To the Lady Who Caught My Bouquet

Plain bridal bouquets? Way five minutes ago. Kidding, kidding – we love simple bridal bouquets as much as we love fancy-pants bridal bouquets glammed up with bouquet jewelry, picture charms, and other embellishments. You could say we’re equal opportunity bouquet lovers. So when we were poking around Pinterest and found this picture of a differently decorated bouquet, we swooned.

If you can’t read the pretty note tied to the bouquet in the picture, it says:

To the lady who caught my bouquet, I wish you extraordinary happiness when your day comes to shine as a bride. May all your hopes and dreams become reality, just as mine have today. If there are any words of wisdom to give to you, it would be to “always love more”. Be patient, for your day will come – however long it takes, it’s worth waiting for. Thank you for being a part of my very dream come true.

We know that the bridal bouquet toss is a contentious issue among modern brides. No one wants to single out their single friends, but at the same time, the toss itself can be so much fun. One modification of the bouquet toss that we’ve seen at a few weddings invites all of the women at the wedding to play catch – with the catcher winning not the privilege of being the next in line to say “I do,” but rather good luck, happiness, and good wishes.

If you weren’t planning on having a bouquet toss at your reception because you’re worried about embarrassing the singletons or making their dates feel awkward (but you really want to throw that mutha), do a modified toss and edit the note in the photo above accordingly! Just be sure you take your bridal bouquet jewelry out first so your floral missile doesn’t take out any eyes.


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Have You Seen Our Swarovski Collection?

Have you had a chance to check out our Swarovski Jewelry Collections yet? Though our fixed catalog of accessories for brides includes Swarovski crystal wedding jewelry, we now have a new dynamic, specially curated collection of Swarovski accessories designed for brides, bridesmaids, prom-goers, and party lovers, along with the Dareth Colburn Collection of more luxurious Swarovski crystal earrings and necklaces.

So what makes this particular Swarovski jewelry so exquisite? First, these pieces are handcrafted in the US to our exact specifications to ensure superior excellence and quality. Second, Swarovski crystals are incredibly brilliant, being precision cut using a proprietary process from a special type of mineral glass known for its superior luster. Third, we have paired Swarovski crystals with things like gorgeous freshwater pearls and the highest quality glass pearls. Finally, we consulted both brides and bridal stylists before choosing what to include in our new specialty collections to be sure we could toe the line between trendy and timeless.

We are so excited to introduce these new collections, which include necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and full wedding jewelry sets for a wide variety of budgets so all our customers have the opportunity to deck themselves out in luxurious Swarovski crystals!


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7 Wedding Traditions You Can Safely Skip

When you’re planning a wedding, it becomes all too obvious that the vast number of so-called wedding traditions can easily bankrupt the budget bride and groom. Every new tradition seems to come with a price tag! Many couples are fighting back against the culture of excess surrounding weddings by scaling back and simplifying, but it’s not always easy. Too many wedding planning guides are quick to say that traditions must be upheld, lest brides and grooms find themselves on the wrong side of etiquette. That’s why we want to be just as quick to counter by saying that most of what we think of as tradition is relatively new in its current form… and entirely optional.

Here are seven wedding traditions you can safely skip without offending Miss Manners or Emily Post – though you may have a few not-in-the-know wedding guests who see your omissions as inflammatory:

1. The flower girl – and by extension, the flower girl dress. While a little girl in a miniature gown can certainly enhance the look of a wedding party, whether to invite children to participate in the wedding ceremony is wholly up to the bride and groom.

2. Carrying a bridal bouquet. We love flowers as much as the next bridal accessory experts, but the fact is that a bride can walk down the aisle carrying whatever she wants or even nothing at all. Common floral alternatives include prayer books, candles, lanterns, and fans, but don’t feel like you have to carry anything.

3. Wedding favors. Surprised? While there is indeed a long history of giving wedding guests a little something to take home, there’s an equally long tradition of wedding guests tossing wedding favors right into the trash bin as soon as they get home.

4. Having a bride’s side and a groom’s side at the ceremony. Sometimes it happens that one half a couple has a whole lot of family while the other half has hardly any, or a bride and groom may share all their friends. Ushers can seat guests on either side of the aisle – or guests can simply seat themselves as they see fit, without having to take sides.

5. The garter toss. Wedding garters are so lovely these days that we personally love it when the bride decides to keep hers on her leg where it belongs. Have a toss if you really want to, but could we at least ask that your new spouse not use teeth to remove it beforehand?

6. Matchy-matchy bridesmaids dresses. Besides the fact that it’s unlikely that ALL of your ‘maids will look great in grey or green strapless sheaths, giving bridesmaids a little leeway to choose their own dresses (maybe in one color family) results in more interesting wedding pictures and a more authentic look.

7. Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Though a wedding guest or two may ask you to share your ‘somethings,’ most won’t, so unless you’re very sentimental yourself and truly want to take the time to choose from among the old, new, borrowed, and blue, feel free to just wear the dress and wedding jewelry you really want to wear.

