Wedding Beauty Must Haves

The beauty products I can't live without

The wedding bug has bitten me big time and we are less than a month away. But with wedding planning comes an unbelievable amount of events that require the bride to look her best. I have a few go-to beauty products that I can't live without for all of those being wedding moments.

My list of pre-wedding beauty products

MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil- Blue eyeliner has been my favorite eyewear accessory for years, but since discovering the MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Prussian, I don't even go to the gym without it. It's great for blue or hazel eyes, without looking overly exotic. I buy it in bulk.

2" Barrel Curling Iron - Wedding planning means running around like a crazy person, and sometimes not having enough time to schedule a blow out. That's where a large barrel curling iron comes in. Even if you don't have time to wash your hair, just use this baby to create loose waves and body in just a few minutes.

Living Proof Shampoo - When it comes to hair, I am the snob of all snobs. I've tried a lot of different products, but have never found shampoo as amazing as Living Proof Restore Shampoo. It makes my hair soft and feel super clean, but it is lightweight enough that I still get tons of body. It's a winner.

living-proof-restore-shampoo-conditioner-repair-cream
living-proof-restore-shampoo-conditioner-repair-cream

Nalgene Bottle - I chug water during the day faster than my morning coffee. Filling up a Nalgene with water throughout the day is a phenomenal way to stay hydrated, which is a famously effective beauty tip. And because I am trying to take this water cleanse a step further, I fill it up with my new favorite drink, a lemon-based elixir courtesy of Joey Devick Fitness.

Hair Oil - After my loyal, and apparently distracted, hairdresser lobbed a few too many inches off my wedding locks, I started dousing my ends with Indian Hemp & Tamanu Grow & Strengthen Serum (not to mention popping prenatal vitamins and biotin like they are candy). My hair is looking gooood.

NBH-11135-1
NBH-11135-1

Archipelago Lotion - I can't go a day without slathering on the Archipelago Oat Lotion #12. It's the best and smells incredible, without being overbearing. What is better than soft skin that smells good? Nuttin.

Hairspray - Showers, engagement parties and wedding events tend to be hours-long affairs, so your hairdo has got to last. But hair's gotta move too! That's why I am obsessed with the Sebastian Professional Shaper Medium Hold hairspray is the best. And trust me, I've tested my fair share.

Burts Bees Eye Cream - After spending bookoo bucks on eye cream, my crazy old neighbor (literally, this lady was a loon, but she had incredible skin), clued me in on a little secret. One of the best eye creams to relieve puffy eyes and unsightly lines is from your local CVS. The Burts Bees Eye Cream is outstanding, and available at a fraction of the price of luxury brands.

Deep Conditioner - I keep deep conditioners on rotation—told you I had a hair obsession. But one that stands out among the rest is Pureology Perfect 4 Platinum Reconstruct Repair Masque. Use it at least once a week to maximize the results.

Colorstay Lipstick - Okay, this one is the killer. Lipstick is not good unless it lasts. I have one favorite that has worked for me for years. It's the Revlon Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor in Always Sienna. It's a great color for every occasion and it really lasts. Like when I was in Vegas for my Bachelorette Party 1.0, even though I was hungover as could be, I woke up with a perfect shade of lipstick. Evidence below.

IMG_5688
IMG_5688

Enjoy!

Q&A with Vow to Be Chic

Vow to be Chic is making it easier than every for bridesmaids to look good, without breaking the bank.

Being a bridesmaid is expensive. In fact, the average bridesmaid spends $1,695 per wedding—and oftentimes that number is even higher. Outside of the destination bachelorette parties that are taking over bridal parties across the country, the bridesmaid dress is oftentimes the priciest obligation of bridesmaid culture. It also feels the most wasteful because it only gets worn once (don't tell us otherwise, we all know the truth).

This is where Kelsey Doorey, CEO of Vow to be Chic comes in. After being a bridesmaid multiple times, she concluded that there needed to be a more affordable solution for brides and bridesmaids. She started Vow to be Chic, a dress-rental company meant to save 'maids money, while helping them to look great.

