Tag Archives: Wedding dress

In which I bombard you with lots of dresses

When I say a lot of dresses, I’m not messing around. There are tens of images in this post, all lovingly and inexpertly cropped by me in Paint ( I don’t have Photoshop. They should confiscate my blogging license), which took a while.

All these dresses were selected for me by the lady of impeccable taste, the always gracious Valeria Chuba, who blogs with her mate Jenny over at Cultivating Style.  The idea here was to figure out exactly what I want, so that I can then find a dressmaker and tell them what to do. So the following pictures are about shape, and not so much about colour or fabric. Once we’ve figured out the dress, Valeria is going to help me choose accessories too. I’m totally excited about working with her on this.

Valeria’s approach to style is simple: whatever you are, she will make that look awesome. Like, if you’re flat-chested, she’ll make being flat-chested look awesome. If you’re short, she’ll make being short look awesome. Or in my case, if you’re Blake Lively but with more thigh, punier arms, and less boob, she’ll make that look awesome.

Anyway, enough text already. Here’re some images:

From Nonoo:

Milly:

Pixie market (digging this hemline):

La Garconne:

Nelly:

Old Navy:

A whole bunch from Mango:

(liking these shoes too)

Topshop:

My personal fave!

More Mango!

(Are your eyes tired yet? We’re half way through)

And some more Topshop!

Alice by Temperly:

Via this article on Real Simple, we have Lilly Pullitzer,

Loft,

and J Crew:

And finally, a bunch from BurdaStyle, a fashion magazine that sells dress patterns:

Whew. That was 35 dresses, right there. My urge to go shopping (as in, go to physical shops and try stuff on) has just quadrupled and is swiftly approaching critical mass. Tunic dresses, wherefore do I not already possess one of thine ilk?

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How we’re crafting the ceremony: Opening thoughts

As I write this, there’s just a little over three months to the wedding. How did that happen so fast? Combined with the fact that my very first bridal blogger-in-arms, Rogue Bride (you never forget your first), already had her wedding a few weeks ago, it’s starting to feel kind of serious. I’ve suddenly spent less time wedding theorising, and less time wedding fantasising via other blogs than I have since…oh who knows how long, and more time making spreadsheets, putting together a playlist, researching beach games to have at the reception, and thinking about the ceremony. The other day I had my first two official wedding nightmares of things going wrong on the day. A rite of passage, folks! Anyway, let me talk about how we’re approaching the ceremony.

First of all, Miss Manners’ take on it is that personalising your ceremony, especially if that means making it less solemn, is an affront to the dignified tradition of wedding ceremonies. She’s all for just going with whatever traditional wording your belief system/culture has always used. Once again, Miss Manners is halfway right.  Tradition is a strong way of imparting meaning (I also discussed that here). And that’s all well and good for people who readily identify with a given belief system. But for those of us who don’t, we’re forced to reinvent things, one couple at a time.

For instance, I don’t believe in the supernatural (including souls/spirits/ghosts, any kind of higher power, and the idea of fate). But I was raised in a Protestant community in South Africa, and between M and I, the majority of our extended family have this belief system. The customs associated with the culture are still my customs, and they can still have meaning for me even without the supernatural beliefs. I am very fond of Christmas, and damned if I’m not going to participate in giving presents just because I don’t consider Jesus my saviour. I just leave out the praying and the church-going (singing carols is still fun though). So what I want to do is adapt the Anglican, or really just general western, wedding ceremony, by leaving out the religious bits, thus rendering our wedding recognisable, traditional, and hence meaningful to everyone, while also not feeling like a charlatan.

Part of this is about the general tone the ceremony will take. Sometimes, I think the tendency towards ceremony is like a personality quirk. Kiwis tend to be  irreverent about these things, while South Africans tend to the opposite. I often read online about couples that wanted to make sure their wedding ceremony wasn’t serious and stuffy, and they consider it a success that their ceremony was filled with lightheartedness and laughter, and vows like “I promise to buy you chocolate when you’re upset”. I think it’s to do with feeling comfortable, and maybe if you’re not raised in it, ceremony is not something you feel comfortable with. The way I grew up though, in order to acknowledge that getting married is a big freaking deal, it’s serious, there needs to be some solemnity to it.

