Photo by Blue Rose Photography
Welcome back to Wedding Wednesday and my Wedding Planning series! I took a looong hiatus from finishing this series (like two years?! 😬) because, honestly, I wasn’t feeling super inspired to work on it… and then a pandemic hit and no wedding-related events were happening, and well, now here we are! I’m feeling re-invigorated and I’m really excited to finish the second half of this series because weddings are finally resuming after a long year of postponement, rescheduling, and generally disappointing situations for so many couples. If you’re planning a wedding or know someone who is, keep an eye out for the next five wedding planning installments over the coming weeks. I’ve really missed talking weddings — I love them so much!
If you haven’t read Chapters One, Two, Three or Four, I recommend starting with those posts first.
In those previous chapters, I have talked about what I used for wedding planning and I honestly believe that I was successful at planning our wedding because I had The Joyful Wedding Planner to help guide me! I am using that as the framework for these posts, but I HIGHLY encourage you to buy the real thing for yourself. It’s only a $25 purchase for the full range of PDFs! They provide 160 pages of wedding planning goodness, so this low price is SUCH a steal! And this way you can reprint any page in case you need to replace any of them.
Determining your wedding look will go hand-in-hand with choosing your overall wedding aesthetic. Keeping your venue / location and season of the year in mind will really help you to make style decisions (i.e. a tulle-filled ballgown wouldn’t be the best choice for a tropical beach wedding or you pay want a dress with sleeves or a fur shrug for a wedding in the cooler months). Having decided on a color palette will also help you and your fiancée choose the color of the wedding party’s suits / dresses, as well as the floral arrangements and various other decor items. Given that baseline, we’ll be touching on bridal dress shopping, bridal beauty, bridesmaid dresses, as well as groom and groomsmen looks in today’s post.
To prepare for your try-on(s), I recommend (1) taking the right people with you (supportive friends / family that will be honest with you), (2) take the extra time to do a bit more with your hair and makeup than your everyday look (it doesn’t have to be ALL OUT, but done up enough that you could envision the full look for your wedding), (3) wear the proper undergarments — strapless bras are always a good idea, as well as any kind of supportive / smoothing undergarments you’d like to have, and (4) take shoes with a similar heel height to what you are planning to wear (alternatively, if you already have your wedding shoes take them with you!).
I think that the three best pieces of information that I can give you regarding wedding dress shopping would have to be:
(1) BE OPEN TO TRYING ALL DRESS STYLES
You may think you know what you like, but you may be surprised by a dress cut that you thought you wouldn’t and it ends up makes you feel amazing! Even if you don’t care for a particular style after you put it on, determining what you don’t like about it will narrow down your dress style preference and will help the fitting attendant bring you dresses to try that are more to your liking. Try to be as specific as possible: “I don’t like this neckline, the cap sleeves, or the fabric on this dress, but I do like the general silhouette!”
(2) MAKE SURE THAT YOU CAN MOVE / SIT / BREATHE IN THE DRESS
You’re going to be on the move throughout your wedding day (for all photo sessions, sitting at dinner, dancing, etc.) and it’s super important to be comfortable for the best day of your life!
(3) DO NOT FOCUS ON FORMAL DRESS SIZING
(Ugh! — why do wedding dress designers do this?!) Wedding dress and bridesmaid dress sizes are so out of whack… the numbers do NOT correlate with your normal size in everyday clothes and are higher numbers, so my best advice is to IGNORE THEM and wear what fits your body and makes you feel great. (I am normally an 8 in regular clothes and wore either a size 10 or 12 in wedding dresses!) It’s literally just a number — try to focus on how you feel in the dress and not what the stupid tag says.
Those are the main points that I wanted to convey from my own experience, but there’s a lot more advice in the planner that you will want to take into consideration (re: budget, etc.). Additionally, the planner has specific pages for Bridal Style / Accessories Inspiration and a Dress Shopping Journal for you to jot down the dress / shop details of all of your favorites!
I have even more bridal inspiration in this Pinterest folder (that includes dresses, shoes, etc.!)
