On Fridays, TLC airs “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta,” the Georgia peach-y version of its wedding-dress franchise, set at Bridals by Lori, run for 31 years (this December) by Lori Allen.
At Bridals by Lori, the staff has a particular phrase for the part of the dress-buying process that involves letting the bride see herself fully accessorized.
“We do our jacking up,” Allen tells Zap2it. “We do the hair, the earrings, give her that total look. It’s funny, we’ve had so many people write in, ‘Don’t you know that’s a derogatory term?’ Yeah, we do, but at our store, it’s not.
“In fact, our T-shirts say, ‘Bridals by Lori, Jacking Brides Up for Over 30 Years.‘”
On this particular August Wednesday, Allen is spending her morning shooting an episode of the other TLC show set at her store, “Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids,” and then she’s planning to hit the stores.
“It’s my afternoon off,” Allen says, “and I’m going to go shopping. We wear all-black, so I’m always in search of different black things to wear, so that’s what I’m going to do.
“I’ve got ten of the same skirts, ten of the same pants, and tons of blazers and tops to put underneath them. I just switch it up every day, makes it kind of easy.”
Anyone who’s watched the Atlanta show, or the original “Say Yes to the Dress,” set at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City, knows the shows can be addictive.
“That’s what everybody says, that they’re addicted,” says Allen. “I think it’s because it’s the one time in your life that you get to do this, and it’s fun to see the journey that people go through to make this decision.
“I tell you, sometimes, you do want to pull your hair out. People are just amazed at what all goes on.”
Of course, for every bridezilla there’s an unsuspecting groom who may or may not know what he’s getting into.
“No kidding,” says Allen. “You say, ‘My gosh, how long is that going to last?’ Sometimes I think that. Of course, I’m not going to say that. Then, sometimes, I think, ‘You can’t decide on a dress, how are you ever going to make huge decisions in your life?'”
For example, there was Roni Love, a bride getting married in a barn, who wanted a dress to go with her cowboy boots. In the end, she had to decide whether to show off the boots or show off her grown-up style. And sometimes, the best decision is a split decision.
“She got the long dress for the ceremony,” says Allen, “and then she wore the short dress with the cowboy boots for the reception.”
Of course, in terms of wedding dresses, perhaps the most famous one right now is the lace-sleeved gown — by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen — Kate Middleton wore when she married Britain’s Prince William back in April.
Allen says she carries dresses in her store that look like Middleton’s, but, “You know whose dress they ask for? Pippa Middleton. Not Kate, Pippa.”
The bride’s sister wore a sleek, fitted white dress by the same designer, and it — and Middleton’s picture-perfect figure — wowed TV viewers around the world.
Asked if she thinks these brides believe they have Pippa Middleton’s physical attributes, Allen says, “They think they do, but they may not. We just roll with it. We just get it in their size and alter it.
“Few people have Pippa Middleton’s figure, let me tell you that.”
And if anyone thinks the brides, the mothers of the brides or the assorted entourages helping to choose the dresses amp up their behavior for TLC’s cameras, Allen says, “They’ve always been this way. it’s no different now than it ever was.
“All the drama that goes around the bride, she’s in a dress, the mother being jealous of the consultant, arguing, that has always happened in our store. All that going on in the bridesmaids department has always been a factor in our store.”