Although I had been wrong many times before; when I had wanted to find my dress in the bridal shop that shall remain unnamed. When I was convinced Isabella Grace would have so many dresses I would fall in love with, that I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just one. And then when I found the dress of my dreams with a frankly ridiculous and unachievable price tag.
BUT I had a really good feeling about House of Snow!!! Plus I couldn’t be wrong forever..
So a year to the day before our wedding, Callum and I spent bank holiday weekend up in Norfolk. Annie was sticking to her story about not visiting another shop with me and had only agreed to drive me to Bury St Edmonds, drop me off and go for a coffee whilst I tried on yet more dresses. So off we went, stopping briefly for toasted tea cakes (my fave!) and a brew to set us up for the day. We arrived bright and early at House of Snow for the first appointment of the day. As soon as we saw the gorgeous grey exterior with classic branding and an incredible window display, Annie’s resolve crumbled.. There was no way she was missing out on this place!
Walking in, we were greeted by an extremely smiley Harriet (the owner), accompanied by Sue (her mum) who was on hand for the opening weekend. The interior was incredible! Rich, fluffy ivory carpets that your toes sunk into when you walked across it, lovely soft lighting, marble side tables, gorgeous comfy grey armchairs for guests to relax in and a huge floor to ceiling mirror for brides to admire themselves in! Harriet obviously has impeccable taste.
My first impression of the boutique was great however I have to admit, I took one look at the size of the dress collection and my first thought was, ‘I am going to work my way through these in absolutely no time, how on earth can my dress possibly be within this selection when I have tried on dozens already?’*
*Disclaimer: I realise that this makes it sound like there are limited dresses at House of Snow. That would be hugely inaccurate! You guys have to remember that I was THAT Bride (the one that tried on far too many dresses, most of which were perfectly lovely). I am an anomaly and hopefully you all have much more streamlined experiences..
Now I admit, I should have known better… It’s about quality NOT quantity!
As soon as I began flicking through the dresses, it became apparent that Harriet’s collection was beautifully curated with various bride’s styles in mind. There was literally something for everyone’s taste and they we’re all incredibly beautiful! Going to House of Snow felt a little bit like having a personal shopper who had edited all the naff stuff out before showing me anything! Exactly what you want when shopping for your gown.. Well done Harriet!
There were dresses from designers that included; Justin Alexander (princess), Jenny Packham (bling meets boho), Watters Woo (modern), Suzanne Neville (classic) and of course Pronovias (classic with a hint of sexy??) who I had been dying to try on!!
I immediately picked out a handful of dresses to try, including one that was the complete opposite of what I wanted! (See where this is going???)
Harriet carefully took each dress from me and when it came to the ‘out of the box’ dress, she said to me, ‘Helena now this particular one is a little out of the budget you told me you wanted to stick to’.
I have absolutely no idea how she possibly remembered this because I completely forgot I had even told her when booking the appointment! She didn’t have any paper with notes on, it was purely from memory.. Testament to her professionalism! She then went on to say that I was obviously more than welcome to try the dress on but she didn’t want me to fall in love with something that I may not have budgeted for.
At this point I’m going to warn all you Bride’s to be.. This is the number one thing you should never do at an appointment!
However, what did I do? Of course I tried it on.. Being at the end of my tether with dress shopping, I just desperately wanted to find something, so the whole thing would be over (not romantic in the slightest I realise!)
Anyway, most brides will know that when you try dresses on, you start with the least likely and save the best for last.. therefore I ordered mine;
- Out of the box dress
- Polka dot ballgown (it was nice, honest!)
- Justin Alexander glitzy ballgown
- Pronovias classic ballgown (I wasn’t giving up on my ballgown dream)
- Pronovias slinky dress
So I put on the first one and come out to stand on the plinth infront of the mirror. Immediately I burst into tears. I don’t really know how to describe it. I just knew. This dress was the one that I was supposed to get married in! Now all of my friends and family will probably say that I cry at everything (because I do) but throughout the whole dress shopping saga, I was a stony faced, cold hearted something*… I was in and out of dresses quicker than you could say Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt!
