I’ve only gone and bloody done it.
I have finally chosen the dress I am to be married in. And let me tell you, for a girl who works in a bridal shop, writes a wedding blog and is generally obsessed with all things nuptial, that is no mean feat.
Surprisingly, the final decision was easier than I ever imagined. But that’s skipping to the end. To tell a story we really must start at the very beginning…
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I have always thought about what I’d wear when I got married. Way before I worked in bridal, way before I got engaged, way before I even met Paul, in fact. Here’s an embarrassing confession: in my teens I went through a nasty bout of insomnia and to calm myself down and try to send myself to sleep I would imagine myself walking down an imaginary aisle in my imaginary wedding dress. The man waiting for me at the end was a blur- actually he wasn’t even important at that time- but the dress soon became crystal clear. It had straps and a v-neck, it drew in to my waist with some sort of beaded or lacy detail, and it came over my hips (I never wanted a big dress) before finishing with a soft, fluid, floaty skirt. I suppose a bit like the Saskia by Jenny Packham. But minus the over-sized shoulder bows.
Once I’d got engaged (or it could have been before- I’ve been trying dresses on ever since I started working at the boutique if I’m totally honest), I did try the Saskia and liked it very much. The feeling of wafting around in a cloud of chiffon is quite divine, let me tell you; but in the end I didn’t find the dress flattering enough, I felt a bit frumpy, and it was quickly discarded.
And there we get to the first major battle of my wedding dress search: feeling fantastic versus feeling frumpy. Once I’d started trying dresses on I quickly learnt two things about myself; 1. that I’m incredibly self-critical and will automatically look for the fat bit when trying a new dress on (“chunky arms- get it off”), and 2. that my insomnia-induced dress instinct was right- as a busty, fairly top-heavy person, the dress had to come over my hips and show off my whole shape in order to make me look and feel slim. This meant that princess, empire and a-lines were out; soft fishtails were in.
In the end there were only really four dresses that made me feel fan-bloody-tastic, and one of them was way over budget (and not from my shop, sshhh). That was, of course, the Lihi by Mira Zwillinger. I’ve mentioned this dress before, and even though I broke the number one rule of wedding dress shopping (Don’t Try On What You Can’t Afford!) I snuck away with my Mum one afternoon to ‘test’ the rule I preach daily. Ahem. It was beautiful but I couldn’t afford it. As predicted. Pointless exercise completed, although we did have a lovely afternoon 🙂
Cue the first of a couple of strategically zoomed-in and Instagrammed peeks at me in dresses (as I know Paul will be reading)…
Real Contender Number 1, and the first dress to properly steal my heart (and cause the most angst throughout the entire dress deliberation) was the Luna by Jenny Packham. Of her 2012 collection, this was the dress I couldn’t wait to arrive in store the most, and when I put it on I didn’t want to take it off. It shimmered, it swooshed, it flattered my figure and it made me feel like a movie star. Not to mention it was in a very pale blush colour which I loved. I knew that it was everything that Paul would hate, but I told myself that he’d like the silouhette (as a very sexy dress it is indeed), and that if I liked it, he’d like it.
The incredible beadwork of ‘Luna’ by Jenny Packham
Surprisingly so, my Mum didn’t get it either (we usually have such similar taste). Where I saw sexy, sparkly and romantic, she saw “70’s showgirl”. I was disappointed but it remained a very strong contender. Nay, the front runner. Rebellious ’til the end, me.
Real Contender Number 2 was a Sarah Seven dress called Fields of Flowers. On the hanger it didn’t look like much, and I’d dismissed it a) for the A-line skirt, and b) for the high lace neck. However, once I started putting it on brides I realised it was an incredibly flattering dress; girly and feminine but with a dash of rock n’ roll in the underwear style corset top and modern, sparkly belt. I tried it on, it gave me a waist I never knew I had; I felt like a bride.
Nipped in and sparkling away- ‘Fields of Flowers’ by Sarah Seven
And there I was, stuck between a rock and a hard place for the last six weeks or so. My head was telling me to go for classic with a twist- Paul would get it, my guests would get it, I wouldn’t look back in twenty years time and think, what was I thinking?? But my furiously pumping heart was jumping up and down and waving ‘Luna is The One!’ placards. It was pink, it was unique, it was glamorous and swishy; it made me feel ah-may-zing. Paul would just have to suck it.
But then a New Kid On The Block came along. Not an actual 80’s popstar, but a dress that I hadn’t tried on or even previously considered. We’d had it in the shop when I first started working there but sold our sample shortly afterwards. A year or so later and it had slipped back on to our rails relatively unannounced, and although I admired it’s beauty I’d dismissed it for myself because it didn’t have the waist detail I was after, and I feared it would make me look matronly.
It didn’t make me feel matronly, it made me feel… special. I think that’s the best way to describe it. Not ah-may-zing like the Luna or ‘bridey’ like Fields of Flowers, but softly sexy and special. A very special dress for a very special occasion.
Last weekend my Mum and my bridesmaids came to the shop at the end of a long Saturday at work. I knew which one I was going to choose but we went through the motions anyway. The Luna got a very muted reaction and I surprised myself with how quickly I eliminated it, having clung on to it for so long. Fields of Flowers got lots of positive noises and looked fantastic with the bridesmaids dresses. A very worthy runner-up. I saved The New Kid On The Block till last and came out of the changing room beaming. The New Kid On the Block became The One. My manager cried (from relief probably- I’d been trying on dresses for the last eighteen months!) and glasses were clinked. My bridesmaids and I met up with our men to celebrate and I got very, very drunk. Job done.
So what can I tell you about The One?
- Well, I think it’s a perfect balance between the glamour of Luna and the ‘brideyness’ of Fields of Flowers.
- It’s not pink. (Paul breathes a sigh of relief.)
- I showed my step-father-to-be a picture of me in it and after a moment he said, “Mmmm, very woodland nymph”, which wasn’t quite what I was after but is better than “70’s showgirl”. I also think the flower garland I had on my head may have had something to do with his thought process.
- It looks fantastic with said flower garland.
- It has an amazing back.
Is it everything I ever dreamed of? Erm, actually no. I dreamt of swathes of chiffon and a much, much floatier skirt like the Saskia at the very beginning of this post. But in reality it didn’t work on me. The One is actually a bit of a slinky malinky; still very soft and fluid, but much more fishtail than I ever thought I’d have. I am, however, 100% head over heels in love with it and cannot wait to wear it- even though I have to plank my way from now ’til May to lose the little tummy pouch that a waistband can magically hide.
So there we have it. Well done and thank you for reading until the end if you’ve made it this far of a rather epic post.
I’ll leave you with a little lesson I learnt the other day. When downloading pictures of you in your dress on to your laptop and meticulously hiding them away in a folder he will never find, don’t leave your favourite image minimised when you think you’ve actually closed it. Because he will go on to the laptop later in the evening when you’ve forgotten all about it, and open said image. As Paul did last week. He made a little yelp of surprise and closed it down pretty sharpish, but a glimpse he has seen none the less.
In all honesty I’m not that bothered. I’m not superstitious and we are both fairly relaxed about the whole thing (we’re staying together the night before the wedding, for example), but I still deserve a slap on the wrist. Still, he proved another point I make on a daily basis when I asked him how much he actually saw later on that night.
“White”, was his response. And he made a slinky little hourglass shape with his hands.
Which just goes to show ladies, it’s all about the colour and the shape for our men of simple pleasures. Appreciation (or depreciation) of the detail that consumes us will come much, much later. When you’ve pointed it out to him perhaps.
Seven months today!