Thursday, February 18, 2010

dress pressure

There is so much hype to "find the perfect wedding dress." I've read that the average cost of a wedding dress in the US is around $1000. There are a ton of crazy fun things to do with $1000.

I already have a dress. A dress that cost me next to nothing. A dress that I still like. Though it is very simple.

Except people keep asking me:

"do you LOVE your dress!?"
"you have to LOVE your dress!"
"your dress sets the whole tone of the wedding!"
"your dress should be the focal point of the whole event!"
"your wedding dress should be the fanciest most glorious dress you ever wear!"

All this sh*t. OK. I get it.

But I don't believe that my dress is the most important part of the whole day.

I'll admit, I can sit and look at wedding dresses forever online...and fantasize about what I would look like in them. And I'm not going to lie, every now and then I get bummed out with dress regret (which I swear has to be normal because I talk to brides that deal with it all the time...even brides who have expensive designer dresses). And I start to wonder "what ifs" and "should I keep the one I've got or get a new one?" I swear I go to Elizabeth Dye's site, or Sarah Seven's, and lust after their exquisite creations. Of course I wish I had one of those divine hand crafted dresses! And then again, I also wish I had a car that wasn't held together with duck tape.

I think about what else I could do with the extra money if I keep the pretty dress I already have - we can invite more people! Or we can buy a new dining room table (or bed, or sofa, or TV - because when we move in June we aren't taking any furniture with us and have to buy all the goods when we get to where we are going). Or, I could buy a truck full of super glue and fix the panel on my car?

So I have to remind myself that a lux dress would be fun and glamorous - but I already have a dress.


*note: don't let this post offend you - if I had an extra 1K I would probably consider spending it on a drool worthy gown. Except I really don't have an extra Grand, or even an extra $500, so this post is mostly to make feel OK with my dress...not to make anyone feel bad about there's. There is just a lot of pressure out there to have the BEST dress, the most UNIQUE dress, the most GLAMOROUS dress. Maybe it's because I have this blog, and I'm putting the pressure on myself as I wonder how the world will judge me in my simple lil ivory frock. And the real question should be: why do I care? Because, really, I don't...well, a little I suppose. It's not like this blog is here to validate me as a bride, or to validate the loveliness of my wedding - the blog is to help me sort through the magical journey of preparing for marriage and to catalog my inspirations, thoughts, and drama along the way.


  1. Oh, girl, the dress is only an accessory. At our field wedding I got bbq sauce on the back of my dress (a loving guest hugged me before wiping his hands) and grass stains- it did not ruin my day at all. I am sure your dress is beautiful for you and because you see it as not important and recognize that what is important on this day, is you and him, love and your families and friends!

    But yes I agree with you, sometimes I have dress envy and if I could afford it I might have splurged a little bit more :) But overall I have no regrets!

    Good luck with everything in the coming months! I hope you are doing well!!

  2. Thank you. It's soooo nice to read posts like these amidst all the blogs (and comments!) urging brides not to settle on a dress that doesn't make their her heart explode. Cuz you know what? It's a dress. It's not a spouse. It just has to make you feel pretty, not "perfect." And the pressure for "perfect" can be really harmful (psychologically and financially).

    Ooof, so anyway, thank you for this. I too have felt the pressure to find "the one" dress, and have to fight to keep my head straight and life in perspective.

    PS -- Your dress is *beautiful*, and seems to suit the feel of your wedding perfectly. Keep it!

  3. I've written about this a lot too, and the best I cam come up with is that, much as there's no "the one" in partners, there's no "the one" in dresses either. There are many dresses that would make you feel amazing and special on your wedding day, and you happen to own one of them. There are others that could also work, but it's silly to focus on them when you have a great one already (and an inexpensive one, at that!) We all go through it, it's normal, and you ARE going to feel amazing and beautiful in the dress you have, based solely on the glow from your own wedding-day joy.

  4. your dress is beautiful. simple and classic. don't worry about the price tag.
    honestly, sometimes if there's anything I regret about my dress (which I LOVE don't get me wrong) it's just how much I spent on it (too much, I think sometimes). especially, when I see beautiful dresses, like yours, which were purchased for much less.

    don't let the pressure get to you. ;-)

  5. Sometimes I wish the reply could be "mind you own freakin' business", but that doesn't really go over well. ;) The fabulous thing about your dress is that you were excited when you got it and you also got it for a steal. Just because it may not fit into the cookie cutter idea of a wedding dress (ornate, poufy, whatever) doesn't mean that it isn't fabulous. It's YOUR dress, so people need to keep their opinions at bay. Besides, if you want to make it your own by adding a fun sash/belt whatever, then you can... but it's also perfect the way it is.

    Ugh... I could go on forever about people's ideas and comments.

  6. Amen sista! I don't have the dress of my dreams...I have the man of my dreams. I think it's a pretty good trade off! :)

    and...i think you'd look stunning in a potato sack. :)

  7. First, the idea that your wedding is the ONLY chance to wear an amazing dress is ridiculous. I would say the idea is also sad, but it's too ridiculous to even be sad.

