POSTED ON FEBRUARY 11, 2009:
Rock the Frock
If you thought finding a groom was hard, wait until you have to choose the dress
Get Real. The entire idea of a "princess" look has lost its luster. Big, poofy dresses have nearly gone way of the dodo bird as brides want to be able to move at the reception.
I don't plan on having a wedding. I'm not against marriage, but prefer to do without the big spectacle of a wedding. I have based this decision on three strong points: First, I can't make a decision. Picking between two mundane things like Bell versus Bueno is hard; picking between a bazillion floral arrangements or kinds of cake will be a disaster. Second, when I do make a decision, it's always the most expensive. My parents would have to re-mortgage their house to make wedding payments. And lastly, I know I will be the world's worst bridezilla. A complete control freak, I can only imagine how horrendous I'd be about a bridesmaid's bad hairdo or the DJ playing the chicken dance.
Future husband and I will go abroad to elope and use the money saved from caterers and videographers for a pretty sweet honeymoon, like one of those huts that stands on stilts in the middle of the ocean. While I feel strong about my choice, there's still a slight pang of sadness that creeps up; this scenario doesn't really require one of the best parts of the wedding-- the dress.
Kristine Ellis, owner and store manager of Abelina's Bridal Boutique, 6552 E. 51st St., in The Farm shopping center, said that brides-to-be don't come into her boutique looking for the dress they've been dreaming about since they were a little girl.
Instead of women coming in to fulfill their lifelong princess dreams, she most often hears "I'm not the average bride." Ellis has been a part of the wedding industry since she worked for a caterer in high school. After graduating college with a fashion degree, she worked in Illinois in bridal boutiques where, as she described it, knowing how to sew on a button meant that you could be used for alterations.
She originally started Abelina's on Brookside in late 2005; and Ellis put her own seamstress abilities to good use, offering brides the rare opportunity for custom dresses, custom veils and custom fittings in addition to traditional boutique services.
Ellis said January is the beginning of the bridal season. Tulsa's temperate weather means there isn't a specific time for weddings, but post-holiday is the time when brides typically begin making arrangements.
Ellis explained that the venue and the dress are the two most important aspects of the wedding because, together, they set the tone for the rest of the affair, from the floral arrangements to the bridesmaid dresses. For instance, brides getting married in some of Tulsa's more historic locations featuring our famous Art Deco architecture are often inspired to go with a vintage-looking dress.
Most importantly, though, even before the venue or dress is considered, a couple has to have a budget. Gone are the days when a bride's parents were naturally assumed to foot the bill. Many people wait to marry until they are older (most of Ellis' clients are 21 and up) and are taking the responsibility to pay for their own nuptials. Setting restrictions in the beginning will keep everything from getting out of hand. If you spend too much on one thing, you'll have to pull from something else. While you should feel lovely in your wedding dress, it's not wise to be standing in thousands of dollars of silk and crystals while your guests munch on microwave pizza bagels. Ellis has found a wide selection of gowns from designers like Nicole Miller, Lila Couture, Eden, Mikaella and Venus. Prices for those lines hit between $200 and $2,000.
Because some of the more well-known designer dresses can cost as much as a car, Abelina's ability to create a dress for you based on one of the designers' looks comes in handy. But if you don't have a specific dress in mind, how do you know when you've found The One?
First, you'll be the only one to know. Ellis said to leave the entourage of all your friends and family at home when initially trying on dresses. Too many opinions make for even more difficult choices.
Also, know your body and what looks good on it, but also try on different styles. Whether you go to a boutique or a big box store, there's no set amount of dresses to try on. Some brides love the first one while others need more time and options.
Once you have the dress in mind, order your 'safe' size. Brides striving to look their best for their big day may want to slim down, but don't purchase your dress in the 'will be' size; buy the dress as you are sized now. Alterations are easily made to decrease the size, but a dress can be let out only so far. And as you order, ignore the number of the size. While a big box store will likely show your wedding dress size to be the same as any other dress, bridal designers use actual pattern sizes. This means that your wedding dress size will be one or two sizes larger than you typically wear. Whatever number you are now or whatever number you plan to be by the wedding, it's important to leave yourself enough time for alterations. Ellis said that some designers can do rushes, but she advises four to five months on average with some designers needing six to seven months to make your dress and have alterations ready in time for the big day.
Hot or Not?
So, what's in and what's out in terms of bridal trends? White-white dresses (old-school, virginal white) is hardly ever done. Brides look terrible versus wearing ivory, champagne or mocha. And because it looks cheap, high-end designers like Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa work in silk that is unavailable in bright white.
Besides silk, popular textiles are lace (which is reaching its peak) and taffeta blends. This isn't the taffeta with the bold watermarks that you wore as a kid, but a light material and a great option for summer weddings. Taffeta also helps restrict your tummy.
The entire idea of a "princess" look has lost its luster. Big, poofy dresses have nearly gone way of the dodo bird as brides want to be able to move (and sometimes groove) at the reception, though you may opt to have a dress at the wedding and another at the reception.
The tiara died last year and the veil was resurrected. Brides can expect to find long and short versions of this classic accessory as well as the newly popular Russian netting or birdcage veil (kind of like a fishnet, French vintage look). Besides the Russian veil, the other big trend is flowers on the dress.
Abelina's also offers an assortment of goodies for a bride: from the dress to the jewelry, shoes, garters, gloves, purses, ring pillows and 'Bride' t-shirts. Not to mention, bridesmaids dresses. With a wide selection of dresses and books of colors and fabrics, a custom frock is also available for the ladies in waiting. Generally, the bridesmaid is responsible for covering the costs of her own dress in what feels like a terribly spiteful rule - not only are you not getting married, but here's your bill.
But, I digress. Ellis intentionally carries bridesmaids' dresses between $100 and $160 so that a bride can choose a beautiful dress and not leave her bridesmaids broke. Tulsa is very traditional about a lot of wedding aspects (quelle surprise!), including that bridesmaids should all wear the same style dress in the same color. Ellis said that some brides take the modern approach by choosing a fabric and letting each bridesmaid choose her own style. By featuring one color or one fabric in the same color family, this assures that each girl looks good instead of each girl looking the same. That is to say if you even want your bridesmaids to look good; Ellis has had the request that a set of bridesmaids not look good.
If you've said yes to the rock and are now looking for the frock, Abelina's is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-7pm, no appointment necessary. And if you have the dress and are suddenly feeling sick about your selection, Ellis can help you too. Before you ditch it entirely, Ellis recommended coming by to see if there's anything to save -- even if you didn't purchase your dress from Abelina's. To find out more information about the store's ability to alter and customize or to see a selection of the lines they carry, visit abelinasbridal.com.
And remember that you may only wear your dress one time for that one day only, but pictures last a lifetime.
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