with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: theme weddings

Solange, my sister and me: Rocking our natural hair down the aisle

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

So the talk of the Internet in the past few days – well, some of the talk, anyway – has been about Solange Knowles and her fierce, fierce wedding style. Lynne and I were so impressed, we were both wondering if we could get remarried so we could rock fly wedding capes. And that all-white attire rule for the guests made everyone look like they were posing for some lost ’90s TV movie called “A Very EnVogue Wedding,” a videotape which I would totally have owned.

So caught up was I in the capes and the monochromatic wedding guests that I plum near missed another aspect that some people found notable in both good and hideous ways: Solange’s gorgeous, gorgeous wedding Afro. Although she’s straightened her hair occasionally, Miss Knowles’ tall proud crown of queenly poof is her signature, so I didn’t even notice it in the wedding photos, other than that it added to her fierceness.

And why shouldn’t she wear her hair natural? She’s a beautiful woman. Why shouldn’t she look like her on her most special day?

Apparently, some people disagree. Those people are cordially invited to…well….obviously their opinions are of no tangible use to Miss Knowles, who is a diva and don’t care. But as the young lady above can attest , the Web was wild with ignorant folks who had rather strong objections to Solange having not straightened her hair before saying “I do,” either because it’s not fancy or polished enough for such an auspicious occasion, or because they just don’t see it as polished enough for work, or the club, or yoga class or taking out the trash. You know, at all.

The Huffington Post story the beautiful Charnel Grey references in the video makes the same point – that it’s annoying to have to defend the way the hair comes out of your head, to black people, to white people, to anybody. A) It’s not your business B) We’re done changing for others. If we want a ‘fro, we’ll wear a ‘fro. If we want a weave, we’ll get a weave. Mind your own business and your own daggone hair.

Obviously, this is a topic Lynne and I both feel strongly about, because we both have natural hair – I with an Afro, and Lynne with her dreads. And having both been natural for a decade before getting married, neither of us even considered straightening for the day. I had thought about doing some sort of crazy updo, but at the end of the day, I let it ‘fro out even more than usual, and just went with it. I looked like the best version of me – better dress, better makeup, better jewelry. And a better ‘fro.

This pic wasn't their first date, but this was also a memorable one :).

A ‘fro for a fancy Palm Beach wedding

Lynne, meanwhile, let her dreads grow out and had them twisted into the most exquisite updo-drop-crown whatever that was. (She also rocked a veil, a rhinestone headband AND a big ol’ orange flower, to the objection of some people who thought it was too much. Knowing Lynne they should have known it was just enough.)

Loc'ing in on love.

Loc’ing in on love.

One of Lynne’s friends was talking about the whole Solange situation and, told that we’d both worn our hair natural for our weddings, suggested we write something about it, which got Lynne to tell her a story about another bride who wore the most smashing mod daisy-covered wedding dress for her 1970 wedding. And under the Minnie Mouse-esque veil, she wore a sleek Mia Farrow pixie…

Except that the day before she’d been wearing a ‘fro. But she bent to pressure from some older family members that it wasn’t appropriate, not special enough, for a wedding. Our Daddy told us that when he saw her at the rehearsal dinner his first thought was “Who’s that?” Because his bride was supposed to be wearing a ‘fro. Not for political reasons. Not for fashion reasons. But because that’s how she wore her hair, in her life as her, and that’s how she’d wanted to wear it when she married the love of her life. (Her sister and maid of honor, the late Aunt Ann, made up for it with her own Afro. Fly, fly fly).

Again, our mother looked amazing on her wedding day. But she didn’t look like she wanted to because she accepted the pressure that she had to change herself to be proper. I suspect she wouldn’t do that now. But as for you and your own wedding – if you want to get tracks, flatiron, shave your head, whatever, do it. This is not a political speech. It’s a hug, a cry of love, that says “IT’S YOUR WEDDING. DO YOU. BE THE MOST EXCELLENT SPLENDID VERSION OF YOU. NOT OF WHAT YOUR MAMA OR YOUR SISTERS OR THE INTERNET SAY. BE YOU.”

And then you’ll never be more beautiful. Trust us.


Why we wouldn’t want to be that bride on “Mobbed”

by SweetMidlife

Or “Why we would have ducked Howie Mandel like we owed him money if he tried to put us on that stupid show.”

