Friday, 29 May 2009

'The One'

There's a lot said on the wedding forum I've been spending time on lately about the concept of 'The One' - that when you find your wedding dress you will know: the earth will move, you'll burst into tears and choirs of angels will sing the glories of your overpriced frock.

Which is an awful lot of pressure. Not for me - I eschewed the whole process (compelled to by my bodily bulk - bridal shops stock samples in sizes 10-14 only), but for more pragmatic brides. Anyway, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the matter:

[The One is] a concept that works because of the way we buy dresses.

You try on a selection of dresses - it's obvious that certain styles will suit your body or your taste more than others. It may be that the one that suits and flatters you best is the first one, or the eighth.

You may then visit another shop - if you haven't found a dress that truly appeals, you'll go looking for something which does. if you have found a dress you love, you'll be less likely to give the others a chance.

Often people talk themselves out of the one they liked best because of price: but it stands to reason that pricier dresses will be made in lovelier fabrics and with more attention to design. Therefore they prey on our minds as we try on other dresses. Or it may be that our emotional state when we try on certain dresses is more conducive to our liking ourself in the frock. Or it may just be that any given sample fit better or was more to our taste.

The point i'm making, not terribly well, is that if we could try on all the dresses in the market on the same day and with the same mindset, we may well not end up with the dress we perceive to be 'the one'. But wedding dress shopping is a limited exercise - rather like choosing a life mate, no?

Ultimately, then, one's chance of finding a dress we like more than all the others we have tried on is absolute (assuming we try on more than one). The chances of us feeling strongly positive toward any one dress depends on the section of the market we experience happening to encompass a dress which actively appeals to our personal ideas of taste and suitability. This in turn depends on a person's preconceptions going in to the process (i will look good/stupid in a dress), and how well the market (in section or whole) caters to that individual's body shape, taste and budget.


It's just like finding a life partner!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

One step closer.

I did it! I have found myself a dressmaker. Or rather I have followed up enough of the dressmaking leads I had been given, to make a decision about one. Here name is Tanya Dimitrova, and today I went to her studio in Hammersmith. She's a fearsomly glamorous, well-groomed Eastern-European lady who used to work with Alasdair's 'Best Mel' at Karen Millen, before setting up on her own fairly recently. Mel recommends her very highly, and she instilled great confidence in me (despite being a little scary... it's the grooming!)

She briskly decided that the first stage was to make my pattern up as a toile (a mock-up made of cheap fabric), so she took my measurements (rather loosely for my self esteem) and I go back in about four weeks to try it on. She very much gave the impression that she could have the whole project finished by then, but said that it was best not to complete the frock til mid July, as "most brides, I find... most brides... they lose some weight" - she seemed uncomfortable, but I agreed fulsomely. I'm not sure she's had to deal with many brides my size!

So - the photos peppering this post are those I gave Tanya today, and between them suggest what's happening with the dress. I'm not sure I could be any more excited.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Wedges, set, go!

The postman just brought me my pink glitzy wedges, and they fit! Moreover the sole is quite cushioned and the wedge isn't too steep, so they might even be comfortable.

Hurrah for ebay finds.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Finishing the jewellery...

Further to that rather long post about the ring - let me share with you the remainder of my jewellery looks.

These earrings were an absolute steal on ebay - vintage 1940s but no discoloration, they measure about an inch diameter. And they went for their opening price of £2.99! The only downside is that they're clip-ons, and while they seem really comfortable, I worry about losing one: getting it caught in someone's hair during all those cheek-kisses, or in my veil or something. So I've bought some stud backs, and just need to fix them on.

That set the mood for the tiara: structured rather than wired, crystals and diamante rather than pearls. I found this on ebay too - it seems silly to pay more when most bridal retailers are probably sourcing from the same Eastern European stockists that my ebay seller was. It was one of the most expensive tiaras on ebay, at £35 - but I'd have paid well over £100 for something similar in the shops. It came in a sturdy round box, too - already I can think of it as a keepsake.

I remember as a girl my mum showing me her tiara and other bits from her wedding (a musical horseshoe? something musical...) which she kept carefully in a box ever since her own wedding. It's an incredibly lovely thought that I might one day do the same thing with the items I'm choosing now.

My ring!

Not so interesting for those who may have seen it, but it seems part of the story so let me catch you up.

When Al proposed, he had in his hand a flat square box - far too flat and rather too large to be a ring box; for a split second I wasn't sure it was a proposal at all. In the box, though, was a brooch. It had belonged to his Granny, and she suggested he gave it to me (the implication being that it was made into an engagement ring, but Al was cagey on that subject at the time, apparently). I didn't take a photo of the brooch, but by virtue of my astounding Microsoft Paint skills, I can show you what it looked like:

Note, this is about 110% of actual size (on my monitor)

Anyway, apparently he debated quite anxiously over whether to have it made into a ring before he proposed or whether I'd prefer to do it myself. He chose well. I spent a hugely enjoyable time searching the four corners of the internet for ideas. The thing is - there's a limit to what you can do with three round stones which are all the same size. There are wavy, tendrilly designs - which isn't me. There are wishbone shapes - also not to my taste... or there are straight lines. I decided to go for a straight line arrangement, but to add some drama to the profile of the ring by setting the centre stone higher than the others.

