Monday, February 27, 2006

I HAVE TO SPEND HOW MUCH ON THAT DRESS?!?!: Solution #4

I'm going to be blunt: bridesmaids dresses are ridiculously expensive, and it's very difficult to find cheap ones that don't, well, look cheap.

HOWEVER, I wanted to return to this theme (which I had addressed in earlier posts), as it's important to realize that you CAN find quality AND dresses that don't break the bank.

I received a question from a reader, which I'll restate here:

I am planning a May '07 wedding... I have been seeing more and more wedding parties that have similar, but not identical bridesmaids dresses. I would like to find a way to pick a fabric and color and let each bridesmaid pick the style of their own dress. And if at all possible, I would like to keep the dress reasonably priced, since most of my bridal party will be poor college students...Any ideas of where to look for something like this?

As I thought this question was a good one, and relevant to many readers, I decided it may be useful to share my answer with everyone:

CHECK OUT FABRIC STORES IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD...

Whether you live in a big city or a small town, fabric stores are a great place to get inspiration--and a good starting point. Many fabric stores (good ones, at least) will have a rainbow of colors and fabrics (i.e. raw silk, chiffon, satin), and you and your bridesmaids can determine what colors look good, and which fabrics are plain unflattering. From there, you can get a sense of what you are all looking for--even if you don't want to have identical dresses. You'd be surprised, but even small towns have fabric stores--check out the yellow pages, and start your journey!

SURF THE WEB -- WEDDING WEBSITES ARE AN INVALUABLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION!

Many of these sites feature dress designers--for example, if you go to www.weddingchannel.com, you'll see a category called "Gowns and Photo Galleries" -- if you click on bridesmaids dresses, you'll see a TON of designers, including ways to select dresses by style, price, etc. What's even cooler though, is that you can find these companies' websites through The Wedding Channel. Therefore, utilize the wedding websites (like The Wedding Channel, The Knot, etc.) for all of the tidbits of information you can glean. They're a really good source of information.

As I've mentioned before, some of the GREAT options are those that are re-wearable. Ann Taylor has some very pretty bridesmaid's dress options that could easily be worn again to another event--and the website highlights all the variations of dress, color, style, etc.

I stated this above, but unfortunately it's very difficult to find dresses that are "cheap" -- the dresses on Ann Taylor's website are about $178--perhaps this is pricey, perhaps not (depending on your budget), but it's definitely not as bad as it *could* be (When you see dresses that cost more than a really good piece of jewelry, you really start to wonder!)


There are other viable options that are less expensive than that too--look around on these websites (if you go to J. Crew, there are a few options for $150), and the wedding channel website features certain less pricey options--just search by price. One thing to keep in mind is that the quality goes down when the price goes down... so just be careful when you look on websites because of this quality issue.


GO TO ANY BRIDESMAIDS' BOUTIQUES (BOTH BIG AND SMALL) IN YOUR AREA - YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU'LL FIND!

Obviously, websites are great, but if you can't try on the real thing, that can be a problem. (though tailoring is always an option). If you can go to the actual stores that carry some of these dresses you've seen on the websites, then you may be able to get a better sense of what works/doesn't work.

You can also call some of the stores you see on the websites, and see what they carry in your area, and where you can go to see the real thing in person.

Bridesmaid's dress shopping is never easy--although the hard part is finding a dress that you and your bridesmaids are happy with (and which don't cost a small fortune), some of the above routes may be helpful in your quest.

Good luck and stay tuned!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

THE A,B,Cs OF ACCESSIBILITY: MAKING A WEDDING APPROACHABLE (AND FUN) (PART IV - LESS IS MORE!)

Wow. I seemed to create a little bit of controversy with my last post--or at least a lot of conversation! I'm very happy to see it--please keep your thoughts coming. As I've said before, I'd like my "little island on the internet" to be somewhere you all feel comfortable hanging out and sharing your opinion!!!

