The Wedding

“I’ll never be a bride again…now I’m just someone’s wife.” -Monica Geller-Bing

Actually, I’m okay with that.  It’s over now and I’m glad.

The week of the wedding I was feeling pretty good.  Nothing left to do but let everything happen.  Then the day before the wedding I got my nails done and I HATED them.  And I got shellac nail polish so there was no time to change them because I had to get going for the rehearsal.  I had a major breakdown because obviously nails are the most important part of the day.  Honestly though I’m okay with how upset I was as I was imagining all of my photos with this expensive dress and then some trashy nails.  It all turned out okay because you can’t really see them in any of my photos.

On to the dress rehearsal where everyone was on time and I really appreciated that.  It’s hard to get a big group together but we all made it.  We ran through the rehearsal a few times so everyone was sure of where to be, then it was on to dinner.  We went to Santorini in Greektown in Detroit and it was perfect.  I couldn’t believe it.  They had our reservation AND the food was good!? I couldn’t believe that finally everything was working out.  Secretly to myself I had believed that since everything had been so hard leading up to the wedding that the actual wedding was going to run perfectly.  Things were looking up!  We had a great time and I got excited for how much more fun we were going to have at the wedding.

We go home, I lay down, and BOOM.  Total anxiety hit me.  I don’t know why but I just started experiencing anxiety last year and it’s really fucking awful.  It makes me physically ill and I can’t sleep.  I got about one hour of sleep total before it was time to go get my hair and makeup done.

My bridesmaids, my mom and I all met up at Dean Sadler’s Hair & Makeup Studio where I’ve been getting my hair done for several years.  All of the bridesmaids looked AMAZING.  Rachelle had been having some trouble with her tattoo cover up and he helped her put it on.  In the photos it looks like she never had a tattoo.

After that we all met up in my hotel room to get our dresses on and do photos with my photographer, Jeffrey Lewis Bennett.  Just as I was supposed to start taking photos of my mom zipping me into my dress, my mom yelled out that her hem on her dress had ripped.  Thankfully her mom had dropped off an emergency kit which included safety pins so Laura helped her pin it back up.  My mom stressing out did not help my anxiety very much.

I get into my dress, we take some photos, then Jeffrey leaves to go do photos with the guys.  Judging from the photos of empty alcohol bottles it looks like the guys were having a lot more fun than we were.  Kaydence, my 1 year old flower girl, grabbed someone’s coffee off of one of the tables and dumped it all down the front of her white dress.  Kara, her mom, sprung up and ran her into the bathroom and was somehow able to get it all out.

Everyone tells you the wedding flies by…well GUESS WHAT? The actual time BEFORE the wedding DRAGS ON FOREVER.  Our wedding was at 5pm and it felt like it was never going to get there.  I just wanted to get that part underway so I could start to relax.  Once it was getting close I had to call Joey to see if our officiant had made contact with him because we had to fill out our marriage license beforehand.  Nope, she decided to get there half an hour later than she was supposed to.  Finally she came up and had me fill it out, and then my coordinator came to grab us and I decided to go to the bathroom before leaving.  If you’re wearing a ball gown, you will need someone’s help.  There is no getting around it.  My mom helped me and as I leaned over I felt the back of my dress snap.  The top clasp flew off.

If you’re wondering what I was doing moments before the wedding, three people were attempting to safety pin my dress.  It wasn’t working so I just said screw it and let’s go.  The rest of the day my dress was a little loose in the chest but no wardrobe malfunctions occurred.

Finally it was time to walk down the aisle.  As I was walking up the stairs onto the riser I almost fell because my stupid seamstress didn’t want to take any length off of the dress and it was too long.  I tripped over it all night. Anyway I made it up there, we said our vows, we kissed, and we were married.  THAT part went by in a flash.  Both of our vows were very customized to our relationship and it was really awesome saying and hearing them.  (By the way, people who said to us that one or the others were better…that’s not cool and you totally missed the point.)

