I've got the dress! It took four shops which I thought was quite good, well for me anyway! Judging from my general shopping experiences, and Mum will vouch for this, it can be tricky for me to find anything I like. Mum has seen me scan shop floors from the doorway of stores that I usually love, and exclaim that 'there is absolutely nothing in here for me!' My only saviour is that the decision is quick when I know I like something.
THE FIRST APPOINTMENT
The first appointment was at German brand Kaviar Gauche . I was visiting my brother, Paul, and sister-in-law, Maude, who live in Berlin. It was a couple of weeks after Olivier and I got engaged and Maudie booked me the appointment so that we could do something exciting and 'weddingy' together.
We decided, as this was the first experience of trying on wedding dresses, I should just go for it and try all sorts of shapes. We had a couple of rather strong frozés before we went, which may have loosened me up but I liked loads of the dresses! Kaviar Gauche have these golden belts which just instantly modernise any gown into an uber cool realm. I learnt which fabrics I like, what shapes I felt most comfortable in, as well as what really didn't suit me and could be ruled out. My favourite dress on this occasion was a fairly relaxed, quite simple dress shape with Grecian draping. The dress is actually called 'Perfect Wedding Dress'
It was totally unexpected that I would like something that simple, but it fitted me really well and the fabric was so light and comfortable. The best piece of advice I can give at the beginning is, try loads of shapes, even if you think you know what you want, you may be pleasantly surprised!
Although I did like this dress, I knew there were plenty others out there and I think it’s hugely important to have your venue and date before you choose your dress. Really it's the venue and time of year that set the mood for the day. A very structured dress for example just wouldn't be right for my sea side reception venue.
THE BRANDS I LOVED
After deciding on my wedding venue, the next shop I visited was a local shop in Bayonne, near where we live in France. The shop, Alice Springs , stocks one brand that I was particularly excited to try on - Rembo Styling.
Rembo Styling are a Belgium brand, made in Portugal, which describe themselves as 'Modern & Luxurious Boho Chic.' This description goes perfectly with the aesthetic of my wedding planning and styling company @French_Bague_ette so I really wanted to try them!
The Rembo Styling dresses have a romantic feeling with a bit of an edgy twist through cut outs and lace detailing. They felt so good on. I particularly loved the backline of the Aimee dress . I could have easily bought this dress there and then but I hesitated because I had already fallen head over heels for the dresses from another brand and I wasn't going to buy anything until I had tried those on.
MADE WITH LOVE
I developed this huge crush on Australian brand 'Made with Love' Their social media is totally on point and I was a little obsessed with their Instagram videos of their other worldly model gliding in wedding dresses on bridges at sunrise.
Stevie , Frankie (which has pockets!) Sacha , and Mimi were all on my list and I knew I wasn't going to be satisfied until I tried them. There are precisely zero stockists in France. (If anyone out there has a wedding dress shop in France, you should seriously consider stocking these dresses!) There are only four stockists in the UK, but luckily I had a trip back to London planned so I managed to squeeze in two appointments.
THE WEDDING CLUB
The first time I tried the Made With Love dresses was at The Wedding Club in South Kensington. This was the wedding dress shopping experience out of a film. The shop was privatised, Mum and one of my bridesmaids, Debbie came, they sat on a velvet sofa in the middle of the white room, filled with lace, silk, and a huge mirror. The assistant, Shara, knew everything about the dresses, and treated us wonderfully. They had Sacha, Frankie and Stevie but not Mimi. I tried them all each more than twice and they were all exquisite. I loved the pockets on Frankie, I loved the unusual coffee colour underlay of Sacha and Stevie was also dreamy. I eventually had to rule out Sacha because the lace was very heavy and just not suitable for my beach side wedding. Frankie and Stevie both have very long trains and I knew that Mimi did not, so I was going to have to try Mimi before I made any decisions.
ALWAYS AND FOREVER
The next morning Mum and I headed to 'Always and Forever' in Hounslow. Always and Forever is a family run store which has been there 20 years. They also have a branch in
Melbourne, hence carrying Aussie brand Made With Love. Now, I'm not going to hide the truth here, the shop front isn't exactly the same experience as going into The Wedding Club bridal boutique in a Georgian terrace in South Ken! Always and Forever is vast, more like a warehouse, they stock hundreds of dresses, there are four changing rooms and other brides are in there with you all requiring assistance at the same time, sometimes even sharing the mirror. However, I can honestly say that I think this will forever be my fondest shopping memory of my life. Of course it was lovely having my mum there when I found the dress, but also the genuine passion and enthusiasm shown by Angie and her team was the best service I have ever experienced. They knew what would suit me, they quickly worked out what I would like and they were so friendly and fun! They were excited for me, excited to show me other dresses and they ran around going totally above and beyond with huge smiles on their faces.
CHOOSING THE DRESS
What happened in this store was totally unexpected. I tried the Mimi, and it was gorgeous. The unusual sleeves that form a cape with an open back looked dramatic and original - the lace was to die for and the train exactly the length I was looking for.... But there were so many others too. I eventually got into a position where I had 4 dresses, all from different brands that I totally loved and would have worn any of them down the aisle - But I had to whittle them down! I toyed with the idea of having two dresses and an outfit change, but that's not really me. Next I got rid of the most expensive dress because, why pay more when you love the others just as much? Next door to the store they have superb tailor. Angie called him in to discuss some changes I was thinking about and after he worked his magic, the decision was made!
Now obviously I can't tell you what dress I went for because I’m not going to reveal it before the big day. Olivier will read this, well, he better read this! I don't want him having any idea what my dress is like. But I will tell you this; in the end the dress was from a brand I didn't know, it is also from a couple of seasons ago and it cost far less than what I imagined I might spend on my wedding dress. But, it's totally perfect for me. When I put the veil on Mum and I both had that sought after moment where we welled up, knowing this was THE DRESS. It made me realise the obvious, that when it comes down to it, it's totally about how you feel in the dress and whether it suits you and your personality. It’s all too easy to get whisked up in which shop you bought it from, whether their Instagram account is cool, how recent or how expensive the dress is. In the end none of that mattered because I knew this one was the one for me. Trust your instincts because we all know that when you know, you just know!