The Dress Hunt

( I am still having to blog from my phone because Talk Talk customer service is TERRIBLE and our internet still won’t support our laptop, but that’s a rant for another day!)

I am not very girly.

I don’t enjoy shopping, I hate being the centre of attention and to be honest, I never thought I’d enjoy shopping for a wedding dress.

Which just shows how wrong I can be.

A few months ago, I created a whatsapp group for the people that I wanted to take dress shopping – mum, Gary’s mum Christine, my brother Benn and my Best Woman, Steph. We talked about various dates and finally settled on 24th June, which felt like ages away. I used the space to bore them senseless with screenshots of dresses that I’d found on Pinterest (I wish planning a real wedding was as easy as planning a Pinterest one!) and it was great to have somewhere to discuss this stuff, as it’s the one and only thing that I can’t talk to Gary about.

The weeks ticked past and then last weekend, I realised that we were only a week away.

And I felt excited.

I couldn’t wait to have so many of my favourite people together and I realised that I actually WANTED to go and try on a bunch of dresses and hopefully find one that felt right for our day.

Who knew that could happen?!

I finished work slightly early on Friday and headed straight home to finish getting the house ready for our guests.

Gary had beaten me home and, amazing man that he is, had already sorted the house out, so the only thing to do was shower and change and wait for everyone to arrive.

Mum arrived first, followed by Christine and Terry, who were joining us for dinner. Steph got caught up in Friday night traffic and didn’t arrive until after we’d eaten but it just felt so great to have so many of the people I love around our dining table.

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(I completely failed to take any photographs, so here’s one of the table; we had pizzas and snacky foods for dinner, which everyone seemed to like)

We drank too much (which always seems to happen when Steph is around…!), ate and talked about all kinds of random stuff. Suddenly it was 11pm and time to crash out before a busy day!

I woke up at 5.30am, feeling like a kid on Christmas Day. I managed to wait until 7.30am, before I got up and woke the others with cups of tea. We all got washed and dressed, had breakfast and then Christine arrived and off we went!

It felt strange to kiss Gary goodbye and go off on an adventure without him but I know it will be worth it when he sees me on our wedding day.

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Our first stop was our venue, because I wanted to make sure they all understood the context and the feel of the day, before we started looking for dresses.

It was actually being set up for another wedding, which was great because we were able to get inside the building and to see what it looks like when it’s ‘dressed’.

We then drove across town, met my brother (who had arrived early and accidentally joined another bridal group!) and headed into the first of the two bridal stores that we had booked to visit.

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Krystle Brides in Bath is one that I’ve walked past a hundred times before but I’d never really been that drawn by any of the dresses in the window.

However, they were recommended by a few local ladies who are part of a Brides group on Facebook that I’m part of and once I followed them on Instagram and saw all of their ‘real brides’ posts, I saw that they had some beautiful dresses in stock and decided to give it a go.

We were met by the lovely Kate, who showed us into one of the two dressing rooms and then helped us to pick out half a dozen dresses to start with.

She was really friendly and helpful and actually listened to what I was saying about each dress as I tried it on. She then brought in more dresses for me to try and didn’t try to rush me or hurry me along, she seemed happy to let me try on the whole shop if I needed to.

The others all settled themselves at one end of the room, whilst Kate and I went behind a curtained section to get each dress on and off.

And I really needed her help with that!

We had it narrowed down to two that I liked and then my brother brought in one more dress and told me to try it on.

And it’s SUCH a wedding cliche but I put it on and I just knew.

Kate pulled back the curtain and mum and Christine simultaneously burst into tears. I felt beautiful in it and I really didn’t want to take it off!

After half an hour of walking and sitting and taking pictures and trying out accessories, I reluctantly took it off and changed back into my own clothes. Kate priced it up, wrote down all the details and gave me a lovely goody bag to take away.

I was pretty sure that we had found The Dress but we already had another appointment for the afternoon and we decided to keep it, just in case.

 

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After a pitstop for food at Giraffe in Bath and a coffee break in Keynsham, we arrived at Lace & Grace for our afternoon appointment.

The shop was beautiful and the dresses were lovely but I didn’t have the same feeling as I had in the morning. I’m quite an emotional shopper and if I don’t like the feel of a place, I won’t spend money there.

The ladies were nice enough but they were slightly standoffish and they didn’t listen to what I was after in a dress, they seemed more focuessed on trying to get us to spend as much money as possible.

I tried a few on – which were all beautiful but none of them made me feel anything – and then we left.

As we walked back to the car, Christine asked me if I had a favourite and when I said that it was the dress from the morning, they all cheered!

So, I have found my Dress. It’s not at all what I expected to fall for but it makes me feel so special and lovely and I can’t WAIT for Gary to see me in it.

369 days to go…

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VJ x

Father’s Day

I had a different and more detailed post plannned for this week but our internet has crapped out and won’t work on our laptops (no Netflix!), so a post from my phone will have to do!

I’d like to wish all the dads, daddies, papas, fathers, step-fathers and fathers-in-law a very happy Father’s Day; I hope you have a wonderful time and that you get spoiled by those you love.

And if you don’t have your dad with you – for whatever reason – just know that I’m thinking of you and I hope that today isn’t too tough.

There are two great men in my life; my dad and Gary. Both are kind and patient and funny and loving and I feel lucky to love and be loved by them.

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VJ x

 

I don’t know what to write about…

Sunday is blog day.

