Ivory in Tulip-Land

There is ‘shopping’ and ‘Shopping’. Both are done without Richard. When it comes to the former, we have different views on what shopping is. I like to go often (☺); stroll the shops, buy bits and pieces here and there. He goes once every season; buys a closet-full and then that’s it, no more shopping until next season. I guess you can call my way ‘shopping therapy’. His is some sort of ‘have to go, else I might end up naked’. Not to create any misconceived views, Rich has a great fashion sense and can offer some good advice when in the mood. In fact, I’m ultra happy when he really loves something I buy; he’s quite fussy in that sense.

It’s now time to talk about ‘Shopping’ (note the capital ‘S’); and for this kind of shopping, whereas I would love to have him with me, he simply cannot be anywhere near. For Shopping is done with Mum. (And the bridesmaids, maid of honour and mother-in-law when it proceeds to Malta)

Mum wanted to come to Holland to see the tulips (and us). Her instructions since January were, ‘tell me when they bloom and I’ll book my ticket’. We’ve experienced a Game of Thrones-type seven-month winter up here. It snowed in Easter, hence the tulips preferred to stay underground. By the end of April though it was evident that it was a now or never moment and true to her word, mum booked her flight. As an added impetus for her to leave the island momentarily, I suggested that we start looking for THE dress.

11th May, on the eve of Mother’s Day, with Mum waiting outside the dressing room, I tried on my first Wedding Dress. It was emotional for both of us… but not so much as when I tried on that special fifth dress…

With the appointment set (and for once in my life) very much on time, we headed to Bruidspaleis in The Hague, on the way warning Mum about the Dutch’s apparent mantra ‘the customer is always wrong’ and their particular culture when it comes to assisting shoppers (case in point. Rich and I buying a dryer and having no clue as to what to get: Salesperson states, ‘this one’s good’, slaps the body of the most expensive one and leaves us to it).

With this mindset, we entered the shop. We were given some tea and biscuits and the salesperson sat with us. I don’t know her name, but I’ll call her Jane: One, because I don’t feel like ruining this post with a lot of ‘salesperson’, and two, because she was too kind, helpful and understanding to be called a salesperson in a Netherlands context.

Shopping for a wedding dress is really an experience in its own right. The feelings you experience when clad in that first dress cannot be easily turned to words. Still though, four dresses after, none of them had really spoken to me. I knew what I did not want and what I wanted a hint of… I had scoured lots of magazines and online catalogues but these did not make it any easier. Jane was very patient and understanding in this regard. She told me that a wedding dress must have three qualities: i. It should not dwarf you, ii. It should reflect your personality and iii. It should be comfortable. A fourth criterion which I realised makes further sense is that you just know when the right one comes along, .

I assented to trying on the fifth dress on Jane’s insistence. It hung limply, seemingly outshined by all the other dresses. I was soon to realise though that my observations did not do it justice. It was totally beautiful when worn. I even cried. (So did mum, but that’s too obvious 😉 ) If it were for her, we would have bought it there and then but I opted to wait. I struck a fair compromise: should I be still thinking about the dress by the end of the week, I’d go buy it. If not, wait, after all it’s quite early.

I spent the first two days after this Shopping expedition in an emotional mess (over a dress, believe it or not!). I kept looking at it online and trying to decide whether or not Richard would love it, if it blends with our whole wedding theme, whether or not I’d manage to find a good non-bank-breaking Dutch seamstress for the alterations (!)… if it really is the one… Luckily for me, all this soon abated and managed to conclude that no, it just wasn’t my dress.

Eyes forward looking, I’m now eager for our second Wedding Dress Expedition; and this time with the whole girl crew ☺

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