Friday, April 29, 2011

It’s A Royal Wedding Blog Party!

I’m not usually a coffee drinker, but there’s a good chance I’ll become one this morning. Why? Because it’s 3 a.m., and I’ll be watching and blogging live along with the rest of the world as William and Kate at long last say “I do”!

Want to join the party? Come on over to the Weddzilla Blog, where me, royal wedding reporter Amanda, expert guru Sharon Naylor, and tons of our fabulous bloggers are on deck for a morning filled with live updates, trend tracking, interactive polls and more from 4 to 11 a.m. EST. Additional updates will be ongoing throughout the day, so be sure to join the conversation by sharing your thoughts, comments and ideas!

Of course, we’ll be live on Twitter and Facebook, and also invite readers to submit their stories, plus photo and video links, for a chance to see them featured on the blog! Want to join the party via your own blog or website? Add the code for our Facebook live stream to your page so that all of your readers can follow the fun.

Stop by and say hi! It’s going to be an awesome day, even if I do end up wanting to take a nap before noon!

(Photo Credit: Official Royal Wedding Website)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Colonial Thanksgiving Success

Why, you ask, am I talking about Thanksgiving in April? Well, because it was the focus of my final project to earn my wedding coordination certificate, and…I AM DONE!

Can you tell I’m excited? Last night, we presented our project, which was to plan a complete mock wedding in the DC area, providing a budget breakdown, vendor roster, timeline, venue selection, couple's story, program text, invitation wording, menu outline and more, based upon the guidelines we randomly drew at the start of the class.

My project had to feature a Thanksgiving theme, cost less than $5,000 for the entire wedding, and prioritize décor. If you know anything about how expensive the DC area is, this certainly wasn’t easy, but the challenge was actually a great way to get creative and think outside the box.

Working with Stephen, who awesomely took the class with me in preparation for assisting with my upcoming client weddings, we crafted a day that was simple and family-focused, with lots of laughter and joy, along with a décor scheme that celebrated the Thanksgiving harvest and the colonial history of Alexandria, Virginia, by using candles, magnolia leaves, pumpkins and more. From finding an affordable clubroom reception site to finding a vendor who could offer a luncheon of turkey cranberry sandwiches, we had fun working together and finding solutions that worked.  

And the best part? After months of hard work, I’m graduating from the program confident in my ability to work with my clients to bring their visions to life. I’m excited, proud and definitely ready to put my knowledge to good use!

What’s a major accomplishment you’ve achieved that just made you feel ecstatic?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library & Google Images)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Pushover Bride

Thank you all once again for being so supportive following my recent “bridezilla” accusation for giving my photographer a shot list. I’m over it now, but looking back, I know the reason I felt so upset is because in reality, I was the exact opposite of a bridezilla. In fact, being called a bridezilla hurt so much because the truth is, I was too nice as a bride, so much so that I often didn’t speak up for myself and even let others get away with making mistakes, treating me disrespectfully, and more. As much as I loved my wedding day, I have to admit that looking back, I don’t feel good about these things.

As one example, when we arrived at Gardens of the World, our first look site, we were greeted by a very rude member of the management who insisted that the photographer and I sign off on paperwork before entering the grounds. Fine. No problem. That was part of the agreement when we’d set up the appointment. But when she looked around the room holding the forms and stated quite rudely, “And who’s the bride?” I was shocked and taken aback. I mean, did she not see the white gown, the tiara, all the hard work that I'd put into looking and feeling beautiful?

In that moment, I should have remained calm, but still been assertive. I should have at the very least made a joke to the effect of, “Not me. I just felt like putting on a tiara and lace gown today.” Or, I should have politely and calmly asked her that since it was my wedding day, would she mind being perhaps a bit kinder about the whole situation? But instead, I could only bring myself to raise my hand in silence. No one else said a word, either.

The church situation was a whole other debacle. The truth is that all throughout the planning process, I just did not feel great about the church and officiant we were working with. Though I was raised Catholic, I’m not a very religious person today, and I take issue with the Chruch’s views on gay marriage, women’s rights and other items. I agreed to a church ceremony because it was important to Stephen, and while I was willing to compromise in that way, undergoing the scrutiny and questioning during the preparation process bothered me. Our priest was new and not yet very knowledgeable about weddings, and something just felt off. But I rolled with it, thinking things would be all right.

They weren't. The day of our wedding, I’d hoped to listen and watch on the church’s screen in the bride room as the processional took place. I imagined the moment I’d see everyone assembled at the altar, hear my own music start and get in place to head down the aisle. But I didn’t have that experience. The church’s coordinator very rudely started the processional while I, the bride, was using the restroom, without checking with my mom or personal planner, and by the time my mom frantically knocked on the door to tell me it was my turn, I had to rush, worrying that there’d been too long a gap between the end of the processional and my entrance, feeling sad and disappointed that this was a moment I had wanted to be special, but now had passed.

