All about weddings: Advice, etiquette and the latest trends

Mar 27, 2012

It's that time again. Whether you're a bride, groom, part of a wedding party or a guest, wedding season is now in full force. And with wedding season comes a lot of questions.

Chat live Carine Krawiec of Carine's Bridal Atelier and Julia Lichtman of Hitched, both DC based bridal shops. These two wedding experts will take questions about wedding etiquette, the latest wedding trends, and try to solve your wedding problems by dishing out their best advice.

Submit questions and opinions for Carine and Julia to respond to now.

Related:
- Your complete wedding guide
- Photo Gallery: Wedding trends for 2012
- Photo Gallery: Wedding theme ideas

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Thanks so much for having me to the chat. I'm excited to be here answering questions about bridal and Hitched. Very much looking forward to the conversation!!

Good Morning, I'm Carine Krawiec, owner of Carine's Bridal Atelier in Georgetown.  I am excited to have the opportunity to answer all of your questions regarding shopping for your wedding gown! I can also help you with bridal trends, bridal party attire, mother of the bride and mother of the groom gowns and any other questions you may have regarding bridal style.  In addition, if you have any questions regarding our upcoming sample sale this Thursday, March 29th from 5-8 p.m.  

One of my oldest and dearest friends is in a relationship with a controlling, jealous guy who I think is very bad for her. I've told her as much, and my reasons, and she was understanding, but we haven't been as close since. I'm inviting her to my wedding this fall, but I desperately do not want to invite him. Am I expected to invite him because they live together?

Etiquette states that you should invite a live-in partner, however if they do not live together you need not invite them.  Above is what etiquette says, but follow your heart in making this decision.  

I'm going to a wedding on a Friday night and I'm not sure how formal I should dress. I know that night weddings are usually more formal; but, is that true for a wedding on a Friday night?

No matter what day the wedding is on, the invitations should have stated what attire is expected of the guests.  In my opinion, it's always better to be over dressed than under dressed...but I would just call the bride!

What is in right now in terms of dresses, veils, hair do etc?

There's so much variety in bridal right now, that you can really focus on finding a dress to match your personal style.  At Hitched, we're seeing a lot of soft fabrics, lace continues to be very popular, and unique fabrics and textures are also hot.   Same goes for hair, in terms of expressing the best version of you.  If you wear your hair down everyday, find a way to style it that feels special, but still you (same goes for up dos!).  Veils can be anything from short and retro to long and classic and anything in between.

Hi Carine! I am getting married in September in a primarily outdoor setting. My dress is primarily lace and I love it. I am just having a difficult time with shoes. I need the shoes to alter the dress but finding shoes with a little height that won't sink into the ground all night is proving a challenge. What sort of shoe should I look for?

What I found helpful to avoid sinking into the ground is this company called "Solemates."  Its an insert for the heel of your shoe to avoind sinking into the dirt.  I have seen brides buy a nice wedge to avoid the hassle.  Badley Mischka has a great line.  Kate Spade does as well.  

My own wedding countdown is...4 days. Do I really have to have menus and stuff at people's place settings? I'm attempting to not make myself crazy (though it may be far too late for that). Also, my dress's straps detach--should I remove them for the reception? I'm still debating!

We love the idea of detaching your straps for the reception to provide a different look.  You don't have to remove them for the whole reception, i.e. you can remove them before you cut the cake, before your first dance, etc.  It could be nice to have two different looks for photographs as well!  In terms of the menu, a trend I have seen is mini chalk boards with the menu written on it, one for the whole table.  If it is hard to find a mini chalk board get one menu printed for each table and frame it.

In 2012, what are the true duties of the Maid of Honor?

Basically to be the brides right hand woman.  That includes anything from accompanying her to dress shopping to addressing the invitations. The MOH is also traditionally responsible to plan the bridal shower as well the bachelorette party.  You are the leader of the bridesmaids, making sure they get their measurements in on time, etc.  Your final task would be to give a tear-jerking toast...good luck!

