A couple's wedding day is arguably one of the most important days of their lives which is why it can also be an extremely stressful time. There's so much to decide on: wedding party, guestlist, bridal party, colors, venue, food, etc. And then, there is the wedding dress. The dress sets the tone for the big day and all eyes will be on the bride as she makes her entrance. So many factors play a part in choosing the perfect wedding dress: budget, personal style, wedding theme, and timelines, so it's no wonder it can all seem overwhelming.
Add a pandemic to the mix and you might be ready to just march down the aisle in some sweatpants. But, before you do, I spoke to some amazing women who have been where you are and they are giving me the lowdown on why they chose the dresses they chose and how they knew it was the one. Whether you had to postpone your wedding until next year, change the venue, or downsize, we hope that these brides provide some inspiration for your upcoming special day.
Courtesy of Charmaine
"Everything leading me to this dress felt like it was destined to be. I left a disappointing wedding dress appointment, and as I walked to get a bite to eat, I saw a store window that was merchandised with so many elements that screamed ME! A gold mannequin (I am a gold fanatic), peacock feathers (my wedding colors), and of course, the dress...MY dress. I instantly said, 'Now that's what I wish I could wear.' It was far from white and anything typical, so it hadn't crossed my mind that I could wear something so unique.
"I went in the store, tried it on, it fit perfectly, and I just knew in that moment that I was going to wear what felt the most authentic to me. Coincidentally, my bridesmaid dresses had already been chosen at that time, and they just happened to be green, so it really felt like that dress was made for me."
Courtesy of Charmaine
"I got married in 2012, and I was on my dress hunt while living in Toronto, Canada, so the selection was quite limited at the time. This was during the blurry instagram food pics era, so I definitely didn't have many inspiration photos saved. This is to say, I didn't have a major vision as I honestly doubted the options available. I figured that accessorizing my look would be the best bet for a unique colourful moment, and I am just happy I was able to find my dream dress by a fun twist of fate after a failed dress appointment."
Courtesy of Charmaine
"My dress was created by TOME from the Tome Dress Salon in Toronto, Canada. It was really special to wear a dress while working with the actual designer, because I am a creative person with DIY tendencies. The moment I tried the dress and it fit and I teared up, I looked at Tome and said, 'Can I wear this to get married?' And he said, 'You can do whatever you like!' We laughed and I honestly felt empowered, because I knew he was 100% correct. I then said, 'Now let's make it bridal!' So we worked together to make it more of a mermaid silhouette with tulle peeking out, and added a feathered headpiece. I have Caribbean roots and my wedding was a destination wedding in Barbados, so it just felt perfectly on theme as well."
For more of Charmaine, follow her on Instagram @charmsie.
Courtney Brand Agbetola
Courtesy of Courtney Brand Agbetola
"There was no overwhelming feeling of it being the one when I put it on, if I'm being completely honest. My first go-round with dress try-ons, I found a Berta gown that I was so certain was the one and I had my heart set on it. I wanted to buy it on the spot, but knew that my now-husband wouldn't be too happy if I spent $14,000 on the first dress I tried on. He encouraged me to go to at least one more bridal shop to try on dresses just so that I'd be sure. A designer I was following on Instagram was having a trunk show at this small neighborhood bridal shop close to me called Parvani Vida that had been there since I was a little girl, so I asked my sister if she wanted to go with me to look. I ended up finding both of my dresses that day and neither one of them were a part of the trunk show that I went there for.
"When I tried on that dress, I loved that it was bright white and showed just enough back and chest, but it was the train that made me say 'yes'. The dress was simple, but the six-foot train was extravagant and all I could imagine was it trailing behind me down the aisle in all of its lace and beaded glory. It was the quiet wow that I really wanted."
Courtesy of Courtney Brand Agbetola
"I was really wanting to choose something classic, that I'd be proud to look back on in five, ten or fifteen years and still be happy with my choice. I also wanted a dress that was reflective of who I am as a woman. This particular dress felt like it embodied me. A little daring, but simple. A little sexy, but timeless and sophisticated with just enough detail. Gorgeous enough to make a statement without being too loud. I also had to consider what kind of bride my husband wanted to see walking down the aisle. I didn't want to look like a princess, but I did want to look like an angelic version of myself as I walked towards him. This dress hit all of those points.
"I could have gone on and on with dresses, but I chose that one and had to be done with it, because unless you're designing a dress from the ground up, it's so easy to feel like your dress is missing something. Both of my dresses were Enzoani wedding gowns. Prior to getting engaged I'd never really imagined myself in a wedding dress, so I can't say that I envisioned myself any particular way. I did know that I didn't want a strapless gown, or a ball gown. I knew I wanted something form-fitting with no overwhelming ruching or any fabric that was noisy. Looking back, I looked exactly how I wanted to look on my wedding day and wouldn't have changed a thing about my dress, hair, makeup or even jewelry. It all truly worked out perfectly."
For more of Courtney, follow her on Instagram @greeneyesgoldsoul.
