You know, I have lowered my expectations of bridal dress shopping several times. There seems to be a lot of emotion wrapped up in the dress shopping experience for women, some of it being personal other times, it’s just a lot of marketing hogwash meant to sell the “special experience of your special day.” (Seriously, if I hear “special” to describe my wedding one day when someone is trying to sell me something I may snap.)
Dress shopping can sometimes be the most emotionally loaded part of planning a wedding besides picking an officiant or paying for it. Most people know that the bride’s dress sets the tone for the entire wedding. Typically, the flower arrangements, cake and bridesmaids dresses are coordinated to fit the look and feel of the bride’s gown. An elaborate, poofy princess dress should be met with equally exquisite bridesmaid dresses and elegant flower arrangements and yes, a cake that’s equally over the top. A casual cowgirl who is getting married in a barn would pick something for her dress that would be just as fun, and less-than-formal so her bridemaids could pick casual but coordinated dresses to show off their cowgirl boots.
I knew that picking the wedding dress would help my bridesmaids get their frocks and was prepared that after the budget and the venue, picking my wedding dress would be the next big hurdle to overcome. I had a few types in mind and a Pinterest board full of bridal ideas. I guess though, I wasn’t prepared for how emotionally involved the experience would be, and despite the fact I’d lowered my expectations to protect my heart, I had no idea I’d feel so damn frumpy in the fancy dresses I’d picked out.
I hadn’t seen my mom for 6 or so years when she passed away last October. After getting engaged, the thought of bridal dress shopping brought up some emotions, but it was also a good time to put to rest the stomach churning emotions of explaining, yet again, for the umpteenth time in my life that my mom simply wasn’t “around.” Saying that she was simply gone, God rest her soul, due to death and not personal choices made the void somewhat more socially acceptable. Well, at the very least, it made it less awkward to tell to strangers who were trying to sell you something.
That being said, I knew I would not be getting some warm, fuzzy dress experience. I didn’t expect any “OH MY GOD,” moments shared with girlfriends bubbling over some assemblage of tulle and lace- I live in a different state than all of my bridesmaids and the idea of assembling people to watch me try dresses on suddenly seemed overwhelming. My mom hasn’t been around for some time, and I was more than used to explaining that fact- knowing that getting ready for a wedding might open up an old wound.
Turns out, when I went to try on dresses, I wasn’t too emotionally raw. I went to one of the “bridal chains,” you can find anywhere to get an idea of what would flatter my figure. I knew I’d be alone in the process and would have to upload pictures of my dresses to Facebook for my awesome “dream team” of bridemaids to give their feedback on. I came mentally grounded, knowing my dress shopping experience would be all business.
Maybe I had unrealistic expectations that a bridal gown magically transformed any woman into a gorgeous, well dressed diva. I mean, how could you not feel beautiful in a $1300 gown? Well, I guess I found a way.
Trying on dresses, though the staffer was super nice and the dresses were great, made me feel frumpy, lumpy and totally unglam. I realize that it’s hard to try on something so stupid fancy when your hair and makeup isn’t done up to the nines to match…there is something odd about having normal makeup on and slicking your hair back in an easy ponytail to try on dresses that are fluffy white and embellished with lots of fancy beading- but I just couldn’t envision myself looking good in any of them, despite that fact.
I looked at my silhouette in the dresses and felt like crap. My figure looked lumpy and awkward. I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden, in the fanciest dresses I’ve ever tried on, my confidence took a nose dive. Honestly, I don’t know, but I have a hint. Here’s what I’ve been looking at for months:
I realize that bridal dress shopping is all about working the silhouette God gave you. I realize I have a boxy figure, no waist to speak of and I think I’m starting to realize, that even with the most amazing corset, I would not have a sleek and slender figure like this. I get that- I’m pudgy and there should be a dress that makes me feel beautiful whether or not I’ve got the measurements of a model. I guess, I just didn’t find it yet?
I’m not sure if my lack of bravado and confidence comes from the typical marketing that makes us self-shame ourselves that we don’t live up to the pretty figures in magazines, or if it’s just that wedding dresses are weird and it’s going to take some time to find one that works? I’m a bit worried I have something in mind that doesn’t exist… some magical transformative dress that fixes how I see myself in it.
I honestly have no idea if I should just lower my expectations after months of seeing slender models in the same dresses, or if I just haven’t found the right gown.
I’d love your advice on this once, because, ugh.