Yesterday I packaged up my wedding dress and sent it to a non-profit in Massachusets.
I can't tell you how many people, when I told them of my plans, said, "Oh no! Honey, did you get divorced?" I'm grateful to report that my husband and I are very happily, dare I say blissfully, married.
The reason why I decided to donate my wedding dress has both little and everything to do with that, with my happy marriage.
"Happiness is only real when shared."
The quote above is one of my favorites of all time. It comes from the solitude seeking, adventure traveler Christopher McCandless' journal as documented by the book Into the Wild.
To me, it speaks to the very core of the human experience. That even when I'm feeling wildly introverted, it's my connection to and love of others that really counts.
And I think about what it means to share. To not need to hold tightly and declare something "mine " or "yours." I wonder how much more happiness could come from labeling more things "ours?"
I want to love my wedding dress, which is why I'm giving it away.
You know, if I were to keep my wedding dress it would have slowly yellowed away in my closet like Miss Havisham in her mansion.
It would have taken up space in my little apartment, slowly charging itself with my disdain. For every time I opened the hall closet, hoping to find empty space, I would instead find a massive pink garment bag.
And over the years I would know this gorgeous garment which I will clearly never wear again, is sitting idly in a closet. I would feel guilt, maybe a bit of shame. I would wonder what the dress could have been made into? How might it have been useful? How much more life was it destined for, before I sentenced it to death by plastic garment bag?
"But what about your kids?"
I try to imagine if my mom had asked me to wear her wedding dress. I love and adore my mom, there is no greater woman in the world. She is gorgeous and she has fabulous taste. I borrow her shoes and jewelry whenever she'll let me. But there was not a chance I was going to wear her wedding dress.
Besides from it being an early 1980s shoulder-padded number, trying on and selecting my own dress was such a special process that we got to share together. It's something that I want for my daughter to be able experience as well, whether she marries a man or a woman (thank you, Supreme Court!).
Oh, and did I mention that I don't even have kids yet?
Let alone a daughter?
Let alone a daughter who will choose to get married and be my exact height and weight on the day she walks down the aisle?
The other reason I let my dress go is that it does not represent my wedding.
It does not represent my marriage. It does not represent the love I have for my husband.
It is a dress. A dress I felt beautiful in. The dress I wore on the happiest day of my life. The dress that I wore when I made the amazing commitment to be Cam's partner for life.
But I don't need the dress to sit in my closet for all of that to remain true. The truth of my love for Cam and his love for me is so much bigger than a dress and lives in a place far deeper that material items.
If I can share that experience, if I can know that another woman -- or even 3 or 8 more -- felt the same way I did when I put on that same dress and walk down the aisle to that man or woman who is their partner for life, what could be better? What more could I possibly want for my dress?
It boils down to this:
Imagine I said to you, "Here is a huge bag. It's plastic and 6 feet tall and a foot deep. Inside is something that will deteriorate with age and you can never use it again. It was expensive and would be incredibly valuable to other people."
Would you even consider keeping it? Me neither.
Donate Your Dress Too!
The charity I chose to donate my dress to, Brides Across America, gives wedding dresses to brides who themselves or their fiancé is serving in the military and either currently deployed or deployed within the last five years to Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Libya, Korea or Japan.
A note on 503c donations: donations of dresses or financial gifts to BAA are tax-deductible.