I’ve written a post every week for the last ten months and today is the first day that I really don’t know what to write about.

I’m trying not to beat myself up about it, ten months is a pretty good winning streak.

And let’s face it, writers block happens to everyone, right?

This has been a huge week for the UK and whilst we’re still currently stuck with a Tory government (with an extra helping of crazy in the form of the DUP), I was so pleased to see the massive Labour upswing and the huge turnout from both the general population and the under twenty-five vote. Even though we didn’t manage to oust the Tories, we still showed them that we do care, that we are watching and that whilst they might consider themselves to be secure, they really aren’t.

On a personal level, it’s been kind of a weird week, which might be why my frazzled brain is struggling to find something coherant to write about. Life is so busy  and full on right now that I seem to be on a constant treadmill to nowhere. Work, home, Gary, Charlie, family stuff, wedding planning, trying to squeeze my friends in, bootcamp (a surprisingly fun form of torture that I may write about if I can remember to take some photographs at some stage) and the occasional bit of reading don’t leave me with much space to breathe.

This week will be no different. Haircut and colour on Monday (the red needs to go, it just fades too fast! Plus I my fringe needs a trim, I’m starting to look like I belong in a 90’s boyband), bootcamp on Tuesday, dinner with Gary’s mum on Wednesday (we meet up once a month on our own, to have good chat and some food in peace!), bootcamp Thursday, food shopping Friday and then we’re into a Charlie weekend and it’s Fathers Day on Sunday.  Plus a 45 hour work week and a house to keep. Yeesh.

But hey, that’s adult life and I’m lucky to have such a full one.

I said at the start of this that I didn’t know what to write about and now I don’t know how to finish it off. 400 words of nothing is kind of hard to round off.

Life is busy. Life is full. Life is good.

But sometimes, my brain could do with a little break.

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Told you that I need a fringe trim.

VJ x

 

 

After The Crash

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a breakdown when I was 22.

After the initial shock of the breakdown, I had a long course of therapy and everyone around me was really wonderful and supportive.

But what happens after that?

I was discharged from therapy when I was 24 and was considered ‘cured’. My depression had slunk back to its cage and my anxiety was at a level where I could function in an almost ‘normal’ (oh, how I hate that word!) way. In fact, after the inital shock of the breakdown, I’d been what was called a ‘high functioning depressive’, which meant that I could walk and talk and eat and wash myself and sometimes laugh and smile, even with the depression eating away at my insides.

My last day of therapy brought with it very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I felt ‘ready’ to work without the net of my therapist and it felt good to know that my doctors felt the same. But it was also terrifying to know that it was just me and my brain, on our own, from now on.

But, we managed.

My CBT training kicked in and my brain and I slowly learned how to live with each other and to cope with the world around us. My depression stayed firmly locked in the cage and I started to breathe a little bit easier each day.

It took a very long time – five years in total – but two years ago, I looked up and realised that my anxiety had receeded.

When I was first ill, and for a long time afterwards, my anxiety was this constant roar in my head.

What’s happening next? Is that safe? Are they looking at me? Do I look stupid? Do they hate me? Can I eat that? If I get on that bus, will I have a panic attack? Everyone hates me. I’m stupid. I’m ugly. I’ll never be loved. I’ll die alone. Why did I say that to that person? Have I locked all the windows? I can’t breathe. Everything is too loud. It’s too bright. I can’t stop shaking. Will I be late? Do they hate me?

Therapy helped me reduce that roar to a shout and when I looked up two years ago, I realised that it was barely a whisper any more.

I am of the opinion that depression and anxiety are not something that will ever go away completely.

There are some people in my life – and I’m sure in the wider world – that think I’m wrong. They think that depression and anxiety can be rooted out and removed, with enough therapy or medication. And that is a valid point of view too.

But for me and my mental health, I believe that they are so intertwined and rooted in me that they are now just a part of the fabric of what makes me.

I am lucky that I have been able to fight my depression back into its box and I count myself lucky every single day that it stays there. I am painfully aware that its claws could come out at any time but I also know that if that does happen, I have the tools and the support to fight back.

Anxiety is more difficult, because it is so embedded in my life, but I realised about six months ago that I hadn’t actually felt anxious in a long time. I’ve felt tired or nervous or stressed but those are ‘normal’ emotions that come with a busy life and the pressures that that brings.

Being mentally unwell also changes the way that people look at you, how they treat you and what they expect.

My friends and family were wonderful when I was ill but it has been harder for them to see the changes in me as I’ve recovered. That isn’t their fault, everything that has changed has obviously been in my head and it has naturally taken time for them to catch up.

I no longer consider myself to be depressed. I also don’t consider myself to be anxious. But I do consider myself to be someone who lives with both demons; they just aren’t in charge anymore.

And that’s the difference.

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VJ x

Life Lately.

Visiting friends. Charlie’s next ninja belt. Lots of motorbike rides. Our fifth anniversary. A night away in an airstream. Sending out save the date cards. Going to our first (and probably only!) wedding fair. Going back to our venue and falling even more in love with it. Making plans for the summer.  Introducing Charlie to the motorbike. Plenty of Cassidy cuddles. Getting onto the healthy eating and exercise wagon. Bootcamp. An impromptu day-date. Lush baths. Smashing my work target. A heatwave. A care package from a sweet friend. Family time. Quiet times, busy times, just life really…

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Life is good.

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VJ x