The very first dress in the very first shop. Surely this was a Guinness Book of Bridal Records moment! But not if you’re working with the Grand High Priestess of Shopping, my trusty sister Rhiannon. Would you expect anything less from the organisational mastermind behind the Plastic Bag Luggage System and the Maximum Efficiency Grocery Run?
She’d spent the last two Sundays trawling Oxford Street on what she called The Pre-Shop. She knew that my usual technique — stomping reluctantly into a store, glancing round once, and if nothing comes dancing off the rack singing PICK ME within thirty seconds I’ll just say, “Nothing to see here,” then break for lunch — would be particularly unsuitable for finding a wedding dress on a murderously crowded London Saturday. The girl thinks of everything.
She’d sussed out the perfect frock in a big department store, but tracked it down in a small boutique in the suburbs. We arrived just as it opened so there were no crowds for me to freak out about. No hovering salesladies or queues for dressing rooms or abandoned husbands cluttering up the aisles. She simply strolled in, plucked a dress from a rack and declared, “Here it is!”
Twenty minutes later we were back out on the street with my wedding dress.
I ran up the block bellowing, “WOOHOO!”. Rhi grinned modestly like the cat who’d swallowed a thousand canaries. She had delivered the project ahead of schedule and within budget.
Two hours later I also had shoes and jewellery.
All we needed then were the Squishy Undies.
There’s two types of women in this world. There’s chicks who can toss any scrap of fabric over their head and waltz out onto the street without the need for serious hydraulics under the surface. Then there are those who require smoothing and shaping and lifting and flattening.
Rhi walked into the Shapewear section of Marks and Spencer Lingerie department and says, “Looks like we have choice of Light Control or Firm Control.”
“Are they the only levels? What if your flesh is Out of Control? We need like, HEY You’re Not Going Anywhere Little Lady Control-Freak Control.”
I picked up the dubiously named Variable Modulus Body, a garment so hideous and smothering that it made Bridget Jones’ mumsy knickers look like the tiniest whisper of a thong.
I didn’t really look at it closely before putting it on, I assumed you just stepped into it like a swimsuit. But things got dicey around mid-thigh when I couldn’t pull the bra bit up any higher. My knees were fused together by the crippling power of lycra. All I could do was sort of helplessly slide to the floor.
I poked my head beneath the curtain and bleated, “Rhiannon. Please. Help!”
It was such a pretty picture. I was bent over, hands braced against the wall, Rhiannon positioned behind me trying to haul the fabric over my hips, me wheezing away, “It won’t FIT! It’s just too TIGHT!” and Rhiannon huffing and puffing, “Just stay STILL!”
Finally it was on. All was well.
I tried it on with the wedding frock, everything looked under control.
Now all I had to do was get the damn thing off.
“Okay, I’m going to turn around while you undress,” said Rhi.
“Don’t worry, I won’t look.”
Five minutes pass.
“Ummm, Rhiannon I think I might need you to turn around.”
“Jesus christ!” My arms were over my head, pinned to my ears by the evil forces of lycra. My fingers were turning purple from lack of circulation. One underwire was still holding a boob while the other provided firm support for my chin.
It took ten minutes of grunting and groaning to remove it, and only afterwards did I discovered that the crotch has little snaps on it that you’re supposed to undo first, then put the garment on over your head! Instead of trying to wrestle it over your prime-for-childbearing hips!
Aside from that, it was a great weekend.
Tonight we said our goodbyes as I headed for Heathrow. The two of us suddenly started bawling like babies, really sobbing. We said it was because weddings bring out the emotions. But it’s possible she was crying from the sheer trauma of seeing me tangled up in a lycra bodysuit. And perhaps I was crying coz instead of Wedding Night Action, I will be too busy having the damn thing surgically removed.