14 January 2009

A mirror, or a friend

Two kilograms.

That’s roughly 4.4 pounds.  Or, as I prefer to see it: That is two, whole bags of caster sugar!! That is how much weight I have lost in precisely seven (7) days.  Yes, I have succumbed to the “I’m-a-bride-and-I-must-get-fit” mindset. But, thankfully, I’m not obsessing about it.  I have started a new fitness regime, and I love every minute of it! I’m actually having fun (so far).

Last week, I joined the Gym/Leisure Club at The Glebe Hotel. I’m not a huge fan of gyms and clubs, but this one is different. It is very small, and very friendly. With a lovely Hobbit-sized swimming pool that looks “crowded” with more than three people in it. There is a sauna (my favorite post-workout reward!) and a steam-room. The female trainer is a really sweet, Polish girl called Eva.  (Interesting point: There is a growing Polish population in the UK. Stratford-upon-Avon now has a Polish market on its high street. Fascinating, for a small market town in the Midlands.)

Eva is awesome. The first day I went in she asked me what my goals were, and I told her: “I’m getting married this summer, and I need to look less like the world’s shortest sumo wrestler.”

“No problem.” said Eva. “We work together. We make it happen. You believe in you, whatever it takes. Dreams are free.” I walked away from my first grueling weigh-in with high hopes. Eva’s words propelled me forward, so earnest, so simple, so inspired.

It was only later, after I’d showered, that I noticed the motivational posters on the women’s dressing walls. More tasteful and mature than the now legendary kitty-cat on a washing line-“Hang in there, baby” posters, these depict healthy, active people pursuing daring and challenging pursuits, complete with pithy catch phrases, such as: “Believe in yourself.” “Make it happen,” and, yes, even “Dreams are Free.”

Okay, so Eva gets no points for originality, but she scores big in her training prowess. She’s incredible. No shouting, no bullying, no showing off. She’s calm and soft-spoken, and takes a “gently, gently” approach to training. She has managed to create a fitness plan that I can actually follow. She has kept everything simple and user-friendly for me. My workout is a mix of running, light strength training and swimming.  This works for me, as I’m the sort of person who gets bored with monotonous routines. And, I’m in and out of the gym in an hour and a half each day. Brilliant! And that includes a post-swim snooze in the sauna. As with monotony, I’m not a: “3 hours in the gym” kind o’ gal.  I just won’t go. I want to walk in, do it, get it done, and move on to the rest of my day. I think I may just manage to stick to this one.

There is method to this bridal madness, you see, as of yesterday, I have found (and purchased) The Dress. As with so much in my life, this major occurrence happened purely by chance.

I decided to treat myself to a day out in Warwick yesterday. Stratford-upon-Avon will have to forgive my infidelity, but I have fallen madly in love with Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire. Anyway, I have decided—as if I have time—to start a wedding quilt.  So, a trip to “The Quilter’s Den” in Warwick was a must. I have meant to start this quilt project for several days, but kept getting distracted by the dress saga.

Short note on dress saga: I had placed myself on another “thrift challenge” to see if I could find a gorgeous dress without breaking the bank, i.e., "Vera Wang on a Budget". So, as noted previously, I have been wasting hours upon hours of my life trolling the depths of eBay, preownedweddingdress.com, myrecycledwedding.com, among other sites to try and bargain hunt for the dress. 

This is frustrating process to say the least. Frustrating, and in my case, pointless. Until someone actually invents Hobbit-Brides.com, I’m wasting my time.  I’m petite and curvy, and so unlike an average slim-Jim Jane, ordering a dress online and expecting a perfect fit is a pipe dream.

But, I’m a clever girl, and I had a cunning plan. I would take myself a proper Bridal shop, have a gander at styles, figure out what works on me, and what doesn’t, then proceed with the quest armed with the requisite knowledge.

Then, the unexpected. And, perfection.

The shop I’d chosen was “Eternal Bride” in the Old Square in Warwick. I will confess I was completely overwhelmed and nervous as I walked in. Would they be nice? Would I feel trapped by “a hard sell”? Would I be conned into buying something I didn’t actually like, or want, just for the seek of freedom and escape?? And goodness, I was doing this all alone!

My expectations could not have been more far from the truth. The staff at Eternal Bride: Debbie, Morag and Peter were incredibly kind and friendly. They gave very good advice, but more importantly, they listened to me. After an initial chat with the wonderfully effervescent Debbie (she has a great job, and she knows/loves it), I was handed a pair of white archivist’s gloves (much to the glee of my librarian heart) and was let loose on my own in a beautiful sea of wedding gowns.

To some, this may sound like an incredibly lonely experience, but I truly enjoyed it.  It had a similar and warmly familiar feeling to me, like when I am doing historical research in an archive or special collection. Handling precious things with care, taking your time to peruse and access the details.

So, it was just my opinion, and the dresses. And without any sort of high-pressure “suggestions” from shop assistants pushing a particular line. I took my time and made about a dozen selections, which I indicated by putting a bright blue tag on the hanger.  I went back and reported my findings to Debbie, who then had her colleague, take the dresses down for me and placed in a dressing room.

Looking back on it, I have no doubt, given her keen eye; Debbie knew which dress was going to work for me from the beginning. But she let me come to that conclusion myself. Her instructions to me had been incredibly simple and helpful: “Pick out whichever dresses you like for whatever reasons: the color, the bodice, its personality, etc.”

Of course, the dress that I had chosen purely for an example of a color/shade I like, turned out to be the And all, I mean ALL the dresses I had assumed would be solid choices for reasons of style, cut and design never even made it out of the gates! I had envisioned billowy organza, with a deep v-neck, and off the shoulder straps. Each and every one of the dresses of that type made me look like a smurf drowning in a giant pavlova.

I want the D.E.B. to recognize me when I walk down the aisle. I want to look like myself, I want to be comfortable. I also want to be elegant, sexy and fun. That’s a tall order for one dress. But, I think I found it. Made of scrumptious ivory, Thai silk, the dress --fitted strapless bodice, sheath skirt, with detachable train--was designed by award-winning, British designer Helen Marina, and part of her “Vintage Collection”: Helen Marina Bridal Wear UK

As for “sticker shock” – there was sticker shock, indeed! This couture creation was actually ON SALE, so I came in UNDER, yes UNDER, my target budget. Yea, Team! Now, if only everything else could work out so beautifully and economically.

Back to Eternal Bride…it was an incredible, incredible experience. And sure, there are loads of people in my life whom I would have loved to have been there to share that moment with me, but there was also a real sense of accomplishment in my doing this very major thing on my own. I felt very, very grown-up.

But, that is not to suggest that I didn’t misbehave. Debbie is a real sweetie, she put me at ease and we giggled and howled all afternoon as we waded through the virtual mountain of dresses. Ah, what fun it is to be a girl! And the staff at “Eternal Bride” made me feel just like a princess…

I will admit that I did get a little teary when I saw myself in “the dress.” It finally, finally dawned on me that I’m going to be a bride. That I’m actually going to marry my D.E.B. at last.

So, the quest now is to tone up—and turn my “hams” back into “arms”—as much as I can before my first fitting in March. It’s good to have a firm deadline. And it’s even better to have a team of helpful and gregarious supporters in my corner, to be the mirrors and friends I need.

p.s. The DEB and I have a catering/reception meeting tonight, with one of our top choice venues!!


Victoria Plum said...
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SWC said...

congrats on the gym find. and while dreams are free, plastic surgery is not. don't ask me what that means, i am just reading the poster off the wall at my club.

Victoria Plum said...

I've tagged you on my blog ... have a look, hope you want to join in!