We left off last week with how to ask your best friends to be in your wedding party. Which inevitably leads to another mission to accomplish: choosing what everyone should wear.
Prior to engagement and even shortly after, I thought that I had this all figured out–but no, my friend, I didn’t. Once I sat down and started looking, I realized that my initial plan wouldn’t work or was too hard to achieve. Also, I was in love with several color palettes. Not to mention, halfway through the process (once everything has been sent out and purchased) I started to question the answers that I thought were so good in the beginning stages. But that was wedding stress, it ended up completely fine.
All that to say, I recommend giving yourself plenty of time to decide. Don’t cram it in and make yourself choose something that you hate to please everyone or succumbing to said wedding stress and not thinking straight. Bad combination.
I also recommend having your bestie or Mom alongside to help consolidate your thoughts. Maybe you’re better off alone. But for me, I had so much on my mind that I wanted to be able to spit something out of my brain and have someone with sense tell me what worked. I’ve long since pitched the paper, but I actually drew stick figures for each person or role in the wedding and “dressed” them accordingly to see “in my mind” what coordinated. It actually worked, because there are a lot of roles to dress.
So, where should I start?
Peruse Pinterest to jump-start your imagination! Get the creativity flowing. And be open to ideas that you didn’t think of at first. Pin your favorites, sit on it for a day or two, then go back and note what draws your attention the most. What pictures do you keep going back to? For me at the time, this was my ultimate Pinterest inspiration:
Now think back to your style & the colors that you decided on, with that in mind what is the first thing that you see? For my “vintage-rustic-outdoor-summer” wedding, I saw dressy casual attire, suspenders & bow ties, a variety of mint & peach summer dresses, neutrals with pops of color. I already planned to have a lot of white and patterned vintage fabrics in my decor, so rather than follow the popular trend at the time of all white bridesmaid apparel that I had always planned on, I chose to highlight two of my favorite colors in the wedding: peach & mint. What better way than on the people standing in the front.
I’m saving the details on the bride & groom’s apparel for another post so let’s start with the bridesmaids & groomsmen, working our way down the line.
There were a few main factors that I wanted to keep in mind for my girls. It was important to me to not require my bridesmaids to purchase one expensive dress that they hated or would never need to wear again. It’s also really hard to decide on one dress that suits all body types. Finally, I was trying to go for a fun, casual but still “wedding appropriate” theme.
I initially wanted to have each girl wear a vintage-floral print dress but no pretty ones to be found within my budget. Then I was opting to buy a few yards of fabric and include the sewing pattern for a simple shift dress–that way I still controlled the fabric, colors, and styles. However, I was so stressed trying to find all of that and that’s not the point of a wedding, you’re getting married, you should be loving it!
So I considered other alternatives. I have always loved weddings where the bridesmaids have their own unique dress. I chose mint for my Bridesmaids, peach for my Jr. Bridesmaids, gave them a few guidelines, pictures for ideas, and beyond that it was up to them. After following through with that plan, I highly recommend it for the following reasons:
1) You are relieved of the burden of picking out the dresses for your girls.
2) Your girls can pick out something that suits their taste, fits their body, and a price tag within their budget. Since they get to pick, it’s probably something they will get multiple wears out of. Don’t worry, I’m sure that they like you and won’t try to pick something that would be an eye-sore in your photos.
3) It adds a fun, whimsical style to your wedding and pictures.
Some girls really like the matching, symmetrical look. It’s balanced and you KNOW that it will coordinate because you picked it out. That’s ok! David’s Bridal offers a lot of coordinating and matching dresses that you can choose from. My cousin had her bridesmaids wear the same dress, same color but they each had a custom neckline (strapless, spaghetti, wide strap, etc), I always thought that it was a fantastic idea.
