In the process of deciding on and then participating in the making of my wedding dress, I learned a few very valuable things. First, that for such a loaded piece of clothing, it made a lot of sense for me to spend a lot of time with it over the past year. By which I mean, I was always somewhat nervous about standing up in front of a lot of people and being the center of attention in a white dress, so to make the dress part feel intimately apart of me and my life helped to make the actual experience of the wedding day a lot more comfortable for me.
The 120 hours that I spent stitching and beading my dress took the mystery out of it. I knew the fabric and the details extremely intimately and when it came right down to it, I was just happy (no, giddy) to get a chance to actually wear it. And for an item that can often lead to emotional stress—crying in dressing rooms when sizes aren't what you are expecting, going through multiple fittings—I managed to avoid most of it. Which I didn't set out to do but which was hugely comforting to me, especially because the finished dress fit me nearly perfectly.
My dress was always a reminder of the time that I spent with my mom down in Alabama learning to make it with the ladies at Alabama Chanin, of the winter nights that I spent working on it in front of the last season of Mad Men with my then fiance. And I love that.
I also learned that with the dress, among other aspects of the wedding (hair comb, clutch, bouquets, garlands, thank you gifts), I was happier when I was able to actively participate in the making. I liked being involved. To me it wasn't ever "too much"—it was always what I was most comfortable doing. And it came with the added bonus that I was better able to plod through the less enjoyable aspects of wedding planning (mostly the following up with vendors which never seemed to end...) because I knew that I was spending the majority of my time how I wanted to be spending it.
The last thing that I've realized that I learned from making the dress (at this point at least!) was that with it, and actually with our entire wedding, we were able to make it the perfect event for us simply by paying attention to what felt right, what felt like fun. Somehow, I think we ignored most of the rules and expectations (maybe I felt like the weddings I've been to over the years let me off the hook? Not sure) and just focused on creating an event that reflected us and just felt right. Which is a most amazing and remarkable thing to realize in retrospect. After a lot of conversations and changed plans, we wound up having an intimate ceremony in the rose garden where we had our first date, followed by dinner at an Italian restaraunt, which satisfied my deep down desire for a wedding dinner party. Then the next day we had a potluck party in a local state park with bluegrass, square dancing, pie, and a larger group to celebrate with. We got to spend more time with all of the family and friends who traveled in from far away, focus on our goals of good food and music (Josh even sang with the band!), and I got to wear my dress twice!
It was the best wedding I could have ever imagined for us and I can't wait to share more photos with you next week. Enjoy the weekend everyone!