Brides and bridesmaids alike can choose dresses online, try them on at home, choosing between two sizes. Then, the week before the event, the dress arrives, complete with a return envelope. Wear it, love it, and then send it back. Her business is entirely online, making purchasing and choosing the right dresses easy, with affordable prices starting at just $50.00.

We think she's a genius, so we chatted with CEO Kelsey Doorey about all things wedding, business and bridesmaid.

Q&A with Vow to be Chic CEO Kelsey Doorey

Kelsey Doorey 3
Kelsey Doorey 3

BU: How many times have you been a bridesmaid?

KD: I've been a bridesmaid 6 times. I know that's a lot, but it was those experiences that inspired my company! I have 6 awesome friends to thank for helping me find my dream job.

Tell us about Vow to Be Chic. As someone who has been a bridesmaid 12 times, this concept sounds amazing!

Vow To Be Chic rents designer bridesmaid dresses and and Little White Dresses to brides in search of dresses for special events such as engagement parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, and receptions. By renting a dress they know they'll only wear once, brides and bridesmaids can save 50% - 88% on dresses from designers that they know and love. Men have been renting tuxes for years; doesn't it make sense that ladies have the rental option too?

Totally! I'm also getting married in a month, so totally can relate to wanting/needing LWD to wear for special events, not to mention that this would be a great option for my nine bridesmaids. So what inspired you to start the brand?

It was probably somewhere around my 5th bridesmaid dress when I realized that there must be a better way. It's a great honor to be a bridesmaid in someone's wedding but it was such an expensive, time consuming process that I decided it was time to make the bridesmaid dress experience more affordable, convenient and fun. I went shopping with a friend for his tux, and I had an epiphany that rental was the way to go. Not only can women now wear gorgeous designer dresses, they can save money while doing so!

It sounds like you are a pretty experienced in the art of standing up beside a bride in her wedding. What is the most stressful part of being a bridesmaid?

Being a bridesmaid is an honor, but it's an expensive one. You don't want to tell your friend whom you love dearly that it all costs too much. These days you're often paying for a plane ticket to the wedding, the bachelorette party, and to go shopping for dresses. Then, there's all the gifts, showers, and parties. We haven't even touched on your hair, nails, and finally the dress (a dress that you will never wear again but typically spend $300 to purchase and an extra $100 to alter). You don't want to tell you friend that you can't afford to stand with her during this incredibly special time in her life. Instead, millions of young women in their 20s just dig themselves into a financial hole trying to make it work.

Which is where you come in. So, how does Vow to be Chic help alleviate that stress?

First, we cut the price of the dress itself by giving bridesmaids the option of renting. Second, because we are an e-commerce platform, we eliminate the need for women to spend time and money traveling across the country to meet in one place and shop together. Our new tool, the Bridal Suite, allows our customers to shop collaboratively online. They can chat back and forth, make recommendations to the bride, and vote on their favorite styles in an organized fashion from the comfort of their own homes. Third, bridesmaids don't have to pay additional money for alterations. When bridesmaids get ready to order their dress, we send them a preview box with their dress in 2 sizes, so that they can try them on in their home. They select the best fit and send them back. Then, we send them the correct size one week prior to the wedding. Finally, after the wedding, they just ship it back in the pre-paid envelope. Don't worry about cleaning it or anything else. Just send it back and enjoy the extra space in your closet (and wallet).

What are the top styles we can expect to see this wedding season?

Convertible dresses are incredibly hot right now, and they create some beautiful, romantic, and unique looks. They're perfect for when you're dressing a party of women with very different body types, or you want each girl to look similar but with her own style. Women can accentuate and camouflage as they feel comfortable. Ultimately, you want your bridesmaids to feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident. That's what will make them look stunning in pictures.

What advice do you have for bridesmaids out there?