If you do decide to go the route that I chose, I recommend giving the girls some guidelines like I did in my bridesmaid box (you can see it here). I included pictures so each girl could see what styles I had in mind. I also wrote a little tag with some rules of dress–length, strap, shoes, etc. You have to communicate your thoughts, give visuals if you can because you might say one thing and they see another. It’s also helpful to direct the girls towards some sites to get them started. My favorites spots for affordable, unique dresses are: Modcloth, Ruche, Francescas, JCPenney, and New York & Co.
The girls were also allowed to choose their own shoes–as long as it was “nude,” it could be a heel, flat, or sandal. I do recommend considering how long you’ll be wearing them and the location, as in: heels don’t work the best in grass. Things to think about!
Their accessories were included as part of their gift, which we’ll talk about in a later post. But in short, I chose an assortment of vintage brooches, necklaces, hair pieces, and bracelets for each girl to dress up with. It’s a great way to give your bridesmaid’s gift in the form of something that every girl loves to get. Or you could continue on the simple route and tell them to wear whatever they like and give something else as a gift.
There is one more thing that you should consider: the hair. Since I was going with a “mismatched” look, I told the girls to do their hair however they liked. Some brides like their girls to have the same style, to have it all pulled up, half-up, or…well, you get the idea. You can always take the girls to a salon for hair and make-up as part of your gift but I was on a tighter budget, so I gave them free reign and asked my wonderful friend who styled my hair to be available to help if they needed it.
I found the guys to be a lot harder than the girls, believe it or not. I’m not sure if that’s because I never really had to do intensive suit shopping for a guy before OR if it’s that they tend to care less about dressing up so you’re not going to get any executive decisions out of them.
Keep in mind that some in-laws will offer to pay for the guys attire, it doesn’t hurt to ask if that’s a possibility. To be fair, our guys had to provide their own garb just like the girls.
In the same fashion, the guys were asked to be classy-casual with a vintage twist. I requested that they wear khaki dress pants, brown shoes, and white shirts–in most cases, the guys will already have that on hand. As part of their gift, we provided mismatched but coordinating ties & bow-ties, the suspenders, and funky socks–to be fun.
In passing I thought that I should add in where I got said ties and socks. The socks were part of clearance pack at H&M–Target also offers a good variety of funky socks. The ties were randomly purchased at various stores on clearance such as JC Penney, Amazon, the TieBar, and even the good ole’ thrift store.
I purchased the suspenders through Amazon for roughly $5 a set. You can go fancier, with real leather and such. But I knew my guys weren’t huge on suspenders in every day life so I just bought something inexpensive that matched, something that would get them through the wedding. Here are some similar options, Amazon has definitely upped their suspender game since 2013.
It’s also important to consider the boutineers in your planning. My florist-friend really emphasized this during our initial meeting because I was forgoing the traditional suit. Without a jacket, the bout tends to be too heavy for a standard shirt to hold up. So it’s best to have something sturdy like a vest, jacket, or suspenders for them to pin to. Unless, you nix the bouts altogether.
Again, consider the location–you don’t want to torture your guys by making them wear full-on suits in the daunting summer sun. Be kind.
If you’re going with the matching look, I’ve heard good things about Jos. A. Bank, JCPenny, Macy’s, and Mens Wearhouse. There are definitely more stores out there but those are the popular ones and rentals tend to be expensive. Andrew’s suit came from Jos. A. Bank and even though we didn’t make use of it, these specialized suit stores often offer great deals for buying several suits at a time. So you can have your man take his guys out for an evening for them to try on and purchase together OR you can snag sizes and get them all yourself.
It’s really important, and I’ll stress this later as we work closer to the time of the wedding, that you communicate well if you expect people to bring attire to the wedding. An example, I tried to state that the guys should bring a brown belt in case their suspenders don’t work, fit, etc. Like I said, notably on the cheaper side. However, on the day of the wedding somewhere along the line it was mistaken as a requirement and all of the guys sported belts WITH their suspenders. DOUBLE SUPPORT, baby. I will say that I didn’t notice it at all on the day of the wedding–where was that one outspoken person that could’ve kindly pointed that out? Anyway, in comparison to other issues it’s a minor detail. All that to say, learn from me and don’t let it be something more detrimental–COMMUNICATE.
