As I mentioned back here, I was MIA for two weeks because I had two uber-important weddings to attend for some of my closest friends. And let’s just say it: Nothing messes with your body issues like getting married. Y’all have read how I dealt with that pressure (banning bathroom scales, freaking out about my teeth, going rogue on bridal makeup) but one thing we haven’t talked about a whole bunch on here is the very specific and extra weird pressure that comes from choosing your wedding dress. I mean, it can be epic.
So here is my friend Kate, to tell you about how she faced down this pressure and dealt with it in a pretty unique way.
Oh, and just for clarification, when it’s italics, it’s VA talking and when it’s not italics, it’s Kate talking. Got that? Here we go.
There Kate is, up top, with her lovely new husband Jason, looking like Audrey Fricking Hepburn. But it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns getting to that point.
First, there was the “closeted traditional bride” issue.
Regardless of how I wrestled with the tradition of the wedding — for example at I spent a few weeks insisting that I did not want to be an escorted down something as antiquated and staid as an aisle until Jason pointed out that at some point I would have to enter this party so perhaps a path wasn’t the worst idea– I knew that I wanted a white full length dress.
That posed a teensy problem, because Kate had a very non-traditional wedding dress sitting in her closet.
Yes. The dress I wore at the rehearsal dinner
would have been the obvious choice. It’s contemporary, elegant and, most importantly, my mother’s. But I knew I wouldn’t wear it, I told her so many times, and even though she couldn’t be there I just knew I wanted something a bit more formal and that’s just the way things were. Still, I’m thrilled that I got to wear it at the rehearsal dinner– even if my jewel crusted thong showed right through.
As jewel crusted thongs are wont do. Anyway, next Kate had to come to terms with:
(1) My Body.
I am 33 years old. Ten years ago I lived in NYC and I had a liquid diet of vodka gimlets peppered by the occasional bagel, egg drop soup or dinner from some one’s generous parents. I did not go to the gym. I wore shirts that showed my flat stomach and I removed them for a few men in comedy and a series of Naked Game competitions.
Fast forward ten years, I can do pilates, yoga, run two whole miles and afford the occasional steak frites. I am not proud of this, but it was very difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I was not going to be my skinniest on my wedding day. I could diet, get a trainer, whathaveyou. Ultimately, the ship has sailed and left some light crow’s feet and a few (DYED OUT) gray hairs in it’s wake along with a broader, more toned back and hips.
I tried to limit my drinking and even spend some time gluten free but ultimately it took a lot for me to come to terms with the fact that I may have been more objectively prettier had I gotten married ten years ago.
Also, side note, there would have been more hook-ups at my wedding. That I’m still processing.
Oh man, I feel this. As I mentioned in this post, I got really skinny a few years before I got married through a combination of unemployment and half-marathons. By the time I got married (at age 28), I was making adult money and my running days had gone the way of a stress fracture. Not to mention, obvs, when you’re conditioned from birth to expect your wedding to be the most perfect day of your life, it’s hard to believe there won’t be some Fairy Godmother waiting to turn you into this. Even if you’re totally smart and rational and otherwise not even all that traditional/on the fence about aisle-walking.
In fact, being all smart and untraditional and sh*t can pose a whole other set of problems, because it means in addition to looking “perfect,” you also rilly rilly care about:
(2) The Story.
Ultimately this was the most important to me. Regardless of my latent body issues, it’s not hard for me to walk into a store and buy a dress off the rack. And I bought four of them at J. Crew, four very serviceable dresses. I even bought a vintage dress in Seattle on a whim (that is PS for sale!). I could have worn any one of those dresses and been fine but I really needed a story for the most iconic dress of my life.
In fact, I remember standing in my bedroom half naked screaming “THIS HAS NO STORY!”
You know, when I think about it, some of the best things about the wedding were the things that were byproducts of my intention. Like when I asked my family for wedding photos and then they started pulling out albums that no one had asked about in years or scanning photos that they hadn’t looked at since their kids were born, or when I went for a run on the day of just to get my nervous energy out and stumbled upon a song that made me certain my mom was running right beside me, or when I offered you guys our room to eat your Indian food the next day and we got to hang out and giggle until you guys had to forcibly remove yourself from my clutches.
So ANYWAY, the dress. I started thinking about it and remembered the time I told my mother that I wanted to be Catholic when I was five years old and she was confused until she realized that it was because I wanted to wear a first communion/little girl bride’s dress so she sewed me a white dress and I was a bride for Halloween.
I started looking for that dress, then started digging through the trunk of dresses at my aunt’s house with my little cousin
and we spent all afternoon playing dress up in the attic until I found my dress. It was my aunt Lonnie’s high school graduation dress and I remembered that I had been playing dress up in it for years and I could finally wear it for real, because I was for real wearing a fancy dress and doing something for real adult.
I emailed Aunt Lonnie to ask her if I could wear/alter her graduation dress. She said yes, and that it had actually already been worn in a wedding. She wore it when she married Jesus and became a nun. Enter The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: while serving as a nun she fell in love with a priest and they decided to leave the service and get married, believing that they could serve God better as a team. While I have a very different relationship with faith than my Aunt Lonnie and Uncle Gene, I hope to be as great a partner to Jason as they are to each other. And I dare anyone with a soul to sit on their back porch and not leave feeling inspired by a relationship that beautiful. Also you will leave with a belly full of wine and cheese because I come from a tradition of the best hosts.
hen there was Katherine
and our fittings where I couldn’t feel feelings except to tell Katherine to change the sleeves so that I didn’t obsess over my arm fat all night.
So this is how the story ends. Or, should we say, continues?
I can’t describe the fucking thrill of being in the room with my family who knew the dress and the story. I can say that on June 25 I knew absolutely that I could have never ever worn another dress. Aside from the fact that it is an objectively beautiful garment that Katherine altered with such skill and care, this wedding was for me about continuing our family.
And I was so happy to have something from the old (even if the marriage to Jesus didn’t work out, something better did) bring me into the new.