Confessions of a Single Woman's Love For Wedding Dresses

Trying on gowns is a bit more fun when one has a groom, but, truthfully, a man isn’t a necessity.

Real Housewives of New York's Tinsley Mortimer—who is in a relationship, but not engaged—recently came under fire after she went wedding dress shopping with her mother on an episode of the show. Below, she makes a case for gown hunting without a groom.

For some people, showing up at a bridal salon without a ring or a groom might appear bizarre and quite unusual—but for me, it's a regular Tuesday afternoon. Some viewers were absolutely gobsmacked that I would try on wedding dresses before being engaged…and possibly jinx a proposal.

Who doesn’t love trying on beautiful dresses? It’s not like we walked into the Amsale studio with no warning to the staff. The Housewives producers had previously procured the spot and received permission to film there, so in no way did we feel it was inappropriate. The truth is I have been dating someone for a year and several times we have discussed marriage. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that many times I have imagined what type of dress I would wear if I marry again. What girl doesn’t?


Shopping for a gown is bit more fun when one has a groom, but, truthfully, a man isn’t a necessity.

From the time I can remember, pretty dress shopping has been an experience that not only my Mom, my sister Dabney, and I enjoyed, but my supportive Dad (who wanted sons) was game for as well. Every Thanksgiving, we visited our New York cousins and went shopping at Bergdorf’s and Saks for long dresses to wear to the Homestead for New Year’s Eve. Spending the holidays at this fabulous hotel in the Virginia mountains is a tradition for many Richmond families, and for me, some of the best memories were shopping in preparation for it.

My father would sit outside the dressing room while Dabney and I tried on every dress in the store, coming out only to twirl and twirl around in front of him so that he could admire how nice we looked.

Tinsley Mortimer trying on one of several wedding dresses

This is the fairytale in which I grew up. It was the norm for me. And you think I would be embarrassed trying on bridal dresses without the prerequisite groom? Piece of cake!

Thinking back, I’ve always been a dressy-up girl. I was never made to feel that fashion was frivolous and any old dress would do. Fashion was serious stuff in my house and in my life. In fact, most memories I have growing up involve beautiful dresses.

Take my debutante days, for instance—filled with beautiful gown after beautiful gown. What fun we had making all those selections! Of course, we shopped in New York City, Mecca to us. A debutante presentation dress is a white wedding dress, so as you can see, I am truly an old hand at this. I still have the white Vera Wang I wore for my presentation at the two Richmond balls. My own dance, however, was at Christmas, so I wore a stunning red silk satin Vera Wang.

Of course, I can never forget shopping for my wedding dress, the one I actually wore. I had a real fiancé for this one. It was back to New York for us where we scoured the best bridal salons…Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, and Reem Acra, where we found not only my dress but my mother’s as well.

I have to say the effort is a bit more fun when one has a groom, but, truthfully, a man isn’t a necessity. You can always dream of finding the right one. I think my mother has always understood what a romantic idealist I am, so she’s never had trouble supporting what might be aberrant behavior to others.

The point is this: I am very accustomed to looking at gorgeous gowns and dresses. I was never meant to feel that fashion was frivolous or that looking one’s best was only for a very few times in one’s life. As a romantic, I was preparing for what might be and dreaming of the future.

Wedding dress shopping is special, but why wait? My mother and I, quite simply, took a preemptive strike on this time-honored tradition and had ourselves a ball!

*This story originally appeared on

*Minor edits have been made by the editors

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