Is this bridal enough?: The great WHITE lie

Guest post by Ocelot

These gowns are both made by Allure. One is the Allure Wedding Dress 8802, and the other is from Allure's prom line Night Moves. Aside from perhaps a difference in belt width, this is the same damn dress — COLOR is the only difference. In white, this dress is about twice as costly because the white one is largely considered a lovely “once in a lifetime” gown and the grey is well… just a dress.

Doesn't that just twist your knickers?

I started off not wanting a lot of the normal wedding trappings, like flowers and so on. But, little by little, I've given into the ideas of some of these things in order to make others happy, or, because alternatives were too difficult or expensive. Somehow, I have latched onto “the dress” as the single thing I would have complete control over. Short of drugging me, one could not force me to wear something I didn't want!

However, I AM feeling the same pressures to “give in” to a gown in the white family, like ivory or eggshell. Maybe not pressure, but a general lack of support which all started with this one nasty sentence: “You don't want to look like a bridesmaid at your OWN wedding, do you?”

I wish I could remember who said it, so I could slap the shit out of her, but it wouldn't matter. I've heard so many variations on that particular cutting remark that I'd probably have a sore slapping hand by now.

A few people are immediately dismissive of a non-white dress, but over time they begin saying things like, “How will we know who the bride is?” and, “You will look like you're going to prom!” and everything in between. It's started to seep into the more doubtful and anxious parts of me and I start to wonder — “Is this BRIDAL enough?”

I don't even know what “bridal” means. Does it mean white and expensive? Because that's all I can find. If it's white, it's automatically bridal, no matter what it is. If it's any other saturated jewel-tone color, I feel I have to add things to ensure that BRIDAL feel — a veil, a train, a pile of flowers. I also feel like I'll have to find a “better” reason than personal preference to divert from white just so that people will understand.

If YOU'RE feeling pressure to “give in” to a white dress, check out these colored dress tags for some inspiration:
Red dresses
Blue dresses
Gold dresses
Pink dresses
Purple dresses
Black dresses

Sometimes I wonder who could be so stupid as to show up at my wedding at my request, and then not remember I'm the fucking bride without a visual cue. Maybe I'll huck the bouquet directly at 'em — that'll jog their memory!

I wish I could be more confident in the choice to go with a non-white dress. I see so many lovely women here with alternative apparel and I am so dazzled. I wish I could borrow their courage and their determination!

I would like to know how people came to their choices and stuck by them. Anyone want to share?

Comments on Is this bridal enough?: The great WHITE lie

  1. It still comes down to the fact that it’s YOUR wedding. Whatever you feel is “bridal” enough for you is in fact “bridal.” If you want to wear a hot pink dress then so be it. It’s your day not your guests day. They are there to celebrate with you, not to berate you over your gown choice.

    • I’ve seen, on un-named wedding dress shows, pink dresses featured before – no one laughed at or questioned that bride.
      And besides – Wearing white is a relatively modern tradition – Queen Victoria, I think it was, wore white first – but before then, women just wore a pretty dress, in any colour!

      • I’ve seen that episode, and her family was a little unsupportive of her pink and leopard print wedding idea. But that girl picked out a beautiful dress that totally was still within her style! Oh, and you’re totally right about Queen Victoria starting the white trend, before brides would just wear their best!

        • really thought for a second you were talking about Queen Vic’s leopard print and pink idea.

      • The whole Queen Victoria wearing white trend didn’t even catch on until the post-WWII economic boom. After her, but before that, only extremely wealthy women wore expensive, elaborate white gowns to their wedding that would get dirty easily and that they would never wear again. Both of my grandmothers wore suits to their wedding. My paternal grandmother wore hers until it was threadbare and she had to get rid of it. I still have the outfit my maternal grandmother wore to her wedding. My maternal grandmother wore a grey pinstriped suit with a salmon pink hat and purse. I believe my paternal grandmother’s suit was a light blue, but their wedding photo is black and white, so it’s hard to tell. Also, as far as I know, Queen Victoria popularized the whole marriage-for-love idea. “Traditional” weddings really aren’t – they’re 20th century fashion trends.

        • So true. Neither of my grandmothers, nor my mother, or aunts
          (maternal and paternal) , or my sister wore white to their weddings. I can assure you that everyone present knew who the bride and groom were.Most of them wore shades of blue , powder, aqua, royal, navy, and cadet. I think two of them wore shades of brown, tan and camel.