What other wedding traditions do you think brides should consider tossing out?


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What to Do About a Pregnant Bridesmaid

Life happens, and once you reach a certain age there is a good chance that someone in your social sphere will be pregnant or be thinking about getting pregnant. That means that unless you choose bridesmaids that are vocally child-free, you run the risk of having a pregnant bridesmaid in your wedding party. But is it really that big a deal? We – and most easygoing brides will hopefully agree with us – say no. Most wedding ceremonies are not so long that a pregnant bridesmaid can’t make it through. A little sparkling cider can stand in for champagne if your bridesmaid doesn’t feel comfortable having a glass of the real thing. And maternity bridesmaid dresses exist for a reason!

The four maternity bridesmaid dresses pictured above are from premier bridesmaid dress manufacturer Alfred Sung and come in every color featured in the brand’s more prominent collections. That means that if you have an already-pregnant bestie or one of your ‘maids falls unexpectedly pregnant, she can still look and feel like a million bucks when she stands up to support you on your big day.

Whether you need to make other concessions for a pregnant bridesmaid depends a lot on the bridesmaid herself. For instance, you may want to find out whether her due date and your wedding day will overlap or whether she feels well enough to play an active role in your ceremony and reception. Even if you’re totally comfortable knowing that she may not be able to make it to the wedding on time or at all because of labor or complications, she may not want to be another source of wedding planning stress. We recommend that you diplomatically offer a pregnant bridesmaid an out – don’t make her feel unwelcome, but let her know that you won’t be mad if she feels like taking on the duties of bridesmaid while pregnant is just too much.

That said, many, many pregnant friends, sisters, and cousins have stood at the altar alongside the brushing brides in their lives without incident so don’t make the mistake of selling your pregnant bridesmaid short. She may be every bit as excited about your wedding as you are – and looking forward to seeing what the world of wedding fashion has to offer!


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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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Get Ready (in Advance) for the 2014 Wedding Dress Trends!

Can you believe that there are only a few months left of 2012? That means that a lot of brides-to-be are getting set to say their vows in 2013 – and some early wedding planners are even looking forward to 2014 ceremonies and receptions! Time really flies when you’re having fun, so even though 2014 may seem like it’s ages away, it’ll be here before you know it. So we thought it would be fun to take a look at what’s trending among 2014 brides when it comes to wedding dresses.

Are you excited? Because we’re really excited! Read on for what’s on track to be hot on brides at weddings in 2014:

Vintage wedding dresses will continue to be popular among brides, but the next wave of gowns is going to be less 1940s/1950s and more Flapper chic. Expect to see 1920s style wedding dresses (and accessories) continue to trend up. That said, don’t be surprised if you see a little bit of the 1980s in the ensembles planned by very fashion forward brides.

Futuristic fabrics, cuts, and embellishments will be all over – even on otherwise traditional wedding dresses. Metallic fabrics, specialty high-tech lace, and other unique details will prove that more brides want a runway moment rather than a day spent as Cinderella. In other words, wedding dresses are growing up.

A bride shopping for classic wedding gowns will still find them, but tiny touches will ensure that everyone knows that she’s not wearing her mother’s wedding dress. Think angular bows, dramatic cut-outs, ethnic embellishments, and even masculine touches that will add major interest to traditional silhouettes.

Gold will find its way into white wedding dresses in the form of not only rich bordering but also sequins, flecks, and other surprising details that go way beyond embroidery.

Look for layers! Sheer paneling is no longer showcasing skin, but rather satin and silk.

And finally, we’ll be seeing more colored wedding dresses on the runways, but that may or may not be the case when it comes to what brides are actually buying. Our feeling is that roughly the same number of brides will choose colored wedding gowns, but that the colors available in 2014 will be more vivid, more varied, and more beautiful than ever before. The same will hold true for prints.

What emerging wedding dress trends are you most looking forward to?


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Is the Garter Toss Passe?

And for that matter, is the bouquet toss now a tired tradition?

Here’s a fact: Brides are still carrying bouquets and wearing bridal garters, but more of those brides are holding onto their bouquets and keeping their bridal garters private. Personally, I spent so much time making my own bouquet – and a very good friend spent about five times as much time sewing my bridal garter – that I wasn’t about to toss either of them. That’s not the only reason that brides are electing not to include the bouquet toss and garter toss in their roster of wedding reception events, of course. Some brides and grooms are not comfortable with the subtext underlying the bouquet and bridal garter tosses, which implies that getting married is expected and necessary. Others don’t want to force single friends and relatives to out themselves. And still others just don’t want to be the center of attention in that way.

Who hasn’t attended at least one wedding were the groom removed the bridal garter with his teeth?

Of course, some brides and grooms love the bouquet toss and the garter toss, and we’re not going to criticize! It is harmless, when it comes right down to it, and for some people, it’s a lot of fun. However, we were curious to hear more about why brides-to-be are opting out so we scoured the web to find some answers. Here are some reasons brides are opting out of the garter toss:

“I don’t honestly know info behind the tradition of the garter, but there is no way in heck I’m going to let someone search up my skirt and remove something to toss into an audience of all of my family and friends, no matter how much I love him. Every time I see this at a wedding it seems so tacky, I cringe.”

