Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Finding "The One": or, why I don't think the dress is the biggest part of the wedding

I know what I'm about to say may be surprisingly controversial (which is, in and of itself, alarming), especially for a bridal consultant, but I'm going to put it out there anyway. I do not think "The One" exists when it comes to wedding gowns (partners either, but that's a topic for another day). In fact, I don't even think that the wedding gown is all that important in the grand scheme of things. Sure, I think every woman deserves to feel beautiful on their wedding day, but having an emotional breakthrough surrounding the decision to purchase a dress isn't the only way to achieve that goal.

I know Say Yes to the Dress would have you believe that every girl has been dreaming of her wedding gown since she was two years old. Even if you aren't that girl, they want you to believe that the minute you slip into the perfect wedding gown, you're going to burst into tears and have a deep sense of satisfaction and know, beyond a doubt, that THIS is the dress you were meant to walk down the aisle in, $5000 price tag be damned!

I think this is a load of bullshit. I've watched a lot of women find their dresses, and I've been on the inside of this process myself. I think that this idea has done more of us a disservice than anyone would like to believe, and I want to know why I don't hear people talking about it. I have clients who think there is something wrong with them if they don't have an emotional reaction to a dress, and plenty more who start second guessing their decision since they didn't have that feeling that all of their friends and family and TLC are telling them they were supposed to have. Sure, some women spontaneously burst into tears when they put on a dress that helps them see themselves as a bride, but for every bride who does that, there are many more who simply make a logical decision and pick a lovely dress they think suits them and their event. I've had brides who don't visibly relax in an appointment until I gently remind them that, for some women, the dress isn't the most important part of the day. Up until that point, many of them don't think that is an acceptable feeling, and some of these women even question me: "I'm not the only one? Really? I thought everyone cared about the dress but me!"

Choosing a wedding dress is, for most women, different than choosing any other garment you will wear. It can be an event as well as a process. It is an emotional and logical decision, and depending on your personality, you may lean more heavily on the emotional side of this decision or the logical side. Yes, you have to satisfy both aspects of yourself throughout the decision making process. The logical part of your decision may involve whether or not you think the dress is flattering, will work for your event, and is within your budget. The emotional half of the decision may involve thinking about if your fiance will like it, if you feel like a bride in it, and if it fits in with your vision for your wedding. It may involve an ineffable feeling that may or may not lead to tears.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is, trust yourself, and don't feel the need to make it more than it is. Trust yourself if your instinct is that you won't cry, or if you know you are a rational (as opposed to emotional) decision maker. Trust yourself if you know that you will need to think on a decision for a month or two, and give yourself enough time to make that decision and not feel rushed. Trust yourself if you don't feel comfortable with the price tag on a dress you love, since it's likely there is one within your budget that you'd be just as satisfied with (even if it means adjusting your expectations slightly for what your dress will look like). Trust yourself if you really love a dress and want it RIGHT NOW but your family is asking you to shop more, or wait for the "epiphany". This is your decision, make it how you want to. A wedding is about more than having "the perfect dress"; it's a celebrtation of a couple's commitment to spend a lifetime together. And if you are that bride who burst into tears and had a moment where you knew a dress was "The One", then congratulations! That will be a beautiful memory that you will cherish for a lifetime, and I am certainly not trying to devalue that experience for those women who have had it. But for those of us who won't have that experience, don't fret! You'll have other wonderful, different moments full of emotion and meaning surrounding your wedding. And at the end of the day, your wedding dress is just that: a dress. I promise you, nobody will care as much about what you are wearing as you think they will.

I'll talk more about my personal journey in searching for a dress later. For now, I just want to put it out there that it is perfectly ok not to hear harps and see fireworks when you find your dress, and to not feel bad if your dress shopping experience isn't like what you see on TV. Embrace the process for what it is, and remember: it's just something to wear to get married in.


  1. Thank you for this. I think all of those dress shows are absolutely ridiculous!! (Though I do like to watch them to look at all the pretty dresses!) Also, there seems to be a lot of pressure on people to feel certain ways about different aspects of their wedding (I know this from direct experience) but we are ALL different. Some ladies get excited about the dress, some could care less, some are excited about decorations, some aren't. It is really irritating to have family members, etc.foaming at the mouth at you saying "AREN'T YOU EXCITED ABOUT ________???????" Some people get excited by different things, JEEZ!!!!

    1. Yeah, it's not popular to talk about... Don't even get me started on non-traditional wedding dresses! I've had brides tell me they don't like wedding dresses before we start an appointment. I almost want to be like "Uh... you can wear whatever you want, it's *your* wedding." But you're right, family members do play a big role in the process, whether or not that should be the case!

  2. This is the part that makes me the most nervous. I have an odd body type.. ugh!
    I can't wait to see what else you have to say about this topic.

    1. You'll find something you look and feel beautiful in! If you mind me asking, what do you think is odd about your body type? I've seen enough bodies I don't believe in odd body types any more, but I may have an idea of a dress shape to start with!


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