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From Beauty Queen to Bride

Planning for a wedding is a unique process —  a wild, and (if you’re lucky) a once-in-a-lifetime journey, filled with twists and turns and highs and lows. The preparations leading up to the momentous walk down the aisle bring out so many emotions and opportunities for growth for everyone involved in the planning process. It’s no wonder there are reality shows, magazines and a plethora of stores and specialty services dedicated solely to the world of wedding and wedding planning.

But I don’t need to tell you that, do I? I’m sure you’ve heard and seen and even witnessed first-hand the fabulous frenzy of a loved one’s wedding season, or the impact of your own.

I’m here to share my unique journey, as a has-been beauty queen transforming into a bride.

I grew up in the pageant world, which meant wearing lavish dresses, high heels and fabulous hair and makeup from an early age. The attention paid to picking the perfect dress is not a foreign concept to me, as I grew up with my mother scrutinizing every inch and fabric of each competition gown.

Most little girls dream about their wedding and their wedding dress, but not me. I dreamt about my Miss USA gown instead. Plus, coming from a divorced family didn’t lead me to daydream about the perfect marriage.

Being a former beauty queen and now a bride bare quite the resemblance:

  1. Pageants and weddings both have their BIG DAY, where a crowd of adoring people gather to witness the proceeding.
  2. Both have a special (and often nerve-racking) countdown, which require preparing  mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  3. Both require paying close attention to every detail, from hair to nails — and if you’re like me, you aim for perfection. I know, I know, but hey–I’m a work in progress too!  
  4. And, of course, both involve THE DRESS! That’s right, the big reveal, the make or break, the final wardrobe change has to illicit wild ooohs and ahhhs!

Within the challenge of carving out the differences between a pageant and my big wedding day, came some comfort. Having the experience preparing for many a competition actually made my transition into bride-hood a bit easier. I found myself looking at this challenge as my biggest blessing — I’ve been down this road many times, and I in fact know what emotional/physical/spiritual preparation I need to get myself centered. Self-care nudged its way to the top of my to-do list.

That being said, picking my wedding dress definitely pushed some familiar buttons. This dress better be the best, you need to look perfect, blah, blah, blah!  This particular dress wasn’t just any dress, it was THE dress of all dresses, and I had to get this right.

So, how did I handle the triggers?

  1. Self Love — Be Your Own Best Beauty Coach

I gave myself a lot of love, and time, and encouragement. I was patient with my little beauty-queen self, who was scared to “lose” and “not be perfect” and “disappoint.” And because of the preparation and awareness I gave to my insecurities, the has been beauty queen inside of me, I was able to coach her off her high horse when she came up to try and make me feel imperfect.

  1. Patience — Every Experience Is Unique

I mentioned the advantage I have of pageant prep going into wedding season. However, I had to be careful to prepare for my wedding like I’d never prepared for a pageant stage. Pageantry wasn’t a marriage, it wasn’t one of the biggest decisions of my life. Love and marriage require an inner guidance and knowing that pageantry doesn’t. There aren’t judges and coaches. With marriage the ultimate guide is your very own intuition, and the honest communication between you and your partner. I had to be patient with myself as I travelled down some new and unfamiliar terrain.

  1. Joy!

The location, the invitations, the cake, the flowers, the dresses, who to invite, the seating, the registry. The list of to-do’s can feel as one-dimensional as a shade of foundation with no inner soulfulness to bring the honey beige to life. To plan without joy and love is no planning at all, an invitation without blissful intention will lack energy when opened by the recipient.

And then I had a little come to Jesus moment…that the very essence of both a beauty queen and a bride is this, we just want to be the best versions of ourselves, especially on the big day!

The process for me through my personal wedding season brought up a whole lot of stuff that I didn’t realize was still beneath the exterior. Growth never stops, in fact the opportunities for growth (often disguised as challenges during huge life transitions) bring up some of the unseen darkness that’s been waiting to see the light of day. And that’s all the drama that the shows catch, that the magazines expand upon and that so many of the wedding services cater to. With precious life moments come vulnerability, fear, and pain. It’s a normal part of life. But what we do with it is up to us.

And by the end of the second week of shopping, I was thrilled to have said a big YES to the dress of my dreams! Not because it was anybody else’s favorite but because it was mine.

Whew!

