Hello, I’m the bride. My name is Doormat.

Guest post by Johanna
Original photo by Ben Askew, used by Creative Commons license
Original photo by Ben Askew, used by Creative Commons license

I have only been working in a bridal salon for near a month now and already I have seen some appalling behaviours that seriously need to stop. I have seen far too many people come in and out of my store who have let themselves be walked all over by family members and loved ones. It isn't right.

A wedding is a day in a couple's life that is to celebrate their joining of lives — a beginning to their marriage. Yes, it is an excuse for some to get dressed up all fancy, but seriously, that is not the point of the day. The day is to declare the start of your union, to show your dedication and your love for one another. You need to celebrate it how you want.

So fuck Aunt Martha and her desire to see you in lace and satin from your chin to your fingertips. You wear whatever the hell you want, even if it is a beaded belly dancing outfit.

This isn't the day your mother gets to feel like a bride again, she's already had her day once (or twice or thrice) it is your day. Don't let your mother force you into choosing a dress that she feels is more appropriate to her liking. I don't care if she is financing it. If you are giving someone money as a gift, once the gift has been given you have no right to declare what it must be spent on. I am so tired of seeing girls come into my store with their heart set on a specific dress only to be guilted into changing to something else.

Also a planet sized fuck you to those who come in with the bride and comment on what they should be doing about weight and what they think they should wear for their body type. So often I get the line from the bride, “I really love this style but I don't think it would ever suit me.” Y'know what, most of the time they try it on anyway and they rock that dress like a superstar.

I don't want to see another beautiful woman be told that they're too broad chested for this, or have swimmers arms, or look too gaunt in the chest. Be confident, or at least allow me to strangle the critics with my Swarovski crystal beaded shawl.

It pisses me off when I hear of parents giving ultimatums to the bride and groom. If they can't set aside their differences for a single day without commenting on it and putting you through stress, then they shouldn't be there in the first place. Or as an alternative, I hear tying them to a chair and gagging works nicely.

My job is to help you feel special. I try my hardest each and every hour I am there. It makes things awfully difficult when I'm fighting against the entire family.

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Comments on Hello, I’m the bride. My name is Doormat.

  1. I had a seamstress laugh at me while altering my dress. She said my chest was a lost cause and I quote “If I were you I’d invest in some heavy padding for your front.” It was so rude I had to laugh and just brush it off. Don’t let anyone rain on your parade! I’m perfectly happy being boobless and don’t see the need for a ton of tissues shoved down my top.

    • dear fellow Erin,
      I also had a seamstress suggest putting padding in my dress to fill it out. It has lacing in the back, just tie me in so I don’t fall out. Its so rude! Why do the pick on us Erins? 🙂

    • OMG, that happened to me, too! For a bridesmaid dress, though, not a wedding dress. The seamstress kept berating me about how my chest didn’t fill out the dress. I finally snapped and said, “There’s not much I can do about the size of my chest, I just need you to make it fit.”

      And you know what? She didn’t make it fit. I had to be safety-pinned in the limo.

      • WOW, what is wrong with these fitters/seamstresses? All bodies are different, that’s what alterations are for and why he/she is employed in the first place!

        • Soon after my fiance and I became officially engaged, a friend (though we’re not even on speaking terms anymore, so ex-friend) talked me into going to try on bridal gowns, even though I’m making mine. So I finally agreed, and we went. The consultant had the gall to say to me that I’d nee to lose about 10 pounds and lose a little at the hips for one particular gown to look good on me. Now here is especially why consultants need to shut the fuck up about weight. Not only was I 5’7″ and just 112 pounds (so I should have gotten down to 105 pounds when my BMI was already just 17.5), but I was still recovering (still am) from an eating disorder. What a way for that bitch to make me feel fat Even if I was planning to buy a dress, she would have lost the sale. As it was, I was going to give her a pretty good tip ($150) for her time, but after that comment? HELL NO. Oh, and my hips? Those were my hip bones. Her comments left me thinking my bones make me look fat. Unfortunately, two years later I still feel my bones make me look fat.

          Angry still? Why yes, I am.

          • I am so sorry that happened to you! My sister is recovering from bulimia. People don’t realize the power of their words. You know the saying, sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me…well, I think it should be sticks and stones can only break my bones but words can break my heart. Obviously isn’t as catchy, but I think it’s more accurate. I don’t cry over old physical wounds, but thinking about old emotional scars can bring me right back to that moment, ya know? Anyway, its lame that happened to you 🙁

          • You have every right to be angry! I promise that your bones do NOT look fat.

            Johanna- keep on fighting the good fight. Love this post.

          • As someone who’s recovered from 15 years of bulimia, I’m SO sorry at what she put you through. That’s one reason I’m actually picking my own dress and buying it online.
            Yes, I’m going to dress stores to see what style I like, BUT I’m going alone. My mom and the few shallow girlfriends I do have will not that opportunity to criticize what I’ve taken years to learn how to love. (at least working on it lol)

          • I had a similar experience at one boutique, and it was the last place I went to before going back to another earlier salon to pick out my dress. The attendants just about ignored me, even though I had an appointment, and I had some rude comments about my weight.

            Meanwhile, at the other salons I went to, even the skinny little blonde cheerleader type (named Courtney to boot) encouraged me to rock out in the too small sample sizes that she worked herself up into a sweat to get me in because she was going try to get me to love something even if it killed her. She told me that one dress I was interested in didn’t come in bigger than a 12 so she dove into some racks and found a comparable style that she knew I would be able to order. And when I was squeezed into the sample she made sure to hide behind me and hold the dress together in the most flattering way so I could get pictures for the women who weren’t able to make the appointment with me.

            I didn’t order my dress through that salon but man did I recommend the hell out of it to a couple of other girlfriends who ultimately did order from that shop. (I also told them to request Courtney who, in the words of one of my friends, “made me feel like a diva”)

            So seriously: fuck rude and evil seamstresses and bridal consultants.

          • I was talked into going to a bridal salon as well, where I was told that “we’ll order the dress a size down” (from what fit me just fine) because “you’re going to want to lose weight”.

