Weddings Are Not About Regret

I didn't get my dream dress, and that's okay

Weddings Are Not About Regret | APW (2)

Recently we have been looking through our wedding photos and deciding on how we want to display them for ourselves and for our family. I was flipping back and forth between Pinterest and the hundreds of beautiful photos from our day, and I realized that the dress I wore on my wedding was not my dream dress. I only went to one dress store (it was more fun to just be with my mom and sisters than to actually try on dresses), and when I did eventually find a dress I liked, I didn’t cry when I put it on (in fact, since I ordered it online, if I had cried it would have been because it didn’t fit). It was nice and all, had an empire waist like I wanted, was off-white chiffon like I hoped for, and it had an asymmetrical strap since I especially didn’t want a strapless like it seemed everyone else had.

But here’s the truth: my dream dress is a Claire Pettibone. The flowing, faerie-like styles, with straps that look like flowers growing across your shoulders and gauzy open backs…those were my dream dresses. Those dresses are literally worth nine hundred percent more than the dress that I got. I still look at Claire Pettibone’s on Pinterest and think, “Wow, now that is beautiful.” She’s my be-all end-all when it comes to dresses, people.

Still, my wedding day isn’t plagued with any sense of regret. I don’t look on our pictures now and think, “If only I had spent a little more on my dress. If only I had gotten my dream dress…” The view on weddings these days seems to be just do it. It’s your one day, your only day to get the very best things, and it’s your day so you should get whatever you want, the things you’ve always been dreaming of. And I wonder what the follow up to those statements are. It’s your day, do it your way, or else you’ll be unhappy. You should get the things you really want, or else you’ll live forever in regret. There seems to be a driving fear to make The Wedding Day the perfect day ever or else… what?

I know there are many articles already that talk about the point of the wedding day not being about the details and traditions and instead about the person you marry and the lifelong commitment you are giving to each other. Many of us already know in our heads that truth, so I don’t need to reiterate it. But when it comes to the actual event, the fear of making it perfect kicks into overdrive.

I just wanted to give an example from my own life, for those who are getting married or planning on it someday, of how it wasn’t perfect and how there was actually no need to be afraid because… well… who cares. Honestly? Who does? And I’m relatively not very far from the day we got married. Technically the depression of not having the perfect dress could still be fresh in my memory and the memories of those around me. But nobody actually cares. The people who love me thought I looked beautiful on my wedding day and now they’re wondering if Will & Kate are pregnant again or hosting Superbowl parties or planning on having surgery or traveling the world or looking for new jobs or wondering how to create positive change in Haiti or planning their own weddings or pretty much anything else other than thinking about what dress I wore. Honestly. Honestly.

I know that we are all different and different priorities. Where we skimped on wedding attire, we splurged on wedding photography. And while I could rant and rave about the importance of good wedding photos, another person could take everything I just wrote and replace “dream dress” with “amazing photos” and how they also are totally fine and they would be right. One of the couples whose marriage I admire the most didn’t have a photographer at all, and they are fine. They are beautiful. They don’t live in regret.

So feel free to stand up to the pressure that our culture puts on people to make the wedding day the greatest day ever. It’s a fun one. It’s a special one. It’s a unique one. But it’s not the perfect one.

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  • liznaj

    Love this. So true. I hemmed and hawed about spending five times more on my “dream dress”( (which we could technically afford) before deciding on a simple $700 dress. But I also knew that what I would regret was not missing out on the “perfect” dress, but spending that kind of money on a dress I would wear once instead of saving up for the little kids we dream of having. That said, I’m not saying don’t get your dream dress. Fully agree with the writer that the important thing is to stick up for yourself and your priorities, and not to let what other people prioritize take over.

    • Kat91314

      Agreed. Mine only cost $257, and is it my dream dress? No. Do I look okay in it and is it sufficiently “weddingy” enough? Yes. Done and done…..I’m much more worried about the logistics of hosting people from all over (literally one’s flying in from Afghanistan) to a wedding that’s 4 hours away from our hometown than whether or not I got my dream dress. Everyone’s priorities are different :-)

    • Laura C

      Yup. I’ve had this conversation repeatedly with my fiance’s mother, from the venue to the dress to (in progress) the alcohol. Yes, we can technically afford that gorgeous $2200 Saja dress. But I’m also perfectly happy with the on-sale-for-$400 evening gown I found at Saks. Do I occasionally think about that other dress? Sure. But somehow I don’t think it’s going to be on my mind on my wedding day. Especially if it’s hot and I’m freed from worrying about sweating into cream silk.

      The thing about priorities became so clear to me in the budget open thread, whenever that was. People allocate similar budgets so differently, and a lot of them I’m entirely mystified by, but that’s ok. We don’t all need to have the same priorities.

  • Jessica LK

    Completely agree. I absolutely love my dress, and will have zero regrets about it. In theory, I could have purchased my J. Mendel dream dress. But I couldn’t fathom spending that sort of money on a dress I would only wear once, because even though it’s not a traditional wedding dress I don’t exactly have any upcoming galas in which to wear said dress. And I couldn’t get over feeling guilty about that, which diminished my excitement for the dream dress. Instead, I have one I love, and that is completely appropriate to wear to other fancy (non-gala) events-which was, for me, a must. And that makes me love it more. Sure, I still swoon a little when I look at that other dress, but I know I made the right choice for me.

  • Eh

    I am a huge advocate for taking care and control of one’s health, especially one’s mental health. If your wedding didn’t met your expectations it is important to come to grips with it (which might be easier said than done). I have no regrets from my wedding. Some things didn’t go as planned (some things turned out better than planned, others did not). If after some time has passed and you are still upset about your wedding (e.g., your dress, declined invitations, the flowers being wrong, the rentals not looking the way you expected, your wedding party not living up to your expectations, or your guests not appreciating the expense of the food/drink and entertainment) you should consider getting professional help. These may not be things you can work out on your own, and it might start affecting your marriage or other relationships. In our culture there is so much pressure on our wedding being perfect and the best day of our life (or at least up until that day), and in reality stuff happens, we can’t control everything, and we have to make compromises based on our priorities.

