Friday, February 27, 2009

Advice for the Bride - & a little giveaway....

If you were to ask what my "career" was, before I made the switch to full time mommy, I would say I worked in Law - mostly Real Estate and Litigation. Right before Lydia was born I was focused on Corporate Relocation. (Paige - I was so close to posting that photo of our "team" all dressed in our black suits. You would have loved that.)

Of course, I didn't always work in my "field". There are those in between jobs, summer jobs, college jobs that make up so much of a career path. These jobs seemed to follow a path of their own. That path was weddings. Whether this was a subconscious choice, or just happenstance, I don't know, but I have worked on a lot of weddings.

My high school job- Florist. Worked at a flower shop making boutonnieres, wedding arrangments, garlands, bridesmaids and brides bouquets.

My summer job after freshman year of college - Photographer's Assistant at a Photography studio. Focused mainly on...weddings, bridals and engagement shoots. Attended weddings to situate people and to help the photographer.

My last college job - Bridal Consultant. Shane proposed a week into my senior year of college. The next week I went out to start scouting a wedding dress. It look months to find the dress, but the very first day I came home with a job as assistant manager at a wedding shop. I sold wedding dresses and accessories, bridesmaids dresses, invitations ... and basically helped and advised on any detail that the bride (or her mother) was concerned about. (That is my ring pictured below. It still makes me giggle I love it so much. Insure your engagement ring. Just do it. I can't tell you how many of my friends have lost their rings.)

So anyway. I have seen a lot of weddings. I've learned a few things about how to make a wedding successful. My little sister Molly is getting married in two weeks so I have been thinking a lot about the subject. (She and her fiancée Wayne are the beautiful couple above.) I have given her a little advice, but I thought I would throw some out to the masses. Here are a few of the things I have learned in my "secondary career":

  • Assess your budget and then get the best photographer you can afford. Whatever you do, do not scrimp on this wedding detail. A wedding lasts one day. Soon after that, the invitations are thrown away, the cake is gone, bridesmaid dresses are shoved in the back of closets and your wedding favors find themselves in your relatives and friends junk drawer. The only thing that lasts - besides the marriage hopefully- are the photos. If you just want few nice formal shots - go ahead and book a photographer from a large studio. Beware though. You may just have someone who tries to get your entire wedding party to do a big thumbs up. Most brides want a more modern approach with hundreds of candids along with stunning shots of the wedding party. Find someone who will be there for the duration. Someone who will not stop shooting for the entire event, yet won't be annoying at the same time. Study other weddings that they have done and see if they capture the couples emotion and the joy that was felt at the event. Don't let yourself fall for the mindset that now that everyone has a digital camera, you are sure to get some great shots. You may get a few- but the majority of brides who I have talked to that chose this budget plan were sorely disappointed. Remember. These are what your grandchildren will see. Find the money. You will not regret it. (A little secret. Most of the photographers who take photos in this manner are cheaper than the big studios....)

  • Find a dress that flatters your build. I know this sounds obvious, but I can't tell you how many brides I witnessed purchasing dresses that just didn't look good. They fell in love with the dress in a magazine and made up their mind. Try on dozens and dozens of dresses. You may love the first one that you put on, but file it away in your mind. Don't shopped rushed. Don't shop alone. Bring a friend who will be honest. Sometimes your mother is not the person to accompany you until you have already chosen the dress. I saw more brides brought to tears by "well meaning" mothers...... not my mother of course. :) The bride in the photo is my sister Emily. I LOVED her dress. When the dress shop told her that she would not be able to lift her arms in the dress, she told them to slit them up the side -as you can see-. They now call this design "The Emily sleeve".

  • Ask friends and relatives one question. "If you could change one thing about your wedding, what would it be?". Here is a strange truth about weddings. Every bride regrets at least one thing. Whether it was getting your hair colored at a beauty school right before the ceremony (I won't mention names) or forgetting to procure the wedding license - it is amazing how many tips you can glean this way. Also, it is fun to get to know those little details about people. For me - I wish I had done a dry run of my makeup before. My sister use to work for Christian Dior and is a fabulous makeup artist. She did a really pretty array of green on my eyes. Later, for my bridals, she did a smoky purple look and I admit - I was stunning :) I wished I had known to ask for the purple for the wedding day.

