The Search for The Dress

by clumsylawyer

My search for ‘The Dress’ has ended, significantly earlier than it does for most brides.  What can I say; I’m ridiculously organised.  Before I start, there’s a necessary little note to keep away a certain someone…

Is he gone?  Good.

As you will know, I’ve had a stupidly long engagement.  You might think this would mean I had a very good idea of the kind of dress I wanted, but you would be wrong.  I wasn’t a ‘girly girl’ as a child, and although I had thought in the abstract about the fact that it would be nice to get married, I didn’t ever think about what that wedding would be like.  I think it probably comes down to only having brothers – I was always more comfortable playing with Lego than dolls.

This meant that I was pretty open-minded when it came to dress shopping, but also that I had no idea of the sort of thing I was looking for.  I had been dress shopping for fun during a girly weekend to London in 2008, but all I came away with from that experience was that I liked this dress

La Sposa Montani, image from minishorts.net

I cried when I tried on that dress.  It made me look slim but shapely and there was beautiful detailing all over.  But when I looked at it later, the fabric on the diagonal across the front made me think a bit too much of a beauty pageant sash (don’t ask – my brain performs in odd tangents) and the pleating seemed harsh somehow.  It was just as well that I hadn’t planned to actually buy a dress on that trip, or I may have ended up putting down a deposit and ending up with serious dress regret!

I didn’t go dress shopping again until 2011, with my mum and her friend E (who’s basically my aunt).  We went to 3 bridal boutiques in Bath.  Unfortunately bridal shops in the UK tend not to allow you to take pictures, so you’ll have to make do with stock photos.

Clifton Brides

I hadn’t made an appointment with Clifton Brides so we just dropped in on the off-chance that we would be able to have a look around.  We didn’t find anything there that jumped out as being ‘The One’.  The lady was helpful, and accommodating considering I hadn’t made an appointment, but seemed to make up her own mind about what I ought to try on, often which was the complete opposite of what I had expressed that I liked.  The main thing to come from this first shop was:

Dropped waists I’ve got quite a long waist and a relatively flat stomach, which look better when accentuated rather than cut in half, especially when the line is asymmetric.  This probably explains why I like the La Sposa so much.

Also, I tried on a dress with a beautiful sweetheart neckline and beaded straps but I forgot to take its name!

Just imagine the grey spray-painted area is embroidered and beaded. Very poor illustration adapted by me from an image on inmagine.com

Victoria Park Bridal

I had a really lovely experience at Victoria Park.  Don’t be deceived by the shop’s frontage – inside is a very spacious shop, allowing plenty of room to look at the gowns and try them on (the fitting room is huge!  For anyone who’s tried on wedding dresses in small fitting rooms, this is a massive bonus!) as well as a comfy sofa area (complete with a box of tissues) for your entourage.  There were lots of gowns to try, and 2 of the ones I tried on were notable:

Alfred Angelo 1148; image from victoriaparkbridal.co.uk

I liked the simplicity and the ruching of this dress, but decided that the off-the-shoulder straps would annoy me.

Alfred Angelo 2180; image from victoriaparkbridal.co.uk

This dress made my mum cry, but it was unfortunately not to be.  Again, it had the ruching and was fairly simple, but there was detailing on the hip which made me uncomfortable.  I’m pear-shaped and quite self-conscious when it comes to my hips, bum and thighs.  The pick-up on the hip of this one made me a bit squirmy.

Allure 8506; image from victoriaparkbridal.co.uk

We only spied this dress on our way out, by which time there was no time to try it on as another lady had made an appointment (sob!) but I love how romantic the dress is.  The floaty organza paired with long, flowing hair is somewhat ethereal.

I would whole-heartedly recommend Victoria Park to anyone looking for a dress in the South West.  Luisa was attentive, I was made to feel really special and the whole atmosphere of the place is welcoming and relaxing – a perfect setting in which to buy your wedding dress.

The Clothes Horse

Perhaps I was spoilt, having just come from Victoria Park, or I was tired, having tried on countless dresses already that day, but I didn’t feel that my experience at the Clothes Horse was as good as elsewhere.  It felt less like the ladies in the shop were in the business because it was their passion, and more because it was just a job.  There were other ladies trying on dresses at the same time as me (I know that shouldn’t make a difference, but I did enjoy the feeling of exclusivity) and the fitting room was teeny tiny!  There were a lot of dresses, but in some ways there was too much choice – it felt a little overwhelming.  I was encouraged to try on some more fitted gowns:

Romantica Della; image from theclotheshorsebath.com

Unfortunately, it didn’t thrill me.  Again, there was detailing to the waist/hip area which I think was a deal-breaker for me.

So, after a long day of getting in and out and in and out of wedding dresses, ‘The One’ still hadn’t been found.  However, we did have a much better idea of what I liked (as well as where my and my mum’s likes and dislikes diverged!) which would prove to be helpful on our next trip!

Did you find your wedding dress quickly?  Was it the first you tried on, or did you need several trips to find one?

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