"". A tale of two wedding dresses | Is This Mutton?

Fashion for the over 50s with books and beauty

Sunday 4 December 2016

A tale of two wedding dresses

1987 wedding dress by Pronovias worn by Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon

Raffaella Barker recently wrote in the Mail on the dilemma she faced as a 51 year old second time bride in choosing her dress.

I had exactly the same challenge in 2010 when I married John.
For my first wedding in 1987, I had walked into a bridal shop in Exeter and the right dress jumped out at me almost instantly. 

In those days dresses were big, like our hair and shoulder pads. The "Little Bo Beep" look was popular. I didn't go exactly down that road. Just halfway. My dress did have a hooped petticoat and huge sleeves, but it was by up-and-coming (then) brand Pronovias and I loved it. It was around £450 which seemed a lot of money then. I had a veil studded with pearls to match the tiny pearls on the sleeves.

I regretted later that I hadn't taken my mum with me to help to choose it.  She seemed disappointed when she knew I had already got the dress, veil, pearl headdress and everything else.

Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon at her first wedding with bridesmaid Danielle Wood

So when I knew I was getting married again in 2010, I took mum with me.

Like Rafaella, I had been feverishly studying websites and buying bridal magazines. I still would if it didn't seem strange - I just love bridal magazines!  I was not keen on wearing white or shades thereof, but wanted something special. But a lot of the dresses I saw were either a bit "mother of the bride," (staid), or too young looking.

The Dress turned up in an unexpected place, Monsoon in Plymouth.  I'd spotted the dress online but I didn't know how it would look in real life. Even when I tried it on, it was difficult to tell if it was really right for me because it was January and I was carrying an extra 7kgs. It was tight around the middle.

But I loved the fact it looked glamorous - particularly with the feather boa that the assistant helpfully provided- and felt "me."  

I didn't try it on again until about three weeks before our big day.  I had been dieting diligently but was afraid the dress would still not look good. I was fearful I would have to find another one. But it slipped on like a dream. And the colour was perfect, even though my mum had had sore misgivings, silver not being one of my colours according to Colour Me Beautiful at that time. The silver looked great with my chosen purple and violet flowers. I had dainty sandals from Boden and a grey clutch from M&S. 

So there you have it, a tale of two dresses. I'd love to see your wedding dress (es).

A different dress for the second time bride: Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton? at Marylebone Town Hall, June 2010

Blogger Gail Hanlon at her second wedding in London with husband John Hanlon in 2010

A second wedding dress is freed from the constraints that a first wedding imposes. Here Gail Hanlon wears a silver dress from Monsoon with feather boa. June 2010

You may also be interested to read my post about a wonderful day in August at the wedding of my stepdaughter in Whitstable, Kent.  View the post.

Check out my Mother of the Bride special, and see what famous mothers have worn.  Read It


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  1. The 80's dress is beautiful and your 2010 dress is stunning as well - what a beautiful couple you make! Thanks for linking, xo


  2. Looks lovely! That feather boa is outstanding!

  3. We had very similar dresses first time around Gail! Second time around I wore a Teal ballgown that I would never have chosen if my daughter hadn't made me try it on. Your second dress is absolutely stunning. Gorgeous colour on you. xx

  4. I love the second dress, just gorgeous and perfect for your big day :)

    Lyn x

  5. Lovely second dress -- you look just right, definitely not "mutton dressed as lamb"! The first dress could actually still work for a 2017 bride, with a simple reworking or removal of the sleeves.

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