  • Be prepared for things to go wrong. - My wedding day was the best day of my life. It was just what Shane and I wanted. Some cute photos here. However, things didn't go perfectly. My photographer had a family emergency and couldn't make it. I had to settle for someone who was available at the last minute - who I had never met. She was fine, but I didn't have time to go over what I really wanted. The cake designer had a serious injury 3 days before the wedding - so no wedding cake. We had individual Creme Brulées served to the wedding guests instead. I could not find my wedding jewelry and had to grab earrings that I wore to my senior prom. - All of these things could have really freaked me out. They didn't though. Maybe it was seeing all those other weddings - I knew I only had this one day. You don't want to ruin it by crying over rain or wilting flowers. Stress before. Enjoy during. (I can't wait to see my little sister as a bride. You know I will have photos of that.)
    • So I have just one question for you...."If you could change one thing about your wedding, what would it be?".

      I will send a pair of sparkly Swarovski Crystal earrings from my Paisley Lane wedding collection to the person who's comment I like the best! - If you aren't married, you can tell me about someone elses wedding mishap. I will announce the winner on March 18th - after I get home from my sister's wedding.


      Unknown said...

      I would have cared more. I was straight out of college, in my first year at a very stressful, time-consuming job and I just got defeated too quickly when it came to planning the wedding. I took the easy way out on a lot of things so I wouldn't have to stress over the details. I wore my sister's wedding dress, which was beautiful but not what I would have picked. I took the first photographer I talked to just because my MIL recommended him. The first reception place we looked at fell through, so I just threw my hands up and decided to have a bbq in the backyard of our new, small home. My SIL had just graduated from culinary school and offered to make the wedding cake. It was pretty but only served about 45 of our 160 guests, I never even tasted our wedding cake. And the biggest thing I would do over??? I wouldn't have allowed my DH's family to hang raw, white fish from all the trees in the backyard to ward off bees. It is not exactly attractive in the background of my pictures!

      Brady and Berta said...

      I would only change one thing. I would have loved for my family to be able to be in the Temple with me, but they are not members, so they couldn't join us. The only other thing I would have changed was getting married at 8am, so tired! Got up at 4am to get to my hair and makeup and had to be to the temple at 7am. Dark circles galore!

      Anonymous said...

      What I would change: I would have a wedding in the first place. Sure, it would have been really small and my family still might not have been there - but I regret not having had the chance to wear the dress and walk down an aisle, pictures, cake... everything.

      I had a very old judge, just my inlaws, singing christmas bears (don't ask!), a cursing polaroid camera (don't ask, again!), a pink sweater and grey slacks. sigh.

      Nama said...

      Oh, Natalie. I think I share your desire to be involved with the planning of weddings. I'm a little obsessed with looking at wedding pictures on Facebook/photog blogs, and I admit, I find myself being pretty judgy...I find things I absolutely love, but I also see things that the bride and groom should have thought twice about. What can I say? I just have a exceptional taste. ;)

      Here's a few thoughts I had:

      1) I can't agree more with you about wedding pictures. That was one our of top priorities, and I spent A LOT of time looking at photog's blogs and websites, emailing them for prices, etc. before we found a photographer we loved and matched our budget. Here's who we ended up going with: She was incredible, and we LOVED LOVED LOVED our photos! Best money we spent that day, even though it seemed like a lot at the time!

