Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a day in the life

An engaged friend is coming into town to shop for her wedding gown. She lives in a rural area and was hoping to cover a multitude of dresses & designers in a day or so. She asked for my advice on where to go. I have been to my fair share of bridal salons and was happy to put together an itinerary for her.

We dream about trying on wedding dresses as little girls. We discuss it again in high school and college with our friends. As adults, we get to live out that dream. In this instance, we have a head start on the hunt because the bride has already tried a few things on and found out that she likes the mermaid style and prefers straps. It is wise that we visit shops that carry designers who make those styles. I used the Kleinfeld's gown search feature to narrow down our targeted designers. From there I surfaced the following local shops that carry them. A few of my personal fave wedding designers are Maggie Sottero & Nicole Miller, incase you were wondering.

Here’s a snapshot of what we plan to tackle...I can almost taste the champagne!

Day 1

Bridals by Danielle
203 South 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA
My chosen featured designer: all Jim Hjelm collections including Alvina Valenta & Lazaro

Maria Romia Bridal
2100 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA
My chosen featured designer: Priscilla of Boston

1pm lunch in Rittenhouse Square

The Van Cleve Wedding Pavilion
72 E Lancaster Ave
Paoli, PA
My chosen featured designer: Badgley Mischka

Arielle Bridal Inc.
139 C East Butler Avenue
Ambler, PA
My chosen featured designer: Maggie Sottero

10am Brunch in Manayunk

Nicole Miller
4249 Main Street, Philadelphia
(215) 930-0307

Feel free to use the itinerary if you are wedding gown shopping in Philadelphia. There are numerous shops & designers in the metro area to visit…too many for just one day!

-The perennial bridesmaid

Monday, February 22, 2010


It just occurred to me today that I have numerous wedding-related lists going at any given time. Well that didn’t just occur to me. I knew about the numerous lists but my crazy organization (or lack there of) of these lists just occurred to me so I decided to make a list about my lists.

I might have lost my mind. I am not sure if I am extremely organized and therefore need multiple lists OR maybe I’m actually not organized at all and that’s why I need so many types of lists to begin with. You decide.

Here is a look into my obsessive compulsive list making tactics.

  • Post-it – This is typically a scribbled shorthand shopping list stuck to my purse so I don’t forget to get the moisturizer that provides the right glow or the shower gift I pre-selected (from a registry LIST). The only problem with this list is that I am usually scrambling to find it. It is usually crumbled at the bottom of my bag. I do enjoy physically crossing things off the list though. It is very rewarding.
  • Legal pad – More organized than the post it list for sure. I typically use the legal pad as a supply list of items that needed to be ordered for making invitations or centerpieces. I find the left column to be handy to record quantity…or simply to doodle in. The downside to this list is that it tends to get messy as I add and remove items.
  • Excel – The list looks so clean when it’s all typed up and organized. I use this format for tracking shower RSVPs. As guests reply, I simply query their name and mark an X in the yes or no column. You don’t even need to be online for this list to be efficient. And then I can create a formula to determine the total Yeses and Nos.
  • Word – The legal pad goes online and alleviates the messy issue for adding and removing items. Columns aren’t as functional for excel. I tend to use this listing format for jotting down ideas to post about here. Plus spell check cleans it up for me so I can think a little less about spelling and more about listing.
Web based
  • Google docs – I am addicted to listing things on the Google doc that is comparable to excel. It serves the exact same function as excel BUT I can access this list from anywhere AND I can share it with other users. I am currently using a Google list for tracking bachelorette party RSVPs with my co-planner. We can both contribute to the list without sending it back and forth. What a simple yet efficient invention.
  • Outlook Calendar – I find I use this one as my web base post-it list. Basically, my lunchtime errands find themselves jotted down in the noon slot on any given day. Then, surprise, I get a reminder about what shower gift I need to go buy. The reminder function here is just so clever…otherwise I’d have to write a post it to remember to check this calendar.
  • PDA – I use my PDA for the calendar function on the go. I get my shopping lists sent directly to my pocket complete with a reminder. I can also access my Google docs from my PDA as well.
I hope you enjoyed my list about lists. Please tell me what kind of list maker you are. Maybe I can learn and improve on my tactics.

-The perennial bridesmaid

P.S.  As I finished typing this an Outlook calendar reminder popped up. It was labeled ‘shopping list’. I opened the list to cross reference it with my post-it list stuck to my purse.

Friday, February 19, 2010

summer dreams

…make me feel fine.

