In fact, I knew precisely where I had seen it before.
That’s right, it’s a very slightly reworked version of the wedding gown Austin used as the big finale of his collection for Project Runway All Stars season 1!
Clever lad! I always said he was one of the most resourceful and imaginative designers ever to grace the Project Runway stage. He may have ended up the bridesmaid twice now, but his career was the first one of all the designers ever to appear on that show not to be captioned with the fact he was a reality show contestant.
And yes, when I saw this gown I said straight off the bat that he could sell the look like pancakes. Here’s hoping he does!]]>
I had – blessedly – never heard of Natalie Nunn before she showed up on Bridezillas. For two weeks now she’s been screaming on my television about how she shouldn’t have to pay for her wedding because she’s rich and famous and has people pay her to show up at parties… and there’s another week with the actual wedding to go.
She also, apparently, doesn’t have a clue what a wedding reception is.
She’s actually not the worst person on the show this season. It’s true. There was the woman on the Bridezillas staff who threw her dog (and real soulmate!) into the wedding cake because she was honked off that her groom had bought a birthday cake from a grocery store bakery section, scraped off the Happy Birthday, and written an apology on it.
Yeah, tell me that wasn’t scripted… which only makes it worse.
But this article really isn’t about Bridezillas or trying to figure out who was the worst of the worst of the season. It’s about the thing that makes so many of these women entirely lose their minds (well, in the actual spontaneous moments of the show) and make other brides and grooms all over the world lose their collective marbles whilst planning their weddings: stress.
Yes, planning your wedding can definitely be a stressful thing. You’re dealing with the intersection of available funds, cultural expectations, personal preferences, complicated relationships, and a major life-changing event all rolled into one big ball of people crooning that this is the single most important and happiest day of your entire life.
In other words, everyone is giving you heartburn as they gleefully inform you it’s all downhill from here, baby.
It’s no wonder that some people wind up gibbering in a corner. But I’m guessing you’d rather not be one of them.
The whys of reducing bridal stress are easy enough. You want to enjoy your wedding because it is a once in a lifetime event. Even if you do have another wedding at some point, trust me it will be a different unique experience. You’d probably rather not cause major rifts with friends and family members on both sides that will be difficult to repair. And of course you’d probably rather not look back at this special time and remember it as six months of constant tears and screaming.
The hows are harder, but still very much doable for most of us.
1: Know how you plan, and plan that way. Whether you’re the sort who does best with ages to plan and a finger in every pie, or the sort who prefers to spontaneously say ‘let’s do it next week, you take care of all the details’ or even the sort to want a little of each approach, plan in the way that makes you feel the most comfortable. Only you can tell for sure whether going all DIY or hiring a planner or delegating half the tasks to people you trust is the best approach for you. Listen to your gut if you’ve never planned a major event before.
If you choose an approach that stresses you out, then you’re just asking for unnecessary stress, which is what you’re trying to avoid.
2: Start with the basics and add what you want. It’s easy to start off with unrealistic dreams for a wedding you can never afford, and might not actually want if you got it. Or you may find your idea of a pretty wedding and your intended’s concept are very, very different things. But if you start out with what’s absolutely necessary (happy couple, marriage license, officiant, base number of witnesses, space to hold wedding in) and build from there, you’ll find some of the unrealistic ideas you may have had before dissipate. It will be easier to keep to your budget, and easier to keep your head.
Sometimes it’s better to let go of an old dream. It frees you to find a new one that might just make you happier.
3: Keep an open mind and open ears when others have suggestions. It’s easy for wedding planning sessions to turn ugly when everyone wants to talk and nobody wants to listen. So listen. Listen carefully. That way, even if you decide something someone thinks would make the wedding perfect would be a disaster in reality, they know you’ve listened. You can’t agree to everything. You wouldn’t want to even if you could. But in a lot of cases, people just want to know you actually heard what they were trying to say.
And who knows? Someone might come up with a really great idea you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
4: Take good care of yourself. Self care is often the first thing to go on the back burner in potentially stressful situations. We eat erratically, sleep too little, bury our heads in the thing that’s stressing us until our eyes are crossed and our brains dribble out our ears and whine that we need to keep going… and then wonder at the lousy decisions we make in that state that just frustrate us more than ever. So when things start overwhelming you, take a break. Do your best to get three decent meals a day and enough sleep every night.
Not only do you make better decisions on a full stomach and a rested brain, you’ll also look and feel healthier on your wedding day. That means you’ll be able to party longer and enjoy it more.
