Hello! Today I am going to do a quick post on why brides should always, always, always take their time in choosing a wedding dress.
I used to not understand–what is their problem? It’s just a damn dress, isn’t it? Why spend so much time on choosing a “perfect dress”, even as divorce rates are rising? And oh–one dress is so expensive too. Is the price worth YOLO? lol.
As a fashion marketer who has done intensive studies on the topic of love, romance and marriage in Singapore, naturally I feel very strongly about this topic. Over the course of this and last year, I’d also interviewed a lot of brides and bridal boutique owners, so I’d gotten some very valuable perspectives about the significance of the wedding dress too. If you are interested in this specific topic of wedding dresses, read my post about how much I love weddings, or my conference paper on wedding dresses. And just saying, this is my absolute favorite video on weddings:
In my humble opinion, rarely do fashion marketers in Singapore blog about this topic of wedding dresses from a neutral perspective–that is, without representing any particular bridal boutiques, or without the intention of converting readers to client via content marketing. Likewise, rarely do brides have the privilege of interviewing many, many brides and discovering what the big deal is about dresses too.
So I hope I can fill this gap.
My dear brides and grooms–you need to hear this: If your bride is stressing out over the wedding dress, that is just perfectly normal. This is because a wedding dress is more than just material–it’s really a lot more about tackling the insecurities, judgement and expectations imposed on the bride. So if your bride is really stressed out, it might be a good idea to comfort her with a hug!
I’m writing this article because a lot of times, I feel that BOTH men and women just don’t get why women are stressing out over their wedding gown. “Women–such vain creatures”–sometimes I’d hear guy friends/ single female girlfriends of the bride say.
But seriously, wedding dresses are not about vanity. A wedding dress embodies a whole lot of things, such as managing expectations, wanting to be liked, wanting to be the female ideal, being scared of judge-y people, being anxious about a once-in-a-lifetime event, etc.
So today, I want to blog about the three reasons why the wedding gown is not “just another dress” AND a simple way to make your dress-choosing experience more stress-free. =)
The three reasons why the wedding gown is not “just another dress”.
Reason 1: Like it or not, when you have a wedding ceremony, all eyes will be on the bride.
(Source: Yumi Katsura Facebook)
I’m showing you a photo of a real bride who looks absolutely stunning in a Yumi Katsura gown. For your information, Yumi Katsura is part of the very elite and prestigious Asian Couture Federation, and this Japanese designer is top of her league. She’s like a bridal fairy Godmom who can make every lady look like a princess. I first saw her collections at Fide Fashion Week 2013.
However, what if the bride fails to look as gorgeous as this, because she is deemed to have made the “wrong” choice of a wedding dress? For example, if the bride is sort of fat, she’d be judged. If her makeup is seriously terrible, she’d be judged. If her dress looks cheap, she’d be judged too. Oh by the way, you might not even agree with me that the Yumi Katsura gowns are gorgeous in the first place, because your ideals and styles are different.
And you think you can photoshop your way into perfection? In this age and time of digital and social media, no you can’t. You can’t even censor photos you think you’d look terrible in (such as the “red eye effect”, which is all too common) precisely because it is your friends, relatives and invited guests who are taking and uploading these photos onto their private social media accounts.
Sidenote, this also means that if you secretly hate someone, just upload ugly photos of them on their big day hehehe.
So yes–a bride is remembered by her wedding dress. On the day itself, all eyes will be on her and the dress. She’d be judged, and since she’s judged, naturally she’d be stressed out over who approves and disapproves of her. Social media increases the competition–imagine your colleague attends two back to back wedding of fellow colleagues. Naturally, there would be comparison.
Post-wedding ceremony, the family of the bride will remember her by her dress in photographs, and the bride herself will remember herself by what she wore and how she felt on the wedding day.
With so many expectations, how is it possible to not feel stressed out?!
Reason 2: To a trained-eye, a wedding dress tells you what a bride is insecure about, or idealizes.
Have you ever wondered why women put themselves on diets just before the wedding ceremony?
Basically, why not just look fat?
