In which there is a surfeit of dresses

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So last Friday was the Day of Dresses.  I had made sure I was prepared – I had details of the shops, a hairbrush, good underwear, camera, notebook and pen, plus my mother in tow; we were good to go.

But whilst I was great at getting ready for the shopping trip itself, all the nude coloured underwear in the world couldn’t have prepared me for how difficult I am finding it to decide on a dress.

Now, I’m a very indecisive person, I know that.  If someone asks me to pick something I tend to defer to them, unless I have a very strong opinion on it, because I don’t want to inflict something they don’t want on them.  A wedding dress, though, is a different kettle of fish, right?  I’ve got to be in it all day, it’s my only (touch wood) chance to wear such a type of dress, so the decision should be mine to make, and relatively easy, you’d think?  Nope – at least not for me it’s not.

There were a few things that I knew I didn’t want in a wedding dress.  I agree with Em’s recent post – there are a lot of hideous, WAG-type dresses out there.  I didn’t need to try on frothy confections with 6 foot wide skirts to know that I would look awful in them.  I was also very anti-strapless gowns – again, a personal choice, they can look great, but they’re not for me.  I was still open to suggestions for everything else, though, and tried on anything that was offered to me, or that caught my eye.

After my experience on Friday, however, I can totally see why women buy dresses that are completely removed from what they thought they’d get, and how they end up coming down the aisle wearing layers of satin, heaps of ruffles and a train that stretches to the back of the congregation.  Bridal dresses are completely different to anything I have ever worn, and as soon as you are laced into one, something happens.  You step onto the box in the changing room, look in the mirror, and are confronted, not with your usual reflection, but with a bride.  All you can think is “wow, is that really me?  I look amaaazing.”

I was pretty sure I would go for something soft and floaty – no stiff skirted satin with crystal detail for me, thank you very much, I thought.   It looks good on other people, but it’s not me.  But what happened?  I tried on several dresses just like this, and fell in love with them.  They’re beautiful.  They’re flattering.  The beading detail can look surprisingly good.  Yes, they’re completely impractical, but hey, it’s one day when you can be.

The biggest thing is that they make you look fabulous, and just like the stereotypical image of how you should look like on your wedding day, and thus it’s very hard not to be seduced by this into getting something that’s the complete opposite of what you originally wanted.  It’s just like Carrie in the Sex and the City film – her sweet little skirt suit got its ass kicked by the Vivienne Westwood meringue, because it made Carrie feel like a total bride.

After hitting three shops we were absolutely knackered.  The sales assistant in the first shop warned Mom and me we’d be tired by the evening; we dismissed it because We Are Hardcore, but no!  It really is exhausting!  God knows why, as all I’d done was strip off 20 times, and all Mom had done was critique my appearance and take the odd photo when allowed.  By 5pm I didn’t want to see another dress and we were both dying for a cup of tea and a break from All Things Bridal.

Surveying photos, and assessing how I feel, I have the decision down to between two dresses.  The problem?  They are nothing like each other.  I mean, absolutely nothing.  One is the type of dress I thought I would go for, a chiffon halterneck with delicate flower detail, the other is a traditional satin with a corseted bodice and mahoosive train.  Trying to decide between these two is like deciding  whether cheese or cider is better; impossible as both are delicious, just in very different ways.

I was reading a wedding forum on the topic of picking the dress (I know, I know,  but they’re addictive), and pretty much everyone on there was gushing about knowing when they had found The One.  But I didn’t feel this, not at all.  Sure, I could tell whether I liked a dress, and what looked good on me.  But I didn’t get that magical shaft of light, angels chorusing from above, absolute certainty that This Is It.  It would make everything so much easier if I had.

For the past few nights, all my dreams have been smothered in dresses.  In them, I choose dresses, I shop for dresses, I talk about dresses. The daytime is not much better.  I find myself drifting off in meetings as I try to envisage wearing each dress whilst making a speech to family and friends.  Dresses  parade before my eyes; I am constantly thinking about buttons up the back v. the amazing waist a corset gives you, puddle train v. chapel length, halterneck v. chiffon straps.   I am now at the stage where I am sick and tired of thinking about dresses, and the whole situation is driving me nuts.

