Quick Tips for Bringing Your Stylist to Your Destination Wedding

If you’re getting married close to home, you may already have a stylist you’re addicted to – in which case you’re all set. But if you’re having a destination wedding, getting married somewhere you know no one and no one knows your particular beauty peccadilloes. Your choices are this: you can find a wedding stylist near your ceremony locale using online reviews or recommendations from your venue, or you can take your own stylist with you. Shocked at the idea? It might be less expensive than you think if the extra airfare and a hotel stay are in your budget. Maybe a per diem, too.

Let’s say that sounds great! No worrying about working with a stylist who doesn’t know you and your colors. No worrying that a stylist you’ve never met is going to leave you hanging high and dry. Overall, very little worrying. But not NO worrying whatsoever. Here’s what you DO need to worry about when you’re bringing your favorite stylist to your destination wedding:

1. Make sure your venue will have a place set up for your stylist to work. You don’t need grand accommodations – a table and chair in a well-lit area will do just fine.

2. Don’t assume the stylist can do extra people last minute – or at all. Make sure that your stylist knows whether s/he will be doing just your hair and makeup or the hair and makeup of your entire bridal party plus moms, too.

3. Do talk to your stylist before you fly to your destination so they have what they need on hand. All of the pre-wedding stuff you usually do with a stylist should still be on your wedding planning to-do list. First meeting to discuss options. The trial run. Etc.

4. That means you need to have your wedding hair accessories before that trial run. Your wedding planning timeline may be a bit different than most but it’s still up to you to be prepared.

5. Be sweet and invite your stylist to the wedding – I mean give him or her full wedding guest status instead of treating them like a vendor. They’re traveling for you and possibly also changing their schedule for you. Make sure your stylist is comfortable from start to finish.

6. Last but not least, make sure that you have a backup plan. Travel can be unpredictable. What if your stylist’s flight gets canceled or s/he has a family emergency? Call around at your destination to see how you can beautify if the worst happens.

Are you bringing your own stylist to your destination wedding?

Images via: leahandmark.com; wedding-populars.com


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Planning a Wedding You Want (Not a Trendy One)

You love the bridal magazines. You are addicted to Pinterest. You’re practically a wedding planning expert at this point. The only problem. You hate – I mean cannot stand – the latest wedding colors. Next year’s gowns make you yawn. The fun little touches that brides and grooms are just dying over leave you cold. And it’s killing you.

You want to like these things like everyone else planning a wedding in your age group or income bracket or city. But you can’t. What you can do, of course, is push your feelings down and plan what looks like a gorgeous wedding.

But you shouldn’t.

Do that and it won’t be YOUR wedding. 20 or 50 years from now you’re going to look back on your wedding photos and you will fall in love all over again if what you see in those images is you enjoying the things you like. Plan a trendy wedding that makes other people ooh and ahh doing everything right according to the wedding experts and you’re going to be looking at an event that looks like someone else planned it.

If you’re a quirky couple, then be quirky. You may get some flack for dressing up like characters from your favorite anime or saying your vows on horseback dressed like rodeo clowns, but so what? Own it – that’s who you are.

Brides, be yourself – even when you’re planning your wedding. Someday, you’re going to want to remember who you really were!

Images via: The Little Things We Do; tux & tales photography; Tulle & Chantilly Custom Wedding Gowns


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What You Need to Know About Getting Married in a National Park

Love nature? Then chances are you’ve at the very least considered having your wedding in a national park. What could be easier than having Mother Nature herself taking care of almost everything? National Parks are gorgeous, great to support, and part of our country’s heritage. But getting married in a national park isn’t as simple as driving in and doing the deed. Here are some of the things you need to consider before planning a wedding in a national park:

Not every national park allows weddings. Nearly every national park website will have info about special events – how to get permits and permissions, how many guests can attend, and other rules about who can get married, where and when.

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You may need to apply. The protocol for requesting permission for your national park wedding may involve writing a letter of request that promises that you won’t make a big mess or otherwise cause a distraction.

