Next weekend, I get to renew my vows with the Silver Fox. I am celebrating 30 years with this man—the ups and downs, the family, the love, the invisible workload. ALL OF IT.
I am making a big ass deal about this because these memories matter. Part of going “full out” with this vow renewal is having a fabulous gown custom-made just for me. Something that feels amazing against my skin, and that I feel amazing and confident in.
Here’s my original wedding dress from 1993.
I purchased this dress from the now-defunct Fine’s department store. Back in the day, it was THE place to go for a wedding dress in Savannah. Picture luxurious designer gowns and judgy clerks staring down their noses at you, deciding if you were “worthy enough” to step foot in the store.
Despite their snooty-snoot attitudes, I twirled around that place, trying on dress after dress until I found the one.
My mom gave me a budget, but my dream dress, unfortunately, exceeded it. “I’ll pay half,” she said.
After I chose my dress, I moved a few states away with Scott as we awaited our wedding date. During that time of moving, setting up our life, hustling to get the rest of the money to pay for the other half of my dress, and struggling with confidence – I packed on a few extra pounds.
When I returned to Savannah for my fitting, the clerk scowled at me. She tugged and yanked the dress around my body, sucking in her teeth with disapproval. “You know, most brides come in here having lost weight,” she said. Clearly, she thought I didn’t “fit in” at my own damn fitting.
As I stared into the mirror, wearing my wedding gown with that clerk leering at me, I felt awful. None of it felt like a dream… more like a bridal nightmare. I was already suffering from food & body issues, and her reaction caused me to feel terrible about how I looked in that dress. My entire wedding became clouded with a giant dose of body dysmorphia.
To make this story more horrific, when I made the walk of shame to the register to pay for the dress that I no longer felt good about, my credit card declined for insufficient funds. Certain the clerk had made a mistake, I asked her to try the card again. The card kept declining, each “ding” of rejection from the machine making a dent of humiliation in my soul. One of our groomsmen ended up footing the bill for the dress, and I spent three months paying him back.
30 years later, I tried that dress on again after a silly bet with Scott Hyatt. During our weekend hike, he joked that I should just “wear my original wedding dress to our vow renewal.”
“You know what? I bet I could if I wanted,” I replied, delighted to slip on the dress post-hike, wearing no makeup with my hair all a mess.
Unlike my first dress fitting, this time when I zipped up the dress, I glanced in the mirror and smiled. Actually…I squealed.
My reflection wasn’t one of shame, but one of beauty, strength, and power.
There was no judgmental clerk looming over me this time, picking apart my body, spewing diet culture rhetoric. (And if there was, you best believe I would have made a scene!)
19-year-old me couldn’t see how wonderful she was. She didn’t know how fabulous she would feel in her body 30 years later.
The experience of having a custom gown designed for my vow renewal is radically different than my experience in that stuffy department store years ago, and I cannot wait to show it off.
Because this gown is not just a gown.
It’s a symbol of both love and liberation.
PS. Watch my social media this week for all of the upcoming 30 year vow renewal shenanigans!