“IS it the same as you remembered?” the kindly dress shop lady asked me, ushering me into the changing room where my wedding dress hung in the corner.

I gulped and risked a glance.

Yup, that was it alright.

Only, I was sure it was bigger than that.

In my dreams it was a big tent like dress.

Sure it was boned and corseted, no need to diet, it’s a massive dress, it’ll definitely fit.

But there it was on the hanger, glowing in the early afternoon sunlight.

With seams, and buttons and fasteners, that suddenly looked awfully tight.

I stripped down to my M&S sucky-in knickers and strapless bra, both crackling with newness, and held my breath as the dress was slipped over my head.

The kindly shop lady spun me around to the mirror and briskly started lacing me up, ignoring the fact that I had my eyes squeezed tightly shut.

“You can look now,” she said with a smile in her voice and, I’m sure, a mental roll of her eyes.

It fit.

The bloody thing fit.

I let my breath out in a rush and couldn’t stop a huge grin creeping slowly across my face.

The Dress was every bit as beautiful as I remembered. The material even more luxurious and soft, the fit even more perfect.

I felt like Jessica Rabbit, although I’m easily ten sizes bigger than her and two foot shorter. But I went in and out at the right places.

Va-va-voom, indeed.

I snapped suddenly to attention feeling a pair of hands moving expertly over my bosom.

“This won’t do at all,” the kindly shop lady said, her mouth full of pins.

“Look at this,” she said “it’s far too big at the bust. It needs to be taken in a good two inches on either side and under the arms here too.”

“IT NEEDS TO BE TAKEN IN! TAKEN BLOODY IN!” I screamed over the changing room curtain to my sister and mother sitting waiting outside.

“Jaysus,” the kindly shop lady said, taking a step back and holding her ears in agony “give me a bit of warning next time, will ya?”

Bosom pinned into submission, to be properly altered later, I swept out of the changing room to gasps of admiration from my family.

“Amn’t I gorgeous,” I beamed at them, admiring myself in the mirror, turning slowly this way and that, basking in my own beauty. To hell with modesty, I’m a BRIDE now.

I marched up and down the shop, pausing now and again to look at myself in any reflective surface, grinning like a loon.

Just when I thought I was about to burst with happiness, the kindly shop lady tilted her head to one side and zeroed in on a seam at my hip.

I felt the day darken.

“That seam there,” she started slowly, approaching me like one would approach a mad dog “that seam there at the hip might sit the tiniest bit better if I just…let…it…out.”

She said the last three words gently, pleading with me not to lose the head, walking towards me with her hand held out placatingly.

“Let it out?” I gulped feeling my earlier bubble burst.

“Just a tiny bit, the tiniest bit,” she assured me, legging it over with her measuring tape while the going was good. “Lookit, just a quarter of an inch, that’s all. It’ll sit better, I promise.”

I breathed in through my nose trying to see the positive. IN at the bust but OUT at the hip. I guess you win some, you lose some, eh? And at least I can say it’s a custom-made dress, made especially for my measurements. My big hipped measurements.

After twirling around some more in the dress, and admiring myself about 800 more times, I reluctantly trailed back to the changing room to take it off so the alterations could be done.

Before I took it off for good, the kindly shop lady showed my sister how to lace it up at the back properly, so I’d get the same Jessica Rabbit shape on the Big Day.

“Do you think you’ll be able to do it ok,” I asked my sister fearfully as she paid close attention.

Her eyes met mine in the mirror.

“Don’t worry,” she said, patting my shoulder “I’ll put my back into it.”

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