You’ll need to get your marriage license in the state where you’ll be saying your vows, not your home state. Seems obvious but it’s not something every couple thinks about.

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Your guest list will be limited. Very limited compared to your average wedding. If you have your heart set on getting married in a national park plan on having an intimate ceremony.

That may be okay considering most people don’t live all that near the big national parks. You might very well be planning a destination wedding if you choose one of the big national parks as your ceremony venue.

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Walking may be required. The parking facilities at your favorite national park may not be right next to the most beautiful ceremony location, which means you’ll need to be sure your guests (and you) can make the trek.

Like we said, Mother Nature will be your decorator. Unless you’re that billionaire who decked out the redwoods to the nines, don’t expect to bring many decorations. This not only shortens prep and clean-up time, but also ensures you won’t leave anything behind accidentally.

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You can’t count on cans. Trash cans, that is. Plan to take out *everything* you bring in. You also can’t count on facilities. Plan to be dressed and ready – from your bridal shoes to your wedding jewelry – when you arrive.

Have a backup plan. No matter where you’re saying your vows, weather can be unpredictable – take your ceremony to a mountaintop and expect the unexpected. Some parks have things like shelter areas and electrical hookups, some don’t.

Finally, remember that you’ll be using a space that every other American has access to so if there are other folks around you may have some gawkers following along with your vows.

Images via: Cherry Tree Occasions; the National Park Service; All Rocky Mountain


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How to Enjoy Your Wedding as a Pregnant Bride

A bun in the oven doesn’t stop some brides from walking down the aisle, white gown and all. Sometimes a bride is so very surprisingly pregnant that pregnant wedding guests sitting in the pews are wondering how she’s staying on her feet! Our take on mixing up the order of operations of adulthood is this: own it! A bump on the bride just means her entire family gets to attend and that’s cool. This post is for all the brides with buns out there who may be wondering if they’ll actually enjoy the wedding. Well, good news. You can and you will, if you take these tips to heart:

1. Expect some challenges when dress shopping – though not as many as you might have encountered once upon a time. Maternity wedding dress options abound, and if you can’t find the perfect maternity wedding dress there are scores of maternity bridesmaids’ dresses that are available in gorgeous shining white. In either case, don’t feel like you need to camouflage your bump.

2. Consider flats. Even if just for the reception. We know plenty of pregnant fashionistas who never gave up their sky high heels for a second but you never know. If you’re set on heels pack some pretty flats just in case. Because really, you never know. Should you find you feel faint, flats will be a lifesaver.

3. Have a mock ring made or buy something inexpensive from a costume jewelry shop. You should be able to wear your wedding ring forever so don’t size it to fit your pregnant fingers. Not every pregnant woman has swollen digits but just in case you go up a ring size or three, plan to wear a temp. If you’re wearing a bridal choker or any other rings, the same tip applies.

4. Get down with the teetotalers. We’re not going to stop a bride from having a few sips of champagne on her wedding day but many pregnant brides will choose not to indulge. Have an alternative for toasts – like sparkling cider or gourmet soda – and consider having enough to share. You would be surprised by how many people don’t actually care for champagne.

5. Remember, you can’t please everyone. In the US pregnant brides are still a relatively rare sight so don’t be surprised if you get some stares while shopping for your wedding dress or bridal accessories. Just ignore the haters, should you encounter any. Our hope is that judgmental people will keep their yaps shut but you never can tell. Don’t let any old fashioned busybodies – even if they’re related to you – get you down.

And if nothing else, if you’re still feeling nervous about being a pregnant bride, you’re in amazing company. After all, how many famous brides have walked down the aisle in “a delicate condition”!

