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Nerdy Bride Called Out By In-Laws For Insisting On Fantasy-Themed Dress Code For Wedding

couple in fantasy costumes
Kharchenko_irina7/Getty Images

Theme weddings have been around longer than people might think.

I recall both Star Wars and Star Trek themed weddings back in the 1970s and 1980s.

Those poor couples who opted for a Luke and Leia groom and bride instead of Han Solo and Leia from 1977-1983…😬


In addition to movies and TV shows, people have used anime, books, hobbies, legends, historical eras, and video games as inspiration for wedding themes.

Is a themed wedding for everyone?

Probably not.

But are couples who decide to customize their wedding to reflect their personalities horrible people?

That’s the question a bride-to-be is grappling with. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

OtherwiseSpread2046 asked:

“AITA for giving my wedding guests a dress code?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I (29, female) am getting married to my partner (30, male), and we have planned a fantasy/renaissance-themed wedding. We are massive fandom nerds—books, video games, movies, comics etc… and actually met at a Renaissance faire and wanted that to be part of our wedding.”

“We discussed it with our close friends and everyone thought it was a great idea.”

“So we sent out the invitations plus an attached letter that explained why we wanted to have a themed wedding and examples of the type of things we wanted people to wear—just Google ren faire if you want to see.”

“We included photos, descriptions, budget categories that went from how to DIY a costume using old/thrifted clothes to just straight out buying something online. We also asked people to reach out if they had any worries so we could work something out.”

“I have received a few messages from my closer friends saying they’ve heard other people, including some of me and my partners family members calling me a bride-zilla. Saying we are being unreasonable, that this is ridiculous, that they don’t want to go if I’m going to get all up in arms over clothing.”

“My soon-to-be mother-in-law (59, female) and sister-in-law (26, female) are especially pissed. I reached out to them after their names were mentioned and they said I am ruining what is supposed to be a happy day by demanding people dress up like idiots.”

“They said everyone should be allowed to dress in what makes them feel comfortable and I am being very controlling. My partner says not to listen to them, but there are so many people saying it.”

“I’m feeling pretty hurt by all this. I assumed people would react like this if I said everyone needed to go out and spend hundreds on costumes, but we went out of our way to include pictures and suggest as many very low-budget options as possible.”

“I honestly didn’t think it was a big deal, but now I am having second thoughts about the whole themed wedding idea.”

“Am I the a**hole?”

The OP added:

“We put in the invitation we don’t expect or want people to buy us wedding gifts and would rather they keep their money for themselves or use it for their outfit.”

“One of the ‘low budget options’ was things like a normal floral spring/summer dress many people would already own, with the addition of like a flower crown or belt or something. It went up from there.”

“For more masculine stuff it was like a linen shirt with a piece of fabric tied around your waist or a belt. It’s quite lowkey and I’m not super strict about it, just not things like a cocktail dress or a bodycon dress or a formal suit and tie.”

“Also just going to add, excluding SIL and MIL, our closest family and friends haven’t complained and several people have said they are looking forward to it.”

“It is more so cousins, aunts/uncles or those sort of level friends complaining. They have also not directly contacted us with their concerns.”

“We are hearing it through the grapevine.”

The OP summed up their issue.

“I want to have a themed wedding and have asked the guests to dress accordingly. Several have said I am being unreasonable and shouldn’t ask this of people because most will have to buy clothes to fit the theme and won’t wear them again.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors were divided in their opinions.

I rarely weigh in on these moral quandaries, but this one inspired a response.

People have costume or “fancy dress” parties all the time for birthdays, holidays or just for fun. No one looks at the invitation and vilifies the host(s).

Why not a theme for a wedding? Isn’t it just a big party to celebrate a marriage?

And if people don’t want to wear a costume, they can go anyway—with the understanding they probably won’t be featured in the wedding photos—or they can stay home. The OP never says anyone not in costume will be turned away, so the complaints seem like much ado about nothing.

What people who don’t want to dress for the theme shouldn’t do is whine about someone else’s party and demand the bride and groom change their theme to make the party poopers happy.

Most—but not all—of Reddit agreed.

