National Bridal Market Report: Fall 2013

It’s that time of year again – Bridal Fashion Week! Last weekend, I attended the National Bridal Market here in Chicago, where designers converged on the Merchandise Mart to showcase new bridal fashions for the upcoming Spring 2014 season. (To get more of a low-down on what Bridal Market entails, check out my coverage of the Spring 2013 session here!)

Since this was my third time at Market, I knew exactly what to expect, making it much less of an overwhelming experience as opposed to past seasons. As usual, I went with my boss, Krista, as well as my coworker Sarah. The three of us had an amazing weekend checking out all the new, upcoming styles from our designers—not to mention we were extremely productive!

The most exciting thing, though… they allowed picture-taking this year! Which means I actually get to show you all the new trends instead of just talking about them!

So keep reading to see the latest designs from Maggie Sottero, Casablanca, and even new lines such as Aura Bridal by Andrew Adela . . .

(All photos personal. And picture-heavy—you’ve been warned!)

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Autumn Inspiration: Pumpkins, Apple Cocktails, and Gold

Remember this post and how I was adamant about wanting a spring or early summer wedding? Well, these fall trends are so stunning that they’re seriously making me reconsider the vision I had for my own wedding plans! Goodbye, bird cages and blush pink… It’s time to make room for pumpkins, cider, and elegance!

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Pumpkin Centerpieces
(white pumpkin & roses | pumpkin & cornucopia | white pumpkins & candles)

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Apple Cocktails
(caramel apple martini | apple cider cocktail | orange spiced cider)

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Gold Accents
(glittering gold heels | romantic gold cake | gold table setting)

Of course, there are so many more ways to impart the feeling of autumn in your wedding celebration! Between changing leaves, seasonal food favorites, and an array of warm colors, there are endless options for you to choose from. Perhaps you’ll forgo cake in favor of pie? Or maybe guests will enjoy a game of touch football on the lawn instead of the typical bean bag toss? Get creative and make this season part of your wedding, rather than just the backdrop!

Are you having a fall wedding? Feel free to share your ideas and inspiration in the comments! And a follow-up to that: have you ever been so inspired by something you saw online that it made you completely reconsider your wedding plans?

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Summer Inspiration: Mint, Fruit, and Frozen Drinks

As of 11:50 AM tomorrow morning, I’ll officially be done with my junior year of college. I’ve been waiting for this day all semester to the point where I thought it would never come, but now that it’s here, I almost can’t believe it. Do I really get to relax soon? Do I really get to go back home and eat mom-cooked food? Do I really get to spend hours doing nothing but lounging in the sunshine?

The answer must be yes, because I already did the last one today! After my management exam, I headed over to the Buckingham Fountain again to plant my rear on a bench and stay there for an hour and a half, baking in the beautiful 80-degree weather.

I swear, every single time I come here... (Personal photo.)

I swear, every single time I come here… (Personal photo.)

At some point I moved to the Bean, stopping to pick up a Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad from Panera, because that salad is one of my absolute favorite things about summer. (If you’ve never had it, you’re missing out; just look at this glorious deliciousness.)

Once I was done eating, I stayed there for another hour or so, just people-watching. It seemed like the entire city was outside, enjoying the sun and warmth—even sleeping in the middle of the park!—and the excitement was honestly contagious. Hopefully, this is the true start of summer and we don’t get another cold spell like we did this past weekend! I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been more ready for summer.

Especially since there are so many fun wedding trends to look forward to!

For those of you with weddings to attend this season, here’s are three trends you may see. There are plenty more (such as Gatsby-themed weddings), but these are my three favorites!

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Mint
(bridesmaid dresses | cake | shoes)

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Fruit-Flavored Cakes
(mango cake | raspberry-lemon cake | berry cake)

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Frozen Drinks
(wine smoothies | frozen lemonade with rum | grown-up snow cones)

What’s your favorite wedding trend that you’ve seen lately? Are you planning to include it in your wedding, or do you know someone who did so or is going to this year?

