Monday, May 12, 2008

Ladies and (one) Gentleman..

So this blog has a male readership of one. And he, just like a bridesmaid, wants to be appreciated (that's right, I just compared my boyfriend to a bridesmaid). Oh, and he's the Best Man in his brother's wedding, which is just two weeks before T's W-day. It's going to be a very busy and vacation-day filled autumn for us! Ladies and (Joe)... presenting...well, Joe!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The A-List

T's wedding is becoming about as difficult to get into as one of those overpriced, overhyped clubs in the Meatpacking District (not that there's any overhype here -- and T's wedding will not resemble a dimly lit drunk makeout tank like some A-list NYC hangouts). But having to cut a lifetime of family and friends down to 150 people has everyone in the wedding posse contantly talking about THE LIST. Yes, that's right, the guest list -- don't trip on the velvet rope, folks.

Of course, T would love to invite everyone to the wedding, but going into major debt over a one-night affair makes about as much sense as wearing a black thong with white pants. Not to mention the fact that having 300 people there on W-day might make for a grand entrance, but definitely can make things feel less intimate.

So now THE LIST has become a bargaining tool between my parents. My mother has a large family and thus got a little extra love when it comes to invites. My dad on the other hand is hoping to snag a few sorry-we'd-love-to-make-it-but-can't-that-weekend openings to invite a few of his friends (It's a big day for dads, too, and the photo of walking his daughter down the aisle doesn't quite capture the real-life moment for his friends. Men = secret wedding saps).

T started with the "must haves", the wedding equivalent of the A-List. This includes parents, grandmas, immediate family, and lifelong friends. Then there's cousins, other close friends, and maybe a coworker or two. This all leads up to the big question: To allow dates, or to now allow dates.

The rule of thumb is this: If a friend is married, it's rude not to invite his or her spouse to the wedding as well. Same goes for engaged couples. If a friend is living with his or her significant other, then it's still polite to invite both people since the invitation will arrive at their address. Everybody else? Do yourself a favor and don't pick who gets to bring a date and who doesn't. Either invite all your friends "with a guest" or invite them all solo. The only exception to this is when both the bride and groom are friends with BOTH people in couple, in which case its fine to invite both because you'd be sending them invites anyway. OR, make a rule that only people in the wedding party can bring dates (ooh, the bridesmaid selection just got trickier!)

In the end, however, diplomacy is key. Most couples can't afford or don't want invite every person they've ever known, but that doesn't mean you won't be confronted on it. If someone asks why he or she wasn't invited, or if someone who isn't invited assumes the invitation is on the way, just be as kind and polite as possible. Something along the lines of, "We would have loved to invite everyone but we both have such big families," or "Our dream has always been to have the day be a small, intimate affair, but we appreciate your well wishes" is perfectly fair and appropriate.

The good news is this...for those who do get invited, there's no line!

As always, happy planning!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Playing Favor-ites

So this bridesmaid is on the hunt for the perfect bridal shower favors, and let me tell you ladies, it's a tacky, plastic, almonds-in-pink-boxes jungle out there. When my sister and I threw my mom's bridal shower a few years back, we got all the guests flip-flop picture frames to go with the beach theme (Mom got remarried on a beach in Hawaii wearing a floral-print dress...she doesn't mess around).

But T's wedding is old school -- church, ballroom, Cinderella gown and champagne -- and so there's no clear theme for the shower, which means this bridesmaid is going with a classy, basic pallet. Now the challenge is finding favors for 30 women that are the perfect mix of cute and stylish without being, well, incredibly expensive. I mean let's be real, what are the chances this bridal shower gift is going to go on to have a life as a cherished heirloom? It's greatest potential is that it will A) End up on a kid's playroom floor, or B) Become some sort of bathroom decoration.

That being said, I still want guests to have a little something to take home. My first instinct was clear little bags of candy. This can be done relatively on the cheap. Just buy cute bags, fill them with goodies (you can go with "sugar" themes -- like sour fruit flavored gummies or maybe just different chocolates), and tie each bag with a cute ribbon. For a little something extra, you can order or make up stickers with a saying like "Sweet of you join us" (admit, a bit cheesy, but it's a bridal shower, what do you want, Shakespeare?)

I also searched through several websites with little picture frames, candles, and other goodies worthy of bridal shower parting gifts, and these are the two of the better ones:

If you're having a smaller gathering and/or a bigger budget, small tote bags filled with favorites of the bride-to-be is also a great option. Or, if the wedding is themed or seasonal, go with something that reflects the overall decor. Christmas wedding? Maybe give each guest a specialized ornament. Destination wedding? Go with a small city guide book, canvas passport holders or something a little off-the-beaten-bridal path, like a travel beauty pack with lip balm, sunscreen, Evian facial mist (for that in-flight skin dehydration) and a edible goody native to the region/island/country where the wedding is taking place.

If you live in a city with a Chinatown (gotta love New York), that can be a great place to gather up inexpensive goodies to give to guests as well. And if you don't? Well, there's always Target.

Happy Planning...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Diva Feva

The first thing on this bridesmaid's list was the bridal shower. Since T is getting married in October, I've decided to have the shower in June. The location will be at my mother's house -- a cute place just a few miles from the beach with a wraparound porch and a patio and garden out back. About 30 people are invited to the shower, so that allows me to have it at the house. If there were 10 or 20 more guests, however, we'd def have to move it to a restaurant for space. Let's just hope it doesn't rain!

This week I ordered the invitations. There is a GREAT website called Wedding Paper Divas that has classy, stylish options for any sort of taste/theme/decor you can imagine. They also customize everything and send you an email proof, so it's almost impossible to mess this up. Here's a link to the website:

The Divas even have save-the-date cards (T ordered hers from here), and invites for everything from the engagement party to the wedding itself. If you don't trust the colors on your computer screen, you can order a swatch that is sent regular mail to get a better idea of what the colors look like when printed out.

For the shower invites, I went with a color scheme of pinks, yellows and oranges -- but no pastels! This isn't an easter celebration, and in the words of the woman in Macy's bridal boutique in New York City, "Just because you're a bridesmaid doesn't mean you need to tack out."

Well put.

Happy planning...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Registering Right

Ok, so big news. T and her fiance just bought their first house! It's a lovely brick townhome in Alexandria, VA, and I have to admit, as a puppy aunt, I'm thrilled that Kody has more room to play.

I know what you're thinking -- What perfect timing! (So maybe that's not exactly what you were thinking, but let's pretend). T's previous apartment was cute, but a little cramped for an influx of bridal shower and wedding gifts. Now that we don't have to worry about storing brand new china under the bed, I'm feeling much more fabulous about helping her register.

The first thing T needs to do is figure out what she needs. This will make it easier, when she gets that little registry stunt-gun in her hands, to separate the "needs" from "wants." Not, of course, that there's anything wrong with a few wants. She also needs to figure out colors, and pick a sort of theme (aka modern, classic, country-home-ish, etc.).

A friend of mine who is getting married next week recommended Bed, Bath & Beyond as a great place to register. Not only does BB&B give you a discount on items on your registry that are remaining (think eight-piece place setting and you only receive six). If that doesn't work for you, they give CASH BACK for all items that you don't want, or realize, four teapots and a martini shaker later, that you don't need. Not to mention, my friend's fiance was excited at the prospect of the "Beyond" section. Bed? eh. Bath? eh. Beyond? Now you're talkin'.

The question has come up more than once if it's OK to buy a couple something that's not on their registry. My answer is yes, as long as you're not just buying it because it's on sale. If you see something that would be particularly meaningful for the soon-to-be newlyweds, then by all means, give away. Just be sure that it has a receipt, in case you don't know your friend's taste as well as you think you do, or if they already have something like it that you weren't aware of.

Can you give cash? Well, sure, depending on who is throwing the wedding and where. In some cultures, cash is expected, and is usually brought to the wedding in envelopes and left in some sort of box or special bag. But beware - in many social circles, giving cash is bad form, and wedding gifts should be send directly to the couple so that the ceremony doesn't include a pile of wrapped boxes in the corner. Also, since many couples leave directly for their honeymoon, it puts an extra burden on their family members to have to bring home the gifts after a night of drinking and dancing.

When registering, it's also not a bad idea to keep all your guests in mind, and to have a variety of stores that have, well, a variety of price ranges. In other words, having Target, Crate & Barrel and Fortunoff as registry options gives friends and family the option to spend what they feel is appropriate, or even more, what they can comfortably afford.

As always, happy planning...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Dress... No, the other one

We've all heard stories about the dress. You know what I'm talking about. It's pink. It has poofy sleeves. It makes you look 10 years older and 20 pounds heavier. Yup, it's the dress for the bridesmaid, and it's about as pretty as a jellyfish.

Lucky for me, my sister isn't a sadist and supports bridesmaids' rights. She promises no floor-length gowns that look like prom dresses from 1998. She scoffs at bridal catalogs with super-trendy, ultra-cheesy, canary yellow and sun-kissed orange frocks. She even threw out the line -- the line every bridesmaid wants to hear, and believe.
"I want to get something you can all wear again."

The term "wear again" is a tricky one, ain't it girls? Wear again does not mean " if you take it to the dressmaker and get it cut and hemmed." It does not mean "maybe if you put a belt with it" or "it could totally be dressed down with the right jacket -- if you're idea of dressed down is looking like you're back in college taking the walk of shame after a fraternity semi-formal."

The definition of "wear again" should be this: It's a basic color. It's a basic cut. It's not made of cheap satin, polyester, or anything else that screams bridal bin. It doesn't have crazy bows or pin-on flowers. Think simple. Think classy. Think "I want my friends to still talk to me after the wedding."

This was the dress I had initially suggested. It's from, which has an adorable selection of bridesmaid dresses that fit into the "wear again" category with almost no effort. Here's a photo:

Cute, right? But picking a dress isn't that easy. My sister has six bridesmaids, and it goes without saying that different women feel, well, different, in certain cuts and colors. And so begins the bridesmaid dress emails, which are a series of messages with links to websites for bridesmaid dresses. At least two or three people will like the same dress. Maybe even four, and on a miraculous occasion, five. But getting six women to unanimously agree on a dress would be like getting Congress to unanimously agree on a plan for Iraq.

The tip would be this:
If you're the bride, pick the dress yourself. Think about your wedding day, about what you want as far as color and style, and if your friends are close enough to you to be part of your wedding party, they should be close enough to wear whatever makes your day perfect for you. If you have some sort of super-sympathetic complex going on, maybe from your own bridesmaid dress experiences, pick out a selection of two or three dresses that would make you equally happy and have your bridesmaids choose from that.

The other option (and JCrew is great for this -- even though I sound like an advertisement here) is to
pick out a color from one retailer and let your bridesmaids pick their own cuts. Got a size zero flat-chested maid? No problem. Go with the strapless. Double-D's and killer hips? Stay clear of halters and let her show off her sexy curves with something high-cut and fitted.

If nothing else, this should make you feel better. Ladies and gentlemen (yeah, like any guys are reading this), a website featuring the WORST bridesmaids dresses ever:

Happy planning...

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Venue

(PHOTOS: Hotel Monaco - Alexandria, VA)
T called me down to Alexandria, VA (destination for the wedding - please, no paparazzi), to help her search out the best location for her wedding. Like any bride, she first had to decide a few things:

1.) What would her budget be for food, beverage and venue?
2.) Is the venue in an accessible location for out-of-town guests?
3.) How many guests was she planning on having (aka, how big of a room would she need)?
4.) Was there an outside-caterer she had her heart set on using? (most hotels do their own catering, and many also include specific vendors for cake/flowers/music)

The questions were all a little overwhelming for T, who decided we should just drive to old town and figure it out from there. The first place she took me to was a brand-new Hilton. The hotel itself was fine, but when we saw the ballroom, I immediately gave it the bridesmaid thumbs-down. The room was dark and not very wide. It reminded of me of an office. Not exactly the type of atmosphere that screamed "Romance."

T was a little discouraged. But like any robust bride & bridesmaid team, we kept on trucking. As we drove further down King St., we came upon a series of cute boutiques, shops, bars and restaurants. This was already a plus considering that most guests were coming from out of town, and so they'd be looking to make a weekend out of T's wedding extravaganza (I'm channeling my inner Zha-Zha Gabor, pay no attention).

Right in the middle of this bar/ice cream shop/brick-sidewalk town is a brand new Hotel Monaco. We immediately had a good feeling when we could park the car for 10 dollars. The feeling only got better when a super friendly wedding planner came out to greet us and showed us a sample room (the hotel is under construction but will be done way before W-Day), the courtyard, a menu, and of course the ballroom. The whole thing was fantastic. T right away started asking about food -- how many appetizers she could have, what the price would be to substitute different brands of alcohol. I, on the other hand, spent the hour trying to find out how many rooms we could get at a discount and if there'd be space for an eight-piece band. I'm never practical in my own life, but when it comes to T's wedding, I'm like those old ladies who reuse teabags.

