Thinking Outside the Bridal Box

Planning a wedding shouldn’t be about following a script, though there are certainly plenty of scripts out there to follow. The traditionalist’s script, with pearl wedding jewelry and a sit-down reception banquet in a hall. The quirky script, with flip flops for guests and cake balls instead of something tiered. The destination wedding script, with sand, sand, and more sand. Go off script, and it’s easy to feel like you’re breaking the rules.

Simple things like choosing tarts over cake, or a bridal brooch over a sash, or getting married in your own backyard can stress out brides-to-be who worry that guests will criticize or even refuse to attend.

We’re not suggesting that kind of thing never happens. Some people are just grumpy and always looking for something to criticize. No bride can please everyone – especially not when you’re trying to bring two families with very different ideas and traditions together. And that’s if there aren’t also differences in culture or religion to contend with! Being that such is the case, why even try to please everyone?

If you’re the kind of bride-to-be who wants to think outside the bridal box when planning a wedding, do it. Get crazy. Take your guests camping. Jump in the deck pool in your wedding gown. Serve virgin mudslides instead of champagne. BBQ. Wear a mini dress or your grandmother’s dress or a biniki or a pants suit or jeans. Have your reception at Taco Bell. Make your parrot your flower girl. Whatever.

As for the stress that comes with thinking outside the bridal box, we say “Why worry?” After all, as much as we’re sure you want to please your guests, your wedding is your party. Make it a good one, whatever that means to you!

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Wedding Dresses: Embracing the Details

Have you ever wondered what makes a wedding dress feminine? A lot of guides will try to tell you what feminine wedding dresses are without really talking about the essence of the gowns they’re featuring. What makes a wedding dress fun… or romantic… or quirky… or feminine? We asked our staff stylists for input into that very question and they answered that it’s all about the details. Take the following wedding dresses, for instance. They are decidedly feminine – even if all we’ve seen is a little bit of the back.

But that’s not all there is to it. The few details we can see tell us that we’re looking at two gowns that would be just perfect for the feminine bride who wants to feel romantic, but also a little bit sexy. Again, it’s all about the details. Maybe a well-placed bridal brooch on your beach wedding dress, giving it just enough elegance to give sand some sophistication. Or a pretty bow at the waist of your otherwise sleek gown. It could be a sash or a keyhole cutout or lace at the decolletage. A plunging neckline. And even deeper plunge at the back. Seed pearls. You name it – but whatever it is, know that it is saying something about your bridal style.

You can capitalize on that simple fact by thinking in terms of the details when you’re shopping for wedding dresses, be the frocks that melt your heart tend to be feminine or beachy or sexy or sophisticated or some combination of all four. Sure, you could focus entirely on the big picture and end up with a perfectly passable dress. But never forget, it’s the details that will truly make your wedding dress stand out from the crowd.

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Dealing With Wedding Planning Criticism

The bride is the queen bee of her big day, right? Tell that to the the brides-to-be who have to deal with the nitpickers. A mother-of-the-bride who gives every dress her daughter loves the stink eye. An aunt who demands that the wedding vows not be said until 3 p.m. so she doesn’t have to drive in the city in the a.m. The bridesmaid who says she simply can’t wear purple, which happens to be the bride’s favorite color and the dominant color in the wedding color scheme.

Have you experienced it yet? The spoken or unspoken criticism of the decisions a bride-to-be will make while planning her wedding often come as a surprise because she has been told over and over that it’s her day and she probably expects her relatives and loved ones to be polite. *snort* One saying that always makes us laugh is “Weddings bring out the worst in people.” It’s shocking, but it’s often true. Because weddings are such a public affair, it’s not uncommon for those close to the bride- and groom-to-be to assume that their input is welcome, even when not specifically requested or when it’s clear that the couple just wants to share the fun of planning, not have their choices analyzed.

It probably won’t surprise you to read that when brides ask us questions, we’re happy to answer them, but when brides come to us to share what they’re excited about, we say it’s beautiful even when it doesn’t float our boats. Because you know what? It’s not our wedding.

Here’s the truth: No matter what wedding dress you pick or what wedding jewelry you wear on the big day… no matter how you do your hair or what shoes are on your feet as you walk down the aisle, at least one wedding guest, if not more than one, will cringe inwardly at your choices. We hope they do their cringing inwardly, anyway. Someone is going to think your reception chicken is rubbery and they’re going to wonder where you hid the top shelf liquor. While the majority of guests will love your wedding favors – or the fact that you opted not to give out favors – but a few will either hate your wedding favors or think their absence is sign of stinginess.

Whatever. It’s not a reflection of your taste as a bride or the quality of your venue or how beautiful or tasteful your bridal jewelry set is. Really, it’s not. Everyone is a critic, even if they never actually vocally critique your choices. And if they do? The best response is simply to brush it off the way you’d brush off any other casual rudeness from someone close to you. You don’t have to like it, but frankly, acknowledging it gives the critic more power than they deserve. It is, after all, your wedding – and if they don’t care for your choices, they can decline, with or without regrets.

