Say Yes to the Dress, the popular bridal reality series, has been pairing women with gorgeous gowns for more than a decade. But in a new episode of Say Yes to the Dress UK, producers selected two drag queens to style, and got Lady Diana’s wedding-dress designer to help.
Carl and Gary Cantwell-Finnegan, who both work as female impersonators in England, decided to tie the knot in full face at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Gary (a.k.a. Chichi Monroe) and Carl (a.k.a. Patsy Stoned) met seven years in Spain and haven’t been apart for more than a few days since.
“With LGBT+ rights being such a huge subject at the moment in the media, we thought it’d be a good idea to show the sector we work in and love: drag,” Carl told PinkNews. “And if we were going to do it in drag, why not do it against the most spectacular background, and that was Las Vegas. It was unreal.”
Not only did David Emanuel, who designed Lady Di’s dress, help them pick their frocks, he officiated their ceremony.
Gary admitted he’s been obsessed with Emanuel since Diana’s gown he was a kid. “To be able to talk to him normally, like any person would, getting to know him, was amazing. He was so lovely.”
Emmanuel designed Diana’s ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown with his then-wife Elizabeth, adding an 153-yard tulle veil and a staggering 25-foot train. It quickly became one of the most famous dressed in the world and set trends for wedding dresses with large puffy sleeves, a full skirt and soft fabrics.
He had just 24 hours to find dresses for Carl and Gary, but pulled it off with flair.
“I’m larger and taller than Gary – 6’2″ in heels – so I knew David would have his work cut out with me,” Carl said. “I thought he would never find a dress for me, never in a million years. How he managed to find a dress which both fit me and that I fell in love with was amazing, especially in a shop I’d never been in before.”
He confessed the trip to Sin City was his first time in the States, so he wasn’t even about American sizing. “I was completely gobsmacked [but] the second I put it on, it fit perfectly.”
In the episode, which will air next week, Gary confides Carl “makes me melt. I’d do anything for him.”
“I’d never have become a performer if it wasn’t for Carl, because he gave me that confidence to say ‘I am good enough’ and ‘I can do this.’”
— Chichi Monroe / Gary Cantwell-Finnegan (@MonroeChichi) July 19, 2018
As Carl tears up in the dressing room, Gary tells David it doesn’t matter what dress they chose, because “he’s going to look killer in whatever he wears.”
Carl returned the loving sentiment, saying that if Gary “turned round to me tomorrow and said: ‘Let’s stop doing drag,’ I would drop it in a heartbeat. He comes before anything else in my life. He’s an extension of myself and I couldn’t imagine life without him.”
The couple admit to being full of excitement and nerves when they finally saw each other in their gowns. “To be honest, I didn’t even see the dress,” Gary recalled. “I looked straight past the dress, the make-up and the wig — I just saw Gary in front of me, rather than Chichi.”
He added that, drag or no, “the main thing was that we were two gay men getting married.”
“We see drag as our uniform, just like an ambulance worker or [candy striper],” he said. We’re proud of our jobs, so we wanted to get married in our uniforms. What we want is for every part of LGBT+ to get their own little moment to promote what they do in the community… Some people just see two men in dresses and think: ‘Why are they doing that?’ We think it’s quite important to give that bit of clarity and say what it is we do.”
Last year, Say Yes to the Dress featured transgender bride Gabrielle Gibson.
“They were respectful,” Gibson said of the crew and producers. “”…I was never sexualized. I was never asked weird questions. I was treated as a human being and a woman. That is how I was respected and that is the greatest feeling in the world.”