            This was two weeks after I won the gold medal in the national rescue swimming championships (no, not in the USA)

            I told the attendant that as long as I win national gold medals with this body, I am not messing with it. And I thought: How do you know I don’t suffer from an eating disorder? How on the fecking earth can you assume it is ok to say this?

    • For me it wasn’t the seamstress – I’d worked with her several times before – but it was my photographer who pointed out THE HOUR BEFORE THE CEREMONY that my dress was bulging a bit and laying funny in the hip area. I have issues with my back that mean my hips haven’t been even in years and the extent to which they are “off” varies day by day so I just roll with it most if the time but come on! I was already nervous about being so on display and the person who was supposed to make me at ease in front of the camera made me even more self-conscious.

      • That’s harsh, but the photographer may not have realised. It’s like if someone tells you that you have spinach in your teeth: they’re not saying it to make you self-conscious but so you can do something about it. Your photographer may have thought they were being helpful, thinking all you had to do was smooth the dress over your hips and it would be fine, not realising it wasn’t as simple as that!

    • I was doing a bridal fitting with a girl who had surgery as a kid and as a result had a bit of an indent on her stomach. It was enough that even with boning if she moved, the dress crumpled in a little. She made me aware of it and so I found something with a shorter waist that she could feel confident in and look amazing. Poor girl, when she mentioned it to the previous bridal store they wanted her to pay for a horse hair stuffing thing to be made to go into the dress.

  2. This is why I watch “Say Yes to the Dress”. It’s not for the dresses, it’s for the (often) crazy, served up Family Style.

    • Sometimes I want to bitch-slap some of those families. I can’t stand it when the families are so mean they make the brides cry. If the bride is clearly excited, then shut up with any criticism and find something nice to say.

    • I actually got my dress at that shop (ladies, it was WAY cheaper than anything I found near my house and they had a bizillion dresses there). My consultant actually shushed my mom and aunt and told them “ladies, it is her day, not yours”. She was a rock star.

  3. My mom wanted to buy me my wedding dress and as I live 15 hours from her I found one on Ebay for 300.00 that I love. I just recently saw her so I bought the dress. It needs alterations as it is a little tight around the tummy and way to big at the boobs.

    I put it on and she said “it will look great when you lose 50 pounds’. WTF!!!!! not 10 but 50 – I mean it does zip up.

    I know that my mom is very selfconcious and she has repeatly said she wants to lose 50 pounds before the wedding. I told her that if anything is to be altered it going to be the dress and not me. That if she wants to lose weight its her choice but not to force her weight loss issues on me.

    Thank you Johanna for sticking up for your brides. Its very hard to tell a loved one what you want and even harder when they are super judgemental.

    • Great way to alter a zip up back if its too tight is to have lacing put in with a modesty panel. Then you can weight what ever you want and ajust it via laces.

  4. My advice for brides: if your loved ones have strong opinions and negative body-talk, don’t invite them. I know the magical wedding vision of trying on dresses is of family and friends cooing and giggling, but really, if you suspect you’re going to get steamrolled… you’re going to have zero fun (negative fun even!)
    Take someone who is supportive and honest without being caustic.
    Almost any bridal shop consultant will echo the words that bringing along too many people will make EVERYONE miserable.
    If you’ve got a naysayer who will be emotionally wounded if they don’t tag along (or if you kinda have to bring ’em because they’ve got the credit card,) communication is the key. Explain that you’d love to share the moment with them, but that you’re going to choose the dress (or suit??!) that makes you the happiest. And tell them that you only want to hear constructive criticism or you’re walking back into the dressing room.
    Or, better yet, have two or three dresses preselected and tell them that you’d like their help in choosing which flatters you most. That way, they feel like they’re contributing, that you value their opinion and you’re less likely to get flack–you’ve narrowed it down, and other choices are off the table. So it’s gotta be the best of what’s left!

    • Dootsiebug, this is the best advice! I used to work at a bridal store, and I cannot list all the poor, sweet brides whose mothers told them how much prettier their sisters were, how many jealous cousins/sisters/friends sat there with the only advice of “I don’t like it…AT ALL” when everyone else is crying because it’s THE DRESS.

      Brides should always go look at dresses with one, maybe two of their most trusted confidants, narrow down the options, then bring others.

      My only other opinion is that maybe not everyone you know should see the dress or know what it’s going to look like! Isn’t that a moment many people wait for: to see the bride in her gown. It’s so much more exciting if no one has seen it before…a thousand times. 🙂

  5. I’ll never forget when I sent my mom a picture of me in a dress I liked and she (who’s a AA) told me that my C’s looked like “udders in a sling” in said dress.

    • lol, to clarify, that’s “double-a” as in chest. Not in Alcoholics Anonymous.

      • Oooh…someone sounds jealous!

        I out-boob my mom and my sister. Mom grumbled once how the “good boobs” that her older sister and mom had somehow skipped over her, but that’s it.

  6. I can say from my own experience that most people really just want you to be happy, even if they sometimes get that mixed up with what would make them happy. I did the rounds of bridal shops and trying on dresses with my mom and mother-in-law. They had a ball giggling and imagining me walking down the aisle in each one. Then I bought the one I really wanted from unique-vintage.com for $100. They were surprised and not sure about it at first, but then accepted that’s the one I was going to wear. We all got the best of both worlds–they got to play dress-up with me, and I got the dress I wanted. It’s worth sticking up for yourself.

    • That’s what I’m doing. Bought my dress online, but I’m still going to do the tour-de-gown with my mom so we can take lots of trying-on pics and have the time together. She got married on a whim and didn’t get a chance to do all the fun engagement stuff, so I’m doing it all for two! 😉

      • Went to consignment bridal shop with mom, sis, future mom-in-law and future sis-in-law. It was GREAT – they could select whatever from the rack, and I could try on as many items as needed, we had a blast. I tried on things there was NO chance of me wearing, but there was no pressure to LIKE any of them (and the classic consignment shop excuse: whoops, this isn’t my size!). At the end of the day, we left without a decision, but I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted (and mom sewed it for me – in pink!)