5: Put things in perspective. You know that old saw about the happiest day of your life? Have a good laugh at it and throw it on the garbage heap. There are few ‘helpful’ phrases that have caused more woe and anguish over the years. You will have happier days, and more important days, if you live long enough. And that’s a damn good thing, too. Imagine getting married at twenty-five and never having a better day even if you live to be a hundred! What a wretched thought!
Yes, your wedding day is very important. Done thoughtfully, it will probably rank among your top ten best days ever. If you’re supremely lucky, it will be one of the top five. It’s even possible that you’ll look back from your fiftieth anniversary and say it was one of the top three days in your life. Just don’t put all that baggage on it before it even happens. That’s a one-way ticket to Angstville.
6: Make time for other things in your life. If you don’t have time for your job and your wedding and a personal life, then you need to change something. Here’s a hint: don’t quit your job or dump all your friends. Take a quick inventory and either change your wedding planning strategy, extend the timeframe, or scale back your plans until you can breathe without thinking about tulle for at least a few hours here and there. It may be time to call in a professional, or it may be time to come up with a more efficient way of making decisions. Whatever it is, leave yourself time to go to the movies, work out at the gym, read a book that has nothing to do with weddings, play with your pet, take that evening class you find so compelling, whatever makes you feel connected with your life.
A lot of brides talk about feeling like they fell off the face of the earth when the wedding was over. That’s a sure sign of a bride who let the wedding take over her entire life. If you’ve got a life the whole time, it won’t be so hard to get back into the workaday world, and you’ll be better able to relax about your wedding.
7: Do your best in the last few days before the wedding to find your quiet spot. I’m not talking about a physical place to go. No, I’m talking about a place of inner tranquility that you find when you forget about words like ‘perfect’ and ‘happily ever after’ and just let what will be… be. Choose someone you trust absolutely to take care of any last minute snafus. Remind yourself that the universe has a perverse sense of humor, and resolve to laugh at whatever jokes it may throw at you.
Then go and have the best time you can at your own party.
After all that hard work, you deserve it!]]>
1: If a bridesmaid calls two days before the wedding to drop out of the wedding party because she has just broken her foot and will be unable to walk… it’s because she hates the bride and is determined to sabotage the wedding.
2: If a guest chokes on inedible cake bling… it’s their own damn fault for failing to imagine that you would put inedible real rhinestones on your otherwise edible cake. And that includes the small children attending the affair.
3: People will insist on blowing things out of proportion… like that time you nearly ran them down with your car.
4: If you audition for a show, are tapped to appear on said show, and sign a contract to have your entire life filmed in order to ridicule you on national television, it’s mean of them to hold you to your contract when you decide it isn’t all that fun anymore… like when they won’t stop asking you about the time you nearly ran down the cameraman with your car.
Oh, and bonus lesson #5 which I think I could have guessed going in:
Never ever honk off your tattoo artist in the middle of getting a new tattoo.
Compared to all those other things, that’s just stupid.]]>
I don’t ever want to see him look like this:
You may now resume your regularly scheduled wedding planning.]]>
Again, I like it. It’s real couples having real weddings, without a lot of the staged nightmares of Bridezillas and similar shows, let alone their histrionics.
But I did have a bit of a thought about the episode aired last night. See the lady second from the right? That’s Jessica. She won the episode. I’m down with that, because I did feel she had the nicest wedding of the lot.
Still, I have this one niggling concern. You see, Jessica is a professional wedding planner. Not only was she allowed to participate in the show, her fellow contestants were not informed of this fact. She only revealed the truth as the winner’s limo was pulling up with her husband in it.
The thing is, I can’t think of another episode of either version of the show that has featured anyone who used a wedding planner, let alone was one. And I know that simply being in a profession isn’t proof positive that someone is good at it. After all, there was at least one professional wedding planner featured on Bridezillas who not only needed subtitles because she mumbled so horribly nobody could understand her, but seemed to have no clue at all how a wedding is organized.
All the same, it could be perceived as an unfair advantage. I kind of perceived it that way, and I know how little it takes to set up shop as a wedding planner.
What do you think? Should Jessica have been allowed to play the game? Should she have had to reveal her professional status before her wedding was rated? Am I being over sensitive about something that’s all in good fun?
Tell me what you think!]]>
On sunday night, TLC will bring us the latest in their string of bridal reality programming, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.
Based on the UK hit version of the story, MBFAGW will feature real brides and real families among the American Gypsy and Traveller communities. It’s a window into a world most of us would never see, otherwise.
In some ways, it’s a throwback to a world that a lot more people lived in not too long ago where a woman’s wedding really was the One Special Day she had to shine for the world. It’s a world where girls are left ignorant about the facts of life, kept from dating, taught mostly to cook, clean, and take care of children, and then married very, very young. And then she will mostly cook, clean, have and tend children, and plan huge weddings for her daughters. The gender roles are strict and unforgiving for both men and women.
