Once Upon A Time

If there is one thing I will never understand, it is why so many women, when asked what they want to look like on their wedding day, invariably give this response: "Like a princess." 

Now listen, I can understand wanting to look beautiful or gorgeous or radiant---or, hell, just wanting to look thin---but wanting to look like a princess? Why would you want to look like a princess? I mean, presuming you haven't just invited some random people you met on the street, all your wedding guests already know you're not a princess---that you work in sales and grew up in the suburbs and wet your pants that one time in third grade during the Christmas concert when you couldn't hold it any longer and/or threw up on yourself one New Year's Eve (depending on whether they're a family member or a college pal, obviously)---so it's not like you're fooling anyone into thinking that suddenly you're royalty. Right?

And jeez, when it comes down to it, what's so great about princesses anyway? They're banned from marrying the men they love and they get shot as punishment for eloping and they end up dying in fiery auto crashes and then being the subject of two-thirds of E! Entertainment Television's programming for the next two decades.

Look, I love Princess Diana as much as the next loyal Brit, but I wouldn't want to look like she did on her wedding day. Fifteen years later in this little number, sure, but not then. I mean, did you even see Princess Diana on her wedding day?  Girlfriend had a grown-out bowl cut and a dress made from doilies that she could quite feasibly have worn out later to Flamenco Night at her local nightclub, presuming Princess Diana was ever allowed out to her local nightclub without forty bouncers lining the walls, someone trying to slip a roofie into her drink, and VH-1 making a documentary about it and then selling the video stills to OK! magazine.

A very nice lady? Yes. Inspiration for my own wedding day attire? Not on your life.

I get that it's a personal preference, and I apologize heartily if you wanted to look like a princess on your wedding day---and I'm sure you looked lovely and not a bit like a flamenco dancer at all---but seriously, ladies of America, why? I have watched enough episodes of Bridezillas and Say Yes To The Dress and---my current personal favorite----My Fair Wedding (see this video? I rest my case) to realize that approximately 85% of women on these shows coo "I want to look like a princess! A fairy princess! In a fairytale! About fairy princesses!" whenever they're asked about their vision for the big day.

And quite frankly, my dears, you are making it tough for the rest of us. Yeah, I want to look smokin' hot at my wedding, sure, but I have absolutely no desire to look like a princess---a fairy one or otherwise---when I walk down the aisle. The way I have to shamefully admit that, though, you'd think I wanted to wear a garbage bag as a dress and one of Sean's old plaid shirts tied around my head for a veil.

So let's try and think of a few more original alternatives to "Princess" when we're searching for wedding inspiration, okay? What about a Marquess, for instance? Wouldn't you want to look like a Marquess? A Baroness? A Viscountess? Oh trust me, darling, you'd look divine as a Viscountess. There are not enough Viscountess-themed weddings in the world, if you ask me.

Mar 16, 2009

Yeah. I'm right there with you- I don't get it, either.

It seems like a lot of Bridezilla-ness is born out of this concept of "IT'S MY DAY" and "I WANT TO LOOK LIKE A PRINCESS!" and I just don't get it. Sure, it's a super important day in your life...but the entitlement thing boggles my mind!

I wanted to look pretty on my wedding day, sure. But most importantly, I just wanted to have a nice day with Husband. And I did. It was the best. :)

Mar 16, 2009

Yikes...soooo many princess dresses either leave you looking like a cupcake, like the gingerbread mom from the Nutcracker with all those kids running out from under her skirt or like a lace nightmare.

Lucky for you, you could rock a gunny sack and still look gorgeous.

Mar 16, 2009

My favorite thing about theknot.com was finding bios of women that were having Princess Di themed weddings. So many women were wearing a tiara just like hers. Or looking for dresses with trains just as long as hers. My friends and I tended to online stalk these women for a little while because they always had major wedding drama over the smallest things and omg, that's the best free entertainment in the world.

Mar 17, 2009

Oh you preach it girl! I totally agree. I didn't want to look like a princess (um, grew out of that fantasy before being of legal age), and my wedding day was not the most important day of my life. It was important, sure, and I wanted to look nice and wanted all the details in place, but it was the start of something not the whole thing itself, you know?
Mostly I wanted to look good in the photos, since those get passed down to the generations.

Women who want to look like princesses often had their entire weddings planned out by the time they were 7, and they haven't changed a lot of the details.

So your bridesmaids aren't wearing pink ruffles, right?

Mar 17, 2009

So with you, Holly. It always boggled my mind a bit - I think there is this weird subcultural streak running through suburban America about royalty. "Who's Daddy's Little Princess?" "Treat me like a princess!" Huh?! I was roundly disabused of any royal notions early on, thank goodness, but I think for many women the wedding day is the cumulation of this lifelong theme-thing.

