What is it with the ball gowns?

I really like dresses (seriously), but the whole wedding dress thing always smacks to me of pretending to be something you’re not.

Ball gowns are beautiful, but when you really get down to it, its not that a ball gown is inherently more beautiful than a shorter dress, it’s just that we’re not dreaming of shorter dresses as much. Like everything else we get sold on, if we stopped looking at them, we’d get over them (if you’ve ever gone from being a regular reader of fashion magazines to stopping, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It starts to seem way less important. By the way, I recommend doing that). Short dresses can be just as beautiful/badass as ball gowns.

So as far as I can tell, the reason we’re into the big long dress is because of its association with…money. I mean seriously, where else are dresses like this worn? Big celebrity events like the Oscars. Charity balls for rich people. And sure, occasionally, a non-middle class segment of society will hold actual private balls, where everyone is indeed attired in formal long dresses (I’ve seen it at a 21st).

So here’s my concession: if your wedding reception is literally a ball, because that’s the kind of thing you can afford, go ahead and wear a ball gown. All your guests will be in ball attire too. But for rest of us, the vast majority, how about we bring some authenticity to it, and dress along similar lines to how would dress for the kind of party you are giving?

So many budget wedding tips seem to boil down to advice about how to look like you’ve spent more money than you did. Broke-Ass Bride runs a column for brides that are struggling to find wedding dresses they can afford, where she finds less expensive takes on dresses that are expensive, so that you can spend $800 on a dress instead of a few thousand on something similar. Instead of these shenanigans, why not just have an event that’s proportionate to what you can pay for?

Then there’s the ritualistic aspect to bridal attire. In all cultures, ritual is used to imbue meaning to things you want to mark as important, and this often takes the form of special attire or decoration. So maybe you’re worried you won’t feel special enough, feel bridal enough without the long formal dress (I kind of feel it’s unfair to grooms though. They’re usually dressed just like all the other men. What special thing do they get? A boutonniere identical to the one their attendant is wearing?).

Well, there’s still plenty you can do to look bridal, that doesn’t involve pretending you’re richer than you are: have flowers in your hair, carry a bouquet, wear white (though dog knows, I’m not giving prescriptions here). And by all means, have your outfit be  a bit more special than what you usually wear. Just don’t dress like you’re going to a separate event from all your guests.


One response to “What is it with the ball gowns?

  1. Pingback: Just get married in your reception outfit | Frugal Wedding

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