Today I've been inspired to write about being individual, and not be afraid to do so. The inspiration came (as so often it does!) from one of our lovely brides, who has a very difficult decision to make between two dresses. One is a classic, traditional, ivory gown, with a bit of lace, and a bit of sparkle. She herself described it as 'safe', but it is really lovely and suited her figure perfectly. The other gown is something quite different; still unmistakeably bridal in the layers of taffeta and tulle and its long train, but with a print fabric and a very distinctive, and not traditionally bridal, look - quite a statement, but an incredibly beautiful one.
So this bride is faced with a dilemma - does she go for the 'safe', traditional bridal option, which everyone will expect, and which she knows she will feel comfortable and unselfconscious in on the day, but then perhaps regret not buying the really different dress that she can't stop thinking about? Or does she go for the different dress that she really loves, and worry about feeling over-the-top on the day, and wish she had gone for the 'safe' option? There is no right answer here - the only person who can make that decision is the bride herself, and I'm pretty sure she will make the right decision in the end.
I wonder if this sort of decision's made all the harder by the idea that a bridal gown has to conform to certain 'standards'. That a bridal gown should be plain ivory or white, with some detail on, and apparently that this is what every girl dreams of. Of course we are bombarded in the wedding media by pictures of pure ivory gowns on every page, and row upon row of the same in bridal shops. Now, that is, in my experience, what most girls want (and if you do fancy the traditional 'big white dress', then you should embrace that single chance to wear it with every ounce of enthusiasm!)
But I also know, from my own experience, that it's not what every bride wants. Because it's not what I wanted. My own gown was bridal in its own way, but it certainly wasn't all ivory or white, and I think it turned a few heads on the day. I set out on my dress shopping experience knowing one thing - that I didn't want a traditional bridal gown. This was long before I owned a bridal store, and I can tell you that it was not easy to find! At every turn I was met by women who wanted to persuade me into increasingly meringue-like dresses, because that was their image of what-a-girl-should-get-married-in. I stuck to my guns and ended up with something I loved, with not a pavlova in sight, but I had to stick to those guns pretty hard.
For girls who aren't as bolshi as me, I think it can be a pretty tough thing. Society, the media, and your friends and family will all have a tendency to make you question your decision to go with a 'different' dress. When you are surrounded by images of what a bridal gown 'ought' to be, and well-meaning friends and relations are suggesting to you that you might regret not going down the traditional route, it can be hard to stand up and say that no, your image of a bridal gown doesn't have to be like that. And it can make you worry that your guests or loved ones might even be disappointed with your choice of gown if you don't play it safe with the traditional option.
My advice is always, always, to stick to what feels right for you. Let your personality shine though, and remember: It's Your Decision.
If you've always dreamt of a short dress, or a coloured dress, or just something a bit different - if that screams 'MY wedding gown' to you, then please stay true to what you love and don't be swayed by what other people like. I know how this feels, and I know that it can feel a little unsettling to have people question your choice, but often it's just because other people can't imagine not wanting the traditional gown.
If, on the other hand, you've thrown yourself a complete curveball by ending up liking something quite different when you thought you'd go traditional, you might have a slightly harder decision to make. Try to build up a picture of the whole wedding, rather than just a picture of you in the dress. Think about your bridesmaids, colours, decor, flowers, stationery, and how everything ties together. That can really help to cement which sort of dress is going to work best for you - and could rule one dress out entirely. And ultimately, if you think the 'different' dress is the one, be brave! Remember that the only people who really truly matter on the day are you and your fiancé. If you love your dress, you'll look fabulous in it, which will mean that he will love it too.