a journey toward non-traditional wedded bliss, with style

The Phases of Engagement January 5, 2009

Filed under: trends,Uncategorized,weddings — laragale @ 5:25 pm

Just a little something I’ve observed from my own and my friends’ experiences with the wedding whirlwind. Anyone else feel this way?


1) Pre- Engagement

You spend as much, if not more, time looking at wedding magazines and browsing bridal fashion shows, and inordinate amounts of time staring at engagement rings, whether in store windows or on people’s fingers. But all secretly, and with a “no pressure” attitude.

2) Engagement

Completely exhilarated, you call everyone you know, buy an enormous stack of wedding magazines, say the word “fiance”  as many times as you can even in inappropriate situations, and drive recklessly while staring at your ring.

3) Initial Planning Phase

Beaming with hope and expectation, you ask your fiance “So what were you thinking for the wedding?” most likely illiciting an overwhelmed look because your wedding planning energy is radiating like a force field, and he knows that you’ve probably already picked out the linens and designed monogrammed cocktail napkins.

4) Apathetic Phase

Maybe this is only in long engagements, but after about six months of frantic planning and then realizing the wedding is still a year away, the less fun tasks like bullying home addresses out of people or recalculating the budget (again!) seem tiresome. Can also be accompanied by a short lived substitute obsession, like interior decorating or shoe shopping.

5) Re-engagement Phase

What?!?! Five months left? Guess it’s time to start those D.I.Y.’s 🙂


To be continued…


Fall Fashion Forward Wedding September 8, 2008

Fall is far and away my favorite season. The crisp weather, Halloween, back to school (yes, I’m a nerd, a teacher, and a grad student), and best of all: issues of fashion magazines that weigh several pounds apiece. I subscribe to Vogue and Lucky, both of which I thought were particularly awesome this year. There are actually a lot of trends this year that I’m all about: deep purple and black color schemes, menswear inspired shoes, tartan plaids, sheer lavender tights, openwork knits…basically I’m in love with the “Gothic Inspired” feature in Vogue. So in that spirit, here is an inspiration board based on all of the above.

dress bridesmaid dress tartan boutteniere handwoven cape skinny tie martinis menswear mary janes roberto cavalli pumps circular ceremony black tree centerpiece black bottle candles plaid pashmina fascinator veil bridal bouquet


Blingtastic Flat Sandals July 10, 2008

I always post about sky high heels because I love them so dearly, but even I recognize that they are not always the most practical or comfortable thing to wear, especially at a wedding. I’ve been seeing the bejeweled sandal trend everywhere lately and I think it would be an adorable look on a bride for a summer wedding. I immediately thought of billowy grecian dresses and garden weddings, but honestly I think these would sweet with any style. These are just a few of the options I found…

Sigerson Morrison sandals, Unisa sandals, Steve Madden sandals, Sigerson Morrison beaded sandals, Giueseppe Zanotti sandals


Recyclable Chic June 17, 2008

While I knew paper was cheap, recyclable, and readily available I had no idea it could be such a versatile decorating tool. These two pictures of receptions with centerpieces are both fabulous, but at totally different ends of the spectrum.

This set up is all about elegance. The muted color palette is gorgeous and the paper flowers are incredible works of art. Even though they aren’t real, they make the table look lush and full and they can be used again or saved which is a definite perk.

This table setting blew me away because it manages to make crumpled up newspaper look posh and avant garde. While the overall effect is still refined, I think this look would definitely get your guests talking! I’m intrigued by this whole idea so I’ll be on the lookout for more paper wedding decor…


In the mood for travel June 7, 2008

I’m leaving for a long overdue trip to Florida tomorrow morning to visit my best friend from college and I am absolutely ecstatic. She lives close to Siesta Key which is one of the most naturally beautiful places I have ever been, and this is coming from my pale, non-tropical, temperate climate loving self.

To keep my excitement at fever pitch, I’ve been trolling the web for beach and tropical wedding inspiration, which led me to another blog gem called Style Fragments. Their mood boards are incredibly chic and just slightly avant garde which I love. My favorites so far are their different spin on Art Deco, Indie Bride, Grecian, and in the spirit of my trip Coral.


Is Imitation the Sincerest Form of Flattery? April 19, 2008

Miss Penguin’s recent post on Wedding-Bee inspired me to tackle an issue I have been mulling over for quite some time. In the wedding world, when does “borrowing” ideas go too far?

This question is far complicated today than it would have been twenty years ago. Many brides are becoming more focused on individuality and less on tradition. Rather than wanting the same elements in the same order, there is a significant trend (and some might say pressure) to have a unique and personalized wedding. Not to mention, our easy access to all things wedding through the internet and the media makes this goal much more possible.

As far as the internet goes, I think this issue is fairly straightforward. If you do not have some sort of copyright over the particular element of your wedding in question, and especially if you post pictures on the internet, you shouldn’t be angry if someone uses your idea. In fact, one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had while becoming immersed in wedding planning is the great organic community that internet provides for inspiration. Ideas, pictures, and projects are constantly circulating and in turn sparking more ideas, pictures and projects.

