Archives for the month of: April, 2009

With the economy the way it is, quite a few brides have had to rethink the level of grandeur their wedding will encompass. However, you can still have a fantastic fete to honor your nuptials without breaking the bank. Enter: the casual wedding.

Now a casual wedding doesn’t necessarily mean t-shirts, sweatpants, and sneakers with hamburgers and hotdogs (however, if that’s your style, go for it). Rather, it means forgoing the martini luge and the $10,000 flower budget in favor of a low-key party. Here are a few ways to carry out this theme and still remain stylish (and forgo overdraft charges to your bank account).

Venue Victory: Instead of going for a grand hotel ballroom or a banquet hall, opt for offbeat spaces such as lofts, parks, or civic centers. The costs of renting spaces from such venues tend to be significantly lower than going your traditional route and they offer a truly blank canvas for you to decorate. If you have the space (or a generous friend or family member), host the wedding at home in the backyard. In the case of an outdoor space, you can save money on decor depending on the season, as the gardens may be in full bloom on the big day. Also, the time of day could tone down the formality; opting to have a brunch or lunch reception will keep it light and help to save money (more on that later).

Invite Info: Let guests know that they’ll be able to unwind at your event through a fun, colorful invite. Instead of going the traditional route of having insert upon insert with information on embossed stock paper, go with a simplified, 1-piece invite highlighted with a funky print that hints at your color scheme. If you’re the artsy type, you could also make the invites yourself with a kit or start from scratch to get an invitation that really reflects you and your fiancé. Bonus: a lack of paper will cost less and, if you go the recycled route, you’ll go green for your invites, thus aiding the environment, which is always a good thing.

Catered Cool: As mentioned in the first tip, brunch and lunch receptions tone down the formality of your wedding and could save you some extra cash. If you go the brunch route, make sure that your guests have the option to enjoy traditional breakfast fare such as omelets, breakfast meats, waffles, fresh salads of fruits and veggies, and plenty of punch (and, don’t forget the mimosas). Lunch time weddings could call for well-prepared sandwiches with deli meats and vegetarian options as well at various salads (vegetable, pasta, potato, etc), fresh fruit, and sodas. Both could call for the wedding cake, or you could have a dessert table with sweets for all. However, due to the time of day, no one will miss the open bar, so you could indeed have a dry wedding without any objections from your guests or your wallet.
If you truly want an evening wedding, serve a cocktail reception with passed hors d’œuvres. I went to a wedding where all that was served was passed hors d’œuvres-and, plenty of them, both hot and cold. But, keep them fun; mini-hamburgers, macaroni and cheese spoons, won-tons, and the omnipresent meatballs are crown favorites that don’t take themselves too seriously.

Look Lovely: A casual bride can still be an elegant one. Unless you’re hell-bent on wearing that princess ballgown, opt for a simpler frock to celebrate. Go for a simple, breezy gown of organza or go retro chic with a tea-length dress and show off those fabulous shoes (tip: the shoes don’t have to be white-pick a color you love). To further save money, just order a flattering bridesmaids’ dress in white or ivory and embellish it yourself. Only you will know the difference.
Let your leading man break free from tradition too. Forgo the tuxedo and allow him to wear a suit he loves-and, already owns. To tone down the formality even more, just dictate a dress shirt color (most likely one that compliments the bridesmaids’ dresses) with slacks, and all of the guys will be good to go-uniformed, polished, and casually cool.
Let your guests know that ballroom gowns and three-piece suits need not apply by stating that the dress code is “casual elegance” or, in layman’s terms, “Dressy Casual”. Just make sure you dictate what you consider to be not allowed (be it jeans, sneakers, baseball caps, etc).

A Big Favor: While Jordan almonds or chocolates in tulle bags are the dominant types of send-offs for the guests, I encourage you to think outside of the pink favor box. For an outdoor wedding, purchase white paper or palm-woven fans to give to the guests as a token of appreciation and a useful tool to keep cool. If candy is your thing, opt for a candy bar with boxes that reflects your theme, such as miniature picnic baskets. For a relaxed Asian theme, pass out fortune cookies with personalized messages for each guest. These suggestions are limited, but you get the idea: do something different. Just be sure to shop around for the best price on favors.

