Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Registration Game

A close friend of mine has scheduled her wedding next October in Florida. She and her fiance have not yet selected a venue, caterer, florist, theme, invitations…well, they haven’t selected anything - we’ll just leave it at that.

During a holiday party, however, when I asked the bride whether she was stressed (hey, I had to know!), she said that the only thing she was worried about was registering.

Talk about surprising! When I married just under two years ago, the best part of the planning process was registering for gifts. It was so much fun, and I’d be lying if I said that I’d never thought about it before I was even engaged.

Yes, while growing up many girls dream about their dress, shoes and flowers, but alongside those thoughts I also dreamed of registering. In thinking about why this was the case (and whether it was abnormal of me to be so excited about registering), I realized that I could attribute my excitement about registering to two of my personality traits: I love to 1) shop and 2) make lists.

Registering boils down to those two things: shopping and list-making.

However, I could very easily also understand my friend’s anxiety. Choosing whether, when and where to create a registry much less what to put on it requires planning. Not creating a registry means establishing a completely unpredictable gift-receiving situation; creating one that is too small or that contains too many expensive items could reflect poorly on the couple.

Now, back to that holiday party and the questions I answered. For ambiance, imagine a gingerbread house, several empty bottles of wine and at least a dozen plates of devoured appetizers.

Should I even register? It seems outdated and our wedding will be small.

Yes. Every couple should register. Wedding and bridal shower guests will give presents to you, no matter how much you insist that nobody will or should bring anything. Creating a registry is a kindness towards your guests because it takes the guesswork out of what to get you two newlyweds to start your life together; this is even more kind for those guests who may not be familiar with your tastes, likes or dislikes.

My culture traditionally gives gifts of cash. Do I still need to register?

That’s awesome - I’m Polish and cash is de rigueur at our weddings - but yes, you still need to register. Someone you invite, who learns about your wedding or who you might never even have thought of the entire time you were planning your wedding will want to send you a gift that isn’t cash. Unless you want to make it more likely that you will receive something you won’t need, like or use, you’ve got to register.

Aren’t people just going to buy me whatever they want anyway? Why do they need a list?

Yes, there are always going to be people who ignore your registry. I hate that, it’s super annoying; after all the time you spent creating a list for your guests, it’s frustrating to receive something not on it. The exception to this is hand-made or heirloom gifts.

Stick to the list people, always stick to the list.

Where should I register?

Register at stores that are accessible either online or in-person to your guests. When selecting your registry locations, consider the ease of purchasing and sending a gift from the registry. That local boutique may have the best cream-and-sugar set you’ve ever laid eyes on, but you’re not going to receive it if a guest has to call and order it over the phone.

What should I register for?

Ah, here’s the part where lists come into play. Here’s one of the best pieces of advice (although there are lots) you’ll ever receive from HJ: make a list.

While you’re in the midst of wedding planning, pull out a piece of paper when the idea of registering first pops into your mind. Title it “Registry” and keep it somewhere specific. Whenever you think “We need that”, “That would be helpful”, “That’s an awesome gadget”, “My hubby-to-be would love that” or anything else that’s similar. Jot it down.

Okay readers, digest all that for the time being. Next week I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of where to register and what to register for. You know what that means: more list-making!

**Does anyone besides me see the link between Santa’s “making a list” and registering?**

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vendor, Check Please!

Last week’s oh-so-interesting topic of the “communal wedding pot” prompted a question to my in-box:

“So who pays for what if you don’t have a ‘communal pot’? I know what Emily Post says, but what she says doesn’t really fit my situation. We’ve got multiple sets of parents, step-parents, aunts and grandparents willing to help pay for our wedding. They don’t want to just give us cash. Who pays for what?”

First, dear reader, kudos on starting your research by reading Emily Post. HJ’s feelings about Ms. Post are quite clear.

Yet, despite our awe of the etiquette icon, we understand that her rules may not always be so easy to interpret in today’s world of duplicate and adoptive families. In fact, sometimes today’s often-implemented rule of “the more the merrier” makes applying her rules downright confusing.

