Rustic Wine Country Wedding

I stumbled upon this beauty of a wedding, and have completely fallen in love with the natural beauty of this event.  From the lush landscape of leafy trees and vineyards, to the rows upon rows of bistro lights strung above the tables.
My favorite parts:
  – Her dress.  Oh my gosh, those ruffles!
  – The Chairs.  Such a small detail, but the wooden chairs reminiscent of a turn of the century school 
     house bring such charm!!
  – The Lighting.  The lights strung in the trees create such a whimsical event space.  They make such a 
     large outdoor space feel cozy, and capture the magic you’d want to feel on your wedding day
  – The flowers.  A simple combination of white and green, they are loosely gathered into vases to avoid 
     being  fussy.  There is a lot of natural greenery used in addition to the lilies and hydrangeas, which is 
     unique, and compliments the venue, as opposed to taking away from the natural beauty of the space.
  – The Stage.  Looks like such a fun reception – set for a live band and dancing till dawn


Wedding Season Series

Photo courtesy of StyleMePretty

Spring is here which means one thing… we are about to enter into wedding season!  Whether it’s your high school girlfriend, your second cousin twice removed, or your co-worker who is tying the knot, people are always stumped for what to wear, and what to gift.

I’ll be starting a wedding season series of posts to cover off on everything you need to know, so keep your eyes peeled for some fabulous gift inspiration, and a what to wear guide for every venue!

Will You be my Bridesmaid?

I am not engaged, but I am shamelessly obsessed with weddings – I know it, my parents know it, and Kris knows it.  (To add on to my Valentine’s Day love note to him… I love him because he sees how crazy I am for everything bridal, and he a) isn’t scared off b) doesn’t judge me c) thinks it’s sweet and endearing)

To that end, I saw the most adorable, creative way to ask your girlfriend’s to be a part of your wedding.  This “Will you be my Bridesmaid” box was originally featured on The Wedding Chicks whose awesome creativity inspires me daily.

I am TOTALLY going to do this when I am engaged, so I pray my best friends do not read this.  Here is the tutorial on how to create a super personal, super sweet, “will you be my bridesmaid” box:

Step 1: Buy cigar boxes from JoAnn’s ($4.99 online)
These are extremely inexpensive, but there is some labor involved so if you are thinking of having more than 5 bridesmaids, this could start getting quite labor intensive…

Step 2: Remove hardware, lightly sand, and paint box the colors of your choice.  
Here, they used Sweet Cream and Blue Bahama.  I love this color combo since I always think of the saying “Something Old, Something New, Something borrowed, Something Blue” but this would look equally lovely with earth tones (creme and taupe) or girly hues (creme and peach) or if that’s not your thing, go wild with bright colors.  Heck, its your wedding! I am not quite as artistically inclined, so for the cute scalloped detail inside, I will most definitely be using the stencil provided here.

Here, the “be my maid” is done with calligraphic adhesive letters – these are available at any craft store (Joann, Michael’s, etc.)  They encourage two coats of satin varnish over everything to protect and finish the look.  How essential is this? I’m not sure, but since you are putting in the work, you might as well put in the extra few minutes so it looks “finished.”

Step 3: Get the inside of the box looking as pretty as the outside
Here the box is lined with a vintage handkerchief, but you can use graphic fabric, lace… whatever you think is pretty.

Step 4: Get to work on the contents of the box
To lay out the details of the wedding, the bride-to-be created progressively longer postcard messages – one to outline the day, their role, the other girls and the dresses.  By making each note card longer than the last, the bride was able to cut and bundle the scalloped cards into a sweet stack.

You don’t have to copy her notes word for word, but this is a good guideline for what to include:

Our Day: 
Gabe and I are getting hitched! Our wedding will be small, about 50 guests, but I promise you, we’re still bringing the funk! (in a fun way).  We’ve rented out the vineyard’s three houses from June 27 – July 1 and reserved your space for our bridal party (plus your hubby or guest). You can stay as long as you want without worrying about a hotel
My Girls:
Let’s hope you all say yes or this could get awkward.

