Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wedding Speeches (CONT.): SPEECH TYPE A: PUT A SOCK IN IT

I can’t speak more plainly here. Don’t do an open mic. Just don’t do it. Why? Basically, it can be summed up with a saying I've heard that goes something like this, “But far more numerous was the herd of such, who think too little, and who talk too much.”

I saw this first hand at my friend Alison’s wedding in California. The rehearsal dinner, held at a prestigious country club in Palm Springs, was one of the bigger get-togethers of its kind that I've seen. About seventy-five of the bride and groom’s closest friends packed into a room overlooking the golf course. After dinner, a slide show of Alison and her fiancé Brad (complete with individual pictures of them from childhood, and of course, funny snapshots of them from their senior year in high school, the time that they met and started dating) was displayed.

At that point, the maid of honor stood up and said a few words. Instead of introducing the next “designated” speaker, Jessica smiled and looked out into the crowd, asking if anyone would like to “express their feelings for the couple.”

I’m not sure if people felt guilty, like they weren’t good friends or relatives if they didn’t stand up, or if there was something in the water, but it seemed that everyone decided to take Jessica up on her request.

One by one, guests got up to the front and said very frivolous and, well, boring things. “You’re a great friend.” “Alison is the best.” “Brian is such a good fit for Alison.” Blah, blah, blah… You get the idea. There’s nothing special or interesting about the usage of the word “nice,” as I learned in seventh grade English class. However, I think I heard it bandied about in approximately twelve speeches.

In this type of situation, guests will get bored and would rather be talking to their dates, or friends of theirs, instead of listening to uninspired, uninteresting toasts. Actually, having flown in all the way from the East Coast and a little jet lagged, I really just wanted to catch up with my friends at the dinner, and then retire to the comfort of my hotel room. I’m sure, after a myriad of speeches at the end of the rehearsal dinner, that many others were thinking the same thing.

Personal anecdotes, funny stories, and musings about the bride and groom can be great--but in small doses. However, when people are invited to speak via an open microphone, it oftentimes becomes akin to the speeches made at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, or Middle School Graduation Parties--mostly because people freeze and can’t think of anything to say, beyond the obvious. “I met X at Paul Revere Elementary School. She is really nice, and we have a lot in common…” The worst.

In conclusion, choose your speakers wisely--and ahead of time. Not only do you get banal, boring speeches as indicated above, but you are DEFINITELY at risk for Speech Type B. What's that, you ask?

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

DO be that bride: Giving thanks to level-headedness....(Part I)

Although I am in the middle of tacky wedding toasts, I wanted to pause for a moment to pay homage to the women who, while busily planning the hundreds of details for their weddings, are able to do it all, and keep everyone in mind while doing it.

I received a question the other night, which I thought was well-worth responding to in a post. I hope that whoever asked this question doesn't mind my repeating parts of it (or the general gist really):

"I am having the most frustrating time finding a dress (or whatever)for my bridesmaids... they all are of extremely different body types, they all live several hours away from me at least, and have major life commitments/crises that keep us from getting together to look for dresses. I know that most of them would be happy to wear whatever I chose, except for one of them. She has budget issues...I agree with reusable dresses. I have some pretty hideous things hanging in my closet, so I understand. I looked at budget and gently used dresses, I looked at skirts w/ pretty camisoles, I tried to find things in department stores and outlets, I looked at a gazillion things. I finally found some... very basic tea-length dresses. She not only didn't like them, she said she thought I should just cut her out of my wedding because she didn't like the stuff I picked out and she probably couldn't afford it anyway. All this after she told me how much she liked tea-length dresses!...I'm trying to cater to a person who can't make up her mind! It's going to be awfully hard to find a cute semiformal dress that fits everyone and is $30. I don't know what to do!...is there and answer for the frustrated bride who can't please everyone?... I don't want to just kick her out of the wedding and I don't want to lose a friend over fighting because I just can't please her."

It definitely can be said that there are not only high-maintenance brides, but high-maintenance bridesmaids. The trick for any bride who encounters this situation is to toe the line between gracious and honest. It's one thing to try and cater to everyone by looking for an inexpensive dress that is flattering and reusable, but it's quite another when most everyone is in agreement but nothing seems to suit one person in particular. I think in this situation, honesty is the best policy. "I know it's been difficult finding the right dress at the right cost, but I have decided, upon trying to take everyone's price range and style into account, that we're going to choose X dress. While I really would love you to be in my wedding, I will completely understand if you would rather opt out of being a bridesmaid."

