Full disclosure: I love TLC. Entirely too much of my free time is devoted to “Cake Boss,” “Extreme Couponing” and “What Not to Wear.” One of the network’s television shows, however, drives me completely crazy – and no, it’s not “Honey Boo Boo.” It’s “Say Yes to the Dress.”
If you live under a rock and therefore have never seen the show, it follows the events at Kleinfeld, a high-end bridal salon in Manhattan, N.Y. Each episode features two or three brides in search of “the perfect dress.” They struggle with budgets, body-image issues and overbearing parents.
In theory, it’s a fun and often heartwarming look into the process of purchasing a wedding gown. But, as is the case with most formulaic reality shows, it becomes repetitive.
For every woman who has beaten cancer or recently lost her mother, there are 10 pampered, demanding “daddy’s girls.” They have sky-high expectations that even $5,000 budgets can’t accommodate.
My wedding will probably be a civil service at the courthouse followed by dinner at Firebirds, so I’ll wear whatever’s clean. If I do break down and have a “real” wedding I’ll go to David’s Bridal like a regular person. I can save the extra $4,400 to pay off student loans or go to Bora Bora. That’s my preference. The women of “Say Yes” have theirs, and they’re entitled to there, but their reasoning isn’t very sound.
“My daughter can wear it someday!” they argue. Let’s be realistic. Even on the off chance she has exactly the same body type and can fit in your dress, she won’t want to. About three decades pass between a woman’s wedding and her daughter’s. (Unless they live south of the Mason-Dixon, in which case that period is cut in half. Hooray for teenage brides!) Trends are born, die, make a comeback and die again in that amount of time.
Today, asking a girl to wear her mother’s wedding dress is like asking her to wear feathered bangs and acid-wash jeans. Look at Princess Di’s wedding dress compared to Kate Middleton’s.
Diana wore a silk taffeta monstrosity with puffy shoulders, a round skirt and a 25-foot train. In photos, the poor woman looks like she’s wrapped in a king-size down comforter.
Kate was more subdued in lace sleeves, an A-line skirt and a 9-foot train. Fashion experts raved about her elegance. Had she shown up in a gown similar to Diana’s, the response would have likely been different – children weeping, people throwing tomatoes, Vera Wang drinking herself sick.
The point is that Diana’s dress, a masterpiece by 1980s standards, wouldn’t have been appropriate at a 2011 wedding. It also goes without saying that her dress mattered squat years later when she and Charles parted ways.
So why do I tune in to “Say Yes” week after week? I don’t know. Curiosity? Masochism? I never want to wrestle an alligator, and I still watch “Gator Boys.” But if I had to choose between that and wedding-dress shopping, I’d take the alligator every time.