Need relationship advice? Submit your questions for Meredith here.
Q. My partner and I planned the big wedding of our dreams for June 2022, when we’re hoping we can all safely gather, but decided to do a courthouse wedding [before that].
I ordered a cute satin mini dress that perfectly fits my vision of a civil ceremony. I wanted the dress to be a surprise. He asked me a few questions: “Is it white? Is it very fancy? Is it long?” I didn’t think much of it.
When the dress arrived, I was excited to try it on, and when I came downstairs smiling, he asked how it was — and again asked about the length. When I gestured to fingertip length, he said he wasn’t OK with a dress hitting “above the knee” for a wedding. This blew me away because I wear mini dresses all the time. I wore one on our first date! I was (and am) so angry because I was excited, and because I am not OK with him judging what I wear. I’ll add that my partner grew up in another part of the world where clothing is more restricted for women. He’s asked me to be considerate of his family’s cultural background when I choose my dress for our big wedding. I completely understand and absolutely want his family to be comfortable. This is the first time, however, that concerns about clothing have come up when his family isn’t around (we’ve been together for five years).
We haven’t gotten a chance to talk this over yet; how do I let him know that I’m not OK with the restrictions on clothing? I’m maintaining that it’s my decision what to wear for the civil ceremony, but do I even want to wear the mini dress now if it’s a source of tension?
– Above the Knee
A. I can’t offer much advice without having answers to the questions you haven’t asked.
This could be about a dress code philosophy he’s kept hidden for five years. More likely, he’s worried about what his family will think of the pictures you both post on social media. Maybe those images are just as important as what you wear in person in June. Find out if that’s true.
Explain that if he had thoughts about how the smaller wedding should look and feel — and who’d be witnessing it from afar — he could have been clear with you before you started shopping. The guessing game was confusing and led to hurt feelings. To me, that’s the obvious problem. This was bad communication.
Talk like grown-ups about how you got here. If he tells you he does have rules for your wardrobe, that’s another conversation. But honestly, if this is about family comfort and the meaning of this event, maybe you can meet in the middle and do a mini dress costume change. One for family photos, one for you.
Talk about it. Soon.
This is a bigger issue. Now is the time for open, honest conversation about cultural differences and expectations. CATCHERINRYE
[W]e don’t really know why he doesn’t like the idea of you wearing a mini dress. And that brings me to my advice — you two need to learn to communicate better. It says a lot that you found time to fire off this letter before you had time to talk to your fiancé. PMCD101
If he was constantly telling you to change that would be one thing, but this is a special occasion. JO-DEP