      2) I kind of cringe when I see pictures of brides with (a) ill-fitted dresses or (b) dress silhouettes that do not do their bodies many favors. I actually did something I wouldn't normally recommend, but I had seen the perfect dress in a J.Crew catalog about a year before I got engaged, so I went searching on Ebay, and found it new for $150! I then found a good seamstress, and $50 later, I had it perfectly altered for me. I think I was (a) extremely lucky that it ended up so perfectly and (b) smart enough to know my body type and what would compliment me the best. I'm a bit short and petite and have a tiny torso, so an empire waist dress was the way to go for me. :)

      And 3) My (our) one regret was our cake. I had a wife of a friend at work make our cake (and honestly, it was low on our priority list, so I didn't spend too much time looking for alternatives when she offered to do it cheaply), but that's just how it ended up: looking cheap. It was delicious, but it kind of looked sad. If I could go back, I would have done more research and gotten a better cake made.

      Thanks for this post! One day, maybe we'll realize our dream and be wedding planners/consultants! I would love it! :) And here's some of my wedding pictures:

      Kyla Armstrong said...

      I totally would have CHILLED OUT! My husband made such a big deal about no one getting his car keys that I was so worried and nutso about it. (Little did I know he really didn't care, he just wanted to see which of his friends could get them from him. Thanks for letting me in on the secret, dear.) So, I sent one of my bridesmaids to get my shoes out of his car and gave her the keys. Well, his friends cornered her and got her to give them the keys. I was FURIOUS! I was stomping around and making a big fuss. My bridesmaid ran off crying and it was really a terrible scene that didn't need to happen. At one point I even yelled at everyone and said whoever had the keys needed to give them up NOW! I'm sure I was quite the Bridezilla sight. If I had just chilled out and realized it didn't matter, I could have avoided the tears and hurt feelings. Oh and I also would have had a videogrpaher:)

      ZogLady said...

      Just one thing??!! Ha!

      Okay, lets see... We were married five weeks from the time my Hubby proposed. I had already bought my dress before he asked, I was THAT positive it was going to happen!

      My photographer sucked (so I agree with you on this subject), my ceremony was nice... My reception...

      My flowers showed up and were the totally wrong color. They ended up being fushia pink instead of my deep purple I was promised. I had an allergic reaction to my lipstick they used and had swollen lips all night and the next day woke up with so many cankers I could hardly breath! Medical attention was needed... *L*

      What really annoys me to this day? I didn't get to eat my meal. I had two bites, my photographer wanted to get home early so we did mock photos and when we got back our plates were gone and the food was done for the night. I was pregnant (which not everyone knew) so my best friend ran to the 7-11 nearby to grab me anything that might get me through the night!

      Looking back though the funny thing is that we never freaked, Tyler or I. I was an hour late for our ceremony because of our *ahem* wonderful photographer and Tyler not once thought 'She's not coming!'... He knew I was coming. We were meant to be!

      Thank goodness we're go with the flow type of people. All that mattered in the end was that we were together, our family and friends were there (a little sunburnt though.... Maybe more then a little... *L*) and we were in love!

      Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

      I would have spent more on my photographer. My pictures turned out well, but I would have loved to have more emotion in them, they were very posed. It's true that it is really one of the only things you look at regularly.

      Cynthia said...

      I have to say everything went well (at) my wedding. I realize I was very fortunate!
      It was not till after I was married and everything was said and done that I really wish I would have had different people in the wedding party. My Maid of honor was perfect but the two other brides maids were a last minute decision. To this day I don't even speak to either of them and one spread rumors she slept with my husband!!! Yeah horrible!
      So my advise is make sure the people in your wedding are the right people, they love you and they have your best interest at heart. Who cares if there are more groomsmen then brides maids only have people you WANT in your wedding. =)

      Kelli said...

      I think the time schedules are one of the most important things. Because really at the end of the day, the bride is so darn tired, once the rush wears off, and really its the two of you who are married and now your so warn out. Schedule everything out properly and even pack a little snack bag for the bride so she can stay hydrated/fed. Dont have the wedding so late (7pm) that the reception is rushed so you can leave, or that you stay so late your worn out.

      Time its what its all about

      Anonymous said...

      I wouldn't change anything about my wedding. It was perfect and very small. We only had both of our parents, siblings and our best friends there. Got married in a small garden. My mother wanted to have a BIG wedding with 100+ people so we started planning for that and it just got out of hand so I took matters into my own hands and had what I wanted. My advise to the gals that are planning their weddings... Do what YOU want and don't settle for anything just to make everyone else happy and your heart's not in it. After all it is your day! :)

      Monique W. in CA

      Stacie Aho said...

