Posted by: thebridallady | July 23, 2012

But I Want It…(eyeroll from everyone else)

In a tough economy like our current one, many of the television shows, movies, and magazines are not very helpful to today’s bride. There are tons of programs showing how the financially comfortable bride can have a gorgeous, lavish wedding and reception, with no details overlooked. Other shows have wedding planners that swoop in at the last moment, change your plans, and amaze you with splendor you can only imagine. Bridal magazines show the newest, most couture styles on reed thin models, that have every girl running to a salon to try on ‘the’ dress. Movies show happy parents with deep pockets, that only want the best for their princess.

The problem with these media monsters is that they set up the average bride for huge disappointments with regard to her wedding. Most people don’t fit in that economic group that can reserve a movie studio, castle, or entire island, then hire florists, lighting specialists, linen experts, china experts, circus performers, a popular rock band, well… you get the idea. The wedding planners that save you from yourself, are definitely not working with your budget, they have a television show budget. Let’s face it, if you or I had that kind of money available to us, we could put on a pretty fabulous event, too. Those perfect designer gowns in the magazines often don’t show the prices because many people would choke.

My point (yes, there really is one), is that brides want what they see and like, what makes them feel special. Watching the shows and perusing the magzines for ideas is great, but the truth is, the things you see there are often out of reach for most brides, and out of their parent’s reach, too. One of the biggest causes of dissention between a bride and her parents is money, and not staying on budget. Brides sometimes become difficult, and downright nasty when they don’t get what they want. I have a few tips for the bride, and her family.

Be realistic when setting your budget. Discuss your vision for your wedding with your parents before you start buying things. If everyone is on the same page about the style and formality, that will help. If you have seen something over the top on TV that you just have to have, find out if it can be done by local florist or crafter, or if you can reproduce it. Search pictures for an elegant centerpiece you can put together yourself. Instead of a full bouquet, consider a long-stemmed showy flower for you or your bridesmaids. Pick a time of day for your wedding that is not evening, therefore, not considered a formal affair. Food for your reception would be less expensive also for an earlier wedding, as you wouldn’t be expected to provide a full on dinner. There are so many ways to trim your expenses and free up some of that budget money for the must have items, or to scale down on the glitz and glamour to trade for some really luxurious fabrics or classic, elegant touches. 

Be kind to yourself and to your parents by not letting your sense of entitlement take over and cause hurt feelings and stress. Just remember that your wedding is only for one day, family is forever.

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Posted by: thebridallady | May 28, 2011

You’re a professional, really?

Recently, I attended a wedding, and was amazed at the unprofessional actions of the minister who officiated. It got me to thinking about the millions of brides and grooms who put their trust, not to mention their money, in professionals to perform a service for their wedding. Whether it is an officiant, decorator, planner, caterer, florist, DJ, photographer, or any vendor, they should be professional in their manner. That is not to say, that they cannot be warm, friendly, and excited for you, they should be.

Regarding the wedding I attended, some red flags for me were showing at the rehearsal. The minister brought his wife along, who proceeded to berate the bride for being late (she wasn’t), for not giving more precise directions to the ceremony spot (the venue was supposed to provide that information), forgetting her cell phone (it was the day before her wedding, hello?), and for a few of the bridesmaids being late (not the bride’s fault). After tears and upset, when everyone was there, the rehearsal began. The minister dictated how everyone should walk, when they would walk, and with whom. He told the bride that the wedding would start precisely at the given time, and that anyone not there would simply miss the event. Shortly into the rehearsal, the bride snatched the reins back and climbed into the driver’s seat.

During the wedding, the minister left where he was standing (at the arch) to walk down the aisle and intimidate the flower girl into walking the rest of the way up the aisle. During the ceremony, he said ‘what’ several times, loudly, when the bride and groom were speaking too softly. In addition, he was photographed pushing up his glasses with his middle finger, appearing to flip the happy couple a bird.

As a minister myself, I was appalled at his behavior, and the unprofessional manner with which he conducted himself. I have on occasion made a little joke to lighten the tension or nerves, and I have had to take control when no one knew what they were supposed to do. However, I always give the bride and groom choices, so they do not feel their wedding is being dictated to them.

