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Outfit Down the Aisle

Welcome to bride week on the blog! My professional wedding photos are finally here, and I am so excited to share them with you. This week we will have outfits, bridesmaids and groomsmen style, and reception decor. I also want to touch on a lot of issues with the wedding industry, being a fat bride, DIY, when to stop looking on Pinterest, anxiety, offbeat weddings, and trying to keep a low budget, your sanity, and your vision of your special day in tact. So look forward to that!

Now- the dress. I think picking out my wedding dress was one of the hardest parts of the entire wedding for me. I love fashion, and I love wearing so many different things. Yet this article of clothing was, well, permanent. You only get one dress to get married in. That was heavy for me! I thought it was really important. I knew looking back at pictures that I wanted to truly love what I was wearing for the rest of my life. Luckily, I accomplished it. But it was the 3rd dress I purchased. 

I went to David’s Bridal first. I don’t know if that’s typical everywhere, but where I live it is.  Either way, it can be a good place to get your feet wet and explore everything wedding. Unfortunately, it may completely turn you off to the whole thing. When I went to DB, I got help from a girl who was about my size. I thought maybe this would make some difference in my experience, but it really didn’t. The people there work on commission and it shows. I got bullied into a dress I hated by the people at DB and my mother (who meant well, but looking back it kind of hurts my heart a little.) Not only was I told by several people that DB was the only place I would be able to find a plus size wedding dress, but because I am 5’11”, I was also told it was the only place I would find stuff long enough. NOT TRUE AT ALL. I wish when I got engaged that there had been shows like Say Yes to the Dress Big Bliss and Four Weddings. Those, along with Offbeatbride.com completely changed my entire view on weddings. Before that, the big white wedding day was giving me crippling anxiety attacks. Thank God for those wonderful people of the world and corners of the internet that remind you it’s best to always do you!

I remember buying that DB dress out of desperation. I remember no one crying or saying what a beautiful bride I would be. All I remember is frustration and lots of bridesmaids dresses with wonky zippers that we all had to fight to get our money back on. I remember being told there were no other choices and feeling like I hated my body and needed to lose weight so maybe I could do something with this sack of white satin and beads. Not exactly the experience I was hoping for.

Months down the road after lots of wedding porn on Offbeatbride and Pinterest, I decided there was no way in hell I could wear that gross thing on my special princessy day of love. No way. So I ordered a knock off dress from China for $150 with my exact measurements. It was tea length and precious online.  Minus the weird raw edges and cheaper material, it was actually really cute when it came in! But there were all these weird round circles on it that were supposed to be soft vintage polkadots around the waist. I tried to make it work but it was starting to feel like I was never going to get “that feeling” about a dress. Which seemed so tragic to me because I love clothes so much. 

Enter- Alfred Angelo. There was one across the street from my mom’s work and I dragged my fiance in there just for fun. They were so helpful and fit me in on a moment’s notice. I tried on a bunch of dresses that were long enough, fit me, and were simply beautiful and not over priced. Holy moly! I found this dress and I felt like an angel. I felt so beautiful and perfect. My size didn’t matter. My height didn’t matter. None of it did. I felt gorgeous. I brought my mom back the next day to show her a few dresses. I put this one on and she cried (which is a big deal for my very stoic mother.) I knew it was the one. 

So, long story short- wait until you get “the feeling.” Try on so many different styles. I never thought this would be THE dress for me until I put it on. Do not settle. Do not let anyone talk you into something you do not want or doesn’t feel quite right.Don’t let people talk you out of budget. Don’t work with people who make you feel crappy about your body and like you have to settle on something that just fits you. There are so many options out there and you deserve to feel the most gorgeous you have ever felt on your special day. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

Dress, Hairpiece, & Viel: Alfred Angelo

Shoes: Etsy

Garter: Etsy

Bracelets & Earrings: Macy’s

(Photos courtesy of Abbi Conroy. Make-up by Thomasina Moyer) 

youtube

A year ago today, I married my very best friend. 

I have to say- this is my absolute favorite thing from the wedding. And it was something I almost didn’t do! I honestly was worried about how I would look on video. I take photos all the time and have been doing so for years. But a video camera in your face is a completely different story. It was weird to get used to, but luckily our videographer was a friend of our’s and was so fantastic- we barely even noticed it anymore. I actually feel like I look more like myself in these videos more than the majority of the photos from my wedding. It is SO important when getting a photographer or videographer that they have worked with plus size people before, and that it’s a non-issue. I think the worst thing in the situation would be to feel uncomfortable in your own wedding photos or video. I can say with full confidence- yes I look big in this video because I AM big. But damn, I look beautiful, happy, and surrounded by love. 