Then on the other hand, just secularising a religious ceremony isn’t going to cut it, because there are sentiments we want expressed that aren’t included in the traditional texts. Or are even the opposite of the traditional themes at weddings. Like, our love is not unconditional, and I don’t aspire for it be. I also don’t buy the idea that a successful marriage is about sacrifice, or is an exercise in tolerance. And I want to talk about being each others’ highest priorities, and how we are going to be a team in everything in life. So I need to find readings that reflect this stuff, without being publicly mushy, which I think is also a personality quirk that some people have and some people don’t.

And then we also need to acknowledge the fact that by the time this ceremony happens, we will already be legally married. I don’t want to mislead people about what is actually going on. So I need to find some wording that talks about that while still saying that actually though, its this emotions-only ceremony that is the one that matters to us.

Finally, on that note: some dress news. I went three times to try on that Karen Millen dress. The second time, some embroidery was coming undone on an elbow. They sent it back to be fixed, but it wasn’t fixed properly, but it was fixed enough that people wouldn’t notice. The third time, I took the fiance with me, and some embroidery was coming undone on the chest. Plus it became apparent we’d need to remove the shoulder pads, and then M said it looks like a doily. He says that about anything involving lace or embroidery, but he had a point that maybe I didn’t look my best self. And of course, that sucker was expensive. So I’m not getting it. The hunt resumes.

Purpose of weddings: It’s not about the legalities

Alternative titles for this post:

A case for multi-wedding marriages
or
A dress! You guys, check at this dress!*

M and I are New Zealanders. In New Zealand, once two people have been living together as a couple for three years, the de facto partnership they are in has practically the same legalities around it as an actual marriage. For instance, if you break up, assets would be split fifty-fifty. You enter this phase of financial union without doing a thing – the couple doesn’t have to go somewhere, or sign something, or make any declarations. It just becomes a truth that everything is now jointly owned.

We reached our three year mark right about the same time that we moved to Singapore. Before that though, we’d already completely merged our finances anyway. We were in it together, man. And then Singapore happened, which just further cemented the fact that as a couple, we were a done deal. Obviously emotionally, yes: if following your partner to a foreign country because he got a job there isn’t commitment, I don’t know what is. But also legally: the way the visa  situation works, M is here by what is known as an employment pass, while I am here as his dependent. The paperwork included going to the NZ High Commission to write signed statements, witnessed by an official, about how long we’ve had joint bank accounts and the like. We are officially recognised in Singapore as having a common-law marriage, and it’s what allows me to stay here with him.

It gets worse. For years we’ve had the habit of referring to each other as each other’s partner, but here in Asia, a lot of people don’t get that. And most people I’ve come across really don’t get living together before marriage.  Seriously, the number of times I’ve had to explain that we’re not married, but we live together, but it’s like being married, and actually, this is very common in NZ and it would be unusual not to live together first. So for the almost two years we’ve been living here, we’ve gotten used to just calling each other husband and wife when talking to locals. Makes conversation with a chatty cab driver that much simpler.

So why are we even getting married, when it doesn’t really change much? Well, for one, its going to be a bit more convenient to actually have a marriage certificate instead of having to prove our commitment in other ways. But for us, getting married, or more accurately, having a wedding, is not about the legal stuff at all. We’re doing it for two main reasons:

1. Making explicit all the implicit promises that we have already made to each other, and doing it in a way that our community recognises. I hate to be quoting Sex and The City, but Miranda put it perfectly, in the episode where she marries Steve: “I do actually wanna say those vows, out loud, to Steve. In front of the people I care about”

2. Acknowledging, along with our family and friends, that loving each other so much that we want to share the entire rest if our lives together, is awesome. We’ve been lucky enough to find our person, and that’s amazing, frankly, even if it is a miracle that happens to lots of people. It’s worthy of a big-ass celebration.

So once I figured out that the legal part of this wedding will be much easier to handle in Singapore than in Indonesia (for starters, Singaporeans use English), we made the decision to get the meaningless, five minute, registry office ceremony done a few days before the emotional, poignant readings, personalized vows, ring exchange ceremony at the resort.

