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Bride Stunned After She’s Accused Of ‘Breaking Tradition’ By Refusing To Wear Mom’s Wedding Dress

Obed Hernández/Unsplash

Family traditions are important, and sometimes upholding them can be really fun and even empowering.

But there are other times that breaking tradition should be okay, too, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor sabrina_the_only thought the time might be while planning her wedding, when she decided to not wear the dress that had been in her family for generations.

But when she received serious pushback, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she really was being selfish.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for refusing to wear my mother’s wedding dress?”

The OP planned on a non-traditional wedding.

“Me (24 [female]) and my fiancé Gabe (26 [male]) got engaged a while back and have been planning our wedding. Me and Gabe aren’t really ‘traditional’ people, and that’s part of why we get along so well.”

“So I was looking into wedding dresses a few weeks ago and I found one that I loved. It’s a purple gown with pink lace and it fits like a glove.”

“I’ve always found plain white dresses as boring and it seems like this purple one was made for me.”

“I asked Gabe on his opinion on whether I should go for a more traditional dress, and he said that I should get whatever dress would make me happy and that I was the one getting married in it.”

Then her mother presented her with the family wedding dress.

“Last night, my mother called me and asked about dresses.”

“I told her I found one that I really liked (leaving out details because I knew she would try to talk me out of it).”

“She seemed deeply offended that I didn’t want to wear her wedding dress, which has been in her family for generations.”

“Ever since I was a child, she’s been talking about how she can’t wait to see me walk down the aisle in that stupid dress.”

“And since I was like thirteen, she’s constantly had me try it on and ‘model’ it for her.”

“I’ve always hated the thing but never said anything because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

The two women couldn’t agree.

“I gently told her that I didn’t want to wear her dress and I was in the process of purchasing one of my own, which she took as an offense.”

“She also brought up that my two older sisters, Clair (29 [female]) and Ally (32 [female]) wore the dress and that my younger sister Hailey (20 [female]) was already planning on using the dress when she gets married. She said I was ‘breaking tradition’ by not using it.”

The OP received more pushback.

“I made up an excuse to end the call and a few hours later I got one from my sister Clair. She said that I should just wear the stupid dress to make my mother happy, and that it was her ‘life’s dream’ to see all four of her daughter wear it, and eventually her granddaughters.”

“(I’m not even kidding, she’s already saying that Clair’s newborn girl will be beautiful in the dress).”

“I said that it was my wedding and me and Gabe have already decided that I should wear the dress I want.”

“I got frustrated and hung up on Clair.”

“A while later, Ally called me and said that I should wear whatever I want, but my mother and Clair haven’t talked to me since.”

“AITA?”

The OP added a final important detail in the comments:

“Another detail I forgot to add: I’m relatively larger than my petite mother and sisters, so I would have to go through the struggle of getting the dress sized and tailored to fit me, which would mean I would have to find someone willing to do it, since there’s no tailor shops in my city.” 

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP had every right to choose the dress that was right for her. 

“NTA.”

“Your wedding, your choice. I get that she wanted to make ‘fetch’ happen, but it’s not going to happen, and being controlling about it because of her personal fantasy is just an unhealthy way to live through others.”

“There are far more reasonable asks, like a piece of jewelry, or anything that would fall under the ‘something borrowed’ umbrella instead of ‘BE JUST LIKE ME AND ALL YOUR SISTERS AND YOUR CHILDREN, BECAUSE I AM YOUNG, AND YOU ARE YOUNG, AND BE LIKE ME, NOTHING CHANGES.'” – ShotcallerBasney

“NTA. And once you buy that purple dress, make sure it’s in a secure place where mom and sis can’t get it and an ‘accident’ happen and they will be like, ‘Oh well, but here is a perfectly good wedding dress for you to wear.'” – FaerieWarrior

“She’s basically saying that her dream of you wearing the dress takes priority over your dream to have the dress you want. She’s being unfair and controlling. It’s one thing to ask if you’d like to wear it and another to demand that you wear it.” – JHawk444

“Super NTA.”

