Say Yes to the Dress: The Entourage

Fresh off the heels of engagement season, many of you are planning weddings and/or being asked to be in a bridal party. To say this is an exciting time is an understatement! One of the big events during this exciting time is the bride shopping for her wedding gown. If you are asked to join the bride on her adventure, you may be wondering what type of interactions and feedback the bride will want from those attending. Here are the tips and etiquette dos I have learned from personal experience:

  1. Allow the Bride to have the first say on a gown:
    • When you are looking at gowns in the showroom, ask the bride her opinion of a gown before handing it to the consultant or putting it in the bride’s room.
    • When the bride comes out to show you a gown, let the consultant get her in front of the mirror and allow the bride to see herself before making any comments. This will allow her to express her honest thoughts without being swayed by your immediate feedback.
  2. Remember your place:
    • Whether it is spoken or not, there is a “hierarchy” within the attendees. While this may vary due to individual relationships, my overall thoughts are:
      • Mom, sister(s), and grandmothers (or anyone who is like a mom) come first – This is an important bonding moment between a mom and a daughter and/or between sisters, allow them to have the most interaction.
      • Maid/Matron of Honor – You are who the bride will lean on most so start practicing your best dress “fluffing” skills and be ready to test out those Maid/Matron of Honor duties early!
      • Bridesmaids, extended family, and friends – Take somewhat of a backseat to allow the others listed above to have a moment with the bride and share their feedback before sharing your own.
  3. When it is your turn to speak up, keep the Bride as your focus!
    • Some brides want a lot of feedback, while others are more personal – allow this to dictate how and when you give your feedback.
    • Be thoughtful in the comments you give. While honesty is always the best policy, honest feedback given in a kind manner is the most appreciated.
    • Similarly, some brides want a lot of excitement around their appointment (think voting paddles) while others do not like to be the center of attention. Ensure whatever you do makes the bride feel comfortable! For example, if you have an understated bride, it may be best to leave the pom-poms, signs, and other accessories at home.
  4. Keep the other elements of the wedding in mind
    • Several factors come into play when picking the perfect gown.
      • Location of the wedding: A beach bride will likely be looking for a dress style different than a wedding taking place in a conservative place of worship.
      • Date of the wedding: Time of year plays a big factor in dress design and material.
      • Budget: Always be respectful of the bride’s budget.

Simply remember the end goal is to have a happy bride choose the dress SHE loves for HER big day! If you keep this and the bride in mind, you will be on the right path to ensuring she has the best bridal entourage in the studio!

Cheers, y’all!

AB

Image by Cait Kramer Photography

The Plus One

It’s official, your friend/family member/colleague is getting married and you know you are getting an invitation! Inevitably, you begin to wonder, “Will I get a plus one? Who should I bring?” After all, weddings are fun and who does not want to have a date to bring out on the dance floor? It is definitely something we are all guilty of, but before we get ahead of ourselves, there are things to consider.

For most couples, the guest list is difficult to put together and even more difficult to cut down. Between big families and a lifetime of friendships made, there are a lot of people to consider and of course, a budget to follow. With the cost of weddings today, many couples are opting to not give their single friends a “plus one.” In the couple’s defense, it is their wedding day and they should have the people that mean the most to them there. As much as I hate to say it, that likely does not include your special someone who they still have not met or barely know.

With that in mind, how do you know if you have a plus one? Well, if the invitation is addressed to:

  • Your Name + Another Name (i.e. Ms. Mary Smith and Mr. Bob Jones): This clearly states you are invited with your significant other and that individual is your plus one. If your co-invitee is unable to attend this does not mean you should invite someone else in his/her place. As noted, the invitation is specifically for the two of you. Along the same lines, if you are invited to an event this way and you and your co-invitee end your relationship, you should not invite someone else in his/her place. (For a related scenario and how to deal with it, read my previous post)
  • Your Name + Guest (i.e. Ms. Mary Smith and Guest): Woohoo, you have a plus one and your guest is up to you! In that vein, think carefully about who you invite. Typically, the “and Guest” is for you to bring a date/significant other. I advise against using this plus one to bring another friend who knows the couples, but did not make the invite list. For whatever reason, that individual was not given his/her own invitation and that decision is for the couple to make. If you do not have someone you want to invite as a date, it is perfectly acceptable to R.s.v.p. for yourself only. Think of it this way, if you do not bring a plus one, you are giving the couple the opportunity to invite someone else they wanted to include, but were not able to under the current budget or venue capacity.
  • Your Name (i.e. Ms. Mary Smith): This invitation is solely meant for you. In this case, it is never appropriate to R.s.v.p. and add a guest or contact the couple and ask to bring a guest/plus one. The couple has made their list and you should respect their wishes. Again, these decisions are majorly driven by budget and venue capacity. Weddings are stressful enough and you adding surprises to the guest list is an unneeded complication for the couple to tackle, not to mention pay for when it may not be something they cannot afford.

