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Five Tips to Keep On Budget

When it comes to your wedding, it’s easy to get a little carried away. So many things are expected, so many of us have dreamed about pretty things, so many businesses are lining up eagerly to sell us pretty things we had never even considered. And what’s the one thing each of those pretty things has in common? They cost money.

No matter how carefully we budget in advance, it can be easy to add a few dollars here, and indulge a little there until we suddenly discover that we will spend our first married year eating our choice of rice or beans every day, because we can’t even afford both at the same time.

But with a little extra care, we can avoid overspending. Here are a few ideas on how to keep the budget from blowing out of proportion.
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Redneck and Proud of It


Every twice in a while, a bridal reality show comes along behind my back. This was definitely the case with CMTs My Big Redneck Wedding. At least it makes a change from bridal weight-loss shows. Here’s what CMT has to say about the show:

CMT gives a whole new meaning to for better or for worse. After scouring the country to find the most down-home country couples, CMT documents their journey down the aisle, as outrageous and over the top as it might be. Each episode, hosted by Tom Arnold, will feature a different redneck wedding, each with its own rustic eccentricities, whether it is a four-legged best man, a romantic beer can canopy, a celebratory shotgun salute or a reception filled with mattress surfing and mud wrestling.

The couple shown above, Chris and Jennifer Rodriguez, chose the Redneck Yacht Club for their venue, sent out beer bottle invitations, and were married (well, they’d actually already had a civil wedding beforehand) under an arch of mufflers. The bride and groom both wore camouflage, and their ring bearer was a remote-controlled Chevy truck.

Hey, whatever floats their boats, right? That’s what we say here at Manolo for the Brides. We believe in freedom of expression and defining fun for yourselves, after all.

There is, however, one thing that gives me pause about the experience the Rodriguez’s had. Here’s the thing as reported in the Herald Tribune:

Once they were chosen for “Redneck Wedding,” they began making arrangements with a reality show producer. Things did not go smoothly.

“We kept butting heads,” Jennifer says.

Negotiations continued right up to New Year’s Day with a new producer.

“They started to get you drunk before I even got there,” Chris says. “And when I got there, they gave me a bottle of Hennessy.”

Seriously, folks, if you have to get your reality show participants drunk to get them to agree to your plans, chances are you’re exploiting them rather than making their dreams come true.

That said, as much as I’m not a redneck kind of gal at all… I have to admit the idea of playing horseshoes with toilet seats is oddly appealing to me.

I just hope that other couples don’t need to be sloshed to find the producers’ ideas happy-making.

Play Nice, Brides!


As some of you may have noticed, I take the bullet of the bridal reality show beat around here. There are shows I actually quite enjoy, and others that make me want to spork my own eyes out watching them. One of the ones I’ve always kind of enjoyed is TLC’s Four Weddings.

What I’ve always enjoyed was the fact that while each bride wants to win the free honeymoon and thinks her wedding must be the best, whichever groom steps out of the car at the end of the show, the other three brides have usually been happy for the winner. The sour grapes have always been at a minimum.

This season, though, I’ve been seeing a lot more nastiness to the competition. In one episode, the other three brides all humphed that they couldn’t believe that the winner won… and not one of them took into consideration that they are the ones who voted for her wedding.

I’m also seeing more cattiness in the comments throughout the show. Last year the brides seemed a lot more willing to accept that other people have different ideas of what makes a good wedding. This season, the negativity starts with the introductions. If one bride says in her opening statement that she hates outdoor weddings, the next bride is sure to be holding her shindig out of doors. If one dislikes buffets, that’s how the next one intends to feed her guests. Neither will be persuaded that the other’s approach isn’t anathema by actually attending the wedding, either.

TLC, one of the things I’ve loved about this show is the fact that people with very different tastes and backgrounds have been generally supportive of one another, and sometimes had their eyes opened to a cool alternative approach they wouldn’t have thought they would like. Now the negativity is starting to get to me. If I want to see Brides Behaving Badly, I’ll subject myself to a marathon of Bridezillas. If I want to buy into the cultural myth that women are biologically incapable of being supportive of one another, I’ll watch The Women on an endless loop.

I want to see varying possibilities of wedding planning. I want to see people appreciating the hard work and imagination of others, even if they aren’t wild about the final effect. I want a kinder, gentler bridal show… you know, like this one used to be.

I Hadn’t Really Thought About It That Way

via Cristiano Ronaldo (WARNING: Many images NSFW… or the faint of heart about boobies and other ladybits)

So. I was watching Four Weddings the other night (Fridays, 10:00, 9:00 Central on TLC) and was quite intrigued with one couple: Rachel and Brad. They were actors who put together a rather gloriously OTT wedding. There were bagpipes and air horns at least one acrobat, and handfasting done with sparkly ribbons, and the groom vowing never to smoke another cigarette. In fact, Mr. Twistie and I both agreed it was one we wished we could have gone to… and when Mr. Twistie gets as enthusiastic about a wedding as to want to be there, well, you know it’s a party.

