Friday, April 30, 2010

Celebrate Spring Giveaway: Win a Free Poster Print!

The spring wedding season is in full swing, and it’s the perfect time to host another fun giveaway for an 18 x 24 rolled poster from!

Just follow the instructions below for your chance to win. Entries will be accepted until 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 8, and a randomly chosen winner will be announced the following day.

Ready to enter? Here’s how!

#1 – For your first entry, you should become or already be a Bicoastal Bride follower, if you use Blogger. Leave a comment letting me know, and also share your favorite thing about the spring season, whether wedding-related or not! Be sure to include your email address with the comment.

For extra entries, you can:

#2 – Follow @Bicoastal_Bride on Twitter, and leave a comment letting me know, along with your Twitter name.

#3 – Join the Bicoastal Bride page 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, and have a fabulous weekend!

(Photo Credits: & Google Images)

Right On Time: Part Two

As promised, here’s the second half of our wedding day timeline, complete with notes explaining why things are organized in just this way. Still working out your schedule? I hope ours will help give you some ideas!

Post-Ceremony & Cocktail Hour

4:00 PM
Ceremony concludes, and post-ceremony photos begin at church

4:20 PM
Guests begin arriving at reception site for cocktail hour

4:30 PM
Bride, groom and wedding party arrive at reception site for more photos

5:00 PM
Bride and groom join guests for cocktail hour on patio

(It’s very important to us that we get to mingle during the second half of our cocktail hour, and luckily, it should be no problem, since we’ll be taking a good number of our photos pre-ceremony.)


5:30 PM
Guests invited to be seated in ballroom

5:40 PM
Grand entrance

5:50 PM
First dance, followed by a second group dance for all guests

(To help get everyone in a party mood, and to take advantage of the excitement created by the grand entrance, our DJ will invite everyone the gather around the floor for our first dance, which will be immediately followed by a high-energy dance song for everyone to enjoy. Also, since we’ll have already done our first dance, guests can feel more than welcome to hit the floor during dinner, if they wish.)

6:00 PM
Buffet opens, with tables released one at a time

(Our day-of coordinator will monitor the line and release tables one-by-one to avoid a huge backup. Stephen and I will be served our meals first, so that we’re then free to visit guest tables throughout the rest of the dinner hour.)

6:55 PM
Toasts by best man and maid of honor

7:00 PM
Slideshow presented by bridesmaids

7:30 PM
Sunset pictures of bride and groom on the golf course

(I’m super excited about these shots!)

8:00 PM
Thank you speech by bride and groom, followed by cake cutting

8:10 PM
Anniversary dance

(Doing this right after the cake cutting will give the venue staff time to plate and serve the cake while the guests dance and watch the accompanying slideshow.)

8:30 PM
Bouquet and garter tosses

9:30 PM
Bar closes for alcohol

(A smart move at any party…)

9:45 PM
Last two dances of the night

10:00 PM
Grand exit

And there you have it! What do you think? Of course, our version of the timeline is much more detailed, complete with notes, song selections, announcements, and so on.

How do you plan to time your cocktail hour and reception?

(Photo Credits: Los Robles Greens & Wedding Aces)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Right On Time: Part One

Call me a geeky bride, but as a self-proclaimed lover of checklists, to-do-lists, and, well, lists in general, creating our wedding day timeline has been one of my favorite tasks throughout the entire process! Of course, I haven’t done it all on my own, and have worked closely with our DJ, hair and makeup stylist, and day-of coordinator to ensure the perfect timing throughout the day.

Here, our current timeline, which I’ll share in two parts, along with some notes about why we made the choices we did. Enjoy!


8:15 AM
Hair and makeup styling begins

(We’re starting early to accommodate a large bridal party, but my stylist will be on hand right until we leave in order to provide touch-ups as needed.)