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Size Matters: Guidelines for Your Bridal Party

On a whim, I decided to write at the Buckingham Fountain today instead of sitting at the Bean again. And guess what I saw?

I told you, I wasn’t lying when I said I’m the creepy girl who stalks other people’s weddings. (Personal photo.)

I told you, I wasn’t lying when I said I’m the creepy girl who stalks other people’s weddings. (Personal photo.)

Like last Tuesday, the weather is what most brides dream of having on their wedding day. The breeze off the lake is a little chilly, but I’m sure the groomsmen in their dark black tuxes appreciate it.

Their bridal party isn’t particularly large. Other than the bride and groom, there are a handful of groomsmen and a ring-bearer. The only other women in attendance are the maid of honor and the mothers of the bride and groom.

This is by no means unheard of. A lot of couples opt for much smaller weddings, which in turn means having smaller bridal parties. This could be due to many reasons, such as budget and personal tastes, but the most appealing factor is that smaller bridal parties are typically easier to coordinate, especially when it comes to the wedding photos.

According to a survey done by The Knot and WeddingChannel.com, the average size of bridal parties in 2011 was around 10-12 people. This was broken down by 4-5 bridesmaids and groomsmen, plus a flower girl and ring bearer.

Obviously, this may differ from culture to culture, but in terms of the mainstream American wedding, the etiquette for establishing your bridal party is based on the style of wedding you’re going to have. For example, an extremely formal Catholic wedding may have 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen, whereas a destination beach wedding where everyone is barefoot may only have two or three of each.

Guidelines for Choosing Your Bridal Party | Consulting With Tulle

When it comes to my future wedding, I’ll probably end up with an above-average number of people in my bridal party, no matter what style of wedding I choose to have. I know I’m going to struggle with keeping my bridesmaid count low, since I have so many close girl friends – hopefully my future fiance will be outgoing and have enough groomsmen to match!

Do you want to have a small bridal party, or a larger one? Do you know who your maid of honor or bridesmaids are going to be? If you’ve already had your wedding, how did you choose your bridesmaids and other members of the party? Did the style of your wedding going to affect the size of your bridal party?

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Inspiration: Indoor Forest Wedding

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Sarah, who asked for some advice for her indoor “mystic forest” wedding. She’ll be getting married in January and an outdoor wedding isn’t an option, so her forest-themed ceremony and reception will be taking place at an indoor venue—specifically a theater.

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Images collected via Pinterest and Google Image Search.

  1. Centerpieces consist of soft candles, fake branches, and some faux greenery draped elegantly or placed inside a natural pot/basket. Place cards and glassware are kept simple. (x)
  2. Instead of bridesmaids carrying bouquets, they carry something more iconic, such as these rustic lanterns. (x)
  3. Candles and evergreen branches are strategically placed along tables to create a warm, Northern feeling. (x)
  4. A white cake accented with white roses and subtle green leaves to stand out against the dark of the evergreen and espresso color palette. (x)
  5. Live trees can be rented from local nurseries to adorn the altar/ceremony space and bring the outdoors inside. (x)
  6. Rings presented on a bed of moss. (x)
  7. A pure white wedding bouquet accented with natural greens. (x)
  8. Battery-powered LED lights placed inside of jars and other containers to create a “fairy light effect.” (x)
  9. The dessert table is decorated with more greens, as well as vintage items like bird cages, keys, or old books to add touches of whimsy. (x)
  10. Instead of traditional bunting, hanging vines and other greenery are strung across the reception space or even woven around banisters and railings. (x)

If you have a request for an inspiration board (whether it be for a themed wedding, a specific element like place settings, bridal fashion, or whatever strikes your fancy), let me know by leaving a comment or using the Contact form!

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Weather Or Not…

Today we’re going to talk about the weather.

No, this isn’t a desperate attempt to come up with a topic because I’m running out of ideas. (Never fear, I have a whole list of things I want to talk about eventually!) My original post for today was going to be an informational analysis of bridal workplace dynamics, but then I decided to write while sitting at the Bean.

As a result, I’m surrounded by families, tourists, school groups, and employees on their lunch break, all of whom are enjoying the second nice day of spring in Chicago, and I can’t think of much else other than the feeling of the sun against my extremely pale snowbird skin. (The girl sitting across the table from me has either been tanning or went somewhere tropical for spring break, but either way, I look like a ghost next to her!)

And oh, there’s the wind. It’s just enough to add a touch of briskness to the day whenever it becomes a gust, but mostly it’s a steady, gentle breeze.

You'd think writing at the Bean would be a nightmare, given how many distractions there are, but I love it! (Personal photo.)

You’d think writing at the Bean would be a nightmare, given how many distractions there are, but I love it! (Personal photo.)

To put it simply, this would be an ideal day for a Chicago wedding.

I’m keeping an eye out for any bridal parties who come to the Bean for photos; if I don’t see any here, I’m going to wander over to the Buckingham Fountain, just in case! (I fully admit it, I’m a total creeper when it comes to spotting bridal parties. I’ve been known to follow them around Grant Park at a distance to spy on their photos. I’m shameless. I know. I’m also way too eager to help families take group pictures, which I’ve done two or three times since sitting down here.)

I think choosing the wedding date is one of the most stressful aspects of planning a wedding. Choosing the season is easy enough; most brides have a clear idea of whether or not they want a spring, summer, fall, or winter wedding. But when it comes to deciding on the actual month and the exact day, the indecisiveness truly begins to set in.

The main reason for this? The weather. True, some couples are extremely flexible and they’ll enjoy their celebration no matter what, rain or shine. But other couples can be devastated if it’s even so much as cloudy on their special day, especially if they have to cancel certain aspects of their ceremony or reception because it decided to drizzle.

I’ll be honest, as much as I’d like to think of myself as someone who could be flexible with the weather, knowing myself, I would be upset if it rained on my wedding day. I wouldn’t be devastated, because I would keep it in perspective (I’d still be marrying the one I love, surrounded by my family and friends, after all). But yes, I’d be at least a little disappointed. Especially because my hair looks ridiculous when it’s even the slightest bit humid.

That’s one of the main reasons that I’m still personally debating about when I’d ideally like to have my wedding. (The other main reasons being that I’m currently single and I’m sure my future fiance would like to have at least some say in choosing the date.)

Ideally, I want to have a spring wedding. Spring is my favorite season, especially right at the start. This first few weeks of nice weather are probably the most enjoyable for me; I’m finally getting the vitamin D I need to fight off the depression caused by my seasonal affective disorder—those “happy lights” can only do so much, you know? I feel re-energized and invigorated, optimistic and confident about my life. I’m sure it might be different if I lived in a region that got more sunlight, but living in the Midwest where warmth and sun are not the norm throughout the year, spring is when I feel more alive.

I've been living here for three years but I'll never get tired of the Bean. Sp have another picture of it. (Personal photo.)

I’ve been living here for three years but I’ll never get tired of the Bean. So have another picture of it. (Personal photo.)

That being said, spring can be extremely volatile in terms of the weather. Chicago this week is a perfect example. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow have a high of 80 degrees, clear skies, and glorious sunshine. But the next eight days? We’re back in the low 50s with scattered thunderstorms throughout the week. And that is really not what I would call “perfect wedding weather.”

Likewise, summer weather is more stable, but then there’s the risk of it being too hot. Will the bridal party’s makeup melt off? Will groomsmen get heat stroke in their tuxes? Will the area for post-ceremony photos be filled with kids on summer vacation? What about the costs—will it be more expensive to keep food cool outdoors, or will venues charge higher prices for the “busy season”?

No matter what, it’s a tough call. In some ways, winter weddings may be the safest bet. Sure, there’s the chance of blizzards creating transportation issues, but you know that it’s going to be cold and, at the very least, overcast, if not snowing.

But as it stands, fall and winter weddings will never be the most popular choices for couples. The majority of couples dream of that beautiful spring or summer wedding, and in doing so, they’re inevitably playing a game of weather roulette.

Ultimately, though, it really is a matter of perspective. If the day of your wedding arrives and it’s pouring, it’s okay to feel upset or disappointed. But don’t let it ruin your special day, regardless of whether your guests are huddled beneath umbrellas or fanning themselves with their programs. The weather isn’t going to create lifelong memories; it’s a day spent in the company of loved ones that will remain with you for many years to come.

What’s your ideal wedding weather? Did you have it on your wedding day, or are you strategically consulting the farmer’s almanac to ensure that your outdoor ceremony or reception goes exactly as planned? Alternatively, did you or do you want to choose the date for your wedding without caring about the weather at all?

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National Bridal Market Report: Spring 2013

As someone who attends a lot of them, I can be pretty critical when it comes to conventions. But as far as trade shows are concerned, the National Bridal Market is one of my absolute favorites!

For those of you who don’t know, Bridal Market is a bi-annual merchandise show for the bridal industry. Designers set up exhibits and retailers attending the show are able to view products for the upcoming season. From there, the retailers decide what they want to order for their stores. It’s pretty straight-forward – and also pretty fun.

(Hint: that’s an understatement. It’s unbelievably fun!)

This was my second season attending the show as an assistant buyer with my boss, Krista, from I Do Too! Bridal. Trish, our maids gallery supervisor, also attended this season. Even though the spring show is usually the slower of the two, it’s been a very busy three days for us! I’m exhausted and my feet are screaming after being in heels the entire time, but I’m so excited about what we saw from our vendors.

Legally, I couldn’t take pictures of anything on the showroom floor. That being said, I do want to share some trends that you’ll be seeing later this year, as well as what you can expect from some of the biggest designers! And also a peek at what attending Bridal Market is like, for those of you who are curious!

(All photos personal unless otherwise stated.)

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The Plastic Bride

I am a horrible person.

Being an extremely gullible individual, I love April Fool’s Day, because it’s finally my chance to play a prank on people and have them fall for it, too. (You’d think it would be the opposite… Believe me, I fall for my fair share of pranks every year!)

My pranks usually involve some sort of announcement on Facebook. One year, I was quitting my costuming hobby. Another year, I was moving to Florida. My favorite was when I said I was dropping out of my fashion program and transferring to Michigan State to pursue a degree in animal behaviorism – my entire network believed me and a lot of my friends at MSU were crushed when they found out I wouldn’t be attending school with them after all!

This year, though, I decided to do something a little more serious. I wanted to use this opportunity to learn something, to make it into a social experiment. A prank with a purpose.

I posted the following status yesterday afternoon:

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Needless to say my mom is not aware of her role in this prank. Because she would never give me the “go-ahead” for the fictional chin reduction and nose job I claimed I was getting.

Within four hours, it received over 40 comments, and I was also bombarded with private messages. Quite a few people were supportive of my decision, and the words of encouragement people gave me were extremely kind and generous.

But the majority of people were actively trying to convince me not to go through with the surgery, even going so far as to subtly shame me by saying they were “disappointed” that I was “insecure enough to get work done.” One girl even messaged me to say that she’d looked up to me as a role model, but after hearing that I was going to get plastic surgery, she couldn’t respect me anymore. And even though all of this was an elaborate prank, hearing that still crushed me – and I couldn’t help but think of how much more it would have hurt if I had really been considering surgery.

More than anything else, though, this experiment made me think about the brides who choose to get cosmetic surgery as part of their wedding beautification routine. Their “something new” may be a new nose, a new chin, or even a new bust to fill out their dress. When interviewed about their decision to do so, some brides say it’s because they “couldn’t face spending [their] big day stressing about how the pictures would turn out,” or because they wanted every aspect of their wedding to be perfect – including themselves.

Plastic surgery is becoming more and more prevalent every year. In 2011, the United States witnessed over 3 million cosmetic surgery procedures, ranking highest in the world. 1.2 million of those procedures were lipoplasty. Another 1.2 million were breast augmentations. Rhinoplasty came in 5th with over 478,000 operations. (source)

How many of these surgeries were done in preparation for weddings? The data isn’t out there due to confidentiality, but areas such as Tampa, Florida report increases in plastic surgeries when the wedding season approaches. The trend has become prevalent enough in our society that it garnered its own reality television show, “Bridalplasty“. Brides essentially competed against each other in order to win the ultimate prize: having their plastic surgery “wish list” granted before their wedding.

Granted, can we really be surprised? The pressure we put on brides to look their most beautiful on the day of their wedding is outrageous. From glamorous celebrity weddings to ridiculously Photoshopped photos in bridal magazines, women have been given the expectation that they should appear entirely flawless when they walk down the aisle. And if they look anything less than what they expect? It’s easy for them to let it ruin what should be a happy, joyous day.

How dare you have pores on your wedding day! How dare you! (Photo via Maggie Sottero.)

How dare you have pores on your wedding day! How dare you! (Photo via Maggie Sottero.)

The culture of plastic surgery is entangled with sexism and societal pressures, and I can’t say I’m 100% comfortable with the morality behind it, but I’m also a strong believer that people should have the right to make their own decisions regarding their bodies. And they should absolutely not be shamed for making those decisions.

During my little Facebook experiment, I received an incredible amount of support from my friends who were glad that I was doing something to make myself happy, but that was significantly overshadowed by the numerous guilt-trips I was put through that made me feel like utter trash for even considering having cosmetic surgery.

To think of a bride putting herself through that sort of criticism right before her wedding… I can’t imagine it. But for many brides, the results are worth it, and in that case, I’m happy that they’re able to feel self-confident on their wedding day!

How do you feel about the “bridalplasty” trend? Did you do it, or are you considering it in the future? Or are you a firmly against going under the knife for cosmetic purposes, especially to change how you’d look for your wedding?

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A Matter of Milestones

I’ve been 21 for three days now, and as I predicted, absolutely nothing has changed. I haven’t gone out drinking every night, my responsibilities haven’t changed, and I certainly haven’t been any more motivated than usual. (In fact, I’ve spent the past days napping in front of the TV doing positively nothing. How’s that for being an adult?)

Even though my birthday was on a weekday, Courtney and I still went out for drinks to celebrate. We chose Sweetwater Tavern, mostly because it’s right next to our apartment building, but also because their menu looked amazing. We split a Waldorf salad and a chicken quesadilla, both of which were absolutely delicious! After we tried a maple and Bacardi drink that neither of us liked, we decided to stick with the fruity ones, which even our waiter said were much, much better.

My third drink was a cranberry mojito. Be still, my heart! (Personal photo.)

My third drink was a cranberry mojito. Be still, my heart! (Personal photo.)

We ended up having a wonderful night, but I have to say, even though we were celebrating my first day of adulthood, I had never felt so young. The other patrons were older, the majority in their thirties or forties, so the two of us definitely stood out as the youngest ones in the bar. It was exciting, yet at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel like this milestone had come far too soon. Didn’t I just start college? Wasn’t high school graduation just a couple of months ago? Hadn’t I just gotten my driver’s license? And now, suddenly, I was sitting in a bar, ordering drinks. Being an adult.

It’s strange to think that in the early 1900s, I’d be getting married at this age. The average age of first-marriage brides from 1900 until 1940 was 21, and over the following 30 years, it dropped to 20 (source). So if I had lived in the ’60s, I’d already be married by now! That’s absolutely crazy to think about.

While I’m excited for that stage of my life, there’s no way that I’m ready for it at this point. The average age of brides from 2007 to 2011 was 26 (source), but more than a few people I went to high school with are already married – some are even having kids! Props to them, absolutely, but I’d personally like to postpone that for a little while longer. The next life milestone can wait!

What age did you get married, or what age do you see yourself getting married?

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