One of the truths of being a bride in general, and a Bride at 35, specifically, is that you cannot control anything. After all, us old heads couldn’t control when we were going to find love or marriage, which was most likely later than we thought, so who the heck’s to say that we have control over anything else? (We don’t.)

However, we do draw the line at being able to have chosen our own wedding dress, or bridal party, or the date and time, or the guest list, or whether or not our wedding was part of a stupid FOX reality show.

Sure, Nikki, the admittedly temperamental lady who was proposed to and then married by flash mob on the Howie-hosted program, seemed to be completely overwhelmed, emotional and excited during her ambush…er, surprise nuptials. Then again, she’d just been led to believe just minutes before that boyfriend Justin had dragged her to California as part of a contest prize only to be confronted by some sequined floozy from his past. I mean, this chick threw a drink in his face and said she wished she’d known he had a girlfriend.

So, let’s review. This admittedly jealous young woman gets what she thinks is a dream vacation and finds out that her boyfriend of three years may be cheating, and then has to deal with the embarassment of having security guards jump in to try to quell the drama. And then all of a sudden she’s assaulted…er, surprised by a mob of dancing waiters, guards and bystanders who escort her outside, where the crowd parts to reveal a tuxeodoed Justin getting off a trolley with their closest friends.

Not only does she have to process in like 30 seconds, in front of an audience, that he’s not cheating (we guess) but that she’s being proposed to. And what’s more, that wedding is gonna happen, if she says yes, right now. With her specially flown-in friends and family – at least the ones the show invited – in attendance. In a fugly dress she didn’t choose that she gets dumped into OVER HER CLOTHES WITH HER T-SHIRT SHOWING and a Claire’s clearance rack tiara that keeps sliding off her head during the wedding that she was basically emotionally coerced into.

Yeah, yeah, it was all terribly exciting and fun, and she got to be the center of attention and know that Justin was not only not a cheating skank (we guess) but also loved her enough to commit and go through the trouble of choreography and and arranging a TV show to prove that love. And she seemed truly touched and happy that she was married to her beloved.

But. And still.

A) Why was it necessary to throw in that awful scene with the supposed skank? I can see trying to throw Nikki off the scent so the surprise is greater, but why throw her heart into a blender and drink it? Sure, she quickly got wonderful validation that it was all a ruse. But why mess with that poor girl’s head? For the rest of her life, her memories of the happiest day of her life will be mixed with the sick, nauseous feeling, however brief, that she’d been made the worst kind of fool. Jerks.

B) While an instant wedding is probably great from the prospective of TV producers and some viewers, but I don’t know one bride, even the low-key DIY ones, who wouldn’t want some say in her big day. I know she agreed, but I got the feeling she was overwhelmed into it. The dress was awful, dowdy, unflattering and wasn’t even buttoned all the way. And those bridesmaids dresses did her party NO favors. It all seemed that in the haste to put on a show, they negated the star of the show – the bride. I can’t help but think that at some point Nikki is gonna look back and say “THAT was my wedding?”

I have read online that Justin and Nikki’s televised nuptials probably weren’t even legal in California without both of them signing the marriage license, so there was certainly a do-over. Still, this is the big money day. And the only person who didn’t know about it was Nikki.

Look, it’s a nice gesture, and the dancing was adorable. But at almost 40, I know a lot of women who have waited years for their wedding. It may not have been the wedding they would have had – or even did have – when  they were younger. And they have learned that if some of the details don’t go exactly as planned, it’s not a tragedy. But at least we got to be in on the details before they went down. I hope that if this was me, and my boyfriend had gotten the mistaken impression that I would be down with this, that I would have had the guts to, however, sheepishly, thank everyone for their time, assure my boy that I loved him…

and say “Cut!”


Indian destination weddings: Upscale twists on tradition

by SweetMidlife

To me, a small wedding means less than 50 guests; a large wedding is north of 150. But the other day, over drinks with my friend, upscale Indian wedding planner Amen Pawar-Larosa, she mentioned her “very small” Indian wedding in her native England, one of three nuptial celebrations she and husband Derek had.

“So how many people did you have at that one?” I asked.

“120,” Amen said casually, as if she was saying “Well, just me and Derek and my cousin Jerome.”

Clearly, we’re working with a different ruler when it comes to Indian weddings. This was particularly interesting to us at Bride At 35, because there’s an even greater expectation of marrying young in this culture than in the mainstream American one –  “It’s between 25 and 30, nothing older,” Amen says of the brides she helps with her wedding planning company, Pawar Inc.