Images via: The Oslo Times; The Noviamor Blog; Lovemydress.net


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5 Reasons Planning a Backyard Wedding Won’t Be as Simple as You Think

An at home wedding can sound like a dream come true for the bride-to-be who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of planning a big, fancy ceremony and reception. But sacrificing some of the glitz and glamour that a gorgeous venue can bring to a wedding doesn’t necessarily mean that wedding planning will get any simpler. Sometimes planning a backyard wedding can be more complicated – and even more expensive – than putting together a traditional wedding at an event venue. Here’s why:

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The necessary extras:  The nice thing about many wedding venues is that everything is included. The linens. The bridal chamber. The staff. Someone else is handling all the different rentals and professionals. Compare that to a backyard wedding which has to be planned from the ground up – it’s the bride-to-be’s responsibility to find servers, linens, trash receptacles, and more. If you’ve never planned a party for 100+ people you may be surprised at all the things you need to buy and rent.

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Bathrooms: If the backyard where you’re thinking of saying your vows and partying down is attached to a house with 4+ bathrooms then disregard this item. But while 75 guests and two bathrooms could work – and probably would work – do you want to take risks? Residential plumbing can get overwhelmed pretty easily, which means that to stay on the safe side you’re going to need to pay for extra accommodations. And then find some place out of the way to park them.

Rain or shine: Weather is unpredictable – you may live somewhere where it hardly ever rains and the random storm picks your wedding day to show up. It may be unseasonably sunny and warm or cold. Will all of your wedding guests fit in your home? Would you want them in there? Renting a tent, even a small one, and getting it set up can be pricey and complicated (depending on what your yard is like) but it’s a must.

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Refreshments: Getting food and drink (and the cake) to your backyard wedding isn’t the issue. Prep is. Will there be enough space for the caterers, etc., to prep your food? Somewhere safe to store the cake? Somewhere to put the drinks? Be realistic about how much space you have for prep and adjust your choices and expectations accordingly.

The cleanup: This is a big one! At a hired venue, you don’t have to worry about any of the cleanup – your job is to have fun and leave before the last dance. At a backyard wedding, particularly when it’s in your own backyard, you (or your loved ones) will have to decide ahead of time who will do the cleaning up and with what – rented trash barrels? – and when.

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None of this means, of course, that you should stop planning a backyard wedding in favor of renting a venue. Brides and grooms just need to be aware that there’s more to planning a backyard wedding than deciding to host at home. There’s a lot to think about and a lot of things that will be on your plate so while we’d love it if we could say that it’s as simple and as easy as buying wedding jewelry we can’t. It can be pretty hard but for a lot of couples, also totally worth the extra trouble.

Images: Sarah Kate, Photographer; The Sweetest Occasion; http://weddingplannerncdotcom.wordpress.com; Mywedding.com


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Tips for Setting Your Wedding Reception Schedule

The wedding ceremony is relatively structured when compared to the reception, but that doesn’t mean that there doesn’t need to be set wedding reception timeline.

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How hard can it be, you’re thinking… a little dinner, some cake, a first dance and so on. But really, no matter how formal or informal you want your reception to be, it is actually pretty important that you plan ahead and establish a sequence of events for your reception. Your wedding guests will be expecting certain events to happen at certain times, they’re expecting to be entertained, and they’re expecting to be fed. Spending time and a little effort before the wedding to make sure your wedding reception will run smoothly can save you from a lot of confusion and unnecessary distractions on your wedding day.

Here are some reception planning hints that can make your wedding reception memorable and fun:

