My partner is fond of his knee caps and wasn't keen on being looked at like he'd head-butted a puppy, whenever friends got engaged. So he put a ring on it in New York and we're getting married in September.
I feared my newly-engaged status would send me into a frothy-mouthed fit of bridal hysteria, shrieking "organza" at passers by and retching up bits of confetti. But thus far, the only mildly maddening part has been choosing the bastard dress.
The only people who wear white are mad people, Gandalf and Liz Hurley. It's a not a colour you'll find about my person, because my person turns it into a dirty protest before you can say: "Sweaty Hob Nob".
It's impossibly daunting being surrounded by a sea of white - they all look the same. It's like being asked to choose your favourite cloud. It's not a colour or style you'd normally wear, so it's basically, expensive fancy dress - and I have no idea what Super Mario costume suits me best. To make it even harder, this purchase usually costs thousands of spondoolies and will be silently judged.
I waltzed into my first appointment, confident I knew the drill from my movie memory bank of soft-lensed, dressing-up montages. I'd fling back the curtain to reveal hilarious atrocities, before finding The One, sobbing just enough to avoid soiling the dress with mascara. What I wasn't prepared for was a chubby, Italian woman inexplicably pulling my knickers up, before helping me into a series of enormous dresses which veered from Miss Haversham to shuttlecock and weighed as much as they cost.
I left the shop convinced that I'd been genetically engineered specifically for the purpose of looking ridiculous in wedding dresses.
Bridal sample sales are hell on toast and I can't recommend them less. They are shorter notice than a sneeze and generally occur during working hours, so you need to drag in the old lady with kind eyes and matching socks that you passed in the street, to assist.
Fortunately, I have two marvellous chums who are sartorial whizzes and would slap me across the face and tell me to pull myself together if I so much as glanced at a sequinned sleeve.
But my sample sale experience was so harrowing, I needed a space blanket and cuddle on the way out. As I headed downstairs to the sale, a matronly woman - who waterboards bunnies for fun - barked at me to "remain on the stairs until you are summoned". I shuffled back to the naughty step, until the furious weeble gestured for me to enter the room, rammed with sweaty brides eyeing each other like a Western showdown amid the budget frocks.
"You have half an hour to make your decision and can try on three dresses. No more". She snarled. So that's ten minutes per dress to decide upon the most symbolic outfit of your life. I've spent longer choosing between Quavers and Wotsits at lunch.
But I tried to be gracious and take pity on her. As somebody who will never have a ring squeezed onto her hooves, it must be hard being surrounded by brides-to-be for a living.
So I started my Bridal Supermarket Sweep, snatching a trio of vaguely inoffensive frocks and limping with my hunchback of white - like a virginal Quasimodo - to a changing room, rammed with clammy women in mismatched underwear, leaping in and out of dresses. There was a chilling pause each time I pulled on a dress as the other women eyeballed it and practically clawed it off, like rapey Gollums, whispering: "Are you done with that?"
The dresses sucked and on the way out, my friend tried to photograph one that we'd missed, when the professionally-angry shop manager leapt in front of her phone, howling at her to stop this madness. Photos - like joy - are banned from this particular bridal shop. I asked if I could head upstairs to try on the non-discounted dresses. But I was advised to chuff off and make another appointment for this, although the waiting list was as long as her face.
As my Bridezillian scales sprouted, my friend cunningly dropped some names of magazines she worked for and The Incredible Hulk allowed me to try on a couple more. Amazingly, I found one which was practically free and decided to buy it. I think I was drunk on the heady mix of discount tags and hysteria, because it would have cost the price of a new frock to replace the torn, stained and giant entirety of the dress. Still, I enjoyed announcing that I'd changed my mind at the till, after the manager snarled at me to hurry and pay for the dress she'd bunged into cellophane.
Despite the questionable customer service, my friend and I booked another appointment at this bridal shop to try on the clean and more expensive dresses, like battered wives-to-be. I may as well have paid a woman in Soho to stub a cigarette out onto my arm and walk along my back in stilettos. It would have been cheaper and less masochistic. Even then, I was only allowed to try on three frocks. So in a dazzling epiphany, I decided to stop trying on variations of exactly the same dress, in the vague hope that the style would suddenly suit me. And for my third choice, I picked a Wild Card in a style that I've given a good scoffing in the past.
For dark and mysterious reasons that only Derren Brown could comprehend, this was the absolute tits. So I've finally ordered the dress and have my first fitting in July. High-fives, thumbs up and bunting all round!
And with a bit of luck, the people working at the bridal boutique will miss this blog, so it won't have prawns sewn into the hem and 'whore' emblazoned on the back in middle-aged urine.Suggest a correction