I already said yes to the dress…WTF?

I’m having a hard time choosing a dress for my bridesmaids. For two reasons: 1) I hate shopping and 2) there are too many damn options. Seriously, like hundreds of websites, hundreds of thousands of dresses. It’s impossible to focus.

Plus, I already said yes to the dress. I don’t feel like going through all that again.

I thought I found “the one” a few times. And then I found “the one” that would have actually been “the one” had I gotten that one wedding dress from that one place… Plus another that totally looked perfect next to the wedding dress I DID choose. At least it did that one day. The next day, my mind said, “What are you thinking?”

It’s a full-on sensory overload. Too many dresses, too many styles, too many colors, too many prices. It’s turning me into someone I’m not — someone who cares about fashion and matchy-matching things.

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PHOTO: Danny Bostwick Photography

A year ago, before any talk of my own wedding, I found a bridesmaid dress I absolutely adored. It was perfect. The bride who fashioned her tribe did a flawless job. I remember seeing the photo and just swooning over the whole “Great Gatsby” feel of it.

And then I saw it again, in another wedding photo. And then again. And again…

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Photo: Sarah Murray Photography

THE GOOD NEWS: The dress is versatile. Each bride in every photo made it fit her theme, and did so perfectly. Palm trees and white sandy beaches, or 1920s-style in a rustic barn — doesn’t matter. It all works.

That Adrianna Papell really knows her sh*t when it comes to dresses.

THE BAD NEWS: The dress is versatile, so every bride can make it fit. And A LOT of brides are “making it fit.” As beautiful and perfectly flattering as it is, I just can’t get that dress now. I’ve seen it far too many times since the day I fell in love.

Here’s my problem: Since I originally set my heart on that dress, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. So I’ve been on the hunt for something similar. Something vintage-y. With some sparkle, but not too much. Floor-length. Rose quartz.

I search and search, and I go from website to website, and I either end up back at that damn dress, or on some obscure web page looking at some random dress that is so far off-course that I don’t have any idea how I got there in the first place.

So then I have to stop, shut my eyes and take a breath, and remind myself what I’m supposed to be looking for. At which point I usually just say “screw it” and go to bed.

I got lucky the other day and stumbled on a fellow bride’s post in a Facebook wedding group. She was looking for the “perfect” burgundy bridesmaid dress, and a whole lotta women had a whole lotta suggestions.

*JACKPOT!*

More than a few brides suggested Azazie, so I checked it out. So far, I love it! A bunch of dress styles available in a bunch of colors, and lots of positive reviews. The best part? You can order fabric swatches, and other brides post their own photos to the site so you (a potential buyer) can see how the dresses look in real life!

I’ve already picked a few favorites, and I’m crossing my fingers that I love one of the color swatches that arrive in the mail. Because, oh my god, if I have to keep looking for a bridesmaid dress, my poor girls just might be walking down the aisle in their own LBD!

Wish me luck! Oh, and if you have any suggestions for finding the perfect bridesmaids dress, feel free to send them my way! You know, just in case …

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Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen…

I never wanted to get married. It wasn’t a fantasy of mine. Like, when I was little, I didn’t walk around in a veil made of pillow cases (although, if you tuck a towel behind your ears just right, you can look like Virgin Mary). And I didn’t organize some elaborate ceremony for Barbie and Ken. It just wasn’t my thing.

So, as an adult — an engaged adult — it’s not like I have any dreams, or a real plan, or any preconceived notion that my wedding will be this absolutely perfect, completely flawless thing. I expect imperfection. I plan for the unplanned.

But you really never know how much will not go as planned. I’ll save you the surprise — it’s a bunch.

I’m not going to say anything went “wrong.” I’ll just say that a few things haven’t read straight from a storybook. Instead, they may have been better suited for the highlight reel at the end of the film.

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As you know, I put a lot of time and effort into the hand-painted boxes I put together for my bridesmaids. I packaged each piece (hand-painted champagne flute, bottle of bubbly, etc.) into the box all nice and cozy, wrapped it in a bow, and then packaged it again in a much bigger shipping box with the help of UPS, who assured me that my beloved gifts would arrive at their destination safely and promptly.

That was not necessarily the case.

My maid of honor lives in Pittsburgh. She lives on a tiny street where cars jockey for parking with garbage cans, piles of snow and each other. And from what I remember, it’s a semi-high-traffic area, where a lot of younger folk frequent. Not necessarily the sort of place you leave an adorable little pink package on the doorstep.

