Monday, November 16, 2009

I Don't Believe in "The One"

The idea of "The One" has always rubbed me the wrong way.  Of the 6.7 billion people in the world, it's laughable to assume that only one partner would work for me.  After all, I genuinely believe that love is a decision, and we learn to make our peace with our partner's (perceived) failings and irritations because the great stuff is pretty darn great. 

But this post isn't about my wonderful partner.  It's about my wonderful dress.  Yes, THAT dress.  The wedding dress that I'll just magically know is "The One" for me once I put it on and twirl.

I call BS.  I understand that many women have that YesYesYes moment.  Some of my readers have talked to me about it.  There's an entire tv show (and dress salon economy) built around it.  But I'm of the opinion that searching for "The One" dress can be just as damaging and elusive as holding out for Prince Charming. I even had a yesyesyes moment myself before I came to my senses and realized that the beautiful, perfectly fitting dress just didn't feel right for me. And that's because the beautiful dress didn't meet my real wedding dress criteria.  And furthermore, I know that there are numerous dresses that could meet my real wedding dress criteria and make me feel amazing.

My criteria:
  • I'm paying under $1000 for dress and alterations.  The less, the better, but $1000 is my splurge limit. (I am also very willing to re-sell it after the wedding, but I'm not including that cost assessment in my line-in-the-sand upfront budget.)
  • It must be comfortable.  I want to eat, dance, hug, sit and cavort in this thing all night long without feeling like it's painted on or like I'm trapped inside boning. Buhdoop put it well when she said "the dress needs to be able to fit inside a bathroom and easily handled by me. I'm sure my mom or my bridesmaids would be happy to help me go to the bathroom, I just don't want them to."
  • It has to fit the feel of the wedding.  I want something that suits our outdoor venue.  I want it to feel elegant but still appropriate for a casual-yet-fancy wedding.
  • It has to fit my personal style needs.  I want something that doesn't feel traditionally weddingy, because a lot of those dresses don't speak to my soul, however beautiful they are.  I love architectural modern lines and I like playing with shape, texture and color.  One of my favorite buildings in the world is the Bilbao Guggenheim museum and one of my most coveted items of jewelry is this ringThese things speak to my soul, and I am looking for a dress that does the same. 
  • Preferably, I am looking for an ivory, non-strapless dress.  White doesn't suit my coloring and v-necks are more flattering on my figure (and I don't want to worry about wardrobe malfunctions, uniboob or weird arm fat bulge issues that seem to happen to me with many strapless dresses) 
Even though I had a very specific, well thought-out list, it hasn't made this dress search process easy.  It wasn't difficult due to the cost as much as due to the self doubt, since I seemed to be approaching the dress search much more "sensibly and practically" than my girlfriends or mother would have liked.  I refused to even try high-end dresses, since I already knew they were out of the question.  Instead, I scoured vintage shops, Craigslist, department stores, second hand dress sites, sample dress shops, etsy, ebay  independent designers, and multiple non-bridal dress options.  But nothing was singing to my soul and I started to feel like maybe there's a reason people give up into Davids Bridal.

And then, I found it. A Nicole Miller dress I'd fallen in love with a year ago but mentally put aside due to the price tag ($1800) and fact that it never showed up on the resale sites or ebay.  I was catching up on wedding vendor resource blogs for ideas and saw the dress had been listed for sale on Wedding Chicks two weeks prior.

Yeah, it was THAT Nicole Miller dress that's no longer available in stores.  The ad promised me a $600 like-new sample from a salon that had gone out of business. I was shaking as I emailed the Wedding Chicks, hoping it was still available, wondering if it was anywhere nearby to try on.  The answer to both questions was yes.  It was available, and located about an hour from my house in Orange County.  It turns out that Amy Squires (co-owner of the Wedding Chicks) was selling several dresses on behalf of her friend and couldn't have made my dress shopping experience any more fun.  She got genuinely excited to help me try on all the dresses she was selling, lending me heels and a hair flower to flounce around in for the full bridal effect. (I'm pretty sure there was about an hour of flouncing, no joke.)
  • This dress was a no-go from the start (too simple)
  • This dress was freaking amazing.  It was also easily the heaviest dress I've ever tried on and suited none of my wedding needs.  But the flouncing was out of this world (and I've mentioned my out-of-character love for Pronovias) so trying it on was so much fun. 
  • This dress was a major temptation, especially at $600.  (I tried it on here and loved it then too.) 
As amazing as each of these dresses (and playing dress up) was, the even more amazing part was Amy herself.  Amy started the Wedding Chicks as an outlet for her extensive vendor knowledge due to being an excellent wedding photographer.  When I finally put on the dress I'd gasped about online, I gasped even more in person, and Amy took out her camera and started shooting.

