Please Stop Telling Me To Wear Contacts For My Wedding

by Erin Mayer

If there's one thing I've learned since getting engaged in October of last year, it's that everyone you meet will have an opinion about some aspect of your wedding. I've learned to smile and nod when random strangers and acquaintances try to explain the relative merits of real flowers versus fake ones, but there's one comment that I really can't stand: Please, stop telling me to wear contacts to my wedding.

It goes like this. We start with some idle chatter about my dress. Then, whoever I'm speaking to looks up, takes stock of my brown frames with big, circular lenses, and says something like, "Wait, what are you doing about your glasses?" The honest answer is that I'm not doing anything about my glasses, except for wearing them. "But why," my partner in this increasingly awkward conversation asks. "Why don't you just get contacts for the one day?"

I know it seems nitpicky to focus on such a relatively innocent question considering all the insensitive things people say to brides and grooms. And yes, I'd rather have you remark on my eyewear situation than ask me repeatedly why I'm not changing my last name after I'm married (or, even worse, simply assume I'm changing my last name). But the truth is that my glasses are like an extension of my face. I'm not wearing contacts on my wedding day for the same reason I'm not flat ironing my hair — I want to feel like me.

I got my first pair of glasses in seventh grade after months of squinting at the slide projector in my darkened biology classroom, a headache building behind my eyes. They had thick, black frames, they were Prada, and, best of all, they allowed me to see my surroundings in high definition again. Wearing them made me feel sophisticated and intelligent. I liked having a physical barrier between myself and the world — glasses seemed to make it easier for me to retreat, to observe from a safe distance.

In the years since, I've rarely, if ever, wished I didn't need glasses. Sure, they occasionally get in the way when I exercise, they make wearing false eyelashes next to impossible, and they have a sexy way of fogging up when I enter a heated room in the winter, but they also make my outfits more interesting and add character to my face. I love the feeling of complete transformation that comes with trying on a new pair, how different glasses can change my entire face in an instant.

I did briefly consider trying out contacts when I began looking at wedding dresses, just like I briefly considered applying to be on Say Yes To The Dress. But then the reality of poking my eye with a polymer disk settled in and I quickly realized I'd much rather have to contend with a glasses glare than worry about having to master contact lenses before the big day. There are so many details to fret over when it comes to planning a wedding, and I don't need my vision to be one of them.

When pressed, people tell me I should wear contacts for my wedding because its the most important day of my life — and I'm still not totally convinced of that. They also argue that glasses will detract from the photos, or because I have beautiful eyes, or any number of reasons that all boil down to essentially the same thing: Wearing glasses will prevent me from becoming the Disney princess ideal of a bride that all women allegedly dream of being. They are probably imagining some sort of '90s teen comedy moment where the unsightly nerd turns into a beautiful homecoming queen the minute she takes off her eyewear.

But it's no longer the '90s and we've all figured out that Laney Boggs always looked like Rachael Leigh Cook, glasses or no glasses. I'm not approaching my wedding as an opportunity to change anything about myself, not even the the things I don't like, so why would I alter something that I do?

When I look back on my wedding photos in 10, 15, or 20 years, I don't want to see a glamorous stranger who managed to fake 20/20 vision for a few hours by getting over her fear of touching her eyeballs long enough to insert contact lenses. I want to see a souped-up version of the woman I look at in the mirror every day — four eyes and all.