Category Archives: Reception

The 2nd New York City NotWedding

Thursday night, I went to a fake wedding…the 2nd NYC NotWedding that is. These alternative bridal shows can be found in major cities around the country and are the perfect way for brides to meet vendors and sample their services, while having a pretty great time out. The evening starts with a brief vow renewal ceremony between a happily married couple, and is followed by a legitimately fun reception with drinks, dinner and dancing. All the vendors behind the event are present and the guests consist of local engaged couples looking to scout out photographers, party planners and all the rest for their big days. For their second trip to NYC, The NotWedding chose the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. I invited my engaged friend Nichole to attend and we were greeted at the door by a welcome glass of Ferrari sparkling wine. Then we got down to business (aka, drinking that wine…and talking to all the vendors, of course!).

Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn, The 2nd NYC NotWedding

I hate to play favorites, but meeting The Haiku Guys was certainly a highlight of my night. This gentleman and lady sat perched behind two typewriters and were on call to compose haikus for you on a topic of your choice. After a panicked moment of thought, I asked for a poem about moving to Brooklyn this year with my boyfriend, Andrew. The result seriously made my heart happy—I’m definitely framing this.

Haiku from the Haiku Guys at The 2nd NotWedding NYCI also got to catch up with the ladies from Little Borrowed Dress, the genius company that lets you rent bridesmaid dresses for a whole lot less. We took a peek at their expanded color palette and new styles for spring and summer—they now have 18 shades and 10 silhouettes that rent for between $50 and $75. They also shared a few really interesting behind-the-scenes details with me…but more to come on that soon! (Bonus: Tote bags galore, plus three of my favorite colors from the LBD spring line.)

Little Borrowed Dress tote from The 2nd NYC NotWedding

Another “this is genius” discovery: Makr, an app that makes designing invitations incredibly simple and seamless. Modern, colorful templates can be customized in a second with the easy swiping and dragging functionality of a tablet. I seriously wanted to hug these ladies their app was so intuitive and easy. Plus, it’s not just for invitations: You can create labels, stickers, and even temporary tattoos! Much of the printing can be done at home, or you can order prints through Makr. I made a desperate plea for them to design some chic, classy bachelorette invitations (no pink and black, please!). In the meantime, check out their newly released bridal shower invite—and these diamond tattoos.

Makr Bridal Shower Customizable InvitationsOne last lovely I just have to share is the sanity-saving travel coordination from Bliss by LTC. Founder Lauren hates the word “travel agency,” so she describes what she does as “designing vacations.” The service is often used for honeymoons, but my ears perked up when she said the words “bachelorette weekend.” Lauren consults with you on the general vibe of the weekend (Are you more of a clubbing and dancing or wine tasting and fine dining group?) and then turn over the names of the invitees—and she’ll coordinate from there! Just imagine, no badgering girls for RSVPs…sounds like heaven to me. She also hosted a giveaway for a trip anywhere in the world—I pinned New Zealand on the map to enter to win!

destination map | photo via Page Photography

Photo via Page Photography.

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and derived from meeting really passionate and cool people.

The Cake Pull Tradition

What is a cake pull? The cake pull is a Southern tradition, most popular in Louisiana, that could be an excellent alternative to the bouquet toss (which I personally loathe) or a way to share a special moment with your bridesmaids at the wedding. Since I’ve never personally participated in a cake pull, I went to my cousin Dawn, a Louisianan and veteran cake puller (she’s been in 9) for information on this Southern tradition. “What I love about the cake pull is that it is a way to include more female friends without having 20 girls in your wedding party,” she says. “As I get older, participating in one more ‘single girls’ activity at weddings can be slightly awkward, but this is much less humiliating than the bouquet toss. I plan to include one at my wedding!” Here’s a breakdown on what a cake pull is and how to incorporate one at your wedding or bridal shower.

What is a cake pull? Find out how to incorporate this Southern tradition into your wedding.

The Cake Pull Tradition
There seem to be a few variations on the tradition. In one, unmarried female friends are invited to participate and in the other only the bridesmaids partake. In either version, a set of charms is placed under a layer of the cake and each girl pulls one, though in the bridesmaid version the “next to be married” charm must be removed if one or more of your maids is already hitched. While the cake pull most often takes place at the wedding reception, some will argue it should actually be done at the bridesmaid luncheon or even at the shower.

