"Ohhh. My. God," was all Danielle could muster at first.
"Are you going to the Renaissance?" asked Nicole's future sister-in-law and bridesmaid, Kiele Bischoff.
"It's got dead things on it!" one of the women blurted out.
After enduring several minutes of ridicule, we once again instructed Marisa to escort our bride to the control room under the guise of choosing headpieces. The moment Nicole was gone the women unleashed their disdain for the dress.
"That dress is really disgusting," Danielle said.
"For a costume party I think that would look really pretty," bridesmaid Michelle Baker tried to reason.
"I don't want to go to her wedding now," Danielle announced. "I'm the maid of honor and I'm so embarrassed!"
Nicole and Marisa soon retuned to the fitting area with accessories in hand and Nicole began trying them on.
Danielle decided to share some of her thoughts with Nicole, but what she said to her sister's face wasn't nearly as offensive as what she said behind her back.
"So far, the only thing I like is the headpiece," Danielle told Nicole rather meekly.
Forging ahead, Marisa explained that the dress would arrive eight weeks prior to the wedding and Nicole would need to schedule the final fittings.
"I hope the plane [carrying the dress] blows up," Danielle muttered, but she did so under her breath to one of the other bridesmaids.
Fortunately, desperate measures would not be necessary. Much to everyone's relief, our princess bride revealed that the whole situation was part of our experiment.
As Roney explained afterward, Nicole's twin sister and other guests' foremost concern was how they thought Nicole looked in her dress, rather than how happy the dress made her.
"[Her] twin sister was not going to have any of that," Roney said. "It reflected poorly on her if her sister was so insane as to wear this dress down the aisle." She added that, "People really will go to great lengths to make sure that dress is the dress that they imagine that bride to be wearing."
As if putting their sisters in a tough situation wasn't difficult enough, our last two brides decided to put their own mothers to the test.
Bride-to-be Jackie Lugo invited not only her mother and sister for her fitting, but also her future mother and sister-in-law. Even Jackie herself could not have predicted their responses as she stepped out of the fitting room in the most bizarre dress of all: the so-called "Italian Cage Dress."
Designed more as a runway show piece than a wedding gown, the Cage Dress was a beautiful, lacy, strapless gown over which a butterfly and vine-laden cage surrounded the dress from waist to floor.
As Jackie hobbled onto the pedestal, the hoops of bendable cage in her hands, she was met with peals of laughter.
"Noooo!" exclaimed future mother-in-law Arlene Morgan as she guffawed at the sight of the dress. Almost everyone was laughing … except Jackie's mother, Elba Mendez, who sat in stony silence.
Jackie tried her best to sell her family on the dress to despite their mirth. "Everything is custom. It's couture!" she told them.
Just as before, Marisa and Jackie made their exit for headpieces, turning the women's attention to Jackie's silent mom.
"You look like you're about to cry," said Jackie's sister, Jocelyn, to Elba. "Why? It's just a dress. I mean, if she wants an ugly dress, fine, but it's just a dress."