After getting engaged to my high school sweetheart after 10 years together in 2021, I began the wild ride of wedding planning and dove head first into what I now realize is a huge — and expensive! — industry. My now husband Nick and I slowly began visiting wedding venues, having calls with photographers, and I went on the hunt for the “perfect” wedding dress, after being told that I’d need to pick it out at least a year in advance if I wanted the fancy gown of my dreams to be ready in time.

I did the classic dress tour of NYC, visiting all the usual boutiques and bridal showrooms. It was overwhelming… the countless appointments, the try-ons, the pressure placed on experiencing that coveted moment of finding “the one.”

It was fun, but also felt a bit disconnected and consumeristic, as you’re expected to be in and out within the hour slot you’re given instead of relishing in the experience and taking your time. I thought this was what I had to do in order to feel like a true bride… after all, this is part of the fairytale we’re sold; like many women, I grew up watching “Say Yes to the Dress” and felt the only way to find a ‘real’ wedding gown was to have the same experience I saw over and over again on TV with champagne, tears streaming down my face, and a hefty bill to boot as I left the salon. I ended up finding a gown in the city and placed my order without a second thought.

Yet a month leading up to the wedding, when I went for my fitting, a feeling of dread washed over me. When I put my dress on – 12 long months after I originally chose it – I didn’t recognize the woman staring back at me in the mirror. An immense amount of personal growth and evolution had taken place since then, not only for me as an individual, but in terms of my relationship. The dress felt like it was made for an outdated version of me that was once thrown into the ring of fire, chewed up and spit back out so that I could emerge as the person I am today… a person who didn’t need a fancy new gown to connect with everything I now realize marriage represents.

A lot can happen in the year leading up to marriage, and no one seems to talk about it. The power and weight of the commitment is so strong, so confronting, that all the ‘gunk’ in the relationship gets brought to the surface to be worked through once and for all. If there’s *anything* that’s not aligned, any patterns that need to be broken, you’re not going to be able to shy away when you’re about to make the greatest promise of your life, both spiritually and on paper.

The year before marriage (especially in a long term relationship where so much has happened) is the greatest portal for transformation, clearing, and radical honesty — which gives you a beautiful opportunity for a healthier, stronger, truer union, but also can cut like a knife while it’s happening. I break it all down on my podcast episode here, where I share about the grief I experienced for my old identity, even while stepping into such a new, joyous chapter. Grief and joy coexist in every moment, and are both equally intense during the monumental ones.

My designer dress didn’t feel true to me or my relationship any longer – our union wasn’t about having the trendiest, most luxurious gown, or looking a certain way on the outside… the version of me who once chose that dress cared about blending in by keeping up with the crowd, doing what everyone else did in order to feel beautiful or accepted. However, I now knew in my bones that the version of me who would be required for a successful marriage to my best friend (the man who sees my inner child and true spirit), wanted something completely different. I felt like I was actually hiding if I were to walk down the aisle in a dress that only catered to aesthetics and status, versus what felt true to me and the promises I made to myself for this next chapter — promises to remember myself as an artist, to do what makes me happy instead of search for external validation, to let the joy and uniqueness of my inner child lead each moment because that’s who shows up best for myself and my union.

I thought, what would my younger self want to wear? The courageous, independent part of me that cares more about expression than impression?

With just a few weeks before the wedding, I also hadn’t found my wedding band yet. We took countless trips to the usual jewelers in the diamond district, and it felt identical to my dress experience: the same mass-produced rings over and over, with an emphasis on newness, diamond grade, status, and “perfection,” rather than art, craftsmanship, heart and a story.

The day after I realized I couldn’t wear my dress, Nick took me to an antique jewelry in the West Village and it was like a bright wave of light washed over me. THIS felt real! The lovely humans (at Gray & Davis on 13th) took their time with us; they cared about our story just as much as they cared about the stories of the vintage, imperfect bands they had collected in their store. I chose a funky, Art Deco band from the 80s that had lots of wear but a lifetime of magic left, just like our relationship after all we’ve been through.

The vintage experience reignited something in my spirit: I realized, this is what felt true to me. Not only because it felt unique and special, but because it was better for the earth and environment to purchase items already in circulation that aren’t creating more waste and destruction. The truth is that in the bridal industry, mass-produced goods are marketed to women during a vulnerable once-in-a-lifetime moment where you feel like you need the newest and best to make your day truly special. But it didn’t have to be that way!

I immediately thought hopped on eBay and began the hunt for a fun, unconventional secondhand wedding dress. I wanted to find something already in circulation that deserved a second life. After endless hours of searching, I stumbled upon a vintage 1950s dusty pink tulle gown for $200, and I instantly fell in love.

But pink?! That was the last thing I expected after combing through pages of ivory gowns. Could I really wear pink? Was that “allowed”?! Wait — there’s no such thing as allowed! It’s all about what my heart and inner child wants, and I could feel she was completely lit up by the thought of a whimsical pink gown to play dress up in on her big day; I realized this would help me embody exactly who I’m stepping (back) into as I enter this sacred union. The sweet, playful, feminine, artistic part of me that would absolutely wear a pink wedding gown with frilly tulle and imperfections. For me, *this* is what made me feel like the bride I wanted to be. Free.

