Reasons Why Say Yes To The Dress Is Totally Fake

TLC is renowned for having some of the most ridiculously unbelievable reality shows on the planet. Seriously, anyone who's ever seen 90 Day Fiance might have a serious question about the validity of American immigration system. And is My Strange Addiction really trying to make us believe a woman spends her entire day eating drywall and hasn't yet keeled over? Nonetheless, some shows are far more believable than others, like Say Yes to the Dress, which has been rocking the wedding set for more than a decade.

The original version of the series takes place at Kleinfeld Bridal Shop, a bona-fide New York City bridal institution. After overwhelming success, the spinoffs starting rolling in — from Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta and Say Yes to the Dress UK to a version of Say Yes to the Dress for TLC Asia. There's even a version just for bridesmaids. Though the reality show is undeniably popular (and seemingly on TV somewhere in the world at any given time), there's a whole lot about it that's just flatly not reality at all. From a hectic showroom to dresses that are allegedly in shambles, Say Yes to the Dress paints a completely different picture of the upscale shopping experience than what's actually going on behind the scenes.

Kleinfeld is way too busy in real life

The Kleinfeld depicted on Say Yes to the Dress is a dreamland for soon-to-be brides. It's the kind of magical place where generations of family and friends calmly sit and sip champagne while future brides work closely with their ultra-attentive sales assistant to find the other one (you know, since they've already got the fiance). Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Kleinfeld is apparently nothing like the serene bridal oasis depicted on the TLC series. In fact, according to the New York Post, it can more accurately be described as "a madhouse."

The upscale bridal boutique is reportedly so busy that brides wait in long lines and get shuffled around to accommodate the insane crowds. The shop sees "up to 105 90-minute appointments per day" in just 28 dressing rooms.

"There were probably 20 other brides trying on dresses at the same time, so you never had a dedicated mirror or platform that was for you," bride Parisa Arash told the New York Post. "You had to stand around the middle of the floor waiting for someone to move . . . It's literally a machine that's pushing people through."

Since the series kicked off, Kleinfeld sees a whopping 17,000 brides a year and, according to the New York Post, has become a "full-scale tourist destination" with branded t-shirts and hats bearing the famed TV slogan "Just Say Yes." The meager three-and-a-half star Yelp rating says it all.

Kleinfeld is cramped

The Kleinfeld Bridal Shop we see in the Say Yes to the Dress looks absolutely gigantic. The back room that houses the dresses looks like an indoor football field alone, but TV really does add 10 pounds, or in this case, a few hundred square feet. In reality, it's not exactly meager (the New York Post sizes it at 35,000 square feet), but it's certainly no palace. The place is reportedly so cramped that no one would be surprised if you knocked elbows with another bride and spilled some of your champagne on a $6,500 Vera Wang gown — and that's without equipment and a film crew, who reportedly takes over the store "four or five days a week, nine months a year."

"Despite looking like a palace on TV, Kleinfeld isn't large enough for the amount of customers it attracts," show participant Amanda Lauren wrote for Ravishly. "If you have never tried on a wedding dress, let me tell you: Those things are ridiculously big and heavy. There aren't enough mirrors and platforms, so I had to wait in line while the clock was ticking. Would my appointment end before I got a peek at myself?"

The dresses are dirty

On TV, Kleinfeld looks like a pristine, white oasis with expensive gowns in perfect condition. In reality, it's apparently a little bit filthy and the dresses are sometimes worse for the wear. Some Kleinfeld shoppers said the shop and its merchandise was in lackluster condition. According to Ravishly, complaints included simple things such as "an unattended coat check" (an odd sight at an upscale shop in winter in New York City) and much more serious criticisms about the store's claim to fame — the dresses.

According to the New York Post, multiple brides-to-be at the shop have said floor samples at Kleinfeld were in awful condition. "There were actual armpit sweat stains. And on the hem, it looked like it had been out in the street," said shopper Catherine Lee. Other brides said gowns were ripped, and one said a gown she tried on at another shop was so battered at Kleinfeld that she didn't even recognize it. "On the show, it looks like this amazing wonderland of gorgeous dresses," said fellow shopper Parisa Arash. "But the samples are beaten to hell. You don't even really get a good idea of what [they] look like."

The consultants don't actually give brides what they want

In every episode of Say Yes to the Dress, the brides and their posse have a sit down discussion with their doting sales representative about what they're looking for in a wedding gown. It is, after all, their wedding. The salesperson then goes to the mysterious back room where she pulls a handful gowns that perfectly meet the criteria of both the bride and their overbearing, picky mom who's paying for it (why does someone like this always exist on the show? We'll get to that later).