On the wedding day, it's the bride's big day so try to be there for her by doing what you can to make the day run smoothly and ensure she has the best day possible. Think about what she likes and her vision for the big day. She will hopefully do the same for you one day! Before the wedding, don't be afraid to get creative and think outside of the box. There are many resources at your disposal (Pinterest is incredible). Whether it is renting or another creative option, remember that there is a way to make your friend's experience amazing without exhausting your time and money. Our bridal stylists can tell you about all of the rental options available to women. Did you know that you can rent diamond jewelry for the big day, and it's affordable? That's one of my personal favorites!

Thanks, Kelsey! Check out Vow to be Chic for an updated selection of styles and a lengthy list of incredible designers.

alvina_valenta_zara_vow_to_be_chic_charcoal.jpg
alvina_valenta_zara_vow_to_be_chic_charcoal.jpg
alvina_valenta_chelsea_vow_to_be_chic_petal
alvina_valenta_chelsea_vow_to_be_chic_petal
swoon_corsica_vow_to_be_chic_midnight
swoon_corsica_vow_to_be_chic_midnight
theia_rose_vow_to_be_chic_white
theia_rose_vow_to_be_chic_white

The Wedding Hashtag

The "Wedding Hashtag" adds a whole new element to wedding planning. 

If you've planned a wedding in the last year, then you have been faced with the incredibly daunting task of coming up with a wedding hashtag. This is supposed to be a clever way of capturing your "brand" as a couple on Instagram, and to make it so all of the fun photos from the wedding are organized in one place on social media.

This is something you should start thinking about on a first date.

I'm only kind of kidding. The hashtag phenomenon is an element of wedding planning that does require a little extra time to think through and we had to move fast. My fiancé and I were thinking about adding the old hashtag to the wedding koozies we were ordering for the out of town guests (obviously we needed koozies). So I started surveying people to get an idea of what this hashtag should say.

We got some pretty stellar responses.

First, from my bridesmaids came some pretty fantastic ones. A lot of my friends call me Devo, so we were off to a good start when Shannon rolled in with these two:

#DevotedtoLogan

#DevotedtoDan

I liked them a lot, but I didn't want the hashtag to be totally about how obsessed I have been with this man for so many years. Plus, I wasn't sure how many people would make the DEVO connection.

Then, my future sister in law came in with a bunch. All very cute.

#Ashley+DannySittingInATree

#AshleyandDan4Eva

#BecomingMrsLogan

#LoganPartyof2

#Dan&Ashley2015

#DevickLoganWedding

#SeeYouAtMyBabyShower2016 (obviously this was a favorite).

We were getting a little bit closer, with cute ideas like #LoganPartyof2 (could easily add on numbers as our family grows, which is so super cute). I also liked #Dan&Ashley2015, but wasn't sure if the ampersand translated to Facebook (it doesn't) and spelling it out became too long.

A few of my favorite options that I brought to the table were #BarclayGetsaDaddy in honor of my sweet bastard puppy getting a man in his life. And then, I also liked #MeetTheLogans2015. It was simple, easy to remember, and available.

Then, my sister Lindsay stirred up a lot of activity with #DashBash2015. I liked the combination of Dan and Ash and creating a rhyme. This is big for me! But I couldn't shake the Kardashian similarities, so we had to move on.

My other sister Samantha pulled up the rear with another supreme option: #2015yearslater It was meant to be a tribute to the fact that Dan and I have known each other for so long AND we were getting married in 2015, like a Wheel of Fortune "Before and After." But no one got it but me. Bummer.

It was time to narrow it down to a few viable contenders. Here are the final five. What is your vote?

#BarclayGetsADaddy

#MeetTheLogans2015

#2015yearslater

#DevicktoLogan2015

#DanAndAsh2015

The Engagement Photo

My love hate relationship with engagement photos

One of the requisite tasks of planning a wedding is taking engagement photos. Sometimes they are perfectly Pinterest-y, and other times they are so posed and cheesy that you just want to put the groom out of his misery. And then there are the ones that make you want to cry because they so warmly capture the love between a couple. Those are the kind every newly engaged duo strives for.

