The lavish, white wedding dress is not every girl’s dream. Make your own or buy a ready-to-wear option and avoid hassle and expense, says Carolyn Moore

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.


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