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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!
With many weddings taking place in the fall or at an outside venue, let’s face it, fashionable bridesmaid dresses don’t always offer up the most warmth. The last thing you want to do is freeze in your strapless dress. Even in Arizona this can happen. I remember my best friend’s wedding in Sedona during October we were all caught empty handed, freezing, once the sun went down. We ended up wearing our guy’s suit jackets. Not exactly the cutest alternative.
A way to avoid looking like a man and instead be fashionable/warm at the same time is to add a coordinating wrap. I got married at the Desert Botanical Gardens and decided at the last minute to purchase wraps for all of my bridesmaids as gifts. I was so thankful I did as everyone had the option to warm up a bit if necessary. They even became a part of some really great dance moves as the night went on. ;)
Many bridesmaid dress designers offer wraps in several fabric options, typically in chiffon, satin, or charmeuse. If the fabric or color of your choice is not available as a wrap you can always order fabric then have it made. Or, one of my favorite ideas is to go with a pashmina. I pretty much take one to every wedding I attend.
After you choose your bridesmaid dress, keep in mind the venue and time of your wedding. Don’t forget this important accessory and be left in the cold.
When my sister got married she had a destination wedding in Scotland. She needed a dress that was easy to travel with, simple, yet elegant enough for a ceremony in castle ruins on the Isle of Skye. She picked out the perfect alternative bridal dress.
My sister, Shelli and her husband, Gez
Alternative bridal suits the bride that is looking for something non-traditional. It is a dress that is simple, understated and stylish. Many bridesmaid dress designers offer alternative bridal. Or, if available, you can choose a bridesmaid dress style and have it made in ivory or white. What is great about alternative bridal is how inexpensive they can be when compared to some of the more popular traditional designer choices.
These dresses are perfect for brides that have chosen a destination wedding, beach wedding, garden wedding or for those ladies that are simply looking for something different. Listed below are some of our favorite alternative bridal designers.
Months before your wedding you have to create your guest list. You begin your list with the obvious family members, then add your close friends. You then move on to your neighbors and you can’t forget your parent’s friends who have watched you grow up. Then you have your co-workers and the family members of your best friends (I mean in some cases they are practically family)! Then you take that list and double it (because the groom no doubt has a similar list) and when you finally step back and look at the GIANT list you have both created, you need a moment to catch your breathe. That is a lot of people you are going to have to pay for to eat, drink and dance the night away at your big event. But how do you know who to leave out? Where do you start making cuts? Feelings are at stake here.
Ever since I can remember, I have always envisioned my wedding HUGE! I’m talking everyone I know and then some. But over the past years I have had the pleasure of experiencing these “HUGE weddings first hand. As much fun as I have being a guest, I sit back and watch the bride and groom move from table to table thanking people for coming, repeating the line, “It’s so good to see you” and never actually seeming to snag enough time to enjoy their food, or drinks or even the dance floor. There are hugs to be given and hand shakes to be exchanged – and with a wedding this size, it could take hours.
All this has caused me to re-evaluate my “HUGE” wedding dreams. I have begun to wonder how people can get away with this though. Having a smaller wedding and truly only inviting those closest to you. Then it hit me – DESTINATION WEDDING!
I can’t even count the number of brides in the past month that have said they were having a destination wedding! These ladies are brilliant! They are clearly a few steps ahead of me. You can still invite the large number of guests you would if you were staying in town , but realize that not everyone will be able to make it (work, kids, life… whatever). Those that are closest to you (whether they are friends or family) will figure out a way to be there. Another way to keep the idea of a smaller wedding within reach would be to consider a smaller bridal party. It is easier to coordinate with the travels – and you can, in some cases, help your bridal party pay for a portion of their “trip” (something that might not be possible if you had 8+ girls). It could become your wedding party gift (which would be so helpful). For the other girls, if they are your close friends/family, they will no doubt still attend. A perfect example of this was Keri’s wedding (one of Twirl’s owners). She decided to do a destination wedding – and opted to not have all 16 of her closest friends in her bridal party. All of her closest friends were of course still in attendance, but she chose to only have her future sister-in-law and best friend stand up for her. It was Perfect!
So aside from creating a smaller wedding, it becomes a mini vacation with everyone. The groups can split up the couple days before the wedding. Girls can do their girl stuff and the guys can do their guy stuff! Then everyone can come together for the wedding and have a wonderful time. The bride and groom can enjoy their wedding as much as their guests…with all their guests.
Regardless of where you have your wedding or how many people attend, this is your day! I hope it’s one to remember!
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)
When my sister planned her wedding the trend to let your bridesmaids choose their own style of dress was just starting. She was a bride who wanted to make all of her girl’s happy and make the process as easy as possible. So our instructions were to find a dress we wanted in any shade of purple. Easy enough, we all thought. What ended up happening however, was the opposite. All of us bridesmaids had to coordinate with one another to make sure we didn’t wear the same style, or if we wore the same style, not the same color and so on. Honestly it was a bit confusing and difficult to manage which was exactly what my sister did not want. The end result however, looked beautiful, and this trend is here to stay. If you want your girl’s to shine in a style they love, below are some different ideas and tips to get exactly the look you are hoping for.
1. Choose one dress shop for all the girl’s to go to. Let the bridal party consultants do all the work. At Twirl we help create your vision and make sure the girl’s don’t have to keep track of anything.
2. Narrow it down to one designer, one fabric, one length, and one color. This keeps the process as simple as possible and creates a look of different styles while at the same time upholds the consistency of all the other variables.
