Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wish Upon a Wedding DC’s Gala Success

The Wish Upon a Wedding DC Blissful Wishes Ball on Nov. 17 was a huge success, and I had an incredible time meeting or catching up with so many fabulous vendors, couples, and Wish Upon a Wedding supporters from all across the D.C. region. Couldn’t join us? Check out the photos below, courtesy of Sweet Tea Photography, for a glimpse inside this elegant evening of giving back and supporting those in need.

Baltimore’s classy Tremont Grand was the perfect setting for a sophisticated affair.

Our president, Shelby Tuck-Horton, presented the chapter's first Shining Star community service award to the Tremont’s own Julie Brown-Edwards.

I’m honored to be a part of our fabulous board, where I work with a team of the most caring, generous and talented women in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Celebrity jazz artist Art Sherrod Jr. wowed everyone during dinner hour, as our team of dancers lit up the floor.

The photo booth was fun for everyone!

Our silent auction was a big hit! And the best part? You can still bid online for additional items through today, Nov. 30!

Up next, we’ll be working to fulfill a wedding wish for a terminal patient in Morgantown, West Virginia, and another for a very deserving military couple in Maryland. Want to help? Sign up as a wish granter online, donate, or shoot me an email at dcsecretary@wishuponawedding.org!

(Photo Credits: Sweet Tea Photography)

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Holiday Hang-Up: Your Family Or Mine?

Before the holidays roll around each year, married couples everywhere face that dreaded age-old question – your family’s house or mine?

For Stephen and I, the fact that our families live across the country in California, in entirely different parts of the state for that matter, meant we were right there with everyone else in trying to decide just how to handle this situation. After a couple months of thinking it over, we finally decided that, this year especially, flying to California for both Thanksgiving and Christmas would simply be too expensive. Plus, given Stephen’s work schedule and all of the uncertainties surrounding my job situation, spending a few days with each family during December wouldn't be practical, either.

Our solution? I’ll head home to spend Christmas with my family, while Stephen will stay here in D.C., working and celebrating with his sister and a few friends in the area. Though some people have simply stared at me in shock upon hearing this news, the truth is, Stephen and I see one another every day, and the simple fact that we’ll be apart on Christmas does not faze us.

Also, since I only see my family once or twice a year at most, while Stephen’s family is more frequently able to travel to D.C., the decision makes even more sense for us. Will it still work out this way once we have small kids? Probably not. But hopefully by that time, we’ll be living closer to our families anyway, and more easily able to see them both more often. But for now, we’re grateful for understanding families that support us in our decision, and also that we’re able to celebrate “Christmas” here together each and every day of our lives.

Have you and your husband or fiance faced the “holiday split” issue? How have you decided to handle things this year?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)  

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Fans Plan: Get Married’s Times Square Wedding

With Thanksgiving down, it's time to move on to the next batch of holidays on the horizon. And if you’re a Get Married fan like I am, you’ve surely heard about the awesome Times Square wedding they’re hosting this New Year’s Eve.

Since this celebration is part of a giveaway, one lucky couple has already been chosen, and now, it’s up to the fans to help plan their wedding by voting for the best gown, favor, bridesmaid ensemble, and more. I’m having fun casting my votes and watching the process unfold, but at the same time, I know I’d never want to have a wedding like this myself.

Sure, I love blogging and sharing tons of details about my own wedding, but for many of the same reasons I wouldn’t want to appear on other reality TV shows, I wouldn’t want my day to be quite this public, or to allow others to have so much control over the vendors and items that were included.

Even so, I can absolutely see how another couple might disagree, viewing this as an incredible opportunity to have a unique affair like no one else has ever before experienced. Oh, and then there’s also the important fact that the wedding is free to the incredibly deserving winning couple, two Marine reservists who met in Iraq.

What do you think? Would you consider being part of a wedding extravaganza like this?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Family, Friends & Good Eats

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This afternoon, we’re off to spend our first married Thanksgiving with Stephen’s sister, her boyfriend, and his family. And from what I’ve heard, a huge feast is in the forecast, so I’m more than ready to eat, drink, and have a great time.

As crazy and unpredictable as things have been these past few weeks, I’m constantly reminded of just how lucky I am to have my husband, a wonderful family, and amazing friends to support me, including all of you who have shared your encouragement right here on my blog.

