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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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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