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Just like my guy, my wedding dress found me in a weird unexpected way that, despite having watched more episodes of Say Yes To The Dress than I can count, took me by surprise.
My mother had saved her wedding dress in case I wanted to wear it at my wedding, and I promised her it would be the first dress I put on. I didnâ€™t want to try it on alone, and I had no idea how to unpack or repack it so as to preserve the last 33 yearsâ€¦so I invited three of my friends over one Saturday morning, kicked my fiancĂ© out of the apartment, and played dress up.
The thing is, it really felt like I was playing dress up. I felt like I was wearing a costume, not my wedding dress, and while itâ€™s a gorgeous dress and fit me perfectly, the high neck, long sleeves, and overall itchiness made me feel like it was not for me. But I was also upset in that I really felt like someone playing dress up. Would I not feel like a bride? Would I not be a bride?
I thought of Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City and the episode where she realizes that she canâ€™t marry Aidan after having a reaction to the wedding dress. As I asked my friend to unzip me, a small part of me was afraid this was another step in that direction.Â Maybe I wasnâ€™t meant to be a bride?
So rather than waiting for the appointments I had planned with my family and friends back in New York City, I snuck to the Davidâ€™s Bridal a block from my house one night without an appointment about a half hour before it closed. I just wanted to look around and get a vision of myself in a wedding dress that wasnâ€™t from 1981. I literally put my box of pizza on the floor and tried to go through the racks.
Eventually, a sales person approached me and asked me if I needed help. I explained my project â€“ that I just wanted to try on a dress to get the image of my momâ€™s dress out of my head. I showed them the picture. They understood. (And this isnâ€™t knocking my momâ€™s dress â€“ itâ€™s a beautiful dress, and I would be honored to wear it â€“ it just didnâ€™t feel like mine). So she showed me to a catalogue and I hurriedly selected a few dresses I wanted to try, apologizing the whole way.
Since I wasnâ€™t expecting to get THE dress, I had chosen a short dress off the sales rack that I thought might be a good option for one of my engagement parties. I put it on andâ€¦ no. Not the one.
So I grabbed one of the two dresses she had left for me and tried that on instead. I remember feeling that it was a little fluffy â€“ I wasnâ€™t sure whether to put it over my head or step into it. There was no coddling â€“ I was alone in the dressing room trying it on. But as I stepped out, I glowed. It was beautiful. It was elegant. It was simple. It was romantic. It was timeless. It was classic. It was me.
But I wasnâ€™t looking for THE dress, so I just asked them to take a picture of it, hurriedly tried on a sheath dress that wasnâ€™t nearly as magnificent but was what I had thought I wanted, and went home.
Only I couldnâ€™t stop staring at the picture. I wanted to show everyone. It was so beautiful. I thought, â€śThis might be The One.â€ť
Sure enough, I became even more excited about my long planned dress shopping appointment in part because it was only a few miles from the Davidâ€™s Bridal in New York and I could go show everyone how amazing the dress was if nothing else worked. As I tried on dresses at the bridal salon with my mother, my grandmother, and one of my best friends, I just kept comparing everything to the dress from Chicago â€“ the no name, but the one that was just so me.
And soon we were in the car again heading to Davidâ€™s Bridal, and I was in the dress again, and ringing a bell saying yes to the dress. It wasnâ€™t the designer I thought. Or the price. Or the style. But I cannot imagine walking down the aisle in anything else. So I guess it found me.