Since Thanksgiving marks the official start to the holiday season, I thought I’d share my favorite recipe for pecan pie, which Stephen's grandmother learned from a fellow Army wife back in 1958. Since then, it has been a family staple, and we'll be making it again this year. Have a great day!

Mrs. Tonner's Pecan Pie

3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar (or slightly less)
1 cup or so pecans (1 1/4, if you can)

Stir together all ingredients, pour into an unbaked single pie crust in an 8-or-9-inch pie pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 60 minutes longer. Check at 50 minutes to avoid overbrowning.

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Expert Advice: Bridal Handkerchiefs & Embroidery (Part Two)

I hope you enjoyed the first part of my Q&A with Lil Inspirations' Sandra Dexter Kircher, because today, she’s back with even more great ideas and advice. Enjoy!

When selecting handkerchiefs for the bridal party, do most brides order a matching set, or is it more common to customize for each person?

There is usually some type of continuity. The bride will often order the handkerchiefs personalized with the same lettering style but in different colors, or in the same color but with different lettering styles. Someone who is more extravagant may choose our Script-Diane font, which is quite ornate, but someone more understated might instead choose a simpler block style.

A monogram is very popular, as well. Having a hankie embroidered with a friend’s initials allows her to use it at future weddings she attends or at other special functions. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen will remember who gave them such a special personalized gift, and they will appreciate it more than a handkerchief embroidered with the bride and groom’s names.

You designed the most gorgeous handkerchiefs for Erwin and Ed’s Wish Upon a Wedding DC celebration. What inspired you to get involved with the organization, and what was your experience like in designing handkerchiefs for this special occasion?

When I first heard about Wish Upon a Wedding, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. Through my phone calls and emails with Liz Guthrie, the organization’s founder, I could tell just how passionate she was about this cause. It inspired me, and I reflected back on my own wedding day, with all the planning involved, and how my grandfather was not able to attend due to an emergency surgery. Trying to determine whether to postpone the wedding, whether I could get to the hospital to visit him, and whether everything was all set with the caterer, florist, and so on, made for a stressful time.

I thought that it must be next to impossible to plan a wedding while also facing a significant other's terminal illness. I also thought about how sad it would be for a couple in love to not be able to express their bond through the unity of marriage simply because there was no time or financial means for them to do so. What started as “helping” Liz and Sasha Souza, president, with a wedding or two has now turned into the “official gift” for Wish Upon a Wedding, and I couldn't be more honored.

Erwin and Ed's handkerchiefs were the perfect example of creating truly personal keepsakes. The couple requested that the handkerchiefs be personalized with the phrase “E2LU,” and I had to ask, "What is the significance? Why E2LU?" They told me it stands for Ed, Erwin, Lobo and Urbaniak – the “E2” for Ed and Erwin, and the “LU” for their children. It was a beautiful way to personalize the message without being cumbersome. It's their personal monogram.

What do you love most about your job, and how did you first get started?

I love creating and designing wedding handkerchiefs because there is always something new and different around the corner, pun intended. It never gets old for me. I've always loved to sew, and was always designing something or other since I was very young.

Many days, after school, I would go to where my mother worked as a tailor, and there were always scraps of fabric laying around. I would make a handbag, a wallet, a headband, something to pass the time until it was time to go home. I purchased a sewing machine, and in high school, I took a design class and started making some of my own clothes. I then moved on to embroidery.

My father always used cotton and linen handkerchiefs for all occasions, and at first, I never gave it much thought. Then, on my wedding day, I saw my father use his handkerchief, and realized I should have created a handkerchief personalized just for him. I started designing handkerchiefs shortly thereafter and still haven't stopped 17 years later. I'll be adding new handkerchief styles for the upcoming season, plus even more design options. Handkerchiefs are a truly elegant way to wipe away the “tears of joy.”

Do you have a hobby that's turned into a lifelong passion? What's your favorite personal keepsake?

(Photo Credits: Lil Inspirations & Wish Upon a Wedding DC Facebook Library)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Expert Advice: Bridal Handkerchiefs & Embroidery (Part One)

While planning my wedding, I searched high and low for the perfect bridal handkerchief to carry with me throughout the day. Though I eventually found one decorated in a lovely floral pattern that matched my color scheme, I definitely wish I’d been familiar with Lil Inspirations, which offers the most beautiful customized, affordable handkerchiefs and embroidered gifts.

