2017 · Life · personal essay · wedding

The Dress

One of the best things about 2017 is that I am getting married in June. We have been engaged since July and it seemed like the wedding was quite far away… but now that we are in 2017 it seems very soon – only five months! We have almost everything booked and organised, but the one thing I had not done was find a dress. I had an idea of what I wanted, but of course that’s only an idea. It is a whole different game when you actually see dresses in real life and get to try them on.

I’m not super girly or traditional, so I know I didn’t want a ballgown/meringue type thing, and I knew I didn’t want a fishtail style as they are very fitted over the tum and hips, something I try to avoid… so a nipped-in 50s style was what I had in mind. Something fun and cute, girly but not princess-y, attractive but not too sexy, fancy but still comfortable. Surely that exists exactly as it does in my head?! Well,  not really…

I browsed a lot of dresses online before I found anything or any shop that seemed right to me. So many of the wedding dresses out there seem to be very opulent and grand, very dramatic. There is also this trend of having sheer fabric over most of the back with just buttons and/or embroidery providing any coverage, which looks a bit naked from the back and also doesn’t look very comfortable. As a woman who is classified as ‘plus size’ the issue I had was finding something that looked like it would be comfortable to wear for several hours, and that I wouldn’t feel exposed or self-conscious in. There is also the question of the style and look you are going for. Our wedding ceremony is going to be at Chelsea Town Hall, which is very smart but not as grand as some huge church or a stately home – so I wanted something that would feel appropriate. Our reception is at Chelsea Physic Garden and the whole look for that is quite fresh and Spring-y, very English country garden. So I just wouldn’t feel right in a tight, revealing dress, or for that matter an overly grand ballgown. These two options seemed to cover most of what was out there.

My older sister got married in 2009 and chose to wear a sort of Grecian-style flowing dress that she had had dyed to her chosen shade of green-y blue, and she looked lovely, like some kind of wood sprite (a flower crown and outdoor setting enhanced this). My mother also did not wear the traditional white dress when she and my father married in 1978, choosing instead a white shirt and green midi skirt for their registry office ceremony. I, though, knew I wanted to wear white because that was always what I had in my head, for whatever reason. Wearing white on the day matched my internal need to get married, to solidify our relationship with these traditions. In a similar way, my fiancé is choosing to wear a morning suit, along with his best man and groomsmen; and my bridesmaids will all be wearing matching dresses, chosen by me.

I’ve learned that you can do traditional but still make it suit you, and surely that’s the most important thing – that you feel comfortable and happy with all the components of your wedding, and you get to be yourself. I felt genuinely comfortable and happy when I chose my dress, just yesterday, standing in a bridal boutique with my mother looking on, and I will look for that feeling when I choose everything else.

I must recommend the boutique I went to – I found them on Little Book for Brides which is a great resource for suppliers. The boutique is called Sass & Grace, and is run by the lovely Sam Walsh who is very sweet and friendly, and knows exactly what to suggest and how to help. I was a bit self-conscious trying on the sample sizes that were too small for me, but Sam was very supportive and non-judgmental, just listening to me and advising me on what would work for my shape, size, and height. It was a great experience, genuinely fun an interesting, and I could not be more pleased and excited about the dress I chose. I was a little overwhelmed afterwards, as choosing the dress made everything a little more solid and real, and the picture of the day started to come together a bit more in my head. Choosing a wedding dress isn’t like choosing any other piece of clothing you have before – it is the dress you will be wearing in your wedding pictures, which everyone will look at forever, the dress that will make a statement about who you are and who you intend to be, the dress in which you will start the next phase of your life and become the wife of the person you love most in the world… it is not just a dress. It is a symbol of what your wedding day will be and what it represents. It is an ideal version of you, presented to your future husband as the woman he will marry and be with forever. I looked at myself in the mirror in the bridal boutique and I started to see myself as that person. My decision to choose that particular dress was a mixture of all the months of browsing and thinking about what I want, coupled with an instinctual moment of knowing that this was the right dress even though it wasn’t a 50s shape, even though it didn’t have sleeves… it was just the right one, and I knew it. The decision in the end was easy.

Now on to the rest of the three million decisions needed for the big day!

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