*Hello Charlotte here *waves*… you may remember some time ago on our Ask the Experts column a piece called Drowning In A Sea Of Dresses – the trials and tribulations of shopping for your gown. Well, the first comment we received on that post was from “Jenny” and how she had really not enjoyed her dress shopping experience thus far. I felt compelled to email her and recommend some of our favourite boutiques as it should be a special time for every bride… and to cut a long story short it turns out Jenny is not only witty and intelligent but as the Sub-Editor of RED magazine (one of my favourite lifestyle glossies) she knows a thing or two about writing great copy.
And so we asked her if she could write a more detailed piece about her experiences for RMW.
And she said YES….Hoorah.
So if you’ve had a similar experience/have anything you’d like to ask then please do drop a comment at the end of this post, we LOVE to hear what you gorgeous lot have got to say.
Over To Jenny…
Trouble finding The One?
I’m not talking about your perfect partner. After all, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already found and are on your way to marrying the man of your dreams. I’m talking about The Other One. Your wedding dress.
I was imagining champagne in the showroom, trying on dress after dress. I imagined my mum crying and saying how beautiful I looked. What I didn’t imagine, was how hard it would be, as a size 16, to find my dress. In reality, I was confronted with squeezing into size 10 samples, not being able to try on my favourites, and boutique owners telling me, ‘Oh, that definitely won’t work for you’.
The first store I went in to, I was just looking for bridesmaid dresses. The owner told me that I was doing it the wrong way around, that I should have got my dress before I start looking for bridesmaids. Maybe this is the traditional way to do things, but I didn’t see how my choice of dress would affect my vision of BM dresses. Also, aren’t I allowed to do things
After much cajoling, she convinced me to try on some of the wedding dresses she stocked. But rather than letting me choose which ones I’d like (I told her I really wanted lace, no diamante or sparkle, and something light, suitable for my wedding in Ibiza), she picked out three for me. Three puffball, heavy, diamante-covered monstrosities. On the right person, I’m sure the dresses would have been lovely, but they just weren’t me. I felt and looked ridiculous – I could see it on my bridesmaids’ faces. (Even worse when she put a tiara on me – I am definitely not a tiara kind of girl). So my first dress-trying-on experience left something to be desired.
I was more excited about my next appointment. The dress shop came under good recommendation, and was decorated gorgeously, so I had high hopes. Again, I explained what I was after, and again, I was forced into three different diamante-detailed dresses that she picked for me. I must admit, they did look better on than I was expecting, but I’ve never met someone so bossy and pushy. I really felt like she was just trying to sell me something, and made me feel really awkward and embarrassed about not being a size 10. When I worked up the courage to point to a dress that I really liked (lace, floaty, empire line), she looked at me and said, ‘Darling, we only stock this in a size 8 for a reason.’ And then proceeded to try on the dress herself to tell me exactly why it wouldn’t suit my curvier figure. (People never believe me when I tell them that story!)
A few more dress disasters followed….A shop where I stood next to another bride in the mirror, while she tried dresses on as well, making me feel so not special. A boutique that wouldn’t even let me try on a few samples because ‘they definitely won’t work for you’, when I know they definitely would have fitted. (Ladies, the lace-up back dress is your friend when it comes to dress shopping).
So it was with exasperation that I commented on my troubles on the RMW article ‘Drowning in a sea of dresses’ about my dilemma. I was really getting worried that I wouldn’t find a dress I loved. I didn’t feel special, didn’t feel beautiful, didn’t feel like a bride.
It was then that Charlotte emailed me and recommended Mamfii Bridal, where coincidentally, one of my recently married friends, Kelly, had bought her dress. I was at my wits end, so thought it would be worth the two-hour drive. It was – and then some.
Samantha Neville, Mamfii’s director, agreed to open on a Sunday for me, and what I found was the most beautiful bridal store, in a gorgeous location, full of amazing (yet still reasonably priced) dresses. Sam completely understood what I wanted, and gave me free reign to pick out the dresses that I liked. She understood that yes, something might not suit me, but until I can try it on and see for myself, I’m never going to believe it. (I fell in love with the full-on lace dress from Justin Alexander’s new collection, but could see as soon as it was on that the material was just too heavy for me.)
I explained my worries about being a size 16 trying on sample 10s and 12s, but it was never an issue. I got into all of the dresses fine (again, with thanks to the lace-up, and some clever ivory panels that Sam tucked into the back, to give a better impression of what the back would look like). Sam is, quite frankly, a genius. An angel. A genius angel!
Needless to say, I finally found The One, and it’s perfect. (I don’t want to reveal what I went for – I wish I could, I’m so excited! – but I’ll let you in on my second choice: Essence D1220).
Overall, I didn’t really enjoy dress shopping (until I found Mamfii). My mum never cried (she said she was holding it in). And I never had champagne in store (until I bought my dress, and Sam cracked open some bubbles for me and my sister). What I learnt is not to have too many expectations; stick to your guns about what you really want from your dress (if you’re not a diamante girl, you’re never going to love a diamante-covered dress, no matter how pushy the boutique owner is); DO NOT WORRY about being a curvy lady, as you will easily fit into sample 10s and 12s if they’re lace up; and, finally, you will find The One, don’t worry about that, either. It’s like meeting your husband-to-be – when you know it’s The One, you just know.
My dress isn’t exactly what I originally envisaged, but pretty close. But more than that, I finally feel like a bride – and for that, I have Mamfii Bridal to thank.
Big ‘I hope you all find your dream dress too’ love,