The bridesmaids’ dresses

While my wedding dress was fun and easy, the bridesmaids dresses potentially could have been a nightmare. I had three bridesmaids, three junior bridesmaids and a flower girl. Of my three bridesmaids, I had one who is fabulous darling, one who is casual and comfortable in her own skin, and one who is undeniably cool. Then I had one sweet, girly 9 year old, one sporty 12 year old who will be wearing jeans and jandals at her wedding, thank you very much, and one stunner of a 14 year old.  And, of course, the cutest 6 year old mini-me anyone has ever seen. Trying to find a dress that suited such different personalities, not to mention the range in age and size, was difficult to say the least.

When I was young, I envisioned matching my whole bridal party, even the flower girl. I actually really liked this:

But to be honest, I wasn’t expecting my little sister to be so young when I got married. And when it came to actually planning my wedding, when I had more then just the three bridesmaids and the flower girl that I expected, it suddenly seemed a bit much to try and get the exact same dress for all of them.

So I went the route of finding a dress for my flower girl, a dress for my junior bridesmaids, and a dress for my bridesmaids. I put together several combinations:

And then I found this at www.missfrilly.co.nz:

and knew it just had to be my flower girl’s dress. It was perfect for her. Thankfully my step mum agreed, and the search was on to find one just like it in England. The search was futile – all that was available at the time was, as my little sister delightfully put it, “very Lady Gaga.” And so began the process of ordering a dress made in New Zealand from England, to be sent to an address in New Zealand. Sian at Miss Frilly was amazing, helping my dad measure my little sister from the other side of the world, and keeping me in the loop as soon as she knew my email address. The dress is even more gorgeous in real life then it was in the picture.

So, having that dress sorted kind of made things a little more complicated. I wanted to get the dresses made, because I could find nothing in the shops in New Zealand that was anything like what I wanted. But then I realised just how much that would cost to do, and so I was completely stuck. Until I came across this beauty:

I’d seen and kind of liked the look of mismatched bridesmaids, but I thought it would look way too messy with so many of them. I didn’t even like the idea of having the same type of dress with different straps, which several people had suggested to me. But then when I saw this picture, with five bridesmaids and a flower girl, I started to think that it might not look so bad after all. One of my bridesmaids had actually done the same for her wedding, and I’ve always loved how relaxed and comfortable her bridesmaids look in the photos. So I started to search for pictures of mismatched bridesmaids to inspire me.

With that decided (it took about a day), I needed to figure how I was going to pull this off. There are several different ways of doing mismatched dresses, including

1) Just telling the girls to go and buy a dress in this colour and/or this length
2) Giving the girls paint samples as a colour range to work within
3) Giving the girls pictures of dresses and letting them pick one

All three of those would have been way easier then what I chose – actually going shopping with all six of my bridesmaids to choose and coordinate the dresses. I thought it would be fun, and I wanted to see it all coming together. And I really did enjoy it. It’s just that we arrived at the mall as the shops were opening and left as they were closing.

The 12 year old was the easiest, because she doesn’t like dresses but was being a good sport. This meant that we could put her in any dress, and when we found the one, we told her it was amazing and she got it. She got a pale peach coloured dress that just looks gorgeous with her tanned skin. I don’t think she realises just how beautiful she is.

At the same time as the 12 year old was trying on her dress, the 9 year old tried on a pale pink dress with chiffon and lace and fake pearls. It was over the top and girly, and so her. We didn’t actually get it for her right away, we just put it on hold because we were in a rush. But she kept talking about it, saying things like “Oh, that will go so well with my dress.” Finally I just said to her “Shall we go back and buy your dress so you can carry it around?” We’d seen her in it alongside the 12 year old in her’s, so we knew they looked cool together. She was all smiles the rest of the day.

We’d planned to do the little girls in the morning and the big girls in the afternoon (‘we’ being my sister-in-law/bridesmaid and I), so it was around this time that my maid of honour arrived. I was fizzled, so we stopped for (my second) lunch while the others kept looking for a dress for the 14 year old who, poor thing, clearly wanted something with a pretty floral pattern and just kept being put in stuff she hated. I took this opportunity to tell my maid of honour that the theme seemed to be very pale, and I wanted to insert a bit of colour into the whole thing. She rose to the occasion with a grape colour dress with caramel detailing.

