I have always been fashion conscious friends describe me as stylish – however, this wasn’t any other day of choosing what to wear, this was a one year in advance decision which was going to be the most ME outfit that there has ever been – my Wedding Dress. The pressure!!!!
As with pretty much all wedding planning decisions, I took to Insta, Pinterest and bridal mags to decide what look to go for, and much like looking at venues, I was drawn to pretty much all styles – from fairytale ballgowns to vintage to wedding jumpsuits. This was going to be another process of elimination – sigh!
At least my fiancé, Rob, would be off the hook on this part of the planning process. We decided to stick to tradition and Rob didn’t see the dress until I walked down the aisle on the day (I still get butterflies thinking about that magical moment). The pressure of the wedding dress day was weighty. My mind was rattling with what shape I was in, who I would have with me, strangers were going to be in the changing room with me, what underwear I would have on, making sure I was beautified to the point that I was happy for a stranger to see me (almost) naked and then, of course, be looking at myself in the mirror all day. I don’t know about you, but this was all pretty daunting.As soon as we had booked our venue, I could suddenly visualise myself walking down the aisle and knew what my surroundings would be. This gave me a much clearer idea of the type of dress I wanted, which certainly helped in whittling it down – as there are just so many beautiful gowns out there.
Choosing who to go shopping with can be difficult, as you want them to be just the right amount of judgey – not to the point they would make the horror shows of ‘Say yes to the dress’, but to the point you don’t walk out with something hideous as you were caught up in the moment. They also need to understand your style and what you are trying to achieve. My mother would have been fabulous at this, and I would have loved to share this special day with her, but unfortunately she was in France and wasn’t able to come back.I first went to a series of boutiques close to my Maid of Honour’s house, with her sister and mother, who are like family to me. It was winter, I didn’t have a tan, certainly didn’t have a beach ready body, and generally felt uncomfortable in all the dresses. I felt the dresses were wearing me and nothing felt right or natural. Every time I came out of the changing room their faces reflected what I felt – no sparks of joy – deep sigh.
The worst moment was in one boutique where they had another bridal consultation happening at the same time as me in the next changing room. The bride to be, who had already started trying on dresses, was a size 6, about 18 years old and completely stunning. I have a ‘womanly’ figure with hips and a bum and sadly I am no longer 18, everything isn’t quite as bouncy and plump as it once was. So there I am waiting for my dresses to be pulled watching this potential Love Island contestant try on all the same dresses that I had chosen – arghhhhhhhhhh! Each time I tried one on, I would come out, we would all look at the 18 year old and then at me and move on very quickly. The only dress which my friends all thought suited me, was described by the mother of the 18 year old as, ‘well that would be nice for a second wedding or something’. I was devastated. This wasn’t my second wedding, I hadn’t done this before – this was my one and only wedding! I wanted to feel like a princess, not the aging mother of a princess. That day was a dark day in my wedding dress experience. However much my amazing friends tried to gee me up, that was a huge disappointment and not at all how I expected the day to go. Similar to falling off a bike, I needed to get back on and continue looking for a dress. It took me a good few weeks to rebuild my confidence, get a bit of a tan and train hard in the gym to get myself feeling and looking more like where I wanted to be on my big day.
The next date in the diary was set and I took a couple of my bridesmaids to boutiques near to where I live. They hadn’t met before, yet both are very stylish and neither would hide their opinions, so over the course of the day it was very interesting watching that dynamic develop. The first boutique we went to was perfect, their dresses were all made in the UK, they offered us all the drinks we could want, they locked the door behind us and we were their sole raison d’etre for the next hour or so. I had fun picking out all the gowns which took my fancy, from big and bold to slinky and sexy. The owner of the shop came from a design background and understood me. She was more alternative than I would be, but she understood I didn’t want to look the same as every bride, however I wanted to feel bridal. I have been to a few balls and galas over the years, so I also wanted to make sure this didn’t feel the same as any other black tie event, the bridal element needed to be there. She listened to me and my friends, she laughed with us, she coo-d with us. We had a brilliant time. At the end of the consultation I felt sure I had come away with my dress. I had another appointment in the afternoon which I wanted to go to, but I was sure I would be coming back for my dress.Following this appointment the girls and I went for a gorgeous lunch with spritzers sitting in the first of the summer sun. At the end of the meal the waitress came out to announce my amazing fiancé had already paid the bill for us. Such a special surprise. We were all on cloud nine, everyone was getting on, laughing and smiling, I was confident I had found my dress and the sun was shining on us.We decided to persevere and go to my final appointment, which was quite a trek away. They were the only stockists in the UK of a specific designer I loved on Insta. Off we went and as we arrived we were hesitant. Once we saw the dresses of the designer I had been so keen on, I soon realised they wouldn’t be for me. However, as we were there we thought I should try on some others.I tried on some very different dresses to the morning, partly to confirm the dress I had found in the morning really was ‘the one’. I had managed to get a little burnt over lunch in the sunshine, and had a red glow with some interesting strap marks going on. Not the elegant, serene, beautiful bride to be I thought I would be as I was spraying my Chanel on that morning. However, along came a dress which was very similar to those I had tried on next to the 18 year old. I was very nervous trying it on, thinking this wonderful day was about to become another dark day – when everything changed. The sample dress, fit perfectly, the sexy to elegance ratio was spot on. The train was to die for. The details were beyond what I had imagined. Suddenly it all came together. This was my dress! I couldn’t have been happier or more proud to be standing there in MY dress. It was comfy yet beautiful – it was everything I could have wanted, and most importantly I felt like a bride. I knew this was the dress I would be in when I became Mrs T. Having worked with brides in selecting their wedding dresses and from my own experience I have some top tips:
- Make sure you eat, the day is fast paced and shopping fatigue will kick in
- Don’t drive, make sure there are alternative arrangements
- Take a few of your nearest and dearest who will be honest, yet supportive – remind them you are looking for you and not them
- Only go to shops where you have privacy, not next to other brides trying on dresses
- Get your body in the closest condition to how you want to look on the day – dramatic changes to weight, skin tone etc will really change how your dress looks and feels
- Get Mrs T on the case – let me look after the experience for you and make sure the day(s) are some of the best of your life and you come away feeling incredible