Date: Sunday 13 April, LESS THAN 1 WEEK BEFORE WEDDING DAY
“Sh*t… oh no…. F***********!”
I was raised in a good Christian home, but there are times when no other words will suffice.
This was one of those times.
I was trying on my wedding dress, and looking at myself in the mirror in absolute horror. I knew I had gained a few pounds from all the traveling and stress of moving to a new country, but I hadn’t realized it was so much weight.
Even though I wasn’t having a big wedding (more of an elopement than a wedding), my sweet mother had still organized to have a dress made for my special day. I wanted a red dress – but everyone (friends, family, random waitresses and even my dress maker) were of the opinion that I should wear a variation of white to make me ‘feel like a bride’ and that I would regret it if I didn’t go for a traditional color. So, caving into peer pressure and doubting my original choice, I chose a short, fitted dress (it was a little stretchy) with a mocha underlay and a white lace overlay. It was pretty and feminine and about as bride-ish as I would ever want to go. We had the final fitting a month before the wedding, and I left South Africa two days after the final fitting. Even though the dress had turned out a little shorter than I would’ve liked, it was still tasteful, classic, and flattering.
Today it was not flattering.
And today I didn’t feel like a bride.
Because of my slight weight gain, the dress had stretched horizontally instead of vertically – making it about two inches shorter than it had been on me previously. For most girls this probably wouldn’t have been a major issue, but my bottom half is not like most girls – I have short legs a natural Jamaican dancehall booty– which I’ve been proud of ever since Kim Kardashian hit the scene. But unfortunately when your already-big-butt expands on your short body, tight-fitting dresses creep up. Waaaay up.
I tried to pull it down, hoping the stretchy fabric would co-operate, but my boobs popped out the other end. I tried to imagine saying my vows with a nip-slip situation going on.
“Nope. That won’t do.”
I’m not proud of what I did next, but I immediately pulled out my phone and began to google ‘how to lose a tremendous amount of weight in less than a week’.
Google Suggestion 1: Decrease calorie intake by 800 calories per day and increase exercise regime. AKA: starve myself while participating in a bridal boot camp (yes – for a price, bridal bootcamps exist).
Google Suggestion 2: Purchase a body-shaping slip to give the illusion of a slimmer body.
Again, I hate to admit it – but desperate times make desperate and irrational brides:
“Okay: done, and done! I’m going to look like a piece of linguini spaghetti by the time I say my vows in 5 days time.” (Again, let me emphasize that I was in a panic, and wasn’t thinking straight at this point… so try not to judge me for this next bit)
I begged my then-fiancé to drive me to the mall (even though he had the flu… yes, the week of our wedding he had the flu) so I could purchase a body-shaping slip and a whole lot of soup ingredients to kick-start my master plan. I didn’t have a car or any other mode of transport so I depended on him to take me places… and I couldn’t very well say my vows looking like a hooker.
So my sweet fiancé drove me to the mall without complaining, and I felt a ray of hope – like I could get things sort-of under control and possibly remedy the situation…
That is, until I saw what the slip looked like: I don’t know how it’s possible, but I looked even worse in it than I did without it.
Not only did I still look trashy in my dress, the slip made my body look like an over-stuffed sausage. I’m guessing most slips are not designed for curvy girls with bums like mine – because they pushed my butt meat upwards into my waist and downwards onto my thighs – squashing away any natural curves completely and transforming me into a shapeless worm. As I looked at my dismal bratwurst-like reflection, the tears started to form in my eyes… I was a bride for goodness sake, I wasn’t supposed to feel like a piece of grilled meat.
Unfortunately, the only person I knew in the entire city who could possibly help me in this situation was my then-fiancé. I love the man, but he’s not the sort of person you’d depend on in a dress-mergency.
(Just a year ago he neglected to tell me the dress code for a wedding we went to – and because I’m from Africa where weddings are far more casual, I showed up wearing a super short, tight cocktail dress with stiletto heels to a wedding that turned out to be as classy and elite as The Royal Wedding. Unbeknown to me, the dress code included long gowns and hats… HATS! It was by far the most beautiful and prestigious wedding I’ve ever been to, and I showed up looking like a high-end hooker (well, that’s how I felt anyway). I felt no better than Bridgett Jones in a bunny outfit on Easter Sunday. I spent most of the evening trying to hide my legs under the table cloth making the most of the free-flow wine. I had never felt so cheap. Knowing I felt self-conscious, he told me “Don’t worry, you look super hot, Rosie Bear!” Oh bless, I married the sweetest man, but I’ll never trust him with important dress code information again.)
Back to my wedding fiasco: I tried on about 50 different white dresses at the mall that day, but none fit. Most were too long, others were too short, and some were even more inappropriate than the one I already had… And I really didn’t want to relive the I’ve-got-to-hide-my-legs-under-the-table feeling again – especially not as the bride. Besides, the foreign tart look wasn’t exactly the kind of lasting impression I wanted to leave with my new in-laws.
There was nothing I could do at that point except hope that my all-soup diet was going to pay off…. or ask my fiancé his honest opinion on the dress – because there was a slight chance that I could’ve been overreacting.
