Can I Stop My Sister-in-Law from Wearing White to My Wedding?


AAPW: She's wearing a white floor-length ballgown. Whyyy?

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

26761920062_735b47f754_k

Q:My soon to be sister-in-law and I have always had a rough go of it. She is extremely close to my fiancé, and she made it very clear to me when we told her that we were planning on engagement that she was not a fan. Since that point, our relationship has been strained and tense, but we both try to put on a good show when we are around both my fiancé and their family, and have an unspoken agreement that we won’t bother each other or rock the boat.

Now that we are about ten months into a twelve-month engagement, however, things are getting heated again. She recently has chosen (without asking, I might add) to purchase a floor length white, floral, ball gown from Neiman Marcus for my low-budget wedding. Not only do I feel offended that the dress is white (I’m a traditionalist in that way), but the amount of money she spent, the fact that it mirrors the silhouette of my own dress, and her sheer lack of consideration have literally kept me up at night.

I feel disrespected, subverted, and just plain hurt that she couldn’t have at least asked me if the dress she chose was okay. I couldn’t even afford anything that expensive for my own dress… it just seems so hurtful and intentional.

So, when my fiancé tried to approach her and ask if she could please wear a different dress, her response was, “I will think about it.”

I’m so overwhelmed! I’m hurt! I don’t know what to do. My fiancé doesn’t think it would be good for me to bring it up with her myself (because she is apt to disregard me anyway), but I’m running out of time! I’m terrified that she’s going to show up to my hot, casual, Virginia wedding in a floor length white ball gown just to make a point.

Am I crazy for being so hurt? Is it foolish for me to be so up in arms about a dress? Or does it seem like she’s actually being subversive and manipulative, and what do I do about it with so little time left until my wedding?

—Anonymous

A: Dear Anonymous,

I think it’s pretty plain that she’s trying to upset you. Maybe a person can obtusely wear white to a wedding without considering that it may be hurtful. Maybe that person can even buy an expensive, floor-length gown for a casual event (um, what?) without thinking that they may stand out. But, to be directly told, “This is bothering me, please don’t do it,” and still consider wearing it? She’s being a jerk.

You’re worried that, “don’t wear white to a wedding,” is an old-fashioned expectation, but the core idea is forever relevant. Don’t try to outshine the folks you’re celebrating. That means don’t announce your pregnancy at a friend’s baby shower, don’t propose on the dance floor of your cousin’s bar mitzvah, and yeah, pick a different dress if you have to ask, “Does this look more like a wedding dress than the bride’s wedding dress?” It’s completely fair for you to have that expectation.

But, short of wrestling her into a pencil skirt, there’s nothing you can do about what she wears. So I would just drop it. Your partner made a polite request, now it’s up to your sister-in-law to respond.

It’s hurtful that she would be so intent on upsetting you. But beyond that sting, there’s nothing to worry about here. If you’re concerned she’ll outshine you, don’t be. She’ll attract attention, sure. But for being out of place and looking like an ass.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTIONPLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • CMT

    Have your maid of honor “trip” and spill red wine on her?

    Also, holy crap. How hurtful. I hope you can take solace in the fact that this will reflect very negatively on her and not on you.

    • Jess

      I volunteer to show up at this wedding and spill wine on her. Then LW can blame “the random wedding crasher” and get off free!

      • JenC

        And I’m clumsy so I’ll “accidentally” stand on the back of her evening dress and leave a giant muddy footprint (or even better maybe even rip it).

        • Jess

          Oh darn! Me and my clumsy nature! I’m just so terribly embarrassed. Please, let me help by trying to dab this off…

          • JenC

            Oh oops would you look at that? I seem to be spreading the mud around. Oh I’m so sorry!

      • Aubry

        Me too! Where is this wedding, I’ll bring my best Cab Sauv!

        • H Lawson

          I am imaginging a gang of angry feminist wedding crashers sloshing wine everywhere and screaming “Sisterhoooooooooooooood!” I hope the OP knows she has a gang of true sisters ready to back her up in hardcore wine-o fashion. Malbes, shiraz, bring it!

          • CMT

            I’ll bring the tempranillo! We can spill every type of red wine imaginable on SIL ;)

      • Lawyerette510

        Yes, I volunteer as back up volunteer wine spiller, in case Jess has a scheduling or geographic conflict.

    • archaeopteryx

      I literally thought the same thing! If it was my best friend in this situation I’d have the cabernet out the second I saw the SIL ;)

  • Eenie

    She is going to look ridiculous and petty!

    • Lisa

      This was my immediate thought. If I saw the groom’s sister in a giant, white ball gown at my friend’s wedding, I’d think she was utterly ridiculous and roll my eyes at her. Then I’d probably invite the friend over for a bottle of wine sometime after the wedding to let her complain about what a PITA her new SIL is.

    • JenC

      There’s nothing that quite screams “I’m not OK with my brother marrying” like wearing a white floor length dress to his wedding.

    • Anon

      Yeah don’t sweat because it’s completely transparent, and even if the dress is totally flattering there’s nothing anyone will be thinking beyond What the hell was she thinking wearing that dress?!

    • Agreed. Even if they’re not able to convince this person to not wear the dress, she is going to look so silly and everyone at the wedding will recognize that.

  • Saxyrunner

    What the actual F…? She is way out of line, and will only stand out in a negative way

  • Ashlah

    Totally agree with Liz here. It certainly does seem she’s doing it to upset you, but she will only make herself look like a fool in front of all of your guests. If you can laugh about it with them, instead of letting it ruin your day, all the better.

    When my cousin got married, she had her half sister act as flower girl. Flower girl’s mom, who does not get along with her ex/the father of the bride, dyed the girl’s hair an unnatural color just to be petty and “ruin” the wedding. Cousin freaked and had the girl’s hair dyed brown the night before, but I always thought embracing the blue-haired flower girl would have been the best “fuck you, your actions have no effect on me” move. I feel the same about this dress (given you’ve already tried politely asking she change her ways). Instead of letting your day become about how upset you are over her behavior, take joy in letting everyone else observe her petty bullshit for themselves.

    (Disclaimer: I know this is easier said than done when you already have a rough history with this person. But do try!)

    • Aubry

      I would have bought a last minute blue bouquet from the grocery store and went with it, as a big F U. LOL, how are people so petty? I just don’t get it!

      • Roselyne

        And then made a comment about how GREAT it was that the kid’s mom was so supportive of her kid being in this wedding, after all, her father’s favorite colour is blue, and it’s so nice to feel that the entire family is together in this!

        Petty, but UGH, some people.

    • toomanybooks

      She could’ve been Something Blue!

    • Grace

      A blue haired flower girl would be the most BA flower girl. APW, please find someone who has done this!

      • Ashlah

        That’s what I thought!

  • Rebekah

    I love Liz. Liz is amazing and thoughtful and kind and really knowledgeable. I almost always nod along when reading her advice.

