Beautiful love stories come in all shapes and sizes.
I worried that I wasn’t going to have that tearful, this is it! moment. That unlike so many television brides-to-be, I wouldn’t know when I’d found my dress. I did know a few things though:
I would rather be comfortable than look ‘skinny’.
I wanted to have a dress that I could wear all night.
I didn’t want to need help going pee.
The hefty price tag of my dress wouldn’t be a bragging right.
I was deeply uncomfortable about the idea of spending half a month’s salary (or more) on a dress, no matter how important.
As soon as you say ‘wedding’ the price soars on most things you can think of: flowers, meals, alcohol prices, photography, shoes, accessories, cards, underwear… and definitely THE DRESS.
It’s hard NOT to feel beautiful in dresses that cost twenty times the price of things you wear in regular life. I liked them ALL, with some exceptions, and I was lucky that my small bust and tall frame meant that if it fit around my body it looked pretty good. I didn’t face the complicated support and lift issues that more ample, curvaceous brides might have to deal with, or issues of hemming. How do you know what dress is the one when they all feel so pretty?
At the time I had red hair and the contrast was striking; pale skin, red hair and cream, off white, blush… satin, lace, tulle… it was a mini nightmare of choice overload.
The aha moment came when I picked up an unlikely candidate in grey – it was a party dress, very theatrical and almost like a ballet costume. As I picked it up, I noticed that its petal pink, blush and oyster counterpart was hanging behind it. I added it to the pile. As soon as I got it on I felt like a little girl, gleeful in my desire to spin. It went quickly from ‘love this’ to ‘maybe this is the one’ to ‘this is it.’
It also really helped that it was less than half the price of other gowns. I let my gut decide and my budget concurred with a sigh of relief. I had been adamant that I wasn’t going to get suckered into a big ticket dress. This dress wasn’t what I thought I’d find, but very strangely, it had everything that I had been looking for: it was not white, it was soft and romantic, interesting and unusual, light, one shoulder, no corset, open back, the illusion of strapless without the constant need to hoist, and even before being taken in it felt magical.
It even matched the drawing I had sketched out months before I started the hunt, quite closely.When I was all ‘jacked up’ as they say, even the Iphone photos capture it pretty clearly – this was definitely a dress to which I could say an emphatic ‘yes.’
Before our wedding I found myself immersed in the “Say Yes To The Dress” frenzy of looking for the perfect one, while simultaneously being repelled by the astronomical price of these one-time-only frocks. As a fan of vintage and re-used clothing, of hand-me-downs from my mom and grandma, as well as the ‘look longingly with a sigh’ window shopping of online and magazine page-turning… I was at a loss for an answer to the big question: how can I find a dress that is personal, unique and beautiful, at a price that I can feel comfortable about (knowing that I’m on a self-imposed budget AND that I’m likely to spill something on myself… cause that’s just the kind of girl I am)? I culled inspiration from all sorts of places: Etsy, Pinterest, Bridal Magazines (given to me in stacks by previously married friends). I was definitely also interested in a second-hand gown from one of the many dress donation charities. But, where do you start?
I Pinned. Well, first I drew. I sketched my perfect dress. Then I started a folder of Pinterest images and tore out pictures from magazines until I had a really clear sense of what I was drawn to. Then I started to distill that down to what I liked AND could see myself in. What looks great in pictures doesn’t always mean that it’s a good fit for you, your body, your wedding venue, etc. I also had the added challenge of finding a dress that would coordinate with the UNSEEN dress my wife would be wearing.
Guiding words: romantic, whimsical, vintage, soft, comfortable to dance in. Like a vintage photograph or a bouquet of faded flowers. Key colours for our day: Blush, taupe, cream, gold and pewter.
Confident that our visions were aligned, and with my sister-in-law as the go between stylist, we set out. Ultimately, when I look back, the dress I got was strangely similar to my original sketch, even though I’d put it in the back of my mind once we started looking at actual dresses. From start to finish. Here is some of the inspiration and the final result.
Proof in the pudding – the inspiration found its way into the final choice.
Stay tuned for Step 2 and 3, as well as future Wedding Planning posts.