It’s also – and I know this sounds lame – emotionally tiring too.  For whichever dress I pick, I’m closing off a dream, in some ways – either the original dream of how I’d look on my wedding day, or foregoing the chance to wear an absolute “wow” dress on the one occasion I can.

How do I decide?  Well, I’ve gone back to the shops and tried on the two contenders.  I’m pretty sure I know which one to go for – it’s based more on practical considerations, but when your brain is screaming JUST PICK ONE ALREADY and you can’t, I’ve got to make a choice on something.  But can I make a decision?  Nope.  So what I’ve decided to do is visit one more shop on Saturday (please don’t tell my mother), just to make sure that there’s nothing out there that compares with The One I Think I Might Go For.  Then I can rest happy that I’m doing the right thing.

By the way, I realise that this is completely self indulgent, and that there are far, far worse things to have to  decide on in your life than choosing between two pretty dresses THAT SOMEONE ELSE IS VERY KINDLY BUYING FOR YOU.  I know all this, and I’ve been having firm words with myself over the past few days and attempting to pull myself together (even though it’s not really working).  I will definitely make a decision by the end of April, if not just to preserve my sanity but also to ensure that my indecision doesn’t result in having no dress to wear.  Because nudity would be far worse than not liking a side ruffle.

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9 responses »

  1. I’ve had four emails from Jane, who, thought in her heart of hearts she knew which dress she wanted, and whilst it was v pretty, i kind of liked the other one, and now she’s seen the photo’s she is stumped. she is going strapless, but adding a halter. i think a halter adds something too.
    AND b/c she is getting married in September, she HAS to decide this weekend!

    It has to be very exciting though, and make it so much more real…….

  2. I forgot to say how much fun it was! And it really was – trying on lots of pretty dresses was lovely, and the shops we visited were all great, I would recommend them all!

    I sympathise with Jane having to pick one by this weekend. It’s mad how far in advance you have to sort this out – one shop told me I’d have to order mine asap otherwise it might not arrive in time. I hope she can come to a decision in time – but whatever she chooses I am sure she will look amazing.

    You’re right, as well, it does make it very real. Suddenly it really hits home that you’re getting married, and are going to be a wife…

  3. By the way, the advice everyone has given me (that I’m incapable of acting on, it seems) that Jane might find useful is to go with your gut feeling. When you close your eyes, which dress do you see yourself saying your vows in? Much easier said than done though!

  4. Self indulgent, or no, I thought this post was great.

    I too had specific ideas about the type of dress I thought I wanted. Smooth, classic, A-line, minimal train, strapless a no-no. But I ended up in this strapless beaded corset number with a mahoosive (great word!) organza-overlaid ballroom skirt. http://picasaweb.google.com/kryskeene/TheDress#5463148873222468050

    And I loved every minute I wore it… for the reasons you wrote about so eloquently. It made me feel like a BRIDE.

    I don’t know how to advise you on your decision though, because when I put this on I totally knew it was THE ONE. I hope your choice, whatever it may be, makes you as happy too. You deserve to love it.

  5. You are sweet, Helen, thank you! We got married in Queenstown, New Zealand. My husband is from Bristol and we were living there at the time, having just relocated from Cayman and not yet found jobs. We looked into the cost of a wedding in England and were a bit shocked… since we were planning on doing some traveling anyway, we decided on a destination wedding. We rented a camper van and toured NZ for 10 weeks.

    I had sussed out the location beforehand – http://www.weddingsnewzealand.co.nz/weddings/wedding_chapel/ – and the coordinator sorted us out with a fantabulous photographer, a wedding car, a cute little cake, champagne from the winery down the road and an amazing house to rent for the “honeymoon” week along with a lady who catered an awesome wedding dinner there just for us. Side note – she also covered the house in candles and flowers and had that waiting as a surprise when we returned from the ceremony. I burst into tears when I saw it.

    So it was just the two of us – and that dress, which had been crumpled into its own rollaboard suitcase stowed in the campervan for the whole tour. (The cleaners who pressed it before the wedding deserve a medal!)

    I wouldn’t change it for the world – we had a perfect wedding day. I wish you as much joy on yours as we had.

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