Don’t despair, however, HJ is here! (Insert image of us flying to your side, wearing pink capes with monogram ‘HJ’s, please!)

The 2006 version of “Wedding Etiquette” advises couples to “consider the options and make compromises.” That’s helpful advice in some aspects (by basically reminding brides to remain calm), but unhelpful for actually telling brides who pays for what when multiple hands are offering. Fortunately, a quick turn of the page provides a more detailed description of who pays for what.

You want to know “who pays for what” when multiple parties are paying for a wedding? Our advice: follow the idea of the rules as closely as possible.

Traditionally, the bride’s family paid for the ceremony and reception elements, including the bride’s attire. The groom paid for the logistical aspects of the marriage – i.e., the marriage license, transportation and lodging of himself and his groomsmen and the rings. See any dividing line? We do! The groom paid for everything required to get to the bride and take her away to be his wife, while the bride paid for everything while the groom was at his destination (i.e., her side).

AHA! That’s two broad categories for couples to divide expenses into:

Anything before or after the wedding pertaining to the groom getting to the bride’s side or changing her from a daughter into a wife = GROOM’S BILL.

Anything during the process of marrying the couple = BRIDE’S BILL.

With this in mind, write down your expenses and categorize them appropriately. You’ll find it’s much easier to assign expenses to your Great Aunt Pauline, Step-Uncle Steven and Half-Brother Bryan by simply looking at the chart.

Our second piece of advice is to not be nitpicky. For example, yes, Emily Post says that, traditionally, the groom paid for the wedding party’s corsages. But corsages are flowers worn at the wedding. Therefore, place them in the ‘Bride’s Bill’ category and move on. Thinking about it too much makes things complicated and holds up the wedding planning process. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Communal Pot

We know we’ve touched on the topic previously, but it’s one that never gets old: money. Every day – and pretty much all day – we planners deal with it, and mainly yours. Fortunately, our goal for money is the same as yours: to make it stretch as far as possible.

However, what we’re finding more often are contributions being made in the form of a cash or check. The result of this is that the category of “your money” becomes an overarching one that includes contributions from many different family members and friends. It is, therefore, a type of ‘communal pot’.

This name might conjure images of a group of wedding-gown-clad brides sitting in a circle and sharing a witches’ cauldron of stew. But, while we guess that’s acceptable, we’d like you to spare an equal amount of focus on the ingredients in the pot.  

In a ‘communal pot’ every participant brings an ingredient to contribute to making the stew. Carrots, potatoes, chicken (can you tell its lunchtime?)…all are mashed (yummy…mashed potatoes…) into one savory dish. In a ‘communal wedding’, multiple parties contribute an item for a couple’s wedding; a mother-of-the groom might make invitations = carrots, an aunt the floral arrangements for the altar = potatoes and a friend programs = parsley (every stew needs seasoning). In a ‘communal pot wedding’, multiple parties contribute money to the couple to spend as the couple sees fit: cash = any ingredient desired.

These gifts, however, are sometimes less easily spent than received, mainly because many of our couples are unsure 1) what to spend this money on, 2) how to report it being spent and, 3) what to do if they choose not to spend it.

Because we like helping (it’s our job, after all), and because we particularly like helping couples on the verge of marrying, here’s some help:

By logic, a contribution to a communal pot can be used any way the recipient wishes. After all, if a specific type of purchase was intended, that specific purchase would have been made by the giver. For example, if Aunt Sallie really wanted you to use the money to purchase invitations, she would have purchased those invitations for you.

By social custom, there’s no need to discuss how a gift of money was spent. After all, you don’t explain how you spent Aunt Sallie’s Christmas gift of $25.00, do you?

By right, you do not have to do anything with that gift. A gift is a gift and, once given, is the recipient’s property.

And, to be super helpful, here’s a precise, entirely appropriate sentence:

“It was really nice of Aunt Sallie to gift us that present; we put it to good use for our life together.”

Done and done. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Interview Nobody Hates

Most of the world hates job interviews. They’re awkward, uncomfortable and chock-full of multiple people boasting about their accomplishments while simultaneously trying to determine just what the other person is about.

