I am 26 years old and I have never been to a wedding. I have been to four funerals, but no weddings. Four Funerals and a Wedding: The Hannah Teplitsky Story. I don’t even have the correct kind of FOMO because I have no real idea of what I’m missing out on. I assume: cake (of varying qualities, textures, and flavors), alcohol (hopefully open bar because ain’t nobody got dime for closed bar), dancing (I’m picturing my 7th grade Bar/Bat Mitzvah year-long back-to-back bonanza but with more alcohol and less inhibitions and the same amount of hormones), questionable flirtations (cue Wedding Crashers opening montage), and the dress.

The dress.

If you are the proud owner of two X chromosomes, chances are you know which dress I speak of. This dress is The Dress. It is The Dress you wear to walk out of one chapter of your life and into the next. This is The Dress you are given away in. This is The Dress that other dresses want to be when they grow up.

The reality show Say Yes to the Dress on TLC* capitalizes on this ostensibly quintessential female moment with aplomb, sincerity, and the tender but firm wisdom of its host, Randy†. He and the sundry sales associates of Kleinfeld Bridal titter, twitterpate, stuff, prod, persuade, bolster, preen, advise, and mediate brides-to-be through the emotional and financial minefield that is wedding dress shopping. Every Briday I sit enraptured for hours on end as 50 shades of white cascade over my TV screen in silk organza, satin, lace, taffeta, and tulle, and I learn. I learn about this curious cultural phenomenon of weddings, this watershed moment for women everywhere in white.

Here are some of the lessons #SYTTD has taught me:

  • First of all, not every bride wants to wear white, either for personal style reasons or cultural reasons. If it is indeed due to the former, watching her lobby for a non-white dress to her entourage is hysterical. I like to think of this bride as the “You Do You” Bride, and there is almost always some kind of commentary about purity and/or tradition that she straight up just disregards because, well, she’s gonna do her. She says yes to this dress.
  • I now know who Pnina Tornai is and can spot a design of hers from across the bridal salon.
  • I fucking hate mermaid-style dresses. Are you Ariel? Do you waddle as a means of getting from Point A to Point B while on land? Do you frequently sunbathe on rocks or admire the utility of a fork? If you answered affirmatively to any or all of the previous questions, then a mermaid dress is for you.‡
  • Some women just have no shame and want to shake what their mama/trainer/diet choices gave them and you know what? More power to them. This is the “Well… I Guess That’s One Way to Do It?” Bride. Homegirl is going to wear see-through/no material in some weird places or request to look like a hot stripper/pirate, Randy and the sales associate will be duly baffled for fourfive seconds, and then all will proceed as normal because this is her day and therefore she can do whatthefuckever she wants. She probably yeses this bad boy.
  • This show does wonders for female body image. I am 100% serious.
  • “You’ll know it when you see it” has become the guiding principle of my life.
  • Some brides just cannot help themselves and their entourages/the gawd Randy cannot help them either and it becomes one big clusterfuck of the blind leading the blind.§ These are the “Get It Together” Brides. These brides usually leave the salon having not chosen a dress at all which like, come on now, talk about a letdown (for me, the viewer, duh).
  • It is very refreshing and endearing to see a reality show exalt in vulnerability and emotion rather than exploit it.
  • To that end, there is always the “Ugh, Feelings” Bride. These women are in the middle of cancer treatment, or their mom has just died, or they have been through an abusive relationship only to find the man of their dreams and get on a TV show miraculously at the same time. It doesn’t matter what this bride chooses because she will invariably look radiant and I will be crying into my wine glass but it’s probably simple, understated, and something like this.

Really though, it’s a terrific show and there are entire arguments to be made about its recurring and powerful feminist messages and what I’m really trying to say is please invite me to your wedding:

* I cannot for the life of me figure out the air schedule for this show but do know that it marathons every Friday—which TLC has cheekily called “Briday”—and therefore sufficiently hijacks any sense of emotional stability or social plans I might have had. I inevitably consume froyo on these days. And also copious amounts of Pinot Noir.
† When we speak about Say Yes to the Dress, it is clear we are only speaking about the Kleinfeld NYC version. IDFWU, Atlanta spin-off.
‡ Watch me end up choosing a mermaid style for my wedding dress.
§ I call this: “Blinded By the White.”