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Why Say Yes To The Dress Ireland is exactly the type of escapist fluff we need right now

I’m saying yes to the dress.


BETWEEN SEVERE WEATHER events and a seemingly endless stream of actresses coming forward with horrifying sexual assault allegations, it’s safe to say that it’s been a fairly depressing week.

Amidst all the darkness, however, was a chink of light in the form of Say Yes To The Dress Ireland. The highly addictive reality show has been adapted for an Irish audience and, frankly, it was just the escapist guff I needed this week.

In Say Yes To The Dress Ireland, Peter “Franc” Kelly is playing the role of Randy Fenoli.

Franc is the type of man who’ll kiss your Mam’s hand and make a joke about her having had too many “bubbles”. Think of him as the grande latte version of Francis Brennan.

mas Source: RTÉ

Meanwhile, Vows in Blarney, Co. Cork, is standing in for Kleinfeld Bridal.

Blarney isn’t quite Manhattan, but it’ll do.

glam Source: RTÉ

And this is Denise, one of the show’s two resident bridal consultants.

Denise is no-nonsense type with a husky voice who says things like, “Doesn’t she have an absolutely fabiliss figure?” and insists on calling groups of women “ladies”.


In the first episode of Say Yes To The Dress Ireland, we meet three brides who are all looking for something a little different.

Something a little bit boho! But not too much bling! Something Gatsby-esque! But not too sparkly! Fitted! But with room for breathing!


And it goes without saying that there can’t be too much cleavage. We’re Catholics after all!

Here’s a direct quote from the first episode:

The priest will have a heart attack when he sees those puppies hanging out.


We’re treated to romantic proposal stories.

Like the man who hid a wedding ring in this unassuming pair of wellies on Christmas morning.

wellies Source: RTÉ

To add a bit of emotional heft to the programme, we’re also fed stories about weight loss, death and long distance relationships. It can feel a little X Factor-y at times, but sure look.

Because this is Ireland, What Does Mammy Think? is the main feature of this programme.

In Say Yes To The Dress Ireland, all of the brides are required to defer to their mothers, partly because they hold the purse strings and partly because the show’s producers know there’s nothing better than a middle-aged woman named Breda frowning and saying, “It wouldn’t be my cup of tea now.”

mamm Source: RTÉ

But we’re also reminded again and again that these brides are “stubborn” and liable to march to the beat of their own drum.

Imagine! A grown woman having strong opinions about what dress she’ll wear on one of the most momentous days of her life. Stubborn as a mule, indeed.

The show never gets quite as contentious as the American version does. Instead the bride’s friends and family are a little more… passive aggressive.

Instead of saying they don’t like it, they’ll posit that the dress “isn’t as flattering as other dresses might be” or express surprise that the bride likes it. “I wouldn’t have thought this was something you’d go for.”

Cue sideways glances that say, “Don’t cause a scene here, Lisa.”

itisyou Source: RTE

The issue of money is rarely broached.

At one point, one of the brides expresses doubt that her preferred dress will be within her €3,000 budget. After some ominous music and elongated pauses, it’s revealed that the dress actually only costs €1,800. “You’re saving money, Mam!” the bride cheers and you can tell everyone present will be dining out on this story for years to come.

cans Source: RTÉ

The show’s signature line is delivered with a dash of Irish mortification. After all, we’re not Yanks now, are we?

“Are you *snigger* saying yes to the dress?”

“I’m saying *mumbles* yes to the dress.”

yes Source: RTE

But by far the best part of the programme is hearing Irish mothers earnestly use the word “bling”.

This Mam declared that her daughter’s chosen dress had the “perfect amount of bling”. Is there anything more delightful? I think not.


The show may lack the razzmatazz of the original, but its fun stems from the fact that it’s so quintessentially Irish in lots of ways.

The deification of Mammies, Irish people attempting to bring back the word “boho”, the boutique’s insistence on sticking this yoke to the back of every dress…


It’s flimsy fluff, yes, but it’s a welcome distraction from the hellscape we find ourselves living in. If the choice is between scrolling through Twitter to find out how Trump has caused offense versus watching Irish women choosing wedding rigouts, I know what I’m doing. I’m saying yes to the dress.

Say Yes to the Dress Ireland kicked off last night and things got pretty emotional>

About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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