Category Archives: Bridal Party

Size Lies

I ordered the bridesmaid dresses yesterday. It was a chaotic and worrying experience.

My bridal shop sells prom dresses too, so the place was overrun by sixteen-year-old girls trying on amazing pageant gowns (my favorite of which was bright yellow with bold silver sequin appliques and the Stephanie Seymour hemline).  The receptionists were frantically trying to reschedule a girl missing her appointment because of a surprise hospitalization for sometime between now and May 14th.  [Yes, they are all booked up between March 30th and May 14th. My fitting, scheduled in January, is on May 15th.]  Any lingering regrets I might have had about not going to prom dissipated.

We found an unoccupied corner to look over the size chart for the bridesmaid dress I’d picked out.  I have three bridesmaids, and if you asked me yesterday I would have guessed that they are all about a size 6 (Claudia is really more like a size zero, but she just gave birth a month ago).  But if I had followed the dressmaker’s size chart, I would have ordered a size 4, a size 10, and a size 14. To be fair, the US Standard size chart, even though it is not the same, produces the same result if you go by the largest measurement for each woman.

Ultimately I ordered a size 6, 10, and 12.  And I’m guessing everyone will need their dress taken in in at least one place. Claudia is obviously the biggest X factor here because who knows what happens to a breastfeeding first-time-mom’s body in the four months after delivery.  Becky’s will allegedly fit in the waist and hip but I’ll believe that when she tells me herself. Carrie, paradoxically, had to insist they size hers up one, and she might have to pay to have that undone.

This has all served as a reminder why traditional bridesmaid dresses are so frowned upon in the wedding blog community.  Although looking at even the standard chart, it seems like I should have much more trouble buying regular old dresses that fit given I’m a size 10 in the bust, a size 4 in the waist and a size 6 in the hips. Maybe vanity sizing has truly run amok, or maybe none of my dresses actually fit.

Wedding Work Whirlwind Wrapup

I’m happy to report that Viki and I successfully tackled more than half of our extremely ambitious to-do list for this trip!

  • After a shape/style breakthrough, I finally made serious headway on the bridesmaids’ brooch bouquets.  Look for the tutorial this Sunday on The Broke-Ass Bride!
  • We got the rest of the supplies needed for the DIY invitations.  Wait, except for the custom stamp I keep forgetting to order. Well, most of the rest, then!
  • I successfully convinced Viki that I do not care about escort cards or table number signs and she can do whatever she wants for those as long as it gets people to sit in the right places and does not involve glitter.  Yay delegation!
  • We found a non-custom ring that will probably satisfy Collin’s tremendously picky tastes and unusual preferences for his wedding band.  It is too expensive (the jeweler wouldn’t even tell me how much, just that the designer’s “at cost” quote was higher than my price range), so the jeweler is hunting down similar styles for me. Progress.
  • We acquired the pieces for fabulous mixed metal necklaces for the women in the bridal party and the bridal hootenanny, and laid out the designs for all twelve necklaces. I don’t really care for jewelry and don’t ever wear any other than my engagement ring, but nevertheless this was a really fun project for me. I love the different styles we came up with and can’t wait to see the finished necklaces!
  • We kinda sorta came up with a plan for the chuppah. There was a lot of disagreement about how to properly attach the fabric to the poles. At least we’re working on it?
  • I… um… opened the invitation mail merge in front of Viki? We almost made it to the step where we went through and made sure I know who is a doctor and who is a Mrs., but we scuttled the plan after realizing we were so wiped out from the day’s work that we didn’t even have the energy to eat dinner (not make, EAT).

On the homefront, Collin wasn’t exactly slacking either:

  • He ordered a “super sexy” tux! With details strange enough to prompt the tailor to question, “Are you suuuure you want that?” I don’t get to know what it looks like. Which is only fair I guess, because I’m trying to keep my dress a secret.
  • He asked his cousin Scott to preside over our wedding. We’re self-officiating, but Scott will be our master of ceremonies, so to speak. He talks at large groups of people for a living, so the role suits him.

When I write it out like this with a pesky word counter pointing out my brevity, I feel a little less accomplished. But I’m better off than I was on Tuesday for damn sure, and that will have to do for now.