    However, I disagree with the idea that there’s nothing more you or your fiance can do here. I would recommend heavily that the fiance talk to his sister in more than just a “hey, could you maybe wear something not bridal to my wedding?” tone. I’d personally recommend a, “Hey Britney, I’m so glad you’re coming to my wedding and you know I love you. Your dress looks a lot like the one Amanda is going to wear to get married to me. It’s possible that some people might get the wrong idea and think YOU want to marry me, or that you’re simply being unkind to your sister-in-law by wearing a bridal-style dress to her wedding. I am sure none of that is true, right? Anyway, I would really appreciate if you wore something that wasn’t white or floor length to my wedding. This is important to me.”

    It matters to the LW, so it should matter to her fiance. We’ve had lots of talks on APW about honoring and protecting your new baby family, and I think this is one place where he needs to step into that role.

    That being said, if selfish SIL insists on dressing bridal, I vote heavily for the “Oops, spilled my wine” outcome.

    • Ashlah

      You know what, that’s a good point. It’s not clear from the letter how firm he was with his sister, so it may be possible for him to be more forceful in his request. If he already has been, and sister isn’t receptive, then I think Liz’s advice is still solid. If he was kind of wishy-washy and now refuses to do anything further, that’s not cool. I really like the script you’ve provided.

    • Jess

      I mean, I’m glad that fiance said SOMETHING, but did he say, “What the hell are you doing? This is ridiculous and out of line and inappropriate. Don’t dress like a bride at a wedding that is not your own.”

      Because… that’s what should be said. Unless it’s been very clearly communicated to the sister that she is well out of line here, I’m not sure it’s best to shrug and say, “nothing further can be done!”

      • Amy March

        Right? This isn’t an “oh please consider a change” convo, this is a “why are you being so weird and disrespectful? you’re being rude to my fiancee, it bothers me, and I expect you to grow up and wear navy.” To me it plays into the whole “she made it clear she doesn’t like me” and “we have an unspoken agreement not to rock the boat”- Excuse me? Where was fiance then? Obvi you do not have any sort of agreement.

        • Violet

          Sounds kind of like an Andrew Jackson Trail of Tears agreement, if you ask me.

        • Jess

          Yup! And like, who else in her life is unwilling to tell her that the way she is behaving is a bad idea? Parents? Friends? Other siblings?

          I firmly believe that unspoken agreements are one sided agreements.

        • Cleo

          Yes! This!

          I nominate Amy March for official Ask APW Anger Translator: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX8tL3PMj7o

          • Danielle

            Ha ha, that is awesome! We need a lot of Anger Translators… For those of us who feel pulled between the desire for “respectability” and, ya know, being a crazy, angry b*tch.

        • Eenie

          Do you honestly think that convo will go any different though? It seems like a very deliberate choice. Unless there is some ultimatum, I don’t think it’ll make a difference. (I wouldn’t recommend an ultimatum either, since SIL can use that as ammunition in the future. Have her show up looking ridiculous and be ridiculed by all of the guests).

          • Amy March

            I think the difference doesn’t need to be in what SIL does, it needs to be in what fiance expects her to put up with from his sister with no consequence, not even a discomforting conversation in which she is told that he is mad at her. Right now, sounds like she’s getting to carry on being hateful and her whole family is pretending like she is sunshine and daisies, and I think it’s worth dissuading her of that impression.

          • Eenie

            That’s a really good point. LW shouldn’t need to be fighting this battle at all. I can see how a forceful boundary setting conversation can help in the future.

          • Roselyne

            THIS. So much this.

        • La’Marisa-Andrea

          I can say from experience this doesn’t work. He has to back her otherwise there’s going to be a huge blow up at some point (bc SIL likes poking the bear) and he’s going to be caught in the middle and it’s not going to be pretty.

        • This is GREAT language. “Why are you being so weird?” is a really good thing to ask people when their behavior is bizarre/inappropriate/immature and you feel drama brewing. Sometimes it helps to just treat them like a normal person and ask them the super and simple obvious question.

    • Violet

      Yeah, true. If he only politely asked and didn’t tell her unequivocally that it’s not okay, then there’s still another option here.

    • gonzalesbeach

      I have a brother. H to the E to the double L no on this. If I found out my brother was planning to come dressed up exactly like my groom in a tux as if I were going to marry him instead, I think I’d (vomit and try to peel my skin off, and then) tell him that either he wears a casual outfit or DOES NOT GET TO COME. There is no way this needs to be polite reaction. its super creepy. white casual dress fine, whatever -it’s hot in the summer. white ball gown that looks just like the bride – freaky.

      • ART

        So: I did this to myself in a way. My husband’s wedding outfit was tan dress pants, a beautiful purple shirt, brown tweed vest, and brown paisley bow tie. He looked awesome and it fit with our sort of casual vibe. We asked our groomsmen to wear tan/brown pants and vests, white shirts, and we got them purple bow ties. My younger brother was a groomsman and found a matching pant/vest set from a suit (we said no jackets because it was really hot where we got married) and he sat next to me at our table. The caterer came over and asked him if he wanted another plate of food, more to drink, etc….super deferential and polite, and my brother was like “BEST WEDDING EVAR! MORE MEAT PLEASE!” but later we realized the caterer thought he was the groom, probably because his outfit could have looked a little more traditional groom-y than my husband’s. Whoops! In the pictures it’s clear who’s who, though :) I do agree that a white ball gown is absolutely the worst thing to wear as a guest to a wedding.

        • Eh

          My husband bought a suit for our wedding. We did not want tuxes because it wasn’t a formal wedding. At the beginning of the planning process we said that my BIL could wear a suit if he owned a black/dark grey one. He did not so we found one that was the same price as renting a tux. My FIL said that it would be easier for my BIL to rent the tux because that’s what is done. He did not get that my BIL in a tux would look more like the groom than my husband in a suit.

        • gonzalesbeach

          oh sounds like all your groommen were all coordinated though so that’s a fair accident on part of the server… this LW dress thing though. I tried putting myself in the same situation as LW in my head with this purposeful action on part of the sibling and it’s just yikes (I suppose I could have gone with imagining myself trying to wear the ballgown to my brothers wedding, but I just couldn’t even go there).

        • Nell

          Lol, I accidentally dressed just like the maid of honor (navy blue lace dress) at a recent wedding. I was mortified – until I realized that half the other female guests at the wedding were ALSO wearing blue lace. I guess that’s the trouble with picking something fashionable that also looks good on everyone. At least your brother had a great time at your wedding?

          • LisaG

            I almost did this one time. I was going to wear a strapless navy dress (that was actually a bridesmaid’s dress from a previous wedding) to my friend’s wedding. Luckily I happened to ask one of the bridesmaids about their dresses at the bachelorette party a few days before the wedding. I ended up buying a new dress the day before the wedding so I wouldn’t look like I was trying to crash the bridal party.

