The search for a wedding dress

Apologies for my absence. I’ve been trying on every wedding dress within a 50-mile radius. As you can imagine, this has taken a fair bit of time. More time than I ever thought possible.

Short, long, princess, fishtail, ivory, white, lace, non-lace, off the peg, not off the peg. I’ve tried them all. This is the first rule of wedding dress shopping. You have to try everything, even things you don’t like.

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‘Don’t rule anything out until you’ve tried it,’ the people of the wedding dress world keep telling me. So the fishtail frocks and the meringues, I had to give them a go. And guess what! They were amazing. Well, not the fishtail frocks because of my ample backside, but the meringues. Marvellous!

I will never forget the shock of seeing myself in a princess wedding gown, stepping out of the changing room and looking in the mirror. And wondering if the woman staring back at me was actually me.

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Up until actually trying on a wedding dress I wasn’t really bothered about a wedding dress at all. I thought a bridesmaid-frock-come-ball-gown would suffice for our very small wedding.

‘It’s a wedding,’ Mum kept saying. ‘You need a proper dress.’

I wasn’t convinced but agreed to have a look anyway. And with that, the search began. Shop after shop. Dress after dress. I’m not a shopper, but I happily tried every boutique in Yorkshire, completely swept up in the search for a perfect dress. The one, as some people called it.

The only problem was that I couldn’t find The One.  When this happens, the excitement at wedding dress shopping diminishes somewhat. Instead it became a real test of endurance. Trying on dress after dress soon began to lose its sparkle. I was fatigued.

Mum was struggling too. When one shop messed up our appointment and couldn’t find the booking, Mum had a funny turn and I thought she might collapse. ‘We need to get sorted soon,’ she said. ‘I can’t take any more.’

The dresses were lovely, but we couldn’t find one suitable for me. ‘You’re the wrong shape,’ Mum said. ‘That’s what it is.’

Strapless dresses didn’t suit my shape. I thought I looked okay, but apparently they accentuated my flat-chest and long upper-body.

‘We can get extra padding,’ the shop assistants said.

‘No,’ Mum said. ‘It’ll not help. Her chest is too long.’

The princess frocks made my waist look tiny and completely hid my backside, but they were huge. ‘No good,’ Mum shook her head. ‘The vicar will have to extend the church to get you down the aisle.’

The fishtails were awful. Apparently I have an ‘ample backside’, so this style just accentuated its hugeness.  ‘It’s your legs,’ Mum said. ‘You have really big legs! Just like your father.’

After a good few months of shopping, where every part of my body was scrutinized, we began to run out of wedding dress shops. We’d covered most of Yorkshire and still had no luck.

The last shop was Emily’s Bridal in Sheffield. This was the first shop I’d phoned, but the last to try.

‘If we don’t get sorted here, you’ll have to wear a bin bag,’ Mum said.

‘Anything,’ I said. ‘I don’t care anymore.’

In Emily’s I was spoilt for choice. I narrowed it down to five dresses. In and out of the changing room I came, while Mum slumped on a sofa in the corner. ‘All nice,’ she smiled and tapped her watch. ‘Can you make a decision, please.’

I  would happily have worn each and every one of them on my wedding day, but there was one dress that I loved just a little bit more than the others. This had to be The One.

‘Thank goodness for that,’ Mum said. ‘I thought we’d never find one.’

I was so pleased the search was over. But before we bowed out of dress shopping, I wanted to try this particular dress for my bridesmaids. I wanted to see their reactions when they saw me in my wedding dress for the first time.

Off we went to Sheffield, all five of us. I put on the dress, took a deep breath and stepped out from the changing room. No one spoke. Blank faces stared back at me.

It was Olivia, my four-year-old niece who broke the silence. ‘Auntie Liz,’ she said. ‘Your dress looks like a carpet.’

A carpet! My beautiful wedding dress and she thought I looked like I’d been wrapped in a carpet. It wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for, but after months of shopping, it would have to do.

