Thursday, August 16, 2007

CHAT FORUMS/MESSAGE BOARDS- TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?: PART I

For a while now, I've been lurking on chat/message boards for brides-to-be (there are SO MANY out there, it's pretty insane). From The Knot to The Wedding Channel to LI Bride, thousands of brides are logging in and imparting wisdom and relaying their personal experiences with the planning process.

I've sort of burned out on these sites, though, as the endless chatter has become, well, overwhelming.

I also noticed something which bothered me -- people were very busy giving their opinions, but not realizing (or caring) that these thoughts might hurt other people's feelings with respect to the decisions THEY made.

One site in particular was quite interesting, as they have chat boards for specific brides-to-be in NY. As I excitedly did a search for the name of my ceremony/reception site in past "threads" (See? I have the lingo down too), I happened upon one comment that irked me.

The room in which I am having my ceremony and reception is a gorgeous, turn of the century old-world room, with floor to ceiling windows, a lace/lattice-like ceiling (hard to describe unless you see the architecture), wood floors, and beautiful columns. The room is classic and elegant, without being showy, and I adore it. Most people choose a different room in this particular location, called "the ballroom" -- to me, it's claustrophobic, generic, and boring. I specifically went with a room that suited me (which fewer people use), and I am really excited about it.

One feature of the room is that it has presidential portraits on the walls throughout the room. Not many, but a good few.

One of the commenters noted that those portraits seemed "creepy" to her. I read on another thread that someone else found the entire place "stuffy".

I'm not sure why these comments bothered me - I mean, everyone IS entitled to her own opinion!

I guess that, in reading the threads and participating in some of the chats, I felt as if my own choices were being questioned. If a chat board is more critical than helpful, what good is it?

Most of the time you see "ohhhhhs" and "ahhhhhs" and "that dress is so amazing" and "your hair looks fabulous in that style" and other positive comments.

I think commenters should realize that honesty is great, but tact is terrific too. People reading and participating in posts have made decisions that others may not have made. And that's cool. But the point of these sites is to HELP rather than MAKE OTHERS FEEL BAD.

My twinge of annoyance lasted about 15 seconds after I realized how kick-ass my wedding location is.

Just thought this was an interesting topic, since so many brides-to-be seem to be logging on.

Stay tuned!

PS-Some of you may wonder "Aren't you a hypocrite The Wedding Fairy, saying you don't like a particular wedding site, after saying how it made you feel to hear that about yours?" Good point. However, in the interest of remaining completely anonymous, I have not revealed any specifics about wedding locations, plans, etc. So unless someone is a really good detective, I don't think anyone knows where I am talking about!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Q+A WITH THE WEDDING FAIRY

I received a REALLY interesting question the other day, and I hope the reader doesn't mind my answering it on this post so that others can see my response.

The commenter ALSO noted that I didn't have a "contact the wedding fairy" link -- good catch! I actually used to have that link up on my site, and I seriously don't know what happened to it. I will have TallGuy look into this for me (my tech expert), and fix that immediately.

Here's the question, which I've shortened a little bit for purposes of this post:

"So, my future sister-in-law has asked both my sister and I to be bridesmaids... My fiance is also a groomsman....

She sent out an e-mail recently, suggesting that she would like to have a choreographed wedding dance with the wedding party, using some song ...like "Thriller" by Michael Jackson". While this idea has been the starting point for some hysterical conversations with friends and family, I cannot really see myself participating in something so ridiculous. I think it will make the wedding memorable, but perhaps not in the way the bride intends. The bride claims that she will "make the groomsmen participate," but the only way my fiancee will do it is if she holds a gun on him.

I called my brother (the groom) to find out his take on this wacky idea, and he said "I just want to make people happy" which translates to English as "I do not want to have that fight with my future wife". So we are on our own to either humiliate ourselves, or to speak out.

How does one tactfully tell one's future sister-in-law that this is a terrible idea, and we...are soooo not up for it? We don't want to hurt her feelings, but we are really not excited about humiliating ourselves at their wedding."


WOW. Let me first just say that I think this is the most interesting question/quandry I have seen since I've started this blog.

For some reason, choreographed dances are apparently becoming a big thing, and kind of a trend at weddings. I'm not talking about the "first dance" simple choreography a bride/groom learns in a few weeks of dance lessons, so they look somewhat graceful while dancing to "At Last" or [Insert song of choice here].

