One of my new Wilmington friends is traveling this weekend to help her sister pick out a wedding dress. There is so much pressure on “saying yes to the dress”. Shopping for your wedding dress is a ceremony unto itself.
You could have chosen this beauty in 1973 like my mother did (modeled by my nieces last summer). FYI I stopped being able to fit into this dress by the time I was 15.
I very vividly remember shopping for my sister’s dress. We went to several high end boutiques and stores that seemed to me like giant warehouses of wedding dresses. Looking back, it was probably just a David’s Bridal equivalent. When she finally found her dress they only had it in pink. We made her try it on regardless of the color. Sparkles and tulle to the heart’s delight. It was a fun, exciting trip. I was 15 at the time and everything seemed so grown up! Even better, I was going to be a part of it. My interest waned when I realized I had to do my hair, makeup and nails “a certain way”, but it still all felt glamorous.
A photo from my sister’s bridal portrait shoot.
When my mother and I pulled up to the shop to look for my wedding dress I was very skeptical. The front window’s mannequin sported a camouflage tuxedo and bright dresses with sequins galore surrounded it. We walked back to the small section of wedding dresses. How were you supposed to be able to tell what dress you wanted? Garment bags were packed tightly on racks, one dress after another. Sparkly? Train? Lace? Strapless? Sleeves?
I ended up choosing between a mermaid style dress and one my mother referred to as Grace Kelly. As I decided on the Grace Kelly dress, a girl in the area next to me asked to see my dress. Her mother and aunts made the appropriate, “Oh what a beautiful dress” comments and I smiled brightly. Followed by feeling incredibly overwhelmed. And hot, and teary. I backed quickly around the corner so I could totally lose it. My mother and the saleslady watched in dismay. I still don’t know if I can explain why I got so upset. I get very uncomfortable being the center of attention and I think the idea that in a few months so many more eyes would be on me pushed me over the edge.
That outburst tainted the dress for me for a bit. I thought perhaps my emotions were an omen and I viewed the dress with hesitation. I showed pictures of the dress to my friends with disclaimers like, “I mean, it’s not a great dress but I like it.” Bullshit. My dress is awesome.
Now that the wedding is over I often think of the uselessness of the dress packed away in a pink bag in our guest room closet. Many of my friends have discussed selling their wedding dresses, although I don’t know if any have. I’ve thought about it but I really like it. I felt fantastic wearing it. It was a really great day. So for now, it’ll stay.
I’ve already written on today’s topic for NaBloPoMo so if you’d like to read about who I would invite to dinner (living or dead) check Part One and Part Two. If you’d like to read My Experience Planning a Wedding Part Two: Why I’m Glad I Did It And Why It Was Totally Worth It then read on! (If you’re behind, check out My Experience Planning a Wedding Part One: A Message to the Newly Engaged.)
Why I struggled with this process and why being a Bridezilla would have been an advantage:
I am a People Pleaser. I’m using capitalization here for emphasis. That’s how much of a pleaser I am. While people say your wedding is all about you and your partner, that is just not true. When you plan a party you don’t just think about what you would like to be doing. You think about what your guests would enjoy, what time might work best for the largest number of people, what sort of food is a crowd pleaser, etc. No matter what people say, a wedding is just a party centered around a certain event. (If one more person had told me “But this isn’t any party, this is a wedding!” I would have screamed. At least I would have until I had to use the line myself on my other half…)
Quickly conversations turned from we would like to do to what we thought would work best for everyone to what other people thought would work best for everyone/you. This is too many factors for me. When you a capital P People Pleaser you think there is one right answer to please the most people. (Newsflash! There’s not!) I collapsed under phrases like, “You have to be introduced at the reception. It sets the tone of the whole event.” If I had only been a Bridezilla, then none of this would have bothered me in the least. I would have just told everyone I didn’t care about what they thought and went on my merry Bridezilla way.
The morning of the wedding I was still a stress ball. I went on a run and ending up crying twice for absolutely no reason. But when I got back to the house where all my friends were staying with us, we all had breakfast together and the mood was excited and happy. It was suggested that a few of us go canoeing. From that exact moment on, it was the best day ever.
If we hadn’t had a wedding I would have missed out on:
- Seeing friends from all over the world- We had friends come from all over the country and even Canada and Brazil. That’s pretty amazing.
