Thanks to everyone who entered my poster print giveaway! I’m happy to announce that the winner is none other than PartyPlannerGal, one of my absolute favorite bloggers! Congratulations! When you have a chance, please leave me your email address so I can send it to the sponsor.
Also, there have been some big changes going on, and I’ll be making an announcement tomorrow about one aspect of the wedding that’s changing dramatically! Think you know what it might be? Stay tuned for the reveal!
Kellie writes her own fashion blog, Playing Dress-Up, and runs Whatshername Vintage, an Etsy shop specializing in all things vintage. Most importantly, Kellie is Bicoastal Bride's maid of honor, and is very excited to be a part of her sister’s wedding planning!
During Heather’s latest trip to California, most of our time was spent checking things off her endless wedding shopping list. While I’m perfectly happy to help select her wedding accessories, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get a little bit boring after a few days. Having spent hours roaming the mall in search of the bride’s perfect earrings, I was more than thrilled when I got to do a little shopping of my own! After all, bridesmaids need accessories, too!
I wear headbands practically every day, so naturally, I wanted to find a slightly fancier version of my favorite accessory for the big event. After looking through a few stores, I found this sparkly hairpiece in Windsor, and immediately fell in love with it! Since I plan on wearing a loose half-updo (no pageant-style tight curls or harsh buns for me, thank you very much!) at the wedding, I think this headband will provide just the right touch of elegance.
In addition to hair accessories, Heather also took me shopping for my wedding day necklace and earrings. That’s right, I got to select my own maid of honor gift! We considered at least two-dozen different sets, but in the end, I chose the one above. Not only does it look lovely when paired with my headband, but it also coordinates nicely with the jewelry my sister is giving her other bridesmaids.
So, girls, have you and your bridesmaids done any exciting shopping lately? Also, don’t forget to enter Heather’s photo print giveaway, which ends tomorrow afternoon!
How much fun was Weddzilla’s Rock the Launch? Tons!
And the best part? During a special media session with Weddzilla’s team of gurus, I asked for their top tips to create a memorable wedding day and avoid common snafus. I hope you enjoy their advice as much as I did!
In your area of expertise, what’s the one piece of advice you would give a bride, and what are the biggest mistakes she should avoid?
The experts, as they appear from left to right in the video:
Fitness Guru Sue Fleming
Founder of the Buff Fitness Franchise
Wedding Guru Steve Kemble
National TV and Radio Personality
Cake Guru Ron Ben-Israel
Celebrity Cake Artist
Invitation Guru Lisa “Ceci” Johnson
Advice Guru Sharon Naylor
Critically Acclaimed Author and Columnist
As a bride, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned so far, whether from a vendor, fellow bride-to-be, or from your own experience?
After a fantastic panel discussion, the Weddzilla party is kicking off! Check back tomorrow for my video footage of Weddzilla’s guru panel answering my questions about their top tips for brides and the major pitfalls to avoid.
For now, enjoy these shots of the fun as it begins!
I’m here at the stunningly gorgeous National Museum of Women in the Arts ready for a panel discussion with Weddzilla’s awesome wedding gurus and a night of fun to follow!
Never having been to this museum before, I’m blown away by just how beautiful it is. Wedding, anyone? I hear the off-peak fee is $12,000 for the site rental alone! I guess it’s true that you get what you pay for!
As a way to say thanks to all you lovely readers for your constant support, encouragement and fabulously kind blog awards, I’m hosting my very first giveaway! Just follow the instructions below for your chance to win an 18 x 24 poster print from UPrinting! Entries will be accepted until 12 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 28, and a randomly chosen winner will be announced later that evening.
Ready to enter? Here’s how!
#1 – For your first required entry, you should become or already be a Bicoastal Bride follower. Leave a comment letting me know, and also tell me how you will use the poster if you win. Be sure to include your email address in the comment.
For extra entries, you can:
#2 – Follow me on Twitter, and leave a comment letting me know, along with your Twitter name.
#3 – Follow me on Facebook, and leave a comment letting me know.
#4 – Tweet about the giveaway, and leave a comment letting me know.
