Last weekend was the first official wedding of a “friend.” One of my best college friends, Miss Kaitlyn Dreyling [now Mrs. Kaitlyn Dreyling-Lee!] was getting married on the roof of the luxurious, historic Hay-Adams Hotel directly across from the White House in Washington, D.C.
I’ve been told by friends older and wiser [or perhaps just jaded by all-too-many wedding bells?] that once you hit the mid 20s, the wedding invitations appear in your mailbox almost as often as your bank statement. I have friends in the 25 to 30-year-old range who claim they’ve spent thousands of dollars on either participating in or traveling to weddings.
Oy vey! I suppose that’s why the wedding has to be perfect — you’re paying back your guests for showing face with a delicious meal and evening of free entertainment.
Kaitlyn’s wedding was all-of-the-above, and more. Because it was my unofficial first friend “wedding” [My dad's second marriage, and my 28-year-old cousin's wedding [see pictures at end of post] don’t really count in the grand scheme of “friend” weddings], I was at an excitement high to participate and witness a friend turn the corner into official adulthood and relationship bliss.
I was particularly excited to participate at a fashion high, too — a vintage-inspired fashion high, that is. I wanted to leave my personal mark on a beautiful wedding dress by Jenny Yoo, the kind that can be re-worn in a variety of ways — at a casual luncheon, or an evening cocktail party, or any general celebratory occasion. What I wanted to craft it into, though, was the building piece from which I could draw vintage bridesmaid style inspiration.
The number one gripe about bridesmaid dresses is that, well … that they’re ugly. I can understand why the likelihood of bridesmaid dress inevitable ugliness is so high — how can you possibly choose a dress for 3+ girls, of 3+ body shapes and aesthetics, that not only suits YOUR wedding budget but suits theirs, too? David’s Bridal … you were a genius invention. Middle-of-the-road dresses for middle-of-the-road prices that no one really minds shelling out and only wearing once.
In typical Sammy D style, I hardly wanted to be “middle.” Thus, enter the wedding veil. Of course we see brides wear veils — whether short or long, sheer or practically blinding … most brides opt for the oddly innocent-sexy-glamorous face cover-up on their big day.But have you ever seen a bridesmaid wear a veil? Or rather, the entire bridesmaid party, standing next to the bride and rocking their own set of luxurious lace to add some needed pizazz to what [may] potentially be a middle-of-the-road dress?
Read on for how I added vintage pizazz to my modern-day bridesmaid dress — and why encouraging your bridesmaids to appreciate the worthwhile investment of a designer dress will keep your wedding [and it's fashion excitement!] from hitting that middle-of-the-road stagnant plateau.
Happy wedding season!
THE DRESS: Jenny Yoo, NYC Showroom
THE EARRINGS: Kate Spade 14K/pearl studs, gift from Kaitlyn [thank you darling!]
THE SHOES: Gold kitten heels [see pics below] from Payless [the best easy breezey I-need-new-shoes-fast stylish shoe store]
The Jenny Yoo dress and Kate Spade earrings, coupled with affordable shoes and my own personal vintage touch [see below!] completely removed any risk of “middle-of-the-bridesmaid-road” paranoia. While we could have spent less money on say, that quintessential David’s Bridal “frock,” investing in a one-of-a-kind dress and beautiful accessories guaranteed a gorgeous, happy, fulfilled bridal party.
The open back was flattering — most bridesmaid dresses look like conservative prom pieces, with arms and legs bare but backs and chest covered.
The three bridesmaids wore their bows similarly — tied gently at the side — but after the wedding was over, I removed the bow and instead tied it — bondage style — around my neck. The result? A bridesmaid dress with flair trendy enough for a club in the Meatpacking district.
Payless shoes for $14.99 brought down the total price of the outfit … and the kitten heels brought down my height next to the shorter bridesmaids. Me, a giant in the wedding photos? I successfully avoided it [and at low costs!]
While we had our makeup professionally done [another seemingly expensive investment that is truly worth it for a quality bridesmaid experience] I opted to do my own hair. As I stood in front of the mirror the morning of the wedding, I had no idea what I was going to do … until I started touching my hair. Hair and touch are partnered words for me, because I am always MOVING my hair with my hands — rather than a tool, like a straightener or curling iron — to give it style and shape.
What ended up “moving” were my bangs in a swept-back, vintage-do. I found this picture below and realized that, without consciously knowing it, I had totally added a vintage touch to the bridesmaid look before even putting on my vintage hat/veil … [keep scrolling for that pic, coming up!]
And there it is! Found in Lebanon, PA [never heard of it? It's OK. It's in the boonies of PA] at a thrift store called “Blue Mountain,” this veil hat was too water stained to sell to a SDV customer. So for months it hung on a nail on my Harlem apartment wall, it’s veil hanging innocently and without a place in the world.
Well, last weekend it found it’s place — and in oddly stylish serendipity style, the color scheme of the hat matched perfectly with the mint of the dress and pinks/whites of the bouquet.
Note the water stains: Gives it more vintage edge, no?
Hello, Miss Kaitlyn Dreyling-Lee! Her dress: the first one she tried on, from Cymboline Paris.
The entire bridal party at dinner at the Hay-Adams. The dress compliments each of us, and note that Erica, on the left, has a halter/strapless dress. This is because Kaitlyn choose a style that came in multiple skirt and top cuts, so that we could choose what was most flattering on us.
Finally, my date and I — Mr. Jesse North of stage-rush.com. He was extremely excited to be the date of the best dressed bridesmaid ever.
Bridesmaid dress flashback: At my Dad’s wedding, May 2009. See how I re-wore this dress for New Year’s Eve here.
Sad to say, but … a David’s Bridal staple for my cousin’s wedding. Take note of how many bridesmaids she had, and imagine the difficulty of choosing a dress that would flatter all of these body types and style preferences. As you can see here, one of the bridesmaids was even pregnant!
Thankfully, this yellow David’s bitty is being remastered RIGHT NOW by my cousin [Mary, the bride] so that it’s shorter, sleeker, and with some added pizazz [although not vintage] via pearls and lace. Hopefully, like my bridesmaid dress for my Dad’s wedding, I’ll find the event to re-wear and maintain sustainable style, even with pieces that aren’t necessarily meant to be “re-worn.”
Have you ever worn a bridesmaid dress that you absolutely LOVED? That you absolutely ABHORRED? Were you able to add your own stylish touch to it, or did the bride take over your look from A to Z? Leave a comment below and tell me your story!