And so there you have it - Hotel Monaco it is. Now that we've got the venue, we can get on with the details!

As always, happy planning...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

27 Dresses

(Photo: Heigl and co-star James Marsden)

So my also-single roommate and I went to go see the movie made for any girl who's ever been a bridesmaid -- 27 Dresses. Katherine Heigl is adorable as Jane, a woman in her 20s who has worn 27 dresses for 27 friends who have 27 doses of bad taste. Sure, the plot is predictable (single girl who can't find love meets, seemingly out of nowhere, the guy she can't stand who she will no doubt fall in love with an hour into the movie), but it's also fun (my favorite scene involves Heigl dancing on a bar belting out Elton John's Benny and the Jets). The critics, on average, have graded this movie a C. This non-movie snob and her roommate who can appreciate a chick flick give it an A-.

I mean come on people, what were you expecting?

Of course, there must be something to the bridesmaid epidemic -- the movie has has grossed over $27 million (the 27 there is pure coincidence). Know why? Because every girl knows what its like to be single, even if she's not wearing 40 yards of polyester and a bad hat. And nothing says single like the happy-go-lucky bridesmaid who wears dress after bad dress in the hopes that when her day comes around, her friends will be there for her, too. (sigh. wipe tears. resume.)

I'm really not this big of a sap. The truth is, you can see the end to the film coming as clearly as a cab on Fifth Avenue. But is that really so shocking? These critics really need to chill out and stop complaining that the plot doesn't have enough twists and turns. It's a romantic comedy, for God's sake. Tell you what -- go grab a few girl friends, split a bag of popcorn and enjoy it for what it's worth. Although I do offer this warning -- if you didn't like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, then your tolerance for 27 Dresses might be something like drinking three martinis on an empty stomach (Although I still chuckle when I'm at a bar and a girl orders a martini. Does anyone actually drink those things? Who are you, James Bond?).

The only thing that distracted me during the movie was the fact that Heigl's character, Jane, worked as an assistant to some eco-friendly businessman and yet could still afford -- in NYC -- her own one-bedroom apartment with cute furniture and original moldings. I'm not a huge freak when it comes to theatrical accuracy, but this is just downright misleading.


But of course, happy planning...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dressing for Saks-cess

It's official. No, not the wedding. I mean, the wedding is official, obviously. But I'm talking about THE DRESS. T got her dress! She brought her wedding posse -- aka my grandma, aunt and mom -- to New York City, and I met up with them at Saks Fifth Avenue. We were expecting somewhat of a mob scene, considering it was day five of the Saks Sample Sale, but instead we were greeted by one very calm, upbeat sales lady and a quiet lounge (with a comfy sofa!) full of gorgeous gowns.

The tricky thing about the sample sale is that it's not advertised. So like any mother of the Bride-to-be, my mom called Saks on a weekly basis starting in the summer and continued all the way through the fall. We set a date that coincided with the wedding posse's schedules, which happened to be the fifth day of the sale, which needless to say, had us all a little nervous. Would there be enough dresses left? Would we be the sad little wedding posse with all the scrappy leftovers nobody else wanted? It makes me sad just thinking about it (ok, get a grip).

The answer, luckily, was no! There were over 300 dresses in every shade, style and cut imaginable. And even better, there were almost no other people there! So we practically had the whole bridal boutique to ourselves, and made an afternoon out of shuffling my sister in and out of gown after gown. The other two brides that showed up during our three-hour stint also found dresses. Everybody's a winner at the Saks Sample Sale.

And I should say this -- the sales staff was completely helpful, even though these gowns were discounted so their commission was likely considerably less. They let the crazy wedding posse take photos, browse through gowns, rest on the couch, etc. If you want a designer gown but don't have $6,000 to throw down OR aren't completely crazy and even if you have the $6,000, would rather spend it on a honeymoon somewhere on the beach, then the sample sale is the way to go.

Fact 1: All Saks sample dresses come in sizes 8 and 10, but since they are designer dresses, that is about the same as a regular 6 and 8. Most brides (I've been told) have to get their dresses altered anyway, so you're not really losing anything there, even if you're a size 2 (in which case, nobody feels bad for you anyway).

Fact 2: On day one of the sample sale, there were over 3,000 gowns, but also a herd of brides, creating a much more hectic atmosphere. There are fewer dressing rooms to go around, the gowns are all being shuffled from person to person, and the high-energy environment might feel less personal than the low-key loungefest T, the fam and I exerpienced. Take this bridesmaid's advice and get your sample on during the third, fourth, even fifth day of the sale.

