Former catwalk model and judge of Britain’s Next Top Model, Michele Paradise, is teaching brides all over the country how to walk down the aisle with style and grace. Her company, The Bridal Coach, provides a host of tips on how to hold oneself during the big day… 5 Star Wedding Directory gets to hear some of Michele’s invaluable advice.
5 Star Weddings: As an ex catwalk model, what top tip would you give to nervous brides walking down the aisle?
Michele Paradise: Slow down! This is what I tell models that I train and brides as well. Brides spend many months planning the wedding, dress fittings, hair, make up, shoes and the rest. Then they get to the moment when they are about to walk down the aisle and get nervous, lose their composure, and rush down the aisle. The aisle is like a catwalk. Everyone is waiting for you to arrive so that they can see what you look like. What is she going to be wearing? What is her hair style? Big dress? Slim dress? Veil or no veil? Will she be smiling? Will she be nervous? It’s a bit like a fashion show, so give everyone a chance to absorb the moment and admire you and your style. Some aisles are not very long so it doesn’t give people much time to see you. So, take your time. Keep your head up. Smile at everyone and they will smile back at you.
5 Star Weddings: How important is it to consider your posture on the big day?
Michele Paradise: In my world, good posture is everything. Without it clothes do not look good. When designers start making clothes, they work with dressmaker’s dummies (not a great term!) and their posture is very good so clothes are made to be worn with great posture as they drape better. When you’re a bride, in particular, there is a lot of emphasis on the head and shoulders and so many bridal dresses are strapless so your shoulders are very much on show. If you have bad posture, it ruins the line of the dress and more importantly makes you look old. Bad posture is one of the most aging things for a man or woman, so good posture makes you look younger, thinner and more confident. Bad posture ruins so many photos that I see of brides, and it’s one of the easiest things to fix if you know how. I’ve got a great product called the Posture Wand that quickly and easily improves the posture with a bit of practice.
5 Star Weddings: What did you find was the most exciting part of having a modelling career?
Michele Paradise: Travelling. Of course I wanted to wear glamorous clothes, walk down the catwalk and meet fantastic people but my real desire was to travel and see the world. I grew up in the USA and although it is a big country, I wanted to see other countries, learn about different cultures and experience as much as I could about the rest of the world. It worked. I travelled a lot when I was a model and had the privilege of living in Paris and several cities in Italy, my spiritual home. I also saw a lot of airports and hotel rooms, and didn’t always get the chance to explore the city I was in, but that was a small price to pay for all the weird and wonderful experiences I had. The most exciting trip I ever took was on Concorde with the Prince and Princess of Wales when Princess Diana was still alive. We were doing a show in Vienna, which was a salute to British fashion and industry and, as Concorde was partially built by the British, we had the pleasure of flying on it with them. Princess Diana was really into fashion, and when we met her afterwards she had loads of questions and especially wanted to know how we changed so quickly. Travelling and meeting amazing people was certainly the most exciting part of my career.
5 Star Weddings: Who’s your favourite bridal designer?
Michele Paradise: Jenny Packham. When I was a model, I had the pleasure of modelling for her and later I was part of her casting team that chose the models for her designer shows. She is also a very grounded, genuinely nice woman who understands the feminine figure very well and knows how to inject romance into her bridal designs. Her dresses have such great movement and understated sexiness. What I love about her bridal dresses is that they are elegant, glamorous, and edgy all at the same time. As I like a bit of drama in my clothes, I would love to wear one of her bridal dresses if I was getting married. Her dresses take me back to Hollywood glamour from the 1950s and I love that. If I could choose another time to live in, that would be it. 1950s Hollywood with Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe…so glamorous.
5 Star Weddings: Given the choice of a church, beach or castle wedding, which would you choose?
Michele Paradise: I like all three of them as they would appeal to different parts of my personality. If I had to choose, it would have to be a castle wedding. I love the idea of a long, sweeping stair case where I could make an amazing entrance. I would take my time and walk slowly and elegantly down the stairs looking at my friends and family and enjoying every moment. If I had spent a lot of my time and money planning the wedding, I would make sure that I took my time. It only happens once and you don’t get a chance to go back and do it again!
5 Star Weddings: What’s the biggest mistake you’ll see brides make in their wedding photos?
Michele Paradise: The biggest mistake that most brides make in their wedding photos is that they don’t know how to stand to give their body shape, movement and look slimmer. White is a very unforgiving colour, which is why so many women wear black. White actually creates a ‘halo’ effect and makes the bride look bigger. The best way to change this is to stand at an angle. If you stand with both feet side by side and your arms are stuck to your side, you will end up looking like a meringue! So, stand at a three quarter angle. Place your feet in the shape of a ‘T’ with the back foot horizontal and the front foot vertical. Put the heel of the front foot in the arch of the back foot. This will create the ‘T’ shape and this will give the body shape and movement. It will also give the bride the opportunity to move more easily as she is able to pivot on her feet instead of being planted in the ground.
5 Star Weddings: What’s the most extravagant wedding you have been to?
Michele Paradise: Hands down it was the wedding of the son of Elizabeth Taylor, Chris Wilding. It was several years ago now but I’ll never forget. It was in Beverly Hills and so star studded that I didn’t know where to look. It was like being on the set of a Hollywood film and t
he best part was that everyone was so relaxed and normal and treated me like I was an old friend. The venue was like a Hollywood set, the food was fabulous and rubbing shoulders with Elizabeth Taylor and her chums was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It truly was a 5 star wedding!
5 Star Weddings: What, in your opinion, makes a 5 Star wedding?