    • I wish I’d read this sooner… both this post and your comment. I originally went to a thrift store on my own, and to my delight found a dress with the tags on that fit almost perfectly and had the skirt style and color I wanted for $30! I could have even spent $100 on alterations to the bodice, and had a totally “me” dress. But I lost the opportunity to buy it because my mom kept stifling my creatvity and making me feel guilty saying “don’t just buy it because it’s cheap. I’ll buy a dress for you”. I wanted her to feel included, so I had even borrowed the dress and a couple others to bring home and had a little trying-on get together with my mom and aunt and sister, etc. Even after that, I was talked in to going to a bridal shop, and I was just so ready to get it over with and wanting not to disappoint my mom, that I let her buy me a $200 dress that will still need $100 of alterations and is very not “me.”
      I wish I had thought of going to dress shops just to “play dress-up” to give my mom that experience without having to commit to a dress! Now, I not only feel bad for her being out $200, but also sick over having to wear a dress I don’t like at my wedding. I think the only thing I can do now is focus on how happy it made my mom to go with me to pick out and buy my wedding dress, but it’s hard to feel good about it 🙁

      • Natalie Aurora, I’m so sorry to hear that’s how your dress shopping went down. I see that it’s been a while since your comment, but I was curious how the rest of the affair played out? Have you been married yet? Did you feelings on the dress your mom bought you change at all?
        My idea of my ideal wedding dress changed a lot in the design process, and now I have one that is currently being handmade, so pretty much no going back on it. I ask for feedback on your feelings if you can give it, to maybe… help me have a sounding board for my own? I hope it has or it will go down very well for you at the time!

  7. This was perfect. Short and to the point, and soooo full of wisdom. I hated working retail in the Junior’s section during homecoming/prom season. The bodysnarking directed at teenaged girls from family and friends was sickening. I can’t imagine the people like that are any easier to handle when the girl becomes a bride.

    I don’t have people in my life like that, but I’m still going to buy my dress accompanied only by my future husband; his is the only opinion I really care about, and he usually helps me look outside my comfort zone. I’ve bought some of my favorite items because of his help, and I can’t imagine this outing will be any different.

    • My fiance accompanied me to a few dress appointments. Get ready for some confused bridal consultants! One told him that he “wasn’t allowed” to see me in any of the dresses. He informed her simply and clearly that yes, indeed, he was allowed and was going to! Once we got the Wedding Expectations out of the way, it was fun–hope the same goes for you guys!

  8. Fabulous. I was specifically not going to try on dresses because of various reasons, including my mother would have likely objected to ANYTHING I put on, I live at least 2 hours away from the nearest bridal salon and I HATE trying on clothes.

    Alas, I was in Salt Lake for a family emergency and whisked away by my former Bridezilla prima donna ballerina cousin to try them on. She smiled … kind of … when I put on my dress .. the one I fell in love with, and merely raised an eyebrow when I realized I could literally walk out of the store with it. It was a dress that was an extreme opposite of what she wore at her extravagant affair … which is what I wanted. The fact she didn’t show approval for it made me that much more confident that it was MY dress. So, maybe it was a good thing.

  9. I totally feel you!! My mom made me feel like crap when I was dress shopping and forced me into getting a 150 dollar dress that just ISN’T me at all that she paid for. I haven’t told her I’m gonna go buy a dress on my own and go by myself because they are such a bad influence on me – they were going to buy me a dress and changed their mind 3 days later. It took me awhile to get the bride attitude but I’m so glad I did because I feel so much better now. I told her I appreciated her input but it’s our wedding, not hers.

  10. I’m kind of glad we live on a completely different continent from our families – not because of my parents, but because of hers. Every clothing choice my partner has made in front of her mom has ended in ridicule. It’s poop.

  11. This is awesome!
    I avoided the whole thing by not even trying on a dress and am just getting it made from scratch by a friends mum.
    Also ‘Also a planet sized fuck you’ is the best line ever!

  12. Ugg. I know all too much about the ultimatums from parents. My mother will not come if her boyfriend can’t come. My dad won’t come if the boyfriend’s there.


    • Julie,

      This is where you can use that annoying “no ring, no bring” rule to your advantage.

      He hasn’t put a ring on it? Then leave it home.

    • Mom sounds kinda selfish here. Maybe you can politely tell her that it would mean so much to you to have both of your parents here for this moment, and that you’d prefer to keep it smaller (family and your close friends only)? Then offer to do something special with her and her boyfriend later, or invite the two of them for another wedding planning event (like tasting cakes or wine?)

      Or — wait — are you talking about the wedding itself, or a dress fitting? Cause if it’s the wedding itself, then I think DAD’s in the wrong. He should want to come to your wedding regardless of who’s there!

      • I’ve kind of given up on this fight. Both of them want it their way and that’s just not possible for me to orchestrate.

        I am not a doormat type of person. But, my parents are the reigning King and Queen of guilt.

        • Julie, I’m sorry to hear that your parents are being pains, but just keep reminding yourself that it’s not your problem. If you want them both there, invite them (and the boyfriend only if you want him there), step back and let them sort it out. Their only responsibility as guests is to turn up on time, do what they promise to do and not make a fuss. Hopefully by the time your wedding rolls around they’ll calm down and pull their heads in!

  13. This is just so true. My mother-in-law to be is all sorts of generally pissed that I’m making my own dress instead of going dress shopping. (She is really being a pain about most things) Oh well, at least my mom is super supportive, and just happy that she doesn’t have to make the dress.

    • Why not go dress shopping anyway? My mom is making my dress, but we went shopping anyway; we just didn’t tell the salon owners we weren’t going to buy anything. It’s a great way for family or friends to feel involved, and you can get a better idea of the cut, color, fabric, and construction style that you like best. Plus it’s fun to answer the inevitable dress-budget question with “That’s not a concern” 🙂

      • My only thing is that I feel like I’m wasting the sales persons time since I know I’m not going to buy and they could be using that time on a potential customer that will earn them a commission. Plus most dress shops don’t offer 1880’s style bustle gowns, or Victorian mourning gowns in any of their collections.

        • Try not to feel guilty about wasting the consultant’s time. Many, if not most, brides will look for dresses in more than one bridal salon/store. Only one consultant can get the commission from the bride who shops around, but all consultants should try to do their best to serve their customers. Just tell them you’re still “shopping around” for the perfect dress and leave it at that!