When someone is paying for services, they have a right to expect them to be performed in a professional way, by a competant provider. It’s unfortunate that this minister did not see himself as others did. His fee was within the normal range, but his service was substandard. This resulted in a disappointed bride and groom, and their parents.

Sometimes, budgets dictate how many services can be left to the wedding professionals, and how many may be tackled by the bride and her family or friends. Always be clear with volunteer help, what they are volunteering for, and what is expected from them with regard to their gift of time or services. For those that you hire, it’s important to check references, and hire people that inspire confidence. It may make more sense to do a simple, elegant centerpiece yourself, and forgo a florist, in order to hire a DJ and not have prerecorded music during the reception. Weigh your options and consider the pros and cons. For example, a DJ will keep the reception flowing and provide a schedule and structure. Burned CD’s won’t. Perhaps you have a friend or relative who has baked and decorated wedding cakes for others. That could be their wedding gift to you, allowing you to use the money earmarked for your cake to hire a minister, as opposed to a notary you may know from work, or your neighborhood.  You may wish to do that especially if your ceremony is going to be video recorded.

As with anything in life, with weddings there are also trade offs. There are places where your budget can be trimmed, and people probably won’t even notice. The simple centerpieces are a good example, particularly if your gown is simple and elegant. Any places where you can trim your budget, will free up money which can then be allocated to something else.

To avoid disappointment in your wedding, remember to be clear with everyone taking part or providing a service for you, so that everyone knows what is expected of them. With everyone on the same page, there will be fewer misunderstandings and hurt feelings for all those involved. Have a happy wedding!!

Posted by: thebridallady | February 21, 2010

“This Is The Gown For You”

In most of my blogs, I’ve been a pretty sraight shooter, giving no nonsense advice for planning your wedding, puchasing your gown, etc.  With almost thirty years in the bridal industry, not much surprises me, but I would like to pass this on for brides to consider… 

If you are old enough (and mature enough) to get married, then you don’t need someone else picking out your bridal gown.  Over the years, occasionally, we see the bride’s mother dictating what she will wear. Although it is understandable that Mom needs to set a budget, and perhaps guidelines for what is acceptable to your church, it isn’t Mom’s wedding.  The choice of style, fabric, and embellishment should be yours.  If your buget is limited, but you like bling, look for a simple, less expensive gown, and then hand stitch beads or crystals for that wow look.  To some styles, you can add a sash at the waist for a splash of color.  There are many ways to stay within your budget and have what you want.  The important thing is to purchase a gown that makes you feel beautiful.

Your friend’s input should also be taken with a grain of salt.  What she likes, and what you had in mind might be very different.  Sometimes, it is better to check out some dresses before bringing friends to see your choices.  You can narrow the field before other opinions are added.  Remember, this is your wedding.  You have to love the dress.  After all, you will be looking at pictures of yourself in the gown for the rest of your life.

Lately, I have seen a trend that upsets me.  More and more brides are bringing their fiances in to choose the gown, and are giving him the final say on what they wear.  These girls are putting aside gowns they love and feel beautiful in, to wear what they are told to.  It’s just my opinion, but if your fiance tells you what you will wear to your wedding, then your husband will control what you wear for the rest of your life. 

My intentions with this entry were not to offend anyone, but my passion is the wedding industry, and of all the various components of a wedding, the bride is the one I want to see happy, radiant, and beautiful on her special day.  Every bride should be able to look back on her wedding day and say “I felt so pretty, my dress was perfect”.

Posted by: thebridallady | March 15, 2009

Put That Baggage Aside, Seriously

One of the most difficult and upsetting tasks that face many brides and grooms now is figuring out where to seat Mom and Dad, when there are step parents involved. Often, the parents and step parents do not get along. 

The first thing the parents need to do is call a truce. The wedding day is not the time or place to allow dissension to ruin the celebration for your daughter, son, or your guests. It’s much better to have the chit chat pointing out how well you carried yourself, than to have it pointing out how you made a fool of yourself.