But the weddings are certainly colorful, if nothing else. Oh, and if you go over to Huffpo right now, you can read an interview with Sondra Celli, bridal designer to American Gypsies, whose work is featured on the show.
Will I watch the show? At least an episode or two. But I don’t think I’ll take to the road. I’m a Gorger, and happy that way.]]>
You see, after a while it’s easy to get terribly jaded about bridal reality, and then it becomes easy to get terribly jaded about weddings in general. The same tired tropes get trotted out in episode after episode as if they were brand new and shiny and oh so true… even when they bear no resemblance to any reality I’ve ever seen.
Here are a few things I’ve witnessed (or even done myself!) in real weddings that I would love to see on bridal reality… but I’m not holding my breath.
I’d love to see an involved groom who isn’t portrayed as either a blithering idiot or a control freak in training to play the Charles Boyer role in Gaslight.
In reality some grooms are involved in the wedding. Others absent themselves from the process. Most of the ones I know who absented themselves did so not because they didn’t have opinions or didn’t care about getting married, but because they had had it drilled into their heads practically from the day they were born that their job was to show up on time and shut up until told to say ‘I do.’ Most of the ones I’ve known who got involved had some really great ideas to add, and were perfectly capable of articulating them… even (GASP! CONSTERNATION!)carrying some of them out.
It still takes two people to get married, and there is no genetic reason men can’t participate fully in their own weddings. I’d love to see that acknowledged.
Extra points if a wedding planner ever sides with a groom… or indeed, any man on the planet.
Speaking of wedding planners, I’d love to see just one get fired for really screwing things up. There was an episode of Whose Wedding is it Anyway? a long time ago where the planner took an eight thousand dollar backyard wedding and managed to turn it into a thirty thousand dollar backyard wedding, even after the bride managed to borrow a lot of decorative items from friends with resources! Then, the night before the wedding, the planner realized she’d underestimated the amount of fabric needed for the huge curtain she had planned by some fifty yards. Every time the bride asked how much things cost, she was more or less told not to worry her pretty head about it.
If that woman had been in any business other than wedding planning, very few clients would have put up with that. But the bride said she would hire her all over again! I wonder if she said the same thing when the bills started coming in.
I’ve watched planners ignore their clients’ wishes, treat the groom like an annoyance, allow budgets to skyrocket without suggesting a single item to cut, deceive parents, and flat out treat the bride with contempt, all without any consequence to themselves.
Yes, I’ve also seen some tremendously talented people do excellent work and treat their clients like intelligent, responsible royalty. These people are great and terribly helpful and should get lots of references and be appreciated. I’d just like to see the ones who are rotten at their jobs get their proper comeuppance.
Wouldn’t it be nice just once on a bridal reality show to watch a bride talk about her DIY project and then not hear the wacky horns of impending disaster?
Whether it’s a dress, bouquets, invitations, favors, or a cake, DIY always brings out the skeptic in wedding shows. An expert solemnly intones that the project is doomed from the outset because it isn’t being done by a professional. Well, that’s just plain poppycock!
Obviously not all DIY projects turn out well. There are some things some people just plain shouldn’t try to do on their own. But it’s not because nobody who doesn’t have professional training can’t do it; it’s because different people are better at doing different things. Just make sure you choose something you have the skills and time to do well, and you’ll be fine.
For instance, I didn’t make my gown. I don’t sew well or quickly. But one of my bridesmaids – who wasn’t a professional seamstress – handled the job more than capably. Meanwhile, I made the lace for the gown, tied the bouquets, did a fair amount of the cooking for the reception, and made the favors. Those were all things I had the time and skill to complete well.
And the number one thing I’d love to see on reality wedding television?
…and Diann Valentine wrestling to the death…
… in a vat of lime Jello.
I’ve never actually seen that one happen, but I bet it would amuse me tremendously.]]>
Funnily enough, I think what struck me most and made me happiest about their entire love story was that when the Big Moments happened, Niles was usually trying to make them Momentous… and then they just happened quietly, naturally, and in ways that could never have been matched – let alone outdone – by the huge, elaborate plans he originally made.
When Niles was ready to propose marriage, he took everything to huge, dramatic excess. He had little people in angel costumes, a chorus, a guy in a medieval costume with a great long poot horn with a banner hanging from it, a five page proposal involving ridiculous metaphors and iambic pentameter, and Wolfgang Puck cooking dinner.
