An article by Sandy Malone was published by HuffPo the other day. In it, she tells the harrowing story of a client of her wedding planning service and what happened to her when she went shopping at an unnamed bridal salon in Waltham, Mass.
According to Malone, the bride informed the salon of her size (though I have to say I’m puzzled as to why an ‘average sized’ woman should have to do that) and was told it would be ‘no problem.’ I should certainly hope there would be no problem fitting an average sized woman in a reasonably well-stocked bridal salon. And while samples rarely fit brides precisely, there certainly ought to be a few gowns in a size close enough that a woman can try some things on to get a general idea of how they might look on her.
Apparently, this was not the case.
It seems that what the salon did instead of putting an ill-fitting dress on the bride and asking her to use her imagination as to how it will look when it is properly fitted, the consultant took the gown and began pinning it to the bride’s undergarments in front… in a tiny room with mirrors on three sides and only a flimsy curtain on the fourth wall. This process, apparently, is called ‘paper dolling.’ To add insult to injury, when the bride’s friends wanted to see what the consultants were oohing and ahing over in that tiny cubicle, one of them simply threw open the curtain, exposing the bride’s panty-clad backside to all and sundry without warning.
The bride, of course, was pretty traumatized by this experience, as would be any right-thinking person. Paper dolling sounds pretty useless. After all, a dress needs to be seen in three dimensions to get the full effect, and wedding gowns in particular need to be seen from the back, because during the ceremony, chances are that’s what your friends and family will be seeing the most of. Most bridal couples do stand facing the officiant who faces the witnesses.
On top of that, the sudden and completely insensitive near-indecent exposure of the bride was appalling. You ask first whether the bride wishes to show off the dress she’s trying on, and if it’s not actually on her, this is an extra vital step.
Malone winds up the article with a warning to all brides to shun this pernicious practice, which is excellent advice. I, too, would counsel brides not to allow a salon to ‘paper doll’ them into a dress.
But here’s the interesting thing. When I googled the term and several variations on it… I got only Malone’s original article from two days ago, and a whole lot of articles about making or collecting actual paper dolls. Is this one shop in Waltham the one place in the world that does this? Is there another reason the term might not get a lot of hits in bridal terms?
Has anyone out there heard about this anywhere else? Known someone subjected to it? Survived the experience themselves?
Curiouser and curiouser.]]>
Shopping for a wedding gown can be one of the most exciting, and one of the most frustrating parts of planning a wedding.
It’s exciting because you’re getting to play dress up with wildly luxurious dresses, the like of which you will probably never wear again. It’s exciting because finding that just right dress makes the whole thing seem real for the first time to a lot of women. It’s exciting because salons pamper brides.
It’s frustrating because it’s rare that a bride has the budget for the really spectacular gowns. It’s frustrating because sometimes it’s hard to know which gown to pick… especially when choosing between gowns that look an awful lot alike. It’s frustrating because everyone you bring with you has an opinion, and sometimes it’s the polar opposite of yours, which leads to second-guessing and fear of making a bad decision.
And then there are those oh-so-helpful guides to choosing the right gown for your figure flaws.
My advice? Ignore them! Forget they exist!
In the first place, your body is not a problem to be solved. It’s a fabulous piece of natural machinery and one that was involved in making someone else fall in love. Your intended and your family and your friends – if they’re doing it right – see your physical beauty as well as your more inner beauty. On your wedding day, they’ll see how happily you glow, how much joy you’re feeling. They’ll see how radiant you are and appreciate that no matter what the packaging looks like.
In the second place, these guides all seem to assume that you have one single figure issue and you want to hide it. These guides tell you what to do if you’re short, and they tell you what to do if you’re pear-shaped… but they assume that short women by definition aren’t pear-shaped and give conflicting advice. And assuming the one, burning desire of all short brides is to look taller… well, some women love to emphasize something that is not conventionally appreciated. I’ve known many a short woman – myself included – who has no interest in appearing taller, and several who deliberately emphasize their petite stature.
Speaking of that conflicting advice, take a look at this guide to choosing the best wedding gown for your figure. Apparently, the single least likely to look good feature on any gown for any bride is… sleeves. Ditching sleeves makes you look taller, keeps your hourglass figure proportional, both increases and decreases your bust visually… oh, except that every single bride in the world looks great in cap sleeves. And heavy brides need sleeves to keep from showing the world our humongous hammy arms. I know a lot of women who consider cap sleeves the bane of the fashion world. And I know plenty of my fellow fats who defend their right to bare arms.
In the third place, these guides ignore something vital: personality. According to every style guide I’ve ever seen for short women, I need to ditch any large, dramatic features or accessories. My tiny frame cannot handle them, you see. But even when I weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet, the fastest way to make me disappear straight into the wallpaper was to take away my drama. Big accessories, bright colors, and a willingness to go for broke in fashion terms have always made me the center of attention.
By the same token. I’ve known women who the style guides would have told to layer on drama, but who looked ridiculous if they took that advice. Their personalities made them better suited to dainty accessories, pastels, and simple cuts.
You know who you are better than a salon consultant who met you two minutes ago. Be clear with her about your personal style and your priorities. Give her the best snapshot idea you can of who she’s dressing before she goes to pull gowns.
