This month’s “vendor of the month” is as generous as she is talented and beautiful…
Meet one of Dubai’s most innovative entrepreneurs, May Martin, owner, and founder of Ginger + Poppy Bridal Boutique.
Read the interview below to learn what made her decide to open her boutique, what she loves most about her job, her take on buying vs. renting a wedding dress, and her expert advice on fitting and styling her amazing dresses…
Let’s start at the beginning: tell us a bit more about you, your work, and what role you play in someone’s wedding planning journey.
Hello! I’m May and I have been living in Dubai for most of my life. I grew up here but lived in the UK for a couple of years of school and also went to university there. I used to be an interior designer but changed career about 2 years ago and opened Ginger + Poppy Bridal!
Being a part of one of the biggest decisions of a bride’s wedding is so amazing and I am so grateful to have that opportunity. It’s really lovely to be able to help brides pick their wedding dress and see how amazing they look and feel in it.
What made you decide to open your beautiful bridal boutique?
About 2 years ago, I got engaged, started my dress search here in UAE, and really struggled to enjoy the process or find any dresses which I felt like myself in and really loved. There are so many beautiful dress shops here but there was nothing that I felt reflected my personal style or how I wanted to look on the wedding day.
Even though I was getting married in France, I lived here in Dubai and wanted to buy my dress here to make life easier logistically with ordering, fittings, etc. I traveled to the UK and visited a small, independent bridal boutique that stocked some amazing designers and opened my eyes to the world of bridal fashion in a way I’d never seen before. The whole experience was one-on-one, relaxed, and really enjoyable.
Being someone who isn’t a girly girl or ever saw myself getting married, I loved these designers who were creating modern, unique and non-traditional bridal wear which I thought ‘why are these not in Dubai’. I thought surely there are many other women living in Dubai who are getting married and are looking for bridal wear just like this.
So, after much research and work, I decided to take the leap and bring some of these designers here to the UAE and create a chilled out, one-on-one experience for brides here.
What do you love most about your job and is there anything you’d consider your specialty?
Picking one thing is hard! But my top two things are that I love hearing about all of the wedding plans of brides and that I get to meet so many different people all the time.
It’s so exciting hearing brides’ wedding locations, venues, and what their wedding weekend plans are. People are getting married all over the world from Mexico to New Zealand, it’s so amazing.
Secondly, I love it when a bride comes in and knows how she wants to look on her day without any approval or apology to anyone.
Having friends and family with you wedding dress shopping is amazing and such a lovely experience to share, but when I get brides that come in and say yes, this is exactly what I want and how I want to feel no matter what anyone thinks, it’s really refreshing and amazing to see.
It reminds me why I opened so that women can be themselves and do ‘them’ on their wedding day.
Let’s talk about timelines: can you highlight the most important time-frames when it comes to wedding dresses (when should the bride first visit you, when do you place the order, etc.)?
We recommend to start browsing online about 12 months before your wedding and making appointments to try on wedding dresses about 8-12 months before your wedding day.
All of our dresses are made to order and take between 5-6 months to be made and sent here and then we allow 1-2 months for alterations so that the dress will fit perfectly.
If the timeline for the bride is tighter, we can usually get the dress here quicker, however, it would incur a ‘rush fee’ from the designer and is always a bit more stressful!
What would your dream wedding setting be/What setting reflects your dresses’ styles best?
I’d love to do a shoot in a forest with lots of trees and nature around. A lot of the dresses have amazing floral and nature-inspired laces and appliques so I think that would be a dream location.
How would you describe your “ideal” bride?
Everyone is so unique and that’s the beauty of people! But I guess an ‘ideal bride’ would be someone who is unapologetic about their style and knows that if it’s right for them then no one else’s opinion matters. There’s something so refreshing about that!
Any piece of advice you’d like to give any bride out there planning her wedding?
Enjoy the process! We can all get caught up in the stress and micro-decisions you need to make about your wedding but enjoy the process because it’s likely it’s only ever going to be once. I know it’s been said before but really, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Can you run us through the procedure of a wedding dress trial/fitting?
All of our appointments are one-on-one so you will have the whole shop to yourself and your loved ones. You will come in take a seat on our comfy sofa and chat about your wedding plans and what you envision yourself wearing on your wedding day.
