Gill Oliver hears about one bride’s search for that perfect dress.

Choosing a wedding gown is supposed to be one of the happiest events in a girl’s life.

Sadly, for Jemma McCarthy, this was far from the case.

Children’s nursery supervisor Jemma, 22, who lives in Carterton, explained:

“I had a bad experience at the first wedding dress shop I went to.”

“They didn’t treat me the way I think I should have been treated.”

“I am a bit bigger than some other girls but they made me feel terrible, as if I had no chance of ever finding anything that would look nice.”

“I was asked to strip down to my underwear in front of another girl who was a size 8, which did not make me feel very good.”

“It felt as though I was an inconvenience and they wanted me in and out of there as soon as possible.”

“They practically told me I wouldn’t find anything to fit me and to be honest, by the time I left, I felt like crying.”

Fortunately for Jemma, who is marrying fiancé Lee Parkinson, 25, at St Joseph’s in Carterton in October, friends recommended she try Mae Bridal in Witney.

The boutique, in the town’s High Street, stocks a large range of wedding gowns, including the plus-size Sonsie range, which ranges from size 18 to size 32.

Owner Hannah Bathe was only too happy to help Jemma find a dress that would suit her.

Jemma recalled: “From the minute I walked in, the atmosphere was fabulous.”

“I will never forget how welcome Hannah made me feel.”

“Nothing was too much trouble for her, she made us a drink and put us at our ease.”

“I felt a bit self-conscious at first but she said ‘There is no hurry, we have got all the time in the world and can just keep trying dresses on until you find something you like.’

“I bought a beautiful halter-neck gown with beading, which was the last dress I tried on.”

“I have recommended the shop to all my friends because the experience I had was so lovely.”

Hannah, who opened her shop four years ago, took on the Sonsie range in October, after being approached by a number of women wanting larger sizes.

She said: “I used to send people all the way to Milton Keynes or Essex and eventually, I thought ‘What am I doing?’

“I finally decided to take the plunge and offer a plus-size range at my shop.”

The Sonsie dresses, which come in ivory, other shades of cream and a couple of colours, are priced from £750 to £1,300 and there is the option of a made-to measure cutting service for an extra £100.

Hannah, former PA at helicopter charter operator PremiAir, added: “I couldn’t find a plus-size mannequin in the UK, so I had to get it from France, which is crazy.

“I saw the Sonsie range when I went to a wedding exhibition and it blew me away.”

“As you go up a few sizes, it is important to have a dress that is well structured so it will flatter and hang properly and with Sonsie, it is the bodice inside the dress that does the work. I want to say to anyone who is slightly bigger, do not be frightened to come and see me and try some dresses.”

“You will have no audience in this shop, just me and whoever you choose to bring along to the appointment with you.”

“You do not need to feel self-conscious, just come expecting to have a fun time trying on dresses that fit you beautifully.”

“Jemma had a horrendous experience before she came here and I am just glad I was able to help her find her perfect dress.”

For more information about Mae Bridal visit or call 01993 706556.