Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wedding Gown Advice From Those Who Know

At the Be Engaged 2 event at The White Dress by the Shore two weeks ago, I asked bridal salon owner, Beth Chapman, for some wedding dress shopping tips and she shared one piece of advice that I think surprised the audience: Wear underwear to your wedding dress appointment.

Now, when I shared this same advice at the Charleston Bridal Couture Show this past Saturday and I heard a number of audience members chuckle. A few years back when I was working on a TV segment with a real bride I mentioned this piece of wedding wisdom to a colleague and she refused to believe that a woman would leave home sans panties.

But as Britney Spears and some of her peers have shown us over the past few years, forgetting your bloomers is not as uncommon as some may think.

So, when you’re off to a bridal salon to try on wedding dresses, or even if you’ve already purchased a dress and you're going to a fitting, please remember to wear underwear.

And here’s a related tip: If your mom, grandma or another relative or friend will be with you at the bridal salon and you don’t want them to know that you have a tattoo on your rear make sure you wear briefs to cover up your derrière. I was told a story by a salon owner a few years back of a bride whose grandmother rescinded her offer to buy the bride’s wedding dress after seeing the name of the groom tattooed across her butt.

Photo Credit: Justin Marantz Photography

Monday, March 30, 2009

Recap: Charleston Bridal Couture Show

Dave and I spent the weekend in Charleston. I was invited to speak at the Charleston Bridal Couture Show during Charleston Fashion Week. Before the fashion shows – several local bridal salons featured their latest designs – I gave a talk on wedding dress shopping tips and trends.

Here are some of the tips I shared with the audience:
  • Know your wedding date and location before you start shopping for a wedding dress. You want your wedding dress to reflect the style of your ceremony/reception space and the time of year.

  • Bring someone with you whose fashion sense is similar to yours.

  • Tear pictures of wedding dresses out of magazines and print images from wedding Web sites (and designer sites) to show the salesperson the styles you like.

  • Keep an open mind because wedding dresses look different on the hanger than they do on the body and you won’t know what looks best on you until you try on different silhouettes and designs.
Check out the looks featured at the show in the Charleston City Paper.

And for brides looking to get organized, russell+hazel is offering The Wedding Organizer (authored by me!) at 20% off the retail price! Just enter the code: charles09 when you check out to receive the discount. And you don't have to limit your purchase to just The Wedding Organizer; the coupon is good on all russell+hazel products. Click here to start shopping! Offer good through April 11, 2009.

Photo Credit: Charleston City Paper/White Label

Friday, March 27, 2009

Guest Room Gifts or OOT Bags

What's the difference? There is none. Some brides/industry insiders will refer to these gift bags left for your guests at a hotel as guest room gifts and others as out-of-town (OOT) bags.

When you have guests traveling to your wedding - whether it's a destination wedding or not - brides and grooms may want to leave a bag filled with a few treats as well as information on the weekend's activities: rehearsal dinner, post-wedding brunch, weekend activities, local restaurants and amenities, etc.

If you're having a destination wedding, where everyone is traveling to your wedding, you may want to create a bag with some local fare and items that guests can use while they're there. A beach wedding: Flip-flops, sunscreen, towel. European wedding: Foreign language dictionary, local sightseeing guide.

If you're getting married in your hometown you can include some local treats - popular food known to the area. Remember food always goes over well.

Talk to the hotel where everyone is staying about dropping off the guest room gifts a day or so before your guests begin arriving so that they can receive an OOT bag when they check in or ask the hotel to have the bags placed in each guests room prior to their arrival, or delivered soon after.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

LA Wedding Event: A Soolip Wedding

This Sunday, March 29th, brides-to-be are invited to attend A Soolip Wedding, a modern bridal event being held at Vibiana (210 South Main Street) in downtown Los Angeles from 11am until 3pm.

The event will feature gowns by The Kirstie Kelly Collection, Junebug Weddings (I’m sure you read their fabulous blog, What Junebug Loves), Sally Hershberger Los Angeles, Vanilla Bake Shop and more! See the full list of vendors here.

A Soolip Wedding is offering discounted tickets to From “I Will” to “I Do” readers - $25 from $45 at the door. Click here to purchase tickets and enter Launch09 when prompted to in order to receive the discount.

Have fun and tell us all about it on Monday by commenting on this post!

And click here for my advice on how to make the most of attending wedding events and show cases.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Be Engaged 2 Event Details

At the Be Engaged event last weekend at The White Dress by the Shore in Clinton, CT, event designer Michelle Rago, owner of Michelle Rago Ltd. and I were invited to join in a panel discussion (me as moderator) on wedding planning – with a focus on destination weddings.