Now, I've mentioned my fear of photography and general self confidence issues.  So when an accomplished professional photographer wanted to just have a great time shooting pictures of me in a pretty dress, I had a moment of panic. And then, I calmed the heck down and started to have a great time with Amy too. (She's so friendly and fun that it was hard NOT to calm the heck down.) We put on some makeup and fixed my messy Sunday morning hair. She decided we needed a better background than the closet door so I went and flounced a bit outdoors for nature shots.  It was a beautiful dress and a total blast.  Amy even touched up a few of the photos for me before handing me a CD full of high-res images from our impromptu shoot.  Here are two of my favorites (please excuse the need for alterations, particularly on my upper half, but you get the idea)

Of course, I bought the dress.  I couldn't have asked for a better dress shopping experience with a dress that met ALL my dress shopping criteria.

And yet... it's not "the One" and so I've been wracked with self doubt for the last several weeks. I flounced, I fell in love, I bought it for all the right reasons, and now out of nowhere, weeks later I'm suddenly conflicted. What if I want something sleeker and sexier?  What if I really want something short and vintage-inspired?  What if I've also fallen in love with independent designers like Holly Stalder, Elizabeth Dye, and Chrissy Wai Ching?  Those dresses are all off the table now which has led to second-guessing and panic about the dress I actually have.

It is absolutely absurd, and I keep looking back at my list and my photos to calm myself the eff down.  There is no "the One" in partners or dresses, only partners and dresses that work extremely well for each of our individual priorities. A dress is a dress, and I'm going to glow on my wedding day regardless, with the dress fading into the background against our joy.  This is all stuff I know, but today I'm looking for reinforcement.  I want to hear from the ladies who have been there, done that with wedding dress self-doubt and who have experienced the it-will-happen-regardless wedding day glow.  I need to hear that it's going to be okay, and I need to hear if you like this dress too, because weddings have been eating my brain lately and leaving me in a puddle of budgetary and planning self-doubt.  Eff you weddings - I choose J and I (probably) choose this dress, so there.


  1. The dress you bought is gorgeous & when I first saw the pictures I thought it was a model in the pictures, I had to read the whole post over to see it was you in your dress, you look stunning!
    Well said! I too do not believe in "the one" for wedding dresses, for all the reasons you listed. I still have a lot of catching up to do with my dress posting, but I had the same feelings- I almost thought I had "the one" 3 times but never had "the one" moment more like ya I can wear this and be cool with it, in reality it was that after all the dress shopping it was the one for that moment- whether it finally fit right, or finally had a wow or finally had some stranger tell me it was the one.

  2. You look gorgeous in the photos! I am baffled by the idea of "the One" dress too. I think that most brides would look beautiful in many different dresses - just like there's no one right venue, one right caterer, one right type of flower for the bouquet, etc. You just pick something you love and move on. So don't second guess yourself - you've found a beautiful dress.

  3. I agree, there wasn't just one dress for me either! I share the same budget with you, and it certainly made things more difficult. I could've gone the more vintage route, or the more traditional route, or the strapless route and still have been happy. Just like you choose to love your partner, you choose to love your dress, even though there might be other contenders out there! Yeah, you could've gone for something different, but you picked out a dress that you look STUNNING in that fits all of your criteria. Chances are, multiple dresses would fit your criteria. I feel that way, but I love what I did pick out...and I 100% stopped looking at other dresses, which helped. Take heart in the fact that you found exactly what you wanted, and that you chose the dress!

  4. I feel the same way--but it's such an effing scam! I read in a magazine that you're supposed to cry when you find the right dress. SERIOUSLY? (I am not an easy crier.)

    Anyway, I think it's okay to have doubts. Remember that you don't have to rush to any decisions. And that you look AWESOME in that dress. If you decide you want something else, you better keep this dress and dye it some lovely color and wear it to a ball or something.

