As we approach wedding season, has roped in Alison Rios McCrone, venue owner and planner, to help solve your dilemmas in a weekly agony aunt column…

Dear Alison,

My best friend is getting married in a couple of months time and I’m her maid of honour. Her and her partner have planned such a stunning wedding, and I can’t wait to celebrate with them. Her dress, however, is awful! I cannot stress how much it doesn’t suit the venue, theme, or her.

It’s just really… unique and there’s a lot happening with it. Think flesh-coloured mesh, sequins, tulle and lace. It’s both somehow tight and loose. Anyway, I was there when she was trying it on, and the other bridesmaids and I all stayed quiet – but we did throw a lot of praise on the other dresses, hoping that would sway her.

I thought it had worked when she left the shop empty-handed, but she secretly went back a couple days later and surprised us with the news she’d bought it.

It wasn’t cheap – around £2,000 – so I’m tempted to say nothing, but I don’t want to kick myself on the big day when she comes down the aisle looking like a mess. The other bridesmaids and I are in agreement that it’s not great but don’t know what to do.

Do I tell her? She hasn’t had her fitting for alterations yet so they could do some work to fix it there? Or should I just accept it’s her decision?

Thank you in advance,

Do you have a wedding problem you need some advice on?

Weddings are joyful occasions – but they’re also incredibly stressful. Whether you’re a bride or groom, best woman or man, family member or friend of the couple, the run up to the big day can be very tense.

If you need a bit of help with your quandary, Alison, who has run a venue for 10 years and helps couples plan weddings, is here to offer a helping hand.

Email [email protected] to share your issue anonymously with Alison and get it solved.

Dear Julie,

It sounds like you are in a difficult situation, especially being the maid of honour.

I understand your predicament and your reasons for wanting to have this conversation with your best friend: You ultimately want her to look and feel her best on her wedding day.

But you’re worried that telling her could damage your relationship and even her confidence. Yet staying quiet could also lead to regret for her, which you don’t want.

If you do end up speaking to her, you will have to tread carefully and approach the issue sensitively.

At the same time, you must remember that the dress she wears is her choice. Everyone has different tastes – especially when it comes to weddings – so while you can offer your perspective, it is up to her to make the final decision.

Firstly, to address some of your concerns – I do not think a dress has to match a theme or a venue, it just has to suit the shape of the bride. If it’s just the style you do not like, I would suggest keeping quiet, but if it actively does not suit or flatter her, you could find a way to address this.

Instead of coming straight out with ‘it doesn’t suit you’, I would find another way into the problem. You could, as you missed her ‘say yes to the dress’ moment, suggest you and her go back to the boutique and try it on again before her fitting.

It’s best if this is just you and her, as too many opinions could overwhelm her.

I often find second try-ons really great for brides as it helps them see their dress with fresh eyes. This will also be the case for you; I’m sure on the first day you saw her try on numerous gowns – some you preferred – so it will be good to see this one without others to compare it to.

Once she’s wearing it, and if your mind is unchanged, wait a bit before you express your opinions. At first, try to understand why she picked that dress. Ask her how she feels; did she have a particular vision in mind that you and the other bridesmaids weren’t aware of? Is there anything she would like changed or altered?

Once you understand her reasoning, it can help you approach the topic from a more informed perspective.

I suggest having a seamstress available to recommend any alterations that may come up during the fitting, as they are experts in this field and may be able to make suggestions no one else has considered – especially if parts of the dress are too tight or loose.

That way, you can express your concerns in a more helpful way, framing them as suggestions. For example, you could say: ‘I love this detail of the dress as it really compliments you/your personality – would you consider tailoring the dress to make this more prominent?’.

If your friend is unwilling to change any aspects, try to accept her decision. The dress is just one small part of the wedding, and ultimately it is her choice what she wants to wear.

Throughout, make sure you are not projecting your own tastes onto her as it’s important that she lets her personality shine.

One particular bride at our venue wore an incredibly unique outfit handmade with floral fabric. It was definitely original – and she felt a million dollars. She was confident and happy, and her dress was a talking point because it was so amazing, but it suited her and her personality.

Remember your role is to be supportive, help with other aspects of the wedding planning process, and be honest as a friend. Just remember style is a personal and unique choice for everyone.

However, if on the second try on, your friend changes her mind, you can be there for her. Try not to say you always had reservations about the dress as that doesn’t help the situation. Instead, work up a game plan with her.

Can she return the dress? Can it be tailored?

I have seen brides who loved their initial choice but, over time and closer to their wedding, start to doubt their first pick. Some would go and buy another outfit to replace it; I have also seen some brides change into a second outfit later in the day.

Be there to help her feel confident in whatever she wears.

What matters the most is the love and commitment between your best friend and her partner. The dress may not be perfect, in your opinion, but as long as your friend feels happy and confident, that’s all that truly matters.

Keep this in mind as you approach the topic, and always treat the matter with kindness and support.

I hope this advice helps, and I wish you and your friend all the best for a beautiful wedding day.

Tips for brides and bridesmaids going dress shopping


I would highly recommend trying on a dress on two separate occasions before you commit. You want to avoid impulse buying and having regrets, especially for such an important celebration.

When I was trying on dresses for my own wedding, I went to the first appointment alone – confident in what suited my shape – but found sales assistants were trying to convince me into dresses that wouldn’t work. Thankfully, I had a clear vision of what I wanted.

After I got down to the final two, I brought in my best friend who gave her opinion. Still, regardless of what she thought, I always knew it was my decision.


You’re worried of being mean, I get it, but if you honestly think a dress doesn’t suit the bride – say something. It doesn’t need to be as harsh as ‘that looks bad’ but you can say something like, ‘the detailing on this one is really fun, but you’re so beautiful and I think it’s a shame it detracts from your face’.

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