There are hundreds of things in my life I can attest to having done twice. Most are necessities—mundane tasks like scanning an item at the self-check out, plugging a USB cable into my computer, parallel parking. There’s also cool stuff I’ve opted to do again, like see a specific concert/band, vacation in the same place, have a second child. Then there are things I never expected to do more than once. Like get married.

At 47, I’m about to add this biggie to my Twice List: walk down the aisle. Who knew?

At 21, after a year of planning, I walked down the first time. There was never any reason to think I’d ever get a do-over, let alone some 26 years later. No young girl lets that notion cross her mind. We get married once and we’re done. That’s the way the fairy tale goes. It’s all about the over-the-top, out-of-control, spare-no-expense wedding of our dreams. Never mind the marriage. Just get the wedding right, and the rest will take care of itself.

Recently, I looked up synonyms for twice, and got dual, duplicate, pair, and dyad. None work well with marriage. The clinical inference rolls off the tongue like lead a gumball. These words can’t even begin to illustrate the joy of giving marriage a second chance. It wasn’t easy getting here, but I am ready, willing, and able to make this decision with a clear head, and open heart. Which brings me to the all-important dress and how I found it.

This time around, I went dress shopping alone, by choice. I felt like I could, even should, have the solitude of actually being in control of this purchase. At first, I set out to find a very inexpensive knee length cocktail dress online. My budget was set at a responsible $400—like that was ever going to happen (she writes, chuckling). A Bride Do-Over: Epiphanies From Buying a Wedding Dress—Twice

The first time I bought a wedding dress, the experience was a three-ring circus—four busy little ladies, plus my mother, all bringing me outrageous (read hideous) gowns that were strewn with every bead, pearl, crystal, lace applique. None were anything even close to what I had envisioned myself wearing. Sadly, I ended up caving to the pressure and got married in a gown that to this day, I hate.

This time, dress shopping would be different because now, I was different. Having never dreamt this endeavour would occur twice in my lifetime, the search for a dress that was truly me began. This time, it was about so much more than the dress.

It quickly became clear that the exercise was about growth, and independence. It was symbolic of me being able to make choices on my own, without the need for approval of others, even others I love. It felt so good and so right that I even made appointments at three salons just so I could relish the moment where I say to the very lovely lady in the dress store: This is my second wedding. I know EXACTLY what I’m looking for. Then I brazenly scoured the racks with obvious confidence.

I smiled in an all-knowing way at the nubile young girl occupying a room beside me as she paraded in front of her entourage of women chosen to help her select a dress they deemed ‘right for her.’ Doing so only served to heighten my bliss as I stood solo before the mirror in a fabulously chic gown, and admired the woman I’ve become. A Bride Do-Over: Epiphanies From Buying a Wedding Dress—Twice

Then, on a sunny Spring day, and quite by accident, I strolled into a smaller salon and there it was: the most devastatingly beautiful gown I’ve ever seen. From the runway in Paris, screaming my name, and way above my proposed budget, it stood there. I had come this far alone, and the decision was mine alone. My only regret was that the most important women in my life—my mom, daughter and best friend—would miss witnessing this important moment.

That’s when I pulled out my phone. I told my mom that I’d found The Dress and asked her to come see it. Then I called my best friend.

There’s something magical that transpires when a woman shares her world because she wants to, without the need for approval or validation. Maybe it’s the confidence that’s uplifting, I’m not entirely sure. What I won’t ever forget is the moment the very nice lady in the dress store pulled open the curtain to reveal me to my mom, and she began to cry. Through her tears, she quietly said: That’s The One.

There was nothing to prepare me for this momentous occasion, mostly because I had no idea it would be about so much more than a dress. I underestimated the whole process, and what it really meant. It was about learning to become captain of my own ship, calling the shots in my own life, taking ownership of my own choices, and then sharing it all with those I love. Now I know I’m prepared to give marriage a second go ‘round. I’m ready! And I’ve got one hell of a fantastic dress to wear.

Jane Pearlman is a 47 -year-old bride to be. Her new business BLOSSOMS By Impeccable Taste is her newest love interest because it lets her work with two things she loves—fruit and chocolate—to create gorgeous, edible gifts.  When not up to her elbows in pineapple juice, Jane models on Cityline and enjoys writing and restoring old furniture.

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