We did photos while everyone else had cocktail hour.  All good there.  Jeffrey is my shining star.  He never pissed me off once during our entire wedding experience.

We get announced, we cut the cake (delicious) then it’s time to eat.  As we started getting our plates I immediately got angry.   The portions were about half of the size that they were in our food tasting.  Also they looked NOTHING like they did before.  The mushrooms on the ravioli were half the size (though I heard it was delicious) and the eggplant was straight up completely different.  I took a quick look and immediately told Rachelle not to eat hers as she is vegan and I saw there was cheese on our eggplant dishes. It was made VERY clear on several occasions that there would be no cheese and this was to be a vegan meal.  There was no cheese on it in our tasting so I’m not sure what happened.  Rachelle flagged down the coordinator and told her that not only was there cheese on the eggplant but the entire dish was different.  She gave her some bullshit answer about how it was the same ingredients just “dressed up.”  Um, no.  I was there for the tasting girlfriend.  I hated the eggplant the day of the wedding but had loved it at the tasting.  So, I didn’t eat.  They did bring out new dishes without cheese and gave us a refund on all of the eggplants for the mistake.

Then it was time for the first dance.  Joey and I danced to I Wanna Grow Old With You by Adam Sandler from The Wedding Singer.  Instead of my DJ doing his job and making sure the version was good to go, he played a version with part of the movie in it so we had to wait until Billy Idol stops talking.  There is a photo where you can see in my face exactly when that is happening because I look SO pissed.  I noticed from the wedding that my face is very expressive.

My dad and I danced to Wonderwall by Oasis, Joey’s mom and Joey danced to Your Song by Elton John, then it was on to party time.  After I had carefully crafted our play list over many hours, my DJ decided he was only going to play SOME of our songs, and NONE of our slow songs.  He played 4 slow songs the entire night and none of them were any of the 6 I had given him.  Six, very important, personal songs to my relationship with Joey did not get played because he decided he was going to do whatever he wanted.  He has a MAJOR control issue.  I learned later that he had been an asshole to our best man as well. Cool.  I made his job so simple…he just didn’t want to be told what to do.  So, in the middle of the night, he played like 5 oldies songs in a row even though I had given him only 1 or 2 to play, and a bunch of people left.  UGHHHHHHHHHHHHH I’m still pissed about it.  I think he has a scathing email coming his way.

We did get a lot of compliments on the music and there were constantly people on the dance floor.  The song of the night was a song that my brother recorded as a joke but it’s the best dance song I have ever heard and everyone got really hyped when it was played.

There were some people who didn’t show up.  Two of them were due to health issues so obviously that’s completely acceptable…the others, I don’t know what the fuck happened but I’m not happy about it.

Overall, it was a good night.  The best man, maid of honor and my dad’s speech were really special and heartfelt.  A wedding really shows how much the people who matter the most in your life really love you.  Everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do and did it with a smile on their face.  It really makes you take a step back and go, wow, these people are really amazing and I love them and they love me.

It’s weird to say that I have a husband, but I’m happy to get to say that it’s Joey.

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The WIC

When I first got engaged my mom’s coworker referred me to the site A Practical Wedding.  There, you can find real brides blogging about all kinds of issues.  Some you will be able to relate to and some will make you thankful and appreciative when you’ve been a real whiny brat about things that really aren’t that serious.  It’s a site that will make you feel all kinds of things from reflective to compassionate to downright pissed off for your fellow brides.

Along with blogs from brides, there are also blogs from the staff.  They answer difficult questions and write blogs of their own relating to weddings, marriage, and families and everything that comes with them.  Mentioned various times throughout the site is the acronym “WIC.”

WIC stands for Wedding Industry Complex.  Meg, the Editor-In-Chief of A Practical Wedding, explains the two aspects of the WIC.  One is the Wedding Industry itself and the other is the Societal Expectations of a Wedding.  As vulnerable brides we are all being manipulated to conform to what the Wedding Industry and Society tell us are the things we need in order to throw a great wedding.

