Can We Stop Shaming Women For Their Offbeat Wedding Dresses?

My wedding dress is my problem, not yours.
Publish date:
February 27, 2014
marriage, gwen stefani, choice, wedding dresses

Recently, "The Big Bang Theory" actress Kaley Cuoco released pictures of her wedding, donning a pink gown. The custom creation was made by none other than bridal designer to the stars, Vera Wang, closely resembling look 7 from her Fall 2014 bridal collection. Cuoco asserted that she wanted to wear pink and Wang made that easy, as her entire selection for the autumn season was comprised of designs in the rosy hue.

On V. Wang’s blog, she described her inspiration as “Pink as sensual, pink as seductive, pink as dreamy, pink as sophisticated, pink as strong, pink as cool. Think pink!” She christened pink as being the shade of the modern bride, who is bucking tradition because of her penchant to be fashion-forward.

Cuoco wasn’t the first celebrity to don a pink gown either, as Gwen Stefani, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Biel, and Anne Hathaway have all opted for the girly color for their nuptials.

As soon as pictures of the Cuoco-Sweeting wedding hit the web, throngs of people were upset about her fashion choice almost instantaneously, as if history could be reversed and they could somehow say yes (or no) to her dress before she chose it.

I found the criticism pretty aggravating. Some said she was trying too hard, while others remarked that she was making an attempt at relevance by picking a gown that would stand out. Is there really such a thing as “trying too hard” on your wedding day? The one day you should be able to design to your exact liking and revel in complete happiness? I’d say anyone who isn’t putting forth any effort on their wedding day is probably a person who shouldn’t be getting married. Even eloping to Sin City takes a flight and hotel.

I do understand: In a world where celebrities shop photos of their wedding and newborn babies to magazines for millions, we all feel that it’s de rigueur to judge their every choice since they are in fact putting it up for scrutiny. It all plays into this augmented reality, where everything is up for public consumption, judgment, and then spun into a profit. Wedding dresses seem no different than a star’s latest red carpet look: both high-fashion and mass-marketed, zapping every possibility of uniqueness and authenticity out of the looks in entirety.

There is something to be said for tradition, but if white is a virginal color, why in heck is everyone playing the part when the better part of women have shagged their fiancés long before they even started down the road of official commitment? Most of those already wed and the rest of us who are on our way -- or just waiting in the wings -- aren’t going to take the Charlotte York approach of walking down the aisle without test-driving the goods.

So why are we so tied to white? In a day and age where marriage isn’t even a requirement, why would we bind ourselves to some age-old notion that doesn’t apply to exactly who we are?

Why not pink? Why not black? Hell, why not whatever shade tickles your fancy and defines your moment? If you’re an out-of-the-box type of woman, why would you have an inside-the-box kind of wedding?

We’ve become so brainwashed by the all-white princess standard of wedding gowns that we’ve totally left behind the personality and uniqueness of each bride. We’ve made it more about a game of comparison than a true reflection of the quirks of each relationship and that couple’s desire to express it in any way they see fit.

50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, and I don’t think it’s far-fetched to make a link between that statistic and some of the traditions we’ve continued that are incongruent with most modern-day lifestyles. The number two reason most couples do not make it is due to strained finances, and though wedding dresses are just a small portion of that, the debt that is incurred from wedding preparations can be a burden on couples for years afterward.

Most do fit the gown within their budgetary constraints, but shows like "Say Yes To The Dress" definitely put the pressure on women to shift their focus to their wedding day attire: How many episodes have we all seen where the Kleinfeld’s associates are negotiating to lower the price so the to-be-bride can afford it or the dress budget is totally eschewed to have the “gown of her dreams”?

I believe things would change if most women felt free enough to actually shop for their matrimonial look more honestly, shirking the judgment of society, their family, and their friends.

I think of a Bianca Jagger, who donned a white suit for her wedding to Mick Jagger: an unconventional look that spoke to her personal style. You could tell that she felt utterly fabulous. If you’re going to take the leap into a lifelong commitment with another human, the least you could be afforded is the chance to look back on that day and know that was exactly what you wanted at the time, not what you felt you had to do and wear.

Let's just try to stop shaming women's pink dresses and other choices for their happy day. Modern-day marriages are ever-evolving, so why shouldn’t wedding traditions and dresses be as well? Let’s leave the comparisons to something a bit less personal and let each woman choose her memories as she’s making them.

If you don’t get it and don’t like it, perhaps the old adage of keeping your mouth shut if you have nothing nice to say will work here perfectly.