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But What Are You Going to Wear?


Whatever the hell I want, that's what

by Kelsey Hopson-Shiller, Writing Intern

But What Are You Going to Wear? | A Practical Wedding

There seemed like so many ways I could fail at The Dress.

To start, it seemed like I could fail via losing my mind. What if I was one of those women who did become convinced through salesperson voodoo that I was my most beautiful ever ever in a dress that cost thousands of dollars, and I recklessly sold all of the pets in order to buy it because it was what I deserved on my special day? Also, what if no dress in the store would fit me? I imagined three petite salesgirls rolling their eyes as they explained that they had nothing in stock appropriate to my… size eight hugeness. (As I do not normally suffer from body dysmorphia, I mention this in order to give you an idea of the direction my mind was running.) Finally, I didn’t even know what kind of dresses I liked. I had not yet seen a dress on Pinterest or through daily email and text suggestions from my sister that I really envisioned myself walking down the aisle in.

So I hatched a plan that I was sure left me less room for failure. Instead of searching—and obviously failing—to find something I felt beautiful in, I would go in a new direction. I would seize the opportunity for righteousness. Since people wouldn’t be able to talk about my gorgeous dress, they were going to talk about how smart and frugal I was. I would look totally fine (every gal’s dream for her wedding day, no?) in some very reasonably priced dress. Also, I would buy this sucker myself—probably with whatever I had left from my weekly lunch budget, because that was how screaming the deal was going to be. I would get no help from anyone (despite the fact that our families were already generously and willingly contributing to other aspects of the wedding). I would be the anti-dress bride; I would be the champion of ascetic over aesthetic. 

Then I started making plans with my mom and my sister to actually go dress shopping. Since this was the one part of wedding planning that they had both been the most excited to be a part of, more and more people got invited. And I started to realize that my carefully crafted dress shopping strategy could quite possibly be undermined.

On the shopping day, my entourage of eight squished onto two loveseats and an ottoman. Everything was going according to plan until I tried on the third dress we had pulled. No one said anything. We all just stared at it. I looked tall, and curvy. It was comfortable, soft, and well made. It was an awfully pretty dress. I hesitantly asked the salesgirl about the price. It was definitely not the cheapest dress in the place. It was not more than I could afford, especially because it wouldn’t need altering. It was actually only thirty-five dollars more than the amount I had originally budgeted. But it seemed like a lot to spend on a dress I would wear exactly half of one day. Also, it wasn’t on sale. Also, I couldn’t buy it with my leftover lunch money. Also, I was going to impress exactly no one with this shopping story.

At the conclusion of our appointment my auntie called us all into a huddle in the dressing room for the conversation that had been making me nervous since we saw the dress. This aunt doesn’t have children and has always done special, generous, extra things for my cousins and me. She offered to team up with my grandma and buy the dress for me. I said no, although I was so grateful for the love in the offer, it was too much money to spend on a dress. (And also, I was going to buy a super steal dress myself or what was I going to impress people with?) She said it would be their shower gift. I said it was too much money to spend on a shower gift. She snorted. 

Here’s the thing about being righteous—it helps you cover up the fact that you’re scared. The problem is, getting righteous when you’re scared doesn’t actually work. It’s like that old saw that plays in the back of my head every time I’m about to trounce my fiancé Julie in an argument with my well-reasoned, articulate, and, of course, completely correct viewpoint: you can be right, or you can be happy. In this case, I could be righteous, or I could be gorgeous.

I work with teenagers for a living, and they’ve taught me that it’s much safer in life (and in wedding planning) to pretend like you don’t care. You don’t have to discuss messy or unpleasant emotions like fear, or disappointment, with anyone, because you can’t be afraid of or sad about things that don’t matter to you. I felt tied up by the idea of the dress. It mattered to the people I love, and I didn’t want to disappoint them, but I didn’t want to please them so much that I lost sight of the things I valued. My aunt and my grandma helped me find my way out of that. Their gift gave some meaning to something that had confused me before. My students are right: caring about something is risky. And all of the things I like the best in my life, like my family, my work, and my upcoming marriage are things I enjoy because I care so much about them, they’re worth the risk of failure. The thing that my wedding dress helped me remember is that sometimes deviating from the safest path is where you find the joy.

Photo by Emily Takes Photos (APW Sponsor)

Kelsey Hopson-Shiller

Kelsey is a California native, residing in Denver. She married Julie, a Jewish girl from New Jersey, in September 2014. She works too many jobs, has too many pets, and really likes reading books in the sunshine, especially if there’s bourbon involved.