How To Do It Yourself
Ok, let’s talk logistics. The cake pulls are typically given to the baker the week of the wedding and then placed when assembling the cake at the reception site. Dawn has placed them herself when organizing a pull for a friend, and advises you to have extra icing on hand to pipe around the base of the cake once the pulls are placed. A ribbon is tied to each charm (or if you want to get creative, you can attach them to charm bracelets). You can find a vendors on Etsy selling cake pulls, but you can also make your own by picking up charms and ribbon at a local craft store.

Common Charms and Their Meanings
Each charm has a different meaning and tells you something about what’s to come in your life. Common charms might include a camera or the Eiffel tower (a life of travel), a flip-flop (a life full of relaxing fun), a cross (a life full of faith), a heart (a life full of love), a ring (the next to be married) and a pacifier or baby carriage (the next to have a baby). There are even Louisiana-themed cake pulls, like a crawfish for a life of good fortune or a Mardi Gras mask for the life of the party. The bride can select which charms she wants to incorporate, or even assign special meaning to personal charms. You could attach a folded card to the end of the pull with a quote to reveal the meaning of the charm—just make sure no one peeks before the pull!

Image courtesy of Katie H Photography.

A Handmade Pastel Farm Wedding in British Columbia

So, this is a bridesmaid blog. I get that. But nonetheless, I often receive wedding submissions. And for a long time I’ve told myself that if I ever stumbled on a wedding with a sweet bridesmaid story, I’d share it with you. Well folks, that day has come. What could be sweeter than a bridal party filled out by the bride and groom’s younger brothers and sisters (plus their BFFs, of course)? Bethany and Joel chose to hold their casual, rustic ceremony on the grounds of Providence Farm, not too far from their hometown of Victoria, British Columbia. The pure fun of the day shines through in the pictures from Christa Nicole Photography, from the cheeky bridal party portraits to the groomsmen’s matching argyle socks to the bouncy castle at the reception (they even rented bloomers so the ladies could bounce worry-free!). Bethany and Joel really put their personal touch on every aspect of the ceremony. Bethany made the bouquets herself, using dahlias listed on Craigslist by a local farm and eucalyptus from her own garden. She also made the groomsmen’s boutonnieres, repurposing coffee sacks that groom Joel brought home from his job as a coffee roaster. The couple even wrote their own wedding ceremony—that’s right, not just the vows, the whole shebang! The cake cutting was performed with a sword, a family tradition in the making: Bethany’s father received the sword as a member of the Governor General’s Horse Guards in 1982 and used it to cut the cake in his wedding to Bethany’s stepmother in 1999. I love how all the handmade details highlight the couple’s sense of humor, spirit of fun and obvious love for their families—and each other. 

From the bride: 
“Our wedding party consisted of our siblings and very bestest friends. By some miracle, both my husband and I have the same number of siblings, but of opposite genders! So, I had my two sisters, Joel’s sister, and my best friend (since we were 15!) stand up for me, while Joel had his two brothers, my brother and his best friend stand up for him.

My bridesmaids were great. When it came to decided what to wear, originally we were going for the mismatched theme. But, the girls were having such a difficult time finding affordable coordinating dresses (that didn’t scream ‘bridesmaid’), that we were giving up hope until we spied this dress from Modcloth. At $60, how could you go wrong? Plus, they had that sweet, sundress-vintage flair that felt so right.

My favourite detail of the day would either have to be the ceremony (we wrote it ourselves, and our bridal party was a big part of it!) or the dancing once everything was dark. Oh, and obviously our bouncy castle…how could that not be a favourite detail?! We rented bloomers so ladies could bounce worry free. Also, as almost 80 people stayed overnight, we hosted a breakfast the next day and it was great to get to hang out with everyone after our night of fun. Oh, and one more—my husband is a coffee roaster, so I made the boutonnieres and bunting from used coffee sacks, and all the guests got to enjoy freshly made lattes and Americanos at breakfast!”

