Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not the dress of my dreams...

Dear East Side Bride,

caution: lots of Catholic guilt to follow.

Evening garden wedding is in 5 months and my grandfather is critically ill in his final stages of cancer. I moved my wedding to my hometown of Miami to make it easier for the older generation to attend, and am crossing my finger so that they all make it.

Don Mario (Lilo to his grandchildren) is the quintessential grumpy old man. As far as I can tell, he only likes his mini-Daschund, Rambo (which had to find a new home a few months ago), reciting poetry at dinner parties, and his orchid garden, which he can no longer tend to. Everything else under the sun, he hates. Quite sure that he has never told me he loves me, but know that deep down in that old Cuban heart of his, he does. I am, after all, the youngest daughter of his deceased [only] son. 

I was told about a few weeks ago that he cries whenever the subject of my wedding comes up because he thinks he will not be able to make it. Lilo, crying? I was completely shocked. And also surprised by the sadness it brought up in me.

Cut to me visiting him in the hospital room last week. First and only words, "Did you try on THE dress?" What dress? "Your cousin's dress. It will look so beautiful on you...your uncle told me you can have it. I heard they paid $16,000!"

Followed-up by a phone call from my aunt an hour later, describing said "Vera Wang" dress and how I had to go try it on that weekend.

So kind and gracious of them all, no? On goes the dress, my mother, aunt, cousin all ooohing and aaahhing, and I am freaking the fuck out because I look like a bride. The ivory lace dress (not Wang, but L’Hullier) is quite beautiful. Something Grace Kelly would have worn. And to Lilo's credit, it fits like a glove. But it is incredibly traditional, and just not the dress I would have chosen for myself. I pictured something short, vintage, silver, I don't know, ANYTHING but long and white and lace.

I agree with you that it is obnoxious to have a wardrobe change mid-game, but should an exception be made in this case? I wear the dress for 30 minute ceremony and swap it for a more glamorous party dress that is more me? Am I a total brat for not jumping for joy at a free (beautiful) dress or am I not being true to myself if I actually go through with wearing it? Or both?


p.s. already going against family wishes by outdoor v. church ceremony...


Fuck that dress.

It belonged to your cousin?

Bambi Northwood-Blyth by Tierney Gearon for 10 Magazine via because im addicted via Studded Hearts


  1. Yeah, I mean, what's the attachment? Just that it was expensive? Was your cousin the only person in your family to wear it? (not a family tradition or something?)

    You are getting sentimental because your grandfather is near death. It sounds like you have not been close in the past. His random wishes about dresses should not have any relevance to how you see yourself celebrating your marriage.

  2. Agree. Its not about the dress! Its easier to shift his fear about not being able to BE THERE to a tangible object that helps him feel more in control of the being-there situation (THE DRESS). The dress is not the solution to the problem! So buy the short dress you want, elope in the hospital chapel with immediate family, and have your garden wedding in 5 months.

  3. I guess I don't see the terrible part about wearing both dresses (the traditional one for the ceremony, the one you love for the reception), but the dress was never that big of a deal for me. I get the previous point in the previous comments that you are probably letting the emotional attachment make you over-think this, but to me, if it's that important to someone who is important to you, is it really a sacrifice to wear it for a few minutes? The wedding day will still be yours.

    I guess I'm of the belief that the wedding isn't REALLY just about the bride and groom. The marriage is, but the wedding is for everyone else too. Either way, I'm sure you'll look amazing and have incredible memories. Although I do kind of like the hospital elopement idea!

    ~Stop Me If You've Heard This One

  4. It depends how much dresses matter to you. Personally, I did not really care, and don't have a strong attachment to my dress. Had some relative wanted to give me something, and it would make a bunch of people happy, why not? It might have saved me some trouble, even.

    But if you don't want to, you are in no way beholden to these relatives.

    I also think switching between ceremony and reception is fine. I think not wanting to get a $16,000 (!!!) dress dirty is a perfectly good excuse, if anyone is rude enough to bug you about it.