      I would have been more picky about my photographer! I let my mom pick him... and she just picked someone she knew. Bless her heart. He did a terrible job. Ugh! So sad. I would highly recommend to anyone to get the best photographer you can with good prices, so you have pictures to share forever that you love!

      Gilbert Family said...

      If I could change something about my would be my mother in-law! No explanation needed :)

      Harley Dee said...

      I loved my wedding, but I wish I could change my photographer. The person I hired didn't even show up.. instead she sent her husband (who obviously wasn't a professional) and he kept asking me, "What do I do now?" Umm, did you seriously just ask me that?

      The disposable cameras I left on the dinner tables got better pictures than he did.. and to top it all off, it took them a year to get my photos to me..

      Emily Taylor said...

      I would have had someone pack me some of the good food we had at the reception. I had my favorite things there and didn't get any of it. We starved for 2-days with all the traveling after the reception.

      I'm making sure Molly gets some food.

      Abby said...

      I wish I would have danced with my dad.

      Melanie @ Whimsical Creations said...

      I would have taken out the ribbon my florist put in my bridesmaid's flowers.

      Other than that I LOVED how my wedding went.

      Ginny said...

      I agree on the photography! That is actually part of what I'd change, our photographer was great & I loved my pics. However my MIL was super pushy & we ended up with way more pics of that side of the family then mine. Mine was the side paying, so kind of upsetting.

      Anonymous said...

      If I could do my wedding over I would not stress so much about all of the small details. The weeks leading up to my wedding were so stressful as I spent so many hours trying to make everything "perfect" and make everyone happy. What I should have realized was that it didn't matter if the flowers weren't perfect or if the bridesmaid's jewelry matched perfectly. I wish I had done it all on a much smaller scale and just appreciated the importance of my husband and I being married.

      blah, blah by lindsey said...

      i loved everything about my wedding day.

      i wish i could have enjoyed being with my friends and family more though at the reception. we were in a receiving line from 630-1030. everytime we would get a small break i would say can we please get out of line...but my mom kept telling me, these people came to see you and congratulate you. so since i was in line for sooo long i didn't get any of the food. i still have people come up to me telling me how fabulous the food was and it ticks me off cause all i got was bite of wedding cake. i also wish, we would have danced too.

      in short...i would nix the receiving line altogether, you can walk around and talk to people just as well as standing in a line. and i would make sure someone packed me up some the food, cause by the time we got to our hotel room, we were starving and nothing was open

      Kelley said...

      I wish it could have lasted longer! We had our wedding at 11am and the reception immediately after. Because we were leaving for our honeymoon at 6p.m. (and had to drive an hour to get to the airport), I felt super pressed for time. I just felt like it was the perfect day....I just wanted more time to enjoy it! I mean come on, you can spend months (even years) planning your wedding day, but it only lasts 1 DAY and usually just a few hours! All the stress and the planning was worth it, but I still want to get dressed up and do it all over again! (I also wish I would have eaten!)

      the undomesticated wife said...

      My wedding was full of mishaps! I should get a second wedding just because! ;)

      Mishap #1: my hair. The stylist had good direction of what I wanted. And it was simple. But she did something completely different. Who does that?! I just didn't understand. It still looked nice, but really, who does that?

      Mishap #2: I came home from my hair appt., was putting on my make-up, and a bridesmaid (known for now as "the big B" with B not standing for bridesmaid if you catch my drift) said "I think it's stupid to get your hair done for a wedding. What a waste." Huh? Not only was that rude, but this coming from a childhood friend and bridesmaid. Who does that?! (You'll hear more about her later)

      Mishap #3: Bridesmaids had earlier decided to do their hair in a similar style. Big B decided to do something different. Because of course, the attention should be on her. Along the way, she repeatedly insulted my other bridesmaids.

