My sister’s getting married in October. She and her fiance live in New Orleans, but they spent the past week in Albuquerque (where the wedding will likely take place), looking at churches, tasting cakes, and listening to musicians and bands. Also, my sister tried on wedding dresses.
My family is a resourceful, creative, anti-establishment, think-outside-the-box, eccentric group. We were dumbfounded when we entered a wedding dress store and: 1) were asked if we had an appointment; and 2) were told we could not browse the aisles of wedding gowns.
The lady at the wedding dress store told us we had to register before she would talk to us or answer our questions. This is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard. And it really pissed me off. Can’t a bride-to-be just look at dresses?
I asked the woman if she had any openings in her schedule, to fit us in. Before answering, she wanted to know who was getting married, when the wedding was scheduled, the names of the brides maids, the brides maids’ dress sizes, and the brides maids’ phone numbers. When did stores begin holding their products hostage until gathering all the personal metadata about potential clients?
When my sister told the woman she wasn’t having any brides maids, the woman gasped, “Oh my.”
I asked the woman if we could look at a few dresses without registering. We simply wanted to get a feel for the type of dresses that were in style, and how much my sister would need to budget for a gown. The woman replied that she’d never been asked this question before and that she needed to ask her manager. Then she proceeded to take two phone calls while we were standing there.
This particular wedding gown store was divided into 3 sections: 1) maid of honor and mother of the bride dresses; 2) bridal gowns; 3) fitting rooms with a thousand smudged mirrors and dreadful fluorescent lighting.
While the woman was talking on the phone (no doubt “registering” clients), we wandered over to the maid of honor and mother of the bride section (where we could walk down the aisles and touch the dresses). My sister found a couple styles she really liked. So I went to the back of the shop where the fitting rooms were and checked to see if the rooms were unlocked. Surprisingly, they were. My sister tried on a few dresses while my mom and I sat on little chairs and waited for her to show us each dress.
This is when all hell broke loose. When the woman who was on the phone saw us move forward without her, she scurried over to her manager. The manager walked directly over to us and inquired if we had an appointment. I explained that we didn’t have an appointment, we weren’t interested in registering, and that we simply wanted to look for a few wedding dress prototypes. I also felt compelled to tell her we felt stifled by the formality of their process. I asked her if we could continue shopping for wedding dresses in our preferred, less structured manner. She said it would be fine this one time.
There are some women who feel fine when they are being measured for a bra or when they are getting a mammogram. The rest of us view a bra fitting and a mammogram as a violation of our personal space. We know both activities are useful and may even save our lives, but we can’t quite get comfortable with the idea of having a stranger mess with and man-handle our private bits.
The manager of the wedding dress store was sort of like a technician who gives mammograms. She was both clinical and intrusive. The woman entered my sister’s fitting room without knocking and started taking my sister’s clothes off, unzipping one dress and zipping up another. I was hoping the woman would read my sister’s body language (she had broken out in a rash, her cheeks were hot, and there was a drop of sweat on her brow) and leave us in peace. But she didn’t. She kept opening and closing my sister’s fitting room without knocking. And she wanted my sister to come out of the fitting room and parade around in the dresses she was trying on. My sister did not want to do this. She looked at me with a look that said: “Get me the hell out of here.”
So I thanked the woman and ushered my sister out of the store. Once outside in the sunshine and fresh air, my sister started bawling. Needless to say, a dress was not purchased. And there’s talk now that she and her fiance may elope.