  • Alyssa M

    Thankyou for this. I needed it today. I have plans to go dress shopping next weekend, and a very clear idea of what I want to look like. BUT over the weekend I was given my grandmother’s dress from 1958. It’s incredibly meaningful and I love the idea, but it’s not what I’ve envisioned.

    I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to turn my 56 year old heirloom into my “dream dress” so I won’t regret not looking the way I wanted… but, in the scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter, does it? It’s a very pretty dress, and it would be a big regret if I turned down my grandmother’s dress.

    • Amber

      I’m nowhere near wedding planning. I’m in the pre-engaged phase.

      My grandmother has also made it clear I can use her wedding dress. (also from the 1950s and also lovely) I got back and forth too. Its not what I envisioned but then I never thought about my wedding, much less dreamed of it, until I started dating my current BF.

      I’m tempted to think the awesomeness of wearing a family piece out weighs modern trends and concepts of everything 100% representing who the bride is. I might regret NOT wearing it more.

    • Amber

      Perhaps you could wear your grandmother’s dress as your reception dress

      • Alyssa M

        It’s a great idea… might work better the other way around though. My grandmother’s dress is a ballgown (from 1958, so nowhere near the size of today’s ballgowns), and I’m kinda getting married in the woods. But I could probably find a reception dress that fits more of my style that would hamper my movement less…

    • Meg Keene

      That’s actually how we picked our kids name. It’s strange to think about it now, but it wasn’t my first choice, but it was meaningful. And we figured, better meaningful. Because then no matter what, you have that. It was a smart move, and I ended up loving it the most anyway, because it’s his name.

  • Wonderfully written article. I specifically did not look for my dream dress- it wouldn’t have worked with our venue and our classy-casual wedding. I also was terrified that if I found my dream dress, I’d be sad that I only would get to wear it once. Instead, I’m hoping to find a gorgeous couture dress in a few years that I can wear multiple times (to cocktail parties or formal things). Something that makes me feel gorgeous and beautiful and amazing- like your dream dress is supposed to- but will be worn more than once.

    I also hate the idea that everything on your wedding day has to be The BEST EVER. Because, to be honest, I am getting married in a month and I’m looking forward to the future dresses, the future parties with families and friends, and the future cake. Just because we aren’t doing my dream wedding on this one day of our lives, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a possibility of making dreams come true in the future.

    • Class of 1980

      There are not enough “EXACTLYS”. Who wants to live a life where your wedding is the pinnacle of your life and everything else is downhill afterward?

      Your idea of spending the money on a dress you can wear to multiple events is fantastic.

      • Alexandra Chubachi

        Totally agree, isn’t marriage and life just supposed to get better/more meaningful? If the pinnacle is the wedding then it seems you are doing the rest of your life a disgrace…

    • rys

      I just want to say I love the phrase and the dress-code of “classy casual.”

  • It’s so perplexing sometimes. We’re told, over and over, that this is our ONE DAY that we must have been dreaming about for AGES and every detail needs to be this perfect encapsulation of What It Means to Be Us. And we must have all those things we’ve wanted because it’s Our Wedding Day, damnit!

    But oh my god, it is so refreshing to remember, “If I end up buying a dress that I like but it’s not THE ONE DRESS, then who cares? I’ll still be getting married.”

    • Eh

      I enjoyed the perplexing looks when I said that I haven’t been dreaming of my wedding day since I was a little girl (clearly something is wrong with me). Or the comments when I said that we were willing to compromise with my MIL on things that were more important to her than they were to us (“It’s your day. Do it your way.” – ummm no I have to have a relationship with her for more than one day).

    • Alyssa M

      I totally needed to be reminded of this today… but your comment really made me think about how goofy the idea of “THE ONE DRESS” really is. I mean… it’s not like finding your soul mate or something. It’s a piece of clothing.

      • OKAY RIGHT. I’ve watched a lot of Say Yes to the Dress, and it’s just so common to hear the consultants–and the customers!–talk about how there’s your One Wedding Dress and finding your dress is like finding your fiance.

        Except that I love formal gowns to pieces and could easily have found 3-4 different styles I would have liked (in my case, color was the limiting factor; it had to be navy blue). And that’s styles, not even individual dresses.

        You’re exactly right: it’s a piece of clothing.

        • I hate it when Randy makes finding the dress sound like finding your fiance. He does it n almost every episode, and I really like him other than that!

      • K.

        But it’s okay if I feel that way about my wedding SHOES, right? Because, I mean, I reeeaallly like shoes.

        (Joking/not joking.)

        • Alyssa M

          Lol… I may have spent 4x as much on my wedding shoes as any other pair I’ve ever bought… And they may have been my first purchase for the wedding and have set the entire tone for the clothes… I still think there’s probably a whole lot of other super awesome amazing shoes out there I could have found… Because shoes are awesome!

        • Aubry

          Full disclosure? I am a little obsessed about my wedding shoes. The kicker: I found them. they were perfect. I didn’t order them right away because I needed to finangle shipping times to a friend’s address in the states and by the time I went back they were sold out of my size. Never to be re-socked. I may have cried/raged/cried again. I probably spent at least 100 hours searching for these shoes. I emailed/called everyone I could think of and scoured the internet for another pair, at any price! But, I will move on and search again! wish me luck!

          • I found my perfect wedding shoes three months after we got engaged. A gorgeous pair of pale blue brocade Tory Burch peep toe pumps- way more than I’d ever spent on shoes, but I loved them. And then I found out that they were discontinued. I wish you better luck!

