SIPPING champagne in my hotel room with my daughter Sage, 18, and bridesmaids Maddie, Ames and Emma, I couldn’t believe the morning of my wedding was here at last.
Once my hair and make-up was done, I slipped into my beautiful lace floor-length wedding dress and asked Sage to do up the zip – only, it seemed to be stuck.
Ames had a go unsuccessfully, followed by Maddie. As she tried to yank up the zip, I suddenly felt the fabric go loose as the zip burst open.
Spinning around to the mirror, I could see the whole dress flapping open at the back, from my neck all the way down to my waist.
As I caught sight of everybody’s frozen, shocked faces, my stomach sank.
"Don’t panic, everything will be fine," Emma said, smiling weakly.
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It was July 2021, and my fiancé Paddy, 40, had proposed two years earlier on Christmas Day 2019.
We planned for a big day, but when the pandemic hit, we realised that it was being married that mattered, not having a fancy do.
We decided on a registry office, inviting 20 of our closest friends and family, and booked a local restaurant for a small reception.
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I bought one of the first dresses I saw online, costing £180, and when it arrived it looked beautiful and fitted perfectly.
Nothing had changed in the run-up to the wedding, so why had the zip split now?
Looking at the girls’ horrified faces, I knew I had to somehow stay calm.
But how on earth could we solve this problem with just one hour until the ceremony?
Suddenly, the girls had an idea. There was a wedding shop nearby, so they said they would go and see if they could find me some kind of bridal jacket that I could wear to hide my back.
It seemed unlikely, but at that point we were willing to try anything.
Just then, my dad Greg, 68, appeared with a needle and thread from the hotel, having heard about the drama.
He’s always been good at sewing, but despite his best efforts, he just couldn’t get it secured.
Glancing at my phone, I saw it was now 12.45pm – I had to leave in 30 minutes to get to the ceremony on time, but my bridesmaids were still AWOL.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. As I thought of my groom waiting for me at the register office, I spotted my clothes from that morning – a black T-shirt and black pleather leggings.
There was nothing else for it, I thought – I’d have to wear them!
I called Paddy to explain, so he wouldn’t be shocked when he saw me and he reassured me, saying that he’d marry me whatever I was wearing!
But just as I was pulling on the trousers, the door flew open. My bridesmaids came hurtling in with a woman I’d never met before.
"Stop!" one of them yelled. "You’re not getting married in a pair of pleather leggings."
The woman explained she was Lydia from David’s Bridal – the shop the girls had found nearby – and she’d brought two wedding dresses for me to try.
Overwhelmed, I was speechless at the love and support everybody had shown – but there wasn’t a second to spare.
Thankfully, the first of the two dresses, which was also lace and floor-length, fitted perfectly.
Everyone was in tears of happiness and relief as we jumped in the car to the registry office. Miraculously, we arrived on time.
When Paddy saw me walking down the aisle, he broke into a huge grin and said: "Nice dress", then we burst out laughing.
As we said our vows, looking into each other’s eyes, all thoughts of my dress drama were forgotten.
At our reception, I was floating on air to finally be married and to celebrate with the people who cared about me so much.
Everybody laughed about the dress disaster. In his speech, Paddy said: "It’s normal for the groom not to see the dress before the wedding – but not the bride, too!"
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I’ll always be grateful to Lydia and my bridesmaids, whose quick-thinking saved the day.
As for Paddy, if he was prepared to marry me in pleather leggings, I know he’s truly the man for me.”
The average cost of a wedding dress is £1,350.*
Over 264,000 weddings were postponed due to the pandemic in 2020.**
70% of brides find their dress in the first shop they visit.*
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