Judge Not

Something I edited out of yesterday’s post [Lower your eyebrows! I edit my crazy blog screeds. Some.] was the notion that the trend toward having bridal attendants select their own formalwear is, I suspect, not entirely motivated by convenience, respect, or even aesthetics.  I think a really good reason to let your attendants pick their own clothes that no one cops to is covering your own ass.  If you didn’t pick the dress, you can’t be judged if it is—gasp!—tacky.  And I think we’re all looking for one less reason to be judged.

Sarah wrote a great post [all of Sarah’s posts are great] about wedding insecurity, about those scary concerns that we’re ruining our own weddings, making choices which confuse our guests or executing these choices in less-than-perfect ways which will disappoint our guests.

I think we all worry about this sort of thing, especially because of the common narrative in wedding culture that our guests are not so much our family and friends as they are a mass of Professional Wedding Critics.  The Knot’s newsletter this week leads off with “What are your guests really thinking? Are they judging your dress? Do they hate the food?” [This is a direct quotation, people.]

In reality, I think most wedding guests’ thoughts go something like, “Oh, this is nice, they look so happy. Where is the bar?”

But according to the Knot, wedding guests have common complaints, most of which start with the word “You.”  Meaning “the bride.”  Your guests aren’t just here to judge the wedding, they’re here to judge YOU.  Because everything in the wedding is a reflection of the bride, right?  [What is this “groom” of which you speak?]

In the narrative where wedding guests are an army of Waldorfs and Statlers, bridesmaid dresses are a common target:  “I can’t believe she picked that color.” “That fabric looks so cheap.”  “She obviously was trying to make her friends look dumpy so she would look better in comparison.”

These comments all sound so familiar, even though I’m not sure I’ve ever heard them in real life.  I mean, on the one hand, I get it: stiff polyester satin isn’t most lovely fabric, strapless dresses present bra challenges not every woman can handle, and then there are those mythical bridesmaid frocks that give dresses a bad name:

[via Unique Vintage]

[Although, truthfully, my dream is to be in the wedding of someone who wants to put her bridesmaids in a dress like that hot pink number.  I desperately want the excuse to wear something like that and look effin’ hot in it.]

In real life, bridesmaids dresses are rarely if ever that offensive, but they still have this reputation as a cruel punishment brides inflict on their friends.  Maybe this is just because haters gonna hate [t-shirt HT to Lexi].  But it also adds fuel to the raging fire of bridal insecurity, insecurity which retailers and advertisers are here to remind us can only be quelled by dollah dollah bills.

There Goes Tokyo!

The bloggy consensus is having your bridesmaids pick their own dresses is the right way to go.  It’s humble! It’s easier for everyone involved! It will make your bridesmaids feel the most comfortable and look the best! Uniformed bridesmaids are creepy anyway!

I was frankly astonished when one of today’s posts on A Practical Wedding acknowledged the “alternative” of bridesmaids in matching dresses, even though it was written about like it’s a shameful secret, and even though it was in a post sponsored by a bridesmaid dress company.

Matching bridesmaid dresses: the uncoolest.

And yet, I am putting my sister and sisters-in-law into matching dresses.  That I am picking out.  Because I am selfish, inconsiderate, and not even remotely hip.  I am a Bridezilla.

But I am also lazy!  So when faced with the prospect of dressing the women in the Bridal Hootenanny, who, unlike my sisters bio and in-law, are not all exactly the same size and shape, I decided to not bother trying to find a dress universally flattering to the whole gang.  I said, “you all find your own dresses!”

I said it with an air of self-satisfaction, because I could pretend what this is really about is that I’m not ENTIRELY old-fashioned/uncool/cruel.  I’m letting my friends pick their own dresses! I don’t like things completely matchy-matchy like those square brides stuck in the 1980s.  I am hip and considerate!  Well, uh, at least when friends are concerned.  (Sorry, family!)

But then… the time came to email the Bridal Hootenanny ladies.    Apparently, when saying, “go pick your own dress,” a Bridezilla needs to send out a 723-word email containing no less than 15 images.  And a corresponding Google document.   And while I was putting together that massive correspondence I may have also emailed my mother-in-law with a suggested dress for her. SOMEONE CALL GROOMOTHRA, I NEED TO BE STOPPED!

