Look at all of those shoppers. [We'll pause here, so that you can take in the sea of humanity out there. Each person is on a journey and some of them are searching for something important. Some may even be searching for a wedding gown.]
Now imagine that each of them has an opinion, because they do, whether they mean to affect your opinions or not.
Shopping is personal. Shopping for a wedding dress is deeply personal, and can be fraught with landmines. In that spirit, we at BT want to share a scenario in the hope that it will help you brides out there - and those of you who accompany her - when you come to our boutique or other reputable wedding gown shop.
Often brides come to us with their cherished friends, bridesmaids, and family to help provide counsel and energy during the "trying on" process. We encourage this, because support is important. There is boning and structure in a gown, so why not have support from your friends??
What we worry about as business owners are the unexpected comments and the fall out that they bring. It happens, ladies! But it doesn't have to happen to you.
We've heard of, and even seen ourselves, brides who fall in love with a gown only to abandon it when someone makes an off-hand comment about an element of the gown. The sleeves are a "different" length. Maybe the dress features a drop waist or interesting lace patterns, embellishments or a style that not everyone in the party agrees on. It's to be expected. But when those comments derail a bride from her choice, it can feel defeating.
The good news is that there are helpful things to remember as a bride AND as a member of her entourage.
Things to Think About
You don't have to buy your gown at BT, but we are always honored to serve this particular brides whether they know what they want or are still searching. The shopping part of the wedding should be as fun and uplifting (for everyone) as possible. Celebrate together! Everybody wins that way.
Let's jump right in with the big (and obvious truth), shall we?
Moms of Brides and Grooms are Important
No matter what your relationship with your mom, if she is still with us and is attending your wedding, helping to pay for it, guiding and comforting you through the details, ups and downs, she is important. At Bridal Traditions we care about our moms!! We want all you moms out there to feel as important and beautiful as you are. So here are some basic, and we believe, helpful tips.
Do Not Wait Until the Last Minute
Waiting feels like a good idea, because the bride is the star and as details come together, moms may feel like they'll know more about what to buy. Just because you have time to choose does not mean that you should wait. Begin thinking about the day and theme, for sure, but also about what YOU FEEL GOOD IN. The longer you wait, the fewer options you may find out there for yourself. You will also feel less stress.
Let us repeat that: During a time when stress seems to be baked into the whole experience at times, don't add more stress by waiting until the last second.
Do Not Match Your Dress with Bridesmaids. . .
... Unless you are in the role of matron of honor, and even then you can have your own color. Choose a color that complements you, Mom. It should (1) look good with your skin tone and
(2) coordinate with the colors in the wedding party. You do not need to match, just complement, so navy, grey, taupe, champagne, burgundies, purples, plums and teal all make great choices for the mother of the bride or groom. Regardless, stick with rules (1) and (2) and you're good!
Dresses and Pant Suits
You have options, and our team at BT will work with you to make sure what you choose not only coordinates in terms of palette, but conveys the style you want to project. You may think you want a dress and end up with a pant suit instead. Just as with brides, there can be lovely surprises when you shop, so be open to those.
Finally, don't forget to ask questions and enjoy the fun of doing your homework. Research what is out there. Yes it is your daughter or son's big day, but you have a right to look amazing in all of those pictures that will be taken. We'd rather you have happy tears on the day than frustrated ones one month before. Plan your purchase and remember that we are always here to help.
In January of this year, Bridal Traditions was pleased to provide our style, expertise - and yes - a gorgeous black wedding gown for a styled photo shoot at The Emerald Hill, in the North Carolina foothills. This place was a perfect spot to combine a more radical gown with an elegant setting. The duo of place and dress is striking and beautiful.
An Alternative to "Bridal Blush"
Not everything black is necessarily "goth," but it isn't difficult to imagine an autumn or winter wedding that features a black-clad bride. Whether inside or out of doors, you cannot take your eyes of this bride. The details on the dress, the tulle overlay and lace details made this particular gown a favorite at BT since its arrival.
Regardless of the season, a black wedding dress is showstopper. Bridal Traditions is loving this trend and our customers are too. Stop by our boutique if you think this might be the wedding look for you.
Venue and Furniture: The Emerald Hill @the.emerald.hill
Gorgeous Wedding Gown: Bridal Traditions @bridaltraditions
Photography: Waterhouse Photography @waterhousestudios
Coordination, styling: Embellished Events for You @embellishedeventsforyou
Model, Hair and Makeup: Endless Beauty Company @endlessbeautycompanyllc
If you've been counting the minutes since the last blog about bridal shopping myths, your wait is over! Revisit Bridal Shopping Myths Part 1.
Often brides have seen the rom-coms, checked Pinterest, read blogs and scoured magazines only to feel defeated when it's time to go shopping. "All the things" and "all the feels" can frankly be too much. It is, however, possible to do two things at once: feel dreamy and happy and successful with your wedding dress search AND manage your expectations.
Bridal Shopping Myth 3
"If I take a lot of pictures of a dress, and study over them for hours on end,
that will tell me everything I know about how it will work on ME."
If you are a girl who loves to collect images, no problem. We get it. If you are taking multiple images of yourself wearing a gown at our boutique or elsewhere, and think it will or won't work based on those images, beware. Do not base your final decision on those pictures.
A bad cell phone picture can ruin the perfect dress's chances, because you haven't gone back to those questions presented in the last blog.
- Do you feel beautiful in this dress?
- Are you comfortable in it?
- Do you feel like yourself in it?
- Do you feel good inside when you picture yourself walking down the aisle in this dress?
Don't make up your mind from a shopping photo. We encourage girls to think of those snapshots they've taken while in a boutique as selfies and remember that to get a good one they will change the lighting and angle and their makeup and expressions 80 times before they'll want to post it. You in the dress is way more important than a snapshot of you in the dress while shopping.
Bridal Shopping Myth 4
"I know exactly what I want."
Maybe. But maybe you don't and that is OKAY.
We see brides come in with a list of 15 things they feel they must have. They've already been to 6 different bridal shops, and they keep trying to check all of the boxes, trying to select one way while feeling another. Many others keep trying the same type of gown on over and over hoping this time, it's The One. Now they are frustrated. And broken-hearted and angry and confused.
That's when it's time to stop and try a different style. Hide your list and free your mind! You'll not only shake yourself out of your rut, but you may find out that you actually didn't know what you wanted. And again, that's OKAY. In fact, it's exciting to surprise yourself, and isn't that the point? Isn't this supposed to be exciting?
Our team at BT is here to help you. We've seen every type of bridal problem, question, frustration and success out there, and we know when to tell you to breathe and sit a minute and when to start over. Come see us. We're your allies the moment you enter our boutique.
So the cat's out of the bag: We are in the bridal business. This mean that we're accustomed to seeing brides-to-be come into the boutique to shop and have the "Say Yes" experience. We love those moments as much as brides do, promise!
What we've also noticed these last 2 decades is that brides-to-be often come in to BT and play out some typical, but avoidable, shopping myths. What are shopping myths, you ask? These are little lies we've been told and keep telling ourselves (THANKS, MEDIA!!) or they are misplaced expectations about buying a wedding gown that cause a variety of symptoms.
- immediate disappointment, when there should be hopeful anticipation
- lack of patience with oneself
- exhaustion with the process
- extreme disillusionment
- feeling the need to justify yourself in front of others, .... when it's about YOUR day
- tears and confusion
- loss of joy.
Fret not, ladies. We can help, and to do this we've identified the 4 most common myths. Overcome these and you'll be a happier shopper, happier bride and you'll avoid those symptoms during what should be an exciting chapter of your life.
Bridal Shopping Myth 1
"My dress cannot be the first one I try on or be found at the first shop I visit."
There aren't just dozens of wedding themed movies, there are thousands. We love them and we've memorized them and now we're all paying for it. Thinking that you'll only hear the soundtrack from your own personal romance after trying on 100 dresses comes from watching all of those movies. They've convinced brides-to-be that you have "to earn it" by twirling like an actress in gown after gown, in front of a mirror, and FOR HOURS.
You don't. That's a myth.
In fact, you may find your dress in the first store and it may even be the first dress you try on in that first shop. It happens. A lot!
If it is the one, IT. IS. THE. ONE. Don't stress out that you aren't living that rom-com dream. It's a myth. We've seen so many brides confused and feeling like they missed some experience when they just happen to find their gown more quickly than they imagined. Chill out. Be happy. You checked that box and now have time for other items on your list.
Bridal Shopping Myth 2
"I have to cry if it's the one. If I don't cry then this cannot be the dress."
EVERY ONE IS DIFFERENT and if you aren't a crier most of the time, that is probably not going to change for this situation. You don't have to transform your personality to buy your wedding dress.
Our goal, during a gown buying experience with us, is to see how you answer the following questions:
- Do you feel beautiful in this dress?
- Are you comfortable in it?