Courtney Danielle Bryant
Courtesy of Courtney Bryant
"The day I found my dress, the location we visited was the 3rd or 4th place we had been to. I still hadn't found anything I absolutely loved, so by the time we arrived to this particular location I was excited but pretty certain I would have to get my dress made. When my bridal stylist Leandra McCall pulled the dress, I was reluctant to try it because it didn't look anything like I envisioned but she convinced me. It was the 2nd to last dress I tried on and every single dress that I tried that day and prior to had to be shimmied and jumped into but my dress, it slipped on with so much ease. It fit like a glove and it actually took my breath away. I didn't want to be the cliche and cry but as I looked in the mirror I felt the tears well up. And I was shocked because I really almost didn't try it on.
I fell in love with it the moment I slipped it on. I felt classy, sexy and comfortable in it and the drama and glam was exactly what I wanted. It complimented me in all the right places and I felt like I could dance in it all night."
Courtesy of Courtney Bryant
"Also, this one dress could be 'customized' into three different dresses. My skirt and sleeves detached so I walked down the aisle with my skirt and long sleeves. For dinner, I wore off the shoulder sleeves and the skirt. And for dancing, I removed the skirt before changing into my second dress."
Courtesy of Courtney Bryant
"I purchased the dress at Bridal Reflections on 5th Ave and it was created by Galia Lahav. We customized the both sets of sleeves, the train on skirt, the sheer panels on the back and the beaded design in the front to really customize it to my liking. Fun fact: I was so nervous to really love the dress that I had to visit it three times before committing to it."
For more of Courtney, follow her on Instagram @curlsandcouture.
JaLisa E. Jefferson
Courtesy of JaLisa E. Jefferson
"With my husband and I knowing and planning that whenever we got engaged, we'd want to get married right away, I ordered a dress on ASOS the day after he proposed. If you are a frequent online shopper like myself, you know they don't play about their two-day shipping. Long story short, it came Monday evening and did not fit. My manager then reached out to Grace Loves Lace right away hoping we could pull something off. They were clearly sent by God. They opened the store on a 'closed' day and had someone come in on their off day, all to move mountains and get me in this amazing dress and veil—the morning of the wedding! In 20 minutes, I tried on this dress and was out the door! I am so grateful for them, their incredible service and for accommodating me on such short notice.
"In a sense, I kind of feel like this dress chose me. Like I previously stated, this dress was truly a saving grace moment. Upon visiting Grace Loves Lace and trying on my wedding dress, I knew this was the one. It fit like a glove and was exactly what I envisioned it to be!"
Courtesy of JaLisa E. Jefferson
"Although I initially had a totally different vision for my wedding dress, I quickly realized this was what I needed and didn't even know it until it sort of just happened. My initial disaster of a wedding dress quickly turned into the most beautiful gown I'd ever seen."
For more of JaLisa, follow her on Instagram @jalisaevaughn.
Dress Details: Bridal Boutique: Adorn Bridal located in Nashville, TN.
Designer: Rita Vinieris Rivini
Courtesy of Kristen Desiree
"Before finding the perfect dress for me, my family and I had been shopping around all day long at different boutiques before stopping at our very last appointment for the evening. None of the dresses I had tried on up until this point had given me the 'WOW' factor just yet. I must admit I was beginning to get discouraged a little bit. As soon as we arrived at the last boutique, I immediately said to myself, 'I'm going to find my dress here.' I began trying on different ones and as I tried on 'my dress', I could just feel it. Keep in mind there were no mirrors in the fitting room. The stylist helping me started to say, 'Oh my goodness, Kristen' as she was helping me put it on. My heart started racing because I was so anxious to see.
"As I walked out, the looks on my mother's and sisters' faces were in awe, just speechless. Their mouths hit the floor and my sister said, 'You look absolutely breathtaking.' I walked over to the mirror, completely shaking, and the second I saw myself, emotions of joy and happiness took over. I had never felt more beautiful before in my life and that's when I said this is 'The One'."
Courtesy of Kristen Desiree
"Honestly, my dress is a slight departure from what I envisioned simply because I always saw myself walking down the aisle in a long-sleeve lace detailed dress with a dramatic train! I was set on having sleeves and had specifically said from the beginning, I did not want it to be tube top. But, little did I know, a sleeveless gown was meant for me."
Courtesy of Kristen Desiree
"I chose this dress because not only did it stun all of the most important women in my life, but I didn't have not one negative thought about this dress. I knew I wanted to feel extremely confident and beautiful walking down the aisle to my best friend, soulmate, confidant, and soon-to-be husband. This dress solidified that for me. There are a million beautiful dresses in the world, but when you find that one that instantly fills your heart and the room with emotion and love, you have to say 'yes' to the dress!"
For more of Kristen, follow her on Instagram @curlyhairedchik.
Featured image courtesy of Charmaine
Erica Green is a Clinical Research Associate, blogger, and a sneakerhead. She has a love for all things women and she's pretty sure that women are God's greatest creation. Connect with her on Instagram @ erica_britt_ or www.lovethegspot.com
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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Featured image by Giphy