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There’s several schools of thought on this touchy little conversation piece.

As a bridesmaid, if you don’t have a serious boyfriend, and by boyfriend I don’t mean your post three Margarita phone call after a late Thursday night out with the girls, then don’t expect to get a plus one to your friends big day.

In her eyes, you have a job to do.  In theory you do have a job to do, sometimes several jobs, and having a random plus one around while you dodge into the bathroom to hold tulle over the toilet might not be the best first date.

Even ladies with significant others often find themselves abandoning their dates at weddings they are in.  A friend of mine is toying with the idea of not even bringing her long-term boyfriend to a wedding she’s in because he might end up hanging out alone at the bar all night while she attends to her duties.

Of course, situations vary and if your other half is friends with your fellow bridesmaids plus ones, they might not feel too left out.  But if they’re not and you’re sitting court-side with the bridal party, while he’s off at the “Other halves” Table you might just get to wave from across the room.

If most of the bridal party is married or coupled off, a good way to solve this problem- TELL YOUR BRIDES- is just seat everybody with their date.  Don’t make your bridal party sit at a long table at the front of the room while their husbands sit in the back near the buffet.  I did a wedding once where the bride used 2 round tables to seat the bridal party and their dates.  The bride and groom sat with the maid of honor and her husband and the best man and his girlfriend, and the rest of the bridal party surrounded them with their dates.

Personally, if you’re single and in a wedding don’t even worry about bringing a date. It’s so not worth it. Besides, if the future Mr. & Mrs., follow the rule across the board that means there could be plenty of single boys right across the aisle from you.

Are weddings really a good place to meet men? I don’t know.  I’m going to 9 this year, one of which I’m in, so I’ll let you know.

Success Stories welcome!

I went. I found. I conquered. (Trumpet Music)

I have to admit I have always been a little bit afraid of David’s Bridal and every single person who works there. I had to pick up my bridesmaid dress this weekend and opted for an upstate New York store location over one closer to my current address because, well, it seemed easier.  The thought of traveling to either Jersey or Queens to find and fit a dress on a Saturday made my head spin.

So I went to David’s Bridal on a Wednesday morning and was greeted slowly by a woman sitting at what looked like a bridal show check-in table.  I flipped through her catalogue, pointed to what I thought was the dress I was supposed to be getting and promptly asked her to double check the bride’s stats in the computer. Check. Right dress indeed.

I followed a less than enthusiastic salesperson through the maze of rainbow colored dressed to a rack in the back.  I don’t know, after seeing these women pounce on every living soul at bridal shows, I was kind of expecting the David’s Bridal Dress Fairy to come skipping out with bubbles and confetti with enough enthusiasm to send me right back out the doors. Dammit, where was Neil Patrick Harris when I wanted him!?

This one didn’t even seem like she had had her morning coffee yet.

Regardless, there was my dress, in my size, in my color hanging on the rack. Hooray! No ordering, shipping or ever having to return!

Now, it is March, it is cold, and I am quite pale.  A fellow bridesmaid warned me. “It’s the middle of winter.  I look like a booger,” she said.

Hmm… I see the resemblance.  Pasty I am.  Spray Tanning I will do.

But it fit. Done and Done.

It was so quick and painless I wandered over to the SALE rack while my unenthusiastic salesperson informed me “they” were sewing a hook into the back of the dress “out back”.

Ohhhh…. so the David’s Bridal Dress fairies were busy in the back with Neil Patrick Harris and their confetti, sewing hooks back into floor samples. That explains it.

After turning down multiple attempts to shell out more cash for shoes and a bag, both of which could be “dyed the exact same shade of green for me,” I left with not one but TWO dresses.

(I scored a short little dress in burnt orange, marked down to $30 from $110 for one of the gazillion weddings I’ve agreed to attend this year.)

Seriously, if I wear it once and never again, it was worth buying.  Plus I found some FABULOUS shoes later in the day to go with it.
Shoes make everything better.

It was a very painless trip. I was surprised. That doesn’t mean I want to go back anytime soon- especially on a weekend- but it was definitely not as bad as the nightmare I had imagined in my head.