On these cold February days, planning a sunny summer event brightens my day. This morning I secured 25 tickets to an August Phillies game/bachelorette party where the boys will take on the Mets. It should be a good game considering the long standing rivalry between both teams. Regardless of the rivalry at bat, it is guaranteed to be a good day because a group of friends will be celebrating with the bride in one of her favorite atmospheres.

Tickets went on sale yesterday for the Phillies regular season. Getting a large group in to see the Phillies play the Mets on a Saturday evening in August proved to be quite challenging, even this early in the pre-season. Fortunately I was up for the challenge! Sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see if my request for 25 tickets was approved only psyched me for the event more. Look for us on the jumbotron dancing with the Phanatic this summer!

I can barely wait. I’ve spent the morning daydreaming about pinstripes, Hatfield Dogs, Chickie's & Pete's Crab Fries, cotton candy, the Schmitter, Tony Luke’s cheesesteaks & McFadden’s cover bands. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you’ve probably never been to the Phillies stadium on a warm summer night. Put it on your to-do list.

Bring on tailgating. Bring on baseball. Bring on the summer sun!

-The perennial bridesmaid

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the lost art

"Répondez s'il vous plaît" is translated from French to mean “Please, respond”. Please respond to my request for you to attend party/wedding/shower/other event where I’d like you to be a guest.

We adapted this etiquette in the US in the 1800s. It was used for formal invitations and a written response was typical. However, RSVP requests have evolved with technology in the last few decades and perhaps that has contributed to the lack of proper responses that are received when RSVP is used. In other words, we now ask people to RSVP via email, on evites, and by phone. As a result, the RSVP practice has sort of been diluted and once a formal invitation does come along the etiquette of a proper RSVP seems to be a lost art!

Let’s review the proper etiquette to RSVP an invitation, formal or informal.
  • Reply directly to the RSVP contact listed on the invitation. Do not tell the contact’s brother that you can make the bridal shower and assume that your RSVP will be passed along. Make sure to get your response in to the person requesting it! Do not rely on word of mouth. 
  • Respond exactly how your response was requested. If a response card was included, mail it; if a phone number was listed, call it; if an email is available, send a message.
  • Make no assumptions. For example, if you are in the bridal party and you receive a formal invitation, send the response back. Perhaps the mother of the bride is keeping the guest list. You can’t assume that they know you’re coming. I have heard countless stories of groomsmen who assumed they didn’t have to respond to the invitation since they were in the wedding. Sure, the couple knows you’re coming but there can be vital info on the response card that they do not know like whether you’ll be having chicken or fish for dinner.
  • When using a response card, be sure to fill it out completely so no follow up is needed. You may note an M____________ on the response card. The M is for Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. Start there with your formal name and follow with your guest’s name. IF you were invited with one, it will be clearly noted by how the invitation was addressed to you. The formal response line should look like this Mr. John Smith & Jane Doe OR Mr. John Smith (no guest). If you simply write “Mr. John Smith & Guest”, you’re likely to see that surface again on your reception card at the wedding. It’s best to identify your guest.
  • The golden rule to remember when RSVPing is to reply by the date requested on the invitation. It is a pain for anyone to have to chase you down to find out if you will be their guest…not to mention rude of you. It is considered courteous if you respond immediately after receiving the invitation.
Now let’s all practice this exercise. Go check your stack of mail. I am sure there is an invitation in there waiting for a proper response, s'il vous plait.

-The perennial bridesmaid

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

reality check

I was fortunate to catch some reality wedding TV shows. I use the term “fortunate” lightly. I don’t normally watch these as they tend to be far from reality but I was inspired by an episode that captured absolutely ridiculous moments on these programs. Apparently people are making some rash decisions. I learned a good deal of what not to do whether you are the bride or groom and consider yourself sane.
Here goes…
  • Threatening to beat up any of your in laws before, during or following your wedding is not advised. You will start your marriage off on the wrong foot.
  • Doing the worm, a windmill or any other break dance move that involves getting on the floor in a wedding gown is not flattering at all. No stripper moves either.
  • If someone tells you that you look beautiful; believe them, thank them & move on. You will seem insecure if you don’t believe them.
  • When it’s time for the Hora, aka chair dance, during the reception, make sure there are no ceiling fans or chandeliers above you. Stay intact.
  • Don’t get totally WASTED to the point of spraying champagne all over your guests…unless it actually is that kind of party.
  • Guy liner is disturbing on the groom. Always.
  • Clothes shouldn’t be optional. Yes, it appears people are actually having naked weddings. What?
Wedding planning can be stressful but come the actual day, do not have a break down if things aren’t going exactly as you planned. It will come together. Don’t be a cry baby!

