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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Reasons Why Wedding Planning is Awesome for Men

Wedding planning is awesome and fun and amazing for the most part, don't get me wrong. But there are a lot of really not fun parts of planning a wedding that must be done as well. Because many women spend much of their early adulthood helping their friends plan weddings and visualizing their own fantasy future weddings, most brides go into the process with a pretty decent idea of what super fun and super not fun parts of planning must go on. The burden of understanding the most minute details of weddings is both a blessing and curse. Some days, I think it might be a curse. The days when every bridesmaid has a dress demand (or lack there of because they are too busy to respond) and the deposit on your venue is due in 30 days and you realized your wedding bands will cost twice as much as you thought they would and its hurricane season in your chosen honeymoon location.....You get the picture...

Men do not share this excitement or this burden of wedding planning. This also makes wedding planning for men way, way more awesome. Here's why:

1.) You have one basic choice for attire.

So, my dear Fiance, John, and I went to Jos A Banks to explore tuxedo rental options. I’ve never personally shopped for any sort of men’s suit or rented any tuxedos, so I really wasn’t sure what the process entails. When we got to Jos A Banks, the salesman pulled out ONE book with a variety of tuxedos that all look basically exactly the same. Every rental comes with the same package deal, including dress shoes, and varied little in pricing (98% of options were between $150-$200). There is no trying on of the tuxedos for fit and style—just point at a picture, he takes the measurements and you come and pick up your rental on your selected day. When I asked him when we should place our rental order, he said 2-3 months before is ideal but as long as you give 48 hours’ notice, it’s really fine. No big deal.

That’s it. That’s the process.

ARE YOU SERIOUS? That’s it? That’s so easy. Let’s just review a little on what the Wedding Dress process is. First off, there’s Pinterest with an estimated 100 million dresses for you to pin and fall in love with before you have ever stepped in a store. Soon, you will begin to cry because an estimated 75 million of the dresses on Pinterest are a.) over budget designer gowns; b.) made in China only—buy at your own risk; c.) have a broken link and no description and lost forever to the interwebz. For men, while the might venture over to Pinterest and have a peek at a few groom attire options, their biggest take away from Pinterest is that they want to wear sneakers with their suit and superhero t-shirt under their tuxedo shirts.

With the dress scope narrowed down to what is available, a bride might actually step foot in a boutique and try on the wedding dresses. With more than 15 unique silhouettes and literally hundreds of variations in between including length of train, material used, details, bling…the list goes on, every single dress is completely beautiful and unique. While you budget might narrow your selection down, there are so frickin’ many options. Y’all have heard plenty from me about trying on dresses. It’s literally impossible to not try on a dress and select it. Wedding dresses on a hanger are not what wedding dresses on a body look like. Suits on a hanger look like suits on a body.  This, too, is highly unfair.

If you can find the perfect dress in all that mess, it takes 6-8 months to be ordered and then altered. You can’t just show up 48 hours ahead of time and pick it up, and have it fit gloriously.

2.)    You never have to think about something until asked to have an opinion on it.

Many women have spent countless hours thinking about their weddings far in advance of actually getting engaged. Every detail from colors to season to seating cards to what music will be played as they walk down the aisle is assessed many moons before it is necessary. If they didn’t think about it before getting engaged, it will certainly consume them soon after the wedding planning begins. Its truly pervasive in a brides life. Just this morning, John wasn’t feeling well and told me he was calling in sick to work because he has plenty of PTO. My response was, “HOW MUCH PTO? IS THERE ENOUGH FOR THE WEDDING AND HONEYMOON?”

I feel bad that this was my response, but it is seriously life consuming. There are just so many details for a bride to consider and always more details to consider as time goes on. There is literally no end. I dream about it. I have anxiety about it. It infiltrates everything all the days.

Men do not have this issue. Wedding planning isn’t a pervasive, overwhelming thing they think about constantly. They don’t ever consider what sort of pocket an invite should be presented in or the gloss of the paper an invite is printed on. They don’t think of whether gladiolas will be in season for the bouquet or how we will take photos between the ceremony and the reception. They don’t consider that photographers and bands must be booked a year or more in advance. They just don’t—until you ask them. Then they have all the opinions. But until you ask them, they’re just dandy in the bridal ignorant bliss.

