Who doesn’t love a cupcake?! It’s a delicious little one-serving dessert, with the perfect ratio of delectable, melt-in-your-mouth icing to moist, tender cake. Doesn’t it make you happy just thinking about it? Something we started seeing a little of here and there a few years back was couples sending guests home with cupcakes as favors or even serving cupcakes in place of the groom’s cake, bride’s cake or both. The trend has really taken off and the cupcake has become a must-have at many weddings. Not only are full-service wedding bakeries making them by the dozens for brides and grooms, but specialized cupcake bakeries a la Sprinkles are popping up all over the D/FW metroplex.
Shopping for your wedding gown can be one of the most exciting and fun tasks on your wedding planning to-do list. But it may not be as simple as you think. What are your expectations of finding your gown? You may not realize it, but your expectations are probably based on your experience of normal retail shopping. But nothing could be further from the reality that is wedding gown shopping!
Bridal salons vary, just like other department stores. When shopping at Kmart, you wouldn’t expect the same level of service or product as you would when you shop at Saks Fifth Avenue. The same is true of bridal salons. In the D/FW market, we have three echelons of bridal salons: the entry-level or lower-priced gown salons, like David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo; the moderately priced or mid-level salons, such as Demetrius, Mockingbird Bridal and Lulu’s Bridal Boutique; and the higher-end salons of Neiman Marcus, StarDust Celebrations and Stanley Korshak. Salons are generally privately owned and do not function like “normal retail.” For instance, orders usually take three to five months to arrive, the merchandise cannot be returned and the gown will not fit perfectly when it arrives.
One thing that sets bridal gown shopping apart from looking for, say, a little black dress, is that what you wear on your wedding day is a “gown”, not just a “dress”. And gowns are a big deal. Generally, you can’t just go to a store, pick out a wedding gown in the size and color you like and take it home. Bridal gowns should be ordered six to eight months in advance of the wedding, hopefully right after the venues are selected – although the bride should be able to wear what she wants regardless of where she is getting married. Selecting a gown is about one-third of the process; next comes accessories (shoes, jewelry and veil) and then fittings and alterations. But more on that later.
You should be forewarned that trying on gowns can be a bit awkward. At the entry-level, because the gowns are inexpensive, the salon may have a size run for try-on purposes. But at the moderate to expensive salons, unless the bride is 5’9” and a perfect size 8, the sample gown will not fit. Because these higher-end bridal salons don’t have size runs, the stylists have to be very clever to try and make the gown look good on the bride’s shape, giving her an idea of how an appropriately sized gown would look. If the bride is small, she will experience having the excess material pulled and tucked while she is clamped into the gown; if she is larger, she will be squeezed into the gown and then clamped in the back to her bra. In about 90% of the cases, the gown will be three to six inches too long, so the bride will be asked to stand on a platform so she can see how the gown will fall or drape normally.
Sometimes brides come in with a picture of their “dream dress” from a magazine. This works out in about 25% of these cases. Many times, the dream dress turns out to be a nightmare, because of being an unflattering or incompatible style for the bride’s body type or other similar issues. Most bridal gown sales people are experienced in helping a bride determine what works best on her figure. Come in with an idea of what you like but be open-minded and let the salon’s experienced personnel suggest some styles to try on. Often, they will know exactly the type of gown that will make the bride feel most stunning. If the salesperson doesn’t know fabrics, construction, how the gown can be altered and such, move on to the next salon. Where your gown is purchased is as important as what you purchase.
Once the bride finds her gown, it will be ordered based on her measurements. Then she will need to focus on accessories. Veils, headpieces and jewelry are important, but after selecting your gown, shoes should be next on your list. You must purchase your shoes before you receive your gown and have them with you at your first fitting. You’ll also want to have any foundation pieces with you at the fitting to ensure you’ll have the perfect fit once your alterations are complete. Select your veil and jewelry six to eight weeks before the wedding or the bridal portrait if you’re having those taken in advance of your wedding day.
