Not a whole lot of feedback for this one, so if you're reading this and have something to add, add away.One married friend of mine wrote a mere two words: "Better linens." Another said she'd liked the idea of having her bridesmaids hold clutches with decorative flowers instead of bouquets, only to nix the thought as too bold. She later saw the idea done on a television show.I just researched nontraditional bouquets. Did you know there are button bouquets, doorknob bouquets and blackberry bouquets? Me neither. Kim, a wedding planner I know, mentioned she would have had more flowers. What was delivered was not what she expected when she placed her order -- a warning, probably, to all of us to be clear with any vendor about what we're to receive for what price.Finally, two women mentioned candy buffets -- one who wished she'd done one, and one who said she is having one. I find it strange that this question didn't drum up more of a response because I ask this question of the handful of people I meet each week for my full-time job (even those who've been married for a decade or more), and they always seem to have an answer. The question I ask them: If you had your wedding to plan all over again, what would you most certainly do again, and what would you do differently? One man replied that he would have hired a limo or other group transportation because not having it resulted in some delays in groomsmen and bridesmaids getting to various locations for photography.
Other people have told me that they regretted not having the time, or making enough of an effort, to greet each and every guest. So, what about you? What do you still smile about doing on your big day, and what would you do differently in hindsight?
It's striking the number of times I go to share one of the 30 Days of Wedding Questions I wrote last year, only to find that the topic and advice are really relevant to decisions Steven and I are making right now. Re-reading the advice of others, I want to share a realization this Type A bride came to recently:Go with the flow. Listen to vendors when they tell you your expectations are unrealistic, or when they disagree with something you want done. Listen to YOURSELF, too, even if it means making changes with only months to go. We just changed our menu plans and our bridesmaid dress colors, one, because we listened to a caterer who asserted that our initial plan would result in guests waiting up to 40 minutes to eat (yikes!), and two, because Steven and I (and my bridesmaids) agreed that plum seemed a bit ... gloomy. I'll reveal more about the much brighter color we've chosen instead on my blog in coming weeks.Enough about me; you came here for advice!
- Choose colors that reflect you two -- your favorite color, for example. One woman chose flowers, too, that reflected the blooms associated with her sorority and her groom's fraternity.
- Keep your venue in mind when selecting your colors. Don't choose a color for the dresses and tables that would clash with the room. The same person advised me to beware of demanding a specific type of flower because you could end up spending a fortune to get a specific flower if it's out of season. Additionally, be careful about the size of your bouquets: They get heavy for your bridesmaids and you during the ceremony.
- One woman went with ivory and navy because they're timeless colors, and had textured florals in the bouquets, such as berries and hydrangeas. The florist I'm thisclose to contracting with is doing something similar for me. The same woman said in hindsight, she probably would have included more flowers with a bigger pop of color against the dresses, even if they weren't her official wedding colors.
- Another said she went with black and ivory to keep it classy and to save money because her groom and she didn't need to upgrade napkins, tablecloths and other items to be coordinating colors. Plus, she said it was easier to find decorations in ivory and black, and more options resulted in better pricing.
- Consider time of year, too. Blues, silvers and whites are fitting for winter, for one.
- I liked this idea: One couple went with orange and blue, but they didn't limit themselves to just one shade of each color, opting instead to incorporate the whole spectrum of the colors.
- As for bridesmaid dresses, one person recommended having straps because they make for a more comfortable top for more body types. Another bride said she had her girls wear black dresses because they're classic and so versatile. She had red flowers, too.
- Here's a response you don't hear every day: One friend chose her colors based on her husband's kilt. He's Scottish. "Everything we did was a direct reflection of us," she wrote. "We did buckeyes for a favor because he loves OSU football and I love chocolate. These little things made the day that much more special!"
- Choosing dresses based more on their fit than on their color worked well, one woman noted. Her groom and she named each table after significant places in their relationship. "That was pretty much our strategy for a lot of decisions: to make them meaningful to us so the wedding was reflective of who we are together," she explained.
It's a good reminder for me. I don't want to become so consumed and obsessed with our theme that we don't have elements of the day that make guests smile and reflect, "That's totally those two."
How are you making your day YOU, or how did you make it very you?
Coincidentally, I'm posting this bridesmaid-related question only weeks after I asked my little sister to be my maid of honor and went dress shopping with my girls. Drawing from my own experience being a maid of honor a few years ago and from my experience as a bride so far, here are a few tips of my own:
Plenty of other people offered insights on this topic, too:
- Be grateful that your friends and family are willing to take on the cost and responsibility of being a bridesmaid or maid of honor. Also, be clear about your expectations for them. I've already explained to my maid of honor that I expect her to pay for a stretch Hummer and to hand-capture doves for releasing. (I'm also being a tad sarcastic here.) In seriousness, I do intend to ask my bridesmaids if I may delegate certain tasks to them, such as arranging for breakfast on our big day.
- Bring drinks, snacks and even meals when you're asking your bridesmaids to spend a large portion of their day with you. It demonstrates to them that you've thought about the time commitment and appreciate them. Besides, a well-fed woman is a happy woman, at least from my point of view. ;]
- As I wrote in my bridesmaid blog, I individually asked the girls what they wanted to spend on dresses so that no one felt awkward saying it in front of everyone else. Then, I provided the number to our dress consultant.
Your turn, former bridesmaids and groomsmen: What made participating in someone's wedding day a fun event for you, and what made it less enjoyable?
- Letting the bridesmaids choose different styles and colors is an option that has a lot of fans, that's for sure. "That way, everyone (looks) about the same, but each (gets) to add their own flair to the party," one of my friends wrote. She's been in four weddings. That said, one person said it looked "awful" when a bride left color selection to her maids, only to have two in lilac, a third in dark purple and another in a third shade.
- Another former bride encouraged me to keep budgets in mind and noted that a number of bridal and menswear stores offer discounts to attendants if the bride or groom has purchased their getup from said stores. (David's Bridal offers a $20 discount to each bridesmaid if the bride has purchased her gown there, for example.)
- My bridesmaid, Amy, said she's seen brides simply name a color and ask their bridesmaids to choose a dress that was their style. While Amy said these brides always asked to see the dresses before purchase, others noted they've known brides who required no pre-approval. One friend of mine said a bride she knew tied mismatched dresses together with a matching sash. (Oh, and another useful tip: Some bridesmaid dresses are two pieces, which improves the likelihood that one or both pieces can and will be worn again.)
- A recent maid of honor couldn't believe how expensive a "no-frills" shower cost. She said it cost $400 for 40 guests, even with them cooking the food themselves. Given a do-over, she would have had a restaurant cater the event, she noted.
- As for shoes, if you want to spare your bridesmaids and groomsmen additional cost, ask them to wear shoes of a common color, such as black, that they may already own. Also, a lot of women said they purchased matching jewelry for their maids, and others said they gifted their bridesmaids a day at the spa to get their hair, makeup and nails done for the wedding day.
- When I asked on Facebook for less predictable bridesmaid dress options, one person suggested taking one's bridesmaids to a vintage store. Pick an era, she suggested, rather than a color or style.