Until I started planning a wedding, I thought that engagement pics were a couple's way of showing off to the world that they had crossed the threshold of wedded bliss, like a big peace-out to the single life. So I hesitated pretty greatly when it came time to have some taken of my own. Turns out, they are more valuable than you think.

The first benefit of snapping  engagement pics is they are a great way to vet the wedding photographer if you haven't worked together before. Most of the time the same photog will shoot the engagement photos and the wedding, so it's a simple way for everyone to get to know each other. And it helps figure out of the style of the photos you want to get for your wedding. It's a pretty big win win.

Beyond the experience itself, engagement photos are also a fantastic accessory to accompany all of the other wedding-related events. They work wonders for shower and rehearsal dinner decor, not to mention all of the slideshows. And if you're desperate for a gift, they are perfect framed up for family distribution.

Anyway, when it was my turn to cross into this new universe, I asked my photographer to do a teeny tiny engagement shoot for me and my fiancé. What is more fitting than outdoor engagement pictures in the fall? The trouble was convincing my love that this was a good idea—and dropping the little bomb that my dog was going to be joining us. It was one of the first moments where I truly realized this guy would do anything for me—even if it meant cuddling with a white fluffy dog, on camera, in the middle of Lincoln Park.

During the shoot, I remember our photographer, the darling Maggie Rife Ponce, asking us to walk toward her down the promenade and Dan's eyes telling me that he wanted to kill me while sweet Barclay trotted beside us. We were holding back laughter and razzing each other back and forth, and the humor of it all was very eloquently captured in the pictures. It's a memory that we share and it's a morning I will never forget.

I'm now a reformed lover of the engagement photo. So, even though I was sworn to secrecy, I will share just a few of my favorites from our engagement shoot, and how I titled each photo. All photos credit to Rife Ponce Photography.

_MG_2754
_MG_2754
_MG_2771
_MG_2771
IMG_3319
IMG_3319

Getting your body ready for wedding season

Q&A with fitness and health professional Joey Devick

There is nothing more daunting than feeling like you have to lose a bunch of weight before being in or attending a wedding. Trust me, I know from experience as I am in the throws of a marginally successful wedding diet right now. It can be frustrating! Since my cousin is an expert on the topic, and a seriously inspirational person, I asked for her help clarifying some myths and to give our readers some helpful tips for getting your mind (and body) ready for wedding season. She more than delivered. The following Q&A includes everything from a magic drink recipe, to exercise and diet tips to kick off a healthier version of you.

me4
me4

Name:

Joey Devick

Company:

Joey Devick Fitness - You.Only Better Connected

About:

Joey is a fitness and health professional who is also a Beachbody coach. She offers free consultations to find the perfect program and nutrition guidance for individuals located literally anywhere. "My goal is to help end the trend of this country’s nutritional and physical inadequacies," says Devick. "Everyone always says tomorrow….and too many tomorrows never come along. The magic pill doesn’t exist.  It’s you, me, hard work, and proper nutrition."

Mantra:

If people change their outlook and realize that one needs to fuel their body in the correct way to make it function optimally, they will be amazed at how quickly their health will improve and their body will change.

Bridesmaid Tally:

One

Biggest Bridesmaid Honor:

 Being asked….what an honor and a truly meaningful representation of who you are in the bride’s life.

Q&A: How to get your body ready for wedding season

Say you have just been asked to be in a wedding that is 9 months away. When should you start trying to get fit? JD: Right away! But not on a diet. One needs to fuel her body right and exercise to see long term results. I have made the mistake….a big event, you crash diet, and as soon as it’s over….you resort back to your old ways. If you are putting the effort in to a change, why not seek permanent change in the way you think about fitness, food and nutrition?

Women these days are trying to balance a lot - and you’re a perfect example of this! What is a reasonable regimen for working women to stay in shape? Honestly, it’s a daily occurrence – move everyday. That doesn’t necessarily mean hit the gym or your home workout program, but it means taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It means parking in the furthest spot possible from the door. Carrying your own groceries, and returning the cart.  It all adds up. On the other hand, if you are in serious crunch time – that means different dedication – and time spent intentionally working out. Finally, all the magic happens in the kitchen - well, 80%, anyway. There is no way you can out exercise a bad diet. You will not see change if you don’t change what you do in the kitchen.