I'm talking about hard-core choreography, where brides, grooms, and other members of the wedding party do what I'll call "numbers" or "performances" -- to songs like "Thriller" or the like.

I don't know where this started, or who thought this was a good idea, but I'm pretty opposed to this idea.

When I think of a wedding, the one goal I think brides try to achieve is a sense of elegance. Doing this type of performance makes a wedding into less of a celebration and more into a spectacle.

In terms of how to tactfully decline participation, I think honesty is the best approach -- and really should come from the groom (ie the brother of the commenter, in this case). Tell your brother that you are VERY uncomfortable/opposed to the idea, as is your sister and the other bridesmaids. Let him know that this type of activity ISN'T going to make people happy. I really do think having the fiance speak with the bride-to-be directly is the best approach. Out of everyone, she'll probably listen to him -- if it comes from bridesmaids, it may be taken more as catty, since girls can be sensitive when other girls say anything that isn't in keeping with their vision.

If this first approach fails (and your brother is not willing to speak with the bride), then I would suggest having one of the bridesmaids -- who is closest to the bride -- explain that several people are not comfortable with the idea and are rather shy, not wanting to be in the spotlight, etc.

MAKE THE RELUCTANCE ABOUT HOW THIS TYPE OF SCENARIO DOES NOT MESH WITH THE PERSONALITIES OF THE PARTICIPANTS (even if that's not 100% truthful) RATHER than because the idea is "stupid" or "embarassing".

If the bride feels as if she's being attacked, she's likely to get defensive but not change her mind.

If that fails, then be prepared to get involved - even if it means putting a forced smile on your face. Just make sure to stand in the back of the group and grin and bear it as best as you can.

Good luck, and keep me posted!!!!

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 06, 2007

ENTOURAGE: NOT JUST A TV SHOW ANYMORE (CONCLUSION)

Choosing one's wedding dress, as I've said before, is a BIG freaking deal. You're spending hundreds, and possibly thousands of dollars on a gown, and there are an endless variety of designers and styles from which to choose.

Mermaid or A-Line? Ballgown or Sheath? Hell, I was even ruminating over a beautiful, beautiful dress that HAD A HOOP SKIRT. It sounds crazy, but as I've seen in this business, ANYTHING GOES.

I also found, during the trying-on process, that I entered the experience with an ideal dress in my head (or at least ideal styles), and ended up with something completely different. The truth of the matter is, you never know what's going to look good until you try things on. Which means trying on things that you completely thought you'd hate, or wouldn't look good on you.

To put everything in a nutshell, it's NOT an easy process for many. Some are lucky enough to find "the dress" on the first day (like my sister did), and others are not (after going to an endless array of stores, I was confused and discouraged).

Having a great support system is a wonderful thing. For me, my mother was that person, and my sister helped solidify what we had originally thought about the dress I wanted to buy (and my sister is brutally honest, so if she didn't like it, she would have told me so--albeit tactfully).

The point of the matter is asking "how many is too many"? If you think 12 people is really what you need in order to get honest feedback, and those 12 are super important to you, that's your prerogative. However, one ought to keep in mind that you may not be the only one at the store, and it's not fair for others shopping to have to work around a large party of people, as well as LISTEN to an an endless array of OHHHS and AHHHHS.

On a more selfish note, I am VERY possessive about who has gotten to see my dress before the wedding. Only my immediate family members have seen the dress (or a picture of the dress), as well as one friend whose wedding is on the same day (so I know she won't be coming, unfortunately). If I brought 12 people to look for my dress, that's 12 fewer people who will feel that element of surprise the minute I walk down the aisle. Not to be "that bride", but I DO want to create a reaction when people see me for the first time - after all, why else are we spending so much money on something we'll wear once?

In sum, an "entourage" is something I think is unnecessary and, as one commenter aptly noted, unhelpful in the dress-selection process. And, an entourage can be disturbing to others who are shopping. If a large group is what a bride needs, then that's cool, too....as long as that group doesn't steal the spotlight from the others trying to find their dream dress as well AND that group actually HELPS, rather than HINDERS, a bride in finding "the one".

