Disclaimer: This will be the first of many wedding related blog posts. Just saying.
Ok, so this Tuesday I went Wedding dress shopping for the very first time.
Prior to getting engaged, I successfully managed to resist the very real temptation to feign a betrothal and enter a bridal shop to try on shrouds of sparkling ivory fabrics. So bridal dress shopping was very new to me. And I didn’t quite know what to expect.
But I wanted to be prepared and I wanted to find my dress. I didn’t want to come home without some idea of what I wanted. Preferably, I wanted to come home, with a glamourous and gorgeous dress in my arms. Although it turns out it doesn’t work quite like that as dresses takes months to arrive.
When it comes to the wedding, I feel like Oli and I have been pretty organised. We got engaged at the very end of May, and we’re getting married on April 17th next year and already we’ve booked the venue, the church, the caterer and the photographer. So finding something to wear on my big day seemed like the next logical step. I booked four appointments at four different dress shops, cramming the day full to the brim to make sure that no bridal rock was left unturned. I was determined and excited (oh and mildly anxious) about finding the dress. My Mum had taken the day off work specially for it and the whole day was going to be devoted to shimmying into dresses in satin, lace and tulle.
The first stop was at Aurora Bride. The shop had only opened at 10am, so when we arrived it was empty of any other customers and the attention was fully on me. My sister had actually bought her wedding dress from Aurora three years before, so we knew that it was a good place to go. I was really impressed with the layout of the shop and I immediately felt calm in this sea of glitter and sparkle. The lady gave me four tags to place on the hangers of four dresses that I would like to try on, encouraging me to try to pick different styles, looks and materials as it would help us to work out what I did and didn’t like and then she could pull more out for me to try on. I felt truly taken care of and loved the way that the staff wore cute, fluffy slipper socks so they kept all the dresses nice. The thought of the staff tip toeing around the dresses made them seem even more precious and beautiful.
When I tried on my first dress, my immediate thought when I looked in the mirror was, ‘boy, I look short!’ Wedding dresses are made of so much material that they sort of swallow you a little. I now know why they are so extortionate. It’s because of the sheer amount of material that is used to make them. You could pretty much make curtains for a mansion out of one single dress and still have enough left over to reupholster any furniture in a Granny annexe. It’s vast.
I tried on so many dresses in Aurora and liked them all. But then the lady brought out a truly gorgeous one that I hadn’t picked up, on account of the fact that it was pink. The palest and prettiests of pinks, I might add, but pink nonetheless. But, she assured me that it also comes in Ivory so I tried it on. And I didn’t want to take it off. Ever. And my Mum cried and gasped when she saw me in it. It felt like a very special moment indeed.
How typical that I would find a dress in the first shop with three appointments still to go. But I decided to keep searching just in case as I could always come back if I still loved it. So we drove onto the next shop.
The second shop was uncomfortably intimate. And it was essentially somebody’s house, like a beautiful show home. The kind of house where you’re scared to sit down on the sofa for fear of leaving an inferior bottom print on the plush material. But sit down we did, and once we did, I was handed a large and heavy binder which turned out to be full of A4 catalogue pictures of the dresses they stocked. I didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t allowed to touch the dresses myself and gently rummage through them. Looking at these dresses on stick thin models was a touch soul-destroying as I’m pretty sure I’ll never look like that. Infact, the no touching policy just reinforced the museum artefact-ness of this shop. The lady may as well have had white clothes on whilst she handled the dresses. I nodded to a few of the catalogue pictures and she gathered the dresses together and place them in the changing room, my mum perched on the sofa awaiting the great unveiling.
Another thing that I didn’t necessarily appreciate about this appointment was the fact that I was essentially escorted into the dresses. In my underwear. In the first shop, I’d been handed the dress and allowed to get my body into it before the shop assistant came in to do me up. No underwear viewing necessary. But this lady asked me to stand in my underwear and await for her arrival. Initially I thought the shop was masquerading as an entirely different type of shop when I heard that. She then came in, with me standing awkwardly in my strapless bra and beige VPL free knickers (which she complimented me on…so awkward) and put me in the dresses. What was even more awkward than the being-in-my-underwear thing was the fact that all the dresses I tried on where hideous. Hideously expensive that is.
So there I was feigning excitement – my Mum totally unable to read me – while this woman used me as her personal, live (plus size) Barbie doll, stuffing me into dresses that ranged from £1,400 to £2, 250, with me umming and ahhing in all the right places, but secretly hating all the dresses and wishing I could not be in this embarrassing situation.
Eventually we left, my Mum and I stifling giggles as we exited, my Mum congratulating me on my sterling performance. At this point the dress from the previous shop was still a big contender.
We had lunch in a nearby pub garden, playing a game of draughts and sipping tea, soaking in the sunshine and refuelling before our third appointment. It was a really special day with my Mum, sharing in all things wedding and bonding over multiple pricey garments.
NB: None of the dresses pictured here, are the one I chose. That shall remain a secret until the 17th of April next year. Wait and see 🙂
The third appointment was closer to home and I had high hopes…which were soon shattered. The reception we got wasn’t the warmest or the most quick and efficient although we were offered a drink which is something I hadn’t been expecting. I was handed tags once again but this time it was really hard to find dresses that I actually liked. They were all very expensive but looked terribly cheap. I wasn’t a fan. At all. But I managed to find a few to try on. The shop was a complete mess and not very nicely laid out and I was keen to get out of there as quickly as possible as nice as the lady helping me was in and out of dresses was. I just felt awkward and I was faking reactions of glee and joy again so as not to offend the shop owner or appear like a Bridezilla.
My sister was able to come to my last appointment and the three of us entered the last shop of the day not expecting to find anything that could top my current favourite dress from shop number one. Initially the customer service here was shocking, two other brides appointments having run over so that there was no one left to serve me until a girl about my age appeared through the door and asked if we were being served. I told her I had an appointment and she set about pulling out dresses for me and led me to a beautiful changing room, complete with sofa for my Mum and Lucy to sit on. This shop itself was incredibly local, I drive past it everyday on the way to work and always notice the pretty dresses in the window, more so recently, due to the ring on my finger. So it seemed like a nice place to look. The girl who served us was so lovely and had just got engaged herself. Their dresses were absolutely beautiful too and were a range of reasonable prices too. There was one that I fell in love with and it was on parr with the pink one I loved from the first shop but after an hour and a half of umming and ahhing and talking to the resident seamstress about deboning the bodice and shortening a lace hem, I decided that I needed to sleep on it. This dress certainly felt more dramatic and undoubtedly bridal but it would need a fair bit of altering because I’m fussy and even with the altering and adjustments done, I most probably wouldn’t be able to move very easily in it.
I went home that night, excited but confused and an indecisive mess. But a good night sleep sorted me out and I booked a retry appointment for the dress that I loved from Aurora. And I sit here writing this, having retried it on this very day, giving the shop assistant a decisive nod and a big smile. Because it’s the one. I’ve said yes to the dress. And it couldn’t feel more right.