If you have been reading my blog, then you know that there are areas of the store, namely, the dressing areas, in which we don't allow men. Sorry, guys! Most men don't mind being excluded from this most feminine of rituals (they roll their eyes and yawn at the 17th dress and everyone gathered round saying, "do you think THIS might be the one?"...!) and are happy to remain out of the bridal area.
But what of the handful of men that arrive and are surprised, even annoyed not to be allowed in this area of the store?
They fall into several categories. The first and most common is the "Dad Shopping with his Daughter". He sometimes cares about the dress, and sometimes not. But he always loves her and thinks she's beautiful and wants to share in whatever makes her happy. And, of course, sometimes he is footing the bill. He comes to make sure Mom doesn't go nuts giving her little girl the dress of her dreams!
Occasionally, a Dad is shopping with his daughter because Mom has passed away. This always makes me get a lump in my throat. I don't know what I would have done without my Mom during the planning of my wedding and picking out my dress. In these cases, Dad is usually fumbling to be a "Surrogate Mother" to his daughter, trying to offer advice he thinks she would have said had she been there.
I have discussed in previous posts about another category of men disappointed not to be allowed in the bridal changing areas. These are men who would like to be the ones wearing these dresses. But this is another discussion for another time!
The other big category of men arriving who wish to enter the bridal area of the store are fiances. Now, I am kind of an opinionated woman, so if something I say frustrates you, please leave a comment and I'll let you have your voice (as long as it isn't vulgar or profane!). But this kind of irritates me. Now when I say that, I am not referring to the number of cultures in which the groom is responsible for selecting and paying for the wedding gown. I have taken too many etiquette lessons, cultural differences classes, and sensitivity training seminars for that.
I am referring to the irritating overbearing fiance. The one who wants to control his girlfriend, from what she wears, to who she talks to. I am a strong-willed woman, so it is hard for me to understand how some of these girls can tolerate the prospect of spending the rest of their lives being in a partnership with someone who won't let her make her own choices and express herself.
I remember one man who arrived to take his bride shopping for a dress. It happened to be a slow day, so we were able to set him up in a separate room where he wasn't in the bridal area, and his fiance, let's call her Jaden, had to be dressed in the dressing rooms, and then take a long walk with each gown to the room where he waited, only to look her up and down, order her to spin, and ultimately give each dress the thumbs up or down. It was such a emotionless kind of experience for me that I wondered if he would ask her to open her mouth so he could check for wear on her teeth. (Get it? Like at a horse auction? Okay, bad one.)
Anyway. He picked a dress. Pulled out a credit card. I measured the Bride. That was it. I didn't see any love or excitement from either of them, and even wondered if this was some sort of arranged marriage or mail-order-bride kind of deal. Kind of weird.
So if you are a bride looking to shop for your dress, and you have a man you'd like to bring with you, do yourself a favor: call the store ahead of time to check whether men are allowed, and in which areas. There is nothing more awkward for the man in your life, as to feel as though he is unwanted by the store. And that may not be the case, it may just be at your store, as in mine, the concern needs to be for not just you and your guests, but the feelings of the other brides shopping at the same time. Remember that the other brides are trying on dresses that are sample sized and often don't fit properly, and they may be hanging out of the gowns. So although there are private dressing rooms, they may not be fully covered when they emerge to show their group their dream gown!