Ok, I think this one should be all about the outfits. Dresses, dresses, dresses and the easy stuff for the guys.
I LOVE my wedding dress. Still do. I want to run to my closet and put it on right now. Actually, while I was engaged, since BC and I were living together, my MOH kept the dress at her house. Periodically I would go over to her house and put it on and bounce around for awhile. Again, LOVE.
My advice on this topic is simple. OPEN MIND. You must keep an open mind when wedding dress shopping. First, do NOT get stressed when the dress you buy is one or two sizes bigger than you normal size. Wedding dress companies are all re-re's and want to make us feel like fatties. So that 6 is a 10 and that 16 is a 20. Seriously, don't stress. Second, don't go in there bound and determined to only buy one style of dress. I went in to dress shopping thinking I wanted a certain kind, but still keeping an open mind. I had my dress narrowed down to #1 a bright white, strapless, beady, a-line dress and #2 a ivory, one shoulder strap with flowers, fitted to the low waist dress with fun rouchey fabric folds. I ended up going with #2. I didn't want to take it off!!! Third, do not expect to cry. I did not cry. Sometimes those bridal shows are stupid and make you feel bad when you don't act the same way. Fourth, DO NOT bring crazy people with you. I brought my mother and my MOH. I only asked for their opinions once I was done stating mine and I finished admiring my gorgeous self in the mirror. Do NOT be a spineless turd when shopping for YOUR wedding dress.
It is wise to consider your body type and skin color. As a pale pal, I did not look too great in the bright white. I looked much better in ivory. Also, having one strap suited me better. I am a little, ahem, blessed up top (no do NOT be jealous, don't even get me started) and I would not have been comfortable hiking up a dress all night. Plus, I wouldn't want the seamstress to take that sucker in so much for it to stay that all my back fat was popping out (even though it kinda was already). GROSS.
Now, I only tried on like 4 dresses. Total. From one store. I found mine in that trip. Less than an hour. And it was on sale! HOWEVER, it may take you much longer. It may take you less. Do not expect to find your dress in the first trip BUT do not count out the possibility that that could happen. Just roll with it. If you are freaking head over heels with dress #2 of your whole shopping experience (like I was) don't put it back because you need time to look. But if you are waffling, keep looking. Just go with your gut.
In contrast, my friend from the most recent wedding bought her dress pretty early. There were multiple times where she told me she was having second thoughts but I think in the end she ended up really loving her dress, and that's what is the most important. These dumb dress shows tell us you have to visit 40 dress shops and try on 700 dresses before you find "the one." Not so. And I think that that idea can really freak people out when they find what they like so early. I had a few of those thoughts myself.
People, do NOT wait until 3 weeks before your wedding to get shoes. Look early. Nina's has some great wedding shoes (I got mine from there) and they do good sales from time to time. Plus, I was kinda freaking out as it got closer.
It took me a while because I kept waffling back and forth on whether I wanted to get dyeable shoes to match the bridesmaids dresses. Good grief, dyeable shoes are so freaking hard to find!!! Payless is actually a viable option is you are looking for something a little cheaper, with not such high heels, or want to dye them. I was thinking about Payless for a while, but you have to have their company dye them you can't just buy undyed shoes from their store. LAME.
I ended up finding amazing shoes from Nina (shown in pictures two posts ago). In ivory. 4 inch heels. Awesome. My friend bought dyeable shoes from Payless. She got some with lower heels, maybe 2 inches? I don't really know what happened, and maybe I looked at them wrong, but I think she was wearing white shoes with an ivory dress. I was, and still am, very concerned.
My dress had one strap, so clearly I didn't really need anything around my neck. There were flowers on the strap, so I did NOT want to overwhelm it. There were some iridescent/Swarovski crystal things down in the flowers, so I chose some small dangly earrings to match. No bracelet, nothing else. Just earrings and my ring.
Now, my friend gave us pearl necklaces to wear for her wedding. Which worked for us because there were no beads or anything on our dresses. Conversely, her dress had some decorations on it. I guess in the vein of wanting to match us, she wore a pearl necklace. I'm not sure I personally would have done that, just because the beading on her dress was so pretty, and I don't think there were any pearls on it. But, to each his own.
Ultimately, don't be overly concerned about accessorizing your wedding dress. This is the one day where, I personally feel, simplicity is beauty. If you need that one signature piece because your dress is plain, fine, but if you pick out a heavily beaded dress, beads all over your veil, and then beads all up on your face and neck? Its going to look ug, promise. Your face should shine in the pictures, not the reflection from all your jewelry.
Also, I allowed my bridesmaids to wear whatever jewelry they had, as long as it was pearls. I felt like this gave them the ability to be a little unique in their choices, and still stand out a bit because they were all dressed the same. I also allowed them to wear their hair however they wanted because I wasn't going to make them spend money on a hairdresser. See? I was an easy-peasy bride :) By doing this, my bridesmaids ended up looking so great!! Some wore heirloom pearls, some had basic cheap-o strands. Some wore their hair down, some had it up, and one with really short hair had a peacock feather headband! I loved it!!
