The Art of Wedding Dress Shopping Supervision

When wedding dress shopping with your best friend, make sure to remember your duties as a bridesmaid.

Shopping for wedding dresses is something every girl dreams about. It's the toile, the lace, the standing on a literal pedestal in front of 20 full-length mirrors and, of course, the champagne. The process is truly magical - for the bride.

But when wedding dress shopping becomes a spectator sport, the process is also bout hustling to different shops in the snow, the high-pitched squeals of delight from the saleswomen and the oftentimes unwanted feedback from the peanut gallery of overeager cousins, aunts and bridesmaids.

See, when you're a bridesmaid, one of the chief duties is to participate in the selection of the bride's wedding dress. It really is super fun, but until she finds The One, the bride may try on just one dress or she may try on 200. It can be as daunting as finding the groom in the first place.

So when it comes time to hit the shops on the Mag Mile or flying to NYC to say yes to the dress at Kleinfeld's, all bridesmaids coming along for the ride have to be prepared.

Here are some tips on how to master the art of wedding dress shopping supervision:

1. Remember that you're not the bride. That's right, your friend or sister is the bride, and not you. So her style is probably going to vary from your own. Keep that in mind before you open your mouth. In fact….

2. Wait for her reaction first. Before you say a word of yay or nay, unless she is about to make a truly undeniably huge mistake, keep your mouth shut until you know if she likes the dress or not. Especially with the first few dresses that come out. Listening will help you understand what she is looking for - and keep your own taste out of the picture.

3. Manage the room. Especially if you're the Maid of Honor, you have cart blanche to tell the other bridesmaids to STFU if you have to. Or to politely say to the group, "I would love to hear what Mandy thinks about this option" and take it from there. The bride is likely trying to manage a lot of people - give her a hand if you need to.

4. Take pictures (even when it's against the rules). Fine, maybe it's unethical. But if your BFF is about to drop a gr$nd on a dress, she is going to want to have some photos for comparison purposes or to gaze at until the order comes in. A lot of show won't allow photography, but since I am rebellious in the face of love, I pretend to text and snap a photo. Sorry I'm not sorry.

5. Don't allow the bride to be bulldozed by the salespeople. The people at bridal salons mean the best - there is absolutely no doubt about that. But they are also trying to get in a smoke break before their next client - the sooner they get you to say yes, the sooner they can go do other things. So if your bride isn't happy with the cut or the color or the beading and is trying to be polite, it's perfectly acceptable to step in. Here's how: "Mandy, I think I'm hearing that you don't like it. Am I right?" Look right at the bride, ignore the sales people. Your friend nods and says, "I don't like it." That's when you look at the sales person. Just stare, you don't have to say a word. They will bring out another option.

6. Be prepared to gush really, really hard. If your bride finds the dress and it's The One get ready to squeal, scream, celebrate and tear up. This is a huge moment! So no matter how many dresses you've seen, when the bride says she's found it, go absolutely freaking nuts.

And ladies? Good luck out there.


Bridesmaids 101

Everything you need to know about being a bridesmaid.

Since starting my bridesmaids project, several brides have come to me asking what they should expect from their wedding party. These are mostly brides who maybe haven't been a bridesmaid before or they are the very-first bride within a group of friends. It's never easy asking for things from your gal pals, so I help them manage expectations.

I also hear from first-time bridesmaids, who are wondering what their responsibilities are for the big day. I always sort of giggle at that...because the expectations don't just last a day - they last throughout the entire engagement process. So I help them too.

It got me thinking that maybe not everyone is familiar with the duties that accompany bridesmaid-dom, so I put together a little overview of what you can expect and what should be expected of you. Brides/Bridesmaids: hope this helps.

Bridesmaid 101:

1. The Dress:You can't walk down the aisle naked. Anyway you slice it, attire will be involved. Granted, it could be a tuxedo,a flapper dress, a ball gown or something simple and pretty. Either way, expect to spend up to $350 on this. Anticipate that it might not be your favorite dress. But instead of thinking how you can only wear in once, embrace the fact that you will never have to wear it again. See? It's all about the power of positive thinking.

2. Bridal Shower: While you might not have to throw the shower, make absolutely certain that someone is taking the reigns. If not, sorry sister, it's on you. But don't worry, showers can be simple and inexpensive if you get creative. And you do have to get the bride a gift. If you are invited to more than one shower, bring something small to each shower so you don't show up empty-handed. The bride will argue with you about this. But if you don't, you will be embarrassed while presents are opened. Trust me.

