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Announcing Theme Week!

It’s been a while since we’ve done a theme week here at Manolo for the Brides, and I think it’s high time we did one.

So, next week there will be a theme to all posts on this blog. And that theme is….


(image via Kelly Pratt Photography)

Kiddie Week!

Yes, we’ll be talking about children and weddings. Everything from how to include them in your wedding party to how to exclude them from your guest list, plus tips on care, feeding, dressing, and general wrangling of wee folk at your shindig.

So if you’ve got a question you’d like to see covered, leave it in the comments and I’ll get to as many as I can starting sunday.

Treat Your Bridesmaids Well


(Image via WedLoft where you can see some great photos of and thoughtful advice for dressing pregnant bridesmaids)

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple weeks catching up with a bridal reality show I’d managed to miss for a long, long time. Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids is yet another spinoff of the original Say Yes about shopping for wedding gowns at Kleinfeld in New York City. This one, though, is a spinoff of a spinoff and takes place at Bridals By Lori, featured in Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta.

The series is on par both in production values and general sorts of message offered with the other shows in the franchise. The search for a dress is presented as a power struggle with a villain, a damsel in distress, and the heroic members of Lori’s team arriving to save the day… or at least the appointment. And most often, in the episodes I’ve seen, at least, one or more bridesmaids take on the role of villain.

This can happen. I have actually been in a wedding where one bridesmaid ran amok and tried to change the entire wedding to suit her rather than the bride.

But my experience has been that the vast majority of bridesmaids, like the vast majority of brides, mean well and honestly want everyone to be happy. It’s just that not everyone may have precisely the same priorities and needs. Taking a moment to really think about your bridesmaids’ needs and priorities might just avoid some awkward situations along the way.
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Quickie Question: What Do/Did You Expect of Your Attendants?


When this photograph was taken somewhere around WWI, the duties of everyone in the picture were pretty clearly known and generally not too onerous. They had to show up on time looking clean, wear what they were told, do a little hand-holding if necessary, and deport themselves with reasonable dignity. The MOH would – funds, time, and first-time bridal status permitting – be responsible for any bridal shower that might be held. The best man would hold some sort of stag party for the groom, which usually consisted in those days of giving him a nice dinner, providing some cigars and decent whiskey, and kidding him about his soon-to-begin sex life. Oh, and those flower girls? had to look cute and strew rose petals.

These days the rules aren’t quite so cut and dried. The duties of bridesmaids and groomsmen now range anywhere from ‘show up on this day and wear something in this general color range’ to spending a year being the bride’s personal slave and whipping girl. You may be told to wear whatever you like within a color/style range, or you may be informed that you’re getting matching shoes, jewelry, mani pedis, updos, make up, and Botox injections… at your own expense, natch.

What did I expect of my attendants? Well, I expected they would all show up on the big day wearing the skirts and blouses I gave them patterns and fabric for. I told them to trim the outfits any way they liked and to wear whatever flat shoes they preferred. I expected them to keep their naughty bits covered and have as good a time as they could at a party. One of the bridesmaids did sew my gown, and I expected she would get it done in time for me to wear it down the aisle… but when it nearly didn’t happen, I considered the friendship a lot more important than my wedding gown. My MOH held a lovely shower for me, helped address envelopes, and drove me on a couple errands, but these were voluntary things I appreciated, not orders from me.

As for the men, they were entirely Mr. Twistie’s bailiwick. I think all he expected was that they would show up on the day wearing what he wanted having read his mind. One of my brothers called me three weeks before the wedding asking what he was supposed to wear as a groomsman. He threatened that if he didn’t hear from Mr. Twistie soon, he was going to show up in a kimono and top hat. I told him that was more than fine by me, but I would have Mr. Twistie call him with any instructions he might have. It seems he just assumed that all his guys had some form of formalwear in their closets and would simply wear that. I told him to let them know that for certain. Drat. I kind of wanted to see the kimono and top hat combo.

So while the women all wore the same basic pattern in the same basic fabric with wildly divergent accessories, trims, and hairstyles, the men wore everything from kilts to tail coats.

Other than that… we really didn’t expect much.

But I’m curious. What did/do you expect? How much do you care about matching outfits, parties in your honor, and help with DIY projects?

The Uncanny Ability of (Some) Bridesmaids to Keep Chaos Quiet

One of the things that seldom comes up on lists of bridesmaids’ duties is “Keeping one’s mouth shut.” And yet I’d suggest that it wouldn’t exactly be far fetched to tack it on to the end of one of those lists. For as much as the bride-to-be worries incessantly that she will notice every little thing that goes wrong before, during, and after the wedding, a great bridesmaid will do the noticing for the bride and then gently steer the bride away from whatever is wrong so that someone else can handle it.

Or in other less common cases, that same great bridesmaid will find herself smack in the middle of what’s wrong and not go blabbing to the bride until at least after the ceremony.

Recently, that’s just what five Boston bridesmaids did when their wedding limo carjacked before the ceremony by a man fleeing the scene of a crime he’d allegedly just committed. According to a charter bus driver delivering guests to the wedding, the suspect started fighting with the driver, smashed the passenger side window with a hammer, the bridesmaids got out and ran, the driver bailed, and the suspect took off. To their credit, none of the bridesmaids left a bouquet behind, and they all stayed mum about the incident until after the bride had tied the knot.

This particular item on the list of bridesmaids’ duties won’t always be exciting, of course. In some cases, it’s tragic. At my own wedding, for example, I wasn’t told that the reason one of my aunts wasn’t in attendance was that she was terminally ill. And in other cases, the no-no topic is fairly mundane. Maybe the bridesmaids have found out that the ceremony seating arrangements are all wrong and send some of the groomsmen to rearrange everything before go time.