As soon as you mention the word “wedding” people within the industry begin to salivate because they can jack up the price, knowing that you will most likely pay it.  I just booked our limo to take us around Detroit for photos in between the ceremony and reception.  The max time we need is two hours and yet the cheapest limo I could find was $400.  Funny how the price was very similar for 6 hours when I needed a limo for a party.  Kara and I went to a couple bridal salons looking for a dress for her daughter who will be our flower girl.  Kaydence will be a year and a half old at the time of the wedding and it was almost impossible to find a dress her size.  I didn’t realize that flower girl dresses can take 3 months to come in after being ordered or else I would have just gone on Etsy ( I mean, come on ) and started looking for one there.  We didn’t have time to waste to try ordering dresses from Etsy that we couldn’t see in person so we ordered from a bridal salon.  The dress ended up being more expensive than the bridesmaid dresses.  When I was telling Joey about the price he didn’t flinch but instead said “Yeah, because how many times are you going to order a flower girl dress? They need to get as much money out of you as they can.”

There are some things that whether society cares or not I think are a “must” just because of my personal beliefs and taste.  However, as I plan my wedding I do find myself thinking about what people are going to think and say about our wedding and it has come into play during the process.  But really…who cares?  It should be about you and your significant other and it should be exactly how you want it.  You want to serve pizza for dinner?  Go for it.  You want to buy your dress from a department store?  Cool.  You’re getting married at your house?  That’s awesome.  What the industry tells us are the things that we have to do are completely fabricated by the Wedding Industry in order to suck your wallet dry.  While we are all affected by it somewhat, especially when parents are contributing to the problem, it’s important not to lose sight of what it is you really want.  In the years to come the only person who will be thinking about your wedding day is you and your fiance, and you want to be sure it was exactly how you wanted it to be.

Tuxedos

Joey and his groomsmen all went to Men’s Wearhouse in Novi to pick out the tuxedos.  If Joey didn’t have a good sense of style I would have gone but I trusted him to pick something dapper.  They made a day of it and after the tuxes were chosen went out to eat and then out for wine and cigars while I was at home painting the kitchen like some kind of chump.

While I do not take it to the same extreme, I am my mother’s daughter and I ask a lot of questions.  I need to know the 5 Ws & H, and when it comes to weddings, if I don’t get these answers I immediately freak out.

“What day are the tuxes due back?”

“He didn’t tell me.”

“Why is the pick up the Thursday before the wedding?  That’s not enough time if they fuck something up.”

“That’s just what he wrote down.”

“He wrote this pick up thing out for November, not October.”

“Oh…well he said October.”

“Why are measurements due in June?  That’s too early.”

“He said you could get remeasured.”

“Until when?”

“Not sure.”

Therein lies the major difference between Joey and me.  I have to know everything about everything and he’s cool with the information someone offers.  Obviously I immediately made plans to go to Men’s Wearhouse and straighten this all out.  I got the pick up moved up one day and the drop off got moved one day later because they had them due back the day after the wedding, and I also had her put a note to allow measurements through August.  I picked out our ring bearer’s tux while I was there.  It was crazy busy in there because it is both wedding and prom season right now and you HAVE to make your voice heard.  They talk over you and half listen so you need to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.

Back to the kitchen renovation.  We are redoing our cabinets and painting the walls.  If you’re ever like “I’m gonna redo my cabinets myself!” I’m gonna stop you right there.  Sanding, priming and painting sounds easy enough but with cabinets it takes ten times as long and there is nowhere to walk or cook because wet cabinets are drying on every flat surface available. We’ve been working on it almost every weekend for a couple of months now.

There is a silver lining for a home project during wedding planning; you have something else to focus your energy on.  I would never take this on a month before the wedding or anything but we are still a few months out and it has been nice to have responsibilities other than strictly wedding duties.

