It’s part of the unquestioned mythology of weddings. When you find that right gown and slip it on for the first time, you feel like this:
You’re joyful, almost giddy with excitement. You know with absolute certainty for the first time that the wedding is really happening. You feel like a princess.
There’s even plenty of literature to back that up. Not just novels, though the theme is rife in books that feature weddings, but in films, TV shows, and even blogs about weddings.
For instance, a recent article at the Huffington Post by wedding gown designer Justina McCaffrey chronicles the way she sees career woman after career woman morph from a no-nonsense, phone-glued-to-the-ear customer in search of a simple white pantsuit to get married in to a dewy-eyed Disney princess in the making.
It is the abandoned dream and vision of herself that was once forgotten somewhere between the divorce of her parents, high school exams, and her first broken heart. It is the internal struggle of regrets versus survival and that suddenly in the mirror a vision of herself looking like she is in love, and looking like she is vulnerable, and even giddy with joy makes her uncomfortable. It is a woman that she does not know. It is the woman she used to be, even as a little girl.
She cries as she sees herself in a white ballgown and veil. She is a princess.
But there’s something McCaffrey doesn’t mention: not all women react the same way to their wedding gown. Just as not every woman walks in holding a business conference on her phone while shopping for a dress, not every woman is just waiting for the princess within to be revealed.
Just as not every girl wants a church wedding, not every girl truly wants a ballgown and veil. And some who do want them won’t react so violently when they put them on.
Some women react more like Kate Fridkis in her recent Huffpo article: What if You Don’t Become a Fairy Princess in Your Wedding Gown?
For a long time, I hoped that something magical would happen when I dressed up. I hoped that I’d transform. I’d watched too many movies. I’d had too many friends with excellent collarbones and sculpted shoulders that were practically begging to be bared. I thought that the ability to undergo a metamorphosis from normal to stunning with a few simple props was an integral part of being a successful woman. I certainly thought it was an essential part of being a bride.
Now I’m not sure it is. I’m sort of glad I looked like me on my wedding day. After all, it was me getting married. Not a fairy princess. I mean, I was glad my husband looked like himself, in his tux. I wanted to see his familiar face, not the face of Prince Charming. That would’ve freaked me out.
I have to admit, I didn’t cry when I put on my wedding gown. I didn’t tear up. I was happy, certainly, and thought I looked pretty damn great… but I was just me in a better than normal dress. And Mr. Twistie was himself in a morning suit and top hat. That was something I’d seen before. It’s a nice sight, of course, but not something once-in-a-lifetime.
And you know what? That’s okay.
You really don’t have to release the princess within to get married. It’s even entirely possible she just isn’t there to be released.