However, as those of you who have been reading us for some time know, there’s an exception to every rule (and if there’s not and our couple is unhappy, HJ will create one!).

In this instance, the exception to the general dislike of interviews is the interviews for with selecting wedding vendors. Unlike other types of interviews, wedding vendor interviews are ridiculously fun!

Vendor interviews are the complete opposite of a job interview. In a job interview, everyone is unsure of whether the two respective parties are a good fit. In a vendor interview, the couple and vendor either fit or don’t, but that decision is made either during the interview or immediately afterwards.

In a vendor interview, a couple (and whomever else they’ve brought with them) gets to check out samples of the vendor’s work, thereby eliminating the need to try to figure out if the vendor is exaggerating their capabilities. In turn, the vendor gets to talk about how skilled they are, show off those skills and discuss just what they think they can do for the couple on their big day – things most vendors find ridiculously fun. In a vendor interview everyone wins!

The best part about a vendor interview, however, is that there are very few circumstances when a couple leaves one confused about whether they should hire the vendor. The fact that the vendor’s work can be literally viewed (read = here’s my work and here’s me, do you like?) rarely leaves a couple wondering if they and the vendor are a good fit. Therefore, even if it takes one or two interviews with different vendors, most couples know the specific vendor they want to hire and are comfortable with their decision.

The best way HJ can explain this phenomenon is that couples just know when they’ve found the right vendor. Be it a floral arrangement that exceeds their dreams, an estimate that falls below budget, an idea for décor that is so creative it blows their mind or the most beautiful wedding dress the bride has ever seen, couples often just FEEL that it’s the right vendor.

If we could teach feelings we would, but we can’t. Therefore, the best advice we can give when selecting a vendor is to seriously consider your immediate reaction when leaving your meeting with him or her. If you were unimpressed by their work, interest in your event or level of creativity, it’s quite likely that vendor is not the one for you. If you were overwhelmed by their ideas, it’s also quite likely that the vendor is not the one for you.

If, however, you walk away comfortable and looking forward to putting that little “check” in the box next to that vendor to mark your selection as made, it’s MORE THAN LIKELY that you’ve found your vendor.

Because vendor interviews are the task that most couples spend most time completing while planning their nuptials, it’s a very good thing that they’re fun. Fun jobs = fun times = fun experience. And that’s what wedding planning should be – fun!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Perfect Wedding

Imperfect wedding = perfect marriage.

Recently, I discovered that a local television channel plays Sex and the City reruns for approximately six hours every weekday. Not only is this fun because it provides background noise and lunchtime entertainment for a gal who works from home (it’s on right now), but also because it provides a myriad of engagement parties, bridal showers and weddings to watch. Seriously, over the past few days of watching, I’ve realized that people, and not just the main characters, are getting married or attending weddings all the time on that show.

Presuming that all you readers have, at some time or another, viewed at least a portion of an SATC episode (which I don’t feel incorrect in doing), it’s likely that you know that “Charlotte” had the perfect wedding to “Trey”, followed by a perfect divorce from “Trey” and, subsequently, an extremely non-perfect wedding to “Harry”.

One of my favorite all-time SATC quotes one Carrie delivered to Charlotte after her second wedding:

“Charlotte, you already have the perfect wedding, and a not-so-perfect marriage. 
Maybe a not-so-perfect wedding leads to a perfect marriage.”

Carrie, we agree.

All of HJ’s weddings are perfect – we work so hard that they cannot be anything but just that. However, stuff happens. It’s how a couple and their wedding planner deal with that “stuff” that matters.


Flowers left too long in too cold of a refrigerator and are delivered semi-dead.

Wedding planner calls and has all new flowers delivered within the hour, bride loves brand-new arrangements!
Original location set aside for favors is no longer available because that day the district fire marshal identified it as a emergency pathway exit.
Wedding planner moves table to new location where all guests see favors; bride and groom don’t notice change until they leave reception, and love it!
Driver of guest transportation leaves door open and drains vehicle battery, leaving only one bus for guest transportation.
Wedding planner runs the operating bus on a route and makes it a competition between which guests can be the most entertaining to the driver – guests love it!
Photographers are suddenly required to show insurance documents to the hotel, despite being told that doing so was not required.
Wedding planner logs on to computer system remotely and retrieves documents, bride never knows because photographers don’t miss a minute of shooting!

