THERE are many myths about women, such as that all of them dream about their wedding dresses when they are little girls. I didn’t, but I did spend an inordinate amount of time sketching wedding dresses. The fancy concoctions and glamorous mermaid tails I drew led to me becoming a fashion designer, but I never had the desire to look, feel, or be treated like a princess.
As my September wedding loomed large over the summer of 2008, I had ambitions to make my own wedding dress, despite not having bought a scrap of fabric nor made a pattern.When I eventually bought the fabric from my silk supplier in Hong Kong, the penny dropped, along with his face, when I told him the wedding was two weeks later.
That evening, I found myself in Hong Kong’s answer to Brown Thomas, trying on an ivory silk cocktail dress. I didn’t faint or start to cry, but I did think I could walk out with that dress, and kiss goodbye to the nightmares that had plagued my summer. The nightmares in which I was frantically stitching a hem on my dress, make-up half-done, hair akimbo, while my nearest-and-dearest sat sweltering in the Portuguese heat waiting for me. And that was how I bought my wedding dress.
On my own, in Hong Kong, no tears, no prosecco, no fanfare. It wasn’t the most expensive dress I ever bought, but it was flattering, it was airy and light, and it didn’t need its own seat on the plane. I liked it a lot, and still do, and though it is treasured (along with the stains of trampled rose petals and spilled wine), it’s not so valuable that I feel I have to clean it and box it away.
If, like me, the pomp and ritual of wedding-dress shopping isn’t for you; if you’re a bride-to-be coming out in hives at the thought of being bound into a beaded, metal cage for 12-14 hours; if you’d rather eat your own hand than spend a day ‘carrying around’ a dress that weighs more than you do and having six people help you use the toilet, then, rest assured, you’re not alone. You can say ‘yes’ to a dress, but a ‘no’ to all that hassle.
Simply take the same approach to your wedding dress that you would to the rest of your wardrobe — suit yourself, express your sense of style, and spend as much or as little money as you like. For most women, a wedding dress will be their most expensive clothing purchase, but they’ll wear it once and never again experience the joy of pulling it on. Fashionistas can blow a wedding-dress budget on something by a designer they’ve always adored; while thrifty or last-minute brides can opt for one of the spectacular ready-to-wear options available on the high street.
There is no right way to buy a wedding dress, but somewhere out there lies the right dress for every woman.
Don’t be afraid to ‘yes’ to the one that’s right for you.