Ever since I was a tiny little girl, when I was known to change outfits up to five times a day, I have always loved clothes and dressing up. I even studied Textile Design at university and thought of being a fashion designer for a while.

But I’ve also always been someone who lives in the moment, not the past or future, and have never dreamt about what my wedding dress would be like. Marriage has never been that high on my agenda either but like most doubters my mind was changed by love.

It caught me totally off-guard when my lovely then boyfriend proposed after 15 months of dating. He tricked me into getting dressed up and going out for a meal and when we arrived home he had charmed my flatmate and his mum and sister into lighting one hundred candles in the living room, which is the place where we had our first kiss. I was completely oblivious, thinking a proposal was still months down the line, and didn’t twig until he dropped to one knee and presented me with a gorgeous tanzanite and diamond ring.

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My gorgeous engagement ring

As you may have guessed, I said yes and wedding planning is tentatively underway for summer 2017 with us leaning towards a relaxed, intimate event, echoing the style of the proposal.

But as I scrolled through endless images of venues and dresses I began to ask, what kind of bride am I?

Back in the ‘70s my mum hired her high-necked, long sleeved wedding dress and it was simple but stunning, my sister had a slightly boho number with delicate beading and my cousin had a full on princess dress. With all these ideas whirling in my mind and more, I decided the best thing to do was to take the plunge and try some dresses on.

So I headed to the newly opened David’s Bridal store in Watford, which has more than 10,000 dresses in stock and everything from a structured Zac Posen gown to its own floaty, beach-style collection to choose from.

They said I didn’t need to bring my own underwear but if you are blessed in the bust area I recommend you do wear a smooth flesh-coloured bra and take a strapless one just in case, as they didn’t have my size in stock. A pair of bodyshaper pants or shorts may also help, especially if you are shy about showing off too much flesh as you will need help to get in and out of the dress.

I did my hair and make-up in a style I thought I might adopt for my wedding day, mainly as I knew I was having my photograph taken for this piece, but it definitely helped me get the full effect when trying the dresses.

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David's Bridal in Watford has thousands of dresses in stock

My stylist looked a little startled when I told her I had no idea what kind of wedding I wanted and that every style was an option and I knew then that I would probably need more than one session of trying on to find ‘the one’.

First my measurements were taken and as I suspected the ‘ladies’ as I like to call them meant some options were ruled out as they didn’t come in my size and I had to try on dresses that were too big in order for them to fit on the top half and have them clipped in at the waist and hips.

This is also where my first dilemma came in. I had worm strapless dresses twice as a bridesmaid and both times felt like I was giving everyone a bit of an eyeful. I didn’t want to be all boobs on my wedding day, but on the other hand they are literally a very big part of me, impossible to hide and deserve their moment in the spotlight as a thank you for catching my fiancés eye in the first place (although he claims it was my eyes).

I decided to start with the biggest most princessy dress I could find, a ball gown style with a gathered net bodice, flounced tulle skirt and lace appliqué. Getting into it was quite a mission. First I had to put on my strapless bra and a large slip to hold out the layers of the skirt. Then I was told to adopt a diving position and was almost smothered to death by the layers of fabric as they were dropped over my head.

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Borehamwood Times:

Once on, I did feel like a little girl playing dress up in her mother’s clothes. I had great fun swooshing the huge skirt around and posing in front of the mirror, and my mum and friend both said it looked lovely, but it felt like I was wearing someone else’s dress. Also, I have a tendency to sweat under pressure and with all eyes bound to be on me on the big day I did not want to be struggling to carry around the weight of all those layers with a shiny face.

It was time to bring on the trumpet – a stunning and extremely close-fitted Duchesse satin gown by Truly Zac Posen with gorgeous pleating over the bust and waistline that flared out from my thighs. I had to squeeze into a smaller size as they didn’t have mine in stock which made it difficult to walk let alone assess as I felt like I was being swallowed by a boa constrictor. But when I stepped in front of the mirror I loved the extreme sweetheart neckline and the way the angles of the pleating cleverly defined my curves and I thought ‘maybe I do want to be a sexy bride’.

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And why not? The days of demure virginity are over and I’m too old to play the blushing maid. But as I wiggled back into the changing room I remembered that I love to eat, and dance and that would be a lot easier in a design that gently hugged my figure rather than squeezing it to within an inch of its wobbly bits.

It was time to try something a little more grown-up, and covered-up and see if I could, after all, be a traditional bride. I chose an Oleg Sassini ball gown with beaded lace appliqué that continued up over the bodice and my cleavage to create a delicate illusion neckline. It picks up on the trend for layering chiffon over lace for a more subtle, interesting look.

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Borehamwood Times:

I felt like Miss Haversham’s younger sister. The cut was all wrong, sleeveless styles are not the friend of those with chunky arms, and the skirt couldn’t decide if it wanted to swish or pouff. But it was the first time I had tried on a veil, a long sweeping affair, which I adored. I loved the way it seemed to gently frame my entire body. And of course it truly is something you will never have another chance to wear.

Having said that, you want to feel like yourself on your special day and not pushed into wearing something just for the sake of expectations or looking ‘bridal’. I lean towards looser fitting clothing in my day-to-day life and with that in mind, I decided to try being a boho bride with a more casual dress with a soft sheath style skirt, Marilyn Monroe-esque halter neck and bodice with a deep v and pleating.

Except on me instead of sitting gently on the natural waistline, the tight band of embellishments sat just under my bosom, which was emphasised to the maximum. Having a small amount of constriction did however make me stand taller and showed off my waist, while the looser fit on the lower half still gave room for me to easily sit and move around. I felt a bit like a sensual Grecian goddess, but I’m not sure I felt like a bride.

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Borehamwood Times:

Borehamwood Times: A Galina Signature trumpet gown with crystal beading that took 60-hours to make looked stunning on the hanger but only added centimetres to my silhouette and made me rethink the amount of embellishment I wanted.

Finally I let my lovely stylist Claire pick a dress for me and she returned with a beautiful David’s Bridal dress in dreamy layers of tulle with lace appliqué on the bodice and hips and a lace-up back. The subtle curve of the neckline gently cupped my chest, making it look neater. The skirt was the best part. Frothy, floaty, swishy, easy to move around in and lightweight, it was fit for a fairytale bride and my mum and friend both said it was the pick of the bunch.

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But I’m afraid this tale doesn’t finish in a happy ending, yet. I hadn’t found my dress. As I left I looked jealously at the other brides-to-be. They all looked stunning in their dresses, how could I compete?

But I’ve realised being a bride isn’t really about competing with anyone but yourself, your doubts, your fears. When the big day finally rolls around we all want to be the best versions of ourselves and even though I’m not sure what that is yet, I’m not panicking. I’m using this time as a chance to think about what is important to me when it comes to what I put on my body – natural beauty, having a social conscience, not breaking the bank, having fun – so hopefully when the right dress comes along I’ll know.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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