The All Important Mythical Perfect Wedding Dress

One of my new Wilmington friends is traveling this weekend to help her sister pick out a wedding dress. There is so much pressure on “saying yes to the dress”. Shopping for your wedding dress is a ceremony unto itself.

georgia holland

You could have chosen this beauty in 1973 like my mother did (modeled by my nieces last summer). FYI I stopped being able to fit into this dress by the time I was 15.

I very vividly remember shopping for my sister’s dress. We went to several high end boutiques and stores that seemed to me like giant warehouses of wedding dresses. Looking back, it was probably just a David’s Bridal equivalent. When she finally found her dress they only had it in pink. We made her try it on regardless of the color. Sparkles and tulle to the heart’s delight. It was a fun, exciting trip. I was 15 at the time and everything seemed so grown up! Even better, I was going to be a part of it. My interest waned when I realized I had to do my hair, makeup and nails “a certain way”, but it still all felt glamorous.

One photo from my sister's bridal portrait shoot.

A photo from my sister’s bridal portrait shoot.

When my mother and I pulled up to the shop to look for my wedding dress I was very skeptical. The front window’s mannequin sported a camouflage tuxedo and bright dresses with sequins galore surrounded it. We walked back to the small section of wedding dresses. How were you supposed to be able to tell what dress you wanted? Garment bags were packed tightly on racks, one dress after another. Sparkly? Train? Lace? Strapless? Sleeves?

I ended up choosing between a mermaid style dress and one my mother referred to as Grace Kelly. As I decided on the Grace Kelly dress, a girl in the area next to me asked to see my dress. Her mother and aunts made the appropriate, “Oh what a beautiful dress” comments and I smiled brightly. Followed by feeling incredibly overwhelmed. And hot, and teary. I backed quickly around the corner so I could totally lose it. My mother and the saleslady watched in dismay. I still don’t know if I can explain why I got so upset. I get very uncomfortable being the center of attention and I think the idea that in a few months so many more eyes would be on me pushed me over the edge.

That outburst tainted the dress for me for a bit. I thought perhaps my emotions were an omen and I viewed the dress with hesitation. I showed pictures of the dress to my friends with disclaimers like, “I mean, it’s not a great dress but I like it.” Bullshit. My dress is awesome.

back front

Now that the wedding is over I often think of the uselessness of the dress packed away in a pink bag in our guest room closet. Many of my friends have discussed selling their wedding dresses, although I don’t know if any have. I’ve thought about it but I really like it. I felt fantastic wearing it. It was a really great day. So for now, it’ll stay.


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