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  • Guest

    It’s so great you’ve found a dress you love – congratulations!

    The thing that annoyed me about the whole Selecting Of The Dress was how many cultural assumptions there are underpinning this idea that it is really the most important thing to a woman’s marriage. None of them resonated with me, so I found all the hoopla around the dress a bit baffling & a little bit patronising. I bought my (lovely) dress on an online fashion website at 75% off – it was the only one I looked at – and you’d think I’d promised to deliver my firstborn to the Devil the way my female relations carried in about being “denied” the experience of shopping and paying for the dress. In contrast, not one single person offered help with, for example, our vows.

    Sorry to snark on your post, I think it’s awesome it worked out so well for you. But there are so many of us that just don’t care about the dress, and it’s weird there’s no space for us.

    • Em

      I don’t have an engagement ring, which is another item that is surrounded by a lot of hoopla and is supposed to be the most important thing to an engaged woman. I feel your pain, it’s really frustrating and exhausting to constantly deal with people who are attempting to guilt/shame you into behaving The Way We Are All Supposed To.

      BUT! I feel like that space you want, is exactly what APW is. Isn’t it? We hear so many different perspectives. There are a lot of ladies on here for whom the proposal and the ring were a big thing. There have also been ladies who didn’t even exchange wedding bands (which is a big thing for me). I think the whole point of the place is to validate everyone’s engagement/wedding/marriage experience.

      The world of wedding planning is such a rabbit hole. It’s so interesting to me that our cultural assumptions and entrenched belief systems fuck us up, sets us up to feel like failures, in all KINDS of ways… you felt the pressure from your family to conform to the “Perfect Dream Dress” paradigm, and Kelsey felt the pressure to conform to the “Perfect Anticonformist Bride” paradigm. They get us from all angles, ladies!

      Anyway. I LOVE that you bought a dress at 75% off. Go you! That is fucking rad. I also LOVE that Kelsey found a comfortable, soft, well made dress (what a fabulous description of a wedding dress! I want.) and allowed herself to practice receiving a gift from a loved one with gratitude.

      I guess I’m just saying, you keep doing you and the women here will love you for it and will validate your experience. This IS your space!

      /rant
      /pep talk

      • emfish

        Totally agree with this. I have been ruminating lately on the process of wedding planning while depressed (or unemployed, or just struggling with life stuff). When your thought process is already fucked up by depressive thinking or anxiety, throwing in all the bullshit pressure of the WIC feels just unfair. But APW is amazing because it mirrors the stuff I am doing to combat my depression. When I get stuck in a depressive thinking cycle (I am worthless so everything I do is worthless so it’s not even worth trying), the first thing I do is try to step outside it so I can objectively consider whether those thoughts make sense (they don’t!). That helps me reconstruct my thinking to be more constructive.

        I feel like this is exactly what APW does for me when it comes to wedding thoughts. Whenever I get sucked into a bullshit WIC thinking cycle (I have to buy an expensive white wedding dress so I look like a bride, because if I don’t look enough like a bride my wedding won’t mean as much), I come to APW and get to read about all these other perspectives that help me objectively see that the WIC story doesn’t make sense (I will be a bride on my wedding day, so I should just wear what feels right to me and that outfit will magically become bridal).

        I can’t say how helpful this is. I’ve gotten better at observing and reconstructing my thinking on my own, but it is so much easier when I feel like there is a community of other people doing the same thing and supporting each other.

      • sara g

        You are so right! On the one side you have the WIC that pressures you to do things just because you NEED them for your day to be perfect and on the other you have the anticonformists who turn their noses up at you if you spend more than $1000 on your wedding because “it’s just a day and you’re stupid if you pay a lot of money for it.”
        And I feel like there are things I care about, and no they aren’t necessary but my fiance and I want them because they are important to us for X reason. But then I feel like I shouldn’t care about things because if I do I’m a Bridezilla.
        I actually cried after we decided to book our caterer because we were spending $3000 on food and I had never imagined I’d be “one of those brides who pays a ton of money for fancy food at a wedding.” And then I realized how messed up that way of thinking was. We were paying for catering (and $3000 is an amazing deal for what we’re getting) because we love our guests and we love food and we can’t possibly DIY (or DIT) the whole thing. It fits our wedding vision (help our guests have fun and be comfortable) and we can afford it, so there.

