My Parents Hate My Wedding Dress. What Do I Do?

There are many different reasons your parents may not like your wedding dress choice. Here's how to deal with it tactfully—plus, how to talk to them, when to stand your ground, and when to keep the peace.

By Kathleen Wong

bride with bridesmaids on wedding day
Photo by Lisa Kay Creative Photography

Maybe you’ve known what style of wedding dress you’ve wanted since you were a child, or maybe you serendipitously stumbled upon The One. Either way, you said yes to the dress and now you’re on cloud nine. Suddenly, there’s a glitch: Your parents aren’t into your wedding dress. In fact, they hate it. For many of us, our parents’ approval is important during the wedding planning process. But that’s not happening here—now, what?

Figure out why your parents don’t love your wedding dress.

Take a pause and let’s think about the reason why your parents aren’t into your wedding dress. Defining the reason behind the disapproval is the first step to making everyone happy (or at least as happy as you can make everyone).

INLINE KristenGilesPhotography 1080x720 Photo Credit // Kristen Giles Photography

Your parents are more conservative.

For many brides and their parents, the divergence in wedding dress choices often has to do with style choices. Some parents might have something more traditional and conservative in mind and can be a little shell shocked if you end up picking something that shows more skin or has a more modern silhouette.

There may also be other specific reasons they prefer a more conservative appearance. For example, if your parents don’t approve of your tattoos to begin with, then they might have also wanted something that covered up your ink.

Your parents want you to wear a family dress.

While picking out your own dress to suit your personal taste was always your dream, maybe your parents want you to don your grandmother’s wedding dress or traditional cultural attire on your big day.

The dress is too expensive.

To you, your perfect dream dress is a must-have, no matter the cost. Maybe you even knew how much you’d want to spend going into it. To your parents, the price tag just isn’t justified. Despite how much you personally love it, sometimes your parents just won’t think it’s worth throwing down that much on your dress.

When and how should I stand my ground?

We’re not saying to outright defy your parents but since it is your wedding day, you may have a very valid reason to stick to your guns on what you’re wearing. Here’s when to stand firm on your wedding dress choice.

Give and take.

If this isn’t the only part of the wedding your parents haven’t approved of—i.e. your parents want you to have the ceremony in a church while you’d rather, well, not—then this might be an opportune moment for a good ol’ fashioned trade-off.

Offer to compromise on one part of the wedding that your parents have a strong opinion on if you can wear the dress you want in return. It’s about deciding what’s worth the fight and whats, frankly, not.

Pay out of your pocket.

If you’ve budgeted for your dream dress and are going to pay for its entirety then you should try your best to convince your parents that this is the dress you should wear. Your case is even stronger if you’re paying for most of the wedding—if not all of it—on your own as well.

Your parents are overdoing it.

If your parents have been overbearing and nitpicky for the entire wedding planning process then it might be fair to stand firm on your wedding dress choice. It could be that it’s not just about the dress itself but your parents could have an entire vision of your own wedding that differs from your own.

If this is the case then it might be too difficult to appease them in every which way and you should (calmly!) advocate for the dress you’re madly in love with—and stick with it.

When should I keep the peace?

Sometimes your wedding dress style is not the hill you want to die on, especially if your parents are chipping in for the wedding—or maybe even buying the entire dress.

INLINE SarahCramerShieldsCramerPhoto 1080x720 Jocelyn&Jeet Photo Credit // Sarah Cramer Shields

They want you to wear a family dress.

Does your family have a tradition of passing down a wedding dress or other family heirloom on someone’s wedding day? Even though your style may be the complete opposite of your great grandma’s own wedding dress, it could be worth compromising in order to keep the tradition alive. Talk to your parents about this to see if you could alter the dress or have two dresses for your wedding.

You’re splitting the cost.

If your parents are being generous and paying for a big chunk of your wedding or wedding dress and are really not feeling your dress then you might have to bend a little on this.

Sit your parents down to hear out their concerns with your dress choice and reevaluate from there. (Don’t forget to express gratitude and say thank you for their financial support during this conversation.)

You were impulsive.

We know, we know, moms know best, right? Sometimes they really do. It could be that you’re caught up in the rush of wedding dress shopping and said yes a little too soon. Try to take a breath, listen to your parents and hold off on purchasing the dress for a little bit to make sure it’s what you really want and that you’re not just being impulsive. We get it though, wedding dress shopping can be stressful AF.

Your wedding dress is undeniably a big part of your wedding day. So it’s important that you’re feeling happy, comfortable, and beautiful in your outfit. If your parents aren’t feeling your dress then it comes down to an honest conversation about expectations and concerns.

At the end of the day, parents do end up emotionally invested in their children’s wedding and it is worth trying to make everyone (at least mostly) happy on your wedding day. Take some time, check out other options and you’ll most likely find a happy medium.