You guys know me. I’m a DIY diva and proud of it. Give me some threads, some scraps of paper, a little ribbon, and a hot glue gun, and I’ll make you something remarkable with it. I love making things and I’m good at it, too.
So it’s no surprise that I loved Sam and Stew’s handmade South African wedding when I read about it at A Practical Wedding. Together, they made most of the accessories for their big day, and both families got into the fun of it.
Most of all, I loved the reason Sam gave for loving all the projects she, Stew, their families, and their friends did for the wedding:
There was a moment, when I stood back, and looked around at the happy smiles and goofy grins of all our favourite people, and literally felt surrounded by love.
Because there it was—hammered into the menus, baked into the cookies, sewn into the seams of the table runners and sprinkled into that darn confetti. So if the crafty crazy is getting to you, don’t worry too much. Because it’s neverabout the details you get out. It’s about the love you put in.
You know what? That’s how I felt when I looked at my wedding, too. Everywhere I looked, I saw concrete evidence of the love our friends and families have for us. Everywhere I turned, there was something I poured my heart into that was making someone I love smile.
But you know what else? I’m not every bride. There are other equally valid ways of choosing to do things. One of these ways is described by guest blogger Danielle in a july article, also at A Practical Wedding.
In it she discusses how she almost panicked her way into doing a series of last-minute DIY projects because they’re everywhere on the internet.
Having carefully chosen to marry in an art gallery so she wouldn’t have to worry about decorations, Danielle almost decided she needed to make piles of random things to fill out the space, once she looked at a few wedding blogs and Pinterest boards… but she remembered something at the last minute: DIY isn’t her.
An intervention from a good friend brought her back to sanity just as she was pricing out the cost of making her own pinwheels.
I remembered that we can have whatever kind of wedding we want, and that just because I’m not panicking in these final pre-wedding weeks doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong. It probably means I’m doing something right.
And knowing that I won’t glance around the room at the end of our wedding night and see sloppy homemade pinwheels abandoned on tables and tossed into trash cans? That feels pretty right too.
Always remember, there is no wrong way to plan a wedding as long as you’re enjoying the process and feel your personality as a couple is being represented. Craft it all by hand, don’t craft a thing, find a middle path by all means. Don’t worry too much about what other people are or aren’t doing. Seek inspiration, but never forget who you are.
It’s your wedding. It should look and feel the way you want it to.]]>
I love this photograph of a bride and groom from the sixties and the bride’s seeing eye dog.
I also loved my grandmother’s second husband who, as it happened, was legally blind. In fact, Granny met him while volunteering with a group dedicated to helping the blind.
And so I was frankly appalled when I read this article by a legally blind bride-to-be at Offbeat Bride. Not, I hasten to mention, because of anything about the lady or her plans. Her steampunk cane is a delight and her groom’s sense of humor is beyond awesome.
No, what appalled me was the ignorance and small-mindedness displayed so casually by potential vendors, not to mention others who simply couldn’t conceive of her choices based on her comfort and ability to navigate the event easily. Choices such as wearing a colored dress so she can see it, not to wear a veil so as not to impede her limited peripheral vision, or to use her cane to help her navigate the aisle successfully.
Apparently these things are ‘not bridal.’
To that, all I can say is a hearty cry of “horse hockey!”
A bride is a bride, is a bride. A groom is a groom, is a groom. And if the ring bearer needs a cane or a wheelchair, then that’s what he needs.
I remember some years ago reading on the web about a blind bridesmaid who had a disastrous time in the wedding party because of the attitude that any acknowledgement of her disability was somehow less than ‘bridal.’ She wasn’t allowed to use her cane down the aisle, and after she had practiced many times with a certain configuration at the altar, a major item was moved directly into her path at the last minute and nobody warned her. Of course she crashed into it and people got mad at her for ‘ruining’ the wedding. After all, a sighted bridesmaid would have known to move out of the way!
If you or someone in your wedding party has a disability, the key to making things work is not to ignore that disability or try to make it go away for a few hours. The key is to looking squarely at the practical issues it raises and then dealing with them frankly and without making a huge fuss.
Blind people marry. Wheelchair users marry. Deaf people marry. Amputees marry.
And you know what? They’re beautifully bridal, too.
For more ideas on planning a wedding when someone in the wedding party has a disability, check out some of the terrific tips and planning ideas on disaboom.]]>
But while other presidents did not marry in office, most of them did marry at some point before getting elected. In fact, the only lifelong bachelor to serve as president of the US was James Buchanan. His neice, Harriet Lane, was his official hostess. Several others were widowers when they took office, such as Thomas Jefferson who depended on his older daughter, Martha, and his good friend Dolley Madison to handle the particulars of the social side of things.
So what did some of our most famous leaders look like on their wedding days? Take a look and see!
Here are Gerald and Betty Ford on their wedding day in 1948. He was late to the wedding due to campaign obligations… but it paid off. He was elected to Congress just three weeks later.
Or how about someone less recent and more celebrated? For instance, Abraham and Mary Lincoln:
Yes, that’s their wedding picture.
I love this sweet, intimate moment between Bill and Hillary Clinton. It’s a flat out lovely wedding photo.
On a more awkward note, here are Harry and Bess Truman with their wedding attendants.
JFK and Jackie look a lot more animated in this wedding picture. Interesting fashion note, Jackie designed her own gown. It’s long been one of my favorite wedding gowns ever. I like it almost as much as I like mine.
George and Barbara Bush cutting their wedding cake. I’m not sure what the observer on the right is thinking, but if he’s anything like me, he’s wishing for chocolate.
And here’s our current president and first lady in the aftermath of their 1992 wedding. My guess is it’s a pretty good match for how they felt one wednesday morning:
This is the late Amy Winehouse on her wedding day. Note the anchor printed cotton sundress she wore.
It’s been stolen.
That and a Moschino newsprint cocktail dress she wore in an appearance on the Jools Holland show were both stolen from the late singer’s Camden home.
How low does one have to stoop in order to steal a dead woman’s wedding gown?
To make matters worse, the wedding dress was scheduled to be auctioned off in New York next month to raise money for the Amy Winehouse Foundation. It was expected to sell for pretty big bucks, too, considering its purpose in Winehouse’s life.
To whomever did this: shame on you! You’ve just taken away a lot of funding from a charity to help people overcome addiction. And always remember: karma runs over dogmas.]]>
Look, if you’ve been reading this blog for more than a week you know my longstanding distaste for diamonds. They aren’t my thing. Never have been, never will be. And yet, I stand utterly mystified and completely annoyed at the general reaction to Jennifer Aniston’s new engagement ring.
Why? Because so many people are lining up to hate on it so for being too big, too gaudy, and not understated enough.
Look, I’m well aware that Jennifer Aniston is known for her trademark sleek, simple, girl-next-door-taken-to-eleven fashion sense. I know this ring is the opposite of girl next door. I know people expected her to sport a sleek, simple, super-tasteful ring.
But when I look at the design of this ring, I see that one spectacular, over the top accessory that really makes a super simple outfit. It’s really a very simple ring, except for the size of the stone. And even if I didn’t see that, it wouldn’t be up to me to judge that ring.
I don’t know whether Theroux chose it on his own, if Jennifer chose it herself, or if they collaborated on the decision. That – like the price tag – is between them and their jeweler. Whatever the case, she seems happy to wear it. And that – combined with an ability to pay the jeweler’s bill, which I’m not terribly worried about with this couple – is what matters.
Besides, just a few months ago, the same yet opposite chatter accompanied the appearance of the ruby and diamond engagement ring Facebook founder Mark Zucker gave his lady love, Patricia Chen. He designed it himself, taking into account her Chinese heritage and her upcoming career as a doctor as well as, presumably, her taste, and style mavens across the world howled in angry disdain that he had (according to their assumptions) spent so little cold, hard cash on the hardware. If Chen is going to practice medicine, the sort of ring they wanted Zucker to buy her would have just gotten in the way… and probably been denounced as too gaudy, anyway.
Jennifer Aniston is not a doctor treating patients. She is an actress. She’ll mostly leave her engagement ring off when working, and it’ll look good on a red carpet. If she likes it and Theroux likes it, there’s no reason on earth they should change it.
Ultimately, if the ring works for everyone involved in the engagement, it works. If the person giving it can’t afford to do so or the person wearing it hates it, that’s when you’ve got a problem.
Big or small, diamond or no, gaudy or plain, can’t we just love the symbolism without worrying so much about the price tag or whether it seems like a departure from a signature style?
My ring makes me happy. Her ring apparently makes her happy.
That really ought to be enough.]]>
Opinion is divided on the dress, And I am nothing if not opinionated.
My take? I LOVE this dress. It’s the right sort of length and level of formality for an out of doors wedding. No train to get full of twigs, no flashy rhinestones to look just a bit out of place amidst Mother Nature’s bounty. Just a wreath of flowers and a short veil on her head, flat shoes on her feet, and nothing to distract from her brilliant smile. And yet there are some nice design details that probably looked even better close up (or at least with a better focused camera), such as the layering of the skirt and the contrast fabric used for the sheer sleeves.
But that’s my opinion. What’s yours?]]>
The lady shown above is an excellent example of How It’s Done Properly.
When Ash Pears asked lady love Lydia Taylor to marry him, she did try on some commercially made wedding gowns… but only for inspiration. She designed and made her own gown. In point of fact, she knitted it.
Watching as much bridal reality as I do, I know well that moment when the bride walks into a bridal salon and announces she has only two grand to plonk down on her wedding gown and accessories. They do their best not to react, but you can always see a flash of worry and an involuntary breath taken in on the part of the consultant. Bridal runs to big bucks.
But Taylor’s elegant knitted frock set her back less than two hundred pounds and needed no alterations, since it was made to measure.
Between knitting her gown, finding reception plates at garage sales and thrift shops, making her bouquet out of fabric flowers and a vintage brooch or two, creating her own favors by hand (pear shaped pin cushions) and doing her own decorations, Taylor and Pears kept their overall wedding budget down to around five thousand pounds… allowing them enough left over to have an eighteen night honeymoon in Bali and Singapore as well as a down payment on a house to raise a family in.
Would they change anything if they had had more money? Says Taylor:
‘If we had won the National Lottery the only change we would have made is a free bar for our friends.’
Fair enough. I have to say, I love that gown.]]>
But not every bride is so serene.
On your wedding day you may cry,
Or you may laugh.
The important thing to remember is that no matter how you react emotionally at the altar, it’s okay. You’re allowed to cry, you’re allowed to laugh, and you’re allowed to do a bit of each. You’re allowed to be utterly serene and unflappable.
Just be you.
Everyone will understand.]]>
Me? I wasn’t like that. I’ve known a lot of other brides who were more like me. They spent their wedding days really at their weddings and remember them clearly years later.
You may simply be the sort of person who gets caught up in emotions and forgets the details. It happens. But if your fog or forgetfulness springs from another source, there are ways to get more in touch with the moment and truly enjoy yourself at your wedding.
Plan the day in a way that makes you comfortable. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s expected or listen to someone else tell you what makes them relax. For instance, a lot of guides will tell you to make sure you have nothing whatsoever to do on your wedding day other than get married. For some, that’s great advice. For others, it’s a one-way ticket to nerves and stress. I helped make salads and set up the site on my wedding day, and I wouldn’t do it any other way. I’d have gone bonkers with nothing to do with my hands.
So think about whether doing something practical that day will relax or stress you. Think about whether having someone do your hair and make up for you will make you feel confident or drive you up a tree. Will having the photographer there while you’re dressing make you uncomfortable? Nix it if it will!
You’re an individual. Your stressors may be very different from another person’s. Work around who you really are. Don’t make yourself more stressed than you need to be.
Consider doing formal portraits before the ceremony or after the honeymoon. Mr. Twistie and I had all our formal photos taken before we went to the altar, and I would do it that way again. In China, some couples have their wedding portraits taken up to a year in advance. Still other couples have found it practical to hire a photographer to do candids at the wedding itself, but save up the formal portraits for after the honeymoon. Yet others will take all the formal shots that don’t require both the bride and groom in the shot before the ceremony, and the few remaining ones afterwards.
Any of these scenarios means less of a gap between the time the couple ties the knot and the time they arrive at their own shindig. That means earlier access to food, fun, and your guests.
Have a receiving line. I know a lot of people think this is stuffy, old fashioned, and for the birds, but I still think it’s worth doing. Why? Because it means you don’t miss greeting anyone, and you don’t spend the dinner hour missing the food because you’re hopping from table to table and then tracking down stragglers. If you’re having more than fifty people at your wedding, a receiving line just makes things easier.
Then once the line is done with, you can relax and concentrate on interacting with your guests rather than calculating who you’ve missed saying hello to. You can get the meal you paid for instead of getting two bites before you have to race off and talk to someone you missed. And eating your meal? Helps you keep from getting light headed from hunger. It also helps you keep the alcohol from hitting extra hard on an empty stomach. All these things help keep you in the moment.
Ditch any traditions you don’t care about. Reading over a typical wedding reception timeline can leave you thinking you’ll spend the day running from one photo op to the next with no chance to catch your breath. Funnily enough, most of those traditions and photo ops are entirely optional. If any of them make you uncomfortable, annoy you, or just seem like too much trouble, you are perfectly free to not do them. If there’s something you’d rather do, like hire some belly dancers or a magician to perform, there’s no law against having them. Do what seems like fun to you.
Organize as much as you can in advance, and then put it into someone else’s hands on the day. One of the things that relaxed me the most in the days leading up to my wedding was the fact that I’d crossed my i’s and dotted my t’s and had all the paperwork at my fingertips. When you know you’ve done what you can to make things smooth, it’s easier to believe that it will go reasonably smoothly.
Of course, something will go wrong. It’s the nature of life. So on the big day, have someone deputized to handle all crises and make sure everyone knows who that is. Don’t try to handle every little detail that goes wonky yourself. Go play with your guests and let your assigned deputy – whether that’s a bridesmaid, a relative, or a hired day-of coordinator – deal with missing flowers, the ring bearer’s stage fright, and Great Aunt Beatrice’s dislike of the choice of processional music. You don’t need to deal with those things in the middle of your wedding.
Speaking of things going wrong, remind yourself regularly that perfect isn’t going to happen. If you’re comfortable with the fact that something will go wrong, chances are you’ll deal with it more rationally when something does go wrong.
Whether it’s something small like a bridesmaid in sudden need of an aspirin, or something big like finding the bakery delivered the wrong cake (That actually happened to a friend of mine! But since she was ready for something to go wrong, she decided that the gold frosting fit her color scheme and that the fact it was a fiftieth anniversary cake that would feed her entire guest list was a good omen), if you’re aware it’s coming, you can roll with the punches better. So keep your head and your sense of humor. It will relax you and help you stay in the moment.
While planning things, make sure you take time out to do non-wedding-related things, too. It’s easy to get so focused on menus and seating arrangements and choosing just the right readings for the ceremony that you forget to live your life in the meantime. But if you take time to see movies, go bowling, take night classes, and just hang out with friends, it’s a lot harder to get so completely obsessed that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Sure, your wedding is important. It’s a major life-changing event. It deserves its due importance… but it isn’t everything.
Remember to make time for the other things in your life. It helps keep things in perspective.
When you’re at your wedding, be at your wedding. You’ll have a better time and remember things the photographer didn’t happen to catch with the camera.]]>
There’s even plenty of literature to back that up. Not just novels, though the theme is rife in books that feature weddings, but in films, TV shows, and even blogs about weddings.
For instance, a recent article at the Huffington Post by wedding gown designer Justina McCaffrey chronicles the way she sees career woman after career woman morph from a no-nonsense, phone-glued-to-the-ear customer in search of a simple white pantsuit to get married in to a dewy-eyed Disney princess in the making.
It is the abandoned dream and vision of herself that was once forgotten somewhere between the divorce of her parents, high school exams, and her first broken heart. It is the internal struggle of regrets versus survival and that suddenly in the mirror a vision of herself looking like she is in love, and looking like she is vulnerable, and even giddy with joy makes her uncomfortable. It is a woman that she does not know. It is the woman she used to be, even as a little girl.
She cries as she sees herself in a white ballgown and veil. She is a princess.
But there’s something McCaffrey doesn’t mention: not all women react the same way to their wedding gown. Just as not every woman walks in holding a business conference on her phone while shopping for a dress, not every woman is just waiting for the princess within to be revealed.
Just as not every girl wants a church wedding, not every girl truly wants a ballgown and veil. And some who do want them won’t react so violently when they put them on.
Some women react more like Kate Fridkis in her recent Huffpo article: What if You Don’t Become a Fairy Princess in Your Wedding Gown?
For a long time, I hoped that something magical would happen when I dressed up. I hoped that I’d transform. I’d watched too many movies. I’d had too many friends with excellent collarbones and sculpted shoulders that were practically begging to be bared. I thought that the ability to undergo a metamorphosis from normal to stunning with a few simple props was an integral part of being a successful woman. I certainly thought it was an essential part of being a bride.
Now I’m not sure it is. I’m sort of glad I looked like me on my wedding day. After all, it was me getting married. Not a fairy princess. I mean, I was glad my husband looked like himself, in his tux. I wanted to see his familiar face, not the face of Prince Charming. That would’ve freaked me out.
I have to admit, I didn’t cry when I put on my wedding gown. I didn’t tear up. I was happy, certainly, and thought I looked pretty damn great… but I was just me in a better than normal dress. And Mr. Twistie was himself in a morning suit and top hat. That was something I’d seen before. It’s a nice sight, of course, but not something once-in-a-lifetime.
And you know what? That’s okay.
You really don’t have to release the princess within to get married. It’s even entirely possible she just isn’t there to be released.]]>