Friday, August 7, 2009

Wedding Dress

I posted a little about my wedding dress in the month after the fire. Today I took a survey about my wedding dress, and I got some follow-up questions. I thought I would share the story with you as well.


I saw my wedding dress in a magazine six months before I officially got engaged. I say officially because Dan and I talked about getting married almost immediately after meeting. Something felt right, and in an effort to get out of my head and lead with my heart, I opened up to that possibility. As soon as I saw the dress I knew it would be the dress I wore the day I got married, what I imagined to be the most important day in my life up until then.

After we were officially engaged, I started the official dress search. My mom had asked that I try on a few dresses. Most brides I know find their dress by trying on dress after dress. I didn't need to. I ordered and paid for the dress without ever having tried it on or seeing it in person.

The women at the bridal store were excited about the dress as well. They had seen it in the catalogs, but no one had ordered it from them before. That was part of the reason I loved this dress so much. It was unique. I would be remembered as a bride not because of the actual wedding (who remembers those?!) nor because of the fun reception. I would be remembered because my dress was different.

I tried it on for the first time a month or so before the wedding. The fitted bodice had intricate beading interwoven into the black swirl that stood out against the traditional white satin. The train extended well past my feet, making me feel like a porcelain doll perched atop a circular base. Because of the beading I could not hem the length. I would have to find shoes to make me slightly taller. The lace up in the back enhanced the detail of the dress, and only once during the actual wedding did I decide that I probably needed to breathe and yet still longed for days centuries before my wedding date where elegant dresses were often worn cinched this tightly and women always looked this regal.

I didn't let my husband see the dress or know any of the details. This dress was my surprise, and nearly every detail of the wedding was designed around this one item. The wedding cake was designed to match the dress, and therefore, Dan was relieved of his cake duties as soon as we had decided on a white cake with raspberry filling. We had black and white chair covers, white flowers with black pins, black and white bridesmaid dresses (which I am happy to say have knowingly been worn again!). Had this not been Idaho, I would have had a black tie wedding (but it was hard enough to get everyone to show up without wearing jeans!).

And the wedding was everything that dress embodied. It was elegant. I felt beautiful. And it was unique.

I had other items from the wedding: toasting flutes, pictures, programs, our CD favor. But none of them could capture our wedding in one symbol the way that my dress did. I wanted to show people our pictures just to show them my dress. I would pull my dress out, even, to show people because I loved it so much. I may have even worn it around the house a time or two. My wedding was that dress.

About six months before the fire I started thinking I needed to give the dress away. It was a hard decision. I'm attached to the birthday card I got when I turned eight that says nothing more than "Hey, you're 8." If I couldn't get rid of that, how could I ever get rid of the dress? But I rationalized that I would never wear it again, and it could be donated to the breast cancer organization in Oregon that sells wedding gowns at least once a year. Someone else's dream wedding could happen in that dress. It would live on. The beauty of marriage would live on in that dress.

But I didn't donate it. I hadn't gotten around to it because I was still working on detaching myself and my wedding from the actual dress itself. Isn't life funny?!

Dan got my professional wedding album out of the house before the fire, along with more photos, my wedding ring (which didn't fit my eight month pregnant bloated hands), my laptop, and the dog. Had I been there, I would have grabbed my dress. I have thought a lot about this over the last year (YEAR?!), and I know unequivocally that I would have grabbed my dress. It was the symbol of my marriage, and even though I had thought of giving it away, I'm not sure I ever would have. Maybe I felt like I needed the dress as a reminder of my wedding and the vows that we made that day.

I challenge you to think about the symbols in your life. What are the tangible representations of the things that matter to you? Is your marriage all in your head (and heart) and memories, or do you have items that remind you of the commitments you made? What would there be if those things were gone?

Speaking of which, I am working on a post about our month of memories.


  1. I want to see a picture of this dress!

  2. Hi Brooke,

    I lost my wedding dress in my fire too and it is one thing I keep coming back to and crying over. I know I was never going to wear it again, but it's gone and it hurts and I very much relate to how you feel.