  • Meg

    I spent more on my dress than I really would have expected I ever would, not much more than “the average”. I feel guilty about it still! It was my money too, but I’m just going to let it go. I love it. So letting go of regret like that goes both ways!

    • Jules

      I think that’s a great point you bring up about the guilt involved. I bought my dress super cheap on sale from Tradesy, and I got a lot of looks BECAUSE it was so cheap–for a wedding dress. But if I had spent more, I probably would have gotten looks BECAUSE I spent so much. Either way, you can’t win, because either way, someone will try to make you feel guilty. I’m of the school of thought that if you can afford it, and it doesn’t hurt you, AND it makes you feel pretty? Well. That sounds lovely. Congratulations!

  • KC to KE

    I have been married before, and had the “dream dress” (thankfully I was lucky and found it on clearance, and it needed no alterations!). The picutres were beautiful, but sadly, have lasted much longer than the marriage. I’m about to get married again (next year) and my focus is so much different this time around. I haven’t been dress shopping yet, but I have my eye on one I really like. It’s actually advertised as a bridesmaid’s dress and cost $150.00. We’re having our ceremony outside at a park (free venue!) and this dress will work well for outdoors, April in Texas. The dress is just a dress. I’m splurging on photography as I really want some good photos, but my main focus is on our relationship and what it’s going to look like next year, and the years after that. I’m going to put together a deeply meaningful ceremony and focus more on the promises and commitment being made than the party. We’re inviting our friends and family, and we’re going to celebrate our relationship and commitment to each other with food, games and some drinks. The dress is important, but not nearly as important as our relationship. I will be honest, it’s been a struggle to get to this point. I’ve been very worried about what people will think about our less-than-formal wedding, which will not have a strict schedule, no cake cutting, and no speaches. BUT… this is about me, my FH and our future lives. Not just one day that will be over in a blink.

    • Jana

      I’m here for moral support. I feel the same way about our wedding. I have moments where I get *very* self-conscious that some of our guests will be traveling for what is really a two-family (and some friends) reunion. We’ve actually had people tell us “you don’t want it to be like a family reunion” but actually, we do. We are focusing on our love, our relationship, and our love for the people who have made us who we are. I am trying to give us a schedule and some of the more traditional trimmings, but you’re making me realize that we don’t need to do that. I’m starting to get stressed out over logistics, but you’re making me rethink that, too. It’s just one day, and the marriage is SO MUCH more important than that. It’s hard to not get caught up in what people will think, but just so you know, I’m here for you!

      • KC to KE

        Thanks so much for the support! I’m having a difficult time finding much support locally for my vision. My friends, and even some of my family seem to be suck in the mindset of what a wedding is “supposed” to be (what about the toasts? what about first dance? what do you mean your dad isn’t walking you down?!). My mother seems to think it can only be a large scale formal event, or that we should elope. She can’t seem to find any middle ground (par for the course for her – but still frustrating). I too get bogged down in the details and logistics, so I have to keep reminding myself to take a step back and remember how “I” want this day to be: Meaningful, peaceful and fun. We’re going to have the ceremony, which I want to be personal and meaningful, and then have some good food and play some games. I want to spend time with the people who have been most supportive of us to this point and to celebrate the occasion, but keep it reasonable and relaxed. I am working to build a photobooth for some fun shots, and have plenty for the kids to do as well. I want it to feel more like a fun gathering of family and friends more than a WIC approved event. It’s about us and what we’re comfortable with, not what people have come to expect from a “real wedding”. APW has been monumental in keeping me focused on what I want and accepting that it may not meet some sort of WIC standard that the world expects of me.

        • Eh

          My MIL had a hard time figuring out our wedding for most of the planning process. She definitely has a specific idea of what a wedding is supposed to look like (it involved a church, a formal sit-down meal, lots of flowers, and tuxes even though her husband didn’t wear a tux to their wedding). It wasn’t until she saw our invitations that she finally realized that we were having a more casual event (the invitations looked like handbills). When we started planning my husband and I came up with an atmosphere instead of a theme – we wanted it to be a family-focused, personal, casual (not summer-BBQ-casual but “less-than-formal”), and fun. From the beginning we told her we wanted our wedding to be more casual than most weddings she had been to. Even though I wore a fancy dress my husband wore a suit, we didn’t have a huge wedding party (we only had a MOH), we had a buffet instead of a plated meal, and we had board games as our centre pieces. Since my family lives all over the country it was a family reunion and I wanted to make sure that our guests had opportunities to interact (between or ceremony and our reception we had unscheduled time for our guests so they could hang out in a more relaxed setting – the hotel, someone’s house, a restaurant; having a buffet let people mingle a bit during supper; and the board games provided entertainment).

          We did do many traditional wedding things (my dad walked me down the aisle, we did a first dance, we cut the cake, and had a bouquet/garter toss, etc.) so it wasn’t that far off from a traditional wedding. However no one noticed/cared that we had a civil ceremony but we did get tons of comments about how personal the ceremony was (people even commented on our “Minister”). People liked that we were married in a theatre – we were told that it was the best seats some of the guests have ever had for a wedding (comfy and great sightlines) and way better than hard church pews (this came from a couple that goes to church every Sunday). No one complained that we had a buffet. No one commented on the fact that we didn’t have a Best Man or that my husband didn’t wear a tux. No one commented on the lack of floral centre pieces (and no one tried to “steal” our board games as my MIL feared) or commented on the absence of favours. People said that our wedding was “us” and that they enjoyed the personal touches.

        • Jana

          I am starting to think I’m writing your posts without knowing it’s me! :) We are on *exactly* the same page.

          • KC to KE

            I’m sending along a virtual *high five*! Good luck to you!