        • Eh

          For me it was our rings. We bought simple gold bands and I was hoping that they would cost less than they did. They were more than what we budgeted for but we could afford them (we didn’t budget much for it and it wasn’t very much over our budget). I felt a lot of pressure to buy the rings (even upgrade them – the clerk at the store tried to get us to buy a 18K gold ring for my husband when we wanted 14K gold, and he kept trying to convince me to have diamonds in my band – though I guess that is his job). My husband talked me down (he’s awesome that way). He pointed out that it wasn’t much more than we wanted to spend and that we could afford it. He also pointed out that it was a lot less than rings other people we knew bought. (Part of my guilt was not shopping around but we didn’t have the energy to shop around – my husband was working at least 6 days a week and I was left to do most of the wedding planning.)

          I didn’t like the attitude/assumptions that people have about the groom having a wedding band though. Our officiant made a comment about how my husband would have a ring and when we went shopping for wedding bands the clerk made a similar comment. In addition, both our officiant and the clerk made a comment about how it used to be less common for men to have wedding bands but now it’s the norm so pretty much my husband had to have one. My dad did not have a wedding band when he married my mom because it wasn’t practical for his job (me and my siblings never questioned this, we didn’t see it as him being less committed to our mother – he has a different job now so he has one for his marriage to my step-mum). I know lots of men who work in trades who can’t wear them for safety reasons yet many of them do have one because it’s the “norm”. I think the choice to exchange rings is a personal one and (just like last names and staying at home after children). I don’t think that people should feel pressured to do something one way, especially if it’s not practical for their life (e.g., an expensive ring that they never where and they didn’t really want in the first place).

    • Meg Keene

      I think there is plenty of space for you at APW! Breck deciding she needed to be honest about caring a little doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people here who don’t care, or that’s not a topic we talk about.

      • MerlyBird

        Wait…@meg_keene:disqus – did you mean Kelsey? Or did the byline get mis-attributed?

        • Meg Keene

          Kelsey. It’s early here.

          • MerlyBird

            Totally fair. :)

    • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

      I didn’t care about my dress! And you don’t sound snarky at all. Once upon a time I thought about writing a post about my lack of interest in dress shopping, but it just wasn’t a story I felt strongly about. I wanted something white that was affordable and nice looking, we went to David’s Bridal, I bought the one that made my stepmom cry. She’s also got good fashion sense, so that worked in my favor.

      However, I didn’t get a lot of flack for “not caring” about the whole experience, so I’m sure I probably didn’t feel the same pressure as you might have. You should write about it, because there’s certainly space for that sort of experience, far as I’m concerned. :)

    • Caity

      I have no dress for my summer wedding. I’m thinking of renting one? Maybe? But I don’t really like how I look right now and I’m trying to figure out if I just wear a dress I like (not white, or if white not long, because… that’s not my preference, I guess) even if I don’t like it ON ME on that day, and if it will totally ruin the morning of the wedding if I basically dislike my appearance on that day…? I feel like it might? But I don’t think an expensive gown in the solution to that particular problem.

      We also didn’t do an engagement ring. Again, not our thing. But we’re doing a 100+ person ceremony and reception, with a DJ, so in some senses it’s traditional and in others I guess it’s not.

  • Lauren from NH

    Haha this sounds like me so much. At times, I am the Queen of opting out rather than courting the possibility of some kind of rejection or failure. I just revert to high school…and I HATED high school. So anything smells remotely click-like and I will standing cooly of to one side like I am disinterested, better than it, didn’t even notice…or running in the other direction (you know in a bored, I have more awesome things to do, kind of way). I am likeable, I am just not into the judgment that comes with popular “IT” people, yet it’s those people who often run the show, hence the wallflower bit that I do. At least that is my confused immature analysis.
    Good for Kelsey for opting into whatever the hell she wants!

  • Becca

    This is almost exactly my story. I had panic dreams leading up to dress shopping day – that I would hate everything, that nothing would fit my size 14 body that I have been working so hard on, and that the salesgirls would make me feel terrible. I also had convinced myself that I needed a tea length, unique, vintage feel dress so I would look totally different than any other bride I knew.

    And I get there and they have exactly zero tea length dresses.

    But – they had beautiful dresses. And the first one I tried one – an A-line, light gold, form fitting dress – I looked GORGEOUS in. And I tried on about 30 more dresses (and only two didn’t fit) and then went to another store to try on tea length dresses (which it turns out, make me look short and are not flattering to my curves) – and I went back to that very first dress.

    It was way more than I wanted to spend. But you know what? I feel good in it. I feel beautiful, confident, and it highlights me in all the right ways. It’s my dress. And that’s what I will remember on my wedding day.

    Oh, and the salesgirl was fantastic.