-The perennial bridesmaid

Monday, February 15, 2010

the beans

...don’t spill ‘em!

There tend to be secrets and surprises that need to be kept around weddings and engagements…all in good fun, of course. Bridal showers have traditionally been a surprise and often still are.  Of course, proposals are also traditionally surprises. As hard as it might be, we should keep these secrets at the request of those planning the surprise.

If you are a parent and your daughter’s boyfriend has the coveted can-I-marry-your-daughter conversation with you or your spouse, don’t tell her about this conversation! How frustrating is it for the dude that is trying to surprise her? The guy does the traditional thing by asking for the girl’s hand in marriage before proposing and then you turn around and tell her? Of course it’s killing you but you’ve gotta keep this secret. Don’t blow what could be the surprise of her lifetime.

On a lighter note, I walk into work today and see my best good coworker friend. What’s the first thing she says? “Did you get an invitation to my bridal shower?” Hmm. If a got an invitation, the last thing I’d do is tell her! She goes on to tell me that she KNOWS her “surprise” shower is in March and she KNOWS that invitations went out.

What did I do? Considered running away but faced the demon instead and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about do you want to go to lunch.”

She followed up by asking if I could attend the shower. She’s going to be a tough one.

-The perennial bridesmaid

Sunday, February 14, 2010

vday wedding

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So you find yourself considering a Valentine’s Day wedding. Why not? The holiday has been around since 496 A.D. and is obviously associated with love and romance. Even the most cynical people associate February 14th with love. Well I’ve put together a few pros and cons to take into consideration if you want to tie the knot on Vday.  Let me start off with the negative points...

  • As a former florist, I know how expensive flowers are on and around February 14th; particularly roses. You will definitely pay a premium for your flowers.
  • Red and pink are obviously associated with the day but that may not be an appealing color scheme for your wedding. It can be a bit juvenile...especially all of those hearts.
  • Hello, it is sooo cold in February. There is snow in 49 states currently! True story. I saw it on the news. You are bound to run into logistics with guests travelling in mid-Feb.


  •  February is not a common month for weddings so you may be able to negotiate a pretty good deal on a venue especially if you choose a location that does not serve Valentine’s Day dinner normally.
  • If you do like red & pink and the whole heart theme, it will be super easy for you to run with DIY favors, centerpieces & other accents.
  • It’s the most romantic day of the year and it will be your anniversary every year!
-The perennial bridesmaid

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

cabin fever

It’s been snowing in Philadelphia for 24 hours. Snow on top of snow from last weekend’s storm. Philly has officially had the snowiest season in its recorded history! As a result, I can’t get out of my house. I can’t interact with anyone in person. I definitely can’t do much in the wild wedding world.

I have cabin fever.

All of this snow has me thinking…what if you planned a wonderful winter wedding? And then a nor’easter comes to town. You can’t reschedule! Do you pack up all of the filets, take ‘em home and freeze ‘em?

Currently, there are major highways in Philadelphia that are shutdown to drivers. The National Guard is monitoring these roads to ensure that no one attempts to drive on them. No joke. In fact, the entire city is shutdown. What if this was your wedding day?

I clearly remember the blizzard of ’93. Nearly 3 feet of snow dumped over the area in a matter of hours on a Saturday afternoon. A local couple planned their wedding for early March, which happened to fall in the path of that blizzard. The wedding still occurred although many guests were not able to attend. Fortunately local guests with SUVs did make it. The bottom of the bride’s dress was covered in slush. The original DJ couldn’t make it so he sent his partner who didn’t have the list of reception songs. The wedding was even featured on the news.

It was not the fairy tale wedding that they planned but it gave them a tale to tell for the rest of their lives.

-The perennial bridesmaid

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

from the mob

Today's guest blogger is a real-life mother-of-the-bride, also known as the mob. She is sharing her experience in helpfully planning her daughter's wedding.  Read on for her approach...

As many mothers of a daughter can understand, I have dreamed with my daughter about her wedding...way before she met her fiancé! So when my daughter told me I was on all the wedding committees, I was pretty excited. (Yes, there are committees! And they are organized by the strengths of the members, not by family or friend obligation.)

The engaged couple have been planning for months. The families have visited the chosen site, the couple will have their tasting in a couple of weeks, dresses have been tried on, centerpieces discussed, honeymoon plans are in the works. Close family members have submitted ideas on some details and all are listened to respectfully. However, the vision for the wedding belongs to the couple.