Hi! I'm from a middle class family with small, casual weddings and my fiance is from a large upper class family that has huge weddings that cost more than my parents' house (not an exaggeration). We have been united in compromising so far, which is great, but I was wondering if you had any advice for keeping our families happy (or simply quiet) when it is clear that we are not doing things the way they would have done? The big issues we are having is guest list (that my fiance's side gets 2/3 of the invites and they are upset they can't have more and my family feels that it isn't fair), money (my fiance's family doesn't understand why he is paying for a huge chunk, my family can't see why we are wasting all of this money on one day), and theme (my colors don't match the season, but my compromise was to have my wedding in a season where both my parents could attend. I am keeping the colors I would have had if I had a fall wedding).

Although weddings are a very special time, they can also be very stressful.  It's a balancing act to create a day the is personal to you and your partner, while still involving and pleasing your families.  Perhaps you and your fiance can sit down as a couple and discuss what is most important to you, what your vision is for your day as a couple, and what items are non-negotiable and which are open for compromise.   Then you can communicate this with your families with a united front.  Open communication is key, and keeping perspective always helps.

Hi, we are currently planning our wedding and have avoided dress shopping. To be blunt, I'm a street size 12/14 and have zero desire to try on sample sizes that are in the 2-6 range. Are shops stocking bigger sized samples in more than a handful of dresses? I fully realize for some couture this is an unreasonable request, but that's ok by me, I'm just looking for some variety. Thanks!

Don't be worried to try on dresses, most girls are not a typical sample size 8 or 10.  Every bride has a unique body type and bridal salons are used to that.  We accomodate everybody.  Don't feel like you can't order a couture gown to fit your measurements.  Our sample sizes vary between a size 8 and 10.  We do everything we can to make you feel comfortable and enjoy your time trying on gowns with us...hope that helps!

Hi Julia, Is the Jorge Manuel contest still going on? How do we enter?

Hi there!   Unfortunately the entries closed last week.  But, if you're still looking for the perfect dress, there are some fantastic finds (including some of Jorge's gorgeous gowns!) at our upcoming Sample Sale this Thursday night from 5-8pm.  We'd love for you to stop by!

I'm so tired of the strapless wedding dress trend. Is it going away any time soon?

Yes, and we can thank Catherine Middleton and her non strapless dress for that!  We've begged and cried to designers for years to create an alternative to the strapless dress and they finally listened because of the Royal Wedding.  You should be seeing a lot more gowns with straps, cap sleeves, v-necks, illusion backs and more.  Check out Liancarlo's 5802, Carolina Herrera's Evelyn, Marchesa's Talitha, Monique Lhuillier's Amaranth, and practically all of Angel Sanchez's Fall 2012 collection.  They are out there and we are excited for it as much as you are!

Hi! Thanks for doing this today. I bought my dress at Hitched and absolutely love it! I am getting married in May and my church ceremony is at noon and then the reception is at 6pm. Many guests are asking me if they should change in between the events? I actually have no preference, but have also run into this question while attending others' weddings. Any advice?

Hi Hitched bride!   Thanks so much for chatting with us today.  At Hitched, we have a motto that making people feel comfortable in all things wedding related is always important.  Many guests may want to change attire - or do something to dress up their look for the evening - but because you don't have a preference, it's nice to communicate that there is no requirement to do so.

After the wedding, what are some options of things to do with the dress? I have little (no) hope that a crumb catcher dress will still be in style when my hypothetical future daughter gets married (nor am I interested in making anything out of it) so I don't want to hang onto it. Are there some easy places to look at selling/donating a last season once-worn dress?

There are a lot of online ventures to sell your wedding dress, as well actual stores that are popping up.  If you are interested in refashioning your wedding dress, come see us a for a consultation!  We just got written up in Town and Country for being known as the Transformers.  There is a chance that our crumb catcher can be removed and used as straps...our imaginations are endless.  

Hey ladies, I'm getting married early 2013 and I have designer tastes, but not a designer budget. What's the best dress shopping strategy for someone like me?