Why My Fiancé Wears A Ring

A lot of people think we’re already married when they check out the rings, and we could just go along with it but we choose to explain. The first time it happened, I overheard him say, “No. We aren’t married yet. We figured why does she have to wear one and I don’t? It doesn’t make much sense. We’re equals.”

D’awww. I picked a good one. But I’m not telling you this to brag. (Well, mostly.) I’m telling you this because there are a lot of things in marriage that are left over traditions of ownership. Which might not bode well if you’re a feminist, or even if you just find that totally whacked. Women are to wear engagement to let other possible suitors know she is spoken for… But what about the guy? Sure, I know anyone can take a ring off. But theres something different about your relationship when you wear one. It means something. No matter how long you’ve been together or how well you know each other- that ring brings it to another level if you want it to or not. I know I saw a slight difference in my fiancé when we went to get his ring. He was so excited! He picked it out and he looked at it throughout the days after, smiling. Just like I did. It became more real to him, like it was to me. We started planning more and talking about the wedding more often. I think it not only showed his commitment to me, but mine to him as well. That’s really important. It seemed like such a little thing. But it was really this almost revolutionary thing that he wore proudly.

I think the engagement ring might be the reason you also see such inequality in who cares about the wedding and who plans it. It’s her day. Her day. What about him? I remember my fiancé getting so pissed that my mom told him, “We plan it, you’re just supposed to show up.”What?! Why? Why do people think this way? It’s a day that is about the two of you coming together, so why keep all the sexist stuff alive? It’s a day to celebrate love and two equals coming together. Two better halves, if you will. So why would the engagement be any different?

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Down the Aisle: Wedding Party 

People usually complain about dressing their wedding party, and a lot of people dread being in one. I don’t know if we just have truly fabulous and easy-going friends, or if we just were so laid back about everything- but this part was an absolute breeze for us! 

The most important thing for me was that everyone was comfortable and felt awesome in what they were wearing. The guys were easy- they brought comfortable shoes and the tuxes looked great even without all the pieces on. My husband decided to keep it simple. I was honestly a little worried about letting him handle this himself, but everyone looked amazing! I was particularly worried about his grey suit, but honestly, he had no say in what my girls or what I wore, so why would I have that control over him? It made no sense. I wanted him to be in what he loved and wanted just as much as I wanted that for myself and everyone else. And look- I had nothing to worry about! 

My girls, I really kept the same idea. All of my girls are different shapes and sizes, and they’re all completely different and have distinct styles. Why the hell would I put them in the SAME dress? That just seemed cruel to me. So I told them- 2 of you get a red dress, 2 of you get a black dress, make sure its knee-length. And that was it. Those were my guidelines. I never understood the drone look. I wanted my girls to feel comfortable and beautiful, too. I wanted them to get a dress that they could wear again if they wanted. They kept waiting for me to boss them around or tell them what to wear, and seemed shocked when I didn’t. (What’s up with that, Bridal Industry!?) The most important thing to me was that everyone could afford to be in the wedding party, which is why I went with Alfred Angelo. Not only did they have cute, well made dresses in lots of different colors and cuts, but they had variance in pricing for every budget. Plus, they’re all over the US so my girl out in LA could get her dress just as easy as my friends in Atlanta. 

Seeing them all together on that day was so perfect and amazing. I was so happy how it worked out that everyone had pops of red on their black dresses and pops of black on their red dresses. They did such a good job!! I really think in the end, people want to make you happy on your wedding day, and they want to look great not only for themselves, but for you, too. And that’s what it’s really all about- those friends and family who have been there through thick and thin. Those people who love you and support your love and life. What their wearing doesn’t really matter- but I feel like that disappears much easier if you let it go and trust that your loved ones are just that awesome. 

Bridal party & wedding dress: Alfred Angelo

Photos courtesy of Abbi Conroy

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Down the Aisle: What to do when you friends don’t like dancing. 

I, for one, love to dance! My husband, and a lot of our other friends on the other hand, do not. One of my worries about our reception was that the last thing I wanted was for people to be sitting around bored. I love to throw parties and really pride myself on making sure everyone has a good time. I knew a lot of our friends and family were not dancers. (Well, maybe some times with a few drinks.) We had a small dance floor outside, and lots of other things for people to do! 