Personally, I wanted to look skinny and hot and sophisticated without trying too hard. Kind of a life goal, actually, but usually I don't put nearly as much effort into it as on my wedding day ;-)

PS, I didn't comment earlier but Matrix Biolage shampoo is a god-send, albeit a $20/bottle one.

Mar 17, 2009

At this point, forget what it's related to (unless actual royalty): I am so OVER the word "princess." For a wedding, for a nickname, for a DESCRIPTION OF ANYTHING. I hate it. HATE.

Mar 17, 2009

Me? I wanted to look like a Roman goddess. And I did! I found a dress that was kind of toga-esque and some white strappy sandals. I loved it!

Mar 17, 2009

I am totally wishing I had thought of "Viscountess"!

Instead, I bought my dress off the rack at Penny's, wore flip flops to walk in and kicked those suckers off as soon as I crossed over the bridge. I was bare-foot under the trees....maybe I wanted to look like a faerie?

Mar 17, 2009

I hear you on the princess thing - all those dresses do is make you look like a meringue! I opted for JCrew chic on the beach! All I wanted to be was pretty and tanned - and I got both.

However, I wish that I had thought of Vicountess or Baroness as my theme - that would have totally rocked it out!

Never fear, you are not alone in the wish for less princess!

Mar 17, 2009

Wow, I just watched the My Fair Wedding video and am now cursing the fact I live in Europe and have no access to the wedding channel! I loved the girl who wanted cupcakes with spiders on them, she definitely rocked her own style!
I totally agree with you about Diana's dress, both she and Fergie wore incredibly ugly (in my opinion) and very '80s'dresses and poor Diana could have done with Elizabeth Emmanuel giving her dress a good ironing before she walked down the aisle!

Mar 17, 2009

When I get married, I want to look like a radiant nudist.

Operation Pink Herring
Mar 17, 2009

Seriously, screw looking like a princess! Aim for the stars, girls, why not look like a queen? Or better yet, a goddess! A really, really skinny goddess.

Also, Holly. Your category name for wedding-related posts is AWESOME.

Mar 17, 2009

I think most people are thinking more Cinderella and less Diana. I'll admit, I didn't necessarily want to look like a princess, but I did want to be kind of sparkly and ethereal... kind of like in a fairy tale. You know... I really wanted the "happily ever after". (I probably watched too many Disney movies growing up!)

Mar 17, 2009

Thank you! It's a nice change to hear this from the female population. When I got married I thought maybe something was wrong with me, because I didn't care about looking like a princess. I just wanted to look pretty. And also, I hadn't been planning my wedding--not in the least detail--since I was a little girl. I think there's something wrong with me.


For some unexplainable reason I am completely obsessed with all those wedding shows and the princess thing always irks me too. Why? I do not want to be all costumed up in some fruity poofy dress. I did that for prom.

I also like to take a shot every time the bride in question utters the phrase, "It's my special day!".

Mar 17, 2009

When I went to pick out my wedding gown, the lady asked me what I had always thought my dress would look like, what it looked like when I dreamt of my wedding as a little girl.

I thought for a minute and said "You know, I don't think I ever thought about that. I more dreamed of what kind of head honcho I'd be, you know, CEO or President?" My child self was far more ambitious than my adult self.

Finally after a bunch of exasperated sighs from the chick I told her that my gown should allow me to pee unassisted and make me look thin. And it pretty much did both!

I don't get the princess thing either....

Mar 17, 2009

Ugh - I'm so with you in hating all the princess crap. When I was first trying on dresses, I quickly learned that any gown that weighed 20 lbs was going to make me feel like a six-year-old playing dress-up. I ended up buying a really light, vintage-looking dress that I love (instead of a princess, I now think I look kind of like a chandelier!).

Rachael W
Mar 17, 2009

I agree with commenter #4, who said that weddings aren't a culmination, they're the beginning of a lifelong commitment.

To hop on the anti-princess bandwagon: I would just want to look classy and elegant. Like Grace Kelly:


Except she went on to be a princess, didn't she? Shoot.

Mar 17, 2009

Oh my goodness, I so VERY agree with you and everyone! These "it's MY day" princess women are so rude it's a wonder they keep any friends. On my own wedding day I thought what's the big deal? IT'S ONE DAY. I expect my entire marriage to be happy and wonderful every day, not just magical for that ONE DAY. And yes, several years later he keeps me very happy. I'm one lucky girl indeed.

Mar 17, 2009

When I went to the seamstress to have my dress hemmed, I asked her to remove the giant butt-bow from the back of it, as I found it offensive. She refused, telling me that I wanted to look like a princess.

