Wednesday, April 27, 2016

5 THINGS I LEARNED FROM ATTENDING A BLACK TIE WEDDING


Last year during wedding season, I compiled a huge post full of stories, anecdotes and advice on weddings from my friends of all ages. It was so fun to read, especially because this season of life from our mid/late twenties into our early thirties can feel like it's almost completely dominated by attending weddings and their various lead-up events.

This past weekend I attended the black tie wedding of a dear childhood friend in Washington DC. Along with being one of the best weddings I've ever been to, it was also by far the dressiest. I wrote about attending my friend Andrew's 'black tie optional' wedding back in December, but the formality of this occasion blew that one out of the water. Long gowns were the rule and not the exception, and tuxedos abounded.

Along with taking some serious style notes—yes, everyone will notice and comment if your dress is too tight or too low-cut—I further built up my mental composite of all the things that make a wedding more than just a short, expensive trip where nobody celebrates you—but a bonafide, unforgettable party.

1. THERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO DO 'BLACK TIE,' BUT FANCY IS FANCY.

Listen, if every man at this wedding is wearing a tuxedo, you need to wear something nice. That's what black tie means. We've become a much more dressed down society in general over the past few decades (which is fine most of the time), but I feel so strongly about dressing up for weddings, no matter what. I've had to write a lot about the rules of wedding guest attire over on about.com, and certainly some of those are up for interpretation. However, the one thing I keep coming back to, and that keeps me in nice dresses, tall heels and my best jewelry ceremony after ceremony is remembering that for the bride and groom, this is the most special day they have ever shared together. 

It's not about whether you have eight or nine other weddings this year; this one is theirs and it matters. Invest in one or two nice dresses and wear them over and over—no one will notice. (Not even your Instagram fans, I promise.) If for no other reason, dress up because there's nothing more fun than having an epic, wild night in the nicest thing you own (or rented).

2. DANCING BEFORE DINNER IS AWESOME.

This weekend was the first time that I went to a wedding where, after an hour of cocktails and light snacks post-ceremony, we entered the reception venue, the band struck up a Justin Timberlake song and the entire crowd was on the dance floor for an hour before we ever sat down to dinner. The bride and groom had their first dance, somebody did the worm, and the momentum never let up. There were some gripes that 10:15 p.m. was a bit late to be serving dinner, but after having a couple drinks it was nice to loosen up and dance a bit before sitting for beef tenderloin and speeches.

3. A GOOD SPEECH SHOULDN'T BE LONGER THAN 3 MINUTES.

Unlike most weddings I've been to, this one didn't have a single speech that ran more than five minutes. Not from the best man, not from the father of the bride, not from a drunk bridesmaid. Somehow every person who spoke managed to keep it short and sweet—there were no embarrassing stories of college escapades or run-ins with the law. Granted, these stories have their place and time for certain brides and grooms; I'm not here to knock the cheeky digs that reveal character and get laughs. I could tell you probably one nice thing from every, single speech I heard this weekend because they were all so brief and to-the-point. The longer you talk, the less people will remember.

4. A READING IS THE "BEST" WAY TO BE A WEDDING WEEKEND VIP.

I ask you, what could be better than being included in the rehearsal and subsequent dinner and all the other more intimate wedding weekend plans—without the matching dress and all that standing?* Find a way to be the perfect person to do a reading at your next wedding. (If it's not a Catholic ceremony you might be SOL, but it's worth asking.) The readers get to be a part of a VIP group that's sort of like the wedding party B team. You can wear whatever you want and for two minutes it's kind of like you're sharing the spotlight with the bride and groom. (Kidding! Kind of! I'm an only child!) It's true that no one usually remembers the readings, but if you do as this priest instructed our team of readers and "interpret it in your own way," you'll be showered with compliments for the rest of the night. Plus, in my experience being a reader makes it approximately 78 percent easier to cut the line at the bar.

*I've been a bridesmaid and it is a total honor and really fun, I'm just saying that being a reader is also pretty clutch.

5. THE MUSIC IS EVERYTHING.

You know what I mean. Think for a moment about what happens when everyone hears those first few bars and then that voice, "I used to go out to parties..."

Okay, okay I didn't exactly learn this over last weekend, but it is a fact that only became further solidified in my mind. Throughout the weekend—from the Thursday night moonlight monument tour to the wedding reception and after party bus—the bride's younger sister (and maid of honor) curated playlists for everything—even the band was under her guidance. She kept the mood upbeat and dance-y, and strictly enforced a list of no-play songs. (Black Eyed Peas, anyone?) From Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up" to Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," and even "Uptown Funk," the songs spanned generations but they all made us want to dance until the sun came up (which we nearly did). As a result, all my memories all have an amazing soundtrack, and the entire weekend felt like a real party. 

2 comments:

  1. Love the outfit, the top is really nice! looking super pretty! such a cute top :)

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  2. I was recently here and this is an amazing place for a wedding. I got a little carried away with the open bar at wedding venues chicago. An open bar allows you to like any sort of music, even the most awful. Anyway, for those of you thinking to marry, this is the perfect spot.

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