Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Backyard Weddings: Budget Friendly & Fun!

I love the idea of getting married at your/your parents/neighbors/some else's home. The setting feels more personal and most likely has sentimental value for your family. Also, your guests may feel more conformable being that it's not a fancy venue and they may have already spent time there!

If I had a big backyard (or a backyard at all!) I would definitely had considered having our wedding there. After all, S and I went all the way upstate to find a "backyard feel."

Backyard weddings could also be very budget friendly! Obviously you don't need to pay for your venue, which usually carries a fee. Next, if you are having a small enough reception, you could get by on using your own china and asking friends to borrow wine glasses/extra silverware. It would make for a great eclectic mix! If you are fortunate to have lovely landscaping on your property or a garden you can scratch flowers off your list! You will have natural flower arrangements (which you could possibly clip for really pretty bouquets!). Also, depending on the size of your guest list, and your friends/family, you may be able to cut the catering bill by having the food prepared in the house!

I love how this lovely couple planned their wedding at their own house!

All photos by Young House Love

Monday, July 27, 2009

Message In A Bottle

How perfect would this be for a new take on an invite? Imagine your family and friends receiving this in the mail with little notes/invites! It could also be used as a wedding favor thanking each wonderful guest for coming inside the lovely keepsake bottle. Or how about pulling your vows out of the bottle during the ceremony? So dramatic.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Paloma's Nest Ring Bearer Bowls

Husband and I didn't have a ring bearer but we still wanted to have a unique way to display our wedding bands. We found these adorable ceramic bowls from Etsy artist
Caroline Colom Vasquez of Paloma's Nest. Caroline belives in "Doing small things with great love." Each piece is custom designed and hand-crafted in her home studio in Austin, Texas, with care, pride, and passion. She use only all natural materials including fine clays, wood, paper, and cloth, knowing that these items will be passed on for many years. Caroline says, "My inspiration lies in the purity of the materials that I use, and the idea that something so simple can be so bold. By adding text, I give written ideas, feelings, and daydreams a place to rest."

S and I thought these little bowls were perfect for the wedding and now we use is as a decorative piece in our home. Caroline will custom design anything you want on the bowl. S and I chose a quote that was part of one of the readings from our wedding. It was really fitting for the day and for every time we happen to glance at it! Following the quote, written out is our wedding date. I would certainly recommend these for your wedding day and beyond! The bowl is quite small so it can easily fit into the little hands of your cutie ring bearer. They also come with a little string so they can also be hung afterwards!

Also, Caroline has just added these beautiful new golden dove bowls. How great are these?!

All photos c/o Paloma's Nest

All of the ceramic items are crafted from either white earthenware clay or porcelain clay.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bride Style: 70's Bride

Summer in NYC is always hot and muggy. Not too much opportunity to run around barefoot. Lately I have been dreaming of being somewhere in California, maybe Big Sur, circa 1970's. To appease my yearning for a summer of freedom, I've dedicated this post to the revival of the 70's bride. The 70's bride was much more of a free spirit. She was all class with a bit of rock n' roll! I loved my wedding dress so much, but if I had to do it over again, I may have considered wearing a short lace dress with a pretty wreath in my hair! And what's more rock n' roll then Jane Birkin and Bianca Jagger?!

And check out this amazing modern day 70's wedding. I love, love, love it!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting Your Friends & Family Involved

Since Husband and I were on a budget, we needed all the help we could get. That included begging, tricking, and bribing our friends to volunteer their amazing skills and time. Thankfully, it didn't take much!

It goes without saying that S and I have incredibly talented friends. We are lucky to be surrounded by the most creative, imaginative people. Even though we had a vision for our wedding aesthetic, it was thanks to all of them that we could translate that vision into the beautiful details that made our day so perfect!

So now you may be asking, "How can I get my friends and family to help me?!!! (without having them hate me by the end of it.)"

Here are some fun and inexpensive ways to trick, er, I mean graciously entice your beloved network of amazing people to contribute in planning for your most special day:

1. Food. This is the best way to get people to help you. It has been proven to work 100% of the time. Trust me on this one. Invite your friends over for snacks and writing out table cards. Writing out 143 names does not sound that exciting. An ice cream sundae night does! Invite a few people over for a Crafty Brunch! Fix up some waffles and coffee while your friends are stuffing envelopes.

