Wednesday, 30 March 2011

calling all brides to be

So one of the things about having a long engagement is that as you go through the months of planning, other ladies you know who were engaged, get married.

Now this is a great thing, and as it should be - I love reading the blogs of these ladies still, and I'm so glad I found them. But it is nice to hear from other engaged ladies - people in the same position as you (

I know from my blog stats that there are more readers than there are commenters - though who knows, most of those may be dodgy Russian spambots, but if you're reading and you're engaged I would love to hear from you and hear your thoughts on what I'm posting. Maybe you have a blog or tweet too? I'd love to find out.

(Married ladies - don't desert me! I love you too and your wisdom :D I guess I'm just nosy)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

dress shopping - round two

The second dress shopping experience last week could not have been less like the first. Obviously there were some similarities - I stood around in my pants quite a bit and I tried on some big white things and ended up surprisingly tired - but really, that was is.

I went to two FANTASTIC shops in London - please forgive me if I don't post names here but I am suffering with a great deal of guilt about how amazingly helpful they were given I am not going to be buying a dress. I had to go shopping - I had no choice, but I don't need to rub it in anyone's face.

The customer service was absolutely second to none and I will hopefully be assuaging some guilt by returning to both for accessories and by recommending them to you good people. DM me on Twitter or email me if you want the info.

I will write a post listing their names in a few weeks/months, when any soreness they may feel if they see their names up here now may have subsided.

I had expected less from London shops - my first bad experience and testimonies from friends had told me that shops oop north were friendlier and shops in London were hoity toity, pushy and unhelpful. I could not have been more wrong. The shops up north were perfunctory and pedestrian. The shops in London put a lot more effort in and tried a lot harder - accessorising dresses that I had initially dismissed in a way that made me utterly rethink my choices.

It's dangerous to generalise about a region being this way or that, but we mentioned this disparity in one of the shops and it led to a discussion about how you can't get away with crap service in London. Look at the plethora of amazing cheap restaurants - competition means you have to be good. Anyway, this is a sideline.

What made it so different was two things: the different standard of dresses and the different standard of service. I was helped in and out of dresses a lot more (I was even offered bridal underwear to try dresses on with in one shop) and properly dressed. Despite my fears about being seen in my pants, this 'dressing' was a very good thing. A good dress shop will make judicious use of ribbons, pins and side panels to make a dress that is two or three sizes too small look beautiful - and look like it fits. They will also show you how the dress will look finished - add ribbons, flowers, straps, suggest you put your hair up and then pin a veil on - in a way that made this more of an experience. I stood on a box and was coo-ed over. It was quite nice to feel nice in the dresses.

Up north, I was left to my own devices. Here I was properly attended to. It made something I was wary about into actually, dare I say, a really pleasurable day.

So if you want some straight up advice about buying dresses then here are my TOP TIPS, kids.

1. Do not plan to visit too many shops in one day. I did two on each day - four shops in total. If you know they have dresses you like then this is more than enough. I was so shattered after each day (you spend the whole thing standing up) that two is more than enough. Plan a nice lunch inbetween.

2. Do not take too many people with you. Two is optimum and make sure they are honest. Also, if everyone brought five people then the shops would not be a nice quiet reflective place. They would be a zoo.

3. Listen to the ladies in the shop. If they are good, they will tell you what to try on and what to avoid. You will probably, if you're like me, ignore them and want to try on some things that are wrong anyway. Then you will learn that they are right.

4. That said, do try on some different things. Some shops will keep giving you strapless meringue after strapless meringue. Look for different styles.

5. Nice underwear. Seam free white pants, sturdy white bra with removable straps.

6. Try to go on a weekday for at least one of the trips. You will get a quieter shop with much better service and it feels a bit more of an event. I enjoyed this feeling more than I expected to.

7. Squat. When you put on a dress and you think you like it, try having a little squat or sit down (there probably won't be a chair, so squat). Can you breathe? Do you feel a bit sick? If you think this is 'the one' - then try to keep the dress on for a few minutes and move around in it; don't just stand there gazing at yourself. You will have to wear this thing for many hours. If you're hitching it up and sweating after 10 minutes then maybe rethink.

8. Do not do what I did and leave it until the last minute. Go sooner rather than later. You can always go again. It focuses your mind somewhat. Even if you think you can't go because you're a size 18 or 16 (as I did) - ignore the little doubting voice in your mind. There are shops that will stock dresses for you. Find them and go.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Someone said that at work, today. Not about me, but about someone else. "She has amazing joie de vivre; she's so sparkly".

