If you’ve followed my story, you know that I have been divorced for about 4 years. Yes, at the age of 27 I had been married and divorced. This was something I never imagined or dreamed for myself and I once felt so much shame in regards to it. However, out of my deepest pain, my destiny was birthed. It is what has made me so passionate about teaching women to learn to love themselves and work towards wholeness so that they make wise decisions for their lives. If I had loved and respected myself as I do now, I would not have settled for a man who first told me I was beautiful but then proceeded to abuse me emotionally, spiritually, financially and sexually. I would have stopped our wedding, but instead said yes to his marriage proposals 3 times before we walked down the aisle (as if that wasn’t enough of a sign….there were many others)
I remember the day of our wedding when he was running 20 minutes late and I thought to myself….maybe he won’t show up and I won’t have to be the one to end it – I didn’t have the strength to end it. I even went so far about thinking of going on my honeymoon by myself to get away. Did I tell anyone this the day of my wedding, no. It was only a year after our divorce that I told this to anyone. EVERYONE who attended my wedding asked me if I was sure I wanted to marry this man, I even had a few people on my wedding day ask me. Every time I would answer with a ‘yes’, I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. I remember standing at the alter and half way through my vows thinking – come on Sarah, you need to be paying attention – you are committing your life to this man. Looking back I realize I was so checked out emotionally.
I also remember the day of my wedding, my new husband had told me he did not love my wedding dress, in fact he didn’t really like it at all and would have chosen something different for me. Even on the day I was supposed to feel most beautiful, he took that away from me. I had picked a ‘cupcake’ princess dress and I did feel beautiful, until he told me he didn’t like my dress. He criticized my planning of our wedding and said he could do better and on our 5th anniversary he would plan a vow renewal that would blow what I did out of the water. Even writing the lies he fed me seems so unreal and I cannot believe I ever bought into his lies and let them define me.
I have invested the time in healing over the last few years and there still seems to be layers that peel off from time to time. Most recently, I opened up to a trusted friend this summer to talk about the sexual abuse I endured at the hands of my ex-husband. Yes, this can happen in marriage. This man stripped me of all of me and left me for dead emotionally.
As a result, during my modeling career and even in my personal life I have stayed away from anything related to weddings. The weddings I have attended since have been difficult for me, I stopped watching Say Yes to the Dress (which was once my fav show) and I wouldn’t touch anything bridal with a 10 foot pole while modeling. Which is why what happened next was so beautiful and redeeming in nature…..
I had been planning a photoshoot with a friend to submit for a feature with Curvy Connect Magazine. The November feature called for models to submit their best professional photos featuring: Plaid, ruffles, vintage, neutrals, textures and skins. Asking models to show how they mix and match prints, patterns, leather, fur and fringe. So, for the first time, I started to plan a creative shoot which was something new for me.
About a month before I saw this call to action, my mom was packing up her house to move and found my old wedding dress. You see, the first time I had gotten engaged to my ex-husband I had bought a dress (a ‘big girl dress’) but by the third and final time we were engaged I thought I’d buy a new dress so this dress she found had never been worn. As I was on pinterest looking for ideas I saw this cool idea of wearing a wedding dress but wearing a plaid shirt to top of it, paired with pearl necklaces. I thought it was perfect…however it was still a little weird to be shooting in a dress that I once intended to wear on my wedding day to my ex-husband. But, I decided to move forward with it anyways because my heart had been pretty much healed up and it didn’t hold the same significance. I knew it was still a little bit away so I just sort of left it on the back burner.
Fast forward a few weeks I was on my way to work and on the radio I heard an ad for the upcoming Canada Bridal Show and I said to God (I often talk to him while I drive), “God, I’d love to model in the Canadian Bridal Show, or maybe even just model bridal”. This was a massive shift in my heart. And after I said it I thought, wow, did I really just say that, am I really ready….and I realized I was…I realized my heart was whole and it was no longer broken and shattered in a million pieces. There was no longer pain associated with anything bridal. Last year I had a friend who was going to model in the show and I like to go support her but told her I wouldn’t attend this one because being at the bridal show was too hard. I tell you this to show you how hard anything bridal for me was – my pain got in the way of supporting a good friend.
I sort of put the thought away about it all and that night after I got home from celebrating a friend’s engagement with the girls, I checked my phone and had an email from a dress company….yup, you got it….a bridal dress company – Azazie. Like come on!!!! The company had let me know that they found me on Instagram and that they would love to send me a dress made in my size – any dress from their website. That I could let them know what I thought about it – good, bad or in different. I was floored!!!! Did God really hear my heart already?