The bridesmaid that coined us boogers had a completely different experience (on a Saturday). Her head exploded.  Plan accordingly.

Later that day I found the exact Silver shoes to match my exact bridesmaid specifications.

They will not make me taller than the groom,  trip down the aisle, look like a high school prom queen or like I regularly dance on tables.
(I only do that sometimes)

Very productive day.

In the April/May issue of Modern Bride, floral designer Kim Hirst of Fresh-Cut Design, creates a spectacular pink and gold centerpiece in their (how-to) guide. This month’s theme… “Have a Luxe Wedding for Less.”

Kim’s ornate centerpiece looks expensive but won’t break the bank, showcasing again how pretty, under-rated carnations used in mass quantity can actually be! She uses bright pink carnations and roses in a three-tiered centerpiece with multiple muted pink/gold shades. We love it! Check it out!

So after all you max out your credit cards on three different shower centerpieces and favors, a bachelorette party, bridesmaid dress and alterations, a blender for shower #1, a toaster for shower #2, champagne flutes for shower #3, and any other miscellaneous expenses like rental cars, hotels, party favors, potted plants and therapy you just might be lucky enough to get something in return.

It is customary for the bride & groom to show their complete and utter gratitude to their devoted bridal party in gift form at the rehearsal dinner and if you can direct them to a fantastically great idea…even better. Especially given that you’re now poor.

Since you can’t ask for a credit card payment or cash or money orders the next best thing is to present some options, discreetly, as you don’t want it to see like you’re EXPECTING anything right? ha. Below are some practical bridesmaid gifts I’ve witnessed, been given and heard rave reviews on. As always please share any ideas you have for all of the other bridesmaids out there!

  • J.Crew Monogrammed Amagansett Totes
    These are bags. Don’t be fooled by their very fancy name. Very pretty, durable bags that can bear your initials if you like that sort of thing, and sometimes I do. This Spring they come in bright colors and patterns and really aren’t going to set the bride back all that much. Polka dots, stripes and the prepster madras prints come in small and medium sizes. The small bags range from $33.50 to $44.50. (Patterns determine price here) The Mediums bags range from $44.50 to $49.50.

    Polka DotsStripes

    I’ve seen them filled with everything from beach towels, printed umbrellas, baseball hats and pretty flat flip flops in the brides signature wedding color to give your feet a break post ceremony.

    ** These also make great welcome baskets for a bachelorette weekend or as welcome baskets in hotel rooms. More on that later.

  • Vineyard Vines Bags & Accessories
    Since we’re on the subject of good looking tote bags, I must mention Vineyard Vines. I love this company for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the brothers who started are rebellious self starters that did exactly what they wanted to do, and it worked. Read their story– it’s pretty amazing.They have a whole bunch of amazing products, which are also great to outfit any bridal party, specifically if you happen to be in a wedding happening very near to a body of water.Headbands, belts, flip flops, ties and tote bags…you name it and you can probably get it with whales, crabs or seahorses on it. Pretty great. Their bags are a little bit more than the J.Crew totes, but are very customizable and come in great patterns like watermelons, shamrocks, martini glasses, even breast cancer awareness ribbons. The totes range
    in price from $85 to $105.

    Vineyard Vines Classic ToteVineyard Vines Mini Tote

  • Jewelery and yes… More bags
    If you haven’t guessed, I think bags in some form or another are a great attendants gift. Jewelery is also good. I know brides who have opted to buy the jewelry they would like you to wear on their big day. I have a friend who gave each of her bridesmaids a beautiful pink Coach wristlet along with the multi-colored jewelery they wore.

    Jewelery that gives back is another great gift idea. The Green Bracelet from Red Envelope is $125, with $20 of each purchase going to the Diamond Empowerment Fund, an international non-profit organization that raises money to educate and uplift the people and communities of Africa. Plus, we think it’s really pretty. Designed by the Simmons Jewelery Company, the bracelet features native African materials, green malachite beads and a conflict free diamond loosely housed in a gold alloy cage.

