ugly wedding dress

How to Tell the Bride Her Dress is Ugly

When little girls start dreaming about their weddings at age 5, chances are they have sketches of the dress somewhere in their diary. They know the length, the style of the sleeves, and even what the veil will look like. By the time that little girl is planning her wedding years later, she’s built up quite a fantasy of her wedding gown. It has become the illustrious “Queen-for-a-day” outfit that is hers and hers alone. As the bride’s support system–her loving friends and family–what do you do if that dress is downright unflattering?

Keep in mind, the wedding day belongs to the happy couple. The bride’s final choice of dress is entirely up to her; however, in certain situations it may be time for some friendly fashion input. If an intervention is in order, remember that it is stressful planning a wedding and use the kindest words that come to mind.

Timing is Everything

Every woman’s worst fear is walking out of the bathroom with her skirt tucked into her underwear. If you knowingly let your best friend walk down the aisle with her wedding gown tucked into her skivvies, she would be pretty upset. The same rule goes for an unflattering dress. If you’ve seen the bride in her dress but the vision was less than delightful, she would probably prefer to know beforehand rather than embarrass herself in front of 200 of her closest friends.

If you happen to be lucky enough to attend a fitting with the bride and you notice something isn’t quite right, speak up. You should offer the most advice before a final purchase has been made. Even if it’s a small detail that sets you off, make it known. A shy bride could be relying solely on feedback from her friends, and if someone else doesn’t nix the totally-’80s  shoulder pads, she might mistake them for a new trend.

A good friend would never wait until the final fitting to tell the bride her dress is ugly. At that point, it is too late in the game for an outfit upheaval. If you decide at the last minute you can’t bear to watch your friend walk down the aisle as-is, gently suggest a more reasonable alteration, such as a new hemline or a fashionable shawl.

Speak Up

The wedding gown is a touchy subject, but sometimes all a bride needs is a little voice in her ear encouraging her to realize what she doesn’t want to see. If the dress is flashy or offensive (i.e. with heavy cleavage or a high slit) and the rest of the guests don’t belong to a pole-dancing support group, bring it up.

Avoid any direct labelling and opt for a gentler approach to drive the message home without hurting any feelings (“Don’t you think showing so much skin will distract from the essence of the day?”). Appeal to the cautious bride–does she want her creepy uncle eyeing her up all day? What about when her new spouse dips her for the first dance?

If the bride’s dress is flat-out unsightly or even dated (or destined to be), appeal to her motherly instinct. Doesn’t she want her children to look at her wedding pictures and think their mother was beautiful? Doesn’t she want her daughter to dream of wearing her mother’s wedding dress one day? The wackier the wedding gown, the less likely her future children may be to willingly inherit it.

All brides look beautiful on their wedding day, but the last thing a girl wants is a fashion mishap to take away from the look she worked so hard to attain. If your friend’s dress is physically unflattering to the point of embarrassment, tell her when it’s just the two of you. If it’s stretched too tightly across her behind and you’re afraid it’s going to split if she has to bend down even slightly, be truthful.

Even though it may be painful to hear, any woman would appreciate the truth rather than standing in front of all her guests, looking down, and realizing for the first time that her nipples are displayed prominently. If she’s upset with you at first, it’s because she doesn’t want to believe the truth of what you’re saying. Let her absorb it and she will realize how grateful she is to have an honest friend like you.

Forever Hold Your Peace

Everyone has a different taste in fashion, so it can be hard to know your place when it comes to a friend’s wedding gown. If your friend has a flair for the unfashionable, think twice before you speak up. Just because you hate ruffles doesn’t mean your best friend can’t wear them. If the bride is stuck in the ’50s and is desperate to have her gown modeled after Jackie O’s, let her do it (and even encourage a full-fledged costume wedding, if you’d like!). However, if the gown generally looks off but the bride seems to love it, let her love it. Raise concerns (“ Doesn’t the cone bra scream punk rock rather than just married?”) but let it go if she is too blissful to notice.

If the bride loves her dress, her confidence will resonate far and wide, no matter how much you may hate the look. As a friend, it’s your duty to steer her into what looks good, but you can’t overrule the final fashion call of the bride–it is her day, after all. 


Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.