    • I agree with everything everyone is saying. Fiance needs to be more forceful, because this is a TOTAL power play the sister is trying to do to prove “my brother loves me more than you.” ANd brother/fiance needs to stand up for future wife and set his foot down that this is NOT okay and there is nothing she needs to think about and more importantly, that her wearing the dress will not only upset his bride, but will upset HIM. I am fuming for her; thats a really crappy SIL

    • Chris

      Also, he could throw in an “I love you, but eww, who wants it to look like we’re marrying each other. Sibling incest is kind of gross”

    • Loren

      Yeah, FH needs to get in on this a bit heavier. I know that FSIL and LW ‘have an agreement for no drama’. But I would definitely call this an attempt at drama.
      Is there maybe a way to get another outsider info on this? Maybe a mutual friend, another sibling or cousin who can chat with FSIL and find out what she is REALLY planning on wearing to the wedding? Maybe this was all just a bad joke?

    • Penny7b

      I tend to agree. The conversation needs to be much stronger than “could you maybe think about wearing something else to the wedding” and get to the heart of the issue, which is that SIL is being nasty and mean and actively trying to make the wedding an unpleasant experience. I’d be getting fiance or Parents in law to point out that if she’s not supporting the marriage to this extent, then she really shouldn’t go to the wedding. That party is just for people who are celebrating the marriage, not people who are trying to make it horrible.

    • toomanybooks

      Yesssss my FIRST thought (after the fiancé just talking to the sister in law again of course) was “accidental wine spill done by a dear friend”

    • MDBethann

      And if that fails, the fiance should talk to his mom (or dad, or both) and ask them to tell their daughter to knock it off and stop being an a$$ for her brother’s wedding. Because whether she likes the LW or not, her BROTHER is getting married and any stunt she pulls hurts her brother too. If the parents-in-law are lukewarm about the bride, then this might not work, but hopefully she’ll listen to her parents.

  • Megan

    No one there will NOT know who the bride is. She’s only going to look a fool.

  • Violet

    Of course you feel hurt- that was her exact intention. That she is sticking with her mean-spirited choice even after her brother asked her not to makes me think that her love for him is hollow indeed. She’s prioritizing her dislike of you over her love for him. I’m angry on your behalf, but I must admit, I find her sad. I kind of pity her. She sounds… emotionally limited.
    I suspect you know you can’t wrest the dress away from her. You’re really asking, “How can I feel okay about this?” I think you feel okay by hearing from us that her behavior is NOT normal or okay. It’s actually so far out of line that I wonder about her capacity to deal with other life situations. She is going to go through lots of hardships in life if this is how she chooses to interact with people. One of these hardships is that she will look very, very foolish on your wedding day. Anyway, this girl has set herself up to lead a challenging life. You don’t envy that. You don’t envy the dress. You don’t envy her actions. Every time you think about what she’s doing and start seething, I’d suggest reminding yourself about all the great things you have going on, and center yourself in you, your partner, and the great life you’re building together. The rest is white fabric.

  • Amy March

    Maybe I just don’t know how other people do siblings, but I wouldn’t politely ask my sister if she could please wear something different. I’d tell her she was being ridiculous, that she was absolutely not wearing a white ballgown, that she would be thrown out of the church if she showed up in it, and then I’d stomp my feet, yell, and call in the enforcer- Mom.

    I mean, not that I think my reaction is 100% perfect or anything, but she’s being ridiculous!!!! Is he always this deferential to her? Does the whole family tip toe around her? It’s a pretty basic rule- you do not wear white to a wedding. I think he can be much stronger here.

    • Lisa

      I love the idea of bringing in back-up in the form of a parent for a sibling who is out of line! I did this surreptitiously on my sister’s wedding; she was planning to invite half of a married couple and the children (so some aunts or uncles and the cousins but not the spouses) because she felt she didn’t owe anyone an invitation if she wasn’t close to them. I casually dropped this fact on my mom at some point (with caveats saying I might have misunderstood), and Mom came in to set sister straight. Parents have the kind of clout and leverage that siblings/peers just don’t a lot of the time.

      • Ugh. I need to do this wrt my lil bro. So.damn.tacky. to not invite people’s live-in partners.

        • Lisa

          I’m chalking it up to ignorance on my sister’s part. We were planning our weddings at about the same time, and anytime I asked a question or made a suggestion for something to consider, she got super defensive, which is why I let my mom be the bad guy instead of taking on the role myself. Given how my mom said she took the criticism, I’m really glad I let her do it instead of me. Eventually she relented and invited everyone. (Partially, I think, because her husband apparently made a comment to her at our wedding about how he didn’t like how small their own guest list was and that he wanted it to be more like ours. I don’t think that went over too well, but they did expand their guest list afterwards.)

          • Yeah, I told him it’s really rude to not invite people’s partners, so if mom breeches the topic, he might know I put him on the trail. But mom/dad are funding 90% of his wedding, they should know if he’s dropping our cousins’ live-partners. So. I need to think up a tactful way to do this.

          • Lisa

            The way I did it was to ask my mother if she’d discussed the guest list yet. When she said she hadn’t really, I said, “I was talking about it with her the other day. I might have gotten the completely wrong impression, but it sounded to me like she might not be inviting some people’s spouses, and I wouldn’t want someone’s feelings to be hurt. When you take a look at it, you might just want to check for that yourself.”

            Of course, when she asked, she found out my sister was inviting Aunt Sarah and her adult children but was planning to leave Uncle Jim off the invitation. My mother was in a much better position than I was to say, “This is not something you can do.”

            Best of luck to you!

    • Sara

      I was going to say, why hasn’t mom or dad stepped in on this? The couple has tried to be polite and I can see if they push too hard, she’s going end up buying a veil just to be even more petty.
      But mom or dad can totally be the bad cop in this instance. If I pulled this with my brother’s wedding, my mother wouldn’t let me in the door of the church.

      • Eh

        My dad would totally step in if one of my siblings was being a jerk (my dad did when my brother wasn’t going to tell my sister, who lives on the other side of the country, that his wife was pregnant and was going to let her find out on FB when everyone else found out at a family gathering). On the other hand my in-laws will not step in. At least not for us. They have repeatedly told us to change things for my BIL/SIL but will not go the other way. My BIL was upset that we didn’t do things last minute for our wedding. My FIL told us that we were doing things too early for my BIL since he procrastinates so we should let him do things last minute. When my BIL was acting badly before our wedding my husband was told by his parents to apologize to my BIL. So there could be some very strange family dynamic going on.

        • Sara

          True – and now that I think of it, I do know families where everyone is ‘scared’ of one of the kids. “Don’t set off M, just let her do it. You know if she’s mad, she’ll just ruin it for everyone” type of deals. Maybe Mom and Dad are scared of their little angel if she’s prone to pulling these kind of stunts. Or maybe they figure at least they know her stunt ahead of time instead of a surprise on the day.

          • CMT

            Somebody who’s thinking of doing something like this likely doesn’t have a track record of good behavior.