    • Kats

      I think sometimes there’s a weird counter-prejudice about spending money on a dress. But if the dress feels good, makes you happy, and is within a budget that you are comfortable with (and only you know what that budget is, if you’re paying; or is within the comfort level of someone else who is paying for it), then go for it. Sometimes it’s ok to just want something really pretty, and sometimes the WIC folks really do make pretty things and That’s Ok Too. There’s no reason not to buy something from a mainstream designer or something that isn’t indy/etsy/spun from free range sustainably collected unicorn hair by authentic hipsters in a-built-by-hand-by-appropriately-compensated-labor-vintage-craft-store.

      My dress was from a classic WIC-beloved store, by a conventional designer. When I put it on for the first time, it made me feel like I wanted to twirl. And really, twirling is exactly what a wedding dress should be all about, at least in my book.

      • H

        Totally agree. I kinda knew when I put on the dress and it fit well, was not too sparkly, was just right lacey and just right white and I actually looked hot that it was coming home with me regardless of who liked it or not, especially since it was in budget.

        I did not care that it was a typical lace dress that my mom would like (even though I often do the opposite of what she likes just to irk her). I did not care that it was strapless like I thought I didn’t want. I just cared that I was gorgeous in it. I left it over night and went back the next day (alone, to make sure it was what I actually wanted) and bought it.

      • Alyssa M

        OMG. My mother kept getting embarrassed because all I wanted to do in my favorite dresses was twirl. She’s like “You are a grown woman! stopit!” *giggle* *blush* And I’m all “But look at how pretty!” *twirl!*

  • Kathleen

    I am with you 100% here… always thought I would get the thrifty, practical dress. But then I tried on wedding dresses, and man are they pretty! And man, they make your waist look small! Unfortunately for me, I really overlooked the fact that the big long train is just. not. me. Neither is a bustle. Anyway, I got pressured into thinking that I needed a long train when I bought my dress. When it arrived, I realized I couldn’t wear it. Couldn’t wear all that dress. So, I still haven’t even rationalized this in my head, but I bought a second dress. So, I am now very very far away from how I envisioned I would feel and what I envisioned I would spend on a freakin’ wedding dress. I think it’s easy to say “when I get married, I’ll do this.” But, I guess you never really know until you’re in there. I guess it’s like that with a lot of things. Ah, well, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself for caring so much, I’m glad you are too!

    Somewhat off topic: I’m also trying to sell the original dress… http://www.preownedweddingdresses.com/dresses/view/100243/Maggie-Sottero-Presca-Marie-Size-6.html Does anyone have any advice on whether this is the best place to try to sell a dress? I have no idea where to start, but would love to get at least some of the money back on the purchase!

    • Amy March

      Lots of my friends have looked on preownedweddingdress. I think it’s a pretty reputable site, but you may want to lower the price. At the moment you’re only offering $158 off, which wouldn’t be enough to talk me out of just buying it in a store. And right now is a great time to sell since it’s still a fairly current dress. It won’t become more desirable if it lingers for a year. I’d go to a 30% discount, or at least 25%

      • Kathleen

        Good point! Thanks, I’m going to lower the price :)

    • BD

      Don’t be hard on yourself – I purchased a second dress too. I even considered purchasing a third dress (!) but I was in some kinda wedding-dress-indecision hell at that point. Anyway, I wore the second dress on my wedding day and didn’t regret it a bit, and neither should you!

      • Kathleen

        Thanks! :) Glad to hear some others had the same issues….

    • Alyssa M

      Look around for a consignment shop in your area? I bought my reception dress preowned at a consignment shop.

      • Kathleen

        Oh cool, was it just a regular consignment shop, or one that specializes in wedding dresses?

        • Alyssa M

          They specialize in wedding dresses. Essentially a little boutique bridal store for the shopping experience, but everything was preowned and off the rack. It’s actually about two hours away from me in the next big city, but it was really worth it. You should check the major cities within driving distance to see if you can find a shop like that, but I’ll warn you, most of the dresses were discounted more than you have yours listed at.

          • Kathleen

            Ohh, thanks Alyssa. I think they do have one in Charlotte, but yeah, I was worried about how much I’d need to discount it. I think I might leave it up for sale for a month or two more and then take it there! I think it will need to be discounted more like a “sample” if it goes to the consignment shop, since people will be trying it on.

  • Jess

    I know this post is about dress shopping and stuff… but… why do you have to hit me in the gut with all of your “it’s much safer in life to pretend like you don’t care” and your “because you can’t be afraid of or sad about things that don’t matter to you.”