I recall being disgusted and thinking, "NO! I don't want to look like a princess! I merely want to look like a cartoonist in a dress!"

Still relieved (ten years later) that it's not visible in any of the photos.

Mar 17, 2009

princess? no. like me only a litttle more together and sparkly? yeah, maybe.

the last thing i want to look like is the top of a wedding cake.

Mar 17, 2009

The princess trip borders on the pathological, by my lights. I have a neighbor who appears to believe she's a fairy princess. She goes about with long trailing scarves wound around her hair, and so on, and expects to be treated like a princess. (Yes, I'm talking about an adult.)

I'm definitely raising my 3-year-old girl the opposite. No princesses for her; she's not the least bit interested. As for wedding-day appearances, I went pure hippie with my first marriage (gauze ankle-length peacock blue dress with embroidery and little mirrors sewn on) and Jessica McClinton outlet (off-the-shoulder wedding gown I bought for $35) when marrying Ben. Getting married is so much easier when you don't have a multi-thousand dollar dress to protect.

Mar 17, 2009

I so agree about the princess thing! I would MUCH rather be a Marquess

So I have a totally off the wall question. I'm getting married this summer in Sebastopol and I'm looking into spray tans for my wedding. Because I am beyond pasty and no amount of summer sun will help me get anything but skin cancer.

I remember you opted for a spray tan before you went to Charleston awhile back and I was wondering what you recommend because there seems to be quite a few options.

Thanks Holly!

Mar 17, 2009

Laura -- the most realistic (and long-lasting and non-streaky) spray tan I've had has been here: http://www.tanbella.com

I'm not sure what formula they use -- although I know it's not Mystic Tan -- but it seems to go on more evenly and look less orange than many of the others. They have two locations in San Francisco, although if you can't get to one, I'm sure you could do some detective work and ask what formula it is that they use, then find somewhere else that uses the same one. Good luck!

Mar 17, 2009

Oh, I know! How about if you went for the Giselle of Enchanted look? A huge poofy dress with layers of sparkles, and fake butterflies on your huge puffed sleeves, and a tiara!?! LOL Hahahahaha... Sean would die.

I never said I wanted to look like a princess. In actual fact, nobody ever asked me a question like that. I just wanted to look classy and I wanted to be comfortable.

I can't wait to see what your dress looks like. You're so gorgeous anyways, I'm sure I'll "hate" you. :P j/k!

Anne & May
Mar 17, 2009

I wanted to stand up and cheer when I read this...but I'm at work. I don't mind when people toss out the p-word in passing. But when women have a princess complex I get a little uncomfortable.

I guess I always feel like...someday real life is going to take them by surprise and then it's going to be ugly.

Mar 17, 2009

I wanted to look like Morticia Addams.

(My mother wasn't as appalled as you might imagine.)

I think the whole "look like a princess" thing is just shorthand for "I want to look completely different than I do normally," but it definitely makes for a certain cookie-cutter aspect to most weddings.

Mar 17, 2009

I think the a wedding is the "most important day of your life" like high school is the "best time in your life." I personally hated high school; college was so much better. I agree the the princess thing is born out of the disney cultural fantasy and if we had our own royal family things might be different.

Vampy Varnish
Mar 17, 2009

I was so turned off by anyone even looking at me in a dress (I NEVER wear dresses) that I eloped to Hawaii and got married on the beach, just me and the Hubbie. Hmmm maybe I looked like a beach goddess?

In another life I would love to look like a Duchess :)

Mar 17, 2009

Could be worse. You could want to look like Jordan on her wedding day. *shudder*

Mar 17, 2009

Oh, word. WORD! I hate the whole princess descriptor applied to ANYTHING. And if I ever buy Disney Princess gear for Ella? PLEASE PUNCH ME IN THE NECK.

Mar 17, 2009

Wow, a lot of princess haters. I'm still quite young and enjoy a little bit of "princessing" every now and then.When I think "princess" I think elegant, refined, and classy. I don't think poofy, bow-laden, and bubble-headed.

Mar 17, 2009

Wow. I suddenly feel robbed that no one asked me what I wanted to look like on my wedding day. I guess they knew the answer wouldn't involve "princess," but still. TO BE ASKED. Is this a normal question to ask brides? Because now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever actually asked my friends that question, either.

Maybe it's a Made For TV question.