          • Eh

            In our case my BIL is the Golden Child and so he gets his way even if it makes no sense (e.g., our wedding our way, not his way).

          • Roselyne

            It’s an uncharitable thought, I know, but that sort of behavoir just makes me think that some kids needed more parenting than they got when they were 4 and learning self-control and socially-appropriate behaviors. Ugh.

          • BSM

            Yep, this is exactly the case with my SIL. She gets a pass on everything, and we all have to tiptoe around her to appease her absurd whims. Ex: if we go out to eat, we are not allowed to discuss what we’re getting before ordering because it will make her second-guess what she’s ordering. One of the first times I met her, I made this mistake, and she threw a tantrum and went to sit in the car for the rest of the meal.

            Needless to say, we are not close.

          • Violet

            If she goes to the car because you said your order aloud, wouldn’t that make you want to do it… more? No? Just me then?

          • BSM

            It mostly just makes me decline invitations to eat with my in-laws 99% of the time because it really stresses me out to be around someone who is such a miserable time bomb. My husband tries to call her out on her behavior as much as he can, but, like others have mentioned in this thread, he just doesn’t have the same clout his parents have. And they are weirdly ‘scared’ of her in the way Sara mentions.

          • Violet

            Ooof. It’s so sad they’d miss out on time with lovely people because they’re afraid of upsetting their daughter.

          • BSM

            Yes! Especially time with their other child (my hubs)! And it’s really damaged his relationship with them.

          • toomanybooks

            Yikes. I wonder if she maybe has anxiety issues that are not being addressed or something? I suspect this of my own sister who also is kind of tantrum-y about what she eats (she thinks she’s allergic to everything) – this is also partly bc I suspect I myself have anxiety issues (though in a more “quiet” way).

    • Liz

      I think throwing a fuss over it would play right into what the SIL is hoping for, and makes the bride look like the petty one.

      If she just sits back and lets it unfold, the repercussions are built right in! She gets to take the higher ground AND let SIL make an ass of herself.

      • Jess

        To me, there’s a difference between a fuss and a man privately looking his sister in the eyes and saying, “What are you doing? You are making yourself look like a vindictive fool, and driving me away with your own petty actions. This is ridiculous and if you follow through on it, you will be hurting not just my wife, but also me. You will be hurting me.”

        Maybe he’s already said that, in which case, I totally agree, let her do whatever she’s going to do and be the better person.

        • anon

          man, this is some jane austen shit.

  • Carolyn S

    It’s totally fine to be hurt, but I wouldn’t worry about the outcome too much, because when it comes to the wedding she’s the one who will look like a fool, not you.

    • Kayjayoh

      This.

  • Sara

    I can’t imagine what the SIL thinks the outcome of this will be. Wearing a white sundress – sure, I can see it being annoying and petty but not really a big spectacle. This dress is attention grabbing. There’s no way she’s going to look good to her family/friends/guests if she went through with wearing it. She HAS to know that.

    • Meredith

      Along those lines no matter how much she hates the LW why would she want to look like her brother’s bride?!?

    • Nicole

      Was there a link to the actual dress? The link I saw just goes to the main site and I was curious since it is described as “white, floral” whether the SIL could possibly have not thought of it as white? In this case, the ball gown part, especially combined with all the other context, makes me agree with Liz and all the other commenters that the SIL is being purposefully hurtful.

      But, I think this kind of thing can bring questions for a lot of people for party dresses when they’re not trying to be hurtful. For example, here’s a floral dress that I’d probably call white, but another person might think it reads as more pink: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/bb-dakota-claudia-floral-crepe-fit-flare-dress/4357148?origin=category-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=IVORY. I wouldn’t necessarily give someone the side eye if they wore it to a wedding. Here’s a floral dress that to me doesn’t read as white at all, but it does have some on it: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/maggy-london-print-stretch-cotton-sateen-fit-flare-dress/3913258?origin=related-3913258-0-4-PP_4_TEST-Data_Lab_Recommendo_V2-fbt_similar_items&recs_type=related&recs_productId=3913258&recs_categoryId=0&recs_productOrder=4&recs_placementId=PP_4_TEST&recs_source=Data_Lab_Recommendo_V2&recs_strategy=fbt_similar_items&recs_referringPageType=item_page. I’m wondering where people fall on these types of dresses for guests since I see them at weddings from time to time and haven’t though too much of them until this and another recent conversation.

      • NotMarried!

        I wouldn’t call either of those options “white”.

      • honeycomehome

        I think the rule/etiquette is that you shouldn’t wear an all-white dress to a wedding. But a print on a white background should be perfectly acceptable.

        I hope so, because I’m planning on wearing this dress to a wedding! Am I in trouble?

        http://www.modcloth.com/shop/dresses/botanical-breakfast-dress-in-white-bouquet

        • Roselyne

          Nooo, that’s super cute! That’s clearly a flower-patterned dress! Totally appropriate!

          I think the rule is basically ‘if this looks like something that could be worn by a semi-traditional bride, don’t wear it to someone else’s wedding’.

      • Lisa

        I definitely wouldn’t call those white, especially the second option.

      • Sosuli

        As someone who has been struggling with a FMIL who wants to wear a floral white dress to our wedding, I don’t think either option is too much of a risk. Second one not at all, first one might be iffy for only the very very most traditional brides. I would be OK with both, especially since the flower pattern on the first is so bright and colorful.

      • Annora

        I had the same thought, so I poked around the neiman marcus site, and from context clues my guess is that it’s this dress? http://bit.ly/1YfwbKe

        • Nicole

          Ooooh. Yes – I bet you’re right. I had poked around a bit and thought it might be this http://images.neimanmarcus.com/ca/2/product_assets/T/C/9/Y/8/NMTC9Y8_mu.jpgf which is why I asked my question – it is a white floral ball gown, but more floral than white. I have a dress that is sort of between the two dresses I linked to (but closer to the one everyone agrees is definitely not white) which I’ve never worn to a wedding but wouldn’t have thought twice about it either. Glad to hear that I should continue to consider them not white!

  • Jessica

    Don’t let her get away with saying this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F7v2KC1tT0

  • JenC

    When my friend got married, the best man’s girlfriend turned up in a floor length, white dress. Nobody confused her as the bride. In fact everyone side-eyed her the entire day. My friend’s grandmother even went up to the girlfriend and called her a trollop and when the best man said how beautiful the bride looked someone heckled and said “why don’t you tell your girlfriend that”.

    Basically, everyone made it awkward for the girlfriend. My friend cared but seeing everyone else’s reaction meant she could just be graceful (“oh gran you can’t say that” whilst being secretly delighted) and let everyone show how much of a fool the girlfriend was. On the day, it pissed her off but now it’s a funny story, she loves the fact that her relative heckled the best man.

