Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Me and Amanda

I thought/assumed that with my secret bridal assignment I would spend my days swanning around the city slipping into gorgeous Alex Perry bridal creations and then stopping for coffee and lunch with friends. It sounded fabulous, and I was excited. I quickly realised I might have to adjust my expectations when the plans changed and I was assigned the fabulous area of Wetherill Park instead. Where? I hear you ask. Well I wasn't real sure either but after a quick peek in the UBD I discovered it's near Fairfield and rather close to a suburn called "Prairiewood" - noice.

This is the mecca for the bargain basement bride, which scarily enough means we are still talking up to $2500 a dress. The shops out here in the "Park" are great barnlike things, stuffed with headless mannequins trussed up in hundreds upon hundreds of sparkly strapless dresses. To really top off the vibe, most of these bridal barns are located in the Wetherill Park Industrial Estate. Maybe it's just me, but it felt a little strange to spend one minute being stuffed into a gigantic princess dress covered in crystals wearing stilettos, a tiara on my head and a veil and then spending the next trudging past refrigeration plants, spare parts shops and small chemical plants to grab a sandwich from the only food outlet to be seen for miles.

A tiny greasy spoon, like something out of 70's Australia. It sold pies, sausage rolls, instant coffee (imperial roast to be sure) and one of the sandwich fillings offered on the board was baked beans. I felt like I had gone back in time as I settled on a plastic chair with my instant coffee, under the watchful gaze of a girlie calendar (provided by a local power tool company featuring half naked blonde chicks posing on all fours surrounded power drills and orbital sanders) To top it off a bloke with a curly mullet walked in, wearing stubbies and work boots and ordered a "Choccy milk and a chiko roll thanks". Had I really gone back to 1977??

Before I could find out, I check my watch and realise it's time to immerse myself back in the Bride to be scene. Some shops were fine, I was free to browse and have a poke around undisturbed. But in one, I feared I wasn't going to get out alive.

As soon as arrived I knew I was in for trouble when a heavily made up Greek woman pounced on me. When was I getting married? Where? What did I do? Then she swept around the shop plucking dresses off racks. The dresses all had girls names like "Monica" and "Amanda" and this lady had a disconcerting habit of calling the dresses "she" or "her" as in "Just pop her on and see how great she'll make you look".

I discover that there's no going into the changerooms alone with these "girls" - oh no. Maybe it's so you don't secretly photograph them, or rip them or smear make up on them, because the assistant comes right in with you. A pair of white gloves are produced for me to wear so I don't make the dress dirty and I am ordered to stip off down to my knickers and stand with my hands in the air wearing the gloves. Very weird. The dress is then wrenched on over my head and my body is stuffed into all the right places and laced up, all to the strains of "Ave Maria" playing in the background.

I am then lead out, lamb to the slaughter like, and ordered onto a little podium in front of a giant mirror. Behind me is a trellis covered in fake flowers, a veil is pinned on the back of my head and a sparkly tiara is placed on the front. The mirrors seem to make me look suspiciously slimmer and the lights have turned my pasty white winter skin into a golden tan. Rosa the sales assistant steps back and looks on approvingly before running off to "turn down the lights so you can see how much you sparkle". So there I am, standing in the semi darkness with the Wedding March booming on the stereo. I feel utterly ridiculous, and wonder if I'm meant to pretend to cry over how bridal I look or something. I can't even fake being excited and try to slink off the podium back to the change rooms muttering something about having to head off and needing to think about it for a bit longer. But there was no escaping that easily, as Rosa utters the frightening words "Kate, we won't be going anywhere until we find you your dream dress." ARGHHH!

I did live to tell the tale, but not until I had tried on SEVEN of Rosas "girls". It's a stressful job this bride business and I'm not even doing it for real. No wonder all the real bride girls looked thin, stressed and miserable as they march around the shops clutching notebooks and pens ticking off all the things that need to be done. There didn't seem to be much romance in the air as the trucks rumble past on the highway and the bridal salons hand out brochures for personal loans so you can "afford your dreams."


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