Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shhh….I’m reading!

I love to read; currently, there are 15 books sitting on my nightstand. In fact, I love to read so much that I’m one of a handful of reviewers of historical fiction in the nation.

What I don’t typically read are magazines. While my friends tear out photos and pour thorough the latest editions of Vogue, Martha Stewart or event This Old House (you know who you are, Ms. BQ), I sit next to them and flip the pages of my novel.

That all changed when I became engaged, however. Once that ring was on my left hand, I snatched up every bridal and wedding magazine on bookstore shelves (it helped that Borders was going out of business at the time). It was fun – extremely fun – to look at all the floral, dress, invitation and décor ideas out there.

Reading bridal magazines is enjoyable. There’s really only a few times in a girl’s life when she can pour through as many as she likes or order subscriptions to Brides and Martha Stewart Weddings (if you ignore most of the ridiculously intricate do-it-yourself ideas, MSW is one of the best bridal magazines out there). But reading bridal magazines is also practical: it helps couples learn what they like and don’t like, and gives them photos to show vendors to explain their tastes.

Many brides act the same way I did – picking up magazines once that “look how shiny!” ring graces their hand. This is not only okay, but almost necessary. In fact, one of the first thing HJ does with any of its new couples is hand them a copy of Washingtonian’s Bride and Groom. We want you to flip through it, want you to tear it up, want you to show us what you select and reject.

There’s no right or wrong time to start reading bridal magazines. Whether before or after you hire a planner, the pages you flip through guide you through the selection process.

One word of warning, though: notice that I used “selection”, not “planning” in the paragraph above. Magazine photos, ads and articles guide you in selecting items, but not in planning your wedding. Why? Most of those pages do not show the two most important things in any wedding: the budget and schedule.

The photos in bridal magazines are wonderful, but do not detail the cost of the item; ads for wedding planners are helpful in providing an introduction into the business, but do not reveal their organization or efficiency; articles discussing real weddings do not showcase all of the work or cost involved in planning a wedding.

And there’s this article’s main point: look at magazines, but don’t attempt to replicate them exactly. Doing so may result in busting your budget or being disappointed in the end result.

In a few days, I’m attending an engagement party where the bride has requested bridal magazines as gifts. I love that idea simply because it’s so practical and fun. There is absolutely no way, in my thinking, that attendees will not start flipping through her gifts soon after she opens them. (Congratulations, Rosalyn and Stratton!). 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Veil Etiquette

Historically, brides wore veils to protect themselves against evil spirits and dangerous storms. Today, some cultures use veils to hide a bride’s outer beauty so that the groom focuses on her inner beauty.
Many cultures attach metaphorical or religious meanings to bridal veils. For example, in cultures where arranged marriages are practiced, a bride’s conceals her identity until she and her groom reach the altar. In the United States, however, the tradition of wearing a veil symbolizes nothing other than love and romance.
The first record of a bride wearing a wedding veil in the U.S. dates to 1799, when Eleanor "Nellie" Custis, George Washington’s step-daughter, donned one in her wedding. According to legend, when Nellie’s fiancé first laid his eyes on her through a lace-curtained window he fell instantly and completely in love. This romantic beginning prompted Nellie to wear a lace veil at her wedding, which ignited the use of bridal veils in American weddings, a behavior which has since become tradition.
Without such an auspicious beginning to a relationship, however, many brides question which type of veil to wear, and even if they should wear one at all. (My favorite “no-veil” determination was a bride terrified of catching her flowers on her veil and ripping it while walking down the aisle.) Although many times our brides know at the outset whether they want to wear a veil, we sometimes receive questions about the appropriateness and types of veils.
For starters, wearing a veil during a wedding ceremony is always appropriate; it’s the length of the veil the matters. There are 12 types of bridal veils:
  1. Blusher, which covers the bride’s face and has no back length (note that sometimes this type of veil is attached to other veils, but by itself is the only one that comes forwards to cover the bride’s face);
  2. Bouffant, which hits at the tip of the bride’s shoulders;
  3. Shoulder, which sits in line with the bride’s shoulder blades;
  4. Elbow;
  5. Waist;
  6. Fingertip;
  7. Knee;
  8. Waltz, which brushes the floor;
  9. Chapel, which usually matches the length of the train of the bride’s gown;
  10. Cathedral, which is usually 144 inches long;
  11. Royal, which is usually 180 inches long;
  12. Detachable, which allows a bride to remove part of the veil after the ceremony.