As a parent, you have made sacrifices all your life to give your child the best you could offer in every situation. This is perhaps one of the last, and probably one of them that will mean the most to your daughter or son. Arriving with a smile on your face, cordial greetings, and a pleasant attitude will mean the world to them on their special day.

Seating doesn’t have to be an insurmountable problem. If the bride and groom are hesitant about what to do, you might suggest having a few more, small tables for family members, allowing you and your ex to have seperate tables where you can each sit with your new spouses or significant others. You might want to include the respective grandparents and/or other siblings at these tables.

Informing the photographer in advance of the parental situation will allow him/her to plan accordingly for group shots and also to take a few extras with your ex and their new spouse (your son or daughter may want that). The new spouses need to understand that the bride and groom will also want some pictures with their mother and father, just because they are  married to the mother or father of the bride or groom now, does not change the fact that you are their parents.

By setting aside your feelings on your child’s wedding day, you are also laying important groundwork for the future. If there are to be grandchildren, there is only one Christening, one first birthday, one first school play, etc. If you can get along with everyone at the wedding, your son or daughter will not hesitate to include you in the plans for these future events.

Although it is easier said than done, everyone comes out the winner if you can put that baggage aside, and alow the bride and groom to shine on their wedding day, free from worry about how their parents will behave. What a wonderful wedding gift!

Posted by: thebridallady | March 8, 2009

“We’re Having A Small, Simple Wedding”, Yeah Right

After discussing your wishes and ideas, and then having a financial reality check, you and your fiance have decided on a small, simple wedding. When you share these thoughts with your parents and his, reminders fly in from every direction not to forget or exclude Great-Aunt Dot, Second- Cousin Emily, or your dad’s co-worker, Fred. As time goes on, your wedding is growing, and growing, and has morphed into a giant that threatens to push you to the brink of insanity and financial ruin.

There are several things you can do, in addition to throwing your hands up and giving over control to someone else, this is YOUR wedding, after all. The first thing you can do is move up the time of the wedding. If you were planning an evening ceremony, usually a dinner reception follows. By moving the time of the ceremony up to, say, three o’clock in the afternoon, you may now serve a buffet with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and finger sandwiches, saving quite a bit of money on the food, and the number of servers required. You may find this plan a winner in another way, as well. Instead of your reception running very late into the night, it will allow for an earlier exit for you and your new husband, so you may enjoy the rest of the evening without succumbing to total exhaustion.

When you are planning the decorations for your ceremony and reception, think of all your friends and family, and what they have that you can borrow. Hit them all up for potted plants and trees, and use them to create a garden atmosphere. Place three or so pots together, and wrap the pots as one with sale priced fabric. Then place white string lights around the fabric, cover with tulle, and, voila! you have created a dreamy, romantic mood.

If you decide on a garden type theme, don’t be afraid to use containers like teapots, watering cans, buckets, or a collection of different vases to hold your flowers. Or, you can make a candle garden for each centerpiece, adding petals, rocks, or leaves round the outside. Often, the centerpiece containers can also be borrowed, or purchased from thrift stores, dollar stores, or yard sales, and can add an eclectic charm to your decor. The more you can do yourself, the more money you can save. The more money you save, the easier it is to deal with the wedding that has suddenly taken on a life of it’s own.

Favors are often overpriced, and often forgotten. All the expense and work, and they are left on the table! Why not make your favors? You can make candies, or soaps with molds that you can purchase at craft stores. Soaps are especially good, because if your guests forget them, you can always put them out in a small basket in your guest bathroom. Or, to go along with your garden theme, you can make your own paper envelopes, and add wildflower seeds (purchased in bulk), and add a poem about your wishes to nurture a ‘growing relationship’ with all your family and friends.

Many other options are available to couples willing to get crafty, and take on projects themselves. Don’t let your wedding stress you out, instead, think of it as the first challenge of your new life together. Use your planning time to create a bond with the two of you working toward a common goal, a beautiful wedding, and avoiding bankruptcy. Have fun, and be sure to take plenty of pictures of your creation.

Posted by: thebridallady | January 15, 2009

Bridesmaids, Ugghhh, What Have I Done?

