Archive - January, 2006

A wedding wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen

When brides need double-sided tape they\'ve gone too far.

I have this rule about wedding dresses. That rule is: If you have to use double sided tape to keep from falling out of it, it’s probably inappropriate. This chiffon destination gown with empire waist and beaded band from After Six definitely falls under the heading of that rule. While it is pretty, it looks rather like something the bride would wear on her wedding night rather than during her wedding day.

With its deep v-neck with double spaghetti straps, this is not a dress you wear to get married in a church. Frankly, it’s probably not a dress you wear to your wedding if your family will be in attendance. It might be the dress you wear to elope in a Vegas wedding chapel run by an Elvis impersonator. Or the dress you wear when your wedding is taking place immediately after the Oscars, at which you are presenting.

The importance (and unimportance) of wedding fashion

As the NY Fashionweek is nearly upon us, the lovely Lesley of Fashiontribes is hosting the pre-Fashionweek Carnivale of Couture. The topic? The State of The Fashion Union. This theme is, as Julie of Almost Girl put it, wide open to interpretation. Being that I am hot for all things bride, including the stress of being one, I want to discuss the relative importance of fashion in choosing dresses, place settings, venues, bands, and the like.

I think that, if called to, there are few people who couldn’t conjure up an image of the stereotypical wedding. In the West (or at least North America), that wedding would feature a glowing bride in a big, lacy dress marrying a fellow in a stark black tuxedo in a church. At the reception, this couple receives their guests in an orderly fashion, dances together, and then cuts into a bright-white, many-tiered cake. As designer Carolina Herrera said in an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette, “How different can a bride really be?”

Herrera, who has designed wedding gowns since 1986, says that brides today come to her with the idea that they want to be different, more fashion-forward. They ask for dresses with uneven hems, or say they want bold colors, even black or red.

But when the big day comes, they’re wearing a white princess gown, complete with veil, train and high-heeled shoes, just like their mothers did.

When you announce your engagement, it is likely that your Grandma Bea, Aunt Alice, and Cousin Norm are all going to immediately picture you in that princess gown. People have expectations. You, whether you like it or not, have been psychologically influenced to think of certain elements (rice, veils, church, etc.) when someone says, “Wedding.” Your mom has dreamed of dressing you like the perfect lady or gentleman she knows you really are. Your dad has dreamed of dancing with his little princess on her wedding day. Your grandpa wants to see you walk down the aisle in white.

There is fashion and there is tradition, and it is in the planning of nuptials that these two elements of life often clash, with miserable results. So, is the perfect white wedding a fashion? No, it is a tradition. Wearing a simpler but still white gown with a bright splash of color when simpler and more colorful is the current style might be considered conforming to fashion. Yet it is not bowing to any particularly rigid rules of fashion. Beach weddings go from being in style to being a cliché to being in style. But how unusual or innovative is having a party at the beach?

Weddings represent a few hours in one’s life wherein one steps out of one’s usual role, be it banker, farmer, clerk, or CEO, and into a different and far more glamorous one. However, as Herrera implied, that glamour seldom changes or, at least, changes very slowly. Dress shapes and decorative highlights change by the year but are still recognizable as wedding gowns. Many of the favors brides and grooms give their guests in the modern age might have looked just as at home at a post-nuptial place setting in 1960. Some still consider a wedding in the park the height of daring. And most wedding bands still play the old, bland favorites.

Why? Because as much as we love fashion – particularly flashy colored wedding gowns, ultra mod cakes, non-traditional ceremonies, and kooky favors – we also love tradition. And when those of us who don’t particularly love tradition and would rather embrace fashion try to exert ourselves, we discover our relatives (perhaps those writing the checks) love tradition. Which is why, no doubt, the new wedding fashions are so slow to be adopted. Thus, when a soon-to-be-bride who in her mundane life is a beacon of fashion walks into a bridal boutique, she usually makes a bee-line for the poofy princess dresses rather than the sharp-edged dresses of the runways. Behind that decision lie decades and even centuries of tradition, her childhood dreams, and, quite possibly, the shining eyes of old Grandma Bea.

