Wednesday, June 30

Should Guests Get a Plus-One?

Imagine you’re planning to attend a wedding for a couple that you know quite well, but you have never actually met their other friends or family. You’re looking forward to sharing their big day with them and have spoken with the couple on several occasions about how excited you are to attend their event. Then the invitation comes in the mail, and you can’t wait to open it up. But slowly you notice that there’s no indication of being allowed to bring your significant other as your date. Assuming it was nothing more than a mistake - you’ve been with your partner for a year now, after all - you RSVP for yourself and your significant other to attend.  Days later, you receive a telephone call informing you that absolutely NO guest dates are being invited. How excited would you be about attending the wedding by yourself, without knowing many other people there, while you’re boyfriend or girlfriend just sits at home?

I read an interesting article this morning from the perspective of a wedding guest that wasn’t permitted to bring a date with him on not only one, but on two different occasions. The first situation was almost exactly like the scenario described above. The second wedding was for his own brother in which he was even IN the wedding party, yet still not allowed to bring a date to the reception. If you’re not cringing with horror yet, you should be. Sure, weddings are expensive and a bride and groom often has to cut costs somewhere within the budget, but that means exploring possibilities of cheaper centerpieces or a less extravagant venue, NOT jeopardizing the entertainment and comfort of the guests. Yes, the day is “all about the bride and the groom”, but unless you’re running off to Vegas for an Elvis-officiated wedding, you really need to take into consideration what guests will experience at your event. No one is forcing you to invite your old roommate from college or the pen-pal you’ve had since you were ten; you are inviting these people for a reason.  Hopefully the reason isn’t to squeeze in another gift, but instead is because you want those people to celebrate your new marriage with you, and to have a blast doing it. What could be more fun than celebrating the wedding with their own  dancing partner?
poorlittlerichgirls 300x224 Guarantee Fun by Allowing a Plus One
Every well-versed bride and wedding planner knows the first three steps in wedding planning are to decide on the budget, create a guest list, and choose the venue. (All three pretty much go hand-in-hand since one affects the other.) This is the best way to really evaluate who should make your “A” list, or the people you absolutely cannot imagine the day without. It’s okay to also have a “B” list, or a group of invitees you would love to have present if there is enough money leftover in the budget. My feeling is that if someone is good enough to make your “A” list, they are good enough to be allowed a plus-one. It’s true that this might mean you have to cut corners such as not inviting children, not inviting cousins, or having a smaller guest list, but so be it! You might be thinking, “But if I allow ten of our guests to bring dates, then that’s ten other people that I want to invite but won’t be able to.” Look – I’m not claiming that creating the guest list is easy. It’s one of the hardest things you will do in the planning process. But think about it: Would you really want to sit by yourself, or even next to a group of couples, feeling like the odd man out? Weddings can sometimes be a source of anxiety for someone who is newly (or even usually) single, and you definitely wouldn’t want to amplify their discomfort by broadcasting that they had to come by themselves because they aren’t officially “taken”. My advice? If you want to invite those ten extra people so badly, then do it! But just plan to order less expensive flowers or opt for DIY projects that will allow more leeway with the guest-list portion of the budget. Or try what my fiance and I did, and extend the length of your engagement so you can save more money to spend on things like the head count. Bottom line: If you want to save on costs, sacrifice elsewhere in the budget and at least give your guests the option to bring a date if they want to. It’s the best way to make sure a good time is had by all… and isn’t that what celebrations are all about?
What are your thoughts on inviting plus-ones? Would you ever expect a guest to come to your wedding alone when they already have a date they want to bring? Click here to read the article for yourself.

Monday, June 28

Wedding Gown Woes


Last week I mentioned that after a three-month waiting period, my Maggie Sottero wedding gown had finally arrived. So this past Saturday I drove 45 minutes to see it in person and I have to admit I was a bit nervous on the entire ride there. It’s scary to pay hundreds of dollars for something that is ordered to be custom-made as opposed to knowing exactly what you’re getting when buying off the rack! But once the shop owner pulled the gown from the bag, it really looked beautiful. The color was great, the detailing looked fabulous. My hairpiece from Etsy and sexy new heels even matched the dress perfectly. But after stepping into it and getting all corset-tied in, I noticed the dress was too big in the hips. Are you kidding me?!, I thought. Week after week I watch wedding shows where brides buy their gowns too small, thinking they will lose weight and be able to fit into them when the time comes. Who honestly buys a custom-made gown that is TOO BIG? I do, apparently. 