The panel members included Beth Chapman, owner of The White Dress by the Shore who gave brides some tips on shopping for a wedding dress. Christine Toner, owner of Stonington Design+Paperie talked about the do’s and don’ts of save-the-date cards and the design process for creating your wedding invitation. And Michelle Rago discussed what an event designer does and how you can make your wedding unique.

Here are some of my favorite tips:
  • Once you find a designer you like, call the local salon who caries the line and ask if they have or can get in a sample of the specific style you’re interested in.

  • Don’t forget to wear underwear to your bridal salon appointments and fittings.

  • Remember to include travel information – suggested airlines and accommodations – on your save-the-date card, as well as the url for your wedding Web site.

  • Create a wedding Web site to keep guests informed of events and travel information.

  • You want to create an experience for your guests. Think of all of the events and the details at the wedding and focus on the elements that will really make an impact.

Visit JustinMarantz.com to see more images and learn more about the other vendors at the event.

Photo credit: Justin Marantz Photography

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I’m Getting Hitched Event Details

I had so much fun at the I’m Getting Hitched event in DC last week at the Hitched Salon that I wish we could put another one on the calendar! The vendors at the event were amazing and I had the honor of giving brides some wedding planning tips as well as moderating a panel discussion with some of DC’s best, including: Kate Headley Photography, Design Cuisine, Holly Chapple Flowers, Ritzy Bee Events, K. Rose Cakes, Humanstory Films.

There was a lot of great advice that the local vendors shared with the audience of over 100 brides and here are some of my favorite bits of wedding wisdom:

  • Pick up a pair of SoleMates to protect your heels from sinking into the ground at an outdoor wedding

  • Hire a wedding planner or designate someone on the day-of your wedding to handle everything from real emergencies to logistical issues that may arise so you can enjoy your day

  • Hire a photographer whose work you love and then worry about their packages and prices. Don’t hire someone because of their sales packages

  • Once you’ve established your wedding budget add 10% to it so that when you go over, which you probably will, you won’t freak out about it

Visit the Ritzy Bee blog to see more photos and details from the event!

Photo credits: Logan Martin Photography

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Twist on the Groom's Cake

I was forwarded a list of top 100 wedding blogs on BrideTide.com – which From "I Will" to "I Do" was not on, but Brides.com's Wedded Bits was! - and started clicking around the site and I came across this fun Pac Man cupcake design.

My sister and I LOVED to go to the dentist as kids because Dr. Weiss had a Pac Man machine we could play in the waiting room.

Anyway, I thought if you were thinking of having a traditional wedding cake and a groom’s cake too, instead of a themed groom’s cake you could go with themed cupcakes! Talk to your baker about some unique ideas that would reflect the groom’s personality and surprise him.

If you’re already serving a dessert course and wedding cake you could purchase bakery boxes and have the catering/location staff place one or two cupcakes in a box for guests to take with them as they leave. Remember, edible favors are always a favorite with guests!

Though I found this image on BrideTide.com, the source is from flickr. And here’s the list of BrideTide’s Top 100 wedding blogs – congrats to my friends and fellow bloggers who made the list!

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Wedding Blog: Bon Bon by Tara Guerard

I just got an email that one of my favorite - and most talented - event planners/designers has launched a new blog. Tara Guerard, owner of Soiree in Charleston, SC creates the most beautiful weddings in the country. Her eye for detail in incredible.

Her work has been featured in a variety of magazines including InStyle Weddings and Charleston Weddings, and can also be seen in her book, Southern Weddings.

With her new blog, brides everywhere will be inspired by her amazing sense of style and the talented vendors she works with - one of my favorite vendors on her list of "buddies" is local Charleston baker, Jim Smeal.

The new blog is called Bon Bon and the url is blog.soireecharleston.com. I highly recommend adding it to your blog roll or favorite links bookmark.

And speaking of Charleston, Dave and I are headed down there next weekend for Charleston Fashion Week. I'm giving a talk on Saturday morning before the bridal fashion show on wedding dress trends and shopping tips. Here's a link to learn more about - and attending - Charleston Fashion Week, the bridal fashion lecture and shows.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Random Shower Planning Tip

Speaking of bridal showers, the bridesmaids are probably planning on putting together a ribbon bouquet or hat for the bride-to-be. The ribbons will come from the presents the bride receives at her shower. So when you’re wrapping a present – or having a store wrap one for you – remember to use ribbon and bows so the ‘maids have something to work with.

And if you are a bridesmaid, make sure to pick up extra ribbons and bows at a card shop so that you’ll have enough material to make a ribbon bouquet or hat for the bride.