When Daphne got there, she was sick as a dog and just wanted a quiet evening in front of the fire with the man she loved. Of course much comedic gold was mined from Niles and Frasier’s efforts to get all the extraneous people (not to mention Frasier’s addition of live doves!) out of the apartment behind Daphne’s back so that Niles could bring it all together again at a later date.
In the end, he just realizes how full his heart is in that moment, pulls the ring from his pocket, and asks her to marry him. It doesn’t even matter that his proposal is interrupted by a long, juicy session of nose-blowing. The moment is perfect because it’s two people in love making the decision to be together for the rest of their lives.
A lot of people start out viewing proposals and weddings the way Niles does. Bigger is necessarily better, more elaborate means more proof of love… but I’ve never agreed with that philosophy. I think it’s the little things that make the process special, whether you choose to do things elaborately or without frills.
I have no beef, certainly, with those who choose to go all out with the details. Details are fun. Sometimes over the top is just who you are as a couple, and that’s great.
Just never let the hooplah overwhelm the most important things. Don’t imagine that it’s impossible to express your love on a smaller scale. Remember to take time to notice the little things that make things truly special.
Big or small, expensive or bargain basement, steeped in tradition or wackily personal, do it your way. Have the wedding you want.
But don’t let the style overshadow the moment. Keep your eyes and hearts open to the quiet things that hold the most meaning.]]>
So I watched an episode.
The Santinis had been married for eighteen years (hey! that’s how long Mr. Twistie and I have been married!) but never got over the horror of their wedding day. You see, they hired someone to make the bridesmaids dresses who didn’t get them done in time. She had promised delivery on the day of the wedding to the church… and apparently nobody thought that plan to be potentially fraught with disaster.
The big day arrived, but the bridesmaids dresses didn’t, much to the consternation of all aware of the situation. For some reason passing all understanding, when the bride’s grandmother began foaming at the mouth about having the bridesmaids wear the groomsmen’s shirts, nobody pressed a cold compress to her forehead or called the paramedics. Instead, they listened to her.
And so it was that the bridesmaids marched up the aisle wearing the now bare-chested groomsmen’s shirts and matching high heels. One bridesmaid was tall enough that the shirt tails didn’t entirely cover her underpants.
Mrs. Santini left the church howling ‘I need a drink!’ and has been distraught over her wedding photos and video ever since.
Then Diann Valentine swooped in and fixed everything… eighteen years later.
I had some hope for this show, based on the fever dream that it might not wind up a painful hybrid of My Fair Wedding and Queen for a Day.
Also? While I detest My Fair Wedding with a passion beyond description, I do have to admit that when David Tutera gets done planning a wedding, it’s usually a pretty nice wedding. It may be provided with scads of eye-rolling and paternalistic weasel crap, but it’s a pretty event in the end. As much of a complete set of tools as Mr. Tutera comes off, he would never allow a groom to arrive at his wedding wearing a hat that was obviously too large for his head. Ms. Valentine picked that hat. Then she showed up wearing a gown that looked like something I saw Morticia Addams donating to Good Will recently.
And of course this show – like so many other wedding reality shows – wants you to swallow a huge dose of ‘see? it’s impossible to do this without a professional planner because you’re really just a gibbering idiot’ without even noticing you’re doing it. Valentine has said in press releases that if only these couples had had a real event planner on hand, these disasters would never have happened.
Okay, I can see how a planner might have helped in the case of the missing bridesmaid’s dresses. She could have counseled the couple to buy from a shop, or not give over the work to someone who didn’t intend to deliver before the actual wedding day. If the dresses didn’t turn up, she could have come up with a much better plan B than turning a church wedding into some sort of intramural strip club theme… but then again, so could one single random person with their head screwed on straight.
All it would have taken would be one person telling all the bridesmaids to run home, get their nicest dress in roughly the same length as the original dresses (or a similar color, or whatever was going to pull them together visually at the altar), and hurry back dressed in those. Would it have been utter perfection? No, of course not. You can’t guarantee that any five random women – even in 1992 – would all have tea length teal dresses in their closets. But would it have been a bazillion times better than what granny came up with? You bet your sweet bippy, it would!
So, yeah, not really absolutely necessary to have a wedding planner to come up with a solution. And I can’t think that having an event planner running the show would have helped in particular with the groom with a heart condition who flatlined during the vows. I’m thinking the paramedic best man at that wedding was a lot more useful. He got the groom’s ticker back on track with CPR.
So with all of this leaving a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, I have to say I love the story I ran across this morning about Mike and Nancy Rogers. The happy couple hails from Nova Scotia and this is a real photo of their wedding day:
See that burning building behind the beaming couple? Yeah, that was to have been their wedding venue, otherwise known as the late White Point resort.