    • Kate

      My FMIL has informed me that she is going to be wearing a white dress to the wedding. Until she mentioned it, I would have thought this was a made-up story, too. My FMIL is a ditz so I don’t really think she meant it maliciously? I hope? Part of me wonders if it’s a test though. I am quite different from FH’s mother and sister in style and had a very different upbringing – his parents are very stingy and judgmental of how others spend money – so I’ve been so confused.

  • Mrrpaderp

    I’m curious how LW found out about the dress. If FSIL wanted to upset LW on her wedding day, then keeping the dress a secret until the day of would’ve guaranteed the most severe reaction. If she’s announcing it now, I’m inclined to think it’s a cry for attention/trying to start drama but she doesn’t actually plan to wear the dress because she doesn’t want to look like a jackass. Dresses can be returned. I’d try to find out if she’d gotten it altered.

    My knee jerk here would that FH needs to tell FSIL (or at least threaten) that she will not be welcome at the wedding if she shows up in that dress. Upon further reflection, though, I think this is exactly what FSIL wants. She’s trying to create a huge rift between LW and FH’s family right before the wedding. I’m guessing LW’s in-laws have put up with nonsense from FSIL her whole like and would be horrified if LW and FH wanted to exclude HIS OWN SISTER from their wedding JUST BECAUSE OF A DRESS *pearl clutch*. If this is what FSIL is going for, which it sounds like she is, then the best response is exactly what FH has done – politely request she not wear the dress and then let it go. Completely ignore her.

    IF she shows up in the dress – and that’s a big IF – (1) yes she’s going to look like a giant tool, (2) mess with her. Tell her that her PALE YELLOW dress is so beautiful! PALE YELLOW is such a lovely shade on her skin tone! Get your bridesmaids/friends/family/other guests in on it. Then photoshop all pictures she’s in to make the dress yellow.

    • Aubry

      I like the way you think Mrrpaderp ;)

    • Violet

      Omg. I think you’re a genius. Are you a genius?

      • HNL

        She’s a genius.

        • Mrrpaderp

          Aww, shucks, you guys <3

    • Eh

      I totally agree that she’s trying to get attention/start drama. My husband’s grandmother wanted to irk me so she told me ahead of time that she was wearing a black dress to our wedding. I didn’t care so she did not get the reaction she wanted from me. She actually probed a bit and made a comment about black being a colour for mourning. I told her that black was “in” and that my step-mum wore a black dress to her son’s wedding so I wasn’t worried.

      • Riot

        Fabulous

    • Eenie

      Hahaha. This is good.

    • Bethany

      YES!! My first reaction to the letter was “This cannot be real life. No one would seriously do this.” But if someone is in fact seriously doing this, I totally agree with your approach. If she does wear a floor length white gown she is going to look positively stupid and the embarrassment she’ll feel will probably be punishment enough. PROBABLY.

      • Kate

        My FMIL has informed me that she is going to be wearing a white dress to the wedding. Until she mentioned it, I would have thought this was a made-up story, too. My FMIL is a ditz so I don’t really think she meant it maliciously? I hope? Part of me wonders if it’s a test though. I am quite different from FH’s mother and sister in style and had a very different upbringing – his parents are very stingy and judgmental of how others spend money – so I’ve been so confused.
        .

      • Amanda

        Nope! This is real life. And it happens…more than you’d think. I went to a wedding in which the Sister of the Groom wore a white ballgown with a few gold embellishments and crystals that was way more over the top than the bride’s own ballgown. I have no idea how the bride felt about it, but other guests definitely took notice…

        When we ask my SIL to be in our wedding & asked her to pick out a floor length dress in a particular shade of blue, she came back with a floor length white dress with very pale blue flowers on it. But that was just because she didn’t want to wear floorlength, so she picked a dress I would automatically veto to manipulate me into getting what she wanted (when ya know, she could have just *asked*).

        News at 11: People are passive aggressive & don’t know how to use their words.

        • Bethany

          I literally do not understand. People are insane.

        • Riot

          Yeah, I went to a wedding where the SIL showed up in a white, bridal
          satin, rouched ball gown with lace detailing and everyone thought she
          looked like a fool. This after refusing to wear the dresses the bride
          picked for her bridesmaids, and quitting (or being fired, I forget) the
          bridal party for that reason. She also tried to hog the photographer to
          take photos of her and her husband instead of the bride and groom.
          Again, everyone thought she was acting like a fool. And NOBODY could
          outshine the bride, who had that natural wedding-day glow. It will only
          reflect on her, not you, LW. Brilliant point: “People are passive aggressive & don’t know how to use their words.”

    • Megan

      OMG, the photoshop thing is hilarious! Best idea ever. And I thought my wedding had drama…

    • NYCMOM

      LOL Excellent!! Great minds think alike! I would make it purple, or granny blue, or hospital green myself!!

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    My three cents: 1) I would not go out of my way to discuss it with her myself. She’s doing this to being intentionally hurtful and you saying something to her will not disabuse her of the notion and will piss you off further. You actually can’t force her to do anything and will drive yourself crazy. Focus on what you CAN control, not what you can’t. 2) Make sure your fiance knows that he has to have your back against her because this is basically going to be your relationship with her from here on out. He has to choose sides and he better choose the side of the woman he has to live and sleep with. That doesn’t mean he goes to war with his sister — but he needs to make it clear that your happiness is a priority to him, she’s out of line and it’s not ok in any uncertain terms to treat the woman he’s marrying (and later his WIFE) the way she’s been doing. 3) She will probably show up in the floor length gown and people will think she’s an asshole for doing so. Learn to accept this reality now so you can manage your emotions THEN 4) Decide to enjoy your wedding. And then enjoy it. Sometimes we get shitty in laws. Do not give this woman that kind of emotional space and bandwidth in your life and your marriage. She’s a non factor. Good luck!!!!!

    • Lawyerette510

      Yes, you hit the nail on the head! As to point number 4, I’d add: decide what you need to help you do that, be it emotional body guards/ buffers between you and the jerk of a SIL, agreed upon things for groom to do to help, etc.

      • Danielle

        +1 for emotional bodyguards. You do NOT need to deal with that on the day of your wedding.

  • Meredith

    OMG this can’t be real. Sorry, but I thought I had the worst sister in law of all time. I do not. This girl does.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    Also, because my petty runs deep, I might even ask her when she shows up the wedding looking like a fool “what is your life about right now? Think about it.” And everytime she tried to get cray with me that’s what I would tell her. Roll my eyes “girl, you really need to think about what you’re doing with your life.” But I am PET-TY.

    • Liz

      I don’t have enough gifs to show you all my love for you

    • Roselyne

      Oooooooh but there’s something so SATISFYING about that particular type of pettiness.

    • Grace

      I think my petty side would want to ask her if she would like to precede me down the aisle too.

  • sara

    WHAT?! This is insane, and yeah, definitely done with bad intentions. There is absolutely no way someone could do this without realizing it would be obnoxious and inappropriate, especially after being directly told so!