Becky: matron of honor – best friend extraordinaire, keeper of my most embarrassing stories, most likely to stop the ceremony to save a butterfly.
Dana: bridesmaid – amazeballs sister, logical ying to my emotional yang, most likely to call foul if I go bridezilla, ironically also most likely to cry a lot
Andrea: bridesmaid – kindergarten homie of two decades, witness to my most tragic hair years, most likely to bring me to tears by saying something ultra sweet and sentimental


Your Role: 
I hear weddings can become a lot of work for bridesmaids.  Please don’t worry about showers or bachelorette parties, gifts or anything like that.  Your presence on my wedding day is all I need, truly.
As my bridesmaid, your only job is to feel beautiful, hold some gorgeous flowers, wipe away my happy tears, understand how much your presence is appreciated, and know how much I love you.
Basically you’re to have a complete blast, and maybe challenge me to a cake eating contest.


Your Dresses:
More than anything, I want each of you to feel comfy and gorgeous! You are all beautiful in so many ways – what you wear should reflect it.
And who’s better suited to pick out your dress than you? Each of you will pick a dress that says “you” – I’m onboard for an eclectic mix of dresses if it means my best girls will feel fabulous.  Enclosed you’ll find a few paint chips to give you a feel for the colors I dig.  Dreamy aquas and blues.  Any shade within that color family will work for me.  I’ve included a few sample photos just to get your wheels spinning about styles but your options are pretty limitless – just a few guidelines to use while shopping:
   – Keep it short, around knee length, give or take a few inches
   – Go sleeveless – you have the right to bear arm
   – Try for vintage inspired look for feminine details like flirty lace, or a retro silhouette, anything that makes it sweet and breezy.
Also, we know that traveling to and being a part of weddings can add up, so Gabe and I would love to pick up the cost of your dress.  I’ve enclosed a gift card for $150 towards your dress and accessories – if you have any trouble using it, please let me know.
I’m still fence sitting on accessories and shoes, but will be sure to keep you informed!

Step 5: Get to work on the contents of the box

To complete the boxes, put photos for inspiration (inspiration for the dresses as well as the overall look and feel of the day), and paint chips as a guideline to the color scheme.  I hate to add this in, but I must – if you have a friend that is known to be overtly sexy, over-the-top, or has a “I’ll do what I want” attitude, I would take special care to emphasize the look you are going for if a ton of cleavage or mini dresses don’t fit in the vision you have for your wedding day.
So that’s it!  (that’s “it”… ha) – it is a lot of work, but what a special way to ask your bridesmaids to be a part of your big day. LOVE

Engagement Ring Guide: Classic is Foolproof

Holy Engagement ring!!  Can we give this stunner a moment of glory?

I fully admit to my obsession with trashy reality TV – the Kardashians?  I’m there.  Beverly Hills Housewives?  Tivo’ed!  Mob Wives? Shhh, don’t tell anyone!  BUT, When I watch these shows, I am thrown by the hideous ice rinks they have on their hands, and spend most of the show wondering, how most of these women manage to turn a gorgeous diamond into such a horrific piece of jewelry?!  After 5 micro pave halos, 10 wedding bands, and about 45 carats of bling, it’s a status symbal… and an ugly one at that!

Note to my future husband: One halo is nice, I won’t throw you out on the street if you surprise me with a 3 carat solitaire, but please keep in mind, I want to wear this ring everyday for the rest of my life.  Don’t make it hideous!


Wedding Love: Black and White Weddings

Black and white brings such an air of elegance to a wedding – it’s romantic without being girlish, it dresses up the most rustic venue, and can be fun and playful while making a dramatic impact!  Whether it’s black and white stripes (which I adore), or white anemone’s with their dramatic black center, silhouettes for the bride and groom, or a black sash to accent the wedding dress, black is no longer a wedding taboo!  I am absolutely LOVING this look (and I think Kris would too!)
I put together an inspiration board strictly from years of wedding’s I’ve bookmarked on Style me Pretty, so take a look, and get lost in the classic elegance of it all!

