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Dear Kristen

I’m not an early morning person, so it’s rare I have the radio on when you’re on. But this morning as I was out trying to catch the beauty of a crisp Canberra winter, I caught a snippet of you on air discussing the anguish of your wedding dress shopping, and the advice offered by your Mum. A serendipitous moment perhaps.

I know, I know, I’m a random stranger and why the hell do I think I should give you advice? But I feel I have to add my two cents’ worth.

Listen to your mum, Kristen. Mums are so often right, and I’m with her on this one.

I understand that finding the elusive ‘perfect’ wedding dress can be fraught—frustrating, confusing, and sometimes stressful. But should you rope your fiance into the decision-making process, to make your shopping experience easier and fill you with confidence you’re picking the right one, at the expense of ruining the surprise?

I get why your Mum might be disappointed if you do involve Iain, even a bit angry. I’m projecting, but maybe she’d be mainly just sad. That you’d be taking away a special moment from your hubbie-to-be—that spectacular heart-rending moment when he gets to see his future wife in front of him in her full glory, and be surprised and taken aback at the sight. It’s a special moment indeed.

Let me tell you a story.

Many moons ago as my husband spoke at our wedding, he relayed the story of my father describing the moment he set eyes on his first grandchild. Dad, a religious man, said at that moment he couldn’t understand how anyone could not believe in a God, who had created such amazing beauty. My husband, who’s not a religious man, then told our wedding guests that when he first saw me walking down the aisle towards him, his breath was taken away and he felt the exact same thing. And we cried.

Fast forward 24 years and my eldest daughter got married. On her wedding day, after the months of preparations and the ministrations of the day, finally she was dressed and ready, and she was stunning. We called in her father to see the final result, and as he walked into the room and took sight of her, he almost took a step back. I guess that’s what ‘taken aback’ means. We were all a bit teary. It could be that we’re all just die-hard sooks, but I think it’s a special moment indeed. (Did I say that before?)

My husband spoke that night at the reception. He relayed the same story again, and my old Dad’s eyes lit up in recognition and memory as he listened. And we cried, again. Entire tables of us.

(When I later saw the photo that captured my Dad’s face at just that second, I knew it was destined to go on the cover of his funeral brochure, whenever that may be. Because it captured him and what was important to him, and to us: love and family. Sadly, it was only a few years later that the photo appeared on that brochure.)

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More years later, and we did the whole wedding thing again with daughter number two, and again the ‘first glimpse’ to Dad at home brought tears to our eyes.

I’ve witnessed my husband see both his daughters revealed to him in their bridal glory, after months of preparation he wasn’t always privy to, and perhaps more importantly I’ve watched my two son-in-laws see their brides ‘revealed’, and seen their joy at that first glimpse—so proud, so in love. It’s a wow moment.

But Kristen—don’t stress. Don’t panic about finding THE perfect wedding dress, and don’t expect to burst into tears the second you put it. That mightn’t happen. Doesn’t matter. Because in reality, there will be dozens of dresses that will be beautiful for you, because there are so many damn gorgeous dresses. And whatever dress you end up choosing, of course Iain will love it, because you know him, and most importantly, you’ll be in it. He’s your biggest fan after all.

No doubt you will look stunning, because you’re beautiful, and you’ll be radiating with happiness from the inside. That’s a killer combination.

And listen to your Mum. Don’t underestimate the ability of mothers to be right. My grown and now eminently sensible daughters now totally get that, and heed my freely proffered pearls of wisdom: like never run with scissors; if it’s not important in five years it’s not important; and never take a sleeping tablet and a laxative at the same time. Sometimes Mums just know stuff.

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Don’t make your fiance go wedding dress shopping with you and lose the chance of the magic moment of the bride-reveal. It’s a gift he’ll remember forever.

And you never know—it may be a moment that gets passed on through generations and family lore.

Love from a Mum

PS If you’re really desperate and need shopping support, I’m available—and I have excellent taste.

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Photos: @MelHillPhotography; Steven Murray

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