Shopping for gowns can be fun and you want all of your friends’ opinions, right? Wrong! Often brides want to bring an entourage, but that is not a good idea. Usually a best friend (who really knows your style and will be honest with you) and a mom are the best people to bring. Too many people make selecting a gown confusing and often, feelings get hurt. Everyone has an opinion, no one likes the same thing and the bride gets lost in the confusion! Often the guests want the bride to try their suggestions on and either the bride doesn’t want to or the cost of the gown is an issue. Buying a wedding gown is serious. Save the “girls’ outing” for the bridesmaid dresses shopping or maybe bring the gang in when the selection is between the final two dresses. Another special idea is the keep the gown secret until the big day, making the bride’s entrance a really big “ta-da”! In this day of show-all, tell-all, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little mystique around “what does the bride’s gown look like?”
A few other words of advice from a salon’s perspective: if an appointment is required, be on time. If you are late, you may miss your time because the next appointment is entitled to have her time protected. If you need to cancel, please do so, rather than just no-showing. Salons often have waiting lists and some other bride would be grateful to have your slot should you be unable to make it. And by all means, please wear underwear; rarely does a salesperson want to see a naked customer!
Yes, buying a wedding gown is serious business. You’ll be making a big decision and a commitment that will drive many other details of your wedding. But it can be fun, too! Just by doing a little research and planning ahead, you can take your time to find the gown that will make you feel most confident and beautiful on your wedding day. And what bride doesn’t want that?!
There is a Native American Proverb that says, “We did not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Such is the philosophy of our featured wedding couple, who held their intimate wedding ceremony and reception at their own completely green home in Dallas this past spring.
Many of the materials making up the beautiful home of Donna Wilhelm and John Gunn are renewable resources, having been repurposed, reclaimed or recycled. Naturally, this couple, who is passionate about protecting the environment and the earth’s natural resources, took the same approach for their wedding – starting with the 100% cotton invitations from Crane’s.
At the end of the wedding ceremony, the guests were invited to take a small stone from baskets near the pond in front of the home. They were asked to make a wish for the newlyweds and throw the stone into the pond, leaving a memory for the couple. This “blessing stone tradition” led by Reverend Younkin was so touching, and the couple enjoyed secretly witnessing it by peering from the house through a nearby window, unseen by their guests. Donna and John took great pleasure throughout the evening asking their friends and family what wish or advice had been cast into the pond for them.
It was time for the reception, starting with cocktails…next door. All the guests strolled on a pathway of greenery to enjoy the cocktail hour at the new, equally amazing eco-friendly home of the bride’s daughter (who also served as Matron of Honor) and son-in-law. The guests noshed on hearty passed hors d’oeuvres of beef Carpaccio, salmon tartlets and onion squares before heading back to the bride and groom’s home to continue the celebration.
As guests returned, they were treated to the couple’s first dance and cake-cutting ceremony before the buffet opened and the casual, lively celebration continued. This was an encore wedding for both Donna and John, and they wanted to add special touches unique to their life together, including bringing in their love of travel. Guests were treated to food and music from all over the globe.
Chefs Jonathan Calabrese and Brad Dickens from the trendy – and very eco-conscious – Savory Catering Company prepared Mediterranean chicken with olives and wild mushrooms served on creamy Parmesan polenta onsite while guests toured the beautiful and interesting house, taking in the green elements and fascinating art and sculpture.
Music performed by the percussion-driven “Duriye and Friends” drifted throughout the house the entire evening as guests of all ages danced on the patio to the jazz, funk, Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms, again in tribute to the couple’s international travels and love of various cultures.
The décor was all about nature. The muted pastel color palate was a wonderful way to bring the outdoors in, from green and ivory linens to the natural wood containers filled with lush white, green, peach and yellow flowers fresh from the garden…Junior Villanueva’s garden, that is. Junior of The Garden Gate did a fabulous job of keeping all the décor earthy and in balance with the couple’s lovely eco-friendly home, with his usual stunning style.
As the evening wound down, guests were sent home with hugs and small pots of fresh herbs, which the happy couple hoped they might plant in gardens at their own homes, bringing a little more green into all of their lives.
