This weekend, we looked at everything piled on our dining room table and agreed:
“It’s time to clean out some things.”
We went through old mail, old church bulletins, old newspapers. Some of the things are nestled there temporarily, waiting for the work on the house to be done before they can settle in their old/new home – be it a closet, cabinet, or breakfront. We love our house, but we are in a constant struggle for storage space of all kinds.
There is one item on the table, however, that I’m having a surprisingly hard time letting go. I bought it nearly two years ago. I’ve worn it once, tried it on a dozen times. It is a symbol of the most cherished day of my life to date.
It’s my wedding dress.
My best friend and matron of honor, Janine, and I found the dress on a day in November. I’d originally selected a different dress, but no one had it in stock, and I would have had to order it sight unseen, without trying it on, and without the option of returning it if it didn’t look right. That made me incredibly anxious, so I thought I would see what else I could find.
It was between two dresses. One was by the same designer as the original dress I liked, but was white and looked like something a ballerina would wear. The other was the dress I eventually would choose. I tried them both on a couple of times. They both looked beautiful. I went back and forth. We decided to take a break and look at dresses for Janine instead, hoping the distance would help me decide.
Then, as we were looking at dresses for Janine, I kept referring to this element or that which was “just like mine.” Janine looked at me and said, “You’ve made up your mind.”
I went back. I put the dress on again. The sales woman tucked up my hair and put a veil on my head, and suddenly, I could see myself walking down the aisle toward Ron in my dress.
I began to cry.
Just like in “Say Yes to the Dress.”
Now, this was nearly a year before my wedding. I had doubts and wondered if I should have gotten the first dress that I liked. I began to fret that I hadn’t spent enough time looking, enough time trying on, that I’d missed out on a crucial part of that whole pre-wedding ritual.
So I went to visit it. And I took a dozen pictures of it, and the veil, and I fell in love with it all over again.
But I was worried that the reason why I had doubts about the dress had less to do with the dress and more to do with me and the weight I’d picked up. I did what every woman does while she’s getting ready for her wedding. I dieted, I worked out (I didn’t know about Crossfit at the time – oh, if I had!), but mostly I worried. But three months before the wedding, I tried it on again, in preparation for alterations. And I was so much happier with how it looked!
The alterations, however, were less than ideal. I won’t go into all the gory details, but suffice to say that the shop was not happy about having to do two rounds of alterations…and I was not happy with the results after the second round. Thank God for a friend’s friend, who agreed to alter the dress a final time until it actually fit me…and didn’t have gigantic seams that completely ruined the line.
Finally, I had the dress of my dreams…for the day of my dreams…when I married the man of my dreams.
Even before the wedding, I had determined that I would not be one of those women who held onto their dress, who spent hundreds of dollars to restore or preserve it, when they had no daughter to pass it down to. And there was that storage thing that I mentioned way back at the beginning of this post. So I did a search, and I found two places where I donate the dress. And I decided that was what I was going to do.
Sensible, right? Logical. Altruistic.
Harder than I thought.
Here it is, a year later, and my dress has been sitting on our dining room table with other items from our loft. After weeks of shifting it so we can find mail and books and chargers for the cell phones, I had to face the fact that it was time for my dress to find its new home.
So today I went online and decided the charity to which I will donate my dress. I downloaded the form. I called UPS for an estimate of how much it would cost to ship it.
Then I took it out of the pink plastic where it has been sleeping for the last sixteen months.
I spread it out and I ran my hands over the pickups and the beads. I remembered the joy I felt when I put it on that magical day in October 2011, and how we laughed when it took my sister-in-law, my cousin, and Janine to put the hoop skirt slip underneath it, because we couldn’t slip it on over my head once my hair was done.
I admit it – I put it on. And it fits – thank you, Crossfit, for helping me take off the weight I regained once the wedding was over! And I walked around it and felt it swish. I unbustled it and admired the beautiful train. I tried to take pictures of myself in it, but couldn’t quite do it justice…until my groom showed perfect timing by coming home. There’s no doubt he was surprised – who wouldn’t be, to find your wife in her wedding dress over a year after the wedding – but the look on his face was close to that tender, loving look from our first look. And he indulged me by taking one last picture of me on the deck, in my glorious dress that made me feel like a princess.
By the end of this week, the dress will be tucked into a box and headed to Brides Against Breast Cancer. A bride who may not otherwise be able to afford a dress may try it on and cry as I did, and dream of her special, magical time, and feel that indescribable bursting joy on her wedding day. And maybe she will continue to pay it forward…and oh, the stories the dress eventually will tell, from my happy ending at the ripe age of 49, to…who knows?
So farewell, beautiful dress. Thank you for being part of incredible memories, for making me feel like a BRIDE, and for enticing that misty look to my husband’s face, on our wedding day and today when I tried the dress on one last time.
My prayer is that you will bring that same delight to your new bride…and that I will try every moment to make my marriage as beautiful and blessed as our wedding day.