I decided to suck it up (in more ways than one) and ask my fiancé what he really thought about the dress. So, we went home and I tried it on for him.
“It looks fine, Rosie Bear…” he said. “You look good. You always look good.”
“Okay… so this is fine? I don’t look like a tart or an over-stuffed sausage in a dress?”
“No, Rosie Bear, you look….” I turned around for him to see the back.
“Oh, wait… ” (Not the words you want to hear when you’re already feeling self-conscious.)
“Rosie Bear… I don’t know how to tell you this, but… I can see your bum.”
“What do you mean ‘you can see my bum’? Can you see the shape of it, or is the dress see-through?”
“It’s… it’s kind of everything… it’s kind of… uh… peeking out at the bottom a bit.”
“Okay, okay… uh… let me pull it down a bit.” I tried to wriggle it down without letting my breasts pop out again, and – in doing so – ripped a hole in the bottom of the dress.
“On no… oh sh*t…. Oh no…”
And that was game over for the white Vegas dress.
Luckily, I happened to have a back-up: A long, flowing, slightly dramatic deep-red dress. Not really the kind of dress you’d imagine wearing to a casual elopement in your father-in-laws living room, but in my fiancé’s words: “You’re the bride – you can wear whatever you want and no one can judge you.”
(Well… unless you have a peek-a-boo bum and a cheeky nip-slip.)
The thing is, I’ve always wanted to wear red on my wedding day. I only went for white because everyone told me I should, not because I wanted to. The red dress was actually what I had always wanted and pictured myself wearing on my special day. And it got me seriously thinking: why should I, as a bride, feel pressured into wearing white?
The trend of the white dress started with Queen Victoria. Victoria decided she wanted to be different to all the other women who chose brightly colored dresses for their weddings. But Vic wasn’t having it: she wanted something completely unique. So she chose white – much to the alarm of her advisors. White just wasn’t done.
But hey – she pulled it off, and started the popular trend of the white wedding dress. And less than a decade later, a popular women’s magazine in the United States incorrectly published: “Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue (for a bride), whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one”
(Did anyone else just cringe a little?)
I’m sorry to have to be the one to break the news, but white didn’t actually originally represent purity or innocence. Blue is actually the original color of ‘purity’. That’s right – blue. Not white. White originally represented death and mourning. No wonder Vic’s advisors were shocked by her choice! It wasn’t until the article in Godey’s Lady’s Book (the American magazine for women) that the color white started to be associated with virtues such as innocence and purity – proving once again the incredible influence of the media on popular culture. So if your religious background pressures you to wear white to show off your purity (because apparently girl-like purity with an ‘unsullied heart’ is the look we’re going for here 🙄 ), then you might just want to rethink that white dress and opt for a blue one instead.
Maybe I’m saying this because I hate doing things just for the sake of tradition, but I really think that – as brides – we should feel free to wear colors that we choose and really want without criticism; colors that flatter us, represent us and bring out our personalities. Even though variants of white are the most popular hues for Western Brides, it certainly is not the most flattering on everyone. On your special day you should wear what makes you feel like the most exceptional and beautiful version of yourself.
If you, as a bride, really want to wear white, ivory, champaign, or any of the other shades-of-white following tradition, then go ahead! It’s classic. But don’t feel pressured to wear a traditional color if it’s not going to make you feel like a million bucks. Because, at the end of the day, you’ll radiate because you feel beautiful and loved, not because you’re wearing a shade of white. So wear what makes you feel your best because, in the words of my then-fiancé; “You’re the bride – you can wear whatever you want and no one can judge you.”
I know I would have regretted not wearing red, and I’m so glad I did end up wearing it! Not only did I feel amazing, I didn’t feel like I had to constantly suck in my stomach or tug at my dress… and best of all, I didn’t have to worry about spilling red wine and food on my dress (which, of course, happened more than once during the day).
When my fiancé had seen me in the white dress (before he saw my butt sticking out the back), he said “You look fine.”
NO WOMAN wants to look ‘fine’ on her wedding day. Sure, it may have been the fact that the dress was a bit too short, but I know the colors played a role too. All thanks to my pale Irish skin, neutrals have a tendency to wash me out.
But when he saw me in the red dress, his eyes got really big and he said:
“WOW! You look beautiful! That’s what you should wear, Rosie Bear.”
So after that sweet bit of affirmation, I started to feel a whole lot better about my situation – and no longer felt the need to starve myself before my wedding or squish myself into a sausage-slip because (surprise, surprise!) the deep-red was far more flattering and forgiving than the white had been.
Sure, I may not have looked like a piece of linguini spaghetti like I’d always imagined I would on my wedding day, but at least I didn’t look like a bratwurst or – worse – a stripper.
That night, while eating soup (because uh… for some weird reason we had a weeks’ worth of soup ingredients) a notification suddenly popped up on my phone. It was from my period tracker: “Your cycle is predicted to start in 5 days.”
My fiancé and I looked at each other in growing horror as he tried not to choke on his food. It was our wedding day in 5 days time… and the only thing that could possibly be worse than sudden weight-gain just before the wedding day, was getting my period on my wedding day.
“Well,” my fiancé laughed when he had finally gotten over the shock, “at least you’re wearing red.”
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