When Her Perfect Gown Isn’t Your Perfect Gown

A year or so ago, ABC News aired a What Would You Do segment called A Wedding to Remember: Shopping for the ‘Perfect’ Dress. In it, brides-to-be took their loved ones wedding gown shopping and pretended that they had fallen in love with dresses that, shall we say, fall outside the current bridal norm. The objective was to find out whether honesty is the best policy when a bride-to-be has found “The One,” even when it’s completely wrong for her.

ugly wedding gown

In reading the summary of the segment, what I found particularly interesting were the different reactions the brides-to-be who participated received from relatives and friends.

As the scenario played out, the [companions of the bride] teetered on just how serious Andrea was about the fuchsia dress. Ultimately, however, Andrea was overruled by her dutiful friends and bridesmaids.

“I don’t approve,” Katie said. “I’m sorry.”

“I won’t let you,” said bridesmaid Maria Cacucciolo. “It’s… it’s a nightmare … I’m gonna be honest with you. It’s all wrong. Absolutely not!”

Now I’m sure that Katie and Maria had the best of intentions. They merely wanted to protect someone they cared about from making what to them must have seemed like a monumental mistake. That said, the fact remains that a dress is just a dress, even when it is a wedding gown, and a tacky, ugly, weird, silly, or just-not-to-your-tastes dress (one that covers everything needing covering, anyway) is never truly a ‘monumental mistake.’ What if the bride-to-be had really adored the fuchsia wedding gown? I somehow doubt that she would have thanked her friends for caring enough not to let her wear her perfect gown!

I much preferred this response:

Rebekah [the sister of another bride-to-be] told us why she supported her sister’s decision.

“There comes a point when it’s your integrity versus … what you think you should say,” she explained. And when it came to her sister, she had to ask herself, “Where’s that line drawn with white lies? Who is it hurting versus who would it help? And so in this case, I think it’s really about supporting her.”

Even though the whole thing was a set-up, that’s more like it. The perfect wedding gown only has to be perfect to the person who is going to wear it, so why browbeat someone you care about into wearing a gown other than the one she really loves? If I knew in my heart of hearts that I’d shamed my sister or my friend into wearing a second-choice gown or, worse, a gown that *I* liked, I would feel terribly guilty. Maybe I’m too sentimental about these things, but it seems to me that if you can’t say anything nice about your loved one’s wedding gown, you should say something benign like “It really is your style” or “Wow, that’s colorful!” No lies, no nastiness, and no one gets hurt.

8 Responses to “When Her Perfect Gown Isn’t Your Perfect Gown”

  1. Roya says:

    I totally agree, it is the bride’s day, not her friends’ day. The bride should be able to wear what she wants, if they are truly her friends, they would not object. You don’t need “friends” like that.

    This was one thing I really liked about “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” in which the Isla Fisher character’s best friend picks a very out of fashion wedding, and while she clearly sees the problem is totally supportive.

  2. Toni says:

    There’s also a difference between your friend (who has specifically asked you for advice) picking a “different” gown (oh, no! Pink!) or an unflattering gown. I think that something like “that empire waist is hitting you in a bit of a strange place, do you want to see if they have something similar with a different waistline?” would be appropriate. Of course, if she gets that gleam in her eye, and starts doing that prancy twirly thing that indicates true love, then I’d back off and bite my tongue.

  3. Twistie says:

    IMNSHO, the question you should ask is ‘do you love it?’ or ‘how does it make you feel?’

    At that point, if the bride to be has any doubts, she can express them without feeling hassled or like her concerns don’t matter. If she doesn’t, then it’s time to drink a tall, cold glass of shut the hell up and tell her you’re happy for her.

    Besides, if she’s the kind of woman who would choose a non-traditional style or color of gown, chances are you know that before she asks you along to help her pick out a wedding gown.

    I was really annoyed at a Style Network special with advice about how to pick a wedding gown that I saw a few months ago. There was one segment where two brides (with DIFFERENT BODY SHAPES, GASP, GASP!) got to try on different gowns to see what really flattered them. I don’t remember who the bridal consultant was who was helping the brides find their best gowns, but I wanted to throw my shoe through the set at him at one point.

    One of the brides wanted to wear a non-traditional color. She wanted an orchid color because it’s her favorite. He ‘allowed’ her to try on a gown in that color. She looked spectacular. Her skin glowed and her eyes sparkled. The only problem with the look was that the fit was very slightly too small in the bust, which looks bad in a strapless gown. Still, that’s a basic alteration that bridal salons do every single day for brides of every shape and size.

    Well, this consultant convinced the girl that since it didn’t fit perfectly in the bust pre-alteration, that meant she shouldn’t have the gown at all. He then brought out three white gowns for her to try on. She was pliable and chose the one he told her looked best on her…and she looked gorgeous in it, I do admit. She was an exceptionally lovely young woman with a great figure. She’d have looked hot in a burlap sack. But dammit, she GLOWED in the orchid colored gown.

    I wanted her to tell him to get stuffed and pick the perfect gown for her, not him.

  4. Toni: I would say it also depends on the friend! I have some friends who are looking for a positive response because they might just love the unflattering outfit, and I think it’s their right to wear something even if it doesn’t suit them. Then I have other friends who really would appreciate an honest opinion. I’d say that before you offer any specific advice of the ‘let’s find something similar’ variety, you think carefully about what your friend is really after.

  5. NTB, you’re right. It depends on what the friend really wants. I want my friends to be brutally honest when we are shopping because I don’t want to waste my money. I am also aware that I have pretty bad taste so am in desperate need of help. If my friend Lenore is moved enough to tell me something looks good on me, I know it looks fabulous and I put my money where her mouth is.

  6. SusanC says:

    As long as the attire is appropriately modest for the venue, the bride should feel that she can wear whatever she wants.

    If she wants an honest opinion, however, on the fit or style or whatever else about said attire, I’d be glad to give it to her, no holds barred. But I would also still respect her if she still bought an outfit after I gave it a thumbs down.

  7. Nariya says:

    I’m with Class Factorum on this one. My friends and sisters are always honest when I ask them what they think of my clothing. Such was also the case with my wedding attire. I would not have wanted them to lie if they thought it looked ridiculous. If I’m going to feel amazing in an outfit, I need to know that others genuinely thinks it’s lovely too, and I don’t want whispers or raised eyebrows behind my back. If it requires a Plumcake-and-Francesca “Oh honey, no”, then so be it.