We have officially ordered our invitations and sent over the guest list for printing on labels so we should be able to see them very soon!  Retyping every person’s name and address into a specific Excel format was tedious but I guess not as tedious to me as it was for Joey to read off the addresses to me as he acted like he was dying during the process.  Make sure if you are using labels for your invitations to print the list and cross reference to your guest list to make sure you didn’t leave anyone off.

In other news, Rachelle sent out my shower invitations!  Very exciting and moving very, very fast.

 

Traditions & Trends We’re Skipping

Joey and I are both very non-traditional people.  We are getting married in a casino, we bought our house together when we were 19 & 20, and we dated for 11 years before getting engaged.  We don’t follow rules for the sake of following them.  While some of what we are doing with our wedding is very traditional, here’s a list of things you won’t see.

1) A Photo Booth:  Photo booths at weddings seem to be the hottest trend.  While their presence at weddings doesn’t bother me, it’s not something that he or I would ever have at an event.  I’ve heard “the photo booth was the best part of the wedding!” one too many times…if someone said that about my event I would have a meltdown.  I want everyone on the dance floor and socializing with each other, not waiting in line to take “funny” photos that you now see at almost every wedding.

2) The Garter Dance/Toss:  First of all, I wouldn’t subject Joey to that.  Also, isn’t that awkward to do in front of your family?  And finally, I don’t want to wear a garter all day.  It’s gonna be hot as hell in my dress as it is.

3) The Dollar Dance: I didn’t even know what this was until recently and I wish no one ever told me and I could go back to a simpler time where I thought that it didn’t exist.

4) Multiple Wedding Dresses:  I understand the concept behind them when you want a dress that you can dance easily in, but it’s not something I’m interested in doing.  I’m only getting married once and I want to wear the dress for as long as I can.

5) A Naked Wedding Cake: Because they are stupid.

6) Music Requests: The reason for this is twofold.  First, Joey and I are both really into music and we don’t listen to a lot of music that is popular right now.  Everyone will know and love the songs that we have chosen to play (several hours have gone into carefully selecting the playlist) but I know inevitably someone would request a song I hate, and I could only put so many Bruno Mars songs on my “Do Not Play” list.  Second, when we went to watch our DJ at a wedding, there were people coming up and putting in requests.  A couple of my favorites: Linkin Park, and “that three doors down song.  I don’t know the name of it but it’s really sad.”  The playlist is CRUCIAL to the vibe of the party and I will not allow it to be placed into anyone’s hands but ours. The songs must be DANCEABLE, not just a song you happen to like…but no one is going to be thinking about that except for ME.

7) Music Fake Out: The bride and groom are having their first dance, and then everyone thinks the music cuts out, but really it’s a ruse and the bride and groom start doing Thriller or some other coordinated dance.  Except it’s not a ruse because it’s been done so many times.  It was funny and cool at first but not so much anymore.

8) Wedding Programs & Favors:  Because it’s one more thing to worry about and pay for and no one will miss them.

I’ve been feeling a little bit better this week.  I’m plowing through my list like a boss.  After three proofs our invitations are on order.  Kara, my mom and I went shopping for bridal jewelry and I’ve got some Badgley Mischkas coming in the mail this week.  Getting closer!

Food Tasting

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I haven’t blogged in about a month because I have had to mentally push away the fact that the wedding is fast approaching in order to maintain my sanity.  My cat started having urinary issues and ultimately had to have emergency surgery.  Between cleaning up after all of his accidents, driving him over an hour away to have surgery that I wasn’t sure he would make it out of and then keeping him separated from my other cats for two weeks, and, oh yes, paying the $1300 bill, I was at a breaking point and just pretended that I didn’t have anything else to worry about.  The positive thing about being ahead of schedule with wedding planning was that I was able to take that time away without getting behind.

We had our food tasting at MGM and it could not have gone any better.  I have eaten at the restaurants in the casino but the event chefs are different so we were basically at their mercy.  If the food wasn’t good, we would be stuck with it.  Fortunately every single thing we ate was delicious. Great food is a must so I was very relieved.