  • Sit down with your spouse-to-be and decide what you want to do and what you want other people to be doing at the reception. Are you going to do a bouquet toss or a series of special dances like a father-daughter dance and mother-son dance? Will there be a sit down dinner? Will there be kids?
  • Be as detailed as possible when preparing your reception timeline. Include names, times, specific locations and song titles of special dances. This will help you explain to vendors what your expectations are.
  • Put your schedule in writing and give it to all of your wedding vendors. Also, give this schedule to your wedding attendants and immediate family members so they know where they are suppose to be and when (i.e. for picture taking, formal announcements, or special dances).
  • Don’t get too hung up on the exact times when creating your reception timeline. The clock times on your schedule should act only as a guide to keep things moving in the right direction and so you can be sure that everything gets done!
  • Use the items in your itinerary as a checklist so that you don’t forget anything and as a guide to help you plan your reception just the way you want it. But on the day of your wedding, hand off this checklist to your maid of honor or your mom.
  • The order of events is up to you, but should be firmly established ahead of time. For example, some brides prefer to do their first dance with their husband very early into the reception, before dinner is served. Other brides prefer to do it after dinner, when the “real dancing begins”.
  • Traditional etiquette states that wedding guests are not suppose to begin dancing until after the bride and groom have had their first dance. So, if you want people to start dancing early in the reception, schedule your first dance right away!
  • Of course, the length of your wedding reception will determine the agenda. A two-hour cocktail reception is going to play out very differently than a five-hour sit-down dinner.
  • Remember to work in time for toasts – these can go longer than expected depending on who is doing the toasting and how many people want to toast. Consider chatting with potential toasters to let them know how long they’ll have at the podium.

 


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Wedding Registry Tips for Perfect Presents

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Creating a wedding registry should be fun but for so many brides end up being stressful because they’re in totally new territory. Never fear! Our resident wedding experts are here to help you create the ultimate wedding registry so guests can give gifts easily and you end up with (pretty much) exactly what you want.

  • Whether you need anything or not, your wedding guests are probably going to want to buy you a little something. Typically, couples register for household gifts – dinnerware, a stand mixer, and that sort of thing.
  • These days the etiquette rules surrounding what you can register for have relaxed somewhat and it’s not unusual for couples to create a honeymoon registry, an experience registry, a charitable registry, or simply to register for things like books and games.
  • Registering for wedding gifts ought to be fun but it can actually get kind of stressful when you’ve already been shacking up with your spouse-to-be. In some cases, couples specifically choose not to register for wedding gifts because they’re hoping for checks.
  • While that’s okay, and frankly, usually works, you can’t actually ask people for checks. And you absolutely cannot act disappointed if someone chooses to buy you a very random gift indeed instead of following the crowd and putting a check in a card.
  • You can’t register for things like… costs associated with the wedding, your gown, your wedding jewelry, or travel expenses. Basically, you can’t ask guests to pay for any part of the wedding via their gifts.
  • Gift registries are considered a bit tacky in some circles because they imply you expect a gift, but the fact is that registries make it easy for people who care about you to give you things you’ll actually like. In that way, wedding registries are actually a courtesy.
  • Almost every major retailer has an online registry tool and you can usually go right to the store to register, too. Don’t like any of chain options? Online registry sites let you create a wedding registry that features items from lots of different stores.
  • Know the store’s registry policies with regard to purchases, shipping, and returns. You may find that what looked great on a web page isn’t so great in person, after all. And mistakes can happen!
  • Have your spouse-to-be help you register – even if they’re a little reluctant and especially if you’re registering for house wares. A few years down the road they’ll appreciate the things they picked out and it won’t seem like it’s your house and they only live there.
  • Create your wedding registry early – before your engagement party or any showers, if you can. People may want to buy you gifts months before you say your vows.
  • While tiny boutiques are the best, register for wedding gifts at national stores or online if your loved ones are scattered around the country.
  • Keep your wedding registry simple and stick to stuff you’ve been lusting after for a while. Just be sure to include items at different price points so no one looks at your registry and leaves without buying because it’s too luxe.
  • Find out how long your wedding registry will be live. Some wedding guests or loved ones may want to delay getting your gift (for whatever reason) and they shouldn’t be shut out from our registry because of timing. Keeping your registry live for longer may even mean more gifts!

Where are you and your SO registered?


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Wedding Planning Basics: The Groom’s Countdown

Here’s something you may not have encountered before… yes, the groom’s countdown. With – let’s be honest here – the bride handling so much of the wedding planning duties, it is relatively rare to come across a to-do list for grooms. Maybe the wedding experts out there just assume that the bride-to-be will fill her soon to be spouse in on what he ought to be doing and when? That being the case, no one will blame you if you’re feeling a little lost as to what the duties of a groom actually are.