“You said, ‘My mother and Clair haven’t talked to me since.’ It’s one of life’s little gifts. Take it and run for as long as you can.”

“How awful that your mom thinks her ‘dream’ allows her to stampede all over your wedding. I’m guessing she’s someone who can’t be reasoned with. So let her have her snit, you’re not in charge of her feelings even tho she’s trying to make you believe you are.”

“Also, you might want to (politely, or not) inform anyone who continues to badger you about this that they risk being uninvited. and mean it, then block if needed. A group text or email, get the s**tstorm out of the way and lay your boundaries at the same time.”

“Congratulations, I wish you a happy wedding (drama free) and a long and loving life.” – Super-Snouter

Others agreed and suggested using tailoring as an excuse.

“Remind your mother that tailoring an heirloom dress will do a lot of damage to it and potentially wreck your little sister’s dream of wearing it. Why ‘ruin’ a family heirloom and get in the way of what your sister desperately wants just because you are older than she is?”

“So instead of wearing it yourself, ask her if you can snip a bit of material off of it and wear it pinned to your dress for the ceremony. Maybe that will be enough of an olive branch you get everyone to back off.”

“NTA.” – armchairepicure

“Honestly? Play on that with your mom. You know your younger sister wants to wear it, so you don’t want to possibly ruin it with the alterations that would need to be done for you to wear it.”

“Old garments are especially prone to being ruined by constant tailoring, so it would actually be the safest option to not tailor it.” – fallen_star_2319

“It is much easier to take a dress in than out. And if you’re, let’s say, two sizes bigger than them (or even more), there’s not going to be enough fabric in the dress to let it out to even barely cover you.”

“Which means the tailor would have to cut open the dress, rip out sections, and add panels and details.”

“Besides for that costing a fortune, looking nothing like the original gown, and probably not looking as good as a gown that fits in the first place, the original gown would be DESTROYED because there’s no undoing all that work (you could take it in, but all of the original details would be gone plus there would be seams).”

“It’s one thing if you really wants to wear the gown and there was no one else would ever wear it, but if your mother envisions the gown in pristine condition with her grandchildren wearing it, you can’t wear this dress. Which honestly is for the best because your gown sounds awesome.”

“If you have the gown with you, it might be worth making the trip to a tailor so you can get a quote and enough details in order to scare your mother off, or you could say you spoke to seamstress and then describe how her gown would be permanently ruined.”

“Does your mother have a veil or some thing else she wore to her wedding that you could use instead? Maybe that’s a compromise.” – DutyValuable

“Add some water works for effect: ‘Since you keep beating me with your demands, I’ll just come out and say it: the dress is too small, and every time you ask, it reminds me that I’m not thin like you and sisters, and it’s honestly so hurtful that you are making me have to say this right now. It won’t fit and it’s such a hurtful reminder.’ But I’m petty like that.” – rosecityrose0618

A few thought Claire and the OP’s mother were mad that she was the first to say no.

“Did Clair actually say that you ‘should wear the stupid dress’? That actually shows how she really felt about wearing the dress and not being able to get her own.”

“Good on you for having a spine and not listening to your mother’s ridiculous arguments.”

“NTA.” – Proplyd-0628

“I think Clair didn’t realize she could say no to her mom, too, and THAT’S what’s she’s really mad about.” – dasbarr

“By the sounds of it, the mom was probably encouraged (or ‘encouraged’) to wear The Family Dress by the previous generation, and they were expected to wear it by the generation before them, and so on.”

“There’s probably some kind of subconscious ‘I had to wear the stupid thing, so you do too’ thing going on.” – Mad-Elf

“If the OP is not paraphrasing Clair’s words calling it a ‘stupid dress,’ it sounds like the sisters who wore the dress weren’t super happy about it either but didn’t want to rock the boat with their controlling mother.” – Psychological_Fish42

While the OP thought she might be in the wrong after the feedback she received from her family, the subReddit didn’t think so.

It might be nice to represent the family in some way, but asking every woman to wear the same dress would be unrealistic. Plus, it should ultimately be up to the bride what she will appear in on her wedding day, family tradition or no family tradition.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.