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.


(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.


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.


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.



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…


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…



Life is good.


VJ x

Life lately.

Spring has arrived. We’ve tidied up the garden. We accidentally bought a sofa bed and decided to gut the spare room. We’ve made plans to see friends and family, right up to August! Charlie got a brilliantly glowing school report. Cassidy’s face has healed. Gary is going to choose a new motorbike next weekend. I dyed my hair bright red. Our rose bush and plum tree both have new blooms on them. Things are changing for me at work. We booked a photographer for the wedding and ordered ‘Save the Date cards’. We’ve started growing carrots. I started re-reading the Harry Potter books for the billionth time. We’ve started browsing for our yearly holiday. I booked appointments to go wedding dress shopping. Charlie has finally started using his two wheeled scooter, rather than his toddler one. We’ve fallen in love with the new Ed Sheeran album. The sunshine has made everything better. We’ve been on walks and had lazy days. We’ve had food with friends and laughed until our sides ache.











Life is busy. Life is loud. Life is messy.

Life is good.


VJ x

The Best Woman

When Gary and I sat down to start planning our wedding, we started with a completely blank piece of paper.

We decided from the very beginning that we would do this entirely our own way and that we would only keep the parts of a ‘traditonal’ wedding that we wanted to.

So when it came to planning our bridal party, we wanted to make sure that it felt true to us and the people who play an important and consistent role in our lives.

Gary decided very quickly that he wanted one and a half best men (more on that in another post!) and I came to the conclusion that I would only have one bridesmaid, as we are trying to keep the wedding small and intimate.

To me, bridesmaids feel quite old fashioned; particuarly as they were originally designed to protect the bride from being kidnapped on the night before her wedding!

But whilst browsing for save the date cards, I came across this and something just clicked into place.

Gary is having a Best Man – so why shouldn’t I have a Best Woman?


The decision of who to have as my BW was straight forward in many ways but difficult in others.

I am lucky to have several amazing women in my life, all of whom are close to me and all of whom would be a brilliant support in the run up to the wedding.

But really, there was only one person who could fill those Converse.

On my first day of the second year of uni, I was at the presentation where all the tutors discuss their modules and basically try to get you to sign up to their class. I was sat with my friend, David, when a wild haired, wide eyed girl literally threw herself into the seat next to me and started jiggling about. She looked like she had been up all night and then drunk a pint of coffee (which turned out to be true!) and I instinctively shifted slightly away from her.

She spotted David next to me and then leaned across me to start a really loudly whispered conversation with him about a mutual friend of theirs.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don’t deal well with having my personal space invaded. David spotted the look on my face and suggested that we switch seats, which I did, gratefully.

A few weeks later, the wild girl turned up at my shared house – where I was living with David and few others – and I learned that her name was Steph.

We didn’t have much to do with each other at first; she was taking poetry and science fiction modules, whilst I was still on a largely literature based course. I’d see her from time to time when she came to work on something with David, but that was pretty much it.

And then in our third year, I took a science fiction module (because it meant I could finish early on a Friday – priorities!) and she was in it. I was a total sci-fi newbie and she was so kind and helpful to me. We also bonded over a shared bad experience at the hands of another girl (which is something that I may write about one day) and we quickly became firm friends.

And that’s how it has been ever since, almost ten years ago.


She is my strong, opinionated friend who has taught me to think for myself and to look at things from as many angles as possible. She is headstrong and stubborn as hell but she has also got one of the biggest hearts and she has picked me up when I’ve been low and cheered me on when I’ve succeeded. She’s funny and clever and she’s probably rolling her eyes if she’s reading this…She is my person and I know that she will always have my back, just as I will always have hers.

So, with the decision made and a date in the diary to see Steph (she lives hundreds of miles away these days, so meet ups are frustratingly rare), I ordered the card.

And yesterday, I got to give it to her.

We went for a lovely walk around a nature reserve and after lunch, I handed it to her. She was really surprised and happy and we had such a cracking day, we hadn’t been together for months but it was like we’d seen each other the day before – which I suppose is one of the signs of a great friendship.

We also completely failed to take a picture together (as usual!) so I’ve had to pinch this one that her lovely stepmum, Susie, took of us:


And that’s another decision made.

Just 575979382727 to go…

VJ x