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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What to Do About Unhelpful Bridesmaids

You chose your bridesmaids. You proposed, and they said yes. You bought each of them the bridesmaid jewelry you thought they’d love best. Now you’re relying on them to be your Gal Fridays in the months and weeks leading up to the wedding. Most of your bridesmaids have really risen to the challenge of gown shopping, assembling wedding favors, and helping you pick out the perfect flowers for your bridal bouquet. But one bridesmaid? Well, she’s slacking.

Not that you have ridiculously high expectations. You went into wedding planning knowing you didn’t want to be a bridezilla, and reading this very blog has taught you that bridesmaids can’t be forced to put in a hard day’s work. Still, you’re wondering what’s up since your bestie seemed super psyched when she accepted your invitation to be in your wedding party and opened the pretty little bag with her bridesmaid jewelry and bridesmaid gift.

We can’t explain what’s going on in her head, of course, but we can help you figure out what she’s thinking.

First, ask yourself if this particular bridesmaid is just extra busy and you’ve been so wrapped up in wedding planning that you haven’t noticed. Maybe she’s in med school. Maybe she’s finishing up a jewelry making course. Could be that she’s been taking care of a sick loved one or is swamped at work. Consider tactfully asking your absentee bridesmaid why she hasn’t been able to make it to your group wedding planning activities.

Then, consider whether you’ve been asking too much of your bridesmaids. Bridesmaid jewelry isn’t a payment for services rendered, and bridesmaids-to-be need their weekends, too. It’s easy to let your own enthusiasm for stuff like cake tasting overwhelm your good sense when it comes to overworking your best girlfriends. Be sensitive to the fact that they have lives, too, and to-dos they need to take care of.

Finally, if you’re getting a really unenthusiastic vibe from the bridesmaid in question, think about whether she might have accepted the position out of a sense of obligation rather than excitement. We’re not saying that she doesn’t want to be in your wedding but as hard as it is to believe, not everyone finds the experience of taking on the usual bridesmaid duties a laugh riot.

Here’s one last suggestion: cut your slacker bridesmaid some… well, slack. There are so many reasons that a bridesmaid might not make it to all the pre-wedding activities, and the vast majority of them have nothing to do with how said bridesmaid feels about the bride.

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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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