    Green Bracelet

  • Monogrammed Flasks
    If you and your fellow bridesmaids occasionally like to sip on adult beverages, monogrammed flasks in pastel leather are fun AND excellent for toasting your excellent work…and of course the happy couple. They’re also really inexpensive at just about $29 each.

    Monogrammed Flasks

Ask and you shall receive Katie! Here’s my post on how to throw a fantastically rockin’ Bachelorette Party without anything that looks remotely like a penis. So I’ve been to a few bachelorette parties in my day and some of them were AMAZING! So here are some suggestions to have a great time with your girls without ending up on the floor of your local dive bar in tiara and a “bride-to-be” beater. The most important thing is to HAVE FUN with your girlfriends!

Wine Tours
– I did one of these for a bachelorette party for a girlfriend a few years ago in the Finger Lakes region of New York and it’s my favorite “Non-trashy” bachelorette party idea. You can rent limos, shuttles or hire a very willing sibling to drive you all around from vineyard to vineyard to taste test your way through the day! Long Island Wineries and the Finger Lakes are my favorite on the east coast, there are plenty of other east coast wineries to try out. In California your options are unlimited.
Seneca Lake Wine Tour
Seneca Lake Wine Tour

Weekend Getaway– Long weekends away with the girls are a really great time and don’t have to be too expensive if you plan it out right. Shared hotel rooms and group dinners keep the bill down and keep the good times rollin’! There are a million great weekend getaway locales and you don’t have to do Vegas or Atlantic City either. Annapolis, MD, Boston, MA, NYC, Charleston, SC and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor are a few of my favorite East Coast host cities for bachelorette parties.

Booze Cruise– Most big cities near water host Harbor tours or Cruises at a group rate. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor does Harbor Cruises and the Water Taxi is a great way to hop from bar to bar and see the sights. Boston Harbor Cruises are always a good time in the warmer months and New York offers Harbor Cruises on the Circle Line around some of New York’s most famous landmarks.

Pamper Party– Spas can be really expensive, but a day of beauty doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Have a good old-fashioned Pamper Party at home complete with Tarot Card Readers or Fortune Tellers, if you’re not too superstitious, and Massage Therapists. Take turns doing each other’s nails and regress to your childhood with funny Old School games like Truth or Dare and maybe even a good old fashioned Dance Party.

Sports Center– Some brides aren’t into the sports scene but I for one am a self proclaimed baseball junkie. Baseball games are a fun alternative to the bar scene with pretty much the same effect. You get to watch men in tight pants running around while you enjoy a beer in the sunshine with some of your best girls. Most MLB tickets have cheap seats plus Minor League Teams are scattered all around the country. Cheap tickets and New prospects!

Coed Parties– Coed Parties, often referred to as Jack & Jill parties are becoming more and more popular. Maybe so everyone can get to know each other, or maybe so brides can keep a watchful eye on the groom and his wild friends. Whatever the reason it can be a great option for laid back couples. Planning a backyard barbecue with Bocce, Barbecue, Basketball and Bellini’s is a great way to include everyone in a celebration together before the wedding.

**Bellini’s are peach juice and champagne for those of you who have never had my most favorite party drink.

Casino Royale– Try your hand at the table with the boys at any of the lesser little Vegas joints around the country. Mohegan Sun, Turning Stone Casino and AC are cheaper versions of the Strip that offer the same odds of good times and hitting it big! You control the tacky level here, so choose accordingly.

Thrill RideSo I know this is atypical, but isn’t that the point here! Amusement Parks are really really fun! Admit it you haven’t been since your seventh grade chorus trip, but amusement parks are a great place to let your guard down and just enjoy being yourself with some of your favorite people. Scream as loud as you want…get it all out now.

New York, New York– The city that never sleeps offers a few great things for such a party. Stop by the Today Show and lobby for your shot at a free makeover for their Ambush Makeover on the plaza segment that happens every Friday morning. Take the circle line around the island of Manhattan and catch great views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty before heading to the Theater District for two of Broadway’s hottest “Chickusicals,” Legally Blonde and Mama Mia.

Jake Ivory’s Dueling Piano Bar

Other great ideas include jazz clubs, dueling piano bars- Jake Ivory’s in Boston is GREAT- karaoke, and pole dancing classes for the very brave at heart.