Sweet Wedding Phototography

Photo courtesy of Style Me Pretty

Today I am in a day-dreamy sort of place, where all I want to do is think about weddings.  Isn’t this just the sweetest wedding photo?  My parents got married on a rainy day in April, and have been married for 37 years.  The Chinese believe that rain is a sign of luck on your wedding.  And I personally think that a photo of a couple under an umbrella is so sweet – a quiet moment snuggled close, with the quiet rain falling around you.


Who says rain on your wedding day is a bad thing?!

Wedding Dress Bliss – Vera Wang

She’s done it again!

I was needing a break from spreadsheets today and what better way to escape than with this amazing dreamlike dress from Vera Wang’s 2012 Fall Collection.
Look at the detail in the hand-cut organza blossom hem, the perfect asymmetrically pleated bodice.  It’s oh my god amazing, and I so wish I were planning a wedding (anyone’s wedding) rather than planning yet another ad campaign.  Oh the woe of real life…

Style Me Pretty – the creme de la creme

So one of my amazing friends Aimee is just as obcessed with weddings as I am.  She got married just over a year ago, and while she loves the glamour, the details, and of course what the wedding symbolizes, the wedding planning experience was less than stellar for her.  To put it simply, Aimee’s mother-in-law was less than supportive, and did her best to undermine every decision she made.

Despite the hurdles with her in-laws, she was married to her long-time college sweetheart and they are currently living happily ever after.  Months after her stressful wedding, her florist approached her with an opportunity to get back in her gorgeous Lazaro wedding dress, and participate in a photo shoot for a Style Me Pretty submission.  I get a text from her one morning at work saying, “I am playing hooky from work and am wearing my wedding dress!”  Needless to say, I was shocked, intrigued, and a bit worried for her sanity at the same time.

Later, over cocktails she spilled the rest – “I am trying to get on Style Me Pretty” she exclaimed – she did not even need to say anything more. I have been a SMP loyalist for years, pouring over the endless gorgeous details of thousands of weddings, so I fully understand the importance of being featured on this holy grail of blogs.  We celebrated to the fullest – perhaps over-celebrated a bit ordering not one, but two bottles of champagne and very little dinner.

Over the next several weeks I checked StyleMePretty incessantly, looking for her lovely face, but nothing.  I had almost forgotten about the entire photoshoot when one day at work I was browsing the blog, and found myself staring into the brown eyes of my dear friend.

“OH MY GOD,” I squealed at work… let me interject to add that my team at work consists of baby 20-somethings who did not end up understanding the importance of any of this when I tried to explain my excitement.  Still buzzing with excitement, I shut the door and proceeded to call Aimee for the details, and then my best friend Kira to relay the details (a fellow wedding obsesser).

In few words, Aimee looked stunning in a very non-Aimee way.  To know her is to know the epitome of “classic”, and this photo-shoot was anything but – it was extremely avant garde and artsy – so lovely.

Go check out the rest of the gallery here.

Thank you to the very smart editors at SMP who chose her photo-shoot to post, and also for writing and maintaining one of the loveliest blogs I know.

Engagement Ring Guide Part II: Maximizing Impact

Regardless of budget, every girl wants a ring she WANTS to show off to the world.  While not everyone is a Kardashian with a 17 carat paperweight on their hand, I’ve learned a few simple tips to keep in mind that will maximize the ring’s wow factor.

1. Round Diamonds Look Bigger than All Other Sizes

    • It’s true – in terms of surface area per carat, the round / brilliant diamonds give you more bang for your buck.  Compare a 1.0 carat round diamond to a 1.0 carat diamond of any other shape.  The average length to width ratio in millimeters for a round diamond would be 6.3 x 6.3mm.  For a 1.0 carat cushion cut diamond, the average length to width ratio is in the 5.5 x 5.5mm range.  That is a significant difference!

2. A Sparkly Diamond Always Looks Bigger than a Dull one

    • Look for a diamond shape that naturally reflects the most light.  Round will top the list every time, because of the way that the facets are cut, but close behind the round diamond for “sparkliness” is the marquise (I was shocked by that one), oval, pear, heart, and then Princess.  From there, sparkle tapers off rapidly, but if you are like me, and kind of hate the fancy shapes (marquis, pear, heart, etc) then stick with the round, oval, and princess – all safe bets.  
    • Do not sacrifice cut for carat – the result will be a dull, cloudy, or dark diamond.  In the first post, I talked a lot about the importance of a quality cut – going for an ideal or excellent cut will give you the most sparkle – substituting a good or fair cut for a slight increase in carat size is a very bad idea.

3.  Elongated Diamonds can Appear Larger

    • A non-symmetrical cushion cut that is rectangular can fake people out for a larger carat.  Especially if you have thin fingers, the length can create the illusion of a larger diamond. Also on this list of elongated shapes are the emerald cut (not a personal favorite of mine), radiant cut, and oval diamonds.  I’m not fully sold on this idea, but if you love this look, go for it!

4.  Settings with Additional Diamonds Enhance the Size of a Diamond

    • Extra embellishments on a ring do exactly what they promise – they enhance a center stone, so whether it’s opting for a three stone ring, (with two sizable diamonds on either side of the center stone), or if it’s having a micropave band that adds just a bit of extra pizzazz to your ring while still leaving the center stone as the main focus, or whether it’s going all out for a micro-pave halo setting (having even more diamonds encircling the center stone and band), these are all great ways to enhance an already beautiful engagement ring.

Engagement Ring Guide Part I: Sparkle

Marilyn Monroe sang, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, and lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about the most important diamond a girl will receive… an engagement ring.  Most recently, I have been noticing lots of really different but amazing rings on other women and in the window’s of my neighborhood jewelers that are not what I have traditionally liked.  I’ve been thinking about, how to save money when buying a diamond, what makes it most sparkly, and what the priorities should be…

Deciding to do some research, I think I have narrowed it down to my top “engagement ring essentials”.  Because there is so much to learn and think about when buying a diamond, I wanted to break out these essentials into a series of posts to avoid an overwhelming amount of information.  It’s really interesting and really helpful in terms of understanding priorities when you are looking since there are SO MANY options, so many things to weigh, and of course since it’s costing several month’s salary.

1.  SPARKLE:  Bigger is not better if the diamond doesn’t shine.  This is not to say that I don’t want a big rock flashing about on my left hand, but recently I have seen some women with very large stones, that are dull, and not very pretty.  I’ve never been a diamond expert, but wanting to know what causes this dullness, lack of sparkle, and even cloudy appearance, I’ve done some research…  The factors that most affect a diamond’s sparkliness are CUT, SYMMETRY, DEPTH, and TABLE. 

    • CUT: This one is pretty easy to remember – the better the cut, the more light enters the diamond (meaning more sparkly).  This is probably the most important part to getting a sparkly diamond, so ALWAYS go for  the best cut possible (either ideal, or excellent).  Anything below that, and you will be losing significant sparkle. 


    • SYMMETRY: This refers to specific aspects of a diamond’s cut; with poor symmetry, light can be lost as it enters and exits the diamond – a good rule of thumb, symmetry and cut go hand in hand, so if you stick to an ideal/excellent cut, you will end up with good symmetry.  This diagram gives a good idea about how this works and why poor symmetry can be a BIG problem:


    • DEPTH: This is really a matter of quality control – if the diamond is too shallow or too deep, light is lost and the diamond looks dull – something really interesting that I learned was that a too deep diamond adds carat weight without looking bigger – shady!  The best diamonds are considered to range in depth percentage from 58% – 64%.  Be sure you specify this when looking and you’ll be good.
    • TABLE: Similar to depth – this is all in the cutting of a diamond, and is more mathmatical than anything; the ratio of the table width to diamond diameter and affects how much a diamond sparkles – the best diamonds range in table percentage from 53%-64%.  Stick to this, and you’ll be fine.

So much to learn, so little time!!!  Next up, the how to maximize the impact of your diamond!