An Authentic Wedding Day 

bride with fair skin and hair smiles and holds a bouquet

Editor’s note: Addie Tighe provides a guest blog about her wedding day, sharing her challenge and eventual embrace of her eye condition, albinism.

My wedding day was everything I dreamed it would be. It was a day full of friends, family, food, and fun. My husband and I could not have imagined a better day; there was nothing we wished would have gone differently.

After six weeks of excitingly waiting, we received our wedding photos back, but I was immensely disappointed instead of being awed by them. They were shot and edited beautifully, but I was struck by how little my eyes were open in every photo.

I thought my squinty eyes made me look less beautiful on the one day I wanted to look my best. It took me a few days to learn a very important lesson; my albinism is a part of me, and I needed to be proud of my authentic self, squinty eyes and all. 

The big day 

Unlike most brides, I desperately hoped for an overcast day for my wedding. I am a person with albinism which means my eyes have a difficult time filtering light. Because of this, an overcast day is ideal if I want to have photos taken outside. My wish came true: we could take almost all our photos outside.

I still had a hard time keeping my eyes open since an overcast day is still a bright day for me. But on the big day, I was too filled with gratitude to mind. I lost that gratitude sometime in the six weeks between taking and receiving the photos. 

This process of regaining my joy about my wedding photos was not easy, and I am lucky to have a strong support system that encouraged me to find the beauty in myself, but there were a few things I did on my own that moved me along the path of self-acceptance. I hope that my experience of finding confidence in my appearance will help someone along the same path. 

Deeper understanding 

One of the first things that popped into my mind was why I was so deeply bothered by my squinty eyes. If I could figure out why I was so bothered, I could move past these feelings of disappointment. After a few hours of trying different reasons and seeing if they made sense, I finally settled on a single sentence: I was bothered by my squinty eyes because no one else in the photos—my husband, family, or bridal party—was squinting like I was. 

Discovering this reason was a very important step in the right direction for me. I understood that my disappointment and unacceptance stemmed from a place of comparison. I was comparing myself to everyone else in the photos, which was not fair to anyone. The more I compared, the larger my negative feelings grew.  

Pushing through unhelpful comparisons 

Realizing that these comparisons dragged me down, I started reminding myself of other truths. No one else in my wedding party or family had albinism, so no one else was experiencing the overcast day like I was. I could not hold myself to the same standards as everyone else since none of them have the same condition as I do. To compare my experience or my appearance to someone who is not me is like comparing apples to oranges. We are all different, and that diversity is beautiful. 

Even after I stopped comparing my appearance to other people in the photos, I realized there was still one person I was using as a beauty standard; a vision of myself that I had in my head. Like many other brides, I spent a long time envisioning what I would look like on my wedding day, and I felt that reality did not match my expectations.

However, I learned that reality was better than my expectations. Reality is what we live in, and expectations are ideas that can easily lead to disappointment. Reality shows off my authentic self, and authenticity is better than idealizations. 

Finding the beauty 

After I swore off comparing my appearance to others, I started to find the beauty of my appearance in other ways. I started to think about how much I like my pale hair and pale skin. I like the way my glasses sit on my face and how my smile in the photos is from genuine joy.

As I focused on the positives, it dawned on me that most of the attributes I really liked about my appearance stemmed from my albinism just as much as my squinty eyes did. My hair and skin are the color they are because I have albinism. I wear glasses because of my albinism. If I could be happy with how these parts of my appearance looked, then why couldn’t I be happy with how my eyes looked? 

Albinism does not just make my hair a cool color, it affects my eyes and vision daily, which means it didn’t stop affecting me on my wedding day. I was still legally blind, I was still sensitive to light, and I was still me. If I could accept my pale skin, light hair, and glasses, I also needed to accept my squinty eyes. 

Embracing authenticity 

I was my authentic self on my wedding day, albinism and all, and my wedding photos capture that authentic self. My eyes squint in a bright environment, but that does not detract from my beauty. It is part of what makes me unique. My beauty wasn’t because I was dressed up in a fancy white dress or specially wore my hair; I was beautiful on my wedding day because I was myself. I did not hide my albinism or my vision.

I was authentic with my appearance, and I choose to love the young woman I see in the photos instead of wishing she looked like someone she’s not.