Joey and I were able to invite a few guests to the tasting but had to give the number of people attending ahead of time to the coordinator so that they knew exactly how many plates to serve.  If you know me then you know that not one thing in my life ever goes exactly how it is supposed to and inevitably I get stressed out and start panicking.  In true Jessica Williams fashion, at the last minute there was a change up of people who would be attending so I was scrambling to find someone.  It ended up working out but the 24 hours up until then were not very enjoyable.

The chef came out in between each presentation and explained exactly what we were eating.  If you’ve ever watched Top Chef, it was exactly like that.  The chef that prepared our meals will be the same chef working our wedding so we were able to ask him questions and know exactly what we would be getting that night.

We started with the hors d’oeuvres.  We had selected six options ahead of time and after tasting had to choose four.  Something that we had to take into consideration is that people will not have plates for cocktail hour and therefore the items we chose had to be easy to eat without one.

Next we tasted the salad, and then the entrees.  They presented a plate to show us exactly how it would look the night of the wedding and then we all had smaller (but still large) portions.

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Lastly, we tasted the cakes.  We chose three combinations to taste and mixed and matched until we decided exactly what we wanted.

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I was absolutely stuffed by the end of it and I didn’t eat half of the food in front of me.  On the other hand there was not a single scrap left on any of Joey’s plates.

It was nice to get back to wedding planning with such a positive day.  Joey has already asked if we could have another tasting if we said we couldn’t decide.

Finding a Wedding Officiant

It’s been a long, weird road, but we finally have our officiant booked.

The search began about 6 months ago.  I was feeling overwhelmed with planning and assigned Joey the task of finding a wedding officiant.  Our only requirements were that they perform a non-religious ceremony and that we could write our own vows.  For us, our wedding will be a celebration of our relationship and a commitment to the future with each other.  I thought I had given Joey the easiest task available.

He contacted Denise at Perfect Day Celebrations.  He asked her to email us specific information.  She only sent us some information he had asked for and not all.  We agreed that when people don’t follow simple instructions that it could be a bad sign.  We decided to contact someone else.  For reasons unknown it took Joey a couple of months to find another officiant.  He set up a meeting with Eileen from Down the Aisle Ceremonies.  She sent us a form to fill out about each other to bring to our meeting.  The day before we met, she emailed him to confirm that we were still meeting.  It annoyed me that she lived in Milford and would not meet us halfway.  We live in Livonia, and with the bad weather, it took us about 45 minutes to get to Milford.  We arrived early and waited in the parking lot of her husband’s dental practice.  We waited about 15 minutes past our appointment time before we left.  No call, no show, never to be heard from again.

I was eager to get this task over with but the holidays were quickly approaching, so we decided to wait until after New Year’s to meet with another person.  In January we met with a guy who was just way too big of a weirdo for my taste.  I’m weird and I like weird but this was just over the top.  He felt the need to tell us about his kidney stones for about 20 minutes, and when I tried to change the subject to wedding talk, he interrupted me and said “hiiiiiiiii.” ??? I swear this shit only happens to us.  After the second time he said “hiiiiii” I was pretty sure this guy was going to kill me later.  We were running out of time for this particular task and I was so worn out by the process of finding someone that I still thought about hiring him.  I told Joey that I would sleep on it and when I woke up the answer was a very firm “No.”

I found a group in West Bloomfield who will perform the ceremony for the low, low price of $800.  HAHAHAHAHAHA bye.

Exasperated, I weighed my options.  I know two people (plus Joey) who are ordained and could technically perform the ceremony.  Could I trust them to run a dress rehearsal and get our marriage license mailed?  No.  I considered asking our best man’s mom to become ordained and perform the ceremony because she means a lot to us, she is responsible, and she works at a church so she would probably be familiar with the order of the processional.  As I was researching how we could get her ordained if we asked her, I came across information that stated that a person who is Catholic may not become ordained by a non-Catholic church and may not perform a ceremony for non-Catholic people.  Do you notice how much work I have been doing on a task that I gave to Joey?