See, not all weddings need to have all of the bells and whistles to be fabulous. I hope that these tips will help make your casual wedding as unforgettable as any formal event while keeping your finances in the black. Just remember-the wedding is one day, the marriage lasts for much longer, so start out on a good foot with fun a laughter to spare. Have fun!

I have always maintained a love for fine art. My favorite painter is Vincent van Gogh, hands down. His works seem to embody a state of constant motion, especially in terms of his brush stroke technique. So, to mix my love for van Gogh with the objective of this blog (read: offering you inspiration to beautify your big day), I have constructed an inspiration board inspired by my favorite van Gogh work, Starry NightI. May it make your celebration sparkle. Enjoy!

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (taken fromSpiralZoom.com)
Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (taken fromSpiralZoom.com)

starry-night

I just had to share Thursday’s episode of Lifetime’s wedding show, Get Married hosted by the illustrious Colin Cowie and the lovely Deanna Pappas. I’m into all things retro, and this episode is for those who want the chic touch of yesteryear adding to their big day. Naturally, my favorite part is the fashion tips they give for achieving a retro elegance look. Watch the video below to see what I mean.

Click here!

I have been seeing the title color palette quite a bit in clothing. Despite its potential to conjure images of numerous traffic memories (namely, pavement), I must say that this combination of hues is quite chic and I’m surprised that it hasn’t gotten more exposure. So, I am doing my part to bring this color palette out of obscurity by doing what I do best: inspiration boards for your big day. Perhaps this could be a perspective you now take into account for your big day. Enjoy!

yellow-grey-white1

So, next on your wedding planning agenda is hand-picking your entourage, better known as your bridesmaids. Naturally, this will include those closest to you, be it your sisters, cousins, friends, co-workers, or that nice lady down the block who always bakes fresh cookies for your family. However, with this honor comes some fear on the honorees’ part: that damned bridesmaid’s dress.

As we’ve seen through the years (especially the 1980s and 1990s), bridesmaids dresses may come in the most ghastly of colors and silhouettes, thus creating tons of unflattering photographs and broken friendships across the globe. So, to keep your relationships intact, I offer a few suggestions on how to let your home-girls look fabulous on your big day.

Remember Who Will Be Taking the Blame: Keep in mind that what the girls will be wearing is ultimately a reflection on you. Since we all know that the bride usually dictates what the attendants will be wearing, chances are that people will question your judgement/sanity if you pick a fugly bridesmaids’ outfit. Either that, or it will suggest that you’re insecure and thus you felt the need to make your friends look awful in order to shine-not a good look for you, sister. Also, when you look back on your portraits, you and your maids will start fighting to the death. Keep that in mind when you have that poofy, seafoam green monstrosity in hand as an option for your maids.

Avoid Cookie-Cutter Syndrome (CCS): We’ve all seen it: some bride used her tall, model-esque friend’s body type as a standard in picking the dress, and now the shorter, more voluptuous one looks like a train wreck. Such happens when a bride gets CCS. Face it: not everyone can wear everything, so while a strapless frock may look fabulous on your modestly endowed sister, your Double-D sized cousin is struggling to keep her girls from making a surprise appearance at the altar (or, is suffocating). Lately, the option many brides have been going with is choosing a color or a set of colors within the same hue family and letting the girls go with that and maybe an instruction for a hemline limit. Ergo, the girls look uniform enough for cohesion, but has picked a dress that suits their body type and looks fantastic-they may even wear it long after the “I Do”. Just, keep an eye out for your less style-savvy buddies and assist them if need be.

Don’t “Clean Them Out”: So, you found dresses that are perfect for all the girls-but, they costs $500… each. Recession or not, $500 is still steep for the bridal party member who just so happens to be a single working mother of 4 kids. The aforementioned CCS tip will allow the bridesmaids to purchase dresses at price points they can afford, thus avoiding going bankrupt for your big day. If it’s in your budget, why not be giving and offset a fraction of the cost of the dresses for your girls of more humble means? Trust me, they will be more than elated and appreciative towards such a lovely gesture.