- I’m not a person who grew up with one with social group of friends. My friends are here and there and everywhere. It was such a wonderful experience to have all of these special people in one place. I don’t know if that’s something I’ll ever have again so I’m glad I didn’t miss it.
- One of the most touching moments during the wedding weekend was when I looked around and saw all the help that we were getting. Someone’s stringing lights, someone’s setting up chairs, someone’s cleaning up inside, someone’s preparing a meal for everyone, someone just checked on me. I felt loved and cared for and safe. All my concerns about the center of everyone’s attention went out the window. I understood that we were the reason for being there and people were excited to just be there and celebrate with us whether I was upstairs getting ready or sitting next to them.
Moments that made it completely worth it:
- One of the best parts was spending all afternoon getting my hair, make up and nails down in the one of the bedrooms with my friends and family. It was just like any sleepover I’d ever been to except I looked a lot better at the end. There was music, mimosas and girls that I loved all hanging out.
- Starting our wedding canoeing with five other girls changed my attitude for the day. We sang “wedding themed songs” loudly as we canoed around the park. It was silly and exciting and was just what I needed to take the day less seriously.
- Being at Belle Isle State Park was an experience in itself. Fall had recently arrived and leaves had just started to change. The sunsets each night were some of the most colorful I’d ever seen. Just being at the park was something I’ll always treasure.
- Dancing with friends at the reception was so incredibly fun. I’m afraid I may have seemed drunk to some because I was so happy that I felt like I was on a different world. Music and friends under a beautiful night sky was overwhelming in the best way possible.
- I also got to see my new husband in his element, surrounded by friends he doesn’t get to see often enough. Seeing him play in his band from high school, I could tell him he was on top of the world. That was pretty special.
- On the problems I had with the week is I felt extremely distant from my partner. I never got to see him that week and I felt like we were in two different wedding worlds. It made my nervousness about the wedding way worse. When we exited for the evening beneath sparklers and climbed into our canoe (yes, in my dress) with a bottle of champagne I felt an incredible sense of relief. Finally I got to be with him and enjoy this moment between only us. We got to talk and laugh about the day. We needed that moment to reconnect and feel the depth of why we were there.
So that’s why weddings are both scarring and incredibly wonderful. Hope I didn’t traumatize anyone!
November 2nd’s topic is supposed to be inspired by a photo. This is one of my best friends, Anita, and I on my wedding day. Anita came from Vancouver several days early to help with wedding preparations but I don’t think she knew what she was getting into! She helped make 100 mason jar pies, hung lights, arranged decorations, told everyone what to do (mainly me- very necessary), helped make breakfast tacos, and the list goes on and on.
And Anita is not the only one! There is no way this wedding would have been successful if it wasn’t for our friends and family. I just started to list everyone who helped out but it just got ridiculous. I’d surely leave someone out and I would hate to do that. Let’s just say the officiant, the photographer, the coordinator, the band, the wedding arch, the send-off, the decorations, my makeup/hair/nails, the invitations, the reason this wedding was so incredibly fun was all solely because of the efforts of our friends and family. There was very little that didn’t come by way of a little help from our friends!!
Thank you to everyone! I don’t know what I’d do without you.
You may remember there was a time when I was really struggling with the idea of being in a relationship with someone. I defined myself as single. It was part of my identity and the way I looked at the world. A romantic relationship truly felt foreign, uncomfortable and terrifying.
Well, damn if I didn’t go and turn it up a notch. After dating for three years, I said yes to my Alaskan and in about 8 months I’ll be saying “I do” as well. It is a totally wild idea to me that I am actually planning a ceremony where I will be committing myself to another person for the rest of my life. How do some people enter into these things casually? The very idea is mind boggling to me. I’m actually going to agree to be with someone else forever and ever. Logically, this seems very silly but my heart is overjoyed at the idea of getting old with this person.
I’ve been going back and forth between that feeling on Christmas morning when you’re a child and you know that Santa has come but you’re not allowed to go peek yet and also just being plain ol’ overwhelmed! People actually plan weddings for a living? But there’s so much to remember!
Oh, in case you’re wondering, he did get down on one knee and yes, I cried. Excessively. The ring was my grandmother’s which makes it extra special.
Post-crying selfies are not the easiest to make pretty but you get the drift.