*insert noun of choice here..
This time was completely different. I get that this sounds unbelievably cringeworthy/cliche/bonkers but I got this warm feeling that flooded my body, reaching to the very tips of my fingers and toes. It literally radiated from every inch of my skin until I felt like I was going to burst (again I realise how ridiculous this sounds!) but everyone could see, it instantly showed on my face!
I turned around and not only was Annie crying, but so was Harriet AND Sue!! (Who later became known as my personal cheerleader.) Even though I was suffering from a hangover, with horrible greasy hair and serious lack of make up, I can honestly say that I have never felt so beautiful in my entire life.
I understand that not everyone reacts this way to finding their dress but after such a stressful journey, this was exactly what I needed. It was exactly how I imagined it feeling and all I can say is please hold out until you are absolutely certain that it is your dress!!!!!
I went on to try the other dresses but none of them even came close. The Pronovias dress which I incorrectly believed would be my favourite did not fit anywhere near as well as MY dress. So off we went to the fitting room in order to get back into the first dress. As soon as I put it on, that feeling came back. For those of you who watch Say Yes to the Dress, Harriet ‘jacked me up’! More tears ensued and then she asked if I wanted to know who the designer of the dress was. Now part of me wasn’t interested at all, I was relieved to have found the dress regardless of who made it. However, having an interest in fashion, I was really curious! When she told me it was Suzanne Neville, I was not surprised in the slightest.
For all you brides to be reading this thinking- I would have absolutely no clue how to tell the difference, don’t worry! You just start to pick things up along the way. You try on dresses and start to recognise certain styles or attributes that different designers have. The only reason I knew anything about Suzanne Neville was because one of the other recently engaged girls from work came in one Monday morning raving about her gowns! She warned me not to try a Suzanne Neville on unless I was prepared to pay the price on that ticket* because her dresses fit so incredibly, nothing will compare. Well, Emily you were 100% right. It fit me like it was made for me and I had to have it!
*They aren’t the cheapest but for very good reason. The fit is unparalleled.
Harriet then cracked open the fizz and we toasted finding the dress whilst we went over the finer details.. Exactly how much was this dress going to set me back?? There was a 10% discount for all brides placing their order on House of Snow’s opening weekend. Harriet also told me that there was a £100 gift voucher in my goodie bag which I was welcome to use at the same time. Luckily the price kept nudging down little by little. Additionally, due to the type of dress I went for, alterations would be a lot less than I had originally budgeted for (watch out for those lace gowns ladies!) so we had a final figure which unfortunately was still a bit over my budget. I was in a situation where I knew this was the dress and I had to make a decision now or else I would lose the 10% discount, putting it further out of reach. So I promised Harriet that I would be back by the end of the day before she closed, to put down a deposit. I’m sure that when Bride’s usually say this, what they actually mean is ‘I just don’t have the confidence to say no to your face.’ However I genuinely meant what I said so off I went back to the house to discuss with Callum..
When I walked out to the garden to talk to him, I just burst into tears (again) and couldn’t get any of my words out. By this point, I think he knows me well enough to realise that this meant we had to make it happen. I mean I had been searching for almost a year! I told him how much it all came to and he said that of course we would move things around to make it work! I was absolutely over the moon and dragged him back to House of Snow so that I could pay my deposit and also so that he had the chance to meet Harriet and Sue!
I cannot thank House of Snow enough for everything that they have done and continue to do for me. The experience was not stressful in the slightest- even though I was THAT bride.. I felt completely comfortable and had an absolute ball shopping with you! I feel like I have made great friends who I look forward to coming back and visiting each time.
I am honoured to be a House of Snow and Suzanne Neville bride! Can’t wait to see you all again in April for my final fitting with Lara..