      • Even after Victoria, wealthy women wore white but regular working and middle class women continued to just wear their best dress or a new dress in a style and color they could wear again.

        • Even the very wealthy used their gowns again, white and otherwise. It was not at all uncommon to re-modeled them to wear as evening gowns or cut them down to make christening gowns for first born babies.

          • all the family christening gowns we have are made from the mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress, and we’re far from wealthy family background. If I ever get married+have a baby I’d love to include it but possibly a teal green christening gown would be a bit much… might have to borrow my mother’s…!

      • Queen Victoria did wear white but her bridal gown was geared towards austerity as the nation was going through tough times & she wanted to empathize with her future subject. Besides that ALL unmarried women (read virgins) wore white & pastels before marriage. I’ve even read somewhere that many young girls went off balance the day after the wedding & wore hideous colors & styles that were risque as they didn’t have enough knowledge to judge fashions.

        And as another commentator said, wealthy women wore white, true, but theirs were ELABORATE. In terms of pearls, gemstones etc sewn on the gown.

        So why in the world are we even dictating to ourselves the color we should wear to our own weddings?

    • You should always wear exactly what you want and what makes you feel special and happy for your most important day. Be yourself. I had a pink sash on my dress three decades ago when only white white white was the only dress you wore. No ivory or champagne or blush or Irish cream. I had to be a little rebel even back then. Who knows what I would even imagine wearing now. Whatever makes you happy, happy, happy.

    • A wedding dress/outfit is defined roughly as what the bride wears when she gets married. So, if you wear it when you get married, it is a wedding dress/outfit and it is bridal because as the person getting married you are the bride so anything you wear becomes bridal by definition. Period.

  2. I am wearing a cobalt blue Victorian style bustle dress. I decided this when I saw a bride wearing the same color on a post here on OBB. I have stood my ground and everyone is super excited to see me in it. My original plan was for my bridesmaids to wear turquoise….but then I decided on white. They are all choosing their own dresses in varying shades of white and pairing them with whatever brown boots they like. <3

  3. Here’s a rule of thumb (and this is a rule of thumb that anyone can buck if that’s their thing, but this is a rule for people with this sort of nagging feeling that they’re not “bridal” enough…:) Be the dressiest person there. Don’t want to look like a bridesmaid? Make sure your bridesmaids don’t wear flashier dresses than you. And if you’ve gotten the word out about the tone and mood (and dress code, if that’s something you want to dictate) of your wedding, then assume guests will be less flashy than you. Stand confident knowing that now, you look bridal.
    Now. Don’t want to dress flashier than anybody? Cool. You know how your guests will know who the bride is? She’ll be the one standing at the altar (or stage, or gazebo, or center of the circle or whatever.) Because smartass questions deserve smartass answers.

    For curiosity’s sake, I’d love to see a wedding where the couple instructs everyone around them to dress up–like, black tie style–and then shows up in jeans and t-shirts. GUESS WHO THE BRIDE IS NOW.

    • This is what we did. Our dress code was ‘semi-formal’ with some general hints on what that might mean like nice summer dresses or a nice shirt but skip the tie and jacket. Then I wore a dark blue prom/evening gown and my husband wore a really nice suit (not quite black tie, especially since the actual tie was red, but close).

      I think it made sure we stood out regardless of the colours. Although I’m also firmly in the camp of “if you can’t recognise the bride and groom regardless of their clothes what the fuck are you doing at their wedding?”

      • “if you can’t recognise the bride and groom regardless of their clothes what the fuck are you doing at their wedding?”
        AMEN! Even if they’ve never met you they should be able to figure out that the 2 people the ceremony is focused on are the bride and groom! It’s your wedding day and you need to feel comfortable and beautiful. If that’s not in white then so be it. And a big hint that I learned from this site… If people don’t NEED to know what’s going on, don’t tell them! It saves you a lot of heart ache leading up to it and very few people will have the gaul to say nasty things to you on your wedding day.

    • Yes! Being the snazziest dressed there definitely puts direction as to who is getting married. Then for partying I changed into something more casual.

      I went for white, because that was how I always imagined the dress to be (in those few times I dreamed of getting married). I spiced it up with accessories and a cloak that more represented what I was into and about.

      Also, I knew I didn’t want a dress that busted the bank for one day of wear. Got one on craigslist, sewed on some sleeves (strapless is not my thing), and now I plan on putting it back to craiglist at the same price so someone can also get some use.

    • Yes, yes, YES!

