Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"And the Award for Most Selfish Supporting Actress Goes To..."

I have obviously written the bulk of my material about helping brides shop for wedding gowns. But a major part of my job is to help my brides with the next part of the process: selecting bridesmaid dresses. By the time they are ready to do this, I have already worked with them for a while and have come to like them. I know a lot about their wedding, and know what they like and dislike. And in march the bridesmaids.

Bridesmaid dress shopping used to be very different. It used to be that the bride selected a style for all the girls to wear on her own, and the Maids would order it. Then, things started changing. Brides would shop for dresses and bring their Maid of Honor for her opinion and advice, they would arrive at a decision, and the rest of the maids would fall in line.

Not these days.

Now bridesmaid shopping is a form of torture for many brides. Let's say the average bride has 5 bridesmaids. She will show up for her appointment with 4 of them (because the 5th either lives too far away or had a last minute complication) and I will start by introducing them to the process. We have racks with about 600 different bridesmaid styles from which to choose, and all of the dresses come in a variety of colors, some as many as 60 colors. So the options are many. Obviously, space and pragmatism prevent us from having every available style stocked in every size and in every color, so as you shop, begin by considering style, and we'll consider color options once you have a style or styles selected, and then size will follow. With high hopes, we set forth into the racks. The girls chat and browse, pull some styles they think will work, and we move to the dressing rooms.

Now think about your closest 5 friends. Are they all the same size, age, height, taste? Some brides are lucky, and they have a natural group of friends that look about the same and have similar tastes. But that is not the norm, so that is where my job comes in: to help find a dress that is satisfactory to everyone, and that the BRIDE likes. Although many stories are very similar, I think of one particular group.

It becomes clear as we begin trying on that the group of bridesmaids is quite disparate in their agendas as to what makes a good bridesmaid dress. The cast of characters includes: 1. a young college-age girl with no money that has expressed concern that we only consider dresses that fall into a certain price point, 2. the bride's cousin, who is married to some sort of Pastor, and feels the need to hide her collarbone out of modesty and respect, 3. a plus-sized girl who is quiet and embarrassed, and who carries her weight mostly in her thick middle, 4. an Aunt of the bride who is concerned that she will look ridiculous in a style too young, 5. we are missing a bridesmaid who couldn't make it because of her impending pregnancy and 6. we have the Maid of Honor, a gorgeous, stylish girl who I had met previously during the wedding gown shopping and who I liked and got on with very well.

It is not long before the Bride begins traveling from dressing room to dressing room, attempting to run interference as she tells her girls that they look good in the dresses they are trying on. But after a while of trying dresses on and having the girls all look at each other and saying, "I like that dress because it is a flattering fit," and another girl saying, "I don't like that one because it is too revealing, I like this one because it is more modest," and another girl saying, "but that one is way too much money," the Bride's eyes just about rolled into her head. Remember, all these conversations are made more awkward by the fact that this is the first time that many of these girls had ever even met each other!

Enter me. It occurs to me that I may just have the perfect dress solution for this motley group. It had everything, structure, modesty, age appropriateness, and the price tag. Heck, it even came in several shades of purple the bride liked! I thought we had a home run! One by one, all the bridesmaids tried it on, declared it a winner and me a miracle worker. The relief was palpable in the air. Until the Maid of Honor, the one girl I thought we didn't have to worry about, came out of her dressing room with a bad look on her face.

I mentioned to you that this girl was gorgeous and stylish. She had a petite figure and blond tousled hair she would throw around. Her style was showy, and although she looked great in this dress, apparently it did not rise to her level of fabulous enough and she declared, "I just don't like it."

Are you kidding?!? She looked great, and let's not forget why we are here. It isn't your show, Miss Thing, you don't need to be the most glamorous woman in the room, you just need to be comfortable, reasonably attired, and blend in with the other Maids. Got it? I can't express to you enough my frustration at her selfishness as these other girls struggled with their limitations and the bride jumped through hoops to make everyone comfortable. Couldn't she see the bigger picture?

Apparently not.

In the end, a solution was found. I counseled the bride with her options, and she opted to have the Maid of Honor wear a different style dress made by the same company in the same color. It had been the Bride's wish to have all her girls wear the same style, but in the end she decided that the styles were close enough and it wasn't worth the headache.

Friday, August 20, 2010

All About Dressing "The Girls"

For my Feel Good Friday post, I am thinking about a bride who was endowed with a generous bustline, who despaired of ever finding a dress that would make her look modest enough to be married in a church, and maybe a little less wide up top. I was happy to give her pointers that eventually led to her perfect dress, and that really made my week! I thought I would share these tips with you since so many brides come to my dressing room with the same concern...

Myth #1: Regardless of what you have heard, halters are not the number one go to style for a busty figure. The structure lifts and squeezes "the girls" together, creating more of a cleavage line that will be visible to your guests. Also, the weight of the strap on the back of the neck can be irritating or painful for a girl with a large bust who is having all that weight supported on her neck. If you like this style on you, make sure your dress is generously boned to take as much of the weight off your neck as possible.

