wedding dresses, just because

by marjorieingall on October 21, 2019

I enjoyed this post on wedding dresses, from Liz Black, a writer revisiting her wedding dress nine years later. It made me think of my own dress-purchasing adventures. 

Twenty-one (!!) years ago, Jonathan and I got married in a redwood grove in St Helena, CA. It was on the grounds of an old run-down hot sulphur spring resort that smelled like farts, but the setting was ethereally gorgeous. We set up a chuppah in the redwoods and crossed over a little brook on a footbridge decorated by our friends with flowers and then had dinner in a field. Hippies!

I bought and returned three dresses in quick succession, reflecting the fact that I wasn’t really sure of who I was back then. 1. Shopping with mom, I bought a vintage Priscilla of Boston fancy-schmancy white dress. Priscilla of Boston was famous for designing Grace Kelly’s bridesmaids’ dresses in the 1950s; the company, which specialized in ungapatchka lacy and beaded concoctions, went under in 2011. The dress, while beautiful, was not me. We returned it to the vintage shop.

I don’t have a picture of my ungapatchka dress but here is Princess Grace in hers? 


She looks terrified!

2. At the Jessica McClintock outlet in San Francisco (it was CLEARLY very important to me that I not spend a lot of money on my wedding dress, because I was an OFFBEAT AND ALTERNATIVE BRIDE, dammit), I bought a lime green gown with a satin corset top and tulle skirt. I planned to dye my hair (which at the time had pink and purple stripes in it) to match the dress. Husband was worried that I would clash with the lawn. I returned the dress. I wasn’t convinced that green hair would look that great on me anyway. Update: Jessica McClintock, who was born in 1930 (and is best known for being the designer of Gunne Sax in the ’70s and early ’80s, when I rocked her wares on the Bat Mitzvah circuit), retired in 2013 (!) and shut down her business. She’s since licensed her name for manufacture overseas. 

I found my green dress online, but the satin panels have faded unevenly and the tulle has discolored to a sickly lemon. It was really pretty, I swear! 


Imagine it looking more like this (this seller has a way with seductive lighting!), but in bright lime green.

For a time, I flirted with the idea of a flippy white Betsey Johnson mini-dress that I can’t find online. It was spaghetti strapped, with swirly white embroidery and little clear holographic sequins all over it. My mom conveyed her disapproval, and her imprimatur mattered to me a lot. Make of that what you will. I did not buy it.

3. I found the perfect dress at Jeremy’s, the late, lamented designer discount shop in San Francisco. (I am delighted to discover that a) Jeremy’s was pioneering enough to have registered the domain, and b) though the store is gone, the web site is still up! Thank you, Jeremy! Fare thee well!) It was dead simple, the product of an Italian label I no longer recall: A long, white, architectural A-line dress made of layered stretch mesh. (The sleeves had just one layer, so they were sheer; the rest of the dress had two. Still pretty sheer, but there was a slip and a lot of fabric in the skirt, so it wasn’t that CHECK OUT MY HOOHAH.) The sleeves were a little long, so I cut them with a scissors. Like a delicious porridge or comfy chair or proper-sized bed, it felt just right. After the wedding, I had a friend tie-dye it in purples and lavenders, so I could actually wear it again. (And did. I mentioned I lived in San Francisco, right?) Now my 18-year-old wears the slip (also tie-dyed) as a dress. 

Ha, you can see how unevenly I cut the sleeves! 

Anyway, just musing about the past, as one does when prompted by Fashion Thoughts. 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

tanita♥ October 21, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Awwww! You got married in St. H!!! I got married in Napa!!!!! At… a skateboard park. …on my lunch break.
NOT quite your experience, and I think I wore jeans, but HEY, I did go to lunch at a RESTAURANT after that, and got back to work a little late, so THERE.

Ah, well. Twenty-five years ago this year, and I’m pretty sure we should’ve left it at the county clerk/skateboard park, but NO, my mother wanted us to have a blessing ceremony, and so we did, and it was ugh, and I wore a white suit I hated. I promptly shoved it into a bag and schlepped it around for years until the statute of limitations on feeling guilty about tossing something my mother made me ran out — last year, actually, I FINALLY donated it.

Ah, precious memories.

tanita♥ October 21, 2019 at 4:26 pm

You look adorably happy, btw.

marjorieingall October 21, 2019 at 6:26 pm

UGH, I’m glad the white suit is OUT OF YOUR LIFE!

(Our semi-shady summer-camp-like wedding venue is now apparently a super-upscale corporate retreat center.) Because Bay Area. :/

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: