Archive for March, 2006

A useful gesture of thanks

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Pretty and useful!

I’ve been to a goodly number of weddings in my time, attending as a guest or as a member of the bridal party. As a result, I could easily have acquired a number of useless and tacky knickknacks that would sit buried and unloved in my junk drawer.

Luckily, I have always had the good sense to leave little bells, ceramic baskets of faux flowers, and the like on the tables at the reception, where they belong. Sure, it sounds harsh, but I think that many people keep wedding and other favors long after the event out of guilt rather than sentiment. Eventually, those baubles end up in landfills.

Anyway, the mini-diatribe I just launched was simply my way of explaining why I love Favor Ideas‘ curved, brushed metal 2″ by 3″ picture frame. At the ceremony, they can be used as place card holders. Guests can then take them home and use the frame to display a treasured photo. Plus, each is only $.99!

I suppose some guests won’t have any immediate need for a picture frame, but a newlywed couple might consider including a sized-to-fit photo of some kind in their thank you cards. Hint hint.

And, as for me, I happen to have a big folder of pictures just waiting to be framed so I’m hoping they have these (or something like them) at the next wedding I attend.

For the bridesmaid or the bride?

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Here comes the bridesmaid

I’ve noticed lately that the gulf that divides wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses is slowly coming together. The once clunky, never-to-be-worn again bridesmaid dress is becoming classier, slinkier, and, quite often, longer and more formal. And while the typically poufy, princessy wedding dress still dominates the matrimonial scene, there are plenty of less ornate offerings on the market.

In my frequent perusals of various sorts of eveningwear (which I have no occasion to wear but love to ooh and ahh over anyhow), I often check the manufacturer’s or designer’s color chart to see of a particular gown is available in white or ivory or cream. Lately, I’ve seen a range of bridesmaid dresses that could make fine wedding dresses, come in some shade of white, and are furthermore half or one third the price of your average wedding gown.

Can I get a collective “Whoopee!” from classy yet thrifty future brides? For those wondering, the above picture is of a Priscilla of Boston strapless satin bridesmaid gown with button-up back and banded trim in orchid. Here, for your consideration, is the same dress in vanilla:

And here comes the bride!

From bridesmaid to bride in one easy click!

Sew, sew lovely

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

A friend of mine was recently kind enough to give me her sewing machine. Now, I haven’t used one since I was about seven years old and that was just to sew a long patchwork tube which I fashioned into a giant stuffed snake. I do want to learn to make clothing but haven’t even turned the thing on. For the bride-to-be who happens to be an experienced sewer, however, having a sewing machine can mean walking down the aisle in exactly the dress you want. Because when you’re sewing it yourself, you can do just about anything as far as embellishments and such are concerned.

Reader Phyllis (who I’ve gathered is a highly accomplished seamstress) sent me a link to a number of highly attractive bridal gown patterns from the Italian pattern company Marfy. But, while these patterns are lovely, she warns that only advanced sewers should attempt them because they come with no instructions and the pattern pieces are not marked. They are fun to look at, though!

Sleek and sexy

According to the description, this pattern creates a dress with “a corset made of rounded oblique cuts at the neckline and bottom. Shoulders have a sash gathered with an elastic and, at the back, the V-shaped top closes with a string. The slightly flared skirt is enhanced by draping at the back and over-draped train.” I think this one is my favorite, but I do love the corset tops.

Something refined

This pattern, which is actually for a princess gown with a matching riding coat, gives the bride best of both worlds. An awesome choice for the woman who may have to move between AC and summer heat or heated rooms and wintery chills.

Old school style

I’m not sure if this pattern is for a bridal coat or simply a dress styled like a coat. But it has a rather neat early 1900s feel to it – especially those sleeves – that I really dig.

I think the coolest thing about these patterns is that you can re-use them to make formalwear using other fabrics and colors. Truly thrifty. Phyllis also recommended EvaDress, which has some super vintage patterns.

If you’re more adventurous than I am, you can also check out books like Bridal Gowns: How to Make the Wedding Dress of Your Dreams and Bridal Couture: Fine Sewing Techniques for Wedding Gowns and Evening Wear which offer techniques and tips for those daring enough to sew their own dress.

Good luck!

Releasing the wedding planner within

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Too many choices

It’d be great if most future brides and grooms could afford a professional wedding planner. Or, maybe, if there was some sort of archaic etiquette thing that made it so the parents of the couple were responsible for planning both the ceremony and reception – with the wishes of the bride and groom in mind at all times, of course.

But, alas, it is most often the future bride herself who must take on the multifaceted duties of a wedding planner and hope for the best. Luckily, she is not without tools. Just this weekend, I came across Brides Club’s free, printable wedding planner. Just pop all of the pages into a three ring binder and go! It contains charts, tables, and worksheets, as well as tips and tricks that can keep a future bride from collapsing under the strain of organizing what will probably be the biggest party she’s ever hosted.

Wedding Planner

Summitsoft’s WeddingPlanner can help a bride develop and stick to her budget, remember when to send deposits, design table settings and layouts, and stay connected to her mom or maid of honor. And it has links to vendors and resources.

The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner : Worksheets, Checklists, Etiquette, Calendars, and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Since it comes from The Knot, you know it’s got brides in mind. Their Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner covers just about everything and takes the future bride and groom on a step by step journey through the land of wedding planning. Plus it has some great etiquette and relationship advice!

Blended families: Keeping the peace on and before the big day

Friday, March 17th, 2006

Don\'t let them get you down!

I come from a rather mixed family. I have a step-mother, half-siblings and step-siblings. My mom has a girlfriend. There is apparently bad blood involving grandparents that I know nothing about. But, if they choose not to suck it up and play nice when I get engaged and later married, they’ll all be disowned. Step-families and what-have-you can be a challenge where weddings are involved. There are a lot of areas where tensions can rear. And there is a lot to think about.

The prep: Who pays? Bio-dad or bio-mom? What about step-dad? Do they split the wedding costs 50/50 or 25/25/25/25? If future bride and her step-mom are close, does bio-mom still want to be 100% involved? Or can they split that, too? If, due to geographic location or other factors, it is easiest for step-mom to be primary planner, does bio-mom get resentful?

The shower, etc.: Which mom takes control if there is no maid-of-honor to step up to the plate? Is having separate showers okay? Can bio-dad and step-dad get along well enough to make nice at the bachelor party?

The invitations: How can one word them without someone finding something to take offense at? If one says “Mrs. Bio-mom and Mr. Step-dad and Mr. Bio-dad and Mrs. Step-Mom invite you to” will Mr. Bio-dad feel he’s gotten second listing?

The big day: Who gets the honor of walking the bride down the aisle? Bio-dad or step-dad? Or maybe both? Will they agree to that? Who takes control of the proceedings and who stands tall in the receiving line? Does the various assortment of moms and dads take turns dancing with their sons and daughters?

Oy! I’m sure brides and grooms have enough to think about without having to corral their folks. For some, these are easy questions to answer. Some split families just get along. Many people feel closer to their step-parents than their bio-parents. Others aren’t particularly close to their parents’ spouses and so there’s no conundrum. It’s easy enough to streamline invitations by simple stating, “Bride and groom request…etc.” And if you’re creating your own ceremony and reception that reflects your individuality, you may be able to get away with leaving out the aisle walks and dances that can be problematic.

Some questions are more difficult to answer:

How does one start and what should be considered?

Whose names grace the invitations?

How does one keep the peace?

Can one exclude step-parents from the wedding?

As a step-parent, how should I dress?

Can two fulfill the role of one?

How does one avoid disaster?

To all the future brides and grooms from blended families out there, I have just this to add: Don’t let ’em push you around! Do what makes you happy and don’t give in to guilt!

And the bride wore pants

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

She wears the pants in her family

The wondrous variety of different sorts of people in this world means that there are many, many different sorts of brides. In my daily life, I am a jeans and t-shirts kind of gal. In my dreams, I am a fairy princess whose feet don’t hurt when she walks in high heals and who can wear a corset without sweating. Other women, having rejected the whole fairy princess thing, care not a lick for pretty shoes or big poofy dresses. Yet one imagines that these women still want to look smokin’ on their wedding days.

Which brings me to the topic of this post: Pants. And pantsuits, in particular.

The Beard pointed me toward a recent Yahoo News story about how more and more brides are rejecting traditional wedding gowns in favor of modern pantsuits. While I am not sure I believe this article – as a search for bridal, white, or wedding pantsuits yielded few notable results – it is interesting to consider the possibilities.

Telegraphing a vibe that’s either sophisticated or sexy, casual or chic, trouser suits have turned up on the bridal runways of Richard Tyler, Saison Blanche and Pronovias. And non-bridal designers are offering suits that could translate into altar attire, such as the icy silk pantsuit unveiled two weeks ago at Rochas’ Paris fashion show.

Modern Bride featured a pair of wedding pantsuits a few years ago: a tuxedo coat and corduroy trouser from Vera Wang and an ivory lace pantsuit with camisole top by Monique Lhuillier.

“I like to shake things up and stir things up,” says Lhuillier, whose suit has been a “good seller” since she introduced a version of it four years ago.

The image above is of a $3,296 Ralph Lauren creation featuring an ivory antique duchesse silk satin jacket and cream double-silk georgette pants. Sure, it looks great on the tall, slinky model, but I could see it looking horribly boxy on a regular sized bride. But different strokes for different folks, right? I just wish I could find more examples of bridal pantsuits online.

Slick, not thick

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Pretty in patterns

I’m a sucker for dresses that make me think that, if I tried them on, I might look just a little bit like Marilyn Monroe. This, of course, is what’s known as deluding oneself. The truth is, if I wore this dress I’d probably end up looking like an overstuffed Munich weißwürst. Nonetheless, I still love this gown from Eden Bridals’ Classics collection.

Sure, it could use some straps, but this asymmetric tiered mermaid gown in satin and tulle boasts a beautiful pattern of beading, pearls, and lace. I’m also a sucker for patterns that flatter rather than make one look fatter. I think these details are subdued enough so as to not make your average sized bride look like a Fabergé egg.

This gown is available in white with white & silver embellishments or ivory with ivory & gold embellishments.