My recurring love affair through TLC’s say Yes come the dress began about two month ago, when a close friend prescribed the long-running reality show as a remedy because that my encroaching phd graduation anxiety ...



My continuous love affair v TLC’s say Yes come the dress began around two month ago, once a close friend prescribed the long-running reality show as a remedy for my encroaching phd graduation anxiety. It was May, and thus additionally the cusp the wedding season, do SYTTD a an especially timely recommendation. I’d to be beset by pre-commencement angst: my very own version that the “cold feet” that can follow a watch interminable seven-year engagement. But I no thinking about actual matrimony. Neither to be my friend, who, choose me, is a happy partnered queer woman in she 30s with no perceptible desire to get a ring ~ above it. In spite of its nuptial emphasis, however, the present proved all also resonant because that a happy grad who, too numerous years ago, forsook the wedding-industrial facility for a different corporate behemoth: the PhD-industrial complex.1SYTTD’s unwavering episodic focus is the nail-biting discovery, creation, and/or change of right wedding gowns because that a phalanx of mostly hetero brides-to-be. Yet the show’s permanent on “the dress” is only deceptively straight and narrow. Together my lesbian bestie intimated, and as ns have because observed mid-binge, to speak Yes come the dress expertly confines a vast and swirling civilization of emotional drama come a single ceremonial gown. On the show, the find for the perfect wedding dress—the price of conventionality—exposes dysfunctional personal, romantic, and familial dynamics. It provokes a inconsistent mess of feelings and also behaviors that provides the normative rituals of marriage seem entirely perverse. The results, for participants and also viewers alike, are painfully revealing, perhaps therapeutic, and also oddly cathartic—if all of the crying is any kind of indication, in ~ least.

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In nearly every illustration of SYTTD, at the very least one person cries. The person might be you, too ~ viewer. Ns ugly-cried a minimum of twice while city hall the show solo in ~ the nadir of my abjection. And mark mine words: I will cry again. The waterworks space sprinkled throughout every tightly structured 21-minute episode’s duration, yet most often they come cascading forth when a prospective bride obeys the show’s titular imperative and says “yes” to the dress of she dreams. Through that “yes” a flood of ambivalent feeling is unleashed, a tide of affect whose face-breaking power has actually been building because the begin of the dress hunt—and long prior to that. We must ask: why is the so complicated to speak “yes” come a wedding gown? What cd driver a future bride to select “the dress” in together a public venue, and to invest thousands of dollars doing it? (You want you should acquire a Pnina Tornai gown for free? Fughetaboutit!) Why would certainly anyone desire to watch someone else’s fiancée purchase a wedding dress? Why has actually Say Yes come the dress not simply survived, however thrived, for 14 seasons, producing numerous spinoffs in its wake?2Because the dress is never simply a dress.

This is something that Randy Fenoli, SYTTD’s residents fabulous homosexual and fashion guru, understands all also well. Randy is the queer guardian angel of every anxiously betrothed woman that passes with the doors that Kleinfeld Bridal, the reduced Manhattan–based shop whose cream-colored showroom, private transforming quarters, and hidden labyrinth of dress racks kind the show’s set. The Kleinfeld racks are laden through white and off-white gowns the all look at the same. This crushing similitude makes the task of recognize “the dress” it seems to be ~ even an ext insurmountable, and also thus more in require of Randy’s deft guidance.

Openly gay and also definitely unmarried (though I’d wager he’s had actually no shortage of young toys), Randy gained his huge break ago in 1990, as soon as he won the miss out on Gay America traction competition as Brandi Alexander, a crimson-lipped, bed-headed brunette bombshell who could rock a body-hugging gown with a plunging neckline together if she woke up favor this. Currently self-schooled in “the art of female illusion,”3 Randy put his pageant income toward tuition at brand-new York’s Fashion academy of Technology, and from style school onward, that was all bridal wear every the time.

From SYTTD’s launch in 2007 till 2012, Randy hosted the location of Fashion Director at Kleinfeld; because then, the stamin of his an individual brand has enabled him to appear on the present as a type of celebrity consultant. Referred to just by his an initial name, impeccably manicured, and ritually garbed in a suit-and-tie combo accented through a color-coordinated or artfully clashing bag square, Randy materializes at key moments the crisis. As if ironing the creases native a fresh unfurled bolt of dress cloth, Randy massages the professional and familial tensions the arise in ~ the bridal parlor. He is not fairly “a bride’s therapist,”4 for that would imply a depth level of psychological engagement. He’s more like a life coach, armed with one arsenal that self-empowerment mantras for ladies on the verge of getting married. “Marriage is all around compromise in between husband and wife,” the quips at the near of one episode, “but choose a wedding dress is all around the bride.”5 Randy is the gay gal pal you desire to hag roughly with, the one that stands up for you once your partner maltreats you, the one who claims you look warm as hell in that dress and also everyone else deserve to go posesthe themselves.

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As it turns out, telling judgmental onlookers to fuck turn off is a highly crucial skill on speak Yes to the Dress, though the language supplied on the present is an ext diplomatic. That’s since each fiancée—young, old, formerly divorced, tall, dieting, ample, high femme, sartorially sensible, white, black, Latina, Asian, “edgy,” “traditional,” recently cancer-free, military, sweetheart-neckline-loving, “fit ’n’ flare”-obsessed, lace-desiring, bling-craving, self-assured, or wildly overwhelmed—enters the shop accompanied by a cadre of family members and friends that serve together judge, jury, and executioner for each feasible wedding dress. Supplemented through one-on-one interviews with the bride-to-be and also the bridal consultant, every episode’s main point drama centers on the reactions and also interactions created by the bridal fashion show.6 As future wifey X models a selection of gowns for her blended audience, the parlor grow pregnant through fear, euphoria, hatred, unbridled ecstasy, ressentiment, guilt, shame, paranoia, and a host of other contending desires and also drives. In this scenes, the perversity of normativity—emblematized by its can be fried expression, the wedding—is do manifest.