I still remember buying my dress. It was April 1993. I was in town with my sister. We nipped into a bridal shop - I'd got engaged sometime before - and there it was, my dream dress: white satin, beads, a long train, off the shoulder, lace, sequins. The full monty. Gorgeous. I bought it on the spot. I wish I could get married every Saturday. Each time I'd wear a different dress and have a different theme. My husband, unfortunately, doesn't share my passion. He just thinks of the money.
Selling wedding dresses is very different from selling other clothes. The bride really needs my advice and expertise. So much has to be taken into consideration. White dresses can make some brides look really ill; puffy dresses on a bride with long hair and round shoulders can make her look as though she has no neck; brides with dark hair can take any colour; fairer people have more problems, although strawberry blonde brides look gorgeous in gold. No two brides are the same and no two days are the same and that's what I love about this job: the variety.
It can take up to 15 dresses and many hours to get it right, but when I see a bride and she's got her dress on and she looks absolutely stunning even though her hair and make-up aren't done, it really brings a lump to my throat.
I get very involved. Some of the brides even bring in their photos after the event. It's very touching. We display them in the coffee area, so the brides can have a look while they're waiting for fittings.
We do get the odd argument breaking out in the changing room. Sometimes the groom doesn't like the dress - a lot of grooms pay towards the wedding these days and they like to see what they're getting. But more often it's the bride and her mother who fight because the bride has chosen a dress the mother doesn't like. You hear them going down the stairs and out of the shop: "No, you're not having it", "But Mum, I really like it. It's what I've always wanted", "Your father and I are paying for this and you're not having it." It must be very upsetting for the bride. It is her day, after all. If the wedding's called off, brides can return their dresses. We normally give a refund.
I used to buy stacks of bridal magazines. I must have bought the newsagent out. I'd flick through them, cut snippets out and think, I'd like this, I'd like that. I knew them off by heart. I still fall in love with the dresses. At the moment there are a lot of champagne ones coming through. I tried one on the other day - that's one of the perks - but it looked terrible. You never can tell until it's on.
I come home from work at around 6pm and Mark will say "Had a good day?" And I'll say, "It's been a fabulous day". I enjoy it so much. Eventually I'd like to have children, but at the moment I can't think of anything else I'd like to do better.