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Jenni’s blog last week about adding a wrap to your bridesmaid dress got me thinking about other pieces that are fun to add, specifically brooches. Correctly placed, a piece of jewelry can spice up a simple dress and add an elegance to any style. Some designers offer bridesmaid dresses with brooches attached like these dresses below by Lazaro, Vera Wang, and Watters Bridesmaids.
If you fall in love with a bridesmaid dress that doesn’t come with a brooch, it’s easy to add one, and it makes a great gift for your bridal party. My favorite places to shop for unique pieces are antique stores. They usually have a good selection with a classic and historic feel, plus second-hand shops are usually less expensive than department stores. You can get creative and buy a different style for each bridesmaid, giving some individual personality to each girl as she walks down the aisle. You can also try Ebay or Etsy and search “vintage brooches”. I also found these feminine, affordable brooches on Amazon – who would have thought?
Last week I had a bride who fell in love with this bridesmaid dress by Vineyard, but she’s having a black-tie optional wedding, so we talked about adding a brooch where the ruching meets at the waist – love it!
I was just looking at photos the other day from my wedding, and every time I see the shots of my niece, Lauren, I can’t help but crack up at the memory of her performance down the aisle. She was three years old and we told her to make sure she threw the petals from her basket and walked toward her mom (who was one of my bridesmaids). What we adults forget sometimes is that children are literal little beings. She threw the petals alright, with the force of a major league pitcher – she put so much effort into it that she kept letting out little grunts all along the way. Needless to say, our guests were cracking up. Hey, whatever works, right? The bottom line is that she made it down the aisle and did exactly what we asked her to do – she just did it with gusto.
I love the idea of having kids in weddings. They represent an innocence that just makes the whole day a little sweeter. But kids are tricky, and require us to get a little creative now and then. I also think a wedding is an event where we can bend the rules a little regarding bribery. Our nephew was five at the time of our wedding and refused to be the ring bearer. He said he’d do it if he could be a groomsman. I still don’t know how he came up with that – he’s slick. I told him he could be the special groomsman who got to carry the ring, but he saw right through me. In the end, he gave in for $10 (though he tried to get me for $100).
If the kids in the wedding are very young, it’s always good to have them walk together. If you have a junior bridesmaid, she can follow up behind them and scoot them along if anyone decides to take a break on their way to the front (I’ve seen this happen – pretty funny stuff when the flower girl sits down on the aisle to play with her petals). Once the little ones are ‘on stage’, make sure a bridesmaid and groomsman are assigned to take care of them. My brother and sister-in-law just held the kids’ hands and they managed pretty well, though of course they were disinterested after about five minutes. If the parents are seated as guests, it’s definitely more likely that your flower girl or ring bearer may want to go sit with them. If this happens, my advice is to let them. That’s much less of a distraction that hearing them sqeal, “Momeeeee!”
Know up front what you want your ceremony and photos to look like because kids bring an whole new element into the mix. If you think kids are cute from afar, but think they can be annoying – don’t have them in your wedding. There is nothing wrong with that. In the end, kids will be kids. They are adorable, funny, and unpredictable. The unpredictablility is what is fun about having them in weddings, so heed this advice – if you plan to have flower girls and ring bearers, you have to embrace not having a flawless ceremony with no distractions. It just may give you a great story to tell.
(All Photos by April Greer Photography)
The first nine times I was a bridesmaid, I was just that – a bridesmaid. Then my best friend, Jen, asked me to be her Maid of Honor. I was so excited to have coveted this role - to get to be the one to plan her bridal shower and bachelorette party, and to stand right next to her as she said her wedding vows. That was until someone reminded me that my wedding was a few months before Jen’s, and that I would technically be her “Matron” of honor. WHAT? Matron? When I thought of the word, I felt old and wrinkled, washed up like some lady with 10 kids who stopped washing her hair from being so tired. I was only 35, but being a “Matron” was making me feel much closer to 65. It made me want to change my wedding date.
