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The Wedding Industry’s Girlish But Icy-Firm Clutches


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

It’s funny how the seductive whispers of conformity can sneak up on you when you least expect it. We were walking into a banquet hall for a Bar Mitzvah this weekend, and walked past a gaggle of bridesmaids wearing the dresses I would be least inclined to dress anyone in (but the ones I dreamed about as a four year old) long, satin, frothy, pink concoctions. And suddenly there I was, staring and sighing.

Me: Don’t you ever feel a little bit sad, and think maybe we should have dressed everyone in matching outfits for the wedding? Look at those girls….
David: Um. No. They look like they are going to prom.
Me: But weddings are like prom for grownups.
David: Grrrrreeeeeeaaaaaaatttttt.

Some days, you just can’t win. Even with yourself.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02910792041310370797 For the Love of Brides

    I absolutely know how you feel. My maids are wearing their own black dresses, and I sometimes wish they were all wearing the same cute dress from JCrew. HOWEVER, we must stand by the principal that we do not force our friends to buy a dress they wouldn’t chose on their own!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08842191847941847564 Bride in Exile

    If it’s any consolation, the envy goes the other way too. My bridesmaids will be wearing identical navy J. Crew dresses. It’s a cute dress, it was really inexpensive by the time it went on sale and I threw in a 30% off coupon, and my mom was nice enough to pick up the tab, so I feel pretty good about the choice. But whenever I see a picture of a mismatched bridal party (especially the same-fabric, different-necklines look) I breathe a little sigh of envy!

    I often feel the same way about favors. I don’t like the emotional pressure the WIC puts on us to “thank our guests for coming” by foisting some ugly candle or a tacky plastic swan upon them. But sometimes I see tables set with those cute little color-coordinated favor boxes and think “gee, are we sure we don’t want to give out favors?”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04281621170102704781 very married

    wouldn’t it be nice to have a wedding and an anti-wedding. the anti-wedding being where all the things you decided against would happen?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15197564769635390369 shaygo

    i completely relate to this. i feel like i am in constant conversation with myself in regards to do i want this, need this, or am i being told to have this.

    i think the wedding industry taps into many issues we have as people and specifically women: conformity, feminity, beauty.

    and bried in exile is right — the second i make a choice on how to do something i see another way to do it and think “geez, i wish i had done that.” letting go of that is also a constant conversation.

  • LG

    I have been inexplicably drawn to pink since getting engaged, even though prior to engagement I always pictured yellow. So weird.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07272458316916900053 Laura

    I absolutely agree – I am trying very hard to be true to what I want and not backtrack on my decisions. I am confident with the choice I made to have my girls pick their own dresses based on colour swatches that I gave them… but then I irrationally worry that maybe the colours I chose will not work out well… sigh…. it is a never ending battle. I am so glad to hear that others are going through this too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13781314774264492284 blind irish pirate

    I thought you were going to talk about the clutch, as in the ubiquitous bags brides carry around.

    Now, see, I am generally a woman who can’t use little bags. I don’t call them purses, either. I use old army surplus gas-mask bags or northwoods haversacks. Usually because I’ll stuff a book in one.

    Bridal clutches… they cannot do this.

    (PS your friends will be grateful you do not stick them in something you just described as “frothy and pink”. I promise.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12616579784634675288 kristen

    I have never in my life had any desire to put on a big, poofy dress. Even for proms, I wore short dresses. My wedding dress is flowy and free and hippie-ish. A few weeks ago I tried on my sister’s wedding dress as a joke, and once I looked in the mirror, I was awestruck. It’s a big, fat, cupcake of a dress with a boned bodice and a skirt that resembles a down comforter. I then understood why so many women want big, poofy dresses. It’s freaking pretty! Then I realized that the dress weighs more than a large dog, and I just don’t have the endurance to carry that around for a day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14583718939752185854 Leanne…the walker.

    I completely agree! I want a simple and practical wedding but some days I think about what it would be like to spend thousands on useless stuff like matchbooks, tiaras, and sparklers. Thanks for reminding me not to get al bridezilla.

  • Lovely Blogger

    Having a two year engagement I have gone back and forth one hundred times. I think the only benefit is that I have some thing I bought that I am not using anymore and I can give it away on my blog! :) At least I am looking at the positive of wasting money, right?

    About the dresses… I finally decided after a year and 1/2 of looking on my bridesmaids attire. It was so hard for me! I finially picked out a custom made summer dress from an etsy seller. She is dying them different colors.

    My wedding dress I knew was mine the moment I tried it on. I ordered it and still love it BUT I secretly wonder if I should have got a long, princess looking dress!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02691922611023496964 Spiffy

    I’ve been totally suffering matchy wedding invite envy! I’ve been price shopping bulk paper for the making of DIY invites- but keep finding myself staring wistfully at “elegant” or “modern” invitations- complete with ribbons and embossing and over priced (insert some expensive style of paper here)… I have to physically force myself to remember that I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on scraps of paper 90% of guests will not keep for 60 years. Same goes too when I look at extravagant bouquets or chapel length veils… sigh…

    Pretty pretty princess dreams of a 5 yr old vs the budget savvy wedding aspirations of the bride I am. Its war!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07527646197854912136 Kiana

    It’s goes both ways! I have matching BM dresses (not long or pink tho lol) and when I see gorgeous photos of mis-matched dresses that somehow go beautifully together, I second guess myself. You’d be wondering either way, trust me!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03463468394602351113 cevd

    pink matching dresses = nightmare.

    you and your non-matching dresses = dream come true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06206689296805893265 east side bride

    I. Know. Sometimes I see a *ballgown* on this is glamorous or somewhere and I think, “I should have worn that!”

    But come on.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07272458316916900053 Laura

    LovelyBlogger – who is the etsy seller? I wonder if it would work for my purposes as well?!

  • April

    kristensmellis – you are the bomb! I had a similar experience: tried on a big meringue dress (at David’s Bridal no less) and went into a fit of giggles for about 20 minutes because “Wheee! I feel pretty!” Urrgghh. =/

    Then my MOH slapped me upside the head with the train of the dress, and we promptly left.

    Wresting my over-active designing mind away from the glossy wedding images I see (or am sent by well-intentioned friends) is a constant struggle. It’s hard not to be snake charmed by all the fripperies because face it: some of ‘em are just so darn pretty.

    But they’re not always entirely practical. Which is really the name of the game. My current struggle: centerpieces. My practical side tells me they must be modest because after the guests leave the table so they can get jiggy with it for the next 4 hours on the dance floor, no one will give a fig about a wilting floral centerpiece.

    And still I want oodles of flowers. Never been a fan of pink, though. I draw the line there!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10010855220044881380 Krista

    I hear ya … and I hear the above posters who say it goes both ways!

  • Susan

    If one of the points of your wedding is to celebrate both yourselves and the people you choose to surround yourselves with as you enter (and hopefully as you continue to grow in) married life, isn’t letting your bridal party – supposedly those closest to you – express themselves by what they wear one of the best ways to celebrate what it is about each of them that you love so much?