You may not like everything they have to say but these men are brave — and very, very honest (and, yes, every one of them is still married!)
‘WOMEN BELIEVE VINTAGE MEANS INDIVIDUALITY-WE THINK YOU LOOK LIKE OUR NAN’
Journalist Christian koeh, 36, is married to Suzy Cox, 35, a magazine editor. He says: ‘The dress Suzy originally selected (and accidentally flashed before my eyes when flicking too far on her iPhone one evening) was the opposite of what I wanted my bride to look like on our big day. It was a lacy, phlegmy-hued, ’50s affair, swaddled in netting that looked like a partially sighted seamstress had sewn fag-stained curtains to her midriff. There was a jaunty birdcage hat on her head which just looked to me like she had something sliding down her face. All I wanted was a normal, strapless wedding gown. Nothing kooky, nothing eccentric. Now I was getting hitched to a Goodnight Sweetheart cast member.
There was only one thing for it: devious mind-games. So I set about making «Ugh» noises whenever similar dresses appeared on TV, or preventing Suzy going dress-shopping with her vintage-obsessed chum (Me: «Were going ring-shopping that day.» Her: «Are we?» Me: «Yes! Remember?»). Mature, eh? In my opinion, vintage is one trend that will never cross the gender divide. Women believe vintage means individuality — it’s all about making friends coo admiringly over that cameo cleverly sourced at a flea market. Men? We just think you look like our nan.
The week before the wedding, I was plagued by anxiety dreams. Suzy wearing the most doily-esque dress she could find. Me being unable to hide my disgust. All our friends and family deciding I am the Worst Husband Ever. My wife lifting the veil to reveal she’s Paloma Faith. Noooo!
I was terrified. But thankfully, when Suzy appeared at the end of the aisle, she looked gorgeous in a floor-length, white slip dress by Cymbeline. It was the perfect compromise dress. To her mind, it had the best elements of any vintage wedding gown
— a slim silhouette and elegant detailing
— while to my eyes, it was nothing like the moth-eaten monstrosities she’d looked at. I was so ecstatic with her choice, I actually jumped up and down at the altar.
My dirty tricks campaign was neither big nor clever. But I’d still recommend it to any groom in a similar situation.
‘I DIDN’T WANT A DEMURE GOWN — OR ONE THAT COULD BE SEEN ON GOOGLE EARTH’
Writer Chris Bell, 37, is married to Victoria Walker, 37, who works in marketing. He says: «The very second my bride-to-be appeared, standing gorgeous in white, I almost passed out from holding my breath. For starters, I was pretty relieved she’d actually turned up. But most nerve-racking of all, I was about to see The Dress.
The Dress deserves its capital letters. Since we’d got engaged, it had been the other person in our relationship — the white, possibly lacy, corner of our love triangle. I knew how much she wanted it to be perfect — not just for her, but for me too. I knew she’d fretted and worried about its design. Strapless? Above the knee? Sleek?
Big? So when she finally stepped out in front of our 100-strong congregation, I knew how much she’d be shaking with nerves. And trust me, I was too.
For starters, our wedding was two months after Wills and Kate’s royal shindig
— and I’d had a recurring nightmare my wife would turn up wearing the same «demure» (read: hideous) lace sleeves. Like she’d had a fight with a net curtain.
I had also fully prepared myself for «bride hair». You know what I mean: those regrettable moments when you are spurred on by an over-ambitious stylist. My wife has stunning, jet black locks that, I feared, would be pinned up, forgettably, in a bun.
But mostly, I worried about one thing: that she’d be too nervous to go «full bride». That she’d somehow think I’d want her to go for something understated and pared back. When entirely the opposite was true. Sure, I don’t want anything that could be seen on Google Earth, but neither did I want anything that she could conceivably wear to a cocktail party at a later date.
In the end, The Dress, a dramatic Maggie Sottero gown with a sweetheart neckline (so I was told later!) and a sea of swirling, pleated ruffles, did its job — and then some. Her hair, too, was sumptuous
— just cascading over her bare shoulders exactly as I’d hoped. And better still? There wasn’t a lace sleeve in sight.’
