So, at 15:30 on a gloomy, drizzly day shortly after Christmas, when the London light was already dimming to nightfall, we arrived at a blank door in a dark street somewhere near Tottenham Court Road tube station. There were no display windows. "Are you sure we're at the right place?" I whispered to my daughter, although I knew the address was correct. We rang the bell and a voice ascertained who we were. An assistant opened the door and we were ushered into a reception area, where my daughter was asked to fill out a form with details of the style of dress she was looking for and the price range (little did we know). Then we were led into a showroom with an array of wedding dresses. My daughter was asked to select the ones she fancied and we were brought to a dressing room draped with frothy white veils and a large mirror.
Of course, the dresses are only models, so they have to be pinned and tucked in order to fit the figure of the young woman. (Don't ask me what happens if the bride-to-be is rather large.) If a girl chooses a dress from the salon, it is specially made up to her specifications. The assistant is proficient and each dress is slipped on and adjusted within a few minutes. A pair of elegant shoes is also provided for full effect. Although some of the dresses looked lovely on my daughter, none fitted the image of her "ideal" dress (and after hearing their prices, this was something of a relief).
We went through a similar process at one more salon, after which she announced that she wasn't going to find the one and only dress for her in London. The material was too heavy for a Middle East summer, the cuts weren't right – she would look for something when we returned. She subsequently compensated by going on a wild shopping spree at the sales in London.
I don't know whether I was relieved or sorry that she had failed to find anything. It means there'll be more agonizing as she searches back home, hopefully with friends or her future sisters-in-law, who will probably be more patient and more constructive in their suggestions than her mother.