And I felt entirely sick to my stomach as I ripped off my wedding attire and ran into the shower for a good cry.
I never really pictured myself as the marrying kind. So when I fell in love with Jason, it was hard to come to terms with wanting a wedding, let alone wanting a larger wedding that could accommodate our guest list and other needs. But I came to terms with it. And he came to terms with something that's a far cry from the sort of weddings he's been accustomed to. And just like this relationship, we've built something stronger, together. But as proud as I am of what we're building, I'm also exhausted by the compromises. And although we've come to the right decisions and compromises, that hasn't made our negotiations or choices any easier along the way.
Despite all these compromises, there's been one aspect of the wedding that's been gloriously, selfishly mine: my wedding day attire, accessories, hair, and makeup. As this event swirls around me, I've held onto my style choices as a ballast. I defiantly announced to Jason, "I'm wearing my nose ring!" tamping down the cold knot in my stomach when thinking about all his family members and my co-workers who have never seen my (now) weekend accessory. "I'm not wearing a veil!" I snapped at a dress saleslady and our rabbi, as I held fast to the hairflower hippie dream. I've looked at the excessive prices for professional hair and makeup and decided that I just don't effing care: I'm paying for it with my hard earned money because I want to and I can.
Every decision I've made about my attire has taken on a feeling of monumental importance. I bought one dress and then sold it. I ordered five more dresses from department stores. And then I bought three necklaces - three! - in the same confused and overwrought pattern that's defined everything about my wedding attire so far. And until I stood in the shower, crying about necklaces and wondering what the hell had happened to me, I couldn't figure out why I care so d*mn much about my wedding appearance and clothes when I'm generally pretty run-of-the mill in my everyday style.
This wedding is mine, but it's also not-mine in so many important ways. I'm giving so much time and money into needs that were defined by everyone else, that defining my appearance has become so much more. It's not just a dress: it's a statement that I'm still here under the weight of all this tradition and expectation and compromise. It's not just a necklace: it's an announcement that this is MINE, damnit. MY WEDDING. MY LIFE. I'm not just a bride. It's ME here, in this bride costume. It's like somehow, I need my attire to scream for me. Because I wasn't supposed to be here. This wasn't supposed to be my life. If I got married at all, it was supposed to be barefoot in a backyard and I'm still a little dazed that I ended up here. Most days I'm happy-dazed, but it's confusing, nonetheless. And the only thing I can clutch at as MINE MINE MINE is ownership over my body and how I decorate it.
That's a whole lot of pressure to put on one-day attire. That pressure led me to fret over whether to buy a white dress or a colored dress. I got emotionally twisted after buying a gorgeous Nicole Miller "I'm different, seeee" dress, but realizing it wasn't right. I bought a number of other non-traditional dresses and struggled with realizing I'd fallen in love with an elegantly simple dress that didn't "say" much at all. I mollified myself by searching for an "I'm different, seeee" statement necklace. And while I liked the statement necklace I bought, I really fell in love with an elegant, modern, understated, and classic piece of jewelery. Which is the opposite of what I thought I wanted from my wedding attire.
That's how I found myself crying over a necklace. All along, I've just been trying to claim a part of this wedding for myself, which I thought meant some sort of bold color or statement attire. Instead, I'm finding myself drawn to understated elegance. It's radical in a different way than I had expected: I felt gorgeous when I saw myself in the mirror. But seeing my reflection was a shock, because I'm scarred by too many schoolyard taunts and cruel adult rejections to feel entirely comfortable in my body. And yet, I am stunning in my wedding attire, and I finally knew it as I stared at my reflection. Allowing myself to experience and revel in that is an entirely radical approach to my wedding, more so than any "I'm different, seeee" dress or jewelery I might have picked. I'm wearing a simple dress and simple accessories, and that turns out to be enough. And even if that simple dress and simple necklace are more traditionally bridal than I had anticipated wearing, it turns out to be just right.