TLC's Brides Gone Styled: Gretta Monahan Talks Bad Fashion, Crying Moms & Wedding Drama

From www.justluxe.com by Marissa Stempien
TLC's Brides Gone Styled: Gretta Monahan Talks Bad Fashion, Crying Moms & Wedding Drama

Weddings are a magical time in any woman’s life—the day you walk down the aisle, friends and family present, and promise your undying love to one man for the rest of your life. Only some women want to do this in fishnets and combat boots. Or underboob-baring crop tops. Not very magical. Unfortunately, stylist and fashion expert Gretta Monahan has seen all this and more. On her new show, Brides Gone Styled, Monahan and her co-host Robert Verdi take the most unfashionable (and at times argumentative) women and transform them into princesses for one special day. And there’s nothing we love as much as a good makeover, so when given the opportunity to speak with Monahan before the premiere of the show, we basically jumped at the chance. We talked with her about all the drama you’ll see this season, how she finds a balance between tradition and fashion, and a few tips and tricks to use for your own upcoming nuptials.

Brides Gone Styled Photo Courtesy of Gretta Monahan

She may be in front of the camera now, but Monahan has worked in almost every aspect of fashion from retail to design to beauty, but (funnily enough) got her start in bridal. “My very first job ever was at a boutique called Yolanda’s—the number one bridal location in all of Massachusetts. It was our Kleinfeld’s,” she told us. “I was a bridal stock girl, so I helped families, bridesmaids and brides. When I got this show… [it] really brought me back to my first job, my first love of helping brides get their best look for their day.” She began her fashion career at FIT where she originally studied to be a fashion designer. Throughout college she worked in the beauty industry to help pay for her schooling, assisting hairstylists and makeup artists in her spare time. By the time she graduated she had become a stylist assistant for TV, and shortly after she opened her first bridal boutique.

Brides Gone Styled Photo Courtesy of TLC

“It was my very first month opening, and I got a call from a friend who said, ‘Hey, you know, this show on TLC called The Makeover Story called and said that they really want to use the store and have someone help them make over one of their guests. Would you do it?,’” she remembers. Of course having just opened a new location she knew she could use the publicity and agreed to do a few episodes at the request of the network. By the time they had finished their work together on The Makeover Story, TLC had offered her a hosting position. “To be honest with you, I didn't even know people could be on-air stylists,” she laughs. “Since then, I've worked with CBS and The Rachel Ray Show, and I've worked with Tim Gunn on Bravo, I’ve also done a lot of Good Morning America and a lot of different shows. But now I get to work with TLC again, and I just so happen to love them. I don't think anyone does makeover television or transformational television as well as they do.”

Brides Gone Styled Photo Courtesy of TLC

And her new show, Brides Gone Styled, takes makeovers to the extreme. ”It's styling, but it's like styling on steroids!” she explains. “We do an entire look, head to toe. It’s the first time fashion stylists are actually in the trenches with the bride, not a bridal consultant.” To help these women become beautiful brides, while still maintaining a bit of their own personalities, Monahan and Verdi gather all the information they can, from venue to guest list to what type of food will be served. “Robert has a huge background in entertaining, so he is really, really fluent on that side of it, as well, and thinks of every single detail,” she explains. “[I] feel really comfortable talking beauty because that is part of what I do as a fashion stylist. So we really use each other as additional fronts in order to give the bride a much more comprehensive look that's going to be complementary to what she has in mind and the vibe of her event, to really personalize it.”

Brides Gone Styled Photo Courtesy of TLC

Monahan also cites her fashion background as one of the reasons that she can work with these women and help them find a balance between their own “costume” and something a little more traditional. “The good thing is I think Robert and I are not coming from a place where we think every girl should be traditional and that every girl should wear white,” she explains. “We’re already coming from a fashion point of view, so it's out of the box.” She explains that many of her off-camera clients are looking to celebrities and the red carpet as a source of inspiration for their wedding, so she’s no stranger to unexpected bridal looks. “Basically fashion is on a collision course with bridal, and I talk to people, you know, all of the designers, and many of the ones that I buy from, like Michael Kors, they say that it won't be long before the Bridal Fashion Week is the same week as New York Fashion Week,” she explains. “Now women want different options, they don't want to be locked down to just traditional options, and between fabrics, innovation and where people get married, and how they’re getting married, and encore weddings, all of it—it's just changed dramatically.”