What is your secret for staying fit as a busy working mom?  It has to become a habit - you know the old saying, it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. If you decide to start a nutrition and fitness routine, keep at it - even if it’s 20 or 30 minutes a day.  Build up to it, do something you enjoy that gets you moving.  Let’s face it, the only successful workout routine for you, is the one you will do!

What is the one unbreakable rule of dieting? You HAVE to EAT!!!  When you think “If I eat less, I will lose weight” - yes, you might in the beginning, but you cannot sustain that type of lifestyle. Your body will slow its metabolism and hold on to any calorie you put into it, because it thinks it might be the last calorie it’s going to get. So instead of processing, digesting, and utilizing it for energy - it stores it long term, eventually as fat. This is a non negotiable. You have to reprogram the way you think about food - the proper food, in the right combinations, at the right times.

Bridesmaids and brides are always super concerned about their arms. Do you have a favorite go-to arm workout? Shoulders, biceps and triceps are my favorite to work, but I can’t choose just one favorite! You can’t go wrong with push ups with wide hands to focus on that strapless dress area under the arms. Side lateral raises and upright rows for those shoulders, overhead military press to top it off….and bicep curls, chair dips…I could go on and on….

What are some things to stay away from in the last 60 days gearing up to a wedding? First and foremost, focus on how you feel. What do you REALLY want to change between now and the wedding? Your arms? See above. The number on the scale? Then there is definitely a list of things to avoid for the next two months (or forever).

Salt - can you say instant water retention and bloating?

Alcohol - sorry...but alcohol equates to belly fat.

Sugar - its a vicious cycle of supply and demand, you supply your body with it, your body demands more….

White enriched carbs i.e. white bread, rice, crackers, cereal, pasta = belly fat.

While you are avoiding those things, focus on these:

Increase your fiber intake, your roughage, get your digestive system functioning properly and regularly.

INCREASE your water intake!

Thanks, Joey!

Joey's philosophy is that any habit can be made or broken in 21 days, which is why she came up with the 21 day challenge. Her clients have been successfully losing 5-15 pounds in just 21 days—and they are keeping it off by changing their views of food and fitness, while implementing changes that can easily be applied long term. Join her on her next 21 day challenge that starts Monday March 2nd.  Connect with her on Facebook, via her website to join the fun.

The Rehearsal Dinner Slideshow

How to make a rehearsal dinner slideshow

When you're a bridesmaid, you have to fulfill a crazy variety of unexpected roles, and unfortunately, tech expert is oftentimes one of them. Enter the rehearsal dinner slideshow. Almost every wedding has one—it's an epic aspect of the wedding event. This slideshow will showcase the bride and groom as children, and then gradually portray a visual timeline of their lives together as a couple. It usually has cleverly coordinated musical selections that allow the guests to get lost in the moment and get to know the background and love story of the bride and groom. And they are a fantastic opportunity to garner a few laughs in a comfortable and secure environment.

Summer 2011 - DMB John Shan Wedding 176
Summer 2011 - DMB John Shan Wedding 176

Rehearsal dinner slideshows are a beautiful thing.

But I can't tell you the number of times I have been at a rehearsal dinner, ready to start the stupid slideshow of bride and groom baby pics that I have so arduously collected and organized chronologically from their day of birth until basically five minutes before the dinner starts, when something goes wrong. The sound won't work. The projector won't properly display the image. Or worse. There is no projector.

I love these slideshows. I get super weepy both making them and then watching the final versions in all of their glory. But there is nothing more disheartening than being ready to show off the final product and having something go wrong. To prevent this feeling, be prepared.