Photography: Christa Nicole Photography | Venue: Providence Farm | Bridesmaid dresses: Modcloth | Bridal gown: Blush Bridal | Bride’s and bridesmaids’ hair: Lab Salons | Reception dress: H&M | Suits: Indochino | Cake: Nicki Reich, a friend of the couple | Rings: Rare Earth| Florals, boutonnieres: the bride

The Bridesmaid Packing List for the Wedding Day

bridesmaid packing list for the wedding dayEverything you need for her big day—plus a printable PDF with all the details.

Pro Tip: Stash a small duffel or large shoulder bag into your luggage to use the day of the wedding. You won’t want to drag your entire suitcase to the bridal suite, so having a smaller bag for everything you need the day of the wedding will come in handy.

For Bridesmaids:

  • Your dress

Pro Tip: If you’re flying, carry your dress on the plane in a garment bag. Planes have small coat closets that the flight attendants generally use to stash the jackets of businessmen in first class. As you enter the plane, tell the flight attendant that you’re going to a wedding and ask if he or she could hang your dress in the closet. They should be happy to oblige. The last thing you want is some kind of luggage mix-up ending with you minus your dress. 

  • The shoes you’ll wear with the dress

Pro Tip: Never wear new shoes to a wedding! Make sure to break them in by wearing at least three times before the big day. You’re going to be doing a lot of standing and your feet will thank you. 

  • A pair of comfortable sandals to change into at the reception
  • The right bra and underwear to wear under your dress

Pro Tip: Pre-plan the undergarments you’ll wear under your dress! Make sure to try it on with the bra and underwear you want to wear. Make sure no lines show on the bottom and that the straps are hidden on top. You may need a thong or to go braless. There are lots of crazy bra options for weird backless dresses—or those insane sticky things that hold up your boobs. Make sure you know before the day of the wedding which option you’ll need. 

  • Your wedding gift or a card (can be mailed ahead)
  • A button-up shirt or loose tank to wear while having your hair and makeup done (or while doing your own)
  • Comfortable pants or shorts to wear while getting ready

Pro Tip: When choosing the outfit you’ll wear for getting ready, remember that there’s a good chance a photographer will be on hand to take pictures during this time. If you want to rock your comfiest oversized sweats, more power to you. But if you don’t want to be photographed in your gym clothes, pack something neutral and comfortable that you won’t mind taking a few snaps in. Nothing fancy, just maybe something without holes.

  • Makeup. If you’re doing your own makeup, you’ll need your full makeup bag. If you’re having your makeup professionally done, pack mascara and lip gloss for touch-ups.
  • Deodorant
  • Drugs. Chances are butterflies, jitters or heavy drinking from the rehearsal dinner the night before will leave you, the bride or other maids not feeling your best. Pack stomach medicine like Tums, a painkiller like Advil, and allergy medication like Claratin, just to be safe. If you have prescriptions, be sure you include them as well.
  • Band-aids. Not only for injuries, band-aids can also help with uncomfortable shoes.
  • Double-stick tape. Savior of strapless dresses that won’t stay up. Can also be used to fix a hem that’s falling out!
  • Tissues
  • Bobby pins
  • Hair styling tools or a picture of the hair style you want. If you’re doing your own hair, make sure to pack all the tools you’ll need, be it curling iron, rollers, dryer, straightener, hair spray, bobby pins, ties, clips, etc.

Pro Tip: Telling a hair stylist to give you an up-do is like telling a chef to make you some food. What kind of up-do do you want? Print out a couple options (or have them saved on your phone).

  • Jewelry (if you’re wearing it)
  • Breath mints. No gum. Leads to potential chewing in pictures.
  • Heel inserts
  • Shout wipes
  • Small sewing kit
  • A camera. It’s hard to take time to snap pictures when you’re in the wedding, but sometimes it’s nice to have on hand, especially if the bride doesn’t plan to have a photographer present while you’re getting ready.
  • Your cell phone charger (Thanks to reader Karen for the callout!)
  • A small umbrella (As savvy reader Darby put it, rain on the wedding day may be good luck, but you don’t want to be caught without cover!)

