Weddings

I hated my wedding dress after I bought it

Here's what happened when I made the biggest purchase of my life and then regretted it.

By Brooke Shunatona
wedding dress

It happened to me: I spent thousands of dollars on a wedding dress I completely regretted buying as soon as I walked out of the store. (Spoiler alert: I won’t be wearing it when I get married in May. But if you’re interested in reading about the stressful, guilt-ridden days that ensued after I realised I hated my gown, read on.)

First, some background info: I’m not a planner and I don’t like to make decisions. These aren't good characteristics to have when you're a newly engaged person who needs to plan a wedding and make a lot of decisions. The only wedding-related thing I did put a lot of thought into over the years was my future dress. But when it actually came time to finding it, I had no idea what I wanted — because I had too many ideas of what I wanted: long sleeves, off-the-shoulder sleeves, a low back, a slit, a pretty neckline, lace details, the right kind of embellishments, etc.

I put off shopping for four months after my June engagement (except for a Facebook Live I did for work), praying I'd find clarity and wake up one day knowing exactly the dress for me. It never happened, and I was running short on time, so I started to looking in October and hoped for the best.

I live in one of the greatest cities in the world for shopping (NYC, what up), so I asked my mum and her friends to fly in. I scheduled a full day of back-to-back appointments. It will be fun! I thought. There will be Champagne! I’ll find the dress of my dreams and my mum will be there to share the experience with me!

The day I chose to go shopping was the anniversary of my maternal grandma's death, which I didn’t realise until my mum reminded me that morning as she handed me my Nana’s choker strand of pearls. “I would love if you could wear something of Nana’s on your wedding day,” my mom said. “She would’ve loved to be here for this.”

But what I, the people-pleaser, heard was: “You have to find a dress today that matches this necklace while I’m in town.” The self-induced pressure was on.

I tried about 30 dresses at four different stores and didn’t like a single one. It was all my own fault, of course, because I gave the bridal consultants only vague descriptions of what I wanted. The dress I was looking for — a combination of every dress I’d screenshotted in my life until that point — didn’t exist. I wanted something simple but dramatic. I wanted something classic but nontraditional. I was the bridal version of the girl who can’t pick a place to eat and isn’t in the mood for anything.

I was finally down to the last dress at the last shop at the last appointment of the day. It was a long-sleeve Chantilly lace gown with an Angelina Jolie-style leg slit. I slipped it on and turned to look at my mum. She was exhausted from our eight-hour shopping trip and soaking wet from an unexpected downfall of rain. I could see in her eyes that she wanted this to be The One so bad — so I went with it.

The exact words out of my mouth were, “I think I like this one” — a far cry from the Champagne-popping hug fest they show on Say Yes to the Dress. The day had not gone how any of us thought it would (there was zero Champagne toasting at the shops — the salespeople even made us throw our coffees away before coming inside), but I was relieved I found a dress and got to share the experience with my mum in memory of my grandma.

So I signed my life away on a five-page contract at the bridal shop, which, in layman’s terms, explained that if I changed my mind about the dress for any reason, sorry-not-sorry — that’s your own fault, and we are not responsible.

As soon as I walked out the door, I felt a pang of regret. Wedding dresses are stupid expensive, and I felt terrible spending thousands of dollars on something I didn’t love. Don’t get me wrong — it was a beautiful dress and, most importantly, it went perfectly with my Nana’s choker. But the more I looked at the photos of me wearing it, the less I felt like it fit me or the occasion. I’m having a small wedding on the beach and tend to sweat, so it didn't make sense to choose something so fancy and long-sleeved. Still, I decided I was going to suck it up and wear it.

Then it got worse.

Two weeks or so after I bought the dress, I saw on Instagram that a former work friend had recently gotten married — in a gown almost identical to the one I bought. I was not OK copying someone else’s look on such a heavily photographed day of my life.

I called the bridal shop the next day and explained my situation. Luckily, the salespeople were understanding and willing to help me exchange it for a different one. I was beyond relieved but I couldn’t bring myself to tell my mum. Every time I tried to tell her I returned the dress, she had a new story about how she showed a photo of it to someone who loved it. I couldn’t do it.

After three months of procrastinating, I finally worked up the courage to call my mum so I could tell her I had returned the dress. But before I could say anything, she broke the news that she, like my Nana, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. In that moment, my anxiety turned into guilt: I felt so self-involved and superficial for thinking my wedding dress was the biggest concern for everyone in my life — including myself. For months, all I thought about was how I'd look on my wedding day, which simply does not matter.

When I finally told my mom, she didn't care and was totally supportive. I even brought her shopping with me via FaceTime when I actually found The One. We decided I'd still wear my Nana's pearl choker on the big day — but as a bracelet instead. Regardless, what I wear on my wedding day isn't important. I'll wear the dress once and put it in the back of my closet, never to be seen again.

My first wedding-dress shopping experience may not have turned out to be the joyful, Champagne-filled one I’d hoped for, but the image I’ll have of my mum stuffing a bottle of wine in her purse so we could secretly cheers in the fitting room is something I’ll have for life.

Via: Cosmopolitan US