3.)    WeddingWire is not a part of your daily life.

WeddingWire.com is the train wreck you can’t stop watching. Bitchy brides come there to vent their frustrations and take it out on others using the forums for what they should be used for: asking questions about wedding planning. All day and night, brides snark off to each other, trying to reign as queen bitch of WW. While it’s the Mean Girls club of the wedding world, it provides tons of answers and opinions, which people have no problem holding back. If you ever wondered if you walk down the aisle while singing a love ballad to your beloved future husband, go ask on WeddingWire.com. They’ll give you all the answers you need.

If you’re a man, you don’t even know what questions to ask and therefore, you never get sassed by bridezilla internet trolls who literally have nothing better to do than troll around and be rude to other women).

4.)    You don’t care if you look skinny or tan in your wedding photos.

John and I were discussing future fitness goals for 2015, which is a pretty normal conversation. John’s goal was to get stronger. I asked if he wanted to lose a few pounds (not because his skinny ass needs to, by any means) or tone up a bit. He looked at me like, why on earth would I want to do that specifically next year?

I explained why I was now adding 4 days a week of running into my normal fitness regimen of Crossfit during 2015. In addition to the fact I have to order a wedding dress in 2 months that I will wear in 10 months, I explained how if I was going to pay $3000 for professional photography, I better look skinny…and tan. Both.

John just looked so bewildered at the thought. SMDH.

5.)    Your biggest wedding wish is to have a photo booth.

After John and I got engaged, my mom, who is very fair human being, asked John what he was looking for in a wedding. I truly believe she had heard plenty from me already, so she was curious to see if John was on board with my fantasy wedding plans. John replied, “I just want a photo booth”. So honest.  So simple. If you asked me that question, I have no idea where I would even begin to answer, but I’m certain it would not consist of a single, 6 word sentence.

That’s all it takes to make the man happy. A photobooth.

I am so lucky to have such a laid back man in my life, seriously, but man, how easy to guys have it in this wedding planning process? If only I could be so easy going about this mess of planning a wedding. Alas, knowledge is dangerous. I have too much of it to turn back now. In the case of wedding planning, men have the right idea. Ignorance is absolute bliss.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Wedding Dress Saga, Part II: Saying "No" to Shitty Bridal Boutiques

Saying "No" to Shitty Bridal Boutiques 

I was panting, crying and in a cold sweat. I opened my eyes to the bright lights and thought, "Oh, good, it was just a nightmare", and then I realized, nope, this is reality. I'm sitting in my bra and underwear, sobbing and sweating in the House of Brides dressing room after not fitting into 8 size 14 samples.

I'm a street size 10.

The consultant came back in, followed by my mom bursting in behind her yelling about the ridiculousness of the situation (in true mom form).


"Ma'am, I would've never guessed. She looked like she should fit into the normal samples just fine, but we can go to the "other room" of dresses if you prefer".

My cheeks glowed red with embarrassment and shame. The "other room" she was referencing is a small area in the back of the store, also known as the "Diva Room" with a handful of size 18 and up dresses--- about 10% of the size of the dress selection in the rest of the store.

Because it wasn't bad enough that of 8 dressed labelled larger than my normal size dress couldn't even be pulled over my hips, now I was doing the walk of shame to the plus size gallery in the far reaches of the store. Gone were the mannequins in sparkle and lace gowns. Gone were the elegant pedestal front and center in the dressing room for brides to present themselves on.

I entered a room with one small, three sides mirror and two modest dressing rooms, nothing like the bridal dressing suites beyond those walls. The lighting was dim--- at least that shaded the burning red in my cheeks. Here I was again, back to being the fat girl. My MOH trailed in behind us, saying "You know how small bridal runs-- its not just you". But it was just me, alone, in my FFG body at that moment. My worst wedding dress nightmares realized in the flesh.

