Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: The Agony And Ecstasy of Wedding Dresses
Welcome back to another exciting edition of “Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything” — the most dubious advice column on all of the internet! Or at least, I assume it is. It’s not like I’ve done market research on this. Now, normally I look into the e-mailbag and answer a question submitted by a reader, but this week’s question actually came from a fellow Overlord. Because we also have problems, like the certified non-bot human beings I promise we really are (10000111111001110011). And the best part? It’s super low-stakes, fun, and comes with a handy coda so you’ll know how it all worked out for the questioner in question!
[But I promise we’ll return to answering your questions… when we feel like it. So don’t forget to send ‘em our way at [email protected]!]
The topic this week? Big, long, frilly, poofy white dresses of the bridal variety. And you know how we like talking about the trappings and traditions of weddings! See if you can guess the Overlord based on the question:
I’m going wedding dress shopping this weekend with a friend, and she thinks I should try on dresses with her. So on the one hand, I’m fairly ambivalent on marriage, but on the other hand, I’m very anti-marriage industrial complex, but then on that weird third hand, I’m very in favor of pretty dresses. So is this a weird thing? Am I theoretically opening some kind of Pandora’s box that will end with me demanding a $20,000 wedding I don’t really care about? Or will I most likely remember I don’t look that great in long dresses, and just scratch that patriarchally-instituted itch that demands women all wear big ass, fancy, white dresses at some point?
Wait, seriously? The question is “Should I or should I not try on fancy dresses with my friend?”
This is the best problem in the history of problems, and we’ve talked to someone about their boyfriend’s dick art before. The short answer is: YES YOU SHOULD TRY ON DRESSES OMG DUH. I mean, if you want to. Which you should because wedding dresses are ridiculous and hilarious and also we’ve heard wedding dress stores will ply you with free champagne. But your concerns are valid, so let’s break this shit down in more detail.
Your friend asked you to do this with her…
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go along with her, obviously. Maybe she’s the worst and you’re not really friends, or you decide your conscientious objections to white dresses are more important than her feelings — either would be fine and I wouldn’t hold it against you. Or rather, I can’t because I’m not the boss and Dustin probably won’t fire you for being an asshole since being an asshole is in the job description (which is why I list it on my resume under “skills”). But it’s worth considering why your friend asked you to play bridal dress-up with her. Is it just to have some fun (and possibly some of that aforementioned free booze)? Then whatever — you do you. But weddings can be intimidating, and wedding dresses can be a weird, weighted, scary part of that equation for some people. Is your friend looking for THE dress to make her into a pretty pretty princess/goddess on THE most important day of her life? A dress to make her partner stare and drool? A dress to make the guests “oooh” and “ahhhh” when she walks down the aisle? A dress in which she’ll be immortalized in all the very expensive wedding photos for years to come? A dress she’s been dieting and working out for months in order to fit? OK fine — maybe your friend doesn’t take it that seriously. But she still might be nervous and looking for a friendly face to take some of the pressure off, and turn this shopping trip feel into just another fun girls day out.
Another possibility? Maybe she doesn’t even care about the dress, but wants to experience the full gamut of “traditional” wedding prep so this is more like a sociological experiment. Or hell — maybe she’s secretly dreading this and wants to make you suffer alongside her. Because that’s true friendship.
So that’s the stuff to weigh from your friend’s side. Now, your concerns.
Ambivalent about marriage?
Don’t worry! Trying on a dress will not accidentally make you a wife!
Against the whole wedding-industrial complex?
Don’t worry! Trying on a wedding dress doesn’t obligate you to purchase said wedding dress, and if you aren’t buying a dress then you aren’t buying into the commercialization of WEDDINGS. You could see it as an underhanded way to waste the shop’s time by intentionally trying a dress on that you will not buy, but that also means you’re making some poor shopkeeper run around for no reason — which I can see maybe being questionable (especially if they work on commission). Luckily the reality is that women try on a fuck-ton of wedding dresses they don’t wind up buying, so you wasting their time isn’t that different from the time they’d be wasting on another customer. Also, your being there will make your friend happy, thus increasing the likelihood that she’ll potentially make a purchase. Besides, maybe you’ll find a dress you fall in love with, and then you’ll decide to buy it and dye it hot pink and wear it to your friend’s wedding! ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, BONE!
(By the way, this Overlord has been nicknamed “Bone” for reasons that frankly are far less interesting than the name itself. Moving on.)