While it may seem harsh, I think the key is as long as you've tried to accommodate everyone, , you've done your job as a "good bride." As circumstances are such that all the bridesmaids are scattered geographically and it's difficult to do a group-choosing of a dress, I think your approach (of keeping everyone in the loop and maintaining contact with everyone in terms of preference) is really all you can do.

Although it may seem like a cop-out, how about this for a solution? Perhaps make the uber-difficult bridesmaid-to-be an usher, or a reader, or someone who doesn't have to buy a bridsmaid's dress or complain about what you put her in. That way, she can wear something flattering to her body type and perhaps of a color that you suggest, and she'll have more latitude doing so.

It may not seem like I've given much of a solution here, but what I DO want to offer to you (and other women in your shoes) is encouragement. You're doing great, and obviously trying very hard to take everyone into account. Sometimes it doesn't work out the way you'd like. But instead of tormenting yourself, give yourself a pat on the back for going the extra mile. If your friend doesn't appreciate what you've tried to do for her, then maybe she needn't be a part of the bridal party, and can take a smaller role in your wedding.

On this Thanksgiving eve, I want to celebrate all the brides out there and give THANKS that there are so many of you who ask these types of questions -- whether to me or anyone else!

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

SILENCE CAN BE GOLDEN: TACKY TOASTS AND FRIENDS THAT GIVE THEM

PART I: AN INTRODUCTION....

I don’t know who came up with the proverb or phrase or whatever you want to call it, but I think it is fairly accurate when it comes to wedding toasts: We always hurt the ones we love. I also think that you could substitute the following adjectives: “mortify “surprise,” “embarrass,” and “anger.”

Toasts and speeches have become part and parcel of most wedding celebrations, and I’d say that at least the majority of them (or those that my friends and I have attended), somebody has flubbed a speech, somehow managing to make not only the bride and/or groom uncomfortable, but every guest in attendance.

While it will take me a few entries to get to the core of this topic, it’s important I relay some terrible and tacky toasts, so you will definitely know how to avoid the following scenarios at all costs.

We’ve all seen it in the movies, and think to ourselves that it’s too cliché to actually happen. Wrong answer. Though the ridiculousness may not reach the level it did with Mitch’s speech at Frank’s wedding in the movie Old School, (“True love is hard to find, sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded...ready to double team your girlfriend... “), I’ve seen and heard of some pretty good ones.

As I had a long drive back from Baltimore (nice city!), I'm going to end it here, and come back later with some observations about toasts and hints to avoid cringing when someone gets up to the microphone.

Stay tuned.....

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I HAVE TO SPEND HOW MUCH ON THAT DRESS?!?!: Solutions #2 and #3

Since I will be away this weekend in Baltimore at, you guessed it, yet another wedding, I wanted to round out my Bridesmaid dress discussion (at least for the time being). Although I'm sure I'll have plenty to say later on the subject, I want to finish up my tips for making both you and your bridesmaids happy (at least when it comes to the dress!)

Tip #2: Go for an inexpensive, practical dress.

So you loooooved that Amsale tea-length in the rose-petal shade you saw in some magazine. I can imagine. While it may be tempting to have your friends splurge on the bridesmaids dress, just remember that you are not necessarily the only bride to which they have to cater (in fact, your maid of honor may have a wedding two weekends from your own!), and that high expenses may lead to higher tempers. For example, don’t do what a friend-of-a-friend did to her and the other bridemaids: “The Vera Wang dress I had to buy… and her family spent a freaking ridiculous amount on the wedding… you'd think they could shell out an extra $1000 and get the bridesmaids dresses that weren't $450 a piece.”

While I think that spending that much money on a bridesmaid dress is plain ridiculous, and most people, like myself, can't afford (and frankly, wouldn't want to) have a J.Lo-style wedding (with related expenditures to boot), setting a limit is still a good idea and a means for saving the bank accounts of your closest friends. There are plenty of tasteful bridesmaids dresses that won’t break the bank. Do your homework on this subject, and your bridesmaids will thank you for it.

Tip #3: Let them eat cake--while wearing what they want.

