Late last year – a month or two before I had an epically nerdy proposal and a beautiful diamond living on my left hand – my mom and I were in the car together, and she asked (as she was wont to do once or twice a year) if I ever thought about getting married (yes, totally, every day), but no, did I really think about it, what it would be like, what it would look like, what I would be wearing. “I picture you in this long red gown,” she said. “Blue-Red, not Orange-Red, of course. Maybe with black trim.” She’d clearly given some thought to this.
So, point one: if I were getting a non-white wedding dress, it would probably be a TARDIS blue ballgown, silver accents, with a great big swishy skirt, small waist, and something interesting for sleeves.
But point two: no, getting a non-white wedding dress had never even occurred to me. It’s not an ideological/political statement; it just hadn’t jumped out at me as an option that strongly attracted me.
It’s certainly not because I’m so steeped in tradition that a non-white wedding dress is distasteful to me – one of my best friends had an utterly beautiful SCAdian wedding where she wore a sort of steely, stormy teal and silver getup, and it was without question the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. The establishment of the white wedding dress as “traditional” isn’t even that old, generally accepted as dating back to the mid-1800s and good Queen Vicky’s wedding. She – and the values of the time she embodied – helped set the standard. In that sense, knowing how far we are from Victorian ideals in the 21st century, the fact that there are the hundreds of thousands of white dresses available in bridal boutiques today seems like the epitome of inappropriate throwback.
Other people asked if we were going to do more of a LARP-style wedding. I did look at a handful of less contemporary white wedding dresses – the more Victorian, Edwardian, Medieval, Renaissance Faire, Lord of the Rings, not-actually-accurate-to-a-real-period-in-history-but-looks-good-anyway options. There is an incredible amount of flexibility that exists thanks to internet vendors.
I didn’t end up going with any of them. I got what was, in the end, a slightly princessy but definitely contemporarily-made, relatively conventional white-ivory gown at my friendly neighborhood Alfred Angelo. The sales associate was a total rock star, and I was pretty much sold on the dress before I tried it on, and the friend I went with helped me feel confident and excited, and it was a great experience all around.
Prior to the actual dress shopping, I certainly went through a small amount of private agonizing over this question. Am I buying in/selling out to the frillion dollar industry that commodifies what should be a simple celebration romantic love? Why am I wasting money on this bridal store version of a white dress when I could buy that department store version of a white dress for so much less? Is it silly for me to wear virginal white (spoiler, not a virgin)? Should I be thinking about a separate dress for the reception (because apparently some people do, and it does make some sense)? Do I just wear a pantsuit and be done with it? Can I get away with ripped jeans and a t-shirt, if the t-shirt is white?
Eventually, I came to two conclusions.
Number one: it’s my party, and I’ll wear a white princess dress if I want to (and I do want to), and to hell with what other people expect me to do. This conclusion has been backed up with, like, science and stuff (and I feel like there’s something counterintuitive or ironic about being expected to be unconventional).
Number two: laziness.
Really. Pretty much the entire look of the modern wedding industry is based around the assumption of a lady in a white dress and a dude in something resembling a tux. Maintaining a unified aesthetic – which, as an artsy fartsy type, is important to me – takes some work, and maintaining a unified aesthetic around something “non-traditional” is certainly doable and definitely interesting to me, but it takes more work that I don’t feel as qualified to do. My SCAdian friend with the epic Italian Renaissance brocade had a preexisting event to host her wedding plus a slew of friends and family used to making garb and doing historical dance and music, and I think the support network was a significant piece of why her wedding was so gorgeous and successful (Also, FYI, her husband made the freaking wedding bands. How cool is that?).
Could I find a non-white wedding dress that I like? Sure (previous Google search notwithstanding). Could I find a “non-traditional” wedding dress that I like? Already have (extreme expense notwithstanding). Am I giving in/selling out by not taking one of those options? Kind of, probably, yeah.
But ultimately, I’ve found a white, conventional wedding dress that I like, and it feels right for me, and it was easy to choose, and I get to move on to planning other cool stuff like shopping around for rings or geeking out over ideas for the ceremony or plotting an epic Hamilton sing-along in the bridal suite while we get dressed (#theroomwhereithappens). I want to look good on the big day, but there’s so much other stuff I’d rather spend effort on rather than what I’m wearing, and I think I’m okay with that.
(Although that said, anyone want to try and convince me for or against the veil? I’m pretty much dead split on this.)