Monday, May 18, 2009

WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING: RIDICULOUSNESS VS. GRACIOUSNESS (PART I)

Based on my future sister-in-law's dress shopping experience (as well as my own), I've been reminded once again that all salespeople are NOT created equal.


Before I get to the bad, let me start with the good.

But, let me first start off by saying: I never considered myself to be a "Bergdorf's Girl."

When I was dress shopping, I had hesitated about making an appointment at the bridal salon of Bergdorf Goodman, one of the most exclusive and high-end department stores in Manhattan.

I felt as if I would receive the "Pretty Woman" treatment ("....there's nothing in here for you - PLEASE LEAVE" :).

My budget was, by NO means, within reach of most of the fluffy, beautiful dresses on the shiny, beautiful racks, in that shiny, beautiful showroom.

When I walked into Bergorf's on that first visit with my mother, I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious. I didn't have on the Tory Burch ballet flats, or the Hermes bag. I was just a regular girl, with a regular budget, hoping for the best.

And the best is, surprisingly, what I received.

When I walked into the bridal salon, it was calming. No gaggle of girls or entourages. No overbearing salespeople waiting to pounce.

Based on my experience there, I felt ashamed that I had harbored pre-conceived notions about the "Bergdorf's experience" in the first place---given how above and beyond my saleswoman, Joan, really went for me.

It took me three visits for me to finally bite the bullet and order my Oscar de la Renta dress. And not ONCE, not for one SECOND, did Joan ever make me feel pressured, or guilty, that I didn't order it. Patient, sweet, and a total DOLL, Joan became a confidante. She was an absolute PLEASURE to work with -- after I ordered the dress, and was working with her, no request was too big. Could I come in and see the dress to try on with shoes? Sure! Could she call Oscar de la Renta's contact person to see if they had shoes that went with the dress? Sure!

It was always a pleasure working with Joan, and, when my future SIL (who I will call BroadwayGal - for her love of broadway!) got engaged, I highly encouraged her (OK, and was very persistent and annoying :) that she go see Joan.

I went with BroadwayGal to Bergorf's; not only did I get to have a mini-reunion with Joan (with plenty of hugs involved!), but BroadwayGal found an amazingly beautiful Ines Di Santo dress. BroadwayGal spoke with Joan about her price points/budget, and I found out later that Joan went out of her way (according to BroadwayGal) to pick out dresses well below the high-end of the budget.

Joan picked out dresses that were absolutely gorgeous, and she LISTENED to BroadwayGal about what she liked and didn't like.

We never felt that Joan was distracted or trying to help anyone else during our appointment, and it was just a pleasure to see her again, and to see her provide the same level of service to BroadwayGal that she gave to me.

I don't know if the other salespeople at Bergdorf's are as good as Joan, or if we just got lucky. But I love the fact that the bridal showroom at Bergorf's is QUIET, PRIVATE, and by appointment only. Most of the bridal salons are by appointment only, but sometimes they will bend the rules (if they feel someone will be buying on the spot - see my next post!) -- not this place.

In any case, the bottom line is that buying a wedding dress isn't just about the dress. In my mind, it's also about the experience of buying the dress. Since brides spend so much money on "saying yes to the dress", shouldn't the experience match the high price?

As BroadwayGal and I hopped over to Saks, we quickly saw a stark comparison. BroadwayGal had been to Saks, and wanted to show me a beautiful Vera Wang that she had seen. I went with her on Saturday.

Ridiculousness soon ensued, and I was absolutely unprepared for it.

The bottom line - sometimes being a gracious bride can be trumped by a ridiculous salesperson. BroadwayGal was gracious at Saks -- I was losing it.

In my next post, I'll provide a short saga regarding snippy salespeople---and how to handle (or not, handle, as the case may be).

Stay tuned!

Friday, May 08, 2009

HELLO 30! THE WEDDING FAIRY'S "NEW WAVE" OF WEDDINGS (PART III)

Has anyone seen the movie "Bride Wars?"

I could not bring myself to watch it. I barely made it through the "Sex and the City Movie" (I had to turn it off and on about 3 separate times to make it through), so something even more superficial and trite was NOT up my alley in terms of viewership.

(by the way - Sorry to those who LOVED the SATC movie - or even liked/tolerated it. I happened to LOVE the show when it was on, but I found the dialogue in the movie, not to mention the general level of over-the-topness regarding Manolos! And Louis Vuitton! And [insert designer clothes or shoes here]!, really grating).

In any case, from what I understand, "Bride Wars" is about two best friends, who, due to a "clerical error", find out that their respective weddings at New York City's Plaza Hotel are on the same dates. (GASP!) Apparently, "hilarity" (or horrifying events, depending on whether or not you liked the movie) ensues, as both girls try to sabotage one another, I suppose, to maintain both their honor and their wedding dates.

Ugh. Movies like this really illuminate the ultimate cliche about a bride-to-be. And what I'm finding is that brides really ARE sharing with one another, and aren't competitive as this movie would suggest.

OK, I'm not necessarily talking about sharing a date/venue. However, my friend the other day was asking about the wedding band I used (The Touch), in hopes she could book them at her own affair. She will have many of the same friends at her event as were at mine - but she was more interested in making sure people had a good time, than worrying about using a band that some of her guests may have already heard, or known about.