    This has been my philosophy for, I don’t know, ever. Because if I don’t care whether or not the people I invite show up, it can’t hurt me when they don’t, if I don’t care about running fast or being a graceful dancer, then it can’t hurt me when I suck, and if I don’t care about dressing well or doing my hair in perfect curls instead of the flat, sort-of lumpy sort-of straight thing it comes in, then it won’t matter that I’m not beautiful.

    Erg… I’m a teenager still! I hated being a teenager. Funny how the things we learned to do growing up to protect ourselves are still the things we do as adults.

    • Kirstin

      Yes.

    • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

      It’s true, but by acknowledging that we have these feelings, we can move past them. Who wants to ignore it while hanging on to the grief and the fear?

      • Jess

        Oh for sure, it’s not a good philosophy. Rotting and festering emotions aren’t so great for anyone involved.

        Like the cleansing of a wound, it can sting a whole heck of a lot to address those things. To acknowledge that I care and have been let down and can be let down again – that’s some raw emotion to give a voice to.

        Also like with the cleansing of a wound, I’m learning and healing! If we care, we can be delighted too, which was Kelsey’s point.

        It’s my point too. I’m just saying I’m not very good at it yet. Even though I don’t like who I was then, I fall back to being a teenager when I’m hurt or afraid or sad or feeling insufficient. The defense mechanisms I learned very young kick in quickly, regardless of how healthy they are. It takes some audacity to admit to caring and still hoping for the best (for me, at least).

  • js

    This post makes me sad, though it’s lovely. I had so many dreams and ideas of what my wedding would be, what it was supposed to be like. My dress shopping experience was a painful one and in fact, I never actually tried on my dress before I bought it. It was only available online so I simply ordered the correct size and that was it. There was no “moment” to be had, like I was told there should be. Also, while my family did go shopping with me, there was no offer to buy anything for me, though to be clear that wasn’t just about money but the bonding I thought would happen. If I had it to do all over again, I would go by myself, let it be about me and have my “moment” all to myself. I think, if I was Kelsey, I would be really glad to look back on this and the dress with fond memories, no matter how they like to tell you it should go down or how much you should’ve spent.

    • Meg Keene

      Oh, my dress shopping was a wreck. I bought a dress one night in a horrible mood from a vintage shop as a back up plan I never expected to use, for $250. That didn’t stop it from being a dress I ended up LOVING.

    • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

      I never had this kind of dress experience either. And some people get these moments that are amazing and warm and what we dream of, but there will be other moments that are warm and amazing and what you dream of and maybe even beyond what you dream of. Try not to get wrapped up in the ideal of what you think you should have. All the “shoulds” are just stopping us from enjoying what we have!

  • bigchiefnugget

    Needed this so badly this morning. Thank you :)

  • emfish

    This is a great story. I’m still in the middle of my wedding dress saga and really appreciate the reminder that it’s about what I want to wear, not what I want other people to think about what I’m wearing. I recently thought I’d found “the dress” in the form of a beautiful emerald chiffon gown, but then a friend told me it “looks kind of like a bridesmaid’s dress.” Which it is! I don’t want that comment to matter because to me it was just a pretty, flattering dress I felt good in (and was perfectly in budget), but I can’t get it out of my head. Argh! Still working on my wedding zen…

    • sara g

      I think that sounds beautiful and you should totally go for it!

    • Karlee

      I just bought a chiffon bridesmaid dress to wear on my wedding day :) It fits what I was looking for perfectly…no train, no poof, no outrageous price tag!

    • JSwen

      I’m buying a bridesmaid dress for my wedding dress too! I just have to narrow the options down to one. Then I’m going on etsy to find a beautiful sash and birdcage veil. Boom. Bridesmaid – no more!

    • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

      I wore a navy blue bridesmaids dress for my wedding. You can make it your own and who cares what anyone else says, you’re the bride! No one will confuse you with a bridesmaid. Ignore the comment, rock the emerald green!!!!

  • srs9

    I bought my dress by myself in a mad 3hr dash through every boutique on Queen St. before catching a train back home. I hadn’t even planned on buying anything! I just had a couple of very rare free hours in a big city and thought I’d try on a bunch of styles and colours to see what worked best on my body and then buy something later off the internet. But then I walked into a store that has its own dress line, including a bridal line, on the last day of a 60% off Boxing Week sale, and walked out carrying a bag with an ivory lace tea-length wedding dress inside.

