When bride-to-be and “Bachelor in Paradise Canada” star Tessa Tookes stepped on the pedestal at a bridal parlor in Ontario, Canada, wearing her dream dress, she said the moment was like “Say Yes to the Dress.” Until it wasn’t.
Tookes told USA Today, “The conversation took a turn.”
She explained that as she was standing on the platform admiring her dream wedding gown, the boutique employees presented her with two brown-colored breast cups to replace the beige cups already in the dress. However, while the beige cups already in the dress were free, replacing them with a set to match her skin tone would cost her an extra $200.
“I just received the information in silence and defaulted to being uncomfortable,” Tookes said, adding that she was the only person of color in the store during the encounter.
She added, “I was not acutely aware of my Blackness until [that moment.] It was incredibly isolating, and I felt very othered.”
Tookes said the moment made her think of her days performing dance in high school when she had to “pancake” her pink ballet slippers with foundation and dye her tights with tea to match her skin.
The reality TV star and model took to TikTok with her fiancé, Joey Kirchner, whom she met during season two of “Bachelor in Paradise Canada,” to air out their shared grievances. The video has amassed over 3 million views and more than 700,000 comments, many of which are from Black brides commiserating and Black wedding dress designers offering to either dye the breast cups for her or make a dress for her outright.
According to Tookes, the original boutique has since reached out and attempted to make things right by offering to pay for her dress in full. While she found that very generous, she said the gesture “didn’t necessarily get at the heart of the issue.”
“To have to defend your skin tone just doesn’t feel fair,” she said.
If Tookes’ comments section is any indication, she is far from the first Black bride to encounter racism while shopping for her wedding dress. Black couples planning their nuptials may find it not only challenging to avoid racism in the industry but also finding Black businesses to work with. From wedding dress designers to planners to photographers, Black businesses are underrepresented in the wedding industry.
In the meantime, Tookes said her wedding dress situation is “[up] in the air.” She put down a deposit on her wedding gown at the original parlor and had resolved to just dye the breast cups on her own, but that was until a handful of Black wedding designers began to reach out.
Working with a Black wedding dress designer she said, “Feels a lot more aligned with my feelings on the matter and wanting to support and uplift this community of women.”
Never miss a beat: Get our daily stories straight to your inbox with theGrio’s newsletter.