Come to our Sample Sale this Thursday, March 29th from 5-8 pm!  We have couture dresses without the price tag that usually accompanies them.  Call us at 202-965-4696 with any questions, we look forward to seeing you there!

But what exactly is a sample sale and how does it work? Do we need an appointment?

A sample sale is a chance to buy couture dresses off the rack, perfect for brides who have a time or budget constraint.  No appointments are necessary.  Come see us this Thursday from 5-8 pm and we will help you find your dress!

Hi Carine and Julia, Which members of a wedding party need to have coordinated attire? Is it just bridesmaids and groomsmen? Do parents/siblings of the couple also need to be coordinated somehow?

Today's weddings are rich with variety.  Some couples are happy to buck tradition and don't ask their attendants to coordinate attire in any way, whereas many desire a coordinated look for the big day.  There  are many ways to put together a cohesive look,  ranging from bridesmaids and groomsmen wearing the exact same things, to choosing a color (or color palette) and letting your attendants (and family members) chose their own styles.  Hitched Maids has a terrific selection of great dresses for your gals and we would love to help you put together your wedding day look!

Why is so tough to find bridal dresses with sleeves? I don't need long sleeves but a short or elbow length would be nice. I thought after the latest royal wedding that Catherine would have made sleeved dresses more popular.

We have to always remember that strapless gowns are now a classic, and they won't go away.  Designers have started to introduce straps into their collections right after the year of the royal wedding.  If you are looking for a specific length, remember that if there is already an armhole in the dress (look up Carolina Herrera's Virignia Wolf gown)  then you can always buy extra fabric from the designer and create a sleeve.  You just need a good seamstress, which we have (wink, wink!) Also look at Monique Lhuillier's Catherine gown, and Carolina Herrera's Heather gown with the lace capelet.  A great alterantive to sleeves.  Best of luck!

We recently received one for an affair. What's your view?

We regularly work with brides to create a wedding suite that fits their style.  Truthfully, most couples are still sending a formal invitation through the mail.  There is something special about a lasting memento from your day.  However, of course sending an electronic invitation is eco-friendly, and can be useful to couples who have a particularly short engagement.

I am a klutz and don't need the extra fabric. Which designers are best for simple gowns without trains?

Don't focus on the length of the train, any gown can be ordered without a train or it can be removed in alterations.  You don't have to limit your dress selection just because of the train...try on everything!

If a wedding invitation doesn't say anything about a dress code, is one to assume it's semi-formal? There was no guidance given and we're a little lost as to what to wear. Thanks.

This is a tricky one.  While it's always easier when the happy couple spells our the instructions, sometimes you can pick up clues from the style of the invitation or the venue.  If none of these things help, pick something that feels festive and celebratory.

We are having a garden wedding in October. What is typical garden attire for guests?

Usually a short, semi-formal cocktail dress.  October can allow for thicker fabrics such as the Kay Unger cocktail gowns we sell in store. If you are close with the bride and groom, ask what the bridal party is wearing and base it off of their attire.  We also carry great cocktail gowns from Badgley Mischka, David Meister, Carmen Marc Valvo, Nicole Miller, Theia and more.  

A coworker got married in her country last month. Before that, I was invited to her bachelorette party thrown by her friends, then another bridal shower thrown by her coworkers (I wasn't invited to the wedding). I brought gifts to both. Now her friend told us she is having a luncheon stateside to celebrate their nuptials and asked that we contributed towards yet another gift that the bride wants. I am inclined to to go to this celebration. What do you say?

It sounds like the luncheon is the state-side wedding, no?  If so, and you feel close to the couple, then attend.  If not, don't sweat it...I am sure she already appreciates everything you have done.  

I'm getting married and have no interest in a typical wedding. If I had my way, we'd go to the Courthouse for the ceremony and then just have a nice small dinner with out families. My husband to be feels the same way. The wedding industry has become more about "the big day" and excess (now weddings are entire weekend events, ugh) for my tastes. However, we are both from families that expect the big white wedding and to invite every business associate or random acquaintance so they can show them "how well we are doing". It's not what we are about. I guess my question is more rhetorical. Don't you ever sit and wonder why you are contributing to something that seems to cause more stress than joy? I see my friends getting upset about the most ridiculous wedding-related things for months before the event and it just doesn't make sense to me. And some of them become monsters - "it's all about my special day"! I feel like many women care more about their dress and being the center of attention than the actual marriage.