See, bad stuff happens. And weddings, although perfect overall, are certainly not made of everything that is in itself perfect.

From all of this, we here at HJ hope to teach you that perfection is an overall emotion, and not a minute-by-minute, tiny event-by-tiny event, by-the-book thing. We encourage you to laugh at the little problems that arise and to understand that there is very little chance that your guests recognized that anything was amiss.

We also hope to teach you that the solution to each of these problems was US, which just might mean that you should give us a call.

More than anything, however, we hope to teach you that an imperfect wedding absolutely, definitely does not mean an imperfect marriage. We support Carrie’s statement because, in the case of the couples above, each is happy and more in-love than ever.

So go on, let yourself spill red wine on your wedding dress…Charlotte did and lived happily ever after.

But, if you really want to know my truly favorite quote, it’s: “When they do the Hora, just remember to keep your legs together. Ah, the HORROR!” 

Yes, this is the exact moment when Charlotte's
 wedding planner provides the best advice ever.

Monday, November 19, 2012

We're Just One Small Happy Family

Does your family tree have more branches
than you know how to handle?

Yesterday, at my first-ever baby naming ceremony (congrats, Baby June!), I met a couple who explained that this upcoming weekend they would be attending their fourth wedding reception.

Of course, I immediately sought more information.

It seems that both members of this particular couple had gigantic families, about 100 people each. When combined with friends and other must-be-invited individuals, the couple’s wedding guest list neared about 400 people.

Now, the largest wedding I’ve ever heard of had a 1,200 guest list. You read that right: 1,200. It occurred in the mid-90s in Amarillo, Texas. The bride numbered her wedding gifts to keep them straight when writing thank you notes. I know because I saw all of those numbers on the bottom or side of every dish, glass and trinket in her home.

Yet, even though it contains less than four digits, a 400-person wedding falls way outside the “normal” for D.C. weddings. In HJ’s experience, most wedding invite lists approximate 150 people.

It seems that, after creating their guest list, this couple did some thinking and had very difficult conversations between themselves and with their families. The result was that they had a wedding to which they invited only their immediate family members, which totaled about 30 guests.

But…it was made known that friends or family interested in throwing a reception were more than welcome to do so and were guaranteed to have the couple in attendance. In the end, they had one wedding ceremony and four receptions.

First, yes, they received gifts at every reception (of course I asked!); yes, every reception was in a different location (two in Texas, one in Washington D.C. and the one next week in Missouri); yes, every reception had a different theme, food and favor.

Sounds awesome, right?

Apparently, it is! And mainly, the couple stated, because EVERYONE was happy.

The couple explained that a 400-person wedding was just unfathomable to them. Therefore, they did the only thing they knew how – evaded the situation altogether. By only inviting immediate family – such as siblings, grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles – they avoided:
  1. The need to explain why some family members or friends were invited and other were not;
  2. Why they drew the line on invites where they did (“No Aunt Edith wasn’t invited, but Aunt Jenny was because….well, we don’t know.”);
  3. Sending out multiple rounds of invitations;
  4. Scrimping and saving or putting themselves or their families into debt to pay for a large wedding;
  5. Planning a large wedding – a task in which they were not that interested.

All in all, the bride and groom still had their fabulous day, as well as three others!

Making the decision to have an immediate-family only wedding is not one that many couples engage in willingly or with much joy. Many times, couples feel obligated to have a large wedding and invite everyone, despite the strain it will put on their lives and wallets. Sometimes, though, it’s just the right decision.

In a similar situation, when determining if a family only wedding is the right route for you, consider:

How you will rationalize your decision. Even though it seems a no-brainer to you, others might not understand why you wouldn’t throw a big fete. Combined with the fact that talking about money isn’t always appropriate, this could make conversations about your wedding plans uncomfortable. Be prepared with a list of reasons why you decided what you did because, according to the couple I interviewed over bagels and kugel yesterday, you will be asked. (In fact, you might print that list and carry it with you).