Spending most of my life following rules, I do tend to break them if I deem necessary. When Jen asked how I wanted my title to appear on the program, I told her to rebel and go with Maid instead of Matron. After all, I was still just a newlywed myself – surely there was some sort of statute of limitations regarding this.
I thought nothing of it, until at the wedding, two different people said something to me about how I wasn’t technically a “Maid” of Honor anymore, but a “Matron”. Are you kidding me? I got called out on a technicality?
It got me thinking – who decided (umpteen years ago, I’m sure) on this rule of wedding lingo? I did some research via Google, and was surprised to see that this topic was all over the place. I found ‘expert’ advice, opinions, etc. In the end, I concluded that these terms were made up in the days when women wore corsets, and that you should be called whatever you want to be called. Maybe we should just start a new, more modern title – “Diva of Honor”. Any other ideas?
Below – Jen and I as each others’ Maids of Honor.
Photo by April Greer
Photo by Harrison Hurwitz
It’s true, bridesmaids – on top of spending money on your bridesmaid dress, shoes, hair stylist, make-up artist, bridal shower, and bachelorette party, you do have to buy gifts for the happy couple! But how much do you have to spend? Can you buy off the registry or are you supposed to get creative? Can you count a really big shower gift as the wedding gift as well? I hear these questions from girls all the time, so I am here today to answer all these, and help you stick to your own budget while still making a great impression with your gifts to the bride and groom.
**How much money do I have to spend on a shower and wedding gift? As a rule of thumb, you will spend more on a wedding gift than on the shower gift. I would recommend at least $40-$50 on the shower gift, and $100 on the wedding gift. This depends on your own personal budget, though, so don’t freak out! If you can’t spend this amount, find someone to go in on a gift with you so that it’s more affordable. I’ve mentioned this before, but there is nothing wrong with group gifts. Personally, I love them because the bride and groom get something fabulous, and no one had to break the bank to buy it for them. My best friends bought my husband and I the Dyson Animal Vacuum when we got married, and I was thrilled. It’s a $600 vacuum that we never would have bought for ourselves, but they knew how much I needed it (due to my furry beast of a dog), so they all pitched in. Sentimental, no, but they did plenty of sentimental things for me for my wedding.
**What kind of gift am I supposed to buy for the bridal shower? Pay attention to the theme of the shower, and that will guide your gift buying. If you’re in the wedding, you are likely helping to plan the shower so make sure you talk to the bride about this. If she wants a personal shower, that means fun stuff for the bride…lingerie, pampering products, fun things to take with her on her honeymoon, etc.
If she wants gifts off her registry – easy. Buy her gifts off her registry. Some couples are just starting out and really need all that stuff, so even if it seems boring, know that you’re buying something to help her make a home.
**Can I buy combination gift for the shower and wedding? NO! This makes me think of my poor dad, whose birthday is Christmas day. He spent his childhood getting those combo gifts, and my mom has always made sure we separate the two events. So maybe I have a personal bias on this one, but no one ever wants to get a combo gift. Just don’t do it.
**Should I buy a wedding gift off the registry, or should I get creative? I think either is fine here. If you are short on cash, get creative. For the wedding, the bride and groom are going to receive tons of gifts from their registry, so a few sentimental gifts from their bridal party will be fun for them. One of my girlfriends had the musical notes from the bride and groom’s first dance printed out, and framed the page with a photo from their first dance. The photo is still hanging in their house, and is a great reminder of their special day. If you spend a lot of time with the bride and groom, you could also put together a photo album that tells the story of their relationship, and leave room to add photos of the wedding and honeymoon.
**Do I have to buy a gift for the bachelorette party? Yes, but just something small and fun. I’m afraid to give ideas here because most of my bachelorette party experience involves gifts I wouldn’t share with my mother….maybe not appropriate for public reading. You know what to do – get online and have fun with this. Just be respectful of your bride. If she is very conservative, don’t shop at the dirty stores for her!
After throwing a bridal shower recently for a dear friend, it got me thinking that there are a lot of people out there who are unpracticed on what to do, and what not to do, at a bridal shower. As a bridesmaid, you have to make sure you’re one of the gals who is on the up-n-up about etiquette.
