The Joys of Wedding Dress Shopping as a Shotgun Bride

wedding dress imageI'm not one of those women who's always been obsessed with every detail of her fantasy wedding far, far into the future. Okay, I'll admit that I did have certain things in mind for it, especially after dragging myself to friend wedding after friend wedding for -- well, for years on end. So I definitely have that "girly" side. It's just that I've never dreamed technicolor dreams about my beautiful white flowy gown and my long, softly curled hair blowing under my shimmery, sheer veil in the summer breeze. (Fine, so maybe I did dream about it once.)

But what I also never did was picture myself in the long white dress when I was visibly pregnant. The whole shotgun bride thing just kind of seemed trashy to me, and I didn't want any part of it.

Famous last thoughts.


So let's get something straight. Technically, I wasn't a shotgun bride. I married my husband at City Hall first. The pomp and circumstance would come later, we decided. And this way, if I did get pregnant in between the two marriages, we'd already officially be husband and wife.

What I didn't expect was that it would take me roughly one week to conceive. So there I was, planning my wedding-wedding -- the one at the romantic gardens with the minister and the bridesmaids and all the guests -- knocked up. And not just knocked up. By the time the big day arrived, I was five-and-a-half months along. Ain't no hiding that baby bump, sister.

Rewind. When I went wedding dress shopping, I was not in the least bit pregnant. I wasn't even in the "trying" category. And I hate to admit this -- I didn't think I was the type -- but I LOVED shopping for a wedding gown. I got really into it. I went on a feverish Say Yes to the Dress-style blitz, booking appointments everywhere I could think of. I'm not a shopper, but for some reason, trying on long white dresses in fancy-sounding fabrics made me giddy. Like a schoolgirl.

When I found "the one" -- an empire waist halter dress in the Vera Wang David's Bridal line (aka cheap Vera Wang) -- I still was not with child. So the gown I slinked into was my usual size and fit me almost perfectly. It even needed to be taken in a little.

Looking back, those days were bliss. It was just about a week later that I got pregnant and a month or so after that when I found out about it. I quickly did the math. Yep. I'd be more than five months when I took the much-awaited trip down the aisle. The size 4 hanging in my closet would have been left behind long before that.

Luckily, by the time my first fitting rolled around, I'd just done the at-home test that yielded the double pink lines. But for some strange reason that to this day escapes me, the seamstress and I both agreed that the 4 should still work and we'd just have to let it out some when the time came. Were we heavily medicated? No. There was no excuse for our delusions.

Three months into the pregnancy, I had a nightmare. I dreamed that I no longer fit into my wedding gown, but when I went to pick up the right size at David's, they told me they'd ordered a different -- read: hideous -- dress to replace it. I woke up in a cold sweat, and tried my dress on. Sure enough, I was already bursting out of it in the bust area (Dolly Parton would have been proud). I booked another appointment. Again the delusions washed over us -- was it something in the stuffy David's air? -- and we, very rationally we thought, decided to order me one size up, a 6.

You don't even need me to tell you what happened next. The vulgar Playboy bunny bride look was just as pronounced when I squeezed into the new dress. One thing I was sure of: I did not want to look like Anna Nicole Smith on my wedding day (may she rest in peace).

Again, David's very graciously agreed to order me another one -- and this time we played it super safe, opting for a gown that was two more sizes bigger. The real fittings were appropriately scheduled for just a few weeks before the wedding. "You're growing," the David's seamstress reminded me. It sounded obvious, but it needed to be said -- for both our sakes. We'd obviously been in deep, deep denial.

I left the first fitting in the third and final dress feeling depressed. "I look like a whale," I told my husband. "Aww, my little whale," he teased. I took to signing notes to him "Your Whale."

But when the alterations were done, I finally felt like the bride I hoped to be, the one without the huge pregnant stomach. The seamstress did a beautiful job, and the dress looked gorgeous. On the day itself, I was glowing, radiant. I felt pretty and carefree.

In the end, the larger size, the empire waist, and the flowy skirt did hide my baby bump and voluptuous chest to some extent -- but not entirely. From certain angles, you could tell I was pregnant. But you know what? By then, I'd made peace with the whole thing. Once our baby is here and grows up a little, we can look at the photos and be happy. Happy that the three of us were all there that day, at our wedding, together.

Do pregnant brides horrify you?


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