What I Didn’t Want: To be one of those girls who marches into a wedding dress store with an entire entourage, all caught up in the idea of finding the perfect dress that she can unironically refer to as “the one,” as though this particular piece of clothing which was crafted by anonymous children in China- and that will be worn by many other brides- happens to be the ultimate expression of her entire personality and life up until this point.
What I Wanted: To be super chill and realistic about the whole thing, have a fun time with my mom, find a dress that looked good enough, and then call it a day and go eat a gallon of ice cream. To be neither an impossible-to-please bridezilla nor an overly sentimental girly girl shedding actual tears over some particular arrangement of beads and mesh.
But, as it turns out, wedding dress shopping can get kinda confusing…
(^None of these are my dress)
It’s just… I never knew there were so many things to hate about so many dresses. (Or my body.)
The following are all either thoughts I had or statements I made while wearing various dresses:
“I look like a haunted doll, or a dead girl’s ghost.”
“I feel like Celine Dion, and not in a good way.”
“This looks like paper.”
“I look like Aladdin.”
“If I wrap this skirt around my shoulders, it can double as a cape.”
“You’re being too polite to admit that I have man arms.”
“This shade makes me look like I’m from colonial times.”
“I have weird, sparkly mini boobs.”
“Does it look like I’m covered in spit-wads?”
“I don’t look like I’m getting married. I look like I’m going to a picnic for brides.”
By the time my mom and I broke for lunch, I was very frustrated. Mom tried to console me by pointing out that, even if I have to get a dress that I hate, it really won’t matter anyway because it will just end up in a box in my attic and nobody will ever think about it again. Ah, yes. Every little girl’s fantasy.
“If I could just find a dress that I love as much as I love these fries,” I said, stuffing a handful of fries in my mouth, “We’d be in business.” (The fries were both skinny and seasoned, an extremely rare but delicious combo.)
David’s Bridal was our last stop of the day. By then we were pretty much over the attendants picking out dresses for me, and we were 45 minutes early for my appointment, so we gleefully ravaged every rack with a renewed sense of purpose, stashing all our finds into a corner (which I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do, judging by the clerks’ dirty looks but I’M THE BRIDE SO SUCK IT), and cackling all the while.
And then I tried them on, and all of them were wrong in weirdly specific yet difficult-to-define ways (kind of like dating?), until the one that wasn’t.
I stepped out of the dressing room, looked in the mirror, and simply said “I love it.”
And my mom said,“I love it too.” (In retrospect I think she probably would have said that about any dress at that point, so relieved she must have been at the prospect of never having to do this again.)
It’s not like the dress changed my life, or was the perfect and ultimate expression of my personality, or was going to be the thing to make or break my wedding day. It was just a really, truly beautiful dress. And I loved it. And that was that.
“I got a dress to marry you in,” I announced to Doug when I got home Sunday night.
“Did the store make you ‘say yes to the dress?’” he asked.
“Actually,” I said, “They made me ring a bell and make a wish and then the whole store clapped.”
Doug grimaced as he imagined that. “Fuck it,” he said, throwing his hands up in the air. “That just pushed me over the edge. I just became a conservative.”
Less than two weeks later, the dress was delivered to my place of employment in an embarrassingly large box (LESS THAN TWO WEEKS LATER, PEOPLE, WHEN USUALLY IT TAKES 6-10 MONTHS).
When I got home from work, I opened the embarrassingly large box. And then I inadvertently gasped and said, “Oh my God!”
Because it was so, so beautiful. Way prettier than I remembered. Almost unbearably pretty. Like, so pretty that it seemed the universe must have made an oversight. Because how was it fair that something this perfect should even get to exist in a world where babies die and fathers get shot in movie theaters and 29-year-old women with terminal brain cancer move to Oregon to take pills that will kill them two days after their husbands’ birthdays? I experienced a flood of emotions I’d never felt before. I’ve never owned anything so nice.
I obviously had to put it on.
“My dress is so pretty!” I called to Doug through the closed bedroom door. “Like, really really pretty. And it’s classy. It’s not like one of those things that only I think is cool and everyone else thinks is tacky, like the crazy shirts I buy at thrift stores or the birds I put on the toilet!”
^Crazy shirts I buy at thrift stores
I started texting Noemi and Bevin.
Me: My dress is so pretty I’m dying!!
Me: I CAN’T HANDLE HOW MUCH I LOVE IT
Me: Just warning you guys in advance that this is what I’ll be wearing to both your weddings
Me: I’m going to have it surgically attached to my skin
Me: I want to kill myself just so I can be buried in this dress
Me: I’m going to shoot myself in the head!
Noemi: Don’t shoot yourself in the head! Then we couldn’t have an open casket to show off the dress!
Me: Excellent advice! I knew there was a reason I chose you as one of my maids of honor.
When finally the time came to take off the dress, I quickly purged my closet of all old and ugly articles of clothing so that my perfect dress would not have to share a closet with them.
“You got rid of your old clothes so that your dress wouldn’t have to share a closet with them?” my co-worker asked when I recounted this to him the next day. “That’s crazy!”
“It’s not crazy!” I insisted. “If the President was coming to a party at your house, would you invite your riffraff friends?”
“That’s completely different,” he said.
“No,” I said. “It’s exactly the same.”
I have a wedding dress.