P.S. – Be sure to check out what other bloggers about town are saying about the state of the fashion union!

A rag for the guys

If he gets cold feet, drag him.

If you’re in the Twin Cities and also happen to be a dude (or know one), be on the lookout for Today’s Groom, a new quarterly magazine. William Easton and Jacob Schraufnagel, recent graduates of the University of St. Thomas, thought up the idea in one of their classes. The focus of the publication? The usual fare for men, like poker tips and travel destinations, and the not-so- usual, like bachelor party how-to’s and advice on proposing with style. As there is no national men’s wedding magazine (compared to the bazillions of bridal rags), there may be room to grow.

Of course, how many grooms are truly interested in the wedding planning process? Guys tend to like making choices. Ladies tend to like to browse and shop around. It has the potential to become a match made in hell. Do dudes really want to read a wedding magazine? Who knows. But…

Thirty-five percent of grooms say they are involved in almost every wedding-planning decision, according to a recent WeddingChannel.com survey. That’s because more and more of them have a vested interest: Today, 42 percent of U.S. weddings are paid for entirely by the bride and groom, not their parents, the same survey notes.

Personally, I wish Easton and Schraufnagel all the luck in the world.

Brad and Angelina Jolie-Pitt?

The soon to be Jolie-Pitts?

It’s being whispered (again) that a wedding featuring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is right around the corner (again). Apparently, Alberto Repossi, who designed the late Princess Di’s engagement ring, confessed that Mr. Pitt has commissioned him to craft something special. Ooh la la!

As you no doubt know, as this sort of stuff tends to bump things like crime and war off newspaper front pages, Pitt is in the process of adopting Jolie’s kids and Jolie has Pitt’s genenic material brewing in her gut.

Anyway, Ms. Jolie now has three choices. She can:

1. Have a quick and modest wedding.

2. Go nuts, have the big flashy bash she may have been dreaming about, and wear something that shows off her massively expanded stomach tattoos.

3. Wait until May, get back into her eating disorder, and marry in all the glory of her post-preg body.

I’m not adverse to any of these. I’ve know plenty of people who’ve had what you might call a shotgun wedding. And I’ve been to weddings where the bride had a major bump and where the bride and groom’s child was a flower girl. Live and let live, I say. However, knowing how short the tenure of most celebrity weddings is, I’d recommend that the almost-Jolie-Pitt’s go with option number one.

A wedding that keeps on giving

Green Weddings That Don\'t Cost the Earth

What is it about weddings that inspires so many people to make bizarre and wasteful choices? Setting aside the fact that so many people choose bad mates, who in their right mind really thinks that anyone needs a little ceramic swan or tiny pastel colored bucket? Don’t these future brides and grooms choosing hideously colored bridesmaid dresses, useless favors, and hugely elaborate invitations know that those things will more than likely end up tossed in the trash at the next spring cleaning?

There is an alternative! Books like Green Weddings That Don’t Cost the Earth offer easy-to-use suggestions for eco-friendly weddings. And there are plenty of other ways to hold a wedding that is elegant, refined, and beneficial to others. Here are five:

1) Choose dresses that can be used again, by both bridesmaids and bride. Brides can choose a color and then let bridesmaids choose a cut if they purchase through retailers like Alfred Sung. A bride that’s not concerned with preserving her dress might consider a simpler style that can be dyed for post-wedding use.

2) Or, make a young girl’s day by donating your wedding or bridesmaid dress to the Glass Slipper Project. The I Do Foundation accepts dress donations, sells them and gives part of the proceeds to charity (and uses the rest to support themselves).

3) The I Do Foundation also has a charity registry. If you, like me, have all the pots, pans, plates, furniture, and linens you need, you can invite your wedding guests to give to others in your name in leiu of a traditional gift.

