Turn your wedding weekend into a mini vacation for your guests, with advice from top local pros.
Ask Us Anything: Fall/Winter '18
Q: I’m excited to start wedding dress shopping, but I’m a bit overwhelmed—there seem to be new bridal shops popping up left and right. Where should I start?
A: Yes, the Twin Cities are bursting with incredible new bridal boutiques, along with old favorites. This is great news for you—so many choices!
Amy Fuerstenberg, co-owner of Mi Mi Design, keeps an eye on the bridal boutique scene to help give her brides great advice as they begin searching for their dream gown.
Social media is both influencing and educating brides on all the designer offerings and styles to choose from, says Fuerstenberg. “The local industry has responded, as many of the new bridal shops offer a much broader range of designers at different price points.”
Her first piece of advice? Do your research, then book your appointments. Make appointments at two to three bridal shops based on their style, the designers they carry and the price range. This will help you find a dress that suits your taste and your budget.
For brides who want to try the new shops in town, Fuerstenberg recommends starting your search with these boutiques:
- a&bé bridal shop for modern, indie and romantic designs.
- The White Room for unique, fashion-forward gowns and a focus on smaller, up-and-coming designers.
- Annika Bridal Boutique for a combination of classic and contemporary gowns.
- Modehaus for one-of-a-kind, custom-made bridal gowns.
Then there are the tried-and-true favorites. Fuerstenberg recommends checking out these boutiques where countless brides have found their dresses:
- m. Elizabeth Bridal for a curated collection of luxury gowns and exceptional service.
- Bridal Accents Couture for a selection of high-end gowns for both trendy and classic brides.
- Che Bella for classic designer gowns with a strong focus on handmade accessories and new and vintage jewelry.
- Flutter Bridal Boutique for a hand-picked collection of moderately priced, unpretentious bridal gowns.
- Joynoelle for a signature bridal line and custom-made gowns by owner Joy Teiken.
Q: I’ve just started wedding planning and it seems that every venue is booked for our preferred dates. I’m at my wit’s end—what do we do?
A: Take a deep breath (and maybe a sip of wine). You’re not alone, and you absolutely have options.
Lindsay Kung and Kimberly Seymour, co-owners and lead planners of Pink Peony Events, help couples deal with similar issues almost daily. “We typically see couples booking at least a year out, and even further in advance for peak summer and fall dates,” they say. “Saturday dates always book first, and if you’re looking for a Saturday wedding June through October, a year or more wait time is not uncommon.”
First things first: It’s important to decide whether a specific venue or a specific season is more important. There’s no right or wrong answer.
Kung and Seymour recommend immediately determining a list of venues that fit your budget and can accommodate your guest list. This will help narrow your search and ensure you’re pursuing venues that are a good fit.
Contact the venues on your list and check availability. Be forewarned that many venues will have highly limited availability during peak months, especially if you’re intending to book a date within the coming year. Considering uncommon locations like restaurants and community centers might be just the trick.
“If the venue is important to you but your dream date isn’t available, we recommend couples consider off-peak days of the week first,” Kung and Seymour say. “Friday and Sunday weddings have become increasingly popular, and Saturdays are not the absolute must they once were. With enough notice, most of your guests will be able to accommodate a different day of the week—this is the beauty of save-the-dates.”
If you’re set on getting married on a specific day of the week that isn’t available during your first-choice month, consider getting married a different month, or even a different season. With Minnesotans embracing the colder weather, winter weddings are becoming more popular, and venues and vendors are offering new options for couples who choose to wed in the snow.
If you’re set on a specific season, Kung and Seymour still recommend being flexible with the day of the week. This will likely allow you more options when it comes to finding a venue with openings. A sunny Friday-afternoon June wedding is just as lovely as a June wedding on a Saturday.
But remember, no matter which venue or date you choose, that aspect won’t be the most important part of your wedding day. “Remembering that your wedding day itself is all about love can put everything into perspective,” Kung and Seymour say. “You can make anything work with the right outlook.”
(Invitation suite by Paper Rock Scissor)
Q: My fiancé and I are working on our invitations, and we want them to stand out. Any tips for fun and unique invites that will engage our guests?
A: No two loves are exactly alike, no two weddings are exactly alike. So why should invitations for two weddings be the same?
Kate Panke, owner and lead designer of Paper Rock Scissor, emphatically agrees. “Sharing a piece of who you and your fiancé are as a couple on your wedding invitations is a great way to connect with your guests and build excitement as your big day approaches.”
Panke often receives requests like this. “As a stationer specializing in custom wedding stationery, our clients come to us to help them put personal and memorable touches on the most important invitation they’ll ever send. We try to get to know them and channel their unique interests and experiences into memorable details on their stationery.”