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Turns out that the list of what grooms are apparently responsible for is woefully short when compared to lists of the bride’s duties. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, of course, but I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that when it comes down to it I hope that you and your spouse-to-be find a wedding planning division of labor that works for you as a couple – and doesn’t leave you as a person exhausted and stressed out.

With that in mind, here is the generally accepted list of what grooms should be doing to help with the wedding planning:

12 to 18 Months Before

  • Meet with both sets of parents to discuss the budget and style of the wedding.
  • Go with your fiancée and book the reception site. Many sites fill up quickly so the earlier you pick a spot, the better!
  • Reserve your ceremony location.
  • Choose your groomsmen. Figure on one usher per 50 guests.

9 Months Before

  • Decide on an officiant.
  • Write out a preliminary guest list for “your side”. Be sure to get input from your parents.
  • Register at one or several locations along with your SO.
  • Accompany the bride-to-be at any tastings, meetings, and visits.

6 Months Before

  • Choose and order your attire and your groomsmen’s outfits.
  • Plan and book your honeymoon. Are you looking for fun, seclusion, fine dining? Contact a travel agent for help if necessary.

3 Months Before

  • Finalize the guest list.
  • Order your wedding bands and decide on inscriptions.
  • Check state requirements concerning marriage license eligibility.
  • Decide on living arrangements and order furnishings.

2 Months Before

  • Buy wedding gifts for your bride and groomsmen.
  • Pick up your wedding rings, make sure they fit properly and check the inscription for accuracy.

2 Weeks Before

  • Pick up your marriage license.
  • Give ushers instructions for seating the guests at the ceremony, especially if there are guests requiring special assistance.
  • Practice your toast to the bride’s family.
  • Pick up your rental attire and remind your groomsmen to do the same.
  • Arrange for someone to bring the gifts from the reception to your home.
  • Get a haircut.

1 Day Before

  • Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Give gifts to groomsmen.
  • Do something sweet for your bride (hint hint). A short love letter, a flower on her pillow…. she’s worked hard planning a wedding, so show her how much you appreciate her.

Of course, the groom’s duties can be anything. Maybe the groom-to-be is responsible for picking out and reserving the reception venue. Heck, maybe he’s responsible for picking out the bride’s wedding garter set – this is 2014, after all! The list above could be said to be the traditional list of groom’s to-dos, but we hope times are changing as more couples pay for their own weddings. We’re all for the guys taking on more!

What wedding planning duties has your groom-to-be taken on?


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Helpful Hints When Kids are in the Wedding Party

Kids in the wedding party? Cute. Also a potential hiccup in your big day because they’re unpredictable. But you want them there because they’re too darn cute – especially if they’re yours. And then of course you want them there, even if they cry their way down the aisle.

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As with anything else, the secret to successfully including kids in a wedding party is thoughtful pre-planning and then the kind of damage control that you can employ before a minor cry turns into an all-out tantrum. What follows are some of the best tips real brides – and moms of flower girls, too – have shared with us so tomorrow’s brides can have the best and most kid-friendly weddings possible.