    Second, the veil fancies the dress up for the ceremony and if you really want to, you can add a fancy detail to the dress without spending much.

    Third, you are right. $1,000 put elsewhere can do some amazing things for your new life.

  8. Um, your dress is beautiful. And trust me, if I could have found a dress that I loved for the price you paid, I would have done it in a second.

    And you're definitely right, the dress regret seems to be universal. I've gone though feelings of regret (should I have bought a glam dress instead of my simple bridesmaids dress in white?) to guilt (I know it's cheap in wedding standards, but $350 is still a lot of money to spend on a dress). But in the end, I love it and the price is much better than most of the other options in my town.

    In the end, I'm sure you'll be 100% certain that having extra money for a couch, car repairs or inviting extra people was much more important than an expensive dress.

  9. I think the most important thing is that you feel good in your dress: you feel like YOU, and you feel confident and comfortable. You want to be able to have a blast in your dress and feel you are at your best. My dress made me feel that way, so I went with it, despite the fact that it was not what I had initially envisioned.

    And because it was SUCH a super deal, there was no worrying I might "mess it up." Which is a good thing, because I ended up with blue pen mark on the back somehow (like a signature almost...I have NO idea!!!)and lost a few buttons too. But I loved my dress and loved how totally affordable it was, and still feel great about the choice, even 4 months later. :) And I love knowing I used the money well. In fact, it became (and still is) a standard when evaluating in, "Hmm, this veil costs more than the wedding dress." and "I dunno...I found a wedding dress for that price." And my current thought, "Hmm, maybe I need to return that new dress I got for 75% off; it is almost as much as my wedding dress was."

  10. And, I guess I should add, that there were other dresses out there that might have been more of my "dream dress." In an ideal world where incredible dresses are free, I probably would have chosen differently. But in the real world, I decided I was not going to spend the $$$ on one of those for one day when I had one I really did like for super cheap. It just didn't make sense to me. And if the dress is "the focal point of the whole event", then there is something seriously wrong, in my opinion. That is not what I was going for, so we actually decided against a number of dresses because when I wore them, it was more about The Dress than it was about me. (And yes, my then fiancé and I went dress shopping together with my parents and I am so thankful I had his wise opinion through it all.) I did not want the dress to overshadow other more important things like who we are as individuals and as a couple and the marriage. And besides, he thought I looked best in the dress we chose. :)

  11. I bet they're all just jealous! I think on the day, we'll laugh about all of this nonsense. Do what makes YOU happy. You're the one who has to answer to yourself right?

    Keep up the good work! I always love reading

  12. it's totally about the girl who wears the dress!

  13. Your dress is lovely and you look gorgeous in it. Your love will set the tone of the wedding, and I'm pretty sure that you two will be the focal point. All those pressurers can shove it!

  14. Hooray for this post! I also bought a J. Crew dress on super-sale for $120. I didn't love it, but I decided to stick with it because I liked it enough. I was even checking out other dresses in the last few weeks before the wedding; but then something amazing happened. Once I got it properly tailored and walked into my wedding that dress became VERY special. When I look at photos I realized just how perfect it was. In the end, I considered it the best wedding decision that I made. I hope that you will feel the same way about your special (and beautiful) dress!

  15. Ignore all of that perfect dress crap. there is no perfect dress. it really is about the girl in the dress, not the dress. You look gorgeous in your dress! and when it comes to white dresses, in all the beautiful pictures of beautiful brides, the only thing I see is the accessories which I know you've got. honestly, it's all about the photos, and I KNOW you've got that taken care of.

  16. I've seen so many girls who look like crazy cupcakes in their $3000 dress. Price doesn't matter. Style does. If that dress looks good on you and you like it, then rock the shit out it. This whole, it's your only chance to wear a beautiful gown! nonsense comes from the same people who say things like: but you have to have cake! You can't sleep with him the night before the wedding! You are not a bride without a veil!

    Fuck those people. What drugs are they on anyway?

    There are no rules. It's YOUR wedding, not the LSAT. Scribble outside the lines.

  17. Seriously.

    I have a gorgeous designer dress what I feel amazing in and I still have dress regrets.

  18. I know the feeling. I wore a very simple bridesmaid's dress in ivory as my wedding dress, and those nagging voices hit me all the time. But one of the biggest lies in the wedding world is that the dress sets the tone for the whole wedding. No no no. You know what sets the tone? You and your man and your love. Weddings are about love, community, commitment. Dresses are nice, but it's the people that make a wedding. Don't let those voices get you down. Your dress is beautiful, and I think the story makes it all the more special!

  19. YYEESSS!!! to this post!! I bought a dress that I love but its not really a wedding dress. I didn't spend much money on it--not nearly what lots of people do. I got told by someone that "its all about the dress" Hmm...i don't think so but OK, sure!

    There are so many things that you could spend that money on. In the end, will a dress really make you happy?? I admit, I fantasize about the "perfect" dress too, but really?? here's to the low budget dress girls!!