Once you make out what the groomsmen and bridesmaids should look like–you’re gold! Everyone else (family, ring bearer, flower girl) can be based around that foundation that you just laid.
It’s hard to go wrong with the flower girl because they are stinking cute either way. Etsy is the perfect place to find unique dresses and hair pieces. I coordinated with this adorable girl’s Momma and had her pick up this perfect, vintage style, lace dress on clearance from JCPenney. I bought some pearls for her at Target to complete the look and match the pearl accessories that the bridesmaids and I were wearing and I love the final look. I actually taught this cutie in Sunday School along with her brothers for a couple years, it meant a lot to me to have them involved in our wedding. She was a perfect flower girl!
The other thing to consider is what she’ll carry up the aisle. There are so many variations nowadays that are equally creative and adorable. We placed flower petals in a rustic, wicker basket decorated in burlap and greenery. Other ideas include: signs, banners, small bouquets, being pulled in a wagon (if they’re little tots), wands, or baby’s breath pomanders.
Most ring bearers dress like miniature groomsmen. Since my groomsmen were sporting white shirts and khakis, it was easy for the ringbearer to duplicate. Funny thing, I had bought a little bow tie for him to wear that was on sale at JCPenney. But it got mixed up and the officiant took it instead. I didn’t even know until after the fact because thankfully my florist/manager for the day was on top of things and made a make-shift bow tie out of leftover fabric. See, things will work out ok in the end.
It was important to me that the ring bearer carried a Bible, another meaningful symbol in our ceremony. I found this antique looking Bible at a thrift store, which we decorated with lace and twine to hold the rings. Though, I’m fairly certain the rings were never actually attached to it. I do love the variety of ideas on Pinterest in this regard: boxes of succulents, antique glass ring boxes, DIY personalized wooden boxes, signs, banners, etc. So have fun with it and be creative.
MOMMAS & POPPAS
In my opinion, the Moms are completely capable of (and even enjoy) picking out their dress for this special day. If you point them in the right direction with a complementary color & style, they should be good to go. Of course, if you have the time you can always make it fun and plan a Mom-date to go shopping. I chose for our Moms to wear a semi-formal, champagne dress. There are a lot of MOBorG dresses in this color so it’s easy to find. Plus, it’s chic and is a nice complement to your white dress, which was perfect for the Mom & bride pictures that I was planning.
In our case, Andrew’s Dad was the best man. So, to prevent the line-up and pictures from being thwarted, we had my Dad dress similar to the groomsmen. You could also show differentiation by having them wear another shade or color of tie, or perhaps a unique boutineer.
In most cases, the Dads will wear a nice complementary suit or dress pants. Dads, like groomsmen, have a tendency to not fret over dressing up, so it’s probably best to give them what you want them to wear in their size and be done with it.
This is something that you could easily forget about. Not because you don’t care but because your extended family isn’t in the immediate line-up and we brides have a way of “spacing out” with all that is on our minds.
But this might be something you want to consider if you plan to have full family photos taken. I actually completely forgot about this until my sister-in-law and Granny asked what they should wear so they could match for pictures. Oops! I ended up telling my sister-in-law to complement the bridesmaids by wearing a mint or peach dress.
I asked our Grandmas to wear light, floral patterns of their choice. Keeping with the neutral but mismatched style. Andrew’s Grandpa sported a neutral suit coat and it all worked together perfectly.
Don’t forget your officiant. We kept with the neutral, casual themes here as well. *Side Note* Our officiant (extended relative to the Shaulis’) actually married Andrew’s parents as well. It was a neat, meaningful fact to me and we were thankful for his willingness to be a part of our big day.
Now that we’ve gone through that, I believe it’s time to discuss THE DRESS. As in, what you’ll be wearing down the aisle. So check back next Monday–I’m already giddy!