WHEN bride Lucy McKenna walks down the aisle on February 26 she’ll be wearing a gown that will become the stuff of family legend.
Her wine-red silk gown from Huddersfield’s Pronuptia was one of the prizes she won for being a finalist in an endurance competition called Last Bride Standing.
In order to get her hands on the fairytale dress for keeps, she had to stand for two days and two nights in the Kingsgate Centre holding on to it. In the end she managed a total of 46 hours.
Although the aim of last autumn’s competition was to find a single bride who would win a complete wedding – gown, cars, cake, rings, the whole package – the organisers hadn’t bargained on finding finalists who were prepared to share.
Lucy, 27, was one of the three surviving contestants who agreed they simply couldn’t go on any longer and it would be unfair for one of them to walk away with everything when they’d all gone the distance.
The three – Lucy, Faye Davidson and Stacey Binns – were among 10 finalists who fought for the chance to bag themselves a £5,000 wedding package. The others had dropped out one by one.
Lucy said: “It was quite fun at first and we chatted to each other all the time but towards the end we realised we were going to make ourselves ill. We were dead on our feet.”
They divided up the prize according to need and Lucy, the only one so far to set a wedding date, was given the £1,000 voucher towards a Pronuptia dress.
She chose the actual dress that the contestants held onto, which has now been made in her size.
“I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I know every detail of the dress and I just liked it more and more the longer I held on to it.”
Lucy has paid the extra £500 for the gown which costs £1,500.
The self-employed beauty therapist met her fiance Brendan Halford four years ago and says he is her perfect man and a great father to their three-year-old son, Mikey.
The 36-year-old former professional boxer, paratrooper, chef and now the owner of a home improvement business, Brendan has also proved himself to be a true romantic.
“He took me on holiday to Scotland and arranged for our friends to spell out ‘Marry Me Lucy’ in rope lights outside the hotel,” she said.
“We were visiting Eilean Donan castle and when I looked out over the lake to the hotel I could see the message and then all our friends jumped out to surprise me.”
The couple, who live in Brockholes, are marrying at Holdsworth House in Halifax and after the reception will be spending a few days in Dublin.
Like most wedding couples their big day is extremely important.
Lucy estimates that it will have cost them up to £12,000 in total with the reception being the single biggest expense at nearly £7,000 and the custom-made rings at £2,000.
She’s having two bridesmaids, a flower girl and Mikey will be the page boy.
To give Lucy a taste of what her big day will be like, we arranged a bridal make-over and asked her to model wedding gowns from Pronuptia – although her own is still under wraps.
We took her to Rubens hair salon where stylist Aisha Lawrence created a chic, modern look for Lucy.
As only the best will do for any bride, we also booked a make-up appointment with Christian Dior consultant Miriam Coldwell at House of Fraser.
Lucy has short, white-blonde hair. Aisha says that while many brides want to grow their hair for their wedding day, there are many ways to ‘dress’ short hair.
“It’s important to stick to the colour theme of the wedding and use attachments such as little clips or flowers,” she explained. “They add a feminine touch.”
She said short hair can look young and innocent if kept simple.
For Aisha, she decided to create a funky look with hair slicked back at the sides and spikey on top.
“Use straighteners to pick out strands of hair that you want to accentuate,” she said.
A sparkling tiara added a touch of glamour.
Miriam says bridal make-up should be radiant and not too heavy.
Lucy chose an eye palette of soft greys for a smokey effect and a pale pink lipstick with gloss over the top.
For our photoshoot Lucy wore two ivory gowns and looked picture perfect.
Lesley Griggs, a partner in Pronuptia, believes that couples are waiting until they can afford a really lavish wedding.
“They want the big hen party weekend to get all the beauty treatments, a lovely dress, lovely venue and the Caribbean honeymoon – and that doesn’t come cheap.”
She also says that today’s wedding couples are doing it for themselves.
“At one time it was partly the mums’ and dads’ day and they’d invite some of their friends and pay for the reception,” said Lesley. “These days there is less parental involvement and it’s more about the couple and what they want.”
In Huddersfield the average spend by a bride on her wedding dress is around £800 with the cost of the groom and groomsmen’s outfits about the same.
“Most brides have a budget and they’ll talk to us about it quite openly,” said Karen Henegan, from bridal shop Pronuptia, in Huddersfield. “The biggest one we’ve heard of was £32,000, but we’ve also had a bride who came in and bought a £100 dress in the sale.”
Most brides start looking for a dress more than year before their wedding and will have several fittings.
“Many of them lose weight and go down a dress size,” said Lesley. “But we had one bride who went down four sizes from a 20 to a 14 which was quite amazing.
“It’s a lovely job and quite emotional. You see the mums crying when their daughters are trying on their dresses and, because we see them for best part of a year, we get to know them quite well.”