11:30 AM
“Getting ready” photos begin

1:00 PM
Wedding party heads to “first look” location

1:30 PM
Photographer and videographer arrive at “first look” site for the big reveal

(As I’ve mentioned before, we’ll do a “first look” to ensure that the majority of our photos are taken while my hair and makeup styles are fresh, and so that we can share a special private moment before the ceremony.)

2:30 PM
Church available to vendors

2:30 PM
Reception site available to vendors

(The two above items are extremely important to your vendors, since they'll need to know when they can begin setting up and how much time is available. Don’t forget to ask the coordinator at your venue!)

2:45 PM
Bride, groom and wedding party arrive at church for more preliminary photos

3:00 PM
Guests begin to arrive, and are greeted by the groom and groomsmen

3:15 PM
Prelude music begins

3:30 PM
Time to walk down the aisle!

Have you worked out your pre-ceremony timeline yet? What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in trying to put it together?

(Photo Credit: Gardens of the World)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Floral Design Inspiration: Capturing Romance & Simple Elegance

I’m defintiely no floral expert, but when it came to choosing a look for our wedding day, I had a ball finding the right inspiration to create just the romantic, elegant and soft, yet still simple, look I’m dreaming of.

Working with our amazing florist, I’ve been able to see the creative vision grow into the reality it will be on our wedding day, complete with bouquets of roses, white hydrangea centerpieces, and fresh petals strewn across the tables.

Here, a few photos by our florist and others, and how each look has inspired my own plans.


I’ll carry a classic round bouquet filled with cream and lavender roses, pearl-studded white stephanotis, and dark purple lisianthus. The stems will be completely wrapped and tied off with dark purple ribbon featuring a row of pearl studs. My bridesmaids will carry smaller round bouquets of cream and lavender roses.

Centerpieces & Table Design

Our centerpieces will include cream and lavender roses, white hydrangeas, and other seasonal flowers fitting our plum, white and silver color scheme. Each table will be strewn with cream rose petals against a plum tablecloth, plus a series of small crystal votives, each holding a lavender rose head.

Altar Arrangements

At the church, we’ll keep things simple with a couple white and purple altar arrangements, plus pew bows designed by Stephen’s mother. After the ceremony, we’ll move the arrangements to the reception site to help decorate the place card and gift tables.

Boutonnieres & Corsages

The groom’s boutonniere will include purple lisianthus and white stephanotis, and the groomsmen will wear just purple lisianthus. Our fathers will sport cream rose boutonnieres, while our mothers will wear matching cream rose corsages.

What is your floral and décor vision for the wedding?

(Photo Credits: Happy Flowers & Google Images)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Disney Daze Bachelorette

I may in many ways be a classic bride, but when it came to my bachelorette party, things were about as non-traditional as you can get! As I mentioned in my sneak peak a few weeks back, five of my bridesmaids treated me to a fun day at Disneyland, followed by an Easter brunch the next morning. Here, the highlights of the celebration!

Here I am, decked out in my Minnie Mouse ears and bride sash, which was created by bridesmaid Bridget.

All five of us on Thunder Mountain. Bridget made sashes for the girls, too, and we got lots of attention throughout the day, including shout-outs from ride operators and permission to skip a line or two!

Bridesmaid Pooneh also created a fun game where we were given a series of riddles about different Disney rides, and had to try solving them throughout the day. Some of the questions were hard, even for a Disney buff like me!

We ate dinner at the Blue Bayou, which is located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and has a great New Orleans vibe. Our waiter even ended the meal by bringing me a special treat since I was the bride-to-be!

Our Easter brunch the next morning included a delicious meal of waffles and fresh strawberries, plus games. First, Bridget asked us each a series of questions about me and Stephen's relationship, and the girls had to answer the way they thought I would. It was fun to hear their responses!

After breakfast, we hunted eggs, which each contained candy and a question about the groom. To my surprise, Bridget had already asked Stephen the questions, and we “tested” how many I got right. The results? I didn’t know all of the answers, but overall, I know my groom very well!

Thanks for a wonderful time, girls! What are your bachelorette plans?