As far as the accessibility/fun factor, I DO recognize that there are certain issues that come into play like EXPENSE and DIFFICULTY IN BREAKING WITH TRADITION/IGNORING THE WISHES OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

I also realize that it's not about the little details of the wedding--the "extras" so to speak--that make the wedding meaningful (like the napkin holders and the wedding favors).

However, I do hold fast to the LESS IS MORE concept. I don't think you have to do anything so extreme or different in order to get attention.

Nevertheless, when I'm talking about the little details, I do believe that LESS is MORE, and having one or two elements that are unique--whether AT THE CEREMONY OR RECEPTION--are more than acceptable. Fun doesn't *always* have to mean *out there* -- it's all about how you PRESENT your choices. Too much "funness" (I know that's not a word, but just go with it!) may come off a little zany and weird.

I do acknowledge that in many cases, brides aren't necessarily footing the bill for the affair (and are getting help from family and, in some cases, friends). And in several situations, "fun" = "too expensive." (Good point made by the reader from outside the US, where certain ideas, like the cupcake cake, are more expensive...)

However, I want to emphasize that I don't think that Traditional equates to Boring -- I think doing things in a traditional manner is lovely, and there are so many beautiful elements of the ceremony and reception, that, when done "by the book", are classic and classy.

I think what I'm trying to say is that you should BE TRUE TO YOURSELF -- traditional can be beautiful, and if you feel that the expense of doing something Accessible and Fun--both money-wise and in terms of upsetting your mother, mother-in-law, etc.--would ruffle the feathers of those you want to make happy, then there's no reason to part with tradition.

However, adding something a little different, if it's a feasible alternative, is always an interesting twist. If you are comfortable with it (and it's not going to bear such an incredible burden) -- go for it!

Ultimately, though, those who have commented are right -- the wedding isn't about the little details, it's about the bride and groom and the happiness we are all sharing with them.

I wanted to provide some alternative options, though, in case anyone wanted to do something a little off-the-beaten-path. However, keep in mind these are only suggestions about adding different elements, not a commentary that traditional is boring. I don't want to give value judgments about your choices--only offer up different ideas in order to have you think about what your choices really are.

My role as The Wedding Fairy isn't to evaluate--but to hopefully help out and provide information that may be relevant or useful to some of you out there!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

THE A,B,Cs OF ACCESSIBILITY: MAKING A WEDDING APPROACHABLE (AND FUN) (PART III)



I was on the Wedding Channel website, as it's fun for me to look at flower arrangements and wedding cakes, just for kicks.

Sure--I may not be getting married anytime soon--but for me, it's kinda fun to find something whimsical or in some way different than the norm.

You'd be surprised that you can find something unique on such a popular site as the Wedding Channel--but you just have to know where to look.

Although this is a general suggestion regarding the A, B, Cs of accessibility, I think it's an important one.

For example, who would think to do a black and white buttercream cake, individual cakes decorated as designer handbags? How about an Asian inspired cake decorated with Chinese symbols of "double happiness"? Or sugar butterflies floating over an individual buttercream cake?

Those feel a LOT different than the *yawn* pastel pink three tiered number that a lot of people may choose. Maybe the cake looks a little better than it does in clip art form (see above!) but I think you get my point!

It may seem crazy in theory, but these cakes look AMAZING in photos (and I bet even better in real life!)

Doing something different, or what I like to call off-the-cuff, is a fun way to get your guests talking--in a positive way.

Although I talked about cupcake cakes in my previous post, the point of this post isn't about wedding cakes so much as it's about finding the overall flavor of your event through unique but elegant style.

Therefore, I think it's important to research, research, research. Finding something approachable and fun is just as easy as picking the traditional and boring.

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 17, 2006

THE A, B, Cs OF ACCESSIBILITY: MAKING A WEDDING APPROACHABLE AND FUN (PART II)

"Wearing her perfume, Chanel Number Five
She got to be the finest girl alive
She walks real cool catches everybody's eye
She got good lovin', she can take it high
Not too skinny, she's not too fat
She's a real humdinger and I like it like that
She's the devil with the blue dress, blue dress,
blue dress, devil with the blue dress on
devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress,
devil with the blue dress on..."


