Friday, January 28, 2011

Always a Bridesmaid

The Dress You Never Wear Again

I have been a bridesmaid eight times.

And I have that many bridesmaids.  Plus more . . .  although they have different 'jobs' like flowergirl wrangler and reader of Irish proverbs.

I wanted my bridesmaids to look and feel gorgeous and NOT hate their dresses.

I didn't want them to match - both in style and colour.  And I wanted to give them as much freedom as possible.

Enter Bridesmaid Dress Disaster Adventure.

I knew I wanted to get our dresses from Frocks Modern Bridesmaids because they have the best selection of non-gross bridesmaid dresses and their staff is super knowledgable and sweet.  Not to mention the owner, Cat, has become a friend of Wedding Belles and myself.  She says it like it is and knows how to put a perfect bridal party together.

We went on one lovely fall afternoon.  Myself, four bridesmaids, my mother-in-law and my flowergirl wrangler.

First mistake?  Too much freedom and champagne.

I should have listened to Cat when she said pick ONE designer.  Nope.  I let the girls go wild.  I thought they would only pick one designer but no - they picked three.

Each girl also picked a different colour.  No problem - according to the swatches they were all in the same family.

Fast forward a few months (and dress fittings with other bridesmaids) when I get bigger colour swatches on the proper fabrics.  Apparently my wedding is a three-ring circus complete with clowns masquerading as bridesmaids.


There were so many shades of blue it looked like we were going on a deep sea barge.

So I had to lay down the law and tell some bridesmaids to pick from colours I selected.

I felt guilty doing this and had to consult all the other bridesmaids to make sure I wasn't being a freak.

First sign you are being a freak is asking if you are being a freak.

I also noticed that the fabrics looked wrong together.  Duchess satin, silk duiponi, easter shantung:  it was a fabric melange of badness.

But I felt I should let this go.

Fast forward to January, when I casually step into Frocks one day to start putting the order together.  That's when taffeta hit the fan.

One of the designers had to be ordered THAT afternoon to get the dress in time.  GAH!  I guestimated sizes and colours for two of my bridesmaids - one of which was coming the following week to dress shop and the other was drunk in Vegas.  But I took a deep breath and made executive decisions.  I nixed Las Vegas maid's dress and chose another one for her.  My sister-in-law's choice was not only my least favourite but the colour was wrong with the rest of the palette.  NIX!

It felt good making executive decisions.  Empowering.  I could feel it.  Turning . . . into . . . . bridezilla.  So wrong but so good.

Anyways, this doesn't sound too dramatic but it was.  It invloved racing across town three times, calls to Winnipeg, frantic texts and emails to Vegas, and crying to my fiance.

I had to stop and remind myself:  There are people dying in the world.

Meh.  I really wanted my vision to come to life.

Okay, so three days later I felt it was time to bring Vegas bride into Frocks to make sure she fit the dress I picked.  I brought her along with another bridesmaid plus my wedding dress.

And my secret weapon:  Cat.

Who I must say was right all along.  Give freedom within a designer, not a store.

Cat knows her stuff.  We hung up my wedding dress and the chosen dresses.

The vision was coming to fruition.  My flowergirl wrangler kept telling me I should never have been so passive on our first visit.  But here's the thing: when you have a large wedding party it's really hard to put it all together.  Unless you are going for a matching bridal party.  Which . . . I don't like.  I could say more but it might hurt other bride's feelings.

Anyhoo, it was hard to imagine all together before it was, well, all together.

I had one final executive decision to make.  One bridesmaid had chosen a dress that's fabric was duiponi silk.  Really, in the grand scheme of things it shouldn't matter.

But it did.

In that moment it DID.  And I knew it would bother me on the wedding day.

I knew she had her heart set on this one particular dress but it stuck out like a sore thumb and ironically looked like my wedding dress.  You would never think to look at a picture of it, but hanging up it actually looked like my dress.

Cat said I was not allowed to tell anyone this was a Frocks bridal party if I allowed that dress.

Unfortunately I was scared of telling said bridesmaid.  Good thing I had some things on my side:  the other two girls also saw how it didn't look right, I was paying for the dress and, the most important factor, I AM THE BRIDE.

I hate pulling that card.  Hate it and love it.

