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The National Piping Centre exists to promote the study of the music and history of the Highland Bagpipe.
Patron HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, KG, KT, GCB.
Founders: Sir Brian Ivory CVO, CBE, FRSE, FRSA, MA, CA - Lady Ivory, DL - Sandy Grant Gordon, CBE.    Read More

Bride Blog: The Dress

The National Piping Centre's resident Bride-to-Be, Helen Wilkinson, has been sharing stories and insights as she gets ready for her big day! This week, she writes about her experience of shopping for 'The Dress'...


Let’s face it. None of us are engaged the first time we think about wedding dresses. I was probably only about 9, and there may have been pillowcases involved. But when we got engaged, one of the first things I gave serious thought to was “The Dress”. It is one of the most anticipated and talked about essentials of the day, and one of the first things you will have been asked about whenever you meet someone.  Have you got it?  What style do you think you’ll go for or do you have a designer in mind? Lace or sparkles?  Full length, ballerina or tea dress? The decisions are endless, in the best way possible.

I knew I wanted to do the ultimate girls day out right so I waited a few months for real life to get out of the way and to gather enough bridal magazines that I could have some sort of idea as to what I was looking for, before I arranged with my entourage a date for Wedding Dress Shopping Day.

I made a couple of appointments at city centre shops and was looking forward to it as one of the first big days out of my whole wedding preparations. That is until the night before when I started having ALL the silly thoughts – what if nothing fits, what if I don’t find anything I like, what if my big calf muscles get me stuck in a dress (this happened once in a shoe shop and that means it will obviously happen in a posh dress shop)- I finally got to sleep after replaying every episode of Say Yes to the Dress where they find ‘the one’ in my head.

As you may have guessed, I need not have worried.  The first shop we visited were so lovely and welcoming that all my fears were laid to rest.  Time was not an issue, I was given help and advice on how to go about picking dresses and then given some markers to put on any that caught my eye.  This was the advice I had had the most, and want to tell every bride – try different styles. Even if you think you know what you want, try the fish tail, the form-fitting, the a-line or the ball gown just to see what suits your shape as well as what you like.  Even if you know it’s not your style, the princess meringue dress is always fun.

But back to shopping – 11am fizz, don’t mind if we do! We were there over an hour and a half and I tried on the most beautiful gowns, including one that might just have been “the one”. The ladies could not have been more friendly and I left pretty certain that I had found it. But with another appointment, I tried to keep an open mind and not get ahead of myself.

After a quick pit stop at The National Piping Centre for lunch and a meeting with the lovely Caitlin the wedding co-ordinator, we headed out for shop two, buoyed by the good experience that morning. This appointment was a little different. I was steered towards the one dress type I thought I was interested in rather than being encouraged to try a few different things, was told I had an hour and 4 dresses would probably be about all I would have time for. I found the whole atmosphere just a little more intimidating. I did try on a few dresses here but even if they had been the friendliest of places I just couldn’t stop thinking about “The One” from earlier. So as we left, we went straight back to shop no.1 and that was it - dress done.

But as to the dress itself, you’ll have to wait and see….

But enough about me. There were two other important ladies who deserved a day too… The Bridesmaid and the Mother of the Bride! A couple of months after Dress day one we organised Dress day 2 – Bridesmaid dress shopping day. As Lou is flying solo, I just want her to be comfortable, so colour, style and shape was up to her (sort of). Fortunately for me, Lou isn’t keen on making decisions.  With a MoB like mine, for whom shopping is not her first love, finding something she loves can be tricky. She is the lady that will ‘have something in mind’ that unfortunately cannot be found, anywhere, ever. So a Bridesmaid dress shopping day was actually the perfect opportunity to stealth shop for the MoB outfit.  We had a plan of a few shops and a fun lunch stop planned.  Both got into the swing of things quickly but it was in the afternoon where we really cracked it.  MoB went home with a fabulous dress from Frasers and we found the bridesmaid dress in Debenhams.  There was a slight hitch, in that the only one left was 2 sizes too small and it was the last one left… but we freestyled just a little before getting downhearted and after some judicious googling Coast Amazon came up trumps. 

And Dad isn’t missing out either.  Suit shopping day is already in the diary for the next few weeks – an excellent excuse for some daddy daughter time, and a third posh lunch is on the cards as well!

I know I was lucky in finding my dress in the first shop I went into but if you feel like you are never going to find the one just try to relax, and remember this is supposed to be fun.  Take your time and narrow down what you really want for yourself and your maids but be prepared to try on other styles as you may just surprise yourself in what you end up with.  You don’t have to do it all in one day, especially if you are catering for reluctant shoppers. Knowing that today they only have to get one part may help spur them into action.

So outfits achieved – can it be the wedding now?!


If you'd like to find out more about getting married at The National Piping Centre, contact us on 0141 353 5551 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Sunday 7th January

Take a look at our beautiful venue and talk to our wedding coordinators - no appointment necessary!

The National Piping Centre exists to promote the study of the music and history of the Highland Bagpipe.
Patron HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, KG, KT, GCB.
Founders: Sir Brian Ivory CVO, CBE, FRSE, FRSA, MA, CA - Lady Ivory, DL - Sandy Grant Gordon, CBE

Read More

HRH The Prince Charles,
Duke of Rothesay, Patron

with Founders, Sir Brian and Lady Ivory and the Lord Provost Bob Winter on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Opening of The National Piping Centre.

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