Having It All: Faking It

Confessions of @A_WorkingMum

Bartering with Bridezilla

The MumsNetter’s post below recently went viral after being called her rude for wearing one outfit to two weddings:


Over 400 messages’ worth of responses saw people generally judging said crazy cousin to be seriously in need of Getting A Life.

The conversation reminded me of stumbling into my own Wedding Wear Minefield last summer.

My problems began when I foolishly decided to actually READ the wedding invitation.

Prior to this idiocy, everything had been going swimmingly.

I was excited to be told to save the date for the upcoming wedding of my cousin and his Glamourous Girlfriend.

This was not just any girlfriend, she was the ultimate KEEPER.

  • She attended family events, remembered names, bought thoughtful gifts.
  • She was intelligent, driven and successful.
  • She was fun and easy to talk to.
  • She was glamorous.
  • She was social media savvy – regularly observed posing glamorously at all manner of events/holidays, officially Living The Dream.

On my more deluded optimistic days I imagined her as my ten-years’-younger protegée.

Back in my pre-Instagram pre-children heyday, I was(okay still am) guilty of indulging in my share of Social Media Narcissism.

I could be found regularly posting beautiful pictures of Long-Suffering Husband and I on Facebook as we travelled the globe.

(Thia may have been pre- official filters, but I certainly knew how to edit the lighting to share the most flattering version of our lives)

N.B. Long-Suffering Husband wanted no part of my vanity but complied with occasional requests for selfies against exotic backdrops. I believe he was following advice received from a work colleague: “Happy Wife = Happy Life.”

(As I have mentioned previously – on occasion, my husband can be a very wise man)

So, Glamorous Girlfriend reminded me of my former self.

Perhaps I even stretched as far as to imagine that she thought of me as a role model of sorts.

Maybe I represented where she hoped to find herself in ten years’ time?

Well-travelled, adventurous, effortlessly juggling a successful career and bringing up our beautiful brood?

(Alternatively, in the real world, Glamorous Girlfriend was probably enjoying her child-free existence and would have shuddered at the suggestion that she could ever lower her standards of personal grooming to the levels I now find acceptable)

I digress.

I was very excited to receive this “Save The Date.”

It would be a rare opportunity to dress up and a fantastic summer reunion for all our party-loving relatives scattered around the globe.

We then found out that were expecting Baby Number Three and I would be just over eight months’ pregnant at the wedding.

I would be less of a glamorous older-sister role-model than a hot, sweaty, beached whale.

Never mind.

This was nothing that couldn’t be remedied with some timely planning.

I investigated the options for glamorous maternity wedding-guest attire.

After much online browsing I decided that The Outfit needed to come from Tiffany Rose.


Unable to reconcile myself to the idea of spending the best part of £200 on a dress to be worn once, I turned to EBay.

I was outbid multiple times (popular items, these dresses) but eventually won a similar Dream Dress for a price I was willing to pay.

I was thrilled when the parcel arrived.

  • I tried The Dress on at regular intervals over the next few months.
  • I tested the matching Shoes.
  • I planned The Bag.
  • I chose a Fascinator.

I had never been so well-prepared for a wedding so far in advance.

The formal wedding invitation arrived and was thrown unread into a drawer, other than a cursory glance when returning of the RSVP.

This brings us to one week before the wedding, when an idiotic compulsion took hold of me to double-check the details on the invitation.

I suddenly spotted a previously un-noticed dress code specification.

“Ladies -please no white, ivory or cream, in keeping with tradition.”


In keeping with tradition?

No dressing like a bride, yes, but I didn’t think those colours were traditionally banned outright?

My beached-whale dress was dark bronze but it did have a layer of cream lace over the top.

What if this constituted a contravention of the dress-code?

Surely not.

Practically every formal daytime dress for sale that summer included an outer layer of cream lace.

What could possibly look less bridal than an eight-months pregnant beached whale, ten years older than the bride, sporting a knee-length dark bronze stretchy tent-dress?

I wondered what might happen to guests who turned up in a forbidden outfit:

  • Clothes-police on the door refusing entry?
  • Bouncer Bridesmaids scouting for disobedient guests, quietly asking them to leave?
  • Bouncer Bridesmaids carrying a supply of Dress-Code-Compliant Outfits, supervising enforced changing sessions?

Dare I risk it? The mind boggled.

I confessed my concerns to Long-Suffering Husband.

He promptly dismissed them as ridiculous.

There was nothing wrong with my outfit and there would not be a problem. No-one would ever confuse the heavily pregnant older woman for a bride.

“I’m sure you’re right.. but I think I will feel better if I just check with her to make absolutely sure…”

He snorted.


How best to go about checking?

The problem was the tiny chance that she might say no.

I set out to make it crystal clear that I would look nothing whatsoever like her, and that finding another dress at this late stage would be nigh-on impossible.

I composed my message (multiple times), included a selfie of me in the dress (looking suitably whale-like) and eventually pressed send.

