When I look back at the dress I chose for my wedding*, it was the design and look that I had imagined since I was a young girl. Having a background in textiles, at times through my life I found photos of wedding dresses that I liked, and on reflection I realise the dress I wore on my wedding day was similar to some of those dresses.
Now this sounds a little like a ‘Cinderella story’ but it actually occurred, was very real in my body and it was revealed on that day with very good reason.
For me, I absolutely enjoy clothes: I enjoy the idea of dressing up and playing with different looks and especially how I feel when trying on different clothes. Dress-ups was one of the fun things to do with friends as a young girl. It’s a definite way for me to express ‘me’ and how I feel about me. It’s the relationship with the elements of the outfit, the connection to me and process of putting it all together that I love.
For many years I may not have dressed so flatteringly or expressed through my clothing who I truly was, but recently this has been changing. As I started loving myself more, my style and clothes changed. And my wedding dress is an example where I had ‘nailed’ the perfect dress and look for me on that day. Every part of finding the dress was divine and it reminded me how important it is for me to focus attention on every single detail. I had a strong sense of who to take with me to find the dress and trusted her to support me in my style and in showing me appropriate places to look (as I had never really allowed myself to embrace looking for a wedding dress before).
My previous marriage was one where there was minimal or no planning. It was organised in one week because I was critically ill with cancer – that was the reason why that wedding was so rushed. The dress was found when driving past a shop and seeing it in the shop window. I looked beautiful in that dress, but did not feel totally gorgeous, full, amazing and divine in it – like how I felt and what I wore in my marriage to my husband now.
Back to my current wedding dress. It was found without a fuss and was the second or third dress I tried on. The accompanying belt, which really gave it that wow factor, was bought and partly handmade by me sewing in extra beads to give it that full, luxurious look.
What I learned in refashioning the belt was that my expression was different to someone in my life who had been influential about my clothing decisions. This point is important here because she was a dressmaker and I realised I had been influenced for a significant part of my life by her impression of ‘what looked good on me,’ which was always fine, but didn’t really allow me to look beyond fine, to take it a step up from that, to feel and look totally gorgeous. This is nothing that reflects adversely on her, just a reflection on her personal taste, how I was seen and how deeply I was prepared to connect to me.
The experience I had with the dress provided the impulse to how I would wear my hair, my makeup, the colour scheme, the type of hall, music played and the overall feel of the day.
The process showed me how important it was for me to take care of every little detail, no matter how small, and by doing this, everything was in place to support me to be all and everything I am. Attending to this detail was not about achieving perfection or to impress anyone, it felt very natural and was about bringing the care and attention to all the aspects so that love was there to be felt by all involved in the wedding. You see, it wasn’t just a day about my partner and I, it was about us all.
There was no concern whether the dress would fit or look okay as I knew this was the dress to support me on the day. This is an interesting concept about a dress supporting me to look my beautiful self as, funnily enough, I felt a real connection to this piece of material – we had a lovely relationship going on.
I would occasionally try the dress on and feel the deep connection to something inside myself each time, which was more confirming each time I tried it on. It was something in me that I knew so well but hadn’t allowed myself to really feel deeply for such a long time. It was something in me that I knew was uniquely me, was always there, but I hadn’t necessarily been listening to it as an important part of me. With this dress on, I gave myself permission to feel a deep connection to this exquisite place inside of me. I knew with all of my being that this was the quality I would walk in, and with, on my wedding day.
On the day of my wedding, I felt truly beautiful, sexy, full and gorgeous, something I had only experienced to that extent on a couple of occasions this lifetime. It showed me that it wasn’t necessarily the dress that allowed me to feel this expression, but the care I allowed in how my makeup was applied, in how I wore my hair, the shoes I wore, having my friends around me and the connection to my husband to be. But, most importantly, the love and connection to me I felt inside.
When all the details of the parts of my dress came together, I felt absolutely complete with nothing left unconsidered: tending to the parts made the whole absolutely exquisite.
I knew when I stepped out of the car I would be bringing something glorious and divine to myself, to all those present and to the world. I was bringing all of me, in all my divine beauty, joy and glory. As I stepped out of the car, I saw tears in strong men’s eyes and many women’s – not that they needed to cry but they were acknowledging how deeply they were touched by how I was and what I was reflecting to them – they could feel love, a deep confirmation of me in my essence and being a woman in the true sense. To me this was what bringing heaven to earth means, as I was walking towards my future husband. I felt how it is the greatest gift to the world when we bring all of us to whatever we do. There were some for whom this was too much and who reacted, but I now notice and have come to accept that this happens quite often as I claim more of me.
I walked up and met my future husband in all his glory, in his total and adoring love for who he was about to marry. We were a couple who were offering a true reflection of a woman being a woman and a man being a man, both in their essence. For it was not just I who tended to the details of my dress with deep consideration and appreciation of what I had to offer, for he too felt deeply into everything he wore on the day.
The dress showed me on that day the depth of my beauty and how powerful that felt inside of me, that anything was possible. Even more than that, this experience revealed how there was something so much grander inside to access, which was truly me, and it needed nothing from the outside. It also confirmed that when I have purpose and lovingly support myself in what is required, an amazing opportunity or space is there for me to be in my stillness.
This was not just a dress but something that represented so much more, supporting me to reconnect to a place inside of me that I can only describe as the ‘crown jewels.’ It is the sacredness inside of me that is also inside all women, a place that I would always like to be in deep connection with. This place holds incredible power, steadiness and focus, all exquisitely balanced with the most precious, delicate, divine beauty, with a stillness that can hold anyone or anything. This is what I would call being totally in love with myself, in my body or really ‘full’ in my body. On that day, I gave myself permission to go there, live it and walk it, which I am now doing more and more.
Now I have lived this, I know it’s there and I can live this every day if I choose. The fine attention to detail allowed the space to feel every aspect of the wedding in full and when I choose to honour this every day, it becomes a natural way to live each day. And if this is my future, I have everything to look forward to.
This experience showed me how my true essence rests so close to me, is waiting for me, and is so accessible. It’s all about the choice to allow myself to connect deeply within and surrender to that which is truly me, honouring who I really am and not being afraid of how I may appear to the world.
*My husband and I had two weddings and for the purpose of this piece, this experience relates to the first wedding.
Published with permission from my husband.
By Ulrike Paul, Lismore Heights, Australia. B Ed, EPA SEH, ECCT