The symbolism of a wedding dress is such a beautiful thing. We gather the most important women in our life, take them to a store (maybe three) filled with white dresses, and with the help of champagne and squeals of encouragement you hunt down “the one.” The one you will say your vows in. The one that all your friends and family will compliment. The one you will dance in until your feet are black and you’re too tired to take another step.
I never had an ah-ha moment when I bought my dress, so at the time I wasn’t aware of how much it would mean to me. For a while I even thought I would sell it afterwards… But now that dress holds an array of beautiful memories, and I love my dirty wedding dress even more now than the day I bought it.
My wedding was my favorite day. That may sound cliche but I honestly find myself dreaming about it frequently and wishing I could go back in time to do it all again. Thank goodness for our beautiful photos that I look through on the REGULAR (bless you, Michelle, for that gift).
The entire day was quite the adventure. The second I stepped in to my wedding dress, someone stepped on the dress and there was that indistinguishable ripping sound. I laughed! I was on my way to see my future husband, who cares! While I walked across the property to our First Look location, my skirt dragged behind me gathering leaves. I picked them out one by one and then Sam turned around to see me in my dress for the first time. He said I was beautiful over and over again, and for once I actually believed it. By the time we finished taking pictures I had somehow gathered even more leaves, flowers, dirt, sticks and stones, and even a 3 foot BRANCH- seriously!! We had a little break before the ceremony and I found myself surrounded by family trying to clean my dress. I laughed again and told them not to worry about it, “just call me Mother Nature!”
By the end of the night I had been stepped and spilled on, hugged by 100 people, I walked barefoot across a literal campground in the mountains, and I sat in the middle of the old wooden dance floor in a semi-drunken whirlwind of “wow this is the best day ever.” Believe me when I say my dress was DIR-TY.
Today is our one year anniversary. It has been an incredible year filled with ups & downs and falling more in love with my husband each passing day despite how many arguments we have over doing the dishes and letting the dogs up on the bed. I may have disliked wedding planning but like I said before I would do it all over again to get that feeling back. Every once in a while, I peek at my dress in our spare closet. All of the rips, broken pieces, stains and dirt are still there (along with a few dried leaves). Running my hands across it I feel a little piece of that day.
I will never clean my wedding dress. It has a story to tell, and that story doesn’t deserve to be stuck in a box for the next 10 years. I look at the rips and remember the crowded dance floor and all of my favorite people in the world within arms reach. I can see a little splash of where some foreign alcohol coated my knee. I find the leaves at the bottom of the dress bag and remember the beautiful weather and walking hand and hand with my husband through the forest. The once-white skirt is full of memories and joy that I could never wash away.
As our life moves forward, this dress will stay with the same. It will travel from our current home to our next. I plan to put it on every year, even if it won’t fit over a baby bump or hips that have widened over time. I’ll dance in my kitchen in that dirty dress and maybe even wear it for a vow renewal someday. When my future daughter asks about our wedding day, I’ll pull it out for her to try on, sticky kid fingers and all, and we’ll look through our wedding album together.
So brides, embrace the fact that your dress will get dirty. Mine did within minutes of putting it on! If your uncle spills a glass of wine on you or a bridesmaid hugs her makeup on to your sleeve, laugh it off because it is all part of your wedding story. And when the day is over and your mom is sending you reminder texts to get your dress professional cleaned and sealed, consider letting that dress continue to exist as a part of your every day life. Through the ups and downs, that physical memory can stay with you. WEAR IT. Let it remind you why you bought it in the first place and wore it down the aisle toward your best friend. Live your wedding day over and over again. Who says you can only be a bride once?