The reason is because our media frowns upon the perfect feminine figure looking fat. If you’re a bride in 2015–you’re ideal only if you look young and slim (in Singaporean context), and preferably demure.
This ideal is set by the media. In the past, being fat is OK, and even desirable as a feminine ideal! However, in recent years, being fat is not OK, and being “slim” is marketed as the ideal. If you are interested in the development of wedding dresses over the past 100years, watch this excellent video by Mode:
Obviously any bride can choose to go against this ideal propagated by the media in 2015, but she bears the consequences of being judged. If you don’t truly give a shit about other people’s judgement, that’s fantastic! However, if you care even a tiny weeny bit about how others will judge you, especially relatives, then you need to stress about how your dress makes you look vis-a-vis societal’s ideals, which is propagated by the media and magazines.
Simply put, no bride who is uncomfortable about her own body would choose a mermaid gown which shows her tummy. Mark my words on this!🙂
Reason 3: Wedding dresses are political. This means “follow the money”.
If the couple is not paying for the wedding dress, then the choosing of the dress would also be subjected to the opinion of people paying for it. This is just common sense.
So, if you have super conservative parents paying for the dress, and your style is more of the “bold” sort, you’re better off not taking their money for the dress. ^^
Even if parents are not paying for the dress, their opinions count too. Parents might be paying for the wedding photography–which means that they will have a say in how the photographs should look like. Even if parents say “Oh we leave it up to the youngsters”, there would be an inherent pressure in justifying the purchase, which means that you would want to ensure that your parents sincerely like your photographs. Your dress will be in all the photographs–what if The Parents sincerely hates the choice of the dress?
In addition, imagine wearing a dress deemed too revealing for traditional parents–they’d disapprove and frown! So even if the bride were to really like a particular dress, people important to her might not like it.
How is this activity not stressful?! The bride has to please people important to her–for instance, bride’s mom, groom’s mom, groom, bride.
Therefore, the dress has become a sort of “stake” for political power. If you choose something the groom’s mom likes but the bride’s mom doesn’t, what does it imply–that the groom’s mom’s opinion is more important than the bride’s mom? You get my drift.
Sounds like a minefield, yea? It really isn’t that simple because the bride can only have one main wedding dress choice, and you cannot please everyone.
So, what is one of the best methods of choosing the perfect wedding dress?
Mark my words–it is simply trusting your gut feeling, defined as the first feeling that comes to you when you try on the wedding dress.
You see, most Singaporean brides would visit at least 5 bridal boutiques to check out price levels and designs of wedding dresses. After a while of visiting boutiques and trying out 3-5 dresses at each place, you get tired and mentally-drained. The thought process goes like that–
“Do I look fat? What would his mom say? Do I look ugly? Would I look plain? Would my bridesmaids look better than me? Does this dress fit the theme?” etcetc
With so many things in mind, it’s close to impossible to have clarity of thinking!!
This is why a heuristic is simply to trust your gut feeling. After trying on a dress, be sure to look into the mirror and ask yourself “Do I like this dress?”
Then take note of your first impression/thought/emotion. If your first thought is “OMG YES!” then you can KIV it. If however, you have doubts, then just forget about the dress.
Remember that your first impression is the most important–and nobody else’s! Trusting your gut feeling is nothing selfish–in fact, it is the most selfless thing you can do for decision making. This is because your gut feeling internalizes all the things that are important to you–if your first priority is your fiance’s opinion, then the gut feeling will tell you exactly that. ^^ The gut feeling also takes into consideration price level, and quality of dress (since you tried it on).
So basically, choose only from the set of dresses that your gut feeling tells you is OK. And I cannot stress how important it is to try the dresses. Don’t be shy, ok? You are paying the price not just for the dress, but also for the service you’d get at the bridal boutique. So only decide on a dress that passes the litmus test of your gut feeling AND comfort.
Hope this post helps! Anyway, if you have problems and want a listening ear, you can always rant/whine/talk to me–without feeling bad at all! Drop me an email at email@example.com ^^ I’d try to respond to all emails on the wedding dress but response time might vary according to how busy I am hehe.