One of the most memorable and touching moments of The Posh Frock Shop was when Army Captain Hannah saw herself in a wedding dress for the first time.
As a transgender woman, Hannah has been through a different journey from most brides-to-be and many viewers of the Channel 4 show were moved to tears by her honesty and optimism:
“I’m going to marry the man I love, looking like the woman I am. And I can’t wait,” she said on episode 4 of the show.
Hannah knew she wanted a figure-hugging dress and something to accentuate her waist. “I definitely didn’t want anything A line because my figure is straight up and down and I needed something to give me curves,” she explains.
‘Neptune’ from Ian’s ‘Runway Rebel’ bridal collection was the first dress Hannah tried on when she visited The Blewcoat just six weeks before her wedding to fiancé, Jake.
The classic, strapless gown made her look curvy, elegant and feminine which is exactly the look she wanted to achieve. Hannah was clearly overwhelmed when she first saw herself in the mirror and was surprised by how beautiful she felt in the dress.
“It was an emotional moment because there was a time in my life when I thought I could never be loved. Any woman can relate to the dream of finding love and having the fairytale wedding, transgender or not,” she says.
Although Ian encouraged her to try on some of his other designs by way of comparison, it was ‘Neptune’ that Hannah came back to because it felt right and gave her butterflies in her stomach. Ian encouraged her to go with that gut feeling.
“Hannah is beautiful and her story touched us in a way that is difficult to describe. I’m honoured that she chose one of my designs for her big day. I wish her and Jake all the luck in the world,” says Ian.
Hannah describes her experience at The Blewcoat as “amazing”, although admits to being nervous about entering such a stereotypically feminine space. She feels more comfortable buying clothes online.
Store manager Carrelyn was able to reassure Hannah that it is normal for women to feel that mix of nerves and excitement as they try on wedding dresses for the first time. For Hannah, the emotions were heightened and magnified given what she has been through to feel entirely comfortable with who she is:
“I have always been a woman, I just had to do something to align my body with that,” she says.
Lots of women have body hang ups and Hannah is no different; she was very open about what she describes as the ‘emotional baggage’ that comes with being transgender.
Reflecting on the dress fitting, Carrelyn says: “Hannah is a confident and articulate woman, yet she has this vulnerability. I felt a real warmth towards her and was privileged to share such a special moment with her.”
31 year-old Hannah was assigned as a male at birth and only transitioned five years ago. She became active within the LBGT community which is how she met Jake, who is also transgender.
As early as the first date, Hannah knew that she had found someone she had a future with. “He impressed me straightaway and is all the things you want in a partner,” she says. “I never thought love and marriage was on the cards for me. I had genuinely prepared myself for being alone.”
As Jake and Hannah are both high profile advocates for LBGT rights, the couple’s March wedding received a lot of press coverage. They opted for a small, intimate ceremony at Chelsea Town hall, followed by a reception at an Italian restaurant.
They now share married quarters at Sandhurst, where Hannah is based, with Jake living part of the week in London due to his work commitments. They look forward to their big next adventure which is to have a family.
Jake and Hannah’s wedding photography is by Paul Grace.