How you will handle negative reactions. Although all of reasons for not having a large wedding listed above are more than reasonable, some family members might not respond to your decision as graciously as you’d like. Be sure that you and your future spouse can tolerate criticism, grumbling or downright disdain from upset would-be guests.

Whether you’re willing to travel to multiple receptions. I am obligated to reveal that the couple admitted they were looking forward to the end of their receptions. Because their receptions spanned a six month period, they constantly struggled to take time off work and not feel as though they were constantly away from home. If you’re not interested in all that travelling, don’t offer to do so.

How you might feel about your decision in five years. Will you be upset that you didn’t have a big wedding? Might you be sad that everyone wasn’t together at the same time? If so, perhaps a family only wedding isn’t right for you.

Overall, I encourage you to make the decision that is right for you and your future spouse. Don’t think about what your parents, friends or extended family members might say or do. The important thing is for you two to start your marriage off on the right foot, even if that foot might only be viewed by a small group of people at any given time.

This couple managed to tie the knot AND make everyone happy - no small feat in our book. Plus, the bride was able to wear her wedding dress more than once, of which I’m completely jealous. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giving the Useful: Bridesmaid’s Gifts

The tradition of giving a gift to bridesmaids evolved from the bride providing her attendants with dresses to wear to the wedding ceremony. Remember the dress-the-bridesmaids-the-same-as-the-bride-to-fool-evil-spirits trick? It was that trick that prompted brides to gift bridesmaids anything at all: not only were wedding-appropriate gowns rare in the days of hand-spun cloth, but multiple women having the same exact dress was pretty much impossible, unless the bride created the dresses herself. Additionally, it was nice for your girlfriends and female family members to put themselves in the way of evil spirits, right? For doing so, they definitely deserved a new dress.

As the industrial revolution reinvented the way clothing was made and allowed for off-the-rack dress purchases, the tradition of bridesmaid gifting didn’t disappear. Instead, the type of gift given changed from one of necessity (read = wearing clothes in church) to accessory (read = handkerchiefs).

Yes, handkerchiefs. Those little swaths of linen were (and still are) the traditional bridesmaid gift. This was because a bride could create numerous delicate, personalized handkerchiefs for her bridesmaids that could match any attire and be useful.

Did you catch that word? Useful

Today, that word is still foremost in most brides’ minds when giving gifts. To us, this is awesome because “use” rarely factors into any other gift giving event. To bridesmaids, however, this is usually less awe inspiring because “use” does not easily translate to any time after the wedding.

A handkerchief is a beautiful, traditional, and very handy (get it?) gift. However, how many of your bridesmaids now use the more-modern Kleenex in lieu of linen? We’re guessing quite a few.

If you want to gift a useful and thoughtful present to your bridesmaids to thank them for their service, consider their lifestyles. Will they really wear a hot pink shawl ever again? Do they write a lot of thank you notes, thereby warranting that stationary? Does a monogram jewelry box match their home décor? If not, consider these options:

The bridesmaid dress. More and more brides are actually paying for their bridesmaids gowns. We love this idea, especially since very few dresses actually fit into the category of “being wearable after the wedding”. (We know that this statement is not a popular one, given that it is claimed by many brides. However, it is a very honest one, because we, in our experience, have found that very few bridesmaids re-wear their dresses). Regardless of whether the dress actually fits into the re-wearable category, however, we’ve learned from the bridesmaids in our weddings that a bride’s covering this expense is always appreciated.

Hair, makeup or nail services. We must admit that this gift is less altruistic than it seems. Brides who really want their bridesmaids’ hair, makeup or nails to look a specific way might consider gifting a spa day for their attendants. Time in the spa gives a bride the opportunity to spend time with their friends and family and achieve the perfect look for their group.

Brunch, lunch or some other meal. Treating your bridesmaids to a meal is always an appreciated “thank you” gesture. Not only do your bridesmaids get to eat, drink and be merry together, but they also get to be merry with their bride-to-be friend. A bride might consider giving a short toast to make the time extra special.