    Nothing about my experience was traditional – there was no cooing relatives or friends telling me how gorgeous I looked, no bridal consultant trying to upsell me, nothing. Just me, alone (except for a few harried sales people and all the other random shoppers bargain hunting at the Boxing Week sales), and about two dozen dresses that ranged from party to weddingy. And though sometimes I feel a little sad that I didn’t get pampered, and sip champagne (even though it gives me an instant migraine) and to feel like a princess, and all the other trappings of traditional wedding dress shopping, for the most part I don’t think about it at all. No part of our wedding conforms to traditional standards. It will be a small garden ceremony with immediate family only and then we are taking our families out for a pre-set dinner at a very nice restaurant. We’re paying for everything ourselves. My mom hasn’t been involved at all, though I’ve tried to keep her in the loop regarding decisions after the fact. Basically, this is as close to an elopement as I can make it without alienating my in-laws.

    The dress I chose is a bit more expensive than I had originally planned (though a steal for an actual wedding dress), and way more traditionally weddingy than I originally thought I’d want, but all along I’ve said that I just want to look pretty on my wedding day. That the actual dress, hair, makeup, etc. didn’t matter as long as I looked and felt great. So when I tried on this dress and looked in the mirror and felt good about myself even though my hair was a wreck and I wasn’t wearing any makeup and was wearing granny panties, I just went for it.

    And honestly, the fact that I could cross one wedding related item off my to-do list was a factor in my decision. This has been a pretty difficult year, with some good stuff, some bad stuff, and all of it hard stuff. I’m very much in “power through and get ’er done” mode. But occasionally I will open my closet and pull out my dress and put it on for a few minutes to remind myself that my wedding is not just one more item on a seemingly never ending to-do list. It is special and I want it to feel special and have markers, such as a possibly one-time wear white dress, that signify it as special. And when I wear my dress and look in the mirror I feel special. And I know that I made the right decision.

  • BD

    I think this experience is more the norm than the WIC would have us think. I went through pretty much exactly the feelings you went through, except I was always going to buy the dress myself regardless of price, so it ended up being more my gift to me. When it came to choosing between being gorgeous or being righteous, gorgeous won out! (Also, your statement about it being safer not to care? Pretty much sums up my early wedding planning days. You’d think I was talking about a business meeting the way I went about it in the beginning, but it was all a front.)

    • http://www.lateralmovements.com/ Lauren Fitzpatrick

      I keep trying to put into words how much this post reflects my own approach to wedding dress shopping, but I can’t do it – and what you said is pretty much what I was trying to get at. I ended up buying a dress mainly because it was dramatically discounted and I could see the whole ‘buying a dress’ thing becoming a debacle if I didn’t cut it off at the pass (I am famously unable to decide between several very similar things). Not allowing myself to care about things informed the first couple of months of planning, and now I’m oh-so-slowly trying to make room for the emotions.

  • Valerie Day

    I so appreciate APW and the community that exists in the comments. Seriously. You commenters are wonderful. I get my dress out of the closet every so often to make sure its still pretty. I absolutely love the dress: tea length, lace (beautiful, very beautiful lace) with dusty pink underneath. I have to wear it at my most confident however because its not a dress (in my mind at least) that does some of the things wedding dresses for 12+ sized woman is supposed to do. I guess I’m saying I found more flattering but less me dresses, and I am so happy I went with this one. Its perfect (so long as I keep the bad voice out). I found it at Nordstrom, after not finding a single dress at the second hand consignment stores or at David’s Bridal and knowing that the other stores would be out of my price range. Yesterday I got gold sparkle flats in the mail, a choice I am convinced is due to the APW love of glitter. Who knew I was a glitter girl?! Thanks to this community I will be standing tall (5’11” and large in a short, vintage, $80 pink wedding dress on my wedding day in gold sparkle flats. Yes.

    • Sara P

      I’m sure you’ll look stunning! It sounds like a beautiful dress (and awesome shoes!).

      I’ve also found myself more attracted to glittery things lately. Maybe it is APW…

  • NYC Photographer | Couture

    Great advice! Just be you and you’ll be happy!

    Website: http://www.coutureboudoir.com

  • ART

    I’ve found looking for a dress to be awful. I also had the buy-it-with-lunch-money-ish plan, hadn’t really seen anything I liked, and couldn’t bring myself to go to a bridal shop because I felt like I would fall in love with something way over my budget, and I just wasn’t willing to do that. Then I, too, thought I could look “just fine” in a basic infinity dress, but I ordered one in another color and decided that wasn’t for me, either. Now I’m secretly making my dress and pretty much won’t tell anyone but my fiance because a) they will freak the eff out and b) if it’s a fail, then at least very few people will know, and I’m pretty much terrified of failing, especially when people know about it. I wish I could get over that. Definitely makes me feel like a teenager!