2. Margaritas/Wine/Pick Your Poison. No one wants to come over on a Tuesday evening, after work, and help you and your beloved make wedding favors. However, pick up a bottle of inexpensive wine, or mix up a pitcher of sangria and it may be easier to sway someone! Not a drinker? Pick up some fancy tea or prepare some good coffee! I've even known a few people who could easily be persuaded by a late night milkshake...

3. Do It Outside. If you have the luxury of having a deck/yard/roof/stoop, lucky you! No one wants to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon cooped up in your house. Take it outside! As long as the sun is shining and you don't need an electrical outlet, you're all set! It will make the experience much more pleasant.

4. Beg/Plead/Bribe. I'm half serious when I say this but there were moments when S and I were so stressed out and overwhelmed that we would do anything for a few extra hands and boy, were we thankful that we had them!

Lastly, remember that these are the people that love you! They want your wedding to be amazing/perfect/go-off-without-a-hitch just as much as you both do! It probably won't take much to convince your friends and family to help you out but the point is to just be thankful. You may think you can do it all on your own, and you probably could, but having your loved ones there makes it so much more special. And who knows, they may have an idea or two that you will love (just as our friends did!). I will end this post by saying (again!) that when we walked into the barn on our wedding day, S and I were overwhelmed with a feeling of graciousness by seeing all the beautiful and amazing contributions from everyone around us and all the love that went into making our day special. It made it that much more meaningful for us, and I hope for them too! If not, at least they got some margaritas out of it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bride Style: To Veil or Not To Veil.

Photos by Alexander Zabara of

Choosing a veil. Or do I even wear one? I had a hard time deciding this as I wasn't sure I wanted a traditional look. However, once I found my dress and the overall theme came together, I thought a veil would look terribly romantic with the setting and the gown. Once I decided to wear one, I knew that I would want something vintage-looking, like my dress.

I chose an elbow length mantilla lace veil in cream. It was beautifully designed by Rohm, a talented Etsy designer. It matched the color and fabric of my dress perfectly and since I pinned my hair back (in the last moments!) I just pinned the veil right below my crown and and laid perfectly over my shoulders.

If you decide to wear a veil and are not sure which style is right for you, take a look at this
list from WeddingChannel. It is very detailed and has illustrations of every type of length and style veil.

Photos by Chad Hunt

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bride Style: Always A Bridesmaid...

Photo by Chad Hunt

I must begin this post by saying that I had the most wonderful bridesmaids. I was lucky in the fact that they were all very agreeable with anything I chose and also because they are all easy on the eyes! They all would have looked fantastic in any old dress but I think my bridesmaids looked particularly lovely in the chartreuse halters I picked out from J.Crew.

Choosing whether or not you want your bridesmaids to wear matching dresses may be a tough decision. It was difficult for Husband and me to decide if we even wanted a traditional bridal party. In the end, we decided we needed the help and support of our closest friends and we couldn't imagine them not being a part of our wedding!

I digress. Back to the dresses!

Are we being too "match-matchy?" Is it too traditional? Should we just let our "party" wear what they choose? You can absolutely be flexible with your preference of dress code or even just pick a specific color family to work within. S and I felt like we really wanted the people in our bridal party to be highlighted. We wanted the rest of our lovely guests to know that these are some of the people without whom we couldn't have accomplished everything we had up to that point (both in the wedding and in our lives).

With that, we decided on specific bridesmaid and groomsmen attire. I had an idea for dresses somewhere in the yellow family, being that we were having a summer wedding and all. I looked to several designers, however I found J.Crew to be the most consistent with dresses I actually liked and thought my girlfriends would also like (and hopefully wear again!). I checked the website regularly and then one day spotted the dress we ended up choosing. I loved the surprising chartreuse color and the style of the dress.

The halter neckline, fitted bodice, and tea length full skirt were reminiscent of a 1950's style summer picnic dress, which was the feeling I had wanted (without having poodle skirts and polka dots). And it has pockets! Who doesn't love a dress with pockets?! In the end, all the girls looked fabulous in the dresses and the color and style worked together seamlessly with the groomsmen, flowers, and overall feeling of the day.

Photo by Charlie Hart

When choosing matching dresses for your favorite girls to wear, I recommend:

1. Consider all their body types. Hopefully you know your sister/girl friend/distant cousin enough to know how she usually dresses for her body type and what she will look best in. (If you don't, ask!)