Some of you have already commented upon this seemingly radical concept, and I think it's great that there are women out there actually doing it. I think this is a surefire way of guaranteeing that your bridesmaids will not only look and feel their best, and they will be grateful to you for thinking outside the proverbial dressing room. My friend Marsha perhaps put it best when she noted that all she wanted for her bridesmaids was that they wear a long black dress of their liking. It could be a dress they wore to a previous event, or one they just bought. In this scenario, everyone wins. Even if your bridesmaid doesn’t have the dress, she’ll feel MUCH better purchasing one that she knows she’ll wear again. Why? Because she’ll have chosen it herself AND it’s a practical buy. If you want your bridesmaids to wear a sage, floor long gown, it’s obviously your call. Just realize that if you aren’t considering options #1, #2, or #3, you may indeed be viewed as a bride that isn’t in touch with the feelings of those around her--particularly those who will flank her at the wedding podium.

Want more? Stay tuned.... Back on Sunday!

PS: Whoever it was who said they paid for the groomsmen's tuxes: TOTAL THUMBS UP... that was a terrific and thoughtful idea, and one I'll definitely be using (whenever that may be :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I HAVE TO SPEND HOW MUCH ON THAT DRESS?!?!: Solution #1

Solution #1: Pay for the bridesmaid dress in lieu of an impractical bridesmaid gift

First, I want to thank everyone for (a) reading this (please keep coming back and tell your friends!!) and (b) sending your thoughts. I love hearing about your experiences, and I can certainly understand these choices are NOT easy ones to make. Keep the thoughts coming, because they're great ones (whether you agree or completely disagree with my own).

And now, tip #1..........

My sister (BigSis) fell in love with a duponi silk bridesmaid dress that was not only elegant and tasteful, but seemingly practical and could be worn again to another event.

Nevertheless, BigSis played it smart. Instead of having her bridesmaids pay for the dress, she paid for them herself--and the dress, in turn, became the bridesmaid gift.

I think part of the reason it was such a nice gift was that BigSis took her bridesmaids with her to look at them and to try them on to see which color looked best. It became an excursion, in which the bride included everyone and took their opinions to heart. BigSis noted that if the dresses looked terrible, she would have started all over again.

By acting in an inclusive manner and having her bridesmaids help pick out the dresses, BigSis made sure that the dress became something that was meaningful to them (AND to her too!). PLUS, the dress could be easily cut down to a sundress after the wedding, or worn again to a different event. I chose to cut mine down, and it was a PERFECT outfit for an evening with TallGuy that summer.

Oftentimes, brides-to-be will choose a thank-you gift for their bridesmaids that doesn't prove to be useful or something to their taste. The two weddings that I’ve been in so far have not proven to be exceptions to this rule. Although it was certainly a nice gesture, I can't tell you where in my apartment these gifts are (one a beaded bracelet, one a rhinestone necklace - both pretty, but not me). “I knew this girl who made her bridesmaids wear fake rhinestone tattoos on their back shoulders (the sticker kind)—that was their thank-you gift for being bridesmaids, too,” my friend Rachel told me (seriously).

Although most of the time, the gifts are thoughtful and heartfelt--i.e. not a rhinestone tatoo!--(and we are very grateful to receive them), these gifts are oftentimes not the most practical. Therefore, it unfortunately becomes a waste of your own money, too.

As bridesmaids are going to be wearing a dress of your choosing to the ceremony and reception, why not make that process a little less painful for them (if you can)? If you are able to do it (and I acknowledge that with wedding expenses, it may be difficult), buy them the dress as either part of the bridesmaid gift, or make that the entire present to them. If they get to wear the dress to another soiree, so much the better! If not? I think they’d MUCH rather have you pay for something they wouldn’t have been caught dead in otherwise. That way, YOU get to choose what you want (without feeling guilty), and they walk away with one less cost.

Obviously, I know that the counterargument is that this is an extreme expense - I suggest this only if it's a feasible alternative, and if it can be done by cutting out other expenditures from the budget. Although the price of a bridesmaid's gift may be way less than the dress itself, if you can do it--and know that your bridesmaids will be eternally grateful to you for it--then it may be worth it in the end.

To sum it up, not only will you be happy with the bridesmaid's dress you've chosen, but they'll be as well. And that means one less worry for the big day!

Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I HAVE TO SPEND HOW MUCH ON THAT DRESS I’LL WEAR ONCE?!?! (An Introduction)

Although there are surely many more tasteful options for bridesmaids' dresses than there may have been a while back (if you go to www.uglydress.com, you'll see what I mean), I do believe that the dresses that brides-to-be tend to choose don’t exactly have the same level of practicality as, say, a cocktail dress we would choose to buy at Lord and Taylor.

