Written by Desiree Brandon
As a little girl, I never dreamed of getting married. Marriage was for people like my mom and dad. They met on a blind date that snowballed into 19 years of beautiful bliss.
I think I never dreamed of marriage and weddings, because at the time when most little girls would be daydreaming of their future, my family was fighting an uphill battle in the very real present. My father had pancreatic cancer for most of my childhood and passed away a few days before my 10th birthday. And while that may sound tragic, I learned two things from my parent’s relationship: love is unconditional and imperfect.
As a teenager, I watched my mom move on with her life, and I had an epiphany: Love and marriage don’t always go together. You can love someone wholeheartedly, and never marry her. You can also marry someone you don’t love. I didn’t want either scenario to become my life.
I knew if I were ever going to get married, it would have to be a love like what my dad had for my mom. But as I started the process of coming out to myself as a lesbian, I was met with the reality that (at the time) marriage was NOT an option. I dealt with that fact, and moved on. And while I wanted to get married eventually, it wasn’t as important as the love.
While I was a sophomore at Howard University in Washington, D.C., I found the love of my life. And after spending two years developing and building our lives together, we found a tiny rose garden in Philadelphia, said our own vows, and never looked back. Or so I thought.
Last November on a trip home to Arizona, my other half asked me to marry her officially. She was met with an emphatic “YES”, as I knew I have what my parents had: love that is both unconditional and imperfect.
Wedding planning is hard IF you care about the feelings or aesthetics of your guests that will be attending. Wedding planning for us was fairly easy. Finding the dress was not.
How I found My Wedding Dress
I started my search at the cattle call of all brides, David’s Bridal. I hated EVERY dress I saw. I was a bit discouraged. My partner, Marisol, who sat through hours of me trying on dresses, called the store her own “personal purgatory.”
I realized that maybe a big store was not for me. I also realized this wedding dress adventure was not her thing either. I found a nearby boutique and vintage shop. I tried on dresses and found some I liked, but nothing that stood out to me.
I found a dressmaker and described what I wanted. She immediately sent me pictures of a dress that she had already made that kind of fit my description, and I was IN LOVE! Don’t be afraid of alternative stores. I found more dresses that I loved in the smaller boutique stores than in the big chain stores. I also would say to know what you want before going in to look at dresses. Know the style you want, and also know your budget. Try to stick to both of them. This will save your time, money, and sanity.
Where did I finally find THE dress? Online. I know. It sounds absolutely INSANE to buy a wedding dress online, but if you know your current measurements, buying a dress online is perfectly safe.
My Dress is Average But I’m Not
For me, it’s not about the dress. I hate pomp and circumstance, so I ended up choosing a tea length dress with no train and no veil.
I chose a tea length dress to be comfortable and to be able to party with friends after the ceremony is done. And while the ceremony will be a sight to behold, my dress is pretty average.
I can do that because I know that my dress is everything that I am not. I know that an average dress made me stand out. For my shoes, I chose Converse.
You read that correctly; I am getting married in my Chuck Taylors. That, as my friends and family will tell you, is exactly who I am. An average dress with Converse for a bride anything but average.
My other half doesn’t share my average sentiment. She opted for a navy blue suit, blue gingham shirt, orange tie, succulent lapel pin, and brown shoes. But this outfit fits her personality perfectly.
And while I was excited about our September wedding, I was more excited that I finally got to put on the comfortable dress and party the night away with my friends and family. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my imperfect and unconditional love.