Posts Tagged: dress

Oct 11

The reception

Walking back into Casa Esquileo Cabanillas del Monte nearly took my breath away. The last time I had been to the 18th century estate in Segovia, close to Madrid, the floor was covered with frost and we could see the breath in front of our faces. We could only imagine what it would look like in the summer, filled with all our nearest and dearest.

Now, that day had come, and the place was transformed. The grass looked greener and lusher than ever and flowers decorated every corner. Oriental-style parasols provided some shade from the sun, and an ancient-looking cart had been placed in the corner of the gardens.

And there was the small matter of our 90-something guests, all cheering and clapping as we walked in as husband and wife.

Right then, I felt as close as I’m sure I’ll ever come to knowing what it feels like to be a celebrity at a premiere. You’re wearing a fabulous dress, you’re spent hours on your hair and makeup and everyone is dying to give you compliments and get their picture taken with you.

But it has to be better – because even a film star collecting an Oscar couldn’t have felt as happy as I did right then.

We were finally married! And seeing all those people from different places and eras of your life, all together for one time only, it blows your mind.

As the sun crept towards the horizon I did my best to try and talk to every single one of them.

I grabbed a glass of champagne from one of the waiters walking round with trays, but soon found I couldn’t drink it. I was far too thirsty, so switched to water instead. In fact I found throughout the night I had in total about four glasses of wine or champagne and that was it – I was far too drunk on happiness to bother too much with alcohol.

Or food – I didn’t manage to eat much either, much my annoyance.

Managing a few canapés at the start of the reception was do-able, but when the time came to sit down for our lovely three-course meal of lobster salad, roast lamb, and mascarpone ice cream with summer fruits my appetite had completely abandoned me.

It’s funny, but everyone told me to make sure I enjoyed the tasting sessions we did at my caterers, as I wouldn’t eat anything on the big day.

I scoffed at the idea. Me, not eat? Don’t they know how much I love my food? But they were so right.

The nerves and excitement made it impossible.

I pushed my food around my plate so much that Fernando, our caterer, came over to tell me off. Then there was the head waiter wringing his hands and asking what was wrong with the food and would I like something else to eat?

The guests all loved the food, though – so we were really pleased about that.

After dinner, it was time for the speeches. But we made a bit of a mistake handing out cigars before hand, so there was a mass exodus from the hall to the gardens.

And while everyone was out there puffing away the waiters, thinking that was the end of the sitting down bit, cleared away the champagne.

In the meantime the Spaniards got impatient, and demanded the bar be opened up!

It was all slightly chaotic, but we somehow managed to get everyone back in their seats and be able to get on with the speeches – always my favourite part of any wedding I go to.

I always find it slightly sexist that the bride just sits there and doesn’t say anything, so I was keen to get up and say a few words. I was adamant that I should go first, though as I was afraid I’d spend the majority of the speeches blubbing. I at least managed to keep dry eyes for my own speech – though I did come close to shedding a tear after I was introduced as the new señora de Borrachero and the cheers and clapping seemed to go on for a full five minutes.

My dad spoke lovingly about how pleased he was to welcome J into the family. J abandoned his notes and spoke from the heart to thank all of our amazing friends. My maid of honour said some really lovely things about the both of us. And I can’t repeat a lot of what the best men Jim and Mike said.

After dinner, I threw the bouquet, which landed straight in the hands of my bridesmaid Amy. “You’ll be waiting a long time for the next wedding then girls,” she told us, though her boyfriend Scott did seem very pleased she’d caught it.

And there were more tears when our photographer showed us a slideshow of the amazing photos he’d taken already throughout the day. (He went on to take an impressive total of 8,000.)

Then before I knew it, we were twirling around the dancefloor (well as much as I could twirl in my dress) for the first dance. After all the fretting and worrying about it, it was totally fine.

After listening to every song we had on iTunes that we both liked, we picked a total outsider – Tangerine by Led Zepplin. As soon as we heard it, we knew it was the one. And the little bit of practice we did put us both at ease.

As soon as the last chords ended, our DJ Amos dropped Michael Jackson’s Got To be Starting Something, the dancefloor filled up, and the party really got started.

The rest of the night seemed to pass in a blur. Highlights included the whole dancefloor singing in unison to Bohemian Rhapsody (complete with the rocking out, head banging bit) and Pulp’s Common People – one guest’s comment: “The Trainspotting generation grew up and got married”

I certainly wasn’t expecting the Macarena to go down a storm like it did.

Then there was another surprise from Amos – who did a heroic seven-hour DJ set for us. He put on Mrs Robinson, and the place wend wild.

Somewhere in the middle of this people started invading the dancefloor in fancy dress – which we had brought for people to wear in a photo-booth we’d set up.

And I discovered what the nipping feeling in my hip was, when Phoebe investigated and pulled a two-inch pin from the top of my skirt.

We finished at about 6.30am in the morning, and I’m happy to report we were the last ones to leave. The guests hadn’t quite managed to drink the bar dry, but they’d had a good try.

So that was my wedding. Over a year of planning but in some ways, a lifetime in the making.

I’ve never felt as happy, or more loved in all of my life as I did that day.

I will treasure the memories forever.

Feb 11

The dress hunt is over

Well, it happened. That “this is the one” moment. But it’s not a dress I would have ever picked out for myself in a million years.