The talk about the bridesmaid dresses leads me here. As previously mentioned on my lil blog, I found dresses on Target.com for my girls. They were AWESOME and only $40!!! Yes, $40. Yes, I am the best bride ever. They were simple A-line dresses, in navy, high quality fabric (according to my seamstress), and even had little bra-strap holders under the shoulder-straps! Yay for no stupid strapless bras!! The dresses come from Target with navy sashes, which I thought looked stupid, and since my colors were navy, apple green, and ivory, I decided to have sashes made. Now, because this was my idea, I didn't make the girls pay for the sashes, which because of the effort and time involved, ended up probably costing us about $20 a piece. Again, good bride here. All of the bridesmaids wore ivory sashes, my junior bridesmaid had an apple green sash, and the flowergirl had an ivory dress on with a navy sash (left over from the other sashes). And can I just say the flowergirl's mom found her dress on ebay for $30!!!! Yes, ebay, $30. She asked me if that was ok, and I said heck yeah girl! Get that thing! All in all the girls looked AMAZING. Oh yeah, and I told them to wear whatever silver-ish shoes they had. With the blue dresses and the ivory and green bouquets....I was SO happy with how everything turned out.
Now, this is going to be my harshest contrast. And what I say in the following paragraph is simply based on outfit etiquette, from what I've seen, heard, and read. So....as a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding, we wore long red dresses. I believe that was chosen based on the time of year, but from what I can understand from etiquette boards and other information, its more about the time of day, not necessarily the time of year. Evening weddings and more formal occasions call for floor-length gowns. Also, we had red rose bouquets with red ribbon. Before I go any further, this is not my taste. I felt like everything blended. This could have been exactly what she wanted, I don't know. I was reading a wedding etiquette board the other day that talked about matching flowers and dresses. The wedding professionals that had been doing their jobs for 30+ years recommended diversifying. That you want the flowers to accent the dresses. But, I guess if I'm going to sit here and say "do what you want," I can't start putting rules and laws on things. What a conundrum I have written myself into here. With her wedding, for example, with her colors being black, white, and red, I would have tried to work in white roses, or perhaps black dresses with the red and white, or even white roses with black ribbon? There are tons of possibilities.
Also, please PLEASE keep in mind the abilities of your bridesmaids. I you know off the bat you are going to want a certain look (you found J. Crew dresses you've been wanting forever, you know you are going to want couture floor-length gowns), you should disclose that to your friends. Some people are just not going to be in the right sort of financial situation to oblige your needs. Honestly, my friend's wedding made my budget pretty tight. The dress, after alterations, ran close to $250. If I would have known the price of the dress, or at least the basic idea, early on, I would have been able to better budget for it in the upcoming months.
Now, a lot of people don't spend much time thinking about the guy stuff. But this topic is very important. In our wedding, I wanted tuxes that looked like suits. Mostly because I think tuxes look like crap most of the time. I hate the shiny reflector material on the sides. We worked closely with our local tuxedo rental place, and they were able to find us some tuxedos that looked like suits. I also haggled them to death, trying to get a lower price for the ring bearer's suit. I mean, hello that suit is half the size of a regular suit and you are going to make him pay $120 to rent it too? No. Not acceptable. Plus, for some reason they gave us a tiny discount on the other suits too. Now, my dad and BC's dad also wore the same suits. Everyone matched. The minister also wore a black suit. It was very uniform, and looked very put together. I was really happy with the outcome. I was also very careful to pick out IVORY shirts for the guys since my dress was ivory. Everyone except BC had a navy tie, and BC's tie was ivory. It looked AWESOME.
Again, another contrast with my friend's wedding. First, her husband wore tails. I have to stop here and say....no. Sorry. Mostly because his groomsmen were not in tails and their wedding was not formal. The one thing that every etiquette thing I have read says in unison is regarding tuxedos and tails. Now some comments say that tuxedos should be used for only evening wedding as well and suit-type tuxedos should be used for every other time of the day, but that seems to be more out the window these days. Sometimes tuxedo stores just don't have any variety. We really lucked out in that department. Now, I was the first bridesmaid to walk out at my friends wedding. When I walked down the aisle, honestly I was surprised, because I had no idea, based on everything she had told me, that he alone would be in tails. I suppose it was done to set him apart, but there are other ways to do that. Beyond that, little things I noticed (and probably only because I had just planned a wedding) stuck out to me, like the facts the guys all had white shirts and her dress was ivory. It looks so uniform if you can keep it all one color. And I guess that seems super nit-picky, but when you have white right next to ivory, it really stands out.
Additionally, her husband is in the military, as were most of his groomsmen. I was surprised they didn't wear their dress uniforms, as this would not only look extremely classy, but would be free! That's definitely something to think about if you are marrying a military guy.
Finally, I have to do a quick talk about the dads and the ministers. My friend's father, her husband's father, and both ministers all wore different color/types of suits. Personally, I thought it looked a tad disjointed. Of course, again, it could have been a way for each person to stand out and wear what they are comfortable in, but, speaking from my own lil experience, it looks so incredible when each guy is uniform, even if they are just wearing a plain black suit with a muted tie.
This is very long. It is also all right. I am speaking from experience, albeit my own, but I'm saying things that at least one person will think (even if I'm that one person). In situations like this, it is important sometimes to get a little validation on what you are thinking. If you don't have a coordinator under the age of 80, ask a fashionable friend. Outfitting your wedding party is VERY important. Don't be left in the dust.