Here is how to make a foolproof rehearsal dinner slideshow:

1. Start by using a reliable program. Windows Movie Maker comes standard with most PC operating systems and it's surprisingly efficient. For Mac users, iMovie isn't too shabby either. But if you have an Adobe subscription, I always opt for Adobe Premier, which works on both Mac and PC. It's a gem. Regardless of which program you choose, you can add in music, transitions and adjust the timing for each photo to really tell a meaningful story.

2. Preview your work. Sure, you've spent hours on this darn thing. But once it's finished, take a quick break, pour a glass of wine and try to watch it like it was the first time. Then you can check for sound errors, misplaced transitions and anything else that has gone awry. Make the changes, then repeat until it's perfect.

3. Backup everything. Yes, the final product is backed up on your laptop, but still burn it to a CD and bring that with you as well. This allows you to use someone else's laptop in the event that yours does not have the proper hook up for the projector (no matter how many times you confirm in advance, this is a real possibility). Then, just in case the backup laptop doesn't have a disc drive, have it uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube so you have another playback option.

4. Confirm projector details. Projectors are not something that most venues update as frequently as an iPhone. So odds are, your newly purchased MacBook Air doesn't have the right three-prong hookup for the 1999 projector. Call in advance and find out what you're working with. Then buy every possible outlet just in case someone is lying. You won't regret it.

5. Bring backup speakers. A projector system does not always include sound. So pack up a set of speakers that can be plugged into your laptop to play the music. A slideshow in silence without music is very awkward. Trust me.

But the most important thing to remember is to roll with the punches if something goes wrong. Panicking, crying and making a scene isn't going to take you very far—in fact, it will just make everyone uncomfortable. Work with what you have and then if you have to amend the slideshow after the fact, make the changes and send a copy for the bride and groom to enjoy once they get back from honeymooning. That will make all of the difference.

When it's Okay To Say No to Being a Bridesmaid

Sometimes you just have to say no to being a bridesmaid.

So you've been asked to be a bridesmaid, and while you are so honored, the prospect of participating is so daunting that you want to run for the hills.

The truth is that there is no shortage of extreme reasons that would prevent you from being a bridesmaid, but most of the time it just comes down to overall logistics and economics. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with turning down the invitation, but it's a decision that should be handled with a great deal of thought and care. The last thing you want is the fear of spending $250 on a bridesmaid dress to be the reason why a friendship comes to an end.

Most brides will understand and realize that there is nothing gratifying about having someone participate in the festivities who doesn't want, or can't afford, to be there. The key is to respectfully decline, while outlining the reasons why and expressing your sincerest regret. Offer to participate in another capacity or to help with other aspects of the wedding. Unless, of course, you hate the bitch. Then just so "No, thank you."

10 Top Reasons to Say No to Being a Bridesmaid

  • You're already bridesmaid in two other weddings on the same day, a la 27 Dresses
  • It's a destination wedding and you're not allowed to leave the country due to a parole violation
  • You cannot afford a bridesmaid dress because the downpayment for your quintuplets' college tuition is due the same day you are supposed to buy the dress
  • You are getting married the weekend prior and will be on your non-refundable honeymoon
  • You are pregnant and the wedding is on your due date
  • The bride is your mortal enemy
  • You are having an affair with the groom
  • Your grandparents are celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary on the same day
  • You are being deployed to the military
  • The bride is actually in love with the best man

What reasons have you given for saying no to being a bridesmaid?


Ingredients for the Perfect Wedding

The elements that make weddings shine are mostly intangible. 

The weddings I've attended that were not only fun, but totally memorable, always have a certain je ne sais quoi, It's something that wedding planners would make a fortune if they could just bottle it and sell it.  And when it comes to wedding planning,  brides tend to strive for greatness. For months — sometimes years — they consider each detail and how it will impact the wedding ceremony and reception, and represent the spirit of the couple. While candles, beautiful flowers and spot lighting certainly add to the ambiance of the room, the truth is, it's the intangible ingredients, like the right blend of people and the tone of the music, that makes a wedding truly shine.