  5. you should honor him in some other way if you don't want to wear the dress. would he want to give a toast? or he could help give you away? if he's not able to walk or wheelchair down the aisle, he could give you a blessing and a kiss once you walk down the aisle.

    he sounds a lot like my grandma....not very outwardly affectionate but inwardly very sensitive and full of love for her grandchildren.

  6. Honor Don Mario with a surprise appearance of Rambo in a doggie bowtie and orchids in your hair. Don't wear the dress if its not you.

  7. Ummm...it's pretty but not your style? You don't hate it? And it would make your Lilo happy? (And it's free?!)

    Fuck the obnoxiousness. Change dresses before the reception.

  8. I'm with @justinelorelle. The wedding isn't all about the bride and groom, it's about two families coming together and celebrating a marriage.

    As a recent bride (got hitched over Labor Day weekend) I'll tell you right now that if I had worn a flour sack I don't think I would have even noticed. I was too freakin' happy and giddy and overwhelmed by all the love and joy surrounding us that the clothes didn't matter.

  9. let's see the dress!

  10. I want to see the dress too!

    I'm with the group saying wear it shortly for the ceremony and then change into something you love. Make sure you take pictures in both.

    Oh and also make Rambo your ring bear. Mini-daschunds are the cutest. Mine will be our ring bearer.

  11. Find the dress that YOU want to wear! The folks in your dress trying on committee probably wanted to see you try on a wedding dress, any dress, and that was one they had available. It comes from a sweet, lovely place, but....everyone will understand when you wear the dress you want to wear, and if they don't, eff em.

  12. I say wear it - I think letting your grandfather see you in a traditional white gown doesn't take away from who you are or what your style is - I think it's a testament to how much family means to you, and how much it might have meant to your dad.

    Wear the nice bridey dress for the ceremony and then wear a kicking reception dress.

    Everyone's happy - and you get to have a sweet memory with grandpa.

  13. Wear a dress *you* want to wear.

    It sounds like you have a different aesthetic. That's fine.

    As generous as they're being with sharing the dress, they're doing it because they think *you* will like it. And if they have different motives then it isn't generosity in the first place.

    You tell them you really appreciate the offer, but you and your cousin have different styles. As an adult, you don't actually have an obligation to wear family hand-me-downs. You get to dress yourself.

    Lilo will still think you look beautiful.

  14. If you really *really feel bad about making your grandpa unhappy, then I say, wear the dress for the ceremony and switch out to something for the reception/party after. Win/Win for everyone? Unless you do NOT want to get married in that dress......then that's a slightly more complicated situation. At the end of the day, I think they're just happy you're getting married and starting a new life..right? :)

  15. I'm definitely on team wear the dress for the ceremony then change into something that's more your style for the ceremony. Not obnoxious at all. It's a win-win.

  16. Er, change into something that's more your style for the reception...

  17. I just want to point out here that this is not some family gown that her mom or her grandma or the Virgin Mary wore at her wedding, back in the day. (Unless I totally missed something.)And that's the way that the grandfather is treating it- as if it's a family heirloom that deserves respect and reuse. I say politely decline and immediately follow it up with a "I'm so excited for you to witness me get married."

  18. I would be curious to see the dress too!
    Agree that some qualification for how important this really is. The period when I was preparing for the wedding is the only time of my life (thus far) where I had so many "You HAVE to ____" statements thrown at me. And of course, in the end such things were all forgotten about.
    If you decide you want to (not have to) wear the dress, then alter the design to suit you if possible. Good luck.

  19. Torn here. So pleased by the thoughtful responses, thank you, ESB & readership.Certainly never pictured anything bridal. Love the idea of Rambo as ringbearer and orchids!
    A) Dress is super important to me. I think about my work outfits days in advance, so wedding dress=big deal. Not that I would have to spend a lot or go to Kleinfeld's, just need to make sure it is right. B) Lilo is treating it as an heirloom b/c he can't fathom anyone spending that much on a dress and not passing it down. He thinks he is being resourceful? and I guess he loved it on her so much that now he envisions me in it, and my little cousin Sophie is next in line.
    C) Agreed, I am probably trying to cling to something that will make him happy since I am fearful he will not make it at all, and annoyed at myself for overthinking it. If it were my mom's dress, done deal. But cousin? Hand-me-down? I'll take all the above advice to heart and send in a pic of it on when I am back in Miami in Nov. Or maybe I will have found the dress of my dreams by then.