She didn't care.  I make up drama in my mind.

The dress we picked for her is gorgeous.  There are two of them in the wedding party.  The other girls all have unique dresses.  And the colours are down to three:  seafoam, perriwinkle and yellow.

SO PRETTY!  It looks like Marie Antoinette happy time!  Before the guillotine.

When all was said and done, the dresses paid for, and the order in - I sat back and realized:  I am crazy.  I am bridezilla.  Now I get it.  I get what those brides were feeling when I was their bridesmaid (well, most of them).  And that's okay.

Why is it okay?  Because I will have the prettiest bridal party in all the histories of weddings.  In my mind anyways.

What are my rules for bridesmaid dress shopping?

Well, firstly pick if you want to match or not match.  That's easy.
Then pick only one or two of your most fashionable bridesmaids to go on preliminary search.
Listen to what the staff says, they know.
Make your decision and STICK to it!
And if you are picking expensive dresses for your girls?  PAY FOR THEM!  Or at least half.  If you want them to buy their own dresses then pick dresses that cost less than $150.

Well, that's my humble (urm, strong and obnoxious?) opinion.

At the end of the day: people in the world are still dying.  Your bridesmaid dresses are the least of the world's worries.

At least the girls aren't going to be wearing these:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

You are Cordially Invited

The Engineer and I have been engaged for a year.

Which means I have been planning a wedding for a year.

And yet I BARELY write about anything wedding! Ironic considering the name of this blog.  And considering that I host a wedding show.

With five months to go, I thought it was time to share some adventures in the planning of a wedding. 

After taking a good few months (FIVE.  Five months it took) to set a date and a place (I know brides who have their venue booked the same week they get engaged!), the Engineer and I sent out invitations.

We debated sending out 'Save the Dates' but felt that as it was a destination wedding and we didn't want to pay for postage twice, we just sent our invite out early.

How long have 'Save the Dates' been around?  I have gotten a few for some weddings I have attended, but for the most part I didn't know they even existed.  Now they seem to be the norm.

Damn wedding industry.  Always inventing new things for crazy brides to buy into.


I am that crazy bride.  Not that I bought 'save the dates' but I did insist on stamps that had an engagement picture of the Engineer and myself, return address labels that co-ordinated with our invites and vintage ink stamps that said words like 'Firenze' 'Roma' to get people in the Italian mood.

 Cute picture for a stamp right?

This is how it begins.  With something so seemingly small and insignificant (only one person noticed my awesome stamps) then turns into escort cards and personal menus that all are stamped with our wedding logo.

Yes friends, people are now branding their weddings.  And don't put it past me.  I LOVE branding things.

I felt that I could justify the stamps and return labels due to the fact we saved so much on our invites.  We didn't want to typical invitations (no judgement on typical invitations!).  We wanted something fun, unique and memorable. 

And we found it on Etsy.  Have you discovered Etsy?  I LOVE ETSY!  I found it last year sometime and have since been an ADDICT.  ADDICT!  Half the stuff from my wedding is Etsy.

Anyhoo, I was pretty shocked that invites could be up to $5 an invite.  WTF?  FIVE DOLLARS?  I shouldn't be surprised seeing as Hallmark cards are $7 now.  Dear god.  It's paper.

You know how you know what you want but don't know what it looks like yet and therefore can't express it? 

That's how it was with my invites.  Our invites.

I was practically cross-eyed as I flipped (what do you do online?  Flip?  Turn?  Scan?) until the PERFECT invite jumped out at me.

And with a bit of back and forth with a very lovely artist, the invite was made even more perfect.  Check it our for yourself:

Isn't it cute??

EEEEEEEE!  It's the Engineer and me in a balloon over Italy!  Oh, the Engineer's name is Jody.  Guess the jig is up (it's jig, not gig - I checked). 

A bargain in the world of invites. $2.30 for the first 60 and each thereafter $1.50!  Woohoo!  She has more cute designs for weddings, baby showers, etc here.

We were really happy that this invite reflected us.  Seeing as we are so often in a hot air balloon over Tuscany.  I'm not really sure how it reflects us, but it does.

And the response from our friends was great!  So many people texted, emailed and called to tell us how much they loved their invites.  I'm always happy when I go to a family or friend's house and see our invite up on the fridge.