Everyone knows you are engaged, and wow, all your friends are asking about your upcoming wedding. A few are hinting, or coming right out and asking if they will be in the wedding. Now the stress begins. They are your friends. You like hanging out with them. But before you rush out and invite every girl you know to be a bridesmaid, reign in your enthusiasm, and do some hard thinking about several things.

How large is the wedding you are planning? If you have seven close girlfriends, and you like symetry, does your fiance have seven friends that he can ask to be groomsman? What if you have seven friends AND you have sisters or cousins to include? Does your wedding seem to be taking on huge proportions and unmanagable crowds of people?

Stop, and consider a few things before asking people to be bridesmaids or groomsmen. Are they really good, close friends? Can they afford the clothing or travel expenses that may be required? Do they cause friction or start arguments? Can they get along between themselves without jealousy and upstaging? Are they supportive of you in most everything you do? Are they helpful, or bossy and domineering?

Remember, this is your wedding. You should pick the styles, colors, flowers, and decorations because you and your fiance love them, not because your friend from high school or college thinks she looks great in peach. It’s not about them, it’s about you. One of the most unselfish things a girl can do for her friend, is to wear a bridesmaid’s dress that she doesn’t like. On the other hand, one of the most thoughtful and unselfish things you can do for your attendants, is to choose a flattering, reasonably priced gown or dress that they could wear again.

The question of how many bridesmaids has been an uncomfortable and vexing problem for many brides. A large , very formal wedding can have many attendants and still look appropriate. On the flip side, a  small back yard wedding and barbeque looks a little silly with ten or twelve bridesmaids and the same number of groomsmen.

After deciding how many attendants would be right for your wedding style, ask your very closest friends or relatives to be your bridesmaids, then ask the others to be a part of your wedding in other capacities. Your cousin with the beautiful voice could sing a song during the ceremony. Your friend who plays guitar or piano could play during the ceremony or reception. Someone could do a reading of your favorite poem. There are also other things you could ask of them, lighting candles, handling the sign in book, arranging your train before you walk down the aisle, decorating the church or reception site for you, greeting guests and giving out favors, cutting and serving wedding cake, contributing their famous food dish (if you are doing the food yourselves), or other things that may pertain to your wedding plans. This way, they are still participating in your wedding, but the number of attendants is remaining managable and acceptable.

Most people think of creativity having to do with artistic talents, music, or writing abilities. Sometimes creativity can have more to do with thinking outside the box to solve problems and find solutions that work for everyone involved. Coming up with a workable plan to include all of the people important to you and your fiance will, in the end, reduce your stress, and help make your wedding especially beautiful and memorable for everyone.

Posted by: thebridallady | January 9, 2009

Mom, You’re Not The Bride!

This blog entry is, I guess, more like an open letter to the bride’s mother. Your baby has grown up, somehow, before you have even become fully aware of it. Now she’s planning her wedding, an adventure that doesn’t always include you or your advice or opinions, and it is a little disconcerting to be ousted from that place of honor (‘what do you think, Mom?’), and replaced by one or more giggling, loud, sweet, fashion train-wreck bridesmaids who are suddenly dishing out advice to your daughter, when they don’t have enough life experience between them to fill a thimble. And what’s worse, she seems to hang on their every word.

Take heart, Mom. Everything you taught her has not gone out the window. She does hear you, really. This whole planning process is leading up to one of the most important days of her life, and she is trying very hard to figure out what she wants, what she likes, and what she thinks will please her fiance.

Once everyone is on the same page about the budget, the best thing you can do for your daughter is to remember that this is HER WEDDING. When shopping for the bridal gown, offer opinions, but remember that your taste and hers may not be the same. Also, keep in mind that she has to look at photos of herself in her gown for the rest of her life. It should be the gown that she loves, the one that makes her feel beautiful. Be patient and compliment her on the choices that look great on her, and she will trust and seek your advice.

Sometimes suggestions that build on her ideas can help get things back into reality (or back in the bounds of good taste). For example, if she is looking at two colors that really aren’t compatible, you might suggest a color that works well with one of them, or gently lead her to different shades of the colors that may work better together. Then she will feel that it is still her idea, but you have guided her, and given her the benefit of your experience.

