Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Here is an excerpt from an email I sent to SmartyBride yesterday:

"I spent a lot of time looking at bridal magazines and websites this weekend for both wedding and journalism related research and I don't envy you. First of all, these magazines are heavy and expensive. Then, when you lug the damn thing home, you get as your reward to look and hundreds of pages of anemic looking brides and slutty bridesmaids. Now, obviously the women you choose as your maids are your friends and you want them to feel comfortable and attractive, but you also don't want them to distract from the ceremony which I feel is exactly what happens when you put a single young woman in a dress with a "V" shaped cut down to her navel, practically with both of her breasts hanging on for dear life in either side of what remains. Who are these people who have friends who can wear such things? I have the greatest friends in the world, but the only ones skinny enough to wear these dresses have no boobs and the ones with pleseant curves would look ridiculous and humiliating in such a thing. Also, all of the bridesmaids wear expressions on their faces that look like they just screwed all the groomsmen in the back of the caterer's van and are contemplating making a pass at the Father of the Bride. How come they never show a bridesmaid whose taught, nervous expression shows what she is really thinking, "Oh god I hope I don't have lettuce in my teeth from that Whopper I snuck en route to the reception, but I was so hungry and if I fuck up these photos not only will the bride never speak to me again, but she probably won't return my eyelash curler either."

Then, you get to look at photo spreads of "real weddings" where the intendeds have names like Thurston and Margot, beautiful destination weddings in Sweeden and Napa Valley. Everything looks picture perfect and there are plenty of good ideas to crib, except you can tell from the first glace that you are looking at an affair that cost eleventy million dollars. Can you say, "here comes the self-esteem crisis"? Also, the more I learn about just how much work is actually involved in planning a wedding, the more I think that instead of throwing rice, wedding guests should just throw Valium. Perhaps it's a good thing that I am hopelessly, terminally single."

Anyway, I went on from there to discuss bridesmaid dresses. For those of you in the know, I have these questions: What is a Trunk Show? As in, there is a bridal boutique in Bay Ridge having a Trunk Show by this designer I like, by appointment only. What will happen to me if I make an appointment and go to thing? Also, since I am the only (and therefore greatest) maid in attendence, it is not necessary I buy an "official bridesmaid" dress. Any formal option will do. If I buy someplace else, like Bloomingdales, say, will there be any disadvantages? Also, when I go dress shopping, what do I need to bring to ensure a successful outing? Since Smarty lives out of town, I figured I'd scout a few places first before dragging her down here to tour the duds with me. And for any New York ladies, can you reccomend a place in the city where I can get a nice dress without spending an arm and a leg, plus alterations and friendly service?

Please help me, I'm just a little girl with a simple dream: to be the greatest Maid of Honor the world has ever known.


AJWP said...

hello again, fellow frosting fiend!

you don't know this about me, but i've been married 3 times. we lezzies are good for this: i had 1 civil union, 1 holy union, and 1 legal marriage, all to my darling petunia. as far as i'm concerned, the only upside to institutionalized heterosexism is getting to carry 3 different bouquets! now that my credentials have been established, i have some MoH tips for you:

1. have you checked out aria at www.ariadress.com? they don't have a store in new york, but they have a try-on program where they'll ship you some samples (see the FAQ part of their site for details). aria is rad!
2. if you can buy off-the-rack, like at bloomingdales or wherever, you'll totally score. you'll have to get your dress tailored whether you buy it at a bridal shop or at a regular store, so you'll save money if you skip the inflated prices at bridal shops.
3. here's what to bring: the bra and undergarments you hope to wear with your dress, the shoes you hope to wear (or at least shoes of the same height), and your patience.

good luck!

Sheena said...

Ok. Wow.

You have already surpassed me in my zeal to be a maid of honor. But my bride had a very on-top-of-it mother and mother-in-law, so they really just needed me to show up and be not taller than the best man (which I succeeded in doing... but just barely).

As regards dresses. I say you should hit Bloomies, Century 21, and Daffy's early and often, looking for sales and deals. And, this might sound insane, but Jcrew has an intriguing, classic and simple formalwear dept. online that was having some sales last I checked (alas I have no use for silk faille at this moment!).

If you don't have to get a bridesmaid dress, DON'T. They are, by and large, cookie cutter things that you would never wear again. Invest a little extra in something you could wear again. Especially if the wedding isn't black tie.