Though I may have missed out, you don't have to! Here to share a lil' advice and inspiration is Sandra Dexter Kircher, the company’s owner and a generous wish granter for Wish Upon a Wedding. Got questions? Don't forget to leave them in the comment section below!

Your company offers a range of beautifully embroidered wedding gifts, from handkerchiefs to throw blankets. Which items are especially popular right now, and what trends have you noticed throughout the past year?

Our handkerchiefs continue to be our most popular item for the bride, groom and entire bridal party. I offer handkerchiefs from the very ornate to the elegantly simple to compliment whatever a bride's style is. Brides also really want to add a personal touch to their weddings, and with an embroidered hankie, they can. I've seen some expressions that made me pause for a moment and say "aw," and some that have made me blush (big time), but I don't judge. With the ability to choose their own words and have the design embroidered in their choice of thread color, many times to match their wedding color scheme, the possibilities are endless. I'll be adding new handkerchief styles for the upcoming season, plus even more design options.

With many wedding gowns now featuring some type of floral design element, I've also found many brides asking for a floral design to be added to their handkerchiefs. For a more subtle look, some choose handkerchiefs that have a tone-on-tone hand-embroidered floral design already embellished on the hankie, while others select a very bright and vibrant floral design to be embellished separately.

There's additionally been a big metallic trend this year, which I think has influenced many brides to have their handkerchiefs personalized with silver thread. It's a great color choice that creates an elegantly subtle look and still allows the personalized message to be easily read.

Finally, our wedding throws have been popular as gifts for parents or the wedding couple, since they make wonderful keepsakes for the home. Some choose to use them as decorative pieces, displayed on the sofa or edge of the bed, while others enjoy snuggling up under the blanket on a chilly night while remembering their wedding day.

If a bride is thinking about ordering custom handkerchiefs, how far in advance should she place her order?

I suggest placing an order at least 3-4 weeks in advance. During the peak of wedding season, things can get hectic, and with so many last-minute details already in the picture, it's best to order as early as possible.

Will you carry a handkerchief or special personalized item on your wedding day?

(Photo Credits: Lil Inspirations)

Monday, November 22, 2010

For His Cold Feet...

Today, Stephen reveals how I went beyond our budget to offer a little wedding day surprise for the groom.

Socks aren't usually all that special to me. Typically, I just pick a pair that goes with my shoes, and then don't even give them a second thought. On my wedding day, however, I wore socks that were very special.

While working out our wedding budget, Heather and I agreed that we wouldn't get each other gifts. After all, there were so many other nice things we were spending money on, and we both felt that the wedding itself was the best gift imaginable.

But then, the night before the wedding, Heather handed me a little gift box. She said although we had agreed not to exchange gifts, she couldn't resist getting this one small item for me. I had no clue what it was, but she said I needed to open it before the wedding.

So, the next morning, I opened the box and inside found a pair of black and purple arglye socks, along with a note that said, "In case you get cold feet." It was a fun and thoughtful gift that, although very inexpensive,  reminded me throughout the day that I was marrying a truly caring and wonderful person.

Have you heard about the "cold feet" trend? Will you and your groom exchange wedding gifts?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography, Heather Walrath & Damien Smith Photography)

Friday, November 19, 2010

DC Ladies Post: Alfred Angelo’s Disney-Inspired Gowns

Happy Friday once again! Today, I’m back over on The DC Ladies blog, celebrating its first birthday today, where I'm sharing details about Disney Fairy Tale Weddings by Alfred Angelo, a gorgeous new line of princess-inspired gowns set to launch early next year. And if you’re picturing poofy, ultra-girly styles, think again! The new designs, including my favorite – the Ariel – range from classic and romantic to sleek and sexy. Head on over for a sneak peak!

Are you a Disney fan? Who’s your favorite princess?

P.S. This Staurday will also mark Bicoastal Bride's first birthday! I can't believe it's already been a year since I started this blog, but I can believe that I'm still loving every minute of writing it.

(Graphic Credit: Alfred Angelo)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Belated Halloween Adventure Recap

Oh my! Life has become so crazy and busy for me lately that I just realized I never recapped our “Big Apple” Halloween, or our Casablanca-inspired old-time costumes. Oops!