When we’d placed the order, I’d felt as if I was in-between sizes so I’d decided to go with the larger size of the two, thinking it would be easy to have it altered if necessary. But of course it would be my luck that where the dress needs to be brought in – through the midsection and especially the hip area – there is a lot of detailing on the side that makes it very expensive to alter. And then… why did the train seem so much longer now? I didn’t remember the train being quite as long when I tried it on, but now the train on my gown seemed really lengthy. Definitely not something I was hoping for considering I could have forfeited the train look altogether and been fine with it. I also noticed that part of the (very noticeable) detailing on the front of the gown didn’t quite look the same as the picture of the gown in the catalog or on the website. I’m not talking about beading that could be randomly place with the same general look – I’m talking about something so obviously different that it really changed the entire look of the front of the dress. So now I was looking at changing the sides of the gown to make it smaller, making the train much shorter, having it hemmed to my height, and altering the detail on the front to match the example picture. Seriously?! Can I really afford to alter my entire gown? I might as well have doubled my gown budget if I was just going to alter the entire dress for the same price. I just couldn’t stop thinking, Why in the heck didn’t I order the smaller size?


Ok, the train wasn’t quite this long… but it certainly seemed like it!

First thing this morning, I telephoned the boutique to talk to the owner about how the front of my dress looks different than the model photo. She said I have seven days to issue a claim with the gown, but this short timeframe window poses a real problem. I’m going out of town for this entire upcoming holiday weekend, and I live too far away to make it over to the shop on a work day. So tonight I’m supposed to take photos of the dress to email to her so she can compare it herself and see how different it really looks. Then, I have an appointment with the seamstress on July 11th which is when I’ll bring the gown back in for them to compare it in person. And if it’s determined the dress was in fact constructed with a blatant error, the dress has to be sent back! What?! Let me get this straight: I ordered the dress in March, had to wait three months for it, and with my wedding now only three months away, I have return it for several more weeks? What a nightmare!!

Did anyone else have issues with their dress after they had to order it from the manufacturer? How did you handle it?

Sunday, June 27

Fabulous Wedding Fashions

Have I ever mentioned how much I admire Vera Wang’s gowns? If I did, it was an understatement. I LOVE her sense of style. For me, Vera defines wedding fashion and is the very reason I learned to appreciate bridal gowns to begin with. I don’t know how she does it, but every garment is like a priceless work of art, a beautifully orchestrated symphony of fabrics. Not only are her gowns elegant and balanced to perfection, but somehow she is able to bring life to even the most unlikely bridal color: Black? Who’d have thought a black wedding gown could be this gorgeous? She never ceases to amaze me!

verawangblack2011dressBridalWaveTV 205x300 Fabulous Wedding Fashions
Black 2011 Gown by Vera Wang
And aren’t these Bridesmaid dresses to die for? I LOVE the one in the middle, but all three are drop-dead gorgeous. What bridesmaid wouldn’t love to be wearing one of these?
bridalwave.tv  300x300 Fabulous Wedding Fashions
Although my bridesmaids’ dresses were already selected months ago, I couldn’t help but become inspired from that photo to explore Etsy for other unique bridesmaid dresses. And, just as I had expected, there was no shortage of absolutely adorable handmade dresses. Check out a few that I loved…
ConvertibleInfinityBridesmaidWrapDressbyErinLeighHeart98 250x300 Fabulous Wedding Fashions
Convertible Infinity Bridesmaid Wrap Dress by Erin Leigh Heart; $98
PinckneyStreetDressbyTheWeddingCollection315 199x300 Fabulous Wedding Fashions
Pinckney Street Dress by The Wedding Collection; $315
Would you consider wearing a black wedding gown like the one posted above?

Saturday, June 26

Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!



