I’ll be the first to admit that shows on TLC are awful. The same channel that brought us the legendary Toddlers and Tiaras and Extreme Couponing isn’t likely to bring forward any BAFTA-worthy programmes, but they are entertaining. My current obsession Say Yes to the Dress is no exception.
My addiction hasn’t only taken over my life; I’ve also managed to get my mother, best friend and eldest brother hooked. The premise is deceptively simple: a weekly reality TV show set in the Manhattan wedding dress superstore Kleinfeld Bridal, following the experience of brides-to-be on their wedding dress hunt. So simple in fact that its success as a franchise is somewhat astounding. Its original branch has been running for 14 seasons and spawned an army of spinoffs including Bridesmaids, Randy To the Rescue and Randy Knows Best.
As if it couldn’t get even more impressive the series has also branched out internationally, producing shows set in Canada, Australia, the UK, and my personal favourite Atlanta, Georgia. What makes this monster of a franchise so popular?
At first you may be overwhelmed as you enter a whole new world made up of seas of silk and tonnes of tulle. But the more you watch, the more you learn.
The first aspect of the show is of course the dresses. At first you may be overwhelmed as you enter a whole new world made up of seas of silk and tonnes of tulle. But the more you watch, the more you learn. After a few episodes, you begin to understand the difference between a mermaid and a trumpet silhouette, how a corset back shapes the body and, of course, how a type of material shapes a gown. It’s at this point you think that this is all there is to the show, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
A wedding dress is no idle purchase. It is no secret that wedding gowns are expensive. Some of these combinations of sparkles, sequins and silk will cost around the same price as a second hand car. Whether it’s the bride paying for it themselves or a member of the family, it is extremely important that everyone in the bridal party is happy with the purchase. After all, what’s the point in spending so much on a gown that everybody at the wedding hates?
If the bride wants to be sexy but their grandmother wants them to wear a turtle-neck, it’s up to the consultant to try and resolve the underlying tensions between them, in the form of an expensive white dress.
This is where the true genius of Say Yes to the Dress is revealed. The real work of a wedding dress salesman or ‘consultant’ isn’t just physically finding the right gown; it’s also managing the bridal party. If the bride wants to be sexy but their grandmother wants them to wear a turtle-neck, it’s up to the consultant to try and resolve the underlying tensions between them – in the form of an expensive white dress.
Whilst other reality shows would pit the two women against one another, Say Yes works to strike a balance. After all, both bride and grandmother want the same thing – a gown which makes the bride look beautiful and feel happy on her ‘big day’ – albeit in two different ways. It’s one of the few reality TV shows that focuses on people compromising with each other for happiness as opposed to hurting one another.
So give the show a try. It may be the guilty pleasure you say “yes” to!