My Wedding Dress

Dress, similar here

Recently on a plane, I asked the stewardess to hang up my garment bag. "Is it your wedding dress?" she asked. 

Me: "Yes." 

Stewardess: "Is it white and beautiful?"

Passenger seated in front: "When are you getting married?"

Another stewardess: "You're getting married in Paris? How romantic! Let me see the diamond."

"It's grey, I think it's beautiful, I got married two years ago, and I don't have a diamond," I answered. 

"Oh," said the first stewardess, losing interest. She dumped the garment bag on her colleague and walked away.

"No diamond," the passenger mumbled, burying her head in a book. 

"Why carry the dress around?" the other stewardess asked. "To wear," I replied. 

She unzipped my garment bag and eyed it critically. "It's just a regular dress," she said, pursing her lips. "Are you really married?"

Before becoming my wedding dress, this was my favorite dress. I bought it (for $13) at a thrift store in 2010, so it's probably six years old, fully lined with a woven label and built-in bra. It fit perfectly, didn't need any tailoring, and gave me the illusion of sloping shoulders- in reality, they're shaped more like ginsu knives, the kind you buy at discount department stores. Elastic stays kept the neckline in place, so when twerking emerged as a mainstream form of self-expression, I was ready. 

I liked the wool, the subtle sparkle of chevron beading, and how the silk felt on my skin. I threw a cardigan or skirt over it for work, and wore it alone to cocktail parties. At the time, I lived in a sleepy suburb, but dressed for a fantasy life in Paris. Once I paired it with my friend's leather jacket and went to a Natas Loves You show at a filthy venue. The dress took me from vintage shopping in the Marais to Notre Dame de Lorette to the ferris wheel, Le Meurice, the Tuileries, and Strasbourg Saint-Denis. 

When I visited Paris again, I wore it to dinner at a French blogger's apartment. My now-husband picked me up on his scooter. We sat on the floor eating burgers and went to Silencio after; that's how old this dress is- Silencio was cool then.

  

When we were engaged, my undergraduate studies in sustainability cast a pall over dress-shopping. Anthropocentric interests played a major role- clouds of tulle never appealed to me, and wearing white made me feel like the Hindenburg. I read somewhere that French women wore nice, normal dresses to get married, so they could wear them over again. Now that I live here, I see that's completely untrue, but relying on this information, I decided not to spend six months' mortgage on a dress I'd wear once.* Back then, I didn't have a Pinterest account to convince me otherwise.

An adjunct member of Asia's number one market for luxury goods, I briefly considered designer gowns before remembering my clumsiness and tax bracket precluded couture. Secondhand stores yielded November Rain-worthy, Princess Di-inspired options. I tried my grandmother's wedding dress, but couldn't zip it past my rib cage. It was frustrating. I just wanted to get married in my favorite dress.

Most brides-to-be never dream of being married in everyday clothes, and if they do, they at least want something new for the occasion. Not me. The dress was part of our history, both together and with Paris. I wore thrifted Miu Miu d'Orsay pumps, which I later gave to my friend Natalie (now a bride-to-be herself)- my husband loved it.

Even after a few years, I'm not sick of my wedding dress. I've tailored and worn it as long as I can- a concept my French friends accepted readily- but it's too big now. I don't feel right keeping something hidden away in a closet when somebody else could enjoy it. Everybody's relationship with their wedding gown is personal, but memories and emotions don't depend on physical objects. I hope the next owner finds this dress as useful, special, and beautiful as I did.

*Genevieve Antoine Dariaux wrote, "It is no longer unusual for a bride to wear... an elegant ensemble, such as you might wear to a smart luncheon- a suit or wool coat and dress, in any color you like, including black." However, all the French brides I've seen- 17 of them- wear white or ivory knee length dresses to the Mairie and princess gowns at the reception.
Paris to Go

27 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful post. I especially enjoy the wardrobe posts and getting to learn more about your story with Paris.... jealous!

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    1. Thank you very much Marie! I considered deleting the post because I thought readers would be bored with it and find it too mushy and weird... reassuring comments like yours really help me out in deciding what to right about in the future! Thank you again!

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  2. It's a beautiful dress! And I agree with you. My wedding dress was not white (it was floral) and not even new. Granted, this was my 2nd time around, but I still couldn't see spending a fortune on a "wedding dress" I was marrying my guy in NYC and having a whirlwind fantastic weekend with our best friends along for the ride. I wasn't marrying the dress. I still LOVE reading your articles! Ginny

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    1. Hi Ginny how have you been? It's so nice to hear from you and I have been thinking of you because I found out recently I can't have corn in Paris... they rotate the crops! On that tangent, thank you :) And I love the sentiment "I wasn't marrying the dress." If I'd been married in the summer you can bet I would have worn something floral like you... congratulations on focusing on the people you loved and having fun and making memories, not on the dress. I don't even remember any of my friends' wedding gowns...

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  3. I wish others would consider this. How a beautiful dress can serve a variety of purposes and still be special on that day. I think this applies to the outrageous amount spent on all facets of a wedding. Our cultures spends the equivalent of a car or down payment on a home for one day with no thought to the marriage. As with all over consumption we get it wrong way around, We "vote" every day with our dollars for the world we want. Everyone always complains about shoddy goods but the keep buying them. They worry about our work force but then buy cheap goods made overseas in slave conditions and congratulate ourselves on a "deal". I thrift and even have to watch that I don't use it for gluttony in buying my 5th black shirt because of scarcity or what it's. We don't even know what enough is, or contentment is anymore. Bravo to realize your dress has served you well and to pass it lovingly on to someone else,

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    1. I love your insights! I notice that here the wedding is more about the marriage itself and spending time with loved ones than the right venue, photo booths, floral arrangements and favors... to me the most memorable weddings are the simplest ones. I feel the exact same way about thrifting. The mantra "less is more" doesn't tell how much less is still more!

