Hi, my name is Judith and I am a “bridal dress show watching” – aholic.
They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, but this really is embarrassing.
First let me clarify that I am not planning a wedding or yearning to be a bride. After 13 years, Simon and I consider ourselves “married” for all intents and purposes. We even had a pseudo-wedding lunch to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, where we invited our closest family and friends, and whilst there were flowers and a cake, there was no dress, veil or rings.
I am proudly missing the bride-gene but am drawn to and fascinated by these shows (Say Yes to the Dress, I Found the Gown and the truly scary Brides of Beverly Hills). Here seemingly sensible women try on near identical and sometimes downright hideous frocks in front of their friends and family, and choose one that most makes them feel “like a bride”.
Part of the attraction is the fun of finding out there really are people in this world who want to look like Disney princesses, fairies, carnival queens and even pirates on their wedding day. There is also the family drama of controlling mothers, over-protective fathers and jealous siblings. But I think my real fascination is seeing how people approach making decisions and finding happiness.
All these types of shows (be it choosing dresses, houses or even life partners) demonstrate time and time again that happiness is not about how much money you have or how many choices in front of you, it’s about your own attitude.
What I have noticed is that the women who seem to get the most joy and satisfaction from the experience of bridal dress shopping are the ones who have realistic expectations and an ability to accept themselves and the world as it is. They come in with an idea of what they want, try on no more than three options, take the advice of the experts and listen respectfully to the comments of friends and family. They pick a dress within their budget, which makes them feel great and is suitable to their needs. They allow themselves to be surprised, are clear in saying “No” to what they don’t want and seem to simply be open to being happy.
The ones that stress and suffer through the process of choosing a dress have usually dragged a crowd of people to several stores, tried on dozens of frocks, are confused and overwhelmed by choice, and are obsessing over details such as “do my shoulders look weird”. They may have asked the opinion of people who want to control or belittle them, and then wonder why their choice is not supported. Some of them are paralysed by wanting to please everyone around them or stuck in an illusion that reality can never match.
These are the women that have taken on finding perfection in a not so perfect world and are willing to sacrifice their happiness and inner peace for something as ephemeral as a dress. They have fallen for the seduction of comparison shopping, wanting something that is beyond their current resources, or lost faith in their ability to make a decision.
It is OK to know what you want to and to take action to get it, but you will be happier if you can learn to accept the world as it is and that you can be satisfied with what is in front of you. That is not the same as just accepting or putting up with any old thing, but rather trusting that at any time you will have exactly the right options from which to choose.
The same can be said for finding greater inner and outer balance in your life. Think about it. How many of us desperately want more time in our life to take care of ourselves, spend with our families, study something new or just do something fun. Stop looking for perfection, stop comparison shopping and enjoy what is in front of you now. You might be surprised with what you find.
You may even find your inner princess!