He objects to my wedding dress

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Dear Meredith,

My partner and I planned the big wedding of our dreams for June 2022, when we're hoping we can all safely gather, but decided to do a courthouse wedding this December; we bought a house this year and it will make our taxes much easier (romantic, I know!).

As the day comes closer, we're getting really excited to celebrate just the two of us and have been brainstorming ways to make it a fun, special day. I ordered a cute satin mini dress that perfectly fits my vision of a December civil ceremony. My partner knew I ordered it but I still wanted it to be a surprise (hopefully a good surprise). He asked me a few questions, "Is it white? Is it very fancy? Is it long?" It sounded like he was trying to get a sense of how dressy his outfit should be so I didn't think much of it. When the dress arrived last night I was so excited to try it on, and when I came back downstairs smiling, he asked how it was – and again asked about the length. When I gestured to fingertip length (something I haven't had to do since I had a high school dress code to worry about), I was really surprised when he said he wasn't OK with a dress hitting "above the knee" for a wedding.

This blew me away because I wear mini dresses all the time: dressy ones, casual ones, I wore one on our first date! I was (and am) so angry, first because I was excited and he completely crushed my mood, and second because I am not OK with him judging what I wear like that. I'll add that my partner grew up in another part of the world where clothing is more restricted for women. He's asked me to be considerate of his family's cultural background when I choose my dress for our big wedding and dresses for my bridesmaids. I completely understand and respect that perspective and absolutely want his family to be comfortable at our wedding. This is the first time, however, that concerns about clothing have come up when his family isn't around (we've been together for five years!)

We haven't gotten a chance to talk this over yet; how do I let him know that I'm not OK with the restrictions on clothing entering our lives as a couple? I also want to understand the concern (and lack of enthusiasm) about this particular dress, but am not sure what questions to ask. Of course I'm maintaining that it's my decision what to wear for the civil ceremony, but do I even want to wear the mini dress now if it's a source of tension?

– Above the Knee

I can't give much advice before you have the talk and ask questions. This could be about a philosophy he's kept hidden, or simply a concern about posting pics of the civil ceremony and dealing with family members who see it.

I'm not trying to jump to anyone's defense, but he might be placing more weight on the look and feel of this small wedding than he's let on. Perhaps his family needs to be just as comfortable with images of a ceremony they missed.

It doesn't sound like he's ever objected to your style, or even made comments about those dresses you wear all the time. It does sound like he has concerns about what you wear in the photos of record. So yeah, ask about that. Ask about all of it because this is a very good time for honest conversation.

Also explain that if he had thoughts about how the smaller wedding should be – and who'd be witnessing it from afar – he could have been clear with you before you started shopping. This whole guessing game made it seem like he was feeling one thing when it was actually another. To me, that's is the obvious problem here. This was bad communication. He needs to learn to say the thing he feels so you don't have to jump to conclusions and deal with the aftermath.

If he tells you he does have rules for your wardrobe, that's another conversation. But so far, after five years, this has only been about family events and weddings.

And honestly, if this is about family comfort and you're OK with adjusting your look for that, maybe you can meet in the middle do a mini dress costume change. I love when brides do one dress and then show up hours later in something new, ready for Part 2. You love the dress, so keep it.

– Meredith

Readers? What questions should the LW ask before this ceremony?