A bridesmaid dress I WANT to wear??
November 2, 2007 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Is it okay to wear a bridesmaid's dress before the wedding?

I know, unbelievable. I have a bridesmaid's dress for an upcoming wedding that I like and can wear loads of places. What is the etiquette here, please?

Note: I actually already wore it. Had pictures taken in it, too, but feel uncomfortable uploading them and being caught red-handed in the possible transgression. I know it might "depend on the bride," but I suspect actually seeing me in the dress at another occasion might stir deep-seated questions of propriety and have unforeseen effects on any of her possible professed nonchalance.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would say not anywhere with the possibility of being seen by wedding attendees.
posted by bitdamaged at 1:26 PM on November 2, 2007

i say wear it as much as you want...just don't spill anything on it! and then wait until after the wedding to upload the photos.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:33 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm sure there is no etiquette for this because no one ever wants to wear a bridesmaid dress! But seriously, I'd be afraid of damaging it wearing it before the wedding. But it is yours and your probably paid for it, so why not get your moneys worth? I agree that if you wear it, don't wear it around wedding go-ers. For some reason, I think it would spoil the element of surprise and special occasion at the wedding.
posted by slowfasthazel at 1:38 PM on November 2, 2007

Did you have to spend your own money to get this dress, or was it gifted to you? If the former, then I say feel free to where it wherever and whenever you want.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:38 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Did the bride pay for the dress, or did you? If you bought it, I'd say it's OK to wear it, but the safe thing to do, as thinkingwoman said, would be not to post photos of yourself in it until after the wedding. But if the bride (or wedding party, or bride's family, or whomever else) paid for it, then...it's definitely sketchier, I'd say.
posted by limeonaire at 1:39 PM on November 2, 2007

Like you note, I think the bride has the final say in the issue. I know my wife wanted her bridesmaids to get dresses that they could wear elsewhere (she hates having to buy a dress to wear only once).

You could always try asking while implying the event is in the future (I love the dress so much, would you be offended if I wore it to an event before the wedding?). If she says it would bother her, hide the pictures, if not, be vague about the date of the pictures.
posted by chndrcks at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2007

Don't let the bride know you wore the dress. Even if you paid for it, those dresses are "part of her wedding", as much as the centerpieces or flowers are. Even if she can't rationally justify it, she'll probably feel like you've "sullied" the dress or cheapened it somehow.

Doesn't make much sense, but I think that would be normal emotional reaction.

Wear it as much as you want AFTER the wedding, when she'll see it as a compliment that you love the dress enough to keep wearing it.
posted by Kololo at 1:44 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think it depends on how far away the wedding is, and how many of the people see you wearing the dress beforehand. Wedding in 8 months, and party tomorrow will include 0 wedding guests? Wear away! Wedding in 5 weeks, and you're going out with some of the other bridesmaids? No.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:55 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hm. Cost of waiting a bit to wear a new dress, vs. cost of possibly hurting your friend's feelings about her wedding.... Seriously, is it that painful to not wear the dress rightnowsoon?
posted by anaelith at 2:06 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

The bride shouldn't be upset if you wear the dress after the wedding. She should be flattered that she picked a dress that you actually like. Just don't upload the photos until after the wedding . If she sees them and confronts you, just tell her the photos were taken at an event that happened after her wedding. Then gush about how beautiful she looked at the wedding and get her to talk about herself. Deflect.

FWIW, I've never met anyone who wanted to wear their bridesmaid dress before, during, or after the wedding.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:09 PM on November 2, 2007

What Kololo said.
If you're close to her at all, I recommend NEVER letting the bride find out you wore it before her wedding...
[bridezilla]What if something had happened to it? And it couldn't be cleaned or replaced on time? Then you can't be in the wedding, and there's an uneven count of ushers and bridesmaids and OMG we can't ask groom's cousin who flew out here to not be in the wedding! Why, WHY would you risk RUINING my wedding like that???[/bridezilla]
posted by krix at 2:16 PM on November 2, 2007

Ech, I say just restrain yourself and stop wearing this dress all around the town. This is how I see it: obviously you're fairly close to this couple, since you're in their wedding. Is it really too much to ask that the dress you wear in their wedding be a brand-new one? (This is coming from someone who's very anti-wedding-froufrou, too!)
posted by loiseau at 2:22 PM on November 2, 2007

Oh, and even if you upload the photos after the wedding it'll still be apparent in various ways that they were taken before the wedding. For example, doesn't Flickr read Exif data which says when photos were taken?
posted by loiseau at 2:25 PM on November 2, 2007

In general, and especially if there are other bridesmaids, you shouldn't wear a bridesmaid dress before the wedding. I think the bride's expectation is that the dress will look brand new. The more you wear it, the more you risk wear-and-tear, snags or stains. Also, most things never look the same after washing/dry cleaning. They hang differently, have a slight limpness, slight fading. That's not to say the dress is ruined after one wear, but it will never be quite the same as it was when it was brand new. You might be able to get away with it going unnoticed if there are no bridesmaids, but if there are others, the difference between your dress and theirs is going to stand out at the event and in pictures.

You shouldn't wear it again before the wedding, why risk it? As for the pictures of you at the other event, unless they are the best pictures you've ever taken, just don't upload them. Think of it as a small price to pay for getting to wear the dress ahead of time.

