Lessons From A Dress


Jena and I went shopping in Uniontown for my wedding dress last July. I went reluctantly as I had bought my dress for my first marriage in Uniontown. I thought it bad luck to repeat that history. I over road my hesitation and walked into the dress shoppe.


Jena was enthusiastically pulling sequined, lace covered, puffy, stand up on their own crinoline, dresses off the crowed racks. She found several she loved. I didn’t. Undeterred, she kept looking. I looked too, with little enthusiasm. I wasn’t sure a bridal shop dress was what I was looking for. I wasn’t sure what I imagined wearing to remarry.


Then she finds it. “MOM! It’s perfect!”


It is pretty. Ivory, no sequins or ruffled lace, simple, elegant, strapless, a soft taupe belt around the waist, $699.00.


“Oh Jena,” I explained, “I don’t want to spend that much.”


“Just try it on Mom.” (Never do that. Once it is on, it is hard to get off.)


I tried it on. Everyone in the store came to admire. As I enjoyed the , Jena went in search of her maid of honor dress. No surprise… she found one. It was very sweet; mocha colored, not too expensive and it looked great on her. Her mocha and my taupe worked. Except that my previous bridesmaids wore mocha… I said something to that effect. No one else saw the problem. I let it go.


I am always amazed by my ability to override my NO. This particular day my bulldozing self sounded something like this, “If I bought the dress today I got 20% off. The dress shopping would be done. We wouldn’t have to coordinate schedules to go shopping again. It was a lovely afternoon with Jena. I wanted her to be excited for this marriage, I knew it had its pain and awkwardness associated with it.”  I pulled out my Capital One card and anted up.


Two weeks later, with buyers remorse and a clear head, I called the bridal shop. “Can I get my money back since I hadn’t taken either dress home with me as they needed to be altered?” The answer was no. The dresses were mine. Ours.


As Tom and I secured the wedding location this spring, an elegant 10,000 square foot home on the edge of Mt Washington with an infinity pool, dance floor, disco ball and three floors of glass overlooking Pittsburgh, my dress choice began to haunt me. I couldn’t ignore myself any longer. I felt too young in the dress, too bridal, too corseted (you know how I hate that),and too obvious in a reducing way. My truth was I didn’t want to wear it. I didn’t like it. I never did.


I finally allowed myself to be honest with myself. Now what? The wedding is in three weeks.


The difference between my reality and my truth was disturbing and oddly familiar. It had a deja vu quality…. my first wedding. I had “settled” in so many ways as a 23 year old bride. I reframed myself right down the aisle. That young bride was now demanding my attention. She wanted me to hear her out. I listened carefully. She didn’t want to settle again. And the dress was the metaphor for that lesson. At 53, she reminded me, “we” didn’t have to settle.


I hinted to Tom I wanted a different dress. I did they same with a few close friends. Finally I told Jena. I felt ungrateful, embarrassed and scared of the reactions I anticipated. My young bride self and I were certain no one would understand. Chorus’s of “Get over it! Grow up! Why did you buy it if you didn’t like it? You are so much work!” played loudly in my head.


Instead, to my amazement, each one I told was unanimously supportive, offering love, acceptance, and understanding. Tom scoured the internet with me to help me get ideas of what I would like to wear. Trudy went with me to dress shop. Jodi reminded me that at 23 I didn’t have the same support to speak my truth as I do today. Adelais was thrilled. She thought it was perfect that I was “blowing the dress up.” There was so much I needed to “blow up” at my first wedding, but couldn’t. Jena said, “Can I get a new dress too?”


Two weeks before the wedding I found the DRESS. An AMAZING DRESS. I found it at Saks Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh (I had never had a dress from Saks.) It fit me perfectly, no alterations needed. No corsets. I didn’t even need to wear a bra. I felt sexy, sophisticated, elegant and comfortable. It was clearly MY DRESS all along. It was just a long and windy road to find it… and me.


Jena got a new dress too. She looked amazing. I hope she knows she doesn’t have to settle.




PS….. If anyone is need of a lovely ivory wedding dress, I have one for sale!












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