There are some things that don't change when you loose weight. While they might not affect you daily, or even monthly, there are feelings, experiences and memories that you never loose even after the weight has come off. I've written extensively on my blog about FFG (former fat girl) issues because I feel like they're things that a lot of women can relate to. We all have insecurities about our bodies, no matter the size. And now I'm expanding on the FFG girl issues as part of my wedding experience- for better or for worse, right?

I'll never forget the first time I realized that I was really a fat girl. Not big boned, Not curvy. Fat.

I was in Dubai in spring 2012 at breakfast with the CEO of my company, getting ready to go to an all day client training course. I spilled a bit of water on my blouse and the CEO, an obese man himself, demanded I go change immediately. I protested, knowing it would dry well before our clients showed up. He said to me, "When you're a fat person, people will judge you harsher. They will not only call you fat, but also sloppy or stupid or smelly. They will look down on you for any reason they can. Don't give them that reason.".

I marched up to my room with tears stinging in my eyes. I knew his words were true, but that didn't make them hurt less. It was the first time I realized I was fat. I'll never forget the feeling. The knot in my throat. The burning of hot tears in my eyes. I'll never forget standing in the mirror without any excuses left.

And now, 100 pounds less-- far from plus size, I was still standing in front of the mirror without any excuses as to why I had to be in the backroom of a bridal boutique trying on dresses literally 10 sizes too big for me, literally falling off my body without clips to hold them up.

Is there no middle ground? Is there no one in the bridal business who has come to the revelation that one size does not fit all? The House of Brides did manage to have one of the dresses I originally wanted to try on in a plus sized sample. I put it on in a size 18. It was fall off my body until the consultant clipped it.

With puffy eyes and a tear streaked face, I looked in the mirror and I felt beautiful. It was a beautiful dress. Everyone thought so. Finally, one dress I could feel beautiful in at this horrid boutique. I thought for an instant-- maybe this is the dress I will get married in.

What the consultant said next killed me. She told my mother that she would order this dress for me in this size 18 to "make sure it fit" because there was no way to ensure a smaller size would fit me.

My jaw dropped and the hot tears welled in my eyes again. This dress was falling from my body. And like that, I asked to be taken out of the dress. I wanted out ASAP. I could not accept this as fact. I would not wear a size 18 on my wedding day.

I worked so hard. I continue to work hard on my health daily. I deserve better than this.

As I pulled my fitted tank top back on over my barely there runners boobs, the consultant swung by to ask if I'd like to go look at tuxedos next, since I don't have to try those on. I glared, marched out and haven't looked back since.

I don't blame others for my sensitivity and my FFG problems. I don't blame my MOH for being a naturally thin person who was complaining all those tiny samples I tried to get into were absolutely huge on her. I also don't blame the consultant who was clearly not very experienced with their stock and thought, for some reason, that I was the correct size to squeeze on in.

What I do blame is the boutique. They lost a customer because of the inability to train the consultant, inflexible sizing, no return policies and requirements to view tuxedos on the way out, dress purchase or not. How tacky can you be? For a boutique that claims to have over 3,000 designer dresses in house, it is shameful that there was not one sample that fit onto an average sided women's body properly. And even more shameful that of those 3,000 dresses, less than 20 of them were over a size 14-- the average size of a women in the United States. I'll say it again--- wouldn't you want your brides feeling good, buttering them up to spend MORE money, not running out shamed by your selection and feeling miserable?

I really never thought that a shitty consultant or poor boutique policies would get in the way of me purchasing a dream wedding dress, but it truly did hinder my experience in this case, and mustered up some extremely difficult memories. While I continue to work on my own self esteem, I hope that the bridal industry continues to improve to meet the needs of all types of women and continues to educate their consultants on sensitivity.

Everyone has their own shit in life. Weddings tend to bring up much of that shit for a lot of people, even in the best cases.

The very next day, I went to another boutique, with awesome consultants and a large selection of dresses to try on. While I may not have found THE DRESS, there are better shops out there.The moral of the story is: don't settle for less. Don't settle for a business that blows. Don't settle for a dress because you feel like its your only option.

When the right time comes, the experience, the dress and the vision will all come together even if the bridal industry still can't get its shit together at all.