Sunday, February 21

DIY Project: Bridesmaid Binders

Ok, I know what you’re thinking: Bridezilla has been unleashed and is already trying to control every little thing as far as one year out from the wedding. And that’s probably what I would have thought too if my friend had given me a planning binder just because I was in her bridal party. But that mindset would have been pre-engagement naiveness. It would have been before I was forced to consider all the little details that go into wedding planning and before exploring the endless possibilities of everything that could go wrong on this day that is intended to be perfect. Now please don’t misunderstand – I fully comprehend the entire purpose of the wedding day, in all that truly matters is my husband-to-be and the fact that we will be starting a new life together. And I am very excited about that endeavor! But being the dominant/controlling/perfectionist Aries that I am, it’s part of my nature to do everything in my power to ensure things are done correctly. Still, I maintain that am no Bridezilla. I stay calm under pressure because I can make fast decisions. I am sympathetic of others because I am able to put myself in their shoes. I am understanding and laid-back. But I also know what I want, and I go for it by putting in my all. Which is the reason why I created personalized Plan Books for my Bridesmaids.
I gave them the books when we had our first dress fitting while I was last visiting St. Louis. The dress shopping was just for fun, to get an idea of the styles the girls were interested in wearing (I told you I wasn’t overly picky!). As far as choosing the dress, I only ask that it is in our green color scheme and that it is long, to go with the formality of the day. I want the girls to feel vibrant and comfortable and sexy and confident on this very big day. But (and here comes the ‘but’)… I also want them to know exactly what is expected of them so we don’t encounter any big surprises or confusion when it’s show time. I personally don’t have the budget to hire a coordinator, therefore I have to be my own coordinator… starting from day one. The sooner everyone is familiar with how things will go down in October 2010, the more I will be able to relax and enjoy the festivities. Because isn’t that what it’s all about?

My sorority-sister bridesmaids enjoy their planbooks as I try on gowns.  (FYI- Date is incorrect in the photo. It was taken in August 2009.)

I’d really hoped the idea behind the binders wouldn’t cause any secret snarling or eye-rolling, and I think they were actually very well-received. I wanted the books to be informative but creative, fun but serious. To create them, I purchased some small 1/2″ white binders from Target, the plastic kind where you can slide a piece of paper into the clear front and back to make it look like a book cover. I also used some decorative paper that my sister had found for me at the store, and some I had left over from past binders I’d made. (Yes- I’ve done this sort of thing before, making books for friends just for the fun of it. Maybe I should have gone into publishing?)  On the cover page, I printed a quote I found online that I found be to very poignant, by Katharine Hepburn: “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything.”
When the binder was opened, the first page was a letter that I’d written to each girl, thanking them for willing to be such an influential part of my wedding day. I created some fun word games from scratch by using key words that related specifically to our wedding day, including a word search, crossword puzzle, and a word scrambler. I designed pages where they could fill in information regarding their dress information and preferences and size. I created checklists that listed general-bridesmaid requests as well as one or two specific duties to each girl for day-of execution. I even included a list of emergency-kit suggestions to avoid any malfunctions, as well as a sheet that tabled the contact information of everyone taking on responsibility for the wedding day. I ended the binder by including a silly contract spoofing the Nicole Richie bridesmaid-contract:
Rachels Bridal Party Contract 
I, _________________________, do solemnly swear: 
______ My hair will remain at whatever length I want, but if it’s past my shoulders, it will be put in a beautiful up-do.
______ If I change my hair color, I will consider consulting Rachel because she loves sassy hair. 
______ My nails will be painted a delicate, light color of my choosing and will be at my preferred length (…with the exception of them being so long they curl over at the tips).
 ______ Rachel will love me and appreciate me being in her bridal party regardless of my weight, but I will do my best to be in great shape and health. I want to look my best!
 ______ Assuming there is a shower or a bachelorette party, I will be as involved as I can be and party it up with Rachel for as long as I can stand.
 ______ I will hold Rachel to her promise that the bridesmaid dresses will be fabulous and won’t cost an arm and a leg.  I will provide opinions on the style because I know Rachel likes input and gets overwhelmed by options.   
______ If I get pregnant, YAY!  Rachel loves babies and pregnant people.  If I am not pregnant, the reception will provide a fully stocked bar in which to imbibe in front of said pregnant people.
 ______I will dance the night away at the reception and all other spontaneous dance parties.  If Rachel is not around for the sporadic dance parties, I will take a picture or a video to show her.
 ______ I will tell Rachel when she is being crazy/unrealistic and why, specifically. I will not let Rachel go off the deep-end. 
______ I will freely give hugs and lend my support to Rachel to help relieve stress since she is such a perfectionist.  Rachel loves friends’ hugs.
I do hereby swear that I will adhere to the entire above & other stated bridesmaid “duties” for the wedding on Saturday, October 2, 2010.
X________________________________                 ___________________                (Signature)                                               (Date)

To complement the binders, I gave each girl an adorable book by Kate Chynoweth called The Bridesmaid Guide. You should consider using it as a cute little pre-wedding gift for your girls, especially if some of them are new to the bridal party scene!
Bridesmaid Guide
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

So I hope I’ve made my case for proving that you can be organized and execute strong leadership without being overbearing or pushy. Or maybe you just think I’m a Bridezilla in denial! Whatever you decide, I hope you’ll too consider putting together some personalized plan books for your bridesmaids. I found it to be another DIY project that sparked up some great conversation!

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