Well, in case you’re (hopefully) still interested, we had a blast, both on Halloween in NYC, plus throughout the week during my sister’s visit to Washington for the Rally to Restore Sanity. Of course, I showed her all the major tourist sites, including the Capitol, White House and monuments, plus a couple others that are off the beaten path, like Old Town Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory Art Center, the National Zoo, and the Lavender Moon Cupcake shop, which is just as good as famous Georgetown Cupcake in my opinion!

Then, during our whirlwind visit to New York, we enjoyed a crisp fall day as we toured Times Square, had lunch at the Life CafĂ© (of Rent fame), rode the Staten Island Ferry, and enjoyed a leisurely stroll in Central Park, where we witnessed more than one Halloween wedding taking place.

And as for our costumes? I’m sure we looked totally nerdy at the party we attended, but isn’t that kind of the point when it comes to old-fashioned outfits?

I hope you had a fabulous Halloween, and that your plans for the next big fall holiday, Thanksgiving, are coming together! What was your costume this year?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Facing Major Changes: When One Door Closes…

I haven’t really spoken too much about my job on this blog, other than to mention that I work on Capitol Hill, but this is one time I’ll make an exception. Why? Because like many of my colleagues, I will be moving on at the end of the year as a result of this month's election results.

As some of you may have guessed, I work in the U.S. House of Representatives, where elections always have a major impact on not only the future of the country, but the futures of many staff members just like me. Back in 2006, the elections had a positive effect on my situation, leading to promotions and amazing opportunities. But now, the tables have turned, and I’m doing my best to prepare to leave behind something that has been a major part of my life for the past five years.

But as hard as this may be, I’m trying to stay positive and view this as an opportunity to pursue other passions in the areas of writing, editing, weddings, and perhaps even a few I haven't thought about just yet. And of course, I’ll continue to focus on doing well in my publishing master's classes, getting my wedding coordination certificate, and volunteering with Wish Upon a Wedding DC. I've already met with a university career counselor, and certainly welcome info about any leads or opportunities anyone would like to share with me.

In the end, I feel incredibly lucky to have spent five amazing years fulfilling the very goals I set out to acheive when I first moved to Washington. And along the way, I discovered my incredible husband, so many wonderful people, and an amazing life that I know will continue getting better, despite this rough patch. You know what they say. When one door closes…

(Photo Credit: Kellie Warren) 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Groom's View: The Bachelor Party Tell-All

Wild night of debauchery or low-key guys' night in? My husband reveals his preference in this bachelor party recap!

I wanted my bachelor party to be fun but not too wild. Mostly, I wanted to enjoy having my friends from high school and college all together for the first time. But since everyone lives in different parts of the country, we couldn't organize anything until the two nights right before the wedding, when everyone got to town.

The first night, my friends from high school were the only ones already there, and we spent the evening playing silly card games that I hadn't played since homeroom and lunch period 10 years ago. If only I'd had a N64 and a copy of GoldenEye, it would've been perfect.The second night, I had nearly all of the groomsmen together. We were all staying at the same hotel, so we were able to spend the night joking around while "The Hangover " played in the background.

The thought of actually going to Las Vegas crossed my mind, but in the end, that's just not my style and there was no time. I guess the real point of my bachelor party was not the location or having some crazy event, but the simple joy of catching up with friends.

LESSONS LEARNED (BY HEATHER): Yup, I'm hijacking my hubby's post to throw in a couple extra nuggets of wisdom that he was afraid forgot to include. Hey, it is my blog after all! Anyway, if at all possible, do not hold a bachelor party, or bachelorette party for that matter, the night before the wedding. What starts out as a low-key get-together can quickly spiral into chaos, especially when alcohol is part of the picture. (And yes, guys, I know there was more than enough flowing!) I'm just lucky my husband and his friends were able to get it together before showtime the next day, though I've heard plenty of stories about those who weren't as fortunate.

What type of bachelor party does your fiance plan to have, and how far in advance will it be held?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Photo Booth That Wasn’t

I’m a huge fans of photo booths at weddings, and for a good while, I was entirely hooked on the idea of having one at ours. But it just wasn’t meant to be, or rather, we decided that it shouldn’t be, for a few key reasons.

