Why a wedding is a fashion show…with the aisle as your catwalk.

Two men wearing morning coats at a wedding. 1929.

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You m ay fool yourself into believing it is all about the exchange of vows, a declaration of your love for another person, but don’t be fooled too easily, A wedding is nothing more than an almighty fashion show, with the aisle your own personal catwalk, a veritable red carpet on which to strut your stuff!

My only sister got married on Saturday. After months of fashion planning, the day finally arrived. And it was truly wonderful. But as it ended, I couldn’t help but ponder how important clothes, fashion and style had been to the whole occasion. From the warm up hen weekends of copious outfits and themes, to the wedding dress fittings, bridesmaid dress fittings, bridesmaid dress rehearsals, accessory shopping, pre wedding meal with a dress code, trying on head dresses with the mother of the bride, and finally the pampering morning of the wedding, clothes had been ultra important at every step of the way.

In the run up to the wedding, my sister had tried on ten different dresses of various styles and colours, along with a whole host of veils, gloves and shoes. She had four dress fittings at Caroline James of the House of Fraser, Birmingham, each lasting a few hours, and then additional sessions to look for shoes, headdresses, earrings etc. In short, in terms of hours, at least a week must’ve been spent shopping for the brides essentials.

the amazing shoes from Dune.

And on the day itself…approximately 3.5hours were spent turning Piggle into an Audrey Hepburnesque Princess bride. Showering, pinning, lacing, combing, powdering…all this went on in the name of beauty. For myself, as Maid of Honour, there was not as much time, because Baba was a Paige boy and he needed to get ready too and needed mommy’s help to do this, but i still bathed, blow dried, straightened, powdered and preened before dressing in my elegant full length Coast evening dress. (Thank heavens no meringue!)

 

that's my mom disappearing under the skirt!

 

They say that all brides are beautiful on their wedding day, but this is no accident. Every last detail is taken into consideration, and nothing is left to chance. Brides are beautiful from the top of their ballerina pinned hair, to the tips of their pink frosted toes. And despite the fact that for most of us, lacing up corset style disappeared with the Victorians, this isn’t the case on our wedding days. Most brides have a pink glow because, frankly, they cannot breathe!

 

breathe in!

And then there’s make up. No-one wants to see a clown bride, so bright red lips are a no-no. Instead you must go for the Jennifer Anniston no make-up look that’s taken hours to apply. Soft, dewy and very romantic.

And brides make other sacrifices too, in the name of beauty. For instance, if they decide that Christmas is a wonderful time to get married, chances are, they freeze to death in the process. The Groom is protected from the elements by his Morning Suit or Tuxedo, these are never designed in a strapless format. The bride, however, may have flesh on display, and photographers will always want photographs outside, especially if there has been snow and it looks so pretty, or if your hotel is in the grounds of a medieval abbey. The bride will smile through her cold, and grit her teeth prettily in order not to spoil those snaps.

But all of this is worth it to look beautiful as you glide down your catwalk…i mean the aisle. Everyone will ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at your vision of beauty and elegance. Only you will know just how much time and effort went into it…

 

 

Hen parties – Is there a more stylish way?

As I walked through Temple Bar after the meeti...

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This weekend…deep breath… I am going to be a hen! And if the thought of being a hen sends waves of fear running up and down your spine, I understand your terror entirely. Hen parties evoke pictures of marauding women running around in a gaggle, dressed in stupid costumes, with various parts of mens anatomy pinned to their person. There in the midst of all this is the ‘Bride‘, a terrifying creature in heavy make up and a veil, doing various dares, and loosing all dignity in the process. Recently, gossip magazines were filled with pictures of Katy Perry and Rihanna enjoying hen japes before Katy’s nuptials to Russell Brand. But is there a way of having a more stylish hen night, without losing the fun. The answer, happily, is YES!

First though, you need to pick a venue. You could go for a club, but why not try something different for your special night. Spas are a great way of relaxing, enjoying a sauna, massage, general pampering session, before having a meal in a special restaurant. In summer you could enjoy a day at the races, where Hens could don their best dresses and prettiest hats and have a flutter, or try dog racing, Many dog tracks have amazing hospitality suites with champagne buffets on the menu. No standing trackside, you could even sponsor a race in the bride’s name.

The theatre is another good option. There are so many girl friendly shows – Legally blonde, Priscilla, Queen of the desert and Calender Girls to name but three. You can dress up, have a glass of bubbly mid show, and then enjoy a late supper with your hens. civilised – yes! Fun – most definitely!

So that’s entertainment sorted. What about clothes? A theme is a great idea as long as it isn’t schoolgirls, nurses, devils etc. Why dress tacky – this is your special night. It deserves a dress to remember. My theme was just ‘wear your best dress’ and I thought my hens looked gorgeous, individual, classy and beautiful. Good themes could be ‘full length and fabulous’, ‘in the red’, ‘What would Audrey wear’. My sister has chosen the themes ‘Think Pink’ from Funny Face, one of her favourite films, and ‘Sex and the City‘ with the coda, ‘be fabulous’. Avoid the clichéd penis hats and veils, go for Paloma Faith – esque headdresses instead for a classier look. Venetian masks are a do, they look very pretty and glamorous. ‘L’ plates are a don’t – these days most brides should wear an ‘E’ for experienced!

Another nice touch is to present each hen with a little survival kit for the hen night /weekend. You can pick these up quite cheaply on Ebay at present, and you can choose the contents. Go for beauty options rather than cheap plastic tacky items. I put together a kit using an Ebay shop called JJS OCCASIONS, and the items came beautifully packaged and personalised. I am the Maid of Honour, so I am going to present these to the other Hens on the train travelling to London, the scene of the hen party. Check out JJS OCCASIONS Ebay store for your own options. ( http://stores.ebay.co.uk/JJS-OCCASIONS).