Or I could just chillax and own my choices.

The sisters will look good.  I’ll get the satisfaction of playing with them like Human Barbies.  They’ll get the simplicity of not having to choose.

My friends will look good.  They’ll get the fun of shopping for their own dresses.  They’ll enjoy that, whereas the sisters might not.  And this isn’t the first and it won’t be the last time my friends have coordinated outfits using a Google doc.

And for all we know, in five years, mis-matched dresses will be considered old-fashioned and lame, and the Knot will send out newsletters gushing over the  “Newest Wedding Trend: Matching Maids!”

Why Mod Cloth?

I’ve seen a lot of people on the Internet suggest Mod Cloth as a source for dresses for the bridal party.

Now, Mod Cloth seems like a cool company, and I don’t mean to bad mouth them at all.  I love Internet window shopping on that site.  And if I had more money coming in, you can bet your ass I’d also have more Mod Cloth dresses coming in.  And finally, Pittsburgh REPRESENT!

But I seriously don’t understand why people recommend Mod Cloth for bridal parties.

First of all, the sizing is banana tree.  Half the dresses appear to come in three different variations on “small.”  And I’m skeptical about the “runs true to size” claim that is bestowed upon almost every dress.  For example, the Raise the Roof dress comes in small, medium, and large.  The size chart allows for as much as four inches difference in bust and five inches different in hips between sizes.  But the length difference between a medium and a large is only .5 an inch.  Which, unless I’m misunderstanding dress physics, means that dress is going to be significantly shorter on anyone closer to the high end of size range.  When the dress is only 30 inches and change long (dresses on Mod Cloth are often very, very short), that can mean the difference between “cute dress!” and “remember that time Sherri flashed beaver at Pam’s wedding?”

Second, the styles seem to come and go very quickly, which is not necessarily a problem for “I need a dress for the office party” but in the case of “My friend tells me I need a dress for next July and it should reasonably coordinate with the dresses of five other people I may or may not know” might be trickier. Unless the day the bride tells her friend with the very nice shoulders, “I want you to be a bridesmaid; would you find a blue or green dress in a style that flatters you?” is the day this dress appears on ModCloth, and she finds it and buys it before it sells out.

Third, the categories you can filter the dresses by aren’t that relevant to the usual “uniting theme” people usually use with their bridal party’s attire.  There’s no options to sort by color or fabric, and even if you are using “tiered” as your unifying theme, that means a lot of different things.

So why all the love for Mod Cloth when it comes to dressing the bridal party? Am I just not getting it because I’m square? [I mean, I’m so square I still plan on putting my bridesmaids in matching dresses, and only doing the “different but coordinating dresses” thing for the extended Bridal Hootenanny.]  Do I need to be shorter or something so I can wear a dress that is 30.5 inches long?  [Possibly more short-waisted? I don’t know what short-waisted means.] Or are the cool kids’ bridesmaids wearing leggings now?  Is that really the world we want to live in?

 

 

 

Someday I Will Learn How to Spell Boutonniere

We’re still planning on having a flower-free wedding.  While I figured there are plenty of flower-free bouquet alternatives for me and the bridesmaids, when I thought about the number of people in the Bridal Hootenanny I got more nervous.

Then I found out that my mother-in-law Viki has boxes upon boxes of jewelry for use in her art, and was willing to let me poach from this bounty for the bouquets etc.

Partial representation of Viki's stash

I took three gallon-sized ziplock bags of brooches, earrings, wires, beads, and bits of scrap metal.  I am so ridiculously Stage One about this stuff.

So here’s a little tease: two proto-boutonnieres we made last weekend.  Carrie, my future-sister-in-law who is also an artist, added the leaves, which I think really pull the pieces together.

Please note that these are held together by gravity and that I never gave a second of thought as to how these would go through the boutonniere hole (is there a technical term for that? Also, suits don’t have those, do they? Do people in suits not wear boutonnieres? ), so the finished product that has to take practical considerations into account may look quite different.

