Pay-it-forward - Wedding Edition

Every wedding is special, but anyone in this industry will tell you that having the opportunity to work with, and for, a long time friend is so special.

And a bit unnerving. You want to give them the entire professional experience you’re capable of and then some - but when they’ve been with you through your awkward times, supported you during bad hair years, and seen (many) more than one ugly cry, its challenging to walk that line.

One of my best friends “L” got married last February in Mexico. Stop by sometime if you want the full story on how amazing her gown was (one of my all-time favorites), how gorgeous the venue was (Tropical flowers, crashing waves, sun, and sand. Enough said), or how breathe taking her photos are (…under water?!? AMAZING!).

The real story you need to know is a result of the happy couple's trash the dress session and those amazing under water photos.  This moving pay-it-forward story is best told in the bride's own words: 

“The trash the dress felt like a really great idea to book after we saw our photographer’s collection of gorgeous photos. The day after the wedding I really didn't know what I signed up for and was having massive second thoughts. I felt pretty ridiculous in a wedding dress jumping into a cave filled with water, with tons of tourists staring at us. But it turned out to be an amazing day. We went to locations I would have never seen without shooting with a local photographer and it was amazing bonding time with my new husband. It was our first adventure as a married couple. 

After 8 hours in my soaking wet dress, I was so relieved to get it off. We stuffed my beautiful dress into a bag and headed for the hotel. It was when we got back I realized what I had done - even though I had never really planned to keep the dress. I hung it up in the bathroom and it was covered with sand and weighed 60 pounds. I had no idea what I was going to do with it. 

When it was time to check out, the dress was still soaking wet to the touch (thanks humid Mexico) and I was just so exhausted from the week I wasn't sure what to do. It was an extremely beautiful dress that was now unfortunately saturated in water and sand - too heavy to take back to Canada. We went to the front desk and I started to explain that there was a wedding dress hanging in the tub if anyone... knows what to do with it...? I will never forget the receptionists face. She thought I was a lunatic, and her jaw dropped. She asked me to repeat myself, which I did – then I saw the light bulb go off in her head and she told me she thought she could help. Sure enough, 15 minutes later an older man from the maintenance staff approached me. With very broken English, he asked if I would gift him the dress, as his daughter was to be wed later in the year.

My problem was solved - if I wasn't going to use the dress, it should go to someone who could.

Later, we saw him carrying the dress away with a huge smile. The dress that meant the world to me and was a major part of my day was going to be the same for someone else. “

Secret Destination

It’s an old joke that people tell bartenders and hairdressers their secrets – bridal stylists need to be added to this list. By the time the Bride walks down the aisle, it’s common for us to help her keep all kinds of secrets. These can include everything from a slight (or major) budget change (increase), which bridesmaid is or might be expecting but can’t tell anyone yet, or that the bride didn’t include her mom until appointment #2 because she wanted to shop without opinions.

We had the extreme pleasure of keeping two different secrets for one very special couple this spring – one big, and one small. 

Melissa first came to the studio in January looking for her wedding gown. With a tropical beach destination in mind for the following year, she was laser focused and knew exactly what she wanted for her walk down the aisle to her fiancé, Wes. Within two hours she was using the word “love” about one of our in-studio dresses.

By early May, Melissa had called the studio with her big secret. A very private couple, she and Wes were certain they didn’t want to wait until January to be married. Instead, they were going to elope to New York City in July. They decided not to tell anyone at all – not even their family. It would be just the two of them, a marriage commissioner, and a horse-drawn carriage ride through central park. 

With some after-hour fittings and a few evasive answers to acquaintances, her incredibly romantic secret was safe with us.

Anyone that is a faithful Muse social media follower will remember the snippet we posted about Wes and the small secret. We met him about a week before their flight south when he popped into the studio prior to Melissa’s final dress fitting and purchased a bracelet she’d mentioned to him in passing. He knew the stress of keeping this secret was starting to get to her, and he asked us to surprise her with the gift and a note from him. When we gave Melissa the box she was surprised. When she read the note, she cried. And then we all cried.

Many thanks to the happy couple for including us in their beautiful secrets, and for ultimately letting us share their story.  


Neither Melissa nor Wes ever told us what the note said. And even if they did, we’d never tell…

2nd Time's a Charm

I had different plans for this Musing, but I encountered a couple this week that gave me different inspiration.