(Photo Credits: Pooneh Nasrollahnia)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dancing King & Queen?

I used to be afraid to dance. As someone who always struck out during freestyle dances and the salsa lessons I took with my friends at clubs, I had simply resigned myself to a lifetime of having two left feet.

Then, Stephen and I signed up for a wedding dances class at our community center last summer. While definitely not ready to enter a competition anytime soon, we surprised ourselves by being one of the better couples on the floor. After just a few weeks of training, we had easily picked up the basics of foxtrot, waltz and rumba.

Buoyed by that experience, we were excited but a little nervous to begin our private first dance lessons earlier this month with the same instructor who taught our summer class – Kathy Carroll of Tom Woll & Associates. Would we remember anything? Would we still be as in sync on the floor?

Well, guess what? We were! After a few rounds of practice, we had brushed up on most of the moves from the class, including some of the fancier aspects. We still have one more lesson to go, but I think we’re hopefully on our way to a great dance routine that will be fun and memorable for both our guests and us.

Want your first dance to shine? Here, the best tips I’ve picked up so far for creating a fabulous routine that’s sure to wow.

  • Never danced a step before in your life? Take some group classes to get started, and only go into private lessons once you have the basics down and just need to work on creating a routine. You’ll save time and money, since private lessons are costly.
  • Don’t choose a long song. Our pick, “Fly Me To The Moon,” runs only a couple minutes in length. The short playtime eases the pressure on us, and won't push our guests’ patience levels to the limit.
  • If you plan to wear a long gown at your wedding, be sure to bring a crinoline to wear during dance lessons. It has taken Stephen a while to get used to leading without being able to see my feet, and to become comfortable with putting his own feet underneath the skirt. Don’t wait until the wedding day to test this out for the first time.
  • Encourage your DJ to start the music as part of your grand entrance, so that you can head straight to the floor and start dancing. Nothing is worse for a couple’s nerves, Kathy told us, than standing in position on a silent dance floor waiting to hear the first notes of the song.
  • When your gown is bustled, be sure it doesn’t drag on the floor in the front or back, which might cause you to trip during your routine. Also be sure that the bustle is secured tightly enough that it won’t come undone during all of your twists and twirls throughout the dance.
  • And finally, remember that it’s OK if everything does not go perfectly! Sure, Stephen and I miss a step here and there, and we still have lots of practicing and work to do before the big day. But we’re having fun together and working as a team, which is definitely the most important aspect to focus on.
Did you or will you take dance lessons to prepare for your wedding day? Are you more excited or nervous about your first dance?

(Photo Credits: Kathy Carroll)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Wedding Location: A Perfect Plan B?

Both Californians at heart, there was no question right from the start that heading “home” for the wedding was our best option. But that hasn’t stopped me from daydreaming about what our wedding might be like if we were having it here in the Washington, D.C., area.

After all, this is where our entire relationship has played out, and the place we’ve both called home for the past few years. Favorite local and regional places to visit? We’ve got a ton!

So, just for fun, here are some of the places we might have considered if we were having our wedding here.

Tarara Winery

With the Virginia wine industry booming, this is one of our favorite wineries to head to when we need a restful day in the country.

Torpedo Factory Art Center

Located right on the waterfront in our hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, this World War II factory-turned-art-gallery is a fun and unique reception venue.

Cherry Blossom Riverboat Cruise

This old-fashioned paddleboat is a popular choice for couples who want to celebrate on the water.

Mount Vernon Inn

Stephen and I both love colonial history and style. This beautiful garden setting and restaurant, located on the grounds of George Washington’s famous home, offers a classic, intimate feel.

Have you ever thought about what you might do differently if you had decided to hold the wedding at another venue or in another town? Have you ever had second thoughts about the spot you did choose?

(Photo Credits: Here Comes The Guide & Potomac Riverboat Company)

Friday, April 23, 2010

I’m a ‘Bride on the Brink’!

