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Bridesmaids | Manolo for the Brides - Part 10
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The Gift of Time

Wedding stationery

Maids-of-honor and bridesmaids take note: If you’re absolutely stymied when it comes to a thoughtful shower gift for the bride-to-be, why not give your gal pal the gift of some free time? I recently read a tale about a very astute bridesmaid who, in lieu of (or perhaps in addition to) a physical bridal shower present for the guest of honor, gave the bride-to-be the gift of pretty thank you notecards with envelopes that were already addressed to all of the shower attendees. All the bride-to-be had to do was write out her thank you cards, affix some stamps to the already-addressed envelopes, and drop the whole works in the mail.

Sound like a great gift? Take it to the next level by including postage stamps on each addressed envelope so the bride-to-be doesn’t have to make a side trip to the post office.

LOVE/HATE: The Magic Eye Edition

In the past couple of years, mismatched bridesmaids were all the rage. Whether the bride dressed her bridesmaids in different styles but put them all in one color or carefully coordinated different colors of bridesmaids dresses in one particular style, there lots of ways to do the whole mismatched bridesmaids thing.

What I’m seeing now is bridesmaids’ dresses crafted out of patterned fabric — sometimes as the main uniform of all of the bridesmaids in the bridal party, and sometimes as a way to differentiate between honor attendants and other attendants. There are plaids for bridesmaids, there are polka dots for bridesmaids, and stripes for bridesmaids. Then there are the more subtle options, like these bridesmaids’ dresses from Dessy:

Bridesmaids\' dresses by Dessy

Okay, so the third dress isn’t particularly subtle at all. I guess that’s kind of the point. While I don’t really like that dress and I think the one in the middle looks like it took a ride on the vomit comet, the first dress is lovely and I’d like to see more bridesmaids’ dresses featuring patterned fabric that manages to be intriguing without screaming LOOKIT MAH PATTERN! Overall, I hate a lot of the patterned bridesmaids’ dresses out there right now, but I love the idea.

What say you? Is the look just unusual enough to be cool? Too hard to pull off? Too busy for a wedding?

“I… Brrrrrr… Do” *Shiver*

The always handsome mkb sent me a link to this exceedingly cool wedding photo:

Ice chapel wedding

And when I say cool, I mean cold.

After being pronounced husband and wife, Michael and Sigret Cook — they’re the ones in the wedding finery, obviously — exit the ice chapel custom built for their wedding on Christmas Day in Fairbanks, Alaska. That’s right, they had an entire ice chapel built just for the wedding.

The temperatures outside were hovering below zero – it wasn’t much warmer inside – but it was the perfect culmination to a whirlwind, Florida-to-Fairbanks romance that was sparked by a chance meeting on the Internet.

Ball had asked Cook to build her an ice chapel for their wedding “Lots of people get married in chapels. I will be the only one married in this chapel,” Ball said.

The chapel occasionally emitted groaning noises during the wedding, making some of the guests nervous. Terry Martin, who officiated the wedding, reassured the guests that the ice structure was sturdy as he led the wedding ceremony.

No one built me an ice chapel for my wedding (I didn’t even get a regular chapel!) but after reading about the groaning of the ice, I’m not sure I would have really enjoyed the experience.

The More Things Change

…the more they stay the same, at least where wedding vendors and brides and wedding gowns are concerned. Check out these vintage bridal ads:

Vintage bridal ads

Odd posture? Check. At least she’s doing something, though. I get the feeling that the photographer snapped the model between shots while she was making a necessary wardrobe adjustment on her Priscilla of Boston gown. Or maybe bridal models all had scoliosis back then, too.

Vintage bridal ads

Less than friendly facial expressions on bridesmaids? Check, on the left one at least. Oddly huge bows decorating the posterior region of bridesmaids? Check. Random props — in this case palm fronds — poised to devour the models? Check and check!

But lose the butt bow, and I will gladly shell out “about $40 each” for either of these dresses. Now what I need is the vintage waist to go with them, and I’ll be all set.

Buy Your Wedding Gown Like It’s 1995

If you have already bought your wedding gown aaaaaand you live near Panama City, FL, you’re going to be so sad you didn’t go to Yvette’s Bridal while it still existed.