    Is it possible to get your fiance’s parents involved? I wonder if a firm word from her mom/dad that she needs to cut out the ridiculous behavior could be helpful? If everything else fails, just rest assured in the fact that every single guest at that wedding is going to view her as a huge jerk.

  • Sosuli

    Wow this puts my FMIL dress problems into perspective. I have even more developments on this, but I will save it for happy hour… but I will say it is totally okay to be upset by that. It is obviously deliberate. I wonder whether LW’s fiancé might broach the subject again with the sister – surely upsetting the bride would also upset him? By disrespecting his fiancé, isn’t she disrespecting her own brother and his choice in marrying LW really? It might be worth just one more conversation between brother and sister.

    • Lisa

      I saw the headline and immediately thought of you!

      • toomanybooks

        Same! (I’m so excited for the happy hour update lol. Getting that popcorn ready…)

  • ART

    I just remembered that I did go to a wedding to which a guest wore a floor-length, floaty, ever-so-slightly-pale-pink gown from BHLDN and although it was clear to everyone she wasn’t the bride, she did get mega side-eye and some “oops, did I say that very loud” type comments from the guests, in particular the bride and groom’s family.

    • kaitlin

      YES! Just recently I went to a wedding and a guest showed up in a white dress that in a different setting could be a wedding dress. There were a TON of comments and side-eye from the other guests about how inappropriate it was. I had visions of walking up her and yelling “YO B! This isn’t your wedding! or just punching her in the face… obviously I refrained. But seriously people, don’t be that girl.

    • Meg

      I actually wore a short sort of casual white sundress (not bridal at all though) to a wedding once. It was a bengali wedding and the bride wore an beautiful elaborate red and gold sari, so there was no confusing anyone. No one said anything, but I still scratch my head about why 22 year old me thought that was a good idea.

    • Deify Plums

      OMG. I remember 10 years ago getting a last minute invite to a local wedding (family friends) and freaking out because the only dressy skirt I had was knee length with large blue flowers on a cream background. Not remotely bridal, but I was really worried about it (and now I have better emergency back up clothes) …

  • clarkesara

    So…. my mom did something similar (yes mommy issues lololol). Luckily she didn’t actually buy the dress, and she didn’t wait till two months before the wedding to spring it on me. But in a particularly contentious period of early wedding planning, she texted me a link to a white floor-length formal gown and said she was ordering it for my (casual backyard) wedding. My reply was not kind, was not to ask someone else to get her to not do it, was not “don’t rock the boat.” I texted my mom right back and said, “Do Not Wear A White Dress To My Wedding.” (For what it’s worth I’m by no means a traditional bride.

    You need to reach out to your FSIL yourself, in the most immediate and confrontational way possible, and tell her not to wear this dress to your wedding. Don’t couch it in politeness. Don’t ask. Tell.

    If she disregards you, so be it.

    • Sosuli

      Some people definitely just need unambiguous “do not do this” to get the point.

    • Danielle

      Ugh, my mom wore an off-white dress to my wedding and it bothered me. I didn’t say much to her about it beforehand because she’d already bought it and I was dealing with a lot of other stuff, and wasn’t wearing a white dress myself and , maybe I didn’t want to be “that girl” who cares too much about stuff like that (don’t judge me). In retrospect it bothered me and I wished I could have spoken to her about it in advance.

      Mommy issues, indeed.

    • Nell

      I had a similar thing happen with my mom – technically it was flowy white pants and a white vest (so, basically what Ellen Degeneres wore to her wedding). I think it ultimately would have been fine if she’d worn that, not like it would have ruined the whole wedding, but she asked my opinion and I said “Please don’t wear white to my wedding.” That’s the tricky thing about seeking approval – sometimes you don’t get it!

  • Roselyne

    Maybe I’m just 100% petty… but I think there’s satisfaction to just letting it go. If you make a fuss, you play into her hands. If you let it go, you’ve basically got an in-picture trump card identifying the unreasonableness of your capital-B SIL. The only person who is gonna be awkward at the reception? Is her.

    That said… if she and your fiancé are close, I’d clarify that with him… becuase if he’s ok with that, he doesn’t have your back or her respect, and that’s a long-term problem that’s gonna impact your life and your marriage, so best get that on the table beforehand.

  • Her Lindsayship

    How about “she made it very clear to me when we told her that we were planning on engagement that she was not a fan.” Even that much was shocking to me, regardless of the dress stunt! It’s completely inappropriate, unless your bro’s bride-to-be is a total monster there is just no reason to TELL HER that you disapprove of their marriage! Even if she is a monster, then maybe you tell your brother you have concerns. Not the bride. LW, that shit is not ok! There may not be anything you can do to change FSIL’s cray, but you can definitely change your attitude about it. You say she and FH are very close, as if that somehow excuses her awful behavior, but she clearly doesn’t have much respect for him if she’s treating you this way.

    • CMT

      I’m guessing she made it clear more through other petulant behavior than verbally.

      • BSM

        Still! My SIL is super annoying and has never said she doesn’t like me (I think we’re on pretty neutral ground), but when she acts disrespectful and rude towards me and/or my husband, he lets her know that her behavior is unacceptable.

        tl;dr: Not explicitly saying you don’t like someone is not enough. You also need to act like a decent human being.

  • Jenna W.

    This happened when my brother got married, but it was the bride’s mother. She bought herself a floor length white gown that looked like it had a train for the wedding. The bride (my SIL) was initially hurt, but she was more of a bride-chilla and I applaud her for letting it go and moving on.

    And to Liz’s point, she looked like an ass at the wedding. I caught several double takes and whispers throughout the day questioning her taste in doing so. Everyone knows the ‘rules’ so you can bet people will notice in a negative way.

    But hey, for some people any attention is worth it.

  • sofar

    Where my fiance’s family is from, there’s no “don’t wear white to weddings rule.” In fact, white, cream, and pale gold are considered festive colors. They also wear evening gowns to EV-ER-Y-THING. Like, the idea of wearing a cocktail dress to a wedding is shocking to them. The fact that I’m wearing a “plain” lace column dress as the bride is shocking to them.

    The result? I’m going to have a ton of ladies wearing floor-length, sparkly white, cream and pale gold gowns at my outdoor lakeside wedding that are fancier and more attention-grabbing than my own dress.

    Do I give a crap? Nope. I’ll still be married at the end of it, I’m going to look how I want to look, and I’m not about to police a bunch of grown women.

    Yes, this situation is different. It seems like SIL will be the only one wearing a fancy white dress (and that there are no cultural norms she’s following in doing so). It is also very clear she’s not just being clueless, but deliberately vindictive.

    Even so, my reaction would be the same — ignore her. It’s the last thing she wants. She is going to look like a dumbass. So take the high road — and let some of your snarkier guests say to her what you can’t. I know if anyone wore a white gown to a friend’s wedding, I’d gladly be that guest who said, within her earshot, “Hold up, is she wearing a white ballgown? That’s weird. It’s like she wants to marry her brother.”