I ultimately ended up sourcing all vintage and secondhand pieces: from my pink wedding dress to the vintage nightgown from Depop I wore during hair and makeup, to my 1980s art deco band from Gray & Davis antique jeweler in NYC, to the bright blue 60’s clip on earrings from Pippin Vintage just down the street. 

After this experience, I’ve become really passionate about the vintage and secondhand world — and how much more meaningful it can feel to let the pieces meant for you, find you on your wedding day. I also deeply appreciate how much better it is for our current fashion economy where fast fashion and waste is taking over the world and negatively impacting the environment.

There are so many pieces out there waiting to find a new life. Pieces that are made with far more love and care than the manufacturing methods used today, that have true artistry behind them from a time when the pressure of quantity didn’t drive production and people took their time. When you find something secondhand, it’s a 1 of 1 — it feels like YOU, you get a chance to do something totally different, and you can inspire people to shop vintage instead of always opting for new and contributing to demand. I fully believe there’a an energetic element, too… you’re not choosing something simply because it’s marketed to you or is trending, you’re choosing something that was meant to find you and feels like magic. (Maybe it is!)

My Vintage Bridal Roundup: Volume I

For those of you who also want to go vintage for your special day, I’ve combed the internet for my favorite finds, most of them well under $1000. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress for your special day. What makes the dress special is how you feel in it, how you rock it with confidence, how you style it to add flair, and the fact that it’s different from what people are used to seeing because it’s perfect for *you.*

1. For the pink bride

  1. Gossamer Vintage Peach Silk Gown ($425)
  2. Vintage 1950s Rose Tulle Party Gown ($295)
  3. 1950s Liquid Satin + Tulle Gown ($189)

You know I had to start this list with some pink masterpieces for my fellow untraditional brides! What would makes these dresses pop is the accessories — since you’re already going with a pop of color in the dress, choose one other colorful moment to make the funk cohesive. I ended up wearing blue sparkly earrings with my pink dress, and I could easily see green or orange as complementary colors here, too!

2. Bring on the drama (and tulle)

This shape is just so classic; the first dress looks almost identical to my pink gown but in white! I never thought I’d like a princess “belle of the ball” gown but when I put my dress on, I couldn’t believe how feminine and free I felt. It’s definitely opposite to my every day personal style, but that’s what made it so fun and helped me step into the archetype I wanted to embody that day. There’s something so grand about the skirt on these and they’re all so different in the tiny details which I love.

  1. 1950s Tulle Strapless Gown ($525)
  2. 1950s Nylon and Lace Ruffle Dress ($215)
  3. 1950s Sheer Ruffle Ivory Dress ($488)
  4. 1950s Pleated Tulle Gown ($215)
  5. Strapless Tulle Lace Party Gown ($499)
  6. Icy Blue Silk Lace Party Gown ($499)

3. Form Fitting / Elegant Chic

I love these gowns so much — they’re perfect for the minimal, understated, chic look when you want to go elegant. These styles truly feel effortless yet extremely unique, and can work for such a variety of venues whether you’re eloping, overlooking the countryside of Tuscany, or going bohemian with sleeves and lace detailing. I think this collection speaks to such a wide variety of personalities and it’s magic when you can really find yourself in a dress (that also made another woman very happy in the past!)

  1. 1940s Satin Puff Sleeve Gown ($245)
  2. 1960s Crochet Lace Gown ($245)
  3. Light Peach Marchesa Silk Chiffon Draped Gown ($525)
  4. Vintage M Kalan Long Sheer Gown ($100)
  5. 90s Victor Costa Pleated Off Shoulder Dress ($106)
  6. Silk Chiffon A-Line Strapless Wedding Dress ($250)

My absolute favorite is the last one — it’s unbelievably chic and versatile because the top and bottom are separate but look like the perfect structured gown; the a-line of the bodice *and* skirt even as separates is extremely flattering and elongates the figure while highlighting your waist.

For my after party, I would rock the corset top with a short skirt (either puffy ballerina-style to further highlight the corseted waist and accentuate an hourglass figure, or form fitting and tiered to add extra texture and femininity):

  1. Embellished tulle miniskirt ($215)
  2. Zimmerman secondhand silk miniskirt ($875)
  3. Vintage Balletcore Lace Mini Skirt ($31)
  4. Dressterior off white layered mini skirt ($90)
  5. Balletcore Fairy Tiered Lolita Cream Lace Mini Skirt ($68)
  6. Gucci silk miniskirt ($93)

I hope this story and round-up was helpful to you, and inspires you to create your own magic + art through pieces that truly speak to you and deserve a second life on your special day! If you enjoy posts like this, please let me know, as I’d love to do more secondhand/vintage roundups in the future for brides and beyond.



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