We found mine way more quickly than I expected.
In early October, Shata and her partner David were set to come up from London to Derbyshire for a weekend of country walks and Autumnal food and drink (mushroom lasagne and gin) but at the last minute David couldn’t make it and it was raining cats and dogs.
Shata and I made a snap decision over our scrambled egg breakfast; we would try and book last-minute wedding dress appointments.
I phoned round some local shops. Despite all-round ominous gasps of ‘your wedding is only ten months away and you haven’t sorted your dress yet!’ the lovely ladies at Ivory White Bridal in Duffield and The Wedding House in Derby were able to squeeze me in for afternoon appointments due to a couple of cancellations.
I rang the matriarchs of the family, Mum and Nana, to see if they were available to join us. They were! Good.
We arranged that Shata and I would meet Mum and Nana outside Ivory White.
Introducing my mother: she is a librarian by trade but her heart lies in furniture-renovation and amateur floristry (she does all her friends’ daughters’ weddings). Mum has taught me everything I know about French cooking, antique-hunting, and shoe-hoarding. She and my Dad still live in the cottage I was born in, which I talk about here. I speak to her pretty much every day and her opinion is gold. Confession: I find it hard to order a sandwich without consulting her.
I mentioned here that my little sister was born when I was still tiny. It was Nana who played dolls with me, read me stories and taught me to make little fairy cakes while a 30-year-old Mum was nursing new-born Laura. She and Pops were horticulturalists, growers and landscape gardeners and in their heyday they had two nurseries. They have always been super hands-on, loving grandparents and it was because of them that I knew the names of all the flowers and could grow Dianthus from cuttings by the age of six. Fun Nana fact: she always, always, always tells it like it is.
The ladies in Ivory White asked me to select five dresses to try. I was veering towards 1930s-style silhouettes and simple white crêpe. Mum was veering towards anything Marie-Antoinette inspired and dripping with lace. To keep everyone happy, I chose to tread the middle ground.
Shata and Mum oohed over this one. Nana said, ‘Lovely. Your bottom looks good!’ before whispering loudly to Mum: ‘Jane, hasn’t Sarah got prominent tan-lines?’
This one was Shata’s favourite. Nana said: ‘Very pretty. Reminds me a bit of lingerie.’
We left Ivory White feeling encouraged and drove into Derby for the second appointment.
I’ve seen many a glamorous wedding-dress shopping photo on social media: a trayful of champagne cocktails in Claridge’s with a caption like ‘wedding dress shopping is very exhausting ’. Hashtag I’m organised and plan ahead.
A word to the wise: if you choose my last-minute method of wedding-dress-shopping, the only instagram photo you will be posting is of the Wilmorton working men’s club car park in the pouring rain. We waited there for a full hour between the two appointments – but we didn’t get bored because Nana had brought the ‘Special Offers This Week at Aldi’ magazine for us to look at.
I tried on a few dresses at our appointment at The Wedding House but the light was getting poor due to the descending October afternoon so the photos aren’t excellent.
We all liked this crêpe one although I did hear the word ‘tan-lines’ coming from the vicinity of Nana:
At this point, Mum forced me to try on a veil despite my heavy protestations. I think a veil makes me look even goofier than usual, as evidenced by a photo that I will not be posting in the public domain. Nana said: ‘Yes, Jane, and it’s not like she’s completely virginal’ before winking at me and saying: ‘Darling, are you sure that white’s the colour for you?’
A successful outing, but, suffice to say, Shata and I were very glad to get home to Steve brandishing the cocktail shaker.
Two weeks later and still wedding dress-less, I was sitting in the English office at work scoffing a doughnut and Mum sent me a text saying she’d got me an appointment after-school at Gracie Bleu Bridal in Matlock. That was the afternoon I found it. Ronald Joyce. Sample sale bargain. Completely perfect. But it’s top secret until the big day. The only people who’ve seen it are Mum and Aunty Lyn.
How did you find your wedding dress? Was it a lengthy operation or was it found right at the start of your hunt for The Dress? Not all of my bridesmaids could be there, including my sister who was in New York at the time. Did you have the help of your bridesmaids or did you bring your female relatives along for the ride?
More wedding-planning gossip on instagram @sweetpeasandsighs