  5. So when I first scrolled down the post to see the pics, I just assumed the pics of you were professional models. It wasn't until I read the post that it clicked that it is you. You look GORGEOUS! And I think the dress is beautiful!
    I agree with you about "the one." I went into this waiting for family members to cry, for me to cry, to have this sixth sense that THIS is MY gown. Oh well... never happened. I thought I was set on one, only to try on a few more dresses and find that I'd changed my mind a few months later. Now I am battling between a different 2 dresses. I think the important thing is that it meets your criteria, and if you feel beautiful and comfortable in it then you're a step ahead

  6. Oh man, that dress is BEAUTIFUL (so ethereal!) and you look beautiful in it! What a great find.

    As for the doubts...give it time. The topic is fresh in your brain, but I feel like you'll soon move on to other wedding tasks and just be...over...worrying about a dress. Or maybe that's just me, but I found that much as it may have been tempting to find the "perfect" dress, that would have required a lot more effort than I was willing to put into it. And eventually I found the whole thing pretty much boring to stress about.

  7. Hello Gorgeous!
    It looks beautiful, what an incredible dress experience. It sounds like Amy really gave you the royal treatment, how fun. As long as you feel comfortable and confident in the dress, then I don't see the need to try on others.
    I don't believe in the one either, and I didn't cry, and birds didn't start singing when I saw myself in the mirror. It just fit my style and price range and I had saved up my money to buy it so all systems were go!

  8. That dress you bought rocks! I understand the doubts though. The good thing is it appears that the dress you bought is in high demand? So you should be able to sell it if you see another one you love.

    My sister in law told me that YOU WILL FEEL BEAUTIFUL on your wedding day, no matter what dress you pick. Also, if you love Elizabeth Dye (I do) you can always wear a bolero from her. I think a bolero with that dress would be stunning!

  9. PS. I love your dress list. I think everyone should have one.

  10. Dude -- first of all, you know you look awesome in this dress :)

    And I think you're totally correct -- on the actual day of, you're going to be so preoccupied with vows, family, friends, and all the other craziness that a wedding entails, that you're going to entirely forget what you're wearing. Even if you were planning to wear a burlap sack, it would still be YOUR WEDDING DAY, and you'd still glow!

    I only regret that I was too busy throwing up to come along and help try on dresses :(


    P.S. - Don't sell the dress after the wedding -- I know it's silly and sentimental, but I remember admiring my mom's wedding dress when I was a small child. You may want to have it around to show (and possibly lend) if you have kids down the road...

  11. This dress is beautiful and you rock it well! I had dress issues too. I think I bought mine too soon, but in the end it's the one I kept and under my was MY dress!

    As long as YOU're happy...that's all that really matters!

  12. Its a beautiful dress. I think doubts are normal--I started doubting my dress choice too. I think "the one" is bs. My sister told me the only reason I was starting to doubt it was because I was getting subtly negative reaction from my future MIl. You had your criteria and then you went with your gut. How can you do better than that??

  13. I'm approaching The Dress as a practical problem with a practical solution much like you. Pretty much everything on your list is on mine, plus the fact that I don't want anything "bridal" and that I want to be able to wear it after the fact without it looking like I'm dressing up in a wedding gown. So, I'm making mine. But I'm slightly jealous of your awesome impromptu photo session and your cool dress. I think you scored an awesome find and should be proud.

  14. Its going to be amazing. I used to own a bridal shop, and I agree there is a whole economy built on finding "the one". I used to encourage my customers to listen to themselves instead of waiting for some religious experience when looking for their gown. From the sounds and looks of it, you found a gown that you love, and it shows in the pictures! I had a moment 2 weeks before my own wedding where I felt that way, frantically buying lace thinking I would add it on to make it more traditional. Luckily I was talked out of that. I love my gown and more importantly me in it. I just got confused seeing so many other brides try on so many other pretty gowns in my shop and then imagining myself in them.

  15. Nope. There is no one, just the one that's right for you. Most important is that you feel like yourself and you are not afraid to get mussed. There are pictures of me sitting on the cement with a four year old in my lap in my vintage dress. Yeah.

    Though weirdly, when you don't belive in the one, sometimes something fated falls into your lap. It did in mine (there could not be a better dress for me) and it just did in yours. It's written all over the pictures.

