Sunday, August 29, 2010

My little sister is engaged! Of course we all knew it was going to happen, but still, here we are. The date is set for 11/11/11 and my mother is already buried in a flurry of wedding magazines and ideas. You would think that although she has already gone through the marriage of one daughter-one daughter who, by the way, actually does this for a living she would feel calm and ready but no… She actually said to me, “Oh, I don’t know if those colors will work.” Amazing, mothers were defiantly created to encourage you and never let your head get too big all at the same time. Bravissimo mom, but I digress...

Having a big sister that is a wedding designer is rather convenient, but even I, older sister and professional cannot dictate some of the choices that must be made. Casual or formal? Indoors or out? Large or small? Grandiose or simple? These are the questions that each new bride is faced with and often times they have barley had the opportunity to let the engagement sink in before the race of finding a venue begins. For my sister Kate, and many other brides, some decisions are made simply based on personality or taste and practicality. For instance, by nature my sister is a “push the limits of fashion” kind of woman. (She glued glitter to her pocketbooks and wore heavy eyeliner before those fads were ever even thought of in Paris or Milan!) For her, certain venues are simply not workable due to their very structure. She is looking for a fashion forward, peacock feather laden type of event in which not one single rose will be found. To look at a garden venue would not only be a waste of time for her, but also for the ever hopeful venue manager. For some brides, budgetary concerns may dictate venue choice and many other aspects of their Big Day. From the get-go, my suggestion to brides is to be practical. Yes, this is your special day, but be careful not to set your sights too high, least you fall, and remember your theme. When faced with many different venue options, color schemes, flower choices and cake flavors, a couple can become overwhelmed and start making decisions just to get items ticked off the list. Push your personal limits a bit if you must but never go so far outside your comfort zone that you, a person who loathes the color orange, finds yourself surrounded by bridesmaids clad in the bright color because you watched one too many episodes of Million Dollar Wedding. To quote the Genie in Aladdin, “BEEEEEE yourself!” Remember who you and your fiancé are and created a happy “marriage” of the two styles to achieve a look you both will love.

Along these same lines, be sure to heed the advice of well meaning loved ones, but never forget this is Your day. I often comment to brides that for every opinion they have about their wedding, someone else has three more. A person (to remain nameless) actually suggested that my sister wear my wedding dress simply because we still have it and she is having a time finding the dress. Now, although beautiful, my A-line, champagne colored frock would look as ridiculous on her as I would in a leopard print mini skirt. My dress says nothing about my sister and only holds memories of my Big Day, which in truth was really not long ago enough for us to even consider using the same gown. Although well meaning, this suggestion was ridiculous and incensed my sister to no end. I reminded her that everyone feels differently about weddings the same way everyone feels different about pizza toppings or political parties or American Idol singers. This is life and with it comes an abundance of opinions but all-in-all it should be her and her fiancé that must feel comfortable with the outcome.

During the journey to the aisle a bride may change her mind many times and feel overwhelmed at the possibilities and choices before them. In fact, I have seen a bride change her entire theme 3 months before the wedding after reading an article and deciding she was on the wrong track-this is not a practice I would recommend. My own sister has been engaged for four months and has over a year to go and has changed her venue three times; however she has yet to place a deposit one one. Confusion of this nature is to be expected and, as long as the changes are not causing the loss of much money or delaying the course of events, are good ways to decide what you truly want. Now, having said that, it is best to get these changes out of the way early in the game to avoid the loss of deposits or the annoyance of every wedding professional in town. Do your homework and make informed decisions. If you have never felt any particular feelings towards sand dollars but suddenly want to stick them in every bouquet, boutonnière and centerpiece then take a step back and breathe. Is this real? Do you suddenly have a real affection for the dried fruits of the sea or is it simply a fad that will pass? Talk your whims over with your planner and use them as a sounding board for possible changes and ideas. You are paying them to not only keep you on track but to also remind you of your original ideas of the perfect wedding, you know the ideas you had before you knew that handing tying 1,000 ribbons to the branches of a historic Oak tree was even a possibility…

Brittany is the owner of Orchid Island Events, a wedding design and coordination company based out of Carolina Beach, NC. Orchid Island specializes in wedding planning for areas such as Wilmington, Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure Beaches, NC. She enjoys turning moments into memories on the Carolina Coast and invites you to gain ideas for your Big Day by visiting the Orchid Island website at

Monday, August 23, 2010

History Lesson: The Bouquet Toss, A Bachelor Dinner and a Flying Garter

Weddings are history in the making. The beginning of one family and the continuation of others, a wedding is a celebration of traditions old and new and are a platform for couples to showcase who they are.

While acting as planner for a wedding this past May, I noticed that the bride seemed to have a strong resistance to anything that even slightly resembled tradition. Strict instructions were given to my team: no bouquet toss, no garter throwing and absolutely, positively no special cake cutting. As a planner it is my job to make sure that the couple’s wishes (whenever not hideously ridiculous or outside the confines of the Law) are met. Even I agree that the garter toss recipient and the bouquet toss recipient should not be forced to dance together and when a groom smashes caked into a bride's perfectly painted mouth I want to faint. It was this super modern couple that got my wheels turning concerning age old wedding habits. Where did these activities come from and why, for goodness sake, do they often require people to chunk lovely items in mid air and hope that someone catches them? So, armed with a piqued sense of curiosity and a hot apricot tea (in my Minnie Mouse gets Married mug of course) I set out on a research journey. You just may be surprised at what this wedding planner’s fast typing fingers discovered…

· The Bouquet Toss…This tradition actually dates back to the fourteenth century when brides were considered to be covered in luck on their wedding day. Single women would vie for a piece of the bride’s gown hoping to take home a piece of her luck. This often times ended in a tattered and torn gown not to mention a bruised up bride! Brides began to rebel against the destruction of their dresses and began throwing stockings or garters at the crowd until they could exit unaccosted. Eventually the custom became the flowering tossing event know today. I recommend having your florist make a “toss bouquet” for this activity so that your precious bundle can be saved and not ripped to bits by all those single ladies gunning for your luck!
· The Garter Toss: An offshoot of the bouquet toss, the tossing of the garter was used to feign off the advances of luck hungry women and smooch hungry men! Once again considered lucky, men would fight to snatch a kiss from the new bride, a habit that new groom did not think much of. Men began removing the garter from the leg of his bride to show ownership and throwing it to his ravenous cohorts to save his new wife from Lord knows what. The tradition continues today and often follows the tossing of the bridal bouquet.
· The Bachelor Party: Originally known as the bachelor dinner or stag party, the bachelor party goes back to the early days of Sparta and the Spartans love of any reason to party. An engaged Spartan man would be treated to an evening of feasting and drinking as his friends (and often fellow military men) would toast to his new life. Although now known to often involve risque behavior, the bachelor dinner was originally created to allow the groom an opportunity to release pre-wedding jitters. Eventually women decided they needed to shake off some jitters too and thus produced the birth of the bachelorette party.

Of course there are many more traditions that need to be explained. But, if I spilled all the beans here, you would not have a reason to return and read more! Stay tuned to The Bride’s Book Blog for our next history lesson which will include the odd history behind the bridal party, the reason flowers became a vital part of the event and how the wedding cake evolved from a loaf of bread to the artistic creations we have today. Class dismissed!