#5 – Post about the giveaway on Facebook, and leave a comment letting me know.
#6 – Blog about the giveaway, and leave a comment that includes a link to the post.
Good luck! Also remember to check back tonight for my live updates from Weddzilla’s amazing Rock the Launch!
Want more info about poster prints? Check out the following links!
Yes, we’re finally entering the home stretch. Let the double-digit countdown begin!
At this time 100 days from now, Stephen and I will be surrounded by our family members and friends, celebrating and enjoying the beginning of our lives together as husband and wife.
After being engaged for nearly a year, I can hardly believe that in just three months, all of the fun and hard work that’s gone into planning our wedding will be transformed into a truly amazing celebration. In honor of being only 100 days out, here are 10 special wedding day moments I absolutely can’t wait to experience!
#1 -- Finally stepping into the gown of my dreams, with my mom and sister right there beside me to share the moment
#2 -- Glancing in the mirror and seeing myself as a “bride” for the fist time
#3 -- Our private “first look,” shared only with each other, our photographer, and our videographer
#4 -- Joining the rest of the wedding party to take pre-ceremony photos and video footage at the beautiful Gardens of the World
#5 -- Walking down the aisle to the processional tune from The Sound of Music, with my mom and dad at my side
#6 -- Exchanging a kiss and leading the recessional, after we’re at last pronounced husband and wife
#7 -- Our first dance, the result of many lessons, lots of hard work, and our truly working together as a team
#8 -- Watching the amazing slideshows my bridesmaids have lovingly created through hours of dedication
#9 -- Dancing the night away with friends and loved ones I haven’t seen in ages
#10 -- Sneaking off with Stephen for a private walk where we’ll reflect upon all that the day has meant and how our lives have forever changed
Which special moments do you find yourself daydreaming about the most, and which experiences are you most looking forward to? How long until your big day?
As a writer, there’s nothing I’ve loved more throughout the planning process than designing the perfect language for our programs, website, and of course, invitations.
So, entirely traditional wording on the invites? Sorry, but not going to cut it. Plus, since we’re paying for the wedding ourselves, listing our parents’ names just didn’t seem appropriate.
But, on the other hand, we are hosting a formal wedding with plenty of classic, traditional touches, and I didn’t want to get too artsy with the language. After all, I want our guests to have an accurate feel ahead of time for our wedding’s style.
The solution? Inspired by the wonderfully creative Born to Be Mrs. Beever, I put together the following message, which we then printed onto the DIY Brides invites we picked up at Michael’s.
BECAUSE YOU HAVE SHARED OUR LIVES
THROUGH YOUR FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE, WE
My Full Name
His Full Name
REQUEST THE HONOR OF YOUR PRESENCE
AT OUR WEDDING CELEBRATION
FRIDAY, THE FOURTH OF JUNE
TWO THOUSAND AND TEN
HALF PAST THREE O’CLOCK
RECEPTION IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING
While the opening recognizes guests’ significance in our lives, the information that follows still maintains a simple, traditional tone. I’m also glad we chose to list our website on the card, since the site contains many more important details.
What do you think? How did you choose to word your invitations, and what was the inspiration behind the language you picked?
Try as I might to protect my skin, I’ve spent far too many a beach day or summer winery outing nursing a sunburn. And since my fair complexion rivals Snow White’s, no matter how much sunscreen I slather on, more often than not I end up with a glowing red lobster look if I’m in the sunlight for half an hour or more.
Of all the things that could go wrong on my wedding day, this is honestly the one I’m most worried about, especially since we’ll be taking photos outdoors at a botanical garden before the ceremony even begins. One fun solution? A cute hand-painted parasol that can also double as a great prop for photos!
I just love this classic-looking beauty I snagged from iDoOriginals on Etsy for $42. Of course, I’ll still hit up the SPF 80 beforehand, but this will at least help keep the direct sunlight off my face and shoulders, while letting us get some playful shots with our photographer.
Are you using a parasol or other photography props on your wedding day? Do you have any big worries or concerns on your mind?
As if I couldn’t already be more excited about Weddzilla’s star-studded Rock the Launch party, I’ve now been invited to blog live as the fun unfolds!
If you’re in the D.C. area, don’t miss out on this great chance to meet famous wedding gurus and experts like Celebrity Cake Artist Ben-Israel and Bridal Guide Magazine Editor-in-Chief Diane Forden. The celebration, complete with amazing food, cocktails and a silent auction, kicks off at 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the National Museum for Women.
Want to RSVP? Visit the site below for details! Not local? Stay tuned for my live updates!
As expert L.A. photographer Damien Smith shared yesterday, you just never know when something might go wrong on your wedding day. But by asking the right questions now, you can ensure that your photographer will be able to handle whatever mishaps may arise.
Here, a few more key things to look for and discuss before hiring a photographer.
A Backup Photographer in Case of Illness or Emergency
If I wake up sick the day of the wedding, I have peace of mind knowing I can call on one of my photographer friends to fill in for me. I always place a call to several of my friends about a month before a wedding to see if they would be available to fill in for me on a particular day should I become sick. This is nothing for a couple to be concerned about. People can't control when they get sick, and most professional wedding photographers have a clause in the contract that provides for a substitute photographer of “equal” skill should the photographer you hired become sick or hospitalized.
A Dependable Car
I suggest asking what type of car a wedding photographer has before you hire him or her. Of course, it doesn't have to be a brand new car, or even a late model car, but it does have to be in good repair. It won't do you any good to hire a photographer who has a car that overheats on a regular basis. Your engagement session is a good time to see what type of car your photographer has. When he or she arrives, take note of whether the car is smoking, and listen to hear how the engine sounds. Does it sound good, or does it sound like it's on its last leg? You want to be sure that he or she will actually make it to your wedding.
A Reliable Image Backup System
Ask your photographer if he or she will back up your wedding images in multiple locations. Computers and hard drives fail all the time, and your photographer should have at least two backups sets of your pictures. As for me, I have three – a hard drive set, DVD set, and online set. I do my hard drive and DVD backups as soon as I get home from a wedding, and the online backup happens automatically. The online backup is in case of a fire or flood in my studio. That way, once I got my studio back together, I’d still be able to download the images. (I'm knocking on wood right now! LOL!)
What backups plans do your hired vendors have in place in case of illness or emergency?
A wise person once said, “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.” Here, L.A. photographer Damien Smith shares his advice about the backup plans a good photographer should have in place to prevent anything from going horribly awry on your big day.
Extra Cameras and Flashes On Hand
I've had all kinds of equipment fail on me while photographing a wedding or other event. I've had cameras and flashes completely quit. Therefore, I always carry at least four cameras and four flashes, including a camera and flash for myself and a second photographer, plus a backup camera and flash for myself and a second photographer.
I keep my backup equipment close by, so that if something fails, I can get to it quickly, or just take my assistant’s camera while she fetches a backup camera to use herself. Having backup equipment at hand is very important, and it does no good if the backup camera is in the car, especially if the wedding is being held on a yacht or at any location where the car is not nearby!
In addition, I always keep extra lighting equipment and reflectors in my SUV in case I need them. If the wedding is held on a yacht or at a similar location where I won’t have easy access to my vehicle, I carry them with me.
A Second Photographer Onsite
One of the main reasons I always have a second photographer work with me is in case of equipment failure. The chance of both our cameras failing at the same time is highly unlikely. One of the main reasons I always have a second photographer
work with me is in case of equipment failure. The chance of both our cameras
failing at the same time is highly unlikely. This way, one of us will get the
picture, and my clients will have perfect wedding photography to cherish forever.
Multiple Memory Cards
I remember hearing last year about a wedding photographer’s camera that was stolen during the reception, with all the pictures from the entire wedding on it. The story was all over the news. The photographer and the married couple pleaded for the return of the memory card. Note the phrase “memory card.” As far as I know, they never got their wedding pictures. Later that day, I received calls from my photographer friends, who told me I had been right all along.
Right about what, you say? Well, they all used to tease me because I use between 10 and 15 memory cards per wedding. They told me I could shoot the entire day using just one memory card, and this is true. But my reasoning is that memory cards can fail. This happened to me in the past, and luckily, I was able to recover the pictures by using a recovery program after the wedding.