Use these tips to help make ensure you are a super shower guest…
Bring a gift. Group gifts are perfectly acceptable. My girlfriends and I always go in on a group gift – this way, the recipient gets something spectacular while not breaking the bank.
Be gracious. Remember that those hosting the party have opened their home to you, and have spent a lot of time planning and preparing. Just like you learned in kindergarten, say thank you.
Participate. Let’s be honest – nobody loves the games we have play at bridal (and baby) showers. If you are moaning and groaning about having to participate, though, you will make the bride feel bad. So just embrace the silliness and have fun – I’m often surprised about how competitive I end up being and how much I find myself laughing during game time. Seeing her friends and family laughing and having a good time tells the bride that you all are enjoying her shower, and this is important to her.
Watch the Clock. If the shower is supposed to end at 2:00, and it’s 2:15, be one of the first to offer to help clean up. This will hopefully prompt other guests to wind things up as well.
Focus on the bride. It’s easy to go off in your own corner and chat with the people you know, especially if you haven’t seen each other in awhile. It’s also easy to get caught up in conversations about the millions of things going on in your own life. Just remember that the shower is about the bride – she’s so excited to be getting married, so try to gear conversations toward fun things about the couple, their engagement, honeymoon, etc. This will make her feel like everyone is truly there for her.
Shower on, ladies.
I had a customer with a very small bustline this weekend try on a v-neck dress and say, “I look like a boy”. She was right. Then she tried on a strapless, sweet-heart neckline that had some ruching at the bustline, and we didn’t even notice her bust – we just noticed how amazing she looked in the dress. The bride, who had a bit more of a bust, tried the v-neck on and it looked completely different on her – it was adorable! It really is all in the bust when it comes to what neckline bridesmaids should wear. Good news, though, there isn’t just one neckline for each bust size – it’s about knowing your best options and also knowing what is universally flattering.
STRAPLESS: I hear girls mention all the time that there are so many strapless dresses, and not enough other necklines. The reason? A strapless neckline is often the most universally flattering on every bustline. A bridesmaid with a larger bustline can wear a strapless dress, but she must wear proper undergarments in order to have support. Try a strapless bra like this one – the longer style will offer more support on a larger bust.
These are some of my favorite strapless dresses that look good on a variety of bustlines:
V-NECK: On the hanger, v-neck dresses look more conservative and covering. On the contrary, a v-neck dress is going to show the most cleavage if you are sporting a fuller bust. The great thing about v-necks is that you can often wear a more traditional bra. V-necks are best on girls who have bustline that’s still standing high, or on girls who know how to make a killer bra work. It really depends on your comfortability with sporting cleavage, and it depends on the bride and location (very religious wedding=no boobs on display). If you do go the v-neck route, there are some really modern styles out there right now.
HALTER: I love halter dresses because I feel like they support my bust while slimming the area between my shoulders and neck. Designers don’t tend to offer too many halter styles, though. Halters are best for women who have a bust – they can sometimes make a flat chest look even more flat.
HIGH NECK: These are becoming more and more popular, and are a fun way to be conservative regarding the bustline. With that said, these dresses really do look best on smaller busted ladies – a very large bust tends to overtake the silhouette of the dress.
ONE SHOULDER: My new personal favorite for every bustline. With some of these styles, you could even wear one (clear) bra strap for added support. The one shoulder look flatters every bustline while offering something interesting – and something to look at other than the bust.
Also big for Fall – hues of silver, grey, and brown, along with deep burgandy, bold reds, purples, and navy. We also love how designers are mixing colors and hues to create more interesting looks.
Check out some of our favorites below…
Calling all bridesmaids – pay attention! Whether you’re a sister, cousin, co-worker, or girlfriend – there is a simple code of ethics to follow when it comes to being a bridesmaid.
*Accept an invitation to be a bridesmaid only if you are excited about being in the wedding. Do not accept out of guilt or because you feel obligated.
*Be available to shop with your bride if she asks. When I was in my friend Amy’s wedding several years ago, we spent an entire summer crashing wedding sites on Saturdays to see what they looked like all set up for an event. We had such a great time, and it made me feel like I had a special part of helping her plan her wedding.