  14. Hmmmm… words of wisdom – I wish I’d been able to read sooner.

    I really wanted a 50s style short dress and spent months searching on ebay for the right one (I’m larger than most vintage dresses, and have big boobs.) I finally found one in white lace, bought it and loved it. It was slightly on the small size but I was hopeful I could slim into it, especially with the corset I wanted underneath (which you’d see through the lace top and I wanted to have made in aubergine/eggplant satin.)

    I also spent ages sourcing coloured net for the underskirt; which again would be seen through the lace and when dancing (it was much harder here in the UK than you’d think, though I finally tracked down the right colours- I wanted aubergine going through plum, to burgundy, and finally pillar-box red in the centre.) I also found the most amazing shoes (see link.)

    Then Mum got involved (who I love to bits but…)

    She completely destroyed my love of the dress. Apparently she was so stressed about it that she wasn’t sleeping. Cue much stress on both sides and me agreeing to go ‘proper’ dress shopping. The first day I tried on lots of dresses but felt like they were wearing me. I really hated them. But of course everyone said I looked stunning in them and ‘how a bride should look’.

    And it’s really difficult to hear that; everyone who’s seen it dislikes your chosen dress and thinks you look amazing in the vanilla ones… and I’m really not the most confident person when it comes to clothes. I really had to do my best not to cry. And fight off Mum once she’d seen a reduced dress we could have altered…

    (So it was ok to have this dress altered but not my ebay one humphf…)

    We agreed to go dress shopping elsewhere, and I looked at every dress single dress I could find on every website. Virtually every one was either tea-length or shorter. Mum wasn’t sure about any – she really doesn’t like the idea of a short dress, ‘it’s not bridal.’ I was going completely insane.

    Second day bridal shopping and we planned to go to two shops which had designers who do one or two short dresses. To cut the story shorter; in the second shop I had a ‘this is the dress moment (with a few bx alterations)’ … and then things started happening very quickly. Yes I didn’t want to take the dress off, yes I could dance around the room in it (unlike a lot of others), no, it wasn’t short and as the lady threw in a free hairpiece (which is pretty awesome) we ordered the dress there and then.

    At this stage I was hoping I could work with a dressmaker on shortening the dress (so you could see the awesome shoes) and possibly do something exciting with the underskirt. (The dress is a simpler version of something you might be on strictly come dancing/ dancing with the stars; one of the full ballroom dresses.)

    However, when we went to collect the dress a few weeks ago I was properly railroaded… it would be sacrilege to mess with the dress (I’d be in danger of looking less elegant.) We ended up buying a boring underskirt to lift the dress… as a coloured one might show through (shock horror). The shop was small, it was a really hot day and there wasn’t air-con, and busy… who said wedding dress shopping was fun? I found it hell on earth.

    So, what to do now… the lady running the shop also told mum (after we had made the decision not to shorten) that it would have ruined the dress to cut it – they never look right…. but… I keep seeing images of brides in shorter dresses and love them all, and I’m really regretting the cream (£85) underskirt… Also as someone who tends to live in ballet flats or boots I can’t see the point of wearing the amazing heels if no-one will see them…

    Arrrrrrgggggggggghhhhh … Help.

    (and sorry for the length/thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far)

    • Can you get an inexpensive, dance-y vintage, plum/rainbow short “Reception Dress” ? Methinks you CAN have it all! And heck, just let it be a surprise!

    • Yes, I agree, wear the other one for the reception!!!!!!!!!! I mean hell, you get to wear two gorgeous dresses!!!*HUG*

    • Reception dresses are quite common, just because of the nature of the big wedding gowns so many people end up wearing against their wishes/judgement/as a compromise. If it’s mentioned, you can be honest. “I didn’t want to possibly ruin such an important piece of clothing.”

    • Take it somewhere that will do what you want with it, unless the idea of another reception dress appeals to you. Seriously, I had people telling me that I would regret having a short dress for my vintage wedding, and I never did. Go for your vision. I never compromised, though luckily my mum was on my side the whole time. Do what will make you happy on the day. I did, and I never regretted it.

  15. I have gone to two different shops to find a bridal gown and was initially terrified due to the many wedding shows I have seen. It turned out to be a very, very good experience that I enjoyed a lot. It wasn’t stressful at all–it was actually kind of fun. I should mention I only went with one person at each time, neither of whom were related to me, so that could also have something to do with it.

  16. I once had a sales girl at Victoria’s Secret tell me that the reason they were always sold out of A cups (a perfectly proportioned size for 5’2″ me) was becasue so many parents came and bought them as training bras for their pre-teens… seriously. What is wrong with people!?!

    Anyway, I am a wardrobe stylist and one my specialties is teaching women how to dress their own specific and unique gorgeous bodies! There is a gown out there for every body shape and every woman. There is no reason for negative critical talk when shopping for a wedding dress or any piece of clothing- from yourself, or from anyone who is with you. Some things work, some things don’t, its not the end of the world. Your don’t need to change… you aren’t defective!
    The main thing is to find something that makes you feel beautiful, comfortable, and radiant. To make you feel like yourself!

    If you must bring along folks who are going to be negative and unhelpful, bring along friend with a good eye and some diplomacy who will stand up for you, too! And trust your bridal consultant. Granted, it is their job to sell you a dress. But, any good salesperson (like the fabulous Johanna) wants to sell you a dress that you truly love. And if you have a consultant who makes you feel uncomfortable, get out of there!

    • hear-hear to the FLATTERING dresses and your styling skills! much needed – i grew up with a mother who was blunt in the shopping department – mall trips often ended in tears. But at the same time, certain cuts/fits are just better on certain bodies! Having a TACTFUL voice of reason is great! Thank You!

    • I’ve always wondered about training bras..what are they training you to do?!
      Me, I had to opposite problem–hadda BEG my hippy-from-holland-mom for my first bra. I was a size B still wearing white turtlenecks with no bra… Finally, a girl in my 8th grade lass told me that “you need to wear a bra with white, and shave your legs with miniskirts” heehee

      • OMG! Yeah, I got told in a less than pleasant way not to wear my magenta patterned bra under a white top and I had hairy ape legs… in 6th grade, to boot!