- Do you feel like yourself in it?
- Do you feel good inside when you picture yourself walking down the aisle in this dress?
Answer those questions in the affirmative and we've likely found your gown, whether you showed emotion or not.
It's especially frustrating when a member of the bride's entourage makes a point of saying, "you haven't found the dress yet, 'cause you're not crying." People: let the bride decide and if there are tears, we have tissues. If there are no tears, but the bride is over the moon in her way, hush.
Bridal Traditions has been in business for 20 years. We have volumes and volumes of knowledge and we know when to counsel and when to encourage and when to let the bride just be. Trust us and we won't steer you wrong.
Next week's blog: 2 more BIG bridal shopping myths. Tune in!
You choose your bridesmaids for lots of reasons and using a variety of metrics. Sometimes, they are your actual family, your sisters and cousins. Back in the day, brides were pressured into adding family members to the attendant brigade and girls often resented it. Those were the days of 12 bridesmaids. Now we see Best Woman and Man of Honor along with smaller numbers of attendants and a mix of dearest ones. Bridesmaids are often also longtime childhood friends, coworkers, college roommates, people in your hobby group or others you just love.
But here's the truth:
Whether they are all sorority sisters and share a likeness, or your bridesmaids are a motley crew of pals from different chapters in your life, they all have distinct personalities (and tastes!, and body types!, and preferences!!). Remember that! And apparently, brides are embracing the concept and making a choice to provide leeway for their best girls. If a bridesmaid is willing to pay for her dress, EVEN THOUGH IT IS YOUR DAY, rewarding her with options can be the deeply cool thing to do.
The prevailing wisdom these days is that there are some basic categories and guidelines for mixing it up from the bridesmaids' lane.
1 - Choose the same color, but let style be up for grabs.
2 - Choose the same dress, but let brides choose their color from a limited palette, shades of blue let's say.
3 - Mix colors, shades and style.
4 - Make it a free-for-all within limits.
Brides are cautioned to guide their brides with a set palette, a limited choice of textures, hemlines and fabrics and a gentle reminder that the stand out in a group should still be the bride.
Brides should also tie disparate looks together with consistency elsewhere. Keep the bouquets identical. Have bridesmaids all wear the same accessories. If the feel of the wedding is boho, allow hairstyles to be different but in that theme. No tight, austere buns or architectural hair dos should be found among the loose braids and whimsical waves. This will allow guests to see that there is structure vs. chaos in your day's planning.
Whether you go with a traditional look with all maids wearing identical styles or a complete reversal of The Rules, everyone in your wedding party should be comfortable and feel loved. Ultimately, that's why you chose them in the first place: they're special.
"It's in the details." This is true in design, it's true in baking and it is most definitely true with wedding gowns. Even if you choose the sleekest, most minimal sheath to wed in, you'll be making that choice based on details (or lack thereof). So let's talk sleeves.
Whether you're marrying in the heat of summer or around Christmas, the shape and length of sleeves can say a lot about your approach to the day and your own personal style. You may be speaking casually and showing a little more skin vs. saying, "I'm more traditional and want more coverage." Either way, once you start noticing sleeves we defy you not to have opinions.
Shorter sleeves, like cap sleeves, can convey a sense of freedom, a light and airy sensibility and a willingness to show off a little skin. If you have beautiful arms, cap and short sleeves are flattering. For the uninitiated, cap sleeves cover the top of the shoulder without extending below the armpit and are extremely feminine.
There are other options if you want a bit more coverage, but still a boho or cottagecore look. Off the shoulder sleeves are flirty, feminine and currently extremely popular. Fitted versions hug your arm and flutter versions are more dynamic and romantic.
Detached sleeves provide flexibility with your look of course because they can be removed for dining at the reception, but added for photos or for dancing. They switch up the look and the vibe of your ensemble. Imagine either of the gowns above without the belle or poof sleeves, and now add a faux fur bolero for winter or a cathedral veil for a summer garden wedding. You'd have two other entirely different vibes and styles.
We like to say these days that Lace is Queen, so long sleeves are a perfect choice if you want more coverage and more territory for lace. Below is an example of a gorgeous gown with lace sleeves that complement the other lace elements.
Regardless of your style, your shape and your wedding theme, you have options, ladies. Our team is always ready to help you surprise yourself by trying something new, so don't be bashful about zigging when you thought you might zag, ... in the sleeve department.
Give Us Some Romance
Regardless of how you feel about this holiday, there is something sweet (pardon the pun) about the giving of chocolates, roses, cards, hugs and sharing dinner - be it 5 Star reservation or 5 Star picnic in the back yard. We are romantics here at BT, which is helpful since we are in the wedding business. Tis the season of fancy dresses and red, so here are some favorites from our boutique.
Of course we have them in the form of lovely hair adornments, earrings, and robes. We also have ties and socks for the guys. You can purchase more than a few items from our shop - taking them completely out of context - and they are still glamorous and cool.
Happy Valentine's Day to you all and if you do nothing else to celebrate this year: call your parents. They loved you first.
Have you heard about cottagecore? This trend is fast catching up with BoHo as the look to acquaint yourself with. The Urban Dictionary spells it out like this: "Cottagecore is a niche aesthetic based around the visual culture of an idealized life on a Western farm. Common themes include sustainability, gardens, farm animals, rural living and nature."
Lovers of Cottagecore want to immerse themselves in nature, they bake, they embrace Celtic folk music, love rusticity, are thrifty dreamers and take care to move slowly and romantically through life.
Elements of Cottagecore
There is an escapist, wistful quality to cottagecore that makes it appealing to Gen-Zers. It's nostalgia for "the old ways", but without the cultural misappropriation, race or gender judgements or cruelty. Those who appreciate and participate in this trend would rather needlepoint, wander in the woods with a journal, sit quietly and listen to birds than grab their laptops and head to the coffee house. Think "made from scratch" and you'll see them light up. In terms of fashion, think peasant blouses and dresses, hand-knitted sweaters, and silk head scarves.
While this is a mere introduction to the trend, there is sooooo much more to it from where we sit at Bridal Traditions. And ladies, we are embracing it, too! We've received a new shipment of gowns, and in that load of goodies are some dreamy wedding gowns that fit perfectly into the Cottagecore trend.
In bridal gowns, this trend carries over the essence of ease, nostalgia, and a lost time. It is manifested in balloon sleeves, flowy skirts, backless details, off the shoulder and even corseted bodices. Wrap your milkmaid braids up and add some wildflowers and you're all set. Cottagecore wedding gowns scream romance and a carefree, earthy take on a timeless celebration of marriage.
If tall structured and architectural gowns represent modern, this is the opposite. These dresses have an element of nature, freedom, easy movement, deep nostalgia for the old days and comfort. And if we have to say it, we will: the Cottagecore gowns we've seen are exquisite and we would love to show you what we have and can get at Bridal Traditions. Read up about Cottagecore over a cup of tea and homemade tarts and then come see us.
This lovely woman is Noel Armstrong, and she and Groom Chase Johnson pulled off a perfectly amazing wedding (with some terrific and poignant DIY) in September of last year and BT was thrilled to play our part.
Noel met Chase at work, and if you've seen the series "The Office" you know that those relationships can not only be adorable but successful. Once they began talking, conversation led to meeting at the gym after work to then love and engagement.
Due to Covid, these two decided to have their moment in their backyard and the weather supported that decision 100%. Noel and Chase want to be financially free and able to do what they want by the time they are 30 years old (several years away), so having friends and family contribute talents and offerings to the wedding, while scaling back the scope, made perfect sense. Decorations, food and centerpieces, the wedding cake and even their wedding rings were all part of the collaborative contributions.
Preparations and Details
The rings were incredibly special as they came from both Noel and Chase's families.
Noel could be a model for wedding gowns and she made that clear on her wedding day and when she visited our shop. Her gown's lace and pale fabric underlay worked perfectly with her skin tone and created a gorgeous silhouette.
What can we say about the back of this dress? It's epic, it's modern, it's tasteful but cool. Noel looked amazing. This bride knew what she wanted and after trying a suggested gown that had the styling details she wanted (lots of lace and no big poofy ballgown), she knew it was the one. It fit her figure and her budget.
Her favorite details on her gown were "the back and the train. I still am in love with the train because of all of the details. The craziest part of the dress is that the trim formed to my body as if the dress was made exactly for me."
Of course we love positive feedback and Noel was the best:
"OMG KELLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! K-E-L-L-Y!!!!!! Kelly was and is AMAZING!!!!!! She made the experience so simple and seamless! I am from out of the city and she made me actually enjoy the dress buying process. I was dreading it because there are so many choices, but she helped me find my dress because she actually picked my dress out for me!"
We're so happy for these two and hope that as soon as possible they can board a plane and head to their postponed honeymoon in Thailand! Congratulations and much love.
*Photo credit: Katelynn Glenn