So I left my dress hunt having just had a wonderful, despite the bead-crushing, experience at Teokath in Canterbury. I knew the dress would be Jenny Packham but I didn’t want to go back to Teokath as I had my beady eye on a gorgeous number spotted on Pinterest, which I now knew they did not stock.
Unfortunately, it turns out the gown I was lusting after was actually a 2013 collection dress and I couldn’t find a boutique that stocked it, although I must point out that my “search” consisted of looking through each boutique’s online catalogue and you can take a guess at the accuracy of that. Eventually, out of sheer desperation, I emailed Pantiles Bride in Tunbridge Wells, a stockist of JP. Did they have the dress I was looking for? No. Could they borrow it? Yes!
And that was how the next phase of the dress hunt began, trekking up to Tunbridge Wells with my mum, maid of honour and sister on a Jenny Packham Designer Day, which not only meant heaps more Jenny Packham gowns than I could ever imagine but also a 10% discount if I ordered there and then. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived and found the one I wanted desperately to try had not arrived… Well actually I wasn’t that disappointed. It might have been the brightness of 30 glittering JP gowns, some I had never even seen, but I put the disappointment to the back of my mind and we got on with some serious dress trying.
Pantiles Bride is a genuinely stunning boutique, it’s all cream plush carpets, big thick drapes and you pad around in your socks. Fizz on arrival and (given that it was a rather cold day in April) the heating was on so I was lovely and toasty whilst hanging around in my beige granny pants. The thing I love most about Pantiles Bride, though, is Alex the bridal consultant who manages to inject a bit of humour and fun into what could be a really gushy serious affair. Don’t get me wrong I want the fluff that comes with buying my wedding dress, but I also don’t want someone who tells me I’m embracing all my bridal beauty when I clearly look like utter rubbish.
After much strutting and fizz guzzling we had managed to whittle the dresses down to two: Esme and Eden. Now these two are seriously stunning dresses and you only have to search “Jenny Packham” on Pinterest to catch a glimpse of the beaded beauties. But for some reason I just could not commit. I couldn’t pinpoint anything in particular but in hindsight I think I just didn’t feel a pull towards either of the dresses. Yes, they were lovely but I wanted to change little details and neither seemed like my perfect dress. We headed home on a promise to return at the end of the year, closer to the wedding when I might feel a bit more decisive and with an added bonus of Christmas shopping in Tunbridge Wells.
But it was not to be. I received an email from Alex in August to say that if I wanted the Esme dress I would need to place my order by the end of September as she was sadly being discontinued. All of a sudden the pressure was on. I began having Esme-related dreams and I knew I needed to go back and try it one more time, just to be sure.
So off we trotted on a sunny Thursday mid-September. By this point I was quite pleased having lost a stone since my last visit (I had also convinced myself that this was why I couldn’t make a decision) and the wedding was now less than a year away. Alex had told me that this time, the Jenny Packham I had wanted to try last visit would be in the shop. No pressure.
We arrived 10 minutes late, courtesy of Southeastern Trains, and at exactly the same time as my mystery dress. Alex had been hiding downstairs fearing my wrath at potentially a second disappointment of the dress not arriving. She took it out of its FedEx box in front of us and instantly I was in love. And luckily for me I loved it even more when I put it on! My mum had originally been rooting for Esme and my best friend’s vote was with Eden, but they both agreed that this was the best dress for me. Decision made, I couldn’t believe how easy that had been!
We dabbled with ordering it in Champagne, the colour that I tried it on in, but in the end my mum was quite set on Ivory and I didn’t care enough about having it in Champagne to dash her dreams of a blushing bride in white. I recently received a swatch of the material in the post and am super happy that I didn’t go for Champagne so I guess mum did know best.
I am now the most recent convert to believing in “when you try on the one, you’ll know”, having thought it was a complete load of rubbish before. Now I am just disappointed that I will only get to wear it for one day – I might have to organise an annual Friends-style gathering to stop the dresses gathering mothballs, or is that a bit strange??