This first postcard features a small portion of my wedding dress. The $15 dress came from Target online and arrived at our house in a very small box.
It wasn't my ideal dress. It made my body look bigger than it is, and it came from a mass-market box store. But for $15, I didn't think I would be able to find something better. And, frankly, I was tired of shopping for a dress. I know there are plenty of people who enjoy scouring ebay and vintage stores and sewing patterns and Etsy. I like doing those things, too; it's just that I can only take a couple weeks of it before I am ready to move onto something else.
Also, my wedding dress shopping phase came before I truly started to feel pressure from the cool, DIY-to-the-max, I-took-a-letterpresss-class-to-make-my-invitations weddings in the alternative blogosphere. If I had been addicted to a lot of wedding blogs at that time (like I am now), I would have felt even more pressure to find The Perfect Dress that would make readers ooh and ahh.
As it was, we had a lot of things on our wedding to-do list. I was eager to get the dress crossed off.
The dress had several bad reviews online ("This dress looks like a sack draped on my body."), but I figured I could make it work. The price tag increased my optimism. I had several ideas to spruce up the dress:
- Make a sash to reign in some of the extra fabric. Since I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible and minimize our environmental impact, I decided to use fabric from an old dress that I no longer wore. The dress had special meaning because I got it during my trip to India, which took place right after I met Matt for the first time. We never decided on "wedding colors"; they just sort of emerged from that old dress. That's when I got the idea that I could make a tie for Matt out of the same fabric as a metaphor for unity (and, later, when our wedding planning stretched on too long and I had some spare time on my hands, I decided to make Hoss a matching bandanna and make flower pins for the wedding party with the last remaining scraps (and then put the tiniest remnants into our wedding quilt). I didn't feel pressured to undertake these projects; I wanted to.
- Embroider along the bottom. I figured we had to do something to make the $15 dress quasi-special. At times, I did feel some pressure to make our wedding special with heart and sincerity, since we weren't doing it with money. That's when we came up with the idea to embroider our life story together along the bottom. I have fond memories of sketching out the design with Matt in our tiny craft room in Denver. Then I spent hours embroidering the design, usually while talking with friends on the phone. It was a calming and grounding experience, and it made me feel like I was putting myself into our wedding. Plus, I learned a new skill.
- Ask a seamstress friend to modify the back to make it more attractive. We brought pizza to her house and spent the evening hanging out with her family while she worked on my dress. It was our first communal wedding planning experience, and it felt good.
I never did get a lot of compliments on the dress. That was hard at first, but I forced myself to come to terms with it and realize that it wasn't about others' opinions. I do have very fond memories of explaining the sequence and the meaning behind each image to a handful of friends and family. And I remember having full-range of motion all night long. (My dress did start to cut into my armpits toward the end of the night, and that sucked.)
If I had to do it all over again, I think I would have the courage to ditch the concept of a white wedding dress and instead go for something that I would wear again and again (for a lifetime of parties). Since our wedding was offbeat in many ways, I think I clung to a few traditional things in order to prevent total discombobulation.
I would definitely prioritize comfort. I think being able to walk and dance without constant adjustment or fear of toppling over is a must in my book. But that's just me and my priorities.
I would also try not to stress about it so much. Looking back on it now, the dress really doesn't deserve as much attention as it gets. After time, the details fade.