My intention was to approach the legal thing as much like paperwork formality as possible – we’d show up in whatever we were wearing that day, sign what we needed to sign, and be done. But, it turns out, we need two witnesses. And there’s a dress code. The info online literally specifies that shorts and flip flops aren’t appropriate. What up, we live in those things.

So that means my man can wear his office wear, and I…well, I don’t look my best in my formal office wear. The thing is, for men, formal professional wear and formal social wear are the same thing. For women, they are kind of vastly different. Miss Manners discusses this issue here. And since our legal ceremony will be socially formal, and not professionally formal, I was instantly launched into fashion fantasies of a Kate Middleton-like nature.

Which brings me to this dress. I won’t bore you with listing the ways it is perfection, I’ll just let you see for yourself:

Karen Millen, I salute you.

I tend to be uber fussy, I mean discerning, about my clothes, but this one is hitting so many nails on so many heads, that when it comes to this dress, I just can’t. I just can’t not obsess over it. 

You complete me.

The only nailhead it doesn’t hit is the price.

Don’t speak. I know just what you’re saying.

You’re saying, “Lindsay, I thought this was a frugal wedding, you sell out.”

Yeah, the dress is over SG$500, and that’s not even addressing the shoe issue. So here’s the deal: it’s not coming out of my wedding budget, it’s coming out of my everyday budget. Plus I can totally wear it again. Right?! Also, you know how I just said my taste is very discerning? When my local friends just read that, they were all surprised and thought about how my ubiquitous plain t-shirt with denim shorts does not exactly reflect a keen sartorial eye. Here’s the sad truth: I’m so damn fussy about clothes, that I almost never find something that fits the bill, and hence I almost never buy new stuff, and hence, I mostly wear pretty old things that were acquired as gifts, or purchased in the days before my fussiness went stratospheric. The upshot is, I spend so little on clothes, that I can actually justify this.

Then there’s the witnesses issue for the legal ceremony. M wants his brother to be his, and I would like my mother to be mine. But since I’m all dressed up and such, and all our immediate family members will be in town, it doesn’t seem right to leave them out. We’re allowed to bring up to 20 guests to the registry office. So we’re going have all our immediate family come. And since we’re doing that, well, maybe we should all go to TWG afterwards and drink champagne and eat a macaroon or two.

Suddenly, it appears I’m having two weddings. But I don’t want to look at it like that. I still consider our non-legal ceremony on the beach to be our real wedding, the one that’s important. Now we just also have a fancy family morning tea to go with it. And the fact that I get to have both beach party princess, and elegant urbanite dresses, well, I’m not too sad about that.

*Yes, check at. That’s how we spoke where I grew up, mmkay?

Six month panic: Bridal style

I think I’ve mentioned ad nauseum the fact that I’ve spent a good chunk of my life dreaming about wedding dresses. It’s what got me into wedding blogs in the first place. And then I spent so much time reading the blogs that my opinions on weddings changed. At various points I have fallen in love with a certain dress, or a certain design feature that I decided I was definitely going to have when I got married, and then a year later my ideal would change. I always wondered what would be the one that would stick, that would go down in history as my wedding dress, to be looked at one day when I am old. And now I’m pretty close to knowing. At this point, I’m very clear on the vibe I’m shooting for, but not yet 100% clear on its execution.

A big part of this has been determined by the context of the reception, and the fact my philosophy on style is always Context is Everything. My wedding is going to be a fun beach party. So I’m going to look like I’m at a fun beach party.

Let’s start with hair. It’s hot, so my hair needs to be up. Because the wedding is low budget, I won’t have a professional hair person coming, so it needs to be something I can do myself. And because I’m doing it myself, it needs to be something that doesn’t stress me out by taking three hours and/or being difficult to execute. So I’m thinking something like this:

Bonus: When, not if, the humidity turns my hair into a thicket, it will look intentional (that’s the plan anyway).

For jewellery, I like the exuberant, natural, a bit chunky, kind of free spirit look. I dig this kind of stuff:

Fiance: “You’re so African at heart. You’d wear a necklace of mini elephant tusks”
Me: *considers* “Not if they were ivory”

While I’m a huge fan of both multistrand necklaces and biggish dangling earrings, they’re probably too much to wear at once, so I’m leaning towards just the earrings. Something like these, perchance:

Ay, there’s the rub.

