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, ├ęclairs…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! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bustle me up!

With some exceptions, most American wedding gowns require a bustle. No, not this type:

(although we guess you could do that, if you wanted). More this type:

Bustles exist to prevent anyone (including the bride) from traipsing on or tripping over the train on a dress. Usually, the selection of what type of bustle to prepare a dress to hold depends on the shape of the dress, gown’s fabric and bride’s taste. Typically, the seamstress provides advice about what type of bustle will work best.

Historically, bustles were worn all the time and shaped by a framework of metal or wood tied around a woman’s waist. Being able to wear a bustle indicated wealth due to being able to 1) afford extra fabric to trail after a woman and 2) afford the contraption to hold that extra fabric away from the woman’s feet.

Today, bustles exist solely to avoid tripping. Unlike their historical counterparts, moreover, they are shaped by an intricate pattern of hooks, buttons and ties sewn into a bride’s dress. Because they are created out of these sewn-in designs, they are referred to as a separate entity from a bride’s dress.

Now, to the specifics:

A single-hook overbustle is one in which a button or hook is affixed at the height where the bride desires the topmost portion of the bustle to lay and a loop is affixed a few inches from the edge of the train. The hook is the positioned over the button or hook and - voila! - a bustled created. Although extremely simple, this bustle-type has its downsides: 1) it usually displays the underside of the fabric of the dress and 2) often slips apart when created on satin or other heavy-fabric gowns.

A three-hook overbustle has the same concept as a single-hook bustle, but uses a triangular shape of hooks to create the bustle. This style eliminates the slippage described in item #2 in the previous paragraph.

The underbustle uses a single tie underneath the dress to pull up the extra fabric. It creates a drape-like appearance and is usually pretty secure, provided that the seamstress does not use a satin string to connect the ties.

The French bustle uses a series of ties and hooks underneath the topmost layers of a gown’s fabric to pull up the dress at several points. The number of hooks and span of their placement depends on the gown’s fabric and shape and are usually determined by the seamstress. This bustle can also be created in double and triple form, in which multiple layers of full ruffles appear on the back of the dress.

The Australian bustle is extremely structurally complex, but pretty basic to implement. This bustle is created by pulling a pair of strings that scrunch up a gown’s extra fabric in a corset-style shape. The visible effect is similar to ruching on the back of the gown.

The ballgown bustle - perhaps the most traditional American bustle - is created when points on a gown’s train are lifted up and attached using buttons or hooks to the exterior of the gown’s waistline. This bustle, which is best suited for gowns with extremely long trains, creates a full-looking gown with an even hemline.

So…which bustle will you choose? When selecting your bustle, consider your dress’s fabric and overall shape. And, no matter what, remember that most bustles require someone crawling under your dress to create them…which is the point at which you really get to know your planner! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

But I’m the Mother-of-the-Bride!

Mothers of the bride have a special role in every wedding. After all, without them there likely wouldn’t be a bride (and, hence, a wedding), to celebrate.

Despite this special role, many brides struggle with identifying what tasks to assign to their mothers and what to leave to their planners. Although all brides love their mom (and are smart enough to remind them of that constantly while planning a wedding), they often are at a loss as to how to mesh the role of their mother and that of their wedding planner when making big and small decisions. Unfortunately, this leads to many a fight between mother and bride, something HJ absolutely hates to hear about or have occurred.  

Usually, the difficulty is that the last time a bride’s mom planned a wedding was years (if not decades) prior. Just like everything else, though, weddings change with time (see previous two week’s posts if you are uncertain about this). This means that a mother’s idea of style, elements to include and guest expectations of a wedding can be way off, or, at the very least, seriously outdated.

For example, my mother planned my sister’s wedding 14 years prior to mine. Her and my biggest hurdle to overcome was the fact that Laura Ashley floral bridesmaid’s dresses were no longer de rigueur. In fact, she didn’t approve of my bridesmaid’s black, non-uniform dresses until after seeing our wedding photos.

So, just what tasks can a bride safely assign to their mothers, and what should be left in a planner’s capable hands? In most cases, consider whether the element requires a PLAN:

Precise: if a wedding element must be precisely timed, fitted or otherwise perfect to avoid a catastrophic problem, leave it to the planner.

Lucky: if you find yourself saying “I hope we’re lucky enough…” hand it over to your planner. Luck shouldn’t factor into a wedding, and a planner’s job is to remove all elements of surprise and give you just want you want.

Available: if placing, organizing or running an element of the wedding needs someone available on the day of the wedding, it’s the planner’s job.

Negotiable: if an item or location’s cost or rules are not perfectly suited to your event and need to be changed, leave the negotiations up to your planner.

Looking for a way to tell your mom that she’s not in charge of certain elements? We’ve found that these sentences are helpful:
  • “I want you to have fun on the wedding day with your and our friends, not worrying about how something looks or if it will occur on time.”
  • “Keeping a good repertoire with the vendor is essential, so I think we should let the planner handle it. That way, if the vendor gets mad, they won’t take it out on us.”
  • “That’s work that we shouldn’t have to do. Let’s have the planner handle that.”
  • “It’s important that you be with me as much as possible on that day. I’d really like it if the planner handled that so you can be nearby.”

Still not able to convince your mom? Let her have her say, then do what you want. It sounds cruel, but oftentimes is the best way to let your mother feel involved, which is most likely all she wants.