But if you use just one card and it goes bad, you can lose EVERYTHING on the card. If the pictures are spread out among several memory cards, it's not possible to lose everything. Had the photographer in the abovementioned news story used several memory cards, the wedding couple would at least have most of their wedding pictures today. For that reason, I recommend making sure your wedding photographer uses at least five memory cards.
Have you talked with your photographer or other vendors about backup plans? Are there any wedding day hang-ups you’re especially concerned about?
They say rules are made to be broken, and Stephen and I are definitely taking that advice when it comes to traditional invitation etiquette.
Since we’d like to have a basic idea about our guest count when we meet with vendors in California this April – and because doing things last-minute and long-distance is not high on my list of desires – we’re sending our invites out this month and requesting responses by the end of March. While some of you might be gasping and thinking we’re inconveniencing our guests, we feel perfectly comfortable doing it this way.
Why? Well, first, since we’re limiting our list to just 100 close family members and friends, the majority of those invited already know, even at this point, whether they'll be at our early June wedding. So, really, the invitation is just a formality that will give them more details about our day. In that case, why not take the route that makes things easier for us, too? Plus, because many of our guests are from out-of-town, the early heads up will hopefully help them get a discount by booking a room through the hotel block we’ve reserved.
What about you? Have you strayed from traditional “rules” or accepted etiquette in any aspects of your wedding planning? How early did you or will you send out your invitations?
Yes, it’s true. I’m a Cali girl who’s never been to Hawaii. But that will all change in June, when Stephen and I jet off the morning after our wedding to the Hawaiian Islands for a weeklong celebration aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America!
Stephen and I fell in love with cruising a couple years ago when we traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama on a Carnival ship. Not only did we love the convenience of setting up excursions and activities right through the cruise line, but it was also amazing to vacation in multiple countries without having to constantly pack up and move to another hotel, or hop on yet another flight.
Plus, the food was included in the sailing price, and the ship offered relaxing spa services, fun cooking classes, great wine tastings…you name it. We were hooked! Here, a sneak peak at what we have to look forward to in Hawaii, where our stops will include Honolulu, Hilo, Kahului, and Kona.
Molokini Crater Snorkel
Volcanoes National Park
Raft, Snorkel and Dolphin Adventure
Waimea Canyon Journey
What are your honeymoon plans? Have you ever been on a cruise? If you’ve been to Hawaii, do you have any must-see recommendations for us?
Kellie writes her own fashion blog, Playing Dress-Up, and runs Whatshername Vintage, an Etsy shop specializing in all things vintage. Most importantly, Kellie is Bicoastal Bride's maid of honor, and is very excited to be a part of her sister’s wedding planning!
Being a bridesmaid is a tough job. There’s the huge responsibility of planning a top-notch bridal shower and bachelorette party. Being dragged all around town to try on countless (occasionally ugly) dresses isn’t an especially thrilling task for most girls. Helping the bride with billions of little odds and ends falls under a bridesmaid’s job description, as well.
Are there music lists to put together? Is the bride having a meltdown over her dress that she’s now having second thoughts about? And let’s not forget the pressure of putting together a touching toast for the reception, or making that slideshow the bride’s requested. Don’t get me wrong. Being a bridesmaid is great! I’ve got no personal complaints about my maid of honor duties, since I’m happy to be a part of my sister’s special day. But it is a lot of work.
Before your big day, it’s important to thank your hardworking maids properly with a thoughtful gift. An extravagant present isn’t necessary. After all, they haven’t agreed to be in your wedding party just for the free swag! But a token of appreciation is always nice. Jewelry is a popular choice when it comes to maid gifts, so here are some ideas for your consideration.
Personalized jewelry is a big trend for wedding party presents, and for a good reason! Every girl likes to receive something that’s made specifically for her.
Many brides like to give coordinating accessories for their maids to wear during the ceremony. If you plan on giving out “wedding-wearable” gifts, keep them simple and classy. Jewels that match the bridesmaids' gowns are an easy choice, and you can never go wrong with pearls.