First of all, many of the companies we spoke with quoted us at close to $1,000 for just a few hours of renting a booth. The price definitely gave us pause, especially since we’d already maxed out our budget by splurging in other areas. Beyond that, I also wondered how much use the booth would have actually get. After all, our wedding only included 75 guests, and except for two older teenagers, it was an adult-only affair. Was it really worth the price when everyone might have a chance to use the booth within the first hour or so, leaving it empty throughout the rest of the evening?

Though we carefully considered each of these issues, what really sealed the deal in the end was our sheer inability to squeeze in even one more meeting during our final trip to California before the big day. Planning a wedding from across the country was a huge challenge, and each time we did head to California, we inevitably arrived with a packed schedule filled with vendor meetings, shopping trips, and discussions with our officiant. Squeezing in a series of meetings with photo booth vendors? Just not worth the extra exhaustion, even for someone like me who adores wedding planning.

And there you have it. Though our guests may not be grateful that they missed out on a photo booth, my savings account sure is, not to mention my sanity. Does part of me still wish we’d had one, even just during the cocktail hour? Sure. Could we have stretched our budget to include one if we’d really, truly wanted to? Yes. But in my eyes, prioritizing means just that, and there were certainly other more pressing areas that commanded our money and attention.

Have you ever decided to abandon a certain project due to the cost or the fact that you just didn’t have the time?

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wish Upon A Wedding Auction: Amazing Deals For A Steal

Whether you’re engaged or already married, the Wish Upon a Wedding online auction taking place all month long offers amazing deals on gowns, trips, photo shoots, spa treatments, wedding coordination and so much more, with proceeds supporting a truly wonderful cause.

Our own D.C. chapter is auctioning a boudoir session which currently has an opening bid of just $25! I may have to bid on this one myself! Head on over today as a little pre-weekend treat to yourself. You won't regret it, and neither will your wallet.

(Graphic Credit: Wish Upon a Wedding DC)

Tears Of Joy

I believe there are two types of people in this world -- those who cry at weddings, and those who don't. As for me? Let there be no question that I'm definitely a crier.

But what about crying at my own wedding? Would I be "once a crier, always a crier," or would things be different? Going into the day, I had no doubt that I would be a complete basket case. In fact, in full preparation for the waterworks, I even planned to have a special handkerchief on hand throughout the ceremony, and also made sure my maid of honor was well-stocked with a couple small packs of Kleenex.

Well, guess what? Each of these things went entirely unused! Now, that's not to say I didn't cry at all, or at least tear up, because I did. The first time was while walking down the aisle, and the second was while watching a special slideshow one of my bridesmaid's had created for the reception.

But for the most part, I guess I was just far too anxious and excited to even think about crying!

Did you cry a lot throughout your wedding day, or do you think you will? Are you usually a crier at others' weddings?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Home Improvement: Love Seats, Sofas & Marriage

While many newly married couples start looking into buying a home, or may have already bought one before the wedding, for Stephen and I, this is not an option. Since the two of us may ultimately decide to head back to California or make our way to another area after just a few more years, buying a home in our current location just doesn't seem like a wise move in the long-run.

So, though there will be no home-buying in our immediate future, thanks to our guests' generosity and the fact that we plan to start entertaining more often now that we're hitched, it only seemed natural to spruce up our apartment at least a bit.

Our biggest and most exciting purchase to date? A new sofa and loveseat set! Though it may not sound too significant to anyone else, not only does our new furniture make our home more inviting to guests, it makes it feel more like home to us, as well.

Did you or will you do a lot of redecorating or home improvement following the wedding? Is buying a house on your radar?

(Photo Credits: JCPenney & Google Images)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Introducing, The Brand New Mr. & Mrs...

It seems that at most weddings, it's still fairly common for the couple to be introduced using both the groom's first and last name. But, while preparing for our wedding, I went back and forth about whether this was OK with me, or whether I'd prefer that my own first name be used.

In the end, it didn't matter during the ceremony, since the priest flaked out and introduced us as simply "the newest couple in the United States of America." Oh well. At least it gave everyone a good laugh!

But how did we ultimately decide to be introduced at the beginning of the reception? Have a look!

The way I see it, though I may have taken Stephen's last name, I definitely still have my own first name, and I'm more than happy to use it!

How do you plan to be introduced during your wedding?