Now for shoes. Considering the facts of beach sand, my five foot ten height, and the evilness of heels, I’ll either go straight up barefoot, or where some invisible haurache style sandals. Check it out, you can make them yourself and customize them with different tying patterns, beading and such:

Like this, except not like this.

Now for the dress. What I have at this point is inspiration, and the knowledge that I want it short, in a weather-friendly material, with a bikini underneath and the ability to take it on and off quickly. (We’re encouraging swimming at our reception. The groom is wearing board shorts. Long pants in this weather = insane.) As a nod to my bridalhood, I’d like it in a fairly light color, but not white or ivory because I can’t pull either of those off. These things hit the right note, except for colour and length:

Also without the evil heels.

And that’s about where I sit folks! Now, back to the regularly scheduled words-only programming.

Here’s my wedding budget

So after all my budget theory preaching, you’re probably thinking it’s about time I revealed my actual wedding budget.   I’ll do you one better: the line by line breakdown! Aren’t you excited? Doesn’t the prospect of looking at other people’s budgets get you all amped up? No? You don’t find it fun to obsess over numbers?

Jeez. Tough crowd.

I live in Singapore, so my mind thinks in Singapore dollars. Our wedding budget is (*fanfare*) SG$5000.

You probably don’t think in Singapore dollars, so you’re wondering how much money that really is. I’d go ahead and covert the currencies for you, but you know, cost of living stuff in a given area is always relative to incomes in the given area, and if you translated the cost of houses in South Africa into your local currency you’d be all, “I could have a mansion”. Plus, in Thailand you could have an amazing and massive meal for a dollar.

So refrain from using direct currency exchange as a converter, and use the Big Mac Index instead, which isn’t perfect, but at least does try to reflect the actual cost of living. I’ll tell you how many Big Macs I could buy in Singapore with that money, and then you work out how much of your local currency it would take to buy that many Big Mac’s where you live.

One Big Mac round here costs $4.85, So, my wedding budget is 1031 of them.

Ok, alright, fine, I’ll do the work for you. Here is my wedding budget translated into the currencies of various places using the Big Mac converter:

USA: $4.20 x 1031 =  US$4330

Canada: $4.73 x 1031 = CA$4877

New Zealand: $5.10 x 1031 = NZ$5258

Australia: $4.80 x 1031 = AU$4949

South Africa: R19.95 x 1031 = R20568
(see what I’m saying? One US Big Mac would buy you 4.75 South African ones, but the actual exchange rate between US dollars and South African rand is  like 7.8)

Attention England and Spain: Sorry, I couldn’t find the prices you guys have. I really wanted to know how my budget figures in pounds and euros. Maybe you could let me know your local Big Mac price?

Who else is craving a burger all of a sudden?

Ok, now for the line by line break down. I put this together, predictably, using that wedding budget calculator thing you are sick of me talking about. Then I started checking off all the things I know I don’t want to include, which was a substantial number of things (Get lost, Unity Candle!),  and filled in the fixed estimates I do already have.

Actually that last bit was interesting because it drastically changed the picture. The calculator wanted me to spend $1207 on food and $483 on booze. I’m having almost 50 people, so that’s like 10 bucks per person on drinks, which is totally laughable in all scenarios, except maybe if you home brew something, and then it gets downgraded to only pretty laughable. The amount for food is probably somewhat achievable if you’re self-catering too, but is almost half of the price I managed to get for catering.

I just want to quickly say two things here, and then I’ll move on.
1. I have a hunch that booze is much cheaper in parts of the world that aren’t Australia, NZ, and Singapore. How many Big Macs does a beer cost you, USAians?
2.  Nevertheless, these numbers and their apparent break from reality is evidence of the desperate need for a wedding paradigm shift, as I discussed in the podcast. What’s interesting is that this same iteration of the budget also allocated $733 all up for ceremony and reception decor and flowers, which seems excessive. If we’re going to afford our weddings, the paradigm shift is going to have to include a Step Away From the Pricey Decor clause. It’s a major component of wedding spending, and it needs to stop being standard and expected.

Based on the actual prices for food and drinks my venue gave me, I adjusted the catering to $1905, and $1000 for booze. I also already know that transport (ferry to the island) is going to cost about double what the calculator indicated, and I’m going to put our three nights’ stay at the resort down as the ‘facility rental’, and that’s going to be about 550 bucks.