There you go.  Planning a wedding?  Think outside the box.  Fun postcards may just be your thing!  And your budget . . . .

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Warts, Puss and Bacne - Oh Gross!

By being truthful about the state of some grossness that is the human body, I feel that you reading at home will no longer be ashamed of the ugly truths that lurk on your skin.

I have a wart.  On my foot.  A planters wart on my foot.

It was brought to my attention by the girl who does my pedicure over a year ago and I did nothing about it until I learned they never go away and the roots just keep growing inside your foot. 


I prefer the term 'veruca' because then it just sounds like you have some affliction to martini's rather than a witches wart on your body.  Unfortunately, no one in Canada calls it that.  So I have a wart.

First, I tried the Compound W (the liquid stuff you brush on) route to no avail.  Over Christmas, my dad decided to take it up a notch using the Compound freezing stuff.  He has a wart on his finger so we both needed some help.  We didn't read the instructions properly so after 20 seconds of sticking this thing on my foot I started to scream in pain.  He felt sorry (but inside thought I was being a baby) until he applied to his finger and shouted some obscenities.

It was time to go to the doctor.  My doctor was super happy to bring me on as a patient because I am young and the rest of her roster are octogenarians.  Imagine her dismay when I came it to show her a wart as opposed to the pap smear she was so looking forward to.  She took one look at it, said 'I am going to get a scalpel and then nitrogen'. 

At the word 'scalpel' I got really nauseous and grabbed the garbage can.  I threw up a bit in my mouth.  She thought I was weird and was right in doing so because the wart has no nerve endings to I didn't feel her scraping the grossness at all.  Obviously this is why I am not a doctor.  I get sick at just the thought of blood and puss.

How am I going to give birth someday?

On the same day that I faced the wart, I also was scheduled for a 'back facial'. 

I've talked about this problem before:  I have bacne. 

No amount of showering, creams or potions helps me.  I walked hoping she would be able to make clean my back so that on my wedding day I didn't resemble an old crone (warts and pimples!).

The esthetician told me it was not a facial I needed, but micodermabrasion.  Basically, super intense exfoliation as we miss that part of our body on our daily scrub down.  The experience, although not painful, was not pleasant.  She basically sandpapered by back with a 'diamond' encrusted vacuum cleaner.  The gross thing was that you get to see a vial of the dead skin that has been removed.  I filled a vial. A full vial of dead skin.

It totally works though!  My back skin was already softer but I have to go for a few more treatments.  At night, and for the next few days, it feels as if you have a sunburn.  Totally worth it though as I am sick of begging the Engineer to pop my zits.

He refuses.  How can he refuse?  Am I the only one who loves the satisfying 'pop' of a zit and the gross yellow crap that comes up?  It's practically delicious!

So there you go.  All in one day I had attended to my wart and bacne problems and lived to tell the tale.  Let's face it:  human bodies can be gross.  But if you make gross funny then you'll always see the beauty in puss.

Friday, January 14, 2011

January Blues

Winter is super awesome with it's magical white wonderland feel and glistening frost on trees.
Until December 25th at the stroke of midnight.

Then it's just an asshole.

I was supposed to be in Rainy City until this upcoming Monday.  As I write this it's 12 degrees Celsius (for my American readers I have no idea what that is in your weird temperature) and sunny.  In Toronto, it's -a bazillion with two feet of snow.

I think I'll wait a few more weeks.

This past week, it snowed in EVERY Canadian province.  In the other provinces, it remains on the ground and people are hiding indoors due to the sub zero temperatures and bone-chilling wind chill factors.  Vancouver's snow lasted the night and people returned to doing yoga on the seawall.


Not that Vancouver is an angel in January.  More often than not, the rain is pouring and 'daylight' hours are a joke due to the fact that the sun is blocked by a wall of grey rain clouds.

Which brings me to the point that January sucks.

Winter is charming when you get to sing Christmas Carols and forget your winter woes with cups of mulled wine and endless parties.  Winter is NOT charming when you have super cool presents from Santa that have to be stored until the summer because your parents say no nerf gun battles indoors.  It's not charming when you have to work off the excess weight gained from merry-making mulled wine and cheese but it's minus 20 outside so how do you even get to the gym?