With purple now in the picture, we set out to find the perfect dress for the 14 year old. We found every single purple and pink floral dress we could in every shop, while my maid of honour went off to help my third bridesmaid find her way there (she was coming from the airport after dropping off a friend, and wasn’t used to the area we were shopping in). When my third bridesmaid arrived, she went into the same shop as my maid of honour had bought her dress from, and straight away tried on a lighter purple dress that looked awesome on her.

It just so happened that as we were buying her dress, the 14 year old tried on a dress she really liked. I actually took my third bridesmaid’s dress out of the shop before she’d even finished paying for it (thank you, kind shop assistant!) and we were so excited when we held all the dresses up next to the 14 year old in her dress, and saw that her dress tied all the others in perfectly.

My sister-in-law had ordered in a dress she liked (that I didn’t actually see because I was eating with my maid of honour, but I trusted her because one of her main jobs was to help me pull this off). So then we had to go and buy shoes. Thanks to my mum working in a shoe chain store, we actually got shoes relatively cheap. We found shoes for the bridesmaids and the 14 year old, and then I called my mum and asked her to find shoes similar for the 9 and 12 year olds.

And we were done. So everyone except my maid of honour and my third bridesmaid went home. In the last half hour that the shops were open, we spent a voucher I’d been given as an engagement present, and then went out for dinner in an effort to unwind.

Huge day, but I got exactly what I wanted – six happy bridesmaids who loved their dresses and felt comfortable in them.

Haha, yes, there is supposed to be another young lady in the third photo. I don’t know where she’s gone.

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The wedding dress

I’m all wedding inspired, and so decided to share a bit about my wedding. I loved it so much, it was the most amazing day of my life. The one requirement my husband and I had for our wedding was that it be relaxed – the most important part for us was the marriage, and we just wanted the wedding to be a celebration of that. I joke that I’m lazy, but in actual fact I’m flighty, creative and emotional. My mind doesn’t stay in one place long enough to plan a gorgeously detailed wedding. I knew that if I stressed myself out trying to plan the perfect wedding, it would end up feeling stale and dry, and I wouldn’t enjoy it.

The most exciting part was the dress. The stuff of little girls’ dreams.

I didn’t want my dress to be strapless, boofy and A-framed. I wanted something different, something that reflected my style more then it reflected a wedding. I wanted it to be flowy and feminine.

I wanted it to be simple and elegant.

My husband said many times that he didn’t mind what type of dress I wore, but I knew that he wouldn’t want me in anything empire waisted. I have a little waist, and I knew he wanted me to show that off.

My sweet friend, Emma, made my dress for me. I’m still not entirely sure how that transpired, but I’m so thankful that it did. She is crazy talented, and worked so hard to make the perfect dress for me. I showed her several pictures of what I wanted, we went shopping for fabric, and she came up with this:

People still comment on how perfect it was for me. I remember putting it on and having to catch my breath. It is exactly what I wanted.

“Come dress yourself in love, let the journey begin.”
-Francesca da Rimini

To love…

My wedding was the most perfect day of my life. It was exactly what I wanted. 

I remember feelings more then I remember what actually happened. Even as it was happening, I found myself thinking “I’m never going to remember this, it’s all just a blur.”

But I do remember waking up at 6:40am and jumping out of bed and just standing there, not really sure what to do with all the excitement inside me. I remember getting back into bed and thinking “The next time I wake up, my husband will be beside me.” I remember the power going off at 7:30am, and I remember not really even caring and just opening the curtains so I could continue reading.

I remember finally getting up at 9:00am and eating cherries while everyone started to arrive. I remember that it was raining a bit and we still had no power, so we just hung out and Bret went into town to get us McDonalds for breakfast. I remember that Heidi and Bret’s house was full of wonderful women and girls putting together boquets and bringing me food and laughing and talking. I remember equally wonderful young men, particularly Stephen and Callum, braving the feminine flurry to be the go-betweens for Angus and I, trying to orgnaise what we’d do because it looked like it would rain and that wouldn’t really work for an outside ceremony. I remember Mark telling me he’d got the train ready, but that if it rained again we would be able to use it. I remember getting a letter from my groom which said “Even though it’s raining and the power is out, I’m glad today is our wedding day.” 

I remember laughing about how funny it would be for us to do our hair and make up sitting out the door using the generator. I remember Heidi asking Bret where we would plug the generator in. I remember when I got into the shower – being the bride I was the one lucky enough to be allowed to use up the small amount of hot water that would be available – and the power went back on. I remember doing the hair and make up of my beautiful junior bridesmaids and flower girl. I remember watching Bride Wars and eating hot chips.

I remember Mark coming in to say that we wouldn’t be able to use the train, but that he’d asked one of the kitchen ladies who has an awesome car to bring  it in for us to use. I remember organising with Stephen to organise with Angus to put a marquee up across from where we were having the ceremony so that if it did rain, everyone could just grab a chair and run. I remember sending some of the girls off with ribbon and flowers and asking them to make the ceremony venue look pretty – an hour before the guests would start arriving.

I remember the photographer arriving early because it was pouring with rain where she lived and being suprised that it wasn’t raining where we were. I remember realising that I should probably start getting ready. I remember holding frozen teaspoons to my eyes to get rid of the huge bags under them. I remember Mark coming in to tell us that we would be able to take the train after all.

I remember putting my dress on and feeling like someone out of a Jane Austen novel.

I remember sitting on the train as we travelled to the ceremony venue and everyone was saying “You’re getting married” and my heart was so full that I just wanted to cry.

I remember the first time I saw my groom, and he saw me. I remember his wide smile and I remember wondering if anyone else really existed in that moment. I remember feeling like that the whole way down the aisle. I remember, though vaguely, counting the girls in as they walked down the aisle, and stepping off the train and realising I hadn’t put the train of my dress down and asking my dad to do it and him having no idea what I meant, and smiling at people, and getting to the front.

I remember looking around and not being able to believe how beautiful it all looked. I remember looking, multiple times, at my bridal party and thinking how awesome their dresses looked all beautiful and mismatched and theirs. I remember saying “I do” too quietly despite the microphone and just nodding because I knew my voice wouldn’t come – it was caught somewhere behind the tears I was holding back. I remember trying to slip my groom’s ring on gracefully and then getting it stuck and making a funny face while trying to push it on the whole way. I remember our first kiss as man and wife. I remember signing the marriage license and being shocked at how many peices of paper I had to sign. I remember Angus’s Pop praying for us, and asking God to bless our unborn children and provide us with a home. I remember the kids blowing the bubbles too early.

I remember walking down the aisle and getting to the end, and everyone hugging us and taking photos. I remember going off to take the bridal party photos, and it being cold and finally starting to rain a little.  I remember just wanting to go and be alone with my husband. I remember little Daniel calling the photographer crazy. I remember Heidi skipping a little too high and flashing us all. I remember the photographer taking a photo of the guys walking together, a nice natural one, and Esther saying “Isaac should be flexing his muscles, then it would be far more realistic” and Angus saying “He should just take his shirt off.” I remember trying to do a fabulous dipping photo with my husband, and him dropping me.

I remember getting to the reception late and being extremely hungry. I remember eating hot chips. I remember not being able to get over how awesome the cake was. I remember the speeches, and little Flynn rolling across the floor for half of them. I remember little Daniel’s very cute speech. I remember trying to visit every table, and not really making it around. I remember running to catch an escaping baby. I remember the music not working properly, and so having unexpected entertainment in the form of Anneke and Katie’s rendition of “The Things You Don’t Say To Your Wife” and then Megan’s beautiful voice belting out “Me and Bobby McGee.” I remember our first dance, and our second dance, and everyone else dancing in between. I remember being exhausted, but not really wanting it to end. I remember everyone making an arch for us to run through, and then getting outside and seeing they’d decorated the car so beautifully (*cough*) for us.

One day soon I will share the professional photos, but for now, just this one:

“He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.”
– Song of Solomon 2:4