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The dress dilemma

With a year to go until our wedding, now’s the time to start looking for a dress. This is what everyone keeps telling me.

Twelve months is, I’m told, the perfect length of time in which to look, try, be measured for, order, wait for and, finally, alter the dress for your big day. That seems like a lot of faffing about to me, but if I want a traditional wedding dress this is what must be done.

The problem is that I’m not Continue reading

Marrying on independence day – the wedding’s off

This time next year Chris and I will be getting ready for our wedding. The planning is well underway and we’re starting to get really excited. We’re also really pleased that we opted for 2017 and not 2016, because this morning the news that the UK is leaving Europe would have cast a shadow over much of the day.

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It’s bad enough that we’re leaving Europe, but now Nigel Farage and others are billing June 24th as independence day.

‘I don’t want to get married on independence day,’ I told Chris this morning. ‘We’ll have to cancel the wedding.’

That’s how Continue reading

An afternoon of cake

Cake! I don’t think there’s a better topic of conversation for a Friday afternoon. I love cake. I always have. I always will.

This afternoon I had to go to the post office to renew my passport. The post office is near my favourite cake parlour, Cherry Cakes.

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I’d planned to go straight to the post office without so much as looking in the direction of Cherry Cakes. I made it Continue reading

Marrying abroad or in the UK

EVERYONE has an opinion about what makes a good wedding. Friends, family, the lady in the shop up the road, and even the horse farrier were all happy to share their ideas about what we should do for our big day.

Being newly engaged and not really having a clue about weddings, we were keen to listen.

‘You should go abroad,’ my friend Lisa said. ‘It’s great. No Stress. Nice and relaxed.’ Lisa and her husband married in Mexico. With white sand, blue sea and beautiful weather, it was a stunning setting for a wedding.

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‘Sand,’ I replied. ‘I’ve got a thing about getting sand in my toes.’

‘You don’t have to worry about that. They picked me up on one of those buggy things and took me to the ceremony.’

I couldn’t Continue reading

Do you have a wedding plan?

AS soon as we announced our engagement, people started asking about our wedding plans.

My sister was the first. ‘Where do you want to get married? What about your bridesmaids? Do you have any plans?’

I looked at Chris. Chris looked at me. ‘No. No plans.’

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Lake Windermere. My friend James took this photo. He kept telling us to go back a bit!

 

‘When do you want to get married?’

The questions just kept on coming. It took me by surprise. We’d just got engaged. We’d never thought about the details of a wedding.

‘What are your plans?’ My friend, Lisa, was about the millionth person to ask.

I shrugged. ‘Don’t know.’

‘I had a plan in my head.’ Lisa tapped her head. ‘Didn’t you have a plan in there?’

I shook my plan-less head. ‘No. I’ve never given it much thought.’

I felt bad that I’d never had a wedding plan. Should I have dreamed about getting married, planned all the details so that when the proposal came, I’d have it all sorted.

The only thing I’d ever dreamed about is being a writer. Chris knows this. ‘If I had the choice between a wedding and a book deal,’ I told him. ‘I’d choose the book deal.’ This is what I said to my new fiancé.

He took it remarkably well. ‘What we really want,’ he said. ‘Is a marriage without a wedding.’

‘That’s it! That’s exactly it.’

The whole idea of organising a wedding left us feeling a bit confused, but I liked the sound of a marriage without a wedding.

My Mum didn’t.’If you’re getting married, you have to have a wedding. It goes without saying.’ She rolled her eyes and pulled her I can’t believe you’re my daughter face.

‘Right,’ I said. ‘Okay.’

And so the search for a wedding venue began.

My cousin, Clare, had a lovely wedding about 20 years ago at Waterton Park Hotel. It seemed sensible to try there first. So, on a rainy, cold and miserable Sunday in January we attended our first wedding fair.