If you’re not interested in having matchy-matchy maids during the ceremony, and monogramed necklaces seem a bit drab, there are plenty of cute, non-traditional accessories to consider. A quirky necklace or girly bow-accented earrings will surely make a fun-loving bridesmaid smile. Personally, I’d go for the hummingbird necklace!
Whether you’re newly engaged, getting married this weekend, celebrating with your fiancé, or kicking off your first Valentine’s as husband and wife, I hope you have a great time!
After nearly a full week of being snowbound, Stephen and I started our holiday weekend with a special Valentine-themed dinner at La Tasca, one of our favorite restaurants in Old Town Alexandria. Whether for a birthday, fun get-together with friends, or random end-of-the-week pick-me-up, we’re been coming to this place since our early days of dating, and never get tired of it.
Their amazing sangrias even inspired us to plan on serving at least one of our own as a signature drink at the wedding!
Where do you love to celebrate, and have your favorite restaurants or special places inspired any wedding ideas?
With a ton of other salons to visit, we were only going to David’s Bridal to look, get ideas, and so that I could show my mom and sister one special gown I had tried on and loved. But no decisions would be made that day, until I’d been to plenty of other shops to scope out all the options. Or so I told myself.
After we arrived and met with my consultant, I first tried on several gowns that had caught my eye in the catalog. But as beautiful as some of them looked on the hanger, they just didn’t work once I put them on.
Plus, none of these compared with the Oleg Cassini gown I had tried on previously and still loved best.
But then, the consultant brought out the next gown. This one, she said, was a sample the designer had initially considered introducing into the season’s lineup. In the end, the gown wasn’t chosen, and the shop was now selling it at a heavily discounted price of just $350. Looking at it on the hanger, I’ll admit I wasn’t impressed right away.
But when I tried it on, I fell completely in love, along with my sister, mom and bridesmaid Pooneh, who had also come along for the fun. The intricate crystal and pearl beading was gorgeous, and the gown felt like “me” – matching my personal style, plus our wedding style, without being too heavy or overwhelming on my petite frame. With this gown as my new favorite, I was prepared to think it over, head to a few other salons, and if necessary, come back for the gown after making up my mind. Then, the consultant told me the catch.
Because the gown was a sample, it was the very last one in stock in a size that would work for me. Wanting to be sure she wasn’t being disingenuous, we wandered the racks on our own, and also called a couple other David’s Bridal shops in the area. But as it turned out, she was being entirely honest. I loved the dress, but somehow worried that I was being too hasty. What about all the other salons we had planned to visit? Was I being too drawn in by the price? Was I sure this was the right one?
In the end, I took the dress on and off a couple more times, comparing it with other styles, including the Oleg Cassini gown that had been my original top choice. But I just loved the sample gown too much to leave it behind, especially as I saw another bride eying it anxiously. I left the store with my gown in tow, plus a fingertip veil that matched up perfectly with the dress’ crystal details.
Usually not one for impulse buys, especially with something as important as my wedding gown, I’ve second-guessed myself a couple times since that day, but never while wearing the gown. Every time I see myself in the dress, I absolutely love it, and I can’t wait to take some better pictures, in good lighting, once the gown has been altered and pressed. But for now, here's a link to a couple shots of me in my steal of a find!
(Please ignore the plastic gloves, which I wore to avoid getting anything on the fabric after we got the dress home. Yes, I’m that paranoid.)
The dress definitely needs a hem and also needs to be better fitted after my weight loss last year. Plus, I’m having the slit at the bust closed by placing an identical piece of satin behind it. But after that, it should hopefully be ready to go!
How many shops did you visit before you made a decision about your gown? Did you choose or try on any sample gowns that were discounted? Was finding your dress easier or harder than you originally thought it would be?
No, I didn’t actually involve Stephen in helping choose my gown, since I’m excited to surprise him on the big day. But just for fun, after I had already chosen my dress, I set him loose on a couple websites to see if any of the styles he liked, or thought I would like, matched up with the gown I actually chose.