4) Give your guests something cool to remember your wedding by that they will also be able to use. Thanks to the miracle of mass production, favors needn’t be some tacky tchatchka. Mini photo albums, heart-shaped measuring spoons, and plant-a-cards can all be procured fairly cheaply these days.

5) Make your wedding eco-friendly as suggested above. Use bulky recycled unbleached paper and natural elements like pressed flowers to create invitations. These, I’ve found, turn out so dang classy. Buy your gown from an environmentally friendly source. Consider growing your own bouquet at home. And, of course, throw birdseed instead of rice.

Now, I’m not saying that most weddings are wasteful any more than any other big party is wasteful. Or that anyone should ever include bulgar wheat or tempeh in their wedding plans. But, if you’re creating the foundation for a life lived in harmony, why not take some extra steps to include others in that harmony?

Love you, like you…rejection?

Three Crimson Amaryllis in Nursery Pot - Harry and David

No, I’m not talking about the progression of most marriages these days. I’m talking about bouquets. Not that I hold much stock in flower meanings – considering that many of the meanings were derived during those periods in history were courtship was something kept strictly under wraps. A bouquet of daffodils and daisies wrapped in delicate fern leaves could tell a woman that her beau was enthralled by her yet put great stock in her innocence. Asphodel, on the other hand, would tell her that her beau’s regrets would follow him to the grave. Cheery!

When choosing nuptial blooms, it’s a good idea to consult a florist, even if you’re planning on doing all of the bouquets and arrangements yourself. A knowledgable florist will be able to tell you what will be in season, what won’t wilt after only a few hours, and what will match your color scheme best. If you’re going to work closely with a florist, it’s recommended that you choose one six to twelve months before the big day, as many of the best wedding floral designers are booked well in advance.

That said, I’m not sure many florists these days are going to know the meanings of all the different blossoms they carry. So, for your reference and amusement, I’ll point you to a rather comprehensive list as compiled by About.com. And then I’ll point you to some of the more interesting (and negative) ones:

ASTILBE: I’ll still be waiting

BEGONIA: Beware

PINK CARNATION: Capriciousness

CALENDULA: Grief and jealousy

BATCHELOR’S BUTTON: Celibacy

LARKSPUR: Fickleness

DAHLIA: Instability

STRIPED CARNATION: Refusal

YELLOW CARNATION: You have disappointed me

PRIMROSE: Inconstancy

WOLFSBANE: Misanthropy

AMARRYLLIS: Pride

Dance with me, daddy/mommy!

I know my dear old dad is looking forward to the day he gets to dance with me at my wedding. In fact, he’s looking forward to it so much that he constantly asks when I’m getting married. I can only assume it’s because he wants to be prepared. Put father daughter wedding dance into Google and you get 7,580,000 results. That’s because everyone knows that weddings traditionally were, to some degree, about the father turning over authority to the new husband. And some traditions never die. The top ten songs (according to About.com), as you could have probably guessed, are:

1) Butterfly Kisses
2) My Father’s Eyes
3) My Girl
4) Through the Years
5) Sunrise Sunset
6) How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
7) The Way You Look Tonight
8) Unforgettable
9) Lullabye (Goodnight my Angel)
10) Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

Now, I can remember visiting the home of a male friend raised primarily by his mother and listening to her lament the curious lack of mother son wedding dance songs out there. The Beard’s mom may want to dance with him at his nuptials (and boy, are she and my pop going to be surprised when I announce ‘no dancefloor’). So, I’ve picked ten suggestions that might do nicely:

1) A Song for Mama – Boyz II Men
2) A Song for My Son – Mikki Viereck
3) A Wedding Day Wish – T.J. Loughran
4) The First Lady In My Life – Paul Todd
5) I Am Your Child – Barry Manilow
6) Baby Mine – Bette Midler
7) The Man You’ve Become – Molly Pasutti
8) You’re the Inspiration – Chicago
9) Wishing Tree – Sonia Dada
10)The Perfect Fan – Backstreet Boys

Compiling this list is enough to make you teary eyed!

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