With our wedding just six weeks away, I’m honored to be featured today in My Wedding Favors’ popular blog series “Brides on the Brink,” which showcases brides who have only about a month left until the big day.

Check out my Q & A interview, complete with photos of the bicoastal groom and I. And if you’re still on the hunt for cute goodies to hand out at the wedding, this site is definitely a must-see!

Have you passed the one-month mark yet? How do you think you’ll feel when you do?

(Graphic Credit: My Wedding Favors)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Beauty Beast

As brides, we’re constantly bombarded with the latest and greatest beauty fixes that are supposed to ensure the “perfect” wedding day look. From peels to masks, shots to bleaches, I could drive myself absolutely crazy trying to keep up with all of the “musts” I’m supposed to be undertaking to correct my so-called imperfections.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no stranger to dressing up for work and play, and have been known to indulge in a shopping spree or two. I know that in our society, looks matter, and it’s important to me that I maintain a healthy weight, take care of my hair and skin, and look put-together and stylish when it counts.

But when all is said and done, I’m no beauty queen. I’ll take flip-flops over stilettos any day, and am more comfortable in my time-tested jeans than I am in designer duds. And makeup? I’ll ask my fashionista sister for advice about anything beyond a basic application. Plus, with the wedding quickly approaching, I have even less time for fancy beauty procedures, thanks very much.

Did I always have this laid-back attitude? I’ll admit that it took me a while to get here. Just last summer, I paid $400 for a Keratin hair-straightening treatment. It did make my locks easier to manage, but the results didn’t last long enough to be worth the money. And more than once, I paid hundreds for teeth-whitening treatments that did enhance the look of my mouth. But were my teeth really that bad to begin with? Over time, I came to realize that I was doing a lot of these things simply because I thought I should be, rather than because I really needed to.

So, enough already! For my wedding day, I’m splurging on a top-notch makeup artist. I’m sticking with my fitness goals from now until the big day, and beyond. I’m making sure my eyebrows are nicely shaped, my nails are healthy, and that I line up a professional manicure and pedicure for the day of the rehearsal. I’ve gone back to my natural hair color after years of dying and highlighting, and have been religiously growing it out for the past year.

But expensive treatments and miracle fixes? I’ll pass. Perfection is impossible in all areas of life, and my wedding day is no exception. My wedding day is about being myself, having fun, and being beautiful in a way that’s true to who I am. And really, what more could I ask for?

Have you or will you be taking up a special regimen or getting a certain treatment before the big day? What are your thoughts about spending big bucks on bridal beauty?

(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

DIY Flowers: Proceed With Caution (Part Two)

Yesterday, my bridesmaid Meg shared the first half of her experience creating DIY flowers for friend Sue’s big day. Want to hear how it all turned out in the end? Read on!

The day before the ceremony, we transported all of the buckets of flowers to the hotel, where the staff members were kind enough to let us use an empty meeting room as our floral staging area. We soaked the floral foam and were ready to put the foam into the vases. That’s when we noticed that, despite the use of a template, the foam pieces were too big.

Over the course of the next few hours, we recruited members of Sue’s family to help cut down the foam to fit. We also learned that although the meeting room we were in had plenty of space, it only had one small sink in which to cut down the stems of the flowers to fit into the foam. With our planned assembly line thrown into chaos, we ended up spending the rest of the day trimming and arranging the flowers, returning to the meeting room after the rehearsal dinner to finish the bouquets and altar arrangements.

Also, spending the afternoon with our hands in running water had completely ruined our manicures, so early the morning of the wedding, before our hair and makeup appointments, we had to find a nearby salon to redo our polish.

After hair and makeup but before the ceremony, I went down to the meeting room where we had left the arrangements overnight. As the scent of hundreds of roses hit me, I wondered, “Who replaced our arrangements with professionally done flowers?!” To this day, Sue thinks I am lying to spare her feelings, but the flowers were truly gorgeous and cost a fraction of what a florist would have charged.

Here, the main takeaway points I can give you from our experience.

• I cannot emphasize enough the importance of research and preparation, particularly doing trial runs with the exact types of flowers you would like to use. There are vast combinations of flower types, sizes and colors. Even just among roses, there are seemingly infinite possibilities!

• Consider the size of your arrangements, taking into account table size and the other table settings.

• Avoid floral foam if you can. (Besides, the State of California says it causes cancer!)

• Plan on having a large team of family and friends on hand to help.

• Get your manicure done AFTER putting together the floral arrangements.

• Something will go wrong, so do your best to adapt, but remember that no one other than you will likely notice. And, at the end of the day, no matter how the flowers look, you will still have gotten married and had a lovely party with your family and friends. (This is actually a good rule of thumb for ALL wedding plans!)

Oh, and one more thing . . .it does NOT have to be Sprite!

What do you think? Are DIY flowers right up your alley or too much trouble?

(Photo Credits: David Vernal)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DIY Flowers: Proceed With Caution (Part One)

This week, my bridesmaid and future sister-in-law Meg shares her tale about creating DIY wedding flowers. Was the effort wildly successful or a hopeless disaster? Read on!

As we all know, floral arrangements can be one of the largest line items in a wedding budget. Doing your own flowers can be a great way to save money, but is not something to undertake lightly.

A couple years ago, my friend Sue decided to put together her own floral arrangements. As her bridesmaid, I was quickly brought on board as a “floral assistant.” The first step was choosing which types of flowers would be in the arrangements. For a late summer wedding, there were plenty of options.

The wedding colors Sue had picked were blue and yellow, and she decided on floral arrangements in white, yellow and pink. After lots of Internet research, Sue settled on a combination of roses and carnations for the centerpieces, roses for the bouquets, and roses, freesia and greenery for the altar arrangements. (The boutonnières were purchased from a pro, but that is a WHOLE other story!)

The Midwestern town where Sue lived didn’t have a wholesale floral market, so we looked to the Internet to source the flowers. Given what a disaster it would be if the flowers didn’t arrive on time, Sue decided not to put all her eggs in one basket, and ordered from three separate vendors. To give the buds time to open – and account for the different lengths of time needed for each set of flowers to open – the deliveries were scheduled throughout the four days prior to the ceremony.

In the months before the wedding, Sue also found beautiful blue rectangular vases to use for the centerpieces. To hold the flowers once in the vases, she cut down blocks of floral foam that would fit into the vases at the bottom and help form a globe of flowers at the top. While working out the seating plan, it became clear that one vase would look dwarfed at a 12-person table, so Sue decided to place two arrangements at each table.

Starting the Wednesday before the wedding, boxes of flowers began to arrive. As each shipment was delivered, we trimmed each stem under running water and put it in a bucket with a solution of water, bleach and lemon-lime soda. (Hint: In our enthusiasm to follow instructions to the letter, we were fixated on putting the flowers in Sprite. Only after we were completely done did we realize that generic lemon-lime would have been just as effective and, of course, less expensive.) Each day, the forest of flowers in the basement grew. And grew… And grew…

Want to hear the rest of the story? Check back tomorrow for the conclusion!

Have you had any experience with DIY flowers for a wedding or other event?

(Photo Credits: David Vernal)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dollar Store Wedding: How Cheap Is Too Cheap?

Sure, the dollar store is a great place to snag wedding day bargain buys, like basic thank-you cards, baskets and small items to enhance your décor, but would you ever want to get married there? Nine Los Angeles couples, winners of a contest put on by 99 Cents Only Stores, definitely wanted to, and did, last September.

The 99-Cents brides, chosen at random from among the 2,999 couples who entered, had the option of wearing their own gowns if they wanted to, and also received complimentary services like hair and makeup styling, wedding photography, and floral arrangements.

Overall, I think this competition and giveaway were fabulous for the couples involved, who clearly were not looking for elaborate celebrations. Still, I can’t help but feel that for me, being married at a dollar store, or any store for that matter, would take away all of the magic and sincerity of the wedding day.

