Older, plus size bride and wedding dress shopping
It’s lunchtime, Wednesday 17 October, I’d been out to a networking coffee morning, Paul had been pottering at home on a day off.
We’d eaten lunch and were chatting about this and that. It was an ordinary day. Paul was clearing up the lunch pots one minute and the next he was down on one knee asking me to marry him! It wasn’t one of those grand gesture pre-planned proposals, it was very spontaneous and from the heart. Of course, without hesitation, I said yes! Ten minutes later he’d left to do the school run and I was sitting at the kitchen table letting it sink in!
We decided to tie the knot sooner rather than later and the date was set. Then we had lots of decisions to make…including the dreaded WHAT TO WEAR!!!???!!!
I started to think about what I might like to wear to get married in and like any self-respecting bride set about creating a Pinterest board and looking for ideas. I pinned everything that I liked and began to see patterns forming. It was becoming obvious what I liked and there were themes emerging…so far so good.
Then I had a rethink, I changed my mind and went off in a totally different direction. I got a picture in my head of EXACTLY what I wanted. This, of course, does not exist on ANY Pinterest boards, only in my head. I realise that this dress is going to have to be a bespoke creation and set about researching the typical cost with a seamstress.
At this point I had a word with myself and decided that for the type of dress I wanted I was more than capable of making it myself. besides which I'm 54 and it's a second wedding fo both of us blah,blah, blah... I just needed to find the right pattern and get my sewing machine serviced.
Then my indecisive Libran brain took over – I am now swaying backwards and forwards between two questions:
1) about the style of the dress ‘this’ or ‘that’ – I could make either style
2) whether or not it would be a bold colour or more traditional and bridey
I start to get stressed, I’m dreaming about it and can’t decide…the irony of this is not wasted on me. Someone who helps other people make style decisions for a living – it should be easy right?
Christmas is looming so I decide to chill out and think about it in the new year, I book onto a couple of wedding fairs and look forward to being a bit weddingy.
Wedding fair season arrives and at the first one I go to I realise that, at 54 years old, I’m probably older than most mother of the brides who are walking around. It soon becomes apparent too at how easy it is to rack up a massive bill too…SO.MUCH.STUFF. I can imagine how you could quite easily get carried away with all there is to offer in the world of weddings. Thankfully Paul and I had both agreed how ours should be and we wouldn’t be ordering turtle doves or tawny owls to bring our rings on satin cushion.
Everyone you speak to wants to know the date of your ‘BIG DAY’. When they realise you mean May this year, not way off in the future, many of the stall holders visibly blanche. Lead times on all things wedding seem to be long. 4 months is cutting it fine seemingly. Wedding dresses can take around 4-5 months – who knew? Good job I was going to make my own then.
February and I’m still undecided about my dress. I thought I’d made up my mind. I’d bought fabric, got the pattern sorted and had my machine serviced – we’re all systems go. As I’m making a practise dress, I realise my heart isn’t in it…I’ve decided on one the more practical style, my head said yes to this dress, but my heart wants the other style. I’m back to square one.
My sister is coming to stay (bringing the wedding cake she has made for us) and suggests that I stop with the sewing and stressing until her visit. We’ll go to a bridal shop and try dresses on to help me make up my mind. This feels good and takes the pressure off. I’m aware that if I decide I’m buying one after all I’d have to take a sample/off the peg and this would limit my options but that’s ok.
I then start to think about how my options are even further limited because I’m not a size 12. Everyone says that wedding dresses are cut small and you need to size up. My beautifully slim, size 14 friend who got married last year had to order a size 18 dress! I usually buy stretchy clothes to accommodate my bust which measure 3 sizes bigger than the rest of my curvy body. Luckily, I’d discovered a bridal shop that specialised in dresses for the curvier amongst us and made an appointment there. The owner assured me that she would have dresses that I could fit into. I was still a bit nervous. I decided to wear my spanx to minimise what I could regardless.
The shop owner was lovely, we had her exclusive attention for a 2-hour appointment, and she was right – she did have lots of dresses that I could fit into. None of them were a perfect fit though, she used pegs and clamps and things to get a better fit and explained that her specialist seamstress would have no problem making these kinds of alterations. (But it wasn’t cheap at £200-300 on top of the dress cost) It was exciting to try bridal gowns on. I’d never done it before. I felt a bit princessy and swishy, but there was nothing that blew me away. If there had been, I’d have totally forgotten about making something and gone for it.
I left the shop with mixed feelings. Happy that I’d found dresses that I could try on, happy that at 54 I hadn’t felt too old nor had I felt too fat. I was disappointed that I was no nearer to having my dress sorted though. As we were driving home, we noticed another bridal shop, the type you can just walk in, no appointment needed. We decide that while I’ve got my spanx on anyway we might as well have a look in there too.
It was empty, we had the enormous shop to ourselves. It was like a white warehouse full of dresses, row and rows of all kinds of styles and shapes up to size 30. We were told that I could take up to 4 at a time into the changing room. I chose 4…3 that I could imagine myself wearing and one outsider – just to see. Our assistant was lovely, she made me feel totally comfortable and at ease as I stood in my undies and she helped me into the dresses.
I discounted the outsider and one of the others quickly, the other two though…I LOVED them both, it was a tough call. They both fit beautifully apart from needing the tiniest of alteration on the shoulder (which I could easily do myself). As I stood there, twirling, watching the light catch the embellishments I knew that there was no way I’d be getting my sewing machine out. The integrated corsetry in these dresses gave me a waist. I felt special and like a princess.
I couldn’t decide which one to choose. They were happy for my sister to take photos to help. We decided to go back the following day with shoes, jewellery etc and get the full effect…I said yes to the dress 24 hours later.
The shops I visited were:
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