What the conscientious bridesmaid may have to keep to herself on the bride’s big day might be anything, but I can almost guarantee that the wedding will be all the better for her keeping her mouth shut. Yes, in a few cases the bride will wish that someone had spoken up and told her just what was going on. But a bridesmaid’s silence – sometime paired with a little sneaky initiative – can sometimes be all that it takes to keep the bride from realizing that anything is amiss.

LOVE/HATE: The ‘A Little Mixed Up’ Edition

Let’s say you’re just not feeling the whole let-the-bridesmaids-wear-anything-they-want thing but you think having a wall of solid color bridesmaids dresses makes for a boring look. Plus you’re too scared to try bridesmaids’ skirts because so much could go wrong, and you don’t really care for the coordinated by mismatched bridesmaids thing, either.

Here’s my suggestion: mismatched bridesmaids’ accessories on otherwise matching bridesmaids. You can have them, as above in a beautiful pic by Jolynne Photography, all in black or any other color you like with a rainbow palette of necklaces and earrings. Or you can keep everything the same from the knees upward, and have your otherwise matching bridesmaids all don pretty shoes in that same rainbow palette.

mismatched bridesmaids shoes

It works so well with black bridesmaids dresses, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that love-it-or-hate-it hue. I adore the idea of mixing things up just a little bit in the bridal party – it’s like the perfect middle ground for those who aren’t so keen on seeing a line of completely identical bridesmaids, but also don’t care for the whole mismatched bridesmaids trend.

What do you think? Did you or will you have all your ‘maids wearing the sames shoes and accessories or are you mixing it up?

No Saying ‘BRRRR’ For These Bridesmaids!

Can anyone else feel just a touch of autumn in the air? *brrrrr* I sure can. And when I think of autumn, I think of all the ladies in the wedding party getting goosebumps. It’s tough to cope with wedding weather, isn’t it. In the summertime, the guys are sweating in their suits and at winter weddings, bare-armed bridesmaids are in danger of losing limbs if the thermostat is set too low. Now I’ll of course 100% support the bride’s decision to wear a strapless, gauzy sheath dress at her autumn wedding, but I’d rather not see the poor bridesmaids freezing their buns off at those November nuptials just so everyone looks uniform in the wedding photos.

One solution you frequently see is the wrap. Then there are the true pashminas. And stoles, though you see those far less often since fewer people wear fur and the faux fur ones look costumey. Oh, and of course the bolero. Sometimes you even see the bridesmaids at autumn weddings and winter weddings huddling near heaters swaddled in the groomsmen’s jackets! Which isn’t exactly the best look.

Maybe once in a while we can all ditch the cover ups? I mean, even as a guest at cold weather weddings, I feel that it’s pretty darned difficult to find a dress that has sleeves and also doesn’t look like something made for a 75-year-old pre-calculus teacher. I am SO SO SO loving the photo (by the amazing Cliff Mautner) above, which features bridesmaids decked out in chocolate brown sweaters with matching skirts made by the bride’s mother. They look absolutely ready for an outdoor ceremony that might be subject to a brisk breeze or two. My guess? There wasn’t a goosebump in sight!

You Can Dance If You Want To (But You Shouldn’t Have To)

On this, the final day of bridesmaids week – hey, it was a five-day business week – I wanted to address a tradition that I know for a fact makes at least some people a little uncomfortable. I know this because I am one of those people. Specifically, I am talking about the tradition of having all of the wedding attendants, bridesmaids and groomsmen, bridesmen and groomsmaids, dance with one another at some point during the whole first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance string of scheduled formal dancing. It’s actually considered a tad passé to ask the attendants to have a go on the dance floor, but you still see it occasionally at some wedding receptions.

Since this tradition seems to be dying out anyway, there’s really no need for me to put it down, I suppose. But just in case there are any otherwise happy bridesmaids out there reading this who are dreading the thought of slow dancing with some friend of the groom they have never seen or sniffed, I thought I’d share my three reasons for not particularly liking the attendants’ dance. As I see it, this old tradition is…

1. Awkward: While I actually wish that there were more opportunities for social dancing that included switching partners in a platonic, fun way, I still think that having to cut a rug with someone you may find icky while 75+ people look on is just plain weird. It’s one thing to dance with an unfamiliar partner – one who may never have heard of Arthur Murray or mouthwash – and quite another to do it on demand while a photographer circles the dance floor. And if you’re a young junior bridesmaid, it’s even weirder.

2. Boring: So now the wedding guests have sat through the first dance, the father-daughter dance, and the mother-son dance, and perhaps the bride and groom also invited their grandparents up for a waltz. Even if you edited your chosen songs down, you’re still potentially talking about a good quarter of an hour’s worth of dancing on display that the guests have to sit through while they wait for the refreshments.

3. Ineffective: If the bride or groom’s goal is to get people to shake their booties, there are easier ways to do it, like hiring a good DJ or leading by example and shaking it themselves. Because, really, I think that wedding guests can sense the awkwardness of the attendants’ dance, and I don’t know anyone particularly inspired by embarrassment.

I’d recommend that any bridesmaids like myself who aren’t keen on dancing with a random groomsman and suspect that the bride is considering an attendants’ dance at the reception suggest letting all of the enrelationshipped attendants dance with their SOs and then, halfway through the dance, inviting other couples to join them for a special slow dance. Or better yet, suggest that the marrying couple not force their wedding guests to sit through one more spotlit dance.

Now I have to ask: Bridesmaids and former bridesmaids, have you ever found yourself on the parquet in the arms of someone just awful because you were obliged to participate in an attendants’ dance?

(Image via BeDazzled Photography)

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