And while the bride's dress, created by Discount Store Diva Kathy Jacobs for $99 out of T-shirts, tablecloths and similar items sold at 99 Cents Only Stores, is certainly unique, I must admit I personally wouldn’t choose it for my wedding.

What do you think? Would you ever consider having a wedding like this? How low a budget is too low for you?

(Photo Credit: 99 Cents Only Stores)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wish Upon a Wedding Inspiration: Florence & Michael

On March 13, Wish Upon a Wedding, the world's first nonprofit wedding wish granting organization, made Florence and Michael’s dreams come true with a gorgeous wedding celebration in California. According to Wish Upon a Wedding’s website, Florence is currently engaged in a bitter struggle with breast cancer.

Here, an inspiring photo from their lovely day, made possible by the hard work of Wish Upon a Wedding and all of the generous wish granters who volunteered their services as vendors for this special occasion.

As a founding member of Wish Upon a Wedding DC, I can’t wait to start helping couples in the region who are battling life-threatening illnesses. Want to support the D.C. chapter? Become our fan on Facebook or leave me a message asking what you can do to get involved!

(Photo Credit: Wish Upon a Wedding Website)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Congratulations, Born to be Mrs. Beever!

After over a year of planning her special day, awesome blogger Born to be Mrs. Beever from Thoughts of the All Consumed Bride is getting married today!

Ever since we met through Get Married’s Blogger Brides, her passion, unique ideas and can-do spirit have inspired me and so many other brides.

Congratulations, Stacey, and here’s to a fabulous future for you and Mr. Fix-It!

(Photo Credit: Thoughts of the All Consumed Bride)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It’s Tea Time!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big Disney fan, and even held my bachelorette bash at Disneyland earlier this month. (Stay tuned for recaps soon!) So, you can imagine my excitement when my mom, sister and bridesmaids surprised me with an Alice in Wonderland tea party bridal shower during my recent visit to California!

Though I did know ahead of time which day the shower was planned for, I had no idea what the theme would be or how our friends’ home would be decorated for the party. Well, I can now say that the decorations were too cute, the iced and hot teas served were fabulous, and the games were lots of fun!

Kellie, my sister, MOH and master party planner, dressed things up with a photo of she and I posing with Alice at Disneyland as kids, mini flower pots filled with jelly beans, and bags of floral seeds for guests to take home as favors. She also planned two fun games, the first of which involved everyone getting two playing cards at the start of the party, along with a list of “off limits” words. Get caught saying one of the words? Whoever caught you got to keep your cards, and the person with the most cards at the end of the party won a set of pomegranate sugar stirrers.

The second game, of the “get-to-know-the-bride” variety, involved a series of questions about my life, which everyone had to answer. I then responded to the questions myself, and we tallied who got the most right. (My mom and sister weren’t allowed to play.) Guess who won? My mother-in-law-to-be!

Here, a few more fun highlights from the day.

Check out these cute tea cups, just waiting to be filled.

Arrangements of stuffed animals helped set the stage.

A lovely lace parasol hung from the ceiling, and streamers “showered” me with rain!

This creative wreath of kitchen goodies made an amazing gift.

I got many generous presents, including table settings, kitchen gadgets, gift cards, and even a few honeymoon surprises for the groom!

I’m a happy bride-to-bride, posing with my cake.

Did you or will you have a bridal shower? What are some of your favorite themes?

(Photo Credits: Pooneh Nasrollahnia)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sticker Shock & Awe

Every bride-to-be either already knows or is certainly about to find out that weddings are expensive. Throughout my engagement, I’ve definitely had a few “sticker shock” moments, and have offered support to many a fellow bride going through the arduous task of creating a budget for the big day.

One question I hear frequently is simply, why do weddings cost so much? And while I certainly can relate to the emotional aspect of such stunned disbelief, the practical side of me also realizes that weddings only cost so much because of our very willingness to pay so much.