‘I DREADED DISNEY PUFF SLEEVES OR A TRAIN OF SILK BILLOWING BEHIND HER LIKE THE WAKE OF A SPEEDBOAT’
Writer and TV presenter Grub Smith, 18, is married to Rachel Sullivan, 38, a magazine editor. He says: ‘A few weeks before we got married, I let my wife approve the suit I was planning to wear at our wedding. If she hated the cut or colour, I said, she could veto it. She wouldn’t even let me see it.
«That would be bad luck,» she explained. As a cold, logical atheist, this drove me bananas. It was superstitious nonsense, along with «Marry in May, rue the day» or putting a sixpence in your shoes. But the truth is if her dress had been awful, it would have detracted from my enjoyment of the day.
Even though Rachel had never shown any signs of egregious bad taste before, I was worried that the dream of «being a princess for a day» might wreak havoc with her judgment. I pictured her in monstrous Disney puff sleeves, or a gigantic big-arsed bustle, or steering a five-yard train of silk behind her like the wake of a speedboat.
I moaned about it so much that she tried to put me at ease. It was a simple design, she assured me. Phew, I thought. But then she added: «Even the veil.» The veil? The sodding veil?
Instantly, I imagined her coming up the aisle with her face totally hidden, like some sort of mad beekeeper. It also seemed absurd, a bit medieval. We had agreed on a no fuss, unpretentious city register office wedding, and now she was going all Lady Diana on me…
In the end, thankfully, it was fine. Her dress was elegant and simple, and the dreaded veil was more an elaborate hairclip than a full-on facial shroud. I barely even noticed it as she walked down the aisle.
But I still think it was stupid to keep her choice of outfit under wraps until the last moment. Surprises can go horribly wrong, and was relief really the first emotion she wanted me to feel as a married man?
Sorry to be a killjoy, but if you plan to trust each other and be open as a couple, then it seems odd to start things off by keeping secrets.’
‘I PREDICTED HER DRESS WOULD BE STYLISH BUT SAFE, AND-DARE I SAY IT -UNIMAGINATIVE’
Comedian Robin Flavell, 44, is married to Jill Foster, 38, a writer. He says: ‘First things first: my wife is a low-key dresser. She has a wardrobe the size of Norfolk but it is full of jumpers, jeans and M&S T-shirts. Yes, Jill has moments of glamour, but she’s more at home in a sweatshirt and jogging bottoms than sequins and lace. I count myself lucky to have found a woman who is immune to the extremes of fashion, one who would never be seen in a dress with a peplum. To be honest, Jill’s no-nonsense, resolutely non-girly style has always attracted me to her.
But prior to our wedding in December 2009,1 admit I was curious about her choice of dress. What sort of wedding gown does a woman who hates dressing up go for? I predicted something traditional — stylish but safe. And, dare I say it, unimaginative.
Not that I had a problem with this. As long as she felt attractive then that was fine by me. I’m no Marc Jacobs myself, and my own suit was very much mid-range Moss Bros. But I started to think something out of the ordinary was afoot when it became clear I was not going to be involved in any way with the dress-selection process. A password-protected folder called «Dress» appeared on our laptop and various secretive phone-calls began to take place between my wife, her sister and her mum.
My opinion was never sought. All enquiries were politely deflected. I began to realise that whatever was being planned was meant to be a complete surprise to me.
Although this left me feeling a little out of the loop, it was actually very flattering. What’s more, although her taste was a little safe, I was quietly confident she wouldn’t go for anything outlandish or terrifying. Jill would never walk down the aisle in anything resembling a massive lacy meringue. Similarly, there was no way I could see her choosing anything too revealing or provocative.
So on the day, as I saw my future wife walking up the aisle in a stunning, chic off-the-shoulder dress with a handmade tulle shrug across her bare shoulders, my heart leapt. She looked incredible. The whole creation was far more beautiful and elegant than I could possibly have imagined — I’d totally underestimated her. «You look amazing,» I said, when she joined me by my side. And the smile on her face told me she felt great in it too.
My advice to non-dressy brides hunting for that special dress? If your style is essentially «safe» you can still deliver the wow factor with a bit of imagination and a dress that accentuates your partner’s favourite thing about you’.