  • Chiara M

    Thanks so much for writing this. I keep getting people telling me “You only get married once, so it needs to be nice” (which makes me think that my choices aren’t nice, and are in fact only worthy of some lesser being), “You’re the bride, so you pick the colour”, and I keep telling them over and over again, yes it’s only one day, and yes I’m planning this event, and yes it’s important, but it’s okay if it’s not perfect. More than okay, this is my new mantra:

    “It’s a fun one. It’s a special one. It’s a unique one. But it’s not the perfect one.”

    And please, let’s not get me started on those people who tell me it’s the most important day of my life. As if you could pick a single day out of all the others and say THIS one is the most important. But I digress.

  • Jana

    GREAT article. It’s almost like you’re writing from my brain! I feel the same way about my dress (which I am going to pick up today, as it turns out): I love it, it’s beautiful, but it’s not my dream dress. I see all of these pretty lace numbers…. but they don’t fit me properly (I tried on every lace dress that the Watters Encore line has to offer). I see these gorgeous, heavily beaded gowns… but they’re way out of my budget. But I’m with you, I really don’t think people are going to care. Same with my flowers; they’re dried from our backyard. Are they anything special? No. Will anyone remember? No. And I really don’t think I’ll regret any of it.

    My fiance and I got on board the “it won’t be perfect” train right after we got engaged. It’s so much pressure to be perfect (TOO much pressure!) so we just swallowed that reality straight away. We want to make it a fun day for everyone, but we have no illusions that it will be the best wedding anyone has ever been to, nor are we striving to make it that way.

  • swarmofbees

    “or else… what?” Thank you for this. I have riled against the imagery of this being your one day, you must have the perfect this or that. But, I didn’t quite know how to express myself without sounding long winded or preachy. You have distilled the frustration I feel into a succinct response that speaks volumes. Thank you.

  • BD

    Oh, The Dress. I was notoriously non-chalant about most of the wedding planning, but I lost my mind over The Dress, and I think it’s because I bought into the “only one day” attitude. I actually wore a Claire Pettibone to my wedding (Queen Anne’s Lace, one of her cheapest selections). I purchased it after having already purchased a much cheaper – and totally lovely – Saja dress. And even after that, I wondered if it really was The Dress and continued to torture myself by looking at other wedding gowns on Pinterest. Spoilers, but in the end, it didn’t even matter.

    • Emily

      Ahh I just looked it up and it’s a beautiful dress! I find myself doing the same with the Pinterest torture – I’ve bought a gorgeous BHLDN gown which is definitely the one I’m wearing, but part of me is like, “what if this isn’t the total summation of my style? What if there is a better dress/look that would suit me more”? Well, what if there is? As soon as I wear it on my wedding day it’ll be my Wedding Dress and therefore special simply because I’ll be getting married in it!

  • Emily

    This is so true. And actually, the fear of having the wrong dress is completely manipulated by the wedding industry, I think, to make you spend incredible amounts of money – when really, if you step back and think about what you’re actually doing, you’re just buying a dress that you’re going to wear for a few hours and then probably never wear again. By all means, find a special one, and I have, but it’s refreshing to realise it doesn’t have to be the Ultimate Representation of My Style Both Now And In The Years To Come.
    I got into an argument about this on a more WIC-y wedding blog, which featured an article on finding the “perfect dress”. It included the line “if you’re on a teeny-tiny dress budget of £400″… (I’m in the UK) and it suddenly made me think – for a lot of women, that is no teeny tiny amount of money to spend on an outfit that you’re only going to wear once, especially in the current economic climate, and how dare the wedding industry make people feel inferior like that if they can’t afford to spend more than that?! I commented on the article with words to this effect and immediately got lambasted by the other readers who told me to “get over it”, “you’ll never find a dress with that budget” etc, almost like nobody dares to think that thinks might still turn out beautifully even if you don’t spend gazillions of pounds/dollars on a dress. It’s so sinister that we’re made to feel we’ll regret it if we don’t spend x amount. A dress! It’s just a dress! A pretty dress hopefully, but still just a dress!

    • One of my favorite dresses was a friends. She found it at a thrift shop a year before she got married. And wore it several times in between buying it and her wedding day. She did look for wedding dresses, but in the end, this simple knee-length thrift store find was the one that made her feel most “her” and looked amazing at her wedding. It turns out that as long as the bride is happy, everything kind of works out.

  • May

    Blergh. I spent megabucks on a couture dress – a dream dress. On the day, this darned dress (that I’d gone through three fittings for) kept sliding down. There was a moment during our photos where I looked down, and realised that I’d slipped a nip! I was mortified, and absolutely furious. Although my husband and I actually had a grand time on our wedding day, whenever my mind replayed the day during our honeymoon, all I could think about was the ill-fitting dress. I berated myself for not taking the “safe route” with Vera Wang, or not pushing harder for one last fitting. It’s taken six months and the memory is FINALLY fading… not because I feel any better about the boob slip, but because the significance of the wedding day itself pales with every day that passes. So, in an ideal world we would all be blissfully zen-like when it comes to things that didn’t go quite according to plan (do they ever??), but in reality I think we can cut ourselves some slack and just let time do its thang.

    • Elizabear

      Yes! I didn’t spend a ton on my dress but I lost like an extra 2 pounds the week of the wedding so it kept slipping down in the back and you can see the top of the back of my bustier in the back in some of our photos. I didn’t realize it was happening on the wedding day (I wish someone had pointed it out and saved me with safety pins or something). Sometimes those photos make me feel a little sick because they aren’t “perfect,” but then I just force myself to get. over. it. It is finally starting to work and I care less and less about a slightly less than ideal dress.

    • BD

      Hah! I got my “dream dress” too and had this same problem. The dress was cap sleeved but very low cut in the front and back, and the sleeves kept slipping down my shoulders… during the ceremony even. Thankfully I was wearing a bustier so I never slipped a nip, but I kept having to sneak my sleeves back up my arms in creative ways without it looking like I was sneaking my sleeves back up my arms. It had fit just fine the day before. Even dream dresses aren’t always a dream!