“I hate the symbolism behind the garter toss! It started out as a way to prove to the bride’s family that the bride and groom were, er, consummating.”

“I am not doing a bouquet or garter toss. All of our friends are mostly married. We thought it would be better to skip this tradition then call out and embassy the small handful of single guests.”

“I’m not doing the garter because I dont really want my FH going up my dress in front of my parents…but we are keeeping the bouquet toss.”

“In the 1950’s when it first became common, the bride simply handed it to the groom when she returned to the reception hall after changing into her “going-away” dress. It wasn’t until the “liberated” seventies that people became jaded enough that they needed a little obscenity to add spice to a wedding. And you are quite right, that those little added “features” of the bump-and-grind; strip-hall music, and public exhibitionism are offensive in the extreme.”

“I am so not doing a bridal garter or bouquet toss. I think they are ridiculous, humiliating traditions. I am going to wear a garter, though. Just because I want to.”

Will your new spouse be tossing the bridal garter at the reception?


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What Happens to All Those Bridesmaids Dresses, Anyway?

Here’s a question for the starry-eyed brides out there: How many people do you really think wear their bridesmaids dresses again? Our guess is the answer is ‘not many,’ even when there are more sweet brides-to-be picking out gorgeous gowns in wearable colors than ever before. Taffeta nightmares? Hardly. Try lovely Lela Rose bridesmaid dresses and others that make every bridesmaid look her best. It may just be that today’s busy bridesmaid just isn’t going to that many cocktail functions where a semi-formal dress or gown is the right wardrobe choice.

So what can you do with an old bridesmaids dress that’s gathering dust in a closet? Here are some creative ways to make the most of them:

Have fun in it. Events around the country, like Boston’s Running with the Bridesmaids, give former bridesmaids a chance to re-wear those old gowns… usually while jogging, playing touch football, or chowing down in cake eating contests… all for the purposes of raising money for worthy charitable organizations. Who cares if a dress you’ll never wear again gets grass stains?

Donate it. Stylish bridesmaids dresses make great prom dresses – and parents like them because they’re often more modest than the more modern prom dresses. There are organizations that facilitate this, like The Princess Project, but you probably have a secondhand shop in your area that hosts pre-prom events where girls and their moms can come and spend a few hours trying on gowns.

Get crafty with it. If yours is a bridesmaid dress to remember, just not one to wear again, consider turning it into pillow shams or using the fabric to spice up another wardrobe piece. This idea is only for the seamstresses among us, but as intro sewing projects go, these are easy ideas.

Sell it. You paid for it, more likely than not, so why not recoup some of the costs of being a bridesmaid by putting that old dress up for sale on sites like Craigslist or eBay? The unfortunate thing is that most bridesmaids dresses, even pricier ones, go for pennies on the dollar, but even if all you make back is a little martini money you’re better off than you were with an unwanted dress taking up space in your closet.

Exchange it at sites like NewlyMaid.com. Some shopping sites will give you credit in return for those old bridesmaid dresses, which they then donate to charity – for an awesome, fell good double whammy. You get that little black dress and the satisfaction of knowing that you did something nice for someone else.

What are your ‘maids plans for their bridesmaids dresses?


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A Reader Asks: Do I Have to Let People Bring Babies to My Wedding?

A USABride fan who called herself ChildfreeBee wrote in to ask this question:

We’re fixing to send out our wedding invitations and I’m wondering what to do about babies. Specifically, the young babies of friends on our guest list who just took the parenting plunge. My partner and I aren’t anti-baby but we’re pretty adamant about not wanting our own. So far, everyone has understood that we’re having an adult affair – it’s an evening wedding – but if people have young babies do we need to just accept that they have to bring them along? Can we ask them not to?

Most couples are excited to include children in weddings, whether they’re specifically delighted by colorful flower girl dresses or picking the perfect ring pillow, but we get that kids aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – especially when it comes to late evening dinner parties starting at $50 per plate. In formalwear, no less. Unfortunately for these couples, etiquette is pretty clear on the fact that the only proper way to share the fact that a wedding is adults only is specifically naming only adults on the invitations (vs. something like “The Smith Family”) and having gossipy besties spread the word.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that many invited wedding guests do not understand the significance of the names on a wedding invitation.

But of course, that’s talking specifically about kids. When you’re talking about babies – particularly young babies who might be nursing – it’s going to be a lot harder to convince new moms and dads to find a babysitter, if it’s even possible. As for whether you can just call up parents and announce that babies aren’t invited, the answer is no. At least not politely. What you can do is use your social network to spread the word that this is an adults-only kind of party. And if these new parents contact you to ask outright whether baby is welcome, which is what they ought to be doing anyway, you can at that point feel free to say no. A little courtesy on both sides can do a lot to keep relationships intact. You may find you have a couple more cards in your Declines With Regrets pile, but there won’t be any bad blood because of it.


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