Stay True to the Atmosphere: So, you have your heart set on sleeveless cocktail dresses for your maids-but, the wedding is being held in the dead of winter. Sorry, but you’re going to have to go back to the drawing board. Keep your venue and the level of formality in mind while picking out bridesmaids’ dresses. A long evening gown doesn’t belong on the beach anymore than a sundress belongs at the Ritz-Carlton-I don’t care how gorgeous the dress is. Overall, it will keep the wedding streamlined and in harmony-and, it will make your girls quite happy.

With these tips in mind, I recommend the following retailers and designers for bridesmaids’ dresses:

Olivia Luca affords ultimate customization as it has a tool set up for designing the dress, including a choice in the silhouette, color, fabric, and details.

The Dessy Group features hundreds of designs from companies such as After Six, Alfred Sung, and Lela Rose.

Jenny Yoo has gained a massive following in the bridesmaids’ dress circuit (also, check out her collection of Wedding Alternatives if you’re looking for a chic, minimalist gown)

Thread Design offers fashionable frocks in many different materials, including seersucker and velvet.

Simple Silhouettes carries deliciously modern dresses inspired by flowers (my personal favorite is the Primrose)

I hope that this helps in the process of planning your (bridal) party. Now, get the girls and get shopping!

Is tradition your forté?

If you answer “no” to this question and cringe at the thought of ballgowns, wedding pomp, and the other “usual” (read: boring, irritating, annoying, etc.) traditions, then the book Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Bridesis a perfect read for you.

The Author Ariel Meadow Stallings takes you through the hilarious account of her own wedding and the planning behind it and offers advice to make your nuptials anything but boring. Topics include engagement rings without diamonds, incorporating bridesboys and groomsgirls, wedsites, conflict mediation techniques, and nixing the trip down the aisle with Dad (if you so choose, of course). Interjections from other offbeat brides (and grooms) also allow for insight as to what traditions you may want to keep and what traditions you’d rather toss. This witty but intelligently written read is a must-read for those brides who want to shake things up-or, simply remain true to themselves.

Purchase a copy on Amazon if you’re interested. Until your book arrives, take a look at the Offbeat Bride blog to get your fix.

The classic white wedding dress will always have a place in the bridal world. As of late, however, some designers have opted to go technicolor in their designs ranging from accents to full-on colored gowns. Retailers such as David’s Bridal have included gowns with colored accents. Carolina Herrera’s latest collection also had pops of color worked into it’s gowns. For a simpler take on this trend just use a colored sash to add a spot of hue on your gown. 

Some designers, however, take a more direct approach. Vera Wang has been on the radar lately for dyeing her creations in shades of pink, green, yellow, grey, and gold among others. If this trend is for you, it’s not necessary to buy a pricey dyed creation from a bridal atelier. Evening gowns come in all shades and colors, thus serving its purpose as a lovely alternative. Also, vintage reproduction shops such as Unique Vintage carry a bevy of retro-inspired frocks in plenty of adorable hues.

White is a timeless option, but feel free to say your vows in technicolor.

Once again, I would like to cover yet another popular color combination for weddings and receptions. When these two colors come together, I can’t help but think of candy, especially chocolate and cotton candy. Both things generate a feeling of fun and whimsy, which I hope I captured in this inspration board. As always, I hope this starts some of you off on the right path.

All photos taken from TheKnot.com

All photos taken from TheKnot.com

This color combination has become a trendy favorite among brides these days, as it combines a traditional hue with a classic/contemporary neutral. Here’s my personal spin on the palette; may it serve as a starting point for all those who want this on their big day.

tiffany-blue-chocolate-brown4

My mom, never having a wedding and single, had me conjure up a board that includes her favorite colors, which are green and brown. Judging from the lung-squeezing hug she gave me when I was done, I think I did a good job. Here’s the final product. Perhaps it will give you some ideas.

All photos taken from TheKnot.com

All photos taken from TheKnot.com

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