The day I got engaged in November of 2019, I already knew that I wasn’t going to wear a wedding dress.
As a child, I loved nothing more than seeing brides in white ballgowns. But as an adult who became a bridal editor, by the time I was done with my third wedding magazine job in 2016, I knew that I wanted to elope. Having spent several years breaking down every part of the wedding planning process for work, I couldn’t see myself enjoying the stress, financial commitment, or societal pressure that go into what some consider one of the biggest days of their lives (even if I was an “expert” on it). With that in mind, I then didn’t think that I could justify spending money on a wedding dress — that, according to The Knot, on average costs $1,800 — for such an intimate affair. And, as someone who is trying to minimize excess fashion consumption in my life, I also couldn’t face the thought of buying a look I would wear only once.
That meant no big bridal store visit with my family and friends. Instead, I picked out a white suit by a New York designer that was already in my closet for a small union ceremony in Manhattan and bought a majorly discounted white cocktail dress from one of my favorite brands online for my legal elopement in Hawaii. I didn’t feel the type of thrill or excitement that bridal publications tell you that you should feel when you try on “the one,” but they felt like “me,” and I knew with 100% certainty that I would wear both again on many occasions to come. As the weeks went on, sure, I felt an occasional pang of doubt whenever I would see an unmistakably bridal look from one of my favorite wedding designers pop up on my Instagram feed, but I pushed it aside.
The fleeting thoughts turned into full-on uncertainty though when I attended Bridal Fashion Week, a semi-annual event during which bridal designers present their newest collections to the press and buyers. As I looked at one elaborate dress after another, I realized that I was more moved by the thought of future brides-to-be wearing a cathedral veil embroidered with a heart at Galia Lahav, a mini party dress featuring cut-outs at Houghton, and a frock with oversized sleeves at Rosie Assoulin than I was by the looks I had in the back of the closet. I wanted to at least try one bridal dress.
As soon as I put on the Khloe dress from Houghton, my longtime favorite bridal brand, I felt the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling I get when I see a look that I know will define the next season on a New York Fashion Week runway; I’d found my dress for Hawaii. The body-hugging style needed no alterations (a big plus when the wedding is a month away); the mesh material was breezy enough for an outdoor beach wedding, hugging my body without constricting it; and the corset detailing and uneven neckline added just the right amount of unexpected to an otherwise-timeless silhouette. And while I haven’t worn a strapless dress since the early ’00s, I couldn’t remember why when I put this one on.
Still set on wearing something by a New York-based designer for my city ceremony, I went to the studio of Jackson Wiederhoeft — a Thom Browne alum, this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, and the most exciting new name in bridalwear. While I was fairly certain that I wanted a tuxedo-style bridal suit from the designer who, in the three years since launching his eponymous brand Wiederhoeft, has become known for his subversive creations that toe the line between avant-garde couture, fairycore fantasy, and classic romanticism, I was surprised again when it was the Charlie, a high-low dress in matte satin with a meringue-like corset bodice, that made me rethink everything I thought I wanted in a wedding look.
In the process of opting for two new wedding dresses, I didn’t compromise on my values entirely: While the Wiederhoeft style landed right around the cost of an average wedding dress, and Houghton’s costs less than $1,000, both brands make their designs ethically in New York and L.A., respectively. Charlie was created using 100% recycled fabric made in Italy from a post-consumer recycled yarn; meanwhile, Houghton uses an on-demand production model that eliminates excess waste. Both brands also create pieces for every body size which, while should be considered a normal practice at every label, is still unfortunately a rarity in the industry that frequently perpetuates fatphobia.
In the months leading to the wedding, people asked me what I was planning to wear — a common question for any bride-to-be but even more so for one who went from bridal to a fashion editor — I found myself giving an answer that, just like my reaction to my first set of looks, lacked the enthusiasm expected of a bride: “It’s a small wedding, so I am just wearing a suit and a cocktail dress.” While no one ever questioned it, the more I downplayed the looks in front of other people, the more I felt like I was downplaying the day on which I was about to make one of the biggest commitments of my life.
In my new dresses, on both of my wedding days, there was no mistaking that I was a bride — people were calling out congratulations, little girls were staring at me in delight, tourists were taking photos; the dresses were as special as the vows that my husband and I exchanged. While I don’t recommend changing your mind about your bridal dress shortly before your wedding for the sake of your wedding designers and your own stress levels, I do suggest waiting for a dress that you can’t wait to wear on your wedding day, rather than one you feel like you would wear on any day. And, maybe it’s naive but I still believe that I will wear both of my wedding looks again, albeit to more special occasions rather than work, where I have since worn my original white suit to, or a girls’ night out, where I debuted my first white cocktail dress. Then again, why would I want to reduce dresses that will forever remind me of my wedding to an everyday look anyway?
As for my bridal accessories, I wore used heels that I already had in my closet. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?
Why More Brides Are Choosing Black Wedding Dresses
Meet The Designers Of The Coolest Wedding Looks
Have You Considered A Secondhand Wedding Dress?
Source by www.refinery29.com