Wifeys & Gentlemen,
First off, welcome to spring! I can’t believe it is already April and I am officially only 7 months away from my wedding day. Yes, my darling readers, as promised after my engagement, today’s post is a wedding update, so if you hate my wedding and/or you hate marriage in general, maybe skip this post and check back in a week or two? Otherwise, it’s story time, folks! Settle in!
Now, I know today’s topic/title is a tad ‘cliche’ but the show (if you’re unfamiliar, it comes on TLC and you should watch it right now) is so iconic that I just couldn’t help myself. It’s cute, it rhymes (the name not the show itself), and it epitomizes such a standard image of the wedding process that has been firmly planted into many of our wide-eyed, wedding-obsessed minds! I mean… doesn’t everyone want to create their own ‘Kleinfeld’ moment?
I don’t know how many of you are married, engaged, or have been involved in planning a wedding in some way, but in the middle of a what seems like an endless list of pre-wedding tasks and preparations (and spending money you don’t have), I have come to believe that one of the BEST parts of this experience so far has been shopping for and committing to my dress.
Given the circumstances, that’s actually really surprising!
Full disclosure; I was actually really really nervous to go shopping from the moment the appointment was scheduled. My mom flew in from the East coast and I invited 4 other ladies to join in order to both help me make the best choice possible and have a solid group of people to round out the nice “victory” lunch/cocktails afterwards. Once the invitations were sent, I was filled with nothing but regret. Don’t get me wrong, the people I invited are all wonderful and I knew we’d have a good time but, in my older years, I have turned into someone who doesn’t like to be the center of attention much of the time. If you know me, this might sound a little weird as I can be a bit of a ham… I know!& It isn’t so much that I don’t like to be looked at or paid attention to when the occasion calls for it, or that I hate myself so much that I don’t think the world should be subjected to my pretty face, but, unless it’s my birthday (which I take very seriously, btw) I don’t enjoy having others make a fuss over me. I feel a weird sense of pressure to be perfect and awesome and flawless, and I hate feeling that way, because it’s impossible to do!
The connection between body image and one’s wedding day is truly alarming once you’re in the thick of it! Go to Pinterest or perform a simple Google search and you’ll find tons of advice and articles giving their BEST tips on how to shed pounds, achieve perfect skin, grow your hair/nails, tone your arms/tighten your belly, enhance your chest, or look “hot” for your wedding night! It’s everywhere! Images and articles and advice and demands that all remind us of how we just aren’t good enough! Even the most well adjusted of the bunch can fall victim to the pressures of bridal perfection. It was these voices that were filling with me the all-to-familiar anxiety I get when I have to buy a new outfit; and this outfit is particularly special,right?!
I realized a day or two before the “big” shopping day that my journey to self-love is far from over. While I am happy with the progress I’ve made, I sometimes backslide and turn into a total crazy mess over how I look vs how the world has made me think I should look for my wedding. Before the dress fitting date, my mood was decidedly off as tons of thoughts swirled constantly through my mind.
Am I too fat?
Will any of the dresses I want even fit?
What if the styles I love don’t look good on me?
What if I look terrible in front of everyone? How embarrassing!
I remember telling my mother and my fiancé how I wished I could just go shopping by myself! But after I got started, all of the anxiety melted away. My mom and two best friends were there (the other ladies weren’t able to attend, which actually took some of the pressure off), and we were greeted by a fun and energetic attendant named Chanti (Chanthal). She was very sweet and efficent, getting me measured and suited up for my fittings in no time. The place was really crowded (a Saturday in March) with tons of women who, as expected, appeared to be fighting similar battles against themselves (body image), their families/friends (opinions/comments), and all the lace, fluff, beading, and tulle that came on and off and on again, all in the name of claiming their own definitions of wedding day perfection!
Going in, I had already saved about 10 dresses to my “favorites” list in a variety of styles, and as we began, I felt slightly disheartened that nothing would really “wow” me. Being the stubborn girl that I am, I was initially determined to be as modern and chic as possible, wanting to avoid the styles that everyone would expect me to like.
Chanti was really accommodating and brought me everything I asked for. From mermaid to a-line and back again, I tried on most of the dresses and felt an immediate since of “meh”. I just wasn’t impressed. It’s funny how, despite all of that drama, when I tried on the dress that I ultimately chose for my day, I got “it”. I’m not 100% sure what “it” really is, but I swear I felt different. The whole process seemed to change in an instant.
There is a weird little glow that spreads across your face and body when you put on your wedding dress. As sappy as it sounds, looking in the mirror at my smile and my seeing myself in full veil, I was really able to picture myself at my wedding; walking down the aisle towards my beaming fiancé who is impressed (I hope) by my queenly stature and radiant smile!
In my dress, I felt slim, confident, regal, and classic. My posse all adamantly agreed that I looked ‘stunning’, which made me feel even better! When I was finally able to take the dress off (I stayed in it for a while), I knew deep down that it was the dress I was meant to have (though I did try on a few more, just to make sure) 😉 …
I’m sure some of you are judging me right now, and that’s okay, I’m judging myself a little too. The whole thing seems so cheesy! But I can promise, it was more than that. Better, somehow. I can remember being a little girl, watching my favorite wedding shows and pouring through my favorite magazines, imagining myself in dresses that are oddly similar to the one I decided to buy that day. For me, it feels a lot like fate. Even in the moments where I second guess myself or worry that I’ve made the wrong choice (it happens from time to time), I get comfort knowing that my inner 9 year old picked this dress for me almost 20 years ago, and I will kick total bridal ass come November (thanks Chanti)!
I guess what I took from the experience and what I’d really like to impress upon you guys is that there is no one way to have a “perfect wedding dress moment”, all of them are perfect in their own way. Avoid overdosing on too many episodes of SYTTD, avoid the negative opinions of others and/or the voices in your own head, and be determined to allow the process to be exactly what you need. Shop alone if you want to, bring 12 people if you want to, find a perfect vintage dress at the goodwill for $100 or treat yourself (if you can afford it) to that $8500 Hayley Paige gown you’ve been dreaming of for years! Go to several stores and then narrow down your choice from your top 5, or go to one store and fall in love with the very first dress you put on. None of that matters at the end of the day, the possibilities are endless (okay, maybe not endless, but they’re pretty vast).
If you remember nothing else, when you find your dress, take a deep breath and smile. Stand silently for a moment enjoying your beauty and your confidence. Visualize you and your love during the ceremony, on the dance floor, raising glasses for a toast, and taking pictures with your family and friends. No matter the opinions in the room, take those moments to love yourself and enjoy the big step you’ve just taken in this new chapter.
When Chanti finally asked me: “Kyndal, are you saying “yes” to the dress?”
I couldn’t stop the awesome grin on my face as I vigorously and enthusiastically rang the “yes” bell with no modicum of hesitation; not because the other women commented on how great I looked, not because my mom and friends got a little misty-eyed when they saw me, and not even because once the alterations are finished & I tone up my arms, I’ll be all manners of fierce…but because of how I felt in that moment, in the mirror, being earnest and unapologetic; being okay with being me.
Until next time,
Carry on Wifeys!