Monday, June 8, 2009

Ask MrMartha...Some Wedding Conundrums

Dear MrMartha,
I enjoyed your post of the vintage wedding gown sketch. I have my own wedding coming up later this year, and am thinking about a vintage wedding gown. Do you have any suggestions in that regard? Also, my fiance and I have been having some issues about grooms and ushers do we understand the options? Is it true that tuxedos should never be worn for a daytime wedding? Thanks for any suggestions.

Dear Reader,
MrMartha congratulates you on your upcoming nuptials, and wishes you a wonderful day, which will, of course, run smoothly as a result of your careful advance planning!

A vintage wedding gown is such a charming idea.....the thought of wearing mother's or grandmother's gown on your own special day is a dear and precious tradition. Often however, the realities of style and sizing -- not to mention how the gown was stored, its condition and level of fragility, can get in the way of that lovely dream. Buying a vintage gown that has no family connection can also be a solution, or be fraught with peril....

MrMartha has some good suggestions for you about gown options in the expanded post, but first some quick notes on dressing your groom.

Wedding attire in general, and especially what the groom and groomsmen wear, has gained a lot more latitude in recent years. In the strictest sense, men should never wear tuxedos before five in the afternoon, but then men should also never wear a wristwatch with a the rules are indeed tough to enforce!

Traditionally, for a formal daytime wedding, Cutaway coat with striped pants would be worn, and a dark business suit for less formal ceremony. Unless you are marrying royalty (in which case, Congratulations!!) it is unlikely that you will get the gentlemen of the wedding party to wear, what are somewhat demurely referred to, as Morning Suits. It's also likely you may see a basic business suit as not special enough for the occasion. MrMartha sees no problem with your groom and groomsmen wearing simple black tuxedos with understated shirts and basic accessories, especially for a wedding that is after, say, two o'clock, or if the reception will continue past five.

Things to stay away from -- very formal tuxes for a morning wedding (they would look like waiters at a fancy brunch) -- and sherbet colored tuxes with over the top accessories (unless the groomsmen will also be performing as a 70's cover band during the reception.)
For some really amazing information about men's formal wear -- the history, options, the rules (plus how to break them) and some really fun illustrations....check out

Read More for additional information and some wonderful suggestions on Vintage Wedding Gowns and the alternatives.

The concerns with Vintage Wedding gowns are condition and fit. MrMartha understands that in general, gowns prior to 1960's vintage tend to be short waisted, tighter in the arms and shoulders, and often just too short for the modern woman's body.

Alterations can be done by a skilled seamstress, depending on the style of the dress. It is much easier to take in a dress that is too large, than to let seams out. Also, there may be visible difference in how the fabric has aged between the exposed portion of the dress and the inner seams. The evidence of the original seams themselves may be impossible to eradicate.

If it is a family gown that you have your heart set on, or a vintage dress you have already identified and fallen in love with because of its design or the lace or trims used, or if there is just a general style or era you have a fondness for, there are still options.

The best solution is likely to have a new dress made in vintage style by a good seamstress. A pattern can be taken from an existing dress, and if the dress is not a family heirloom, the original can be taken apart and the vintage lace and trims reused. Another good option is to find a design you love in a vintage sewing pattern, and have the dress made for you from that. That really gives you the best of all worlds....the vintage design (altered and adjusted as necessary for perfect fit), the ability to choose your fabric and trims (or reuse vintage lace), the security of knowledge that the dress is not overly delicate or of questionable sturdiness due to age (you don't want the arms to shred as you toss the bouquet), and the ability to have just EXACTLY the gown you want. MrMartha knows you will be a beautiful bride, whatever you choose.

A wonderful vintage pattern service, specializing in bridal and formal patterns can be found HERE.