  • suz

    Now try finding something that ISN’T a dress to wear to your wedding. Plus the fact that my dad has already jokingly (in a totally not funny way…sigh…) asked which of us is going to be the groom at the wedding.

    I seriously wanted to wear shorts and a nice-ish shirt and be done with it because the thought of figuring out what we should both wear to something fancy is enough to drive a girl to drink. It totally brings up high school issues for my fiance of her mom trying to force her into dresses that she didn’t want to wear. It’s rough being a middle of the road, neither butch nor femme (nor particularly fashionable!) lesbian!

    This gives me hope though… that I should stop trying to do it on my own and I should go to some stores and ask for help. Clearly if you work in a store you’re probably, at least to some extent, interested in fashion more than I am and may have some suggestions for me!

    • JSwen

      Any good salesperson at a store will help you find what you want vs pressuring you into something else. If they want to make a sale, they better show you what you want, right? Also, if they are REALLY good at their jobs, they can tell you what looks good on your body shape. That said, there are crazies out there and the best course of action is to either ask for someone else to help you or get outta there quick!

      I walked into bridal boutiques and said, “no crinoline, no train, under $X,” and they either found me something or they didn’t. Much easier than I thought it would be.

    • Alyssa M

      Man that is rough… I would suggest two routes, find a friend who understands androgynous fashion to help, or if you don’t have one, hit the fancy non-wedding dress-stores and find a good clerk. I have a neither butch nor lesbian (but very fashionable) lesbian friend, and I desperately want to lend her to you!

    • Valerie Day

      I would try to find a friend (or borrow one…). My partner is wearing pants and it was quite a lot more work than my dress. But also she didn’t stress as much. We don’t tell clerks its for our wedding. We just say a “nice occasion”. This works better because you can tell when people are trying to be polite but are so not getting it. We also looked online a lot for examples. Way after the fact we found a beautiful two-brides-in-pants photo that I wish we had found sooner. None of the suit companies for butch women were in our price range, had stores where she could try stuff on (we’re very off-the-rack people). Her vest is from H&M, her bowtie from Tie Bar, and her pants from Banana Republic where we consulted with gay stylists. The first pants we showed them to go with the vest they gave us the worst look. It was great. Honesty in a helpful way. We consulted several times with a fashion forward friend. Good luck!

  • ChristineK

    Love love love this! I totally had the same concerns trying on dresses. I literally was doing sit-ups the night and morning before due to my fears of being shoved in teeny, tiny dresses and having strange women hold the back together telling me that I looked “great”. :) It’s definitely an experience, but in the end I’m so glad you went with something you really loved! It’s easy to get caught up in the magazines and Pinterest, but really it’s about you and Julie celebrating your love with all the ones you love… and it sounds like you already realize that, so you’re in a great place! Much love to you, little Houser!

  • JSwen

    I was with you until the last paragraph… can’t say I empathize with taking emotional advice from teenagers. If you care about it, do something about it! If you don’t care about it, yes, definitely ignore it. Life is too short to hide from the things that matter to you, IMO.

    Now, I can get behind coming to terms with “a dress” because finding “The Dress” just isn’t very likely to happen (for me, at least). Being in the middle of wedding planning and dress buying myself, I’m sure you will be happy to have a beautiful, well fitting dress in the bag. There are so many more decisions left to make. I am reeeallllly looking forward to having the dress in the bag.

    • Anon

      Just to clarify, I think she is saying she’s learned from observing teenagers that they (and many adults) behave this way, not that they have explicitly told her this as advice. She is not saying that pretending to be cool is the healthiest way to be… rather the opposite, that we should own up to what we care about.

      • JSwen

        Thanks – I think you are right! I’ll edit that. ;)

  • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    my fiance’s name is julie too :)

  • http://brokensaucer.blogspot.com/ sera

    As I started reading this post, I said yes a couple of times, nodding as I remembered how I felt about my dress and then understanding when you got to the actual dress part, but then you diverged into something so much more important and so much more true about not just the wedding dress but about everything: “sometimes deviating from the safest path is where you find joy.”
    Thank you for that. I love it.