  • Anne

    This came at the perfect time for me. I have been wrestling with the fact that I have bought a lovely dress, that is perfectly good. The problem is that I am not in love with the dress. I am normally a rational person, but the pressure to look “perfectly bridal” on the day is overwhelming. It was great to have a reminder to let myself off the hook. I think I can let this go now.

    • Lynsey

      Same for me! I had my first dress fitting last week and felt rather underwhelmed. I like the dress. It’s beautiful. It looks fine on me. But, I can’t get that feeling out of my head that there maybe was something better out there. Something that would have made me look at little more bride-perfect.

      This is exactly what I needed to hear. No one will be thinking about my dress after the wedding. They will just be thinking about how happy I looked. I am officially going to stop worrying about the dress. Done! Thank you.

      • Hillary

        THIS. 100% this. Thank you for articulating exactly how I’m feeling right now.

    • I wasn’t in love with my dress, like ecstatic about it. But I felt good it in and really comfortable and it was very inexpensive, and that was enough for me. 4.5 years (and a divorce) later, I am still fine with my dress choice. No regrets for going with one I really liked and felt good in. :) At some point I guess I have to figure out what to do with that dress… :s

  • Lily

    Thank you for this! I am tempted to email this to the caterer who, when I asked if we could substitute less expensive entrees than the ones he had suggested, responded, “well, it’s up to you what you want to eat on your Special Day.” As if 50 years from now I will wish we had spent $500 more to have the salmon instead of the chicken.

    • NicoleT

      I feel like I hear the majority of “must be the PERFECT day” stuff from vendors, which is sort of depressing. It’s not that I particularly care about their opinions regarding this, but that I don’t need a stranger that I’m supposed to rely on giving me grief for something insignificant.

      • Eh

        My favourite was from the woman that did our makeup. We were going over the schedule and she said “Most girls want me to start makeup at 9am because they want their makeup done before the photographer arrives” (photographer was arriving at 1pm). I made a comment about not caring if the photographer took pictures of me without makeup and that I wanted my makeup and hair done as close to the ceremony time (3pm) as possible, and that we had plenty of time if we started at noon (we actually finished with 20 minutes to spare and no one felt rushed). It was more important to me that I have a relaxing morning than having my hair and makeup done by the time the photographer showed up.

      • Emily

        Argh, my vendors have been a bit like this. My photographer was telling me about some other weddings she’s done, and said that she’s had lots of disappointing wedding cakes lately – which made me panic that our wedding cake won’t impress her enough or that she won’t like taking photos of it! Which is really a worry I could do without, so I’ve had to decide to let it go.

        • JSwen

          Good decision to let it go. I’m working on this right now – as I’d rather put my budget toward a yummy cake than a pretty cake. My mom has been very relaxed about everything except the dress and the cake… she’ll be in town this weekend to help pick them out. Wish me luck!

          • As a guest, I would MUCH rather eat a yummy cake (no matter how it looks) than a pretty cake that is not good.

          • Alyssa M

            I totally agree on yummy over pretty. I’ve banned fondant from my wedding. If I can’t achieve a look with icing I’d eat off of a spoon, it’s so not worth it.

        • June

          Amen to this! I keep reminding myself that of all the weddings I’ve been to, I cannot for the life of me recall what any of their cakes looked or tasted like. I definitely ate some and it was cake, so yum. But it wasn’t like the cake (or any little details) made me enjoy myself less or made me less happy for my friends and family.

        • NicoleT

          Good for you! Comments like that are just annoying and unnecessary. I remember I got one comment from a vendor (whom I definitely did *not* hire) that I wasn’t taking my wedding seriously enough. Vendors are the absolute last people who should have any expectations. They should only expect to be paid, that’s it.

        • I really felt like I needed to impress our vendors when I first started planning. Seriously, I was nervous going into each first consultation- “What if they don’t like us? What if they think we’re uptight? Or not organized enough?” I eventually got burned out and started replying to any comments like your photographers with a curt “I appreciate your opinion, but we’re really trying to make our guests and ourselves happy at the wedding- not compete with the other weddings you’ve been to.” I don’t always feel that way, but it doesn’t come up again…

      • JSwen

        Oh that sucks! We’ve been sticking with vendors who get excited when we talk about a more chill wedding. It’s great to keep the vendors who get you… especially if you are about to pay them large sums of money!

    • Eh

      We had the least expensive food option from our venue (roast beef buffet) – it was strongly recommended by the food service manager (more or less it’s his specialty) and the facility manager. I have no regrets and we didn’t get any complaints

    • Meg Keene

      The fuck kind of comment is that??

      Also, the truth is, you personally don’t get to sit down and have a relaxed meal not clouded by excitement/ emotion/ people talking to you/ whatever. I mean, I remember one of our dishes because it was particularly good, but I don’t have clear memories besides that. Also, for all that we thought out our Mediterranean buffet brunch super thoughtfully, I don’t think anyone else remembers a damn thing. BOO.

  • lady brett

    it’s funny about “perfect”. because there were a lot of things at our wedding that could have been stressful (for starters, the part where we *left my godmother (with the rings) at her hotel* and so got started 45 minutes late and mortified my mother), but it was really nothing but perfect. we had to put some serious effort in to remember the things that went wrong, because even with them, it was just *perfect*. i guess i’m just saying that, for me, it’s hard to regret the fact that my dress didn’t fit quite right, or that photo i forgot to ask for, when i’m so over the moon about the wedding as a whole.

  • NicoleT

    APW is really hitting it on the head with timely articles lately! I’m struggling with this exact concept now, not for the dress, but for the venue. I got concerned that I didn’t get that tingly “we’re getting married here!” feeling when I saw it. Slowly, I’m beginning to realize that it doesn’t matter because I like the place enough to spend money there and it’s cheaper than some of our other options. Sometimes I feel like this “must be perfect” idea comes from my brain assigning this as my last glamorous party for the next 15-20 years so I have to make sure that I have a fantastic time. But really, I know that the only reasons I won’t have a fantastic time is if I get caught up in other people’s expectations or drama, not because of the venue.

