The dress

Wedding dress in a box

Wedding dress in a box

The car pulled up to the church, and the driver helped me out. I stepped onto the path, my silk-white high heels making the tiniest crunch on the gravel. And then I looked down at my dress. My dress! At some point on the journey it had turned yellow. It was bright yellow. My dress had turned bright yellow, and the bells were pealing their discordant tones to tell me that the service was due to start. How could I get married when I was wearing a yellow dress?


I woke up, gasping slightly, eyes adjusting to the dark. My books were towered up all higgledy-piggledy on the desk, Virginia Woolf topping one pile, Keats on the other, and fifty or so loose pages of blue scribblings in between. My finals were rapidly approaching.


On the other side of the desk stood the box. I tiptoed across the floor, the carpet cold and bristly underfoot. I opened the box to check again – had I made the right decision? I had felt so good about it in the shop, but now there was no going back and the money had been spent. Was it the right one?


The dreams had started about three months before the wedding: my dress was in the post and had got lost, or it had been cut with scissors, or it had turned green or yellow or too short or ripped. And always, no time; no time to go back and change things. I was walking to church in the wrong dress.


I peeked inside at the dress – a gentle white: ivory, I think it was supposed to be called. A field of tiny pearls, the heavy silk; it was the weight and beauty of marriage in a box. I would slowly stroke it, reassured. I had made the right decision. It was right. Of course it was right. It would all be alright.




“You can’t walk too slowly down the aisle,” our vicar told us as I held onto my father’s arm. This was the rehearsal, the night before. I had talked like a hyperactive six-year-old to anyone who would listen about how amazing my dress was, but this was the first time it had really sunk in: they would all be looking at me. All of them.


I don’t do theatre or stage, I am malcoordinated and medium-alright-looking when I’ve made an effort. I had a nice dress, but that did not mean I could strut down the church slowly like a model. I could feel already my cheeks burning. Was there a way of doing it a little faster?


I just wanted to be married, really. The venue people had asked us what the theme was for our wedding and we’d looked blankly at them. The theme was that we would be married, surely?


Or did they mean which Bible passages and songs we’d chosen? Because we’d spent ages with that, whittled it down, planned in detail, told the vicar that we weren’t telling him how to do his job but this is what we’d prefer him to say.


Turns out, they meant colours and stuff.


I just wanted to be married. I cared about the service, the words, but not about the frippery and frivolity.


There was something in me that wanted to run down the aisle in a hoody and just grin and get married. But there was also a shy six-year-old that wanted to twirl in my magical white dress and say, “Look at me!” That girl would dance all the way down the aisle and wait for the applause.


And then there was a shadowy teenager in me that would emerge from time to time and whisper, “Who would want you?” and I would feel rooted to the spot in shame.


I just wasn’t sure what speed that would average out at as I walked down the aisle.



coming out of the car

He had told me he’d see me no later than 12.05. I was twenty minutes late – but that was the photographer snapping, all crocodile grin. Not my fault.


“Sorry I’m late,” I whispered when I reached him. Our carefully-chosen first hymn was already in motion, piano keys dancing heavily. “It was the photographer.”


“I expected nothing less,” he said. His smile was sideways at me, his eyes were reassuring while he wiped the sweat off his hands.


We spoke the vows: i had wanted them to leap and fly out of my mouth, but in the end they came out shuffling a little, shyly. It didn’t matter: they were said and the gold rings cooled our sweaty fingers.


He grinned, I grinned; and we were young and excited and married.


full dress

“This dress,” the preacher paused in the middle of his sermon,”deserves to be here, in this magnificent church, on this important occasion. It is beautiful, isn’t it?”


The congregation mmmm-ed their approval, and I plumped out my skirt, just a little.


The preacher talked about Revelation 19, about God as host to an eternal party. He talked champagne bubbles, a bridegroom, a bride given a beautiful dress to wear, a dress that deserved to be there.


In my deserving-undeserved dress, I was sparkling and fresh and white. Everyone was looking at me, and I was looking at him.


We held hands and knelt down and peeked over the prayer rail together into the rest of our lives.



Over to you:

  • Can you relate to that feeling of fear and blessing, that deserving-undeservedness?

Joining with Amber on Mondays for concretewords, where we practise writing by communicating the abstract through concrete things – a horse, a book, stairs – and today the dress. These concrete words posts have led me on a journey through childhood and nostalgia and spiritual maturity – I write and that’s what comes out at the moment.


Amber is taking a break from concrete words and I will be hosting for the next little bit. The prompts for the next couple of weeks are as follows:
Mar 4 – the dress
Mar 11 – the bottle

Won’t you join me? Link your post below and read and comment on others’ abstractions on the instrument. For more info about ‘how to’ use the concrete to write the abstract, read Amber’s introduction here.


