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I’m getting married this week – these are my 10 best bride essentials

After two wedding cancellations, I’ve seen it all – but these are my holy grail buys for the big day

Emma Henderson
Monday 24 May 2021 08:14 BST
<p>When you’re planning your wedding, you can get so lost in the big things, that you can forget the other things that you need</p>

When you’re planning your wedding, you can get so lost in the big things, that you can forget the other things that you need

You’ve got the dress, you’ve chosen your bridesmaids, you’ve got the person to marry, it’s all coming into place. But have you got all the little bits? Your something new and something blue?

When you’re planning your wedding, you can get so lost in the big things, like the flowers and the food, and even the smaller details of the table decorations or the wedding invites, that you can forget the other things that you need.

I’m getting married this week after two cancellations and cutting the guest list by almost 90 per cent, so there’s been plenty of change over the past year.

First of all, you need a good planner or notebook that you’re going to want to use and put everything in. This will be your best friend, as planning can be extremely overwhelming, especially when there’s so much choice.

Plenty of things I’d bought and would have recommended here – from my gorgeous but affordable pearl mules from Asos to my cute heart-shaped bag – have since sold out, after starting this piece back in March 2020.

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We’re now on wedding plan 3.0 and these are the essentials, from fake tan to headbands, that I’ve found along the way to make it as special as possible, and I think can help other brides too.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Cherubina Olivia headband

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I could not be more obsessed with the designs of this Spanish brand, from its Thirties inspired dresses that nip in at the waist and go big and bold in colours and prints, to the most elegant hats and headwear.

This texturised headband is handmade to order and I love the addition of the optional birdcage veil – another ode to style icons of Hepburn et al. It comes in four colours on the site, but you can request others. Although since Brexit, you will be charged import duties on orders as they’re from Spain. Still worth it? Absolutely.

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Martha Brook script wedding planner

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No matter how long you’ve been planning this day in your head, you’re going to need help and somewhere to write everything down. There’s going to be a lot to organise – which you’ve maybe already re-organised once or twice – and there’s no better stationary notebook to keep it all in than this one.

I thought I wanted something with sections on the guest list, honeymoon etc, but actually found this beautifully covered notebook with plain pages was the best option. It’s got thick pages and a big spiral so you can easily use both sides. Mine is a lovely cornflower blue and has our names on the front. From wedding plan one, down to planning the mini moon, it’s all in here along with plenty of tear-out magazine ideas and menu choices. It’s something I’ll love to look back on. It’s available in a handful of colours, can be personalised too and also makes a great gift for engaged couples.

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Coast satin cami bridal dress with bow

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Whether you’ve got a big train or lots of lacey layers, changing in the evening is fast becoming the thing to do. No one wants to be dragging a train around, even if it’s only a small puddle one, come the evening when all you really want to worry about is topping up your glass. Although this is not somewhere I usually shop, this dress kept popping up on social media, so I ordered. It is simple, but still impressive enough to change into and feel like you’re the bride still. I love the sleek silhouette it gives, along with the modern square neck and low back.

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Wonderbra ultimate strapless bra

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If like me, you’re going off the shoulder or strapless for your wedding dress, you need this bra. I repeat, you need this bra. With a tagline like "never lets you down", as a brand, you need to be sure of that. And for me, I couldn’t be more sure that this really is the ultimate strapless bra.

It is the most impressive bra that I’ve ever tried, with incredible support and has been super comfortable, hasn’t pressed horribly on my breastbone (like some bras can) and gives me such confidence. The single-piece moulded shape lifts, but the full cup also offers complete coverage, creating the perfect smooth silhouette – no “four boobs” here.

What is unique about this bra is the padding, which has been specially designed to look like a hand with three fingers, and it gives extra support on the outside edge of the cup. Also, there are tiny silicone dots on the straps as well as a thick strip under the bust, which all help keep the whole bra in place. There’s three hook-and-eye fastenings at the back, sizes range from 30D-38G and there are seven different colours to choose from.

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Kerastase resistance bain force architecte, 250ml

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If you suffer from fine hair then help your get your locks looking their best by using Kerastase resistance bain shampoo and conditioner (£23.30, It makes my hair sleek and smooth, without weighing it down much at all, and it doesn’t make it greasy either. I’ve been using it for a few weeks ahead of the wedding to help improve the strength and overall condition of my hair, and it helps prevent it from being flyaway too, as it often can be.

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Sleeper love me tender champagne eye mask and scrunchie set


The night before will be a heady mix of excitement and nerves and you’ll need a better night’s sleep than ever before, ahead of such a big – and long – day, so hunker down with an eye mask. I’ve had this gorgeous champagne coloured one from Sleeper for a while and will be using it the night before too. It also comes with a matching silk scrunchie, which helps prevent broken hairs and comes in a cute little silk bag of the same colour too. It would also make a thoughtful present to a bride-to-be.

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St Tropez purity bronzing water gel, 200ml

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Of course I’ll be fake tanning for my wedding, this is England after all. And considering we’ve had a year of no holidays, there’s certainly not been a chance for this pasty Paula bride to get bronzed from anywhere other than from a bottle.

We love this clear gel tan, as it gives the most natural colour to our skin we’ve tried. Although some people will be wary of it as it’s clear, we actually find it really easy to tell where we’ve already applied. We like to build it up over a few days too, for a deeper colour – so make sure you get practicing before the big day. And maybe avoid white sheets if you can, as this can transfer a bit.

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Byredo bal d’Afrique eau de parfum, 50ml

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Almost every perfume Byredo makes becomes a modern classic. I’ve lusted after Bal d’Afrique for some time and as shops opened in April I treated myself to it to as I wanted a new perfume for the wedding.

Fans of ambery perfumes as well as light musky scents will likely gravitate towards this, as it’s a heady mix of rich black amber and musk as well as Moroccan cedan and African marigold, which uses neroli essential oil as its base. There’s also much lighter notes that make it less intense, including lemon, bergamot, jasmine petals and cyclamen. I hope as I wear it afterwards, it will remind me of my wedding day.

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Charlotte Tilbury airbrush flawless foundation, 30ml

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If, like me, you’re getting married somewhere that make-up artists aren’t allowed to work, then do what we all know is the right decision and head to the queen of make-up, Charlotte Tilbury, for a consultation. The brand has recently started doing wedding tutorials, from mother of the bride looks to bridesmaids.

Although shops have been open for over a month, beauty counters are not, so I did the free virtual foundation experts consultation to help me find the right shades, the look I was after and how to create it.

I bought a whole load of things, including the flawless foundation (£34,, which is available in 44 shades, and the Hollywood flawless filter (£34, I was super happy with how my look turned out at home thanks to the amazing CT team; glowy, yet long lasting – just what any bride wants for her big day.

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Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on wedding essentials and other bridal beauty offers, try the links below:

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