Another dear friend (M) told me she had asked a close friend of hers (whose wedding dress she LOVED) if she would mind M trying it on - and if it fit and was "the one" for the event - if M could wear it for her own wedding. The friend happily obliged, and wasn't worried about M wearing her wedding dress. I think that's really nice.

Maybe these are small examples - but I do think that people these days are open to all ideas, and brainstorming based on being a guest at someone else's wedding is part of the process.

Competitiveness, be damned.

As I said, I don't know how "Bride Wars" ends, and maybe I should give the movie a bit more credit, considering I haven't even seen it.

However, the idea of two brides playing "tug of war" and being competitive for the sake of being competitive (if the Plaza is booked, one of the women can't find another venue? Come on), is not a bridal theory to which I subscribe.

I know that my friends who are brides-to-be don't either - and I think most women out there are just looking to plan a wonderful event, without ruining friendships or becoming nasty or competitive, whether it be about flowers, bridesmaids dresses, or anything else.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

HELLO 30! THE WEDDING FAIRY'S "NEW WAVE" OF WEDDINGS (PART II)

OK. So a lot seems to have changed since I was in the throes of wedding planning, and, before that, attending the first wave of weddings a few years ago.

It seems that short dresses are a new trend!!! How psyched (as a bridesmaid and/or wedding guest) am I?!

Obviously, for semi-formal events, shorter dresses, or tea length, has always been viewed as completely, 100% appropriate -- in fact, my future sister-in-law is choosing between some amazing frocks that are shorter in length, since their wedding is taking place on a Sunday afternoon (hence: semi-formal attire).

But, whether for a semi-formal or formal wedding, it seems that wedding attire is becoming more flexible. I LOVE being able to wear a short dress - even to a formal event. It seems a lot more comfortable, and, as a bridesmaid, I am loving the idea of being able to walk down the aisle without tripping on a long dress (which I have definitely done - albeit gracefully, thank goodness!)

At my own wedding (which was black tie), I noticed that many (if not most, at least among my friends) female guests were wearing short dresses -- all appropriate, and beautiful - but I wasn't expecting it! I loved it.

I guess the long and the short of it (haha) is that, these days, hemlines are changing, and brides--and guests--are throwing out "the rules".

I like that. It's refreshing and neat to see new trends. Just something new that I've observed, as a thirty-year old wedding fairy. :)

Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

HELLO 30! THE WEDDING FAIRY'S "NEW WAVE" OF WEDDINGS (PART I)

I just turned 30. 30?! I feel old. It's not that I really think 30 is that old. I mean, if you think about it, 65 is the new 40.

Regardless, having reached this "mini-milestone" has given me a chance to look at weddings from the point-of-view of a "thirty year old" (yikes).


Now that I am a year out from my own wedding (double yikes - where did the time go?), it's interesting to reflect on my own experiences, and see how friends and family are dealing with their own situations.


In the past 6 months, I have 3 close friends, and 1 close family member (my brother!) who have gotten engaged. More wedding planning! Yay!

I'm happy to say that I absolutely adore my brother's fiance, and I am excited to help her through the process (with anything that she may want my help WITH, that is). I also love my friend's respective fiances, so everything seems all good.

At my 30th birthday party, I was speaking with one of those friends who is getting married. We were talking about Save the Dates - and she said to me something along these lines (after I complimented her on her "STD"): "Thanks! We were excited to send them out, but we of course only sent them to those we definitely knew we could invite. We're afraid people will talk and complain if they find out they didn't happen to get a save the date - and someone they knew did - but we don't want to run into an even more awkward situation later by biting off more than we could chew."

I thought that was so interesting. As the Wedding Fairy of a few months ago, I may have been overly worried about the "what if I offend a potential guest" thing -- but, I realize that my friend is 100% right -- I mean, what can you do? There are things that are just out of your control, and at some point, you just have to LET THINGS GO.

I guess that's something, upon looking back at my own wedding planning (and looking back at writing these posts), that I may not have kept in mind as much as I should have. SOMETIMES THINGS ARE BEYOND YOUR CONTROL.

It's important to remember that - why? Because it's not worth the stress and agita during your wedding planning if you feel like you need to walk on eggshells lest you offend someone.

I never believe I have advocated that before (i.e. the "walking on eggshells" approach), and I certainly don't now. BUT, I think now, being older (and probably not any wiser, but for sake of cliche, I'll say wiser too :), I realize that letting things go is a good way to live. Whether at work or at home. I used to stress out all the time at work about the silliest, littlest things. And guess what? Nothing bad would ever happen.

Bottom line - it's important to let go in life, no matter what element (wedding planning or work).


In any case, it was fun to hear about my friend's planning--and to receive her save the dates!

I'm looking forward to getting back into the throes of wedding planning -- or at least, living vicariously through my friends and family.

Planning my wedding to TallGuy was one of the most fun things I've ever done in my 30 years (though obviously, the wedding was more fun, which was the point of all of that hard work!).


As you read, please remember to relax and enjoy the process...I can only hope I can help even a teeny tiny bit along the way.


Stay tuned!