Might As Well Jump

When we first met our planner, I explained that we’d be using a friendor photographer, and that part of the reason is I don’t want to be instructed to do the silly things that have somehow become mainstays of professional wedding photographers’ must-have shot lists.

In particular, I made fun of the ubiquitous photo of the wedding party mid-jump.  Possibly trying to secure the contract, maybe just being of the same mindset, our wedding planner said, “Ugh.  I don’t work with photographers who make people jump.”

Friends, I am here to announce that I have turned around on the subject of the jumping wedding party photo.

This is because while visiting Collin’s family last weekend, I looked through his parents’ album from Carrie [Collin’s twin sister] and Matt [her husband and my former law school colleague]’s wedding, and the two-page spread of the wedding party jumping was maybe my favorite thing in the book.

[This is the part where I would show you the photo in question, but I can’t because their professional photographer owns the copyright.  Another reason I am so excited to have a friendor photographer available!  Creative Commons License WHAT WHAT!]

I now understand that the point of the wedding party jump photo is to provide fodder to mock your friends and family:

“Jessica’s gonna have to work on her vertical if she ever wants to get off JV”

“There’s Justin taking off for his world famous triple lutz-triple toe combo!”

“Based on the expression of joy on Collin’s face, I’m gonna guess part of him was hoping he had just learned how to fly.”

Now, those were all actual insults tossed while looking at Matt and Carrie’s wedding party jump.  But with the power of imagination, I’ve realized another big selling point for the wedding party jump photo: what better way to preserve some of the most dramatic moments of your special day!?    You can capture forever the moment before your sister snapped off her high heel.  Remember trying to glue it back on with Big Red and a can of Aqua Net?  Oh, the laughs.  You can see the precise second the best man strained his Achilles tendon, which lead to that classic Percoset-influenced toast at the reception!  Uncle Roy still quotes the best parts every Thanksgiving.

Without the wedding party jump photo, not only would these memories not be preserved in an album, they would have never happened.   And a wedding day without ruined shoes and untimely injuries is like a wedding without CAKE.

So there’s one wedding culture mystery solved.  Maybe someday I’ll figure out why people always take pictures of their wedding dress on a satin hanger.

Suits Make You Look Important

Collin recently suggested that instead of renting tuxes, our groomsmen wear their favorite black suits. He thinks that rented tuxes never fit well and look crummy. He wants everyone to look sharp and be comfortable.

I worry that our groomsmen don’t actually all have black suits, and I don’t want to make them buy something as pricey as a nice suit. And when you bring in the male members of the Bridal Hootenanny, who will help walk me down the aisle, I’m almost sure not everyone owns a black suit. And some of them live paycheck to paycheck, so asking them to buy a suit feels cruel and unusual.

[Sidebar: some of the women in the Bridal Hootenanny also have constrained finances, but I suspect nearly all of them will end up buying new dresses.  I think it is about a billionty times easier to find a perfectly lovely yet inexpensive formal dress than it is to find an inexpensive well-tailored suit. So I am considering this to be not so much a double standard, but rather two sets of circumstances.]

Also, I love tuxedos. Especially with bow ties and cummerbunds! I want to put “black tie welcome” on our invitations and hope that as many dudes as possible show up in tuxedos. If the men standing up at the ceremony are wearing suits, even if they are super nice ones that are expertly tailored and they all look like a million bucks, we have to set a different formality for the wedding.  I am not comfortable suggesting guests wear tuxedos and then putting on a ceremony without any.

Let’s break it down:

Tuxedo pluses:

  • Formal.
  • I love them.
  • Matching.
  • When rented, affordable.
  • Easy to obtain.

Tuxedo minuses:

  • Too expensive and impractical to expect people to buy them.
  • When rented, imprecisely tailored.
  • I would have to convince Collin.

Suit pluses:

  • Collin wants this.
  • Some of the guys will have to spend no new money.
  • Will be better tailored.
  • Will be worn again.
  • Comfort.

Suit minuses:

  • Not everyone has a nice one that fits.
  • Which will yield, for some, considerable expense.
  • Not matching.
  • Less formality than I envisioned for the wedding.

