I have discovered that when you get engaged, one of the first questions asked is, ‘have you bought your dress yet?’
As someone who absolutely loves clothing, I believed that I would revel in the opportunity to try on beautiful gowns and pretty dresses. But it turns out that wedding dress shopping is particularly stressful.
I mentioned some time ago that round one of dress shopping went reasonably well. I also think I mentioned that none stood out as ‘the one’. This didn’t especially bother me, but so many wise-wives told me that ‘when you know, you know’ that I thought another round had to be afoot.
I went back to the drawing board and turned once again to social media and the internet for inspiration. I decided to broaden the field on the basis that I had carefully selected the boutiques for the first round based on what I believed I wanted, but hadn’t found it.
The afternoon before round two was due, I was mid-shower when Maggie burst into the bathroom, screeching something about a leakage. A leaky shower is one of the many mysteries of the farmhouse but sadly this time, it claimed a victim: Dad. The poor man had slipped on the wet tiles in the kitchen and crashed to the floor, apparently damaging the ankle he broke in summer. He turned green. At the hospital. the consultant informed me that he would be referring me to a spinal specialist and that he expected that they would want to operate on my neck. I turned ashen.
My mother was now torn between coming with me for more dress shopping and staying at home to help on the farm. I rang Gemma, who I knew was on reduced duties in her husband’s family cattle business due to her blossoming belly, and asked her to come with me in case Mum could not. I felt sad that Maggie couldn’t come but there was no way Dad would manage without her.
So round two got off to a shaky start. My arm and shoulder ached terribly. Still, it was not in vain. At both boutiques I found a beautiful dress. Even pale, and aching, I loved them.
But which one? I tossed and turned and mulled them over. Wakeley v Packham? Packham v Wakeley? Both were so different but I needed to make a decision. I went back a second time. A third time. Still I loved both.
One was demure and pretty, one sassy and more daring.
I created a poll and asked my bridesmaids.
I asked Rhys, ‘demure or sassy bride?’ ‘You’re not demure,’ wasn’t the answer I expected but still, I had asked.
I was told one would come to mind in the weeks after trying but I didn’t have weeks. I had days before I had to choose or else it wouldn’t be back in time. More annoyingly, I often think of the one I haven’t ordered.
In the end, it came down to one thing. As I stepped out of Wakeley, a London bus stopped for me at the crossing. It was Peckham bound according to the front. When trying to decide a few afternoons later I remembered the bus. True it said Peckham not Packham but I decided it was a sign, and picked up the phone.