DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son is engaged to a wonderful, well-educated young woman from a conservative family, and my husband and I love her dearly. The church wedding is still months away.
The bride-to-be decided that she wanted to purchase her wedding dress from a charity so she and her mother attended the event (they asked me to go along but I couldn't on that date) and purchased a dress for an amount equal to what they would have paid in any store. The dress isn't white (or any shade of white), but it is gold. The dress itself was once a beautiful dress and probably expensive, but now it looks worn and the gold color looks like something that would be worn for a second-time bride.
When she showed me and wanted my reaction, I couldn't lie; I was shocked that she would select this dress as it is totally out of character for her. I'm afraid my reaction and subsequent urging to select another dress has caused hard feelings.
Many will be attending the wedding who do not know the bride, and I feel they will definitely get a different impression of who she really is. It truly hurts me to see her wear this dress. Her mother likes it because it is "different." I have apologized to the mother for my reaction and have tried to explain how my husband and I can't help feeling the dress is so wrong.
My son who is so laid back and wants no problems says he could care less what she wears and wants me to be quiet, so now I feel like a complete heel but can't help dreading an event that should be one that I am looking forward to. I know the family of the groom has little to say about the wedding but is it too much to ask that the bride wear white? We didn't try to tell her what dress to wear, we're simply ask that she not wear that one. Were we being totally out of line?
GENTLE READER: Yes. You are ruining your relations with a wonderful, well-educated and beloved future daughter-in-law and her family, to say nothing of what you are doing to yourself -- over a costume.
Beloved as the white wedding dress may be to many, brides are not required to be in uniform. Time was when ladies were married in their favorite dresses. Then Queen Victoria married in white, and the rush was on.
Furthermore, the symbolism soon turned ugly. The vulgar idea got around that white dresses offered a peek at the history of the body inside -- or rather, the promise that it had no such history. Not a few wedding guests were given to speculating about whether the bride was "entitled" to wear white.
What with white now being worn by fourth-time brides, pregnant brides and brides who are attended by the couple's own children, Miss Manners thought that at least she had heard the last of that. But now you are suggesting that the guests will think the less of this bride because of her dress. If so, it is they, not she, who will be exhibiting bad taste.