Every Friday evening TLC airs back-to-back episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress,” its spinoffs “Say Yes: Atlanta,” “Say Yes: Big Bliss,” and the newest in the franchise, “Say Yes: Bridesmaids.” I’ve gotten in the habit of picking up takeout on the way home from work and watching these shows unironically until Brian comes home at about 9.
Each series is addictive for its own reasons. The original, set at Kleinfeld’s in Manhattan, is kinda cool because the place is just huge. They get women who travel from all over to get their dresses just because they have pretty much every wedding dress in existence, or so it seems. And they are S.E.R.I.O.U.S. about that dress.
I’m not crazy about Big Bliss, the plus-size version, just because I’m not comfortable with the idea that these women are singled out for a separate show because they’re not stick-thin. I’m a size six. Nobody considers that big but every fitting session I’ve done has been rife with body anxiety. You’re getting literally tied and clipped into these dresses and then you shuffle out into a room full of people while you stand on a little pedestal and analyze your splotchy skin and arm flab. I think body image deserves more attention on all the Say Yes programs.
Atlanta is set in a shop called Bridals by Lori, which is run by this no-nonsense Southern lady named (you guessed it) Lori and stylist Monte, this dapper, Mr Humphries-esque fellow whose facial muscles nor hair ever seem to move. It’s pretty faithful to my experiences in (albeit much smaller) bridal boutiques in Memphis. The merchandise is blingier. The clientele is younger. The relatives and friends are cattier in that “bless her heart” way that’s as Southern as seersucker.
Bridesmaids has given me a lot of insight: so much, in fact, that I’ve decided to pick a color and a fabric and tell my ladies to just make sure their dresses cover their asses. A couple weeks ago there was a woman who wanted a “Winter Wonderland” themed wedding, which I thought was pretty ironic considering her face was orange. It was even funnier to see her sister, who looked exactly like her minus the orange and seemed to despise her. Part of orange lady’s winter theme was having the bridesmaids carry muffs instead of flowers. The sister thought that was the stupidest idea ever and I kinda have to agree, because who actually has seen a muff on someone other than an American Girl doll? I haven’t.
But, for all my snark (I regularly heckle the television) I do respect the women who go on these shows. Most of them seem to have at least some idea of what they want. Some women spend their entire childhoods planning their dream wedding. Me, I woke up the morning after we got engaged and thought “Oh mah gaw, this means we have to have a wedding.”
I’ve been to six stores (in Memphis and in NOLA). Three dresses have made me say “OK, this looks totally awesome on me.” They’re totally different styles. My favorite is one I tried on at an adorable boutique called Wedding Belles on Magazine St with my cousin. Incidentally it was also the cheapest one I tried on.
I texted my sister a picture of it and both she and my mom said “meh.”
I think I’m gonna just wear jeans.