Then, during the wedding, the priest, who had refused to attend our rehearsal becasue he "knew what to do" struggled to remember who we were and what was supposed to happen. He introduced us not by our names, but as the “newest family in the United States of America.” He skipped over my sister’s Irish Wedding Blessing reading entirely. And after all this, the church coordinator had the nerve to come up to me afterward and say that everything had gone perfectly! Again, given my chance to speak up, I somehow managed to say nothing.

So, as you can see, I was no bridezilla, and if anything, I was too nice – a pushover, even – the result of nerves, excitement and who knows what else. Looking back, I wish I had spoken up and reasonably asserted myself, with no fear of being called a bridezilla and no worries about what anyone else would think, which I would do in a heartbeat for any of my clients.

Now, almost a year later, I can’t help but feel that our wedding was supposed to be in part “my” day, but because I was so nice and accommodating, I somehow forgot that, and so did others around me.

Do you ever struggle with being "too nice"?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library & Alex Neumann Photography)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Discovering My Dream Home

So many of our friends and relatives are buying their first homes, which is of course very exciting for them, and also for us, since we get to help them celebrate!

Certainly, buying a home is a huge step, and while Stephen and I definitely hope to have our own within the next few years, we can’t buy until we decide where we want to be long-term. As I’ve mentioned before, though we’ve enjoyed the D.C. area, we hope to move somewhere else next year after I complete my master’s degree.

But just because we can’t buy yet doesn’t mean I haven’t had time to dream about the type of home I’d like. And last year, while we were in New Mexico, I saw a real estate listing for my ultimate dream home. I’ve always adored ranch-style architecture, and although this house might be too extravagant for a first-time buy, I can certainly dream of owning a place like it someday.

Check out these pictures, and tell me, what’s your dream home look like?

Have a happy Easter weekend, everyone! Tomorrow, I'm taking my first full day to relax since January! Stephen and I will be heading to our favorite vineyard and then just spending time together, celebrating all of our accomplishments so far this year -- most of all, having a strong and loving marriage even in the face of intense stress in other areas of our lives. In our eyes, there's truly nothing more important than that.

(Photo Credits: Zillow)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Find A Wedding Job

Looking for a job in the wedding industry? Check out Wedding Industry Jobs, an awesome -- and I believe fairly new -- website for job and internship seekers all across the country. I love this site, and will be scouring it daily to keep on top of the industry both here in the DC area and in other out-of-state hotspots.

Do you know of any other great websites or resources for wedding job seekers? Let me know so that I can follow them and share them with others!

(Graphic Credit: Wedding Industry Jobs)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Crunch Time!

First, thank you all so much for your kind responses to my post on Friday about facing pressure and criticism. I feel 100 times better thanks to such caring and supportive friends as all of you, who make the nasty comments seem entirely insignificant when compared with the supportive ones you share with me every week.

And speaking of pressure, to say it’s crunch time in my world would be an understatement! April is flying by, as I’m focused on things including:

• Managing the quickly-expanding Weddzilla Blog

• Completing the semester in grad school this week and getting ready to start another next week

• Preparing my final project to earn my wedding coordination certificate

• Working with my summer brides whose wedding days are fast-approaching

• Keeping on top of things for Wish Upon a Wedding DC

• Taking care of all of the personal things related to my daily life, marriage, family, health, etc.

Whew! I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel very overwhelmed at times, but I’m doing my best to remember my dreams, focus on why I’m doing what I’m doing, and stay focused on my motto…I’m almost there!

How's your April shaping up?
(Photo Credit:

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Editor’s Life: Handling Pressure & Criticism

Being an editor is not a job for the faint of heart. I learned this early on back in my college newspaper days, when I at one point or another had just about every insult you can imagine thrown my way.

When we were too short-staffed to make it to a couple Black History Month events, though we made it to others, I was called a racist and harassed. When we ran an advertising insert from The Onion, angry conservative parents were on the phone accusing me of spreading lies and pornography. Our adviser put my mind at ease by assuring me that public criticism and pushback were signs that others were reading the paper and cared enough about what we had to say to share their own views.

Still, there is a tremendous amount of responsibility in being the final line of defense in what is presented to the public, and the criticism can at times be hurtful and hard to take. As a case in point, last Wednesday on Weddzilla, I shared the shot list I discussed with my photographer in advance of my wedding day.