There’s more blooming to go in my personal wedding season. And I’ll admit, while challenges arise (and I initially attempt to avoid them), I’m so grateful for the opportunity to create a momentous occasion with my vulnerability in tow.

Why, Beauties?

Because I know this heartwarming event and all its trimmings will have the added fulfillment that hard work and transformation afford. And walking down that aisle will feel that much more magical if I can leave my jaded and bully of a has-been beauty queen at home.

Plus, it made looking at my mom with tears in her eyes, through tears of my own, such an everlasting memory that I’ll forever cherish. I’m lucky I was present, vulnerable and emotionally available to receive the moment in all its beauty.

I’d love to hear how you’ve navigated your own wedding seasons, and any tips you have for me and other soon-to-be brides trying to keep their head (and beauty) on straight?

Comment below, I can’t wait to hear from you Beauties!

XOXO,

JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION

  1. Theresa Dunton·June 2, 2017

    Well, you know what o recommend for keeping your head on straight! What a beautiful commentary on the world of a bride-to-be and what a blessing that you found your place of patience and vulnerability. You are an amazing woman and an example of how dreams do come true!❤❤❤

  2. Kim Crocker·June 2, 2017

    Love it!
    For me, I remember thinking the bridal gown search would be the same as I had remembered with searching for that perfect pageant gown. But in some ways it was easier and more fun. Mainly because I didn’t have the pressure of others influencing the decision. It was all me! Purchased the first gown I put on and paid 5X less too… haha.
    I love your blog and the encouragement you give.

    You will be the most stunning bride both inside and out!!
    Love you!

  3. Kirt W. Dale·June 2, 2017

    I want to extend my congratulations to you, Lauren. I know you are an inspiration to so many. As you embark on this next chapter in your life, marriage, I pray God’s best for you. In every endeavor, may you find favor and success.
    All my best.
    Kirt D.

  4. Madison Ramsey·June 2, 2017

    This was so incredibly beautiful! I hope the lord keeps blessing you. I’m sure your wedding will be breathtaking. I loved the “Beauty Queen to Bride” story! 👑💖

  5. Myra Lambert·June 2, 2017

    Always be true to yourself! Wishing you a wonderful life as a wife, it is nothing like a beauty queen. You will be an amazing bride!!

  6. Kristel W·June 5, 2017

    What a wonderful perspective on shopping for a bridal gown. “The dress” was the first thing that popped in my head when I became engaged. I knew what I wanted and became overly ambitious about finding exactly what I had in mind. It was nice to be able to pick out what I wanted and not what someone else thought would be best. Love you kitty and the wonderful inspiration you have to offer!! Xoxoxo

  7. Hope Lefke·June 5, 2017

    I loved your blog. I am so happy to hear about your experience with your mom picking out your dress! My advice continue to enjoy the journey! On your wedding day it will be over so quickly so take it all in. You will be a beautiful bride! I am so happy you found your fairy tale ending. Love, Chrissy

  8. Haley King·June 5, 2017

    Lauren, you’re journey not only in this process but in life in general has come with some ups and downs, but always remember that God is God. He is the God of the hills and valleys and you are never alone. I know God has and will continue to use you in a mighty way, even on your wedding day which I know will be nothing short of amazing. Not only from the dress, to the flowers and the venue, but from the love he has for you and Matt and the love that he as joined together. Stay fabulous, princess! Love you so much! ❤️

  9. Julie·June 7, 2017

    Ha! I remember prepping for my wedding almost 16 years ago now! (as matter of fact today, 6/6, is the anniversary of his proposal to me way back in 1999!). I tried on wedding dresses and felt like some garish freaky white cloud! I HATED the dresses! I was super relieved when Paul agreed to get married in AK outside by the ocean at a beautiful little Catholic retreat/shrine! We had a very laid back, super informal wedding with the minister, her friend, and my friend in attendance. I wore an off white lace top and skirt, Paul wore a nice suit. We went sea kayaking afterwards! When we got home we had a “reception” for friends and family that went by way to fast.
    Make the day what YOU want, not what others expect, and try to sit back and drink in the joy for at least a few minutes during your busy, yet joyous day!!!! Love you 😘!

  10. Julie Dasch-Ellis·March 31, 2018

    BTW…who is that fantastically beautiful woman in that picture with you in the red dress????