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Gemma Gibbons: the secrets behind her wedding dress

June 6, 2013
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If brides were awarded medals for their wedding attire, Olympic silver medallist, Gemma Gibbons, would have won gold for the dress she wore to marry her fellow judoka, Euan Burton. For the 26-year-old athlete drew gasps of admiration as she glided down the aisle in her Lilian Dabic creation at The Caves, an ancient stone vault in Edinburgh to tie the knot with her bonny beau. With its sweetheart neckline and multiple layers of silk overlaid with cream French lace, a satin sash under the bust and topped with a three-quarter sleeve lace bolero, Gemma's ultra-feminine ivory gown was a true showstopper.

Photo by Caro Weiss

"I first tried on the gown just after I got engaged," says Gemma, whose husband Euan proposed to her in his native Edinburgh, where they both now live, on New Year's Eve. "We weren't going to get married until next October, after the Commonwealth Games, so I thought I had plenty of time to make a decision. It's an important one for any bride and I wanted it to be just right. So when my cousin Georgia visited me in Edinburgh, we decided to look at a few dresses, to get a feel for the styles out there and what was available." Gemma's first port of call was the exclusive bridal boutique La Novia in Queen Street, Edinburgh. "I tried on about five dresses but none of them grabbed me," she recalls. "But as we were about to leave, the assistant asked me to try on a dress that they were in the middle of making. The moment I looked at myself in the mirror, I knew it was the one." Designed by the owner of La Novia, Croatian-born Lilian Dabic, the vintage inspired gown was required much sooner than Gemma had anticipated. For after breaking her wrist during training a couple of months after Euan's surprise proposal, the couple decided to take the opportunity to bring the wedding forward by 18 months while Gemma was out of action from judo competitions. "Luckily for me, the dress was available in time for our wedding," says Gemma, who took her fellow Team GB judoka, Kelly Edwards, with her for some of the fittings. 

On her big day, Gemma accessorised her gown with a pair of cream, low-heeled court shoes from BHS, and pinned a silver heart Cancer Research UK brooch to the bodice, which she wore throughout the celebration. Her mother Jeanette died from leukaemia when Gemma was just 17. For the "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" tradition, her dress was new, her bridal lingerie was blue and she placed an old silver sixpence, borrowed from her cousin Louise into one of her shoes. Tucked inside Gemma's wedding dress was the most poignant item of all – a ring she had given to her mother Jeanette before she died of leukaemia at the age of 49. "It made me feel close to her throughout the whole day," she said. "As a judoka, constantly competing in competitions, I don’t often get the chance to dress up. Wearing this wedding gown made me feel special and my day complete." For more details on Gemma Gibbons and Euan Burton romantic Scottish wedding, buy this week's HELLO! magazine, issue 1280.

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