Brides Gone Styled Photo Courtesy of TLC

Of course, even with all their fashion-forward thinking, transforming a stubborn bride is sometimes easier said than done. Before they can even start on the makeover, they have to convince the bride-to-be that her own style is a little—lacking. They try to help each woman take in the entire picture—from hairstyles, to colorways, even down to their tattoos.  “We're not going to make you look ridiculous by having a design that competes with that, whether that's color, cut, material, you know? If you have a lot of ink on your skin, and you also have a very, very complex pattern on the dress, it looks horrible! And that's just something we had to really show these girls by working with them,” she explains. They aren’t trying to create a uniform look for each bride, it’s about accepting them as creative individuals and turning them into the most elegant versions of themselves. “We're not really that interested in making her look like she fell out of the magazine, because to the bride, it feels like it’s generic, you know? What we’re really interested in is making her look completely individual, [in a way] that is completely memorable.”

Brides Gone Styled Photo Courtesy of TLC

But they do want to make these women look beautiful, which can be difficult when brides (and mothers) tend to fight back every step of the way—which Monahan has zero patience for. “We're not going to stand here and tell you—now that you've come to us—that this is going to work for your wedding day, because we’re 100 percent certain when you look back, you're not going to be happy with it,” she explains. And she admits that just to prove a point she’ll concede, to show brides what they’ll really look like at their wedding. “It shocks me when we give them exactly what they wanted and they never like it,” she laughs. “When a woman is really entrenched in her bad taste, give it to her exactly as she orders it, let her put it on, and usually—usually in the bridal something happens that disconnects what she thinks she's going to look like, and what it really is. And I tell the moms, ‘Don't start crying and don't start screaming because she needs to explore this. She has to, or else she's not going to evolve and move into things that are going to be better for her.’” But eventually, after some pushing and shoving (and tears) Monahan and Verdi are able to make both the bride and her mother happy with the bride’s final look.

Brides Gone Styled Photo Courtesy of TLC

Unfortunately these celebrity stylists can’t help makeover every bride-to-be, so Monahan gave us some expert tips on choosing a wedding dress for your own big day. Often times women disregard things like theme, season and color scheme when choosing a gown (especially when they have their heart set on a specific look), but these are important factors that must be taken into account. “I think there is a lot of trouble with people connecting up everyday personal style, with the fact that this is not just an everyday moment,” she explains. “This is a very special day. And, you know, this is not about the fact that they're not formal enough, but oftentimes they haven't thought about the entire thing. They’re really thinking about just the dress.”  The same goes for beauty. If your hair is long and you’ve worn it down every day of your life, your wedding may not be the day to attempt an up-do—try something elegant, but be sure it still speaks to your style. “I think a lot of girls get very fixated on this certain model or a certain look, and then they really can’t get off of that; it's something that they find hard to do, so that's one of those things that I think can be problematic,” she adds.

Brides Gone Styled Photo Courtesy of TLC

And if you’re looking for something non-traditional, Monahan says you’re not alone. One of the biggest trends in bridal right now is shopping celebrity and runway style. “Girls are not even shopping traditional designers,” she tells us. “They're shopping actual runway designers. And if it comes in white, off-white or pale pink—they like that.” Of course Brides Gone Styled clients are the extreme, but trading in a Cinderella-esque ball gown for something fun and youthful is slowly becoming the norm. “The days of it being a sweetheart-neckline, ball gown, princess-cut dress that’s been the majority are starting to dwindle,” she explains. “I think that's always going to be a number one style, but I think that the options are going to be much more limitless.”

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