  20. Wear the family dress to the wedding and then change in to the frock that's more your style for the reception. Then you'll have a gorgeous dress that you can wear again in the future, but you won't be thinking of it as your "wedding dress."

  21. Not totally clear on whether you are asking ESB for permission to do the obnoxious dress change, or for permission to not wear the dress you don't want to wear.

    Ask yourself quickly what you would do if you could do anything (no thinking - just answer!) and then DO THAT.

    Also, if you don't want to wear the dress, it isn't like you're rejecting a family heirloom, which would be trickier to politely turn down. It's just a generous offer of a used wedding dress.

  22. Difficult. Neither way is 'right'. Both ways people could end up hurt (either you or your grandpa), but both ways you can also make it work. I love the idea of the hospital elopement - but maybe there's something else special you could do for him to take the focus off the dress if you decide not to wear it. Or if you do wear it it might be OK after all.
    Don't feel too guilty - you're trying your best.

  23. I'm so tired of stupid rules. If you want to change into a difference dress for the reception, just freaking do it!
    But if you don't like that dress, then why is this even an issue? Don't wear it at all!
    Basically, just do whatever you really want to do and forget about what you think other people are going to say or think.

  24. Oh, hello there catholic guilt! So nice to see a (very, exceedingly) familiar face. Also the onery grandfather bit. I feel like we should drink together and discuss. (and then feel incredibly guilty about our next day hangover)

    I think you need to make the decision that will give you the most peace. The bitch about this guilt thing is that what will give you the most peace is not always what, on paper, you want. In this case it might involve a wardrobe change. But you've got to make the decision toursel. And the own it.

  25. I am right there with @Miss K -- I thought I wanted something beaded and drapey and ... very 1920s and sophisticated... But there are parties and fancy dinners and other peoples' weddings for that... if the idea of being a bride to you includes seeing yourself as a bride in your FAMILY'S eyes... then picking something in their realm of understanding of what a 'bride' should wear will have its own benefits. I get it, everyone wants to be different and everyone has a right to be -- but I think that 'guilt' you're feeling might be nostalgia? As in, you maybe like the traditional gown but still want to have your party dress too?

    You said you were freaking out bc you 'felt like a bride' ... I got the same feeling when I was trying on dresses and then said 'fuck it..' bc for that one particular day that's kind of the idea.

  26. If its not the dress, DON'T wear the damn thing. I can think of nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable on your wedding day, other than not feeling like yourself.

  27. Wear the dress and change for the party.

  28. Yes - let's see this dress! Okay, let's see both dresses. You just made the one your grandpa wants you to wear sound so beautiful! Is something so 'Grace Kelly' feeling like too much for you? Something over-the-top glamorous would feel awfully foreign on me too, but it's your wedding - rock the glam! If there's ever a time to just go ahead and knock-em-dead (not that dead) do it now.

    It sounds to me like you've already come up with the perfect solution so why don't you go with it? Change for the rehearsal into your other dress.

    You have to gauge your own guilt about the whole thing...there are people that I could say, 'no I don't want to' and then there are those that I just want to make bloody happy - whatever they want as long as it's not making me miserable. I feel like a grandparent falls into that category.

  29. I might be a little late on this, but if anyone is still reading - I say do whatever makes you the happiest. I like everyone's ideas of 2 dresses (especially if you don't have to pay for the first one and you could get a kick-ass, short silvery one - there are some cute ones on the Mulberry website - also check the coming-out-soon section).
    If you will feel BETTER about everything wearing or not wearing that dress, then do that. But if you will be constantly second guessing yourself during your wedding that you should have done this or that, then you will have cause yourself unnecessary grief on a day when you shouldn't have to think about stuff like that. I wouldn't worry that it was your cousins....Try to make a decision and stick with it. BTW - this is coming from someone who ONLY cared about the dress, and not much else - In the end the trivial things will lose their importance as you get closer to the actual date, and then eventually you will just focus on the wedding for the awesome event that it is.