  • We set up a photo booth ourselves, with lots of props and costumes to go with it, along with a zombie bride and groom couple to pose with. It was a big hit! 
  • One of the sellers of our venue (which was a restaurant and brewery) was that it came with beer pong tables! I cannot even describe how relieved some of our guy friends were to have something social and normal to do at a more “formal” event. 
  • Corn hole. Same vein as beer pong. People loved having different areas and stations of the venue to play around and mingle in a relaxed, fun environment.
  • When all else fails, set things on fire. This was not only SOO much fun, but it made for truly beautiful pictures. We got sparklers for our grand exit. We exited to “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles. Yet somehow we ended up stopped at the end of the sidewalk arm in arm with everyone singing as loud as we could with sparklers in our hands. It was one of the best moments of my life!
  • We ordered the chinese lanterns as well. Everyone wrote their wishes for us on them and we lit them to fly! They were actually hard to get going, and I was slightly terrified we were going to set the building on fire, but all in all, it ended up looking really beautiful and was very exciting for our guests! 

We were lucky we found a venue that allowed us to cater the wedding to our laid back party style, and I wouldn’t of had it any other way. I think having little things for everyone to do besides dance makes a huge difference. I know we all had a fantastic time! 

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Down the Aisle: Wedding Decor

While planning my wedding, I was a mad pinner. I probably pinned over a  thousands things to my wedding ideas throughout the several months of planning. There were SO many great ideas and DIY things to do that I wanted to incorporate into my wedding while still keeping it special and personal. I knew from the beginning what my vision was- Halloween Chic/Masquerade Ball/Fall/New Orleans. We combined it all with the theme of “French Quarter in the Fall.” 

A lot of my DIY things were documented on my Instagram throughout the weeks leading up to the wedding. A few of them are the Mr. &Mrs. pumpkins I painted, the 20 hand carved pumpkins a bunch of my friends lovingly helped with for a few beers and company, my photobooth, the entire candy bar, glitter skulls, the painted guest book tree, and the white ash tray pumpkin centerpieces. (A lot of our friends smoke and we needed something cute. Ta-da!) There were a few more not pictured as well, such as home made candy apples, mummy wrapped candy bars, and cotton candy martinis. 

Our venue for the reception was initially a bare room with pipes sticking out of the floor. With the help of my amazing florist turned day-of wedding planner, she got them to repaint, hang the lights, and put together my vision perfectly. Full of skulls, pumpkins, and masks with a chic, romantic feel. I am still so in love with how everything came out! 

whereswaldo- asked:

Hey there! I just had a question on etiquette I guess for weddings. I was looking at wedding forum and they totally ripped this girl to shreds for getting married at a justice of the peace and then some months later having a traditional ceremony. Now, is that like a serious no-no or not? 

Ugh. Mean girls! I stay off of traditional forums for this very reason. People behind a screen are mean! Add in wedding stress and weird outdated traditions and you’ve got a serious bitch fest. I’d suggest to use websites like that for pretty pictures and thats it! The rest of it will stress you out and make you buy into stuff that doesn’t truly matter. They’re there to make you double the cost of your wedding! Haha. So, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. 

I can tell you that from experience. I thought there were all these crazy rules or what people like to call “etiquette”- things I HAD to do for my wedding. I got so stressed about all of it and didnt even feel like myself; I postponed my own wedding! Then I found Offbeat Bride. Man, it opened my eyes! I joined their forums and it was like a breath of fresh air! They are so supportive and are open to the fact that not all love is the same, and not all weddings are the same. In fact, the different the better! They have so much DIY stuff and beautiful pictures! The weddings are so original and fantastic. It really made me figure out what I not only wanted for MY wedding, but OUR wedding. It’s a day to combine two lives in love. That’s it. There are no rules past that. It’s all about you two.

Also, you aren’t alone! I don’t have much money for my wedding, and both my parents just got pretty ill. So, my planning is haywire right now. Also, if you want your actual ceremony to be small, that’s your choice and there’s nothing wrong with that! I plan on having an intimate wedding myself, and might have to do the same thing as what these forum girls ripped on. Life is complicated and wedding planning is HARD! If you want the actual day you get married to be relaxed, or for whatever reason you want to get married first, THEN have a reception or even another ceremony, DO IT. It’s your day. It’s about you and your spouse. It’s about love, family, friendship and celebrating all the beautiful relationships one gets to have in life. That’s what it should be about. Nothing else. If people want to complain, poke and make it about them- they will probably be invited to a lot less weddings.