The Perfect Wedding Ingredients

1. Love in the room : The actual feeling of love in the room comes from the couple surrounding themselves with people who truly care about their happiness. Everyone is smiling. You can hear a pin drop during the speeches and the guests will cheer for the bride and groom during their first dance and request constant kissing through the clanking of glasses during dinner. It's a magical feeling that cannot be disrupted or interrupted by the biggest of wedding hiccups.

2. Intimate Guest List: Even with a massive guest list, the wedding won't feel huge with the right combination of people. The key is to invite those who want to be there to show their support and enthusiasm for the unity of the couple. That starts by asking the right individuals to attend. If you dig too deep into the extended circles, then you are more likely to end up with people who could negatively impact the vibe of the celebration.

3. Music: Whether with a DJ or band, good music will get people moving, having fun and breaking a sweat. Couples that put time into song selection will certainly see the reward of their efforts through a packed dance floor. Think about including uplifting songs that will appeal to the attendees. There is nothing more fun than dancing all night with the newlyweds to make people never want to leave the party!

IMG_1235
IMG_1235

4. Gracious Bride and Groom: It's the bride and groom who actually set the tone for the evening, by demonstrating their appreciation for both each other and for their families. It shows for miles when the bride and groom is grateful for the love and support they have received along the way. After all, people love a good fairy tale.

5. Enthusiastic Wedding Party: A smiling and happy wedding party can take a wedding from an 8 to an 11 in just a few seconds. They serve as the instruments of the bride and groom and should represent accordingly. From being prepared with their speeches, to leading the charge to the dance floor, a good wedding party is key. Choose wisely!

The Bridesmaid Budget

Balancing the Bridesmaid Budget, Duties and Your Checkbook

When you're asked to be a bridesmaid, there are more things to prepare for than just showers and bachelorette parties, and it starts with your pocketbook. It's no secret that being a bridesmaid requires a significant financial commitment, but the good news is that in most cases you will have time to budget accordingly. The bad news is that the costs add up fast.

If you're standing up in a wedding as a bridesmaid, it's likely that you will spend a minimum of $600, and that is if the wedding is local, the dress is inexpensive and you don't have to throw a shower. In most cases, that number is going to double. So if you're a serial bridesmaid like me, then the overall amount you spend on weddings can quickly become astronomical. Speaking from experience,  I have found a few ways of keeping the costs to a minimum.

Lindsay's Old Lady Shower 003
Lindsay's Old Lady Shower 003

The showergifts are something that are totally unavoidable. You have to bring one to each shower you attend, even if the bride tells you not to (show up empty-handed? No way.). But here is a little secret that no one told you about: The bridal registry is mostly for the parents of the bride and groom and their friends or relatives. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't buy off the registry, it just means that you don't have to go nuts. Think about splitting a gift with another bridesmaid so that you don't spend more than $50.00. And if you are going to more than one shower, then spend a little less than that. Leave the big stuff to the grown ups. Budget range:$50-$100.

Lindsay's Old Lady Shower 010
Lindsay's Old Lady Shower 010

Planning a bridal shower can have some pretty serious cost implications, but there are ways to plan a great event on the cheap. Start by delegating. Find reliable people who are looking to play a more active role in the planning process and have them bring a dish to keep food costs to a minimum. Beyond that, homemade decorations are a great way to save on the dough, and Pinterest is a great place to look for inspiration. Think about using old jars of spaghetti sauce as vases (easily glam'd up with ribbon) and making your own favors. Reducing those costs alone can make all of the difference. However, even with helpers and a little DIY, still expect to spend a little cash. Budget range:$100-$500.

The bemoaned bridesmaid dresses can certainly come with high price tags, and it is the one item that you can't avoid purchasing. Follow the bride's lead and unless she's trying to make you spend $400+ on a dress, just keep your mouth shut. Yes, I know, it's a lot of money, but if you're really concerned about it, get involved in the process right away and start suggesting budget alternatives. In this day and age, however, anything goes. Some brides are choosing really cost-effective options for their bridesmaids, or allowing them to pick their own dresses based on a color swatch. Bridesmaid dresses are rarely ideal, but go ahead and make the most of them, and don't forget to account for shoes and accessories. Budget range: $100-$400.

