Matthew Christopher Bardot

Matthew Christopher's Bardot dress was the first bridal gown I tried. Though the dress isn't ideal for me, it was still an overwhelming experience to try on a wedding dress for the first time. (Matthew Christopher / May 17, 2013)

“Let’s try that one first,” I said, pointing to the craziest wedding gown the saleswoman had selected for me. It was tight through the hips, with geometric ribbon designs that started on the bodice and trailed down through the choppy tulle skirt. It was an avant-garde kind of wedding dress you might wear if your reception was at Sidebar in Downtown Baltimore or the Renaissance Festival – a little punk, a little medieval. It wasn’t remotely my style, but I wanted the first dress I tried on to be memorable and this certainly fit the bill.

As I inspected myself in the mirror, it became clear that any dress I could have chosen would be hard to forget. At first I felt out of place and awkward, like an impostor who was posing as a bride-to-be.  It was one of those, “How did I get here?” moments. But as I ran my hands over the fitted bodice, and tested the poof of the skirt, I began to see myself as a bride for the first time.

The wedding was suddenly no longer an abstract idea -- something I knew was coming, but that felt distant and foreign. “This is really happening,” I thought. “This is real life.”

My bridesmaids awed when I finally emerged from the dressing room, as all good friends should. They did their best to stifle their smirks at my off-beat choice. “You really like this one?” they smiled.

Lost in my reflection, I wasn’t sure if this dress was for me. What was clear was that I was a bride, getting ready to marry someone who was the perfect fit.