Big news guys, I can reveal that the designer of my wedding dress is going to be the family-owned, Spanish company Pronovias. Way, way back, I began my career as an intern at a wedding magazine. I can remember drooling over the stunning, hand-crafted gowns by this brand: the attention to detail and how varied each look was amazed me. Cut forward a decade and I'm trying one on at their atelier, in Barcelona! Somebody pinch me.
I took my Mum along for a special trip to visit the long-running family business's showroom in Spain. Not only was it the Pronovias bridal runway show that weekend (epic!) but it was also my first meeting with Hervé, the design genius behind Atelier Pronovias. He took away my nerves by telling me he'd make the dress of my dreams, no matter what! I was given full reign to wander around the archives (and guys, I'm talking 5,000 dresses over three floors, it was like a maze of white taffeta and silks), gathering inspiration. The talented seamstresses took my measurements; I put on some heels (and here's a tip—make sure you know the heel height of your wedding shoes, even if you don't have the actual pair yet—so the dress can be made the correct length), and began trying on dresses. Whether you're buying off-the-peg or having a dress made from scratch like me, try on a plethora of different styles, shapes, laces, and even colors since the tones vary slightly and this can really change your complexion.
Working in the fashion industry and wearing gowns frequently to host from the red carpet, I thought I had it down when it came to what suited my body. But when Hervé suggested I try a particular skirt shape, I confidently told him it wouldn't suit me. But I was totally wrong, and he was completely right. Trying something on that I never would have looked at ended up being the silhouette I went with. And that's all I’m telling you about the shape...for now!
Ok, so a couple more tips for trying on your wedding dress...
1. Do go in armed with pictures on your phone, pages from magazines, etc., but also keep an open mind. It's great to have a starting point, but be open to change.
2. Don't take an enormous entourage. Like any woman, I'm confident one minute, and feeling low on self-esteem the next. Having your mum or bestie, or someone whom you trust and who keeps you calm will help you make the right choice. Hysterical giggles and too much Champagne looks great in the movies, but it isn't what you actually need in real life. You need to be able to really take in and ponder what's in the mirror in front of you—keep in mind you've never seen yourself look remotely like this before, so having a moment to be sure of the decision is crucial.
3. Remember the back. The first hour of your dress's public life will be viewed from the back, as you stand at the ceremony. So think about how that looks and fits. Do you want beautiful buttons trailing down? An embroidered train? How does your booty look?
4. Do put on makeup. Like I mentioned before, the color and fabric of your dress has a huge bearing on your complexion, so put a little makeup on to give yourself a true reading of how it will look on the day. Does it make you glow, or is it a little draining? But skip the fake tan. I know a friend who ruined two expensive wedding dresses in a boutique by leaving a nasty tan mark!
5. Wear the right undies. Actually, that tip goes for any kind of clothes shopping! Nude Spanx, a seamless thong, a strapless bra, a body suit—whatever makes your body look and feel its best under a dress, opt for that.
6. Ask questions. A seamstress or knowledgeable store assistant should be present. Almost anything can be done to a dress: the waistline can be altered, so can the hemline. A train can be added, as can a belt or ribbon to the waist (and by the way, that’s a great way to create a flattering focal point).
7. Be prepared. You might want to add Grandma's vintage brooch, so take that with you. Will your hair be up or down on the big day? Best to wear it that way to the fitting as well.
8. Look for a veil. If you're having one, that is! But I'd encourage you to try one on anyway; it brings the whole fairytale to life, and besides, when else in your life will you get to wear one?
9. Lastly, ask the sales assistant or your companion to take a video as well as photos. I took lots of pictures on my first fitting, and it looked so different from the images in my memory. One of my bridesmaids suggested taking a video instead, at the next fitting. It worked so much better. Video is a more accurate, 360° version of how you'll look and move on the day.