I remember when I got engaged eight years ago and my best girlfriends wanted to take me dress shopping. I avoided it for as long as I possibly could, and then when I finally did go, I brought along the only other shape-challenged member of my wedding party. It didn't help.
True story. First shopping trip, we went to the bridal shop in Alexandria, Virginia, that was at the time the most pish-posh wedding gown shop in the Washington, DC, area. I had already figured out that I wasn't going to find something that flattered me off the rack, so I was biting the bullet early and going in for professional help. The gown that I ultimately bought was the first one I chose to try on when we wandered through the showroom. Of course, I wasn't the one who actually tried it on. The salesperson was the owner's daughter, a size 2 if she was anything above a zero, but she was very nice. Or so I thought until she unzipped MY dream wedding gown and jumped into it, fully clothed. "This is what it will look like," she said. I don't know who was more horrified -- me or my friends. That was most definitely NOT what it was going to look like on me. We left shortly after that and went someplace else. I did go back and buy that gown a few weeks later, but it was the principle of the matter. I shouldn't have to watch some skinny chick try on MY wedding gown. It's an unpleasant memory. The whole bridal shop experience was every bit as bad as I anticipated, but I did survive. And I looked FABULOUS on my wedding day. I've never had a dress that fit better.
After my experience, the whole business of watching plus-size wedding gown shopping on reality television is fairly horrifying. Even though I'd kill to have the figure of most of the brides trying on gowns on TV, I still find myself being snarky while I watch all the wedding shows, with assback being my all-time favorite thing to laugh at. You know that fashion faux pas, when the gown is so tight in the back that you look like you have a butt crack in between your shoulder blades? oth brides and bridesmaids can fall victim to it in their quest to prop up their boobs yet another inch.
If I'm being judgmental about the brides for whom finding a good fit isn't even a challenge, I truly wonder what the heck the more bodacious and curvy ones were thinking when they agreed to participate in a reality show about shopping for the single most important item of clothing a woman will ever own. Did the young ladies in the very first episode of "Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss" know they had signed up for the fat-girl episode? Or did they think they were going to be on a regular episode like everybody else? Why would they do it? Do they get the gown for free? All of those shows always say that "consideration" has been given to the participants. If so, why all the negotiation in dress price? Isn't it sort of a sham? Are these poor brides in the big girl episodes so desperate for a discount on a gown that they are willing to subject themselves to this sort of scrutiny? Seriously. This really bothers me. I'd like to know the specifics and I'd like to know the participants' motivation. The whole thing is disturbing.
Are we, the viewers, supposed to believe that all the chubby girls go shopping at Kleinfeld's on the same day?
What were the producers thinking when they separated the brides by weight? Perhaps I'm overly sensitive because I've always struggled with mine. But it seems to me that getting married is the one thing that doesn't have to have a scale attached to it. When the man who loves you gives you an engagement ring, he isn't asking you to marry him after you lose 50 pounds, is he? He loves you just the way you are.
"Big Bliss" appears to feature, for the most part, extremely overweight (and frequently loud and trashy) women, who are presented by Kleinfeld's with very few options of what Omar the Tentmaker can fabricate in time for their wedding. I'm not saying that to be mean. I'm saying that because I'm mad they present it that way and make these women look so pathetic. I'm also mad that all wedding dress samples are size eight, unless you're someplace like David's Bridal where 99 percent of it is off the rack and mass produced (not that there's anything wrong with that). There is nothing dignified about appearing on cable television hanging half out of a dress with metal clamps securing the fabric to your bra to keep it up since it has no prayer of zipping.
We live in a society that pretends that everybody is skinny when the truth is that a size 12 is average. Bridal gown samples are usually a "bridal 8" -- which is more like a size 4. Why the heck the designers would do that is completely beyond me. Doesn't basic marketing common sense tell you that you want women to feel good about themselves when they're dress shopping so that they spend more on a pretty dress? Maybe not (says the owner of a $5,000 silk gown custom created to make it look like I have an actual waist).
Your wedding day is about you and your fiancé celebrating your mutual love, and making a lifelong commitment to each other. Truthfully, what you wear has no bearing on the success of your marriage. I did a 10-year vow renewal for a client a couple of weeks ago in which the bride originally got married in a Harley T-shirt through a window at the consulate in Korea. They're still happily married with a 4-year-old and another on the way even though she waited for their 10th anniversary to buy the white gown.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra. We welcome brides of all sizes here in the Spanish Virgin Islands off the coast of Puerto Rico. And we promise not to sort you out by size!
Below, Sandy Malone on her wedding day in a custom-made Richard Glasgow gown.