Individualized gifts. Nothing says that all bridesmaids must receive the same gift. Being able to pick and choose what you give each individual bridesmaid makes it easier to select something that is actually “useful” to her. If you’re uncomfortable with each gift being different, wrap each item similarly in one of HJ’s gift bags from its Charmed line.

If you’re the traditional sort, go ahead and gift those handkerchiefs. After all, giving a gift is always generous, and any bridesmaid who scowls at the gift horse might just need to be moved to the back of the processional. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Readers? Readers?

"Bueller? Bueller?"


Do you have questions you're dying for us to answer? If so, send them to

Every so often we'll compile a few and answer away!

Happy Wednesday!

The Blushing Bride

During the (wildly fun and busy) past month of weddings, were here at HJ noticed an increase in the number of our brides wearing blushers. A blusher, for those of you dear readers who are unfamiliar with them, is a piece of fabric that covers the bride’s face as she walks down the aisle. The fabric is usually the same as that of the veil, essentially making it a part of the veil – but a part that can be either lifted back or detached, depending on its construction.

Interestingly, the brides wearing blushers were our “older” brides. By older, we mean brides in their mid- to late-30s, which we absolutely know is not old at all, but is an identifier that allows for the following discussion. (Note: we fall within our category of “older”. We hope to not have ruffled too much tulle by using the term).

Why is this “older” identifier interesting? Because blushers are, by far, extremely traditional, and, yet, none of our “older” brides were traditional themselves. (Here, we gracefully sidestep the younger/older bride personality comparison because there really is no way to make one).

Way way back in history, a blusher prevented marrying individuals from seeing one another.
Traditionally, because marriages were alliances made for political, security or financial reasons, it mattered little to the arranging parties (i.e., the parents), whether the bride and groom knew each other prior to their becoming betrothed or married.

However, blushers also prevented someone or something (meaning a group of someones), from stopping the alliance. Brides wore veils so that nobody knew who she was, thereby avoiding the possibility of her identity becoming known and a ruckus (read: group of warriors barging into the church) ensuing. Protecting a bride’s identity meant, in essence, protecting an alliance to which some may have objected.

Consider this: two sets of parents make an alliance between their children that will cause, upon the parents’ deaths, the consolidation of the largest wealth from one set and military force from the other in the area. Many local residents might object to this consolidation since it can (and often did, making the fear well-founded) lead to the two families overtaking and ruling the town.

The thin piece of fabric that was a blusher, therefore, was a type of weapon.

Over time, worries of clan warfare became less prevalent and those of spirits and propriety more important. With this, the purpose of blushers changed to that of, in the former situation, protecting the bride from evil spirits and, in the latter, maintaining her reputation. In regards to reputation, the more people who saw a woman, the less chaste and modest she was presumed to be – the cause of why many women were “locked away” in castles or rooms.
When all of these worries were wiped away sometime in the late 1800s, blushers became a fashion statement. Today, they retain this status, as can be seen by their varied opaqueness and length.

So, why the increase in blushers lately? We attribute it to the newly established style icon for women in their mid- to late-30s:

Lengthy blusher.

Slice of netting = blusher.

And to her sister:

Once again, netting = blusher.

As a side note: some claim that a blusher led to the bride’s being walked down the aisle by her father. This is entirely false, since a woman was historically never permitted to walk anywhere alone not only (once again) for propriety sake, but also because there were no such people as “engineers” to create flat surfaces – can you imagine falling down the aisle?

Finally, I just can’t help myself from showing the gorgeousness that can be a blusher via one of the most iconic brides of all time, Grace Kelly:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Post-Wedding Bummer

You’ve had the wedding of your wildest fantasies; you’ve married the man or woman of your dreams; everything you ever wanted for your nuptials went off without a hitch; your house is stocked with new gadgets and fun things to start off your married life.

Life is AMAZING.

But, you just might not realize that AMAZING-NESS in the days following your wedding.

The post-wedding bummer session that most couples experience after their wedding is a difficult topic to raise and discuss. In fact, many brides and grooms might scoff at the idea that it actually exists. (I mean, we just got married!) However, it DOES happen, and OFTEN; it’s just one of those things very few people talk about (meaning that if you agree with me on this issue, you’re not alone).