Waterton Park Hotel

We pulled into the car park. ‘There’s a lot of people.’ The competitive me was already taking over. I wanted to be the first in.

‘Plenty of time,’ Chris is the laid back one in our relationship.

‘Have you got an umbrella?’ Mum was in the back of the car. ‘I don’t want to get my hair wet.’

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Raining. This picture was actually taken a few years ago on my 30th birthday in the Lake District. It was the only rainy type picture I could find!

 

It was just as busy inside. It seemed that everyone in the world had got engaged at Christmas and wanted to get married at Waterton. I have to say that it is a very beautiful place. It’s on an island and has a very romantic feel to it.

I was waiting for that feeling I’d heard that people get when they see their wedding venue or dress for the first time. My stomach rumbled, but apart from that, there was no feeling.

Chris and I stood in the reception room listening to the string quartet. We shook our heads and smiled. Waterton, however lovely it is, just wasn’t for us.

I was starting to feel a bit disappointed, but then we walked across the bridge into the newer part of the hotel where we got talking to a photographer, Gav Harrison. He showed us his albums and seemed really lovely.

‘Get his card.’ Mum came up behind us. ‘And let’s get out of here.’

Gav had a special offer on. If we booked in February, there was a discount.

‘Right!’ I pulled out of the car park. ‘That’s the challenge. We need a venue to go with the photographer.’

We drove home happy that at least our wedding planning was underway. We had a photographer.

 

Where to go on honeymoon?

We have no idea where to go on honeymoon. To try and find some inspiration we headed to our local Kuoni branch, which happens to be Meadowhall in Sheffield.

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http://www.kuoni.co.uk

We browsed the brochures. We weren’t really sure where to start.

‘There!’ Chris pointed to a brochure on the third shelf, two across, with the title Honeymoon Guide.

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That seemed a good start. We flicked through it.There were so many lovely photographs of the most amazing places.

We were overwhelmed.

I approached a lady behind a desk. ‘Can you help?’ I asked. ‘We’re looking for a honeymoon, and we’ve no idea.’

The Kuoni advisor couldn’t have been more helpful. Within a second she was on her feet, taking brochures from the shelves.

Our wedding is in June, which means there are certain destinations, such as Barbados, which are no-go’s on account of it being their hurricane season. We’ve been to Barbados and absolutely fell in love with it (see pictures below), but we didn’t fancy going in hurricane season.

We narrowed our selection down to the countries in the world which would be suitable in June.

Europe, Indonesia, USA, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles.

‘All you need to do,’ the sales advisor said. ‘Is to decide on the destination, then make an appointment and one of our specialists will take you through the options.’

It sounded perfect. The only problem is deciding where we want to go.

We left the shop, arms full of brochures, and headed to Pizza Express, where we could look at the brochures, discuss our options, and enjoy a huge pizza.

‘We need to decide whether we want an adventure, or a stop and flop honeymoon,’ Chris tucked into his romana padana.

‘Adventure,’ I said. ‘Definitely an adventure. Three weeks, with a bit of everything.’

The west coast of America seemed to be the favourite destination. The waitress was heading to LA this summer, so she was also excited for us.

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We thought we’d got it sorted, but then I had the busiest week with work, and began to wonder whether a beach holiday may be better. By June next year I will (all being well) have finished a degree in English Literature, and a Master’s degree in Writing. I’m also working full time, planning a wedding, and running competitively.

‘With all this going on, I might not even make the wedding!’ I told Chris.

We started looking at other options. Chris fancied Santorini. He showed me a brochure. Santorini certainly looks like one of the most beautiful islands in the Med. It has stunning scenery, whitewashed villages and laidback tavernas. I could certainly see us spending time there.

‘But what about the adventure?’ I’d got my heart set on an adventure of some kind. I thought about it for a few minutes. ‘Let’s have two honeymoons!’

That was it! That’s the answer! Perfect.

Do you have any honeymoon recommendations? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Liz x