It turns out the styles he thought I would like – elegant, somewhat sleek, and with a long-but-not-outrageously-long train – were also the ones he found to be the most beautiful. Here, a couple of his choices.
Eager to know how he did? The big reveal is coming right up tomorrow! Did you involve your fiancé in choosing your gown?
There’s no question that the Weddzilla community is amazing, and I absolutely love being a featured bride blogger for the site!
To celebrate Weddzilla’s highly-anticipated website launch, come on out to the Rock the Launch party on Feb. 25 in D.C. Kicking off at 6 p.m., it’ll be your chance to meet and greet incredible celebrity wedding gurus, including two of my favorites in the industry, Author and Columnist Sharon Naylor and Bridal Guide Magazine Editor-in-Chief Diane Forden. The event will also feature a silent auction and tons of fun wedding goodies. Did I mention I’m really excited?
Check out the following site for more details and to RSVP. Hope to see you there!
Like many a bride before me, I started my quest for the perfect wedding dress by poring over magazines, websites, blogs and catalogs, even before I was officially engaged. With the proposal obviously on the horizon last spring, I figured it couldn’t hurt to get a glimpse of what was out there in the wedding gown world.
Though I scoped out lots of designer’s lines, most all of my early favorites came from Alfred Angelo’s gorgeous and affordable collection, including these beauties, each different in style and cut.
Soon armed with plenty of ideas and a ring on my finger, I was eager to get shopping with my mom and sister the next time I headed out to California. But then, one day while we were visiting Stephen’s best man and his girlfriend, we stopped by a Men’s Wearhouse to check out a few tux options for the guys. Can you guess which store was right next door? Yup! David’s Bridal!
So, while the guys amused themselves with video games and gadgets in Best Buy, Kate and I headed into David’s, supposedly only to look. But as you can imagine, just looking wasn’t good enough. I immediately saw two dresses I just had to try.
While I thought I’d love the first one, after putting it on, I immediately decided it was a “no.” I disliked the embroidered details, and since this was the first wedding gown I had ever tried on, I was shocked by just how heavy the skirt truly felt.
But the second gown, which was part David’s Oleg Cassini line, had an elegant, classy and timeless look I completely fell in love with. Plus, the dropped waist seemed perfect for my figure, and the details on the train blew me away.
But was it “the one”? Would I love it as much when I went back with my sister and mom? Stay tuned…
How did you begin your dress search? Did you surprise yourself by liking styles you didn’t originally think you would, or by hating a dress you loved on the hanger?
I’d like to interrupt this week’s fashion and accessory series with the quick announcement that I’m now a featured blogger for WedAlert! Feel free to check out my intro post, and stay tuned for more in the coming weeks. If you’re not familiar with WedAlert, I definitely recommend paying their site a visit, as they offer fantastic planning resources and inspiration. (And, on a side note, I also recently created a new Facebook fan page, so feel free to drop in there, as well.)
Though I’ve spent a few years developing a career on Capitol Hill, writing is my true passion, and having the opportunity to share not only my wedding-planning story, but also expert advice and tips that I hope will inspire other brides, has been a life-changing experience. And being invited to share my work as a featured blogger for Get Married, Weddzilla, and now WedAlert, has been nothing short of amazing.
As always, thank you for reading, and for all of your support and encouragement. This experience has taught me that life is way too short to neglect doing what you truly love, so if you’re thinking about taking a risk or pursuing a dream you may have set aside in the past, I say get out there and go for it! You’ll never know unless you try, and who knows? It just might take your life in a whole new direction!
With only four months to go until our wedding day, my bridesmaids’ dresses are starting to come in! So far, all of the girls have been completely thrilled with the look and fit of their gowns, even before they have them hemmed and altered.
As a sneak peak, here are my beautiful Cali girls Bridget, Pooneh and Kellie modeling their gorgeous Alfred Angelo gowns.
Since the dresses fit so well, we’ve even decided to leave them strapless, instead of adding spaghetti straps, which was the original plan. I can’t wait to head out to California to hang with the girls and see the gowns this spring!
What do you think, ladies? Have your girls received their gowns yet?