Mar 17, 2009

I totally agree. When my sister got married I remember her being very clear with her makeup/hair person that she wanted to look like herself. She wanted to be pretty obviously, but she didn't want caked on make up and a perfectly curled updo. It was HER day and she wanted to look like HERSELF, not some random beauty queen. I loved that approach. I want to look back on my wedding pictures and see ME. But, you know, just a little bit more glamorous :)

Mar 18, 2009

I am *so* happy you wrote about this! I cannot stand tiaras paired with the poofy ball gown. They look so silly and out of place. I'm not saying a long, elegant white dress is what you wear to work, but your wedding attire should reflect your personality, not that of some mythical princess. Love all your writing, btw. Cheers!

Mar 18, 2009

Did someone say.....princess?


The fabulous Jordan/Katie Price kind of owns that horrible theme, don't you think? I remember gagging on fits of giggles when I first saw her wedding photos.

Myself, I wore a green and black dress that had been in my closet unworn since the summer previous.

Viva Las Vegas weddings.

Mar 18, 2009

What's that? You'd like to see another Jordan shot with groom AND cake?

Alrighty then:


This is what yearning to be a princess will get you.

Consider yourselves warned.

Mar 18, 2009

Yes, there's something toxic in our society that breeds women to behave this way. I especially dislike the "It's MY day" thing as some of the others have suggested. I mean, it's a pretty big deal for the groom too, right? Even more so if he's marrying a woman who won't stop proclaiming that it's HER day.

I kind of wanted to just look like a J Crew model on my wedding day. And that was even pretty lofty, I fear.

Mar 18, 2009

Maybe I split hairs too much, but for me "princess" and "fairy tale princess" are different. I remember trying on my wedding dress, knowing immediately it was The One, and twirling around on that little stand in the bridal shop thinking I felt like a pretty princess. But, princess is also a word I throw around often when I jokingly refer to the way that I refuse to learn how to change a tire, or that I don't like the idea of camping because I like running water and bathrooms and the like. Which is even funnier because I could care less about fashion and most days don't wear make-up. What can I say; I'm complicated.

Anyway, I certainly didn't think that my wedding was anything other than a nice party for family and friends that commemorated my legally binding myself to my husband. I didn't confuse wanting to be/feel out-of-the-ordinary (for me) pretty princess-y (since I knew I was going to be in like, 98% of the pictures) with the seriousness of the commitment we were making.

Mar 18, 2009

Oh GOD. BARF. The Princess people are the ones who probably have plastic, stressful, EXPENSIVE weddings. It's an unattainable and unrealistic goal, if you ask me.

I just want to look and feel like myself, but better! :)

You've probably/maybe seen this, but have a lookysee - LOTS of princess wedding paraphenalia:


Mar 18, 2009

When I think of those Princess Brides, I think Jessica Simpson's wedding. It was a sad, sad experience of white fluffy things everywhere... ugh, makes me shudder. I'm glad you do not want to be a princess on your wedding day. I say aim for gorgeous, and comfortable!

Mar 18, 2009

I completely agree. To me, looking like a princess on your wedding day means three equally horrid things: lots of pink, copious amount of tulle, and gaudy tiaras.

No thanks.

I told the woman who did my hair and makeup on my wedding day that I wanted to look like myself, only better. I didn't want to go tanning or get hair extentions or bleacrash diet, because I didn't want to look back on my pictures and wonder who the hell that chick in the white dress smooching on my husband was.

Not to knock anyone who chooses any of those things - because it's your wedding day and you should do what makes you happy. I just found that keeping it real is what ultimately made me the happiest.

Tracy D
Mar 18, 2009

I don't get the princess thing either. I also don't get spending a fortune on one day because it's supposed to be "the best day of your life". I got married last May and spent $10,000 on the whole wedding. I wore a beautiful (non-princess) dress and no veil because I couldn't bring myself to spend $100-200 on white mesh. A tiara was out of the question. Hello - I'm getting married, not crowned Miss America!

We paid for what was important to us at our wedding - good food, good wine, awesome cupcakes, and our closest friends and family. We cut out a band or DJ, we did cupcakes because they were cheaper than a full cake, and we had very inexpensive decorations and flowers. HOWEVER, I didn't like people telling me what I should or shouldn't do (my mom was the worst!) for my wedding, so I try not to either.

If someone wants to spend $50,000 on their wedding day to look like a Princess so they can execute their fairytale, go for it. It's definitely not my style, but not everyone wants to get married the way I did either.

Mar 18, 2009

Every day I pass a pale blue Audi parked in a lot near Hayes. Perched on the side is a crown with the word "Princess" spelled in rhinestones. It makes me queasy.

If nothing else, I owe women with this inexplicable princess-loving taste for my strong constitution. But I'm so very glad a strong constitution won't be required for your wedding. Unless for restraining myself from sniffling like a chihuahua with a head cold.