Just don’t, like, tell them you’re wasting their time. Use this as a chance to make up an elaborate “dream” wedding and have fun with it. Yes, this is yet another advice column where we’re recommending dishonesty (or at least withholding the truth).
In favor of pretty dresses?
BOOYAH! Now you’re talking! A wedding dress is, after all, just a dress that’s has been imbued with additional cultural baggage (and maybe crystals or pearls or layers of lace). But it’s still just a dress. More importantly, it’s just a dress TO YOU — so who gives a shit about what society thinks that dress should stand for? There’s nothing stopping you from buying five wedding dresses, wearing them every weekend to go grocery shopping, and then getting married in shorts and a cape should you ever decide to tie the knot.
Also, let’s face it: a lot of wedding dresses are ugly AF. So even if you DO go playing bridal dress-up, it’s not like you’ll necessarily get your fix of wearing pretty dresses. If you’re worried you’ll get brainwashed into becoming a bridezilla-by-proxy, just try on the ugliest dresses in the shop and avoid the temptation. Also — not all bridal outfits are even dresses. I’ve seen some rather fetching wedding jumpsuits the past few years, and tailored tuxes are a fantastic option as well.
Is this a weird thing?
NO. Playing dress-up is never a weird thing. Genevieve said: “When I lived alone sometimes I’d put on my fancy dresses and have some wine by myself while watching TV.” Now imagine that… BUT IN A WEDDING GOWN. I’m into it.
“Am I theoretically opening some kind of Pandora’s box that will end with me demanding a $20,000 wedding I don’t really care about?”
Oh no. No no no. For one thing, you can wear a fancy dress to a city hall wedding, so it’s not like doing the big dress thing necessarily leads to going big for the whole ceremony. For another thing, you can absolutely buy yourself a wedding dress even if you aren’t engaged. No really — that’s what one Overlord did! Always be prepared… with the vintage ’60s lace dress of your dreams.
Also, trust me: planning a wedding is so much less fun than playing dress-up that I can’t imagine you’d get caught up in a true wedding fever. Even if you fall in love with wedding dresses and wearing them, you will not have the same experience with the rest of the process. Those $20K weddings involve deciding who gets to sit at a table with your racist uncle and finding a color scheme your bridesmaids will agree to wear without a fight and picking out a memorable, affordable tchotchke to give to guests in the hopes they’ll actually hang on to it (they won’t). I mean, OK, you don’t have to do ALL of that stuff, but you get my point. Big weddings can be a pain in the ass. You’re a rational human being. You will not be fooled just because you enjoy this one part of it.
Though if you decide to play pretend with other parts of the wedding prep process without getting hitched, I’d also recommend the cake and catering tastings. Because duh.
(Full Disclosure: I’m married. I ordered my wedding dress online and did a fitting in the privacy of my shithole apartment. Luckily it fit and that was the end of it. So I can promise you that the fancy dress doesn’t mean the wedding, or even the wedding dress shopping itself, will be equally glamorous).
“Or will I most likely remember I don’t look that great in long dresses, and just scratch that patriarchally-instituted itch that demands women all wear big ass, fancy, white dresses at some point?”
Look, I’m not going to tell you that you don’t look good in long dresses, because as mentioned there are all types of bridal ensembles out there and I guarantee something will look fabulous on you. But yeah, this is a safe way to scratch that weird, instilled white-dress itch without having to go through with the rest of the binding legal process/ love shit. So really, what is there to lose?
Actually, Hannah pointed out one area to pay attention to, which apparently we’d all know if we watched Say Yes To The Dress, and that’s the weird resentment that can occur if your dress-up hogs the thunder of the bride’s dress-up. Granted, that’s more typical with sisters, or with two women who are both getting married, but if the bride is feeling self-conscious or starts getting upset that you’re somehow stealing her thunder it’s OK to put your street clothes back on and be the helpful audience again.
So how did it all work out?
The beauty of answering internal questions is that I can directly follow-up with my fellow Overlords and see what happened! Here’s what Bone said:
I tried on two joke dresses, one serious dress, and decided wedding gowns aren’t for me. If I do ever actually get married, I’m going shorts and cape all the way.
And really, that’s the lesson here. Fancy dresses are fun, playing dress-up is fun, but if “shorts and cape” is an option WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU WEAR ANYTHING ELSE?
Header Image Source: Getty Images
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