A Wedding Story: THE DRESS

I left you at that awesome fist pump of excitement from James who was about to come meet me.  But before we get to the first look, we have to talk about something so important that it gets it’s own post:


Why is it that the wedding dress is so important to us girls? (If you are reading this and thinking, beh, I could care less what I wore, I question your awareness of your own feelings.) I have a theory. I think that a lot of us women spend a lot of time dreaming about our weddings, not so much because we are dying for a party all about us, but because we don’t know how to dream past that day. I mean, yes, we dream of growing up to be a ballerina, or doctor, or president, or daytime talk-show host (was that just me?), but since we are children we are fed the dream that this magical future starts the day that we have someone strong and handsome by our side.  Obviously, that isn’t true, and if you can’t imagine a future without said man, you might be in for some painful reality checks when he fails to “complete you” as you have always hoped.

But the fact remains that the wedding rests in our childish dreams as the portal to happiness and adulthood through which we will someday pass. For most of us, we can’t imagine the groom for the majority of our daydreaming years, since we have never met him. So instead we imagine our dress, we imagine what we will look like when we see Him, whoever He is. We spend our childhood playing dress-up and marrying Barbie off to Ken in nine gazillon outfits, all simulacra, all rehearsals for our own Great Dress-Up.

For at least the  first 18 years of my life, my inner-vision of wedding dress perfection was pretty close to the dress my mom and grandma both wore: satin, BIG, simple. Emphasis on the big. I am a ball gown girl, always have been, always will be. We are the post-Princess Di generation and we grew up on reruns of eternal trains and billowing veils.

But in college, I distinctly remember one night lying on Bethany’s bed and panicking that no one was wearing ball gowns anymore — that they would go extinct. I charged upstairs and promptly fed my hopes on pictures of ball gowns for the next hour. (I can feel the judgement across cyberspace…)

In recent years though, I started seeing all these beautiful dresses that were lace, mermaid, sheaths — NOT ball gown. I loved them, even though they meant that someone could conceivably sit closer than 3 feet to me whilst I wore my dress. They were dresses like these:

When I went dress shopping last Christmas break, these were the dresses I went after.

And they looked HORRIBLE on me. Hips like mine are not friends with the simple sheath.

But a satin ball gown? So not practical for a wedding that had an outdoor casual July reception.

Which is why I originally only tried on my dress “for fun,” and then proceeded to try on so many lace sheaths that were, one after the other, disappointing. I found myself saying things like, “Well I’m sure that I will loose weight by then….” “If I could get my stomach flat…” “Maybe if I toned my arms….” News Flash: you cannot remake your rib cage or hip bones. Not happening.  Finally, after trying on all the dresses I had printed off of Pinterest, the sassy little attendant in Cincinnati Bridal and Formal informed me that I didn’t know what looked good on me and that I needed to get back to ball gowns.

Thus, after only 2 different shopping trips for a dress, I was back at Twirl purchasing a satin ball gown for my July wedding. And I love it. Because in this dress, I looked like the bride that I had always imagined looking like, and I couldn’t wait to wear it in front of the man who was so much better than I ever could have imagined.

Obviously, when outside in a ball gown, one must fulfill Disney dreams and commune with animals. Of course, in the Disney dream, you don’t have to jump back to avoid green horse slobber.

And because I feel a little self-conscious for having a whole post of pictures of myself, here are some of the handsome man I married.

Unsolicited Wedding Advice #3:

  • Make sure to look like yourself on your wedding day. Prom hair? Do you usually look like that? Crazy extreme makeup? Is this Halloween? I wanted to wear my hair down, curly, and big, like it was here, but a little more finessed. For the reception, as you will see, I just pulled it back in a more finessed version of my standard messy bun.
  • Buy a dress that fits WHEN YOU BUY IT. This was some of the best wedding advice I got. My friend Suze told me to be sure to buy a dress that you feel totally happy in on the day you buy it, not if some hypothetical diet works. Like my friend Fran said, you might not actually be at your thinnest ever, and it doesn’t matter. This meant that I ate fried chicken and mac n’ cheese the week before my wedding. It also meant that I didn’t have to wear any special body changing undergarments. PTL.  For me, this also meant no strapless dresses, because I always hate how they look on me in photos. Unfortunately, there is a wedding industry conspiracy to only offer strapless dresses. Mine was originally strapless, but we ordered extra gown material (lots of designers offer this) and an amazing seamstress sewed sleeves to match the folds of the bodice. She also cut out 2 of the 5 crinolines that were sewed in, because even I have ball gown limits.
  • Make/ borrow a veil.Do you know how much those flimsy comb things are? HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS. Not ok. I get the ones that are lace edged, etc, but I just wanted a plain one. So, instead of paying lots for nothing, my granny made it for under 20$. She also made a detachable blusher with the extra, and she and I got to enjoy a delightful afternoon of veil analyses.

As  with all these posts, photo credit to the oh so talented Whitney Neal Photography.

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7 Responses to A Wedding Story: THE DRESS

  1. Heidi says:

    My veil was a $3, hideous Goodwill find. I’m pretty sure it had a crown. My mom removed the bottom panel, we dyed it with Irish Breakfast tea, and she sewed extra lace from my dress on the edges. It was perfect.
    Veils are possibly one of the most ridiculously overpriced parts of weddings, aren’t they?

    • Hannah says:

      Indeed they are! Yours was so lovely, and such a perfect match to your dress– I never would have guessed that you dyed it with tea! Live that!!!!

  2. Judy Seitz says:

    Jennifer wore my veil after she removed it from my dated headpiece. It became the perfect something old in her wedding. By the way, her dress was also strapless, which she didn’t want. Our seamstress took the extra train that came with the dress and used the matching satin trim to make spaghetti straps.

    • Hannah says:

      That is such a great idea! I wanted to use some part of my mom’s dress or veil, but being 60+ years old, it had yellowed past the point of matching my dress. I love that Jennifer used yours. And I am always thrilled for a non strapless dress!

  3. Belinda Doty says:

    Thank you for linking up to The Needle’s Eye…your gown was beautiful and perfect for YOUR day!

  4. Pingback: Wedding! | The Joy As It Flies

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