      Mishap #4: We were late getting to the wedding location because, you guessed it, Big B decided "she" wasn't ready to leave the hotel yet. "She" needed more time getting ready. So we missed our opportunity to get the girls' pics done outside of the wedding location. Which was the reason we chose that place..for the photos!

      Mishap #5: Someone lost the candles you use to light the unity candle. So during the ceremony, we had to use one of those long log lighters. You can hear it "click, click, click" in our wedding video.

      Mishap #6: Big B was to sing a song during the ceremony. For whatever reason, she chose to become emotional at that very moment and forgot the words half-way through the song.

      Mishap #7: Our 1 yr. old nephew screamed and cried throughout the ceremony. Sister in law could have taken him out of the room. But she didn't. So our wedding video has very little else as far as sound other than a screaming baby.

      Which brings me to...

      Mishap #8: the wedding video. My uncle (who does wedding videos as a side business) did ours for free. It was a wedding gift to us. Lovely. Except that the auto focus didn't work, so the entire ceremony is a big blur. I guess it doesn't matter because all you can hear is a baby crying anyway.

      Mishap #9: my mother's wallet was stolen. Oh yes. It's true. And it was never recovered. The next day she had to call and cancel all of her credit cards.

      Mishap #10: As we were running from the building to the car, guests were throwing bird seed. Someone decided to slam a little pack of it into Hub's head, lodging a piece of seed down in his ear. You can hear him on our video "Oww!!! My ear! My ear!" It took quite a while later at the hotel to get it out. Fun times on your wedding night!

      Mishap #11: As we were leaving for the hotel at the end of the night, the Big B decided to yell at me for not giving her enough money for gas. She lived out of town, and I had agreed to pay for half of her gas so she could come and be a part of my special day (huge mistake I know now of course). As we were in our car, she came up to the window asking for more money. It's true. And it's all on the wedding video. So my lovely bridesmaids gave her some money and took her shoes...ha! (I'd bought her shoes for her since she claimed to not be able to buy them..even though I was a broke college student myself paying for my own wedding.)

      And lastly...

      Mishap #12: My car wouldn't start.

      I never have written this all out. It really sounds like a crappy wedding, doesn't it? But honestly, all of the mishaps aside, it was truly beautiful. It was elegant and lovely and exactly what I wanted. Minus the mishaps of course! :)

      Natalie Jane said...

      Whoa. That sucks! Give me Big B's blog address and we can all anonymously annoy her :)

      tristanjh said...

      I was having a lot of health problems around the time of my wedding. We ended up 'down sizing' most everything. While simple is good I think we took it a bit too far in that respect. I would have used a nicer venue, invited just a few more people and I would have taken your advice about the photographer. My biggest regret is not having the beautiful wedding album.

      Annie1 said...


      I would have had hubby pick another best man (not the pimp that showed up 1/2 hour too late with his stripper girlfriend) I would not have invited a pair of flaming homosexual men (they call themselves other words which I won't type) as they had my mom in a tizzy lol

      I would have had the actual ceremony inside as it rained on us and I would have hired a caterer. I made all of the food by myself.

      Oh, and I would have my boyfriend actually be able to use the video camera. When hubby and I went to watch the video, all we saw was the grass and peoples feet.

      This was 20 years ago, we've grown up a lot, but it was a memorable ceremony lol

      (in Canada)

      Nama said...

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. You're more than welcome to link it to your sidebar. :)

      Anonymous said...

      My sister got married outside. Her wedding planner needed some serious help, I think was in over her head. I would consider maybe having two wedding planners.
      As the brides maid, I did a lot mor-e even than the wedding planner. I felt like I was running around like a crazy woman, when personally I should have been having wine with the girls!

      Natalie "The Pampered Mom" said...

      If I could change just ONE thing, I would choose to save the top layer of my wedding cake. I only got a corner piece (all icing) of my cake when I was cutting the cake with my husband. At the end of the night I realized I never sat down to enjoy a slice. It sounds silly, but I still think about it to this day! I am a wedding coordinator now and I always save a couple of slices for the Bride and Groom and take them to their hotel room to enjoy later :)

      judybrittle said...

