This photo of me in my wedding gown, getting ready pre-ceremony, has become popular on Pinterest. Very popular. This is simultaneously the highest compliment a bride can receive and, frankly, a little weird. The pin originated with my wedding photos on Style Me Pretty, a major wedding blog, where it was submitted by my wonderful wedding photographers. From this single pin, it spread exponentially. I started receiving messages from people I hadn’t seen in years enthusiastically informing me that they had stumbled upon my wedding photo on Pinterest, and I recently met a wedding blogger who, after looking at me sideways for a period, finally shouted, “I figured out where I know you from! Your wedding dress is on Pinterest!” But it’s not the recognition that makes it weird–that only happened once, and it was actually more cool than creepy. What’s strange is the way I, the person in the dress, the bride whose wedding cyberspace is peering in on, have seemingly been seemingly disengaged from the image.
When a photo goes viral, its origins seem to get lost along the way. The link back becomes diluted and eventually it’s impossible determine where the Pin originated, let alone who the subject is. But what I’ve realized is that people don’t really want to know who the bride is. Each person who pins the image to her board imposes her own style, personality and hopes onto it. The bride in the image becomes incidental, a nameless stand in, a placeholder. While I understand this–I too created a Pinterest board full of idyllic yet anonymous brides leading up to my wedding–I can’t help feeling that I’ve been severed from one of the most intimate and significant moments of my life.
I shouldn’t have been surprised a few weeks ago when I discovered–completely by chance–that another major wedding blog had selected the photo to be their “wedding dress of the week.” They posted the gown on Facebook and within days accumulated over 3,000 “likes” and dozens upon dozens of comments. All these people I didn’t know were scrutinizing and judging my wedding gown, leaving comments which ranged from (and I’m paraphrasing) “that’s my dream gown” to “ew, the ugly calamari dress.”
Sensing an opportunity to reclaim my photo, I stepped in. “This is crazy! That’s me! I’m so flattered,” I wrote in the comments. And then, assuming that those who liked the gown would be interested to hear why I selected it, I proceeded to share the story of how I found my wedding gown. In sharp contrast to the thousands of “likes” the post received, my story received a pathetic three little blue thumbs up. The ambitious writer that I am, I took the additional step of emailing the blog and proposing that the story of how I found my gown be a guest post on their blog. “I have more photos of the dress, and it will be a great accompaniment piece to the “wedding dress of the week,” I pitched. They never responded.
So no one wants to hear the gown’s backstory. That’s fine. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected a yearning for depth based on Pinterest re-pins. But there is a story behind the gown, a good one, and I’m longing to share it. What better place to share it than on my own blog?
Please check out my wedding gown story below. Warning: it gets a tad sappy in places…
My now-husband and I began our relationship as friends, but with this gown, it was love at first sight. I first laid eyes on this Oscar de la Renta creation in 2009, long before I was engaged. I was working at my first job out of college as a marketing assistant for a fashion label in New York, and my boss would occasionally browse wedding gowns online in preparation of her boyfriend proposing. Her wedding gown shopping was contagious, and soon every woman in the entire row of cubicles was surfing the net for her perfect gown. As my boss lamented how beautiful the Vera Wang gown she wore to her first wedding was, I came across the Oscar de la Renta bridal collection. Style number 92E25 popped out of the screen at me (I don’t think I’ll ever forget that style number). Its grace, its cut, its fabric; it was “the one.” I just knew in my gut that this was going to be my wedding dress.
I silently saved the image of the gown swishing down the runway to a special computer file where saved pictures of my favorite fashion finds (this was pre-Pinterest). I glanced at the image occasionally over the years, even shared it with my mom and a few friends when the talk of wedding gowns arose, but it wasn’t until nearly three years later, after I got engaged, that I began to search for my actual dress.
I went with my family and friends to a few bridal boutiques and tried on many beautiful white gowns. Surely another dress had come along in the intervening years that I liked better than 92E25. The bridal gown shopping experience was fun, and I found one gown I really liked, but nothing I tried on made me feel the way I felt when I imagined walking down the aisle in the Oscar gown. I couldn’t buy a dress until I had tried on 92E25.
I was living in Charleston, South Carolina at the time, and no boutiques in the state carried the designer. I did some research and discovered that BleuBelle Bridal in Savannah, Georgia was the nearest boutique that carried Oscar de la Renta. I sent an email inquiring about the dress and received a prompt reply that a sample of the gown was being be sent from New York for me to try on.
That Saturday, I got in my car and drove the two hours from Charleston down to Savannah by myself. I held my breath as the stylist pulled the gown out the dust bag, afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations—how could it? But when I put it on, I just knew; this was my dress. To make it all the more serendipitous, it turned out this particular sample gown was the actual gown worn in the bridal runway show back in 2009. I was trying on the very gown whose image I had saved on my computer so many years earlier. I finally had my dress.