Finding My Wedding Dress

19 Aug 2018

Finding my wedding dress

I feel it goes without saying – but I’m gonna say it anyway – that obviously the pictures in this post are a) not my wedding dress and b) nothing like the wedding dress I ended up choosing.

So yes lads, I’ve found my wedding dress. Don’t get weepy now.

Wedding dress shopping was something I had mixed feelings about. On one hand, obviously I was pretty excited. On the other, it was something that presented a whole load of issues (as I wrote about here).

When I first started thinking about a wedding dress I, naturally, did a lot of internet browsing. Whilst I have no other alternative as to how to research these things, I personally think this was a bit of mistake for me. I browsed an endless amount of bridal boutique shops and became more and more nauseated with what I saw. Women with impossibly thin waists. Shops that only stocked size 10s. Shops that – in an incredibly pretentious manner – had a whole section on why you MUST NOT take any photos during your appointment. I read blogs about women who’d been asked how much weight they were going to lose as though it was a given and saw dresses that cost as much as my entire wedding.

As a result, for a long time, I was pretty convinced that I didn’t want to go any bridal boutiques, didn’t want the dress to be expensive, and was happy to buy it from the high street and not engage with any of the madness (again, see this post).

Whilst that does still all sound rather pleasant, I’ll be honest, it’s all gone out the window.

But I’m happy about it, so all good.

I ended up relenting and booking two bridal boutique appointments for a couple of reasons. The main one being that I didn’t really know where to start. Whilst places like John Lewis, Monsoon etc etc do have bridal ranges, you can’t just rock up at your local store and find the dresses hanging around the same way you would a pair of jeans. From what I could gather, only specific shops (usually in some inconvenient part of London) stock them and no where seemed to be that clear as to how you would go about trying on the full range. Basically – it wasn’t immediately obvious nor obvious after a bit of research and that annoyed me. I like simplicity.

The second reason is, over time, I had decided on a specific style of dress that I wanted, right down to the maker, and only a handful of shops stocked them. Which is why we ended up, slightly randomly, in a bridal shop just east of Cambridge.

My mum and I booked a Friday off, got up early and started the day with cake and coffee in the sunshine, before heading to my first appointment. It was 31 degrees and I was mostly concerned as to whether the shop would have air conditioning to be honest.

When we entered the shop, we were greeted by the sight of a huge amount of white, poufy, laciness and my main thought was oh god please don’t turn me into a poodle.

As it turned out – we had a bloody whale of a time.

All my anxieties were proved completely wrong and I was so darn happy about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some bridal boutiques are just as heinous as imagined but not the one I’d stumbled into.

Odette, the owner, was so lovely. She ushered us to some comfy chairs, brought us drinks and chatted to me about the kind of wedding I was having and the kind of dress I was looking for. She was very good at immediately putting me at ease. We were shown round the shop, learning about the different styles of dresses in each section. My favourite fact? All dresses were stocked in sizes 6 – 30. Kinda wanted to high five her.

After this, we were given a big pile of tags and left to browse the shop (which we had to ourselves) at our leisure. The premise is you add a tag to a dress you think you’d like to try on and then she can whizz round the shop picking them out for you.

My mum and I had a lot of fun looking at all the dresses and tagged a combination of tea-length dress (my preferred style) and longer, boho type dresses. You do kinda hit a point though where it’s like okay, they’re all white, they’re all pretty… how does one differentiate?! 

And then it was time to get trying. I tried on a lot of dresses but – unusual for me when shopping – I didn’t get remotely fed up. I’m not sure if it was the 1:1 attention I was getting, having someone there who knew what would suit my body shape or just the fact that it’s pretty darn fun to try on really grand dresses.

Honestly though, the thing that struck me most was the fact that everything looked good on me. I kind of had this epiphany that the majority of body insecurities could probably be cured if we all could wear clothes that are beautifully made and designed to be as flattering as possible… so we all just need to win the lottery asap kay?

Odette was constantly re-adjusting my ‘top 3’ based on my preferences and I was beginning to learn that the old cliché is true – the dresses that look the best are often not the ones you would have picked yourself. If there was one that I particularly liked, Odette would then go grab more in that style so we could focus in on what was working. My mum was taking millions of photos, I was prancing around surrounded by mirrors and we were just generally having a great time.

Odette then brought one dress out that wasn’t the kind of style I’d been looking at but she thought it might suit me and it also came in a tea-length version. It was grander and, I guess, more traditional than I imagined myself in but I was happy to give it a go.

Soz for making you vom, but there definitely was a bit of a moment when I saw myself in it for the first time. I’m not saying I immediately burst into tears and was like IT’S THE ONE; it was more like I LOOK LIKE A PRINCESS AND NOW I’M CONFUSED.

We tried on a few of my other favourites again but that was the one I was most interested in putting back on and the second time round, I definitely felt a bit giddy in it. Particularly when I discovered that it had pockets.

It was the complete opposite of what I was convinced I wanted; longer, simpler, grander... and yet I was a little bit in love.

As we had a second appointment in Cambridge that afternoon, we decided to think on it for a bit. As it was very different to what I’d been claiming I wanted for months, it made sense to at least consider it over lunch before blowing a ridiculous amount of money.

So we headed into Cambridge, grabbed an enormous pastry and then headed to our second appointment. It was a similar set-up only a much bigger shop so there were more appointments going on. My mum and I both thought that the quality of the dresses wasn’t as good as the first place (although they were actually more expensive) but it was still a really nice experience. It did quickly become obvious to both of us that I already knew which dress I wanted, and it wasn’t in this shop. But I still had a lot of fun trying on a lot of dresses – including styles I knew I would never pick. Aka dresses with 3 metre trains… hey, it's not often one gets the opportunity to try on absurdly extravagant dresses. May as well make the most of it!

Afterwards, we went and sat in the park and looked back over the pictures of ‘the one’, confirmed it was ‘the one’ and rang the first shop back. My mum was whispering her credit card details over the phone whilst we sat on a bench!

I got to try it on again when we went back to the shop a couple of weeks later so they could take my measurements. It will now take 4-6 months (!) to be made specifically for me (I’m basically the queen) and then there will be a couple of months for any alterations. Honestly, I’ve never loved an item of clothing more. My favourite lounging joggers are thoroughly put out.