Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chiffon Wishes and Crinoline Dreams

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.


  1. Lemme begin by saying you looked amazing, and I would not have thought otherwise had I known you paid a pittance. Wedding dresses--and weddings for that matter--have always baffled me. It seems the entire affair is put on to impress friends and family rather than please yourself and your husband to be. Why women put themselves through the torturous task of rifling through racks and racks of similar-looking white fabric, speaking to obnoxious sales ladies, making arrangements for hundreds of people they barely know...

    Please understand, I get that her wedding is one of a woman's most important days, but ask 85% of them and they barely remember it. Moreover, the year or two of planning is always a maddening, convoluted time they prefer not to remember. To add to all that, the expense of the affair itself is compounded by the purchase of a garment equivalent in price to a compact or midsized car!

    I did not pay for my dress, instead opting to use that as the "something borrowed" part. Our wedding was a small affair which I enjoyed (for the most part) putting together, attended by 30 people, enjoyed and remembered by both C and I.

    Bottom line: I completely agree with you :)

  2. The same people who focus on the wedding instead of the marriage often want "babies" not humans.