Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Stuff Nobody Tells You About Weddings Part Five: The Dress

There is a myth... sometimes emblazoned across glossy wedding monthlies...sometimes whispered in hushed, reverent tones from Other Married Women....sometimes featured as a montage scene in a weakly plotted Hollywood film....

The myth is thus.

When you find your dress, the clouds will part. A golden light will descend upon you and it. You will be the fairest of them all, the angels will sing, your mother will weep pearly tears that the angels will weave bracelets from. A double rainbow will appear. Woodland creatures will frolic at your feet.

You will have found THE DRESS.


"The sales assistant told me the wings really set it off! And they're only an extra £650!"

Oh, for goodness sake. It took me three years of being in the same band with my now-husband before I even realised I fancied him. I don't have a wardrobe full of shoes because I am good at being decisive. It takes me ages to choose what I want to eat at a restaurant, and I will have changed my mind three times before the waitress comes back to take my order. And (if you are unfortunate enough to be dining with me) when the food arrives I will look at yours, decide it looks nicer and start stealing your chips.
I tell you bloody what though. I LOVED MY WEDDING DRESS. But I never had a "the one" moment with it. And from what I've heard from a metric shit-ton (actual technical measurement) of other brides, I'm not the only one. No shining light, no rainbows, no bunnies. I unwrapped the dress when it arrived (through the post, off the internet) tried it on and although I knew it wasn't very bridal, and that a lot of folk would think it was daft, I simply thought it was very, very Me.

 Look the model even looks like me! Honest! Only I'm skinnier and more sullen, obviously.
I wiggled and posed in it a bit. It felt pretty good. I then went and ordered a big pile of tulle to stick on my head just to make doubly sure I would walk down the aisle looking like nothing else on the planet (since the 80s anyway). Then the other accessories started to add up.... the heels, the pearls, the earrings.... the more I tried everything on, the more excited I became. It was a gradual thing. Like putting together a great big, giddy, squeal-inducing jigsaw.

 In the process of a mid-reception squeal

For me at least, the accessories doth make the outfit. You cannot always judge a dress on dress alone -unless you are going for an incredibly minimalist look- in which case I applaud your tres chic-ness (how do you do that? Can you hook me up with a helpline?). But there will generally be bits in your ears, and on your head, and round your neck, and your wrist.... at the very least they will do things with your hair and put things on your face. It all adds up. The isolated dress feeling is, I think, more often than not, a good, warm gut feeling. A "hmmm... yeah, feels pretty damn good. I look pretty damn good. I can work with this puppy - let's do this."

That might mean a few subtle, elegant touches. Or, if you subscribe to the Joan Collins more-is-more approach (like me) you can fling yourself fully overboard into your lunatic fantasies.


A Dress Moment? I had none. Dress Regrets? I have absolutely none either. But apparently that doesn't stop me still going into vintage shops and pulling out the most ridiculous frothy pastel confections and screaming at Sam "We need to get married again! Every year! I need to have a new dress! New dress! New dress! Ooh this one sparkles!"

 I can't find a credit for this picture of a dress that makes my eyes pop out on stalks. Please let me know if it is yours.

And this, my friends, is going to be true forever. Whatever our taste may be, we will love the beautiful dresses, and we will want all the beautiful dresses. Don't let them trick you into being pressured that there is only one The One. There will be lots of The Ones, and sometimes you will fall for a tooth-achingly expensive The One and with a little tenacity and patience you will discover it selling for 70% off elsewhere. You will see the Ones all the time, before you are married, and then after you are married too.

Don't let any of it shake your faith. Your dress will come unto you.

And you know what? If it comes unto you ...and then you get a sinking feeling that it's not quite right?

Take it back and get another one.


  1. I spent months visiting bridal stores and trying dresses on, when I finally found mine I felt amazing. The wind was totally knocked out of me, a small tear may have even been shed.

    I do agree that now it's all over, there are many more dresses that I want to try for a possible "renewal".

  2. Is it sad to admit that I already have a short dress, on the back of a motorbike, 60's kohl-rimmed-eyes, just the two of us renewal planned (only in my head, of course!) and we've not even been married a year?

  3. I'd have loved to have had a real "moment" in a bridal shop, you did really well Lianne (and props for sticking with it, I think I would have despaired if it had taken too long!)

    And Gemma, you have now given me licence to run riot with my renewal fantasies...I had been holding back til at least a year to let my brain start thinking about it but there really is no time like the present!


  4. I do wedding hair on the side and one of my brides last year said "I love my dress! It's totally classic! I'll never be one of those brides that will look dated in her wedding pictures!" She showed me the dress. Strapless. Big boofy skirt with pick-ups all over. Yep. My point is that I think it's awesome you went with a dress that expressed YOUR adorable personality rather than something the fashion mags tell you is "classic." I love the mid-laugh pic of you!! Gorgeous!

  5. Charlotte I had NO idea you had a wedding hair sideline! How cool is that?? You are a dark horse....(and HOW busy must you be?)