I put my foot down on pastels with my bride (I am way too pale for lavender) and while the resulting dress was pretty in context, it will live in a closet in New Hampshire until we take it to a second hand store.

Also, you want to get something that will go with a pair of shoes that you find inoffensive (and therefore, re-wearable).

I'd say the Trunk Show is for people who are looking to lay out the big bucks, but they'll definitely lavish attention on you.

As for cheap in NYC that does alterations and has good service, I say "Ha ha." I'd start shopping around Brooklyn for a good seamstress and just bring an off-the-rack dress to them. My dress came two sizes too big, and I very luckily had a friend who did sewing and alterations such that it fit like a glove. Just keep in mind when you're shopping that you should look at seams and hems to see how difficult they'd be to take in, out or up. Keep in mind that a seamstress cannot work miracles with things that are much too tight or short.

Bring heels and a strapless bra while dress shopping. Also a brutally honest female friend. :-)

Good luck and godspeed, Cupcake.

Linda said...

All of this good advice. Try on LOTS of dresses and LOTS of styles. You will know "the dress" the minute you put it on. Comfort is key!! Consignment shops and sale racks can have some real "finds". If you need alterations, find a good neighborhood seamstress, they do a great job, and are much more affordable than bridal shops. Good luck and have fun, you'll look great!
motherofthebride : )

leah said...

sheena, as usual, knows of what she speaks. in my experience, a trunk show will leave you feeling a) dowdy/frumpy, b) poor, or c) some undesirable combination thereof. they're really for ladies who lunch who want to see a designer's collection before it's available to the general public.

i also second jcrew.com. while i don't in general subscribe to their wasp-y aesthetic, their bridal collection is very pleasant and understated. i'm sure you'll find something nice, godspeed.

ps. i'm very, very jealous of your maid-of-honor status.

leah said...

ooh, also, good luck with your subway friend. it's all very nora ephron.

Anonymous said...

If you're still looking - There's a great "Guide to being a Maid of Honor" on theknot.com & it's free!

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to theknot article:


Cupcake said...

Wow, thanks ladies. First, I cannot overstress the amount of alterations I will need, if that is any consideration. You know how some designers say, I would love to design a dress for Nicole Kidman? Well, I am essentially the designers worst nightmare. 4'10", no legs of torso to speak of, but I more than make up for it in hips and ass.

I like the JCrew formal designs, but there is no way in hell the clothes will fit me- the regular line doesn't fit and I'm not expecting a seamstress to work a miracle.

I liked a few of the Aria dresses, but I'd want to go to the showroom. There's one in Boston. Smarty, are you reading this? Maybe we should plan a trip? But then, if I buy the dress in Boston, will I have to go back there for fittings and alterations?

Serene Rose, right in our beloved Park Slope, carries two Bridesmaid designers, and they look like things I might wear again, so I am going to try to check them out soon. Looks like I can maybe skip the trunk show. Who knows how to get to Bay Ridge, anyway?

How can I possibly know what shoes I will wear until I have the dress? Also, I'm looking for a full length gown and it must have straps. I'm not the kind of girl who can pull off totally strapless, I need some support/construction/restraint up top. After all, this will be a church wedding and I live in mortal fear of one of my boobs popping out in front of a Priest.

Cupcake said...

Ooh, hey, for other future New York 'Maids, I just found this site:

Bridesmaid Aid New York

They have other cities as well, so check to see if they have yours.

AJWP said...

i can't even tell you how much i heart aria. should you decide to head up to beantown, you'll get a PRIVATE one-hour appointment in their showroom, try on dresses in your size, and choose colors with smarty. lovely! also, your dress is shipped to your address and alterations are done at your local bridal shop, so you'll save some cash there.

Sheena said...

I just had a brilliant idea,

Find a really really good seamstress, pick out a style of dress that you want (or even a pattern) and have the whole thing made. Sometimes having a dress made (as my mother did for a few proms in the course of me and my sisters' HS careers) is the simplest solution, though you'll need to do a bit of shopping/asking around to find a good one for the right price in New York, though I'd bet there's a great/cheap one somewhere in the boroughs.

Then you're guaranteed something that fits. And it's one of a kind. How cool is that?