When Style Meets Wedding Duties

When Style Meets Wedding Duties

Months ago, in the midst of their busy wedding preparations, my brother and sister-in-law to be pulled me aside to share what they believed to be a dilemma. They wanted to ask me to be in their wedding party, but also wanted to give me the opportunity to decline because of this: they knew it mattered for me to wear something I really loved to their wedding. Knowing that I march to the beat of my own style drum, they wanted me to feel comfortable in my skin on such a special day. They would be fine either way, they insisted. The point was that they wanted me to be free to do what would make me happy, rather than to accept being in their wedding party out of any sense of obligation.

With the ball firmly in my court, I started thinking about the whole situation. My immediate reaction was that I was extremely touched by their gesture. Sure, our style is so personal. Only this day wasn’t about me, but about them. They could have very well not made such an accommodating overture and I would have happily been a bridesmaid and never thought twice about it. I thought to myself how lucky I was to have family who understood me and respected what made me happy, even if it might seem trivial to them. Then I talked to a very close friend who practically screamed at me when I told her I was considering not joining the bridal party. “That’s so superficial!! It’s not your wedding!! You should follow convention!! What would people think?? Maybe they’ll assume you aren’t close with the bride!!” Her list of grievances seemed to go on. This is a very dear friend, so while this sounds direct as I write it, it was all said from a place of love (and also delivered with humor). She was just getting me to be clear about what really mattered.

So, what really matters?

We’ve all been in situations in life where we haven’t been able to wear something that reflects our unique sense of style. Whether it’s a bridesmaid dress, a school uniform, or work clothes (hello, scrubs!), not every opportunity in life affords us the chance to express ourselves with the clothes we are wearing. But when an occasion really matters—high school prom, engagement pictures, a big birthday, our own wedding—the clothes always play a front and center role. When, like in this situation, the importance of the occasion clashes with the tide of convention, which wins out?

For me, it was a really easy decision. In fact, I had decided almost as soon as they brought it up. At the heart of it, I wanted to feel like myself on an important day in my life. Even if the day wasn’t about me, it mattered to me. Watching my younger (and only) brother get married to a woman he loves, and watching them take such grown-up vows, was a deeply moving experience that I will never forget. Because my clothes help me feel like the most authentic version of myself, I was able to witness this moment feeling truly connected to who I am. And it’s not that the moment would have been any less memorable if I were wearing a bridesmaid’s dress. But we all know the power that loving what we are wearing has on the way we feel. So while convention matters, connection wins. 

Beyond connection, finding my dress for the wedding was so much fun. In honor of the setting, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, I chose a dress with a bit of a Latin motif, including delicate white lace that came to a v, and a sequined hem with a romantic asymmetrical train. I pinned a red flower in my hair and spent all night pretending to be the flamenco emoji, which was an immensely gratifying byproduct of the outfit.

What do you think? When our style meets our duties, can we have our cake and eat it too (ha!)? Did I do well to wear something I truly loved? Or was I mistaken? Have you been in a similar situation yourself?

 

In the feature image, here I am performing one of my many important wedding day duties: not toppling the cake. First two images by Sherif Farag. Third image by Sherif Labib. You guessed it, I like being photographed by people named Sherif. 

Oh Hey Fatoumata Diawara!

Oh Hey Fatoumata Diawara!

Style & Sustainability: A First Step

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