I finally did it.

I got rid of my wedding dress yesterday afternoon.

Eric and I have been married for almost sixteen years and I haven’t worn the wedding dress since, you know, my wedding. Since that day we’ve moved six times, and the dress sat in six different closets. I’ve been eyeing it and wondering what on earth to do with it– who wants a dress that’s sixteen years out of date? My daughter certainly won’t wear it at her wedding, my mother doesn’t want it back, and heaven knows my sister won’t fit into it.

If you'd like to pick up this dress for a steal, stop by the Salvation Army on Portage Road.
If you’d like to pick up this dress for a steal, stop by the Salvation Army on Portage Road. (P.S. All these people in this photo are now 100 years old. Including myself. Good grief, we look like infants!)



I asked Mom one last time to make sure I wouldn’t be causing undue emotional trauma. My mother, ever the practical one, gave the box the same squinty-eyed glare I was giving it and said, “I think you should donate it.” While my courage was fresh and strong I loaded the van and made a stop at Salvation Army. For some reason I was nervous, like the kid running the donation door was going to refuse it: “I’m sorry, ma’am. We don’t accept terribly large and outdated dresses here.” But he just took it from me with a smile and I hopped back in my van, whooshing out a breath of relief.

Keeping unnecessary things weighs us down, I think. I texted my friend Jenny today and told her how good the empty spot in the closet feels. The whole house feels lighter. I feel lighter.

I tell you this long and rambling story because we’re kicking off a new leg of the blog. Aren’t you excited!? I hope you’re excited. Our family is reevaluating some things, like how we spend our money and where we live and what our priorities are. Eric and I find ourselves fairly desperate to slow down our calendar so we can focus on building stronger relationships within our family and community. We want to simplify our finances to give more generously and then to travel without guilt. (David, we’re headed your direction soon!) We want to be listening closely to what God is telling us and then be ready to move to the next place He has for us.

I read a lot of simple living books and sometimes I get frustrated, because they seem to be saying we need to sell everything and move into a one hundred square-foot house on wheels. And I tell you what, I am on board with that plan, my friends. Sign me up. Put a sign in the yard and let’s get to tiny house living.

But it turns out my children have less than zero interest in this plan. Even when I dangle trips to far-flung places like Paris in front of their faces, I get blank stares or, if they’re tired and cranky, full-blown tears. There has to be a middle ground we can all enjoy– purposeful, simple living within the community and neighborhood where we already live.

This blog is going to start examining that struggle. How do we live well, in this time, in this place? I’ll be interviewing real people who have made hard, important decisions with their careers, their finances, and their path with God. I’ll read books and then recommend them to you (if they aren’t terrible).

And we kick off all this fun with the donation of one wedding dress. The marriage is healthy and strong, but that doesn’t mean I have to keep a giant satin memento of the day we marched down the aisle and promised to take good care of each other.

What about you? What one thing is hanging around your closet, waiting for its final trip to the thrift store?

6 Comments on Simple Living Begins with Tossing Out the Wedding Dress, Sometimes.

  1. David
    August 21, 2014 at 5:52 pm (3 years ago)

    Marilyn’s dress only went a couple of years ago! (Been in the attic since 1979 but only in two houses!). And we still have a load more decluttering to do. Lots.

    Forget Paris – tell the kids you are coming to the UK and they can visit Cadbury’s Word. Surely chocolate will make their eyes glaze over? Or forget the kids, leave them with grandparents, and then Paris is OK.

  2. Jessie Clemence
    August 21, 2014 at 6:20 pm (3 years ago)

    Cadbury’s World it is! I’m actually afraid to try Paris with my gluten free diet. They hate Americans enough as it is, I can’t imagine needing special treatment. 🙂

  3. Luanne
    August 21, 2014 at 6:47 pm (3 years ago)

    I am in utter awe of your tremendous strength. I have a hard time getting rid of mundane things–like that Allegan Tigers sweatshirt that I bought in 1994, wore a few times that year and haven’t put on since–let alone my wedding dress! My dress has also lived in 5 closets in five different states and I haven’t worn it since my wedding, but I haven’t even entertained the vaguest notion of getting rid of it. I look forward to this new chapter of your blog (life) as you simplify, and reading all about it.

    Congratulations on taking such a tremendous step!

  4. Jessie Clemence
    August 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm (3 years ago)

    Thanks, Lu! I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you while you were in Michigan. Next time, perhaps?

  5. Luanne
    August 21, 2014 at 8:13 pm (3 years ago)

    Definitely next time, Jess!

  6. David
    August 22, 2014 at 2:11 pm (3 years ago)

    I have a feeling that Parisians don’t like anyone, Jessie, even French people from other parts of the country. If you want to do Paris sans les enfants then leave them with us and pop over for a couple of days. We’ll gladly take them to Cadbury’s World and anywhere else (within distance!) that appeals!

    But the gluten free thing is a challenge. Marilyn has started making gluten free cakes for church as well as standard ones when she discovered that several folk were missing out.