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let's get married // part one - in defense of the bridal portrait

Here's the awful truth about prepping for a wedding: it's stressful and it has the possibility of making you into the worst version of yourself. I lashed out at my friends and my future husband and my mother on different occasions for simple, petty things. 

The bridal portrait is a time-honored tradition here in the American South (and in many other places as well). So, clearly I had to be against it. I'm a feminist and this, like many other aspects of a wedding, reeked of patriarchy to me. Wedding portraits originated in Europe and became a part of the American Southern wedding tradition around WWII when having a photographer at the actual wedding was less common.

I discussed it with my husband-to-be and we agreed that since it was a part of the package, I'd do it and it would make my mom happy and it'd be another day to wear my dress. Case closed. But as the wedding day approached and more planning, cleaning, DIY-ing and check-writing loomed, the portrait seemed like just another thing that needed to be done so I could change my last name and be somebody's wife. The prospect of a portrait also made me question my appearance for, oh, the millionth time in my life.

But when the day came, it was so much more than an afternoon spent in front of the camera.

Don't underestimate the power of your wedding dress to make you feel beautiful. All I had to do was get the dress on with the hair and the veil and I could've been Beyonce. I didn't care that a zit the size of Jupiter had popped up on my forehead. We took the photos in downtown Raleigh and people stopped on the street to tell me how gorgeous I looked, but even if they hadn't, I felt amazing. 

My dress fit exactly the way it was meant to. I'm tall, broad-shouldered and flat (everywhere) so I couldn't pull off anything corseted or flouncy or ruffled. Plus, I've always leaned more tomboy than princess in my style choices. I bought a dress from David's Bridal for under $200 and I wouldn't have traded it for something couture priced 10x more. My veil headpiece came all the way from Poland from this Etsy seller. My shoes cost more than the whole outfit combined (including the crazy Spanx holding me in) because I love shoes. It's a real problem.

My advice to brides heading into a bridal portrait is to be yourself. Talk to your photographer, don't try to be Heidi Klum, and laugh. It's weird - you should laugh. Someone is taking a picture of you in your wedding dress in the middle of a city on a day that isn't your wedding day; if you can't laugh at yourself, you've got bigger problems than the portrait.

Big thanks to Amy Ellis Photography for making this day fantastic and for making me feel and look like a movie star.

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