    • JSwen

      You can always throw a glamorous NYE party or decade birthday party! It’s funny what you said about the venue. I didn’t “feel” the venue until I pictured myself coming out of the “getting ready” area and walking to the ceremony area. After that, EVERY SINGLE VENUE WE WENT TO gave me that feeling. At that point I realized the venue is just a space. What we are going to do there is what is going to make it amazing. :)

      Good luck with the venue choice. We picked ours based on comfort/convenience for our guests (read, everything in one location and easy transport to hotels).

      • NicoleT

        Thank you! Yup, we’re going for convenience as well. I’m going to start repeating that as my mantra: “the venue is just a space”.
        And I will make sure that a decade birthday party happens!

  • Jessica

    I love this; it’s exactly the mindset behind our wedding planning. Last week I returned a dress I loved because I couldn’t justify the price. I kept thinking “This dress is equivalent to inviting 10 more guests.” We are focused on enjoying planning the wedding, and the day itself, and not getting caught up in things we “must have” or “must do.”

  • CB3

    OMG I SO NEEDED THIS POST TODAY!!!! I have been having regret ever since I got my photos back and my video (a whole other story). I was honestly just talking to my mom about regret and everything you said. It is soooo refreshing to see other people having the same thoughts and feelings and realizing it’s all OK. It doens’t have to be perfect and it shouldn’t be about regret. I’m still REALLY working on this but I think I’m getting a little better

    • Alexandra Chubachi

      Glad it could help! I know sometimes it can take a little ‘distance’ to get over things you are disappointed about, but you can do it sista! The fact that you are doing life with the person you love most is something to cover lots of regret :)

  • are you me? Claire Pettibone is MY DREAM DRESS too. I actually went to her salon (it’s breathtaking) and tried on several gowns…they were gorgeous – expensive, yes- but I actually ended up feeling that they didn’t look like I wanted them to once they were on me- It’s funny, the dress I ended up going with is nothing like I had ever imagined – I don’t have a single pin on pinterest similar to it! The dresses were so beautiful but for some reason I didn’t feel “bridal” enough or something, and the cuts of them didn’t suit my body type like I wanted. The dress I picked is way “simpler” and “plainer” that I ever imagined, but for some reason it feels more bridal and youthful and me.

    • Alexandra Chubachi

      That’s awesome that you tried some on anyways! Maybe I should do that just for fun someday… :)

    • Meg Keene

      Yeah, I did this and I’m really glad. I tried on a $5K dress that I thought was IT (fully knowing that I couldn’t afford it). Turns out? It wasn’t that flattering. Huh.

      • K.

        That happened to me with Jenny Packham. I thought her collection was the end-all, be-all, but her dresses made me look much older than I am and they weren’t flattering around my curves. It was big in helping me let go of that fantasy, actually!

  • Anon

    I have so many dress related anxieties about my wedding (I’m wearing the BHLDN Isis gown). I worry that people won’t think I look bridal enough. I worry that my bridesmaids will overshadow me and that people will like their dresses better than mine. Every time I’ve shown someone a picture of my dress on my phone, my heart sinks at their reaction. I can tell they want more (good reminder to stop doing that). I know that the reason I chose my dress is because it wasn’t super bridal, but somehow other people’s expectations still get to me.

    I worry about the potential of all of this to ruin the day. What if I get ready and realize I don’t measure up?

    • honestly, i feel like what makes that reaction on the wedding day itself isn’t the dress- it’s whatever the hell you are wearing bathed in the light of love and in the *spark* thing in the air, that will automatically make you, your clothes, your anything – shine and glow….It’s more about what’s taking place in that moment, how quiet and magical the air gets in that moment, that sets everything else on awe-fueled fire. My dress in my picture from the salon looks plain, my roots were terrible that day, no make up…But I feel like when everything is put into place the light from the day will carry the dress and everything else. Emotion alters perception is the most beautiful way. :) AND, I’m sure the dress is stunning ; )

      • Anon

        I LOVE THIS. Thank you.

      • OH. and might I add, when I tried on all of the dresses that I had saved pictures of – the ones that looked so decadent and ME and glorious on pinterest, they fell SO flat actually ON me. I wasn’t into them at all.

        • JDrives

          Yes! This!! I drooled over a dress for months and when I tried it on, it was frumpy and blah on me. And the one that my mom told me wouldn’t be flattering looking friggin’ AWESOME. It’s something you can’t always know without putting the dress on.

      • I completely agree with Catherine. It’s the glow and the excitement of being there in the moment that brings it to life. It’s somehow bigger than the dress itself and whatever other individual elements there are… Somehow it’s just radiant with something intangible (love, I guess!) when it all comes together and the people come together on the day.

    • Alexandra Chubachi

      Oh girl, I am so sad that you have had that disappointment when looking for feedback. I know when I was planning I was hyper sensitive to everyone’s responses, so if someone’s response was less than SUPER EXCITED than I got so upset about it and felt that I had made the wrong choice.
      I think, in someways, that that is a part of the wedding planning process. It is an emotional time and we are processing so much and trying to please so many people so I’d say give yourself some grace if you feel worried or emotional over various things.
      But also, I don’t know if I can say this enough, it WONT ruin the day!! I totally agree with Catherine, that moment will be what people will remember and you will look beautiful in it :)

    • Emily

      Aaaah I love that dress, it’s totally beautiful, and totally bridal! It’s white, it’s full length, it’s silky and special, I think it will look fantastic. I have a similar worry because my dress is sort of blush colour rather than white (also from BHLDN) so I’m worried it won’t look totally bridal, but I don’t think there’ll be any mistaking me for anything other than the bride on the day! I wouldn’t worry at people’s reactions to the picture because once they see YOU in the dress, the bride, it will be bridal because it’s being worn by a bride! And like Catherine said below, there’s just something magical about brides on their wedding day!

