All Articles Tagged "brides"
The average American girl is a size 16, which seems to be a fact that most bridal companies have not yet heard. It is extremely hard for average and plus-size women to find fabulous gowns to walk down the aisle in. This is where sisters Yukia Walker and Yuneisia Harris step in.
They are owners of a Columbia, MD-based bridal salon that helps curvy brides find the dress of their dreams. Curvaceous Couture is a unique bridal salon in that it carries gowns from sizes 12 to 44. Yukia and Yuneisia recently shared their story and expertise on TLC’s Curvy Brides, which aired for six weeks from May to June.
Their journey to help curvy brides started when in 2008 when Yukia, 36, was looking for a bridal gown. She searched high and low for beautiful plus-size dresses, but her shopping adventure turned into a nightmare. She couldn’t fit in any sample gowns and she was treated badly nearly everywhere she went.
This prompted the idea for Curvaceous Couture, a bridal salon for full-figured women that she and Yuneisia, 33, started in their parents’ basement. Just a few months later they opened a store. The business became so successful, the two women left their high-paying corporate jobs. Yuneisia was in pharmaceutical sales and Yukia had been in government contracting.
MadameNoire: People have ideas all the time, but what made you go ahead and start Curvaceous Couture?
Yukia: We always wanted to start a business together but it was really my horrible experience in trying to find my own dress that made me realize there was a major need for someone to offer plus-size wedding gowns.
Yuneisia: Seeing how terrible my sister was treated when she was trying to find a wedding dress it made me want to help other women. My sister was literally laughed out of the last bridal boutique we went to. And this was just ridiculous to me because the average woman is a size 16, not a 2 or 4 like the sample sizes. Later, my sister did a ton a research and found there was really no bridal salon that specialized in curvy women, so we put a business plan together.
MN: How did you fund the startup?
Yukia: We used some of our retirement funds and my mother and father also helped us out.
MN: What were some of the challenges you had as a startup?
Yuneisia: We went into a business that was very high fashion and the sizes are like size two and that was really shocking to us. It was hard to find gown samples in the sizes we wanted. But now since we have been in business for seven years we have designers sending us dresses.
Yukia: The biggest thing I think was that we thought we could open shop and just go to the bridal market and purchase some dresses in larger sizes and they would work for our customers. But every style does not work for every woman, so we had to understand how the dresses were made in order to find and have dresses created for our clients.
MN: How did the TLC show, Curvy Brides, come about?
Yukia: For years we were getting contacted by producers saying let us pitch a show featuring you. But I was dealing with health issues [she has dealt with diabetes, hyperthyroidism and other medical issues that she discusses here], had gotten married and was raising kids. It wasn’t a good time and we never really thought about being on reality TV. But when TLC came calling, we already knew about their show Brides By Design and we thought this would be the right opportunity for us. And we knew we could use the show as a platform to help other plus-size brides.
MN: How do you plan to use the show to further your brand?
Yuneisia: At the end of the day women should know there is a place where they can go to find the perfect dress. We are a mom-and-pop business and to be given a national soundboard, that is invaluable. Plus, we get to invite people into our home and our family.
MN: What has been the most surprising thing about being on the show?
Yukia: I don’t think we expected such overwhelming support. I have received so many encouraging emails about my health issues which I discussed on the show, the show, our business. It has been incredible. This support has empowered us to keep on growing our business and message.
MN: What were the challenges of the show?
Yukia: I don’t think we realized how hard of work it would be. I think we knew it would be an added stress on the business but we had to do a good job tweaking our filming hours so it would not affect our business.
Yuneisia: It was not easy being around cameras all the time, but we had a really great production team around us who made it easy.
MN: So what is next for you and your brand?
Yuneisia: We have some things with in the works. We are looking into other areas where we can expand our brand into other cities and help women. Honestly, we really started the business to help other women. My sister and I are both intelligent women, so of course we wanted to have a successful business. But at the core of it all is empowering women. If you could see my sister’s face when she was shopping for what was supposed to be her special day, you would never want anyone to feel that way.
Yukia: We’re in this for the long term. We’re not going back to the cubical life.
After sharing news of your recent engagement, one of the first things people are inclined to ask is “How did it happen?” However, according to a recent study conducted by David’s Bridal, many brides would change their engagement stories if they could.
The study, which surveyed approximately 500 brides, revealed that 53 percent of them said that if given the opportunity, they would definitely change something about the moment their future life partner’s. The figures regarding specifically what they would have tweaked, however, varied. 22 percent of women said that they would change the location where their future mate proposed, while 20 percent said that they would’ve changed their partner’s actual proposal speech.
Of course, the ring is generally a major part of any engagement; 14 percent of brides said that they would change something about their rings. 14 percent of women participating in the survey also expressed that they would make adjustments regarding some of the people who were present at the time of the proposal. Surprisingly, 10 percent of women said that they would also change the date of their proposal.
Is there anything that you would change about your partners marriage proposal?
Brides to be dream of the perfect wedding dress — one that was designed with only them in mind. This is where Therez Fleetwood comes in. Combining the exotic and romantic, her collection includes everything from lace adornment to African cowry shells. The originality of her bridal gowns has attracted customers from all over the world — Germany, Egypt, Italy, Tanzania, and Australia.
“The Therez Fleetwood bride is a woman looking for cultural nuances in her wedding attire,” says Fleetwood in an interview. “A bride who is looking to walk to the beat of her own drum and make a statement on her wedding day. She is a doctor, a lawyer, a Marine, an artist, and any other bride who is seeking a bridal gown that allows her to be self-expressed.”
Her love of African design cannot only be seen throughout her bridal collection, but also in the book she penned entitled The AfroCentric Bride – A Style Guide, which provides tips for couples who choose to incorporate cultural elements into their wedding. Prior to launching her bridal collection, Fleetwood had a clothing line called PheZula that combined African prints with contemporary Western designs. Her clothes have been considered art and have even be on exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and at the Fashion Institute of Technology (the college she attended).
As Fleetwood began to expand her offerings for brides, she decided to focus on wedding clothes. “I love the bridal industry. I love being a part of one of the most important days in a woman’s life. I get joy in helping brides find that ‘perfect’ dress that allows them to feel like a queen on their wedding day. My vision for designing bridal gowns has always been inspired by ‘world couture.’ It was through my travels to different countries that I became inspired by the colors, beads, trinkets, artwork and design elements of these cultures,” she explains.
It was a good business move on Fleetwood’s part. The bridal industry is big business. One would thing think the recent economic troubles would lead to simpler weddings for most everyone. But not so found TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com 2011 Real Weddings Survey. “For the first time since 2008, wedding budgets are on the rise,” said Carley Roney, co-founder of The Knot in a press statement. “In 2011, one in five U.S. couples spent more than $30,000, and 11% spent more than $40,000 on their weddings. Our research shows that couples and their families are less concerned with the economy and are increasingly comfortable investing more in the once-in-a-lifetime occasion of their wedding.” The average wedding budget: $27,021, not including honeymoon costs.
The 2011 BRIDES American Wedding Study found slightly different results. According to that magazine, the average wedding cost is $26,501—a decrease of a little more than a 5 percent from 2009 when the average cost was $28,082 but up $8,000 since 2002.
“It is a very exciting time in the bridal industry. Brides have more choices than ever in the planning of her wedding. Weddings are becoming more unique and individualized and can range from subtle and simple, to colorful and exuberant. Couples today are no longer confined to ‘wedding rules’or carbon-copy celebrations, they are adding personal touches throughout the wedding,” notes Fleetwood.
The Knot too found that couples aren’t tied to tradition and are opting for more causal weddings. Fewer brides, says the magazine, are going for the “formal/black-tie” tradition… only 16% went this route, down from 18% in 2010 and 20% in 2009.”
But even though weddings are less formal and more couples are doing their own planning, they haven’t gotten less expensive. “There is a trend towards do-it-yourself weddings. Are the weddings more simple?…. Not really. They are more unique and specialized and capture the true essence of the couple,” explains Fleetwood. “There is so much information offered over the Internet that allow couples the flexibility of planning all aspects of their wedding. Brides are creating their vision boards, seeking out vendors and coordinating ideas and concepts to pull everything together.”
And of course for every bride, the wedding dress is the most important purchase. The average spent on a wedding dress was $1,121 found The Knot survey. (Brides in Manhattan, the most expensive place to plan a wedding, spent the most on their dresses–$2,403.) BRIDES found the average wedding dress cost to be $1,289, a 20 percent increase since 2009 when the average cost was $1,072. Future brides start shopping for their dress at least nine months before the wedding, states BRIDES.
So if you are getting married next year, there are new trends for spring/summer 2013, reveals Fleetwood. Wedding dresses are no longer white. “Bold reds and pastels have been gracing the runways,” says Fleetwood, whose gowns are sold at her studio in Atlanta and in Virginia at Soliloquy Bridal Couture. “The trick is to find a color that flatters your skin tone and works within your wedding theme.” Dresses fashioned with peplums and beautiful backs are the current rages.
Brides looking for a totally one-of-a-kind look turn to Fleetwood. She explains why, “What makes my collection so unique are the different embellishments that adorn each dresses. I purchase my fabrics and trims from India, Asia, Africa, Italy and Spain. My focus is on creating each dress as a piece of artwork that reflect the essence of each bride who wears them.”
Handling Bridezillas And Butt Ugly Dresses: Tips For Being A Great Bridesmaid When The Bride Is Working Your Nerves
When you’re chosen to be a bridesmaid, you’re likely an important person in the bride’s life, one whom she trusts when she’s in a crunch. A wedding, for all its pretty flowers, fancy dresses, and cupid shuffling, is a stressful occasion. Your friend, the bride, is mulling over a major life decision (“Is he the one?” “Forever? For ever ever? For ever ever?”) and likely shelling out wads of cash to make a memory of her and her beloved’s big day. Weddings also can be hotbeds for festering family feuds and unburied hatchets with friends. Now factor money, time, travel, dress fittings, and dinner options into a multi-event occasion (because there isn’t just the wedding; there’s the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, night-before functions and morning-of events), and your role becomes about more than holding her bouquet and handing her tissues when she starts to cry at the altar. The job starts the second you accept the bridesmaid assignment, and it may require that you are at once a counselor, a logistical coordinator, a make-up artist, bartender, speechwriter, public speaker, seamstress, time keeper, caterer, and a host of other positions you have to hop to at a moment’s notice.
“But she’s turned into a Brideszilla!”
I have a mild-mannered friend who morphed into a nervous wreck minutes before walking down the aisle. By 4:30 p.m. she was on the verge of tears, rambling a mix of “Make sure my veil doesn’t touch my face because I just got my makeup done” and “What time is it?” as she stood jittery posing for pictures. Mind you, the wedding invitations indicated a ceremony start time of 4:00 p.m., and the bridal party was still in a bridal suite a mile away. When she noticed that each of her bridesmaids was ready to hold her veil away from her face, but hadn’t told her what the time was, she scoffed at me. “Tell me what time it is!”
I paused, knowing that she would never scoff ordinarily and that she worried about being the bride whose wedding started late. (Because, of course, she’d be the only bride in the history of the world whose wedding did not start on time.) Given that the time had already passed, and that she, one of the stars of the show, didn’t need one more thing to fret over, I offered this: “Girl, we all left our phones over there. I think we’re good on time anyway.” I pointed to the room where we’d done our makeup and left our personal effects. We were in middle of taking pictures, so the likelihood that any of us could rush to grab our phones was low. “Besides, you’re the bride. They can’t start without you.” The bride calmed down, realizing that she was the bride, after all. What she didn’t know was that her bridesmaids had kept their eyes on the clock, with one in touch with the wedding planner who was at the church. The wedding planner was informed of what was happening and had a sense of the bridal party’s estimated time of arrival. Calming the bride’s nerves prevented a freak-out on the home front, and doing the back-end work of checking in with those at the church were a couple of the bridesmaids’ roles that day.
On the brink of a major life change, the bride’s nerves are likely frayed. Understand that her mess of emotions might lead to bouts of bossiness and snippety-snappity sensitivity. Offer a listening ear when she needs to vent, take some of the work load off by offering to stuff and stamp invitation envelopes, or simply take her out for lunch and choose not to talk about anything wedding related to relieve her mind of the stress for a little while.
If you feel like the bride’s gone off the deep end, quell the urge to snap back. The best way to avoid a tense argument is to stay calm, tell her you understand her position (“I know this is your dream wedding and I know you want everything to be just right.”), tell her that you’re happy to help (“I’m here for you and I’m glad to help you make this happen.”), then very gently let her know how her attitude/rude remark/over-the-top request made you feel (“I was a little hurt by the way you mentioned that I am gaining too much weight to be in your wedding.”). Again, remain calm and decide from there whether your role as bridesmaid will remain.
“But the dress is ugly!”
I stood in another wedding where a fellow bridesmaid flippantly mentioned how hideous our dresses were — to the bride. The bride, understandably upset, had tried to find a dress that was affordable, comfortable, and in a style that was flattering to the body types of her diverse cache of bridesmaids. The other bridesmaids were fine with what had been chosen, but as much as the bride had mulled over the decision of what her girls would wear, the offhand note that one member of the wedding party thought the dress was unsightly had the bride reeling for other options. This, ladies, is an example of when to just suck it up, and let it go. Yes, I know that you’re shelling out your own cash for a dress that you’ll never wear again and can’t return. Yes, I know you’ll be standing in front of a room of people and then be immortalized in photographs wearing a dress that you didn’t even choose yourself. But, as Echo Surina writes in “10 Rules Every Bridesmaid Should Follow”:
Accept [the bride’s] decision happily. If you love the dress, rave to the bride about her superb fashion acumen. If you’re not so lucky, suck it up and be thankful you have to wear it only one day.
Surina notes that if the bride does ask for input, bridesmaids should keep the assessments “soft”:
Instead of saying you adore or despise a dress, without constructively explaining why, try framing your feedback in a way that’s based on objective factors: dress availability, affordability, how flattering it is to your figures, or whether the color [complements] everyone’s skin tone.
“But I Can’t Afford It!”
What if you can’t afford the dress? What if you can’t afford to travel for the wedding? Tell the bride up front and tell her immediately. Case in point: I once made the mistake of holding out on ordering a bridesmaid’s dress until six weeks before the big day. Ample timing in real life, a rush-job in the wedding world. Aside from having to field eye rolls and clenched jaws from the bridal shop employees, I caught an earful from the bride who was afraid I’d need alterations and wouldn’t have the dress in time for the big day. “Why didn’t you tell me you’d have to wait on buying the dress?” She’s right, I should have. Luckily, the dress they had in stock fit me perfectly, but what if it hadn’t? Keeping the bride in the loop on money matters minimizes that event of unpleasant surprises and gives her the option to front the cost of your dress and other items if necessary. But if she doesn’t know, she can’t help.
Can’t make it to a friend’s destination wedding? Consider throwing a small shindig for the bride and groom before they set off to get hitched. The costs may be considerably lower than jetting to Cancun for three days, but you still have the chance to properly wish your friend well. Again, the operative phrase is “up front and immediately.” If there are any known conflicts with your participation in the wedding, the more time you give the bride to make different arrangements, the better.
The bottom line: The role of the bridesmaid is to lift the weight that can suck the magic and memory from what should be a very special time in the life of a bride. Though it might mean wearing fluffy taffeta or being in charge of the bride’s debaucherous final night of singledom, be mindful that more than anything, your friend needs your support.
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According to bridal business research company The Wedding Report, the average U.S. wedding in 2011 cost $25,630. And that was during a recession!
So weddings are big business and Marta Segal Block, writing for The Huffington Post, wonders if wedding blogs are making couples (read: brides) think they need to put themselves into hock to make their wedding day great. Block is a wedding blogger and she wonders whether the image of wedding perfection that she and other writers put forward is actually what you should be striving for.
“That gorgeous tablescape you’re looking at and wondering how to copy for your own wedding? It’s not real,” she says. “It’s part of a styled ‘inspirational’ photo shoot. Those bouquets are real, but they cost $500 each and were created in a totally different climate from the one in which you’re getting married.”
Having been to a number of wedding, I’ve found that whether large or small, people want to tell the bride how beautiful she is, bask in the happiness of the couple and their families, eat, drink (too much) and dance. Most everything else is a cherry on top. Which doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on your big day. I went to one wedding where there was a milk chocolate, a dark chocolate and a white chocolate fountain in addition to wedding cake. My cup literally ranneth over. But it’s not necessary.
“I worry that somewhere there’s a couple who spent so much time on wedding blogs that they have a wedding album filled with pictures of things, not people,” Block continues.
The trend watchers at The New York Times Style section say more couples are choosing to “downsize” their weddings. Among the reasons they cite: people have realized the “insanity that is the wedding market;” couples are older and busier; and people want to put their own spin on the tradition.
We’ll also add that with all of the wedding stuff one can find at their fingertips, trying to keep up with the latest wedding innovations seems excessive given the state of the economy. People really do have other things to do with their money. And, when you try that hard, your wedding begins to look more like a circus than a celebration of love.
All that said, I’ve also been to a wedding that was so DIY, I made the (non-alcoholic!) punch in the moments before the bride walked down the aisle. That’s fine, but you know, we don’t have to go there either.
Dear Single Sistahs,
I am writing this letter to my Single Sistas who desperately desire a relationship, to those whose biological clocks are ticking, to those who are at the end of a relationship, to those who feel as though they will always be a bridesmaid and never a bride, to those who are currently playing the dating game, on a hiatus from it or have simply retired from it, to those who are moving out and moving on, to those who fear being alone, to those who are settling for less, to those who are divorced and refuse to open their hearts, and finally to those who have lost a love, and feel as though they can never love again.
I write this letter to each and every one of my Single Sistas to encourage and lift your hearts, minds and spirits to let you know that being single is not a curse; but it is a celebration of a season often short-lived and over looked by seeking out a relationship. As I write this letter to all of you I want to let you know that this time of singleness that you have is a gift that should not be taken lightly. Your season of singleness has a distinct purpose, and it is not to seek a relationship with the immediate hopes of marriage, but it is to build a profound, individual and distinct relationship with your Creator and yourself. This is the time in your life where you can discover who you are, why you were created, and what you should be doing at this particular time in your life.
Being single is a valuable journey in life we often take for granted because we have often been led to believe that if we are not in a promising relationship, engaged or married by a certain age then something must be mentally, physically or emotionally wrong with us and our value as an individual seems to decrease.
However, what many people fail to realize is that being single is a part of life that should be celebrated and honored as much as marriage. This stage in life should be celebrated as much as marriage because this is the time of life where the knowledge of who you are as an individual grows daily. This is the time where you find out who you truly are and stand firm on that knowledge so when the time comes for a relationship you will remain who you are and not morph into who someone else wants you to be.
I know it gets hard sometimes when we see couples holding hands, walking, and out on dates; and I know it is particularly hard when a friend or family member gets engaged and asks you to play a part in their wedding festivities! I also know it’s hard when we see a woman who is not half the woman we (you) are with not only a fine man, but a good one! Hell, it’s even hard to see Facebook and Twitter posts about someone recently engaged to be married! I know all of these things are difficult because as I write this letter to all of my Single Sistas, I am writing it to myself as well.
Any Madame can tell you that the bridal gown selection is the most important part of the wedding … after the groom, of course. Whether you’re looking for fairy princess frills or minimalist mode, here are some tips from WE tv’s Gown Guru Mark Ingram.
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