You know, dear Reader, how much I was dreading wedding dress shopping? From last weekend I couldn’t sleep. When I did sleep I had nightmares. I had stomach ache, I felt sick, I craved chocolate (yeah, I know – no logic there), my heart beat so loud and so fast, I could hear it - I could practically see it. I knew that I’d done my research and the two shops I had appointments with were renowned for their great and sympathetic service. It’s not that I thought they’d be unkind –but I did think I’d have to spend a lot of money for something that would ultimately make me feel bad about myself and my body. That I’d be settling for something that was ‘adequate’, that covered me up but would never, could never, make my heart sing. That would be a stark reminder of the chasm between my hopes, aspirations and dreams and grim reality.
I was literally shaking in the first shop, despite the assistant being really kind and friendly and not remotely intimidating. I couldn’t look at myself as she eased me into the first dress – I was terrified it wouldn’t even do up. I left the cubicle, still shaking – but.... I looked okay. Quite nice really – and certainly better than I thought. I probably tried on half a dozen dresses – most were okay-ish, one was not great but didn’t make me want to cringe as I looked at it and rip it off. I found a dress that, with some modification, would do very nicely. Simple, with a little detail. My mum liked it, my bridesmaid liked it, I liked it. I left feeling incredibly relieved – and if I hadn’t already had an appointment for the second shop, I’d have called it a day, much lighter of heart.
Then I went to the second shop. The owner was very different and I certainly wouldn’t mess with her, but that was a good thing for a wussy coward like me who would wriggle out of the encounter if I could. I also felt that I’d get an honest and frank opinion from her – no sales guff. Well, the first dress she put me in was sublime. I would not have chosen it – it was entirely lace in a very faintly apricotty cream. She popped on a little off the shoulder stretchy, fitted bolero, also in lace, very Audrey. “Ohhhh” breathed my mum and my friend. I actually gazed at myself – me, who cannot meet her own eye in the mirror! I didn’t care how much it cost, I would have to have it.
She put me in a 2nd dress, it was lovely, very Grecian. I liked it but it could never compete with the apricotty lace number. Then. “You told me what you don’t like in a dress” said the lovely shop owner “but I’m going to put you in this anyway”. I regarded the dress warily – wasn’t it a bit showy for me? But I obediently wriggled in to it (it was a 10: it did not close at the back properly). My mum’s hand went up to her mouth, my friend’s mouth gaped open: “You look stunning”. I could see the shock in their eyes. I looked in the mirror – it was true. I could see the shock in my eyes! I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I was, I genuinely didn’t recognise myself – I almost wanted to touch the mirror to see if it were true.. I am very, very English, I do not do emotion in public, but I thought, I really thought, I was going to cry – my lip wobbled and my eyes filled, I was absolutely overwhelmed. If someone had designed a dress for me they could not have come up with anything that was as beautiful and that suited me as well. I bought the dress. Of course.
I’m going to be vague because I really want to keep it a secret until the wedding – and anyway, I’m not sure I could do it justice in a description. The owner said that it looks nothing on the website – and I’ve looked and it does not.
But as a sop, here’s the apricot one. Which is apparently cream lace over pale gold – but as I said, it looks like a cream with a hint of apricot. Ignore the gigantic flower at the waist. I would put an actual pic in but Blogger is so bloody useless now, it barely works for me at all.
When lacing me in to the dress, the owner had told me of the “dark arts” of proper corset makers (the dress has corsetry – result!). “It’s alchemy” I exclaimed in wonder at the sudden revelation “I’m base metal, turned to gold”.