Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Maids in Waiting

This is a defining moment for me; my 100th post. I'm now a very different person to the shy, diffident girl who penned her first blogging effort back in 2011. My eighth post was entitled 'Wedding Belle Blues'.  In that piece I mused about relationships and what the future might hold. Now I'm planning my wedding! Being Trans that is one very special journey for me but how different is it to anyone else?

Since transition I've found myself increasingly aware that most of us Brides have so much in common.  I look around me and find that suddenly, everyone seems to be newly married or a Bride to be.  From being Gender Dysphoric, I'm now Euphoric.  I love being me, I'm happy, I have friends, a job, a social life, a family, a 'husband to be' and now.....

I have bridesmaids....

Such an iconic photo! I totally love that film.  The photo: totes amazeballs,  I must get one taken of me and my maids like that.  Here, hold the camera, stand over there, hang on a minute, we won't be a sec....just a few little probs to smooth out....

Choosing an MoH and Maids is:

PROBLEM No. 1.  There are all manner of articles about this onlin, including algorithms and decision trees (for the project management minded) and good old fashioned Mumsy advice for more spontaneous Bride.

I started off with two maids.  Talking to other brides and friends at work, it seems that's how it usually begins. Having two bridesmaids keeps things nice and simple: There are only two dresses to buy, two posies to arrange for, two sets of accessories and presents. Apparently it hardly ever stays that way.

It hasn't.  First there is J a colleague at work; confidential, wonderfully supportive, recently married and full of good advice and good ideas.  She wouldn't be my MoH on the day but was happy to do everything else. This lead to me asking: G: a best friend from school, I sang with her, she's very organised, a Girl Guide leader and now my MoH.  Only one maid in a dress on the day? That won't do, which lead me to ask: K a co-worker and total girl like me.  She is LGBT savvy, very petite and a great friend.

Still, on reflection, 2 barely seemed enough which lead to me asking S. She is a fab, fun loving friend with a smile that can light up a whole room, she lives 2 hours away in the Midlands, she's always wanted to be a bridesmaid. Now I'm begining to wonder whether 3 maids on the day isn't a little lop sided...wouldn't it be better to ask another,( J, my longtime hair stylist and friend) to join us and make it an even 4? OMG what am I getting myself into!

Those of you who've been involved in weddings before will know that bridesmaids come in ALL shapes and sizes from petite and pint sized to curvy and womanly.  So...

PROBLEM No. 2 is finding a dress to suit everyone.  That's where I am now.  I had visions of everyone in floor length strapless chiffon gowns but there's no way THAT's going to happen!  My choice of navy blue has gone down very well. It's flattering for most people and not so bridesmaidy that you can't wear it again afterwards. We've settled on Tea length for now....I think (hence the picture above). There is some uneasiness amongst some about bare arms....but I'm hoping for the best.  The last thing I want is anyone feeling uncomfortable or wearing a dress they hate. So now to get the dresses bought.  That brings me to....

PROBLEM No. 3: My maids are scattered all over the UK...Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Anglesey, Denbighshire, Conwy...Convinced it would be impossible to get everyone together to go shopping ANY time soon, I've gone down the road of ordering 'prêt-à-porter' from a major supplier and having them delivered to try on.  Problems abound: We all, (myself included) consider ourselves a size smaller than we really are, especially when it comes to weddings.  Sending items back and re-odering new sizes becomes hideously complicated when one person pays but another takes delivery (wedding suppliers...GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!) We're in the process of doing all of this now. I'll let you know when we're done!

You're okay standing there holding that camera aren't you? You might be waiting a little while!


Jane xx

(the soon to be Mrs Jane Williams)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dreamboats, Petticoats and Gumtree

One of the downsides of being Cinderella is that until your life takes off, it can be REALLY depressing. All those years dating guys who turn out to be total jerks can make you a trifle cynical and despondent. In the end you never imagine falling in love, maybe 'Friends with Benefits is a better option.....and then KABAM! 
Cue the Dreamboat...
Those of you who know Martin, my fiancé, will understand what I'm getting excited about. For those who don't, suffice it to say that Mum never told me men like him existed...he's a total guy but incredibly caring and loving too: A guy who is so practical and yet romantic as well. Before he came into my life, I missed him so so much. Now he's with me I'm NEVER ever letting go.
So, these days at work there are SO many question. 'Jane: Have you named the day? Arranged the venue? Got the dress? Chosen your bridesmaids? Decided on your theme?
Yes to all of the above and yet the excitement still mounts...the date is 28th October this year, the venue is The Britannia Hotel Manchester, the dress is err...shhhhh (don't tell the groom), the theme; stylish city nuptials; white, gold, the bridesmaids will have navy blue dresses. It's only now I've sorted out these things that I've begun to see how much there is still to do. There are things to buy, collect, borrow and beg, so much to arrange!
Some of these things are WAY more important than others. 

