It’s faintly ironic, I suppose, that the commitment I’m most worried about for this whole wedding fandango is the one that I’ll make to a dress. On the other hand, perhaps it’s just logical: I spent the best part of 30 years carefully selecting R; I had a year to find a dress. Less, when you factor in all the time I spent procrastinating because the whole thing seemed so overwhelming
My issue with a wedding dress is this: you only ever get one. I mean, probably – barring infidelity, terminal illness or sudden accidental death. I really hope I only ever need one!
When there are so many beautiful styles to choose from, and it’s impossible to have them all, how do you even start to choose the one?
If I’m sounding hideously spoiled to you right now, I apologise. But did I mention, you only get one? ONE. And I love dresses like Yogi Bear loves picnic baskets. & this is the ultimate alfresco feast.
The logical solution was to go for something bespoke. Instead of trying to find a dress that encompassed all I love, I could start from scratch. But of course, it wasn’t that simple: almost every designer making the sort of dresses I love was based in the States. I wanted something that didn’t look ‘handmade’ – a dress with all the structure, skill and drama of a high end bridal gown, made from my own inspirations.
I’d just about given up when I stumbled across Charlotte Wilden. I knew as soon as I saw her gallery that she could weave the dress of my dreams – then I promptly lost her name and had to frantically google for her all over again.
She’s in London, which isn’t exactly local, but since I travel down that way about once a month it didn’t seem impossible. I got in touch.
We met over coffee one morning in Central London, Charlotte shaking pink hair from her motorcycle helmet as she strode into my hotel’s cafe. We opened up my secret Pinterest board together and I confessed my terrible truth: I didn’t know what I wanted. I knew what I liked, but it added up to a strange Frankenstein monstrosity of tulle when I put it all together. Charlotte was unphased and talked me through each picture, teasing out the things that I loved in each.
While we chatted, she made notes and drew details. By the time we were done, we’d pared down my inspirations into a tangible, feasible gown. For the first time I could picture my dream dress in my head; a day later, she emailed over sketches, and I saw it for real.
Since then I’ve had two fittings in her sunny little Surrey studio. We chat and drink tea whilst she wraps fabric and pins a thousand tiny pins without ever pricking me, presumably by witchcraft. Her studio is a treasure trove and I get very excited whenever she pulls open a drawer to reveal acres of lace and vintage trimmings, or shakes out a half-made dress for another bride.