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Lauren Wedding Planning: Oh My! Dress… Part 2

I don’t know about you guys, but I am really excited about assistant editor Lauren’s final post on picking her dress. Lauren’s dress search echos my dress search (which was so epic that it has its own section on the site). For both of us, figuring out the wedding dress was a story of figuring out ourselves, and who we wanted to be when we got married. It was loaded, and complicated. And for me, it was  worth it. In July we’ll find out if it was worth it to Lauren, but I’m betting yes. And now, without further ado, the long waited (at least by me) next post on Lauren’s wedding planning.

So last time I left you, I was a sweaty mess in a bridal boutique in Chicago, aware of what I didn’t want and with a vague idea of what I did. Before we go any further, I need to come out and say this, just so we’re clear: Dress shopping is hard. It is not at all what I thought it would be, and even now, after spending a chunk of change and time at two fittings, it’s still hard.

Two months after the bridal boutique that made me take my shoes off and wash my hands before they allowed me even to think about dresses, my lovely friend, Maris, visited  me in San Francisco. It was time to have another go at this thing. I had an appointment at a bridal shop in Burlingame (45 minutes outside of the city) that had carried a few styles I had liked and seen on the The Kn*t’s giant searchable-dresses website. (A very handy tool for a girl who has no effing clue what she’s looking for, I’ll give them that much.) When we arrived we were the only people in the store except for a lovely older Russian woman who could have been a fabulous aunt-friend-of-the-family type. She was fantastic. Her name is Georgette. And I had no issues, whatsoever, whipping off all my clothes in front of her because all she really did was praise my ta-tas and tell me every dress I had on was made for me. We all need these people in our lives. The ones who go, “Oh my god, whatever. When I was your age I was begging for an a*s like that. Put this on, you’re going to look amazing.”

So, I picked a dress. I bought the dress. I called my mom and told her I had bought a dress. I felt good about the experience. I felt relieved that the entire thing was over, Maris high-fived me and then we made our way over to the donut shop and I had the biggest apple fritter of my life. Done and done, right? Except not.

I went home and Maris flew back to Chicago and she emailed me all of the photos she had taken with her cell phone camera. And I looked at them and I looked at them and I wondered why on earth anyone had ever let me buy that dress. Why? I was very unsure if I even liked my non refundable dress anymore. It’s not that I thought the dress was ugly, it’s that I saw the dress, then I saw me in the dress, and I didn’t think that those two things went together. And I was very unsure if I found the dress flattering at all.

But, I pushed it aside. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s not THE dress you’re going to take home, it’s not fitted to you, it’s not even pressed! Who’s to say what that dress will look like in 6 months. Besides, I’m sure it’s just the photos.” So I put it out of my mind, I carried on with my life, and every once in a while I would look at the pictures and bite my lip. Did I like it? Did it matter? It was my wedding dress. That’s my wedding dress. Accept this fact and move on, Lauren. I would tell myself it was just the pictures, this became a little mantra. It’s just the pictures, it’s just the angle, it’s just the wrinkles in the dress, it’s just and it’s just and it’s just some more.

And then the first fitting came and I was stoked. My parents had flown in for this and I thought for sure the dress would look awesome, that it really was the photos, and that the dress I ordered would fit. Hoorah! But when I put it on and stood in front of the mirror on that stupid pedestal that they make you stand on, I just kept looking at myself thinking, “It looks good? It looks good. It looks ok. No, it looks good. Does it? Yes, it looks good.” But did it? I sure was trying to convince myself that it did. I told everyone that I liked it, and I kept every single doubt to myself. My parents visited and then they went home and they sent me the photos in my email just like Maris had. And I looked at them, and looked at them, and was honestly shocked that I still did not like my dress. I didn’t feel any panic, I didn’t feel that not loving my dress was the end of the world. I felt like it was a secret, for sure, because I didn’t want other people freaking out that I didn’t like my dress. I mostly felt regret that I had jumped on the dress so quickly, and then resignation that no matter what I wore I was getting married and it may not be the best dress I’ve ever purchased, but I was still going to have a lovely day. And I tried, for weeks, I really tried, to convince myself that all of that was enough.

But my anxiety and my regret continued to build. I asked Maris what she really thought, I sent the photos to people I trusted would be honest with me and they all told me it was lovely. And all that did was make me feel like a crazy person! I thought for sure that I would have looked and felt way more comfortable in a different dress, one with a poofier bottom, one with no embellishments, one with pockets. Yes, I thought for sure, that’s the dress I should have bought, but instead I bought this other one. Why why why.

So, one evening I was sitting in bed lamenting my dress and asking Kamel again and again, “What if you don’t like it? I’m worried you won’t like it, I don’t think it’s flattering. Can I show you the dress I SHOULD have bought? Can I?” Of course he kept telling me I would look great, but then he finally did relent and allowed me to show him a dress I had never tried on, and yet was convinced was THE dress. And his reaction? “No. Not at all. That’s not you at all! That’s not fun. Your dress needs to be fun, with sparkles, and … no. If your dress doesn’t look like that, I’m glad.” And that’s when I realized, I needed to show him my wedding dress. This was a big deal. Kamel was adamant that he did not want to see it, this was a tradition he was incredibly excited for. He wanted it to be a surprise, I wanted it to be a surprise, and suddenly I was 100% sure I needed it not to be.

When he saw the first photo he gasped and started saying again and again, “That’s your dress, that’s your dress, oh Lauren, we’re getting married, we’re getting married. You’re going to be my wife. I’m going to be a husband!” And I am not even kidding you – tears sprang from my eyes and I stood up and hugged him and cried into his neck like I see all of those girls do on TV when they realize the dress they are wearing is “the one”. But I was crying because I heard in Kamel’s voice, in his excitement, how moved he was to see me in the dress I was going to marry him in, and that made everything ok. Suddenly, we were in this together. This wasn’t about my best friend’s opinions (As much as I value them), it wasn’t about the angle of the photos, it was about Kamel and me. And that’s what it’s going to be about on July 16th. It’s going to be us two, standing up there in front of friends and family, wearing goofy stuff we’ll most likely never wear again, telling the world how much we love each other.

Does my dress matter to me? Yes. It matters to me that I’m comfortable and that I feel like I look good, and it matters to me that Kamel sees me when I’m wearing it, sees his (future) wife standing there telling him why I choose him forever and ever. That matters to me. And when I went back for my second fitting and it still wasn’t what I wanted, I tweaked it where it needed to be tweaked, I made the changes I needed to make to look and feel the way I need to feel. For me, finding my dress was an exact parallel to accepting and readying myself for marriage and to add another layer to how I identify myself. It takes work and reflection and growth to choose to be with someone forever, and it took me a lot of work and reflection and growth to be able to stand in my wedding dress in front of a mirror and say, “Yes. I am here, I am comfortable.”

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