    • JDrives

      I’m sad for you that you’re not getting the reactions you’d hoped for when showing off your dress!You’re the only one who can determine whether you got the “right” dress. Like the other commenters, I feel it’s more than just the dress on your wedding day – your joy and excitement will shine right through and make you sparkle! If you fear not-so-exuberant reactions, you may be able to avoid them by responding to “OMG LEMME SEE YOUR DRESS” with something coy like “Oh I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

    • Meg Keene


      That had to be said in all caps, because it’s REALLY important. My friend Jamie’s dress is a perfect example of that to me:

    • Meg Keene

      Oh yeah. And don’t show people your dress pictures. That’s a great surprise, and you’ll sell them on it then.

    • Anon

      You guys, thank you. Your comments have made me feel less scared and more excited about my dress. I should have known all I needed was a little APW love. :)

      • breezyred


    • breezyred

      To go along with Meg, stop showing people your dress. And, most importantly, you will look bridal on your wedding day because you are the bride.

      I wore a knee-length orange dress on my wedding day. My mother asked me, up until the week of my wedding, if I would regret the decision not to wear floor-length white. I never regretted the decision to wear something that I liked on my wedding day, even if it didn’t meet a standard ideal. And I never once was told I didn’t look like a bride. People commented on my dress because they said it was fun and looked like me.

      Whatever you wear on your wedding day will be fabulous. People will be impressed no matter what. And that dress is a stunner. And I bet on you it looks even better! Seriously.

  • LydiaB

    Dress shopping as we speak and this is so perfect. I am happy with so many dresses but keep hunting for perfect and “bridal”. I will look bridal no matter what as I will be the bride!! Now if only I could convince my mother of this…

  • Aubry

    speaking of insidious cultural dress dialogue, can we talk bridesmaids for a sec? I have recently had my bridesmaids dresses arrive – yay! And I like them, and am happy with the cost (about $120 all told). They are not designed to be bridesmaids dresses, but are a lovely cotton purple halter number from trashy diva. they can definitely we worn again. I am already getting people giving me the “are you sure side-eye” about them.

    But, another friend just got her bridesmaid dress for her sisters wedding in, and although it was ordered from her measurements it needs several inches taken in (read a 3″ handful on either side) and will probably cost her $500 at least for a coral dress she will never wear again. I’m sure the dress stores do this on purpose to sell alterations. I just don’t see the point. Why am I getting quietly shamed for not forcing my best friend and my sister into something neither they nor I want? So sue me, I just don’t like bridesmaid fashion. Or bridal fashion for that matter, that’s why I am going custom! Don’t get me started on getting a short wedding dress – the shock! For my outdoor backyard late July wedding, and I don’t want a huge ball gown?? People, they are strange.

    • Victwa

      Well, I will send you a big high-five of support through the interwebs. I have spent more money than I had on dresses I never wore again for friends’ weddings, and this is one of the BIG lies I hate about the WIC. I fully support your dress decisions, even if other people are being weird about it.

    • I think cotton purple halter dresses sound fabulous. Of the weddings I’ve been a bridesmaid in, I’ve only worn one of the dresses again (excluding costume parties) and it was a super simple navy jersey dress. Honestly, I don’t understand the hype with dresses designed to be “bridesmaid dresses.” Of course, I might be a bad source for it- I didn’t want to pick out dresses for my bridesmaids, so I told them that it should be green or peach and knee length. I honestly have no idea what two of the three are wearing and my wedding is a month away. I’m pretty excited to see what they come up with!

    • Alyssa M

      Man, this has been my biggest headache so far. I had a vision of my bridal attendants, each wearing something they felt comfortable in, that cost less than $100, just as long as it fit my fall color palette and went with a dark green cardigan they could all wear. And then their expectations went EVERYWHERE! As much as I hate bridesmaids dresses, and they so wouldn’t work for my gender spectrum of attendants, it really seems like that’s what they all want. /sigh

      • Jana

        ^ same thing happened to me.

  • June

    Once again, the timing for this post is perfect! I’m going dress shopping for myself next weekend, but I went to start looking at dresses with one of my bridesmaids last night. We had a great time looking at bridesmaids dresses, but my friend really liked one of the silhouettes that I had my eye on for myself (in a longer bridal version). She started reminding me that this is my one special day, and that I’m having an evening wedding, so things should look a certain way. Then she asked me what the guys would be wearing (personally, my fiancé are not even worrying about that yet) but I told her some things we tossed around. Her reaction got feeling those yucky “what if my friends think my wedding looks bad and am I really being judged right now?” feelings.

    Little pangs of worry that I’m not going to look bridal enough or fancy enough or stylish for my own wedding have being creeping into my thoughts all day. Maybe I should spend more? Maybe I should go for that one designer that I’m a little bit obsessed with? This post reminded me how silly that all is. I don’t want to spend a bajillion dollars on something I’m going to wear once, but that doesn’t mean I want to show up looking like a schlub. I want to look like myself and be comfortable. And I can wear whatever I want to my wedding because it’s my wedding!

    • “And I can wear whatever I want to my wedding because it’s my wedding!”

      This applies to so many things. I can make one of our two entree choices in our buffet vegetarian because I am a vegetarian and it is my wedding. I can skip the bouquet toss because I personally don’t find the idea appealing and it is my wedding. I can have the chacha slide play at the reception even though my cousin thinks it’s tacky, because its my wedding. Yep… I’m now using this as my reasoning for all of the little details people ask me about. Thank you!

