I’m getting married, I’m getting married, I’m getting married… I’ve been repeating those words like a mantra ever since I got engaged in early March. Since that beautiful day in the Wellington mountains, I’ve been actively daily trolling wedding sites, venues, Pinterest, Facebook groups and more without, to my shame, having actually planned anything. So when the Wedding Boutique in Woodstock approached us to come fit some wedding dresses, I jumped at the opportunity in an attempt to step into the wedding vibe.

My wedding ‘vision’

If you are reading this and are busy planning your own wedding and you want to cry a little about three times per day – I feel you! Just this weekend nearly five people engaged me in a half hour conversation on how they see the perfect wedding. My fiancee, on the other hand, just gets a panicked expression every time I recite my latest findings on venue costs, guest lists, flowers, colours, wedding favours, accommodation – the list really just goes on.

Experts say (I follow Martha Stewart Weddings religiously) that you need to sit down and decide on a vision for your wedding together. One of the things I love most about my fiancee is our completely different backgrounds; while I’m from the urban Free State (yes, there is such a place), he is from the rural Klein Karoo. And although it is traditional to get married in the bride’s hometown, I’d like my wedding to be more about where we are going than where we came from.

We had the first draft of our guest list ready quite early on and realised that we were in for around sixty to eighty people. We also kind of agreed on wanting to have a brunch wedding as a first prize, but not closing the book on an evening to-do just yet. I ruled out the beach because I just don’t see myself as a sun-kissed beach bride and we also ruled out the popular bosveld wedding as that is just not our vibe.

With all of those realisations already in place, it just leaves you with a manor wedding, a forest wedding, a wine farm wedding, a Karoo wedding, a river wedding, a glamping wedding, a mountain wedding, a lodge wedding, a street wedding, an Airbnb wedding (yap, totally a thing, Google it), an overseas wedding, an elopement…. I assume you can understand why it is totally overwhelming.

Let’s get fittin’!

With all of this milling in the back of my head, I invited my two colleagues, Tasha and Angy, on a trip to the Wedding Boutique. My nerves were shot by the time we were ready to leave Stellenbosch and I panic-talked all the way to Woodstock about all the little things I could get my mind concentrated on.

We stopped for coffee on our way, where I for the first time actually started thinking about the whole fitting part of going for a fitting. I then realised that it probably meant taking off my clothes in front of people and my anxiety flared at the thought that I might not be wearing my best underwear set…

Needless to say, I was a bit of a wreck!

We were greeted at their beautiful fourth-floor space by Tiana. She manages the branch and invited us to sit down for a glass of bubbly. She handed me a short questionnaire, just to gather some info on where I was with the whole wedding process. I was, of course, hoping that she wouldn’t realise just how lost I was.

She went on to explain the layout of the boutique. They stock four different collections – Enzoani Blue and Beautiful (a Los Angeles brand), Vagabond (a local brand manufactured in Ukraine), Alena Leena (a local brand manufactured in Ukraine) and Made with Love (an Australian brand). I loved the fact that they had South African designers, as well as international designers as it made for a nice variation. Most of the dresses are both for sale or for hire, while some are exclusively for sale. They also have a sample sale rail and do all their alterations in-house at the Woodstock branch. And if you are reading this in Gauteng, the good news is that they have a branch where you can look for wedding dresses in Johannesburg, too!

I have to admit that I’ve watched a couple hundred episodes of Say Yes To The Dress, so I had a bit of a preconceived notion of how I thought this should go.

But next up we took our champagne and headed to the rails to choose dresses that stood out to us. When visiting the Wedding Boutique, there are two different packages you can go for – the silver package has no consultation fee, you just pay R25 per dress fitted, while the gold option, which is the one we went for, is R375 for five dresses and includes a bottle of delicious bubbly – can you say bargain?! If you want to try more than five, it’s just R25 per extra dress.

Tiana recommends that you do bring people along, just to make sure that you do not freak out completely. But no more than four as the different opinions can get quite overwhelming! If either your mother or one of your sisters can be quite overbearing, it might be better to leave them at home for the first fitting just to keep a clear head. I made the best choice in bringing both Tasha and Angy, as I know their tastes differ completely, so when they agreed on a look it must be a winning look!

I decided to go in with an open mind and try a few different styles.

I tried a total of ten dresses, which included a big puffy dress, a sleek mermaid dress or two, a very lacy dress, a dress with patterns and a dress with massive sleeves – and I loved every single one of them for very different reasons! This was not something I was expecting. I do not see myself as much of a girly girl and I hate being the centre of attention, so while in my head I wanted to go for something small and understated, in a colour that was not completely white, I ended up loving the poofy princess dress and the vintage lacy mermaid dress.

Through all of these fittings, Tiana was keeping a watchful eye. While helping me in and out of nearly eight dresses, she was carefully asking me questions, trying to suss out my personality. She quickly picked up on the fact that I don’t necessarily like an open back dress, that I was quite liking something that is easy to move in, and a style that accentuates my waist. So, the final two picks were hers and are by far my favourite! This is something you often see on reality shows, but the moment I stepped into her first choice dress I was taken aback by the cut, and the subtle pink colour, as well as the delicate lace on the bodice (full disclosure – I haven’t added those images to the article, as hubby-to-be might see them).

In the end, I walked out of the fitting with more confidence in my wedding that I’ve had in months.

As soon as you see yourself in that white dress and they add the veil, it all becomes just a bit more real. With every dress, I can sketch a certain wedding scenario in my mind. I can see myself in the princess dress at a wine farm wedding, and wearing the bohemian dress at a forest wedding, and the beautiful patterned dress in the middle of the Karoo. As I’m piecing together how I would like to celebrate starting a new chapter with the one I love, these dresses will be in the back of my mind and I’m also sure the one I eventually choose will be horribly out of fashion to my future children.

My Advice

I know, I know…. How millennial of me to think that I can give advice after one fitting, but knowing how much I stressed beforehand, and how much I enjoyed the entire process, I would say that I learned a thing or two:

  • Don’t stress, you will be naked but you will also be fine. The dressing room is private from the room where everyone awaits your unveiling and the consultant works with girls like you every day, so don’t stress too much – and they do provide a robe!
  • As I said, choose the people you bring with carefully. If you want to keep a clear head on your first go and maybe just establish more or less what you are looking for, take fewer people and make them people whose taste you trust.
  • Take millions of pictures. Believe me, those dresses are going to be milling inside your head for quite some time so you want something to refer back to. Also, my family lives quite far and it was amazing being able to send the images so they could also join the fun.
  • Choose the dress that ticks all your boxes. A dress should fit your personality and what you envision your wedding to be. If you like the princess dress on the stand, but want a wedding where you and your wedding party take to the streets to dance, it might be a good idea to choose something with more mobility.
Author

Free State-girl, living in Stellenbosch. Love to explore small towns, read in Afrikaans and everything pop-culture. My favourite yoga move is 'The Pigeon' and one day I'd like to own my own vintage cinema.

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