The eighty-three year old mostly wooden building caught fire while Nancy and Mike were getting ready for their big moment in two of the outlying cabins on the property. The couple still wanted to get married that day, no matter where they had to do it. The quick-thinking staff moved the event to another outlying building that was in no immediate danger, and the ceremony went on as planned… or at least as close to as planned as possible.
This is the second marriage for both Mike and Nancy, and that might have made them just a bit more philosophical about the whole incident:
“Our last weddings were picture-perfect; nothing went wrong. But the marriages didn’t work out,” she says. “Rocky wedding, fantastic marriage is the way we see it.”
The general manager of the resort is also confident that they can rebuild and reopen. I wish them every luck with that plan!
As for Mike and Nancy, I think they’re creating their own luck. But I wish them well, too.
Somehow I don’t think they feel the need to call anyone in to fix what happened to them.]]>
I’d like a word with you over here, if I may, just for a moment in between your busy schedule of exposing the ‘reality’ of weddings to us all.
Stop it. Just stop it.
What? You don’t know what I’m talking about?
I’m talking about the way brides (and the men you identify as the ‘woman’ in gay male couples) are portrayed in your shows.
It would be one thing if there were truly any variety in how you portray us. Then it would be about individuals. But as things stand, you have two ways of illustrating what it is to be a bride in modern America, and neither portrait is either flattering or accurate to the vast majority of women getting married.
On the one hand, you show us the adorably befuddled girl (it matters not if she is seventeen or seventy-three; she is still a girl in this version) who just can’t wrap her tiny brain around all the very, very, very difficult concepts involved in planning a wedding. She can’t tell a canape from a camellia and desperately needs a big, strong wedding planner(/salon owner/cake decorator/florist/etc.) to make everything happen magically despite her utter inability to contribute thoughtfully to the process. She is patted on the head and allowed to cutely dribble in a corner while the experts figure out the painfully difficult logistics of getting her married in a way that won’t embarrass her every time she opens her wedding album (assuming she can figure out how to do that) for the rest of her life. Thanks to the experts, she gets her magical princess moment that she could never have made happen by herself, the silly little thing.
On the other hand is the vicious, sociopathic, potentially homicidal whack job (who, again, can be any age from Diapers to Depends and is gunning for a guest spot as the unsub in the reality version of Criminal Minds) who doesn’t know a canape from a camellia, but will cut you if you point that out. She is unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace and allowed to make a mockery of her marriage before it begins. But once she ties the knot, she becomes magically docile (or at least it turns out she really, really, really [maybe] is in love with the hapless mope she’s been abusing on camera for the past two episodes of the show), so it’s all worth it in the end because she gets her magical princess moment.
You see my problem here? You can’t? Let me spell this out as simply as I can: you’re telling us that all women are utterly incapable of planning a party and staying rational at the same time. That’s the bottom line of all your programming. We have the choice of being thought of as helpless or god-help-us with nothing in between.
Can you imagine for one moment if there was a reality show about planning black tie charity events where every single client who walked through the door of the planner’s business was assumed to be a blithering idiot with no clue how anything at all is done? And some of the women I’ve seen on bridal reality shows being presented as drooling, brainless incompetents say they have jobs where putting on big parties and organizing conferences is simply one of their duties.
Trust me, anyone who can throw a major charity event or put together a large conference has more than the skills required to organize a wedding reception, whether they rely on hired guns or become DIY divas.
And then you get the third layer where some of the worst antics in the history of the show Bridezillas have been committed by women who claim to be wedding industry professionals! Almost every season there seems to be at least one ‘zilla who is a wedding planner who still can’t seem to figure out why anybody should expect her to feed her guests or invite her MOH’s husband. In this case, even if you are a professional, you are still utterly incompetent to handle your own wedding plans! Why? Because you are a bride, and brides can’t do this stuff on their own.
So wedding reality show creators, STOP IT!
The vast majority of women getting married today are reasonable people of at least reasonable intelligence. Many of us have already planned major social events of one kind or another and have some clue about keeping guests at said events entertained and fed. Some of us have already been involved in the planning of one or more weddings, and understand what’s involved. Even if we haven’t done that, most of us are intelligent enough to comprehend the basic concepts once they are presented to us.
Whether we hire professionals to carry out our plans or choose to keep control in our hot little hands or – the most common approach – do a little of each, we are adults. We have our own tastes, preferences, dreams, and nightmares. We are not interchangeable dolls for the wedding profession to dress up however they see fit at the moment. We are not rabid dogs. We are not cautionary tales.
We are people.
And we’d like to be treated as such, thank you very much.]]>