Of course it is one of the unspoken rules of blogdom to always give credit where credit is due (admittedly sometimes this only happens to the best of your ability). I’m a firm believer in this, and I try to label and link accordingly. But I don’t think anyone should become so mired down in researching the first person ever to use a candy buffet or a circular ceremony set up that the creativity of the idea itself is lost.

In the real world, things become a little more sticky. I’m definitely not an advocate of copying your best friend’s wedding down to the last minute detail. Not only is it tacky and a little creepy, but it robs you of a chance to create a wedding that reflects your style (as evidenced by the episode of The Office where Phyllis steals Pam’s wedding). However if there are certain elements of a friend’s wedding that you loved, I see no problem in adapting the idea for your own use. Be honest and positive about it: “Your [insert item here] was gorgeous! I’m thinking about doing something similar, do you have any advice?” There is a classy way to handle that situation from both ends, and it takes equal parts tact and honesty.

Personally, I will take it as a compliment if I see pieces of my wedding popping up elsewhere. And not to get all esoteric but it is very difficult if not impossible to have a truly “original” idea. Just focus on the satisfaction you’ll get from planning a day full of things that make you happy.

image credit: Life in the Office


The bling factor March 25, 2008

I was really touched when my fiancé asked if we could design my engagement ring together. While we did lose the element of surprise, we gained an opportunity to create a ring that represented us as a couple, and since I intend on wearing it for the rest of my life, I wanted to make sure it was something that we both loved. Neither of us are particular fans of the diamond industry so we wanted something with a classic vintage look but with a unique centerstone. We ended up with this emerald cut natural yellow sapphire with a diamond band that still causes me to drive recklessly due to my staring at its sparkle.


Since we did a lot of ring related research, I figured I would share a little of what I learned for any other ladies out there that are looking for an alternative type of ring. If you are like me and want to wear it constantly, you do want to keep in mind that certain stones hold up much better and won’t be damaged as easily. While diamonds are the hardest stone, emeralds and sapphires are very close behind and in fact used to be the most popular stones for engagement before the DeBeers campaign.

Sapphires are especially appealing because they come in literally every color of the rainbow and in terms of sparkle and quality are very close to diamonds for a fraction of the cost. The Natural Sapphire Company is a good place to research what colors and cuts you like, and they also have a selection of cut stones and pre-made jewelry. We chose to go with a local jeweler, but we did a lot of our initial looking here and its a great place to start.


If you aren’t concerned about wearing your ring everyday then you have a lot more freedom to choose different stones and settings. Just browsing department stores you can find some really beautiful rings that will still be high quality and make a statement. This ring from Saks has that luxury look about it, and could have special personal meaning if your birthstone is a topaz.

Of course if you’ve dreamed of a diamond ring all your life, then go for it! But why not avoid supporting diamond cartels and go fair trade or vintage instead? Green Karat makes amazing ecologically friendly jewelry with recycled metals. Their diamonds are lab created, which can sound unappealing but really they have the exact same physical characteristics that diamonds do, without waiting for the whole thousands of years in the ground thing to happen.


Searching for a quality vintage ring can be a little like looking for a needle in a haystack if you have a really specific idea of what you want, but even if you do the looking is half the fun. You do want to be careful of condition obviously, but there are some great reputable dealers out there. One that I like is Adin Antique Jewelry. The other advantages of a vintage ring are of course that it is completely unique, and while it might turn some people off, I think it would be really cool to have a piece with a history, even if you don’t know exactly what that history is.


Favorite Favors March 23, 2008

Wedding favors are another one of those traditions that I have issues with. The idea, in itself, is great. Guests spend a good deal of money on attending a wedding between the travel costs and gifts, so it only makes sense that in addition to giving them a party to remember, you would reciprocate with some sort of gift of your own. However with the cost of weddings rapidly rising (in my state it is $26,000 people) favors can turn into a cheap necessity. You feel obligated to get them, but don’t want to spend a lot of money so your guests end up with some rhinestone emblazoned chotchke which they will never use. This seems like a lose-lose situation to me.

I’m not anti-favor. But I do believe strongly that if your wedding budget is already stretched, no one will notice or even really care if they get a shot glass with your wedding date on it, or Jordan almonds in your wedding colors. Instead put the money you save toward better food, another hour of music, or an open bar. I guarantee your guests will appreciate these things.

If you do have money to spend on favors, there are lots of creative options out there that both you and your guests will enjoy. In general, anything edible (or drinkable) is a crowd-pleaser as well as adaptable to whatever type of shindig you are hosting but there are plenty of other choices too. Here are some ideas I love.

Customized *Beverages


I start with this, because bottles of wine are most likely going to be the favor we give our guests. We love wine, most of our friends and family love wine, and it strikes a good balance between something immediately enjoyable and a keepsake if you choose to save the bottle. There is a company here in Columbus (Camelot Cellars) that lets you help make the wine itself, bottle it, and design the label so you get the satisfaction of a do-it-yourself project without all the hassle. If you or your family doesn’t drink, or if you have kids at your reception Jones Soda allows you to make custom labels fairly inexpensively, comes in every color of the rainbow, and tastes pretty excellent too.

