Sunday, June 8, 2014

The story of my wedding dress

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for nearly two years. I decided to dust off, finish it, and share it. Enjoy.

One of the first things I organised before getting married was my dress. In fact, I had my dress organised before we'd picked a venue. At least, I thought I had.

I didn't like the idea of having a wedding dress hanging around after the wedding. It takes up space and gets in the way, it costs money to get cleaned, and it's not like I'll have any use for it. I wouldn't even get the traditional 'make your child or children's Christening clothes out of it', since, if I do have any more children, I won't be getting them Christened, just like I didn't with my first. So I decided to hire one.

Online I found Bride's First Choice. According to their website they are 'Ireland’s first modern mobile bridal salon targeting on bringing the most comfortable, unique and stress free bridal experience.'. That sounded good, not only did I get to hire my dress, but I don't even have to go to their premises. They even do bridesmaids dresses. It sounded perfect.

So, we organised for Tanya to come to my sister's house in Maynooth, where I lived at the time, with a car full of dresses. We agreed that we would cover Tanya's petrol expenses up from Limerick. My two bridesmaids, my mother, my mother in law, and I, had a lot of fun trying on dresses and talking about colours and the like. I commented that what I really wanted was the top of this dress, and the bottom of another dress she had.

I was pleasantly surprised when she said she could do that. I didn't think she did bespoke dresses at all, but she assured me that it would be no problem, even for hirin. It would be a little more expensive than hiring an existing dress, but still far less than the usual cost of a wedding dress.

Having discovered she could get dresses made for us, we also decided to get dresses just like these ones for my bridesmaids:

But in green and with a halter neck. We spent some time selecting the perfect shade of green from a book of samples she had. I also asked, speculatively, if she could do a waistcoat in the same colour, since one of my bridal party was my best friend, who happens to be a guy. She said it was no problem and I was delighted.

We paid for her petrol costs once or twice more for fittings and getting measurements. I wondered if I should be concerned because it seemed like maybe she hadn't taken enough measurements. But this is her job, I reasoned, she must know what she's doing.

We were in the process of organising a dress fitting for June 3rd, about two and a half weeks before the wedding, which Tanya assured me was the perfect timeframe for alterations, when the first major flag went up. The bridesmaid's dresses had arrived, in the wrong material. Now, I don't know a lot about different materials, but I could tell from the photos she sent that they were wrong. This looked like a completely different dress than the one we'd ordered.

She assured me that the different colour was just because of the light, the camera, the other dresses around it and whatever, and that it looked right in person. She also assured me that the halter neck we'd requested was there, just not attached, and that the halter neck being separate to the rest of the dress was perfectly fine and normal. But the dresses we ordered were flowy, and silky, and pretty. This thing looked to me like a bad bridesmaid's dress cliche. I told her the fitting (and attendant round trip petrol fee) could wait until the new dresses arrived.

Which is how I ended up not trying on my wedding dress until June 14th, a week and a day before my wedding.

To say that fitting went badly is something of an understatement.

The new bridesmaid's dresses, which were, at least, made of a silky material this time, still had no halternecks. My sister's dress could be made, at a stretch, to be straight at either the front, or the back, but not both.

But, at least it closed on her. My sister in law's dress, which was, apparently made to fit her precise measurements. looked like this:

The 'waistcoat' was laughable. It looked like something made by someone who had never seen a waistcoat, but had had one described to them. You wouldn't put it on a chorus member in the background in stage production. Let alone one of the main party at a wedding.

My dress was not right. It was made of what looked and felt like a cheaper material than the one I'd tried. It wasn't quite the right style, the detailing was all wrong. There was this weird sort of fold in the material at the front. And oh yeah, it didn't fit me.

My Wedding Dress Didn't Fit Me. A Week Before My Wedding!

Tanya tried to convince me that these problems could be fixed. That there was enough material in the seams of my dress and my sister in law's to 'let them out'. Why she thought I would be willing to give someone who had messed up this badly over the course of months a week to fix it, I have no idea.