      If I could change one thing about my wedding it would have to be NO ALCOHOL served. I was 18 when I got married and invited all my friends who it turns out were mostly looking for a good drunk and not really into helping us celebrate. We had to make arrangements for finding them rides home and finally one of HIS friends left with no one noticing and tried to drive home. I say tried because he got a total of two blocks and crashed into a fence. He wasn't hurt at all but was arrested and put in jail. So since we were responsible we postponed our honeymoon gathered up all our money and went to bail him out of jail. It really was a beautiful wedding and reception but young friends and alcohol do not mix.

      Anonymous said...

      The one thing i wish my husband and i would have done differently at our wedding this last summer actually sit down and enjoy a plate of delicious food.

      We spent a couple months trying to decide on what we thought the perfect reception food would be and although my maid of honor was kind enough to bring a beautiful plate of food to us, we never took the time to sit down and eat it:( The pictures of our "wedding plate" filled with all of our favorite foods is gorgeous but its too bad we never got to taste it:(

      Anonymous said...

      Not my wedding, but one I was an attendant for. I had known the girl all of 3 months when she asked me to be her 3rd attendant. The maid of honor did not attend the rehearsal, so 1st bridesmaid moved up, as did I. The day of the wedding, the new maid of honor did not appear, so I was given that place and they selected a wedding guest to be a bridesmaid. I'd spent a fortune on a dress, hat, and shoes, and this girl was wearing regular clothing.

      {amy k.} said...

      Oh gosh- I would definitely change that my hubby and I were past 1 hour late to our own reception! It was a crazy day, like most wedding days are. We took pictures at the temple then we went to the palace of fine arts and the beach. Well we left San Fran the same time the photographers did, but we took the wrong way and ended up being over an hour late to our own reception. It would've been a little more ok if the photographers were with us- but they got there just fine. So then, in my head I was thinking nobody was really going to believe we "got lost". And to top it all off my hair was a mess from the windy beach and my cheeks were red from being sunburned. It didn't look too good- I was so embarrassed! Even when we started to cut the cake I forgot to take my gloves off and almost grabbed a piece of cake with my gloves on... I was so flustered!

      Rachel said...

      hahahaha. oh weddings. i got married, what, like 18 days ago?

      -don't let in-laws bully their way into doing things like flowers: you'll spend extra money at the last minute for crap you didn't want in the first place, flowers promised earlier (lilys) would fall through at the last minute, leaving you to buy more after the rehearsal dinner, why she couldn't go get them i don't know, and afterwords you will get a bitter email about how hard everyone worked and why don't you appreciate us more.
      -don't pick a bridesmaid out of obligation: she was a wench the whole time, didn't sit with us at the wedding table, and left the reception before we did anything
      -stand your ground when it comes to, well,everything: i wanted soup and bread for the reception, we ended up with slimy wraps, wilted salad, and meatballs.
      -be prepared for lots of crap if you plan an outdoor wedding for the last day in february.
      -check the famers almanac: i did, and the haters mentioned in the above point all ate their words. :)
      -do try and keep your guestcount down. we had to change venues two weeks before because our wedding got too big. it was a good change though.
      -don't upgrade the cake to feed all the extra people. instead, supplement with cupcakes! sorry $300 bigger sized cake.
      -do get a dress at a thriftstore and remake it
      -do get very, very, very creative on how to save money.
      -do wear bright green shoes.
      -do roll with the punches.
      -and do plan where you will eat the wedding night cause you won't eat anything all day, and if you have to drive two hours to the middle of nowhere to get to your first hotel, their might not be anywhere to eat but hamburgers at a casino.

      all in all it was gorgeous. i think i was the least stressed bride i've ever met (for the most part)

      Tracey said...

      I would get married earlier in the day! The day goes so fast and the evening even quicker. It really is the most magical day ever and I wish I could live it over and over again. So my advice to all my friends was to marry early afternoon but make sure you have enough time to get yourdelf ready -never under estimate how long this takes. However early you start, you always seem to run out of time.

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