For Maids of Honor:

  • A copy of your speech
  • Contact information for all the other bridesmaids, so you can track down latecomers or call for backup if the bride needs anything
  • A copy of the day’s schedule from the bride so you can help keep everyone on task

Coordinate with the other bridesmaids to make sure someone brings:

  • Music and speakers. You and the girls are going to want to jam while you’re getting ready, right? Make sure that you or one of the other maids brings portable speakers or some other setup to allow you to pump some tunes while you’re getting ready.
  • Snacks. Choose high energy but low mess snacks, like fruits and veggies or dark chocolate. You don’t want anything that could drip and leave stains or get crumbs all over your dress.
  • Bottled water
  • Drinks like mimosas or champagne if you plan to have a few while getting ready

Pro Tip: Keep drinking before the wedding to a minimum, maybe one or two glasses each. Even if you are normally a pro drinker, emotions run high and you are at the start of a loooong day. You don’t want to risk getting sloppy or feeling tired or sick during the ceremony or photographs from a combination of alcohol, nerves, heat or stress. There will be tons of drinking later, I promise. For now, keep it light. 

  • Any special gifts you plan to give the bride the day of the wedding

And here’s a link to a PDF you can download and print for the day: Bridesmaid Wedding Day Packing List.

Q&A: Writing a Speech for Your Parents’ Vow Renewal

Q: My parents are renewing their wedding vows and I will be the maid of honor and my brother is the best man. I’m having a hard time writing my speech as I am a little shy in front of crowds, and also because my parents (obviously) are so very close to me. I want it to be a very special moment.

A: Even though you are feeling a lot of pressure, I actually think you are really lucky to be giving a speech to your parents, and you have a lot of options! One of the hardest things about giving a good maid of honor speech is that sometimes we don’t know enough about the groom or the couple’s relationship to make the speech truly personal. We tend to have lots of memories with the bride, but not a ton of true insight into her relationship with her groom. But you’re in an amazing position—you’ve been around for many of the special moments in your parents’ lives! That said, I totally understand that making speeches can be intimidating. Here are a few ideas to help customize your speech and make the moment special for your family.

1. The first thing I would do is jot down a few notes of special memories that you have of your family. Think about the things that make you unique as a group—your traditions, your quirks, your favorite vacation, a famous mishap that you always tell at holidays. Then think about why those moments are special to you.

2. You can talk about what you’ve learned about marriage from your parents. As we grow up, we often subconsciously look to our parents to find out what makes a good marriage—and sometimes what doesn’t! This could be a heartwarming ending to your speech after sharing a story or two, to turn it back to what those stories taught you and how your parents have inspired you.

3. You could also team up with your brother and give a joint speech. It may take away some of the jitters to have him talking as well. Challenge each other to tell the sappiest story about your parents—or the silliest.

4. If public speaking is really freaking you out, or you just want to take a different route, you could also make a photo slideshow and narrate. You can pick funny or sweet photos of your parents that show their relationship from the beginning, including yourself and your brother. Everyone loves looking back at old memories and since all eyes will be on the images it might take a little of the pressure off you!

Six Dirty Details Bridesmaids Need to Know

The term “bridesmaid” often conjures up images of wild bachelorette parties, pre-wedding mimosa toasts and breathless wedding gown shopping with the bride. But first-time maids beware: It’s not all fun and games. Here are some of the dirty details of bridesmaiding, the jobs you don’t think about but nonetheless better be ready for!

Let’s start with the bachelorette party and bridal showers.

1. On bachelorette night, you’re the Designated Bride Buddy. If you’re the maid of honor, I personally think that you are officially in charge of taking care of the bride. You’re her best friend and it’s her night to go crazy, but someone has to make sure she gets home safe. Looking out for her can be as simple as making sure she has her purse and arranging transportation for the night, but it can also mean cutting her off, fending off unwanted attention, or taking care of her if she gets sick. In order to truly watch out for her, you’ll have to dial it back a notch and party a little less than the rest of your group, but your bride will appreciate that someone had her back all night.

