Five years ago today I changed from being known as a Ms to being known as … er, a Ms. Hmmm, that doesn’t really work does it? Ah well no worries. Basically 5 years ago I went and got myself married off to the bestest boy in the world. (Ha ha, autocorrect tried to change bestest to nearest. )
A lot can change in 5 years and I know I’m lucky to find myself being made breakfast by a sleepy, unshaven, slightly disorientated man. Not content with hauling his ass out of bed an hour early and poaching me some eggs he even popped into the garden to pick me some flowers – cow that I am I didn’t even notice the flowers until I’d devoured half the eggs. Blush!
Looking back after 5 years I wondered if my new waste awareness would have changed our wedding in any way. Hopefully not a huge amount. Weddings always have the potential to be pretty wasteful but we inadvertently did quite a bit right.
We borrowed crockery from family and friends and bought 2nd hand teapots to display the seasonal flowers my sister sourced from a local nursery. We asked for donations to be given to two charities in lieu of gifts and we hired a bus to get our revellers to the field we were raving it up getting married in. We found a local designer to melt down my Mum’s broken gold bracelets to make wedding rings in a design made up by the three of us.
Less impressively I bought my bridesmaid dresses in the topshop sale and asked the boys and girls to buy new blue sneakers to match my dress. I know the lasses wore their new shoes to death but I have doubts about some of the blokes.
One wasteful thing I do regret is buying 150 mini rubber ducks new to give out as favours.
But why?! I hear you screech.
Ok, so, I proposed to Chris standing welly deep in a loch in the hills above his parents house by floating a rubber duck with a ring tied to it out across the water to him. The duck capsized and my hands almost froze off trying to right the duck and still he agreed to seal the deal. Unbelievable. After that it just seemed right to give everyone a wee duck and we even borrowed a giant one from my niece. Looking back it was our biggest plastic waste ever although I can’t help but smile every time I see a rubber duck.
One thing I wouldn’t have to change, in fact one thing I couldn’t change even if i wanted to – and I wouldn’t want to – would be my dress. There was no discussion. My mum was making my dress and that was that.
Wedding dresses are renown for being horrifically expensive. I even tried on a Vera Wang dress priced at 10,000 pounds just for fun. Yikes!
Despite what people pay for their dresses, these gowns are also increasingly likely to be made overseas and when that happens there is no guarantee that they will be made in particularly pleasant conditions.
I’m not saying Vera has her dresses made in a sweatshop -I’ve really never investigated it since I didn’t ever plan on spending 10k on her creation. But as companies squeeze every last penny from their products and since these gowns are just another part of the sprawling megolith of global fashion its a good bet that a number of these gorgeous sparkling beaded gowns have a less than sparkling past. A hefty price tag is no guarantee of a quality product made in an ethical manner since much of that extra money is spent on marketing not on quality fabric or hard-working dressmakers.
I would recommend any bride-to-be to avoid the overpriced over-marketed soulless off the peg wedding dress shops and consider the alternatives.
Having my mum make my dress was pure hell at some points both for her and for me. We argued regularly and when we weren’t bickering I felt terrible about the time she spent slaving over the dress. One memorable day she accidentally sewed the dress into my skin. Even better, because she had finally got the rouching “exactly right” she refused to unpick the grisly stitches until I threatened to vomit or bleed onto her precious creation. She had a point tho, It really was worth it.
Aside from all this I was always aware that I was incredibly lucky. Visiting wedding dress “boutiques” or rather more realistically “marketing showrooms” I found myself confused that any bride would pay to put up with the crap they get away with.
- I was sneered at for wanting a non-white dress and no, ivory, champagne and cappuccino do not qualify as non-white in my vocabulary.
- I was scolded for getting married in only 3 months. Despite being off the peg, made in their thousands and costing thousands these dresses had to be pre-ordered 6 months or more in advance.
- I was criticized for having short legs, wide shoulders small breasts as sales women pointed out how it was my body that is the wrong shape to make her dress look good.
But more than anything else I was bored. Not just bored by the wall of white taffetta but bored by the scoobydoo background of styles as I was shoved into yet another A-line corseted house of a dress, 3 sizes too big and told that it would certainly suit me when it was made in my size.
Why would I pay to be treated like this when I could go to Soho with my mum and have a salesman cooing with delight and excitedly drag me to the natural daylight streaming through the window as he gleefully grabbed swathes of my chosen electric blue silk and wrapped me in it while raving about how it set off my skin and could show off all my lady bumps and lumps. (This man was seriously bored of selling ivory silk. hee hee)
You don’t have to be as lucky as me and have a wonderfully generous and talented mother. There are so many UK based designer dressmakers who will work with you to make the sort of dress that you want. Often for less money than you might initially think considering you are getting a bespoke creation. They will make a unique dress that celebrates your beautiful body shape and skin rather than pointing out all your flaws and complaining that you don’t fit into an off the peg dress and then charging you extra for “tailoring”. I’ve got news, no one fits an average dress!
You get to see your dress slowly growing rather than waiting for it to arrive wrapped in plastic from a distant factory. Most importantly you know that the dress isn’t made in a sweatshop by a child. Who wants to get married in a sweatshop dress? Since the majority of the cost of high street dresses is spent on marketing and profits then price is often no indication of quality nor ethics. Buying from a British dressmaker you know that your money gets spent on quality fabric and a fair wage for the person making the dress right in front of you. Don’t expect to get a super cheap dress but do expect to get a unique dress that suits you – quite likely for no more than that dull A-line taffeta bore you saw in the swanky catalogue. Unless you go mental it’s going to cost much less than £10,000 from Vera Wang but it will be about 10, 000 times more special
Better still I’ve been over excited and awed to see mates getting hitched in vintage dresses often handed down from family members. How amazing to be able to wear something that your own grandmother or best mates mum got married in – from a romantic veil to a funky 60s mini dress.
If that’s not an option for you then there are countless second hand dress shops both online and in real life often run by charities where you can recycle both modern or vintage dresses. You could even get off your bum and make your own wedding/civil partnership dress in shocking pink like my mate Nicola did.
There are so many choices out there which avoid the global fashion crimes of cheap nasty fabric stitched by nameless, possibly underpaid workers upsold by a glossy catalogue. Surely a wedding is the ideal opportunity to explore these romantic and joyful alternatives.