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When You Ask Yourself ‘Do I Really Need…?’

So many bridal guides and wedding planning resources end up feeling more like shopping how-tos – essentially Lucky magazine for the engaged set. Right from the start, wedding planning is framed as being all about what you can buy. Wedding dress shopping! Shopping for a venue! And we’ll admit we’re a little guilty of this cardinal wedding planning sin ourselves. Pearl wedding jewelry? Bridal clutch? Why not?!

But the fact is – and you’ll never hear us disagree with it – that the main matrimonial must-haves for any wedding are the two people saying the vows and in most states, an officiant and witnesses. We say in most states because in a few, couples can act as their own officiants, and in a few others, the officiant is the witness. If you’re having wedding guests, refreshments also fall into the must-have category. Everything else is just pretty gravy. And we do love gravy!

Fact: coordinating table linens at the reception are not a must-have. Matching wedding rings are not a must-have. A sit-down dinner for 100+ wedding guests is not a must-have. Bridesmaids in matching bridesmaids dresses are not a must-have. Wedding favors? Nope. A bridal bouquet? Nope. The father-of-the-bride walking his daughter down the aisle? A mother-son dance? Flowers on the tables? No, no, and nope.

The point is that when you, as you’re planning a wedding, ask yourself “Do I really need…?”, the answer is probably also nope. One way to maximize your budget or just minimize complexity is to prioritize, and when you find yourself asking “Do I really need…? you have just identified areas where you, as the bride-to-be, can do just that. Don’t assume that just because every wedding you’ve ever been to has featured a wedding DJ, a tiered cake, and tulle-wrapped candies that you need to shell out for those things. Conversely, don’t assume that because NO wedding you’ve ever been to has had X, Y, or Z that you can’t.

Like we said, there are very few true must-haves in the wedding planning world. Once you have those squared away, everything else is up to you.

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Can a Bride Have Male Attendants?

JR wrote in to ask this question:

My best friend, who I have known since grade school, just happens to be a guy. My fiance has never had an issue with this – and my family has always accepted that there’s no hanky-panky there. Even when I was single. I’d really like to ask him to be my, um, Man of Honor? Is that a thing? Are people going to wonder what is up with that?

Well, people may wonder what’s up with that, but that should be their problem, not yours. Seriously. Presumably you haven’t wondered too much about what your wedding guests will *really truly deeply* think about your big day choices – at least not where your hairstyle, wedding jewelry, or shoes are concerned. Your venue? Sure. But that other stuff is the personal stuff, and choosing wedding attendants definitely falls under the label ‘personal’.

No one should have the gall to tell you who can and who can’t be in your bridal party. Should anyone have the gall, we recommend you send them our way, and we’ll set them straight. We say let the wonderers wonder! If it’s your fiance’s family you’re worried about, he may need to have a talk with your future in-laws about the fact that he knows (and likes) your bestie and is happy to call him an attendant. As for everyone else, we’re guessing that even if they think male attendants on the bride’s side are inappropriate, they’re going to keep their mouths shut. As well they should.

Remember, if you have a wedding planning conundrum that’s stalling your forward momentum, we’re here to help! Just email us with your questions about everything wedding!

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Silver Wedding Jewelry or Gold Wedding Jewelry?

Planning a wedding means making big choices. Will you say your vows in a house of worship or somewhere secular? And for that matter, will you write your own? Buffet or sit-down dinner? Huge blowout bash or small intimate affair? Will you leave for the honeymoon right after the reception? Should you invite ::shudder:: Uncle Al? How far apart do divorced parents need to sit, anyway? There are so many decisions to be made, and that’s just the big stuff. Eventually, you figure that all out and it’s time to focus on the little stuff. Like heels or flats? A-line or princess silhouette? Silver wedding jewelry or gold wedding jewelry?

As you might imagine, we have a little bit to say about that last one! Here are three things to think about when deciding between silver wedding jewelry and gold wedding jewelry:

Consider Your Wedding’s Overall Look
If you’re planning a theme wedding, you may discover that the theme dictates your choice of gown and accessories. For example, if you’re having a vintage wedding and dressing the part, you’ve probably already noticed that silver and gold are popular in different eras. And even if your wedding theme is just, well, wedding, your color palette may help you decide between these two classic metals. Your wedding jewelry doesn’t have to harmonize with your theme or colors, but it can!

Let Your Dress Decide
Different shades of white pair coordinate better with either silver or gold – as do different colors, if you happen to be wearing a colored wedding dress. Gold wedding jewelry, for instance, pairs beautifully with richer ivory and champagne gowns, whereas starker white wedding dresses almost always look better when paired with silver accessories.