I think this is where things could get sticky but haven’t for us. In a clear yet kind tone, certain ideas have not fit with the vision and are taken off the table! As the Mom, I am aware my opinions and ideas are just that - mine, not the bride’s. I already had a lovely wedding. This one is for her and her future husband. It also helps that I love their ideas!

With that said, the only way I can explain what it's like helping to plan the wedding is comparing it to the largest birthday party I ever planned for her growing up. Thinking along these lines, I suggested we have a planning meeting to organize the timeline, get dates in our plan books and google calendars, and compare notes on details. It made me really happy when some of my thoughts were new to her and helpful, and when they weren’t, well, they weren’t!

As more committee meetings are held, I will listen, offer helpful advice and counsel...and lots of love and support.

And I will dance at the wedding!

Friday, February 5, 2010


Remember when underwear was fun to wear? As an adult dressing formally, underwear brings a completely different ball game. There are no cute cartoons on your undergarments. They tend to be hideous beige or black and purely functional in order to hide some things and hold other things. They defy gravity.

I always have a difficult time trying to figure out which one I should wear under my bridesmaid gowns. I know that I’m not the only one. I'm not afraid to go there so let’s review our options.

Do you wear the thing that looks like giant biker shorts? You know the one that starts under your bosom and extends down to your knee. It promises to smooth your stomach and thighs but on the way down it crushes your ribs. You have to do a series of squats just to get the thing on. By then you’ve worked up a sweat and your make up is running.

Or do you go with the bathing suit-like one? There are a few variations and cuts. Some are strapless; some have wide straps; some offer multiple straps which just confuse me all together. So you’re basically wearing a bathing suit under a gown, cocktail hour wraps up and, of course, you have to go. Now what? You encounter the same problem on the beach when you have to go. Now add a dress over the bathing suit. There is just no easy way…you miss the salad course figuring out how to handle this situation.

What about the convertible bra thingy? I have one that claims to have the ability to be worn 100 different ways. Oh really? Do all 100 ways actually help the girls out? Doubt it. It looks like a bikini top that has gone through a shredder because there are multiple straps hanging off at all angles. You can clip the straps in wherever you want so they are not visible under different dress cuts. Better hope none of those straps fling off mid-ceremony. I have experienced this and it’s not pretty! It’s actually very awkward and suddenly things are not symmetrical like you planned.

There is another large strap that came with this 100 way bra that I have yet to figure out. It is intended for a low back dress. It is a long wide piece of spandex that is intended to be wrapped around your stomach and then hooked in above somewhere to provide some support. Fabulous. Now I need to put the biker shorts on over that to cover up the lines that this spandex contraption has created. Doubling up on spandex is never good.

Just writing about this is restricting my airflow.

Why do we put ourselves through it? I understand beauty is pain but barely breathing to nip in a few inches is a near death experience. Save your life and free your wobbly bits.

-The perennial bridesmaid

Thursday, February 4, 2010


If you’ve been keeping up with the countdowns on the right of this page, you’ve probably noticed that the list has grown. In the last week alone, I’ve added 3 new couples & dates including my little brother’s 2011 wedding which is 488 days away. On the list they go!

Now seems as good a time as any to mention that there are ONLY 50 days to the first wedding on the countdown list…my other brother’s big day!

Just this week I received another playful save the date. It is a caricature of the couple and their 2 beagles! The design really captures the four of them so well and actually looks just like them! It is too fun not to share with you all. Below is a picture of the magnet on my fridge. Just 233 days left for them.

-The perennial bridesmaid

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

where is the love

I mentioned previously that I was involved in a bridal shower this past weekend. I signed myself up for favors. A wedding themed cookie came to mind. I began calling bakeries to find out what they charge. To my dismay, I can buy a box of chips ahoy for the price of one of those professional gourmet cookies! It seemed to make obvious sense to bake the cookies and decorate them myself. How hard can it be?

I decided that I was going to make sugar cookies. I have a set of cookie cutters that spell out LOVE which were actually a favor from another shower. According to my plan, each letter would be iced in yellow, accented by white and mounted to navy cardstock to match the wedding colors. The four cookies would be packaged in a cello bag to produce an elegant, edible favor that would possibly replicate the LOVE sign in Philly.

That was the plan.

After logging in about 18 hours to successfully make 40 favors (160 cookies), I quickly found out why the bakeries charge so much. And that doesn’t include the hours that my mom spent decorating and packaging the cookies when I called for help. I didn’t let her leave for exactly 24 hours. No exaggeration.

