“Brides would literally pass out.” 7 anonymous bridal shop assistants share their wedding horror stories

And the bride wore...

(Image credit: Universal)

Weddings are big business - it costs guests on average £451 to attend one, according to Experian. Brides and grooms aren’t escaping the financial burden either, the same report revealed that the number of people taking out wedding loans has increased by 6% in the last two years. There’s also been an increase in people getting married. In fact, today—Sunday 23rd June—is one of the most popular wedding dates of the year. A whopping 3,636 weddings will be hosted today.

But hold your applause because it’s not all (something) blue skies and confetti. There’s bridesmaid burnout, zero plus-one policies, and another costly new phenomenon—the divorce party, which leaves many wondering, are brides okay?

As I’ve said before—and will again—celebrities are to blame. Fresha has looked into how high-profile weddings influence and shape public interest and behaviour and found that “celebrity weddings captivate millions, from the fashion and decor choices to the themes and location, which many prospective brides use to inspire their own weddings,” says one analyst.


(Image credit: Universal)

Is this why some brides-to-be take on the air of a minor celebrity and begin treating their guests as lowly co-stars? Experian’s data reveals that 33% of wedding attendees interviewed don’t believe the Bride or Groom took the income of their guests into consideration.

Weddings give free rein to our Main Character fantasies, and thanks to social media, the bar for weddings is being set ever higher because we have immediate access to the lives—and nuptials—of the rich and famous.

This might explain some of the horror stories shared with us by seven former and current bridal store assistants. In my own decades-long experience as a shop girl, I recall (and recoil) the entitlement customers would feel as soon as they crossed the threshold from the pavement to the store. Parents would relinquish all responsibility for their children, leaving me—a timid teenager with zero childcare experience—trying to prise sticky-pawed toddlers away from 10-foot freestanding mirrors or clutching a newborn outside the changing rooms when all I was really meant to do was stop people pinching Miss Sixty jeans.

The most entitled bride I ever encountered left a soiled nappy in the changing rooms - she hadn’t even attempted to wrap it up.


So, while my shopfloor life was limited to low-rise denim and Diesel bags (when it was cool the first time), I can relate to these bedraggled bridal store girls. I knew I’d found a sister in arms when one former Saturday girl told me, “The most entitled bride I ever encountered left a soiled nappy in the changing rooms - she hadn’t even attempted to wrap it up”. That, too, happened at the shop where I worked. So maybe it isn’t just brides; maybe there’s something about bricks and mortar stores that fundamentally alters our brain chemistry and turns us into monstrous little divas; chuck in some complimentary fizz, and it’s a disaster waiting to happen, as these bridal store assistants know all too well...

Bridal store secrets from 7 anonymous wedding shop assistants

“Women would starve themselves”

“Women would literally starve themselves to fit into their dress the day of the appointment. They'd joke about consuming only water or vegetables leading up to that day. The result of this, I am sure you can imagine, was women feeling extremely ill at the appointment.”

- *Andie, 30

“Mothers would make comments about how fat their daughters looked”

“I saw many brides accompanied by their mothers—not all, but a large number of mothers would make comments about how fat their daughters looked or how unflattering the dress was on their body type. I can only imagine that this played a major role in how these brides viewed their bodies.”

- *Jessica, 38

“Brides would literally pass out”

Many brides would feel overwhelmed and physically ill from stress leading up to the big day. At various appointments (both fittings and pickups), brides would get either close to or fully pass out from stress and anxiety. One woman almost passed out and then had to sit for 30 minutes while we gave her tissues to wipe the sweat off of her (she was perspiring like it was 95 degrees, and she had been doing jumping jacks for 3 minutes straight). By the time she felt well enough to complete her fitting, her time slot was up, and we needed to take care of the next customer.

- *Rebecca, 46

“She called us after her final appointment to tell us that the wedding had been called off.”

“One extremely memorable bride was an older woman, probably in her 60s, prepping for her third marriage. She made her mind up on a dress that was only sold online, so she purchased the one that was left that was about seven sizes too big. In the alterations department, the expectation was that seamstresses would be able to take a dress down TWO sizes only. Otherwise, they are fully taking apart the dress and reconstructing a new garment, which was not their job.

This woman brought her dress in for an initial fitting about seven months before the wedding day. We did 6-8 appointments with her to find a way to make this dress that was not even close to her size work. She also had a massive wedding party, which included her four daughters. All the women in the party bought their dresses in the store and had them altered with us. She called us after her final appointment to tell us that the wedding had been called off. She came in the following week with a massive pile of bridal dresses, asking for a refund on her months of alterations. In the end, out of pity, my manager gave this woman a portion of her money back on the bridesmaid dress alterations because the labour put into those was less than of the wedding dress.”

- *Sara, 42

“Someone was always crying by the end of it.”

“People loved to go to brunch with their wedding party before the appointment and get drunk as hell on mimosas. At Least these appointments were funny, but they drove me insane because they always ran long. Someone was always crying by the end of it. ”

- *Josie, 32

“We called her The Purple Lady”

“I had a woman who was such a delight that I actually looked forward to her appointments. We called her The Purple Lady. She bought a purple prom dress and wore it as a wedding dress because she couldn't find a purple dress that looked like a traditional tulle-filled gown. She had a purple car with a purple interior, had purple hair and nails, and was always in a completely purple outfit. She was such a delight. I loved how authentic to herself she stayed even though what she wanted was different from all of the other brides who we saw come in. I met a lot of women like this; they were really interesting and had their own style that they stayed true to! This was definitely the best part of my job.”

- *Kristen, 27

“Most brides were so entitled”

“I think the worst part was how entitled brides would be. They’d really expect the silver service. Being clicked at was commonplace, and of course, they’d neck as much complimentary champagne as they could, which would make things ten times worse. I don’t think I’d have minded if it was an upmarket bridal shop, but this place was cheap, and I was working minimum wage.”

- *Tara, 33

Mischa Anouk Smith
News and Features Editor

Mischa Anouk Smith is the News and Features Editor of Marie Claire UK.

From personal essays to purpose-driven stories, reported studies, and interviews with celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and designers including Dries Van Noten, Mischa has been featured in publications such as Refinery29, Stylist and Dazed. Her work explores what it means to be a woman today and sits at the intersection of culture and style, though, in the spirit of eclecticism, she has also written about NFTs, mental health and the rise of AI bands.