  17. I am totally guilty of this. My mother is constantly berating me on what she thinks the wedding should be and I feel pretty powerless to say anything back without causing some serious damage to our relationship. I’m currently taking the tactic of not talking to her about wedding planning at all.

  18. My mother-in-law did kinda stick us with a venue I’m not crazy about, but it’s in her hometown and I’m thousands of miles away. The craziest thing is that my mother (acid rock free-thinker empowerer of all things Zahra and independent) was totally weird about my orange dress and leather boots! “Mom, you got married in a maternity pantsuit in Vegas on St. Patty’s…” She’s not even into this kinda thing and asked if I really HAD to have a wedding.

  19. When I married over 10 years ago, my parents first were going to boycott the wedding because they didn’t like the groom. Once they relented on that account, my mother refused because – oh the horror! – the best man was black. I didn’t change a thing, not the groom, not our best man, NOTHING. And surprise, surprise, my parents showed up anyway, acting graciously and polite just like any other parents would at their daughter’s wedding.

    So thank you Johanna, for this advice, and these brides need to remember, ultimatums are for little children having temper tantrums. If they really care, they’ll be there on your terms. And if they don’t, they’re the ones who miss out on seeing their little girl being wed. They will have to live with that guilt for the rest of their lives – not you.

  20. HIGH FIVE! I might even use:
    A wedding is a day in a couple’s life that is to celebrate their joining of lives — a beginning to their marriage. Yes, it is an excuse for some to get dressed up all fancy, but seriously, that is not the point of the day. The day is to declare the start of your union, to show your dedication and your love for one another. You need to celebrate it how you want.
    As part of our ceremony! =)

  21. I may not have had body snark, but my future husband’s family likes to impose their opinion on me and it’s really frustrating.

    “You need to stick with 2 or 3 colors or else it’ll look messy.” (in response to my desire for rainbow colors)

    “If you do that, you’re going to look like a kite.” (in response to a ribbon veil)

    “But then you’ll look like an ostrich walking down the aisle!” (when I mentioned I might go with a feather fascinator instead of a ribbon veil)

    “What, you lost a little weight and decided you wanted a new dress?” (in response to finding out that I’d bought a new dress, one I was thrilled with, as opposed to one I was just okay with)

    And even my maid of honor! (though, she apologized later and said she couldn’t really picture what I was doing but realizes I’m not trying to go for something that looks like a clown threw up everywhere.)
    “Wow, you’re really taking this rainbow theme to the extreme!” (when I spoke of doing rainbow colored accessories with my blank slate ivory dress)

    People just need to STFU when it comes to brides. If an idea seems really out there, stop and think about it first. Maybe even research it first. Google images is a wonderful thing. But don’t say anything until you’ve thought it over, or you could really hurt someone…or your relationship with the bride. I gotta say, every time my man’s SIL comes up with another snarky comment (in general, but especially related to the wedding), I trust her less and less. And every time my future MIL makes her displeasure unknown, I want nothing less than to stop sharing any details about the day with her.

    Golden rule: treat others like you want to be treated. I wish more people would remember this.

  22. This is so true! I am unfortunately one of the brides who let people talk me into changing what I wanted. Not with the dress, but I am a Christmas fanatic. FANATIC! I wanted to do a Christmas in July themed wedding because my husband and I chose to get married on our actual anniversary, July 24th. Everyone laughed when I told them and I let that change what I did. My wedding was great and it was me, but looking back I wish I would have stuck with my Christmas in July theme.

  23. Man these posts have made me grateful for my mom. I just wanted to say that I ended up with a dress that I was not madly in love with, but when I put it on my mom’s whole face lit up. I had an idea for a dress that was totally different, but aside from some key elements, the dress itself wasn’t that important to me. It was nice to be able to kind of “give this one” to my mom. In the end, I liked it fine, and my husband seemed impressed : ) I think that, like everything else, it’s about prioritizing what’s really important to you, the bride, and being willing to also acknowledge that while the day is about you, lots of other people have invested a lot in getting you to that day, and doing something nice for them (even if it’s your dress) is a good thing too. (The teacher in me is very upset about that run on sentence, but you know what I mean).

  24. Johanna-
    You are AWESOME. We paid for our own wedding so I didn’t feel obliged to take my mother with me for anything. I’m always either too fat or too skinny in her eyes. I did go with friends that just wanted to go, and they want to see you in every single pretty dress!
    To all the ladies that posted…it’s good to know I’m not the only one with this kind of mother! Rock the beaded belly dancing dress! (Also, you’ll have a lot more fun at you’re wedding if you don’t try to please everyone, it is your day…)

  25. My mother was not at all critical … or, rather, she was, if it was something that didn’t look as good, but it was in a constructive way (you know, the feedback you want when you’re shopping).

    My biggest problem with my mother was that she was push push push for me to order something. And while I did need to order something ASAP, I wanted to try on as many different dresses/styles as possible. It was a little annoying.

  26. The funny thing about me is, I’m usually really laid back and relaxed (perhaps a bit of a doormat) about most things. When it comes to what I’m wearing for my wedding, I put my foot down. I’m not wearing white. I’m not wearing a veil. I will have sleeves. I don’t care if you think I won’t look like a “real bride”. If someone could call me bridezilla about this whole thing, it would be my outfit. But my theory: It’s mine, it’s our day, and it will make me feel like the most beautiful woman on earth, so who cares what everyone else thinks about my green medieval dress.

  27. I use to work in a bridal salon as well. I live in Utah, so our market is a little different with the occasional 16-year-old polygamist bride (I kid you not). We have a lot of really, really young brides in this state, and I think these brides let family make a lot of wedding decisions because they in a way are still children. They still live at home, have never had a job, etc. Johanna, have you noticed the doormats being younger, or is that special to my area?

    • I did notice it a lot in the early to mid 20’s age group for brides but I also noticed it aimed at the middle aged mothers a lot too. I had quite a lot of mother and bride combo’s come into the store that were amazing when the bride was trying on her dresses but as soon as we started trying on things for the mother it was “no you can’t wear those colours, those are my colours, you can’t wear that is has too many beads, this shows off your arm vagina, that looks too frumpy”.
      Unfortunately you can never be too old for doormatting.