3. Bachelorette Party: The Maid of Honor will usually take the reins on the big bachelorette party, utilizing the help of the bridesmaids. Work together to create a fun and stress-free night for the bride. Usually gifts are also required - but cute negligee can be purchased on the cheap at Le Target and other places. Don't go overboard if you can't afford it. Her husband-to-be will never know the difference.

4. Be responsive to the bride: This is like way important. If the bride sends an email, respond. If you are single, down on your luck and exhausted of talking about weddings, then FAKE IT. Yep. Sorry, I am not advising you to be totally inauthentic, but wedding planning is no joke. Be there for your bride. Respond to emails. Be engaged in the process (see what I did there?!).

5. Do not create stress: Your job as a bridesmaid is to make the day less stressful for the bride. If the twinkle lights at the rehearsal dinner aren't plugged in, make sure it gets done. If the bride has lipstick on her teeth, get it off. Pay attention to what she needs until she says otherwise. This also includes making sure she doesn't look foolish - grab her strapless dress and hoist it up if her bra straps are showing. ET CETERA.

6. Lay down the hammer: So, the reason why you're a bridesmaid is because you are a very important part of the bride's life. So if your bride is being a pain in the ass or seems to be unreasonable, go ahead and let her know. Obviously, within reason, but don't underestimate the power of humor. Bridezillas are a fact of wedding folklore so when your bestie gets carried away, steer her back in the right direction. Gently.

7. Have like the best time ever:Approach every event with a fun attitude and enthusiasm. Listen, the bride doesn't need to know that you are hungover as all hell at her bridal shower. That's why there are multiple 'maids. Tell them that you feel like garbage, but never make the bride feel burdened by your overindulgence in the sauce - or anything else that might be ailing you. Your problems will take a back seat during big events. Embrace that and be a good friend and listener.

8. It all comes full circle: This is possibly the most important thing to remember. Being a bridesmaid is an American tradition. Those of us who have been bridesmaids what feels like 100 times, may not want to put their friends through the process when it's their turn to tie the knot. I say, "NUH UH." Make them do it, so you can have the showers, fun and big smiles. Plus, why not take advantage of a little pay back time?!

As always, questions, comments and feedback are welcomed.

A Texas Wedding in the Fall

The perfect fall wedding.

A successful wedding is almost always defined by the amount of love present in the room. That means that the right people have been invited, the atmosphere is perfect and that the guests are enjoying themselves. And these are my favorite kind of weddings.

This past weekend I was part of a really special wedding where the love in the room was as thick as a down-home southern accent. My best friend from college married a true gentleman. Their happiness was visible - just as it should be - and they were surrounded by love the entire time.

Our bride-to-be was financially savvy and wanted to keep the extravagance to a minimum. What she saved in pennies, she made up for in details. The wedding took place at Weston Gardens in Ft. Worth, TX. It was a rustic, yet charming venue off of a country road in the middle of the Southwest.

The bridesmaids had the "Bridal Barn" to themselves and could get ready in private right on sight. With the cedar ceilings and vaulted ceilings, it was the perfect place for us to do our makeup and have a glass of champagne with the bride.

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Walking out, the venue was paved with split-level brick. Around every corner there was a little nook with a fountain or view of a creek or a sudden clearing surrounded by trees with golden leaves. This was the perfect setting for a fall wedding. The mothers, aunts and friends all brought little accents to make the decor unique and homey. Every detail mattered. The bride even tied lockets with pictures of the grandpas who couldn't attend around her bouquet.

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All of the desserts were homemade. The groom's mother brought traditional baklava and the bride's aunts made carrot cake from a family recipe. The display was warm and welcoming. The guests couldn't wait to dive in - and some literally did. (NOT  GUILTY).

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A beautiful touch that was extra special was a table of framed wedding photos from the bride and grooms relatives. Multiple generations of happy couples on their wedding days were displayed. The faces in the photos seemed to bless this union, welcoming Athan and Jessica to a long line of happy marriages on both sides. It was magical - and a totally simple, DIY way of enhancing the ambiance of the wedding.

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The clearings with golden trees made for the perfect backdrop for photos - which is one aspect of a fall wedding that everyone hopes for but not all are lucky enough to get. So on a perfect fall day in early November, a lovely couple joined two families together, in the presence of friends and loved ones, under a cloudless sky. Heaven.

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