Bamboo dinnerware: Smart Living Companies
Linens/chairs: BBJ Linens and Ducky Bob’s Event Specialists
Minister: Reverend Marty Younkin, Love Notes
Music: Duriye and Friends
Wedding cake/ Cupcakes: The Cupcakery
Wedding Planners: Marsha and Staci, StarDust Celebrations
Years ago, when Jenny and Marsha started StarDust Celebrations, they made a pact that if – and at the time, that was a big IF – their sons ever got married, they would plan each other’s son’s wedding celebrations. Fast forward to early this past spring when on a brisk day, Marsha and Bob received a phone call from their son Jonathan, asking them to join him and his girlfriend Angela at the Arboretum. He invited them under the guise that he was going to propose to Angela, so imagine the Frenches’ shock when they arrived to find they were just two of a handful of family-only guests to attend Jonathan and Angela’s surprise wedding!
While the couple wanted a tiny, simple ceremony, they were open to a larger, more elaborate reception celebrating their marriage. So Jenny, and her right-hand assistant, Staci Freeman, set to work helping Angela plan the event she envisioned: a sweet yet elegant, family-centered dinner party. The celebration was to be a compilation of their children, their community, nature and their friends and family.
The couple has a restaurant (State and Allen Lounge) so amazing food would also be an important element. The delectable station-style dinner was provided by Savory, the restaurant’s catering arm. One other element would cement the whole theme together – green. Green is a way of life for Angela and Jonathan, and their restaurant has earned numerous accolades for the company’s efforts to create a positive impact on the environment. So, not only were some of the wedding elements environmentally green, but green also served as the main color for the reception’s theme.
As you can see in these fabulous photos by the talented Gary Donihoo and Kym Skiles of f8studio, the results were just beautiful.
The reception was held at the historic Filter Building on White Rock Lake, in the community where the couple lives and plays. The cool, funky Filter Building is just across the lake from the Arboretum, where Angela and Jonathan “eloped”. The location overlooking the lake and the vintage industrial vibe lent an urban elegance to the celebration that was just the right style for this hip, casual couple.
The space was transformed by a juxtaposition of banquet and round tables with Chivari chairs brought in by M&M Special Event Rentals. Junior Villanueva of The Garden Gate dressed the tables with lilac and apple green lamour linens. The green theme was punctuated by bushels of Granny Smith apples, bouquets of green hydrangeas and punches of bright pink and purple scattered throughout. Tommy Evans, DJ and owner of Specialty Sound, arranged the lovely lighting that finished the space design with warmth and softness; Tommy also kept guests of all ages on the dance floor by playing casual, lively music throughout the evening.
The couple wanted something more fun than just the traditional guestbook so they brought in a photo booth for guests to have pictures made to put into Angela and Jonathan’s bright green photo album along with some thoughtful words.
Because children are very important to Angela and Jonathan, the tables were named after children in their families, including the three they have between them. Also in a nod to the kids (and the young at heart) in attendance and their free-spirited style, the couple chose whimsical cupcakes in a multitude of colors and flavors as their wedding dessert. As the evening grew dark, a more grown-up touch appeared on the outdoor terrace when a professional cigar roller started hand-rolling cigars in the traditional Cuban fashion for guests to enjoy.
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Casablanca Bridal Trunk Show LuLu’s
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Rina di Montella Special Occasion Stardust Celebrations
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Monique Lhuillier Bliss Bridal Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
Pronovias Bridal Trunk Show LuLu’s
Simone Carvalli Bridal Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
Semi-annual Clearance Sale Both Stores
Alvina Valenta Bridal Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
Aire by Rosa Clara Bridal Trunk Show LuLu’s
Jim Hjelm Bridal Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
Mori Lee Bridal Trunk Show LuLu’s
James Clifford Bridal Trunk Show Stardust
JCH Bridal Trunk Show LuLu’s
Eve of Milady Bridal Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
Watters Bridal Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
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Toni Federici Veil Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
Lazaro Bridal Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
Rose Taft Boutique Special Occasion Stardust Celebrations
US Angels Flowergirl Trunk Show LuLu’s
St. Pucchi Bridal Trunk Show Stardust Celebrations
Maggie Sottero Bridal Trunk Show LuLu’s
The filming for the new season of “Girl Meets Gown” on WEtv is almost complete. The series will air this year and we’ll post the premier date as soon as it’s finalized We can’t wait to share our brides’ stories with everyone!
Happy New Year!