The other supplies you’ll need are: paper plates, scissors, scotch tape and a stapler.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Shower Gift Dilemma

I’ve been invited to a bridal shower that unfortunately I can’t attend. A friend who is going has agreed to go in with me on the shower present so today I went online to look at the bride’s registry and purchase something. The invitation just arrived in the mail a few days ago – and I know that the guest is limited to the groom’s family and friends, the bride’s mom is hosting a shower in her hometown – but there was almost nothing left to choose from, and most of the items that were on the list were either well over $100 or less than $20.

I ended up getting a variety of things because not one item fit our budget, $80-100.  and i wasn't getting her one $70 sheet from the two of us.

It’s very important that you re-register for your shower and wedding so that there are enough items in every price range for guests to choose from. If you don’t know when your shower will be, estimate eight weeks before the wedding and the invites will go out two to three weeks before that. So you should re-register at about 11-12 weeks before your wedding for shower gifts and then after your shower, re-register about the same time your wedding invitations will go out for the wedding.

If guests don’t have things to choose from they may just go to a local store in their neighborhood. I almost did that because I was so frustrated in my search for a gift – I even looked at her registry at two different stores and neither one had a good selection for our budget.

So what did I get? I picked up a $40 item for her bathroom and then a few other items that matched it but that were not on her registry. I do realize that she’ll probably return those extra items but at least I was in our budget range and I purchased the items in the store she registered at so she can always get something off the registry that she didn’t get at the shower.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wedding Gifts: A Do or Don't?

Did you read the article in this weekend’s New York Times Style Section on wedding gifts? Basically readers were informed that a gift to a wedding is not mandatory. I’m sorry, and not to sound greedy, but I know plenty of brides and grooms who didn’t get a gift from one or more guests at their wedding and they were not okay with it. Dave and I are still a little annoyed that several guests didn’t send us a gift at our wedding – six years ago.

I think the point of the article was to discuss affordable wedding gifts in these tough economic times, but even Martha Stewart’s suggestion of going to a consignment store and buying a couple china or silver there surprised me.

The reason couples register for gifts is so that guests don’t have to guess as to what the couple needs/wants. But with people losing their jobs and looking to save money, it’s your job as the bride to make sure that your registry is filled with affordable and moderate priced items. Not just the $500 per setting china and silver. You can always return a bunch of less expensive items and exchange them for more expensive items.

I’m hoping that guests didn’t read this article and think that they’re off the hook for buying you a wedding present – and you cannot go around reminding people to get you something – but it’s a good reminder to keep other people’s budgets in mind when it comes to your wedding. And I’m not just talking about gifts. There are the bridesmaid dresses and tuxes for the groomsmen, travel and accommodations for out-of-town guests as well as all the other wedding-related parties being thrown in your honor.

So think about what’s really important to you when it comes to these other details and make a decision not just based on the idea that it’s “your wedding, your way” but how some of these choices will financially affect your friends and relatives.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Attention NYC Tri-State Area Brides: Must-Attend Wedding Event

New York magazine’s Spring Wedding Issue hit stands next week (March 24th) and their bi-annual wedding event is taking place on Wednesday, April 1st from 5 to 8pm at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues).

This event will feature some of the top wedding vendors and experts in the area, including: Marcy Blum, Mark Ingram, Ron Ben-Israel and New York Weddings editor Denise Penny. Over 90 wedding vendors will be showcasing everything from gowns to flowers to cakes and stationery.

Tickets can be purchases at a discounted rate of $50 for two, $35 for one on line at nymag.com/weddingsevent. Or if you decide last minute to attend, you can buy tickets at the door for $45.

Remember to bring a planning notebook with you and a pen to take notes and collect vendor information – business cards and brochures. And click here for my advice on how to make the most of attending wedding events and show cases.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Don't Stress Over Wedding Timelines

I had a conversation yesterday with a bride getting married in October 2010. She knows that she has a lot of time to plan but she was nervous that she would miss something on the bridal to-do list.

Wedding planning timelines are a guide. You don’t have to follow them to a T – it’s just a way for brides to know what tasks they should get done and an estimate of when. Some things are obvious: You can’t book vendors until you set the date and book a hall and you can’t order invitations until you have the date and location and you have to order them about three to four months before the wedding to get them mailed out by the six to eight week mark. Other tasks can happen in almost any order. Once you book the hall you can hire all of your vendors in any order – photo, video, flowers, music.

Timelines are definitely helpful and you should look to them to make sure you don’t forget something but from the 12-month to the 3-month marks, the tasks can be done in almost any order. So don’t make yourself too crazy about checking off every item in the right order shown.

In the words of Capt Barbossa: "They're more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules."