I sent Al off to Hatton garden with these two pictures:

I said I wanted the outer two stones set like the first ring (a bezel or rubover setting), nestled quite closely in to the centre stone, which I wanted set on tall, straight prongs (like the second). Apparently, times are hard in Hatton Garden, because when the first jeweller he saw gave him a quote and he went to leave and check elsewhere, she practically leaped across the shop to stop him and cut the price by a third! The work took two weeks, during which time I wore my mum's old engagement ring on my left hand instead of my right, just so I had something there.

And then it came.

Oh the photos don't do it justice - in the light it sparkles like there's a rainbow on fire inside it. The settings (white gold) are very clever: they maximise the amount of light coming to the stones from the sides and below. Each is set at a different angle (following the curve of the ring), so form which every way you look at the front of the ring, there's at least one stone twinkling away. The band itself is 18ct yellow gold. I know white is fashionable, but my mum's ring is also yellow gold - it seems timeless. Also I like the idea of a traditional, plain band of gold for my wedding ring.

Sunday, 12 April 2009


So, despite having been off work for over a week now (it's great being a teacher, sometimes) I still haven't followed up on any leads re: finding myself a dressmaker to make The Dress. The very thought of calling one of the numbers I've been given fills me with dread.

What if they're all snotty because of my size?

Will they try and charge double because I happen to be wearing this dress to a wedding?

Will they want to come to see me in my shit-tip of a flat?

Will they tell me I've left it too late?

It's like the anxiety you get when you take your car to a mechanic - but worse, because I'd like to think I do know a bit about the process...

It's got so bad that I nearly ordered this dress today (£89 - Vivien of Holloway). The largest size would just about fit on the waist (36 inches), and would do so comfortably by the wedding, but the chances of my bust shrinking to 44 inches are slim-to-none, if you'll pardon the pun. But anyway: it's shiny satin, which is undesirable, and although I want a shorter-than-traditional dress, this is just too short.

I got the idea, though, because after what seemed like lifetimes of to-ing and fro-ing of facebook messages my sisters finally agreed on a frock. First suggestion was this lovely clover pink frock from Oli (£70). Actually, I originally thought I could choose a fabric and then my four bridesmaids could choose a knee length style they liked and have it made. But circumstances have meant that two of the bridesmaids can't make it, and so for two it makes sense to keep it simple and buy something off the peg. If only they could agree... The dress above, which I loved, was vetoed on the grounds of length - my middle sister doesn't like her curvy calves. Although, when pressed she struggled to say what she did envisage...

A couple more suggestions were made by senior sister, and finally one by middle sister, but none had the 'wow' factor. Until I had a brainwave.

Obviously, It's Vivien of Holloway again - this time in a low-sheen cotton, and therefore just £59. Sans black accessories, but with a full white petticoat (£45). Eldest sister loved it, and ordered it immediately. It arrived promptly and fitted like a glove, so she chivvied the middle sister along and got hers ordered too. Apparently it's fab. Now it's brighter pink than I was planning, and tea-length, so I now have to be pretty precise if I want the shade of pink I'm using as an accent, and the length of my dress to be different. Which is another reason not to go for the ivory satin number above. I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and phone these scary frockmakers. But not until after the bank holiday...

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Little steps

Today my nail varnish came and I love it.

Wedding magazines are full of advice along the lines of "Keep your makeup subtle, so that your groom sees you the way he is accustomed". Hmmm. My groom is accustomed to see me with full-on, drama-glamour makeup, so that is what I shall have.

But a bride with full on nails is probably beyond the pale, even for me. I want to look sexy, not femme fatale... but equally, I have a strong aversion to French manicures, and can't really see the point of pastel nail polish.

Until I saw in one of my many wedding magazines, a pale pink with glitter in it. Perfect! Except I have dozens of these magazines, and I've never found the article since. In the end I settled on 'Princesses Rule' by OPI. It's a subtle, pretty-pale pink with a micro fine glitter suspended in it. It looks gorgeous. I'm very pleased.

OPI are a very good quality nail varnish brand - and prices tend to be around the £10 mark. I got mine from ebay for about £6, which seems fair enough. It's always a good idea to look on ebay for branded cosmetics, but keep an eye on the postage.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Welcome to my wedding trip.

So, a month ago my fabulous boyfriend proposed to me - and we set the wedding date for 15th August this year.

Since then I haven't been able to think about anything else - but I do miss my blog...

Anyway, this is an outlet for my over-excitement, that will hopefully get me back in the blogging saddle. And even today, I've tracked down some potential shoes.

Now, a little backstory: I'm planning on having two pairs of shoes (indoor shoes with heels, and outdoor wedges for walking on grass). Also, my dress will be short enough to show my shoes. Lastly, I shall be 'working' shades of pink from bubblegum to cherry in my flowers etc.

Anyway - ta dah! £14.99 on ebay, branded Morgan.

So - yes - diamantes. Big, Hollywoodesque diamantes. I'm not going for demure at this wedding. If they fit (espadrilles can be a little narrow) I shall replace the ankle ties with some fabulous silk ribbons for luxury. And that gives me an utterly unfettered budget for the second pair.

Wedding shoes, though - shoes designed explicitly for weddings - are so incredibly ugly!

They nearly all look like this, elongated tapered toes, and very little style or gorgeousness. I understand that most people have dresses so long that no one sees their shoes, but surely they aren't particularly comfy either - and wedding shoes must be that.