After getting engaged in November 2019, I knew two things were true: I was going to marry the love of my life, and finding a wedding outfit was going to be a daunting task. I’m what I like to call a leather jacket lesbian; I identify as a genderqueer androgynous woman (she/her), and I feel most like myself with a face full of colourful makeup and an outfit that gives step-on-you vibes (see: combat boots and mesh).
I haven’t worn a dress in years, but trouser suits don’t feel right either. I had found my gender-euphoric happy medium in jumpsuits, like the Dickies coveralls I wore to my Zoom minimony in 2020 on a roof in Brooklyn that preceded the larger wedding celebration we had this August. As such, Lauren Morelli’s custom Christian Siriano jumpsuit look — which had a flowing cape, a structured deep-V, and a gorgeous pearl-and-crystal encrusted collar — was my jumping-off point for the classic and timeless look I envisioned wearing on my wedding day.
At my first bridal appointment at a boutique near my apartment, after trying on a few gowns and a jumpsuit, a few things became clear: (1) I wanted an off-white outfit with beads and tulle, (2) there were no jumpsuit equivalents of timeless bridal gowns (instead, there were lots of pretty rompers designed for rehearsal dinners and bachelorette parties), and (3) I absolutely hated feeling like I was cosplaying as a princess. To add insult to injury, the cape I fell in love with was wildly outside of my $5,550 total outfit budget. I went home that evening and cried.
A month or so later, I booked an appointment at a bridal studio. My stylist was stoked about my jumpsuit and cape fantasy, and I immediately fell for an ivory V-neck, wide-leg jumpsuit that I paired with a sheer dot cape. Though the jumpsuit — which fit my hourglass curves in all the right ways — was missing beads and tulle, the cape was almost-but-not-quite-right, and the overall look was less regal than I had hoped for, I felt like I had landed on the closest I was going to get to my initial vision.
And then my stylist asked me to humour her and try on a wedding gown.
The dress she pulled was blush with intricate pearl beading and featured a low back, a deep V-neck, and a flowing tulle skirt. I slipped it on cautiously, my eyes glued to the floor, sure she was mistaken. When I finally looked in the mirror, I gasped. The reflection I saw wasn’t the pretty princess I was so adamantly avoiding, it was the fancy, regal, powerful queen of my dreams. As I walked down the hall to get a feel for the train, I cackled with glee and yelled, “I feel like Cersi, queen of the seven kingdoms!”
After prancing around, I sat down with my best friends and mother who had accompanied me, to make a decision. I loved this dress, but it was a dress, and I had spent years screaming from the rooftops that I wasn’t going to wear a dress to my wedding. So, I clung to the comfort of the jumpsuit.
That is until one of my friends, who is also a bride, suggested I get both — the dress for the ceremony and first dance and the jumpsuit for dancing.
When I brought up the pressure I felt to look a certain way, she stopped me: “No, this is your wedding, you have to look like you.” I snuck back into the dressing room with her words rattling in my head and slipped on the dress again. I added some face rhinestones (yes, I always carry emergency rhinestones) and a mauve lip, took a deep breath, and, in the privacy of the room, I looked in the mirror. I started to laugh and cry simultaneously. The person I saw in the mirror wasn’t “timeless” or “classic,” she was something so much better — she was step-on-you-regal-hot, and she was me.
Together, the dress and the jumpsuit came to $3,200, leaving $2,350 for tailoring and shoes. I reminded myself that as a queer person, I didn’t owe anyone any kind of prescribed idea of androgyny and if this dress made me feel good, that was what androgyny would mean to me on my wedding day. I handed over my credit card and left giddy, with both the gown and jumpsuit in hand.
And so there it was, it wasn’t the dress that was the problem in my bridal gender expression, it was the unending pressure I felt to look like one of the adjectives pulled from the heteronormative codes that make up the mainstream wedding industry. But the truth is, I wasn't supposed to look like anything. Instead, I needed to feel like the best, happiest version of myself, one who was marrying the love of her life, albeit in a dress.
When I walked down the aisle on the big day, I wore a beaded blush gown with glittery gold heels and a face full of face gems. Later that night, I changed into a sexy ivory jumpsuit and a pair of white loafers and danced the night away. And from dawn to dusk, I looked and felt exactly how I should at my wedding, like me.