Things I learned when I ended up in a traditional wedding dress. Or: How I stopped caring and learned to love the white dress

Guest post by Marie Heyman
Photo by MetroStyle Studios.
Photo by MetroStyle Studios.

I thought I would wear pink, blue, or red, certainly never white — and there was no other way I could be true to myself. Well, I bought my pink dress, and then a week later I hated it. Not because it was pink specifically, just because I felt a pit in my stomach whenever I looked at myself in it. I then returned the dress for store credit a month and a half later (thank god for a lucky return policy in a non-traditional wedding shop), and bought one I loved — a white wedding dress.

Since I spent a lot of time fretting over not being “different enough,” I figured I'd share how I stopped caring and learned to love my traditional wedding dress…

1. It's okay if you end up with a traditional white dress

My dress is very lacey, white, and frilly, and big, and like nothing I originally thought I would wear. But it turns out whatever I thought I would wear came out of my very active imagination. What I thought I would wear was based on nothing, not the venue, what my fiancé wanted to wear, not the theme, just, “oh god, I need this now.” Of course that could have been right, but it was not for me. Until I offered myself some breathing room to figure that out, I panicked for the aforementioned month and half that I had to stick to my guns and wouldn't let myself off the hook. How could it be that what I “always wanted” was a lie?

2. It's okay to get a girly/tomboyish/short/puffy/whatever kind of dress

This seems a given, since we're on Offbeat Bride here, but I really couldn't let this go. Me? A video-game playin', feminist toatin', sailor-mouthed son-ova-bitch wearing a white dress? “No way,” I said, “I don't want to be one of those brides.” I am offbeat, I am non-traditional, I am rock and roll. Meanwhile, I set some kind of unreal standard for myself and beat myself up for not following it. Of course it turns out that being different also includes being the same, if that's what you want to be. I found that you can be all of those things and still wear a white long gown if that's what you want to do. In fact that's part of the whole point. Huzzah!

3. I don't need to stick it to anyone

A marriage is about love and people becoming a legal family. Problem is, my fiancé's parents are really laying the tradition on us hard. Suddenly, the wedding was becoming the Fiancé Family Show instead of the Joining of Two Individuals Who Started This Thing show. Part of my plan to stand out and show my own personality was to wear a pink gown. I didn't realize this consciously at first, but it was my way to sticking it to the parents. As in, imagine Mr and Mrs Smith's faces when I come down in a colored gown? Oh My! When I finally took some time to sit down, look at dresses, and find out what I wanted, it turns out the color was the last thing that mattered to me. Which leads me to my next point…

4. It is okay to change your mind

Even if you had your crying moment, and everyone you went with said the dress was perfect, it's okay to go home and feel upset that your decision wasn't right. Yes, not only did I say it's okay to get upset over a dress, it's okay to figure out you had a dream dress, but you didn't know it until you bought one you didn't like. Even if it was perfect in the store and you cried and even if [insert person who never cries] teared up — it's your dress and you should love the way you feel about it on your wedding day. If you keep thinking “what if,” it is only fair to explore the IF. You may even find your first choice was right, but you won't know unless you let yourself get concerned enough to look around.

5. In fact, many people change their mind

I have to be honest, I have a very particular sample of people for this lesson: only five brides actually. But of those, only one was happy with the first dress she selected. Every other woman I spoke to told me a secret story about how she either returned her first dress, or ended up going to a fancy salon she never thought she would set foot into, etc. My theory is, there is so much wedding stress going on and so much social pressure to find a fabric version of “The One” that even those of us who didn't think buying a wedding dress is a big deal get swept away, and have to take some time to find where their own opinions and emotions begin. I am here to tell you that this is okay and very normal, because apparently those two points are a big secret.

6. It's okay to care about the dress

There are plenty posts which I have read and which have taught me how it's okay to sometimes let things go. In fact, it's important for your sanity. But if you don't want the thing you let go to be your dress, that's okay. You can care about and not care about whatever you want, as long as you're feeling happy.

Comments on Things I learned when I ended up in a traditional wedding dress. Or: How I stopped caring and learned to love the white dress

  1. I think OBB has their finger on the pulse of my anxiety, they always manage to post exactly the article I need exactly when I need to read it. It’s like magic.

    I’m finding with almost every part of wedding planning, but especially with the dress, that I want to do things as non-traditionally as possible, not in order to be genuine to myself, but just to be contrary. I have no idea who I am trying to stick it to, exactly, I think I just really hate that part of me wants to enjoy the girly-ness of wedding planning and the dress. I don’t want to be girly gosh-darn-it.

    Except that I really do. And I love my girly, poofy, wedding dress.

  2. I’m in the minority, because when I saw an image of my wedding dress flash by on my Facebook feed, I knew it was the one. I never set foot in wedding dress shops nor did I try any on. I was measured for that dream dress, never trying on a sample, and received it a little over a week before my wedding day, and it was perfect! I got married in a glorious red strapless satin ball gown with an asymmetric layering of the massive skirt. And I found a pair of never-worn red Fluevog Babycake boots a month before the wedding date, and had a friend mule them across an ocean so I could wear them on the day. No second thoughts and no regrets. This time around (my second time around, 20 years after the first traditional white dress wedding) I felt nothing but joy because I know exactly who I am and what I like, and I trust that. It made wedding planning so much easier because I could be quick and decisive and trust the results.

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