      I think that “GUESS WHO THE BRIDE IS NOW?” is a great sarcastic mantra to keep repeating to yourself. I find speaking in all-caps in my head extremely comforting, so its my new wedding meditation visual!

      I was worried I wouldn’t look formal enough, so from the beginning I asked my bridesmaids to wear above the knee dresses… that way even if I had found the cotton or silk flowy dress I thought I was looking for, I would still look fancy as long as it hit the ground and theirs didn’t. Plus, not only do they save money by buying shorter dresses, but they’re are more likely to wear it again without needing to hack off the bottom. Win-win. (Not that length is the ultimate determiner, it’s just the strategy I used – I think there’s lots of other ways to define fancy-pants-ness.)

      I bought a way more white/traditional looking gown than I thought I would, but I bought it because it met my number one requirement: that I look hot. That’s it. I think it was also liberating, because I’m pretty non-traditional so some part of me sort of worried that people would say, “oh that’s too bridal for YOU”. Actually, people did give me a lot of “you need sometime simple” advice, which actually steered me away from going simple because it felt confining…

      I was really really stressed until I just bought it, and the non-refundable deposit really made the calm economic part of my brain take over. No matter what someone says to me about anything to with the wedding, once there’s money down, no one gets to comment unless they’re offering to pay for something new.

      Even with my slight worry that someone might actually think my dress is TOO bridal for me, I’ve come up with the following defense: don’t tell anyone. My bridesmaids are also my bodyguards on the day of the wedding. My friends have seen the dress, but I’m telling family who I think might make dumb comments no matter what I wear that it’s a secret!

    • A friend of mine did this, He didn’t give a dress code, so we assumes suit and tie for the men. He showed up in (very nice) linen cream pants and a cheesecloth shirt. Everyone else was very formal.

  4. Oh, man. What a terrible thing to say to a prospective bride!

    Ick.

    What’s funny to me about the whole WHITE DRESS insanity is that it is a relatively recent phenomenon–Queen Victoria started it at her wedding to Albert in 1840. Before that, most women just wore their best dresses (Western culture).

    (Also? The White = Purity thing? Total crap. Blue, specifically the blue associated with icons of the Virgin Mary, was actually symbolic of that)

    Wear what makes you feel most beautiful, Lady Ocelot–black, red, white, sparkly–it truly doesn’t matter. 🙂

    • I learned recently that Victoria wore a white lace gown, and her choice was economic! White was expensive and lace-making was a struggling English industry. She hoped (or knew) that by her wearing a dress like that, other (rich) brides would want to as well, and this would help spur the English economy. Oh, the power of fashion…

      • That is the most romantic reason I’ve ever heard for a super fancy dress. I love it.

  5. You should wear whatever makes you happy, of course. Only go for something else if YOU don’t feel like its bridal enough.

    I had somewhat the same feelings about my dress: I wanted color, but I also wanted it to look ‘bridal’ and not ‘evening dress’. Eventually I found one that had a typical weddingdress shape and a luxurious fabric. Although it was green, nobody could mistake me for anyone else but the bride.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/millennyum/6079703516/in/set-72157627391267985

    vric

    • That is the most beautiful green gown I’ve seen. (the green is not a qualifier, I’ve looked around for a lot of green dresses)

    • Mine was green, too! I started out knowing I wanted to wear green — and the second I saw this one online, I had to have it. Definitely no mistaking me for anyone but bride, either! (I did fashion some of my grandmother’s white, floral clip-on earrings for hair accessories, which I’m sure signified my bridalhood.)

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/adenasf/6156912120/

      • And, to the OP:

        I am kind of an odd duck, anyway, so when people (more so acquaintances than anyone close) tried to put in their two cents, I would usually just smirk and say, “Yep! I’m wearing green and I am excited about it!” My closer relations and friends mostly just reacted with a “hmm. Green? I can get behind that.” and knew I’m stubborn enough that they didn’t want to ask any questions. heh.

        And, as you can see in the link I posted to Millenyum, I definitely looked the part. My sister’s maid-of-honor dress was champagne/silver, and no one mistook her for the bride, not even the elderly or deranged.

