On choosing a wedding dress: any thoughts?


5 months have past since we got engaged; I’ve read every single bridal magazine published since then, have spent endless hours online pouring through almost uniformly unhelpful designer websites (all music, Flash vids (which don’t play on the iPad) and no search facilities); have been to four wedding dress shops, and have tried on over 20 dresses.

You’d have thought, bearing in mind I have – girl-stereotype-warning-despite-calling-myself-a-feminist coming up – been dreaming about my W-day in idle moments for about 30 years,  I’d already have a pretty clear idea about the vision I wanted to convey. But basically I haven’t got a clue. I want to look sexy (for my fiance), demure (for my father), chic (for my mother), appropriately weddingy (for the two DS’s, who can now recognise a Bride at a 1,000 paces, and think anyone in a tie is a Groom), and basically like a fully optimised version of me (you can tell I work on websites..).

If I put all my wants together, I get something like this (see left; I would really like pockets). But in practice I’ve found that CHEAP is also a key criterion; although I’m not usually a bargain-basement kind of girl, I simply cannot bear to spend multi-thousands of pounds on a dress – not least because I’ll spend the whole day worrying about it – especially if reselling was part of the original proposal. And yet I do want quality.

Image of Kevin the TeenagerAnd that is why I found myself standing on top of a box in a local, very well renowned, bridal shop, yesterday afternoon, with a face like Kevin (see right), dressed in a lovely white A-line Sassi Holford dress, worth about £3k, muttering ‘s’alright’.

One of my long-suffering girlfriends was in attendance, with a dual role of trying to get me to snap out of my monk, and get my mother to shut up whenever she started asking if dressmaking details could be changed.

After an hour of dutiful trying on, parading, and dismissing, though, things did finally perk up when I noticed that they had a dress by Lusan Mandongus that I’d noticed many time in magazines and had really liked. It hadn’t been picked out for me because it didn’t fulfil any of my criteria at all (which is why the ‘ideal’ sketch is not worth the paper it was drawn on), and it was COMPLETELY different to all the previous ones I’d tried which had inbuilt corsets and created waists etc; but it was sophisticated and elegant, and my mother thought it was totally inappropriate (which helped) (though sadly now she’s now warmed to it).

Where we are. So I’m now spending every minute of downtime cogitating yesterday’s dress, and weighing it up against the previous front-runner (also totally unexpected); as follows (I appreciate this analysis will be of limited interest):


Ian Stuart dressIMG_1421

  • Pro: available second hand in at least two places, in the £600-£850 level
  • Pro: supercomfortable when tried on, making a waist and a bust, with a bit of cleavage
  • Pro: none of this train business; can actually walk and move around it it
  • Pro: ruching affair means it’s all a bit messy, basically, which means that I won’t panic as much if DS2 lurches towards it with chocolatey hands (I would LOVE but be too scared to wear anything by Jesus Peiro for exactly that reason)
  • Pro: opportunity for long earrings and some eccentric headgear
  • Con: didn’t photograph well, though the snaps were taken by my sister in law, sitting down (so emphasising my hips), on my blurred iPhone
  • Con: looks totally unlike anything I’d like, and as if I’m about to bring out a pair of castanets (but nevertheless, feeling comfortable and unworried is a big pro which might outweigh this)
  • Con: the dropped sleeve affair feels just a bit too 80’s university ballgown style

Lusan Mandongus dress885792cb015c515d83bd61c4b5cc8a4a

  • Pro: totally love the thought of looking like their model above (sucker for advertising, moi?)
  • Pro: lovely dress; different from standard strapless ones, falls beautifully
  • Con: totally impractical for walking around barn & field environment (where reception is)
  • Con: need MAJOR diet/underwear/modesty investment as shows every slight bulge, plus random bits of flesh (not sure what my father would think)
  • Con: can’t seem to find second hand ones anywhere
  • Con: satin drape at front looks a bit like a bib (handy when cake eating, perhaps; less so with a dollop of curry); would have to be stitched down slightly
  • Con (or Pro): it’s a more distinct look – if that can be – than Flamenco dress above, and it would be nice to reflect that in flowers, invos etc (ie they’d need to be rethought a bit), as well as DH’s outfit (which would be shorts if he had his way)
  • Pro: made by a design team in Hong Kong, bringing back memories…
  • Pro: the Sassi Holford (classic, white, virginal) made me look younger, said my mother (clearly thinking that was a good thing). But I’m gone 40 with 2 children; I’m not going to be a princess: I want to look elegant and sophisticated (and as I write this, actually, I see the Ian Stuart one falling far behind into second place, despite all its pros)…

Any thoughts anyone? Do I only like it because it was different from all the other ones in the shop? DH prob wouldn’t like either on paper as they’re ‘too fussy’, but I’ve given up worrying about that at this stage..

I had intended when this engagement business started to make sure I tried on every dress in Britain, Just In Case, but actually I’m realising that the absence of free weekends and childcare alone mean that this is getting tricky. In a few weeks time, I’m off to the David Fielden shop – the one designer I’d actually earmarked as liking – but based on my performance so far I’ve no idea if that will come to anything or not (plus their samples tend to be small, and I have noted that there’s nothing less conducive to liking a dress than having to be squeezed into it with a shoehorn and several elastic bands)…

And after that I’ll really have to try to sort myself out; particularly if I choose something that impacts on the look of the rest of the event, because I can tell that after Christmas time will fly. But should I wait for the New Year sales? Will there be a rush of people flogging their dresses just before Christmas? Or should I just wait til the week before the wedding, log on to eBay and trust to Fate? That’d give my mother kittens…

What do you think? Which is the front-runner?


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