Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ring Toss

The time between engagement and wedding is, perhaps, the time when most brides will be more spoiled than ever before in their lives. And, while the fruits of this “spoiling” are also intended for the groom, in all honesty most grooms rarely revel to the same extent in the glassware, home furnishings and other received gifts as do their future spouses.

Moreover, unlike a bride, a ring is usually the single piece of jewelry a groom receives to celebrate his nuptials. While most brides receive two rings along with earrings, bracelets and necklaces to adorn themselves with on the big day, grooms often walk down the aisle with bare hands.  

Which is why, dear brides, a groom’s wedding ring is extremely important. For this reason, HJ recommends that couples put thought, energy and effort into selecting the groom’s ring – the same amount of thought, energy and effort that goes into selecting the bride’s ring(s), to be specific.

This may sound obvious, but when couples enter a jewelry store – often the same one where the bride-to-be’s engagement ring was purchased and where the bride’s wedding band is intended to be purchased – looking for a ring for the groom, it becomes quite obvious why we urge this. Simply – most jewelry shops have far fewer men’s wedding bands than women’s.

When my husband and I married, we selected and purchased our wedding bands together from the same store where my engagement ring had been purchased. Our jeweler spent a good 45 minutes showing me bands that matched my engagement ring, selecting the size and fit for my band and preparing our order (note, that’s an extremely short time, many brides take much longer). But when it came to my then-fiancé, now-husband’s turn, the jeweler simply pulled out three small display boxes, each of which contained approximately ten rings.

My husband selected a ring and loves it. However, it was quite humorous when, not three months later, we learned that his cousin had selected the very same ring as he had – despite the fact that we live thousands of miles apart.

Small world? Maybe. But a much more likely explanation is the fact that there are far fewer choices for men’s wedding bands than for women’s. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there are fewer rings available, but rather fewer rings that are suitable for a specific groom. For example, once narrowed down by metal type, size, and type of decoration desired on the ring (none) my husband had approximately three rings from which to choose.

Selecting a man’s ring has a different process than choosing a female’s. Whereas for females the first question is décor, for men it is size. This is because, for men, size often determines the type of metal available for the ring; the sheer cost of a ring in the size needed may make the cost of the ring untenable if made in, say, titanium.

The next concern is whether the type of metal can be polished. Generally, men’s rings take much more wear-and-tear than rings worn by females. This isn’t because men are clumsier or less careful than females, but rather because having a flat surface means that men’s rings are scraped and scratched across surfaces more frequently than women’s rings.

The third concern is band width. Whereas for females this concern is often higher on the list, band with for men only becomes an issue after the metal type is selected. Why? Companies often make only two or three different widths, none of which may be uniform to the widths created by other companies.

The final concern is décor. Does the groom want diamonds, etching, a monogram or nothing at all on his finger?

After answering these questions and whisking away all of the unsuitable rings, many brides and grooms are faced with less than five options. Sometimes, none of these options may be particularly appealing.

The solution to limited selection is to visit other stores or even to shop online – if only to obtain an understanding of what else is out there.

Now brides, we ARE going to admit that getting your fiancé to shop around with you for a ring for HIM is going to be quite difficult. However, it’s completely worthwhile - you can tell him HJ says so.

I’m not saying we made a bad purchase in my husband’s ring; his ring is amazing and he loves it. But now, looking back, perhaps we should have shopped further. After all, he wears his ring every day, all day, but made his decision from limited options, especially compared to my choices. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Giveaway Change-Up!

Due to the sheer volume of entries, My Glass Slipper has requested HJ's assistance in picking a winner for their $50.00 gift card giveaway. (Yea! We love reading your stories!).

Now, to enter the contest, please just send an email to identifying the shoes you like and why they'll be perfect for your wedding.

Don't worry, all previously submitted entries will be forwarded to us.

Happy typing!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It’s a Shoe-In

I love shoes. Yesterday, “Jeopardy!” had a category about shoes, of which I correctly answered every question. (Yes, I’m only 33, but there are slim pickings of things to watch on TV while I make dinner.)

