"Journeys end in lovers meeting.” - Twelfth Night
“I can’t wait to put that ring on your finger,” the D.E.B. said, waking me with a kiss in the soft light of morning. After days and days of rain, the sun has finally deemed to shine in these parts, and the birds outside our bedroom window twittered joyously in their dawn chorus.
Ten days from today I will be Mrs. D.E.B., and what an amazing journey it has been. I have surprised myself with the level of calm I seem to have found in these past few days. I have no doubt that all of that will change drastically next week, but at least for now, there is peace of mind.
Things are coming together beautifully. I had a very successful meeting with the Vicar (He is lovely.) about the flowergirls, and he has even taken on board the possibility of me entering last during the bridal procession.
Monday of last week, I turned up at the rectory with flower girl baskets in hand, to show the Vicar what we intended. Just the Vicar and I made our way across the churchyard for our trial run with the flower petals – PLOP! I got splattered by a low flying pigeon. “Well, that’s good luck!” the Vicar laughed. He has a great sense of humo(u)r.
Good omen it was indeed. Our meeting went very well. The Vicar himself sprinkled bits of lavender and rosebuds from the baskets during the test run. Most importantly, he tested how easily the bits could be swept up. Looking up at me, as he knelt down with broom and dustpan in hand, he declared: “Yes, I think we can manage this.” Without restraint, I threw my arms about him in a shower of thanks.
I left that meeting with a very strong sense that all would indeed be well, that everything would be fine. And so it seems. The “Jam Making Maven of Barford” stepped in and saved my sanity and the wedding favour project (Blueberry and Lavender Jam); and all in less time that it would take me to make a cup of tea.
The quilt saga has yet to be fully addressed, but will receive my full attention this weekend. (I’m learning to focus on what I can control, and on one thing at a time.)
There is a turn of phrase I hear a great deal around here: “Well, you’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?” This bit of British truism is advice to which I am trying to adhere. I had a true test of this last Friday.
Last Friday was my “Day of Reckoning” – my final fitting at Eternal Bride in Warwick. This was the moment for which I have been running, swimming and sweating for nearly five months.
Of course, I arrived late. I wanted to achieve the “full effect,” so I booked a last-minute appointment beforehand at my wonderful, newly discovered hairdressers (Pardeep at Toni & Guy in Leamington Spa) and got a haircut. Dashing back to the car, I grabbed some flowers from a street vendor on The Parade, a spur of the moment “thank you” gesture for Morag, the alterations/seamstress at Eternal Bride.
Little did I know, these flowers would be so well deserved. I zipped carefully from Leamington to Warwick (becoming ever so confident driving the Tank these days!), and sprinted into the shop.
Poor Karima had been sat waiting for me for twenty minutes (I should have got flowers for her, too!). Morag’s next client had already arrived so I took Karima for a coffee until Morag was free again.
I envied the lemon cheesecake Karima had ordered with her coffee, but I was good and resisted. “Think of the dress,” I thought to myself. Finally, we went back to Eternal Bride and climbed the stairs to Morag’s loft. I was ready for my Cinderella moment.
I skipped behind the curtain, and slipped into the bottom half of the dress with ease. Then leapt out of the changing area, giddy with expectation, holding my ivory, silk bodice in front me. All smiles, I stood before the mirror awaiting further assistance.
Morag moved swiftly and came to stand behind me, taking the ends of the bodice in her hands. I watched in the mirror as Morag and Karima’s smiling faces slowly turned from gleeful delight to shock and dismay.
“What have you done?” Morag said softly to my perplexed reflection in the mirror. I looked to Karima. “It won’t close,” Karima said with tears in her voice. “That’s impossible,” I squealed. “There is no way I have put on weight,” I said, trying not to cry.
“No, my dear. You haven’t put on weight. You’re not fatter. You’re bigger. Broader.” Morag said, completely confounded. She grabbed her measuring tape to confirm the fact. “Well,” she sighed, “You’ve taken two inches off your hips, one off your waist, and you’ve added inch to your torso. In short, my dear, you have reshaped your body type.”
I was stunned. “I told you you were working too hard!” Karima insisted. “What have you been doing?” Morag demanded.
“Running, lifting weights and swimming. Two and a half hours a day. Five days a week, plus Pilates on Tuesday afternoons...” I said meekly.
Morag needed to sit down.
With the wedding roughly two weeks away, I stood before her, a bride in an altered dress that did not fit. A dress, once several sizes too big, now a size too small. A bride who had come to her as a pudgy, but shapely petite, who had rebuilt herself unwittingly in a blind fitness frenzy.
I stood before her now, looking like Michael Phelps in a dress.
“What are we going to do!!?” Karima panicked.
Morag stayed silent and thought. I could see the designing wheels turning in her head. This woman has designed her way around the world, costume dramas for the BBC and countless other stage and screen productions. This was surely, hopefully, just a minor blip on her landscape.
“It’s going to be a long weekend.” Morag said finally.
She then shared her strategy for rescuing and essentially re-designing the dress. She’s a genius. I am so sorry that she will need to go to so much trouble, but I think her interventions will not only save the dress, but will even improve upon it.
This was an utterly harrowing experience, but I think even this, too, will be one of those “It worked out even better than I expected” moments, when all is said and done.
Well, you’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?