Yvette\'s Bridal

Why choose Yvette’s for your wedding gown, bridesmaids dress, and tuxedo needs? The web site says it all. Specifically, it says “Yvette’s is OPEN SUNDAYS !!!! Yvette’s will be open all holidays !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay !! Judy !!” and “why do we have hair in our armpits??…………what possible idiosyncrasy could posses a deity to create something with hair in its armpits??…………….I seriously want to know why we have hair in our armpits??

That is some seriously persuasive sales copy, am I right? But for reals, I don’t know why this site cracks me up so much, especially seeing as that the real Yvette’s web site likely died some time in 2006. It was a legit bridal shop once upon a time, but who knows what happened to it in the interim. Kudos to whoever took it over, as the site offers a few minutes of amusement for those super sick of looking at badly-designed bridal salon web sites that are supposed to be elegant (instead of painfully ironic).

Before you actually visit the chaos that is Yvette’s, please heed these warnings:

Warning I: Music will play. Loudly. On the front page, a piece commemorating the Battle of Flodden Field plays. Different music plays on every single page.

Warning II: Looking at Yvette’s site too long may cause blindness and/or deafness. Possibly also insanity.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, have a look at the map, the poetry, the artwork, and the bizarre ramblings of what must be a junior grade conspiracy theorist. Oh, and this… Popeye and peeping? Wind me up!

How Do You Measure Up?

eco-friendly wedding invitations

In lieu of the usual Thursday LOVE/HATE (which I will post tomorrow), I wanted to share the results of American Bridal‘s 2008 wedding planning survey. What I’m most curious about is how you, our loyal readers, measure up to the “average bride,” at least insofar as the average bride planning a wedding saw fit to participate in a survey posted by an online wedding favor shop. Here are the results:

90% are doing the planning themselves, not hiring a professional wedding planner
25% are planning a wedding on a budget of less than $10,000
25% have wedding budgets over $25,001
50% fall somewhere in between, with 38% reporting in the range of $10,001 to $20,000
25% are having the wedding reception at a hotel
10% have opted to host their nuptials at a country club
6% of couples selected a destination wedding
55% reported they are finding another type of venue to rent for the wedding ceremony/reception
48% will have between 5 to 8 bridesmaids and groomsmen
37% of respondents have 9 or more
40% report they will have a wedding guest count of more than 200
14% say their total guest count is under 100
34% are inviting 100 to 150 guests
68% said they’ve lowered their wedding budgets by $1,000 or less
46% of respondents said they would not make changes to their budgets in the areas of music, location, reception style, or the wedding dress

As far as my own 2007 wedding planning experience measured up, I did indeed plan my own ceremony and reception from start to finish. My wedding budget fell somewhere in between $10,001 and $20,000… much closer to the $10k end of the spectrum. The Beard and I found a venue that was not a hotel or country club, though I had only four attendants total (bridesmaids and groomsmen). We invited about 100 wedding guests to the wedding, and I think somewhere around 80 actually showed. Finally, we made plenty of wedding budget-related changes to almost every aspect of the ceremony and reception, and this was before news outlets started poo-poo’ing the economy.

How about you? Where do your planning experiences fall?

(The wedding stationery above comes from Cherry Gorgeous, which sells a small range of ‘eco-chic’ invitations, RSVP cards, thank you cards, and more.)

Keep the YOU in YOUR Wedding

Tattooed Bride by Allebach Photography

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard brides-to-be say things like “I’d do X if it weren’t for Y.” Usually, the X is something like “wear a wedding dress that shows off my killer tattoos” or “serve a gluten-free vegan reception dinner” or “hire a bouncy castle for my adults-only wedding.” The Y is most often “my family,” though it is occasionally “society’s expectations.”

Every bride-to-be and groom-to-be… okay, almost every bride and groom… pays tribute to the conventions laid out by culture and religion and familial traditions, even if they don’t realize it. Social expectations are like advertising — we’re exposed to them our entire lives, in the conversations we hear and the media we see and the stories we’re told. Unless one lives the extremely examined life, it can be difficult to know where societal conventions end and where one’s own desires begin.

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