My wedding dress search (d)evolved into looking at Prom dresses, because normal wedding dresses are boring. And long.

Posted on 23.01.2016


This post started out as an observation of the wedding dress industry, but then took a turn when I got an amazing offer. Just a heads up!

Part 1: Searching for a short wedding dress.
If I’m lucky, there will be TWO short wedding dresses in an entire line from a designer like Vera Wang for a season. This is the problem I’m currently I was dealing with, and which Pinterest had been helping me to solve: no one appears to take short wedding dresses very seriously.

I’ve never taken churches or religion very seriously, and I refuse to get married in a church and go through all of the BS and time-wasting that goes along with it. Adding to this, I live in Japan, which is a lovely, secular country. I will not be having a big wedding, and this is part of my excuse for that.

To be fair, I was never planning on having a big wedding anyway. I always wanted the courthouse. I spent enough time photographing other people’s weddings to know it’s all just a racket, and the bride and groom usually don’t have the amazing time they’re hoping to have. Add to this the fact that my family lives in the US, Mark’s family lives in the UK, and one of those families WON’T fly, and the line of least resistance is to have a wedding that NO ONE will attend.

And hey, it will save us all of that money and hassle that we didn’t want to deal with.

So, no long dress. No big ceremony. No invitations to print, decisions to make on who is invited and who isn’t, no food tasting, etc. It’s wonderful. I’m so happy planning this non-wedding of ours.

We’ll have a small ‘ceremony’, of course, but it will be done by a Japanese lady standing on top of a hotel, and completely written by us, and totally not legal. This is because by the time we have the ‘ceremony’ (or ‘non-ceremony’, as I’ve taken to calling it) we will already be married. Because that’s how the courthouse works, and that’s how they do it in Japan.

The downfall to my plans is that I’m living in Japan. On one hand, it’s great for so many reasons, and on the other, it’s bad because everyone here wants a Disney or Princess Di wedding. Which ends up meaning ‘not many short dresses’.

yes please.

yes please.

Also, in Japan, most bridal shops operate on a rental-basis. You don’t buy that dress, you rent it. Great for the environment, bad for your wallet. Per hour, per day, and it’s really expensive. So if I want to buy my wedding dress, it might have to be online, or from a fancy designer, like Vera Wang, who has a shop in Ginza!

I went to the shop after I tried to call with a question, and they didn’t speak English. I walked in with a photo of the dress I wanted (from the Vera Wang site) and asked in Japanese ‘do you have this dress?’, to which they replied ‘no’. And also ‘no, you can’t order it’.

As it turns out, they have the dress now. It just took them forever to get it, and I imagine they got it in because someone walked in and requested it. Every other dress in the shop was long.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 09.09.42So I gave up and took to Pinterest and the rest of the Internet, specifically Etsy. I have keyword-searched just about every combination of ‘cool short wedding dress courthouse casual’ I could come up with, and pinned all of the available options.

And that’s when I learned that short wedding dresses are kind of hard to come by. But you know what’s easier, and way cheaper? PROM DRESSES. Also, ‘Rehearsal dinner dresses’ or ‘reception dresses’. But Prom dresses are way more fun.

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that a 34-year old woman is was looking at short prom dresses as a wedding dress option, but that’s where I ended up. And when I really think about it, that Vera Wang dress is totally amazing, but you can only get it in white. And I don’t want a white dress.

At least, not completely white.

short-white-prom-dress-by-Sherri-HillSo now I have a lot more short dress options that come with a lot more bling. They are fun, and cute, and I can buy 5 of them to try them all on and decide which one I like best, at the price they tend to go for. And why not? I was mentally preparing to be ok with spending about $3,000 on a wedding dress, so how about I buy 5 dresses and spend $1,000, and return most of them? Is that such a bad thing?

I’ve been getting really annoyed with weddings lately, especially living here in Japan. Why do they have to be the ending to a fairy tale? Why do they have to be this huge party that you plan for a year (or as it turns out, 6 months in Japan), just to impress your friends and family? I could take awesome photos in a full garage, I don’t need to rent out an entire hall to do it.

I often talk about ‘choice fatigue’ with my students, since we live in the land of ‘we have everything (except vegetarian options at the Italian restaurant(WTF))’. And I think that’s the best way to describe searching for the perfect wedding dress: I now have choice fatigue. And it’s not even because I have so many short dress options that I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s because searching all of these websites to find that one dress that kind of looks like the image you have in your head takes forever. It takes you all over the internet, to sites that don’t matter and aren’t in English, just to look at a dress and find out there’s no link at the bottom telling you who even made it. It sucks you in and takes up all of your free time, which is exactly what I DON’T want my wedding (or wedding planning) to do.

I know it’s not easy to plan a wedding, but it shouldn’t be the hardest thing, either.


Part 2: And now for the update to all of my bitching and complaining:
Vera Wang has that dress, only in white, and it costs something like $6,000. So, no. If it were $2,000, I might consider it. But that is absolutely unnecessary.

I found this out because a friend of mine asked me what I wanted to wear, and I showed her an image of the dress, and then told her it wasn’t at the Vera Wang store in Ginza.

She took it upon herself to call the store and ask if they had the dress, and as you read above, now they have it. And it costs $6,000 to buy. And it would take 5 months to make, and it only comes in white.

My friend is a seamstress and she often makes her own clothes. She said she’d been wanting to make a wedding dress for a while now, but didn’t really have a reason.

She asked me if she could make that dress for me. In any color I wanted.

I completely trust her, and had really wanted my dress to be hand-made by a friend anyway, so I think this is exactly what I want. So I said yes.

I’d been planning for  years to ask my friend who is a fashion designer to make my wedding dress. I never imagined having to go wedding dress shopping and try on loads of dresses. So this has worked out as I thought it would, just not in the way I expected.

So now I will go to the Vera Wang store and try on that $6,000 dress with my friend, and we will take loads of photos and measurements, and then she will make it for me.

We’ve already gone shopping, chosen the fabric, and bought most of it. And it’s going to be so much cheaper. And in the meantime, I bought a back-up dress online which has already arrived, and it fits perfectly and I’m happy with it (happy enough, as it’s #2).

I’m completely fine with how this has turned out.

Posted in: DIY, fashion, Japan, life, shopping