Although we can’t have champagne, we do offer lovely teas, coffees, and sparkling grape juice if you like. I will take you through the designers and styles to give you an idea of what we have and then you can pick out which dresses you’d like to try on.
If it’s your first time we always advise you to try on a mix of plain and lace, fitted and floaty just to see which you prefer or want to rule out as dresses look sooo different on than in photos or on the rails. Then we will try on the dresses and see which you love/don’t love so much.
If you’re ready to say YES then we will take your measurements and place your order! You’ll receive a little gift bag to celebrate and I will see you in about 5-6 months to come and pick up the dress!
Buying vs renting: why do you think brides should invest in a wedding dress and is there any way they could “recycle” their dress later on, should they wish to do so?
The designers we stock are picked specifically because they are boutique, independent labels who use the highest quality fabrics and are all cut and made to order. They use silks, laces, hand beading, and hand-sewn appliques which make these dresses very special.
Even though they are not bespoke, they are made for you as none of the designers carry stock. A lot of brides want to have that incredible gown as a piece they will keep and cherish forever as a souvenir or memory from their wedding day or that they could keep for their children but we do get some who come in that want to buy something they can wear later.
A lot of the dresses, as they are non-traditional designs, could be cut shorter later down the line or dyed a different colour and worn to a different event. We also carry two-pieces that can be worn separately after the wedding or a skirt could be cut shorter to be worn more as an everyday piece.
Can you run us through the designers you feature in your boutique and why you chose to work with them?
I opened up the shop with 3 brands that all complement each other but all offer something different in terms of design, fabric, and style.
First up we have Alexandra Grecco who is a New York City-based designer. She designs and makes all her dresses in their NYC atelier. Her dresses are made for brides looking for classic silhouettes with a touch of whimsy and romance. Her classic collections are the perfect mix of sleek, modern designs with delicate details of floral applique and laces. I love the fabric that she uses, it’s so lightweight and comfortable.
Made With Love is an Australian designer who creates the most amazing, modern, and sleek gowns in unique laces and minimal crepe. They have nailed how to make a bride feel amazing in any of their dresses with their form-fitting ones with deep v’s, open backs, and beautiful button detailing on the bum.
Bo & Luca is also from Australia who does the most insane hand-beading you’ve ever seen. They hand dye their silk in loose leaf white tea and use an ancient Indian form of hand beading. These dresses are super special and use a lot of craftsmanship. Their dresses have a boho and vintage air which is truly for the free spirit.
And last but not least we are also stocking a UAE, homegrown brand HOM the collection. Barbaranne from House of Moirai, who has worked as a bespoke wedding dress designer for 7 years here in the UAE, has brought out an RTW collection which we are stocking. She has such a cool and unique style with fun two-pieces, jumpsuits, and dresses. We love that we can work with a local designer and support a small business.
What type of make-up/hairstyle/accessories/shoes/bags’ style do you recommend your brides when going for one of your stunning dresses?
It totally depends on the dress style and also the bride’s personal taste. I personally love a natural, warm, and pinky look for make-up and loose, wavy, relaxed hair which I think always makes a bride look and feel beautiful.
I’m also obsessed with Loeffler Randall’s shoes which are just amazing and should be worn at any time, not just at your wedding!
What would you love to see more within the UAE wedding industry (trends, etc.)?
I’d love to see brides not feeling like they have to travel back to their home country or to another country to do their wedding dress shopping. I still get a lot of brides who fly to the UK, Australia, SA to try on dresses there. It would be amazing to make Dubai the place where they feel like they don’t need to go anywhere else and have multiple shops to try on similar designers.
During the pandemic a lot of brides haven’t been able to travel so we have had so many zoom calls with Mum’s, sisters and Aunties and it has been so lovely to see Mum’s are still feeling like they can be part of their daughter’s dress shopping experience even through a camera.
How can interested brides reach you?
They can email me, visit our website to take a look at our designers and styles, or our Instagram.
Reach May at Ginger + Poppy Bridal Boutique:
+971 50 843 4389| firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It’s been tough for a lot of brides who were meant to be getting married this year and having to postpone and I really felt for all our brides whose dresses are now having to wait a year to be worn.
We will get through this and it is so good to see brides coming back into the shop and planning their weddings again. We can’t wait to meet you and hear all about your plans!