By Lori Acken
Outside of my family, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and beer, there are few things in this life I love more than TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress franchise. I can’t help it … I’m a sucker for slap-happy brides. And the simple joy of losing my mind over what people are willing to spend on a dress they’ll wear for one day, have sealed in a couple-hundred-dollar box and never look at again.
Also, Randy Fenoli. And Monte Durham. I’m especially a sucker for them.
So you can imagine my delirium upon finding out that the network is set to debut not just a second season of Say Yes To The Dress: Altanta, but a bouncing new bundle of silk and sassin’, to boot. Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids debuts this Friday right after Atlanta returns… and it is as spectacular as a one-shouldered Lazaro in bordeaux mikado.
Unless you’re the super-charming Lori Allen, owner of Atlanta’s Bridals by Lori where both series are filmed. “The bridesmaid department drives…me…crazy,” she cheerfully admits in the opening moments of the show. “Upstairs [the third floor where the bridal department is located] I have one person wearing a dress. Downstairs, I have ten. And all ten of those people want a say in what they’re wearing. It’s enough to make me … want to drink a lot of cosmopolitans.”
Allen dissolves into a fit of giggles … and the show launches into the bridesmaid shopping adventures of Molly Dudley, who says she wants a classy peacock-themed wedding, and Tinnell McIntyre, who sent out an email to her 15 bridesmaids that effectively informed them that, until further notice, she owns them — lock, stock, makeup, hairdos, outfits, thoughts, number of breaths taken and, most importantly, pocketbooks.
Right out of the gate, Molly’s maid of horror (this is not a typo) Melissa, with her Bumpit in the back and enough eye makeup for an entire family of Kardashians, makes damned sure that the cameras stay on her as much as possible, declaring, “A peacock’s a bird. Right? A turkey? … She wants us to go out there and look like peacocks, like a big turkey?! No!” Yes, Melissa. Most brides dream of their wedding — and wedding photos — being overrun by a bunch of big turkeys. Or in your case, one little jackass.
Molly describes Melissa as her little sister. Melissa describes Molly as a bitch. Also, Melissa wants her bridesmaid dress short and tight like party clothes and she’s not shuttin’ off the ‘tude until she gets it.
The rational side of me did start to wonder why Melissa wasn’t demoted from being one of the try-on-the-dresses girls in favor of one of the stunned, silent types that made up the rest of the wedding party. The other side me — the one that knows I will love this show forever — relished the notion that if it weren’t for the little beeler, Molly’s wedding party would probably have just been another coterie of sorority sisters taking up space on the second floor of Bridals by Lori.
Well, if it wasn’t for her and Allison.
That would be Aunt Allison, whom Molly describes as a fashionista and whom also believes that there is a very firm line between tasteful and gaudy and birds of a certain feather are not within 500 million miles of that line. “Molly loves peacocks,” says Allison. “Allison is not crazy about peacocks.” Allison is crazy about black. Period.
No wonder the rest of the bridal party just sits there like lovely deer in the Melissa-Allison headlights.
Meanwhile, over in Tinnell-ville, faux-hawked consultant Brandon has assessed his situation and come up with thus: “You’ve brought too many girls to the party! Somebody call the fire department because this is a fire hazard!” For sure. But not because of the ‘maids. Because of the bride.
Since Tinnell went over budget on her dress, she has no qualms about going over budget on the bridesmaids’ dresses, especially since it isn’t her cash in the first place. So when the nine girls who are along on the shopping trip look hysterical at the prospect of a $600 grape-jelly-colored number, Tinnell reminds them of The Email, gazes into the camera and says serenely, “If you can’t buy the dress, just be a guest.” Word.
But this ain’t Molly’s hushed-up crew. These girls are in the game, and as Tinnell’s eyes gleam with the prospect of sending them all to the poor house, one suddenly realizes that her worst nightmare — The Email — is now her salvation. The Email said The Hair had to be worn Down. No exceptions. Which will surely look terrible with the dress’ ornate floral back. The bridesmaid wearing the frock frees her tresses from a ponytail holder and everyone reacts like she just revealed a scaly 10-foot tail, even though she looks perfectly fine. It works. Tinnell, bamboozled by the confusion of being beaten at her own game, puts the kibosh on the gown though she clearly has no idea what just happened here.
Speaking of which, back over in Molly’s nightmare, Melissa has emerged in a short, strapless, teal number that actually doesn’t make her roll her eyes or pull a “talk-to-the-hand.” Now this could have been the bridesmaid dress of Molly’s dreams, on sale for a buck and a quarter, and there is still no way on this earth that she would have said yes to that dress. Her brown eyes flash with pleasure as she offers up a decisive no, making Melissa’s own peepers bulge like an enraged southern bull’s.
To try to save the day — and the sale — beleaguered-but-cool consultant Krystle steps in and tries to get the tantruming tot to accept the fact that she will be wearing a long, not-party-Melissa-style dress if she is going to be in the wedding. Melissa is undeterred. At long last, another bridesmaid, whose magnolia skin has gotten even paler from acute Melissa-itis, pipes up, reminds her that there are five other bridesmaids, and wonders aloud what has gotten into her. Um, lady … look to your left. See that TV camera right there? This isn’t dress shopping; this is Melissa’s screen test to be Georgia’s version of Snooki. And by gawd, not you or that bitch Molly or some stupid turkey-happy wedding is going to get in the way of it.
But all is not completely lost. Aunt Allison realizes she is being the pot to Melissa’s boiling kettle of crap and knocks the black, ruffled chip off her own shoulder. Which is good, because she’s at least twice the age of everyone else here and should really be setting an example.
Back to Tinnell, who has now rejected approximately 40 million dresses. “No one here seems to know what they want,” says Brandon, “so I’m going to give them what they need.” Sure enough. He pulls a sophisticated mermaid style in a tasteful magenta and Tinnell loves it. $286. The bridesmaids loooooooove it.
Then Brandon, in a moment of joie de dress, calls the dress pink instead of magenta. Oh, Brandon. Pink is not in The Email at all.
Pink is, however, on the mind of another bride who has brought her bridesmaids in to be fitted for the dress she picked without their participation. And without actually seeing the dress in the color she selected. So if they’re more purple than pink, they won’t coordinate with the rest of her wedding. Which is a few weeks away. Oops.
And if Tinnell’s dress is more pink than purple, she is so not having it. And everyone goes home to Houston with naught but the knowledge that they will be doing this all over again in another town on another day, and who knows what she’ll be willing to make them spend then.
So does anyone say yes to some bridesmaid dresses? Or will Lori be the only one lifting a celebratory cosmo? Find out when Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids premieres Friday at 10pm ET, following the Season 2 debut of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta.