Choices, choices, choices: How, and when, to chose flowers, attire

Like with any other portion of your wedding, flowers and attire are a personal choice for the bride and groom. Again, there is no right or wrong in this area of your wedding planning. People choose everything from blue jeans to three-piece tuxedos, from fresh-cut flowers to extravagant bouquets.

Flowers

Choosing flowers that are appropriate for the time of year and place of your ceremony will help control costs. When searching for a florist, be sure to walk in the door with an idea of how much you would like to spend on the greenery.

"We like brides to come in an look at our books to help them choose what they'll be doing for their flower arrangements," said Shirley Larrick, co-owner of The Flower Mine said. "It really helps if they have an idea of the direction they'd like to go and how much they'd like to spend. In any case, we can also help the bride with her decisions if she has no idea where to start."

Jan Stark, owner of Candlelight Floral, said she offers brides a worksheet so they can outline what flowers they could get but don't necessarily have to have.

"The biggest questions is always 'who am I supposed to buy flowers for,'" Stark said. "We try to help them with that, but always remind them that really, anything goes."

Larrick said variations of in-season flowers, the theme and colors for the wedding (if there are any), and photos from magazines really help couples plan the flowers.

"In all cases, we can design variations and cost-saving variations of what a bride might see in a magazine," Larrick said.

Most couples should allow at least a month to work with a florist to coordinate their flowers. Scheduling appointments with your florist, providing a swatch of the wedding dress and bridesmaid's dresses and photos of what you like will help facilitate the floral design process.

"Most people in this area spend from $250 to $600 on their wedding and reception flowers," Larrick said. "We also rent arches, candelabras, aisle runners, baskets and pew decorations for those couples that want to go with those accessories."

Stark said that even after all the decisions are made, most florists can make last minute minor changes to the floral plan.

"Even up to a week before the wedding, we can make very minor changes," she said.

This year, Larrick and Stark both said many couples are choosing hand-tied bouquets and stream-lined corsages. For bridesmaids, brides are choosing one or two roses tied with simple ribbon.

"You don't have to go real expensive to have a beautiful wedding," Larrick said. "The hand-held bouquets are beautiful, affordable and give an entirely different look from the cascade bouquets or round bouquets. It really looks like the flowers were just freshly picked."

"I think people are choosing casual flowers, lots of wild flowers and yes, hand-tied bouquets," Stark said. "I also suggest a contrast in flowers to the bride. If your bridesmaid's dresses are burgundy, you don't want burgundy flowers, they won't show up. Flowers enhance the dresses. I also suggest that the bouquets are in proportion to the girl that is carrying them."

Stark said a great way to make the most of your flower budget is to carry the ceremony flowers to the reception.

"We use a lot of alter flower arrangements at the reception and also on the wedding cake. This is really a great thing to do and I always suggest that to the bride," she said.

Attire

Wedding Dress

When choosing wedding attire, allow four to six months for a wedding dress and bridesmaids' dresses to be ordered and altered.

Marcia Poirier, owner of Hems and Hers, offered excellent tips for brides when choosing the dress of their dreams.

"When you buy a dress off the rack, they usually run in a size 12 or 14, this is kind of a universal middle-of-the-road size that the average girl or woman will fit. Remember that alterations should be professionally done. There are so many things to think about when you cut into a dress, the lining, the bead work, you never know how much or how little work will be involved."

When visiting a seamstress, Poirier said to be sure and bring your undergarments, shoes and the bra you'll be wearing the day of the wedding.

"You can't alter a dress without these essentials," she said. "We want to alter it to exactly what you'll be wearing and how you'll look the day of your wedding."

Be sure to allow at least two to three months for alterations and fittings.

When choosing a dress, Poirier said be practical.

"Buy a dress that is most flattering and comfortable, not just because it's in style. It should be flattering to your body type as opposed to what Julia Roberts wore. Think about the season and time of day and location of your wedding," she said. "You probably don't want long sleeves for a July wedding."

Poirier said that even if you do not buy your dress locally, you should try and have it altered locally.

"It really cuts down on the end stress to the bride if the alterations are done locally and she is not having to drive many miles back and forth for fittings and alterations," she said. "This basic use of good time management saves lots of money in the long run and stress. The last thing a bride wants to worry about in her final days before the wedding is if the dress will fit. Believe me, she'll have plenty of other things to worry about."

Tuxedo

Typically the groom, fathers of the bride and groom, groomsmen, ushers and ring bearer all wear tuxedos in the wedding. This is not set in stone, but is a good place to start when deciding who needs to rent attire.

"Think about the pictures when you're deciding who is going to wear a tuxedo," Poirier said. "There's no rule that you have to wear a tuxedo, but it does look nice and makes a special occasion."

From double breasted, tuxedo-style and full dress tails, there are many styles of tuxedos to choose from. The decision is truly personal.

Gary Loyd, owner of Loyd's Cleaners and Clothiers, said choosing a tuxedo is all a matter of taste.

"Anymore, any style goes. Most people ask what is appropriate for formal attire," he said. "We see just about everything. But, what a lot of people are doing is the groom will wear one style and the rest of the wedding party will wear another style. Or, the groom and best man will wear the same style with everyone else in a different style. We've even had a wedding with about 16 attendants, all of which were in groups of four with different styles."

In most cases, the bride attempts to carry a similar color through the entire wedding party attire.

"A large percent of people coordinate the tuxedo vests or cummerbunds and ties to the bridesmaid's dresses," Poirier said. "I suggest that people try to stay with the timeless styles and classic cuts. Again, think of your pictures 20 years from now and try not to date them with trendy collars or colors."

Loyd suggests the bride bring in a swatch of fabric from the bridesmaid's dresses, a picture of the dress or even the actual dress to help match the vests, cummerbunds or ties.

"Especially with your lavenders and purples. There are so many different shades of these colors and they are really easy to mismatch if you're not careful," he said. "The last thing we want is the colors to clash."

The average price for tuxedo rental is $80 to $100. The price depends on the style of tux that the groom and bride choose.

"We also have people wear western cut jackets with Wranglers, bolo ties and also western style ties for that western look in weddings in this area," Poirier said.

The bride and groom should allow two to three months for the tuxedo rental process. For local attendants, two months is long enough but for out-of-state attendants, it's good to get a jump on the process.

For those guests who are out of state, most tuxedo rental shops have a measurement form that can be filled out at any tuxedo rental store and faxed or called in to the local store.

"This makes it really easy for our out-of-town customers," Poirier said. "When they get to town for the wedding, we ask that they come down immediately and try on their tux. That way if we need to do any alterations, we still have time. We always make sure that each member of the wedding party try on the entire tuxedo. This is also important in case something is missing or doesn't fit."

Loyd said that this season he's seeing a lot of long jackets and fancier lapels.

"Some of the coats go all the way to the knee," he said. "The lapels are nicer with broad-cloth and satin stripes. But, black is still the color of choice for most couples and the colors for the accessories really run the gamut."

Next week:

Invitations and Gifts

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