Immediately I felt as though the weight of the world had lifted from my shoulders.

  • I had Officially Done The Right Thing
  • She would tell me the dress was fine
  • I would be free from bridal disapproval

All was well with the world.

All was well for five minutes that is, until I received her reply.

It was a No.

(Unless I could find a way to butcher the dress by detaching the overlying lace, thereby leaving me as a beached whale dressed in a long stretchy bronze tube)

I must have failed to sufficiently communicate the impossibility of the task of finding another dress at this stage.

I had a three year old son, a one year old son, no childcare beyond my full-time work hours, no idea what dress size I was and the wedding was a few days away.

  • Deep breath
  • I told myself that this was fixable
  • Perhaps I just needed to explain myself better

I sent her another message explaining in full detail, clarifying that I could try but may not be able to find anything wedding-appropriate, on the off-chance that she may change her mind.

(I think I already knew this was futile but was still in the Denial phase)

Apparently my beached-whale dress matched her wedding gown and was therefore an absolute no-go.

I sighed.

Good bye, Glamorous Girlfriend, how I miss you.

Hello Bridezilla.

Browsing the internet dejectedly, I discovered the Oxford Dictionary definition of the term Bridezilla:


“A woman whose behaviour in planning the details of her wedding is regarded as obsessive or intolerably demanding.”

I even found a website giving examples of Bridezilla-esque behaviour, citing one example as being banning guests from wearing certain colours:


Fascinating reading, but this clearly wasn’t helping.

It was quite clear that there would be no Bartering with this Bridezilla.

I would be finding another dress.


I cast my mind back to my own wedding, a lifetime earlier:

  • Planning the biggest event of your life
  • Anticipating being judged on its success for all eternity
  • Negotiating endless price-hikes every time the word “bridal” is used
  • Chasing relatives who don’t RSVP

I recalled multiple last minute frustrations including:

  • Absconding chefs
  • Local boutique hotel accommodation booked by my bosses turning out to be a swingers’ hotel
  • The venue’s wedding planner losing all accommodation reservations and calling a week before to ask “any chance you have kept a back-up list?” (I had)
  • Receiving a phone call 3 days before the wedding explaining that yes, I had booked for sixty guests to all have breakfast together in the orangery the morning after the wedding with my new husband & I, but actually, they didn’t have enough staff to put the tables and chairs out the morning after, so presumably it would be fine if they delivered a lovely breakfast hamper to everyone’s individual cottages so the guests could all have breakfast separately instead?

All of which occurred whilst people kept asking  if I was having fun, to be met by a fixed smile and my standard reply of “oh yes, wedding planning is so much fun!”

(For the record, that suggestion of changing the breakfast plans was NOT fine. I informed them that the communal breakfast was happening and that if there were no staff to put the tables out, we would do it ourselves. That suggestion was initially met with enthusiasm, until I pointed out that there would be trouble if any of our guests injured their backs moving heavy tables. I suggested it may therefore perhaps be wisest if they dug a little deeper to find their own staff to DO THEIR FRICKING JOB. The problem disappeared and staff were miraculously found)

I shuddered at the memory.

Perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, I had quite a lot of personal experience of Becoming Bridezilla.

Maybe it was nothing more than a necessary coping strategy.

I had a stern word with myself.

  • Glamorous Girlfriend probably had a lot more on her mind than my maternity dress
  • She was unlikely to be deliberately attempting to make my life difficult
  • It was her wedding, not mine
  • Absolutely NO-ONE was going to care what I was wearing
  • They were likely spending a small fortune paying to feed and entertain the lot of us so really, she could tell the guests to wear whatever she wanted
  • She had not only invited both of our children but had thoughtfully sent out children’s menus for us in advance, a luxury indeed after the number of child-free wedding invitations we have had to negotiate childcare around (another tale for another day)
  • So in summary … MAYBE I should stop being a wet weekend whining about the dress and instead, look forward to celebrating their Big Day?

My talk worked.

Over the next few days I re-gained my sense of humour and couldn’t wait for the wedding.

I was excited to meet up with relatives flying in from around the globe and was fascinated as the drama unfolded further:

  • Multiple tales of rejected dresses
  • Frantic last minute outfit changes
  • Relatives who were too scared to ask permission for fear of encountering the outfit veto, hoping to take their chances on the day instead.

Turned out my rejected dress and I were in good company.

Some relatives planned to ask our cousin to reason with his Bride-To-Be.

I was interested in this strategy and awaited his response.

He said:

“I am staying out of this … talk to her in charge.”

My cousin was clearly going to make a FANTASTIC husband.

I searched  through my wardrobe and eventually discovered an unworn cheap bargain New Look dress (£15).

(I had bought it optimistically envisaging summer evening dinners, of which I had attended none… I had therefore planned to return the dress)

On consideration, I could just about get away with wearing it to a wedding.

Problem solved, no shopping required.