        • Whoops, meant to type Armpit vagina. Not that it makes it any less weird. It’s the creases in your skin or rolls of fat from your dress or bra pushing your boobs up to create a vagina like looking creation in your armpit.

          Armpit vagina!

          My first comment got tagged as spam, I wonder if it’s because I said vagina too much?

  28. Thank-you so much Johanna! My mother and soon-to-be-mother-in-law have both been telling me I have to lose weight and that I can’t wear a short dress because my legs are too big.

    Well fuck them! Thank-you sooo much! This post made me cry but I feel empowered now.

    • That’s right! I don’t care what size you are, you are not to big to have a short dress. Anyone can wear a lovely tea length or hi low or even a mini. You have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide. You have permission to be you 100%.

      You are going to style the hell out of your dress with some awesome shoes and make it look wonderful. And if anyone says something you tell them, “I wore this style of dress so you can see my shoes, they’re my special rock kicking shoes as in if you don’t like my dress you can go kick rocks”.

  29. I was so glad to read this post! Bridal stores seem to be on the receiving end of a lot of hate from the offbeat brides of the world (and admittedly, some stores seem to deserve it) but it’s so nice to read about someone in a bridal shop who has our back! Thanks for being awesome, Johanna!

  30. i agree — i went into one wedding dress store and the girl there actually told me that i could hold the dresses up to myself but that i couldnt try them on because they didnt carry dresses as big as i would need them…(i am a 16/18) …i was so shocked that i just turned and left and then thought of all the stuff i should have said.

    well i have since found my perfect dress – and i hoping that the seamstress is as nice as the sales person…

    • There has been only a handfull of times I’ve had to hold something up to someone. If we had a sample dress in that was far too small for the bride to try on, I’d put her in the most simular dress I could find, pull the skirts of the ‘hold up’ dress out of the way and pull the bodics against the body as best I could. It’s an awkward tulle-filled hug, but I’ve never turned anyone down and everyone I’ve done it for has really appreciated the effort I went to to try show them the dress.

      I had a bride come into the store who had won the cost of her dress at a certain store. She was estatic as she was on an extreme budget. However, when she went in and they saw her size (AU 26) she was told she’d only won a percentage off the dress and they didn’t have anything for her. I magaed to find her an off the rack dress that was perfect for her that I could give discount on.

      Brides are going to come in all shapes, sizes and genders. If you’re going to baulk at who comes through your door then you shouldn’t be in the industry.

  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Every bride should be required to read this before shopping or planning a wedding. On my second go around, this is about US, not everyone else. Wearing what I want and inviting who we want. So again, THANK YOU!!

  32. WOW after reading yall comments or stories, I now thought my wedding story was bad til I read all this. My heart goes out to everyone who had to hear horrible comments on body size, style of dress and what the bride wanted to wear to be different or to go with personally. These days it seems that “traditional” style weddings are still in the minds of many. Im guessing those “tradtional” minds are not ready to pass that and allow any bride to pick her favorite colors or her comfort dress without negative comments or being critize. I truely think that ALL BRIDES should do what they want requardless of how anyone should feel about it other wise. If the parent say well I am not paying for that then let that go and get your own dress and it does not have to be a “wedding dress” either.Bottom line its your wedding do what you want, you are the one who is making a vow to your husband or partner, not to the family out there watching.

  33. Ahh if only it was about the dress… My problem is more about me growing a pair and telling my parents it’s OUR wedding and that it will in fact happen. My mom guilt tripped me into telling my FH that I wanted to postpone the wedding “because I wasn’t sure”. I’m 100% certain of him. If I wasn’t why would I have moved to another state where I didn’t know anyone just to be with him? I’m not really sure what my family’s beef is with him and trust me I’ve asked. But all I get is “it’s just a feeling” or “you don’t seem happy”. I’m very happy with him and I can’t wait for the day when I’m his wife. How do you polietly (if possible) tell your family that you’ve made up your mind? I’m 25 and certain. Isn’t this my choice??

    • We’re getting married in September, and before I even started dress-shopping my “best” friend (not any more) said I shouldn’t have a wedding dress because I’m too old, and then when she relented on that she said I needed sleeves because my arms are too meaty… then I found Johanna’s post, and smiled, and ordered a vintage-style off-the-shoulder full length ivory gown. Which I’ll be wearing with a lime green pashmina and mehndi tattoos…

      Johanna you are so in the right job and thank you for your inspiration – I read your post once a week to keep me sane and keep me “me!”

    • I don’t know you situation but what I’ve seen in my experiences with friends and family is that if there is a clear thing (he sells drugs, cheats, is a general scum bag) family members will say it and they will never let you forget. If he’s an angel then it could be one or more of these three things
      1. could there be prejudices at work here (race, religion, class) that are keeping your family from accepting him? I have heard uncles of mine (not my favorite uncles btw) say things like “I got no problem with [insert group] I just don’t want them marring my daughter”. Sometimes that pops up in these high pressure times even if they never gave you a hint before.
      2. Did you go from being dependent on them (living with them, getting help from them) to being with your FH? Because sometimes its about not wanting to let go of old roles and create new boundaries. They were in charge and they feel power going away which also makes them feel old and instead of confronting their mortality and your adulthood its easier to take the mickey out of the FH.
      3. Is this not what they planed for you? When my mom was a bride her parents were heartbroken that she waited till after college and took sooooooo long to find a man. Meanwhile my mom used to tell me that if I got married before 35 I was going to throw my youth away. It didn’t have anything to do with the real me but expectations no being met. I’ve found this is compounded by divorced parents that want to “save you from the mistakes I’ve made”.