Which Is More ‘You’?
Presuming you wear jewelry in your day-to-day life – and metallic jewelry at that -you’ll probably feel most beautiful in the kind of jewelry you’re comfortable wearing. If you look stunning in silver, then we recommend silver wedding jewelry. Or if you are gorgeous in gold, then go with that. There’s no need to change your signature look on the big day. In fact, you’ll look more like you in your wedding photos if you keep it real.

What color is your wedding jewelry?

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Wedding Dresses Dresses with Pockets… All You Need?

That ongoing trend of adding pockets – actual pockets! – to wedding dresses and bridesmaids dresses? We love it. Like really love it. Suddenly the bride has a place to stash a few hair pins or her lipstick for touch ups or even her frosty fingers if she happens to be a wintertime bride.

We still recommend picking up a bridal purse or bridal clutch so you have ALL of the essential emergency kit items at the ready because you’re not going to fit everything you need into those pretty pockets. But having a pair of pockets can really make being a bride a lot less stressful.

You can thank us later!

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Wedding Gowns: Is Too Much Ever Just Right?

Some brides accentuate their wedding gowns with a little touch of color here and there. Think bright bridal shoes or colored wedding jewelry. Maybe a jewel tone sash. A striking red flower in her hair. We think that most brides-to-be, whether intentionally or unintentionally, think in terms of color orbiting a white dress – though some gravitate toward colored wedding dresses. And for that select few, you see designers like Vera Wang creating entire lines of colored gowns. Pink and red wedding dresses are practically mainstream. If you really, really want a blue or green or purple wedding dress, you will find one. While we might not have worn them ourselves, all of us here love colored gowns.

Of course, there is this sort of thing, in this case from Sugar Kei:

Now, you’ll never hear us say anything other than ‘to each her own’ when it comes to what a bride is wearing, but our first impression when looking at these is bride-wearing-a-couch. An old couch that someone is desperately trying to give away on Craigslist. Or the old couch our grandparents keep trying to give us even though it really ought to have been tossed out years ago once the cats started to use it as a scratching post. But maybe we’re being too judgy and these wedding dresses are just too awesome for us traditionalists to appreciate.

What do you think? Is too much ever just right?

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Do You Want to Be Princess for the Day?

The crystal wedding tiara remains one of the most popular bridal accessories, even if wedding headbands and other trends are gaining ground. Our quickie theory is that brides still want to capture that princess for a day feeling at their ceremonies and receptions, and there are few bridal accessories as regal as the traditional tiara.

We think there are two camps when it comes to the princess for a day attitude. First, there are the brides-to-be who want to embrace the whole mythology of weddings, complete with ball gown and long train and wedding tiara and a carriage ride to the reception. Then there are brides-to-be who want to distance themselves from it because they feel it’s an outdated way to look at love and marriage. And there are even – we’re not pointing any fingers, though – the brides-to-be who think being a princess for a day means their will is law, yikes!

Needless to say, we think dressing like a princess on your wedding day, complete with wedding tiara, is a fabulous idea. But we’d like to caution our bridal princesses to look at real princesses for their inspiration. True royalty is defined by graciousness, gentility, and a kindness that is absolutely incompatible with today’s cartoonish bridezillas – so we think being a princess for a day, in dress, certainly, but more importantly in demeanor, is a lovely idea.

Do you want to be a princess for the day?

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What to Do When Cold Feet Strike

The reception venue is booked. Your wedding jewelry is nestled in your hope chest along with your wedding shoes and your grandmother’s lace handkerchief. For months, people around you have been admiring the ring on your finger – the ring that says “I’m taken and ready to say ‘I do’.” But the truth is, you’re not feeling ready even though every new day brings you that much closer to speaking those very words in front of 100+ friends and relatives. Frankly, you’re anxious. Unsure.

And that is what we call a classic case of cold feet – a common malady among brides- and grooms-to-be.

There are two ways to address cold feet. Number one is useful when you absolutely know that you’re only really feeling nervous because you’re taking such a big, life-changing step. It’s so simple. You talk to someone. Just talk. It could be your mom or it might be a professional. Some brides-to-be feel actually feel comfortable talking to their SOs about cold feet, but we’d say that’s not the norm. The point is, you find someone to talk to and then find ways to work through your feelings. Again, that’s only when you have a strong intuition that your chilly toesies are just your way of coping with the stress of anticipating a wedding.

Number two is more difficult because it’s the method you use when you’re legitimately unsure. It starts simple – talk to a professional – and then gets complicated – seriously consider delaying or calling off the wedding. We hate to say it, but sometimes getting married isn’t the right decision. People change and the person you’re about to marry may not be the person you fell in love with. Some fiances and fiancees are abusive. It could be that you’re just not ready to get married. But if you feel really, really strongly that saying “I do” isn’t the right decision, you owe it to yourself not to say it, even if that means losing deposits and dealing with negativity from family.

Luckily, most of the time cold feet are just the brain’s way of reminding us to take marriage seriously when so much of wedding planning is totally un-serious. If you suspect that your cold feet may be trying to tell you something more, though, please please please give yourself permission to think critically about where you’re headed.

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