It is unfortunate when couples get caught up in the craziness of the wedding planning process.  When it is was my wedding, and I invited 170+ guests, I never lost sight of marrying my husband and the importance of saying my vows in front of people I love and love me back.  And I couldn't be happier with the way my wedding went and the man I married.  

Hi Julia! I've never been to a sample sale. What happens there? Is it like a "running of the brides"?

Hey there!  Sample Sales are a lot of fun!  We have about 150 dresses on sale, ranging from a simple sheath dress perfect for a beach wedding, to glamorous ballgowns for a more formal affair.  The event is taking place this Thursday from 5-8pm at Hitched, and is an open house style.  Even though we don't take appointment during Sample Sales, it's a fun group of girls and everyone enjoys the camaraderie of finding the perfect dress at a fabulous price!

Should the Matron of Honor and Maid of Honor wear the same dress?

Great question!  While some brides opt the have all of their bridesmaids in the same exact dress, others chose bridesmaid lines that offer a variety of coordinating styles for their girls to select from.  Sometimes the Maid of Honor will wear a dress to set her apart from the other girls, while other times people chose to set her apart in a different way (ie: having a different bouquet of flowers or wearing the same dress but in a slightly different color than the bridesmaids).

I am the Best Woman for two of my male friends' weddings this year. The first is a same-sex ceremony this Friday. I already have my dress and shoes. Besides showing up at the ceremony, what else does my role entail in this kind of a non-traditional wedding? My friends are coming from out of town, but seem to have most things already planned out. But I'd still like to do something special for their big day.

I don't think you have to do anything over the top.  A great speech can be enough to show that you really care for them.  You can always put together a nice welcome basket!

How much can you typically save at a sample sale? What's the normal markdown?

There are some great steals to be had at our Sample Sale!  Many of our designer gowns are marked down 50-70%, and about half are under $1,000.

Will all your dresses including the cocktail dresses be on sale at the Sample Sale?

Yes, our bridal, evening and cocktail gowns will be available at this Thursdays sample sale from 5-8 pm!

If a co-worker invited me to their wedding, and I attended, do I need to invite them to mine? I've realized that they aren't nice to me and I really don't want them there on this day.

No!  Invite whoever you want to be there on your special day!

As a guest, is it ok to wear a basic black dress to a wedding in April?

Yes, of course!  LBDs will never go out of fashion...we have some great ones from Nicole Miller if you want to check them out.

Or at least join me in a beer next Saturday. I'd buy.

I don't know but if you do, let me know!

This is my second marriage, what are some age-appropriate options for me?

We get this question a lot.  Again, we think it's most important that you find a gown that matches your personal style and aesthetic.  That can definitely mean a traditional bridal gown for a second wedding.  However, Hitched has a fantastic collection of sophisticated gowns with a less traditional vibe.  We love Anna Maier's Bianca gown, or Amy Kuschel's Margaret Anne.  For our Sample Sale this Thursday night, check out Amy Kuschel's Dietrich, or Lela Rose's The Lighthouse or The Falls.

Hi Carine, my fiance and I are planning to get married at city hall then have a BBQ reception with friends/family in my hometown. Since we are being informal, I'd rather just send out invitations early than deal with save the date cards. We only have a few guests traveling from the mid-west/west coast, but I want to give them enough time to make travel plans. I know six months is the rule for save the date cards, but realistically is 3-4 months enough of a heads up for guests? Thanks for chatting!

That is fine if you don't want to bother with save the dates.  I recommend sending an email to the out of town guests (or everyone) to at least give them a heads up on the date.  Once they know the date they can start to plan their trip!

By the way, as a size 16 bride, I really appreciated that Hitched had some larger samples (couture size 18 and 20). Gave me a much better sense of what looked great on me!

