A lot has been said on my favourite wedding blogs about sane prioritising, rational financial planning and reasonable wedding attire. I’m a lover of fashion; I’ve been working in it, dreaming of it and obsessing about it all my life. So I guess it makes sense that my dress ended up being my most significant wedding element. I cringe at the financial implication of said dress and it is in many ways a very unreasonable dress, but I proclaim my innocence, members of the jury. I was under the influence of the Big Bad Mother-in-Law-to-be.
This is how it went. I tore dress pictures out of my magazines and compiled a wish-list in my super organised wedding file. The first dresses I liked were all Grecian, empire line goddess gowns.
Like I said, I love fashion and if you look at this year’s best-dressed Oscar gowns it’s obvious that this was the trend a la mode.
Looking around dress shops in Cape Town though, you’d never know that there were any bridal styles other than princess poufy and mincing mermaid. Not to be rude.
But then I guess I need to go back further and explain that there are only about 3 bridal dress shops in Cape Town. Seriously. The ready-made gown to try on and then order in your size market is apparently an untapped goldmine down here. I got so excited when I saw posters advertising a big wedding chain from Johannesburg opening here in May, but by March the posters were down and the shop never came. What a letdown.
So I made an appointment at option 1/3, The Wedding Box in Tyger Valley.
(Incidentally, I e-mailed, phoned and left messages about six times before I got a call back and could then only get a Saturday appointment months later…)
The Saturday came and my Sis / maid of honour and two BFFs / bridesmaids living in SA met me at the Wedding Box a couple of minutes before our allotted timeslot. On the door of the tiny little non-descript shop was a sign that read: “Bride being pampered, please don’t disturb”. That sounded good. We were ushered in a while later and I was ready for the pampering to begin.
By this time, we’d chosen the Royal Hotel as our venue and it’s colonial vibe had inspired me to fall in love with a very different kind of dress, the Oscar de la Renta kind.
So the very reason we were at the Wedding Box, was that they had one dress on their website that reminded me a little bit of the De la Renta. I explained to the Box lady that I loved empire line, and alternatively was considering slinky all-over lace.
I tried on a very sweet, basic chiffon destination-wedding-type dress, an unadorned empire line in charmeuse and then the colonial lacy number.
The tiny, grey office-like space held no illusions of luxury, glamour or pampering, my assistants were squatting on the floor in the corner and being told be quiet when they got a bit excited, and the lady was rushing me in and out of the gowns. Despite this cold and clinical scenario, my girls still got a little bit emotional when I came out in the lace gown. The idea was beautiful, and I’m pretty sure that if I were in the actual De la Renta at this point, we’d have been sold. (To the devil, for eternity, to pay back Mr. de la Renta...) But the lace was a bit stiff and the neckline a bit high. It just looked that little bit too old-fashioned for me.
I got quotes for the chiffon and the lace gowns, while the lady insistently inserted veils and tiaras onto the page. Whatever lady, I told you I ain’t wearing no veil! I must say that the prices were very good. Both of them were well under my very conservative, sane dress budget, in fact I could’ve bought two of the chiffon ones!
But we knew that we hadn’t found my dress, so the search continued.
Option 2/3 was a local designer who used to make dresses for hire, thereby owning quite a large number of ready made dresses. I popped in one weekday afternoon on my own and the designer and her shop assistant were kind and sweet and made me try on dress after dress. Some were cute, some were almost there, and one was dead sexy which got me thinking about another dress I quite fancied…
Shop 3/3 is a vast old dinosaur of a bridal salon in the heart of the city centre. I ran in with BB one day when we were in the area and we giggled at the endless rows of predictable, boring, outdated, over-beaded, over-tulled confections that hang there like sad little ghosts of weddings gone by…
And that was it for shops where you could actually just go and try on a selection of gowns. A dead-end street for this picky gal.