As my sister researched for her upcoming wedding, a New York Magazine article written by Ariel Levy (April, 2007) caught her attention. The article was about the author’s struggle to find her place in her own wedding which, because she was marrying a woman, seemed to come with a lot of questions — both from herself and from her friends and family. She didn’t have all the answers. It was 2007, and a marriage between two people of the same gender was not yet legally recognized by New York State. One of the biggest unknowns of all had to do with the one item that, for many women, defines them on their wedding day: the dress. But in the case of two brides, what’s a gal to do?
My sister connected with the author’s confusion because she too had fallen in love with a woman. Months later, she was engaged and wearing a diamond ring just like any other bride-to-be. A few months after that, so was her future wife.
As the wedding planning commenced, the happy couple found themselves stuck somewhere between the traditional wedding hullabaloo and themselves. Yet one thing was for sure: they would both be wearing dresses.
There were so many more questions. For starters, who would wear the white dress? Would they both wear white dresses? Or, did they deliberately not want to have a white dress involved? The quest for the perfect dress (two of them) began.
After trying on many dresses that were either too casual or just not “her,” Ariel Levy found herself standing in the lobby of the Manhattan Carolina Herrera store in her beat up running sneakers, eyeing dresses she never thought she’d want.
One stood out.
Large dark brown hand-painted flowers crept up the side of the skirt, and thin black straps clung to her shoulders. As she stood staring at herself in the mirror, she knew her search was over. Two searches, in fact.
At the time (2007), a gay wedding was, as Levy explained, “not a real wedding” — at least not according to the state of New York. But she and her partner were celebrating the same things: love, commitment, family. They were just celebrating in a slightly different way.
As my sister found herself in the same position as Levy, searching the racks of Soho designer shops for the dress that fit her best, she became frustrated. All the excitement and anticipation of the wedding and finding a dress began to weigh on her. As she and her fiancé shopped simultaneously for the right dress (two of them), they found dresses that suited one and not the other. Then there was the issue of whether the dresses should match — one couldn’t be flashier or less beautiful than the other. Finding one dress can be challenging enough. How were they going to find two?
It wasn’t long before my sister also found herself in the Carolina Herrera shop, wearing sneakers, trying on gowns that — to her surprise — were the most beautiful dresses she had ever wanted. Yet she couldn’t seem to forget the blue dress from the New York Magazine article. The more dresses she tried on, the more she wished she could find her own match. For her that dress was it. When you know, you know, right?
My sister’s fiancé took note. After finding her own perfect white wedding gown at Kleinfeld’s, it was time for my sister to find hers. Her future wife remembered the article by Ariel Levy. After a bit of Googling, she found her contact information and sent Ariel an email.
Ariel responded. The dress was still available, hanging like a beautiful, glamorous ghost in the author’s closet. Ariel no longer had a use for it, and wanted to share it with another gay bride. My sister and her fiancé flew from San Francisco to New York and headed eagerly to Ariel’s apartment.
There it was — the dress. After chatting and laughing with Ariel and her wife in their living room, it was time for the moment of truth. During her conversation with Ariel, my sister noticed that they were a similar size and shape, and that they got along wonderfully. But would the dress be the perfect dress for two brides? The anticipation had mounted. After my sister slipped on the dress, she walked out to show her future bride how she looked. She couldn’t contain her smile. It fit. This was it. Another bride’s search was over.
How the Jewish, half-Argentinean, New York venture capitalist found her born-in-Korea, raised-in-a-red-state, entrepreneur dream girl is one of the mysteries of the universe, but at least one more question has been answered: they do.
One month before their “party about love,” the state of New York legalized gay marriage. Their party about love was now a real wedding — a true, legal marriage of two people who love each other, just like it was supposed to be and just like everyone understood it to be, only with an extra dress.
Sure, you can call it a gay wedding if you want. Who cares? To us, it was a wedding… an amazing, beautiful, (legal), happy celebration of two people who have fallen totally in love, and both happen to wear dresses. It was hosted by our parents at our house in upstate New York, and one of the attention-grabbing uninvited guests happened to be Hurricane Irene. The wedding was almost cancelled due to violent weather, but despite road closings, horizontal rain, and a whole lot of mud, it was perfect.
When it comes to finding “the one” (your wedding dress, of course), does it really matter what color it is, where you found it, or who designed it? No. All that matters is that when you try it on, after trying on more dresses than you ever wanted to, you know it is the one for you.
Because sometimes one dress just fits. And sometimes two do.
This story was originally posted on Tavel’s personal blog in 2011. Since then, Ariel Levy has written powerful pieces about having a miscarriage in Mongolia and her separation from her wife. I share this post with gratitude and respect for the bravery and candidness Ariel has shown as she shares some of the most powerful and challenging moments of her life.