The wedding dress hunt has begun. First stop London's Browns Bride where I was told I was the smallest bride shed ever seen and that my fantasy designers Oscar de la Renta (below) and Valentino were not for my size. Despite that rather abrupt start - which is exactly what you need if you're ever going to reach stage two - Sam really knew what she was talking about and hauled out some beautiful, spot-on gowns (as I was rather struck dumb) by Monique Lhuillier, Carolina Herrera and Peter Langner which fitted to perfection. Well, with five clamps at the back.
Nothing prepares you for the first time you see yourself in a wedding dress; afraid to breath, eyes innocently wide at the image. Adding a veil is almost too much visual significance to take - youre a bride! Its astonishing how quickly this feeling dissipates - after gown four youre a hardened, seen-it-all-before critic with a deadline to meet.
First tip; although Im a big fan of slipping on something over budget to gauge the benchmark, always ask the price on seeing the gown. Were Brits, we dont like talking about money, but please dont do what I did and stand looking at the one (a full-skirted and heavily beaded Carolina Herrera) from all angles for 35 minutes before discovering its £9,000. Ditto the Monique Lhuillier and also the Peter Langner (above) at £12,000. Its hard to recover from that rollercoaster.
Second tip; dont stand on the little stage to view the dress. Of course we all look miles better with acres more leg but its an unrealistic vision.
On to the Vera Wang shop at the newly opened second Browns store on Brook Street (nothing gained from previous budget concerns). Katy is wonderful and gets me immediately. Just not sure if Vera does. Wang makes unquestionably gorgeous gowns with form-fitting corsets mixed with romantic, deconstructed skirts (below). Theyre surprisingly comfortable, you could waft and dance to your hearts content. I need to work out whether I want to waft freely or glide stiffly...
One gripe; why dont bridal shops have 360 degree mirrors? These are expensive boutiques and were spending the most weve ever spent on a dress yet were looking at our back view through a handheld mirror - the back being a marginally important angle...! You get a 360 degree mirror in BHS for goodness sake. Most odd.
I have two more days of dress shopping booked before I seem to have ticked the London box and consumed as many holiday days as I'm willing to spend. I'm finding plenty of beautiful gowns for three times budget. Panic!