Since it was the day before I normally post an article on the Bridal Times and since I was thinking about shoes, I was reminded me of one of HJ’s favorite venders: MyGlass Slipper.

Why do we love this site? Because it’s one of the best (and only) websites to find top designer wedding shoes together in one place.

Over the past few years, shoes have become an extra-special accessory for most brides. Not only are they showing up in different colors (red, pink or blue (hey, that’s her something blue!)), but also in different fabrics and adorned with a variety of décor. Nowadays, even traditional white bridal shoes are no longer boring with their accompanying jewels, sequins and bows. As brides become increasingly more stylish and individual in what they wear, shoes are one of the ways in which they display their personality or fashion sense. In fact, shoes are one of the purchases that most brides take the longest amount of time pondering while planning their wedding. I, for example, selected flowers, programs and invitations in less time than I took to purchase my wedding shoes.

When selecting shoes for their big day, brides should consider heel height and width, toe-box width and overall shoe width. Toe-box width refers to the amount of space at the front of the shoe; in this case, a little extra is good (note, only a little!) because most bride’s feet swell sometime during their wedding due to their having been on their feet for so long.

Regardless of the shoe type or color a bride selects, however, the most important thing to remember is that they must be purchased before the fitting in which her gown will be hemmed. Shoe height directly impacts gown length, and gown length affects a gown’s drape and appearance. Therefore, heel height is the one unchangeable aspect of a bride’s wardrobe: what shoes a bride wears to a fitting must be the ones she wears on the day of her wedding.

To help our brides and readers select the perfect shoe, we are in the awesome position of offering a giveaway for My Glass Slipper. For only a week (1/23-1/30), Bridal Times readers can visit the store’s site and leave a comment on the page of the pair of shoes they like explaining why they are the perfect shoes for their wedding. Doing so is as simple as 1) perusing the website to find the perfect pair of wedding shoes and 2) selecting the “Contact Us” link in the middle of the page to generate an email and 3) identifying the style number and name of shoes you love in the subject line writing about why the pair is perfect for you in the body of the email. The individual with the best, most creative comment receives a $50.00 gift card to be used towards the purchase of that pair of shoes.

But wait, it gets better!

Bridal Times readers can also like My Glass Slipper on Facebook and follow the store on Twitter for additional entries.

So what are you waiting for, readers? It’s time to go shoe shopping!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

But I don’t want to wear something blue!

At some point in wedding planning – perhaps even five minutes before walking down the aisle – every bride hears the saying “Something old, something borrowed, something blue…a sixpence in your shoe.”

It’s pretty easy to affiliate the old, borrowed and sixpence with aspects of a wedding (old = don’t forget your former life; borrowed = the support of friends and family; sixpence (who has those anymore?!) = wealth). Yet, it’s not so easy to determine what “something blue” refers to.

Because the recent DC weather is reminiscent of feeling blue (rainy = blue), I decided to investigate the foundation for the requirement that a bride carry something blue down the aisle. After all, I like to be able to answer any question a bride tosses at me.

What I found was gibberish.

Websites and wedding history books largely tend to attribute the “something blue” to the fact that blue symbolized purity. As you know faithful readers, this is incorrect. Since it was the color of Jesus’s shroud, white has always symbolized purity in the Christian world. Moreover, we never did and continue to not see brides traipsing down aisles in Tiffany or dark blue dresses as a means of proclaiming their innocence.

Intrigued, I set up my own investigation (my husband was working late these past two days, leaving me time to engage in wedding research) and created a connection that I feel more suitably explains why brides are instructed to wear something blue. My theory has to do with the British Order of the Garter and the expense of blue dye.

Never can resist a photo of William;
the badge shown here is the Order
of the Garter.
The British Order of the Garter, which dates back to the 1300’s, is a group of no more than 24 individuals whom the monarch identifies as being chivalrous and bestows the honor of membership in a group dedicated to that purpose. Being a member of the Order indicates that a person has the highest level of honor in all he does – meaning that he or she puts king and country before him or herself.