I will acknowledge that this is not always the case, and one of the dresses I’ve worn has actually been cut down into a sundress, which I think looks quite lovely with a jean jacket. (See the photo on this post- don't you dig TallGuy's photoshopping abilities?). Too often, however, brides seem more concerned with what they want than with the women who are wearing what they want. In too many cases, cost seems to be a concern that is thrown out the window. My friend Rachel told me that “it was just tough to be a bridesmaid in two weddings at the same time when I wasn’t making a lot of money, and they were both asking us to buy some fairly pricy dresses that even though they said we could wear again, we clearly could not.”

There are an endless array of stories like these, where women are compelled to do what the bride says, which, in turn, kills their own wallets. My friend Kara was a bridesmaid in a wedding recently, and had to purchase a $400.00 dress. The gown was multicolored, had pieces dangling from it, and was simply something she would never put on her body again. The kicker? She had to buy shoes to match. The trick for brides to remember is this: DON’T lie to yourself, or to your friends. If you are asking your bridesmaids to spend a lot of money on a dress, you must make absolutely sure that they CAN actually wear it again. And again. And again.

Do you really want a friend to have paid an obscene amount of money for a dress you required them to wear, and they end up leaving it at the hotel room closet, after the wedding, on purpose? Isn't that a waste of their money-and your time and effort in choosing the dress?

This is what a friend of a friend did with a bridesmaid dress that was not only ugly, but itchy due to the gaudy beading that was digging into her armpits. Although I would have suggested to the girl that she stuff it in a ball in her suitcase and give it to the Salvation Army when she returned to her hometown, I truthfully don’t think many women in her position would blame her.

It’s important to note that it is still YOUR decision about what we wear, whether we like it or not. However, I have a few solutions to the bridesmaid-dress dilemma, which may make your choice more palatable--or at least more livable.

In order to properly provide the right level of excitement and anticipation, I'll stop here for now and continue tomorrow (with part 2: Solutions).

Have your own thoughts? I'm particularly curious about this issue.....

More tomorrow!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

DESTINATION WEDDING DISASTERS PART II: "I'M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!"

Since the wedding cliff story seemed to get you guys going, try this one on for size (hint: it involves Cinderella, Mickey Mouse AND Never-Never Land):

Sometimes it’s not about the weather conditions but the mere cost that puts guests on edge about destination weddings. If you plan on having this type of event, at least make sure that the costs are limited to airfare, hotel accommodations and/or transportation. When you impose ridiculous “extras” on your guests, they begin to wonder why they decided to attend in the first place.

Take, for example, the experience of my friend Jillian, who was a guest at her cousin’s wedding in Anaheim, California. Apparently, Jillian’s cousin was having the rehearsal dinner and dessert reception in the Disneyland park. Naturally, therefore, the bride and groom had all the guests attending the dinner buy the tickets to get into the park themselves. Let me repeat that. A bride actually had the audacity to have a destination wedding at Disneyland where the guests would have to foot the bills for entrance!

This outrageous behavior would have been bad enough by itself, but Jillian was not even invited with her fiancé (I'll get to guest-lists and MAJOR don'ts related to that subject later). I honestly have no good explanation for this type of behavior, but I certainly believe that anyone who could subject their guests to this type of expense (and then, adding insult to injury, not even invite them with a date!) should have Peter Pan and Goofy crash the wedding ceremony.

Whether it’s at Snow White’s castle or on a cliff at the edge of the earth, it’s important to realize that destination weddings don’t always mean fun and games for the guests who must make the trek to celebrate with you. While the images of the balmy breeze and the lapping waves may appear attractive to you, please make sure that you have run your ideas by neutral parties (NOT simply your wedding planner or husband-to-be!) before you book the Four Seasons in Hawaii, or the Napa Valley Mariott Resort & Spa.

Come back soon for more!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Out tonight, back tomorrow...

.... but wanted to encourage anyone who has stories to send them along please - I want this to be a conversation! I'd also like to wave my fairy's wand and help anyone who has questions. I'm an outside observer who can give honest advice about specific questions. Try me! I won't bite. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A WEDDING ON TOP OF A CLIFF: #1 DESTINATION WEDDING DISASTER

After reading the title of this entry and saying to yourself in exasperation, "Wedding Fairy, you're such a liar," you may want some reassurance: I SWEAR this following story is true. But first, a little background:

If you’re willing to live with the fact that a destination wedding will surely cause great expense for your guests, the next inevitable step is to make sure that your location does not err on the side of ridiculous. As indicated by the following story, the most important thing is to RUN YOUR IDEAS BY A NEUTRAL PARTY. Otherwise, you may end up in the proverbial wedding doghouse without even realizing it.