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  4. What a lovely post and concept! I find the whole story captivating, especially your decision to part away with your wedding dress after going through so many adventures in it.

    You must have inspired so many girls to choose their wedding dress differently :)

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    1. Thank you Lisa!!! Lol I think many of my American friends still don't understand my choice (my French friends get it haha) but recently one of the girls I went to school with did end up getting married in a dress she wears again and again after. I hope this becomes a trend!

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  6. Beautiful story! I, too, love the idea of having your wedding dress be one you'll wear over and over - how special to be able to wear it afterward and then think back to your wedding (rather than just seeing it hanging in the closet from time to time with nowhere to wear it). I was married long before minimalism and zero waste concepts were on my radar, and understand how wedding planning can become the main focus rather than the marriage itself. I love that you went against the "norm" (at least in the US) - and the reactions of those on the plane just show how ingrained all of the consumerism around weddings has become!

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    1. Thank you so much Jill! I hope at least more and more people will try to pass on their wedding dresses or make something beautiful out of it. I just saw a company that makes lingerie out of the wedding dress fabric- a great idea! It must be so hard planning a big wedding, trying to balance two families and friends and everybody's expectations and opinions. It shouldn't have to be hard! It should be about the couple!

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  7. Love the dress and the story. I had a low-key wedding but still spent 350 pounds on my dress (which was still way cheaper than anyone else I knew). I kept it for 16 years but finally threw it away. I am now divorced so it didn't hold good memories and I did not want to put pressure on my daughter to wear it some day (besides which she is a totally different shape and colouring to me!). After keeping it in storage for so long it had not aged well and had a few brown spots. At least my then husband wore his wedding suit for work for a couple of years! I agree that so much is spent on weddings and making them into a spectacle. If I ever get married again, I would rather spend money on the honeymoon (I love travel) or use the money to take a chuck of time off work to spend together and get the marriage off to a good start.


    Love your blog and look forward to reading more.


    Claire, Adelaide, South Australia

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    1. Hi Claire! Thank you and thanks for your story! I like your perspective- especially the idea to get the marriage off to a good start. Recently I've met several couples who, instead of spending money on a big wedding where they would feel obliged to invite some people they didn't really care about, put the money on a down payment for a house and had small gatherings with their closest friends. Often the brides wore flattering dresses they loved instead of conventional white ones they didn't feel comfortable in. I love travel too, that's a great idea to take a nice trip instead or spent time together. Thanks Claire!

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  8. I love this dress, way more than any traditional wedding dress. And even more, I love it that you wore something truly meaningful to you on your wedding day, and it continued to be something meaningful to you that you wore and wasn't stored away. And to pass it on so someone else can create new memories with it is a wonderful idea.

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    1. Aw, thanks Jen! That's the word I was looking for- meaningful! I never liked the idea of keeping things in storage, I prefer using and living in all my items. Thanks for your comment, that is so sweet, it means so much to me!

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  9. Me encanta tu vestido de novia! que lo sigas disfrutando muchos, muchos años.

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  10. Ariana,

    Firstly, your name is gorgeous.

    And i absolutely enjoy your wardrobe posts. This is such a beautiful story. I got married in a brown beach dress and we made our own wedding rings ( we are engineers ) out of titanium. I can really relate to your story.

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    1. Thanks Archana! Wow you made your rings, that is absolutely beautiful!! What a great memory and great story.

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  11. It's so a lot of excited regarding the marriage one amongst my friend however very little tense regarding the marriage favors. awing post! it's sensible to pay additional hours for your wedding. arrange your wedding slowly and steady.


    wedding bouquet

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  12. This is a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing. I can't believe how dismissive the people on the plane were. I never understood why people want new expensive dresses for their weddings, which they would only wear once, maybe twice if they had separate photo days (which is apparently a thing now). Same goes for diamonds they are not even a good investment! Their value depreciates almost instantly. I believe with weddings it is the bond between individuals and their families that matter most. Plus, the day is already so special without all the extra accoutrements!

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    1. Thanks so much Nyamka, and that is a wonderful point- sometimes that bond gets lost in all the planning and extra details. I don't understand it either, and I always wanted a white dress as a little girl!

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  13. Why can't you tailor it anymore?

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    1. Garments can only be taken in so much before they can't be altered anymore. It's way too big but it's been tightened too much already; anymore destroys the cut and hang of the garment, especially since it's an off the shoulder dress, which is difficult enough to adjust.

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  14. I bought a new dress for my wedding and while it did end up being white (I wasn't fixated on white specifically), I purposely chose a "tea length" dress I could wear again without it looking too "wedding". I now have other lovely memories associated with it because I usually wear it for our anniversary date and I wore it to the ballet with my daughter (she wanted me to be "my most fancy") this year too. I think the wear-once mentality is bizarre and missing out on enjoying the special memories associated with a wedding dress.

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    1. What a beautiful way to remember your wedding day and keep using a great dress. How cute that your daughter wanted you to wear it :) I think it's bizarre too!

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  15. Nice dress!!! I can try it in my office party along with matching pendant set.
    Get Diamond Pendant Set at Reasonable Prices

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