  20. My Mom is making my dress. When I tell people this I get all sorts of commentary. Especially if they find out that my dress is currently still fabric on a bolt for a May 15, 2010 wedding. What they often don't know is that she's a fabulous seamstress, and I want a super simple dress.

    I've tried on bridal store dresses 3 different times. At no point did I experience a "say yes to the dress" moment. It all felt kind of awkward for me, really.

    When my maid of honor, my Mom, and I went fabric shopping it felt completely different. We had fun, we held all kind of fabrics up to drape with, and we picked a pure silk satin for my dress. We ended up buying all the fabric we'd need for both my gown and my maid of honor's dress-for less than $250. I could never have afforded that quality of fabric at a bridal store. Our entire wedding budget is small, because I'm about to set up a little nest and start residency too...other financial things are more important than "party fluff" right now. (fun as party fluff can be sometimes!)

    I don't think there's a dress out there that will cause me to feel the heavens are shining down and birds are serenading me. I don't expect those feelings from the one my Mom makes. I'm just not that into clothes! But I think that I'll have invaluable memories of the process of my dress and my Mom's love, and will look lovely (and like *myself*) on our wedding day. That's the part that matters!

  21. YES. And thank you -- I get really, really tired of reading so many brides talk about how they found "the one" and started crying/hyperventilating/swooning. Umm, I don't even believe in "the one" when it comes to men. Why am I supposed to believe that there is ONE dress out there that is meant for me?!? I've never cried over a dress in my life, and to be honest, I think there is pressure to feel that way. And I also think the tears, etc. are displaced emotion. Have you read "One Perfect Day"? The book has its issues, but I love the "'Oh, Mommy!' Moment" chapter on this very topic.

    I enjoy fashion and pretty dresses, but the dress worship/obsession sometimes makes me feel a little ill (I have no idea why I still sometimes watch "Say yes to the dress," except, uh, masochism? LOL). Sometimes I think these girls put more time/thought into finding the perfect dress than they ever put into making sure their partner was the right fit for them (oops, that sounds bitchy; don't mean to sound quite so harsh...).

    Anyway, just wanted to say that I have had many of the same thoughts (and Elizabeth Dye's dresses are gorgeous!). However, like you said, it's dress. That you wear for a handful of hours. That's it. If you want to make it feel a little more special, though -- have you thought of maybe adding some one-of-a kind cheap accessories? Like a flower belt, fun shoes? That's what I'm doing, esp. since the dress itself was so inexpensive.

    And yes, I bet even if you had spent $5,000 on the dress, you would have some regret (for spending that much, if nothing else).

  22. Rock on with your bad self. I agree with A los angeles love. My dress is off the rack and I so love it. I'm sure I would love the expensive ones too, but that doesn't take away from me loving the dress I have now.

  23. I'll say it again... it's not the dress but the alterations, people. I'm all about going cheap... but you do not want to be one of those brides who is pulling up their dress all day long. So ugly for photos... If you do go BIG, sell it. I found my Monique was burning a hole in my pocket in the closet, of course, I bought it off the rack at a boutique for 60% off and it was still the most expensive garment I've ever owned (but it fit perfect thanks to great alternations). It was hard to sell it--and I'm not even sentimental-- but $1,500 is a lot of money for a garment for a mountain girl like me. A LOT. My total dress budget= $100 after selling it. It felt good. Remorse gone.

  24. Just happened by and love your words of wisdom that others will take hope in! A dress cannot be imbued with such importance -- my little piece of advice: absolutely make sure you are comfortable in your wedding dress (and shoes, and headpiece, etc.) - good luck to you ...

  25. Thanks for the encouragement about the engagement photos. In addition to us both being/becoming doctors - I was poking around your blog looking at the old wedding photos and see that you have relatives in Minnesota and South Dakota too. And will be moving to the mountains of Colorado after my fiance is done with grad school. Can you hear the twilight zone music yet?

    I hear you on the frustrations of dress finances. I'm wishing I would have found a less expensive one before even trying on $900 dresses last weekend. I'm trying not to feel like a less expensive dress will feel like a downgrade. I guess what helps is to think of how you'll feel about your dress 5, 10, or 50 years from now. Chances are you'll be fine not spending a grand on a dress - at least that's what I'm trying to tell myself.

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  27. I got my dress at the running of the brides so it was WAY cheaper than any dresses I had looked at in a store. It probably is not the dress I would have chosen if I'd just bought it at a bridal store, but, I love it, esp becuase it was such a bargain. THis wedding thing really brings out the bargain shopper in me. I think I would feel guilty wearing this dress, or any dress, if I had paid bridal store prices. I can wear this dress knowing that I didn't break the bank of just a dress. I will have to remember though on the wedding day that I should just say thank you to everyone complimenting me on my dress rather than bragging about what a steal I got it for.

  28. You know what? YOU don't need a fancy shmancy dress. You are so naturally gorgeous that a simple dress will showcase all of your best qualities - your smile, your eyes, your hair, etc. :)



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