Take this example about a woman who failed to see how her own desires equated to extremely selfish (and potentially dangerous) behavior. “My sister has a great bridal story where the bride wanted so badly to be married at the top of some cliff in Maine, and it rained, and she still expected people to literally hike up this muddy path in heels and dresses to the spot. 90-year-old grandma too." This is straight from an email I received from one of my sister's friends.

Although it may be true that this bride went to great lengths to plan a wedding in a special locale, when weather conditions make it undesirable or hazardous (particularly for elderly guests in this situation!), the idea of a “destination wedding” merely becomes another example of a woman unwilling to respect the well being of others. If you are going to try and plan a ceremony and/or reception in an exotic or unique location, at least make sure to have an acceptable back-up plan that will make you happy-- as well as your guests. No one--particularly not your 90-year old grandmother for pete's sake!--should have to hike up a cliff on a wet, muddy day, in order to attend your nuptials because it makes you happy.

Why not? Simply because it's not a good enough reason. If you can’t let go of these types of plans, or create a backup game-plan with your guests in mind, do it for yourself--believe me, you’re going to have lost the respect of many a friend and family member if you make them go through with such ridiculousness.

Woo Hoo! A Comment! Does that mean someone else is reading this besides from my mom?!

Thanks to whomever was forward-thinking enough to be my first poster. For any bride to be, bridesmaid, or curious onlooker: this isn't my own private island--I want you to come hang out on mine--please feel free to tell your story (anonymously, of course, is totally fine), or just let me know what you think (good or bad!)... More to come.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

SIT! STAY! BUY ME PRESENTS!: BRIDESMAIDS’ OBEDIENCE 101 (PART I)


To keep going with the topic from yesterday, here are some fun bridesmaids stories that you may or may not believe (depending on whether you're a bride-to-be or bridesmaid-to-be reading this).

There’s nothing worse than that sense of entitlement you may get when you’re a bride-to-be… especially when it comes to your bridesmaids. Yes, your friends, sister, and/or closest cousin are there to support you, but there is no justification for taking each individual for granted or completely blindsiding them with unbelievable demands, unforeseen costs, and inappropriate requests. Where can these things happen? Read on…

THE BACHELORETTE PARTY

Here’s the story of the bride-to-be (although I’d like to use her real name, I will simply call her Sharon to protect the guilty party in question) who was very much looking forward to her bachelorette party. Not thinking anything of it, Sharon wrote an email to her girlfriends (who were the bridesmaids in the wedding): “Hey girls! Was hoping Chris and I could stay at the Mercer Hotel the night of my bachelorette party. It would be such a great end-of-the-night present for me and Chris, and we’d SOOOO appreciate it!!! Let me know if that’s cool and would work. Thanks a million girls!!! We’re going to have such a good time!!” Although you probably need no explanation, “Chris” was this bride-to-be’s fiancé. Sharon had her bridesmaids shell out for an extremely expensive hotel room (NOT to mention for the entire bachelorette party itself, including dinner, drinks, and a $20 cover charge to a cheesy 80s club in midtown). To add insult to injury, the egregiousness of this episode could not be complete without an amazing kicker. About two hours into the evening out “with the girls,” Sharon decided that she was going to “crash early” -- and head back to the swanky hotel to have her romantic evening with Chris! Needless to say, the bridesmaids were livid, and Sharon's selfishness was readily apparent to all involved in the episode.

THE BRIDESMAID'S DRESS

Think you’ve heard it all regarding the bridesmaids dress? Although I'll have plenty to say about that later, I wanted to touch upon what can actually happen when a bride-to-be becomes hysterical, irrational, and uses her bridesmaids as a proverbial punching bag. This is what happened Tara, who was a bridesmaid in her friend’s wedding. Two weeks before the big day, each girl received the abrupt mass email (and follow-up phone call) from the bride-to-be, indicating that the rose-colored gown that she chose for each of them was “not working for her” – therefore, she surmised, she would feel better with the periwinkle blue shade that she had originally forsaken. Having already altered the gowns once, the bridesmaids had to run back to get the new dresses altered to their measurements. The worst part? They had to pay for the first “dud” dress, in addition to the more acceptable, periwinkle option. The bride never apologized for inducing even more stress than they had already experienced, or offered to cover the cost. Nevertheless, the bridesmaids walked down the aisle—pissed—and in periwinkle. “She just kept saying ‘it’s my day—it’s my day…’ That might have been true, I suppose, but after “her” day, I decided that every other day was my own—and I didn’t bother speaking to her after that again.”

