Why I didn’t wear the dress I said yes to on ‘Say Yes To The Dress’

I was on the Irish version of the TLC show ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ before my wedding in 2018, but I didn’t wear the dress I said ‘yes’ to on my wedding day. Here’s why.

If you don’t know what ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ is, it’s a reality TV show based on bridal dress fittings — brides attend a chosen shop, try on a few wedding dresses, and, mostly, say ‘yes’ to one by the end of the episode.

A fact that will become important later; a long time before I got engaged, I stumbled across a Buzzfeed article about ’21 Completely Stunning Crop Top Wedding Gowns’ that featured a dress from an Etsy shop called ‘Wardrobe By Dulcinea’. (#18) Loving the cute design, I followed the designer on Facebook and promptly, forgot about it.

I went on to get engaged on the Ring of Kerry in August 2016, booked a venue in February 2017, and didn’t start searching for a dress seriously until late Summer 2017. At first, I didn’t enjoy the wedding dress process. I didn’t enjoy going to all these shops, didn’t enjoy trying on heavy, old-fashioned dresses — I hated it all. Then I spotted an ad for Irish brides for ‘Say Yes To The Dress’, and knew I wanted to apply.

There was a really quick turnaround on the applications for ‘Say Yes To The Dress’. In August 2017, I did an interview on my own, then an interview with my bridesmaid Lorraine and were selected within a week and given a filming date in September.

I sent over my measurements and my preferences so they could prepare a selection of dresses for the shoot. I knew I didn’t want a white dress, and I had included that in my preferences, although the show-runners had let me know that they would struggle to provide me non-white options. I was happy to go ahead with the shoot anyway and see what they had to offer. I was really excited to be on the show, and my bridesmaids were equally as excited.

Part of the contract to be on the show is that you need to be really looking for a wedding dress, and I was.

However, in those three weeks between the application and filming, that Etsy seller I mentioned earlier casually posted a picture on Facebook and ruined all of my plans.

She posted a picture of a dress that she called ‘Dolores’, and I saw it while peeking at Facebook during dinner with a friend. I remember the moment I saw it, I thought; “Who would wear that?” However, that night, I couldn’t sleep thinking about this dress. I had butterflies thinking about the dress. I kept telling myself that I had to go on ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ and pick a dress, and so I forced myself to forget about Dolores.

My bridesmaids and I had a great time filming the show. The producers were so nice, the shop staff were very helpful, and the host, Franc, was a consummate professional and so kind to the three of us.

I tried on four or five wedding dresses during the shoot, eventually opting for a two-piece wedding dress with a crop top and a chiffon skirt.

I had discussed the option of getting the skirt in blue with the shop assistant and has said ‘Yes’ to the dress based on the understanding that it would be possible. However, I found out shortly after returning home that the designer was not going to be able to create a blue version of the skirt, and so I was faced with a dilemma. Should I move ahead with the dress I’ve said ‘yes’ to on national TV, or should I follow my heart and order Dolores?

The woman in the shop had asked me for payment immediately after filming, and I had — luckily! — asked for 48 hours to confirm the blue skirt with the designer. Once I knew that the blue skirt would not be possible, I struggled to decide what I should do next. I’m Irish, so we try at all costs to avoid confrontation or upsetting other people, so I was very worried about saying ‘no’ after I’d said ‘yes’.

I really resented the traditional aspects of weddings, and the idea of wearing a white dress because Queen Victoria wore one in 1940 didn’t sit right with me. While I was wrestling with my decision, I found a photograph from my parent’s wedding day where my mother was wearing a blue-green velvet dress, and I knew that I wouldn’t be happy to wear white.

When I told the shop that I wouldn’t be going through with the sale, they asked me to tell the production company. I was very nervous calling them, but they were so lovely about it, saying “It’s your big day! Whatever makes you happy”. I was delighted that I would still be included in the show, and I would also get to wear my dream dress on my wedding day.

The show aired in December, six months before my wedding, as had been pre-agreed before filming. It actually ended up giving me an extra ‘wow factor’ at the wedding, as all my guests were surprised to see me arrive in a blue dress totally different to the one they’d seen me say ‘Yes’ to!

I have a couple of other videos on my YouTube channel on the experience of being on Say Yes to the Dress and sharing the backstage footage from the show. There were a couple of small gifts given to me by Franc, the host, that I did wear on the day, including a beautiful bracelet from his jewelry line and a pair of diamond earrings. Overall, even though I didn’t get a dress out of it, being on the show was a great experience that’s still going — the show was picked up on TLC and is replayed regularly even now, two years after my wedding and almost three years after we filmed it. Our episode was even replayed on TLC this morning (Irish time).

I knew that ordering a wedding dress from an Etsy seller without ever trying it on first was a risk, and, if you’ve read some of my other Medium pieces, you’ll know that not everybody was a fan, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns to wear a blue wedding dress — and still got to be on ‘Say Yes To The Dress’.

Travel & Lifestyle Content Creator on YouTube, freelance multimedia journalist in Ireland.

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