Since I reside nearly 1,000 miles from where my mom lives, I didn’t have many opportunities to shop with her for a Mother-of-the-Bride dress. We relied on searching websites to find styles we liked and I would then call different stores in her area to see who had the dresses available. We had only one shot for her to find a dress in my presence since April was my last visit to St. Louis until we return for the wedding. Luckily, the shop we purchased my maids’ dresses from (Karen’s Boutique in Ellisville) sold MOB dresses by a designer we loved, Jade Couture. Considering my own gown was a brand new introduction in the 2010 line, is it any surprise that the dress we wanted for her to wear just happened to also be a brand new Fall 2010 introduction? (Like mother, like daughter, right?) We were a little bummed to learn that the dress wouldn’t even be available for try-on in stores until one week after my wedding, so we decided for her to try on a few other styles since we felt more comfortable ordering a dress that we could actually see in person. Still, nothing seemed to be “the one”, and for weeks we pondered the different dress styles and whether or not to just order the one we originally loved but couldn’t actually try on. Finally… earlier this week… we came to a final decision. We opted to order our original favorite, the one we loved based on the picture. So here it is! My mom’s MOB dress:
JadeFront Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
JadeDetail Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
JadeBack Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
I think the bordeaux color will look gorgeous with her brunette hair and will definitely complement our wedding colors of celadon green, fuchsia, and dark brown. My fiance’s mother will be wearing a bronze antique-style dress, and I know both women will look just fabulous in the wedding pictures!
Don’t forget to help Mom – and even your future MIL! – with dress selection since it can sometimes be an intimidating and tedious process for them. They will really value your advice and appreciate that you care how they look. My recommendation is to find styles online that you like and email them to your mom to get her opinion and make sure you’re on the same page. Go to stores to help her look, and be honest yet open-minded. Even though it’s your day, you want her to feel as comfortable and fabulous as you do. After everything she’s done for you over the years, she definitely deserves it!
Need some ideas for where to start? Check out some of the other beautiful styles that I found online, and click on the website link below each picture to view the rest of the designer’s collection.
DavidsFront Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
DavidsBack Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
Style # EJ0M8537 in Silver by David’s Bridal
JadeFront2 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
JadeBack2 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
Style #J3357 in Teal Taffeta/Black Lace by Jade Collection from Jasmine Bridal
MontageMonCheriGreenFront 225x300 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
MontageMonCheriGreenDetail 225x300 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
Style #210976 in Celadon by Montage from Mon Cheri
SophiaTolliFront 225x300 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
SophiaTolliDetail 225x300 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
Style # BY21050T in SmokeyBeige/Ruby by Sophia Tolli Special Occasion
AlfredAngeloFront 226x300 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
AlfredAngeloDetail 226x300 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
Style #7088 in Diamond White/Espresso by Alfred Angelo
MontageMonCheriGreenFront2 225x300 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
MontageMonCheriGreenDetail2 225x300 Here Comes the (Mother of the) Bride!
Style #210951 in CafĂ© by Montage from Mon Cheri
Have your MOB or FMIL chosen their dresses yet? What are you doing to help them through the process?

Thursday, June 24

100 Day Countdown!

I’ve been counting down to the wedding since day 500-something, but today officially marks the 100-day countdown! When I think back to everything I’ve done over the past 18 months, I’m amazed at how much time and thought I’ve put into this wedding as a whole. Fortunately, having such a long engagement — 22 months by the time it actually happens — has really made the entire process so much easier and less stressful. I didn’t even realize just how much work I’ve done until I really thought about all of it, bit by bit, yesterday. All the phone calls, emails, research, price comparisons, bartering, more researching… it’s really been a lot to handle. But the entire planning process truly has been an overall enjoyable experience since I was able to take on each aspect one day at a time. I can’t imagine how I’d have handled everything with, say, a 6-month engagement. I just can’t picture having had to do the scheduling and budgeting and planning, all at the same time, with a short-term engagement. It seems like an impossibility unless you have help from a lot of other people!

