Tuesday, 15 January 2008

THAT Dress

Pressing your nose against the window of Pronuptia isn't really a good idea. First of all, it's cold and possibly insanitary. Secondly, the sight of some of those tulle and rhinestone confections carries the risk of instant diabetes. And thirdly, the numbers on the price-tags can make your eyes water. In fact, the prices are probably considered Very Good Value by those who've taken out a second mortgage to fund their fairytale. To those of us intending to go travelling on our (meagre) savings after the wedding...well, anything in three figures feels dizzyingly extravagant. I'd made myself promise I wouldn't spend more than 99 pounds maximum and I was determined to stick to it.

So what are the other options?

Second-hand. I've got no problem with that, seeing as my favourite local boutique is called Save The Children. But charity shops don't tend to have much in the way of bridal wear. There's a (possibly mythical) speciality Oxfam, but generally it seems the stores send most donated wedding dresses off to places where they can make more money for the cause. Or they just don't tend to get many because the frocks are either kept in a box until death or divorce, or sold for hard cash. Which usually means at least three figures.

It's certainly not uncommon for a bride to spend a grand or more on her gown. I mean, how often in this age of jeans and hoody do we get the chance to dress like a princess for a day? So when you've got the chance to live out all your girlhood fantasies at once, you should definitely go for it. And how. Take Jordan, for example. Actually, best not.

Yep, dressing to excess is considered the Done Thing when it comes to getting married. And once you start racking up the acreage of satin and chiffon, the inches of embroidery become feet and a profusion of sparkly bits alights like fallen snow, well it tends to hit you hard in the purse department.

Then, just I was starting to despair at finding something with a bit of wow at prices more Primark than Pronuptia, my fair godmother appeared. At the arrivals gate at Bristol Airport. And not so much a fairy godmother as my own mother.

Stopping only for a restorative glass of red wine, she all but marched me to the shops and before you could say “Peter Andre” I was camping it up in a succession of show-stopping numbers, feeling like a queen. And gawbless'er, when we found The One I was granted an early wedding present and Mum's credit card took the hit. AND The One was half-price in the sale.

So what's it like? As far as my beau's concerned, it has a one hundred and twenty eyelet laced corset (to offer some challenge on the wedding night), is similar to a marquee, needs four grown men to lift it and has wheels on the train. That's a real train. It's going to be fantastic. We're just going to need a wider aisle, that's all.

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