Since Berger gave Carrie that enormous bunch of cotton candy carnations, I’ve had a soft spot for the neglected flower. Often seen sparsely scattered in funeral arrangements (because they last forever) with their neighbors the daisy and the mum, these flowers can brighten any room if designed in mass.

Giant bunches of inexpensive flowers are a great alternative to the stand alone kids in the front of the class for centerpieces and bouquets. Big arrangements of daisies, mums, alstrameria, hydrangea and black eyed susans in the center of any table are just as fabulous as the expensive flowers. Plus you get more for your money!

Skip the babys breath, I say always but it’s up to you, and stick with solid colored arrangements, rather than picking several. It makes the flowers pop and seem bigger and more brilliant.

So skip the froo- froo flowers that cost a fortune like the orchids and the cala lilies and even those pretty little gerbera daisies and go quantity over quality to create a rich look for less!

Multi-Colored Carnations

White Daisies Yellow & White Daisies

Carnation Centerpiece-
Modern Bride
: Paradise Found
Photographer:Luca Trovato

Daisy Balls- Modern Bride
Brides: Michael Luppino

Daisy Centerpieces
Photographer: Anna Williams

Spring is here and it’s officially the kickoff of wedding season! Well, at least in my world it is. I thought I would share a few inexpensive favor ideas in planning your bridal showers. As I mentioned in an earlier post, centerpieces often double as really great favors. Potted Perennials like Daisies, Tulips and Daffodils make really beautiful table decorations and who doesn’t like to take home flowers?

Forgo the wrapped candy coated almonds and try something a little bit different. Here are a few that are great spring shower gifts for guests.

Mini Bamboo Plants Personalized Daisy Seeds Mini Cocktail Shakers Potted Perennials Monogrammed Votive Candle

So I have this theory about showers….They would be WAY better without the opening of gifts. Some showers I’ve attended have been better than others. The good ones have a great signature drink (like the sherbet/champagne cocktails I “tested” at the last one I was at), pretty centerpieces that often double as favors and a bride that makes haste through the gift pile.

I never liked opening gifts in front of people, even when I was little. Wayyyy to much pressure. So, I have proposed if and when I get married to all potential bridesmaids who know, that if they throw me a stuffy shower there’s a good chance I won’t show, that my guests bring unwrapped gifts.

I know it sounds a little unconventinal and the traditionalists out there are stifling “eews” back into their mouths, but it just makes more sense. Think about it.

Bring an unwrapped gift, slap a card to it and ENJOY YOURSELF. The bride can thank people as they come in and place each unwrapped gift in a pile with the cards attached so guests can see what the bride received. This way, the hours of opening gifts can be spent actually talking to the people at the shower. You invited them for a reason right?

It’s a little hard to digest at first, but I think i’s a great alternative for brides who are willing to stray from convention.

*NOTE* Bridesmaids- ASK your bride if she wants to do this first before you actually tell guests not to wrap their gifts… it could become very awkward very fast if you don’t.

This also works really well for showers with a big guest list. I know a bridesmaid who planned a shower for 200 people and politely slipped a note inside the invitation asking guests to refrain from gift wrap for the sake of everyone’s sanity. Ok, those weren’t her exact words but you get the idea. And it worked!

It would work great for a spring shower to that might take place outside in a tent, backyard, garden etc.  Set up a Bellini Bar for guests to make their own bellini’s.  Have tables set up where guests can fill out questionnaires about the bride & groom and win a prize.

Food is also very important if you do the shower this way because it takes the focal point away from the gifts. Do a Mediteranean Buffet, a Dessert Bar, a Cupcake Table, Candy bar, Brunch Buffet, Barbecue, or anything else you want! Just remember to make it personal.

Obviously some brides will still want to revel in the all about me time while they open gifts, but some brides really don’t like it.  So this is an alternative to the traditional shower and really gret for brides who are willing to stray from convention.

More time for chatting up the bride, commending the mother-in-law and playing all those ridiculously cheesy shower games. Oh you know you love them…

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March 2008
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