Pretty gift bags JJS occasions

cute contents for the goody bags.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A nice touch is to create a special gift for the Bride to be. There are many companies that sell Bride to be holdalls that you can then fill with gifts for the bride to be. These can be cute (packs of loveheart sweets), practical (thank you notecards for after the wedding), pampering (Lush bath bombs filled with glitter) or just pretty (vintage style brooches from Primark).

My sister's bride to be bag - contents hidden!

So, there you go. There are now no excuses for silly veils, dare cards, whistles, horns, angel wings or L plates. Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing, and then you can raid Ann Summers with pleasure. Just count me out!

The bridesmaids wear black!

Screenshot of Audrey Hepburn and William Holde...

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My only sister Jodie (or Piggle, as Baba insists on calling her for no particular reason!) is getting married in December. I’m really excited to be her maid of honour as I haven’t been a bridesmaid since I was 5 years old. On that occasion I wore a 1970’s tastic blue satin dress and my hair in ringlets.  But being a bridesmaid can lead to all sorts of nightmares. Anyone who has watched the fab Katherine Heigl in ‘27 dresses‘ will know that, in the not too distant past, bridesmaids had to manoeuvre their way through the minefield that was the meringue dress. Acres and Acres of peach ghastliness, with off the shoulder frills, crinoline skirts, bows, heart,ribbons in each horrendous pastel shade known to man. It was enough to strike fear into the most fearless, loyal bridesmaid and force them to run a mile. And it happened to the best of us. Look at the super stylish India Hicks in her ivory oversized creation as Bridesmaid to Lady Diana Spencer, soon to be the super style icon, The Princess of Wales.

But, it’s not going to happen to me. Rather than some oversized, overfrilled, pastel pudding, I have an amazingly simple, supremely stylish BLACK Coast evening dress. My fellow bridesmaids are wearing the same dress, but in the shorter cocktail dress version. I have a simple headband, and the most amazing black heels which I will delight in wearing all through the festive season this year. In short, I have an outfit to treasure. And it’s in black. Which got me thinking, when did it become acceptable for Bridesmaids to wear black?

A sneak preview of the fantastic shoes!

I started to think Sex and the City could be at fault. I clearly remembered the episode entitled ‘The Turtle and the Hare’. where the girls were guests at a wedding and each wore a black dress. Before then, I could only remember black being used at funerals, never at weddings. Another episode featured Charlotte in a full length black halter neck bridesmaid dress. However, this is later referred to as a ‘slutty’ dress.  Flash forward a few years and the ‘It’ girl and friend of Kate Moss Davina Murphy had her bridesmaids in black dresses at her wedding to Football agent Dave Gardner. One of the bridesmaids was Jenny Frost, so the wedding achieved quite a bit of press coverage, especially as the stylish Victoria Beckham was one of the guests. The guests were asked to wear black and white, something the ever stylish, but attention seeking Mrs Beckham ignored.

Now there seems to be an ever-growing number of black and white weddings. Many brides are opting for black and white dresses a la Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy in ‘Sabrina‘. The obvious way to get the symmetry right at a black and white wedding is that if the bride is wearing white, the bridesmaids must be in the black.

But why have black dresses not only become acceptable bridesmaids attire, but also positively in vogue? It could be that more women are opting to get married later, and are having their grown up friends and relatives as bridesmaids rather than young flower girls. Grown women look more sophisticated in cocktail dresses and evening gowns in black, rather than more colourful, fussy efforts. In addition, black is ultra flattering, every women owns a little black dress they use for special occasions, and they usually opt for black because it masks all the lumps and bumps that women have. We feel comfortable in black because it hides our imperfections and makes us feel glamorous, something that pastel pink can never do. Bridesmaids come in all shapes and sizes, all heights and ages, and black seems to suit all. My fellow bridesmaids, Sam and Terrianne are different shapes to me, Sam is average height, but slim, Terrianne is shorter and curvy. Black looks good on all three of us, and we all feel comfortable in the dresses.

There is also an element of the High Street coming into the equation. Once upon a time, all Bridesmaids dresses were purchased from a Bridal shop, or were handmade/homemade creations. But with the recession, and the rise of Quality High street stores like Monsoon and Coast selling beautiful, good quality evening and cocktail dresses, more Brides are opting to buy their bridesmaid dresses ‘off the peg’. You can avoid all the fittings that busy women have no time for, whilst choosing a dress that your grateful bridesmaid can wear for years to come. In addition these dresses tend to be simple, stylish and tasteful, rather the milkmaid/Little Bo Peep creations of yore.

I think the final reason that black has become the bridesmaid dress colour de jour is that white has become newly fashionable for the bride. A few years ago, many modern women felt they should opt for Ivory, or cream rather than traditional white because they were already living with their partners before the wedding. The tide seems to have turned now, and many modern women are once again opting for white as their wedding colour of choice. And what goes better with white than black? Look at the amazing Cecil Beaton creations for the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady. Look at the stunning Audrey Hepburn Givenchy dress for Sabrina, or Julia Roberts collecting her Oscar in vintage Valentino. These were all black and white creations and looked totally stunning.

When I look back at some of the weddings I have attended over the years, I often find myself giggling over the crazy frocks some bridesmaids have been made to endure in the name of friendship. I think I can safely predict that my stylish BLACK evening dress will not elicit the same roars of laughter in years to come. Hallelujah to that!

Some Coast dresses for grown up Bridesmaids to consider.

Coast Chanelle dress is gorgeous and simple.

 

The Savannah dress is perfect for a Va Va Voom Bridesmaid

Coast Chloe Cocktail dress is great for grown up bridesmaids.