I hate keeping secrets of my own. I can keep other people’s secrets fine – the amount of pregnancies I’ve kept secret in 2014 is testament to that. Oh, that sounds wrong. I mean I’ve known friends are pregnant before they’ve ‘announced’ it and have been sworn to secrecy. I digress.
What I mean is I have trouble keeping secrets of my own, as I just want to blurt things out. I always want to tell people about the presents I’ve bought for them right away, because I am so excited to see their reactions. The month of December is torture for me, guys.
So now I have the ultimate secret: my wedding dress. I’ve ordered it. Eek! And my mum (who patiently accompanied me to the shops in my hunt for The Dress) and bridesmaids are the only people I am going to show. And I now have to keep the secret from nine months – and to have to keep it from Andrew is torture, because I normally tell him everything.
Basically, what I am trying to say in a very roundabout way is that this post is going to be cryptic I’m afraid, but a few people are made a request for this post, so here goes.
Disclaimer: I know for a lot of people they find their dress easily, they’re totally relaxed and pick up something and look amazing in it – no panic or big deal. Unfortunately, that’s not how I am. I was TOTALLY freaked out about finding a dress.
I decided to wait until February 2015 to start dress shopping, but then I spoke to the bridal boutiques who almost had heart attacks. They all firmly told me I had to start shopping immediately (this was in October). One boutique, Isabella Grace, advised me to start in early November so I had enough time to think and shop around, and to aim to order my dress before the end of December.
Cue a massive panic. I didn’t feel ready to shop for my dress. I was dreading the process – how are you meant to find one dress is a sea of dresses? This one dress that is meant to be so special and significant. It was too much pressure. Andrew patiently talked me down from my panic (his patience with my panics is one of the many reasons I am marrying him). My bridesmaids were supportive and pragmatic, which also calmed me down (which is exactly why I picked those ladies for bridesmaids). I made some appointments to go to some bridal boutiques.
If you haven’t been wedding dress shopping before, well, it’s a whole other world. You have to wear certain underwear, and you have to make appointments – you can’t just rock up. And you also have to have help putting on the dresses because putting one on is like a challenge in Krypton Factor.
So I went to Isabella Grace in Tunbridge Wells for my first appointment. Tunbridge Wells is my hometown and where we’re getting married, so it seemed sensible to look there – plus you tend to have to go back to the shop for fittings so I wanted to stay local-ish. Another factor was about 50% of my friends seem to have bought their wedding dresses from Isabella Grace and they spoke so passionately about the shop it was like they were in a cult.
Me: “I’m engaged!”
Friend: “Congratulations! Let’s see the ring! Oooh. Are you going to get your dress from Isabella Grace? You really have to go there. It’s amazing. I wish I was getting married again so I can go back there. Can I come with you when you go so I can say hello to everyone who works there?!”
As I was really nervous, I asked my mum and two of my bridesmaids to come along with me. Any more than that and Isabella Grace advised it can get a bit overwhelming – and they’re so right. We all had a lovely bottle of Chapel Down bubbles before we went in (in a bar, not in the street), and then I rang the bell to go in.
It was actually fine. We had a room to ourselves, and a curtained-off area for me to change in, as well as tea and shortbread on tap and complimentary Jo Malone perfumes to sample – my mum and bridesmaids were happy!
We went through the shop and I picked out dresses I liked and I tried them on. They were all beautiful dresses but none of them felt like me. It is bloody weird seeing yourself in a wedding dress for the first time, let me tell you.
Then we went to another bridal shop in Tunbridge Wells. It was like the Fawlty Towers of bridal shops. It was heated to about 50 degrees (not fun when trying on lots of dresses) and they were running 45 minutes late with their appointments. Suffice to say, I didn’t find anything there either.
I came home feeling a bit panicked again that I wouldn’t find anything. I cried to Andrew a bit. Again he talked me down. He even went on Pinterest and showed me some dresses that he thought were nice to help calm me down.
Then I saw Isabella Grace had a few new dresses in (they post all their new dresses on their Facebook page), so I booked to go back for a second appointment but this time just with my mum as my bridesmaids were all busy (it was mid-week).
As soon as I walked in the shop I saw my dress. I tried it on and that was it. It was a new one the shop had just got, and it ticked all of the boxes of what I wanted. I cried (I’m not a crier), my mum cried. The lovely person at Isabella Grace popped the champagne and we celebrated. Then I had to take it off and I felt sad. But I am now even more excited about our wedding day as I get to wear my dream dress. And I NEVER thought I’d say that!
And for the record, if you are engaged but without a dress yet, are you going to get your dress from Isabella Grace? Can I come with you when you go?
Here are some lovely wedding dresses to look at, as I am not showing you mine (or am I? It could be one of these)!