HAIR AND MAKEUP
Once you’ve decided on a dress and overall “feel” for your wedding, I suggest looking for makeup and hair ideas on Pinterest / wedding blogs / from magazine clippings / etc. You can use search terms on Pinterest like “glam wedding makeup,” “wedding updo hairstyle,” or “beach wedding makeup and hair ideas.”
I recommend searching on both Google and Instagram for your hair and makeup artist (aka: an “HMA”) by using fairly specific search terms like “Seattle Wedding Makeup and Hair Stylist” or hashtags like #seattlemakeupartist. I especially love using Instagram for this use case since it acts almost like a portfolio for the vendors!
Once you have decided more or less on the look you want and have narrowed down your list of HMAs you should set up some trials! *FYI: hair and makeup trials will definitely have a cost, but oftentimes the artist will subtract that fee amount from your grand total if you decide to work with them for your big day.
Also recommended: when you go in for your trial wear a top or dress that mimics the style of your wedding dress so that you can see how it will generally look together (strapless, cap sleeve, v-neck, long sleeves, boatneck, etc.)… obviously, if you have an illusion back / arms or something to that effect, you may not be able to find a similar top (although a lace top may be a good option for this situation!) — even just the general neckline or sleeve length is helpful for visualizing.
I love that the digital planner offers additional advice, a space to include inspiration images, as well as a page to include all of the info for your HMA candidates for easy reference (and comparison!).
I have more bridal beauty inspiration in this Pinterest folder that includes both hair & makeup ideas!
Photo by Blue Rose Photography
Your bridesmaids’ dresses should complement, but not outshine your bridal gown. In order to accomplish this, it’s recommended to have purchased your wedding gown first because that will help you to determine the color(s) / length / style of dresses and the hairstyles you want for your bridesmaids!
I personally love the mix-and-match trend, but while keeping a cohesive look. For example: you can let the girls choose from a few different color options, but all having to wear the same dress style OR you can allow them choose the dress style that they like best in the one color of your choosing!
*Note: I also strongly suggest chatting with your ladies to decide on a price point that they are comfortable with paying for their dress, unless you are planning to cover this cost for them (if you’ve ever been a bridesmaid, you know that the costs to participate in a wedding party can add up quickly!).
Some of my favorite brands to shop for bridesmaid dresses are:
Hayley Paige Occasions // Birdy Grey // BLHDN // Azazie // David’s Bridal // Lulu’s Weddings // REVELRY // ShowMeYourMuMu // Baltic Børn Bridesmaids
The planner offers additional advice, a page for compiling bridesmaid look inspiration, and a bridesmaid tracker (that can include everyone’s details).
You can find more bridesmaid (and a few mother of the bride / groom) inspiration photos in this Pinterest folder!
GROOM & GROOMSMEN
There is absolutely nothing wrong with renting suits / tuxes for an event such as a wedding, but most guys already have a navy or grey suit in their closets (if they don’t yet, they should!) so if you’re not a stickler about all of the guys wearing the exact same suit cut in a matching color shade, you can totally allow your groomsmen to wear one of the suits that they already own (which would work well with the mix-and-match bridesmaid dress ideas from above!).
*Note: if you’re looking for a way to *tie* the mix-and-match looks together — pun intended 😉 —, they can all wear the same tie / pocket square / sock combo and match one another in that way!
Some brands to shop for mens suits:
J.Crew Suit Shop // Bonobos Wedding Shop // Menguin // Men’s Wearhouse // BlackTie // TheBlackTux // ProperCloth Formalwear // The Groomsman Suit by SuitShop // Nordstrom
The planner offers some seasonal suggestions for what the guys could wear, a page for collecting menswear image inspiration, as well as a groomsmen tracker (that can include everyone’s details).
You can check out my wedding Pinterest folder for more groom and groomsmen style ideas!
I hope this guidance helps you to narrow down what you are dreaming of for your bridal look and for the overall aesthetic of your wedding party!
Sending hugs —
P.S. In the spirit of full disclosure, I know these posts may seem like I am partnering with The Joyful Wedding Planner / Cultivate What Matters group, but this planner is seriously a head above the rest and was indispensable to me and planning our wedding! I just believe in it SO strongly and want to share it with you!!!