We contacted the original person, Denise, to see if she was still available on our wedding date.  She asked for the time of our ceremony because she had a wedding scheduled for earlier in the day already.  “I will get right back to you.”  Never heard from her again.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE??????????????  These people are not to be left to their own devices!  Running an efficient business isn’t for everyone, clearly.

Finally, before I committed an act of violence on someone, we were able to meet with Danealle from Ceremonies of Love.  She was nice and she likes to write so we booked her right away.  The process has been a complete nightmare and I am so thankful it is over.

The Pinterest Bride

One of the first things my MOH said to me after I told her I was engaged was “I just made a Pinterest!!”  I thought, Shit, now I have to make one.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the direction it has provided me.

If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what Pinterest is, it’s a social media site where you can search for things like recipes, workouts, and decorating, and if you see something you like, you “pin” it to your online board to add to your collection.  The best way I can describe it is a Dream Board with links.  Pinterest hasn’t been around for long so brides today are lucky to have this resource to go to for collective creative brainstorming.

When I first signed up and looked for wedding related images, my searches were very general and therefore I wasn’t getting the kind of results that I wanted.  If you just search “wedding” you’re going to get all different kinds of wedding related items that are probably not what you are really searching for.  Once I started searching for things like “black and white wedding” or “white rose centerpieces” I got more images that helped me put together an idea of what I want my wedding to look like.

Another of the ways I have used Pinterest is for my bridal shower.  I made my bridal shower board available to be pinned on from my bridesmaids, and so they can see what I like and when they pin something that isn’t my style, I just delete the pin!  This is how Rachelle and I decided on my shower invitations and I think it makes it a little easier on everyone to have a clear vision of each others ideas, although some things that we may like may not always be feasible.

Enter:  The Pinterest Bride.  I’ve seen so many boards with hundreds of photos that say “I am definitely doing this at my wedding.” Although I have found Pinterest to be very helpful for putting together ideas, especially for someone who is not especially creative such as myself, I have also noticed that most of the decorating photos are professional photos and many of them are taken at $100,000+ events.  I feel like this raises expectations for the everyday bride, and when their event inevitably doesn’t look as grandiose as the weddings on Pinterest, they will be disappointed.

Secondly, because so many people are pinning photos of “Do It Yourself” decorations that look amazing and are no doubt a bitch to put together, this is going to put some serious pressure on brides who are having a mostly DIY wedding.  I tend to think DIY brides are a little nuts…there is enough to do already when planning a wedding without individually putting together every piece of it.  Please consider that most of those super cute DIY items you’re seeing have not been prepared by the bride but by an event coordinator who pays someone to do it as part of the decor.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE DELETE THE MESSAGE FROM THE PINNER BEFORE YOU.  When you are pinning an item, the message from the last person who pinned the image remains there until you delete it or write your own.  It’s so weird when I see “My daughter Celeste really likes this cake!” when you most definitely do not have kids.  Use the message box to write the reason for pinning the photo or to write a little note to yourself about it.

Pinterest has been the perfect addition for those planning a wedding to gain inspiration, but being inspired does not mean that your event needs to look exactly like the one in the photo.  Remember to keep your expectations realistic.  My advice is to think about what exactly it is that you like about the photos you’ve pinned  and then share them with your floral or event designer and let them take care of the details.  It’s their job to make your vision come to life within your budget, and having photos to see what your style looks like will help them bring your event together perfectly.