The sky’s the limit on how to differentiate your wedding invitations, Panke says. What are you passionate about that you want to share with your family and friends? Once you’ve determined that, think about how you can incorporate it into your invitations. Can you tweak the wording to reflect you and your interests or personal style? Is there custom artwork you might want to use? Perhaps a monogram? Or special printing or packaging?
“There are a million ways to make your invitations special,” Panke says. “I always suggest couples bring in an expert who can help turn your ideas into beautiful details that won’t break your budget.”
Q: We’re excited to have a big, festive reception with our extended family and friends, but we’d like for our ceremony to be small and semi-private. Is it rude to invite people to our reception only?
A: The short answer? Not at all. If you’ve read this column before, you know our biggest advice to every bride and groom is to plan the wedding that they want, because at the end of the day, it’s your day. This couldn’t ring truer than for the ceremony.
Kelly Bollis, owner and creative director of event production company Maven says she’s worked with many couples who kept their ceremony intimate. “There is an expectation that making a commitment to marriage means proclaiming your love in front of as many people as will listen, but that’s not a requirement,” she says. “You may not want to be the center of attention during one of the most important moments of your life, and that’s OK.”
Bollis says that while having a small ceremony and large reception may raise a few eyebrows among older guests, it’s becoming increasingly popular with younger couples who want to opt out of a big church ceremony. “Having a large reception is a great way to bring everyone into the celebration of your marriage, even if they weren’t present for your ceremony.”
Your invitations are the perfect way to let your guests know what your wishes are for your wedding day. To avoid any confusion, Bollis suggests ensuring your invitation clearly states that you have decided to have an intimate ceremony. Highlight that you are excited to celebrate at the reception, which will follow an intimate or private ceremony with family.
Where things get a little tricky is if you plan to invite some, but not all, of your extended family and some, but not all, of your friends to the ceremony. “You don’t want people to feel hurt, and having a moderate size group attend your ceremony can rub those who aren’t invited the wrong way,” Bollis says. If your ceremony truly is intimate, that means only your immediate family and a best friend or two. That way, she says, “people will understand and respect your decision.”
If you’ve decided to elope and have a party months later, avoid using the word “reception” on your invitation, as that still typically implies that the ceremony happened earlier that same day (and trust us, you don’t want to spend your entire party explaining to your guests that you eloped weeks or months before). Consider making a big announcement at the beginning of your party to share your elopement with your guests, or perhaps have photographs or a slideshow available at the venue so your guests can experience your day.
“Whatever your reason is for wanting a private ceremony, you need to start your marriage off in a way that is meaningful to you and your partner,” Bollis says. “Plan from the heart.”
Q: We don’t want to make our groomsmen rent tuxes for our wedding. What are some other options for making our wedding party menswear look cohesive?
A: If there was ever a time to be particular about an outfit, your wedding is that time.
This is your opportunity to personalize every last detail, and your groom’s suit should be no different. “Couples are including personal details in every aspect of their weddings, so it’s no surprise that grooms are looking for ways to incorporate their personal style into their attire,” says Kirsten Fischer, owner and principal planner of Fab Event Design. “This can mean pulling off a classic tuxedo or opting for anything from a dapper suit to more offbeat patterned sports coats. The bride isn’t the only one who wants to shine on her wedding day.”
To get started, have your fiancé decide what he wants to wear. Suit, tuxedo, sport coat or even a button-down shirt with no coat at all? A tie? A bow tie? He has options. For inspiration, scroll through Pinterest or flip through wedding magazines.
Once he’s decided on a wedding-day look for himself and the groomsmen, it’s time to alert the gents. If you’d like your groomsmen to wear the same suit, consider purchasing from a larger retailer that will have vast inventory and maybe even multiple locations for them to visit and try on the suit before buying. Many companies like J.Crew and Indochino will help coordinate suit purchases for a wedding party and can provide suggestions on sizing and when to order.
If your groom is open to groomsmen buying a specific color suit but from a variety of locations, send photos or other examples of what the suit should look like. Be sure to provide information on the pattern, material, color, style and even shoes—the more information, the better. For either option, ensure you let your groomsmen know about your plans well in advance to allow them adequate time to purchase and get alterations if needed.
Another reason to consider having your groomsmen buy a suit versus rent a tux is purely practical—money. “Men often have to pay hundreds of dollars to rent a tux that doesn’t fit perfectly and has to be returned,” Fischer says. “The women get to keep their stylish attire, but the men don’t. By allowing your groomsmen to buy versus rent, each groomsmen will get to keep a nice item of clothing that fits them well. It’s a win-win.”