To be honest, it didn’t have to take this long but the first batch tanked for several reasons. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes:
  1. When the recipe calls for butter, use actual butter. I had no idea that there was a major difference from butter, margarine or well, country crock. There I admit it. I tried this recipe using country crock! Ha. Don’t do it. In the words of my bf, the cookies were “dense”. Of course I took insult to that until I realized why they were so dense. Country crock is not butter.
  2. There is a MAJOR difference between frosting and icing. It seems not even some of the savvy bakers in my life knew this. Listen carefully: Frosting is for a cake. It is sugary and soft. It will not harden...ever…not even if you freeze the damn cookie. When I tried to put the cookies in the bag, the “frosting” got all over the cellophane. It was not a cute presentation. “Icing”, on the other hand, is what I needed. Icing hardens when dries and allows you to decorate and package the cookies.
  3. Learn to count/possibly repeat kindergarten. Somewhere along the way I miscounted my finished cookies. I was short 10 Vs. What is LOVE without a V? LOE just doesn’t work for me.
BTW there is still a batch of “dense” LOEs covered in “frosting” lying around if you’d like to sample. They’re really not THAT bad.

I FINALLY achieved success by following these steps in order:
  1. Follow the Rich Roll Cookies recipe from Joy of Cooking (referred by a trusted baker friend of mine.) Cream: 1 cup butter & 2/3 cup sugar; Beat in: 1 egg; Combine and add: 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt & 1 teaspoon vanilla; Chill dough 3 to 4 hours before rolling; Preheat oven to 350 degrees; Roll out and cut; Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly colored. Makes approx. 60 2-inch cookies
  2. Repeat
  3. Repeat again
  4. Call mom for help
  5. Throw all cake frosting away & buy fancy icing from craft store. Heat icing in order to easily spread icing on cookie. Get desired color with food coloring.
  6. Ice entire cookie surface
  7. Let icing dry for awhile
  8. Decorate with contrasting icing color
  9. Let icing dry for awhile
  10. Individually adhere each letter cookie to cardstock using icing to spell LOVE. Be firm.
  11. Let icing dry for awhile
  12. Gently place cookie on cardstock in cello bags
  13. Let mom go home
The finished product was quite tasty. Butter & icing really do make a difference in producing just the right textured sugar cookie. I pushed those favors like a girl scout pushing her cookies outside of a wal mart. No one left empty handed.

-The perennial baker, I mean bridesmaid

Monday, February 1, 2010


It has been a month since I officially launched 10,000 weddings. That means one month of the year of the weddings is down. January primarily consisted of planning for all of the upcoming events although yesterday was the first wedding event of the year. It went off without any major snafus other than a minor heating issue that was quickly solved. So the guests left their coats and gloves on for the first hour…there was alcohol to warm them up!

The shower was held at one of the bridesmaid’s houses. She lives in a beautiful, old farmhouse where the barn has been renovated into a magnificent ballroom. No exaggeration. We couldn’t have asked for a better venue. Forty guests easily fit into this room complete with an enormous bar, pine hardwood floors & ceilings that I am guessing are 20 feet high. It was the backdrop for a great day!

The shower was a traditional luncheon complete with the dreaded but fun bridal bingo. It kept the guests busy and stirred up some friendly competition while the bride unwrapped her gifts. She acquired so many amazing things including a stunning hat made of ribbons & bows! Where did this tradition stem from? I must find the answer before forcing another woman to put the paper plate/ribbon contraption on her head. Why do we do this?

In my research I have found out where the overall tradition of bridal showers stems from…sort of. There seem to be lots of variations on this one...bridal showers evolved in the 1800s as a means for a bride to acquire all things needed to establish a home. The alleged first bridal shower took place in Holland. A dutch girl was marrying a poor man who wouldn’t be able to afford all the luxuries she’d need to start their home so her close female friends showered her with gifts.

The story also says something about a rich father who didn’t approve of his daughter marrying the poor fool. I think I’d like to leave that part out in my version.

Ever wonder why showers traditionally are surprises? Originally a shower took place at the bride’s house. The other women would just drop in one day and surprise her with all of these wonderful gifts. Can you imagine 40 of your closest friends just showing up unannounced these days? I know I would be scurrying to clean the bathroom or something instead of admiring a new waffle maker. Its funny how that tradition has been modified, isn’t it?

Traditionally the woman that would throw the bride a shower would not be related to her. Apparently it was considered rude if the bride’s mother or relative was requesting friends to shower her with gifts. I guess mom didn’t want to look like a gold digger so she’d assume her daughter’s closest friend would coordinate the event, And that’s how a maid of honor evolved. The other girls with the gifts were typically the bridesmaids.

Can we work on upgrading those titles now? Maid just seems so politically incorrect.

-The perennial bridesDIVA