PRE-WEDDING PRIMPING

Many bridesmaids have experienced the feeling of togetherness when they partake in pre-wedding beauty treatments with the bride-to-be. Although it is certainly a nice tradition to bond with your bridesmaids before the big moment, it’s important to realize that your girlfriends are going to rightfully expect that if you invite them out for pre-wedding beautification (and keeping you company while doing so), you should be footing the beauty bill. Take, for example, my friend Jessica's invitation for her bridesmaids to join her for manicures and pedicures the day before her wedding. It was an afternoon of champagne, light lunch, and total relaxation and primping. Jessica never expected us to pay for it, and it was instead a little present to each of us, a token of appreciation for taking part in her wedding and (in many cases) traveling in order to be there.
However, sometimes brides-to-be miss the mark, and I have heard of situations where women aren’t as in touch with that concept. Michelle described the time she was a bridesmaid in her friend Ellen’s wedding, and “when [she] took us all to get our nails done, it turned out we had to pay for it ourselves.” Although I’m sure that the bride-to-be didn’t mean to offend anyone, she colored herself in an unfavorable light by not footing the bill. If you don’t want to spend a couple of hundred of dollars to pay for your bridesmaids’ beauty, then don’t suggest going out for the big prep session. Getting your nails done on your own might provide you—and them—with more peace of mind when the bill comes.

Think that covers it? Stay tuned.....

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hair-do Hell

After having talked to many friends about wedding horror stories--many from the point of view of women in the wedding party, I have concluded that at least one thing is certain: "bridesmaid abuse" has been a huge source of wedding traumas.

Many young women initially believe it is an honor to be a part of the wedding party. In fact, some are offended when they are not chosen to be a bridesmaid.

Women in their late twenties and thirties, however, sing a different tune (often, a celebratory one when NOT chosen to be in a wedding). It seems that after a woman goes through her first stint as a bridesmaid, she is relieved to never be asked to do it again. Why? Is there a reason that this age-old tradition of having bridesmaids has become particularly stressful and/or annoying to the women the bride deems worthy to select?

There are several reasons that being a bridesmaid gets such a bad rap--unfortunately, the reasons stem directly from the way that these close friends/family members have been treated. And women talk.

Take, for example, BFP (or, the Bride Fashion Police). I never understood why brides forget that choosing a great bridesmaid's dress does NOT justify regulation of the way that each individual wears it!

Word has it that brides choose best friends, sisters, or their closest cousin to be there for them on the special day. It makes NO sense to me why women don't want their bridesmaids to be themselves, rather than a cookie cutter, carbon copy version of what brides would choose to look like.

Take, for example, this picture. It represents what my friend Sarah believes to be the most ridiculous hairdo. Ever. It took a lot of prodding, but Sarah sent me her close-up, so to speak, from when she was a bridesmaid in a wedding that took place at a resort in North Carolina. A true New York City girl who loves going to the hottest bars by night and Met exhibits by day, Sarah was less than thrilled about her well, very un-Manhattanlike hairstyle.

Apparently, the bride sent her and the rest of the bridal party an email a few weeks before the wedding about what she was thinking in terms of how best to dress their tresses:

"I was talking with the photographer and looking at some photos, and I was thinking it might look nice if we all wear our hair in an updo. If anyone doesn't want to wear their hair up, of course that's totally fine."

While Sarah appreciated the attempt to make her feel as if she had the option, what choice did she really have? If she were one of seven women who was wearing her hair down, straight, and natural (which is the way she always wears it), would the bride, Jen, really be that approving? Although one of her closest friends, Sarah couldn't imagine Jen being very happy with that arrangement. Even if she were cool with it, did she give them any choice to feel comfortable with their decision to stray from the pack? Sarah put it this way: "Although I probably shouldn't have cared, I figured that if I were one out of eight to look different, more eyes would be on me--walking down the aisle and not tripping was enough pressure!"

