My wedding planning journey: A Moment Worth Waiting For
17 Aug 2020
Bride-to-be Ashleigh Tuttle on finally seeing her wedding dress for the first time
Coronavirus has affected brides in many ways. Whether it be having to cut the guest list immeasurably, or the wedding has been postponed for months on end, it’s caused heartbreak around the world for hundreds if not thousands of couples.
I have been lucky that my wedding has always been July 2021, so (fingers crossed) everything will be back to a semi-normality by then. However, I didn’t escape completely unscathed from the crisis.
My wedding dress is something I had been dreaming about since I was a little girl. Like lots of other brides, I had the perfect vision in my head of what I wanted. I dreamed of the day I could go into a bridal shop and try on lots of wonderful, glorious gowns.
Unlike a lot of brides, I had already tried on a wedding dress in the past. No, not for my secret ‘first’ wedding, but actually for my prom.
At 15, I was really into the gothic scene (which I have written about in a previous blog). I had the red and black hair, thick black eyeliner and wore clothes that held no hint of colour at all. I had a massive side fringe that covered my face, so that I was only able to see out of one eye. I had been that way for about three years by that point, and that was how my classmates knew me.
I was picked on a bit in school, mostly for the gothic attire, and so I wanted prom to be a massive transformation. I don’t know how many of you have watched the film ‘A Cinderella Story’ starring Hilary Duff, but she basically was the unknown girl at school, and then she rocked up in this white dress with nice hair and everyone noticed how gorgeous she was (yeah, I know right).
So, I decided to use this as my model, dyed my hair blonde, and went on the search for a white dress. It turns out, the only ones in stock were wedding dresses. The first one I tried on was ‘the one’, and I said ‘yes to the prom dress’ on my first try.
If only actual wedding dress shopping had been that easy.
I searched and scoured for miles, up and down the country, trying to find that perfect dress. I’m not going to go into too much detail of what I was looking for as I still want it to be a surprise, but basically, I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted, which unfortunately didn’t seem to exist.
I had lots of different experiences at bridal shops which varied from where I went. At one shop, I felt like I was being rushed out as soon as possible because I hadn’t made an appointment (it was my first time trying dresses on for the wedding and so I didn’t know that was actually a thing). Needless to say, I didn’t return.
The second shop I went with one of my bridesmaids Rebekah (who has been brilliant and came to almost every dress shop with me) and they were super pushy, expecting me to put a deposit down there and then for a dress I wasn’t 100% sure on. I said I’d need to speak to my fiancé (as the dress was over £3,000) and the assistant told me I didn’t need to bother and to just pay it. Again, never returned there.
Another shop I went to had some gorgeous dresses that were almost the one, but the second time I went back they were rowing with one of the customers and my mum and I felt super uncomfortable sitting in the showroom, waiting for the argument to be over.
I did go to a couple of other lovely dress shops that had some really pretty dresses but they still weren’t ‘the one’.
Finally, I went to The Bottom Drawer Bridal in King’s Lynn, a beautiful pink building on the outskirts of the town centre. Victoria’s great big smile greeted us as we arrived, and she popped out the Prosecco (which Don’t Tell The Bride will lead you to believe every shop will do, however hers was the only one) and brownies and talked to me about what my wedding was going to be like and what I was after (she was the first one to ask and actually be interested throughout this whole experience).
I tried on a few dresses that weren’t right, and some with bits I liked but things I would change. She had a perfect solution.
‘Why don’t you mix-and-match what you like to create your perfect dress? It will be called the Ashleigh.’
I think that sold me on its own.
So, with six of my bridesmaids in tow, two of my page boys and another of my best friends, I said yes to the design of this incredible dress that was exactly what I wanted, and was told the dress should be in around November 2019.
But then, Coronavirus happened.
I finally got to see and try on my dress (bearing in mind I had no clue whatsoever what it looked like before it arrived in the shop) two weeks ago. We decided to do a big reveal, so Victoria had to help me into my dress, with me completely blind as I had my eyes closed, before making my way onto the shop floor to see it in all its glory. Mum cried before I’d even made it through the curtain. It was absolutely perfect and everything I’d ever dreamed of, and when I put a veil on with it, I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear or two.
I could tell poor Victoria was holding her breath as I looked in the mirror, as she was on the receiving end of constant messages about the dress, having to listen to my worries for months. She has been absolutely brilliant and I can’t fault her at all, and she definitely made my experience of buying my wedding gown so much more special, especially in a time where everything is so unknown.
I am one of the lucky ones who bought their dress so far in advance, it didn’t actually matter that it was late. This is not to scaremonger, but I definitely would recommend if you’re getting married next year to start looking into getting your dress now. It took me so much longer than I thought it would to even find a dress, let alone to wait for a bespoke design to be made with the Coronavirus customs in tow.
It’s very, very hard not to attach a picture of my dress, but I want it to be a huge surprise for everyone. If you can, I would suggest filming the experience too as I got to see everyone’s reactions, and relive my own because I set cameras up around the showroom.
I hope this article is helpful. My advice for those starting to look for their wedding dress is not to feel pressured into buying something you’re unsure of, only take one to two people with you and try on a variety of different styles. Something you think you’re going to hate you may love, once it’s actually on.
Oh and of course enjoy it. For me it was one of my favourite parts of wedding planning, and once you’ve picked your dress you shouldn’t try on any more, so make the most of it.