The gloriously sunny day of the wedding dawned.

We all arrived outside the Church, where we were treated to quite the impressive catwalk show of illegal cream and ivory dresses.

Amidst the loud happy reunion, cousin after cousin sidled over to me to point out the multiple fashion faux pas committed by various family members and friends.

We eyeballed the Bouncer Bridesmaids, eagerly anticipating their intervention.


Quite the anti-climax.

Long-suffering husband, not usually one to notice such things, was awaiting his first glimpse of this Bridal Gown – the one that allegedly looked virtually identical to my reject.

The bride arrived and she was….

  • …Breathtaking.
  • Truly, truly, stunning.
  • Tall, slender and tanned in a slinky, fitted, backless gown….

A glamorous gown that bore no resemblance whatsoever to my rejected maternity sack.

Long-suffering husband tried desperately to catch my eye.

I couldn’t look at him for fear I would start laughing.

By this point, my rejected dress really didn’t matter any more, did it?

In the end a wonderful wedding was had by all, with the added bonuses of:

  • All-day entertainment in the competition to spot the most illegal wedding wear
  • Eating as much as possible because my cheap Plan B dress was far more spacious than the expensive Plan A
  • Multiple glamorous family reunion photos for the requisite Social Media oversharing
  • Both dresses were successfully sold on EBay

So for anyone out there thinking of being organised and planning your wedding outfit before you receive the formal invitation ….

A word of caution.

Check the dress code.


  1. Oh..my…God. The dress you found was beautiful, I think she may have been concerned that at 8 months you were looking that good! However, I’m sure the bride was highly stressed, and looking at everything with a microscope. It was her big day. I’m glad you enjoyed the wedding, if nothing else it made for an entertaining story to share!

  2. I’ve never heard of a dress code at a wedding! (I’ve only been to 2) I know you shouldn’t wear white, but this dress didn’t look anything like the brides. I’ll make sure to start checking dress codes, thanks for the advice! Great post!

    • workingmum

      19th April 2017 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you! I haven’t come across a dress code for a wedding before either and I have definitely been to more than 25…that’s why this one took me so much by surprise! 😀 All’s well that ends well though

  3. haha! Your post gave me a good laugh. I am just like you looking at the invitation a few days early. Thanks for the laugh.

  4. ha ha, brilliant post – I can’t believe that there was a dress code to that level – We asked guys to come in kilts if they had them, but that was it. I can’t believe she said no to your dress. I went to a wedding when Bubbles was around 8 weeks old and people kept asking, I mean I think there were 3 men that asked when I was due – I was mortified!

  5. Wow … I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I had a similar experience when my soon-to-be sister-in-law banned all children from attending the wedding ceremony and the reception (a detail she did not include in the invitation). Being a stay-at-home mother of three with no child care (outside of family in attendance of said wedding), we had to decline. I’m so glad you were able to attend your cousin’s wedding and enjoy yourself!

    • workingmum

      19th April 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Nightmare. We also had an invitation to a wedding with no children allowed when I had a seven-week old baby and my husband was an Usher (what are they in the US…Groomsmen?) I basically had to take my parents with me to the hotel we stayed in, leave the baby with them, and leave the wedding every two hours to feed him! But in your situation where all the family were AT the wedding, it would have been impossible. Makes me more grateful for the weddings that DO include the whole family 🙂

  6. Devils advocate-she did have a specific request per a dress code. Ridiculous, maybe, but she did ask nicely ahead of time. Now i wouldn’t have said no, but that’s just me…and my mid of honor was incredibly jealous i was getting married and wanted to wear a white dress…to that I said no, simply because…

    • workingmum

      20th April 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Your post is not playing Devil’s advocate, you are completely correct! Her wedding, her dress code, she gave plenty of notice…not her fault I didn’t read the invitation lol.

  7. This is brilliant! It is amazing how some dress codes can be so strict!

  8. I wanted to see you both in the same dress.But,at the end the bride gown is no way similar to yours.That made me laughing.I really enjoyed reading this post.It seems you had some Bridezilla time 🙂

  9. You’re posts are pure genius. I have not dealt with any bridezillas as of yet, but I am sure in due time…. No dress codes either, other than that one I went to where we wore all jean (jean skirt and matching vest from the goodwill)…

  10. Love your self-talk and putting yourself in her shoes! It is so hard. I remember a family member asked me the same thing before my wedding and I was fine with it but sometimes that’s hard to do if you’re a young bride. I’m sure you looked super-cute and you maintained family happiness for years to come which is far more important!

  11. I think we all get a little loopy when it comes to these big events (pregnancy and weddings included) in our lives. Happy to hear you found a solution and were able to enjoy the celebration.

  12. Boy, some people get too carried away with their weddings…it’s a bit ridiculous! But you handled it with grace and class 🙂

    • workingmum

      21st April 2017 at 9:22 am

      Oh thank you… I don’t know about the grace and the class but I did at least follow instructions 😀

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