All Brides, myself included tend to focus on THE DRESS. But the BIG problem is we don't always think about what goes underneath. It was Coco Chanel I think who said 'Fashion is architecture, it is a matter of proportions.' Proportions and shape are so important. My dress is A-line. It has a gorgeous outward sweep and fullness that makes you feel like a Princess....except it won't if it doesn't have something underneath to hold it out.
Cue the hoop petticoat....
Hoop petticoats consist of layers of tulle over a lining material. Sewn into the lining are casings for circular boning to form a hoop shape. A petticoat can have one or more hoops of varying sizes. They are usually adjustable to suit the dress. However, hoop petticoats are ridiculously expensive costing upwards of £70-85, I have blown my budget buying a £1,400 dress, can I make savings elsewhere so that I can afford one? 
Cue Gumtree....
Gumtree is an online classified ads site. Friends had suggested it, other Brides had heaped praise on it, I wasn't sure. Memories of wading through lists of closely printed local newspaper ads came to mind. It's so tedious. Would there really be anything out there? I had a very clear idea of what I wanted, I could even see it in my mind's eye. 
So what should I do? try Ebay? I can't do with that whole online auction thing. I wanted to find someone LOCAL, see what I'm getting before I buy and talk to the seller at first hand. Wouldn't it just be easier to fork out for something full price, even if it means doing without something else? 
Then it occurred to me: All over my area, girls like me are getting married, THOUSANDS of them, all enjoying their special day and wearing everything, once? Somewhere out there, not far away, there must be dozens of nearly new wedding items and Brides who want to pass them on. I decided to give Gumtree a go, so glad I did as it happens.
Creating a Gumtree account was easy, I did that online in my coffee break at work. Unlike some annoying sites, Gumtree works really well on my iPad and iPhone meaning that I could keep looking and searching in odd moments at work. There WAS no laborious sifting. I found that I could search on particular items, 'Hoop slip' revealed any number of results, many with photos. Though some of these were in places like Nottingham and Middlesborough with 'collection only' in the description, I found I could narrow my search down to a 50 mile radius. I travel regularly to and from Manchester. Was there anywhere en route? Chester, Runcorn, Warrington?......Bingo
A lady near Warrington had something that sounded promising...a Jupon hoop petticoat, the sort I'd looked at before but dismissed as too pricey. The photo she provided however didn't give much away. In the picture the skirt was rolled up in a bag. Seeing a link to email the seller Claire, I dashed off a quick line asking for more information. By the time I was on my afternoon tea break she had replied, promising to post more photos that evening. By the following morning I was making arrangements to call in that Saturday and look at the skirt. She even sent me her postcode, I put it in my Maps app: Brilliant only a few miles out of my way. By then, I was also hooked on Gumtree searches. veils, fascinators, tiaras....there was so much out there and at a fraction of the price I had been expecting to pay. Fast forward to Saturday.
Cue the Dreamboat again...
Yes, he drove me to Warrington on our way to a weekend away. Leaving him in the car outside Claire's home, I was invited in to see the petticoat (pictured above). 'Oops, I must have worn it with the tag still attached', she laughed. She only wanted £20; an incredible bargain. Claire had other things for sale too; children's toys. I had therefore expected someone young, not a similar age to myself. It turned out we were both 'Encore Brides', both having married very young with grown up kids. She had remarried, to the guy of her dreams and started a brand new family. She too had worn a lovely A-line dress. 
'Second Time Around' is always the best, she said with a smile, and, talking about her second family: 'You never know, maybe you next?'. It made me smile so much. Not only had I found EXACTLY what I needed and wanted, I felt I had made a friend, not the sort of experience I'd have enjoyed if I'd have gone to a Bridal shop!
'Don't look Darling', I said to my fiancé as I hid 'the item' under a rug on the backseat of the car. It wouldn't have done to have him see it and guess the sort of dress I would be wearing, (fortunately he knows little about such things). 'It looks like a dead dog' he observed laughing...and indeed for several days, until it got hidden away safely, 'The Dead Dog', became it's name. Yesterday I persuaded one of my bridesmaids to photo me wearing it (as above). The press stud on the waist needs moving a little bit but that is all. I'm so pleased with the dog....err I mean petticoat! 
Will I use Gumtree again? Most definitely! I have so many other bits and pieces that I want to buy and Gumtree's classified ads are certainly the best place to find them, at the right price and local to me. Moreover, once I'm happily married it looks like the best and most convenient market place to sell some of my Bridal stuff.....and toddler toys? We'll have to wait and see about that one lol,
Jane xx
(the soon to be Jane Williams)