Sarah then told me that in retrospect, she did more than go along--what the hell, she figured--Sarah decided to fully indulge in Jen's fantasy, and make her updo look as ridiculous as possible. Namely, she let the Southern hairdresser do what she wanted to do - instead of deciding upon a simple bun, she followed the example of the other girls--Sarah's stylist created tons of kinks and curls and lacquered her with enough hairspray to make an ample dent in the ozone layer. As you can tell from the picture, the hairdresser pulled out all the stops. As Sarah describes it: "I ended up with what looked like a pineapple on my head."

Not only did it take Sarah twenty-five minutes--literally--to pull the sixty bobby pins out of her hair at the end of the evening, but her “updo” fully prevented her from doing much of, well, anything. Sarah's hair appointment was at 10 a.m. the day of the wedding, and although you would think that the curls were glued to her head, any outdoor activity (i.e. tennis, golf, or even a quiet walk on the grounds of the resort) was out of the question. "There was no way I could move without a curl somehow falling into the wrong section of my head. My neck actually started becoming tense from the sheer weight of what I was dealing with. I couldn’t lie down and risk smushing all of that work in one fell swoop. So, I literally sat in my suite from noon until 4:30 p.m. reading Memoirs of a Geisha. Thank goodness it turned out to be a kick-ass book that I couldnÂ’t put down! Not that I had much of a choice if I had wanted to."

I think the lesson to be learned from Sarah's experience is that while in theory, your choices may seem like good ones (surely to you and your mother, or whomever is helping you plan out each and every detail, like hairstyles and jewelry), we need to feel comfortable in our own skin and open-toed shoes (even if you preferred a close-toe heel). While I'm not saying it's outlandish or irrational to expect your bridesmaids to show up looking classy and bridesmaid-ready, I think it's taking it a little too far to have rules and regulations that restrict the personal style, or even their personal comfort, of each and every woman in the bridal party. Why not let each girl wear her hair as she wants? I'm certainly not advocating a style free-for-all (with Mohawks, buzz cuts, and bleach blonde hair, oh my!), but setting limits within limits not only makes you more unattractive to those who are in your wedding party, but having someone apply makeup differently or wear hair in an updo” (when they aren't used to that) won't make us look any better either.

Your friends, sister, and favorite cousin probably know what looks best on them. If they've never worn an updo, there’s probably a reason. YOU saw Sarah's picture. I don’t think there'’s any arguing with that.

What Wasn't She Thinking?: An Introduction

I'm going to be blunt.

Women lose their minds when it comes to weddings--or, perhaps less dramatically--their practical thinking skills.

As my sister and certain of my close friends have all taken the collective plunge in the past few years, I've seen it happen.

Brides-to-be so are concerned about "their day", that they completely lose sight of the larger picture. While these women may have apartments littered with issues of MODERN BRIDE magazine and Emily Post etiquette books, they forget that practical information (about how to respectfully treat their friends and family) is nowhere to be found among those pages.

When brides-to-be get sucked into this warp zone--an alternate reality that you thought existed only in Super Mario Brothers--they forget about the collective "WE." We = all the wedding guests (including bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, and Uncle Fred) that spend our time (and let's face it, a lot of our money) taking part in the wedding festivities.

You may think I'm writing about the "Bridezilla," or the woman encompassed by the descriptive buzzword that's become uber fashionable these days. I'm not. The Bridezilla is the screaming, ranting, I-want-it-the-way-I-want-it type of girl. The brides I speak of (those who completely forget the collective "We") are, I think, a bit more egregious. Unlike the Bridezilla, these women aren’t thinking at all.

As an career woman by day who morphs into Wedding Fairy by night, I've witnessed and collected countless stories about tacky--or simply bad-- bride behavior, ranging from bridesmaid dresses, table seating arrangements, invitations sans-guest, destination weddings, embarassing wedding speeches, and bachelorette party boo-boos.

Why am I writing this? At first, it seemed like a good way to vent my frustration (for myself and for others) about the fact that brides-to-be get away with WAY too much. I realize, though, that all women (whether single and on the prowl, or happily engaged and planning the big day) can learn from these stories. If I can help even ONE woman avoid the inevitable "What Wasn't She Thinking" question, then my job is done here.

If you aren't disgusted by my candor (or fear what I may have to say), read on.... Just think of my site as The Melrose Place of Wedding Stories. You won't REALLY believe that they happened, but somehow, it's sadly realistic enough that you stay tuned.