After all, you don’t want the most important dress of your life to be all about covering something up: you want it to display the best of you in the best possible way.]]>
But there’s a funny thing about average statistics: they reflect all weddings and none, not any one specific wedding.
You see, those numbers include things like Kim Kardashian’s recent multi-million-dollar extravaganza that resulted in mere weeks of actual marriage… and it includes that couple who couldn’t wait for the end of grad school and held a potluck in a friend’s back yard with ten of their closest peeps in attendance.
It includes the women I see on Say Yes to the Dress who don’t blink at the idea of spending fifteen grand on just the dress, and it includes the couples I see on Rich Bride, Poor Bride who present their planners with a budget of less than ten thousand dollars for the entire wedding. It includes the couples on Platinum Weddings who pay half a million dollars on a three-day blowout for six hundred of their best friends like it was pocket change, and it includes couples who borrow the money for a license from their folks and ask a friend to get ordained by the Universal Life Church so they won’t have to come up with a way to pay the officiant.
It includes the people who paid cash on the barrel for everything, and the people who went into debt it will take them years to pay off to have the day they want.
There are statistics and there are handy tools like Cost of wedding.com where you can learn what the average amount spent on a wedding is. Chances are you can find some sort of breakdown of what the ‘average’ couple spends specific items, too, like photography or cake. These things are interesting to know, and if you’re looking into a particular kind of item, service, or look, they can be helpful to you in figuring out what that might set you back.
But there’s one thing they cannot tell you: what you as a couple are able to comfortably spend on your individual wedding. You are not an average. And while your wedding will most likely involve a lot of the expected trappings in one form or another, your wedding is not average. It’s unique to you.
Here’s the bottom line on what weddings cost: your wedding will cost what you are willing to spend on it. That could be anything from the cost of the marriage license, followed by a quick lunch for the friends who married you and witnessed the event to a price tag that would make a Kardashian blush… if such a thing is possible.
My advice? Take a little time to price things you like out; consider carefully what you need, what you want, and what you don’t want; brainstorm a little about how to source things you can’t afford the ordinary way. Then ignore what everyone else is paying, and have the wedding that is the best intersection possible of your style and your available budget.
After all, do you really want to be average?]]>
Another area where brides tend to shy away from buying online is wedding flowers. Part of that, I’d wager, is that there’s not a zillion shops selling wedding flowers by mail. Favors online? No problem, you have an almost infinite number of choices. Wedding shoes online? The sky is the limit! Bulk fresh flowers online? Even then it’s no problem – there’s Fifty Flowers, for example, and Grower’s Box (a personal favorite of mine). Most of the sites selling bulk flowers don’t, however, arrange them for you, so unless you’re keen on giving DIY wedding flowers a go, you’re mostly out of luck.
…but not entirely out of luck!
How about pretty arrangements of Peruvian lilies, classic roses, star of Bethlehem, or blue hydrangeas? Bridesign has been on my love list since I wrote iDo: Planning Your Wedding With Nothing But Net. Back then, it was pretty much the only place you could find wedding flower arrangements online and its stock was teeny tiny. Now they’ve expanded their options to include many different kinds of flowers and even bulk blooms (for the DIYers).
They’re even starting to carry some wedding ceremony flowers – basically arrangements for pews. And they’re not the only ones! Fifty Flowers, which used to only carry DIY packages, now offers nine professionally designed flower collections featuring everything from bouquets to boutonnieres.
So should brides be afraid of buying wedding flowers online? Absolutely not. Sure, there aren’t nearly as many shops selling fresh flower arrangements for weddings as there are shops selling favor boxes and custom wedding cookies, but that’s no reason to avoid buying online when it comes to your wedding blooms.
If you’re wondering how buying wedding flowers online works, I’ve written about it before, and it’s not particularly complicated – the main bit is knowing how to care for your flowers for the one or two days before you ceremony and reception. Had I known about Bridedesign before my own wedding, I probably would have bought my flowers from them instead of making them myself (because I’m lazy and it would have been one less thing to drag along on our epic pre-wedding road trip).
As an incentive for those on the fence about buying wedding flowers online, Bridesign has a coupon code just for Manolo for the Brides readers: BX4001 Use it to save 10% on your wedding arrangements any time between now and October of 2010!]]>
At some point in the not-too-distant past, Bluefly opened the Wedding 2.0 section of its web site. While I hate the whole ‘2.0’ thing, I like the way you navigate it. First, you indicate whether you’re attending the wedding or in the wedding party, then you either choose what sort of wedding it is or your role in the wedding party. Finally, Wedding 2.0 presents you with a number of options. It’s not perfect, natch. I pretended to be a size 12 bridesmaid looking for a yellow dress and got two results. Slimming down didn’t help, either. And if you’re larger than a size 14, you’re out of luck all over the map, apparently.
All the same, it makes it a teeny bit easier to shop on Bluefly for wedding-wear. Not enough to get excited about, but that’s not going to stop me from featuring some lovely wedding-ready dresses and gowns later this week. Of course, I’d also love to hear about your favorite online shops that carry wedding appropriate gear for guests and members of the wedding party. Have at it in the comments!]]>