My first Dum Dum De Dah dress

If you’ve been hanging around the blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve loved weddings for longer than I can remember. As a toddler I couldn’t quite get my tongue around the sounds in the word ‘wedding’, so I invented my own term  –  dum dum de dah. It, and my wedding obsession, gained such notoriety within our circle of family and friends that it is now used with frightening regularity – it’s not uncommon for my Mum to call me of an evening and ask how the day’s dum dum de dah has gone. (If you’re confused by how I came up with dum dum de dah, hum The Wedding March. Make sense now?)

On a recent mission to clear some more cupboard space, I found some photos that may better explain why my love for weddings has lasted as long as it has.

My first wedding gown, Christmas 1986.

By the time I was three, my wedding obsession had picked up speed and was hurtling along. Perhaps in the hope of calming my bridal fever, my grandmother made me a bride doll for Christmas, complete with custom-made gown and veil. I named her Annabel and she became my constant companion. I was forever fluffing her train and straightening her veil before walking her down imaginary aisles, all the while singing The Wedding March at the top of my little lungs. My sister, at that stage only a few months old and unable to go anywhere fast, was often required to be a witness. 

I could not get enough of  pretty ladies in white dresses. They looked like princesses in their diaphanous gowns and veils. I wanted to be near them. No, I wanted to be them. I didn’t want to marry a boy (gross!) or have to do any kissing (even grosser!) but I wanted to spin around in a big white puffball and wear a veil. Mum was starting to get sick of having to wash grass stains from sheets I’d tied around my waist and traipsed all over the lawn with. What to do?

Christmas 1986.

Nan to the rescue again. The following Christmas, I was given a dum dum de dah dress of my own. It was love at first sight. Lined, cap-sleeved and edged with lace, the gown had a delicate train and a hem that flounced when I walked. Not only had Nan made me the dress of my four-year-old dreams, she had also put together a bridal trousseau. The dress was complemented by a two-tiered veil, a blue garter, a ribbon-trimmed bouquet and a horseshoe to drape over my arm. Photos were taken of this baby bride with her parents, toddler sister, grandparents, uncles and aunts. I daresay the photos when I actually get married will have a lot to live up to!

Nan was no fool, she had made the gown big enough for me to grow into. She figured I wouldn’t grow out of my love of all things wedding and she was right. However, as I grew taller and taller, my sister started to play the role of bride with me as maid of honour. I LOVED this role as I got to fluff her train and, in the way that only big sisters can, order her about.  Most days you would find the two of us slow-walking down the hallway, again singing The Wedding March at the top of our lungs before little sister was married off to someone imaginary. Occasionally we would rope our neighbour into the role of groom, but he never seemed as excited about it as we were, funnily enough.

By 1989, my sister was the bride and I was maid of honour.

Three years later Nan made me another wedding gown, this time with a lace bodice, satin sleeves and a tulle underskirt. Little satin flowers had been picked out on the skirt, and the dropped waist featured an arrangement of flowers and beading at the hip. It was beloved by me, my sister and every friend either of us ever had over to play. It was a real princess gown and I’m on a mission to find more photos to share.

I still have my bride doll, Annabel, and my first wedding dress.  Every few months the dress is brought out, lovingly tried on and twirled around in before being paraded in front of family and friends.

It’s just that these days, I’m not the one doing the trying on – that role falls to my best friend’s little girl, who seems just as fascinated with weddings as her Aunty Koren still so proudly is.