  • Rebekah Jane

    This actually happened to one of my bridesmaids when she got married. Her MIL picked out a ball gown with a long white shirt that looked extremely inappropriate – not just for the color, but the cut as well, particularly as the mother of the groom. She got the same dress with a black skirt instead, but the groom’s sister wore a white, floral gown that mirrored the skirt of the bride. Trust me – she was the one that looked like a moron and everyone gave her side eyes the whole night.

    The only way that your SIL is going to steal attention is negatively. She’ll look like an idiot and she’ll reap her own punishment in sweating in the heat and the multiple dirty looks.

  • tr

    If she wears that, she’s not going to outshine you. She’s going to look like an idiot. If anyone talks about her outfit, it WILL be to discuss how stupid she looks.
    If she wants to look like a petty moron, you might as well just let her, because I promise, she will not be outshining you!

    • Eh

      All the comments about the FSIL looking like an idiot and people talking about her is so true. My BIL (Golden Child) refused to come to our wedding over a family feud (he was supposed to be our best man). After a point, my husband and I refused to address the situation or appease him since he was being ridiculous. The morning of our wedding my MIL went to his house and convinced him to at least come to the ceremony, which he did. At our reception I heard lots of comments about how my BIL and his family weren’t there, especially about how they would regret not coming. Two months after we got married they admitted they regretted not coming.

  • Pingback: Can I Stop My Sister-in-Law from Wearing White to My Wedding? – ADA Events Asia()

  • Ant

    Just to offer a different point of view, I think I read somewhere that originally bridesmaids were supposed to look similar to the bride in order to confuse bad spirits and basically attract bad luck so it didn’t affect the couple. I don’t remember where this tradition comes from, but framing your situation that way might add a special kind of charm to it ;) But seriously, SIL’s going to look like a fool.

  • Another Meg

    So many good things have already been said, but I’m going to reinforce one practical point regarding the vendors. If crazy SIL wears the floor length white ballgown (and looks like a damn fool) it might actually confuse the vendors. Introduce yourself to vendors so they know who the bride is and treat you/her accordingly.

  • ManderGimlet

    My thoughts as a guest: if I were at my friend’s wedding, and she was looking radiant and beautiful in her casual, perfect-for-her-and-the-occasion dress, and had an inkling of a clue of the story behind the sister (which I’m sure the LW’s girls do) and then that trick showed up in that dress? Honey, you will not need to lift a FINGER to shame her, because the looks of your guests will do it for you.

    You have expended all the mental and emotional energy you need to on this sad, sad girl. That she wants to spend her money on a white dress to wear to someone else’s wedding is her problem. You have stated your displeasure, everyone is in agreement that it’s gross and weird, your fiance has spoken to her (albeit in a way maybe you wouldn’t prefer but that was his prerogative as a free-thinking adult), you are choosing to go ahead with the wedding: you are DONE. There is nothing more you can do. She is choosing now to be the weirdo ‘House of Yes’ sister in the white ballgown at a taco truck wedding. Honestly, there are worst guests to have! She will be a perfect ice-breaker for your guests to chat about as they get to know each other.

    That the fiance’s family has not told their daughter to stop acting like a petulant loon speaks to the power she wields over this family. You’ve obviously decided he’s worth it to bring these people into your life, but that does not mean you have to protect them from the grown-ups in your tribe who know how to act right and will not stand for someone to disrespect you on your special day. Let the crowd do their work, you eat your cake and dance and laugh and forget she even came.

  • EJF

    PS: If she does end up wearing it, every other guest will probably notice, be aware of the core idea/expectation to not outshine the bride, and many if not most will consider her out of place and foolish (especially if her style does not mesh with the requested guest attire). How one would feel comfortable at a wedding when so many stare at one for these reasons is beyond me.

  • Kyle Hutchinson

    Honestly, on its own, this is such a childishly, transparently awful move, and so likely to backfire on the SIL (as other posters have pointed out, she will look extremely foolish) that I don’t think I would find it hurtful at all, and would absolutely call her bluff and let her wear the dumb dress and make fun of her for it every time I looked at my wedding photos for the rest of time.

    The fact that the fiance doesn’t seem to recognize it as being childishly, transparently awful is more troubling.

  • Lemon

    I’m actually dealing with the ramifications of letting slide that my not sister in law wore white to my very small, non traditional courthouse wedding. Pictures live forever.

    I wore a creamy lace sun dress and she wore an actually white cocktail dress. She and I don’t have the best relationship, but I don’t think she disapproves of me either. She’s just a perpetual little sister and I think she’s upset she wanwasn’t the center of attention.

    Anyways, she wore what she did and it looked more like a wedding dress than what I wore. The day of, I handled it well and all my friends mean mugged her at the after party to the point that she changed within 30 minutes.

    Fast forward to this week when I received all the pictures from our photographer. Not only is she wearing white in the group shots but she’s also standing next to my husband in every picture so he’s got a woman in white on either side of him! Pictures with 20 people, parents siblings nieces nephews etc and she’s skipped the family line and is standing next to her brother. Before her own parents!

    I mentally prepared myself for her wearing white, but I had not mentally prepared myself to have that decision etched in my memories forever in the photography. Ask your self, can you deal with settseeing this dress in pictures to come because I know I’m kicking myself for letting slide.

    My current resolution is to never share or print any pictures of my sister in law at my wedding. This is hurtful to everyone involved, but I don’t think I can deal with the reminder right now.

    I feel guilty cutting her out of my memories that day, by I also feel like it’s a fair consequence of her disrespectful choice.

    • Violet

      I don’t know that I’d spend too much time feeling guilty. Your reaction (of not wanting to look at those pictures with her in them) is perfectly understandable. Even if it were more vindictive in nature (I’m not saying it is in your case) the punishment would still fit the crime. Don’t print those damn pics.

    • TheOtherLiz

      Photoshop! Make her dress a different color!

    • Leah Klein

      Actually, I’m a graphic designer and can easily edit these for you! It’s VERY simple. Let me know if you’d like me to try!

  • brooksienne

    I’m a bit late in reading this, but here’s my take:

    Ignore her.

    Everyone else at the wedding will see what she is doing and will think poorly of HER. She’s the one who’s going to lose here. Take the high road. Trust me on this. And the fact that her dress is expensive and your wedding is casual, well then she’ll look even more foolish and spiteful and ridiculous. Also, you said it will be hot. Good. May she sweat buckets.

    If it helps, just keep telling yourself, “I never minded the little things,” or, “I never minded the little people.” Because that is what she is – little, as in small, as in petty.

  • Lily

    What with the combination of questionable motivations and inappropriateness for the venue/climate… I think there is only one person being set up for a miserable, awkward day, here, and it is the sister-in-law. Seriously, how bad is it going to feel standing there in a crowd of people, wearing something that may as well have “I am deliberately being a jerk to the person you came to celebrate” written across the front?

