The quest for the perfect princess dress; one bride reveals all...

17 Jul 2017

A professional princess by day and a bride-to-be by night, Grace Wheeler shares the details of her search for the perfect bridal gown 

Image gallery

Image gallery

So far this week, I’ve been a princess in tulle, a fairy in organza, a pirate queen in lace and sung happy birthday more than 20 times. Not many people can say they do that for a living. I love my job as a professional princess, but it’s made my wedding dress quest a bit tricky to say the least…

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My fairytale romance began when I met my husband-to-be on stage. I was playing Cinderella and in a pretty unusual plot twist, in real life, I fell in love with our panto villain.

Duncan and I got engaged on a windswept wintry walk in the Lake District, far away from the hectic life we both lead running our own businesses. It was a fantastic stolen moment for just the two of us. No Facebook, Instagram, mobile phones or Twitter, it was magical. We managed to keep our engagement secret for three whole weeks because we wanted our parents to be the first to know, even though I was bursting to tell my friends. Duncan runs a choir and let out a massive hint when he got them to sing 'I’m Getting Married in the Morning'.

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My mum was over the moon. After giving us both a massive hug it was so funny because the first thing she whispered to me was: “Oh my goodness Grace, how are we going to find you a dress?”.

I had never thought about it before, but I knew she was right. My work wardrobe is bursting with costumes, petticoats, embroidery, glitz, false eyelashes, wigs, sparkles and heels. How on earth was I going to find a wedding dress that no-one could imagine me wearing? I didn’t want to look like I was going to work on my wedding day?

Each time I went to a wedding boutique, I explained that this wedding dress search was no ordinary one. I was determined to pick something totally unlike anything I wear for work… no ballgowns, tiaras, starched petticoats, corsets, stiff scratchy lace… the list was endless. All of these beautiful dresses and yet they just weren’t right. I had this picture in my head that I just wanted Duncan to see me, Grace, without all the bling of my day job. I wanted to feel comfortable but still wow him. I wanted him to think of our secret magical moment on the mountain when we got engaged; not when I’m zooming off to run a party dressed like a princess.

To add to the tongue-twisting 'wedding dress quest stress', we’d decided the location of our small family wedding was to be in the Algarve; on a beach where we had our first holiday together. So to add to the long dress requirement list, I also needed to 'easy to transport' and 'comfortable on a beach'.

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Then 'it' happened, that Cinderella moment when you look at your reflection in the mirror and I knew my dress quest was complete. In WED2B, Chelmsford, I found it - the dress. My mum was crying, and I got goosebumps. I absolutely love it; it’s a dress for me, Grace, not a Princess. It’s a beautiful pale ivory colour, simple, delicate and really romantic. I’m hoping to have fresh flowers in my hair and found some gorgeous satin ballet pumps to wear… that’s right, flat shoes and no tiara. Who would have guessed it? A million miles away from my princess workwear.

Last week I got the cutest note from one of my favourite customers, Isaac, a seven-year-old little boy whose party I ran dressed as a pirate princess. His little note was forwarded by his mum and it said: “Grace is the best princess in the world ever, ever. I wish I could marry her when I grow up". I wrote back to Isaac to thank him for his gorgeous note... but this princess has found her prince charming, and my dress quest is complete too.

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Stay tuned to bridemagazine.co.uk in 2018 to see what dress Grace chose. For more princess inspiration, you can find Grace at www.partieswithaprincess.co.uk or www.facebook.com/partieswithaprincess or @pwaprincess on Twitter and Instagram.