I wish I could sit here and relate to you the perfect dress story. Of how I walked into a bridal boutique and fell in love with the first dress I tried on. Or even the seventh dress I tried on. I didn’t expect it to be the 57th dress I tried on.
So where do I start?
I've never had an idea in my mind of the wedding dress I wanted, I haven’t sketched pictures since I was a young girl, and I haven’t day dreamed about Disney princess style petticoats, Kate Middleton lace or a slinky Grecian number. Having been an avid reader of wedding blogs for too long to admit, this may come as a surprise
But one bride’s account of her wedding dress story stuck with me. She choose not to look at magazines or blogs to get ideas about dresses before the day came when she had her first appointment. She didn't want to have a set idea in her mind, which would overrule everything she tried on. I thought this was quite possibly the best advice I’d ever read.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I wasn't open to ANYTHING. There was certain styles and elements I very much knew I didn't want (but I shan't be giving anything away). In addition to this, I was really nervous. My whole life, I've loved shopping, I've loved dressing up, and I’ve loved the process of getting ready for a special occasion. But somehow, I knew my wedding day would be different, I would want something perfect, I wouldn't want to ‘settle’ and I wanted something unique, that was just for me. Plus a four figure wedding dress isn't quite the same as a £30 LBD off the high street.
I’m lucky in that Cumbria is well covered when it comes to bridal boutiques, so I was spoilt for choice in terms of where to start. For my first appointment, I selected a boutique which I knew had a large range of designers and styles, I had no expectation that I would find a dress in the first shop, but it seemed a good starting point. So off I headed with my mum. What felt like several hundred dresses on a very hot Summer’s day, I went home feeling completely overwhelmed, and could barely remember the last dress I’d tried on, let alone the first.
A couple of weeks later, and arrived appointment number 2. At a boutique which I’d always been fond of, and convinced that was the place I would find my perfect dress. With designers such as Jenny Packham and Rosa Clara and on their books, the dresses were intricate, beautiful, and each unique in its own way…but none of them were for me. The particular angling of one mirror which made my bum look HUGE (I kid you not) did not help the situation.
I left feeling downhearted (and convinced my rear end had tripled in size). I knew that I’d only had 2 appointments, and so I wasn't at a point of complete despair, but I had been so sure I’d find ‘the dress’ in this shop, that I felt at a bit of a loss as to where to go next.
Fast forward a couple of months, 4 appointments later, and a trip to Scotland, I still hadn't found ‘The One’. And in between appointments number 2 and 6, I’d made the mistake of turning to the internet and had become completely obsessed with googling the living daylights out of ‘wedding dresses’, and was pinning like my life depended on it. And of course, I fell in love…with a dress that was only stocked in America.
During those 6 appointments, I had tried on what felt like every shape and size of wedding dress that existed, short, long, lace, silk, taffeta, satin, sleeved, strapless, beaded, simple...the list goes on (and on and on). I'd begun to believe the dress for me just didn't exist, in the UK at least.
In my last two appointments, I'd started to learn what I really liked, and had a clear (ish) vision of the type of dress I wanted. With one appointment still booked, at a boutique i'd already visited, I'd started to lean towards the idea of having one made, it would certainly be unique, it would be just for me, and it would have all the elements I'd loved on the hundred other dresses I'd tried on.
But what if all those elements were too much together?
What if it was going to cost 3 times my budget?
And most importantly, what if I didn't like it?
The list of what ifs was endless, but I was running out of options.
On the 11th October, 5 months after my first appointment, I headed back to a boutique i'd already visited. The shop had had a delivery of 40 new dresses, so I figured I'd give it one last go before giving up on finding a dress that already existed.
I went assuming I was never going to find a dress, and so was pretty much ready to give up before I'd started. I chose 8 dresses to try, 7 new ones, and one I'd tried before. I quickly reeled them off, 'no, no, it's ok, definitely no' ...you get the picture.
Then I tried 'The Dress'. The dress I'd tried a couple of months before, and I'd liked, but not loved. But I definitely felt a flicker of interest, that I hadn't felt before. It wasn't perfect, it was far too simple, I couldn't really breathe (it was too sizes too small) and it was not what I'd envisaged!
20 minutes later, I was still wearing 'The Dress' only now i was also sporting a veil and a headpiece, and holding a fake bouquet of flowers. I'd discussed every possible option available of altering it to suit me. We'd talked adding bling, adding buttons, adding sleeves, adding a belt, adding lace...anything you could add, I'd considered it.
At this point, I started to feel a little queezy (not unusual when i'm nervous). After so long looking, I couldn't believe i may have found the one. The lovely lady in the shop sent me and my mum away to think about it. Rather than doing the obvious of having a large glass of wine, we sat in the car...wondering. And at that point, I decided that Yes, that was the dress. It wasn't my dress yet, but it would be once we'd made a few changes, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The dress was found.
There was no tears, there was no 'this is the one' and there wasn't even a glass of champagne to celebrate. And despite all the ups and downs, and what felt like 5 very long months, I loved the whole process. I loved trying on wedding dresses. I loved every appointment. But what I loved most? Is picturing my dress now, and smiling because I know, I've made the right decision.
And I would advise any bride who is going through similar situations, just to keep going, don't give up and settle because you will regret it. And, I LOVE to hear 'the dress' stories, so do tell me yours...