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37 Responses to The dress

  1. Diana Trautwein 6th March, 2013 at 4:04 am #

    Oh, Tanya. This is so, so beautiful. YOU are so beautiful. Do you know how gifted a writer you are? I mean, really, REALLY know? Thanks so much for this. (and for the pictures, the joy-filled pictures!!)

    • Tanya 7th March, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

      Thank you so much, Diana. I’ve been shyly pondering your words. If I’m honest, as a writer I’m a little six-year-oldy “wow, look what I can do!” in rediscovering a forgotten love, and a little teenagey “I don’t know what I’m doing!” I feel very much like I have so much to learn and am trying to catch up with everyone who writes so well!

      Your encouragement means a lot. Thank you – I will treasure it up.

  2. Abigail Cashelle 5th March, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    I love this post so much. You’ve captured the gravity of the moment, the memories, and the ideas. Beautiful sentiment. 🙂


    • Tanya 5th March, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      Thank you so much, Abigail! I’m so glad you liked it – really.

  3. Brandee 5th March, 2013 at 4:20 am #

    It IS a beautiful dress, and you made a beautiful bride. I’m glad none of your nightmares came true! My mother made both of my wedding dresses. Both were cotton, simple. The first was blue, and we had no witnesses. The second was bright white; I’d been redeemed.

    • Tanya 5th March, 2013 at 8:17 am #

      Oh wow – I LOVE the symbolism in that. So powerful. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  4. Janice 4th March, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    “In my deserving-undeserved dress, I was sparkling and fresh and white. Everyone was looking at me, and I was looking at him.

    We held hands and knelt down and peeked over the prayer rail together into the rest of our lives.”

    Absolutely beautiful! Both you guys and the post!

    • Tanya 5th March, 2013 at 8:16 am #

      Thanks, lady! You are most kind. 🙂

  5. Marie Clarke 4th March, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    Awwwwwww Tanya I really enjoyed this! True love! It made me go all tingley inside.

    You look beautiful in the dress 😀 Xxxx

    • Tanya 4th March, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      Thanks, Marie!
      I think it was true love… (Oops, I mean ‘is’!)
      It was a lot of fun, too. I’m glad that I didn’t leave it for months of planning to have a ‘perfect day’ – that would have been hugely stressful!
      Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  6. Mark Allman 4th March, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Beautiful… all of it: The uncertainty brought on by dreams; the concern about “the walk”, the vows, the peek, and the Bride!

    I laughed out loud at “There was something in me that wanted to run down the aisle in a hoody and just grin and get married. “

    • Tanya 4th March, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

      Thanks so much, Mark – and glad you liked that line! I wanted to express just how young and excitable we were – we were the first of our friends to get married, and it was just really fun!

  7. Jillie 4th March, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    Tanya…What a lovely post! What a lovely Bride!
    “It was the weight and beauty of marriage in a box”. I love these words, because they sum up marriage to me. It is beauty, but it is also weight. A weight we don’t often recognize on that special day. The coming out of ourselves and the entering in of placing someone else in a position more important than our own. Caring more for them than we care for ourselves. I’m still learning how to do that.
    I too, didn’t care for all the pageantry of the day. I just wanted to be married. I was not near so all-consumed by the particulars like young brides today. I bought my dress second-hand…and ended up hating it! Somehow, it ended up symbolizing my life prior to marriage. Used…and made over. I can barely stand to look at the photos.
    But…..then I met Christ. My Groom. My Knight. He took the old…and made me a new creation in Him. I often think of Beth Moore’s wedding dress story. Do you know of Beth Moore? She too, was a lost and scared and ‘made over’ bride on her wedding day. Then, years into her marriage, on her Anniversary, she donned a beautiful, new white wedding gown and had a huge, framed photo of herself taken, and hung it on the wall for her husband Keith. Not ‘made over’, but brand new in Christ! He loved it! His radiant bride…a brand-new creation! Her story makes me cry. Sometimes I think I need to do what she did. Except, I don’t think I’ve yet ‘arrived’ at that same place in my own life. Not yet. Not completely.

    • Tanya 4th March, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      Wow – thank you for sharing so much of your story. It’s really interesting to think about the metaphor of being ‘clothed’ in the Bible. Somehow writing this post brought it more alive for me, how powerful it is to be given something new to wear. I reckon you should do that photo shoot, even if you don’t feel you’ve arrived yet. Heck, you can always do two photoshoots! Do it anyway? Xx

  8. Helen hopper 4th March, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Ah it seems like yesterday! What a lovely memory for me, and wonderful to get your perspective on it.
    Advising tearful friends for whom the stress of wedding preparation has become too much, I have often said: ” As long as at the end of the wedding day, you are married to the person you love, the rest doesn’t matter.”

    • Tanya 4th March, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      Ah, wise words, Helen! I completely agree. Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoyed this reminiscence! Just recalling yours now… You were stunning. And it was a hot day too! Happiness. 🙂

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