(Video Credit: Max MacIver Videography)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Anniversary Dance: 58 Years Of Devotion

I said a few weeks ago that our first dance was my favorite part of the entire reception, but I may just have to take that back. That's because the more I think about it, there's another dance that stands out even more. Of course, I'm talking about the anniversary dance.

While this dance is quickly becoming a standard at many weddings, I wanted to ours to offer up a twist or two. So, first, as guests danced to Kenny Rogers' "Through the Years," they were treated to a surprise slideshow featuring many of their own wedding photos, which we and our families had provided, and which my bridesmaids had kindly worked into a presentation. This display was such a hit that the DJ even had to replay the song a second time, since the first round consisted of everyone simply standing on the dance floor watching!

Finally, when two of Stephen's family friends were at last declared the winners for having been married nearly 35 years, we presented them with a wine-themed salt and pepper holder we'd chosen as a fun prize.

They loved it, and everyone cheered, but the surprises didn't end there. You see, there was another very deserving couple in the room, though they were unable to take to the floor and dance. This time, I'm talking about my grandparents, both cancer survivors who have fought and beat the odds more than once, and who recently celebrated 58 years of marriage.

To the resounding applause of the crowd, I presented them with another wine-themed gift, as the DJ shined the spotlight and they enjoyed a little well-deserved attention. Though I know they certainly won't be with us forever, being able to share my wedding day with them was in every way a dream come true.

Are you doing anything special to honor loved ones at your wedding?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bridal Fashion: An Everyday Wedding Gown?

These days, more brides are breaking with tradition by choosing mainstream styles as wedding gowns. But are wedding gowns and bridal styles also becoming more mainstream themselves? Recently, while perusing the Alfred Angelo website, I wondered whether some of the featured styles couldn't also be worn as part of non-wedding-related outfits.

For example, wouldn't these lovely dresses just look beautiful at a dressy summer dinner party or during formal night on a cruise?

And how about these totally re-wearable bridesmaid styles?

What do you say, ladies? Would you ever consider wearing bridal for an occasion other than a wedding? Is it important to you that your bridesmaids are able to reuse their gowns after the big day?

(Photo Credits: Alfred Angelo)

Friday, November 5, 2010

DC Ladies Post: Bridal Bouquets & The Language Of Flowers

Happy Friday! Though I do have a post lined up for today, it's appearing over on The DC Ladies blog, where I'm sharing advice about floral meanings and how they can help you create a gorgeous and symbolic bridal bouquet.

So, head on over there, give it a read, and feel free to share your own thoughts. This fun site also features posts by other fabulous wedding bloggers, plus advice on topics including fashion, food, gardening, events and more, so be sure to check it out!

What types of flowers are you including in your bouquet?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wedding Day Beauty: A Snow White's Day In The Sun

Like probably just about every bride on the planet, I hoped and prayed for gorgeous weather on my wedding day. In the months leading up to June 4, I envisioned a day that was not too hot, not too cold, and not too overcast or rainy, but just right.

Well, though it doesn't always work out this way for everyone, I got my wish in the form of a picture perfect 75-degree, clear blue-skied day. But as happy as I was to see the sunshine, I knew it also came with the risk of a sunburn, especially for a fair-skinned bride like me.

So, though I know it's often said that sunscreen can create an unpleasant glare in photos, I was sure to slather on a generous base coat before my makeup artist arrived. After all, I figured it was much better to risk a couple subpar photos than to take much bigger risks, such as looking lobster-red during my walk down the aisle or worse, winding up with skin cancer later in life.

And as for tanning, whether real of fake? I decided to pass, thanks very much, first for the obvious health concerns, and secondly, because faux tanning just leaves me looking, well, faux. Over the years, I've come to accept and love my own snowy complexion, and since it's a natural part of who I am, it only made sense to embrace it on my wedding day, as well.

LESSON LEARNED: As you prepare for and head into your wedding day, do keep in mind that it's just that -- a single day. Stay true to yourself, and don't even think about doing anything that might jeopardize your health or safety just for the sake of a few good snapshots. Trust me, you'll feel more beautiful and confident by just being your own healthy self than you will in trying to become something you're not. Worried about a sunburn? A prop like a parasol or fixture like a canopy during an outdoor ceremony can work wonders, while also providing a great visual focus in photos.

What are your thoughts about tanning or other wedding day beauty procedures?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)