I’m off to Boston for a wedding event at the Commandant’s House. If you’re in the area, click here for the details!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Having the Money Talk

I’m sitting at my dining room table staring at my vintage Father of the Bride poster. Spencer Tracy is looking a little upset in his tuxedo and pulling out the fabric of his pant’s pocket, showing that he has no money left after paying for his daughter’s wedding. I’ve never seen the original version, but I know the Steve Martin/Diane Keaton film by heart. Same idea just 50 years later.

It used to be that the father (and mother) of the bride would pay for the whole wedding – maybe the groom's family would pay for a few items like the bar and honeymoon. Today the couple will most likely pay for part or all of the wedding.

When discussing your budget, never assume that mom or dad – his or yours – or grandma and grandpa will be giving you any money to put towards the wedding. Paying for your wedding is not a parenting must. It’s optional.

If your parents, or his, have said that they will pay for some or all of the wedding than you need to know early on what that amount is. Remember, their weddings were 30 or more years ago and prices have changed. My grandmother’s wedding dress was $25 in 1945 and assumed my dress would cost about $250. She was shocked when I paid $2500 (at a sample sale – the real price was $10,000).

Talking about money is never easy but just like taking off a band-aid, it has to be done so do it 1-2-3 and have the conversation early in the process. You don’t want to start reserving vendors and then find out that mom and dad thought a band would cost $1000 when they’re costing $1000 per musician.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Exclusive Monique Lhuillier Event at Bergdorf Goodman

If you’ve been reading the Brides.com blog Wedded Bits, then you know that Monique Lhuillier is launching five exclusive designs from her Platinum Collection at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

These wedding gowns will be available starting Wednesday, March 18th at the Bergdorf Goodman Bridal Salon on the store’s seventh floor. And to celebrate the launch of this exclusive collection, Monique Lhuillier will make a rare public appearance at the salon from 2 to 4pm that afternoon.

To make an appointment at the Bridal Salon, or for more information about the event and to RSVP, call 212-872-8957.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Baby Flower Girl and Ring Bearers

Have you ever been to a wedding where the flower girl or ring bearer is a baby. And I don’t mean a toddler that’s really young – I mean an infant. As in there is no way that this child is getting down the aisle without being carried by an adult. But which adult should carry him or her?

When possible this adult should be the child’s parent. A close relative or friend who the child knows may work too, but you risk the chance that the baby boy or girl will freak out and need his or her mom or dad.

You may also have to decide at the last minute if your infant attendant really can make it down the aisle. A baby will not understand a bribe of candy or a toy at the end of the aisle as older children will. A baby may fall asleep right before the ceremony or even start crying, making a walk down the aisle impossible.

If you do decide to have an infant niece, nephew, cousin, friend or your own child make it down the aisle, have a backup plan. Have someone “on hold” who can watch the child in another room if he or she starts crying or falls asleep. And when possible have the baby’s parent carry him or her down the aisle.  You'll also want someone to take the child after he or she makes it to the altar.  There's no guarantee a baby will make it through the ceremony either.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Words of Wisdom from Grandma Lenore

I was talking to my grandmother over the weekend about wedding albums and wedding videos. She has never seen my sister’s video – which is an unedited 3-part VHS marathon that Torey refuses to have edited – and she hasn’t seen mine in years. I don’t remember how we got on the subject but I think it might have to do with the fact that my grandfather who passed away in 2004 is on both of our videos and she wants to get together and watch both of our videos on Mother’s Day.

Anyway, she then told me that she hates her wedding album because my grandfather was too cheap to spend money on a real photographer. She told me that in those days (1945) the groom and his family and the bride and her family had different financial responsibilities. Grandpa Phil and his parents were supposed to pay for the bar and music and because photographing all of a wedding was a new concept they were supposed to pay for that too.

So in my grandmother’s words, my grandfather hired a “bum off the street” to shoot their wedding and because he was so cheap she hates her wedding pictures.

For someone who was married over 60 years ago, this is a great tip that still rings true today. You don’t want to skimp on your photo budget. They are the only tangible part of your wedding that you’ll have for years to come and will be able to pass down to your children and grandchildren. There are photographers in all ranges of budgets, but don’t hire someone just because they are the cheapest. You want to know that he or she is experienced and has shot weddings before.

Thanks Grams!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Wedding Dress Shopping Tip

I was talking to a friend who asked me if I could get her a discount on a Monique Lhuillier dress. Between sample sales and trunk shows there are always ways to get a discount on a wedding dress – even just asking the store if they can do any better. This bride-to-be has only been engaged a few days so I asked her which salon she tried it in on at. Her reply: She hadn’t tried it on, just saw it in a picture online.