      If they can’t tell you what is wrong specifically and it is really becoming a problem. I suggest putting on your big gal panties and calmly with a lot of love in your heart talk with them. Explain that you are an adult making an adult choice that you have considered the good and the bad of it. That if they have legitimate concerns then they need to present them to you and him in a clear manner so that it can be discussed as a family and resolved. Explain that you are 100% sure and though you love and respect them, you have no plans to end your engagement. Tell them you want them to be part of this experience and you are willing to help them get to know your FH better. You respect them but their approval is neither desired or required. Then the hard part. You have to stand firm on this. If they play to emotions or manipulate you call them out on it. “you are not explaining to me why you want me to end my relationship you are trying to make me feel guilty”. If they keep going on about it, walk away. it seems harsh but check out some posts about momthulu and setting boundaries on the site. They are a good resource. Just remember this is a big change for them too and they are probably worried to death they their baby is making a mistake at the same time looking middle age and mortality as well as the loss of power down the barrel. So have some sympathy when dealing with them.

  34. I guess It is one thing if a dress is unflattering…. Not all cuts are good for all body shapes… But it is the dress that should fit the bride! If you feel that you need to lose xx amount of pounds to fit, then it is just the wrong size. (Unless you are on a fitness regime anyway, then postpone buying it untill you reach your fitness goal).

    Why are we bullied to think that WE do not fit the clothes on the rack?? It is the other way round! I am very small chested and kept on having bad self image issues each time i go clothes shopping as most clothes would be too large on the chest However I did realise that it is THEM to blame and now I chose things to fit ME. I wear padding if I want to, or go without proudly, cos it is ME!

    I guess if you climb into dress 3 sizes too small it will not look good. However there should be a gown for EVERY bodyshape and size!

    I tried to learn what suits my body, will hide bigger hips and balance smaller chest, Im a short @$$ too. For as much as I admire mermaid style dresses I will never look good in one, so I dont need a tribe of aunts to tell me so.

    I found my perfect gown on ebay, it is new, it is gorgeous, it is silk, it is Victorian style with big skirt, boned and I only paid a 2 digit price for it. OH it is the right size.

    Now what my mother said when she saw me wearing it? She said it MAKES ME LOOK FAT! Hell, this is not the thing you want to hear! I already bought it, its mine, and i will wear it! I am a small to medium size, maybe its the shiney light fabric? I guess little black dress would be better, but it is not what im gonna wear to my wedding.

    Ha! It took me a month to brainwash mom into agreeing the dress is gorgeous. She is excited about it now.(sad thing, she said it makes me look fat cos she believed(s) it, and thought she was helping, innocent soul)However I am glad I made my choice on my own, cos it is too late to bully me into a different one. And I love the dress I chose, it is me so ME and MINE. I wish I could afford a change of dress of reception, would love to wear something huge and red!!!

  35. Well I feel I’ve been treated like crap by the bridal shop and want my dress out of the damn place now, long before fittings. No feeling special from those chicks.

    After some life events that put my wedding date on shaky grounds I decided to order my dress now, store it and have it altered when we’re ready. That was one of the several decisions I made the mean dress shop ladies couldn’t fathom and acted like I was an idiot about. Not everyone wants to do it the ‘dress shop way’.

    I haven’t even tried it on yet (in anything near my size) but want it from there, I’ll have to get the alterations elsewhere :(. Family and friends have been great about what I want to wear though.

  36. My mom bought me a beautiful dress and I had to take her “you still need to lose 15 pounds” in stride. A few months later she said she’d buy me something I was trying on if I lost 15 pounds. I turned around (in a very nice shop) and in a pretty loud voice said, “I AM SICK, YOU CANNOT TELL ME TO LOSE WEIGHT BECAUSE I DON’T NEED TO AND I AM SICK.” Back story: I work in fitness, and weather I want to or not I have at least a light workout every day. I am also battling an undiagnosed digestion problem and ths has been going on a year. And I am not fat. I’m not super in shape and I’m not the skinniest I’ve ever been but I am at a healthy weight especially considering I am not able to digest well. And I’m HAPPY with myself (or at least try to be). She then told me I was volatile and should see a psychiatrist for depression. Was it worth the beautiful wedding dress? Not if I don’t lose those 15 lbs and feel fat (or am told I am) on my wedding day. That stuff gets into your head.

  37. My husband helped me buy my dress. I picked a style I liked. Since he’s got more fashion sense than I do, I asked him what he thought. He thought I would rock the shit out of that dress, so he measured me and off the measurements went to the dress-maker. Did I look like the model? Nope. Did I look like I needed to lose weight? Yep. Was I fucking beautiful? Damn straight.

  38. My MOH told me that my chest wasn’t sufficient to support a strapless dress. (Yeah, I guess that should have been my first clue that my MOH didn’t have my best interests in mind.)

    You know what? It was sufficient. Ha.

  39. Oh man, the horror stories. So glad I took my Dad dress shopping with me. Honestly it was more to show him how ridiculous I look in white, but it was a great bonding experience. I’m really short and really curvy, and some of the consultants you all are talking about could have roasted my self-esteem to a crisp. The ones I had, had me trying on dresses much too large for me (like 12″ of fabric too wide), and didn’t have any proper underpinnings, even though there was an amazing lingerie shop next door. Everything was held on with huge clips. I ended up ordering a black silk dress from J. Crew for 1/5 the money a “proper” gown would have cost me.

  40. I went to a boutique first and received the most AMAZING service. I was super suprised at how wonderful they were. I think the only time I received poor treatment was actually from my mother. We had a very serious tearful talk about body shaming and she got over that pretty quick and asked for forgiveness. This website has given me a truly amazing outlook on my wedding day. It does’t really matter what I weigh…or even if I look awesome. It only matters that I’m marrying the one I love 🙂 Screw everyone else and their idealist POVs

  41. When I went wedding-dress shopping with family members I felt extremely uncomfortable, like I was always gauging their reactions. Finally I went by myself and, wouldn’t you know it, that is when I found the dress I ultimately decided upon. I am glad I had the fun experience of trying on a load of dresses with some family around, but I am even more glad that I was alone with my thoughts when I made the final choice.

    • I’m actually going dress shopping on my own tonight for the very same reason. I want to be alone with my thoughts for at least some of this experience. I’ve got an appointment scheduled this weekend for a bigger affair with my mom and sister and grandma (which will, inevitably include the “you can’t wear that it makes xyz trait look bad” or “oh you’d look so much better if you lost xyz lbs” talk). I know the event is important to them, so I’m willing to have a dress trying on day with them, but I want at least some of it to be for me too.

