I’m wearing a massive, bewitching, dazzling ball gown to my wedding, which is just shy of three weeks from today.
Truthfully, I wasn’t sure that I would be the type of person who lusted after tulle and endlessly long trains and Italian lace. And I’m a little bit embarrassed by how deeply in love I am with this over-the-top glamorous gown. Last week, I felt wildly uncool as I carried that 60-pound monstrosity through airport security. A part of me felt like I’d somehow let down my younger self: my younger self who thought I probably would never get married, but if I did, I would wear something casual and goth—perhaps a little black slip dress that fell to the knees?
My wedding dress is the opposite of a little black slip dress. I don’t know what washed over me, but the moment I adorned my body in that ridiculous princess gown, I felt buzzed from the rush of wearing something so unapologetically feminine. I felt more myself than I ever had. I twirled and whirled around the shop like a six-year-old coming off her ADHD meds.
“This dress is you in a dress,” my wise friend Harriet observed as she snapped a few pictures on her phone.
“Yes!” I screamed, frightening the customers who were treating their wedding-dress try-on appointments like study sessions for the SATS.
I didn’t care. I didn’t care because Harriet was spot on: If I were a dress, I would be a sparkly, fluffy, ethereal gown with a giant train that one could trip over if they dared to get too close.
And if I dig deep into myself, I realize that I’ve always secretly longed to wear a dress like that. My teenage fantasy of tossing tradition aside and wearing something simple and black was my way of protecting myself against inevitable disappointment. I feared that because I was a lesbian, I hardly had any business dreaming of a wedding, and absolutely no business in donning myself in a white wedding dress.
Because, you know, only straight girls pray to the high femme goddesses of skirts and dresses and sequins and heels. But then, as I got older and more comfortable in my queer skin, I peeled the expectations of what a lesbian is supposed to look like off my body, only to realize at my most raw core I was made up entirely of pale pink frills. I embraced my love of femme fashion and realized that style and sexuality are two very different things. That I could wear more makeup than a Texas beauty queen, and still be the biggest dyke on the block. In fact, there are probably a lot of lesbian Texas beauty queens in this world who don’t feel very seen.
People keep asking me if Meghan (my fiancée) is also going to be wearing a dress for our wedding. And I can’t help but gasp and shout “NO! I’M THE ONE WEARING THE DRESS!” every time someone innocently presses me with that question. Look, I *know* that two women *can* absolutely wear beautiful dresses on their wedding day, if they so please! Anyone can wear whatever the hell they want to wear whenever the hell they want to wear it. Fashion is about freedom.
But for whatever reason, I have a visceral reaction when I close my eyes and envision Meghan wearing a traditional wedding dress to our wedding.
And that’s not because Meghan and I take on traditional male/female roles in our relationship. We’re not that couple. We’re both ~versatile~ lovers. I’m more rough around the edges than Meghan. Meghan likes her Egyptian cotton sheets and her air conditioning and her expensive face creams, while I could happily sleep on a hammock outside on a humid night. I like to get dirty; Meghan washes her hair every day. I clean up the dog shit because I know that all those fecal germs will send her spiraling into the darkest depths of neurosis.
But when it comes to our window dressing, I enjoy being the one who is bedazzled in Girl Couture. I feel like her pretty show pony when she tells me my dress is beautiful or notices my brand new red lipstick. I love being her pretty show pony. And I’m turned on by how undeniably sexy and confident she looks in her skinny black jeans and black leather boots.
I love the way the stark contrasts in our styles dramatically juxtapose against one another. I love how our personalities cash different checks than our clothing does, how people assume that the dress and the tights and the heels will render me a high-maintenance monster and that her jeans and her tough-looking jacket and no-nonsense boots will render her easygoing. I love how we disrupt other people’s expectations and collectively confuse the masses by merely existing. It’s fun.
Fashion is a huge part of my life. Maybe if I hadn’t worshipped at the altar of Vogue magazine for most of my life, I wouldn’t care what she wore or even what I wore. But holy shit, do I care. Style is one of my most visceral forms of self-expression, and my wedding day is one of the most important days of my life. And I feel, in the deepest pit of my gut, that it’s imperative that we go as ourselves on our wedding day. What that looks like for me is dressing like a mermaid princess in an extravagant wedding gown and three pounds of hair extensions. But that’s not Meg. And if she were to decide to adorn her body in a 65-pound dress, she wouldn’t be going as herself. She would be succumbing to the societal pressure that a girl is supposed to wear a dress to her wedding, and that would make me feel extremely sad. Because Meghan isn’t one to succumb to societal pressures.
At first, I feared I didn’t want Meghan to wear a dress because I didn’t want to share the spotlight with her. I feared my visceral reaction was rooted in narcissism because I wanted to be the one who was fawned over and needed to be helped into her massive gown by a team of bridesmaids.
“Just because I’m a lesbian, that means I need to share the pretty wedding dress spotlight, on the one day where it’s OK for women to shamelessly prance around in exorbitantly expensive garment?” I bitchily retorted to people when they asked me why I didn’t want Meghan wearing a wedding dress.
I said this because I thought that was how I felt. But I realize that it cuts deeper than my own self-absorption. I actually don’t really care about being the bride who gets all the attention. The older I get, the less I like attention. I prefer freedom.
I realize now that my not wanting Meghan to wear a wedding dress is simply because the woman I fell in love with feels the most herself in pants so tight they look like they’ve been painted against her endlessly long legs. The person I fell in love with has the kind of swag that gets lost in the tulle of a ball gown. The person I fell in love with loves how much I love a pretty dress, but she stands tall with her feet rooted into the ground as I recklessly twirl around and knock shit over. She’s the person who holds me steady as I trip in my sky-high heels, and I’m the person who reminds her that sometimes it’s OK to fall to the ground.
So I guess it’s not really about a dress at all. It’s about honoring the beautiful dynamic of the best, most loving relationship I’ve ever known.