Although planning a wedding is often stressful, it can be a wonderful opportunity for both you and your daughter to grow and to nurture that loving bond and friendship between you. A little respect, a little patience, and a little time out can help the inevitable frazzled nerves that may crop up from time to time.

Before you know it, your baby will be a wife, and will be asking your advice again on everything from decorating to cooking.

Posted by: thebridallady | December 19, 2008

Bridal Shop…Internet…So Confusing!

Things are going great. Both of your families know about your engagement, and you have outlined a budget. The date is set (or approximate date is set). You’re discussing locations for your ceremony and reception. Now, you are ready to begin your search for the perfect wedding gown.

Because many of the gowns are not made here in the United States, you must allow time for them to be ordered in. You can keep your stress to a minimum by allowing six months or more before your wedding for your gown to arrive. Don’t forget, you will probably need alterations. Most everyone does, very few people have the exact perfect measurements that match the manufacturer’s size chart, and some brides will need their gowns hemmed.

You may have seen many articles in bridal magazines, on the internet, or on television about saving money and ordering your gown on line. There are some important things to consider before doing that. Ordering on line means most of your communication is done via email. You will ‘talk’ with someone whom you have never met, and has not seen you. Gown selection is done from pictures on their website. Your order is placed, and you are given an approximate ship date. Your dress will ship to you, usually in a clear plastic bag inside a cardboard box. Often, the gowns are shipped inside out to protect beading or embroidery, and to keep the gown clean.

When it arrives, in addition to alterations, your gown will need to be pressed or steamed. Depending on the amount of detail (beading, rouching, lace, pleating, or length of train), the steaming or pressing may add an additional $100.00 to $200.00 to your cost.

If you order through a full service bridal salon, you will establish a relationship with your consultant. She will be able to assist you in choosing your gown with suggestions on color, style, and formality based on her experience and knowledge of your body type, complexion, hair color, and her conversations with you about your wedding. You will try on gowns to see what you do like and what you don’t. She will get a feel for what you have envisioned for your special day. Some salons can sell off the rack if your time line will not allow for ordering. Your consultant can guide you to the gowns that can be purchased without special orders.

The slightly higher price at the bridal salon turns out to be similar to paying insurance. While it’s possible that you could order a gown on line and have everything turn out fine, you could also have an impending disaster. Many online sellers are not actually authorized dealers for the brand name gowns pictured on their websites, so the dress you order may end up not being a genuine designer gown, or worse yet, it could be a worn sample, or an inferior copy.

Dealing with an online seller, the gown will probably be sent to you without being inspected. A bridal salon will inspect your gown, steam it, and call you to come in and try it on. They can help you if there is a problem or defect with the fabric or workmanship. Your bridal shop can also show you accessories that will compliment your gown, and often, they have gowns for bridesmaids, flower girls, and mothers, as well as rental tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen. Accomplishing so many things in one location can make working with your local bridal salon even more convenient than shopping on line.

Because your wedding gown is an important investment, it is crucial that you buy from someone you trust and have confidence in. In many other areas of your life, you meet and establish relationships with business people before turning your money over to them, and buying your wedding gown should not be different. Good luck and happy hunting!

Posted by: thebridallady | December 16, 2008

Think of Planning Like Driving a Car

Congratulations! You’re engaged, excited, ecstatic, and a little overwhelmed. Think of planning your wedding like driving a car. Before you take the car out the first time, you would get a little advice, maybe some guidance from someone with a little more experience. Just as you would want your driving instructor to be patient and have your best interests at heart, those you choose to help with your planning should also be concentrating on YOUR wedding, and your ideas. Jeaousy, upstaging, and domination have no place in wedding planning, it will only add to stress and frustration for you. Just like driving, you can’t have five people driving at the same time. You have to maintain control of your planning.

In almost every bridal magazine, you will find checklists and guides for everything you should do before your wedding. It can all be a little frightening, but keep in mind, those are just guides. The timelines are suggestions. You may not even be using ‘save the date’ cards. You may have a shorter engagement, or a far more casual event, and you may skip several of the listed items. It’s ok. Weddings should be a cross between honoring wedding traditions or cultural heritage and Burger King (having it your way). Your wedding and reception should reflect who you and your fiance are, your personalities, interests and hobbies, passions or careers.