  16. PS
    I picked my wedding outfit the week before the wedding. Didn't have a hair thing till then, hadn't picked shoes till then, hadn't made a final dress decision till then. My dress was just right, but I hadn't decided it was yet so I was still trying to make another dress work.

  17. I saw that dress on wedding chicks and was totally curious about it! And OMG it looks effing amazing on you! So screw "the one"- you're beautiful and you could put on any old dress you feel like and make it YOUR one. I totally don't buy the bull about crying over "the one"- I shop for a living (for others) and I can tell you right now, I'm not gonna cry over a dress. And you shouldn't either. That dress rocks- so wear it already. Or don't and move one. But feel empowered that you choose "the one" whichever one you choose. It's not a test and you can't fail. :)

  18. You look radiant. I love that the dress is sexy, but sweet.

  19. My dear, you really do look great. It's natural to doubt for a lot of people esp. those like us that don't believe in the concept of the one. I'll admit that I got the second dress a few weeks before the wedding because I secretly dreamed about alencon lace for so long...
    I don't regret it for a minute because I got a super deal. It is the dress I wanted to look back in 20 years and still love. It was the dress which people saw and commented "You look like Grace Kelly" which I totally didn't expect. Sorry I'm not helping.

    The most important thing is - does the dress feel like you? It's your prerogative whether you keep it or not. Either way, we're here for support! And regardless, you look beautiful.

  20. WOW what a great dress shopping experience you had. You lucky thing! Those photos are beautiful, you look wonderful in that dress.

    I had a nightmare dress experience. Dodgy bridal store, dirty dress, no refunds NIGHTMARE. It's 41 days till my wedding today and my dress doesn't fit and I have bad feelings about it.

    But I am sure on the day it will be fine.

  21. Holy crap, I just stumbled upon your blog via the Meg-web, and we are the same person.*

    I was reading your (slightly uncertain) denouncement of "the one," and then your criteria for what you want in a dress, and then your Bilbao Guggenheim inspiration (my fave building in the world -- so far), and thinking yes yes yes -- i could have written it all myself. But then, then ... you revealed the same Nicole Miller dress that I've been aching to try on, and *that I emailed Wedding Chicks about* only to find that it had just been sold. Ahem. To you.

    So enjoy it! It's gorgeous, unusual, lightweight, breathable, pre-wrinkled, "strapped," and altogether fab. Alas, it is still only one dress, and you do have to choose it alone and release the other possible futures, but isn't that what getting married is all about?

    *obvs you're totally unique blah blah blah. but for serious, the likeness is weird.

  22. Oh, darling! I FEEL your pain! In fact, the same EXACT kind of dilemma led me to create Recycled Bride! When I was engaged, I was so proud of being a "cool" bride that I bought the very first dress I tried on, just because it was on sale and the way I found it seemed serendipitous.

    When I realized months later that I wasn't at all in love with it, and that I'd be wearing it on the day of my life that I'd be photographed videotaped, and looked at more than any other, I felt SO bad about myself. After all, I was supposed to be cool! I wasn't the type to obsess! I was non-materialistic and hated having lots of "stuff"! And yet, I wanted another wedding dress. Bad.

    So I did what you're doing. I posted the first dress for sale online. I flirted with other dresses. My story ended with a second dress that I really loved, and I was happy that I made the switch.

    But yours might be different. I LOVE your Nicole Miller. It's beautiful, unique, completely suits you. There's a fine line between the doubts that eat your brain because you're stressed/overwhelmed/submerged-in-wedding porn all-day-with-too-many-choices, and actual dissatisfaction. If you do come to the conclusion that you're experiencing actual dissatisfaction, then free yourself of the associated guilt and look for a creative solution. With this network of wedding folks on your team, I'll bet you can find whatever you want at a price that works for you.

    Meanwhile, I'm going to put your dress on our homepage and see if you get any bites. You can decide to sell or not, but it's good to have options. My advice? Step away for a week. Don't think about it. Tell yourself that it's okay to feel however you feel. Then try the dress on when you're alone and feeling centered, and see how it feels, knowing that you're allowed to be honest.

    Then move in the direction that makes you happy. You're putting a lot of time and energy into your wedding, and without being all, "it's your day girl, be a princess," you really should wear a dress that makes you feel amazing. The heart wants what it wants.


I love active conversations, including (civil) disagreement. I don't love spam or people who use internet anonymity to be rude and disparaging. Spam and rudeness will be deleted.