100day 300x147 Engagements and Gowns 
Those who’ve been following my blog know that my wedding is taking place in Missouri (where I’m from originally) but that my fiance and I live in Florida. So not only are we planning the entire wedding from another state, but ALL of my bridesmaids and both of our parents all live in Missouri as well. It’s literally just my fiance and I planning the entire thing from a distance. So as if planning a wedding wasn’t challenging enough, imagine doing it from across the country and with minimal assistance. Certainly no easy task. I’m so thankful now that we’d set up such a long engagement, thus allowing us enough time to plan everything to perfection. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, and my #1 recommendation to new brides is that no matter how big or how small your wedding is, plan for a minimum of a one year engagement. It seems like a long time, but you’ll quickly learn that with all there is to do, all the time in the world couldn’t be enough. You’ll be so much less stressed when you can plan things as smaller parts instead of as one big whole. Besides, you’re only “engaged” for a short period of your life… why not enjoy that time as much as possible?! With a longer engagement, I really feel like I’ve milked it for all it’s worth and now I’m fully prepared to move onto the next step as a Mrs.  
veilsilhouettebride Engagements and Gowns
Once we were engaged in December 2008, I wasted no time in beginning the search for my wedding gown. It was a good thing I got started when I did… nearly two years seemed like enough time to find a gown, but it would take me about 50 dresses, 8 stores, and 15 months to finally say yes to THE dress. The problem was not that I didn’t like any gowns I tried, the problem was that I loved most all of them! But eventually it was a Fall 2010 gown by designer Maggie Sottero that made me giddy enough to buy it the very same day I tried it on. I had to avoid watching Say Yes to the Dress and viewing bridal magazine ads as much as possible because I didn’t want to doubt my decision. It was hard enough to choose just one, so I couldn’t afford to come across any other dress that would make me stray away from the one I’d committed to. Now, here I am exactly 100 days from the wedding, and this morning I received the long-awaited and much anticipated phone call from the Honey Pot Boutique in Largo, Florida… my dress has finally arrived! After several agonizing months of waiting for it to be handmade (I am one of the very first brides to order it since it was just introduced), it is finally here!! I’ll be fitted for MY OWN WEDDING GOWN this Saturday afternoon!! But don’t expect me to post any pictures just yet. No one gets to see the dress until October 2nd!
Each month I feature a reader-poll right here on my blog. April’s poll asked brides how long their engagement was (or will be). Of the 13 responses, nearly HALF said they were planning their wedding over a 6-12 month span. Almost a quarter of brides said they were taking between one and two years to plan their big day, and the short engagements of 6 months or less tied the long engagements of two years or more at 15%. Based on the poll it seems as though the one-to-two year engagements are most popular, and it’s definitely for good reason. Then theMay poll asked readers how much they were spending on their wedding gown. Sixteen brides sounded off with 25% of brides saying they were spending between $200 and $599.  The most popular category at 37% was the $600-$999 range, and 18% said they were spending between $1000 and $1499. More impressive was the 12% that said they were spending over a whopping $2000! Lucky girls!
To participate in the June poll topic, find it on the top right corner of this page and tell me: What is your worst wedding day nightmare?!
(Dress Photo by Google Images)

Monday, June 21

A Passion for Bridal Fashion

I would be absolutely thrilled if I found some way to include a gorgeous clutch purse that matches my wedding gown into our tight budget. Unfortunately I never cared much about fashion until after I’d caught the Bride Flu, and thus after I’d already made our budget, but now I’m literally obsessed with gowns, hairpieces, shoes, purses… anything related to wedding fashion. I wish I’d accounted for more funds being spent on wedding fashion from the start, because now I’m just left drooling at accessories that I simply can’t afford.  You already know from a recent post that I’m a huge fan of the Etsy marketplace, but while perusing through all the unique styles to find something that matches my bridal gown (and within my budget!), I was totally impressed by how talented and crafty people can be in designing wedding purses. Check out my favorite picks below… You might just find a style perfect for your wedding gown or for your bridesmaids!
 EtsyAllThingsPretty A Passion for Bridal Fashion
Waterfall Mermaid Clutch Bag by All Things Pretty; $295

EtsyPercyHandmade A Passion for Bridal Fashion
Ivory and Cream Silk Charlie Clutch by Percy Handmade; $65

EtsyClutchThat A Passion for Bridal Fashion
Peacock Feathers Silk Brocade Clutch by Clutch That; $75

EtsyAngeew A Passion for Bridal Fashion
Passion Ivory Bridal Clutch with Ostrich Feathers by Angee W.; $70

EtsyDavieandChiyo A Passion for Bridal Fashion
Oreo Ruffle Trim Clutch by Davie and Chiyo; $75

EtsyParisxox A Passion for Bridal Fashion
Night at the Ballet Bridal Satin Clutch by Paris XOX; $65

EtsyMollusa2 A Passion for Bridal Fashion
Small Simple Bridesmaid Clutch by Mollusa; $39

EtsyDavieandChiyo2 A Passion for Bridal Fashion
Pretty Pleats Clutch by Davie and Chiyo; $75
 Are you using a clutch purse on you wedding day? If so, are you making it yourself or buying it from somewhere?

Wednesday, June 16

Our DIY Stationery Update


My wedding shoes finally arrived in the mail yesterday, and they are fabulous! I was a little worried to order them without ever having seen them in person much less tried them on for size, but they are absolutely perfect. I love checking things off my to-do list, and this was a big one for me since I’m so picky!
In other news, Joe and I are in the process of DIY-ing our invitations. We’ve done literally everything from scratch including creating the design, printing them ourselves, cutting the paper, gluing the paper layers, and affixing the embellishments. It is a lot of work but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t having a blast doing it. To be honest, I don’t trust anyone BUT Joe and I to make the invitations. As graphic designers, it’s a big deal to us that they look perfect and we figured we’d do as good a job as any professional company, but for for half the cost. They really are quite gorgeous and I can’t wait to post photos of them after they are mailed out to our guests in early August.
Also on our stationery to-do list? Design the monogram to be used on our photobooth printouts and the dance floor lighting. Print and assemble our DIY programs. Design and print the Menu cards. Cut and assemble the escort cards. Print and embellish the RSVP cards and Directions cards. Finish the timeline cards for the bridesmaids. There is much to be done! But we’re making progress. Here’s a sneak peek of the sticker design we made that will be pasted onto the box of each guest favor:
GuestFavorPinkLovebird 600x632 Our DIY Stationery Update
It’s true that we have a lot left to do, but we have a very clear direction on everything so I’m not at all worried. It’s a good thing we don’t have any summer vacations planned because it looks like we will already be extremely busy! That’s okay though… we love spending time together while making the stationery for our wedding. I’m so lucky to have such a helpful fiance! : )