Though I did get positive feedback, I also got some negative feedback. On Facebook and Twitter, photographers left comments implying that I was obviously a bridezilla, that I didn’t trust my photographer, and that I was crazy to have ever suggested that others might want to do this. Since my list included the more standard and expected shots, along with special creative shots I hoped to have captured, these readers felt it was unnecessary to go over such a list with the photographer at all, saying that he would automatically know to capture most of those pictures.

While I can definitely see their point, I didn’t see the harm in having a conversation with my photographer before the wedding day, letting him know which standard elements we would be including and which we’d be eliminating. For example, I clearly laid out in my list who the key family members were that we wanted pictures with, that the groom was taking the unusual step of walking down the aisle with his parents, and which elements of décor we were including in our setup. Does doing so make me a crazy bridezilla? I certainly don’t think so, especially since I also clearly stated that I in no way wanted to stifle the photographer's own creativity.

In public forums, it is so easy to comment and criticize without knowing where someone is coming from, what their story is and what their intentions are. It is also easy to forget how hurtful certain comments can be. Finally, it’s important to remember that those we "meet" via blogs and online forums are real people, including the editors of these publications. Do we make mistakes on occasion? Yes. Do we hurt just like anyone else when we’re called names and criticized? Yes. Are we perfect in every way? Certainly not.

I love what I do and certainly don’t let others' actions ruin my experience. But I’d be inhuman if I said the pressure and criticism didn’t affect me at times, just as they affect everyone, making me reevaluate how much of myself it’s OK to share as a blogger.

How do you deal with criticism and pressure in your life? Does fear of criticism lead you to limit how much of yourself you share with others, whether in person or on your blog?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast…

They say this is true about children, and I’m learning firsthand that it’s especially true when it comes to our little kitties, who are already over six months old and growing up so quickly!

I’ll admit that when Molly and Twix first came home with us from the SPCA, as excited as I was to welcome them into our life, I was also a bit nervous about the changes they would bring, hoping I'd be as good a caregiver as their foster parent. After all, before these two came along, the only pets I’d ever raised were fish, lizards, hamsters and the like. I’d never before experienced the real joy that can come from having a cat or dog – animals with big personalities and a lot of love to share.

In just the three short months we’ve had them, I can honestly say that any doubts I had are a thing of the distant past, as Molly and Twix have changed my life for the better in so many ways. Whether they’re playing with their toys, sitting with me and purring as I work, jumping and tumbling together, or any number of other things, their energy and presence always brightens my day, leaving me happier, less stressed and less lonely than I might otherwise be working from home. And as a caregiver, I think my only real flaw is that I spoil them with toys and treats! They are so special, and I can't imagine my life without them.

Here are a few photos of the girls -- Molly is grey and Twix is brown -- when we first got them, so timid and shy, and now, so much bigger and running things all their way!

In The Beginning...


How have your pets changed your life?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library) 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Royal Interview

Like everyone else, I’m super excited about the royal wedding coming up on April 29! Our fabulous Weddzilla reporter Amanda has done a great job covering all the details leading up to the big day, and we’ve got some exciting ideas in the works. For now, you can read her posts via the link above!

In the meantime, I was also thrilled to share my thoughts and ideas about the royal nuptials in an interview with Wedding Republic. It’s live to today, so feel free to check it out!

Will you be watching the royal wedding live? What are the top details you can’t wait to see revealed?

SkinCareRx Gift Card Giveaway

My sister Kellie, the blogger behind fashion site Playing Dress-Up, is hosting a fabulous giveaway for a $25 SkinCareRx gift card now through April 22. This site features some truly awesome products from Dermalogica and other top skincare lines, so click on over to have a look and enter today!

You can tell her I sent you. :)

(Photo Credit: Dermalogica)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bicoastal Bride At Bridal Market

I’m back after my whirlwind weekend in New York City covering Bridal Market, and what an awesome weekend it was! Though I was only able to attend a few shows this time – my first ever at Bridal Market – I had a ball and can’t wait to hopefully head back in the fall to cover more ground and meet more new faces in the industry.

Bring completely new to Bridal Market, and the New York fashion scene for that matter, I didn’t quite know what to expect at first, and admittedly felt some degree of intimidation at the thought of being in the same room as such big name players as Bridal Guide Editor Diane Forden, Brides Editor Millie Martini Bratten, and reps from most of the major bridal magazines and websites in the country.

But after going from show to show while tweeting, posting and blogging throughout the day, I was having such a great time, I forgot all about the newness of the experience. In the end, I even found myself wishing I could stay longer, catch more shows, and talk with more people. Though I didn’t get a chance to network with everyone I wanted to this time around, those I did meet with were incredibly kind and welcoming, excited to hear about everything going on at the Weddzilla Blog, and making me feel even more thrilled to be a part of such an awesome event.

Here, a few sneak peeks inside my experience at Bridal Market, which I hope will be the first of many!