[Sidebar 2, Re: Matching:  For the ladies, the current plan is I’ll pick out matching bridesmaid dresses for our sisters in the Bridal Party.  They all have the same body type, they all have money to spend on a dress and alterations.  I’ve never entirely gotten over the traditional images of bridesmaids in matching dresses, no matter how out of style it is at the current moment.   As for the Bridal Hootenanny, I’m going to select a color pallet, provide some style guidelines, and let them find a dress that fits their body/personal preferences/budget.  This will probably be extremely delicate and complicated and be the subject of many posts to come!   Anyway, having unmatching dresses in the extended group of honor attendants, in my opinion, doesn’t reduce the general formality of the event.  In contrast, men in unmatching suits to me, knocks down the formality a good bit.  This is probably just a double standard.]

My conclusion is either I need to convince Collin that tuxedos are the superior option, or I need to warm up to suits.  Thus, I hereby solicit your persuasive photos of men in penguin suits, or your best Convincing John routine about how I should get over myself regarding formality and matchingness and embrace suits.

Muppets Take Marriage

I just read this post at A Los Angeles Love and realized I have some really important things I have to share about the Muppets.

First, a bit of vocabulary to help you get by here at HitchDied:  My dearest friends, the group of people who will form what is known in wedding blog parlance as my “bridal brigade,”1 call themselves The Muppets.  What kind of group of grownup-type people adopts their own nickname?  Isn’t that something only the popular girls in junior high do?  No.  We call ourselves The Muppets.  Deal with it.

True Story: Collin’s sister-in-law asked me who I plan to have walk me down the aisle (in Jewish weddings, the tradition is to have both members of the couple walked down the aisle by both of their parents.  My parents are unavailable for reasons of deadness, so I need to cook up an alternative).  I told her that while I wasn’t sure about the logistics, I’d really want “all my Muppets” to walk me down the aisle, because they’re the family I feel is “giving me away.”  She carried on this conversation very politely, offering suggestions for how to incorporate all the Muppets into the ceremony, all the while thinking I literally meant marionette puppets.  She was quite relieved when I finally explained the Muppets are people.

And speaking of the Muppets, but the real ones this time: I didn’t do a movie review this week, so to help make up for that I will post what is, as far as I know, the greatest on-screen wedding in cinematic history:

Some notes on that awesomeness:

  • I might actually rip off this song for my vows.  “He’ll make me happy each time I see him/He‘ll be the reason my heart can sing/He’ll stand beside me and I’ll have everything./She’ll make me happy each time I hold her/And I will follow where my heart may lead/And she’ll be all I ever need.” So simple, so honest, so sweet, and the man/woman (frog/pig) call and response is more or less egalitarian! (Kermit’s verse gives him a tad more agency, as a holder rather than a seer, and a follower of his leading heart instead of someone being stood beside, but it’s close enough for government feminism).
  • It would be in keeping with the quotation I selected to appear under my portrait in my high school yearbook, which is the next line of the song:  “Days go passing into years, years go passing day by day.”
  • For any lady out there who thinks she’s got everlasting feminist street cred for proposing to her dude (pardon my heteronormativity for a second), I’d like to point out that you probably didn’t ambush your spouse with an actual wedding during the final production number at the premiere of the Broadway show in which you and your dude are starring.  Compared to Miss Piggy’s trailblazing nuptial woman power, you might as well have been proposed to on Valentine’s Day with a Tiffany diamond solitaire at the bottom of a flute of complimentary champers at the second-nicest restaurant in town.
  • Why are the Sesame Street characters sitting so far in the back?  Are they the black sheep of the Muppet family?
  • Janice from The Electric Mayhem is wearing a tuxedo.  Janice is… (deep breath)… THE COOLEST!
  • I think that at the moment I get married, I’ll mostly be thrilled and excited and overwhelmed with love, but the tiniest part of me is going to be just the eensiest bit disappointed that the moon doesn’t swoop Collin and me up into the sky at the end of the ceremony.

1 I’ll probably also use the term “bridal hootenanny,” because it is like a bridal party only more unwieldy.  [We need the extra term because our siblings are going to make up our “bridal party.”]