  • Victwa

    Yes. The dresses I drooled over were Claire Pettibone dresses, in particular one that had some kind of gorgeous crocheting on it. (I just looked it up. It’s called the Yolanda.) However, I ended up going to the Best Wedding Dress Shop Ever (Otherwise known as the Wedding Party, in Oakland), and realized after trying on a $2K Nicole Miller that was lovely, and a few dresses that were around $300, there was absolutely nothing that looked $1700 better about the Nicole Miller dress. (Also, the amazing lady at the Wedding Party confirmed this. Really, she said, “Eh, it’s nice, but it’s not any better than the other two.” Seriously love that store.) So much for Claire Pettibone crochet dress. I wore a really nice $350 dress. It wasn’t my dream dress (but honestly, my dream dress was really to not have it be a nightmare to find one, so there’s that….) but it was not crazy expensive and it worked and I look just fine in the pictures. Plus, now it’s sitting in my closet and I have no idea what to do with it, besides sell it. I think if I had more emotional attachment to it, I’d be torn about selling it, but I’m really hoping that I will never need another wedding dress, and so I might as well sell it, which is far easier to do with a “decent” dress over a “dream” dress.

    • Alexandra

      Sell it!! Emotionally, I had a hard time selling mine until I decided that I would use the money to pay for a fun trip with my husband. Which do you want more, I kept asking myself. A dress sitting around in your closet taking up space? A big white dress you’ll never wear again? Or a weekend trip to Maui (I live on Oahu) to go backpacking on Haleakala? I sold it on and had a lump in my throat when I mailed it. Three months later I don’t miss it at all. And we had such a fun trip! Which we got pregnant on, making it our last backpacking trip for a long time, but that’s another story. :)

      • Victwa

        I’m fairly sure I will sell it soon. I’m tempted to take it to a seamstress to see if there’s any way I could dye it and have it hemmed, because it’s a nice dress, and I wouldn’t mind wearing it again, but I could probably sell it and buy a dress for what it would cost to alter it.

        Also, we took our baby backpacking when she was 13 months old, so it’s entirely possible to backpack with babies!! Do it!!

  • Astrain

    This blogger is amazing and you should check out her photography!

  • Alana

    This is a great post.

    My dress is not my ‘dream’ dress. Before I actually went dress shopping, I had been all over dresses that were covered in lace with delicate beading and so on. And I do still love that style of dress! However, my budget was small, and none like that existed that I could afford. On top of that? I’m plus sized, and when I tried one on anyway for the hell of it, it was not flattering. At all.

    The dress I did get fit me perfectly off the rack, looks amazing on me, and was within my budget (actually slightly above but the lack of required alterations balances that). It isn’t what I pictured myself wearing, but I am glad I went with it. It’s David’s Bridal 9V3540, for the record.

  • Sarah

    My dress was my dream dress because I didn’t fuss about it all day. It was entirely outdoors from start to finish and I didn’t want one that I would be anxious about. I lived in that dress – trudged through the gravel and grass, onto a boat, carried firewood and work it all night. Without thinking I snipped off the hanger bits so I couldn’t hang it up. It’s been folded up in a bag, lobster stains and all, since the day of my wedding and I haven’t thought about it since. And when I look at the pictures, that’s what I see. How happy and comfortable I was. So sometimes there are different definitions of “dream dress”. One that doesn’t turn your stomach when you think of how much it costs might be a place to start!

    • Daisy

      You should make this comment into its own article! I love this sentiment. Keep writing!

  • Cait

    So glad to have read this, today, on the day of my second fitting. I am still not in love with my dress but happy that I picked it with my mom on my only trip to a salon. It means more to me to have my wedding be a communal event full of imperfections and mismatched elements than something seemingly ‘perfect’..!

  • CPR

    Thanks for this post. I also have a end-all-be-all in the dress department – Jenny Packham – and there’s no way I could ever afford one of her dresses. I spent months pining over her stuff online but finally admitted to myself that I’d never have one, so I bundled up my mom and sister and hit the local wedding dress store, ready to fall “in like” with something else. I didn’t; everything was too puffy, too lacy, too strapless, and too generically bridal. So I, like you, ended up with a dress I found online. I did spend more than I’d planned to, but definitely nothing close to what a JP dress would have cost. But here’s the thing, while I really, really like my dress, I don’t love it and I still find myself drooling over JP dresses on Pinterest. Thank you for reminding me that, in the long run, my dress won’t matter. At least not nearly as much as I’ve been telling myself it will. I’m marrying my guy; our family and friends will be there supporting us and cheering us on; we’ll have delicious food and fantastic cocktails and awesome music…and it WILL be a great day, but not even remotely because of what I’m wearing.

  • Karen

    I’m wearing my sister’s dress (we’re exactly the same size on top.) It’s so not what I would have picked (huge train,) but I don’t want to be responsible for a wedding dress, so I’m wearing it bustled and calling it a day.

    • Kendra D

      I didn’t want a huge train, but ended up with one. I’m going to talk to the seamstress about semi-permanently bustling it, so that it will stay bustled the entire time.

  • Crystal Wallis

    1 really needed this today. Just found out that the only venue I seriously considered may have scaffolding on The Day. Also my wedding’s in six months, and the thought of starting over from scratch is terrifying. 1 have to remember why I’m doing this-to make a life with the man of my dreams. I think I just left the” dreaming and planning”stage and just entered the” facing reality”stage. It’s scary.

  • Hillary

    I am getting married in nine freaking days, and you have no idea how much I needed to read this article (and all the comments). My dress is not the perfect dress, they’re calling for rain on our wedding day (cue Alanis!), etc etc. and I’m just sick of stressing about all of it. I actually turned to my fiance last night and said “Is it over yet? Can we just be MARRIED already? Isn’t that what this is about?” I am so sick of hearing from everyone that this is the one day, the perfect day, the most important day—it obviously is important, but at the end of that day, if we are married (and I get my own piece of cake), it will be more than enough.