And a rainy winter is most definitely not charming when Christmas lights no longer glitter happily through the raindrops and your city is left in the dark. 

Therefore I have made it my mission to add a new element of charm to January and give it some positive notes so that I start looking forward to this dreaded month (remember last year and it was before the Olympics and we didn't even notice January? Yeah, that was awesome.)

First off:  January carols.  We need some sort of music to lift our spirits right?  I have made January my 'Get to know Classical music better' month.  It started with a friend giving me tickets to the VSO for some Beethoven.  This has since inspired me to go to the Opera, take in a play, and listen to a new composer everyday.  My fire is turned on, the dogs asleep on the floor, a glass of Syrah in my hand and some Mozart on the iPod - it does add a nice, cozy element to this month.

Secondly:  Boozy brunches.  If every weekend, you make a pact with your friends to meet for eggs benny and endless Kir Royales then January suddenly becomes a blur of Champagne, eggy goodness!  Plus it is a reward for your hard work of eating only salad and turkey bacon all week.

Third:  Video Games!  I got a Nintendo DS for Christmas.  It was as exciting as the time I got Nintendo and didn't ask for it when I was ten.  My favorite game is still Mario and I can sadly get lost in his little Italian killing ways for a multitude of hours.  Therefore, if I say January is video game month and allow myself to enjoy some Mario Bros action in this dreary time then suddenly one looks forward to January.  Here we go!

Fourth:  Plan a wedding.  I realize this is not an option for all, but I only have six months to go until 'I Do' and I literally have to plan a whole bunch of crap.  Christmas was too busy but not there is NOTHING to do but plan a wedding.  Therefore, from the doldrums of grey rain I have made myself happy with the colour palette of Perriwinkle, Seafoam, and Butter Yellow with touches of peony.  It is a very good distraction from the fact I would rather be depressed right now.

Five:  Movie mayhem.  With the Golden Globes and Oscars around the corner, it's time to let yourself get lost in the dark and eat popcorn guilt free. I say guilt-free because as a Vancouverite, I have now been conditioned to NOT watch movies during the months when it is possibly sunny and warm.  Therefore, I can now look forward to January because it is movie month. 

There are other ideas like start a hobby (in my case wedding craft central - too bad I suck at crafts), or read a series - like 'The Hungry Games' or go to your wine store and start a
'wine of the day' club (you only need one member) and start boning up on your cork dorkness so that you can show it off to your friends come summer BBQ time or next Christmas.

Therefore, readers and friends, I urge you to NOT hibernate at this time but embrace the dreariness that is the next few months of winter and give it a new life!!


I realize the New Year has come and gone as has my resolution to write EVERYDAY.  There is nothing like New Year's resolutions to make you feel like total crap.

Which got me to thinking (okay, Martha Stewart got me to thinking with an article about setting more positive resolutions) about setting New Year's anit-resolutions.  Not in the 'I intend to kill small animals'  resolution that the word 'anti' conjures up, but more in the "Do not beat thyself up" type of resolution.


Normal Resolution:
I will lose ten pounds before my wedding.

I will walk, dance, run, and play every week so that I  feel healthy and strong for my wedding day.

Normal Resolution:
Stop eating sugar

Eat sugar, it only makes me sweeter.

Normal Resolution:
Write every single day on pain of death.

Write as I feel. Or write with a morning cup of tea.

Normal Resolution:
Wake up every morning at eight.

Anti- Resolution:
Stop feeling guilty because you go to sleep at 5 in the morning.

Then there are these ones:

Normal Resolution:
Stick to Engineer's regimented budget

Start buying dresses when they are on sale, not full price (super easy when you make friends with sales)

Normal Resolution:
Turn off television and read a book

Listen to book on iPhone while playing Super Mario Brothers

Normal Resolution:
Train Mr. Mop to like children

Avoid children

Normal Resolution:
Vacuum every other day

No longer a Virgo so not afraid of dirt.

Normal Resolution:
Cook every meal

Re-heat take-out.  It's practically cooking

Normal Resolution:
Live in present moment

Get rid of clocks.

See?  Easy peasy.  Once you throw out the traditional notion of New Year's resolutions making you a better person, make a resolution to realize you are human, full of faults and unless you are a serial killer or mafia boss, you probably don't need to change :)