Tip #1: Try a dress with a wide tank strap. The strap accomplishes several things, it provides support for the gown and your bust, and a wider strap will distribute the weight so it doesn't pinch. The strap will also cover the top portion of your bust, the part that hangs over the top in a strapless gown, and provides more skin coverage. An added benefit is that visually you look longer, since your dress is not cut off at the chest like a strapless, but goes all the way up to the shoulder. A V-neck tank is a very flattering cut. Do NOT wear a spaghetti strap - the proportion is all off and the tiny strip of fabric looks lost in a sea of flesh, it'll make you look bigger.

Tip#2: Try a gown with a wrap or pull structure. What this provides for the girl with a curvy figure is a definition beneath the bustline, defining the waist and making sure that fullness through the chest does not mean fullness everywhere. Busty girls are often familiar with the frustration from shopping for clothes that fit in the bust and then hang off the body like a muumuu, but the wrap will give you shape. Note: this doesn't work well if you are busty AND are an apple figure, the added fabric at the waist will be bulky, so try a princess seamed dress instead.

Myth #2: Many people feel a busty girl should not wear strapless. I don't think that's necessarily true. It depends how her shoulders look; most naturally chesty girls have muscular shoulders from carrying around the weight of the breasts, and sometimes they have shoulder dents from bra straps. These girls probably should not wear a strapless. But if you have evaluated your shoulders and you think they are not dented or husky like a football player, than you should try a strapless to see what you think. Remember that when you wear a strapless gown you have a choice how high to wear it; a busty girl should wear it a little higher to cover more flesh, but not so high she doesn't have enough room between dress and throat or that she gives herself armpit flaps.

Tip #3: Try strapless dresses with details at the neckline. A crumbcatcher is a beautiful and modern touch that gives a little extra coverage. A piece of scalloped lace that extends up the neckline by even a 1/2 inch or so can soften and add modesty.

Tip #4: A straight-across strapless will generally minimize a bust, a sweetheart will accentuate a curve and reveal more cleavage.

These are general rules of thumb, meant to assist someone struggling with finding the right dress but not understanding why she doesn't love any. Every girl is different, and all kinds of factors come into play such as height, body shape, etc. EVERY bride deserves to look and FEEL beautiful on the day when they start their new joined life and when they know all eyes are on them, here's hoping you do!

As always, feel free to leave me a comment with your wedding gown questions and I'll try to answer them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Little Light Housekeeping

Now that I am back from my vacation, I wanted to step back and take care of a little housekeeping, explaining a few things to you.

I am many things: a wedding gown consultant, a mother, a storyteller, a psychologist and counselor at times, but one of the things I am not is a computer person. I used to be; during my years in college I dabbled in computer science as a minor, but the intervening years that I spent building my career in the wedding industry working with people instead of machines rendered my knowledge of Pascal, BASIC and Hypercard obsolete. That is why I hope you will forgive the clumsy use of technology on my site. I am learning on the job, as they say, and I started my blog simply because my friends at work told me that I should share the stories. One obvious hole has been my use of comments. It was a while before I decided to enable them, and as you notice, your comments are never posted until I have approved them because of my need to remain anonymous. I am also hoping in the future to figure out how to reply to a comment, since there have been many witty quips that I have wanted to respond to, but still don't know how. I'm working on it!

Also, my site is not as pretty as some of the other blogs I follow and I want to explain why. When I talk about specific dresses, I make a conscious choice not to post their pictures on my site. Why? Because the owner of the store has signed a contract stating that pictures will not be taken of the dresses unless they are being purchased, and I respect that policy and won't violate it by taking pictures. Also, I will not violate piracy laws by cutting-and-pasting pictures from other websites to my blog. I am not passing judgment on bloggers who do - just that I don't want to go down that path. It would be nice to grow a readership, maybe make some money off this venture of love like advertisers, a book deal or something, and I wouldn't want to get there and then find out that the attention my blog has received has attracted the notice of the internet police and I am being sued for unauthorized use and profit from a copywrited picture.

In closing I'd like to thank my followers for their continued support and readership. I have recently been contacted and hired to write an article for a bridal magazine about shopping for wedding gowns, but to say more would allow you to find it and figure out my identity. And perhaps the greatest joy of the past couple of weeks was a mention in another blogger's site that summed up EXACTLY what I hope you get from reading my blog. Seeing this made me grin from ear to ear, because although I am anonymous, I am a person, and validation is a reward that cannot be matched.

Please continue to comment, and for those of you more seasoned bloggers, suggestions are welcomed. I've got more tips, advice, behind the scenes secrets and juicy gossip to come!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Best "Tales"

I'm getting ready to take a vacation this week, and this break from posting is giving me an opportunity to reexamine my blog, this project I spontaneously started in April. I had few readers for most of my first month, and going back to examine my progress, I realize that some of my favorite stories were probably never read by most of my readers.

So for Feel Good Friday, I am going to make a list, just as The Girl suggests, of five things that make me smile. This time, the list will be five of my favorite "Tales" from my dressing room, collected from my years of helping brides look for a wedding gown. And these are all 100% true, ladies and gentlemen, I can vouch for it!