I got all of the money I'd already put down towards the dress back from her. For some reason I didn't demand the money I'd paid her for petrol back as well, although I had budgeted this in as part of the cost of the dress. I even paid her for her petrol for that day. I wanted to get her out of my life as quickly as possible and that seemed like the easiest way to make that happen.

My mother in law went to the wonderful Bridal Boutique just down the road and explained the situation. When I followed a few minutes later they were fully prepared for damage control. Actually, I was finding the whole thing pretty hilarious, which seemed to make me some sort of hero in their eyes. I tried on a few dresses, but as soon as I came out in this one, my mother in law, sister, and sister in law informed me that this was the dress I was getting married in.


The shop model fitted me almost perfectly and needed only minor alterations. 
I got a large discount, because normally the shop would have the same dress made specifically for the bride, but there wasn't time to do so in this case. 

On the day it fit like a glove, and my groom's face when he first saw it was worth all the hassle.

It lives in my wardrobe now. I'll get around to selling it one of these days.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Goal weight

Thanks to Weight Watchers at Home, I have reached my goal weight.

Along the way I hit a few plateaux. I gained weight over both Christmas and Easter, but lost it again quite easily afterwards.

I was intrigued by where I lost the weight from. Initially the weight came off my belly, which was unsurprising, as that's where I was carrying most of it. But then I started to lose weight off my hips, making me more straight up and down and less curvy than I am used to. But then, after a while, I started losing weight off my waist, most visible at my sides when viewed from the back. I got my curves back!

At some point I also started losing weight off my breasts, which is very strange for me, as before now they've only ever gotten bigger. It was also great news, as it means I no longer need to go to speciality shops for my bras. This was particularly useful as the particular speciality shop I tended to go to shut down around the same time.

Overall I'm very happy with my new shape. It's different to the one I had the last time I was a size ten, as I am much fitter now than I was then.

My body is the size I want it to be, on average. My belly is still bigger than I'd like and a little saggy, my face is maybe a tiny bit pointy, and my ribs stick out from certain angles. It is my body, and I choose to love it, but it is not perfect. I don't believe that anyone's body really can be.

I found the Weight Watchers diet generally easy to stick to. I was almost always tracking on a Monday, rarely tracking on a Sunday, and varied in between. But I got a general feel for what eating the right number of points felt like. So even if I hadn't been tracking well, I knew if I'd had a good week or a bad one. I mind being a bit hungry less than I did a year ago, and being over full more.

Since starting this journey I have discovered the Nationals Weight Control Registry. This is a long term research study of people who have lost weight and kept it off. Their threshold is losing 30 pounds and keeping it off for a year. I lost 34 pounds (15 kilos, 2 stone 6 pounds). So, hopefully this time next year I'll be signing up to join. I'm hoping this will help to motivate me, as I know that motivation for weight control is harder than for weight loss.

This is what me losing 34 pounds in 10 and a half months looks like.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Please don't close the Exchange (an open letter to Ray Yeates, Dublin City Arts Officer)

Hello Ray,

I tried to call you at the Arts office, but I was told that you're on holidays this week. I hope that you see my letter before it is too late.

I understand that you have told Exchange Dublin that they need to close their doors by Friday due to 'Anti-social behaviour'. I assume you're already familiar with the petition on to reverse this decision.

I just wanted to personally add my voice to this. I am not directly involved with the Exchange. However, I have visited there several times; for arts exhibits, story evenings, hand-craft sales, and other things. A few times my husband, son, and I, have stopped in while passing and there is always something interesting on. And even when I haven't been able to visit myself, I have been glad to know that this island of art and culture existed in our city. 

According to John Tierney, Dublin City Manager, in a press release in 2011, your role as Dublin City Arts Officer means that you are 'responsible for the continued development of the arts in the city of Dublin'. Even if this alleged anti-social behaviour exists, and can be traced back to the existence of the Exchange, I cannot see how closing it fits with that purview.

For the sake of arts in Dublin, please reconsider.


Slightly edited from email version sent to