Toddlers and Tiaras: Why I Let My Daughter Wear My Wedding Dress


I pulled out my wedding dress from the closet because I was curious to take a peek after I last wore it six years ago. I held it up and admired the lace, but cringed at some of the soiled marks still left on the hem. (Mental note: I still really need to get it dry cleaned!)

But then my two-year-old daughter, Cecilia, walked into the room and stopped. “Wow!” she said. “Mama, that is a beautiful dress! I wear it?”

The dress is a hundred times too large for her, but I agreed anyway. I put the dress over her head and she immediately drowned in tulle and taffeta. But Cecilia was in heaven. I placed the veil on her head and brought her over to the mirror.

“Someday I want to get married,” she said, beaming as she looked at her reflection.

What girl doesn’t dream about marriage? For Cecilia, getting married is about  princesses, beautiful gowns, fancy shoes and grand parties. And that’s all definitely part of it. I know on my wedding day I felt beautiful, loved and admired. It’s just playing dress-up for Cecilia right now, but letting my daughter wear my wedding dress is a way to start sharing what it really means to be a bride. 

The dress doesn’t quite fit her yet, but I want to help prepare my daughter for when it could. I want her to know that marriage is more than your wedding day. I want her to know wedding details are important, but not to get lost in them. Guests won’t remember what they served for dinner or which song they first danced to as a married couple. Instead, they’ll remember how Cecilia gazed lovingly at her new husband and the joy shared between the two of them when they finally are declared “husband and wife.”

Sure, the flowers, and dress and delicious feast are all a great way to celebrate the love between a couple. But that isn’t the end of the story, it’s the beginning of a new journey. You will probably see more days wearing clothes covered in spit up than wearing ballroom dresses. And yet, it’s still a thrilling adventure.

As Cecilia grows up, I hope to instill in her that while the details of the wedding are worth talking about, it’s more important to talk about the future as husband and wife: dreams, goals, values, fears, finances, kids, in-laws, intimacy and careers. I want to encourage her to attend marriage preparation courses or counseling so she gets know herself and future husband better before making a lifelong commitment.

I hope Cecilia continues to dream about her wedding, but that she also prepares and longs for the beautiful realities that follow that special day. Thankfully, I see little glimmers of this in the way she “plays house” and lovingly snuggles her baby dolls in for a “nurse.” I want her to know her wedding day will be wonderful and exciting and a dream. But marriage, even with its ups and downs, will be all of those things and more.

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