2. Colors/Styles. Are the dresses going to clash with what the groomsmen are wearing? Or worse, with what you're wearing? Remember, you're going to be photographed a lot with these people. Also, does the style and fabric of the dress fit with your theme? You may not want your girls wearing heavy silk gowns if the guys are planning on wearing linen suits and vice-versa.

3. Comfort. Yes, we know, you're the bride. But these are also your closest friends so be nice! Since you are already essentially choosing something for them to both buy and wear to your wedding, hopefully you will at least choose not only a dress they will love but also a dress that they will be comfortable in all night. Just as you will have to be in your wedding dress all day, they will be right beside you during all the photo taking and such. Please don't subject your most wonderful friends and family to wearing a ball gown in the 90 degree weather. Have a heart!

Lastly, I will say (again) that I had the most wonderful friends who all told me exactly what they thought of all my selections, which helped a lot. We didn't have much trouble coming to an agreement and in the end (I hope!) they all loved wearing them in the wedding. More likely than not, someone will have something to say about the choices you make along the way (dresses, etc.). Take everything into consideration but also remember you can't please everyone. Be as gracious as you can to accommodate everyone and not offend any one person but don't let it hinder your own ideas for your perfect day! Remember: You're friends and family love you and they just want you to be happy on you're most special day. (And if they don't remember that, remind them!!)

Photo by Chad Hunt

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The cutest little wedding chapel in...the Lower East Side?

Forget Vegas. If you live anywhere near the Lower East Side of Manhattan you can now get hitched to the guy or gal of your dreams (or so you think at 3 AM). In this public gallery space, the current rotating installation is a Vegas-style wedding chapel. They provide everything you need to get married, including a bride or groom (!) to rent in case you come without. So, if you find yourself caught in love one balmy summer night, head on over to 139 Norfolk Street and tie the knot in true New York style!

For more info

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bride Style: The Wedding Dress

Photo by Chad Hunt

Ah, the dress! Only the most important aspect of the wedding. (Or so we brides like to believe!) After the engagement rings slip onto our fingers, it is the first thought that comes to mind. To some of you, it may seem daunting to choose the most important article of clothing you will ever wear. To my other brides, you may have the perfect dress in your mind and nothing else will do. Or so you think...

As young girls, we plan our weddings, we pretend to be brides, we even throw pillow cases over our heads and march around our backyards saying, "I do." Everything has been leading up to this moment. When you go out dress shopping for the first time, you expect it to be a magical moment. You hope your maid-of-honor and mother are sitting with you, glass of champagne in hand, welling up because you look like a princess.

It may not be a scene out of a Kate Hudson film.

More likely than not, you will try on more than just that one "princess" dress. Once you get that out of your system, you can get down to business.

As I mentioned, you may have a "dream" dress in you mind. It may be a giant tulle number that is wider than the aisle. It may be a slinky body hugging dress. It may not even be white! (Oh the scandal!) However it appears in your imagination, just try to keep an open mind. It may or may not be the one.

Let me explain:

1. Keep in mind your theme or the feeling of your wedding. What I mean by this is, you don't want to look or feel out of place. Being the bride, you can take more liberties than anyone else. However, I will say it looks nice when everything flows together seamlessly. You wouldn't want to wear a modest dress at a black-tie wedding or something extravagant at your backyard BBQ wedding.

2. Think of the setting. If you have your heart set on having a beach wedding, you may not want to wear heels. With that in mind, imagine how that will affect the overall look of your dress. I'm personally not a fan of wearing flip flops with your dress (it's your wedding!!!) but flats may drastically change how the dress hangs on your body.

3. Consider your body type. Brides today are fortunate that there are so many designers making beautiful dresses in all styles and sizes. If you find your perfect dress that fits you perfectly, lucky you! Most of us will not be so lucky. I recommend having your dress tailored to fit your body. After all, this is your day! Whether you spent a fortune on your dress or found an amazing deal (yes please!) it is well worth the investment. The fit is unparalleled and you will feel your most beautiful. Often the prices are reasonable if you find a trusted tailor. With that said, you must consider how the dress looks on your body. Bring your trusted maids, family member, or friend to give your their honest opinion. After all, they will want you to look your best on your big day too!

