So much has happened in my life this year. I’ve been running one marathon after the next, training for the metaphorical iron woman. When life gets busy, it becomes harder for me to be truly present in the current moment and to reflect on all that’s happened. I just got back from the most amazing two-week vacation, or should I say HONEYMOON, in Greece. This gave me the much-needed time to put my “to-do” list aside, relax and be with my Love each day. I’ve come back with a fresh perspective, ready to do a bit of self-reflection, ready to hit the pavement in a more thoughtful way than I may have been operating before.
Reflecting on our recent wedding, Nathan and I agreed from the beginning that we wanted to steer as far away as possible from the wedding industrial complex - the notion that your wedding day is the most important, most defining, moment in your life (especially for women) and it should be absolutely picture perfect, no matter the cost. We also didn’t want to get sucked into the ultra gendered roles that tend to play out in the man/woman wedding planning process. We didn’t want to agonize over a mile long guest list (which is harder to avoid than I would have expected) and then have to decide who should sit by whom. We wanted to keep it simple. We wanted to have fun in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest outdoors. We wanted our energy to focus on the things that truly matter, and not get too lost in the details. We wanted to share our love with family and friends who we love. And of course…..I WANTED A VINTAGE DRESS!
I couldn’t wait to wear that dress after it sat so patiently in the box for nearly ten months. I found it at Pretty Parlor in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle just two months after we got engaged. I had strolled in there after work one day to scope out their bridal boutique, which is fabulously decorated in vintage golds, pinks and florals with an incredible white fur rug in the dressing room that makes any lady feel totally glam. My intention was to browse (and get a sense of pricing) but the shop woman insisted that I tried some dresses on, so I did. None of them fit quite right. Most were traditional white 1950s style; lovely but just not…me. I let the woman know I wasn’t in any rush but I’d be back.
As I was just about to leave the dressing room I glanced up and noticed the most amazing golden yellow and lace gown hanging high up on the wall, and must has gasped out loud. “Oh those are our really old and delicate dresses,” the shop woman said. “If you want to try it on I’m required to help you.” So she carefully helped me pull that dress over my head and down my body and OMG it fit me like a gorgeous satin glove! The great thing about 1930s slip style gowns is that they have no buttons or zippers, which often break or quit working with age. In fact, most garments from the earlier decades of the 20th century are new edging on antiquity, collected but not worn, because they're so fragile. Lucky for me my dress was in incredible shape, proving that vintage garments can far outlast new ones due to high quality materials and impeccable craftsmanship.
Thrifty shopper that I am I had given myself a budget of $300 for a dress. I have a rule that I don’t look at a price tag of something until after I’ve tried it on, that way I don’t trick myself into thinking it fits properly or looks amazing just because it has a low price tag. In this case, I slipped that dress on, fell in love with it in an instant, grit my teeth as I peaked at the price tag, and couldn’t believe my eyes when it said $340. SOLD!!! Okay, I know I cheated a bit, but $340 for a wedding dress is a steal! Not to mention this was an incredible 1930s gem that was basically MADE for me!
The best part of the story is that I called my best friend in a panic because I wanted her second opinion and didn’t want anyone else to snatch that dress up. Looking back on this I suppose this was one of the few inevitable “bride moments" I had- at least this one didn't bring me to tears. Terra had recently returned to work after having a baby (my handsome little godson, Rainer) and her crazy schedule didn’t allow her to come with me to the shop until 5 days later. They graciously held that dress for me until then. And then of course, the second Terra saw the dress on me she was like, “That’s it! That’s the one!” I never really thought I’d get totally gaga over a dress. But, I now stand corrected.
So there you have it: The story of my dress. The rest of the wedding went off without a hitch. I managed to deal with the strange tensions I felt leading up to it. Planning of the event wasn’t without stress that’s for sure, but as the days drew closer we both were pretty excited for the wedding weekend to arrive. I’m happy to say that our wedding day was everything we had wanted it to be, imperfections and all. While I may have cringed at the idea of this one day being the best day of my life, I think it’s up there. I’ve never felt so much love; from my now husband, from our families, our friends, and even from strangers who helped make our special weekend happen. It was simply wonderful. A total whirlwind, but a really, really wonderful one!
I would like to give a shoutout to Laura Close, founder of the Women’s Intelligence Project, for being a support to me during so much transition happening in my life this year, wedding and otherwise, and for giving me this book during a time that I needed it most. I highly recommend The Conscious Bride to those who are grappling with societal, familial, or even your own internalized ideologies of all things related to weddings and marriage itself.
Also, HUGE THANKS to Wild RoseMarie Photography for the amazing photos and to my bestest best friend Mandy Westfall for her mad hair and makeup skills!
Shoes by John Fluevog. Necklace and fur coat from the Vee Vintage private collection.
If you're in need of some vintage style assistance for your upcoming wedding look no further than Vee Vintage! Email Virginia at email@example.com for all your styling needs.