My wedding Pinterest board:  http://www.pinterest.com/jessiestacks/wedding-inspiration/

Updates

Imagine my surprise when I log into my Knot account and my upcoming “to do list” had gone from 130 to 75.  WHERE DID ALL OF MY TASKS GO?  I started looking through them and discovered that apparently the website did a complete overhaul of their checklist.  YOU CAN’T JUST DO THAT, KNOT.  I had already gone through and deleted the tasks that were not relevant, so now I am faced with trying to figure out for myself which tasks have been removed??????????????  I’ve only figured out five. 😦  I looked at a few other websites but no other checklist was as detailed.  The greatest thing about The Knot checklist was that it included everything so that you don’t forget the little stuff, and now a lot of the little stuff is gone.  If I forget something the day of the wedding no one is going to want to be around me.

Last week Joey and I registered at Macy’s.  IT WAS SO FUN.  Definitely my favorite part of the wedding preparations thus far.  There was a lot of “What is that?  WE NEED IT.”  We kept each other in check and didn’t put anything on the registry that we won’t use.  Your registry gets auto imported into the Macy’s website so you can go back and change things if you need to update quantities, decide you don’t want something, or you accidentally register for something when your fiance “sees what happens” when you press the button from far away.  We went on a weekday so that the mall wouldn’t be crowded and we didn’t feel rushed.  It took us about two hours.

Our second registry is with Z Gallerie.  I found them when I was looking for something that Jeff Lewis used on Flipping Out because we love his style.  We used this website more for the home decor type items.  Registering online sucks.  It’s not that fun and it takes forever to go through everything.

A couple people have asked if we were going to register at all since we “already have everything.”  I beg to differ.  We moved in together when we were 19 so most of our kitchen stuff is cheapo.  Our dining sets are a hodge podge, our pans are all warped on the bottom, and much to the chagrin of Rachelle and my mom, we don’t own a coffee pot.  We also have completely different taste than we did 8 years ago.  We have updated a couple of things along the way but there are still quite a few things that we need.  You’re basically an idiot when you’re that young and our tastes have become much more modern and refined.

We went over to my parents’ house over the weekend to address Save the Dates.  I thought I wanted to print and my mom thought they should be in cursive.  According to Joey, “cursive is dead.”  We each addressed one and hers looked way better so we did them all in cursive.  Joey was in charge of stuffing and stamping envelopes because if he were involved in writing they would all be returned to sender.

Shopping for Bridal Gowns, Part I

Well, I’m now in the “8-10 month til the wedding” category, so it’s time to purchase a gown!  My mom, two of my grandmas and I first went to B. Ella Bridal in Plymouth (where I got my bridesmaid dresses.)  My consultant, Megan, was about my age and she was very nice and patient.  She really made the experience fun for me.  It’s a little easier being in your underwear in a room with someone you feel comfortable with.  The only thing I thought was crazy was that she didn’t know what I was talking about when I referenced SJP’s Vivienne Westwood gown in the Sex & The City movie!! WHAAAATTTTT

I tried on probably 10 gowns at the first salon.  I loved them all!  This was not the reaction I expected.  I’m really picky so I thought I would have an especially hard time finding something but as it turned out 90% of the ones I tried on I really liked.  One of the last ones I tried on, I said “I really love the top, but I don’t like the skirt.  This would look good with a blank skirt.” (I can’t give too much away!)  Megan grabbed another dress with the skirt I liked, had me put it on over the first one and folded down the top, and there you have it, the dress that I wanted to create.  The gown is Val Stefani and she said that she is one of the few designers who will make custom changes.

The second salon we went to was Bridal Couture of Birmingham.  I gotta say, I was expecting much more from a salon with the word “couture” in the title, especially in a wealthy area such as Birmingham.  They had a pretty small selection and the salon itself wasn’t as nice as B. Ella.  The girl who greeted us was super nice…I got excited to work with her!  Oh wait, your consultant is Carol, and she is a Big Dull Dud.  She didn’t know how to clip me right either, so none of the dresses showed how my shape would actually look once it was tailored for my body unless I pulled the back tightly together myself.