    Ultimately, it’s her choice what she does. But I feel that if “don’t do this because you’re causing upset” doesn’t work… maybe it would be worth her brother gently suggesting that she is going to be facing a lot of physical discomfort and social judgement over the dress, and she should consider whether that dress is really worth it.

    (I also think that anyone trying to “outshine the bride” is barking up the wrong tree. The bride is the bride. It’s like trying to upstage a band you’ve come to see. You can be a totally epic-looking audience member, but at the end of the day, it’s *not your gig*.)

  • Kate

    My FMIL told me she is planning on wearing a white dress to the wedding!

    She is pretty ditzy, so I don’t necessarily think it’s meant maliciously, but I still had a reaction of http://giphy.com/gifs/reaction-snl-12FfNKPlSR5k2c

    FH is like ” i don’t see what the big deal is, my family wedding photos have the entire wedding party in white dresses.”

  • Riot

    Yeah, I went to a wedding where the SIL showed up in a white, bridal satin, rouched ball gown with lace detailing and everyone thought she looked like a fool. This after refusing to wear the dresses the bride picked for her bridesmaids, and quitting (or being fired, I forget) the bridal party for that reason. She also tried to hog the photographer to take photos of her and her husband instead of the bride and groom. Again, everyone thought she was acting like a fool. And NOBODY could outshine the bride, who had that natural wedding-day glow. It will only reflect on her, not you.

  • Riot

    This kind of thing (and I’ve seen in my life too) always reminds me of Bette Midler in The Mirror Has Two Faces: “You’re the mother of the bride, not the opening act”.

  • CJ

    Late to the conversation, but I thought of something–just to give the SIL the benefit of a doubt, is it possible that there are some cross-cultural factors in play here? I know wedding etiquette can be *very* culturally specific. For example, my South Asian in laws were somewhat horrified that i wanted to wear white to my own wedding since white is considered a color of morning in some South Asian cultures.

  • jillyk

    I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe this has come up already, but to me her punishment is clear: she is going to look totally foolish and self centred on your wedding day and other guests are going to notice and think poorly of her. Guests are going to go home and say “wasn’t that weird and selfish of FSIL to wear that white floor length gown?”, “I couldn’t take my eyes of the bride she was so beautiful” and “let’s talk again about how awfully distasteful of FSIL to wear that ridiculous gown *awkward giggle*”.

    That being said, as a bride with five weeks left until my wedding, I can understand how this can take up so much of your energy and brain space. Give yourself a few hours or a day to really focus on feeling all the anger, sadness, frustration. Vent to your bridesmaids, girlfriends or partner (although make sure you choose someone who knows this is your time to vent and will exclusively support you with “hell ya”, “what a jerk” and “you go girl” – this is your time to get it all out!), and then take yourself to a beautiful spot (the beach? a park? your deck?), play some moving music, and take out your vows, or start working on your vows, or just take an article or two from APW about writing vows and let yourself get all emotional about the monumental, life altering, beautiful union that you and your partner are choosing. Cry all the happy tears and then go home and say I love you too many times. And have big long leaky eyed hugs. And express how grateful you are that you and your partner are not passive aggressive jerks who would choose to wear white ball gowns to other people’s wedding.

  • NYCMOM

    I agree entirely. If she wears a fancy white ball gown to a simply country chic wedding she is going to look like a fool for a myriad of reasons. The other guests at your wedding will definitely frown on her wearing white (Everyone knows you NEVER wear a white dress to a wedding). She will be in a fancy ball gown at what is known to be a simple country chic wedding, she will look overdressed and foolish. Based on her choice of dress and color it will be evident to everyone that she is trying to take attention away from the bride…with any luck those with a modicum of manners will tsk tsk her (and talk behind their hands while smirking at her) as she walks by. Those who are apt to speak their minds will confront her and ask her, “What in the world were you thinking when you bought and wore that dress?!” (that would be me). Either way it won’t be lost on ANYONE at the wedding what she is up to and she will look like the small nasty little person that she is. You keep smiling through it all…and tell her loud enough to be heard by lots of people how beautiful her fancy white ball gown is…make some remark about how she looks like a bride herself and if she had a fiance it could almost be a double wedding! With any luck she will be embarrassed to death and leave early!!

  • penkwin

    Wait… is the dress white, or is it floral? The writer says “floor length white, floral, ball gown” so it honestly depends on how “floral” it is. I am under the impression florals are fine for weddings, even if the background is white. I found the attached photo on the Neiman Marcus website and if that’s the one… honestly, it seems overly formal, but I would not consider it “wearing white to a wedding.” But I’d like to hear more opinions on this.

    But let’s say that’s not the exact dress, and that the dress is essentially another wedding dress. And let’s exclude how much she paid for the dress from the equation, because I don’t think that’s necessarily relevant, unless she’s actively flaunting the price in your face. In THAT case, yeah, you need to have your fiance sit his sister down and level with her about how important this is to you, and if she wants him to be happy on his wedding day, she’ll honor his (and your) wishes. You could always try leveling with her too, but given your relationship I’m not sure how productive that would be.

    Ultimately you cannot control what she’s going wear, but if she tries to go bridal on your wedding day, she’s going to look like the fool – not you. You’re going to have a ton of other things to focus on that day too – and hopefully be so full of happiness that there’s no room for her petty BS in your mind anyway. :)

  • mssolo

    Late to the discussion, but I went to a wedding a few years ago where the SIL wore a slinky floor length ivory silk dress. It was nothing like the bride’s gown and there was never any question over who was who, but there was definitely a question of “does she not realise everyone is judging her so hard right now?” I don’t know if anyone even spoke to her all evening. All the SIL did was ensure she had a miserable time on her own while everyone else was gushing over the couple. It’s never the bride that looks bad in these situations.

  • Jessy

    I didn’t even read this read the title and scrolled right down. I actually had a handful of people ask if they could wear white to my wedding and I wanted to smack them. Why wouldn’t I bother having this wedding then? I’m not saying that the whole point of the wedding I’m just saying it’s the Bride who wear all white- because you’re at her wedding. I told these women straight up that the fact that they would even ask me that is completely tacky.

  • CAY

    Ohh this sucks.
    I am so sorry this is happening to you, LW.
    I will say, the benefit is that since it’s clearly YOUR wedding, and she’s an adult, you would not look bad at all if she actually decided to show up in the dress. Like, at all. She would look ridiculous, she would be ridiculed for being a jerk and looking ridiculous, and everybody will be asking why she is such an attention grabber. It doesn’t really reflect on you at all except for people to sympathize with the fact that someone lacks the social grace to know what not to wear to a wedding.

    Especially if you photoshop it grannysmith apple green ;)

  • Lynn

    I know I’m late to the party here, but maybe mention this to FMOH very casually. Talk to her about what she is wedding and then say something like “you will be so beautiful! With [SIL] in a white gown and you in that I am sure the pictures will be gorgeous.”

    FH may not want to cause drama but FMOH may get Emily Post on her daughter.