  42. I’m so completely baffled by parents (or other relatives, friends, or salespeople who have just met the person) trying to shove certain looks or notions of bride-ness down other people’s throats.

    My mom was never married–that’s right, NEVER MARRIED–and she didn’t make a thing of my dress shopping. She didn’t try to fulfill childhood dreams of poofy dresses or relive glory days vicariously. I realize lots of moms think it’s a big deal and want their daughter to look a certain way, but my mom was just excited. She didn’t mind that I went dress shopping with a friend, or that my dress has a bow tie on it (because bow ties are cool). She even offered to pay for it afterwards, which was unexpected and incredibly generous. There was no now-you-have-to-look-how-I-want or -you-should-reaffirm-my-particular-style-choice. Nor should there be; brides are grown ass women. It’s their wedding, and trying to force the bride to wear or not wear a certain thing is just appropriating their bodies and not respecting them as individuals capable of making a decision for themselves.

  43. I love my mom to death, but we’ve always had this one-sided rivalry. When I was a teen, I’d try on clothes and be completely discouraged from buying anything. My breasts made me look “like a cow” in everything I wore according to her. When I’d get a haircut, she’d poke under my chin to feel for a double-chin and say “That hairstyle is really for thinner faces”. When a zipper would snag, it was never the zipper, it was “I hate to break it to you but you must have gained weight.” even after it zipped up perfectly fine.

    I grew up with this severe hate for my body. It wasn’t beautiful or ideal, there was always something wrong with it. To this day I struggle with it. I lost weight after I moved out of state, but only from a change in lifestyle. I didn’t do it for her or to impress anyone. My thighs don’t touch anymore, but I still see that “fat ugly girl” in the mirror. 🙁 Parents, please watch what you say about your children. Growing up with piss poor self-esteem is draining on everyone. I realize now as an adult that my mom has low self-esteem and bringing me down was her way of coping, but the damage is already done, you know?

    I’m too tall for my steal of a dress and will have to buy another one. I dread going shopping for that dress. I’ll probably buy online just to avoid any commentary. If every consultant was as nice as Johanna, then maybe every bride could feel beautiful for a day.

    • Can a layer be added to lengthen the skirt on the one you have? Seamstresses can do that sort of thing. 🙂

  44. While I certainly need to loose weight, I decided my wedding wasn’t the time to strive for that with everything else I had on. I had been big all my life and spent most of my life feeling aweful about it and had finally pulled myself out of that mental pit, so no one was making me feel bad about it. I took quite some pride everytime a bridal shop assistant or friend/acquaintance implied or asked how much weight I was planning on loosing before the wedding or how many sizes I planned on going down and I’m all “not loosing weight for this, I’m happy the way I am”. some were great, some were horrified. As it turned out I did loose a little weight (yay for corset backs) but I’m so glad I didn’t put that pressure on myself.
    As for Mum, she had a different dress favorite to mine, but I went with mine and encouraged mum to make some lace shoulder straps for it that were detachable. She felt better as now the dress will have straps (she really doesn’t like strapless which is where I lean) , I felt I could remove them if I didn’t like them and in the end they turned out awesome and one of my fav bits of the dress. It also allowed mum to feel good about some weird tradition I had never heard of where you shouldn’t finish making the dress till the night before (mum attached the straps the morning of the wedding).

  45. Thanks for this post Johanna. I have to admit when it comes to being pushed around about the dress, I avoided the whole issue entirely by just not giving my mother, and more importantly a ridiculously venomous aunt, the opportunity to comment about it at all. Being a distance from the family helps with that, but ultimately sometimes “not being a doormat” means planning alternate routes around hurdles before they even come up. Had I been forced to deal with shopping for a dress, I planned to take at least one of the Crew with me, pick 3, and then make a final decision from there after my mother had seen pictures of me in them. She’d feel involved without being given an option that makes me uncomfortable (because, off her meds, that’s the one she’d pick every time).

  46. Thank you so much for this post… This week was the awful week of doom for my wedding planning in which every decision I have made has been turned into a fight about it dollar sign by one family member and the other two have informed me that “It’s not my wedding so why should I care” after countless phone calls from them about what I should do vs. what the hell I want to do… This post made me feel so much better. I hope a wonderful person like you is there for me tomorrow when I go dress shopping with my best most non-judgmental awesome bridesmaid/friend ever.

  47. Actually this following line about parents could have been written by me in regards to parents of young children who are guests at the wedding.

    It pisses me off when I hear of parents giving ultimatums to the bride and groom. If they can’t set aside their differences for a single day without commenting on it and putting you through stress, then they shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    SO OFTEN I have couples and their parents who speak of being intimidated by parents who dont’ want to understand it’s an adult only reception. My onsite childcare company is the compromise, and they say no to that. So they let the parents come with kids… I always find myself saying to them and whose wedding is this anyway?

  48. I could hug all of you for your kind words!! I wrote this article when I was a bridal store newbie, since then I have worked at two different bridal stores one which I adored and the second which was owned by a hoarder.

    I wrote this out to vent out some frustrations I was feeling at the time, too many people were coming in and being walked over by their family. It made me so angry and so sad at the same time. I saw quite a lot of shocking things in my time, and I’m pretty sure I saved a few family relationships and weddings. My greatest accomplishment was convincing a Mother of the groom not to wear a bridey-looking white dress (I’d fitted the bride previously and I know she would have been horrified).

    I thought I’d give you an update on my marital and wedding status as well. I got married in 2011 to my wonderful husband. I wore the dress I wanted (even though someone said from certain angles it gave me a bit of pooch), I felt beautiful. I made all of my flowers like I planned to, did my own makeup, wore sparkly purple shoes, didn’t have a cake because thats what I wanted. There were a few details that people were telling us to change on the lead up to the wedding, those same people came up to us after the day and said they were wrong, fuck yeah! Petty wins are the best kind on wins, right?

    It was a perfect day because at the end of the day, I could call my best friend my husband.
    (Dress and flowers, two images) http://imgur.com/eoJ4oKL,9ykXFry#1

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