When we give in and pay the prices vendors ask, we demonstrate that we are indeed willing and able to pay as much. And if we’re willing to pay those prices, why would vendors cut their profits by lowering costs? Without a doubt, weddings are big moneymakers for all sorts of businesses, and brides, myself included, are often more than willing to splurge in a quest to create the day of our dreams.

Plus, while there are dishonest price-gougers to be found in every profession under the sun, I believe that the vast majority of hardworking photographers, wedding planners, hair and makeup artists and other wedding professionals charge what they do because they really have a huge amount of responsibility – making our wedding day visions a reality, down to the smallest details.

Yes, while we brides often get lost in our own emotions, the truth is that weddings are pressure-filled situations for vendors, too, and the majority of the work for some of them – including photographers and videographers – is just beginning when our special days each come to an end.

Have you experienced a lot of shock over wedding costs throughout your engagement? Do you feel that most vendors offer a fair price for the services they provide?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Hair & Makeup Test Run!

Heading out to California is always a fun treat for me, but my trip a couple weeks ago was especially exciting because I got to do my hair and makeup trial while I was in town!

Jana Bunge, owner of Makeup and Hair Design by Jana, did a stellar job, giving me just the soft, romantic look I’d dreamed of. And best of all, I still looked like myself, though much more polished and camera-ready.

Here, my favorite shots of the fun as it unfolded, plus the final results, shown outside in daylight.

What do you think? Did I choose a wedding-worthy look? Have you or will you do a trial run before your big day?

(Photo Credits: Kellie Warren & Jana Bunge)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rehearsal Dress for a Steal?

Back in December, I told you I was considering a big $300 splurge on this lovely gown from Alfred Angelo’s “Little White Dress” collection.

While I’m still considering snapping up this beauty to wear to our rehearsal and dinner, I also recently bought a fun, sassy dress on clearance at Macy’s for just $15!

Though I initially thought the playful print might look horrible on me, I surprised myself by absolutely loving it. What do you think? Is it rehearsal-worthy or over-the-top crazy?

(Photo Credits: Alfred Angelo & Heather Warren)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The RSVPs Are In!

As you may remember, Stephen and I broke the rules by sending out our invites earlier than usual and also requesting our RSVPs a couple months sooner than is customary. Well, let me say now that I am so happy we didn’t listen to the naysayers and did it our way, because it has worked out perfectly!

Our numbers are in, and I feel so relaxed being able to complete our seating chart, room layout, favor purchases, and so on, well ahead of time. No last-minute scrambling for this busy bride!

While we did have to call a couple people who forgot to RSVP, and have allowed for the possibility of last-minute changes farther down the line, we’re excited to share our day with the 71 special friends and family members who can make it. I love the way the numbers worked out, and know we’ll have the intimate, personal wedding we dreamed of, without the guest list being too small for a good party.

Plus, the numbers came in under the 80-100 guests we budgeted for, so that means either savings or more money to spend in other areas. Photo booth, anyone?

If you’ve started getting RSVPs, how do you feel about the way the guest list is shaping up? Have you had any concerns about your wedding being too large or too small for your liking?

(Photo Credit: Heather Warren)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Helpful Catholic Wedding Tips

As a long-distance bride who’s only able to meet with our presiding clergy four times tops before the wedding day, I’ve been grateful for the great advice and suggestions online at Catholic Wedding Help.

If you’re getting started planning a Catholic ceremony and have questions about readings, music, the processional, or even how to best word your programs, be sure to give this site a look. The Q&A format in many sections is easy to follow, as is the info about differences between a wedding with or without a full mass.

Here, a few of the best tips I’ve picked up so far:

· If you plan to marry in the Catholic Church, be sure to start tracking down copies of the certificates confirming your baptism, communion and confirmation six months in advance. You’ll likely need to contact the churches where these sacraments were performed and arrange to have the copies forwarded to your officiant. Be sure to allow plenty of time.