3. Shop before your girls and choose styles ahead of time. There are several ways to go about it from here:
- Pick a style of dress and assign one to each girl. If you are someone who is great at knowing what looks great on each of your girl’s this will be easy for you. My sister can always pick out what I like when we go shopping together – sometimes better than me!
- Pick several (usually 3 is enough) different styles and let your girl’s choose. You might end up with more girls in one style than the others and will need to be ok with that look.
- Pick several different styles and ask your girl’s to rate their top three. You can then assign each girl to be in a different style – no two girls alike. Some may not get their top choice but you have picked out cute styles that everyone loves so it shouldn’t be a big deal .
4. Choose a shade of color and let your girls have free reign. Let them know it doesn’t matter if they are in the same style, not the same style, fabric or lengths. They can do whatever they want.
Isn’t my Dad cute in his Kilt?
So – what is your idea of how a bachelorette party should go? I feel like there are two roads you can take.
1) Vegas Style! This is a weekend that will no doubt be hard to forget (assuming you can actually remember it). Fabulous dresses packed- 20’s cashed in for1’s – cell phones turned to silent – cameras charged and ready – human decorations to match each outfit and of course tickets purchased for those “special” shows. The nights start LATE and the mornings are hardly actually seen. You wake up hung-over, crawl down to the amazing buffet and stare at whoever is sitting across from you with a look of “please kill me know”! Once you regain consciousness – the camera creeps out and the re-hashing beings. The whole day is spent trying to remember what actually happened and who it happened with (or to). Your stomach hurts from laughing so hard and you are literally crying the pictures are so funny! When the weekend finally comes to an end, you are all in need of a vacation from your vacation!
2) Girls Weekend! I’m thinking cabin, beach house or resort somewhere out of town with all your bridesmaids and close girl family members. You spend the weekend cooking, gabbing, drinking wine, shopping, lunching, drinking wine, watching romantic movies, laying by the pool, taking advantage of the spa, drinking wine and of course Girl Talk! This weekend is spent with those closest to you telling “remember when” stories while laughing so hard you are forced to cry. Old picture books are pulled out and no doubt the happy tears being. The girls that are married tell you all about the good times you have to look forward to and the girls that are single gush @ how happy they are for you (while secretly wishing they were in your shoes). It’s a calm weekend full of memories and reminiscing .
Either way you decide to spend your last “single” weekend – make sure you are surrounded by the people you love the most. That is where the best memories come from!
Congratulations Twirl Brides! We are so excited for you and your new adventure! We hope your Bachelorette party is a weekend you will never forget!
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!
I have been a guest to many weddings and had hard enough time deciding which dress I would wear to the bride and groom’s special day. Little did I know when it came to my own sister’s big day I would need so many different outfits for so many events! From the day she became engaged to the actual event, I was worrying every step of the way about what to wear. Thankfully I had already brilliantly picked out our bridesmaids dresses by Thread from Twirl so I knew I had one ensemble taken care of.
Now that I’ve been through it, I wanted to help all of you bridesmaids out there with what is appropriate and fun to wear when being involved in a bride’s special day.
The bridesmaid luncheon was the first of many events to come. This wedding was a marathon, not a sprint, to the altar. A luncheon is casual but intended to be girly. All 12, yes I said 12, bridesmaids took this chance to bring out their feminine spring dresses one more time before Fall was really going to hit Seattle. J Crew is a great place to find something classic with feminine details for this event. The Slub Silk Daydream Floral Lorelei dress shown screams luncheon. Pair it with gorgeous jewelry and a great belt and you’re ready to lunch with the bride one more time before she’s a Mrs.
For my family’s special event, my always-creative mother put together a ‘Travelers Dinner’. A lot of our family and friends live in Washington State, where the wedding was held, so this was a time to celebrate with them before Whitney and Matt’s big day. We were blessed with great weather in Seattle that weekend which only meant we couldn’t dare be indoor. The party revolved around the wood fire pizza oven brought by a local restaurant that coincided with the Italian theme. For a casual dinner you can take off your heels, slip on some flats with some jeans and a cute top, and enjoy the atmosphere. My most important tip outdoor events…bring a sweater! Anthropologie has great sweaters that are light weight for those of us down in Arizona, but they also have cozy cardigan coats if you are traveling elsewhere with a cooler climate.
Finally it came to the last event before the big day, the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. That cocktail dress hanging in your closet waiting for a night out is the perfect choice for this last affair. Remember though ladies that you already had the bachelorette party, so keep it respectable. If in doubt, little black dresses go a long way. BCBG has unlimited black dresses for you to fill your closet that you can wear over and over again to new events. The little black dress is an icon for a reason and viewed classic. Show your personality with your accessories if you want that metallic or pop of color. Make sure you’ve walked in your heels a couple times so that you don’t trip down the stairs during rehearsal like I did…
The day of my sister’s wedding was a calm one. I don’t know how she managed to be so graceful but she handled the morning with undetected worries. I, on the other hand, was worrying about my speech and couldn’t believe it was my big sister’s wedding day, but was so happy for her and Matt. The last thing I needed to worry about that day was what I was going to wear. Fortunately, I was able to choose my favorite dress at Twirl; the Stella by Thread. Whatever bridesmaid dress you are wearing, just be sure to bring all the appropriate undergarments for your dress and the day will be problem free. Once the bride and groom have said ‘I do’, you have made it through all the wedding worries, it’s time to celebrate having no clothing catastrophes – and most importantly, time to celebrate the new Mr. and Mrs. My own last hope and tip to you is that don’t show up to the morning after brunch in your sweats or bridesmaid dress!