Overall, I urge you to remember, this is not about you. If you are single and you do not get a plus one, it is not to make you feel bad. Who knows, maybe there is a large group of singles attending and you will be placed at an awesome table with fun people! So, dive head first into celebrating the couple. Attempt to push aside all the inevitable feels you get about being single and have fun with the friends/family you know who are also attending! Look in the mirror, smile, and remember you are crushing it in your own right even if that does not include a relationship at the moment!

Cheers y’all!

AB

Image Credit and Invitation Design by Steph B. & Co.

Wedding Guest Etiquette: Variations of Black Tie

With wedding season upon us, so many of you are receiving invitations and preparing to attend beautiful ceremonies! As the excitement leading up to the big day rises, you suddenly realize you need to plan your outfit. Then, it hits you… “Black Tie,” “Black Tie Preferred/Requested,” or “Black Tie Optional” are possibilities for the attire. Cue perplexed face and the question “So, what am I supposed to wear?” Not to fear! Here are my tips to help you navigate the the various “Black Tie” requests!

  1. Black Tie
    • For the Ladies – A formal, floor length gown is the way to go! Get ready to play dress up! 🙂
      • NOTE: A formal, floor length gown does not have to be extravagant or super “glitzy,” it can be simple, elegant, and understated.
        black tie - women
    • For the Gentlemen – A tuxedo is a must!
      Photo Credit: Friar Tux Blog

      Photo Credit: Friar Tux Blog

  2. Black Tie Requested/Preferred
    • This means the couple wants their guests to dress up, but understands if you are not able to do so. For some attendees, a tuxedo or a floor length gown is not affordable and the couple realizes this. As a result, they do not want to exclude those individuals from their celebration. If you can afford black tie attire then please wear it, but if you cannot, a formal cocktail dress for ladies and a dark suit for men is certainly appropriate!
      • NOTE: A dark suit does not mean a dark colored dress shirt under your suit, it only applies to the color of the suit pants and jacket. Choose a black or very dark navy colored suit with a traditional white dress shirt and a dressier tie or bow tie.
  3. Black Tie Optional
    • For the Ladies, I see two main options: A Formal Cocktail Dress or a Floor Length Gown
    • For the Gentleman, there are also two options: A Dark Suit (with tie or bow tie) or a Tuxedo

      My dad and brother are in dark suits while my mom and I both opted for cocktail length formal dresses.

      My dad and brother are in dark suits while my mom and I both opted for cocktail length formal dresses.

    • When deciding between these two options (whether a lady or a gentleman), consider the following:
      • Ceremony/Reception Venue: If the wedding is being held at a formal location (think historic building/library, a ballroom, castle/mansion), you can certainly lean towards to the floor length gown or tuxedo option. If the ceremony is at a place that lends itself to a less formal feel, a formal cocktail dress or full suit is absolutely appropriate!
        • NOTE: Always be respectful of cultural or religious aspects. Religious venues tend to be on the conservative side. Avoid neon/fluorescent colors, side cut-outs, excessive displays of cleavage, extremely high leg slits, or backs that plunge so low you can almost see your bum. I am sure you can rock those styles and look dynamite, but this is not the place to do that. It is also usually required and most respectful to have your shoulders covered.
        • Another option is: Wear one outfit to the ceremony (If it’s in a church and calls for something more modest) and change for the reception (wear something a little more fun or flashy if that’s what you prefer).
      • Time of Day for the Ceremony: For evening, I always think long gowns or tuxedos are a classic/sharp look! If the ceremony is during the day, you may be more comfortable in a formal cocktail dress or full suit.
      • Cultural or Local Tradition Influence:
        • If you are going to a wedding with strong cultural ties, be sure to research what is appropriate. One of my favorite examples of this is at an Indian wedding, the bride wears red so stay away from that color. However, other bright colors are encouraged! Additionally, individuals of Indian heritage and those in the wedding wear saris.
        • Depending on where in the United States or where in the world, there may different, local understandings of what “Black Tie” means. For example, there is such a thing as “Texas Black Tie!” (if you cannot tell from the exclamation point, this a personal favorite!) In Texas tradition, gentlemen wear their best, formal cowboy boots with their tuxedo and ladies wear a floor length gown with the option for glamorous boots underneath 😉
      • Leave the White Ensemble to the Bride!
      • Personal Preference: No matter what, you know what you will feel most comfortable wearing. If being around people who are dressed more formal than you makes you feel uneasy then opt for the floor length gown or a tuxedo. If you are more comfortable in a formal cocktail dress or a full suit, then select that option.

No matter which variation of black tie your celebration calls for, always remember to think sophisticated and elegant. This is someone’s wedding and the spotlight should be on them! Additionally, family members of the bride and groom will be present and you do not want to be embarrassed by wearing something inappropriate. Now, go celebrate these very joyous occasions in fashion! To all those getting married, “Congratulations on your Happily Ever After!”

Cheers y’all!

AB