I’m not one of those women who have dreamed of their wedding all their lives, and I have certainly never given my dress any thought. In all honesty, the thought of buying my wedding dress filled me with dread. A combination of my Mum having passed away when I was 19, and being a plus sized bride meant that I really didn’t care about my dress. I’ve watched countless episodes of “Say Yes To The Dress”, and I just didn’t get it. Picking out a wedding dress was just something else to tick off a list, not a special event.
Tony’s sister had told me about Heart Brides and I was eager to have a look. The idea is simple – Heart Brides buy wedding dress stock at a discounted rate, and instead of having the overheads of a store, they have a “roadshow” in hotels across East Anglia. There are 3 seasons of dresses (clearance, this year and next year) available and they are priced between £399 and £999. They even have a £150 sale rail at some shows, depending on the stock. You go along, try on dresses (between sizes 6-32) and if you like anything, you pay for it on the night. They then store your dress for you, and 3 months before the wedding they will arrange your fittings. The alterations/fittings cost £160 no matter how much needs doing to the dress.
I had set myself a rather generous dress budget, having witnessed my friends go for a budget friendly dress and then end up having to buy a second, more expensive dress because they had settled previously. I’d actually mentally allowed myself to spend up to £2,000 on a dress – I know, I know. But I had already decided to pay for the dress myself as our wedding budget didn’t allow for much extravagance.
I wasn’t expecting much from the roadshow – none of my friends could make it, so I ended up going with Tony. I thought it would be a pop in and leave immediately because it wasn’t my scene. As we entered, we were welcomed warmly and Zoie came over to explain how it worked. I was then left to look through the dresses, picking anything my size and above. I can’t remember if I picked out two or three dresses to start with, and then made my way to the fitting area. This was the moment of embarrassment – having to get undressed not only in front of the lady assisting me, but in front of another bride to be who was much, much smaller than me. But I’d never see her again, and seeing a plus sized undressed woman wouldn’t kill her (I hope). And why was she looking anyway?
I started putting on the first dress, and the lady assisting me kindly suggested that I try on the other dress first – saying that we could go back to the first dress if needed. I put the dress on, and I believe the angels started singing. There was no mirror in the dressing area, but I felt amazing. The dress fit as perfectly as an un-adjusted dress can, and I felt as though it completely skimmed my belly area. Upon getting out, onto a stool and facing a mirror I felt absolute perfection. In that moment, I knew it was the one. I cannot describe how beautiful and how “me” the dress was – but most importantly, how amazing I felt. You could still see that I was a plus size bride (that fat isn’t going anywhere!) but it was as though the dress had been designed with me in mind. Bear in mind that I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for in a dress, I was thrilled to have picked out the first dress. I didn’t hesitate to agree to buy it – I couldn’t remember which rail we’d picked it up from, but even if it was the most expensive dress there, I’d still have bought it.
Dress picked, I headed over to pay. They accept both cash and card, and there was no fee for using a credit card. I used my Tesco credit card for the Clubcard points and the protection that paying on a credit card gives you. I was thrilled to discover that my dream dress was just £399!
I had a really great experience with Heart Brides – the whole thing took about 35-40 minutes, and I am so pleased that I now feel excited about my dress, instead of dreading it. If you are in the East Anglia area then I would strongly recommend you give them a try.
[This originally appeared on Bargainista Bride]