2. Sometimes you have to be the bitch. How can I explain this…? Ok, for example, I once attended a bridal shower where one of the guests had very recently found out she was pregnant. She proceeded to hijack the shower, constantly turning the conversation to herself. The bride was way too sweet to say anything, but I felt really bad watching this girl take over the bride’s day. Bridesmaids (and especially MOH), if someone’s got to be the bitch, make it you. Now, I don’t mean go all bridesmaid-zilla on her. But pull girls like this aside and remind them what we’re here to celebrate. The same concept can apply to girls who are holding up the group at bachelorette parties, stressing the bride out with worries for the future or needling her for any “nagging doubts”. If there’s negative energy in the group, take into upon yourself to “bridesmaid up” and stand up for your friend.

On the wedding day, you may find yourself involved in all kinds of precarious situations.

3. The term “bridesmaid” can sometimes translate to “event helper”. If a bride has taken on a lot of the planning, decorating and organization of the event herself, she’s going to need willing servants the day of to do her bidding. You are now officially manual laborers. You may find yourself setting up chairs, arranging flowers, hanging decorations or completing any number of tasks. I once helped the bride cook dinner for her fifty guests, arranged chairs in the yard, made a veil out of few yards of mesh and then cleared dirty plates and carried out each of the three courses during the reception.

4. Wedding dresses are complicated. They require things like corsets and bustling. Both of these tasks will fall to the bridesmaids and trust me when I say they can be frustrating and time-consuming. It’s highly, highly recommended that at least one of the bridesmaids go to the final fitting with the bride! There a wedding professional can teach you how to properly lace the corset (And make it look good! That’s the hardest part!) and bustle the gown. Make sure you try it yourself at least once in the salon. Need a refresher? Here’s a great video on corset lacing (with a British accent!). Bustling will really depend on the gown, so make sure someone has taken notes!

5. You may be familiar with the ol “help the bride pee” bit. This is a real thing people. If the dress has any kind of volume or train, the bride will need some assistance and it’s your job to give it! This may even extend to helping the bride sit without wrinkling her dress. One of my brides had a huge gown that would wrinkle if she sat on it, so as we waited for the ceremony to start we draped the entire skirt around a sofa with the bride plopped in the middle. She looked like a giant cupcake, but that dress stayed wrinkle-free!

6. Oh, picture time. You are so long and complex. But during this time, it’s your job to keep the bride looking fresh and perfect. Of course someone will need to carry around her train, but you should be ready for anything. I’ve toted around a damp towel to dab off sweat during a hot Florida summer and a friend of mine once switched underwear with the bride halfway through the photo shoot because the bride’s colored panties were showing through the dress!

In the grand scheme of things, these dirty details are just that—details. What I remember about each of my experiences as a bridesmaid are the good things—the excitement, the fun, the laughs, the tears. But be ready to be a helper and supporter to your friend, even if that means getting your hands (and dresses) a little dirty.

The Maid of Honor Speech: Do’s and Don’ts

Last week we went over the basic format for a maid of honor toast and some ideas and inspiration. This week, we’ll go through some all-important do’s and don’ts.

Do bring a glass up with you. After all, you are giving a toast, so you need a glass of something to toast with!

Don’t share stories you wouldn’t want to tell the bride’s grandmother. There’s always a temptation to share your most outrageous story about the bride. But if that story involves drugs, alcohol or sex, or any mixture of the three, fight the urge!! This most often happens with best man speeches, but I’ve seen it go down with maid of honor speeches too. The bride is mortified and it will not bring in the laughs you expected—trust me.

Do bring the speech back to the couple. Since you’ve been chosen as the maid of honor, chances are most of your memories revolve around the bride. It can be tempting to focus on her too much or to tell lots of stories about the two of you. But remember where you are and why you’re all there. It’s ok for your speech to be a bit bride-centric or to include one or two stories about your friendship. After all, you’re her best friend, sister or both! But make sure you bring the groom into the toast.

Don’t use inside jokes. Nothing is more annoying than a speech that’s unintelligible to 90 percent of the audience.

Do moderate your drinking before toast time. One or two drinks is fine (depending on your tolerance of course), but cut yourself off after that. A maid of honor slurring her speech, going off on a drunken tangent, adding inappropriate comments or (yes, this seriously happens) vomiting from a combination of nerves and alcohol is an instant party-downer. Continue reading