Friday, June 11

Fabulous Finds from Etsy

To see this post on Get Married's Wedding Dish as the Featured Blog of the Day, click HERE!
I have yet to meet a bride that doesn’t absolutely love Etsy, the crafty and popular online marketplace that sells beautiful wedding essentials that are totally one-of-a-kind. Artists and designers from all around the world gather on this one site to market their handmade trinkets and unique products that are quality-crafted with total pride and attention to detail.  If you’ve been following my blog you already know I’m a huge fan of DIY projects, but sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming to do everything by hand when there is just so much to be done in wedding planning. So to eliminate some of the stress as I approach our 3-month countdown, I decided to turn to the talents of Etsy members to find exactly what I needed in order to mark a few DIY to-do’s off my checklist.
Not only do I adore handmade, crafty items that will make our wedding day unique, but it’s also important to me that whatever we purchase for the wedding is re-usable once the big day is over. For example, if you recall my post on our unity ceremony, we’ll be having a sand ceremony using flower vases that can be used as home decor after we’re married. And instead of having guests sign a simple book that we’ll probably never look at again, they’ll instead sign the matte from the frame that will encase the vinyl record of our our first-dance song. So when it came to purchasing wedding items from Etsy, I thought about ways that my purchases could be used during and after the wedding day. For example, the dress hanger customized by LilaFrances with my new “Mrs.” last name will be used to hang my dress for photos, but can also be used to stylishly hang my personalized “Mrs.” robe in our bedroom closet after the wedding:
 lilafrances Fabulous Finds from Etsy
I know my hair stylist will do an amazing job working this handcrafted faux-rose by HARTfeltart  into my hairstyle on the big day, but I’m also looking forward to using it to dress up with on our honeymoon and for special occasions afterward:
 il 430xN 148920844 Fabulous Finds from Etsy
And this adorable personalized miniature plate by wiseimpressions will double as a ring-holder for taking photos (by tying the rings into the ribbon) until the ceremony begins, but then will everafter be used as a keepsake Christmas ornament:
 wiseimpressions Fabulous Finds from Etsy
There is truly something for every bride’s style and budget to be found on Etsy. Have you ever purchased items from Etsy members? How are you re-using wedding items after the day is over?
(All Photos borrowed from Etsy.com)

Thursday, June 10

Say Cheese! Photobooth Fun at the Reception


Although it didn’t seem possible with our tight budget, at the top of my “wedding wishlist” was a photobooth for the reception. A fairly new trend to the wedding industry, photobooths are quickly gaining in popularity thanks to their continuous entertainment for guests during the reception or cocktail hour. Often they can be as expensive as over $1,000 for a 4-hour rental, but I refused to allow this hefty price to intimidate me! Determined to find a booth that was still attainable within our budget but also provided outstanding picture quality, I scoured the internet and researched reviews until I finally found our perfect match. Not only were my fiance and I impressed by the excellent picture quality of Party Pix Booth, but we also got an amazing deal that will allow guests to use the booth limitlessly throughout the reception without breaking the bank. And because we’re also getting a CD-rom with copies of the images taken throughout the party, we’ll get to see every one of the goofy and silly shots that our guests pose for! I definitely can’t wait to pull my groom in the booth for a little smooch cameo. Check out these cute photobooth examples I found online:
weddingaces 600x897 Say Cheese! Photobooth Fun at the Reception
(Photo by weddingaces.com)
weddingchicks Say Cheese! Photobooth Fun at the Reception
(Photo by weddingchicks.com)
buttermediaCA 600x400 Say Cheese! Photobooth Fun at the Reception
(Photo by buttermedia.ca)
If you’re in the St. Louis area, you’ll definitely want to check out the awesome deals at PartyPixBooth.com since they offer several different packages that can be personalized to fit within any thrifty bride’s budget. I look forward to sharing our photobooth snapshots with you in October!