I started looking on their website and there were so many amazing dresses and at such great prices. They carry sizes 0-30 and their mission is to provide beautiful dresses on a budget for women of every size – that everyone deserves the right to feel beautiful. They also have an option to submit your own measurements to have a dress custom made to your measurements. For this giant over here, that’s always exciting because fancy dresses are usually too short for me and I often can’t get extra length. Now, the only problem I saw here was I didn’t have an event coming up that I needed a really nice dress for. I was in a wedding in a few weeks and already had my bridesmaid dress, so I thought maybe a new year’s eve dress but that seemed too far away. But then a light bulb went off….what if I could get one of their wedding dresses for the shoot I was planning. So, I told them of my idea and they agreed to send me a wedding dress. I went on the website to look at the wedding dresses and lo and behold….my dream wedding dress was on there.
How do I know it’s my dream wedding dress or am I Just BS’ing you….well about 2 years ago while watching an episode of Say Yes to the Dress (one of my efforts to try and get over my pain of bridal) I saw a dress I loved….so I took a picture on my phone and said, if I get married again, I want a dress like that. I had a dress custom made very similar to the look this past may for the WINGS Maternity Home Gala. It’s mermaid and glamorous and shows off my curves. – Click HERE to check out my blog “Rewriting Fairy Tales” to see that dress
So, with my dress chosen, and my measurements taken (including my extra long length) I sent my choice in. About 2 weeks later my dress had arrived (yes, 2 weeks, pretty impressive if you ask me). I opened the box in great excitement and tried it on. I was alone at home, expecting to be really emotional but I wasn’t at all. As soon as I put the dress on I felt beautiful. I felt whole and I didn’t shed a tear- rather I had a perma smile that wouldn’t stop. The dress was the perfect length with my 4 inch heels (which I had planned for) and the quality was top knotch and fit perfectly. I felt like a dream. I didn’t want to take it off.
That weekend I did my shoot with Rebecca Northcott Photography. We did the shoot of just the dress itself and then with the plaid look that I wanted to shoot. We did the shoot at the park by the water right by my house and I got a few people yelling at me “Congratulations” and “You look so beautiful” That made it a little bit entertaining for me.
I submitted my dress and plaid pictures to Curvy Connect Magazine and it was chosen for their November feature and cover – which was so exciting! But the thing that is most exciting is to know that my heart is healed. To know that my past pain does not define me. You know what else is super cool, I stepped outside my box creatively, modeled bridal (which we know has been a healing experience) and it’s my first magazine feature. Curvy Connect photographer and journalist, Robert Skuja met with me in early October to interview me for the November issue and shoot with me. What an experience!!!! I am honored, humbled and grateful but clearly not speechless.
I also found out through this process that Azazie wanted to use my images for their website and social media. So, here I am, stepping outside my box and what was my comfort zone and I’ve put on a wedding dress, not cried and I’ve now modeled bridal and will be featured by the designer and in a magazine. All of this started with a simple conversation with God…mind blown.
Now, I’ve had a few people ask me, well…. will you get married in this dress? Well, that’s a tough question to answer because, I don’t’ have a man and am very single, happily single I’ll add. I have chosen to love my life regardless of my relationship status and live my life loud until Prince Charming enters my life (yes, I do daydream about him and pray for him). Would I love to get married in this dress, ABSOLUTELY!!!! It is my dream dress and I love it and it has such a cool story to it. But, time will tell and I guess we shall see what the future holds in that department.
I know this is a long post but I really wanted to share this story and the beauty of God’s love, redemption and how much he gives us the desires of our hearts. I know that just like the dress of my dreams is out there, so is the man of my dreams and I will wait patiently for him and be the best me I can be so that when he enters my life, I am the Godly woman he dreamed of, just like I’ve been dreaming of him.
One final thing that is a little funny….the day I wrote this blog, my time hop informed me that on this day 6 years ago, I went wedding dress shopping with my mom and ex-mother in law. Funny how things come around full circle. God is constantly reminding me of even the little things He redeems and restores, making old things new and making beauty from ashes.
Now for the pictures which I know you’ve been waiting for…..The first picture you will see is a side be side of my inspiration and the photo I submitted to Curvy Connect Magazine. I made it my own and showed of my long legs, which has kind of become by signature.
Click HERE to see the dress I’m wearing
To see the magazine feature visit www.curvyconnectmag.com and subscribe (on the bottom left of the home page) to see the P.R.I.N.T.S edition for November 2015.
Be sure to check out Azazie’s website for some pretty amazing dresses. Whether you have a wedding, are getting married, are in a wedding, have a gala or are attending an event, Azazie is a great choice – price, quality and fit are on point! And, all their dresses come in like every colour – we’re talking like 60 colours.