The Dress Hunt

With wedding prep well under way, the 3rd bedroom re-decorated, and a new kitchen set to be fitted in the next few months, it made sense to start the search for The Dress. Back in January I got in touch with my bridesmaids, mum, and mother-in-law-to-be and we settled on a date in mid-March for everyone to come up for a girly day of shopping and fizz. It felt like a long time in the future, but all of a sudden the date arrived, the girls filled the living room and the hunt was on.

I’d booked two boutiques – one a lot more traditional with your classic lace and satin dresses, the other a more quirky affair with vintage styles and afternoon tea. It was a chance to be a princess for a day and, complete with a glittery Bride To Be sash, I had no expectation of finding the One or anything like that. All I wanted was to have all the girls together, have a lot of fun, and just enjoy the experience.

The first boutique was the more traditional one, and I tried on a huge array of dresses. Handkerchief-hem meringues, beaded and bejewelled gowns, lacy sophisticated shapes. Each one as beautiful as the last, and each a gorgeous creation I would be proud to walk down the aisle in. I left the shop buzzing, having found two pieces particularly memorable but entirely different in style. A good start and at the very least a few contenders.

The second shop was a haven of unusual shapes, satin slips, coloured lace along with cakes, tea and fizz. Here was some fun to try on bohemian, comfortable, floating dresses fit for fairy princesses. The final dress I tried on here was one I’d seen online and had looked at a few times, and I was sure would be The One. Pulling it over my head, buttoning up the intricate back, I thought I could wear this dress forever. Comfortable, elegant, effortless, everyone beamed and it seemed the job was done.

With over 170 photos taken by my attentive bridesmaids, I thought it right to page through them once the excitement had died down, and make sure I was happy with my apparent decision. But every time I looked at the pictures, I grew more confused. There was a different dress that I kept thinking about, and the one I’d thought was perfect in the shop I was feeling less enamoured with. It didn’t seem as special, whereas I dreamt of the other. Its style is completely opposite to my normal choices but then, it’s a wedding dress. Surely that shouldn’t feel normal? It made me hold myself a little taller, feel a little prouder, and swan around with a greater sense of ceremony. My sister thought it was her favourite, my work colleagues cooed over all of them but also felt this one stood out a bit more. Perhaps these are the right signs…

Yet it still feels so much pressure to pick one out of so many. They are all stunning for different reasons, with their own ‘personalities’. The elegant, mature bride; the romantic, fairy queen; the effortless, comfortable gown. None of them did I put on and go “Yes, this is it,” but then I don’t know if that will ever happen? Hand me a white dress and I will happily wear it because at the end of the day, I’m marrying my soulmate. I could do that in jeans and a shirt and feel the most glowing, beaming bride. But I do want that white dress, I just have no idea how to decide.

I’ve rebooked the first boutique to try that one I keep thinking of again, and then maybe I’ll source it somewhere a shade cheaper… There a number of other shops nearby that sell 2nd hand dresses, so perhaps there I’ll find a gem.

We now have just 7 months to go before the big day, which is starting to cut it fine for finding the dress, according to all the advice. So by the end of April, there should be a frock on order or in my cupboard. What it will look like, and where it will come from, your guess is as good as mine.

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