  • Have a toy or book hidden under the petals of the basket for the flower girl to open once she has completed her walk. Or ready and waiting on the seat of the ring bearer’s chair if he’ll be sitting there during the rest of the ceremony. Make sure it’s something she can open quietly – and then play with quietly.
  • Don’t force a flower girl or ring bearer to go down the aisle alone… or at all! Let them walk with their mom or dad if they’re scared, and let them bow out (even at the last minute) if they need to.
  • Have someone in your family or from the parish (if you’re marrying at your church) ready to whisk younger ring bearers and flower girls off to the bridal suite or Sunday School room where snacks, toys, games, and crafts will be waiting for them. Better yet, so no one has to volunteer to miss your ceremony, have your flower girl’s parents ask their usual sitter to attend.
  • Don’t expect little ones to stand up with the rest of the wedding party for the whole ceremony – it’s unrealistic and even kind of mean.
  • Lois offered this tip: ” An attendant or a groomsmen should be assigned the task of keeping an eye on the kids during the service. Should the child become unruly, their parent should be alerted to come and remove the child from this focal point of the ceremony.”
  • Make sure mom or dad understand that they need to stay nearby to help keep their little lady or gentleman happy and well behaved before, during, and after the ceremony.
  • Recent flower girl mother, Lease Moon, had her daughter keep a diary about her flower girl experience as well as a calendar up in her daughter’s room to mark off the days until the wedding. Her daughter let everyone know she was keeping a “diarrhea” of the wedding, lol!
  • Remember, perfection isn’t the goal. You’re asking a little one to alter their morning routine, put on scratchy strange clothes and hard new shoes, sit for a hairstyle, keep a flower girl tiara on top of their head (for girls), get through per-ceremony pictures, hold a basket and not lose it, drop petals or carry a ring pillow, walk slow, walk straight, and then two hours later be expect to be clean, smiling and quiet for more pictures? Sure.
  • Make sure your flower girl and ring bearer’s parents have prepared them for the big day by talking to them about what they will be wearing and doing.
  • A calm easygoing bride is the best medicine for nervous flower girls and ring bearers and also helps to relax the mother as well. Keeping your expectations low and having a go with the flow attitude is the best strategy for the bride to be.
  • Lois Pearce, President, Beautiful Occasions in Hamden Connecticut has these additional comments about kids in weddings, “Children need praise. Praise them for their performance and thank them for their cooperation. They will react accordingly. All they want is a little love!”

How are you helping your littlest wedding attendants feel happy and comfortable on your wedding day?


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Bridesmaids Dresses: Short or Long?

As a bride-to-be, your responsibility for styling hair, makeup, wedding accessories, and clothing goes beyond your own look. You may have to find the perfect little flower girl dress and even help your groom choose his and his groomsmen’s suits. And of course, if you’re like most brides, you’ll be choosing the bridesmaids dresses your besties wear when they precede you down the aisle. This can be, how should I put this… awful, terrible, and stressful? You want your girls to look good. No, great! But they’re all different body types, the wedding is at a weird time of day, the venue you’ve chosen doesn’t clearly dictate what level of formal wear you should be aiming for, and of course, your maid of honor is knocked up.

I know, right?

But let me tell you that sometimes the easiest way to make any decision is to start small. You don’t need to choose a bridesmaids dress designer right this second. Or even a color or a cut. Start by simply choosing between long bridesmaids dresses and short bridesmaids dresses.

LR140XXThere are, of course, (for lack of a better word) benefits to both.

Short bridesmaids dresses may be easier to move in and more comfortable in the summer and late spring. They’re also fun and sweet and if the cut is right, just a little bit sassy.

Short bridesmaids dresses at a formal(ish) affair? It has been done and it can be a lot of fun!

Of course, beware the short bridesmaids dress on the short bridesmaids – many a ‘maid has complained in secret about having to wear a frock that makes her look like a munchkin. If you go short, let your bridal party control how they hem so they get the most flattering look out of the length.

2834Long dresses will (ahem) dress up your wedding – they’re generally perceived as more formal by guests. They may also be warmer if you’re having a fall or winter wedding.

And depending on the cut, a long gown can hide a multitude of sins for those who are worried about body image. Some bridesmaids may simply feel more comfortable in a dress that conceals more than it reveals.

The downside comes in the form of a price tag. For better or for worse, long dresses will be more expensive. Not to mention more difficult to find if you’re letter your ladies pick their own gowns.

And with all that simplification out of the way, I’m going to say that I don’t care what Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids’ Lori says – in the year 2014 it is perfectly acceptable to mix and match lengths the same way it is perfectly okay to mix and match dresses. This is not prehistory. Your ‘maids are not there to confuse demons into snatching one of them instead of you. If you love how mismatched bridesmaids look, then mismatch to your heart’s content!


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