You do have a third option, if you really like the dress and really want to keep wearing it, buy a back-up just in case this one is damaged or starts to look worn. If the bride catches you wearing what is basically a simple black dress ahead of the wedding, you'll be able to reassure her that you have a brand new one to wear to her wedding.* If you were flaunting her signature color or unusual style about town, that might be another story. But it is a basic black dress, as long as she didn't buy it for you, how can she feel a sense of ownership about that?

*Looks like the catalog has a rotten return policy for special occasion dresses, so ebay will probably be your only option to offload it if you don't end up needing it. Then again, if you really like the dress, nothing wrong with having a backup for the future, I suppose.
posted by necessitas at 3:31 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The pictures were taken by a professional photographer at a company retreat 600 miles away from the wedding party, and I ordered hard copies. I would usually scan and upload them (in fact, I did upload one where the dress isn't recognizable, my new mefi pic). It was one of those functions -- semiformal business dinner -- where having a gray silk cocktail length dress was a perfect godsend. More appropriate than anything else I owned.

And I paid for the dress.

Plenty of disagreement on this one, as I expected!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:36 PM on November 2, 2007

Personally, I think I'd say wearing the dress before the wedding is really rude and not very respectful to your friend (the bride) who has chosen you to be a part of her special day. This is ofcourse assuming this will be 'her special day', if this is a simple registry office do rather than big wedding, then the whole thing is a much more casual affair.

That said, you paid for it, its your dress. (I also think its rude of the bride to expect you to pay for your own dress - presumably she got to pick the dresses)

If no-one from the wedding will be there or see the pictures then no harm, no foul. But be careful cleaning it - as someone else mentioned, nothing looks the same after its been washed - if you can, get it professionally cleaned and pressed.
posted by missmagenta at 4:03 PM on November 2, 2007

Seconding missmagenta: You paid for it, so it's yours to do with as you like. (But it seems to me that if you're found out, your best defense is that it was perfect for the occasion. The bride should take that as a compliment to her fine taste.)

That said, if you do this again, accessorize the shit out of it (I'm thinking camouflage-netting overdress) or toss a bridal veil over your own face.
posted by rob511 at 4:22 PM on November 2, 2007

My logic says, "No, it's not wrong." But somehow...it just seems wrong. I can't put my finger on why.

Ah well, at least it wasn't stained or ripped or anything.
posted by christinetheslp at 4:36 PM on November 2, 2007

I didn't notice it was grey, I must be colorblind!

How do you think the bride would react if you just asked her if she'd be cool with you wearing the dress before the wedding. If she is funny about it or says no, you've got your answer. If she says she wouldn't mind, then you are free to wear and upload as you wish.
posted by necessitas at 5:34 PM on November 2, 2007

My logical side says, "who gives a shit?"

My realistic side points out your friend's wedding is almost definitely seen, to some extent, by him/her as a sacred ritual that is to be respected. They probably view your inclusion as a bridesmaid as an honor, a request for you to take part in this ritual. Wearing your dress to a lesser occasion would cheapen your involvement.

My gut tells me that if your friend is the duct tape prom dress type, you should probably still be careful here and maybe wait to post the pics until a few months after the wedding. If they aren't, keeping those photos permanently private might be a good idea.
posted by hooves at 7:55 PM on November 2, 2007

I think it's tacky to wear a bridesmaid dress before the wedding takes place.
posted by astruc at 9:57 PM on November 2, 2007

I would be chuffed if my bridesmaid liked her dress so much she wanted to wear it everywhere. Plus, I'm assuming you paid for it. Get your money's worth.

Just don't spill on it!
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:35 AM on November 3, 2007

A bridesmaid's dress in NOT a sacred ritual. It is a DRESS. It is not an extension of the BRIDE.

If you're not good enough friends with the bride to make sure it's cool with her, or to already know how she'd feel, what are you doing as a bridesmaid? If you know she'd feel bad, or if she told you she'd feel bad, what are you doing being such good friends with somebody who sees her friends bodies and possessions as controllable props, not only for the wedding itself but for all the time leading up to it! But if you're ok with that approach and want to play along, then by all means, play along!

I think the other part of the reason there's no etiquette about this (the first part being, as Slowfasthazel pointed out, that bridesmaids' dresses are usually UNliked), is that there's no basis in etiquette for the brides' controlling and choreographing her bridesmaids' bodies and clothes. Yes, it's widely practiced. Doesn't make it right.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:13 AM on November 3, 2007

It really depends on the bride. I know for a fact that at least some of the people of honor at my wedding wore their fancy clothes before the big event, but I'm laid back and was just really honored to have them there for me.

Some women dream about their wedding days their whole lives, obsess about perfection, want to be a center-of-attention fairy princess and get uptight about following protocol they'd never heard of until they bought their first "Weddings for Dummies" book. If your friend has turned in to one of those, you made a big, big mistake.

More likey, she falls in between. It might bug her a little, tiny bit that you wore the dress - she doesn't get to wear her dress early, so why should you? And isn't this dress imbued with special meaning for you, because of why you got it, even if you can wear it again later? But I doubt most women will have more than a moment's frowny oh! about something like this.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:38 AM on November 3, 2007

Ask the bride. You are lucky to have a friend that chose a great bridesmaid dress; so she's obviously pretty terrific. Why offend your good friend? Stress her great taste. Make sure the dress stays in pristine condition.
posted by theora55 at 10:54 AM on November 3, 2007

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