I basically told her that until she tries the dress on she doesn’t know for sure if it’s the right one for her. Why? Because even though you think you know what you want/like you won’t really know until you start trying different gowns on. You may think you want a fitted sexy dress and fall in love with a poufy ball gown. You never know until you start trying them on.

And once you do get to a salon, remember that dresses will look completely different on the hanger than they do on a body so keep an open mind and trust the salesperson you’re working with. She’s been doing this for years and may know exactly which dress is right for you.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


In the 1980s and early part of the ‘90s many weddings featured a Viennese Table. For those of you not familiar with a Viennese Table, it’s basically a dessert buffet. But the type of buffet you’d see at a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat restaurant, not like the stylized ones you see in the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.

Over the past ten years I’ve attended or seen dozens of weddings with some sort of dessert buffet served after dinner. There’s always a mix of sweets that can be enjoyed at the reception as well as packaging to wrap some up for the ride home.  (Remember, edible favors are always popular.)

If you’re thinking of creating a candy and dessert table at your wedding then you’ll want to talk to Amy Atlas at Amy Atlas Events. Amy’s eye for both delicious desserts and décor is unparalleled. You can visit her Web site, amyatlas.com, to view some of the creative tables she has created and email her at info@amyatlas.com to talk to her about creating a sweets buffet for your wedding.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It's Your Wedding and You'll Cry if You Want To

I was talking to a bride today who was concerned that her guests are thinking/were going to think that her wedding is untraditional. She didn’t know how to manage their expectations.

I basically told her that she shouldn’t worry herself with what they thought because this is her wedding and not theirs. And the bottom line is that you are never going to please everyone.

Not every guest is going to love your dress or the food you serve or the flowers on the tables. And that’s okay because all that matters is that you love them and your fiancé loves them.

This is YOUR wedding day and you can’t worry about what other people are going to think. You have to do what’s best for you and plan the wedding of your dreams – not mom’s or his mom’s or grandma’s. Plan your dream wedding and enjoy ever minute of it!

PS - I hope your tears will be tears of joy - I just liked the title, no need to really cry.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What's the Best Way to Cut Your Budget?

Cut your guest list.

The more people you invite to your wedding the more money you'll spend over all. Think about it:

The more guests means:

  • More invitations to be mailed

  • More food to serve

  • More tables and linens and china to rent

  • More tables mean more centerpieces

  • More favors

  • More cocktail napkins, matchbooks, and other details

So when you're planning your wedding, draw up your guest list first to see how many people you are planning on inviting. Then look at your budget and see if you can afford to have all of these people at your wedding. If you have to cut the list, better to do this early before you send out save-the-date cards and book a location.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Next stop on The Wedding Organizer Book Tour: Boston, MA

Please join me at The Commandant’s House on Boston’s Historic Waterfront for this special event.

Here are the details:

Get wedding planning and style tips from Anne Chertoff, Senior Editor at Brides.com and former Martha Stewart Weddings editor, Style Me Pretty blogger, Abby Larson, and Karen Bartolomei, owner of Grapevine couture paperie.

Brides and their guests will have the chance to get inspired by gorgeous floral arrangements, and creative wedding stationery designs as well as sample delicious hors d’oeuvres and wedding cakes and learn from the very best wedding experts in the Boston area.

Participating vendors include: New England Occasions, Eco-Elegant Design, Cheryl Richards Photography, The Catered Affair, Shreve, Crump & Low, Hilary Larson’s Eat Cake, Gordon’s Fine Wines and Be Our Guest.

When: Sunday, March 15, 2009 1:30 pm – 4 pm

Where: The Commandant’s House, located on Boston’s Historic Waterfront, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA

The event is complimentary. Space is very limited and open to brides + 1 guest. Please RSVP by March 11th to: rsvp@commandantshouse.com or call Elizabeth Brennan Gemelli at 617-263-6490 with your name, wedding date, email and your guest’s name.  (The March 6th RSVP date has been extended to March 11th.)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Blueprint Magazines Anyone?

So I’m still cleaning the apartment and I came across a bunch of Blueprint magazines. And while I would LOVE to keep them, I have to get rid of them.

I have the following issues:
#1: Summer 2006
#2: Fall 2006
#4: May/June 2007
#7: Nov/Dec 2007
#8 – Jan/Feb 2008 – I have 2 copies of this one

As with the Martha Stewart Weddings magazines, these are also in great condition. And by the way I still have a lot of those left so if you’re interested in any issue – including special issues – let me know.

You can email me at fromiwilltoido@gmail.com if you want a copy of Blueprint - $5 each or all of them for $20


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