The other day I was watching a horrible reality show called “Say Yes to the Dress,” which spotlights brides-to-be as they search for their dream wedding gown at a high-end bridal salon. I call it “horrible” because it perpetuates the ideas that, A) an article of clothing can be akin to your utmost fantasy, and B) if you find your dream gown and don’t purchase it, you will quite possibly ruin your own wedding and regret it for the rest of your life.
Brides are duped into believing that it is totally worth it to be in debt for the next decade so as to not pass up “your” dress (which, apparently, is hidden in a large storage room in New Jersey). These perfection-seeking, emotionally taxed women are duped into spending thousands of dollars on something they will wear ONCE, all by the idea that they are purchasing an actual dream.
On the episode I was watching, a very young woman had flown her entire family from Florida to NJ to go to this salon, and of course she found her dream gown there. The price tag: $23,000. That’s twenty-three THOUSAND dollars for a single-use dress.
This probably comes as no surprise, but my wedding gown was not my dream dress. I don’t even know what my dream dress would be. I don’t think I could put all the features of every beautiful dress I’ve ever seen onto one single garment without creating a hideous monster, much like one of those 27-scoop ice-cream sundaes. There are many details (and flavors) I find amazing in their own ways, but that doesn’t mean they should all be in one place at the same time. My wedding gown was beautiful and elegant and flattering, but I did not go on a nationwide search for it with multiple friends and relatives in tow for additional opinions and moral support.
I found my gown by myself, online, in a bridal salon on the opposite side of the country, and it arrived by UPS without my ever seeing it in person first. It was a high-end designer gown that was a season old and had been a store sample. It had been tried on and was missing a button, maybe a few scuffs on the hem. In the world of bridal salons, it was a bruised banana not fit for the sundae.
But I got it at a 95% discount. So while it wasn’t the Gown of the Century, it was a gorgeous wedding dress that I could afford, and it saved me what surely would have been days of emotional exhaustion and outbursts of frustration taken out on other people when things wouldn’t go my way when trying on gown after gown in search of my dream. A professional cleaning, a replacement button and some alterations, and I had a gown I would have never even been able to consider before. So who’s living the dream now?
Dream gowns rarely come at dream prices. And they rarely bring with them the promised dreams of everlasting bliss.