In real life, it seems like the bride's opinion of what she wants is less of a rule and more of the fine print no one reads when they set up their Apple account. According to show participant Amanda Lauren's essay for Ravishly, the sales consultants completely ignore the bride's request for brand, style, fit, and even color.

"I sat down and gave her my criteria and budget. I showed her my favorite dresses from their website. I had one request: No Pnina Tornai (Pnina Tornai is one of the brands heavily featured on the show and is sold exclusively at Kleinfeld). So, naturally the first dress she showed me was Pnina Tornai," wrote Amanda Lauren. "What?"

Participants may be asked to revise what they say

This is common of many reality TV shows. Regular people don't always speak in TV-worthy sound bites, so participants are often asked to rephrase their initial thoughts. On the scale of reality TV sins, this ranks pretty low, but these aren't reenactment actors. They're real people.

Courtney Wright (not pictured), who appeared on Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids, said this happened to her. "When they started filming, they would ask us things, like 'What kind of dress are you looking for?'" She told 417 Bride. "Then we'd all put our two cents worth in, and they'd stop us and say, 'Say what you said again, but say it like this.'" She added, "If someone says something that could potentially cause a disagreement, the director asks you questions about it."

While this makes sense and is typical to the reality TV show experience, viewers may not realize that even minor manipulations can dramatically alter the authenticity of the participants' emotions.

Filming goes a lot longer than the show makes it look

Filming an episode of Say Yes to the Dress is basically a full day's work for each bride, even though each episode highlights two brides in just 30 minutes. There's a lot that goes into lighting, camera angles, repeating things the microphone didn't catch, and even just lacing up a particularly tricky bodice. Those of you who've never been a bridesmaid might not realize that getting a bride into a gown could take 25 minutes in itself.

In an interview with 417 Brides, Courtney Wright, who appeared on Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids, admitted her episode took about eight hours to film. Clisare, who appeared on the Irish series, claimed the filming took hours and sort of clouded her judgement.

"I was ringing [my fiance] to get the credit card, and he was like, 'You need to like take a day or two to just think about it because, you know, you've been in there for hours. You want to go home,'" she said. "He was like, 'Just take a day or two to think about it.'"

Between the time spent filming interviews that only partially air and the time it takes to get in and out of dresses, we can only assume filming takes a really long time. Nonetheless, viewers are left thinking that the wedding dress shopping experience is easy breezy when cameras are involved.

Episodes regularly air before the wedding

It's pretty much assumed that any episode of Say Yes to the Dress airs after the wedding already takes place. What bride wants everyone seeing her gown before she walks down the aisle? Isn't that a sure-fire way to curse yourself into a future divorce (at least if you believe in old wives' tales). Nonetheless, TLC does what TLC wants, and episodes of SYTTD absolutely air before the actual nuptials.

According to TMZ, a contestant named Alexandra 'Ali' Godino tried to sue SYTTD after producers allegedly broke "a verbal agreement" to not air her episode until after her wedding. She claimed they changed their minds and wanted to air it months before her nuptials and she was upset that her husband would see her dress ahead of the big day. A judge ultimately turned down her request.

In another instance, YouTuber Clisare was relieved when her episode aired before she walked down the aisle because she had to hide the fact that she actually chose another gown. Her friends were pretty confused when she showed up in something totally different than they'd just seen on TV.

"I told the production company, 'Look, I'm not going to tell anyone that I didn't go with this dress,' and they were like 'great,' so it aired as planned ... It aired twice before my wedding," she said.

Not all bridesmaids are created equal

Courtney Wright, who appeared on Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids in 2013, told 417 Bride that not all of the bridesmaids from the wedding appeared on the show. "[The bride] had seven bridesmaids, but only the girls who were able to go to filming were on the show," she said. That may not seem like a big deal, but Wright also shared some interesting info on how the show chose which bridesmaids to film.

"Before the show, [the bride] had to write out descriptions of who she was bringing, what their personalities were like, if they got along with everyone else, what upsets them, what they would disagree with and things like that," she said. "Then, they chose the bridesmaids they wanted to interview from that. They interviewed three of us."

Stirring up drama is common on these types of shows (and is a big part of what makes them so much fun to watch), but purposely picking things that will make people not get along is far from reality.

Brides try on more dresses than it seems

Since most of us aren't Oscar-winning actors, it's safe to say that our wedding dresses might just be the most important dresses we ever wear, and you know how the saying goes. You've got to kiss a lot of frogs to meet your prince. The same thing holds true for a gown, especially if you're on TV and producers are trying to elicit the most dramatic reaction out of you and your picky bridesmaid entourage.