In my experience, my dress came to me! I went to a few bridal shops here in New York with my girlfriends and mom but nothing jumped out at me. There were several occasions when someone said, "This is the one!" but my heart was never in it. Back in November, Husband and I took a trip out to LA. While there we passed by Claire Pettibone's bridal showroom on Robertson Blvd. I called and made an appointment. I went in the next day and my dress was waiting for me! It was the first one I tried on and I knew it was the one! I bought it that day and left knowing that it would arrive in New York on May 1st, almost one month to my wedding. That didn't leave me with much time for my fittings. Luckily, it fit perfectly and I didn't have to bother with any more fittings however the measurements taken at the store were very detailed before the making of my dress.

Good luck to all of you dress shopping for your own weddings and above all, have fun and make sure feel beautiful for your most special day!

Photos by Chad Hunt

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen...Made to Measure!

Image courtesy of Made to Measure

Made to Measure is a fantastic menswear blog started by NYC musician Dennis Cahlo, dedicated to making men look their best. For all you soon-to-be grooms out there (or ladies who have soon-to-be-grooms), this is an excellent resource.

Stay tuned for future developments on this blog with Made to Measure.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wedding dessert idea or summer treat!

From the beginning of our planning S and I decided we didn't want a standard wedding. We don't do many things standard so why should that be any different for our wedding? Since our wedding was a bit unconventional anyway, it wasn't difficult to change or omit certain things. The first thing to go was the wedding cake. I'm not a big fan of cake and S isn't too keen on towers of dessert so we agreed! We had decided on a summer bbq theme so it was easy to choose fun desserts that our guests would love just as much (or more!) than wedding cake. Anyway, who wants to worry about melting frosting in mid June?! Not me. If you are someone who also prefers something delicious over a mouthful of buttercream frosting, here's an easy and tasty dessert idea for your wedding or for right now!

Grilled Peaches with Goat Cheese & Honey Drizzle

1. Wash peach, cut in half, and remove pit.
2. Drizzle with lemon juice and a bit of honey (depending on your sweetness preference).
3. At this point you could either grill the peaches (delicious!) or pop them in the toaster oven/oven.
4. After about 10 minutes the peaches should be soft and just releasing their juices.
5. Put a scoop of your favorite goat cheese in the center and return to the grill/oven for 1 minute.
6. Plate peach and drizzle with honey.
7. Garnish with a mint leave serve.
8. Enjoy!

Another delicious way to prepare this is with fresh summer herbs like lavender, rosemary, and thyme. Herbs work beautifully with stone fruits like peaches. Just sprinkle some in step two before grilling/toasting. Yum!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Finding your perfect wedding venue.

Photos by Chad Hunt

S and I got engaged in April of 2008. We didn't visit the barn until August. Before we decided we wanted to get married there, we looked at several other locations in New York, where we live. We looked at a variety of venues including loft spaces, restaurants, event spaces, and old steel foundry, a park, and a community garden near our home. We settled on our lovely barn because in the end, we decided we wanted to get out of the city and there was no where around here we could achieve that same rustic charm.

Even though the barn was priced a bit higher than we estimated in our budget, we didn't want to settle on another place and could not imagine getting married anywhere else at that point. So, we played around with our budget, cut out some things we didn't really need, and made it work! We had our perfect dream location set!

Monday, July 13, 2009

You've got a what??

So, you've searched for the perfect setting, you've made your lists, and you have an idea of how much you have (or don't have) to spend on your dream wedding. Now what do you do? Well, it's pretty simple really. You just have to break it down for yourself!

Now that you have your list set and you know roughly how much you want to spend on different elements of your wedding, you can see if those individual costs fit within your estimated budget. A good way to do this is to make a spreadsheet! S and I sat down and made one pretty early on and trust me, it helped a lot! It saved us a lot of time trying to decide whether or not we could afford something. We would plug it into the budget and see if we were over or not.

S and I started out by making a list of categories (i.e. flowers, catering, alcohol) and putting estimated amounts next to each category and our grand total/budget at the bottom. Whenever something was finalized, meaning we booked a vendor and were sure of the total cost, that item then became bold so we knew it could not change. We could then play around with our other "estimates" to see how much we had left in the other categories. It became sort of like a puzzle. Not too fun at times, but made it much easier to see all the numbers together on one page and how they added up.

