I recently read a beautiful tale of two wedding dresses over at Falling Upward blog and it got me to thinking about my own wedding dress. I thought I'd share.
Kevin proposed to me 3 weeks before I was laid off. If we hadn't been engaged our story may have been very different. I was alone in Green Bay with 18 months of work experience in a field I had no education in and I was locked into an apartment lease. My unemployment payments barely covered my rent and my meager savings would only have lasted a few months. If it hadn't been for our engagement, I very well may have moved back to Ohio where my parents were living at the time.
Instead, unemployed and engaged in a strange city, Kevin paid my other bills while we looked for another job. I was laid off right before the economy turned and so the market was already beginning to slow. I spent the entire 7 months we were engaged looking for jobs and doing decorating projects on Kevin's house. Two months before our wedding my landlord was able to lease my apartment to someone new and I moved into the upstairs bedroom at Kevin's house. While you most certainly can insert judgements here, it was the reality of our situation and I don't believe in making up stories to keep people reading.
Suffice it to say, our engagement was a joyfully cautious time. Without a job it was hard to make decisions about a wedding that would cost money. We kept things very simple. Our guest list was 40 people and we hosted a dinner at a local restaurant. Because it was so small, there was some frustration and hurt from others who assumed they would be guests. So, instead of being happy for us many of our family members voiced upset and anger.
When it came to the dress, while I wanted to look beautiful on my wedding day it didn't really seem to matter at the time. My mom was in a place in her life and my sisters were at an age that they were not able to come and be with me as I made the decision on a dress. I set a very modest budget and knew that I couldn't EVER justify spending more on a dress that I would wear for a few hours. My future sister-in-law and niece went with me to try on dresses. That in itself is slightly amusing because my sister-in-law is pretty far from a girly-girl.
I tried on several that I thought I would like and didn't and finally settle on a simple, no train, strapless beaded gown with a sweetheart neckline. I would have prefered to wear something with straps for Mass, my budget didn't really gift me that option in a style that otherwise flattered me. I didn't have it lengthened because I wore flats and I didn't want a veil. I bought a corset and jewelry and made my clutch to match. Since dinner was scheduled for before the ceremony I also made an ivory cocktail dress to wear for dinner.
By the time the wedding day arrived I had gained a few stress pounds and was grateful for the corset and the relief of an a-line gown. We were running late and I dove into my gown and slapped on some fresh lipstick about 10 minutes before Mass.
I didn't feel stunning or show-stopping. I don't even feel like it was the most beautiful day of my life.
Against my dad's recommendation, I didn't carry flowers. He was worried about my hands shaking from nerves and needing something to hold onto.
But in the end, the second I took my dad's arm and look down the aisle at my future I felt loved. Knowing that we had already thrived despite one of the hardest experiences in life gave me a sense of confidence and security that overcame all of my superficial insecurities about my appearance.
As I took that first step all of the worldly things that tradionally mattered didn't any more. I was beautiful and I was loved. I was marrying a man that was going to stand by me and love me no matter what I was wearing or how pretty my hair looked. I was marrying a man whose only care was to see me wear a smile.
Today my dress hangs in my closet. I have every intention of wearing it again. I am currently on the hunt for a seamstress that will convert my simple a-line gown into a cocktail dress for our 5th anniversary. I plan to hold onto the extra fabric to incorporate into my children's wedding garments. At the time the dress didn't really matter, but today it is symbol of our fidelity, our perserverance, and the simple beauty of our love. It is a symbol and dare I say a"sacramentary" to be passed on to future generations in love and fidelity.