· The Church often frowns upon “theatrical” wedding music like “Here Comes the Bride” or “The Wedding March.” The preferred Catholic processional is also different than at a Protestant wedding, with the bride and groom entering the church together. Many Catholic churches will agree to the “classic” processional if that’s what the couple prefers, but be sure to talk with your clergy before making decisions about these aspects.

· The Church requires marriage preparation classes for all couples, and often has additional requirements for second marriages. Your clergy or the website for your local diocese should offer lots of information.

· Since Catholic wedding celebrations usually encourage a lot of guest participation, consider fully printing the words to the various prayers, readings and songs in your program. That way, even if your guests aren’t Catholic, they can at least follow along with what’s happening.

Are you planning a Catholic wedding? Have you come across any great resources or planning advice, no matter what your cultural background?

(Photo Credits: Catholic Wedding Help)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The 2010 Professional Photographer Magazine Cover Contest

I love amazing wedding photography, and know how much you all do, too! This week, please take a minute to vote for featured Bicoastal Bride expert Damien Smith in the 2010 Professional Photographer Magazine Cover Contest!

What are some of your favorite wedding day photos?

What’s In a Name?

Everything, it seems. Throughout my adult life, I’ve always loved the definition of feminism as the right of men and women to make their own choices, rather than having society's norms forced upon them. When it comes to changing my name, I am a feminist, and I am making my own choice. I am choosing to take Stephen’s last name after we tie the knot this June. While I understand the argument that it is archaic and patriarchal for a woman to be expected to take a man’s name, for me, the decision to take Stephen’s last name was an easy one for the following reasons.

First, with the same last name, no one will ever wonder whether I am simply Stephen’s girlfriend, or have a hard time verifying exactly who I am if I need to access his records or medical information. After we start our family in the coming years, no one will question whether I am actually married to my children’s father or whether we are, in fact, part of the same family. Our shared last name will clearly and easily indicate that we are. Plus, Stephen’s last name is far less common than my own, and I’m eager to put behind me countless memories of being confused with someone else. For this reason, we would also never consider having Stephen take my name. And finally, because our last names both start with “W,” I’ll be able to keep the same initials, which I’ve grown quite accustomed to over the years.

So, while that part was easy, the harder choice I faced was deciding whether to keep my maiden name by either creating a hyphenated last name or making my current last name my middle name, instead. On the one hand, I’ve gone by this last name my entire life, and do feel a bit sad to give it up. But hyphenating is simply too cumbersome, and since my middle name, Theresa, is also my grandmother’s middle name and is very special to me, I definitely don’t want to replace it with my maiden name. And having two middle names? Also too cumbersome and confusing.

And there you have it. My maiden name is quickly nearing its final days of use, and I’m not upset in the least, because I know that no matter what my last name, I’m still the same person. Most importantly, I’m a person fully happy with the choice I’ve made. However, as a final note, I must also say that at my wedding, and throughout my life, you’ll never hear me introduced as “Mrs. Stephen…” I may be changing my last name, but I definitely still have my own first name!

How will you or did you handle the issue of changing your name? Did you have a hard time making up your mind?

(Graphic Credit: Google Images)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Engaged For a Year & Going to the Chapel in Two Months!

I can hardly believe that a year ago today, after being thwarted by hordes of tourists at the D.C. Tidal Basin, Stephen proposed to me over cake and champagne from our favorite bakery.

How vividly I remember the excitement of that night -- calling our families and friends, daydreaming about all the planning that had yet to begin, and reflecting upon everything that had brought us to this place in our lives. Of course, time has slipped by so quickly, and now, in less than two months, we’ll become husband and wife during the amazing celebration we’ve spent the past year pouring so much love, energy and passion into.

In honor of the anniversary of our engagement, here are more shots my sister snapped last spring at Gardens of the World, plus a couple from the low-key party that followed. I know it’s cliché, but I really feel like we just took these pictures a few months ago!

How long is or was your engagement? How did you celebrate after the proposal?

(Photo Credits: Kellie Warren)