The badge of the Order is a blue garter. Historically, this garter had two purposes: to hold up the member’s stocking (which is no longer an issue due to the modern invention of elastic) and to display their membership in the prestigious group. From the 1300s to the 1600s, Order members wore their garter every day, and many were even buried wearing them. After all, if you had been asked to join an exclusive club by the king himself, wouldn’t you want to show off your badge?

For formal occasions, a gold-threaded circlet was stitched onto a royal blue cape. Fancy, no?

Women can be members, but do not wear the garter with the enthusiasm as do men because of the inappropriateness historically ascribed to a woman showing her legs. Women do wear the cape, though.

Now, in the 1300s, cloth dye was extremely expensive. The darker you wanted a garment, the more expensive a garment became because of the amount of dye needed to create that color. Moreover, by law only members of the royal family could wear purple. Royal blue, therefore, was the closest color to purple that a (wealthy) person could wear.

Combine all of this together: the Order of the Garter and its exclusive membership + dark blue garter or cape with gold thread symbolizing membership in the Order + women not displaying their garter + the cost of dye + the short distance between royal blue and purple cloth = a blue garter symbolizing power and money with a tinge of chivalry.

(Can you tell that we here at HJ are lawyers through this stream of logic?)

Wanting to emulate the powerful, wealthy elite of their country, British citizens used the color and symbol of the Order of the Garter to indicate the groom’s chivalry and wealth. A bride’s wearing the garter – which back in the 1300s only her husband would see on the evening of their wedding – indicated the bride’s recognition of her new husband’s chivalry towards herself. Families that couldn’t afford to dye an entire garter or to purchase stockings for their daughter turned to the next best thing: dying a slip of cloth deep blue and pining it to the bride’s dress.

Through previous posts, you learned that most U.S. wedding traditions derive from our British ancestors. Therefore, it’s no surprise that American brides carry on the tradition of wearing something blue, which, in HJ’s experience, is usually a garter.

Fortunately, few of HJ’s brides insist on putting a sixpence in their shoes. I’m not sure where we would get one of those, or if it’d be comfortable to walk on. 

Please don't ever wear this; trust us. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sign Here! Unique Guest Books for your Celebration

Ah, the guest book. That time-old tradition of having guests…well…sign-in to your reception. Although literally a list, a guest book is also a memento of those individuals you deemed worthy of joining you in celebrating your nuptials.

If you’re unlikely to ever review that book, however – as many of our brides are very honest about – a guest book might not be high on your list of must-haves. After all, unless you plan on perusing it once or twice a year, it is just a book to stash in your ‘wedding memories box’.

However, HJ highly recommends having a guest book – in whatever form you wish – not only because guests expect there to be one, but because you will want to look at one some time to remind you of your special evening. Fortunately, we’ve found many alternatives to the traditional guest book, each of which we’ve seen successfully implemented in our weddings.

Wine Bottles

Are you and your fiancé fans of a specific type of wine or champagne? Buy several bottles and some colorful paint pens and ask guests to put their well-wishes right onto the glass. One of HJ’s couples bought five bottles - one for their first, fifth, tenth, 20th and 50th anniversaries – gold and silver paint pens and printed up a short blurb explaining that they would joyfully read the notes on the bottle before opening each at its designated time. Guests were thrilled with the idea, quickly scribbling all over those delicious drink bottles. You can even go so far as to print out labels from your own computer.

Engraveable Plate

One of our brides has a collection of fun plates hanging in her kitchen. In lieu of a traditional guest book she opted for an engraveable plate. Purchased online, the plate was etched with her and her fiancé’s names and wedding date in the middle and came with a set of diamond-studded pens that allowed each guest to scratch their name, remark or congratulations onto the plate’s surface. Today, that plate hangs prominently in her kitchen, reminding her of her nuptials with every glance.

Alternative: mirror with paint pens; just remember to remind guests to leave some space free in the middle of the mirror, so that it’s still serviceable enough to provide a reflection.

Other alternative: flower vase.