Many of the planning materials suggest the first order of business (after setting the date, of course) is choosing a location for both the ceremony and reception. If you’re thinking of a very popular venue, or popular months, like June or December, that may be true, however, choosing your wedding gown should be right up there in the firsts as well. Your gown will set the tone for your entire ceremony and reception.

Often what happens, is you think you have in mind what you want, and then WOW!, you try on something completely different, and you are totally blown away by it. You cry, mom or your best friend cries, and you know it’s your dress. The problem is, the quiet little sheath style with no train that you wanted, has now been replaced by a full skirted, beaded gown with a chapel length train. That may result in you making some changes to your ideas for your ceremony and reception locations.

Here are some tips that can help you have a pleasant experience when you begin looking for your gown. Inquire if appointments are required or suggested, and make the appropriate arrangements. Too many differing opinions can be confusing and frustrating for you, choose one or two people to accompany you, whose opinions you value and trust.  Wear as little make up, pefume, and jewelry as possible. These things damage gowns, and your bridal shop will appreciate you being careful with their merchandise. If you have children, ask a friend or relative to keep them for you while you shop for your gown. It is hard for you and for your sales consultant to concentrate on your needs while chasing little ones. Wear appropriate under garments, a sports bra completely changes the fit of a gown. When trying gowns on, you want to see them at their best possible presentation, so that you don’t rule out a fabulous dress just because the fit of the bust wasn’t flattering.

Don’t be afraid to purchase a dress on your first shopping venture. You would be amazed at how many brides find the dress of their dreams right away. When you and your consultant determine the style that’s right for you, it’s just a matter of necklines, embellishment, and fabric. When you narrow that down, it’s quite possible that on your fist visit, you will put on a dress and just know ‘it’s the one’. Much like you knew your fiance was ‘the one’. If you do everything you can to make the planning go smoothly, it can be an enjoyable ride for you and your fiance, as well as your family and friends. Whether you need to be on the expressway, or you have time to take the scenic route, just remember to relax and take in some of the fun and memorable sights along the way.

Posted by: thebridallady | December 14, 2008

Taming Your Inner Bridezilla

So, I have watched that show about the bridezillas, and I hate it! While it can be occasionally entertaining, for the most part it simply promotes bad behavior on the part of the bride. When our moms and grandmothers told us that you catch more flies with honey, they weren’t kidding. Seriously, why would anyone want to take one of the most special and exciting times of their lives and turn it into a tantrum that would do a cranky two year old proud?

Vendors and retailers are people, too. If your relationship with them is warm and cordial, you will find that they want to please you, they want to help you have the perfect wedding. There is a mistaken notion circulating around that businesses in the bridal industry are there to rip you off, and that business owners are getting rich off of their clients. That is so far from the truth. Yes, they have to make some money on your dress, for heaven’s sake, do you put in your forty hours each week and then tell your boss no thanks to a paycheck? Of course you don’t. Your doctor, your jeweler, and your grocery store all make a profit on their goods and services, that is how they stay in business. 

It is hard to maintain composure and hold off the panic mode with all the expenses associated with a wedding, but planning and organization is your best defense. If you can afford a planner, that may be one your best investments. The amount of time, stress, and running around they can save you will be worth it in the long run. If a planner is not in your budget, become your own planner. Purchase a binder or portfolio folder with pockets that will stand up to constant use, as it will become almost as close to you as your fiance.

Sit down with your future husband, your family, his family, or anyone else that will be contributing financially to your wedding. Figure out what type of budget you are working with, and be honest. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by overestimating what you have to work with, and then being difficult or petulant when you can’t have everything you wanted. If you are realistic about your finances, you will be able to determine the things that are priorities for you and concentrate on them. Some of the things you thought you wanted may become less important once you determine your must haves.

Working with your vendors and retailers, instead of against them, will make your life easier, and less stressed. It will also make life easier for them, which will result in them going the extra mile for you. If you surround yourself with people who are supportive and helpful, it is possible to keep that bridezilla locked up, and make your wedding beautiful and perfect from start to finish.

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