I went to the second salon primarily because they are one of the only salons in the area to carry Lazaro, one of my favorite bridal gown designers.  I’m pretty sure I tried on every Lazaro they had.  There was one that I liked okay, but I thought, I need this to be poofier, and asked if she could grab me something to put on underneath.  VOILA, the gown was transformed, and I loved it.  From my family….crickets.  I guess they liked the gown at the first place better.  It definitely takes the wind out of your sails when your family doesn’t have the same reaction that you do to a dress.

The problem here is a good problem to have…I love BOTH dresses, and would probably be happy purchasing either one.  However, it is very difficult to make a final decision.  This is a dress that not only costs a fortune but will be in all of your wedding photos for all eternity.

Thankfully my mom and I both agreed that a ball gown was the way to go.  It definitely helped that we had the same basic shape in mind.  Someone had told me that since I’m 5’6 that I should try fit and flare because it looks good on taller chicks.  I was apprehensive about this style choice and I was right…it just doesn’t work for my body type.  I am so glad that the style I wanted going in to it worked for my body type.  Let’s go over some basics for trying on bridal gowns:

1) Only make appointments at salons that you have researched first.  Look out for places who have horror stories online (ahem, David’s Bridal.) You have to be able to trust a boutique that will place your correct order when they are supposed to.  Call to ask about price ranges so you know if it’s the type of salon where you are able to buy.

2) Wear a strapless bra and clothes that you can change in and out of easily.

3) Be well rested.  Some of the gowns were straight up hard to get into and you have to be able to wrestle around and walk wearing 10lbs of fabric.  One of the dresses I had to wear two skirts underneath to get the look I wanted and I was sweating my ass off.

4) Don’t go to more than 2 salons in a day.  I was exhausted and ready for a nappy by the time I was done trying the dresses on.

5) Most places are not like Say Yes to the Dress.  You are the one who does most of the pulling of gowns that you like.

6) Keep an open mind.  Just because you want a mermaid gown going into it doesn’t mean that’s the kind of dress you HAVE to buy.  I recommend trying a couple different styles just to get a feel for what looks good on you.

7) Try on the dresses your family wants you to try on.  You don’t have to buy one that they like but if you don’t at least try it on they won’t let it go.  My mom really wanted me to try on a ball gown with a corset top with boning.  After going back and forth with her I tried it on and I was right…I didn’t like it.  However, as soon as she saw that I wasn’t into it after trying it on, she was able to let it go very easily.

8) Take photos of top contenders if the salon allows you to do so.  Sometimes the consultant can do it for you in the room but not out in the open so ask while you are in the room.  Having photos to reference will keep your mind fresh about what the gowns look like.  Besides, as Cher Horowitz said, always take photos, because you cannot trust mirrors.

9) Don’t buy the gown that day unless you are 100% sure that it’s the one.  Some salons offer you discounts if you order your dress that day, but don’t do it just to get the bargain.  I like to sleep on things before committing because you may feel differently once the initial excitement wears off.

10) Limit the amount of people you bring to your appointments.  For me, three was the perfect number.  Everyone has different style and taste and you don’t want so much outside influence that you get persuaded into a gown that you don’t really want.  Likewise, if you love something, you want people with you who will recognize that and support you no matter what.

The experience was very reminiscent of trying on prom dresses, which was awesome because I miss doing that!  I was worried since I hadn’t gotten into as good of shape as I wanted to before trying dresses on, but it really was fun to try on such beautiful gowns.

It really does make a difference when you try a veil on.  It was the first time that I looked at myself as an actual bride!  CRAZY!!

I don’t think that I’m the kind of person who could go to only one salon and choose a dress off the bat.  I pay close attention to the details and I like to know that I have tried tons of options before making a final decision.  Because I can’t make up my mind so definitely yet, I am going to try one or two more salons in a couple of weeks.  After that I am cutting it off.  It’s confusing enough trying to decide between two gowns, and I don’t want to risk over shopping because you will never be happy if you do that.  Hopefully I will hear tomorrow if a custom gown is an option from B. Ella, and then it is time to continue the search.