I’m also allowing myself to cheat by not including it in the wedding budget if it’s something I’m going to use again (stay tuned for much more discussion about this in a future post).

So here, finally, is the result:

FrugallyWed’s Goal Wedding Budget

Facility rental                        550
Flowers and decorations  388
Drinks                                    1000
Food                                        1905
Bride’s wedding outfit        297
Attendants’ gifts                      55
Groom’s outfit                         46
Groomsmen outfits             119
Transport                                130
Photography                         447
Invitations                                64

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Everything else we’re either not having, or it’s already included in the catering price (fire torches), or it’s something we’ll use again and thus I’m filing it under general life expense and not wedding expense. The main wiggle room comes from the flower and decor allocation – I plan to spend more than $55 on attendants’ gifts.

There you have it folks. Was that, or was that not, a whirlwind of excitement? Whew. Come, let me take you all out for burgers now.

Podcast: Me talking wedding budgets with Rogue Bride and Hindsight Bride

I’m not saying this is exactly what went down, but when I remember recording this podcast with Rogue Bride and Christie from Hindsight Bride, these are the words I recall being said:

Christie: Lindsay writes an angry, righteous blog…
Me: What? No, I’m a nice person, I swear!

Me: Wedding budget calculator. Income. Wedding budget calculator. Percentage. Calculator.
Them: You’re a massive nerd.

Them: Wait, is it REE-dill, or rye-DELL?
Me: What the hell are you guys talking about.

All of us: Sha-vari chairs? Key-uh-vari? What is that anyway, frikkin Italian or something?

Christie: Rainbows and sausages.

Rogue: I’m going to punch myself in the face.

Them:*giving me compliments*
Me: You guys are the nicest people ever!
Them: What? No, we’re badass, we swear!

Shorter version:
Them: It’s nice that you’re badass.
Me: It’s badass that you’re nice.
(Thank you Robyn Sherbotsky and Ted Mosby.)

According to Rogue and Christie, my South African – Kiwi mongrel of an accent sounds sexy to the American ear. I’m not sure I believe them. Certainly I don’t think either saffas or kiwis enjoy my deviations from their norms much. So it’s possible they were just being super nice to me again. They’re tricksy like that. They keep saying nice things to you and offering to do nice things for you, and then also doing them, and then the next thing you know, you really really like them and start to feel like doing nice things back. It’s how they suck you in. They’re selfish like that.

You can listen to the podcast and assess my accent for yourself here.

Just get married in your reception outfit

I’ve talked before about how I think we should all get over ball gown wedding dresses – we can’t afford them, and they don’t fit into the kind of receptions we can afford to give. And because standard weddings aren’t crazy enough, we now have this growing phenomenon of TWO wedding dresses. Because obviously, why buy the most expensive outfit of your life to wear for one day, when you can buy the most expensive outfit of your life to wear for one hour?

The rationale behind the the second dress is that you want to be comfortable at the reception, you want to relax and dance, you want to be able to eat, you don’t want to be too hot/cold etc. Turns out, you often can’t do these things whilst wearing 5-10kg of train with a cinched waist. No kidding.

So since we want a party-appropriate dress for the reception, and we can’t afford the standard ceremony dress anyway, why not just have the ceremony in the second dress, and not bother with the first one? Sigh, can you imagine how great that would be…You’d be comfortable! You wouldn’t have to change! You can afford it!

Of course the reason why people hardly ever do this is that we’ve been injecting shots of concentrated Wedding Koolaid since we were kids, and generally that started with the dresses. Wedding dresses are like the gateway drug of Wedding Koolaid. They’re the foundation of wedding madness. And they are the very last thing people want to give up.

So we need an antidote, a place where we can go that will sell us on the romance and awesomeness of dresses that are affordable and partiable. I’ve started a little collection on Pinterest – it’s on my sidebar, so you can click through from there when you need respite from, oh, every wedding magazine ever. It’s one little push against the massive iceberg that is the WIC, but it’s a start.

PS. Because I’m looking at having a beach wedding, there’s a slant there towards casual beachiness. I would really love more contributions though – if you’ve seen some nice short, casual dress pics, please let me know! You can find my email in the About section.