After getting a call from Eva at the posh dress shop near my work, I went back to try on a dress that I’d requested, but they didn’t have the first time around.

dress-hunt-story.jpgIt was one of my favourites from the brochure, and the fact it was called ‘Scotland’ seemed like a nice touch too. (Whenever Spanish people ask me where Durham is, I end up telling them it’s almost in Scotland.)

I’d been checking it on the internet all day (when did I turn into the sort of person who does that? Does getting married turn your brain to mush?) and was liking it more and more.

And when I was back under the hot lights of the changing room and put it on, it was definitely my favourite so far. But there still wasn’t a “eureka” moment.

Maybe I’d end up like the girl in the news who couldn’t make a choice, so she ended up buying 18 dresses, nine of which she wore for her big day. Then again, she spent £20,000 – so maybe not.

“Do you want to try on any of the ones from the other day?” asked Eva, after listening to me going “umm” and “err” and complaining about how wide my shoulders looked from behind.

“Oh, yes, can I try the Grecian-looking one?” I asked her.

But that one just looked kind of boring and drab after the Scotland dress. And it had been one of my favourites from the other day too. What was going on?

We had time for one more, so I asked to try on another of my favourites from the other day. But Eva pulled a face. That was not a good sign.

“It’s in another one of our shops,” she said. “And they don’t want to give it back to us, I asked the other day.”

God it’s cut throat, this wedding dress business!

“But I do have a one with a similar skirt that you could try, just to get an idea.”

When she brought the dress it was unlike any of the other dresses in the shop – in fact it was totally unlike any of the ones I’d ever seen. Something quite different. If I’d seen it in the brochure I would have ruled it out straight away.

But when I put it on it looked fantastic. And Linda thought so too.

“Don’t you breathe a word about what it’s like to anyone,” she told me. And she wagged her finger at me while she said it, so I knew she meant business.

The lovely lady is getting me the dress as a present so, of course I have to respect her wishes. And it kind of feels more fun that way too.

Plus, what if I describe it to someone or show them a picture and they think it’s horrible, then have to pretend they like it? It’ll be much easier for them to do that on the day, when I’m actually wearing it.

So it looks like I’ve found my dress. I’m going to think about it for a day or so (after all, you can never be too careful about these kinds of things).

But really, I think my mind’s made up.

Feb 11

Get dressed

It’s a funny feeling the first time you try on a wedding dress. There’s your face in the mirror, staring back at you – but it looks as though someone has photoshopped your face onto someone else’s body.

A body swathed in white satin, or tulle or lace, or whatever. The body of someone who’s definitely getting married.

dress-blog-story.jpg“What do you think?” asked Eva, the nice – but brisk – lady who was helping me.

“I like it,” I told her.

“Yes, but is that because you really like it or because it’s the very first wedding dress you’ve ever tried on?”

Ah, she was smart, that one.

I’d gone to my first ever wedding dress trying on session with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. After all, it’s meant to be the most important dress you’ll ever wear, right? I love shopping, most of the time. But I really hate it when shop assistants are breathing down your neck and asking you if you need any help. And there was going to be plenty of that going on.

I know what I like when it comes to clothes usually. But it’s not like I have a lot of experience with wedding dresses. How am I supposed to know what I like in that department?

Most of all I was just worried the underwear I was wearing wasn’t nice enough, but I don’t have a lot of white stuff. Why I got it into my head that I had to wear white I don’t know. It wasn’t like any of it was going to be on show.

My mother-in-law Linda accompanied me to the posh-looking shop, which was handily close to my office. I arrived before her, and like a total chicken, waited outside for her to arrive. Posh shops always put me on edge.

Once she arrived, we went in and were sat down with the assistant, Eva, who took my details. When she found out my wedding is in September she told me it was just as well I was looking for a dress now, as they usually need seven months for the whole process. Seven months? Crikey, if I’d known that I would have started looking earlier.

“And you have to remember,” she told me. “We don’t work in August so you’ll have to have your dress practically ready for the end of July.” Ah, yes, I forgot Spain as good as shuts down for the whole of August.

After flicking through the catalogue at lighting speed, we selected some dresses to try on. But there was absolutely no way we would have the time to try them all – as we only had an hour, right from the moment we walked through the door.

The whole experience was quite surreal, not helped by the fact that I kept giving Eva electric shocks (caused by friction or my brain short circuiting, I’m not sure which). And we were slowed down a bit by the fact she kept getting her pin cushion tangled up in the dresses.

I must have tried on at least six, and they were all perfectly nice, but I didn’t have a “wow, this is the one” moment. Which apparently will happen at some point, according to nearly everyone I know who’s been through the process themselves.

I left almost feeling like it would have been better if they’d all looked foul apart from one, then my mind might have been made up.

When I went to bed that evening my mind was swimming with thoughts of wedding dresses. What if I never find one I like? What I pick one that looks just OK, and end up hating it?

The thing that put me off a little about the shop was that I felt a bit “production line bride”, the same sort of feeling I got when we went to visit our first wedding venue. The whole place was full of brides racing to find the perfect dress before their allotted hour ran out. It didn’t seem fair that things seemed so rushed when we were all potentially spending so much money.

It was an exciting experience, but it was also – dare I say it, quite stressful. No wonder I couldn’t get to sleep that night.

In the end I told myself to stop being so silly. I was getting married one way or another. It didn’t matter if I wore a bin bag, it was still going ahead.

I’ll find the perfect dress in the end, won’t I?

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