Anyway, one of the less than conventional decisions that Rachel and Brad made was to have their wedding rings tattooed on rather than going the more common route of buying metal bands. Fair enough. Not my thing, but then needles wig me out on an epic level. Mr. Twistie, too. We would happily live in a universe where needles never, ever, ever get inserted into human flesh. But it wasn’t our decision to make. It was Brad and Rachel’s decision, and they chose to have ink on their hands.

In the opening interview, Rachel talked about how much more practical this is because you can’t accidently lose your ring. After all, a marriage is supposed to last a lifetime. She called it ‘more functional.’

Okay. Of course I know a lot more couples who have gotten divorced than have lost their wedding rings, but I can see where she’s coming from and have no beef with her reasoning or her reasons. It’s her finger. She gets to determine whether it bears a ring, a tattoo, or nothing at all.

When I started getting it as a cool thing was during the ceremony. The happy couple was asked to explain their choice to their guests. So what did Brad say?

It’s a blood oath, and the only tattoo that will ever adorn my body.

Dayum! Now that’s the sound of a committed groom!

How could Rachel top that? One simple declarative sentence:

You’re in my flesh forever.

Will Rachel and Brad live happily ever after? Will they always be happy with their decision to opt for ink over gold? Those are questions I cannot answer. All I know is they’re going in expecting forever and refusing to be anyone but themselves.

And you know what? I think that gives them at least two and a half legs up on people who don’t enter marriage precisely that way.

What If You Don’t Care?


If you listen to the popular mythology of wedding planning, every bride is exacting about every single detail of the wedding, no matter how small, no matter how insignificant to everyone else. Her most pressing problem is that nobody in the world cares so much about what she’s trying to do for them.

But if there’s one thing I know about popular mythology, it’s that it’s not everyone’s reality. In fact, it’s rarely anyone’s complete personal reality. Chances are there’s at least one aspect of planning your wedding that you honestly don’t care that much about.
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White is All Right, Black is Beautiful, and You Can Make Up Your Own Mind

CNN’s website recently ran a story on wedding gowns that has many wedding professionals in a bit of a tizzy. The story, entitled Brides Buck Tradition and Ditch the White Dress, written by Stephanie Goldberg, claims that white gowns are on the way out and being replaced by large numbers of women wearing other colors.

In fact, the article includes this quote from a bridal consultant named Susan Rodgers:

“I think they figured out that everyone really didn’t look good in white. … Nobody orders white anymore. It’s kind of a faux pas.”

And the article featured discussion of several individual brides who chose to wear other colors.

Bridal surveys at Bridal Guide, though, would dispute this idea. According to their 2002 survey, 57% of bridal gowns were white, 38% ivory, and the remaining 5% ‘some other color.’ This trend continues much the same in their 2009 survey which found that 58% of bridal gowns were white, 37% ivory, and – you guessed it – 5% in other colors.

The Knot breaks it down a bit further in their 2009 survey. They found that 27% of gowns were stark white, 25% diamond white. That’s 52% white gowns, for those who aren’t quick with their math. They further found that 39% of brides went for ivory, 4% for champagne or rum, and 6% other.

In short, far from being a ‘faux pas’ it would appear that white continues to be the single most popular color for wedding gowns.

Now I’m willing to believe (in fact I do believe) the number of women wearing dresses that are neither white nor ivory is a bit higher than The Knot and Bridal Guide would indicate, since the people who answer their surveys are the sorts of people who would read their more traditional guides to getting married. I’m guessing that there is a certain percentage of brides who would no more dream of wearing a white gown than they would of responding to a survey on The Knot.

So what am I trying to say with all of the statistics and all of the waffling? Just this. It’s not up to the experts or the rebels or the Wedding Industrial Complex or your soon-to-be-mother-in-law what color you wear. It’s up to you.

Whether you feel you look best and most bridal in stark white or lime green, ivory or incandescent orange, choose that color. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should wear on your wedding day. Be the best, most beautiful you that you can imagine.

Good and Bad Ideas Plus a Caution from Four Weddings

If there’s one wedding reality show I find myself really enjoying of late, it’s Four Weddings on TLC. For those unfamiliar, four brides getting married in the same area around the same time attend one anothers’ weddings and score them on the gown, the venue, the food, and the overall experience. The bride whose wedding gets the highest aggregate score wins a fabulous honeymoon to a surprise location, and the other three, well, they get to be on TV and attend three weddings without having to come up with a gift and being utterly free to snark or gush about whatever they please for the nation at large.

The two episodes I watched last night were particularly interesting to me, in that they included some really brilliant and some really, really questionable ideas. Take a look after the cut to see what I’m talking about.
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