I think it’s only fair that I share what was the most dramatic and ridiculous event of my 10-month engagement: my wedding dress.
Y’all, I had never looked at dresses on Pinterest or magazines or anything – I honestly hadn’t looked at anything wedding-related because I wasn’t sure I’d get married really ever. But, when my boyfriend and I had been dating for several months, I spotted a dress I liked while I was with my now sister-in-law picking out her wedding dress. I knew he was “the one” pretty early on in our relationship, but I tried not to make a big deal about it.
While my sister-in-law was in the dressing room trying on her dream dress, I noticed a dress that “looked like me,” so I nudged my mom and told her that looked like the dress I wanted to marry Caleb in.
Fast forward several months to Caleb’s proposal to me (another story for another day.) I went to look at dresses the very next week because a shop was having a big wedding dress trunk show.
I took my mom, her best friend, my best friend, my future mother-in-law, and my grandmother along for the ride and I tried on what felt like 100 dresses. I walked in and told the kind lady helping me that I wanted something long-sleeved, lace, and a low back, to which she replied, “You probably won’t leave with anything like that.” And boy was she right. I left with a sleeveless dress that had a high neck – and the next day I hated it.
I thought I had that “bride moment,” but I didn’t – I just forced it because I thought I was supposed to have that moment, and I wanted that moment so badly.
That forced moment took me back to previous relationships where I thought for sure I had found my husband, and I wanted so badly to find that perfect “soulmate” who would love every single thing about me, so I would force the breathtaking, mushy, head over heels feelings because I thought I was supposed to. But it never worked and it was never right.
That dress didn’t work and it wasn’t right. I woke up the next morning in a panic knowing I had made a mistake and also knowing that it was too late – that no refund policy on wedding dresses will get you every time.
Several weeks passed and I talked myself into liking the dress. I constantly said, “I mean, it IS really pretty.” And it was a really pretty dress – but that doesn’t mean it was my dress.
One day, I decided to call the bridal store and see if there was anything I could do. But first, I prayed about it. But before that, I laughed out loud and said, “Does God really even care about my stupid wedding dress dilemma.” Oh sister, He cared. He cares about every detail, and that leaves me speechless.
When the store didn’t answer, I took it as a “sign” that I needed to keep the dress. I was headed to a women’s conference with my church and tried to brush it off, but the dress dilemma was lingering in that ugly little dwelling space in my mind where thoughts hide and refuse to leave sometimes. When I walked into the conference, the first words I saw on the screen were something to the effect of, “If He cares about the sparrow, He cares about you,” in reference to Matthew 6:25-26.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
I immediately started weeping. My hands were lifted high as tears fell fast, and I was overwhelmed by His love and His concern with my trivial little details that seemed like the end of the world at the time. He didn’t shame me for caring so deeply about a dress, He wrapped me up and let me know I was loved and that that was enough.
The conference changed me. ReCreate Conference 2016 left a mark on my heart that will always be there to remind me that I’m enough even in my weakness, even in my ridiculous obsessions.
I thought that was the end of it. I thought I’d wear the dress and have a perfect wedding day.
I even wrote a blog about it: “The Day I Tried To Return My Wedding Dress”
But that wasn’t the end of it – it really never is with me.
During my casual Instagram strolls, I kept seeing girls I knew wearing the exact same wedding dress. I even ran into a girl engaged to be married right after me and we discovered that we had purchased the same dress. There were a total of about 8 girls I knew that had worn or would wear the exact same wedding dress I had forced myself to love.
I was sick to my stomach. I know how crazy that might sound, but I could not stop thinking about how much I did not want to wear that dress. I just knew it was not my dress.
After begging God for help, crying to my mom, whining to my fiance, and complaining to my friends, I went to the last resort – I drove to the store to beg for a new dress.
Please understand that I know how ridiculous I was being, but I just knew in my heart I would be devastated if I wore that dress on my “big day.” So, just bare with me through my brattiness if you don’t mind.
I walked into the store calm and collected planning to talk to a manager, but no managers were there. However, the owner of the store was there, so I had no choice but to talk to her. In my head, I said, “Perfect, she will absolutely let me get a new dress after she sees how distraught my poor heart is.”
Yeah. No. She listened to my begging and even watched me sob. But she told me she couldn’t do anything because it is their policy that they hold to firmly. Then, she told me to pray about it.
I was disheartened that that was the only encouragement she could offer. Little did I know, it was the exact answer to my problems. I did, in fact, pray about it… but not until I had left the store in tears and called maybe every member of my family and my fiance. They were all so over the situation at this point. But I was not giving up.
I went home and put the dress on EBay – I put pictures of me in the dress with a price and everything, and prayed someone would be searching for a wedding dress on EBay that day. And I got two responses from very obvious spam accounts. But I was ready to ship the dress and fought with my mom when she insisted that they were spam accounts.
As I sat in my bed crying the next day (I told you to bare with me) and looking at pictures of wedding dresses online, a number called and my chest dropped to the lowest point of my stomach. The person on the other line was calling to tell me I wouldn’t be stuck with dress number one, the dress of my nightmares.
By way of a miracle from no one other than God, my prayer was answered and I had a clear moment of God’s faithfulness in something very trivial and ridiculous to everyone else, but so important to me.
I got to go pick out a new dress because of someone’s generosity and because I heeded the owner’s advice to “pray about it.” This time it was just me and my mom. And it was one of the most perfect days of my entire life. When I found THE dress, I had THE moment that I had hoped for. My mom and I cried and hugged and as I looked at myself in my second chance dress, I remembered that God is the God of second chances. He is always giving out chances, even when other people might think it’s dumb or when we think we don’t deserve it.
It is only fitting that God had His hand in the dress I would wear to marry the man that He so beautifully led me to. His touch is all over our story, so it made perfect sense that He clothed me in a white, long-sleeved lace dress of my prayers for the day I would vow my heart to the man of my prayers.