As you can read from the title, I found my wedding dress this weekend!!!
I'm actually really thankful that I finally found a dress because to tell you the truth it was hard going wedding dress shopping and it was a relief to finally be done with it. Let me explain. First, I want to share with you that even though I obviously wanted to find something gorgeous to wear on my wedding day, I also felt strongly in my heart that I did not want to spend an extravagant amount of money on a dress. Now, $1000 may not be extravagant for some people (after all, the average wedding dress price at most Canadian boutiques I went to was $1200+) but for me that's too much. Don't get me wrong - I know many girls who have gotten dresses around that price range because everyone has a different budget and I'm not here to say what anyone should or shouldn't spend their money on. But it was my own personal choice that I wanted to find a wedding dress that was cheaper and I wanted to share with you the reasons why.
It all started in Hong Kong last year when I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine about money and how we spend it. At the time, his fiancee was wedding dress shopping and we talked about how dresses were so overpriced because stores knew that people were willing to pay, and how that money could be put towards necessities or other good causes. This mentality contrasted so differently with the way many bridal magazines and websites promote the message that one of the most important things for the wedding is to find that perfect dress, and how "as a bride, you deserve to spend a huge amount of money on the dress because you only get married once". But after that conversation with my friend, I remember thinking that I wanted to make it a personal goal to be mindful of how much my dress would cost, even if it meant wearing a dress that was not as "nice" as what I imagined my wedding dress to be.
Well, a dress budget in Asia would have been easier to stick to since everything is cheaper over there. However, when I moved back to Canada and actually began my own wedding dress search in Vancouver it was much harder. I started struggling with my budget because all the dresses I liked were around $1500 CDN. To be honest, it was pretty hard to try on all these gorgeous gowns and walk away instead of whipping out my credit card and taking one of those dresses home. I started bargaining with myself - for awhile, I thought maybe I did "deserve" to spend a bit more on my dress because of course every girl wants to look beautiful on her wedding day. But then I started thinking, "exactly how important is it for me to "look good" on my wedding day? Will Mr. Potatohead love me any less if I don't meet his expectations of a beautiful bride?" And then of course I realized that those expectations were obviously self-imposed and looking pretty on the wedding day was nothing in comparison to the bigger picture of our MARRIAGE. Besides, most guys have no idea what the difference is between a "satin sweetheart A-line gown with diagonal ruching" versus a "white chiffon sheath dress with a corset back" (haha... yes... I just tried to throw in as much wedding dress lingo as I know). On the wedding day, all a groom will see is how wonderful his bride is, and no matter what kind of dress she is wearing, he will think she is beautiful. I started to think how silly I was, complaining about not being able to find a dress when really, that was such a "first-world problem" - realistically, not a real problem at all.
I decided that maybe shopping at Canadian bridal boutiques was not the best choice since everything seemed so expensive. So this weekend, I drove down to the States (to David's Bridal) because I knew a few other thrifty brides who had bought their dresses from there. I was actually hopeful and I had a good feeling that I would come back with a dress. Well, I was right because I finally found a beautiful gown that I could actually see myself wearing down the aisle. My consultant told me that the gown was $800 but when I went to pay for it, it was actually $660! Even the consultant was surprised! Don't you just LOVE cash register surprises?
I wanted to shared this dress-buying experience with you all, because it really made me rethink a lot about the way I spend my money - not only with this particular "big purchase" but with all other everyday purchases as well. Around half a year ago, I really started feeling strongly that I had way more "stuff" than I needed and that often, all those material things just blinded me from other more important issues like caring for those who are in need. Part of this feeling came from living by myself in Hong Kong as I discovered how little I could live on and how much I could live without. Deciding to spend less on a wedding dress may not seem like a big deal, but for me I'm realizing that it's in my little everyday choices (like choosing which necessities or luxuries to spend money on) that truly reveal where my priorities lie. After all, the things in this world will pass away and material possessions don't last forever. So anyway, I guess that's a little personal note on how I'm continually learning to manage my finances and decide where I want to "invest" the money I have.
As for my wedding dress, I won't reveal anything because Mr. Potatohead won't see the dress until I walk down the aisle and the poor guy has spent the whole weekend abruptly walking away from conversations I have with friends who have been asking me what my dress looks like. By the way, it looks nothing like the dress below in case you're wondering if there's a resemblance. That's just a little paper gown I made out of a doily lying around my room! :) And on that note, the thought did come across my mind to attempt making a wedding dress out of doilies... or TOILET PAPER. haha. Wouldn't that be awesome?
So what do you think about all this? You definitely don't have to agree with me but I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts on wedding-dress shopping, wedding budgeting, or just money in general. Don't be lazy - leave me a comment and let's keep this conversation going! :)