  6. I felt like I had gotten my dress for a steal because it wasn’t a “wedding gown.” It was just a regular ball gown I found at Cache. Since it was a champagney color that looked very bridal, the seamstress I brought it to couldn’t believe I had paid $250 for it because she had another bride come in with something similar that had paid well into the $1000 range. I didn’t really care where it came from, I just knew I had a general idea of what I wanted: something lacey, classy but sassy with a vintagey feel. I wasn’t even dress shopping when I stumbled on my dress on a sales rack and I soon as I saw it, I knew that was it. I think that’s the key–finding something you love enough that you don’t care what other people think. YOU love it and feel comfortable in it and that’s all that matters.
    http://offbeatbride.com/2010/11/new-orleans-backyard-wedding

    • I stumbled upon my wedding dress at Cache, too! It’s white, but has brightly painted flowers on it. I actually bought it a decade earlier, but it was the dress of my dreams (literally, I have been dreaming about a dress with bright flowers on it since I was old enough to know what a wedding was) and still is.

  7. I went through a million choices before I settled on my blue gown made by Viktor Luna (pre Project Runway). I was so in love with Chrissy Wai-Ching dresses, but the cost was high and she was far away.
    Honestly, NO ONE will not know you are the bride on your wedding day. No one. And whatever you wear will automatically seem like a wedding dress, because YOU wear it and because YOU are the bride.
    Be confident. My blue dress was gorgeous and I have worn it twice since. Everyone loved it because they knew it was “me” so my advice is go with what is YOU. Be yourself. Even if yourself is eggshell, be who you are and who you want to be. Wear something that says, “I am Ocelot and I am marry the person of my dreams!!!”
    Good luck. And don’t compromise. You are right, the dress is all your decision.

  8. You should wear whatever makes you happy, of course. Only go for something else if YOU don’t feel like its bridal enough.

    I had somewhat the same feelings about my dress: I wanted color, but I also wanted it to look ‘bridal’ and not ‘evening dress’. Eventually I found one that had a typical weddingdress shape and a luxurious fabric. Although it was green, nobody could mistake me for anyone else but the bride.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/millennyum/6079703516/in/set-72157627391267985

  9. I am wearing red and i am getting a lot of the same comments. even my friends who are supportive are like ‘are you sure you aren’t going to regret it?’ i have never, in my life, coveted the white dress.

    i feel the same as you do. i’ll be the one saying vows, carrying a bouquet, making a speech and paying for your meal and drinks. yes, i’m the bride.

    i have twinges of second-thinking, then i look at the scads of other women who got married in NON-white/ivory/champagne/blush/ecru/platinum/whatever dress and dared to wear something else, and they look perfectly lovely and being as they are they ones getting married, yes, they look like brides!

    • I just bought a fairly traditional dress (very simple and elegant, I absolutely love it, and it was exactly what I’d budgeted) but I’m having some second thoughts because my partner wants me to wear a red dress (he spent many years travelling in Asia). Red looks really good on me, and I never wear white, but for this one day I want to be semi-traditional, for a change as much as anything else (also to show that I respect the traditions of the country I’m marrying into). But with so many choices out there, I think it’s totally natural to second-guess yourself a bit. Well done for going with what you really want and not letting anyone else’s opinion over-ride your choice of dress!

    • Red is a very common bridal color in Asian countries, and I’ve seen red bridal gowns in bridal magazines. It’s becoming practically mainstream.

      • In East Asia what typically happens is that there’s a white Western-style weddingy dress that is worn for awhile (the ceremony and reception are very separate events anyway) and for some pictures, and a red dress is changed into midway through the reception. Then there’s a going-away dress in a color of the bride’s choice (or more often than you’d think. the bride’s mother’s choice). All three are typically rented, not bought.

        • Heh, this has nothing to do with anything, but that reminds me of a funny story in my family:

          My aunt is of the half-German, half-British, American Euro-mutt variety, but her husband is Japanese, and they were married in Japan.

          So she did a traditional photo session with the fancy (rented) white and red kimonos, the traditionally-styled black wig, and the heavy white makeup; and when the photos came in, the studio asked if they could use her pictures in their ads. Of course, she was very flattered and accepted the offer.

          Some time later, she sees one of the ads, and the copy is to the effect of, “If we can make this white woman look this good, imagine what we can do for you!”

  10. “Sometimes I wonder who could be so stupid as to show up at my wedding at my request, and then not remember I’m the fucking bride without a visual cue. Maybe I’ll huck the bouquet directly at ’em — that’ll jog their memory!”
    I laughed so hard at this! Perfection. I am getting married in 8 months any every time I included someones opinion they got really pushy. I learned to just listen to your gut. Go try on those dresses you are eying up either alone or with ONE person that you know will be supportive. It’s your wedding girl, celebrate your marriage the way you and your partner pleases!

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