1. One of the stories that makes people say, "Ewww, gross!" To hear about how brides remember to bring pictures of dresses they like, pictures of dresses they hate, an organizer full of budget information, and 9 of their closest friends to their appointment - yet forget something very important, click here.

2. This has to be a record to be documented in the Guinness Book; a marriage that was over before the last dance? To read more, click here.

3. Another gross one, folks. Who knew how much nastiness goes on at a bridal salon? But this time the guys are to blame. Click here if you dare!

4. And the guys strike again, but this time at the expense of an embarrassed Mom. Click here to read about a poor Mom that had to learn a little too much about her Son in the middle of my store.

5. My second post on this blog. It doesn't have the gross-out factor, or the heavy chuckles, but it is such a perfect example of the holes in logic that begin to appear as soon as a diamond is applied to the left hand that it is one of my all time favorite stories. Unfortunately, we deal with this kind of twisted thinking on a daily basis, and many brides can be spoken to quietly and slowly and will begin to see reason. That was not to be the case with this bride!

So I'm off for vacation. I don't plan to log in, so any comments you leave (and I LIVE for your comments on my crazy job!) will not appear until I return, but don't let that stop you from weighing in. Because of the sensitive nature of the stories I tell, my lawyers have advised me to review and approve all comments before they are made public, just in case someone identifies me, the store or one of the brides mentioned.

Have a great week, and happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Everyone loves a good story, so I thought I'd tell you about a bride of mine that may have been the ultimate in Bridezilla.

She wasn't a screaming, angry monster. She was entitled. And as you may recall from previous posts, I don't sit well with entitled. Entitled, to me, is the attitude "it's MY wedding!" to justify all sorts of selfish choices. Let me clarify, I do agree that it is the bride's wedding, she should get a dress that she loves. She should be able to choose just about everything for her big day so that she gets what she wants. But reality is, it is often a big deal for the fiance too, and for Moms and Dads that have been dreaming of their daughter's/son's wedding day for a lifetime. So there are times when you want to take their perspective into consideration.

For example, if your fiance is allergic to shellfish, you wouldn't serve shrimp as a main course because "it's YOUR day" would you? And if your Mom is in a wheelchair you wouldn't get married at a site that has staircases between the reception area, cocktail area, restrooms and picture location, because "it's YOUR wedding" would you? Of course not. You want all the people you love to have fun and be comfortable so they remember your wedding day fondly forevermore.

At least, that's what most people want.

I was checking out The White Petal, a wedding blog I follow, and a wintry post reminded me of this bride I've been alluding to. The post had pictures of snowy details and shades of white dreaminess. In the corner is a photo of a bride and groom outside in the snow, and she is wearing her beautiful strapless ballgown. Makes for a lovely picture, and her new commitment is surely keeping her warm, right?

Enter Lacey. Lacey came to me seeking a dramatic look for her wedding. She found it - a ball gown covered with silver embroidery, a detailed train, a swarovsy crystal tiara and not one, but two veils to be worn simultaneously for volume, with 4 tiers of embroidered tulle going from blusher to cathedral length. She confessed to me that she was getting marred in February, Valentines Day weekend, in fact, and envisioned an icy color palette of ivory, silver and purple. She would be having lots of outside pictures.

Outside pictures in February. Okay. I suppose, if she and her fiance are okay with that, it's their discomfort, not mine!

She returns not too long thereafter with her bridesmaids. They are going to each order their own style dress, as long as they are the same shade of silvery plum. As I am assisting these girls in finding the right style for each of them, one girl asks if we have any styles with sleeves. Not cap sleeves, but the longest sleeve possible. I confess to her that we don't have much like that in the bridesmaid department, most people prefer to wear something that won't be too hot for dancing, and then they'll wear a shawl for the limo ride from ceremony to reception. "No," she says, "Lacey will not allow shawls. She says it will ruin her pictures, but I get cold so easily. I just can't imagine standing outside in February without something on my arms."

I am surprised, "You mean she wants EVERYONE to take their pictures outside in the snow without any cover up?" I thought this was the ultimate in selfishness, to achieve a certain look at the expense of her bridesmaids' comfort. I was about to realize that there was something far more selfish.

"Oh, no," she said, "she's not doing JUST her formal pictures outside. She's having the entire CEREMONY outside in the snow."

My disbelief must have been clearly evident on my face. The bride spotted us from across the room and realized that this bridesmaid was telling me the plan. She zipped over and said, "I wish you guys would stop being such babies about this. The ceremony will be short, no more than 15 minutes, and then we'll do our pictures fast. I don't want you to cover your dresses with coats or shawls. It's MY wedding, and I want my photos to be snowy and beautiful."

This was her plan. 150 of her closest friends and family standing in the snow, dressed in their "black tie" clothing, along with 6 shivering bridesmaids and one satisfied, selfish bride that got her way.

I got a call about a month later from the Maid of Honor. The groom had called off the wedding and moved out. Perhaps he had decided that, since it was HER day, she could enjoy it by herself.