I love oldies. My friend Dara does as well--particularly the song "Devil with a Blue Dress On" -- by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels.

If you've never heard of the song, and you didn't go to Duke University, you may not be able to appreciate the song--or the sentimental value for the lyrics--as much (ok--at all). Dara, on the other hand, loooovves this song because it reminds her of her Duke days, cheering for the Basketball team, and singing along during time-outs to the song above (Did I mention before that Duke's mascot is The Blue Devil?)

When Dara got married two years ago, her husband (BizSchoolDevil), who attended Duke's Business School (and who she met there while she was an undergrad), invited one of his B-School professors to the wedding (TheProfessor). BizSchoolDevil was excited to have one of his mentors at the wedding--and it actually happened to make for a more exciting and interesting evening as well for the other guests.

During the cocktail hour, TheProfessor noticed an empty grand piano at the corner of the room. Although there had been the standard cocktail-type music played intermittenly, the room was mainly filled with the buzz of standard guest cocktail-party chatter.

TheProfessor, taking an opportunity to show off his musical chops, took to the piano and began playing upbeat music--including "Devil With a Blue Dress On" -- the Duke "theme" song (so to speak). Since the wedding was made up of a surprisingly large contigent of Duke University alumni (since Dara's friends had been undergrads, and BizSchoolDevil's B-School friends were there too), it MADE SENSE, and brought something different and fun to the table.

Whether or not the guests attended this particular college, it didn't matter. TheProfessor played a lot of other music, including oldies (like "Johnny B. Goode") and more contemporary, "pop-py" music. TheProfessor didn't create the "fun element" simply by playing songs that were dear to guests who attended a particular college-- he managed to reach everyone at the cocktail reception by playing upbeat and catchy songs. The mini-performance was something spontaneous and special.
Since no one expected a random guest to participate in the entertainment, it surprised everyone--but in a good way.

While you certainly can't plan on something like this (unless you know a particular guest that has a special musical skill and recruit them beforehand!), the "fun" factor is created when something happens that may be off-the-cuff, that you weren't expecting. My advice? LET IT RIDE. If someone does something interesting or different--don't cut them off, and don't automatically look to get everything back to the "way it's supposed to be."

Spontaneity is a major part of the FUN FACTOR. Sure, your best friend's boyfriend hanging off the chandelier is not exactly what I'm talking about. But if a wedding guest can ADD VALUE OF SOME SORT TO THE RECEPTION, and it isn't scripted or planned?

WHY NOT?

I'll be back with more of these tidbits. Again, I want to provide examples and anecdotes as samples of things that have/haven't worked for people, to add to the larger theme of accessibility....

If you always go "by the book", you may be selling yourself (and your guests) short...

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! (I.E. STOP STRESSING! YOU GOT THE GUY, WHAT ELSE DO YOU REALLY NEED?!)

Tomorrow, I'll get back to the A, B, Cs of Accessibility.

Today, however, I want to wish everyone HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

As sappy and overdone as many believe this holiday to be, Valentine's Day underscores the fact that brides-to-be (and grooms) DO have someone very special with whom they can celebrate--both this holiday--AND the "big day"!

The bottom line: DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF.

No matter WHAT happens on the big day, the most important thing is that you'll be walking down the aisle with the guy/girl you love. Isn't that way more meaningful than the fact that the caterer was late, or the color of the bridesmaids dresses don't look right with the floral scheme?

So, enjoy Valentine's Day, and realize one important note: as you plan your wedding, the most important element has already been signed, sealed, and delivered (in the proverbial package with the bow on top) -- the groom/bride a/k/a the perfect guy/girl.

That, my friends, is worth a lot more than anything else.

Enjoy! Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

THE A,B,Cs OF ACCESSIBILITY: MAKING A WEDDING APPROACHABLE (AND FUN) (PART I)

"Let's hit up Magnolia and mac on some cupcakes!"
--Andy Samberg ("Lazy Sunday" - SNL)



I've always maintained that a bride-to-be should be cognizant of the feelings of the guests she invites.