Do you fiancé travel extensively? Have you planned a honeymoon to an exotic location? One of our couples recently had large maps of their hometown (DC) and honeymoon destination (South Africa) printed to use as guest books. The bottom of each map contained the couple’s names and wedding date. Guests were provided with sharpies to write their names or congrats on the maps.

Alternative: use a globe instead of maps; then, anywhere you travel, someone you love will be with you.


Are you a fan of board games? If so, purchase a Jenga set and pull it apart. Place the wooden pieces in a decorated basket and provide guests with markers. You and your fiancé will spend countless Friday night date nights competing to see who can build the tallest Jenga tower.

Alternatives: wooden heart pieces make a great table centerpiece when put together in a bowl, and allow you to periodically pull one out to remind you of your fabulous evening. Additionally, puzzles –whether blank, of a photo of you and your spouse or the city in which you live – are just as much fun as Jenga.

Other alternatives: wine corks, wine glass charms. Combined with wine bottles, either or both of these options would certainly round out your anniversary celebrations.

Canvas and Paint

Seeking something to decorate your new home? Consider purchasing a plain (or framed) blank canvas and providing (preferably washable) paints in the colors you used in your wedding décor. Guests will have a blast painting their names or a sweet picture for you to hang predominantly in your home.

Note: aprons and drop cloth may be necessary.

Monogram Letters

Want to truly celebrate your union? Purchase wooden monogram letters in your joint initials (either one for your joint last name or two for each of the starting letter of your first names and letter of your last name) and provide guests with markers. This ‘guest book’ looks great hanging anywhere in your home.

Happy signing!
Signing off for today…

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Registration Redux

Hello again readers! Today, I once again address the topic of registering for gifts. Hopefully, last week I convinced you of your need to register, and all that remains is telling you what to register for and where to register.

Yes, “telling” and not guiding, suggesting or even gently nudging. Why “telling”? Because there are some items that you absolutely must register for, despite you or your family’s views on modern wedding gift-giving etiquette.

Yup, that’s right: must. I almost never use that term because it’s so rarely applicable. Yet when it comes to wedding gifts, it’s completely needed.

See here we return to tradition (yea, we all love the history of weddings, right?!). No matter how much society changes, there are some traditions that weddings just can’t shake. One of these traditions is what to put on a wedding registry.

China: the very first registries created in the 1920s solely contained a bride’s china selections. This specificity made the dishes a practical staple for wedding registries. Luckily, today’s china makers have realized that not every bride is into non-dishwasher-safe, so-thin-as-to-be-see-through china and now offer sturdier dishes designed for everyday use.

Champagne glasses: a registry should contain at least two, which indicates that they will be used to toast at the wedding and on anniversaries. The exception to this rule is for couples who are members of religious groups or cultures in which drinking is taboo. However, remember that a glass designed for alcohol doesn’t necessarily need to hold it – it’s perfectly okay to fill a champagne glass with sparkling cider.

Flatware: a couple has to eat, right? And to eat they (hopefully) use flatware.

Notice anything? These three must-have items are all connected: each is designed to be used in a celebration. And what is a wedding? A celebration!

The “must” I used earlier lies in that connection. Because you set the precedence of celebrating the first eve of your wedding, your guests expect you to continue to do so in the future. To engage in this celebration both on the night of your wedding and in the future, you will need the items listed above. Guests, therefore, expect you to register for these things.

What a guest expects, a host should provide. It’s that simple.

Now, you know what you want (or at least have started a list per last week’s recommendation) and must put on your registry, but the question of where to register remains. Unlike the contents of your registry, there is no “must” to the store in which you should register. However, I do have a recommendation: the store should make it easy to register and to maintain a registry.  

At the thought of registering, stores like Pottery Barn, Bloomingdales and Crate and Barrel might appear in a couple’s mind. This is because these stores are set up to create and operate registries. They are used to doing so and, in fact, have a side of their business dedicated solely to this purpose. This translates into easy registering, making changes to existing registries and resolving problems with delivered gifts.

It doesn’t matter if a store is unique to your area as long as guests can access the store and your registry online. However, it does matter that you have access to the store, for easier exchange and return purposes.

Happy registering!