To get you started, Husband and I have put up a sample spreadsheet to get you started. Included are some of the categories that we used but feel free to add your own.

Download file here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Planning your wedding budget...It's not as difficult as you think!

Even though my own wedding is over, I am still enjoying helping all my friends with their upcoming nuptials. Being that I'm a newlywed of recent, I still feel as if I'm in frantic wedding planning mode. My cousin is planning her wedding this year as is my very best friend (and amazing maid-of-honor!). As I am thinking of them both now where I was about a year ago, I started thinking about how Husband and I came to begin our planning process.

Set a budget! It's not as difficult as you may think!

The simplest was to decide on a budget is to make a list and prioritize which elements of your wedding are the most important to you both. If you can't imagine not having flowers dripping from every nook then put it at the top of your list. If you could care less whether or not you have fancy favors for your guests, you could itemize that towards the bottom of your list. This way, when it comes to making important decisions about whether or not you can afford something, it will be easier for you both to to visualize your guests dancing to your rocking band over choosing that pricy wedding cake.

After prioritizing your list, research items at the top of your list. In the case of S and I, our venue was most important to us. We started out by looking at several venues in and around our area and compared prices. Once we had an idea of how much similar venues were charging, we could gauge how much we would have left in our budget for other necessities (catering, decor, etc.).

Don't get overwhelmed! Husband and I had no idea how to even begin the process. Once we committed to our beautiful barn we knew about how much we had to work with, which made it a bit easier (although no more enjoyable) to cut back in other areas.

If you are lost as to how to begin the process or not sure how to set a budget, this is a good guide to get you started!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Design your own wedding invitation, directions card and rsvp card!

Designed by Scott Palmer

We wanted our wedding invitation to look different from the standard. After all, our wedding was to be in a barn, so would it really make sense to have fancy embossed frilly script fonts with lacy trim? We thought not. So S set out to design a more kitschy and whimsical style invite that felt more like our personality.

It ended up being a 3 card set, printed dual-sided on 100# recycled cardstock along with a self-mailing reply card. (no tiny envelopes to address!!)

Since Husband is an amazing designer, he would be designing our invites. We started out brainstorming ideas for a theme and color scheme. Coming up with the barn idea was easy since that was the whole theme of the wedding. After testing out different shades of blue, we settled on this teal for most of the text and back of the cards. After that, the design came together rather seamlessly. We both agreed we loved the detail of the little bird holding the love sign on the back which later translated into our decor for the barn!

All the printing was done locally on recycled paper with soy based inks.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A unique save the date idea!

Designed by Scott Palmer

The idea for our save the date came late one night. S and I were freaking out, as we had to get our STD's out soon and we didn't have much room in our budget for pricey printed ones. By the way - you can get great deals on save the date and thank you cards from Vistaprint, check them out! We knew we wanted something with a homemade feel to it as well as something that featured us, not just text. We happened to have my parents fancy digital camera on loan and S had a roll of photo backdrop paper laying around so we had an impromptu photo shoot!

We dolled ourselves up and our lovely friend Charlie shot the photos. We came up with the photo strip concept after seeing several STD's that incorporated photo-booth strips. At first we thought about writing the words with markers but then spotted my knitting basket hiding in the corner and were inspired! We spray-glued the photo backing and spelled out the words with yarn. We tried out several different colors and styles and settled on these.

After choosing from 100+ photos, we picked these four. S then, being the amazing graphic designer he is, adjusted the quality so that it resembled the more grainy texture we wanted and we were satisfied!

We sent the file over to a local printer and in less than a week our STD's were ready to go! Also, we opted to send them out without an envelope (in keeping with our green theme) and instead decided to fold them in half and affix a small sticker to close. They looked great and we didn't need to waste any extra paper!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Make your wedding crafty!

The days, weeks, and months leading up to the wedding were filled with tasks and to-do lists. However, one of the more fun and (sometimes) stress-free tasks was crafting with our friends! Being that Husband and I both have such wonderful and gracious friends, it usually didn't take more than a bottle of wine to coax them into trading in their friday nights for origami/wedding night with us!

Photos by Chad Hunt

Come wedding day, walking into the barn and seeing all the hard work and love that went into all these little details made both of us feel so lucky to have such an amazing community of people who love and support us.