Is this easier said than done?

I do acknowledge that brides-to-be have endless responsibilities and a myriad of pressures related to "the big day." However, there are certain tricks of the trade that will help ensure that brides make their weddings "accessible" to the guests invited, while imparting a sense of fun and whimsy in the process.

Take, for example, the phenomenon of the "cupcake cake", as illustrated by the photograph above. With a range of flavors, including strawberry buttercream and chocolate fudge, my friend Julie decided to do something untraditional and, well, fun.

Having been to a number of weddings where the wedding cake turned out to be beautiful but not entirely edible, and unfortunately became an afterthought at the end of an evening rather than a highlight, Julie wanted to have an alternative to the wedding cake, which she KNEW would be beautiful, tasteful AND tasty. Not only did the bakery arrange the cupcake cake in a tasteful manner that also complemented the pastel color scheme of the room, but it provided elegant notecards among the arrangement of cupcakes, noting the types of flavors represented.

The cupcake cake was a huge hit (which underscored the fact that there were only 3 lonely cupcakes that remained by the end of the evening). Everyone at the wedding (from Julie's 85 year old grandmother to her 12 year old cousin) enjoyed choosing their flavor, as well as mingling at the cupcake "station"....

I love the idea of a cupcake cake, as it's participatory and an interesting way to mix things up (AND make a wedding less staid).... Julie thought the cupcakes would be a way to get guests on their feet, instead of simply sitting at their own table.

While I'm not saying that this type of wedding "cake" is for everyone, I do think that it's an accessible way to move away from the traditional--in a manner that will surprise and please guests.

Obviously, this accessibility/fun factor is subtle.... however, guests will notice.

The one question to always keep in mind is "What would I enjoy if I were a guest?" -- Julie thought long and hard about that question beforehand, and she saw the results.

In planning a wedding, it's always important to keep the fun factor in mind. When a wedding is approachable, a wedding is fun (and vice versa) -- thinking about how your guests view a reception is a great way to think of unique approaches.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

BRIDESMAID'S DRESSES REVISTED (PART I)

I know it sounds really lame, but I'm addicted to the show Project Runway.

Although it's certainly fun to watch the catfights among the designers-in-training and Heidi Klum say "you're OUT" like she's banishing someone to the gates of Hell, I really love watching how an idea, or a vision, becomes a reality as the female models walk the runway.

I received a comment from a reader that I thought was very fitting as pertains to this concept (of watching whether or not one's vision of a design successfully translates into an actual piece of clothing).
Although the comment is linked to a previous post, one of the highlights includes the following:


"I...think that the bride should think of the comfort levels of her girls when choosing dresses. My bridesmaids all went with me to look at dresses.... Yes, we have to do some alterations of adding straps to the tops so the dresses are within the comfort ranges of the girls. I do not see that as an issue. Exposing them because they feel uncomfortable is not something I would ever want to do."

While it's important that every bride-to-be have a vision of the dress/style that they want their bridesmaids to wear, they have to remember who is wearing it. This woman obviously was thinking about how her bridesmaids would look--and feel--in the dress, which is definitely important.

A vision is simply that--a vision. Therefore, translating that vision into a reality that is REALISTIC for everyone is the key to having bridesmaids look--and feel--their best.

The woman who commented also noted that her sister-in-law had her bridesmaids wearing skin-tight dresses AND they were supposed to make a grand entrance in horse-drawn carriages--and get out of the carraiges without revealing any flesh.

While the sister-in-law may have had a vision in her head, I really would have liked to ask her: at what cost?

There's a designer on Project Runway named Santino, who is excellent and has very funky visions--but oftentimes, his ideas don't translate well on the runway. The judges oftentimes will tell him--to his dismay--that he's not designing for the woman BEHIND the dress.

So maybe brides-to-be aren't designing dresses here. But many DO have a vision of how they want their bridsmaids to look.

Don't pull a "Santino". Remember who will be wearing your dress--and that these women may be all shapes and sizes. If you don't, your bridesmaids may think you should be "OUT" too.