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 03, 2007

ENTOURAGE: NOT JUST A TV SHOW ANYMORE (PART II)

I received a very intelligent question, which prompted me to expand upon the concept of the "Entourage", in an effort to clarify my original post. I hope this reader doesn't mind that I repeat part of her question in this post, but I think the question is a good one:

" How many is it before its classed as an entourage? I had my mum, my best friend, sister and cousin. And none of them were expendable, they were the closest people in the world to me and I wanted their opinions. We were not screeching at each other however, nor crowding the mirrors. I don't think the shops in Oz are set out like the ones over there, they are either tiny shops (you're the only appointment in there) or they're quite large, and you get your own little area with chairs and such...."

Dataceptionist, I think your bridal shopping party sounds like it was lovely. In your case, it sounds like 4 was a perfect number, as they were people you loved and trusted (and wouldn't simply give you "ooohhhs" and "aahhhhs" -- of course, they would where appropriate, but they would ALSO tell you the truth if they DIDN'T like a dress), AND they were polite and, well, BEHAVING THEMSELVES! From your description, there is NO WAY that the entourage concept fits in with your group.

There's no hard and fast rule or formula in my mind as to the "right" and "wrong" number of people to invite to help a bride search for "the dress". We all know the phrase "size matters". In the case of an entourage, it's really the COMBINATION of a large size PLUS the HUGE ATTITUDES of the parties who comprise the group.

If a group of 10 walks in, are completely non-pushy and calm, don't horde mirrors and crowd out other brides shopping in the bridal stores, then that 10, in my opinion, is more of a benign group rather than an "ENTOURAGE". I don't have a problem with a large party in and of itself -- it's when the.....

.... group of 10 walks in and BEGINS TO TAKE OVER THE JOINT? THAT'S what really pushes my buttons.

A group of 4? 6? While it's my personal preference not to take more than 2 people along (which is how I did it, and it worked for me), it's not so much the group size as the combination of size and attitude which ends up being the problem.

Dataceptionist, you also talked about how dress stores in Australia sounded different than those in the US. The type of store definitely plays a factor in how well big groups work. In the US, at least the stores I've visited in New York, there are often other brides around trying on dresses, in not such a large space. There were some stores that were very small and really only could have one bride there at a time. The experience really depended on the type of store, as well as the number of people in it at once time.

I hope this helps clarify my previous post. SIZE MATTERS..... WHEN YOU HAVE PUSHY, UNATTRACTIVE PERSONALITIES IN THE PARTY.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

ENTOURAGE: NOT JUST A TV SHOW ANYMORE....

TallGuy always has been a big fan of the HBO hit, "Entourage". Although actor Adrien Grenier is definitely easy on the eyes, I was somewhat hesitant to start watching. The whole concept, which the title of the show inspired, seemed, well, annoying to me. Watching an up-and-coming actor and his hanger-oners search out L.A. for hot cars and girls wasn't my idea of fun. TallGuy persisted in getting me to at least try the show. I actually found it surprisingly funny and endearing -- while the materialism and ridiculousness certainly plays out in the background, the main characters are likeable, particularly Vince due to his innocence and wide-eyed "who me?" expressions. I'm glad TallGuy got me to watch, but I still shudder at the word "entourage" for different reasons.....

Webster's dictionary defines an "entourage" as "one's attendants or associates."

Normally, we think of an entourage as a group flanking someone like J. Lo, Madonna, or even the loveable Vince Chase.

I never thought I'd be using that term during my dress-shopping. There were WAY too many attendants/associates running around, which I found to be an interesting observation of the wedding planning process.

As I mentioned on a previous post, I found my dress. It's wonderful (at least I think so, which is the important thing!). And I didn't want to take it off the two or three times I tried it on. I felt it was so very Audrey Hepburn. It was so me.

The process of finding a dress, however, was not as seamless as the stitches are going to be on this dress post-alterations.

I was not one of the lucky ones to find "the dress" at the first store. Unfortunately, I explored bridal departments at several department stores, as well as some of the famous Manhattan boutiques, large and small, which carried an endless array of designer dresses.

My mother was the trusted confidante I took with me on each trip. My mother is the best, as she's honest and won't mince words. There were times I tried something on and I received the following comments: "Hmmm I'm not sure, the color is a little dark -- almost too off-white." (She was right, although I grudingly admitted it). "You look like one of the Sugar Plum Fairies in the Nutcracker with all that tulle." (Definitely dead on).