So we like Amen’s concept because Pawar, Inc., like this blog, is about making tradition beautifully, uniquely your own – “To marry tradition and modern style,” she says. She got her start working for another planner who happened to book an Indian destination wedding – the bride met Amen and saw a kindred spirit, “which helped seal the deal.” After helping several similar brides, Amen decided to hang her own stylish shingle. She’s even seeing non-Indian brides, like singer Katy Perry, having Indian weddings, which she sees as not an appropriation of a culture but a celebration.

Here’s what you need to know:

— Amen wasn’t technically a Bride at 35, but given cultural equivalency, she might as well be – “To be married and have children by (the age of 28) is so expected,” she says. “My mum would get invited to so many weddings and wonder why I wasn’t getting married. She tried – ‘I have a nice guy coming to meet you!’ It was not happening.” Amen eventually married an Italian-Catholic New Yorker named Derek Larosa (They had three ceremonies: One with the Justice of the Peace, the Indian wedding in England and a blessing by Derek’s pastor in New York).

“We wanted it to be about us, but we saw how things were affecting our parents,” she says. “So we had these awesome parties and said ‘Do whatever you want to do.'”

— Why Indian destination weddings?: Well, why destination weddings, period? Brides want something beachy and probably warmer than their home town, both improving the scenery and cutting the guest list. Where the average guest list is somewhere around 300 for Indian weddings, Amen says, the destination weddings she’s seen host around 150. Although Miami has become a haven for these, Palm Beach, with its swanky hotels like the Breakers and the Four Seasons, “is a hidden gem that no one knows about,” she says. “The beauty of it is that is that you can cut down the guest list. The thing is, that these are well-to-do families, and they hear ‘The Breakers’ and bring the whole family. You think people aren’t going to come, but it’s a good assumption that more will than you think.” (Ain’t that the truth?)

— Many upscale hotels on Palm Beach have Indian chefs already in-house, “but nobody knows this,” Amen says. Well, they do now!

— Traditionally, if the wedding is held in the bride’s home town, it’s a several-day affair that includes an entire community, where the bride’s parents pay for everything. She says that the biggest adjustment has been trying to convince fathers that since “it’s not in their hometown, they don’t have to feed everyone for every meal the whole weekend.”

— Amen says  more and more of the weddings are keeping some traditions but bringing some new twists, like having one partner of a different religion or race,  decreasing the guest list and more – “A lot of these brides grew up in America. They love Louis Vuiton.The ceremony keeps the family element and blends those element with the latest, hipper styles.”

— I have never met an ethnic person who didn’t believe that their ethnicity is traditionally…tardy. Seriously, black people, Cubans, and apparently Indians have a self-recognized reputation for not starting things on time. Amen says that timeliness is the number one obstacle at the weddings that she’s planned – “Indian Standard Time!” she says, laughing. “Keeping everything on time is the priority. With hair and make-up being done I need everyone to be on time. I run a tight ship.”


Real wedding of the day: Hawaiian Elvis church nups in Louisiana!

by SweetMidlife

Here at Bride at 35, we’re a big fan of doing you. If you want Rockettes as bridesmaids, kick it out. If you want all of your attendants dressed as members of the combined casts of “The Love Boat” and “B.J. and the Bear,” you hire that monkey and have your brother start working on his Isaac the bartender “Right back atcha!” fingers.

And if you are rabid Elvis fans like this couple from Louisiana and your budget and your church will allow you to stage a “Blue Hawaii”-themed wedding with island-dressed attendants, a King impersonator crooning and peanut butter and banana cupcakes (SCORE!), we’re all about it.

We usually preface statements like that with “…as long as it’s tasteful,” but who’s to say what tasteful means? (Well, we are, but don’t quote us on that). We are sure that we did stuff at our weddings that some people would think were tacky (Say it isn’t so!) And according to those stuffy sites that annoyed us into starting this one in the first place, having an army of attendants and making a huge formal thing of our weddings at our age wasn’t expected.

So we say that if you can’t help falling in love, no use crying in the chapel! Put on your blue suede heels and head to the Heartbreak Hotel (which, incidentally, is the Memphis resort at Graceland where this couple is spending their honeymoon). We’re so happy for them! And although we know that nobody does newspaper stories on stuff like this unless someone thinks its at best different and at worst weird, we celebrate the funny-cool opportunity to present your love in the way that makes you happiest. If the church is cool with it, then everyone else should be.

Save us a cupcake!


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