On that note, I am off to watch Project Runway (which is tivod). :)

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

SIT! STAY! BUY ME PRESENTS! BRIDESMAIDS OBEDIENCE (PART II)

"Once in the bar you have to keep your group together. A table is a must; then you can get to work embarrassing all the guys around you (you'll never see them again--have fun). Candy shirts are made up in advance with Life Savers or other candies sewn on a T-shirt. Guys get to lick or bite them off for a dollar. It's a good way to refill your "kitty" (money held by the "treasurer"). You can also play this game wearing a candy necklace. Some parties let the bride keep all the money. Most guys will talk a big game about sex and intimacy, but when it comes right down to being put upon by a group of women, they are wusses. When faced with the opportunity to nibble something off a strange female's torso, you'll be amazed at how shy they become."

I found this advice on www.party411.com, after I did a Google search under "bachelorette parties and games" -
by the way, there were 2,940,000 results for that particular query.

Having found a pin I received at a recent event labeled "I'm a flirt" (that I was made to wear out on a Saturday night for my friend's bachelorette party) I started to think the other day about my previous experiences at these events. My reluctance made me feel like a party pooper. If the BRIDE were so into going to Mantasia (i.e. a bevy of half naked men gyrating on stage), why wasn't I?

Although the bride is obviously the guest-of-honor at the bachelorette party, I think it's important that she remember that all of those involved (i.e. bridesmaids and close friends) should be comfortable with what is going on--and, just as importantly, should want to have fun while doing it.

All I'm advocating here is that brides are cognizant about the feelings/wishes of others. If a bride can forsee that her friends may be uncomfortable going up to random guys at bars as the result of playing bachelorette party games, is it really worth doing?

This concept isn't limited to parties that involve games, male strippers, or candy necklaces. ANY type of bachelorette party--whether it's dinner/drinks or a a night out at the movies, a club, or even the theater--should be something that everyone involved can be cool and comfortable with--particularly as each person will be shelling out a good amount of money to participate.

Therefore, I think it's important to make sure that everyone--both planners and random attendees alike--are on the same page when it comes to the bachelorette party. While it may seem difficult to ensure that this occurs, a bride is well within her rights to ask her friends that are planning the affair what they're thinking of doing--and if everyone else involved is on board with the concept.

Comfort level covers a range of issues, including the price of the event, the location (is it difficult for people to get to, or in a centralized spot?), and the type of activity.

I recognize that a bride can't really control many of these factors, but it's important that she try.

Why? Because I really would have liked to avoid Puppetry of the Penis on Broadway if I had the choice (I don't even want to explain on this blog for those of you who don't know what this is).

I'm not trying to be a "guestzilla"--I simply think that brides should make an effort to make sure, at least with those planning the event, that everyone is in agreement about the evening, which will hopefully avoid some of the issues raised above. Whether it's shooting a quick email to the friend who is planning or a fast phone call ("Hey, just making sure everyone is down with the plans for the party -- I want to be certain all my friends are happy with what we're going to be doing and that it works for everyone."), a bride has once again shown herself to be cognizant of those around her--which will garner much respect from those sharing in her special day.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

MUSINGS ON THE MISCELLANEOUS (PART II)

Although this request/question/proposal isn't *really* a musing, I did think it was worth raising.

As I continue my rantings and ramblings, I wanted to take a moment to ask YOU, dear readers, what kinds of topics YOU GUYS wanted me to address.

Are there issues or situations that you'd like me to raise or cover in future postings?

As I want these posts to be more like conversations (between me and my faithful readers :) -- I'd like any input about future topics.

Therefore, feel free to shoot me an email about potential situations to address (if they are specific in nature, I will always change names/locations to protect the innocent--or not so innocent :), or post a comment and let me know what topics you'd like to see next.

I promise I'll be posting more regularly, so please check in. Work has been keeping me at the office late, but I'll do my best to work after-hours to help stop (or prevent) the insanity.

Stay tuned!