*Let your bride take the lead when shopping for bridesmaid dresses. Talk to her about her vision before grabbing dresses to try on. Yes, we want you to look fabulous, but your bride has an idea in mind regarding the overall look of her wedding. Support her in that vision (see Jenni’s blog on her yellow wedding that never happened).
*Don’t complain to your bride about any of the following:
- Your attire
- The guy you are assigned to walk with down the aisle (more on the boy ethics below)
- How much money you’re spending on her shower/parties/bridesmaid dress/wedding gift
- Her family (you know the rule – you can vent about your own mother but no one else can)
- How fat you think you are (especially if you smaller than the bride….that is straight up terrible)
- Wearing heels (get a pair and practice at home – unless you get lucky and can go barefoot on the beach)
- The venue of the wedding or rehearsal dinner
- The food at the reception
- The groom (even if he’s your brother or BFF)
*Bring a date to the wedding only if you’re in a relationship. Remember – each head at a wedding is costing the bride/groom/family an average of $100. Before you bring a date, ask yourself if you would buy that guy a $100 meal.
*Speaking of boys…if you are single a wedding is a great place to meet someone. That said, do it tastefully and save any overnight adventures for a different evening.
*Offer to help all along the way, and be a sounding board, shoulder to cry on, and fabulous pal for girls’ nights out. If you’re married, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t had your own wedding yet, this is very good karma for your future wedding planning.
*You know that song, All You Need is Love? Make that your motto.
I just realized I could go on and on with this stuff, but I’ll leave it at that so as not to scare anyone away from accepting the honor of being a bridesmaid. If you are genuinely excited to be in this wedding, you will likely not have to worry about anything. Just be your naturally wonderful self and have fun celebrating this time in your bride’s life.
Ok, now that I found last week’s entertainment on You Tube, I keep looking for other funny stuff about weddings and bridesmaids. Though I would need several cocktails to get the guts up to do something like this, I love it! Check it out here.
Before I owned Twirl, I knew very little about fabrics and even had to ask one of our designers how to pronounce Dupioni (du-pee-o-ni, by the way). It got me thinking that most bridesmaids out there are probably the same – it’s why everyone is so nervous about caring for their dresses. So I’m here to ease your mind with some tips for caring for a bridesmaid dress, along with the big no-no’s.
Hang in a dry place and leave your dress bag on for protection
Hang long dresses up high so that the bottom isn’t sitting on the floor
Always use care when zipping your dress. Many bridesmaid dress fabrics are delicate and can be damaged if a zipper is twisted or yanked. Have someone else zip your dress for you – if your hand is twisted to get the zipper in the back, you are likely twisting the actual zipper and could break it.
Though your dress has likely been pressed for you when you pick it up, it easily can get wrinkled again when traveling in a car or being smooshed with other clothes in your closest. And if you had to have your dress shipped to you, it’s definitely going to need to be pressed again. Either way, it’s best to press your dress the day of the wedding after the dress is all done with its travels and closet time.
Fabrics safe to iron: Raw silk, all taffetas, satin, dress linings (except silk charmeuse).
Rules to ironing:
1. Make sure your iron is clean….this may sound strange, but I once had a few splashes of BBQ sauce on my iron at home that had been sitting on my kitchen sink. Let’s just say it didn’t go very well for my white shirt that day.
2. Always start the iron on a low setting. You can turn it up little by little if it’s not getting the wrinkles out. If the iron starts to feel “sticky” on the fabric, you have it turned up too hot.
3. Iron the lining and the dress separately to be most effective.
Simply put – DRY CLEAN ONLY.
If you get a stain on your dress, don’t touch it! Take it to the cleaners 100% of the time….and not the $2.25 cleaners.
True story – we had a bridesmaid bring her raw silk dress in last year after taking it to the bargain cleaners, who obviously washed it. It was completely ruined, and ended up costing her a lot more than it would have to take it to a quality cleaners in the first place. If you live around here, that quality place is Prestige Cleaners on Shea/Scottsdale Road.