I worried about sending this package. But I thought, hey, UPS knows more about shipping than I do — they’ve got this. And then, after days of not hearing a peep from my potential MOH, I panicked — at 4 a.m. — and checked the tracking information online. My package had been delivered days earlier, to the wrong address — right house number, wrong street. Probably the most important package I’ve ever sent in my entire life, delivered to someone else.

Thankfully, after a call, it was sorted out and Kim’s package was taken to a UPS Store. She just needed to pick it up. Which she did NOT for a few additional days. So again, I panicked. I wondered if she got it, read my proposal and was then trying to think of a polite way to say “no.”

That, of course, was not the case. She said “yes,” and all was right in the world again.

Now, for Kristi’s package… Like I said, each one included a hand-painted glass and that teeny bottle of bubbly. I had it all planned for weeks. Bought the individual pieces, and painted and packaged each one. And then I received the amazing news that my girl was expecting a little one.

FYI: Sparkling grape juice does not come in teeny bottles.

That’s OK. I worked out with her husband that, upon the package’s arrival, he was going to pull out a bottle of grape juice and explain the snafu. Thing is, Kristi travels quite a bit, so timing was shaky, and it just didn’t go down as this sitcom skit I had laid out in my head. Regardless, she, too, accepted my proposal, so it all worked out.

My final bridesmaid is one I haven’t yet mentioned — my fiancé’s daughter. Who’s 14. And who clearly does not drink champagne from hand-painted flutes (at least, she better not).

I thought about presenting her with the same package as the other bridesmaids, but replacing her champagne with sparkling grape juice. But drinking sparkling grape juice insinuates drinking, in general, and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that. Maybe I put a little too much thought into that one, but I played it safe and nixed that idea altogether.

So how exactly do you ask a teenager to be part of your wedding party, and have it be memorable? I’ll tell you what I did. And how I failed. And then if any of you come up with a much better, super rad idea, please share. Because teens are effin tough…

My soon-to-be stepdaughter, like every other girl her age, is obsessed with Josh Dun from Twenty One Pilots. (*Parents: He’s the drummer. The one with that hair. The green mop.) So I thought, how cool would it be if JOSH asked her to be my bridesmaid? Brilliant, right?

I found the perfect picture of him — a goofy close-up with a Cheshire Cat grin and a drumstick in his grill. I had it printed true-to-life, and I painted a “Will you be my bridesmaid” sign that I hung with ribbon from the drumstick. It was awesome! Turned out WAY better than expected!

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She was going to visit us on a Friday, and my plan was that, when she opened the door to her bedroom — BAM! There he’d be, in his black-and-white glory, holding my super cute, super colorful sign, asking my very important question.

(*Cue the emotional track, slow the film reel for our hug…)

She’d get all excited and squeal. Clap her hands and say, “OMG, thank you thank you thank you! I just LOOOOOVE him!” And then she’d take 4,9723,801 Snapchat photos…

Again, blooper reel. That didn’t happen. In true 14-year-old fashion, she had another obligation she “oh my god, couldn’t miss” (you remember those days), hours away, so the trip was postponed. And I was left with a picture and a phone proposal. Not exactly how I had envisioned, but the result was the same. I got myself a fourth and final bridesmaid, and one I absolutely knew I needed in my Bride Tribe from Day 1.

I also got a few more days with ’ole Josh, and a few Snapchat photos of my own.

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These are only a few of the things that haven’t exactly gone as planned, but that all worked out. I’m gathering that this is kinda what wedding planning is all about — a bunch of things that don’t necessarily go as planned, but that still work out in the end. Plus, they make for fun blog posts.

Will you be my bridesmaid?

I’m super crafty. I’m not typically a bragger, but I AM quite artsy. Like, if Martha Stewart knew I existed, she’d totally want to be my BFF (sorry Snoop). I like to think of myself as Lady MacGyver — I can pretty much make anything out of nothing. A real trash-to-treasure kinda gal.

My grandmother, on the other hand, has a much different way of describing my “talent.” What I think is “innovative,” she often times calls “cheap.” Whatever. I love a good challenge and creating something really pretty from next to nothing is fun for me.

I look at it like this: if it’s something I can make myself, and that’s something I absolutely love doing anyway, why wouldn’t I? And doesn’t a personalized, handmade, straight-from-the-heart gift mean more anyway? It does to me…

Last week, I talked about how I chose my bridesmaids. This week, I’m going to talk about how I asked them to join my crew. And, I’ll be honest, I’ve been SUPER DUPER excited about this blog post for a LONG time!

These women — Ginger, Laura, Kim and Kristi — have been a part of my life for what seems like forever. In fact, Kim, my maid of honor, was a college roommate, so she’s seen 20+ years of trials and tribulations! Those kinds of relationships deserve a Bride Tribe proposal as special as they are to me.

