When it’s all over, you’re inevitably going to hit a slump – so what’s leftover?
I’m not talking about the real things from the day – of course I have a wonderful husband and my extended family is finally, officially, my family too.
I’m talking about the material things. I know that I shouldn’t hold material things as memories, but I’m so grateful that I have them.
There are two main things which I’m besotted with. Our photographer (I knew from the start that this was one of the most important things for us), and my dress (I never in a million years thought I could have cared so much). Two things at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Something I wanted, and something I thought I didn’t.
Disclaimer – this post will be the most self-indulgent thing I’ve ever done. But I think after your wedding day, a bit of self-love is valid, and necessary. Gimme a min!
One of the biggest things I learnt about myself during this process, is that I don’t know myself as well as my friends and family know me.
I ‘knew’ I could never have a wedding at a grand castle (Yep, defo just got married in a castle)
I ‘knew’ I wanted a festival Summer wedding (Yep, just got married in February with roaring fire places, and no sign of a bell tent or pallet signage)
I ‘knew’ I didn’t want to buy a ‘proper’ wedding dress (Yep, defo just got married in a stunning hand-made gown)
And yet, we had the most ‘us’ day of our lives. It was a grand old venue, but a relaxed atmosphere. I think the Wes Anderson vibe really helped us here! Regal, but crumbling at the edges. I’ll go into detail about the wedding later, but for now, I want to share the material things – my ‘look’.
If I’d taken my own advice, I would have been moderately happy in a white and colourfully embroidered dress from French Connection. I liked it a lot, and didn’t believe that you could actually love an item of clothing, so this was good enough for me. Enter Mother of the bride-
”It’s nice, but it looks like something you’d wear to someone’s wedding, not on your wedding”.
But much like my Mam, I’m a very stubborn woman. I didn’t want to spend money on a dress that I would wear for one day, and then would be stuffed in a box forever. I was determined, and nothing could change my mind. I couldn’t think of anything worse than going to a bridal shop and having some pushy woman pressure me into spending X amount on something I didn’t really care about. At this point, I didn’t care about the dress at all. The thought of being in the spotlight was daunting, and I didn’t need something else to draw attention to me. Naïve and stubborn? No – surely I’m just one of those people who knows what they want.
”Can we just go to one shop, and if we don’t find anything, then you can keep this dress.”
”Fine.” (Said with a roll of the eyes, which only an only-child could roll)
Looking back, I feel awful even thinking that I didn’t think it was ‘worth it’. The service and product I received was so much more than an item of clothing. I’m so lucky to have such a stubborn mam!
The first shop which came into my mind was ‘Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique’ in Penarth. I remember reading an article about it years ago, and it just stuck.
I made an appointment, and invited my bridesmaids, mum and aunt for the ceremonial trying of the dresses. I was not excited. I hate shopping at the best of times, I’m self-conscious of my body, and my only knowledge of wedding dress shopping was a pushy sales-women thinking only of commission. I did not want to parade myself around a room full of people.
The boutique is not like that. We walked into the boutique, on a quiet side-street in beautiful Penarth, Rachel locked the door and drew the curtains. The boutique was only for us, a private, inviting space to feel safe in. Rachel was open and friendly, and not overly ‘Congratulations! Tell me everything!‘, it didn’t feel insincere, and it was like she wanted to get to know me, not ‘bride me’. It felt nice to be treated as a person, and not as a bride. That may seem strange, but I hated the expectations of what it meant to be a bride (ooh! Another blog post idea there – more to come…)
We spent some time picking out dresses – they were all so different, so un-bridal-y, and yet so perfectly bridal. Exactly what I had wanted. Rachel spent time picking some out for me, her extensive knowledge of the gowns proved how much she cared about her work, and made me feel at ease. She was so passionate about championing Welsh designers, and proud of the creativity Wales has to offer.
I tried on about 5 gowns in total, and for someone so picky, I could have chosen any one of them. But one in particular, ‘Isla‘, stole the show. I received the hushed shock reaction from my ladies, and when I saw myself, I really did get ‘the feeling’. Something last-year-Rhiannon thought was kept for insincere chick-flicks. ‘The feeling’ was a mixture of emotions, I could suddenly see myself walking down the aisle, and I realised I wasn’t even breathing in – I just felt beautiful, and I finally felt like it was coming together.
Rachel told me to take my time and not to rush the decision, there was no time frame, no ”you’ll have to pay a deposit today to guarantee the price”, no ‘‘we can’t guarantee you’ll get it in time”. She was just perfect.
A week later, I ordered ‘Isla’ by Sophie of E&W Couture, a stunning lace dress in ivory. I say lace, but it doesn’t look or feel like any lace I’ve seen before. It was so delicate, and so different. Material magic! I asked if Sophie could add sleeves – this was no problem at all. A unique piece, made by hand, for me, by a Welsh designer! Princess much? Absolutely! Own it! (And now I do – cue smug emoji)
I had 5 fittings with Sophie at the Boutique, and looked forward to my monthly chats with the ladies. Rachel is welcoming, warm and so funny, she really gave me a fantastic experience in the run-up to the wedding. I’m looking forward to popping in again for a French Fancy and a cuppa – I’ll be round when the wedding album is finished Rach!
Somebody said that I looked like a ’60’s Celtic Princess’ on the day, and I will totally take that! In the morning, when I looked in the mirror, I looked exactly like what I’d imagined – a kind of Stevie Nicks meets Blodeuwedd (Celtic woman made of flowers yass). From the crown, to the veil, to the make-up. It all came together so perfectly. I still felt like me, but on a really good day. Well, the best day actually.
Rachel helped me see myself as a bride, and feel fantastic. I’m so glad I read that article all those years ago, clearly, my subconscious knows me well.
- Dress from Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique – https://www.rachelburgessbridalboutique.com/
- Hair and Make-up by the incredible Emma Jenkins – @emmajenxmakeup
- Flower crown by Crown and Glory – www.crownandglory.co.uk
- Veil – Bought the material from John Lewis for £16, and took it to a seamstress who charged me £25! Yass, love a hand-made bargain – Cathedral Veil for £41? Don’t mind if I do
- Flowers by Sweet Peony Floral Design – www.sweetpeonyfloral.co.uk
- Boots by ASOS (Yass Bowie vibes!)
All photos by The incredible Louise Jacob- see part 2 for more on her