Lindsay's Bachelorette 055
Lindsay's Bachelorette 055

The Bachelorette Party is one of the most fun parts of being a bridesmaid, but it can also be one of the most expensive. Depending on the festivities, it can get upwards $500 for just one night! But there are ways to make sure that doesn't happen. To start, split the planning duties with as many people as possible. And at a shower, it's totally acceptable to ask the attendees to chip in for the expenses — but make sure that the bride doesn't have to pay for anything. To keep things on the cheap, start the party at someone's house where everyone can bring a dish and their own drinks. That will take care of a good chunk of change. Then, hit the town from there. Warning: traveling bachelorette parties can get pricey, so treat it like a vacation when you go! Budget range: $100-$500

The Wedding Gift is a perfect opportunity to flex your DIY muscle and get the bride and groom something meaningful and homemade. Remember, by the time the wedding comes along, the registry will be pretty much cleaned out, and besides, it's for the old people anyways. So use this as your chance to do something meaningful that doesn't tout the same price tag. Some fun ideas can be found here. Other ideas include an engraved frame, a photo montage from the wedding or something fun for their honeymoon, like an excursion, a bottle of champaign or appetizers at the hotel restaurant. These are thoughtful ideas that can save you some money. In general, the rule for wedding gifts is to cover the cost of your plate (estimated at about $100/person). When you're part of the wedding party, a different set of rules applies. Budget range: $50-$150.

As it stands, the all-in costs of being in a wedding can range pretty substantially. Try to remember through it all that you are doing this for one of your closest friends or a family member. But if money is really tight, there is nothing wrong with filling the bride in on your situation, or politely declining the honor of being a bridesmaid. A good friend will totally understand.

B is for Bestie...and Bridesmaid

When You're a Bridesmaid, Being a Good Friend Matters.

The countdown is on for my BFF's wedding, which will bring my Maid of Honor duties for this wedding season to a close. I have been "on duty" for well over a year, standing beside two of my best friends, one this past November, and now another coming up Memorial Day weekend.

It's been a great ride.

When your two best friends from different walks of life get married in the same year, you learn much more than how to make bouquets out of ribbon and why peonies are such a big freaking deal. You learn about the gritty meaning of what it takes to be a good friend.

That's because as a bridesmaid, all of the elements of your friendship with the bride come together in fast-forward mode. You have to remember how you fight, how you make up, how to listen and, most importantly, how to think about what your friend wants, rather than what you want (queue strippers vs. karaoke singing at the bachelorette party). This is the time when the bride really needs you - not just to throw parties and be a sounding board for all things wedding, but to help her actually get the guts to walk down the aisle, looking better than ever, while cracking up to your inside jokes until she says "I do."

My friend who is getting married in a few weeks has been one of my dearest friends since we were five or six years old. We grew up together and have seen one another at our very best — and our very worst. Our fights border on sisterly just as much as our laughs. So when she got engaged, she genuinely wanted to share each moment with me while she plotted through the unchartered territory of wedding planning. And it was an honor to be there — for real. Periodically, just to let her know that I was totally in it with her, I would look at her and say, "We're getting married!" And we'd laugh.

Somewhere between the 3rd and 4th dress fitting, the second bridal shower and receiving the invitation she'd explained in such detail over the phone in the mail, I understood something that maybe slipped my mind over years of friendship: I was her person. And this was much more than just being a bridesmaid — it's about celebrating the culmination of years of friendship.

When you're a bridesmaid, you can finally show your friends just how important they are to you, and that's a kind of love and support that is so sincere, it is reciprocated 10-fold in plain old appreciation. Knowing that friendship is what being a bridesmaid is actually all about, makes it a breeze to show up for each event and be the best friend I can be.  I know there is a lot of folklore about the role of the bridesmaid, mostly tied to bridezillas and unrealistic (and expensive!) demands. Forget all that.

It's really just about being a good friend.