I had the pleasure of meeting both the bride and groom after the bride arrived in the studio and found a gown she absolutely loved. Their upcoming wedding will be the “second go-around” for both of them, and they are both beyond thrilled to be engaged three months after having found one another. On a blind date.

They both shared similar thoughts with me – life is short, you never know what is around the next bend, why wait?

The excitement and dedication this couple clearly has for one another lead me to think about other brides I’ve seen that are giving marriage another try. Many of these women arrive unsure as to what they want, and unsure what is appropriate for a later-in-life wedding:

“I want to wear a coloured dress – is that allowed?” 
“Can I wear a full wedding gown? Or should it be something simpler?”
“I hated my first dress – my mother made me do it – this time I want something I LOVE.”
“Can I wear white? Or should I be wearing ivory or oyster?”

I tell every bride the same thing - it's about what makes YOU happy. If you want to wear an all-white ball gown with a 12 foot cathedral veil, go for it. If you want to wear a red cocktail dress and four inch stiletto heels, all the power to you!  Most of these brides opt for something in between, but from my perspective there are no rules. 

The key is to wear what makes you
engaged-after-three-months-from-a-blind-date happy. 

Veiled Power

True story:

Once upon a time, a bride-to-be (B2b) made an appointment to try on wedding gowns.  To share this exciting occasion, the B2b invited her sister, mother and father, as well as her future mother in law.  After an hour of trying on, modeling, discussing, and trying on again, the B2b excitedly decided on the dress she would wear down the aisle. 

“Yep, this is the one.   I LOVE this dress.”
“That’s great! Have you thought about what you want to do with your hair?”
“Well, I think I want a veil.”
“That will look amazing – to get started, why don’t you try this one on?”

With the veil in place, picture a waterfall effect – first the bride cries, then her dad cries.  Next her mom, followed by her sister, as well as both Muse staff, all proceed to cry.  The seven of us pass tissue around the room. Thus is the power of the veil. 

This instance isn’t the first time we’ve seen veils tip the emotional scales. 

What is it about the addition of a veil that makes happy women weep and grown men cry?

For the B2b, I think it’s about the “I’m-actually-really-for-sure-getting-married. Wow” factor.  Seeing yourself in the wedding gown you're going to wear with the finishing touch of a veil can be a very powerful moment.  For parents of the B2b, it’s basically the same – “My little girl is all grown up.”  Either way, veils seem to emphasize the reality and drama of the moment.

And although veils are often thought of as very traditional, they are also very current in bridal fashion.  From short and fluttery to long and dramatic, many designers recognize the power of the veil and are designing specific veils for specific gowns.    

We'll make sure we keep tissue handy.

The Groom(zilla) rises


Unrealistic -perfection-demanding, feelings-stomping, your-bridesmaid-dress-needs-to-be-an-exact-length, stress-out-the-bride, grooms.  Turns out men can be just as particular about their big day as women.  But to be fair, the zilla population I've encountered is only one small (concerning) fraction of the trend.

In general, grooms are becoming more and more involved in the planning process.  

Don’t misunderstand me - I am absolutely not passing judgement on any groom that wants to be an active participant in the wedding planning process. I actually love the idea.  However, these grooms need to be held to the same standard as any bride, and just like brides, they deserve to have zilla tacked on to their title if they choose to behave badly. 

Although some people find it taboo, it’s now far more common for fiancés to join in the Bride’s wedding dress shopping adventure - or attend other planning appointments toting a wedding binder full of their plans and ideas.  

Like I said, I think its great.  As somone who is currently planning a wedding (6 weeks to go!!), I know how consuming planning a wedding can be. Unless bringing it all together is your full time job, you're going to need help at some point. Family and friends are always willing to help out, but why shouldn't the extra set of hands belong to the groom? Its his day too. 

The craziest part is that no one I've talked to could put their finger on what is driving this trend of increased groom involvement. Perhaps the amount of TV coverage weddings and wedding reality shows receive? Maybe the influence of their mothers? Or we could be witnessing a new angle in the evolution of gender roles, as brides try to balance careers and families with planning and a wedding. Who knows?

Weddings can be stressful, but bride or groom, it’s not ok to lash out or make unreasonable demands on your wife/husband-to-be, family, in-laws, wedding party, guests, or vendors. Have you been in, or attended, a wedding where the groom was very involved in planning? Or simply took over all together? Where is this coming from?  Tell us about it on our Facebook page.