So glad you visited Hitched and enjoyed your experience!  Bridal sizing is so tricky and we continue to add a variety of sizes to our collection.

do my table centerpieces have to match the carpet of the reception venue? It seems that the carpet of almost every venue is hotel ballroom ugly and most of the flowers I like clash. Will anyone notice or care? Otherwise, I feel like I'm stuck with all white flowers.

Not at all!  Choose whatever flowers you would like, the carpets will disappear, no one will notice them when they are looking at the exquisite floral arrangements!

My boyfriend and I have discussed marriage and while we are extremely excited about our future together, the cost of a wedding is a huge deterrant. We're both in school, working, etc. We don't expect to get money from our families, so the cost is entirely on us. We don't want an extravagant wedding, but something simple and classy. Unfortunately i've seen even the simplest of weddings cost about $10K. We don't want to move in together until after we're married, so unfortunately that's not an option to help us save. Do you have advice about ways to cut costs for a wedding? any do it yourself tips? Venues we might consider? We live in Baltimore.

A good way to save money on the gown is purhcasing one at a sample sale.  We are having ours this Thursday, March 29th from 5-8 pm.  We can help you find a dress for under $1,000!  There is this great website called DIYweddingday.com, also check out Ruffled blog.  Just remember that less is more.  A big cost is catering, so myou could do passed hors d'oeuvres instead of a sit down dinner.  Flowers are alsoa big cost, you could always substitute candles instead.  Hope this helps!

One for the wedding, another (less formal, perhaps, and easier to dance in) for the reception. I know there is an ethnic wedding with an "American" reception, this often happens, but I've seen it on My Fair Wedding, Platinum Weddings, etc.

There is definitely a movement towards the two dress wedding, but many brides find a gown they love and want to wear it all night!  If you're interested in two looks, we've got lots of ideas.  Our gown collection at Hitched ranges from fabulous ballgowns to sexy sheaths, so you can easily chose two very different looks for your big day.  Another fun idea is an adorable line we carry by Amsale called The Little White Dress collection, which is perfect for the reception dress or for your rehearsal dinner or brunch.

Hello. I will be 6 months pregnant when I attend my cousin's wedding. She's mandated cocktail attire. What should I be looking for in a dress? Thanks.

Congratulations on your pregnancy!  I recommend an empire waist cocktail dress.  That way you can show off your beautiful baby bump and still be comfortable.  

who are some of your favorite designers working in linen, cotton, silk and other more natural fabrics? i love the look of Claire Pettibone, and am curious if there are others.

We love Lela Rose who uses lots of cotton faille, washed silks, and other unique fabrics. 

I'm a bridesmaid in an upcoming summer wedding, and -- while I'm definitely honored that the bride asked me to be in her wedding party -- the dress she has chosen for us looks awful on my body type (tall, broad shouldered, good shape). I wasn't involved in the decision making process (and for the record, the dress looked adorable online) but the way its actually cut looks quite awkward in person. Others agreed when I went for the first fitting. I haven't said anything to the bride and don't intend too, she's got enough going on and its late in the process. So, I wanted to ask about the etiquette of alterations. I intend to have the (very short) hem lowered 1-3 inches and (while I'm not going to do anything extreme), do you have any suggestions for ways to alter a bridesmaid dress to better fit an individual (without standing out from the rest of the bridesmaids)? Thanks!

I would ask the bride first and foremost.  If you do feel very uncomfortable in the dress, then definitely express your opinion to the bride.  I would hope she would be willing to work with you to allow you to be comfortable on her big day as well.  If she says no, just remember you are only wearing this dress for one night.

What are some popular gifts for the bridal party? I have read over and over to do jewelry, but my girls will be wearing their own dresses, so they won't all have the same necklines. I want to buy something nice but not a million $.

Hitched carries a great variety of gifts, from bridesmaid tank tops to personalized stationary.  Check our our Dabney Lee At Home collection - it's super cute!

I'm gathering a head count for my bachelor party very soon, and on a lark, I verbally invited someone who wasn't initially invited to the wedding. Am I now obligated to invite this person to the wedding, since I'm inviting him to my bachelor party? My fiancee says I am.