The post-wedding bummer is not due to the fact that either member of the couple is mad at the fact of now being married – quite the opposite, actually. Rather, it’s due to the fact that they don’t know what to do with themselves anymore. Considering that for the past 5-12(+) months of their relationship they have focused on tasks pertaining to their wedding, it’s not completely unimaginable that a couple would wonder how to fill their time now that the said wedding is over.

Why are we raising this issue now? Well, it’s nearing the end of the official “wedding season” as the media and industry says (although we here at HJ haven’t found that the end of the supposed season ever really happens, but we must admit that in the past eight weeks we carried out the success of 10 weddings).

I’m also raising this issue now because (for some reason) the FRIENDS episode when Monica is mad at no longer being a bride the day after her wedding is stuck in my head (“That’s right, I’m not longer a bride…now I’m just somebody’s WIFE!”). And…I’m also writing about this topic now because I recently remembered that the day after my wedding I went home and took a nap; can you think of anything more anti-climactic?

So, just what is a bummed-out couple or individual to do? Here are a few hints:

1. Use the terms “husband” and “wife” everywhere. Who cares if it annoys anyone or everyone? Ideas: order for each other in a restaurant: “my husband will have the chicken”; tell your doorman what you are making your “wife” or “husband” for dinner or desert; discuss weekend or, if here in D.C., post-Sandy cleanup strategies with random strangers. (As a note, the term “spouse” is equally as satisfying).

Why – because that’s what you are now! Someone’s husband or wife! Revel in and embrace it. Shouting it to the rooftops helps you be excited about your changed status rather than bummed about the fact that all that remains on your To-Do list is to get your wedding dress preserved.

2. Brides, wear your wedding finery around the house. EVERY BRIDE DOES IT. If you’re too lazy to don your entire dress, toss on your veil or shoes and parade around the house. Trust us, your spouse will totally understand and just might join in on the fun. Wearing your garb extends the feeling of fun you had and lets you wear those special items just one more time. (Here again, remember the FRIENDS where Monica, Phoebe and Rachel sit around in wedding dresses and veils. Kudos to the bride who does dishes in their dress (wearing gloves)).

3. Use wedding gifts to create a magnificent dinner or something special. It’s new, and was gifted to you for your wedding! Let’s check out what our new blender/slow cooker/pasta maker can do!

4. Gather every photo you can (thank you, FaceBook!) and create a slideshow. Insert funny comments and share with your friends and family, or just remember it all together.

5. Call your friends and family and reminisce. The simple sentence: “I know it just happened, but I want to talk all about it!” is more than sufficient to get whomever is on the other end rolling away with stores about things you might have missed or stories you didn’t know.

6. Meet with your wedding planner for coffee (perhaps not on the day immediately following your wedding, we’re pretty tired then) to discuss everything. Your planner is the person who was with you the entire time and will know the most – and perhaps be the most excited about discussing everything with you!

Don’t dread the bum-out, embrace it! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It’s What’s Under the Dress that Counts

Pretty lingerie for a pretty bride.
Today’s topic is one that many brides shy away from: undergarments. Yes, readers, today we’re talking about your underwear.

Okay, first, let’s get over any discomfort about the topic. For starters, everyone wears underwear, or at least they should be. Furthermore, with a few exceptions (Jennifer Lopez’s 2000 Grammy Awards green-silk Versace dress, for example), everyone wears underwear ALL THE TIME.

Trust us when we say that not wearing underwear on your wedding day is not an option.

Now, before we go any further, it’s also imperative that I point out that it’s also not an option to not wear underwear when dress shopping. Not only do bridal dress consultants rarely want to see all you have to offer, but it’s just unsanitary (who else has tried on that dress before you?). The fact that you may have an unsightly visible panty line when you finally select your dress is not enough to overcome needing to wear underpants and a bra.