As we went from store to store, I noticed that my shopping party (my mom and me) was SO much smaller than those for many of the other girls looking. There were parties of seven, eight....even twelve!!! I suppose these were best friends, cousins, mothers, aunts..... which was a little surprising to me. With that many people, how is someone EVER going to get a collective, honest opinion? "Oh it looks SO AMAZING" is not what I need to hear - when it just looks OK. Or even pretty enough to wear, but not "THE ONE". That happened to me - and if I brought 5 of my best friends, my sister, my mom and my closest cousin, I'm not sure anyone would have had the guts to tell me so.

So many of these girls, women, what have you, had an ENTOURAGE! To pick out their wedding dress! It was a crazy concept to me.

Not only does it not make sense to have a gaggle of people scrutinizing the bride-to-be, I have to say that it's pretty intrusive to the other people trying on dresses--particularly in smaller stores.

I thought it was really disconcerting to come out of the dressing room and walk into the hallway of one large store, where there were ten people next to me OOOHHHING and AHHHHING over a girl in the three way mirrror. Because they were all crowded around her (and the mirror), I couldn't get a good look at the dress I was trying on. (Unfortunately the three ways were few and far between at this particular store).

While some brides-to-be can bring a large group of people to a bridal store and not cause a ruckus, I found that most really did take away from the collective experience (I wasn't the only bride who seemed to be both bewildered and perturbed).

People forget that these bridal stores are SMALL, for the most part. Too many people IN them is disturbing and distracting. It's hard enough to shell out several hundred/thousand dollars (depending on your budget) for "the dress" that you will wear ONCE. It's even harder when you cannot concentrate over the din of a crowd of strangers.

A common-sense reason not to have all of these people shop with you? Don't you want to have an element of mystery/surprise for your wedding day? I've DESCRIBED my dress to people, but the only individuals who've gotten to see it are my mom and sister (who came back to check it out before I bought it).

In the end, I bought a dress that I love, and that I am so happy with. I just wish there were a little more peace and quiet during the process. My advice to brides-to-be, in order to make the process a happier one for these women (as well as those shopping in the same store with them?): avoid the entourage. For an honest opinion, and a more peaceful experience, it's best to just have one or two trusted "associates" with you.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

THE WEDDING FAIRY DOESN'T SUCK: SHE PROMISES!

Hi there.

It has been WAY too long since I've written a post, and to my faithful readers, let me say this: I APOLOGIZE.

The whole point of my blog has been to pinpoint behavior of brides-to-be that are, well, unflattering. One of the mainstays of my posts has been the concept of the newly-affianced disappearing into an oblivion, leaving friends and family behind, in the search for the "perfect dress", the "perfect china," the "perfect florist." How to avoid espousing the "It's My Day" concept of weddings is my attempt to impart humorous education to readers.

Now, the origin for the title of my post: Danika McKellar (of The Wonder Years" fame), who is a successful mathmetician, just wrote a book entitled "Math Doesn't Suck" (and seriously, props to her, for being super smart and successful, having endured fame and celebrity without it going to her head). This title inspired me (Only because it's catchy - not for any deeper reason, really) to write a post entitled "The Wedding Fairy Doesn't Suck" -- IE my disappearing ISN'T the result of becoming "that bride" -- and foregoing all of the things that are important to me (friends, family, my blog).

I don't have a great explanation as to why I haven't written more frequently -- maybe it's work, which has been REALLY tough, maybe it's trying to juggle a social life with my life with TallGuy, or maybe it's the result of being TOO inundated with wedding crap -- after all, this is a ridiculously big industry. After wedding dress shopping at places where the vendors appeared bored to be helping me, and seeing girl after girl enter these stores with a huge entourage of women, I think I just got burned out.

But I'm back. And it's gratifying to know that there are older readers and newbies to this site -- someone just asked if they can ask questions here.

YES PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS!!! I WELCOME THAT. AS WELL AS COMMENTARY, RESPONSES, AND RECOLLECTIONS.

I'm here to help. And with a newfound sense of urgency. Going through the process of wedding-planning right now, I've already seen, in the past few months, outrageous behavior (THAT'S MINE, cried the girl at the Reem Acra sample sale, as if I'm about to steal it out of her hands. What the hell?). I assume any reader reading this blog knows better. However, there are so many nuances to this wedding planning game, I think it helps to have a third party arbiter. No?

In any case, thanks for coming by - and sticking with me. The Wedding Fairy Doesn't Suck. And she promises to write more faithfully, and more frequently, particularly using her own experience to hopefully level the playing field (and ensure there as many thoughtful brides out there--and hopefully many many more-- as there are thoughtless ones.

Stay tuned!