I looked in the mirror, and I actually liked what I saw. After nearly 10 weeks of sweat and strain, I found myself standing before a large mirror in the alterations loft of Eternal Bride bridal shop in Warwick. Surrounding me were the smiling faces of Debbie, Eternal Bride shop manager, Morag, the alterations diva, and my friend, Karima.
I made myself think of that famous portrait of Princess (later Queen) Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, or that portrait of the Wertheimer sisters by John Singer Sargent. "You look beautiful," Karima, getting misty-eyed, said as she stood close by me.
Karima has been an amazing friend to me throughout this process. A bit of background: Karima is the D.E.B.'s best friend. She stood by him, and helped him through the difficulties of his divorce. She is one of those incredible people that is just all heart. When I first arrived in England last August (can it really be seven months ago?), the D.E.B. had asked Karima to be at our place to receive a floral delivery for me. (Yes, the D.E.B. had arranged to have a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me when we walked in, and he had written me a little card that said: "Welcome Home. You're home now, darling, here with me.")
Karima kindly received the delivery, and went further. She and her sisters, "Fudge" and Salina, spent the day at our house, decorated our bedroom with flowers and candles, and they prepared a huge Indian meal for us (our favorite cuisine!), and laid the table for us. They even left us a little menu detailing the goodies on offer, complete with reheating instructions.
Karima, Fudge and Salina have adopted me, and have stepped up and taken on the role of "sisters," just when I needed them. (Isn't it amazing how God/the universe places people in our lives precisely where and when we need them? I am firm believer that we always have the family we need, when we need them. They may not always take the shape, form or number that we imagine, but one must trust that they will appear.)
Aside from teasing me mercilessly about the pending wedding night high jinks, they have mucked in and offered hands-on support with my (overly-ambitious) crafty wedding projects: the wedding quilt and my lavender jelly (the intended wedding favour).
A funny moment: Fudge and Karima came round the other day to harangue me (much needed) about the quilt, and I had prepared my first attempt at Lavender Jelly (anything to not work the quilt).
"I think it might be a bit on the sweet side..." I warned Fudge, handing her a small jar and a spoon. "Good god! That's awful!" Fudge shouted, running to the sink for water. "You need some help, girl. Let's work on this."
I love their candour, their warmth, humor, and colorfulness. I'm looking forward to spending more time with them, and they have promised to introduce me to the wild and wacky world that is "Bollywood." I can't wait to discover the Asian side of British life.
Back to the fitting...
In true sisterly fashion, Karima fussed and fretted around me, advising Morag on the necessary nips and tucks, until I reminded her that Morag clearly knew what she was doing. (In a previous life, Morag was a costume designer for stage and screen, so she knows a thing or two about alterations...) Good-natured Karima stepped aside, and let Morag do her job.
As my darling friend, Christopher, likes to say I had chosen well. My dress, an ivory gown by British designer Helen Marina, is quite divine. And I felt absolutely gorgeous in it.
It is a very simple and elegant.
What I love most about it is that it has a delightfully Edwardian feel about it. That luscious, Lillie Langtry-esque "Here-are-my-curves, you-may-adore-them" look that is sexy, but elegant all at the same time. (I have said before that I have often felt I've been displaced from the 19th C.)
"Such a regal look about it," Morag said looking up at me, her mouth full of straight pins. "I feel like a Princess," I said, happy at last with my reflection. "No," admonished Karima taking my hand in hers, "that day, you'll be the queen."