The time to shop for undergarments is after you order your dress. At that point, you will know what type of fabric and dress shape you are dealing with. The fabric of your dress dictates how thick or thin your undergarments need to be, as well as whether you need a specific type of undergarment, such as Spanx. The shape of your dress dictates the style of your undergarments (e.g., halter dress = halter bra).  

There are too many types and styles of undergarments to discuss which one you need or will work best. Therefore, let’s discuss why you need undergarments.

Aside from the basic concerns of cleanliness and the protection of delicate body parts, undergarments exist so that your outfit can be shown off to the best of its ability. Every item of clothing (even a wedding dress) has a shape (yes, even “baggy” is a shape). That shape is designed with undergarments in mind, and not wearing undergarments distorts it.

Undergarments also exist so that your outfit retains its status as a focal point. Sure, YOU inside the dress are the real focal point, but your outfit is an additional focal point. This is even truer for your wedding dress – unless there is another woman wearing full-on white at your wedding (in which case, please take a photo so that I can shame her publically for her mishap on this blog). Not wearing undergarments increases the chances that your body and not you or your dress garners the most attention from your guests.

In addition to the instruction to purchase undergarments, one tip we commonly give brides is to stand outside in their dress and have a (honest) friend or family member discuss what they can see. Often, natural light may reveal that a fabric is sheerer than it appeared under a store’s halogen light bulbs. This little test has many a bride running for more covering undergarments.

If you’re unsure what undergarments you need, ask your seamstress or dress consultant. She’s likely handled the dress, or at least its fabric, before, and can tell you what to shop for. Usually, they can also tell you what to avoid.

So go ahead, purchase that slip. Not only will you be more comfortable knowing that you’re properly covered, but your dress will hang better on your frame and your grandmother will smile at the fact you’re wearing a slip. 

Whatever undergarments you choose, please remember that Madonna is the only woman who can pull this off:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Wedding Cake…ER…Dessert Bar

From this...

to this...
to this!

Before flavorings, before food coloring and way before fondant icing, wedding cakes were fruit cake. This dense cake – which has unrefined flour as its base – is filled with raisins, cherries and almonds, fruit staples of the English countryside. The easy gathering and abundant supply of this cake’s ingredients made it easy to provide every guest with a slice, while its density allowed bakers to create a towering creation of dessert.

Perhaps because fruit cake is not that popular in the United States or perhaps because there is, in fact, only one fruit cake in the entire nation that we all keep mailing to another recipient because WE certainly don’t want it (ha!), fruit cake at American weddings never really took hold. Historically, there was no specific type of cake served to celebrate weddings in the nation.  

Then, in the early 1900s, someone remembered that, in the U.S., white symbolized purity and the wedding cake the hope for the couple’s success and happiness. The result was that, for a time, wedding cakes were entirely white, consisting of white vanilla cake with white vanilla icing.

In the mid-1900s, when immigration to the U.S. increased, Americans realized that the stately, reception-style wedding celebration was not the only way to do things. Specifically, they watched as other cultures fed guests through buffets. And, as we all know, what is the best part of a buffet? The dessert table, of course!

The effect of this introduction did not become apparent until the 1990s, when intercultural marriages became more commonplace. The result, however, was the creation of dessert bars.

Today, many a couple offer guests the option to select a slice of cake or satiate their sweet tooth on delectable treats offered in the form of a dessert bar. Sometimes, these bars consist of a selection of candies, while other times they may be laden with cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, brownies, ice cream, éclairs…okay, I’m going to stop before I run to the nearest bakery.

In the end, though, what couples realized is that the cost of a wedding cake, which can range between $7-$12 here in DC, requires that it either taste good or not be the sole dessert option. It’s just not worth the cost to feed a slice of $7.00 bland cake to 200 people ($1400!!)! Instead, couples began offering other desserts and ordering a smaller cake.

The one tradition we (mostly) retained from our British founders, however, is saving the topmost layer of the cake for the couple to slice on their one year anniversary. Yet we changed the meaning of this activity: in Britain, the topmost layer was designated to be cut upon the christening of the couple’s first child, while in the U.S. the cutting occurred solely to celebrate the couple’s first year of marriage.

So go ahead, have your cake in whatever form you wish, and make sure you eat it, too!