved them all. Then I tried on ‘The One Dress’ and seeing my mum’s reaction (yes I’m talking tears) confirmed the decision I had already made to myself that this was MY dress. I knew I needed to look no further and ordered it there and then.

As I chose my dress 14 months before my wedding, there was a slight niggle in my mind that said ‘what if you see something else you like?’ I had subscribed to a bridal magazine for the duration of my engagement and I can honestly say that despite the hundreds of beautiful dresses I saw, nothing came close to the one I’d chosen. My first fitting was the first time I’d felt emotional about my forthcoming wedding. Until that moment it had all seemed so far away, and for the first time, it felt real. I couldn’t believe it was me standing there. I’m not a gushy romantic type, but it truly felt like a fairytale dream come true. I didn’t realise how much I had wanted the entire experience until it actually happened to me.

I’m now four weeks away from my wedding and I can’t wait to give my beautiful dress its debut. I’m so excited for my husband to be to take that first glimpse of me when he turns around to see me walking up the aisle. Searching for and finding your wedding dress is a wonderful experience that every bride should have. Now that I approach my wedding date, it does feel slightly bittersweet as the secret I have kept for so long will be out and the experience will be over.

My top tips for Brides to be’s would be:

  • Have an idea of what looks good on you to start with, which will help steer you towards certain styles;
  • Take one or two friends or family members with you. It’s a lovely experience to share, but you don’t want too many people involved though as you don’t want too many conflicting opinions. Also, an element of surprise will be lost if lots of people have seen the dress;
  • Go with your gut feeling. ‘The Dress’ is like your husband – you know when you’ve found the one!

By Claire Blackwood