Whether you've gotten married, been part of a bridal party, or have been a guest at a wedding, you know just how important choosing a dress can be for all people involved, not just the bride, but also the bridesmaids. You also likely know how contentious it can be — bridesmaid dresses are notorious for being ugly so that the bride can stand out even more on her special day. And while that is how each episode of Bustle's new Facebook-exclusive series, Bridesmaid Upgrade, starts — with a bridesmaid absolutely hating the gown the bride-to-be has picked for her to wear — that's only the beginning of the story. In each episode, a designer will help create a special, custom wedding ensemble for a bridesmaid, according to her wishes — not the bride's.
The first episode of Bridesmaid Upgrade puts the spotlight on Nicole Maxali, the bride, and her best friend, roommate, and maid of honor, Marisa Marquez. When the two of them met, they had an instant connection — they shared a love of Star Wars, theater, and their Filipino culture. Nicole knew there was no one else she'd rather have standing by her side on her big day than Marisa. That decision was easy — picking a dress for her maid of honor to wear, though? The opposite of a cake walk. When Nicole surprised Marisa with a strapless yellow gown, Marisa could not have been more disappointed.
"Looking at myself in that dress, it was a flood of all the things I'm most insecure about. It's basically on the 'everything I don't want list,'" Marisa shares in the beginning of the episode. Downhearted and discouraged, she expressed a feeling most bridesmaids have thought at one point or another: "I think sometimes bridesmaid dresses are meant to look good on a mannequin and not so much on a real human person."
Marisa didn't want to make a huge fuss about it, but being her best friend, Nicole could sense her maid of honor's disappointment. "I know this is my big day, but if my best friend is not happy, then I'm not going to be happy," Nicole said.
Over the course of the show, Nicole would work with New York-based designer Shao Yang, who specializes in making gorgeous custom clothing, from wedding dresses to suits with capes. Nicole made sure to tell Shao Yang exactly what made Marisa feel insecure when she wore the current dress and elements she thought Marisa would like. Together, they would transform Marisa's dress into something she would not only feel comfortable in, but feel beautiful in. It was also important to Nicole that the dress pull elements from their shared Filipino heritage. "I think it is important to not only reflect our Filipino culture but also show love to our pre-colonized roots," Nicole tells Bustle.
But would Marisa love her newly revamped gown? Or would she hate it even more than the original version? You'll have to watch the entire episode to see for yourself.
Will their friendship pass the bridesmaid dress test? Watch Bustle's new show, Bridesmaid Upgrade, to find out. Episode 1 is available now on Facebook, with new episodes airing every Tuesday!