Though Say Yes to the Dress might only depict brides trying on three or four dresses, most contestants actually try on a whole lot more than that. According to Buzzfeed, brides-to-be supposedly don "an average of six to 15" gowns throughout the several hours spent filming their short episode, and producers pick the dresses that get the biggest reactions to show in the final cut. So basically, finding the perfect gown is a lot like dating: it looks so easy in a rom-com, but in real life, you're going to get totally put through the ringer. Weddings are hard work no matter how you slice it!

Saying yes to the dress might be more like a maybe

When a bride says yes to the dress on TLC, viewers sort of assume she's actually purchased that dress and is wearing it to her wedding. TLC even usually shows a select handful of brides walking down the aisle in their chosen gown. In truth, some of the brides who said yes to the dress on the show might have ultimately said no in real life. YouTuber Clisare (above), who appeared on the Irish version of the series, admitted she never actually agreed to buy her two-piece gown.

"There was something in me that I was like, 'I'm just not 100% there, like I'm 99% there on this dress'" she said. "But you know, they asked me the question, 'Do you say yes to this dress?' and they kind of cut short my answer ... I was like, 'You know, I'm really nervous. My mother always told me to go home and sleep on something before you make a decision this big, but I guess that I'll have to say yes."

According to Clisare, the editors cut the footage so it looked like all she said was "I'll have to say yes." She didn't buy a dress that day, and ended up purchasing one from Etsy instead. To their credit, the producers did ask if there was any way they could to make the original dress work for her, but she had already made up her mind.

Producers don't just say yes to just any potential bride

TLC makes it seem like the brides who get chosen for Say Yes to the Dress are a lucky, random bunch, but when it comes down to it, you can't actually just walk into Kleinfeld, and get your love story blasted out to an upwards of 1.3 million viewers. Like most reality shows, you have to apply in advance.

So, does the Say Yes to the Dress production crew choose bridal parties that seem prone to drama? Perhaps casting choices like the picky dad who won't pay for anything but a certain style give us a clue. Or how about bridesmaids who are bitter they're the ones not getting married? They seem to make the list with regularity! According to Buzzfeed, producers suss out all this drama by asking a series of questions like: "Describe yourself in three words"; "Please list the people shopping with you and tell us a bit about their personalities"; "Who is paying for your dress?"; "Who is influencing your gown decision?"; and "Have you filmed or appeared on another reality show in the last 12 months? If yes, please explain."

If you fill out an application, and TLC doesn't wind up picking you as a contestant, you still can be on TV, albeit in the background. According to Buzzfeed, Kleinfeld asks that you inform your sales consultant if you don't want to be on TV because the place is often packed with cameras.

Never forget, the end goal here is a sale

Sales people are sales people, but the consultants on Say Yes to the Dress appear to at least be sort of sensitive to the their brides' needs. It often appears like they'll only pull something out of budget if what the bride wants doesn't actually exist in the budget she's given (yes, some of us have do champagne tastes on Franzia-level income).

In real life, Kleinfeld consultants might just purposely ignore the idea of a budget all together in order to boost their sales numbers. According Amanda Lauren, a bride-to-be who searched for her dress at the NYC bridal shop, the sales consultants have mastered the art of the upsell, and it can kind of feel like you're buying a used car. Her consultant tried to put her in a gown that was almost $3,000 over budget and pressured her to buy it within the next three weeks or she'd miss out on a small discount.

"I feel like reality television tricked me. Kleinfeld isn't in the business of making women feel good — they're in the business of selling dresses. It doesn't matter if the dress isn't what you want — they just want you to sign a credit card receipt in under 1.5 hours," she wrote on Ravishly. "[Your consultant] will prioritize her bottom line — not how your bottom looks in a mermaid-style number."

They stick to the script, no matter how unique the bride

Through the sea of bedazzled mermaid dresses and Pnina Tornai, it kind of seems like nearly every bride on Say Yes to the Dress wants the same thing. Yes, we know everyone is there to get a dress, but do they have to all be so traditional? Of course, each season has an outlier or two to spice things up (see: the woman who wanted a gothic gown) but they're usually a punchline. For the most part, all of the brides on the series have a large entourage, tons of bridesmaids, and fully believe in the bizarre traditions surrounding holy matrimony and courthouse nuptials.

When Say Yes to the Dress does stumble upon an alternative bride, you might not even know it. According to Clisare, who appeared on the Irish series, producers cut out a huge chunk of what made her wedding unique: the fact that she wanted a blue wedding dress.

"I was very, not anti-wedding, but I really, really resented the traditional aspects of the wedding, so the more people said, 'Oh you should go with the white [dress],' the more I pulled back from it," she said.

Producers made it look like Clisare picked a white gown and cut out any mention of a blue dress, which was mentioned several times during her actual appointment. She ended up getting the blue dress of her dreams when the cameras weren't rolling.