By the way, T looks BEAUTIFUL in her gown! She's going to bring the house down on her wedding day.

PHOTOS (from top: T and our aunt in dress action, The wedding posse outside Saks)

Happy planning...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ready or Knot

I'm not going to lie -- is about as addictive as Starbucks. And it's less expensive (as in, free). So obviously this broke bridesmaid was stirring up all sorts of creative juices for my sister's page. It would need pictures, wedding specifics, funny anecdotes of how they met (let's just say it involves a bar, a cell phone and two states). Yes, with my plan, T's Knot page was going to be spectacular. And then T told me she had already signed up and her page was completed. This is what she came up with:

There are no photos. There are no funny anecdotes. The whole thing is brown. Sigh.

However, my single self has been looking through the many different pages on the website, and I have to say, this is really one-stop shopping for any Bride-to-be. The ladies at The Knot have thought of everything from picking out bands and venues to how to budget (and cakes, let's not forget the cakes). The message boards can be a mix of both helpful and downright entertaining-- think Bridezilla on crack...or Starbucks. Not that there's anything strange about that. Let's face it, every bride has a little Zilla in her.

Also, has a function that easily allows couples to register all in one place. It even lets you pick out your "style profile," which more or less tells you if you're more Laura Ashley, Andy Warhol or completely decorating-dysfunctional (Kidding about the last one. It won't tell you that... but any good bridesmaid will).

Happy planning...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Puppy Love

No, not like the first guy you dated in high school. Since getting a new house and planning a wedding isn't enough, my sister also decided to get a puppy. Wedding planning is even lower on the list now that she's got pee to clean up off the rug. But...I have to far as puppies go, Kody might just be as cute as they come!

I promised I wouldn't be one of those crazy women who posts photos of her pets, but here I am...even crazier...because I'm putting up pictures of my sister's pet. If anyone is still reading at this point, the photo on the left is Kody and me when I was on assignment in Washington, DC (where my sister and her husband-to-be live). The second is Kody posing near the Washington Monument (clearly).

Of course the question has come up whether or not it's a good idea to have Kody in the wedding. For now, I'm thinking no. Here's why:

1.) Some of the guests might be allergic. Even more, someone in the what-is-starting-to-look-southern bridal party (who will be close to the bride, and hence, the pooch) could be allergic.
2.) Picking up dog poo on your wedding day isn't fantastic. It might make the bride smell, like, well, you know. And even if someone else is willing to pick up up the stuff, doggie-poo bags are never a good accessory. No, not even for the bridesmaid.
3.) Most dogs aren't well-trained enough not to pee/jump/hump on the wedding guests.
4.) Since the couple surely isn't going to be up walking the dog at 6 a.m., who will? I know what you're thinking. Don't even go there.

Don't think I'm insensitive. I like dogs. I'm a good puppy aunt. Just not on W-day. Then again, if Kody gets any more adorable, I might change my mind.

And now for your viewing pleasure, YouTube has a video of dogs marrying, um, each other:

As always, happy planning...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Let the Games Begin

So it's 2008. The year of Mice (according to the Chinese zodiac, and apparently a little critter that snuck through a crack in my "shabby chic" NYC apartment). And of course, it's the year of my sister's wedding (that's me and the "T" in the photo). I have a life of my own, but this isn't about me. Ok, it is about me a little bit (I am, after all, "my sister's bridesmaid"), but it's mostly about THE WEDDING.

I promise not to write that out in all caps and purple again. It's jarring, no?

Here's the deal -- my sister doesn't particularly care about the flowers, or the cake, or the colors of the bridesmaid dresses. She's not concerned with mood lighting or where to have the rehearsal dinner. Good thing for her, I am. Super bridesmaid! The best sister in the world! (See, I told you, totally not about me).

The only problem is that I haven't done this before. I'm not married, or engaged, or even really very good at relationships. BUT, I have a saavy sense of where to find all-things fabulous. I work in the sports world (still not about me) and therefore get very excited about the rare opportunity to talk all-things girly and wedding-ish.

So here you'll find out everything I find out up until the big day. There will be tips, rants and raves about all things wedding, and (for us single ladies) all things bridesmaid.

Do you hear those wedding bells? (Me neither. Probably just my Beatles "Love Me Do" cell phone ring stuck in my head.)

The jokes are likely just to get worse from here. But oh well, happy planning!