I believe it is okay, however it just depends on the type of relationship you have with him.  If he knows that he is not invited to the wedding but would still like to partake in the bachelor party festivites, then sure, invite him!  As long as you are honest with him, it can be his decision if he wants to attend the bachelor party or not.

What are the biggest trends and etiquette do's and don'ts for wedding invitations?

We're seeing lots of bold prints and patterns these days, as well as foil stamping with a splash of festive metallic.  Classic invitations will never go out of style, though!  Check out the Hitched website for a list of our spectacular invitation designers.   We've been loving Smock, Elum, Bella Figura, and Dauphine.

What is the ettiquitte for inviting (or not inviting) children to weddings? Does it have to ba an all or nothing? I'd like to invite my nephew and my cousins kids because I know they are well behaved, however, I have friends with kids who are more prone to causing a scene...

The subject of children at wedding is definitely a tricky one.  You might consider inviting only children over a certain age, or limiting it to just your family.  If you start picking and choosing, feelings can get hurt.  Try drawing a line that makes sense for you and stick to it!

Hi! I was wondering what's the etiquette now a days with engagement rings. Is it customary for brides to pick out their own rings now? Do they do this with their significant other? Or is the significant other supposed to pick something and hope the receiver likes it? My boyfriend and I have talked about getting married, so we know we're on the same page, but I'm torn between wanting a surprise proposal but also making sure I get a ring that is to my liking (since I'll be wearing it forever). Or can I have both?

Honestly, there is not etiquette to this situation!  If you want the proposal to be a surprise you can always show him picutres of rings you like or just happen to have them fall out of your magazines (wink, wink).  Many brides today do pick out their own engagement rings these days and are fine without the surprise.  Don't forget the most important thing is that the ring represents that he wants to spend the rest of his life with you! 

Congratulations to all of our brides out there! I hope I have been able to answer some of the questions you had. Please feel free to email me at info@carinesbridal with any further questions...I would love to hear from you!  

Thanks so much for joining in the chat today!  We love hearing from brides and couples with questions on anything wedding!  If you're still looking for the perfect gown, we'd love to see you at Hitched this Thursday from 5-8pm for our Sample Sale, or for an appointment to see our custom ordered gowns, bridesmaid dresses, or invitations.  If there is anything else we can help you with, please don't hesitate to contact us!

In This Chat
Carine Krawiec
Carine began her career in fashion over 10 years ago when she moved to New York City to join the design team at AEFFE (the parent company of Moschino, Jean Paul Guteiler and Alberta Ferretti). When family concerns brought her back to Washington DC, she began working with Vera Wang, and was eventually hired away to Priscilla of Boston. After local success and recognition, and as her reputation grew, she was courted to Saks Fifth Avenue in Tyson's Corner to head the bridal salon. Carine's Bridal Atelier highlights the artistry of design in bridal fashion, and showcases the personality of individual designers as it comes out in their gowns. Carine's offers an unparalleled wedding gown expertise and tailors bridal fashion to a body type, personality and destination.
Julia Lichtman Kepniss
Julia Lichtman Kepniss is the co-creator and co-founder of Hitched & Hitched Maids, DC’s “go-to” bridal spots for all things wedding. Understanding the busy lives of today’s brides, Julia and her business partner, Carin Rosenberg Levine, fashioned a unique bridal concept that brings together stylish gowns, festive bridesmaids’ dresses, and stunning invitations under one roof.

With a focus on providing excellent customer service in a comfortable, friendly environment, the highly knowledgeable Hitched team enjoys working with brides to choose just the right gown for their special day.

Over the past six years, Hitched has received tremendous recognition. The boutiques are regularly featured in The Washington Post, Washingtonian, Daily Candy, Martha Stewart Weddings and in local and national wedding magazines. The boutiques have consistently received the ‘Brides Choice Award’ from Wedding Wire and has received Washingtonian Bride & Groom’s ‘Top Vote Getter’ award in both the bridal and bridesmaids’ boutique category.
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