I wish I was sparkly. I wish I sparkled in conversations, instead of being racked with self doubt. I leave a room, and I worry what people think of me. I worry all the time. I worry when J goes away (he's going away a lot for work coming up - across the Atlantic, no less). I worry when he gets on the tube. I worry so much, all the time, that I barely even notice it any more.

I worry about my family - they are so far away. When my dad or brother call me, I instantly assume something is wrong with my mum, who is epileptic. When anyone calls at an unusual time, I worry that something is wrong and before I answer, my stomach does a little flip.

This hasn't been helped lately by the fact that something was wrong - my tiny nephew was in intensive care for a while. He's home now, but it was agony. Weirdly, I didn't outwardly worry about this. I kept ploughing through and pretending everything was fine - I couldn't visit - and then a week ago I had a little breakdown when I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for a long time, really uncontrollably. I don't cry much. Not at TV or films, generally. Not like J, who cries at anything. He can barely watch One Born Every Minute.

It's such a shame. I tell myself all the time that if anything were to happen, all that I would feel is regret for living under such a cloud of worry. All I can do is keep telling myself that. If others worry, I hear wise words coming out of my mouth. How do the sparkly people do it?

diet disappointment

So, the past few weeks has been a huge disappointment on the dieting front. While since Christmas, I have lost the weight I gained over the festive period, I haven't lost much more. (I gained seven and lost 8lbs since). This week, I even gained half a lb.

Given that I have been on plan, and had thought I would lose at least another stone by now, this is not good. Hugely, hugely disppointing.

how to buy a wedding dress

The first round of dress shopping was last weekend and it wasn't like I had expected at all.

I don't think it makes a difference that I'm not buying a dress, but that I won one and am having one made. I would still be doing this, round about now, either way.

But it was an odd experience, no doubt about it. What I wish I'd known was how much easier it would have been if I was even one dress size smaller - a 14, even. I'm a 16 at the moment and most sample dresses are in a 10/12. I had expected more of a range of sizes - up to the odd 16 at least, and while you can squeeze yourself into a 14/12 and leave it open at the back, it's not a great indication of how something will look. There were racks of things in 8s and 10s that were totally out of bounds to me, that i couldn't even try on. I know small stores can't stock multiple sizes but really, to have two thirds of a shop in one or two tiny sizes is sad.

I was glad a bought a sturdy bra with removable straps the day before, as lots of dresses were pinned to it, gaping open at the back. My underwear was less visible than I'd been concerned about - I think the bosomy middle aged shop assistants saw it but no one else. You get yourself into most of the dresses (though some were so huge I almost had to ask for help a few times) and then you're shoved in/zipped up from the back.

I liked some of the Jenny Packham dresses, which were beautiful. But honestly, I was happiest in Monsoon, where the dresses fitted and flattered and I felt quite pretty.

I am so glad I'm having a dress made. But another shopping trip in a couple of weeks to get through first.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

wedding dress shopping knickers

Due to unforseen circumstances, my first round of dress shopping has been brought forwards to this weekend. So I have to get over my heebie jeebies pretty damned quick now.

Do you know what's just dawned on me? That in dress shops, you are dressed. Ie: other people physically put you into the clothes. And this means: new underwear. Emergency purchasing of new pants. If my mum saw the best bra and pants now there's a fair chance she could disown me for bringing shame on the family. For some reason, these things matter to mums. Or to mine, at least.

Why does no wedding magazine ever warn you of this? Surely this is of more concern to most people than the suitability of a sweetheart neckline. Cosmo Bride dress buying top tip number 24: STRANGERS WILL SEE YOUR PANTS!

Oh and we have to tell The Man (ie, the council) that we're getting married on Friday. We're really doing this, kids!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Hello there. If you've arrived today from Any Other Wedding, then welcome. I've got a guest blog over there today about 'choice' in honour of International Women's Day.

I've been asked to post this message - credit where credit's due...

'In Her Own Words: In Celebration of International Women's Day 2011' was created to share and celebrate the experiences of women from many walks of life. All day Tuesday, March 8th Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person will feature posts written by a collective of intelligent, passionate and opinionated women bloggers from the United States and the United Kingdom. We encourage you to comment and create dialouge as well as visit their respective blogs. The conversation starts here, but it does not need to end here. Be sure to stop by Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person throughout the day to read all of the posts in the series. For more information about International Women's Day, visit

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