We tend to assume that it’s the bride who clamours for a ‘meringue’ style dress on the big day, but Olivia’s account tells a very different story. After she’d settled on a minimalist and understated dress, our latest b2b decided to share her decision with her fiance – with unexpected results…
‘So, I decided to show Himself my chosen outfit – and watched as his face fell.
No honey coloured bias cut tea gown with a casual flower in my hair was going to cut it -my boy needed to see me in full veil and meringue – or as near to it as I could bear to go. In his mind’s eye he had a picture of a bride in her dress, probably formed by Lady Diana Spencer on the telly when we were kids , and that was what brides wore. Royal weddings have a lot to answer for!
So I was richer by a posh frock (which I’ve since worn to dressier parties and the opera) and poorer by £55 and my wedding dress search was back on .
After I realised that my life was incomplete without a meringue, I toddled round a few bridal shops . I hadn’t been in one for seven years when I was supposed to help a friend pick out her dress and we gave up after an hour and went for tapas instead.
The first surprise was that at least two thirds of the dresses were both strapless and sparkly . I ‘d never thought of sequins as daywear and it seems odd to make a fuss about the congregation covering arms and shoulders in church if the bride is wearing a low cut strapless dress. I held a few dresses up against me and discovered once again that white makes my skin look dreadful and that large amounts of white make my skin look especially dreadful.
My other discovery was the price tag – surely someone had put the decimal point in the wrong place? Over the next few weeks I was to become used to the Wedding effect on prices but at that point the shock was still new. I made my excuses and left.
I wanted to post about my bridal shop visit because I’m still trying to get to grips with the weirdness of bridal clothing.
The first thing is that you’re supposed to make an appointment, not just turn up and start trying on. The reasons for this become much clearer when I arrive and find a changing room larger than my first student flat and two assistants waiting for me. There is also a basket filled with what looks like ivory silk bricks.
The classic 2009 wedding dress is strapless, has a lace up back and has 3 or 4 petticoats built in . It isn’t possible to put the dress on yourself and in fact both the assistants work as a sort of tag team . Both lift the dress over me, one holds it at the right place on me , the other laces it up.
At this point, I discover what the silk bricks are for. The shop doesn’t have samples of every dress in every size , so you’re encouraged to pick out the styles you like and try them on anyway. If the dress is bigger than you , they pad the back with the silk bricks so they can get it to stay on. If the dress is smaller, then an assistant just holds the dress on you while you do a sort of three legged race waddle to the mirror.
Wedding dresses usually come in a standard 5’10” length , so there is a little puddle of dress left on the ground (I’m trying on without heels to protect the dresses from accidental injury). One assistant picks up the hem while the other holds the dress on and we shuffle over to a little box covered with carpet which I perch on while they drape the dress around me. I feel like a large sailing ship being towed up the Thames by tug boats.
The next shock is the sizes. I arrive wearing size 14 jeans, a 34G bra and various t shirts. I’ve already been warned that wedding gowns use classic pre 1990 sizing and that I’ll need a bigger size than usual.
We start with a ball gown in old gold (or toffee according to Hilary Morgan) with a long, ruched, fitted halter neck bodice. It’s an 18 and fits perfectly over the bust. The big skirt means that it doesn’t touch my bottom half anyway so the size difference between top and bottom doesn’t matter. This is about what I’d expect with a G cup bust on a size 14 frame. However, it’s a bridesmaid dress and appears to have modern sizing.
We now move on to the wedding dresses and my relief proves to be short-lived. I find it almost impossible to tell what the dresses I like would look like if they were my size. However, one dress appears to have the bones of the bodice perfectly aligned with my nipples. It’s a size 30, the biggest dress in the shop. Can this really be a fit ?
The assistants go into a huddle and the most senior one is called over. Much (polite) prodding, poking and measuring follows. It appears that my bosom does indeed fit into a size 30 if two five inch side panels and a five inch modesty panel can be removed from the back of the dress. I feel as if I’ve been made out of the front half and back half of two different women glued together – a freak .
Watch this space for furthur updates on Olivia’s continuing dress-shopping trauma!