Longer veils are considered more formal. Generally, the later in the day the ceremony occurs, the more formal the wedding. Therefore, late-in-the-day ceremonies easily support wearing a waltz, chapel, cathedral or royal veil. Formality may also be determined by the ceremony type, location and the entire bridal party’s attire.
Blushers, in contrast, can be worn at any time of the day. This is mainly due to the blusher’s historical significance of protecting the bride until the conclusion of the ceremony, when the veil is removed from her face.
Veils with lengths falling in between a blusher and waltz can be worn at any time.
Alright, so now you know what this etiquette guru calls “veil etiquette” rules. The tricky part is that, with traditional wedding etiquette being changed to conform to modern times, these rules are not necessarily set in stone.
When selecting a veil, a bride should consider whether it compliments her gown, body shape and personality. Wedding gowns with intricate detailing or stitching usually pair well with veils ending at or before the point of detail. The shape of a bride’s face and the narrowness her dress are also important.
The details on the veil itself are another important factor. Tiering, coloring, and decoration of a veil should enhance the beauty of a simple gown or compliment an elegant and sophisticated one.
In modern America, veils are seen as the finishing touch to a bride’s trousseau, but not necessarily a must-have trousseau element.  More than anything, a veil should reflect the beauty, love, and confidence that the bride feels on her wedding day. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Wedding Freak Out

Whether caused by an in-box full of emails, a review of the budget or an inability to find the perfect favor, every couple has a wedding freak out. Often times, this freak out manifests itself in indecisiveness or a fight. Sometimes, couples become so overwhelmed that they simply refuse to do anything at all regarding their wedding.

Last year, I married. My freak out occurred two days before my and my husband’s wedding, when FedEx called five times about delivering a set of linen napkins, Pottery Barn called six times to see if FedEx had called and my husband politely informed me that two of the most important names in our programs were misspelled (read: rush program reprinting). My in-laws were sitting in my living room, so I couldn’t scream out loud, but I sure let a yell loose in my head. (I congratulate my husband for keeping his cool.)

It’s understandable to freak out. Usually, it’s the result of being overwhelmed with too much to do, family members asking too much, the necessity of changing original plans and becoming frustrated at the difficulty of balancing vendor visits and working full time. The pressure of wedding planning can blast over a couple in a nanosecond or slowly grow until it explodes. Regardless of its impetus or arrival, however, we planners know when it happens.

You can try to hide, but, trust us, we know.

How do we know? Everything grinds to a halt. Nothing gets done and any responses we receive are terse. Don’t worry about that, we understand.

How do we fix it? We keep planning. That’s right. We work behind the scenes and wait, patiently, for you to return. Sometimes, you take a day or two, sometimes a week, but you always return.

Wedding planning is stressful. It requires ridiculous amounts or organization, scheduling and preciseness. It’s the one time in their lives when couples worry about what hundreds of people will eat and drink, where they will sit and what music they will dance to. It’s the one time in their lives when everyone tells them what to do, but do not help – at least not productively. It’s the one time when the one person they lean on the most in their lives – their fiancé – is just as stressed as they are. It’s the one time in their lives when they turn to a personal employee – their wedding planner – for help.

We here at HJ don’t take a freak out too seriously – they happen while planning each and every wedding and are nothing more than a slight bump in the road. We understand that our job is to let you have that freak out and smile when you return; we know that our job is to never, ever mention that freak out again, because doing so is pointless.

But, if you lack a wedding planner, the best advice we can give is to let that freak out happen. Yell and scream (preferably not at someone), punch a pillow or go for a run and take a break from planning for a few days. When you finally return to your charts and lists you’ll be refreshed and have a better perspective on whatever tipped you over the edge.

Or, if you’re like me, you could get out those linen napkins and use them at dinner as a reminder that freak outs happen and are nothing to beat yourself up about. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Big Box-Store Wedding

In homage to the locations of much Fourth of July BBQ shopping, as well as the fact that the Costco parking lot I recently walked by consists of wall-to-wall cars, today we’re discussing using large, ‘box’ stores for wedding supplies.

Recently, couples have begun to turn to Costco, BJ’s and Sams for their wedding needs. On their trip, they pick up everything from flowers, cakes and crudité platters to alcohol, décor supplies and even wedding party gifts. Some couples purchase one or two items, while others stock several carts full of drinks and other items.

Sure, these stores allow for purchasing large quantities of items, often at cheaper prices. But, is this ease worthwhile?

*Caveat: for some stuff.

Here’s the skinny on stopping at Costco for your wedding supplies:

Are you supplying your own alcohol? Hit up your local box store without reserve. Not only can you buy wine, beer and sometimes even alcohol at low prices, but your store just might allow you to return any unopened bottles. With this option, you could be out very little money in the form of leftover alcohol. With having saved money in the first place on your purchase, there’s little drawback.

Seeking flowers for your big day? Consider carefully – there’s no telling what types or colors will be in stock when you shop, not to mention the flowers’ health. This means that you might not only be out of luck in terms of flower color, but that you may be unable to shop ahead of time because your purchase won’t last until your wedding day.

Do you need to feed a large group of guests? While there’s nothing wrong per se with box store food offerings, you once again can’t be too sure about its freshness. Stay clear of fish and other easily spoiled items when selecting your menu.

Looking for décor items, wedding favors or bridal party gifts? Go for it! Buying in bulk allows you to separate and create individual items from each purchase, which always helps your budget. Moreover, your dollar just might go further than it would if you purchased everything individually, meaning that you can give more without impacting your budget.

Box stores are designed to provide large amounts of products for large groups. Can you image a purpose more suited to planning a wedding?

Happy shopping, just remember that you WILL have to fit everything into your car!