Ahhhh, wedding dress shopping. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The best of times because if you like clothes at all, and I do, a wedding is the ultimate dress-up opportunity. It was the worst of times because I couldn’t find anything. I looked at vintage, high street, department stores; nothing was quite right. I looked for normal white dresses – it didn’t have to be Bridal with a capital B – but these are hard to find in December, who knew. I went to try one very beautiful dress from a bridal designer which was beautiful, very fitted and slinky, and had sleeves (win win win) but … expensive. Let me be clear; I think women should be allowed spend exactly as much as they want and can afford on their wedding dress, and not feel bad about it; God knows there’s enough pressure out there. But personally, I didn’t want to spend that much. Finally, I decided on a very pretty dress I’d seen online, that was more my end of the budget ($500 or so, so £300) and I ordered it. This was it:
Some people don’t believe me when I say that I bought my wedding dress online, without trying it on. But the measurements were provided so I knew it would fit, I liked the style, and I figured that if it didn’t work out I could always return it (or rather my friend could on my behalf – thanks Frieda!). To avoid paying import tax, I had it delivered to my friend Frieda in New York, who brought it back to Dublin at Christmas, where I tried it on for the first time. And it fit, and I liked it. Yay. What was also nice was that my mum was there when I tried it on for the first time, which I wasn’t sure would be possible given that I live in London and she’s in Dublin.
So I was very happy with my dress. But you know what? It wasn’t my ‘dream’ or ‘perfect’ dress. Those words were banned from our wedding. It was just a lovely dress that was a lot of fun to wear. I think there’s so much pressure to look your absolute best self on your wedding day and it’s understandable given how photographed you’re going to be, but there are so many other opportunities to dress up and try different hair and make-up styles. Who says you have to peak on your wedding day?
Because the dress had a lot of decorative detail already, I just wore earrings with it – which I also bought online – and a simple pearl bracelet from John Lewis. I bought my wedding shoes online, without trying them on. They were something like this – silver dance shoes meant for Latin or tango, with a low block heel – because I knew they’d be the most comfortable. I didn’t really care what they looked like because the dress was so long. And lastly, I bought a 1940s fur jacket, from Pennies From Heaven – I think this was the only aspect of my wedding outfit that I actually tried on IRL as the kids say.
My hair and make-up were contracted out to professionals: Sammy from Mac did my make-up and Bree from Trevor Sorbie did my hair. I figured that having ‘saved’ on my dress – well, in wedding land where a £300 dress is ‘saving’ – I could splash out on hair and make-up and I’m so glad I did. The hairstyle Bree made was a work of art and Sammy’s make-up stayed on all day. He even managed to disguise – mostly – the enormous spot on my forehead that accompanied me throughout our whole wedding day.
If you like my dress but are UK-based and don’t have an obliging friend in New York, then I’d try Monsoon – they have a fabulous range of beautiful dresses – or Coast. John Lewis also have a gorgeous bridal range – I particularly like this beaded column dress. Or if you want to go the bespoke route, then try La Poesie – my friend Monika’s designs. They are totally exquisite, works of art and the kind of dress you could keep as a family heirloom.
Tomorrow: Cake, flower girl outfits, confetti and music!
All photographs taken by the brilliant Andrew Colvin