Over the past year a lot of people have asked me how wedding dress shopping has been going and whether or not I have my dress yet, to which I’ve most often simply responded with “I already have my dress and I love it!” or something along those lines. But I quickly grew tired of, well…not lying, but maybe omitting the truth? The truth is, I have not been wedding dress shopping. At all. Because I do, in fact, already have my wedding dress…only I bought it three years ago.
You read that right. Three years ago. Was I engaged three years ago you ask? Not yet. Timmy and I got engaged March 25, 2016, just a little over a year ago. Why, oh why, did I buy my dress three years ago then you ask? I’m here to tell you the nontraditional, but oh-so-me, story of how I got my wedding dress.
First, you should know that I’ve been hesitant to tell this story. I’ve been scared that people would think I was rather crazy, blindly love-struck, irrational, and completely unconventional. While some of that may be true, it doesn’t get to the heart of the story. Ultimately, I decided to tell this story because Timmy and I been gifted with the grace and strength that it takes to discern a vocation and follow God’s call. I also believe that other young people can, and do, experience the certainty of a vocation at a young age and deserve the same support that Timmy and I have been shown.
I’ve said multiple times before that Timmy and I knew we had found the person God was calling us to marry by a year into our dating relationship (you can read all about our love story here and here). It should come as no surprise then that I was already addicted to Pinterest by the end of junior year of high school. That year, I fell in love with a specific wedding dress on Pinterest. Classic, I know. While I’ve written before about the dangers of Pinterest, I’ll admit that God was working for the good here. I thought it would just be a phase and sooner or later I would fall in love with a different dress. Well, three years later, as a sophomore in college, I was still in love with this same dress.
Then, tragedy happened (well, tragedy for a girl dreaming about her wedding). The dress designer discontinued the line this dress was part of. I was devastated. I loved this dress so much and sincerely thought that one day I would marry Timmy in it. My mother ironically pointed out that I was crazy thinking I was ever going to get the dress because of the price tag on it. My grief was unfounded, she assured me. I couldn’t give up yet though.
I started stalking pre-owned wedding dress sites trying to find it. After months of no luck I found one for about 50% off and was so excited to go tell my mom. The dress, she noted, was about 8 sizes too big for me and said that 1) the price was still too high and 2) altering it so much would be significantly expensive. So I kept looking.
A few months later I found another one. It was exactly my size and was about 20% of the original price. The low price made me a little skeptical but something told me that this was worth the shot, so I contacted the girl selling it. We ended up facetiming so that she could show me the dress and any blemishes it had (the only blemishes are under the train, which I could care less about since it’ll get dirty within 5 minutes of me walking it). After seeing the dress, I asked her for a price. She explained that she wasn’t trying to make the money she spent on it back, she simply had loved the dress so much that she wanted someone else to get to experience the magic of wearing it. I was sold.
I paid her that day and eagerly awaited getting the dress. She shipped it from California and after about a week it was on my doorstep. I’ll never forget the magic of trying it on for the first time. It fit like a glove and needed zero alterations. It was even more beautiful in person than I could have ever imagined and I was so overjoyed thinking of Timmy’s reaction seeing it for the first time on our wedding day, even though that date was no where close to being set.
Over the past three years, the dress has hung in my closet at home. I’ve tried it on several times, both to make sure it still fits (which it still does!) and to dream of my wedding day, duh. Each time putting it on has been just as magical as the first and I’m even more in love with it today than the day it arrived on my doorstep. I’m also reminded, each time, of the certainty of vocation I felt when I put it on the first time. Despite all odds, despite being so young, despite being at separate colleges, despite having no clue what the future would hold, I knew that this day would come and that I would walk down the aisle to marry him in this dress.
For the people I have told this too, I’ve gotten one question most often: “Don’t you regret not getting the bridal salon experience?” Honestly, I don’t regret it for two main reasons, one of which I knew then and the other which I’ve only realized this year:
First, I don’t regret it because I got to share the experience with the people who believed in my vocation the way I did. Three years before I would actually set a date for my wedding, they too believed that one day I would be here about to marry my high school sweetheart. And for the people who have seen my dress, my mother and some of my best friends, I don’t think their reactions would have been any different if we were sitting in a bridal salon opposed to my bedroom. Timmy also knew. I told him the day I found the dress online. His only concern was me changing my mind about the dress, but he never once questioned whether I would change my mind about him.
Second, given what this past year of my life has been (Grad school, a fellowship, student teaching, job searching and wedding planning) I am SO SO SO glad I did not have to find a dress too. I couldn’t have done it. I didn’t have the time to go to dress appointment after dress appointment. And I believe that God knew that three years ago and was looking out for me. God’s ways are often humorous to me when I look back on the timing of things. This story certainly is one for the books. But I also see the profound care with which He has directed my life, always making all things work for the good. My wedding dress was one of those things it turns out.
You probably still think I’m crazy, and I don’t blame you. I mean come on, who buys their wedding dress before their even engaged? I don’t think my decision was anything profoundly special though, and I know it wasn’t crazy. I knew my vocation and believed that God would fulfill His promise to me. And that He has. I hope instead of thinking I’m crazy, you’ll seek to understand the ways God is calling you to your vocation and pursue it with reckless abandon, knowing that He. Is. Faithful.