Welcome to Bride Boggles, our weekly wedding blog from heat's editor-in-chief Lucie Cave. Lucie, who's getting married in September to Ben Lunt (a heat Torso of the Week, no less), is taking us through her wedding prep process, from getting a bridal body to nailing wedding guest etiquette. This week, the dress hunt is on...
I've been known to wear a few odd outfits in my time. A jumper that makes me look like Henry VIII, lime green leggings, a lime green turtle neck and white stilettos (youth club disco, aged 13 3/4), a misjudged fancy dress outfit where I appeared to be more like Harry Potter than Daniel Radcliffe himself and a regular concoction of clothing that once earned me the title 'most maverick' in the annual heat office awards.
So when it came to looking for my wedding dress, it's no surprise that my fiancé Ben had a plea; "Please don't get a dress that makes you look like Queen Elizabeth... no doilies on your shoulders or any of that shite". Naturally, now I've been told not to do something, there's a small part of me that’s tempted to don a ginger wig and frilly collar just to mess with his mind. But no matter how much fun I want my wedding to be, the wedding dress should not be a laughing matter.
Thou shalt not wear a dress made out of condoms...
…or cream puffs
or anything Katie Price has ever worn to a wedding…
With these rules in mind, my journey in search of the dress (or the desolation of smaug as Ben randomly keeps calling it) began a few months ago with a day out with some mates under the banner of 'Let’s visit every shop in London on a day when it’s raining and let’s book appointments at really awkward times and not think about how long it will take to travel from one to the other.'
We must've broken a changing room record because we went to about eight shops in one day. Here's what I learnt in the process...
1. Just because it’s a bridal shop doesn't automatically mean you'll get a glass of champagne on arrival (my friends nearly left me to go to the pub at one point… you’d think that was the only reason they’d come).
2. The dresses you think will suit you will look weird and the ones you dismiss as ‘a bit mental' will surprise you and look really good - so you need to try on everything and leave all preconceptions at the door.
3. Having a lot of friends with you, while brilliant company (once they've found some alcohol), will probably end up confusing the hell out of you because they will all have different opinions (I hereby refer you to this). Mums and sisters are by far the best, most reliable and honest. Also my lovely mum is paying for my dress so she needs heavy input!
4. For some reason you will feel guilt tripped into telling the person in the shop you like all the dresses even when you don’t.
5. Don’t expect to turn up with a hangover, having forgotten to use a hairbrush and feel nice in anything. Also if you’re wearing odd socks (the ones you haven’t taken off since last night) and you’re given some Jimmy Choos to try on with the dress, don’t expect them to ‘complete the look’.
6. Be prepared to part with cash at some shops – some bridal boutiques ask for a deposit (to stop the time wasters!).
7. You might hear bells ringing when you’re in the changing room. In Davids Bridal in Westfield the shop assistants ring an actual bell when they’ve made a sale. While very much about value (the dresses are stocked in bulk from the US and therefore a fraction of the price) you could feel a bit like wedding cattle.
8. You might well get home and start Googling ‘white jumpsuits’ instead.
So thank heavens for my saviour, good friend and stylist Kate Halfpenny whose bridal collection you can see here: www.halfpennylondon.com. Kate has been described as an ‘industry secret’.
Actress Emilia Fox calls her “a unique and extraordinary designer,” adding that her talents are endless, “She can knock you up the dress of your dreams, hand-make the flowers for your veil, make you a necklace that everyone asks you where you got it from, style you from top-to-toe or simply refresh your wardrobe with a few new key pieces”.
An award winning celebrity stylist and costume designer, Kate’s bridal boutique, set in a cute Victorian passage in Bloombury London, is like stepping into a little slice of vintage couture heaven.
And her collection – all 100% British made using the finest fabrics - is as stylish, individual and as brilliant as she is. With dresses reasonably priced from £2,000, the collection is diverse and incredibly wearable. She has slip dresses with fine French lace jackets that are ethereal and dreamy, corsets and soft tulle skirts that are a modern interpretation of the classic princess dress, then there is bespoke, you get to design an amazing couture gown especially for you which you thought you could only dream of, you might have to start planning your next wedding just so you can get to wear more than one. Or why not have two anyway...
Then there’s the service. From the minute you enter the door of delights its like you’ve been enveloped in a big warm hug – none of this snooty shop assistant business! At Halfpenny London you like feel like you can ask anything, try on as many dresses as you like and feel amazing. AND you’re offered champagne in a proper vintage glass as soon as you sit down!
Having known Ben and I for a few years, I’m lucky enough that Kate knows what sort of dress will suit my personality more than I do. With that in mind she’s set about creating a bespoke dress that’s individual to me. So the fittings and sketches have begun and now she keeps sending me exciting texts like, “I’ve found the most divine fabric for you!” which is giving me spine tingles of delight.
Obviously I can’t spoil the surprise just yet so you’ll have to wait ‘til the big day to see the results. But I know I’m in the best hands with Kate and can’t wait to see her creation take place.
Although when Ben asks for hints of what I’ll be wearing down the aisle, I’m telling him to think ‘Harry Potter playing Quidditch' just to keep him on his toes…