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I created a gift box for each one. A pretty little wooden box, filled with all sorts of love and goodies hand-made just for them.

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I started with an 8.5-inch, unfinished wood box from Michael’s. I removed the hardware, sanded the edges and then painted it metallic rose gold, one of our wedding colors. Once the pieces dried, I replaced the hardware.

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Our wedding décor will include a lot of collectibles and antiques, so I found small frames that look aged and I filled each one with a “vintage” photo of me and each of my girls.

I bought a set of four stemless champagne glasses and hand-painted each woman’s name on each one. This took a little bit of time because (1) I’m a perfectionist and (2) I painted and baked each one twice to ensure the lettering was permanent [*shameless plug: this hand-lettering gig is actually something I do quite often. Check out Love Letters on Facebook + instagram].

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I tucked each glass into a small fabric bag that featured little bird feathers, and I wrote long, personal and deeply heartfelt massages to each woman in cards that matched the fabric bags (I won’t say anymore about those messages cause I’ll cry. Again.). I shredded newspaper for my filler, and popped a teeny bottle of champagne into each one. And then I wrapped a shiny rose gold ribbon around each one and shipped them off to my girls… sending out a little prayer with each one that the recipients would accept my proposal with a “Hell yeah!” [*Spoiler alert: they did]

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In total, I spent about $40 — $10 for each completed box. I thoroughly enjoyed creating every piece of those gifts, right down to the shredded newspaper. Those boxes contain more of “me” than any store-bought gift ever could, and my girlfriends know that. It’s not the amount of money that counts (although we all know I love the challenge of finding a good deal), but the amount of love that comes with a gift like this. And these boxes overfloweth…

*FREE CHAMPAGNE*

I’m getting married in October and I still haven’t asked all my bridesmaids. Is that bad? Here’s the thing: I didn’t really comprehend how important they were until just recently. Not my friends, mind you — I TOTALLY get how much I need them in my life and on my wedding day. But “bridesmaids,” in general.

I’ve been in a handful of weddings. I’m absolutely honored that, of all the people in each of these women’s lives, I was asked to be among the few who stand by her side on one of the most important days of her life. In the months, weeks and days leading up to the wedding, I offered my services and support. I pitched in on bachelorette and shower planning, and on the big day, I fetched bottled water, held doors, zipped zippers.

And I drank free champagne from a fancy flute.

But in reality, don’t all friends do those things? Like, were those tasks super special because I had a new title? Not really. So honestly, what’s the point of a bridesmaid? That’s the part I had trouble with.

And what’s a good number? Like, how do you choose how many of your many friends you’ll separate out on your wedding day by dressing them in something snazzier than what everyone else is wearing? The whole concept was just silly to me.

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So here’s what I did: I figured out who knew most of my dirty little secrets, and I asked them to join my Bride Tribe. Seriously.

And here’s why: Those are the women I trust the most.

I’m a very private, very hard-to-get-to-know person (outside of this über public, available worldwide blog, of course…). But a few (and I mean FEW) people have pushed through the cracks of my hard exterior and gotten to know the real me, good and bad. I trust them with all my troubles, all my heartaches, all my successes, all my passions. I can talk to them about anything and not ever worry that the details of our conversation will go any further.

These are the women who have stood by me through my finest and darkest moments, and the ones I go to for advice, encouragement and support. These are the women I need to offer their services in the months, weeks and days leading up to my wedding. And on my big day, I’ll probably need them to fetch bottled water, hold doors and zip zippers.

But I will also need them to make me laugh, which they’re all SO good at doing. And fetch tissues when I get emotional, which is often. And hug me when the weight of the day gets too heavy. And remind me that, although they’re not there physically, my parents are there in spirit and that’s enough.

I will need them to give me the strength I need on my wedding day, and hold my hand through a few of the tasks I’ll muster through before we even get to that day.

And, in exchange, I’ll give them champagne and a fancy flute.

When I really put some thought into what a bridesmaid is, it made more sense. I mean, I realize some people choose bridesmaids based on various reasons, but for me, on my most special day, I wanted the people closest to my heart to be closest to me in distance.

Turns out, it’s a pretty big deal. So narrowing the few “candidates” (which is a horrible word, but I don’t know what else to call them) to even fewer is hard. And each one deserves a proposal that means as much to them as those women to do me.

This is a lot of pressure, people!

So, by next week and my next blog entry, I will have completed my Bride Tribe and I will be able to introduce you all to the crew who knows all my dirty little secrets and continues to love me anyway…

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