Big Bliss

OK, I’ll admit it–I watch Say Yes to the Dress. I’m not really sure why. I think it goes back to when I was in college and engaged, and had free cable in the dorm room. I watched A Wedding Story constantly. And A Baby Story, and A Makeover Story…I may have had too much time on my hands when I was in college. But back then, A Wedding Story was my favorite, because I was planning my own wedding (the other shows were just what happened to be on before and after). I was also a big fan of bridal magazines, bridal websites, you name it. And so, while I don’t have a wedding to plan anymore, the obsession that began over 10 years ago is still there.

Last night, TLC debuted the newest show in the Say Yes to the Dress line–Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss. This series (however long it may last), focuses only on plus-size brides trying to find a wedding gown in New York’s most exclusive (and most expensive!) bridal salon. I was intrigued when I first ran across it on the DVR schedule, for several reasons. As a plus-size woman myself (and having been a plus-size bride), I know the challenge of finding any clothes, much less a wedding dress. I was curious to see how the brides on the show would be portrayed, what kind of struggles they would face, what kind of emotions they would experience.

I was also curious to see just what kind of dresses a store like Kleinfeld would have to offer a plus-size bride. Designers aren’t exactly know for wanting to create clothes for bigger women. There *have* been a handful of brides requiring larger sizes in a few of the episodes I’ve seen in the past, but they are few and far between, and that made it difficult to get an idea of what kind of plus-size dresses they actually stock.

I found in the debut episode, (and the second episode that immediately followed), that I could certainly relate to the brides. I felt for the one bride that ripped a dress she was trying to squeeze into, I understood the brides that were afraid to even try a dress on lest it not fit, and ruin the whole shopping experience. I was surprised at the way the consultants could squeeze brides into dresses that were obviously too small, not because they would order one that small, but because they wanted them to have an idea of what the dress *could* look like. I was especially impressed with how kind the consultants were; how understanding. Oh that my own bridal shopping experience could have been that pleasant!

I found one thing particularly curious, though. On the first episode, all three brides brought their fiance with them. Now, brides on regular Say Yes to the Dress episodes will occasionally bring their future husband along to be part of the dress buying process. But I can’t think of any episode (unless it was a specially manufactured “men in the salon” show) that had every bride on it bring their betrothed with them. You can actually go through few shows without ever seeing a man, other than the few who work at Kleinfeld. But this first episode of the new series was chock full of men, and I can actually think of *at least* one other plus-size bride on the regular Say Yes to the Dress who also insisted her groom shop with her.

I’ll be curious to see what future episodes of this show bring. Is there something about plus-size brides that make them more likely to bring their fiance dress shopping? Are they more insecure? Perhaps they need more reassurance? Is there just some kind of overall tone of a relationship involving a plus-size woman that is different?

In my own experience, I definitely did not want my groom shopping with me, because I’m a traditionalist, and I didn’t want him to know about my dress before the wedding–I wouldn’t talk to him about, or let him see a picture of it in a bridal magazine, either. But I wonder, if I wasn’t so traditional, would I have also fallen into this apparent stereotype? It will be interesting to watch in the coming weeks, and see if this truly is a situation unique to plus-size brides, or if it was just something peculiar to the premiere show.

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