  • K

    It is so strange how my mind works, I tell you. Prior to being engaged, I used to fantasize about my eventual wedding all the time. It does not help that my dream job is to leave a stable government job to…..become a wedding and event planner. My dreams were big. And it turns out, my dreams are just really, really EXPENSIVE. So I decided that I would be practical. I had to be. Our budget just did not allow me to splurge for one of those gorgeous “3/4 sleeve, all lace, deep-V back with sweeping train” dresses that all ran $3K and up. So fast forward to now. My wedding is 5 months away and creeping up quick. I found (and purchased) a nice, off-the-rack gown from a high end department store. It’s a very nice dress. It matches the whole “feel” and “theme” of my casual daytime wedding. Yet, it just wasn’t what I had dreamed of walking down the aisle in. And just when I thought all this “woe is me, my dream dress is too expensive, stop thinking about it’ guilt going on in me had subsided, it reared its ugly head again. So now I am torn. I want to keep the dress I have, I want so badly to force myself to love it. To force myself into thinking that “YES, this is your DREAM DRESS”. But it isn’t. And I know that it isn’t. But I also know that I’ll be wearing it for all of…..oh, maybe 7 hours….and there’s just no way that I can justify the price breakdown of a $3K dress divided by 7. I know that I can still look damn beautiful on my wedding day in the “reasonably priced” dress. So that’s the plan and I’m sticking to it…..I just have to ignore that litte “expensive dress monster” who still sneaks back into my thoughts from time to time….

    • Alden

      K, I totally know what you mean. I always imagined what my dream dress would be like (very similar to what you imagined for yourself). We’ve both always wanted a small wedding and we are getting married at city hall in the city where we met. So I’ve been looking for a shorter or tea-length dress within our budget.

      The rational part of my brain realizes that it’s kind of ridiculous (and perhaps even a bit socially and fiscally irresponsible) to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a dress I’ll only be wearing once, but I still lust after lacy, floor-length, bridal boutique-type dresses from time to time.

  • Kristy Rowe

    Love this Kelsey. Hitting home on more levels than I can express right now. And I’m not even dress shopping. :) Can’t wait to see you in it! (I will probably cry. Just saying.)

  • C_Gold

    I know this isn’t the open thread, but I wanted advice! I just bought my dress (http://www.bhldn.com/shop-the-bride-wedding-dresses/ruth-gown/productoptionids/fbcaeb8b-b90b-4e9a-9313-32da085940dd) and I LOVE it. My parents and sister went with me to try it on, they all love it, it was an amazing experience, all is well. Except now I’m being neurotic because I just looked at it online and read all these people’s negative comments! And I’m being paranoid I somehow tricked myself. Is it not that awesome? Me and three other people loved it. Has anyone else been paranoid like this? Any advice?

    • Rachelle Reese

      That’s totally normal! I bought the dress by myself and no one I knew had actually even seen it in person. Then I sent it off for alterations, couldn’t see it for about 6 months and drove myself CRAZY thinking it wasn’t as pretty as I remembered. I would look at pictures of it and absolutely convinced myself it was horrible. The thing is, it doesn’t photograph well. It looks better in my wedding pictures than in many other pictures I’ve found online, but others have agreed with me that all the beautiful detail and fit just doesn’t come across.
      All that being said, it ended up being PERFECT for me. I felt – and let’s be honest, I was – absolutely gorgeous in it! If you loved it enough to buy it, it’s the right dress. I think the only exception would be if you somehow talked yourself into it for the wrong reasons. I’m sure it only had bad reviews becasue it didn’t look as good on some bodies as it does on yours! It’s a beautiful dress and you just gotta trust yourself!

      • C_Gold

        Thanks so much! That actually really helps to hear. And in the last couple days that have passed, I’ve realized I definitely made the right choice. The dress is exactly what I want.

  • Danielle

    Sounds very similar to my shopping experience I surprised myself by falling in love with a very traditional wedding dress. Cream, with champagne lace, and sparkling beads. I was going to be bold, I was going to be different. Black maybe? Or red? Or a simple sheath dress that I could totally wear again. But I didn’t. I love the dress and I spend too much money on it. But I don’t feel guilty, either. :)

  • soothingoceansounds

    “Here’s the thing about being righteous—it helps you cover up the fact that you’re scared.The problem is, getting righteous when you’re scared doesn’t actually work.”

    THIS

    I wish I could talk to my teenage self about this . . . and also my current self . . . and probs my future self. ALL SELVES: TAKE NOTE.

    Thanks for sharing this story.

  • Warren Ryder

    One of the most important thing needs not to forget is the dress that you are going to wear. Well, whatever kind of dress that you want to wear with, make sure that you are comfortable with it. I’ve been searching in the net quite a long for a great dresses. Once I landed to this page http://www.oneheartwedding.com.hk/ and found some interesting wedding dress. Well maybe there designer really got some talents.