While you’d never know it because you can’t see me typing these essays—which generally looks a lot like this, by the way—I had a lot of trouble coming up with a witty opener for this one (clearly). I think that’s because I have two very distinct and totally opposite opinions about wedding dresses: I love the idea, but I hate the execution.

What I mean by that is, I like the idea of looking fine (and obviously, I’m pronouncing that “foyn”) on the day during which approximately 1,065,445 pictures of me will be taken, but unfortunately, I generally abhor designated “wedding” attire.

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Truly, the above photo looks like one of Dante’s circles of hell to me. In fact, before I learned that the concept of the hideous white pouffy wedding dress originated only in the 19th century (thanks, Queen Victoria, you sick bitch), I thought “Being Eternally Stuck in a Bridal Salon with Bridal Salon People Continually Suggesting You Try on Oversized Childrens’ Princess Costumes” was in the original text. Naturally, then, I assumed it was edited out by medieval censors later due to the graphic nature of the idea. Indeed, being mutilated by demons sounds much more humane…

So, what’s so bad? Let’s start with the fashion. Or lack thereof. One look at David’s Bridal’s website (I DARE YOU!) and you’ll see what I mean. But in case you want to ensure those weird Google ads that are way too tailored to your online habits don’t become nonstop DB plugs, allow me to save you the trouble. In other words, I’ll take one for the team, as the say, and post some average DB offerings below.aline

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But before I continue, can we take a moment real quick to call out David’s Bridal, not just for its fashion wackness, but also for utilizing a model who is clearly still a teenager in those last two photos? Disturbing and inappropriate, right?

Anywho, while I’m using DB as an example of the general ugliness that permeates this sector of the economy, things can get even fuglier as the price tag goes up, which, by the way, is my second problem with bridal attire—there always seems to be an extra zero added. Like, I’m pretty sure the above taffeta explosions in any color other than white would be half the price. Not exaggerating.

But back to ugly dresses at even uglier prices. (David’s Bridal dresses generally tap out at about $1,000, which, believe it or not, is overwhelmingly reasonable in this industry.) Remember the first photo in this post? The one with the too-excited-seeming staff and slightly nauseated-looking woman in the bridal shop? You know, the edited-out 10th Circle of Dante’s InfernoYou’re looking at a scene from the made-for-TV fug fest known as Say Yes to the Dress, which tapes at one of the priciest wedding salons in New York City, The Little Shop of Horrors Kleinfeld’s. Although I can’t say I like what that otherwise perfectly attractive lady is wearing, I love it compared to the overly designed blasphemies that one Pnina Tornai dreams, or more appropriately, nightmares up. Brace yourselves…

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For just $10,500, you too can look like you’re an extra on That 70′s Show.

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For $11,500, you can look like you got drunk and decided to make sleeves out of doilies.

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Behold another $11,500 masterpiece. This time, though, with half the dress missing!

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Oh, look at that. I found the lost material from the last dress superglued onto this one… PS, it’s $26,700.

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This $10,200 number gives new definition to, “Um, what the fuck?”

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And finally, last and certainly least, who doesn’t want to pay $32,500 to look like you got styled at the old timey photobooth shop at the amusement park?

Can I just drop the mic and walk away now? Because I’m pretty sure that last photo allows me to rest my case. But just to make things extra-convincing, let’s keep going and dissect the bridal shop visit, which can be as ugly metaphorically as the dresses are literally.

The Entourage: Why in sequin appliqué hell do you need an entourage to try on wedding gowns? If you go into a bridal shop like a fucking grown-up by yourself, the staff looks at you like I look at the above selection of dresses.

The Attitude: True, I want to look fabulous the day I get married. But thinking about what I’ll be wearing won’t make me start gushing tears of joy. Most bridal salon staff is already judging me for not rolling with my bajillion girlfriends from 10 years ago who I made pinky promises with over Boone’s Farm that we’d, like, totally be each others’ bridesmaids, except we grew apart and now we don’t really talk, but a pinky promise is a pinky promise so, I Facebooked them and, oh yay, they’re all awkwardly here, so don’t judge me for not reacting like a kid in the nineties getting a Nintendo for Christmas when I try on a dress. (Although, if they look like any of the above, the bridal salon staff should just be happy I didn’t barf on them.) But here’s what’s up: the dress isn’t going to make the day great. The man I plan to marry is. I’ll save my tears of joy for when I see him at the other end of the aisle. (Awwww….shmoop.)

The Samples: I’m lucky enough to not have this issue to compound the range of other problems I have with bridal fashion and the stores that sell it, but from what I’m told, if brides are larger than a size 8, a lot of shops don’t have samples they can even try on, which means bridal salons will sometimes legitimately suggest to intelligent women that they should drop hundreds, if not thousands of dollars upfront on a dress they’ve never been in. “We can hold it up to you, though.” Shockingly, or not, perhaps, after learning so much else in this industry is dumbfounding, someone told me once that a bridal salon employee actually said that to her. That’s wack. And even more wack are wedding salon employees who assume every bride (no matter how thin) is aiming to drop a few pounds before the big day. Fuck you. You know what might make me like your shop more? If you gave me a sandwich while you wasted my time.

GAH. This is just a terrible industry.

Alas, not everything is as bad as it seems. Or maybe I mean its seams, in this case. (See what I did there?) There are a few salons that don’t suck out there. Or so, I’ve heard rumors. If you’ve had a good experience at one, leave a comment for the rest of us, OK?

Alternatively, you can do what I did, as a person who wants to wear a long gown in a whitish or at least ashen hue, but wants to avoid traditional wedding fashion and bridal salons. I found my dress simply by searching through light-hued non-wedding-designated formal gowns at normal shops I already like. After finding a slew of options at local vintage shops, department stores and some exceptions in the non-traditionally wedding collections on sites like Shopbop, Bona Drag and even BHLDN (an online bridal dress site run by Anthropologie that caters to those who detest pouf), I found mine in a little indie shop. If you’re curious enough, email me [theantiwedding at gmail dot com] and I’ll gladly send you a link to a photo as long as you’re not the dude I’m gonna marry. As non-traditional as I seem (and am), I want to do a little something the old-fashioned way. I also think surprises are generally romantic. (So much shmoop today, my goodness…)

And speaking of tradition, feel free to buck it entirely, or maybe opt for non-Western ones instead. In Indian weddings, for instance, brides tend to wear red. Or maybe you just love purple. Or polka dots. Or you don’t want to wear a dress at all. The bottom line, I think, is this: whatever you do (even if it’s dropping $30K on a Pnina Tornai Old West hooker dress—although, really?), do what’s going to make you feel the most confident. Remember, approximately 1,065,445 pictures of you will be taken. Look good, but do it your way.

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