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Lessons in Wedding Planning: finding the dress

12 Jul 2016

Was it love at first sight for bride-to-be Jessica Phillipson when she commenced her quest for the perfect wedding dress?

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So after an extremely testing week at work where I hadn’t had a minute to think, the day arrived. Not THE day, but the wedding dress shopping day! This is a day I have been daydreaming about for many a year (as has my mother – I am the only one of her three daughters who was ever going to do the white wedding thing). After sorting the logistics with my mum and bridesmaids, I booked to visit three bridal boutiques (that seemed quite enough for one day).

I nervously entered the first shop. I hadn’t set my heart on finding my dream dress that day – in fact, that seemed extremely unlikely. But I was surprised when the very sweet and lovely shop assistant pulled the ivory lace straps of the very first dress up to my shoulders and I felt… nothing.

Having never tried on anything remotely wedding dress-like in my life, I thought that the first time I donned a long white gown would be a poignant moment. Even if it wasn’t the dress I eventually bought, there would be gasps. I’d hear the wedding bells. Everyone would cry. But no. I was seriously underwhelmed. Of the five I tried on in that first shop, I found one that I liked very much, but there was certainly no spark. I left feeling a little deflated and like I was on an ordinary shopping trip.

I went into these shops with no real idea of what I wanted, except I knew I wanted straps or sleeves of some sort, being a little sensitive about having my shoulders and décolletage completely exposed. If I learnt anything from my day, it was to go with an open mind. I was surprised that the dresses I enjoyed wearing and made me feel the most special were those with full skirts and trains. I know I will have plenty of opportunities to wear tight-fitting dresses throughout my life, and many wedding dresses look to me like nice evening gowns that happen to be white. There is no way you can be overdressed on your wedding day. I was definitely going big.


I had more success in the second shop, finding more dresses I liked, and one more than most. The bells-ringing, choir-singing moment hadn’t happened, but I was having a great time and reasoned that the whole concept of 'the one dress' was a myth.

I was wrong.

We came to the last shop. Honestly, my hopes weren’t high for this shop. It was a modern looking all-glass three storey shop, but its previous location had made it look a little on the cheap side. The price tags soon revealed that to be false, and the sheer volume of choice and range was astounding. I zipped round, picking dress after dress to try on that were unlike any others so far that day. An Aladdin’s cave of ivory! But it was the first dress in there that got me. Number 14 of about 20 dresses tried on overall. As soon as the shop assistant pinned me in, I knew. I felt exquisite. And my companions knew, too. I didn’t want to take it off and every other dress just left me looking longingly at my number one, hanging there waiting for me.

I now face six agonising months while they make the dress in my size, but I glow every time I picture wearing it. I cannot wait!

My experience wasn’t what I expected, so I guess that’s a good place to start with my pointers about dress shopping…

  • Don’t have any expectations – you may find the one or you may need another shopping trip
  • Know your budget and how far it can stretch
  • Keep an open mind – try on one of everything
  • Take trustworthy companions who will give you an honest opinion, but not too many or you could get confused
  • Trust your gut feeling – you’ll know when you find 'the one'

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