Weddzilla Marketing Director Sara Morgan and I loved attending the Alfred Angelo runway show...

...where we chatted with talented Bridal Guide Editor Diane Forden.

Seeing Alfred Angelo designer Michael Shettel in person was awesome!

And the Christos, Kenneth Pool and Amsale shows were just as exciting... was seeing another of my favorite designers, Amsale Aberra, herself! 
Be sure to visit the Weddzilla Blog all week long for details about our favorite Bridal Market trends, and let me know which designers you'd love to see covered in the future. The fall shows will be here before I know it!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Christos, Kenneth Pool & Amsale Runway Shows

I'm still having a blast in NYC, and sneak peek recaps are now live on the Weddzilla Blog, sharing the latest from the Christos, Kenneth Pool and Amsale runway shows! Check them out, and stay tuned for complete reviews starting Monday.

This ruffled train by Amsale is definitely a top favorite so far!

(Photo Credit: Weddzilla)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Alfred Angelo's New York Runway Show

Bridal Market is in full swing here in New York, and one of our first stops today was the highly anticipated Alfred Angelo runway show, where we got a sneak peek at 40 stunning bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses hitting salons this fall!

I loved seeing all the new designs, meeting industry gurus and being a part of the Bridal Market energy. Check out the Weddzilla Blog for teaser photos featuring a couple of our favorite wedding gown styles, and stay tuned Monday for a full set of recaps and video clips!

(Photo Credit: Weddzilla)

On The Road To Bridal Market!

Today’s post is short, because as you read this, I’m on the road to Bridal Market in New York City!

It’ll be my first time hitting the runways at shows by some of my favorite designers, including Kenneth Pool, Amsale, Christos and Alfred Angelo, the designer of my own wedding gown. I’m very excited and can’t wait to share recaps next week on the Weddzilla Blog!

In the meantime, I’ll try to post live here a time or two, and will also be tweeting from @Bicoastal_Bride if you'd like to follow along. Have a fabulous weekend, everyone! See you Monday!

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Flat Shoes = A Bride’s Best Friend

Though I rarely wear high heels in everyday life, like most brides, I wanted to rock a classic pair on my wedding day, if only for the photo ops and so that I’d be closer in height to my husband, who towers over me at 6’4”.

But as reasonably comfortable as my three-inch heels actually were throughout the ceremony and part of the reception, I still had no intention of sticking with them all night long. No, as soon as the garter toss -- the last photo op of the night for my feet -- came to a close, I was more than ready to trade in my heels for a pair of silver Delicate Soles shoes I’d won through a blog giveaway.

Not only were these shoes comfortable, but because they’re designed to roll up for storage, they were also incredibly easy to slip into my bag of essentials for the day. Plus, the silver color still matched up with my color scheme, letting me dance the night away in style!

Are you bringing a change of shoes for yourself or your bridesmaids? Do you normally like to wear flats or heels?

(Photo Credit: Delicate Soles)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is Your Husband Your Best Friend?

I’ll always remember the way, back in high school, one of my favorite teachers used to speak about his wife, or rather, “his best friend,” as he always referred to her. Being 16 at the time, I thought how wonderful it must be to marry someone and share each day of your life with a best friend who understood you and loved you in a way no one else could. Looking ahead, I dreamed of the day when I, too, might have that experience for myself.

Today, more than 10 years later, I have the amazing priviledge of saying that I do. My husband is without a doubt my closest and dearest friend, and I treasure the way we are partners in all of life’s adventures and challenges. Abigail Adams, one of my heroines, also fondly referred to her husband as her “dearest friend,” which makes me feel as though I have at least something in common with this truly remarkable woman whose brilliance was far ahead of her time.

What do you think? Is your fiancé or husband your best friend? Is it possible to be married to someone who is not your dearest friend?

(Photo Credit: Alex Neumann Photography)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cheesy Wedding Songs: Must Or Bust?

Though many couples want to avoid cheesy group songs at all costs, banning the DJ from ever playing them, I personally am glad we chose to include them at our wedding reception. Why? Because everyone loved them and had fun!

As cliché and overdone as songs like YMCA and Thriller might be, they never fail to get everyone on the dance floor, laughing, acting crazy and having a great time. Looking back, one of my favorite things about our wedding reception was that we also decided to vary our music selections, playing a mix of our current favorites, old-time classics and well-known favorites in different genres. As a result, we had three generations of guests packing the floor throughout the night!

One of my bridesmaids even told me afterward that our wedding had made her grandmother “young again,” and that she hadn’t seen her move like that in years! Worth an Electric Slide or two? Definitely!

What do you think? Will you include fan favorites and a variety of music at your wedding?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)