Interactive Favors


This could go several different ways, but I do like the idea of anything that allows your guests to create their own favor. Candy buffets and vintage photo booths are two popular options right now but you could personalize this as well by having a sundae bar instead of wedding cake or a dance instructor teach salsa lessons. Whatever you’re into really. This gist of this type of favor is creating memories instead of just giving things.

Favors that Do Good
And while we’re on that thought, some couples are doing donations to their favorite charities in lieu of favors. This is a worthwhile option on a lot of levels, because the donation can be as big or as small as you like, and doing something like this not only benefits a cause that means something to you, but is a reminder of the more important things in life.


Feature: ButterfliesKiss March 21, 2008

Everyone probably knows by now that I have a weakness for anything custom designed or personalized, which is why I’m crushing on these awesome illustrations by Donna at ButterfliesKiss. She contacted me with a link to her work and in addition to our mutual appreciation for Candy Girl, I saw that we shared a basic wedding mantra: your wedding should be one of a kind. Donna takes inspiration from your wedding, whether it is your dress, your colors, your cake, or your flowers and creates a unique artistic version of your event. The illustrations can be used for anything from gifts to invitations or cards.

What makes this business especially suited for BridalCheek is that she specializes in diverse weddings, which covers a wide range from ethnicity to lifestyle and soon to style as well! She has a new line of “indie bride” illustrations in the works, that will feature more edgy brides as well as a line of sexy illustrations to be used for bachelorette parties or naughty personal stationary…how cool is this chick? I asked Donna a few questions about her work and she had some great insights to share about her work and her own wedding.

  • What sets your card company apart from others? What elements from a wedding do you use to make the cards personal and unique?

    “I think the most important thing that sets my cards apart is that they are personally illustrated by me and can be customized with a drawing in the likeness of the bride, her bridesmaids and colors, her particular dress style, and her flower choice. The other thing is that my cards are racially diverse. I’m told by Asian and African American brides that designs reflecting diversity are almost non-existent in the stores.”

    • Do you have plans to add any other categories to your cards?

    “Yes! I’m currently working on an alternative section where I will feature designs for the indie bride, “tattoo bride”, “Rock n’ Roll bride” etc.- and a brides of different cultures section featuring brides wearing their traditional wedding clothing. I also welcome any custom request. Finally- I am also in the process of creating a third website featuring sexy girlie illustrations. Targeted to bachelorette parties, lingerie bridal showers or just personal love notes- (for the Candy Girl in us all) Should be up in a week or so- I will forward.”

    • What is the most important piece of advice you can give to those who are planning a wedding?

    “Your photos will be what you have left when all is said and done. Choose your photographer carefully.”

    • What was your favorite part of your own wedding?

    “Our ceremony in the rose garden of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.”

    The possibilities for her work are endless. How sweet of a gesture would it be to ask your friends to be your bridesmaid with a card personally designed to look like them in your wedding colors? Adorable. As for me, I’m pretty set on those bachelorette invitations…here is a sneak preview!




    Nouveau Traditions March 11, 2008

    As a fledgling bridal blogger, I’m still overwhelmed by the amount of new wedding traditions that seem to have become as much a part of the whole shindig as the “something old, something new” adage. Here is a random sampling of trends I’m intrigued by as options to modernize your wedding. More detailed posts on each to come!

    • Monograms – Used tastefully (read: sparingly) a monogram can really punch up your wedding stationary. I’m especially attracted to graphic simple designs like this invitation set from Wedding Paper Divas.
    Monogram Invite
    • Boudoir Pictures – This is was by far my most eyebrow-raising discovery to date. After googling “B-Pics” like a total nerd (see #6 on Top Ten post) I was somewhat flabbergasted to realize that it is considered fairly standard for brides to pose for a risqué photo shoot pre-wedding. The most often stated reason for this trend is that it makes a sexy wedding gift for your man in the form of a “black book.” Yet the more I think about it, I think the real benefit is allowing women an opportunity to express themselves sexually and feel great about their bodies in a safe environment. Do you have a little Dita in you?
      • Trash the Dress – Its the sentiment behind this I love. Brides can become untouchable figures, literally and figuratively, hiding behind a bundle of nerves, a big dress, and lots of make-up, worried about looking perfect. Trashing your dress doesn’t have to mean setting it on fire or drenching it in mud like some of the more hardcore enthusiasts. It might be just as liberating to put on the dress the day after with a totally different and relaxed attitude. Plus I think the unexpected backdrops make for some pretty cool and artsy shots that can reflect a bride’s personality much more effectively than posed photographs. Check out the Flikr group for lots of inspiration.
      • Signature Cocktails – Need I say more? These can even cut down on your bar tab if you offer just one or two types of cocktails in addition to beer and wine, without sacrificing the class factor. I’m considering using white grape martinis for ours. They look and taste pretty fabulous, I think.