In the process of wedding planning, the one "assignment," as my planner calls them, I had been avoiding was shopping for my wedding dress.
I, and many of my friends, would think this would be the ONE assignment to be pumped for yet it was like pulling teeth to get me to call a bridal salon and make an appointment. Naturally, I had to examine WHY I wasn't pouncing on the phone. I came to the conclusion that so far, in all the decision-making, vendor booking, & price quote comparing, I had been viewing our wedding as one big ol' party (which it absolutely will be!) and forgetting that it is far more than that. The wedding dress is one aspect that speaks to the magnitude of intimacy and vulnerability, level of commitment, and the joining of two families, faiths, expectations, and so on and so claustrophobia inducing, that a wedding is and means. *Gulp! Looking back, fear of commitment has trumped me time and time again.
There was a span of years filled with short-term and reckless relationships, vulnerability avoidance, strong-willed independence and defiance (this still shows up and I usually feel like the angry voiced, "I'll be damned!" version of Beyonce') and flaking out on friends. I never wanted to "put all my eggs in one basket", either with relationships, life goals, or academic pursuits (I went from majoring in Public Relations with a Philosophy minor to I/O Communication with almost a Psychology minor). It became glaringly obvious of my commitment fears when I went to Graduate School to become a mental health counselor and left the program after a semester and a half. *There were other reasons I left the program but I also couldn't convince myself of my future; I would not commit to setting any goals for where I wanted to take my career path.
"Commitment is the glue that bonds you to your goals- Jill Koenig"
So, given that dive into my psyche (as I will always do...hello! psychology background and constant draw) here I am today, still defiant as all-get-out, yet a strong decision maker and fearless in my pursuits because I am clear in my commitments in many aspects of my life and clear in my commitment to the amazing man I am marrying. So, the idea of dress shopping was scary yet a fabulous challenge to my independent spirit as no dress would break this wild horse!
With a support posse of 6, we entered Solutions Bridal,ready to use the skills learned by watching "Say Yes to the Dress."
- no princess poofy tulle insanity. *that mess is for the birds...to get caught in
- no long/full-length sleeves (this was my fiance's only request. paha!)
My dress stylist, Marissa, had me pull up my Pinterest board photos to get an idea of my vision and set sight on what I wanted. Oddly enough my Pinterest boards depicted what I thought I was supposed to try yet not an accurate picture of what made sense for my style, uniqueness and personal edge. Luckily homegirl stylist knew this before I knew it.
We pulled 6 dresses total and got to work in my dressing room. My favorite part of the dressing process was the crazy & foreign undergarments --Spanx style biker shorts and a strapless corset, both nude colored and made me laugh; *not too hard because I was zipped up in that mess and nothing was moving!
The first dress I put on was one from a trunk-show that was leaving the very next day and in Marissa's opinion, fit my theme, style, and personality exactly. It fit like a glove and when I walked out to my team, we thought it was stunning yet more award-show than wedding. So, I slipped into the next dress knowing we could come back to the first option. The next few made me look matronly & out of touch. Those dresses did not leave the fitting room.
Now, stylists are fabulous about asking you questions of what you do and do not like so they can get a better idea of what to pull to connect your vision with reality. I had a bit of trouble articulating exactly what I did want yet somehow she knew what I meant and I believe, was playing some mental games (which I love because you get to underlying ideas) to remind me the dress was my choice and should fit my stipulations. I loved the next two dresses I came out in but my team didn't, as they bluntly shared their opinions. I reluctantly walked back to the fitting rooms, ditched those dresses and was standing in my nude colored get-up for a bit as Marissa and I conversed.
I kept forgetting there was a room with a drape for me to dress in, because I was continually dancing and bee-bopping around in the corset and biker short combo mambo outside of the room and sometimes in the way of other dress-fixated brides. Being outside of the dressing room was also freeing for me because I was feeling tension from a difference in expectations between my clan and I. In actuality, everyone's opinion was valid and brought up strong points as to why a dress was distracting, ill-proportioned, or just not elegant.
I quickly decided to put back on dress number 1 while Marissa was considering pulling additional options. I fell in love with it again, only this time as a wedding dress that made sense for me. The dresses I had previously tried on were still the dresses I thought a bride should look at. I walked back out to my friends and family and we all just knew. It was me, my style, and absolutely what we had been comparing all the other dresses to. This dress was stunning and all it needed was the clear approval from mom---and for me to ditch the heels I was wearing (note to self: I've got to build up my high-heel immunity between now and the big day). I went around the semi-circle asking each of them "is this the dress?" and all 6 of us (including me) said yes!
cue the champagne!
Hands down, this dress is phenomenal and I want to be in it right now. I want to go to the Oscars, drink coffee on my porch, and run errands in it. Marissa revealed to me later that she positioned this dress as my 1st to try on for a reason, as she already knew it was what I envisioned (I'm telling you, mind games!). I respected that move by her. After all, she's the expert and she listened intently to what I was and wasn't saying.
This is also an approach I take when I am working with a client and friend to build their sense of style-- I am listening to what is being said or shared, your ideals about styles that do and don't work for you, while listening and looking for any barriers you have to your own creativity. Before any of us begin to be creative, we have to take the steps to examine our fears, limitations, and anxieties. When you work through those mental blocks, you have the space to play, create, try new things, and eventually uncover the true you. Your once quiet inner voice can now shout your personality proudly from the roof tops. My personality won't shut up since I've gone dress shopping--I donned my classic black eye-liner yesterday, worn combat boots all week, I'm writing this blog... the list continues.
I encourage each of you to look for those opportunities to explore when you feel most yourself. It may be difficult to quiet the noise of social and self-destructive influence but I promise you the path will narrow and your commitment to your happiness will flourish. Now, that's a commitment I want to pursue!