Wedding dress regrets: When you look back at the photos and cringe.


When I flick through my wedding album, I see a lot of things.

I see my sparkly gold shoes. I see my sisters giving a speech in rap form, while valiantly enduring the slightly-too-small floral crowns I forced upon them. There’s the wooden arch my partner made for our ceremony. The mile-wide grin on his face as he watched me walk towards him.

There are a lot of things I like about my wedding photos, but my wedding dress is not one of them.

Grace and her husband Ben on their wedding day. (Photo – cropped: Abigail Varney)

I actually cringe when I spend too long looking at full-length photos of myself on the day, because I just don’t love my wedding gown.

I’m not talking about the typical regrets most 2015 brides will have in five years’ time, when fishtail silhouettes go out of style and chapel-length veils become passé. This is not some regret that’s started haunting me with the passing of years.

My wedding was only four months ago and honestly, I was over my dress by the time our nuptials rolled around.

Here are some photos of the dress. Post continues after gallery:

When I mention this in passing to colleagues or friends, they whip themselves into a frenzy of concern. They race to reassure me I didn’t make a bridal attire mistake (as if I were admitting to having failed at event planning, and looking perfect, and womanhood and maybe even life.)

I appreciate their efforts, but I tell them it’s fine. Because quite simply, spending big on a long white dress just wasn’t my priority.

‘My dress was about the 20th near-identical dress I tried on’. (Photo- cropped: Abigail Varney)

There was nothing awful about my gown, exactly. It just didn’t feel… special. There was no designer feature or soppy story behind why I chose it.

My dress was a strapless, lace-and-tulle creation with a sweetheart neckline and a slight train. It was also about the 20th dress in a line of near-identical items I tried on (it’s true what they say; dresses all look the same after a while).

It was the sample dress other women tried on in the store. So while it wasn’t dirt cheap, it came with a discount that took its price down to the equivalent of a trip to say, Byron Bay rather than the Bahamas.

All in all, my dress lasted just fine for the five hours I needed it to last; then for dancing at the reception, I changed into a super-cheap creation I had made online.

(Read about that slightly nerve-racking experience here.)

After the wedding, I sold my main dress on the internet, shipping it off for some other woman to kind-of-enjoy its middling level of comfort.

Grace and Ben.

My reason for scrimping on a so-so gown was simple: I wanted to splurge on things our guests would remember.

I wanted endless wine. I wanted a romantic venue and a band that got the guests dancing. I wanted tasty food, a photographer that captured the key emotional moments, and enough left aside for a honeymoon that’d help us kick off our marriage like real grown-ups.

And since nobody but the bridal party really cares about wedding transport, invites, or the exact fabric of a bride’s long white dress, I saved where I could. That included DIY-ing the invites, asking my brother-in-law to make a tasty chocolate cake — and, yes, settling on a dress that was more ‘perfectly fine’ than ‘perfect’.

I don’t judge women who spend up big on their wedding dresses. I’d rather have the holiday — but hey, it’s your day.

But when I look back at my own wedding photos and feel a big “meh” at the sight of my dress? It’s not regret I feel.

I feel excitement, nostalgia and contentment. And $8,000 dress or not, isn’t that the point?

Grace and Ben after saying their vows. (Photo- cropped: Abigail Varney)


Some ‘expectation vs reality’ online wedding dress posts:

Related content: