It’s no surprise that brides want to look their best on what is supposed to be the happiest day of their lives, but a recent survey from the UK suggests a third of married women have major regrets about their dress and would wear something entirely different if they had their chance again.
And dress regret isn’t the preserve of us ordinary folk either. Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker – who celebrated her 20th anniversary with actor Matthew Broderick last month – laments her decision to wear black on her big day.
“I was just too embarrassed to spend any time looking for a wedding dress,” she says. “There was a store that I liked that I knew, and I just went and got whatever they had hanging.”
And it seems Kiwi women are no different. Woman’s Day spoke to local brides about their own wedding dress journeys.
Michelle Patience, 28
Works in public relations and lives in Wellington with her husband Shane
“I’d had my wedding dress for about six years before I got married. I wore it in a fashion show for a Whanganui bridal boutique, with the arrangement that they’d collaborate with me on the design if I bought it afterwards. I was 19, designing a wedding dress that I had no clue when I’d wear it!
“When I eventually got around to planning my wedding at Old St Paul’s in Wellington in 2014, I was adamant I wanted a new dress. But my mum convinced me to try it on again, so I did and I fell back in love with it. But it was so big and heavy, I had another dress that I changed into for the reception so I could dance, eat and sit.
“I’d love to get married again just to have a different dress, theme and hairstyle. I can understand people cringing about what they wore. There’s so much choice
that you can go into a sort of paralysis. It’s probably worse for women who take a whole entourage with them because it’s easy to be swayed by other people’s opinions.”
Yvonne Morris, 42
A stay-at-home mum to Tayla, nine, and Jacob, three, she lives in Wellington with her husband John.
“I didn’t want a traditional white dress. I had this image of the dress I wanted in blue or silver, simple and not too out-there, and spent months going around all the bridal boutiques in Wellington, but nothing really appealed except one. It was a silk, satin strapless gown with beading around the top and at the hem, but it
was $3000 and my budget was $1500 at most.
“In the end, I decided the best option would be to have one made. I traipsed around all the material shops and eventually found a sky-blue fabric at a specialist store in Palmerston North. The store owner and I sat down together to come up with a design. I had it made by a professional dressmaker in Taupo, where I grew up. I spent around $800.
“John and I married in Wellington in 2003. He’s a graphic designer and actually wanted to help me design my dress, but I said no. There’s massive pressure to get the perfect dress – I was thinking there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t find one that I wanted.
“If I’d had the money, I would have gone with something else, but because I had a particular colour in mind, there didn’t seem to be a lot of choice.”
Emily Broadmore, 30
A communications manager who lives in Wellington with husband William and their nine-month-old twins, Connie and Hugo.
“When it came to finding a dress for my 2014 wedding, I hadn’t done a lot of research. I just knew I wanted a long-sleeved velvet gown because we were having
a winter wedding at Parliament.
I thought a budget of $2000 would be heaps, but it soon became obvious that the starting price was around $3000.
“My dress came from Vinka Bridal in Auckland. It’s funny because my mum Angela’s mother took her to Vinka and basically chose the dress for her. Mum always said she wasn’t going to do that with her daughters, but she did! I tried on three or four dresses and it was the best of them, so I was happy to go along with it. I didn’t want to be a bridezilla.
“The fact it was from the store where Mum bought hers would have been very special to her. While I’m grateful Mum paid the $4000 for it and it is beautiful, it’s very old-fashioned in some ways.”
Andrea Wyeth, 63, and daughter Rebecca Tosswell, 38
Andrea lives in Masterton with husband Tom. Rebecca is a farmer and graphic designer who lives in Carterton with her husband Richard and their three children, Isabella, eight, Sam, six, and Sofia, three.
Andrea: “My dress was made by my sister-in-law Robyn from net-curtain material, which cost 50c a metre. Back then, you didn’t have the luxury of going to try dresses on. You would look for something in one of those pattern books or find a dress you liked in a magazine and have someone draught up a pattern.
“My dress was a copy of one I saw in an American magazine. I had a big, poufy veil and quite a long train. My hair was long, parted in the middle, draped down over my ears and rolled in the back – the same as the model in the picture.
“Tom and I got married in Masterton in 1975. I was Bride of the Year the following year – after quite a bit of persuading from my mother. If I got married today, I’d wear something lacier, more contemporary and something far more age-appropriate!”
Rebecca: “I went down to Wellington thinking I wanted a simple white, floaty dress, but when I walked into the shop, the woman there said, ‘You have to try this one.’ It really wasn’t me at all – lacy, beaded, mocha-coloured, corseted and strapless – but I put it on and I felt amazing.
I tried on another three or four but ended up coming back to that first one. It wasn’t overly expensive.
“Richard and I got married in Carterton in 2006 and had our reception in the grounds at Rathkeale College, where both of us went to school. Richard said he was stoked when he saw me walking down the aisle.
“I wore the dress again four months later when I won the Masterton Bride of the Year competition, which my mum had won 30 years before. I don’t look back and think, ‘Oh, what was I thinking?’ but if I was going to remarry, I’d probably go through the whole process again just because styles and trends change.”