A few took the stance of how dare this couple make their wedding about themselves (YTA).

“YTA. You can control what bridesmaids and groomsmen wear, but guests? If you said costume optional then OK.”

“But telling people what to wear to me is a stretch. Just be prepared for people to say they will not come.” ~ Intelligent_Tell_841

“Dress codes are levels of formality, not a style of clothing. OP, YTA for treating guests like props. Not everyone has time to make a budget costume for a wedding.” ~ AttachedQuart

“OP is being too controlling. YTA.” ~ __The_Kraken__

“YTA. They are coming to celebrate a wedding, not to be a prop at a costume party.” ~ AlexMango44

Some felt there were no a**holes here (NAH)—even if they weren’t down with the theme.

“NAH. You’re allowed to have what you want at special occasions that are for you and people are allowed to think they’re ridiculous and decline to come because of it.” ~ WillametteSalamandOR

“NAH. The themed wedding is a fun idea, but would probably be more fun with a bunch of friends who are into cosplay. It is your wedding, so you should do what you want.” ~ Odd_Task8211

“NAH. You have the right to request a dress code. There are people who are just as put out by a ‘black tie formal’ invite request as a ‘ren faire’ request, in so far as having to spend money, dress/step outside their comfort zone, procure new items that are unlikely to be worn again, etc…”

“And people request black tie on invitations all the time and I don’t believe much second thought is given nor does the bride get labeled a bridezilla.”

“Meanwhile, your guests have the right to say absolutely not and stay home.”

“You really did give serious and helpful options to people, and also declined wedding gifts—wow—you guys are a young couple and could use those gifts. So I feel like this speaks to your level of excitement/desire for this wedding theme.” ~ Few-Ticket-371

But the majority thought the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. People give dress codes for weddings all the time.”

“Yes, it’s strange to people outside the community. I am not into dressing up or ‘nerd’ interests, but if someone I cared about wanted wedding photos that fit a theme, dang it, I’m matching the theme.”

“I know someone who had a Halloween wedding. Did I want to wear a costume to a wedding? No. Did I? Yes.”

“Unless someone expects me to drop hundreds of dollars for a 1 time outfit, I’m doing my best to support their dream day.”

“I think all weddings can be a stupid waste of money, so I say make it what you want. It sounds fun.” ~ MindingUrBusiness17

“NTA. Whiners should just RSVP ‘I’m sorry, I can’t make it’. No need to crap on their plans or their theme. Just excuse yourself if it’s that much of a hassle. It’s an invite, not a summons.” ~ madbiologist42

“NTA. Look, going to a standard Indian wedding requires 4-5 outfits. Doing just one for a fun theme is totally not asking too much!”

“I would love to attend a wedding like yours. It sounds like a joyous celebration.” ~ BelliAmie

“NTA. This is such a small ask. It’s like the family members who have an issue with this have no love for OP/fiancé.” ~ Apprehensive-Clue342

“NTA—themed weddings are fun. You gave them budget-friendly options.”

“I have seen many of these themed type weddings and they are really fun. It is only for one day, not sure why they can’t go with the flow.”

“They have the option of not going.” ~ Hungry-Industry-9817

“NTA, but expect a smaller group to attend. Not everyone likes it or feels comfortable going along with it, but it is your wedding, and attendance isn’t mandatory.”

“Just don’t be pissed or resentful at those who opt out and I think you’re okay. A smaller party with people who are really engaged is more fun than a large party of barely interested guests.”

“It’s tempting to say NAH, but when people get hostile and insulting like your future MIL & SIL or anyone calling you bridezilla, they’ve crossed over into a**hole territory.” ~ BetweenWeebandOtaku

The people who said a wedding should be focused on the guests baffle me. We don’t make the same demands for birthdays and they happen annually.

The only people required to attend are the bride and groom, the officiant and whatever number of witnesses their marriage license requires.

Everyone else’s attendance is optional.

But it seems like this theme might eliminate the people who only wanted to come for free food and drinks.

A wedding attended only by people who enthusiastically support the bride and groom’s happiness? Sounds like a win to me.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.