Inspirations From Mexico

My fiance and I traveled to Mexico this past week for a friends' combined bachelor/bachelorette celebration. We had an amazing time to say the least! With weddings on the mind and bridal magazines as pool/beach side reads, I couldn't help but daydream of Mexico-inspired weddings. Please join me as I swoon over Mexican-inspired celebraciones de amor.





Until next week.


Candid Photography {worth a thousand words}

This week I'm looking at photographers and discovering I'm drawn to all the amazing candid shots. Don't get me wrong, I love posed photos just as much as the next girl, but I think what sets great wedding photographers apart are the moments they are able to capture when no one is expecting it.

Sources: all Style Me Pretty

This week I'm going to Mexico for a friends' combined bachelor/bachelorette party. Finding a photographer will be next on my list when I return from vacation. I can't wait to keep looking! I am hoping photographers will be open to Skype meetings, at least until we narrow it down.

Follow up to last week's post - while I loved the dresses at Amy Kuschel, I don't think I found the dress for me, so the search continues!

Until next week!



The Dress Search is {Back} On!

Photo: Elizabeth Messina

This week I have an appointment at Amy Kuschel Bride, a boutique where each dress is designed and hand made right here in San Francisco's Union Square. The dresses are tailored to each bride. With this place being close enough for an after-work appointment, I just HAD to get in and check it out for myself. The prices are reasonable (in the bridal world), ranging from $1,500 - $5,000. If you know this designer's story, it was important to her that brides be able to get a beautiful, high-quality dress without spending a fortune.

This week, I invite you to join in as I do a little 'homework' for my appointment. They asked me to look over their website for designs I like. Twist my arm! ;)

Source: all images

Thanks for reading and I'll let you know how it goes!

Save-the-Dates {and the 10-Month Countdown}

Right now, I'm looking at the 8 to 10-month check lists (our wedding is July 20, 2013)...and if you've planned a wedding, you will know they are serious lists! They may look small as far as number of check boxes, but, in reality, they are some of the BIGGEST decisions of all! The wedding dress, the officiant, DJ/band, caterer, photographer, the registry and so on. Two months ago the date was July 5th. I had my ceremony and reception venue and day-of planner booked, our wedding parties all figured out, our guest list lined up - I was feeling good. Fast forward two months and I now have a new job that is keeping me crazy-busy, and nothing else booked for our wedding. Don't get me wrong, we have been looking into things and thinking about things, but you can't have a wedding by thinking about it ;-). Needless to say, it's time to get back in the wedding planning zone. The 10-month countdown begins.


So, that brings me to what we need to figure out this week. A couple, seemingly-unrelated, things that all tie together. The hotels/lodging, the wedding website and save-the-dates. Because we are getting married in a small town along the Columbia River Gorge that also happens to be a destination spot for many outdoor activities, from windsurfing to hiking to wine tasting (I consider wine tasting an outdoor activity), the lodging is in high demand. In a perfect world, we would love for our guests (or even just us and our wedding party with their family's) to group together and rent a couple houses in town. There are so many within walking distance of each other and downtown and we think it would be a great way to spend time together. Whether we can figure the house thing out or not, we will still need to find a hotel for people to stay at, which leads me to the two other things on our list needing to be done ASAP - the wedding website and the save-the-dates (if we do them). I wrote this post a while back about websites and save-the-dates (just realized you shouldn't abbreviate that, yikes!). Bottom line is we need to get the word out about our lodging recommendations to our guests so that they can book soon. Our wedding still 10 months out, but time is flying and we don't want to have last picks on the places to stay.

This brings me to the last thing on our list for this week - Save-the-dates. We are trying to figure out whether or not to do them. I think they are so fun and you can do so many creative things with them, but I'm trying to figure out if I can justify the time and cost for something I ultimately just want to lead people to our website where they can find the details on lodging and the weekend activities. Thoughts?!

Here are some I like:




If only we could get our cat to sit still for a minute...


Did you or didn't you use Save-the-Dates? Are you using a wedding website that also offers 'virtual' Save-the-Dates? What do you think about renting a house/houses for the bride, groom and wedding party to stay at over the weekend?

Over a Year Till I Do & Halfway Dressed

Okay, so, I’m going to admit it:  I have never been one of those girls who has dreamed about her wedding day since she was a little girl. When I got engaged last November, the questions started piling up fast. “Where will you get married?”, “What do you want your dress to look like?”, “What is your vision for your wedding?”.  Almost 9 months later (yes, I realize 9 months is an entire engagement period for some couples), I still can’t completely answer any of these questions, but I certainly have a better idea of what I want and how to best make it happen. I never thought that I would care as much as I do about my wedding dress.  I started my search by aimlessly and casually browsing through Bridal magazines mentally tearing apart everything I saw.  Searching for wedding dresses on Pinterest only confused me further, because the styles and silhouettes I was gravitating towards were all so different.

Source: Dove Sparrow Photography, Watters Brides, Samuelle Couture, Jenny Packham, Lindee Daniel, Melissa Blackburn

After looking at three bridal shops (Panche Bridal in Santa Barbara, Lovely Bride in Los Angeles (my favorite shop!), and Camarillo Bridal in Camarillo), I discovered that I have expensive taste. At each shop, the dresses that I liked most were on the higher-end of my dress budget, and I was not completely in love with any of them.

The search continued while I was visiting some friends in San Francisco a month ago and decided to try my luck at Glamour Closet, a discount bridal shop that sells sample wedding dresses at up to 75% off retail. I was in luck! I walked away with a Monique Lhuillier lace corset (very similar to the photo below) at a price too good to pass up and a new vision for my "wedding dress."

I had never thought about looking at two-piece dresses. I had wrongly mentally labeled them as 90's prom dresses gone wrong. But, once I started trying on two-piece dresses, I began to see how this concept would give me more flexibility, more creative control, and maybe even keep me within my dress budget.


And so, my search for a perfect bottom continues. I am leaning towards designing my own (maybe even two: a long skirt for the ceremony and short skirt for the reception) with the help of a local tailor. The following are my inspirations so far.

Source: Sarah Seven, Bonzie on Etsy, Carol Hannah

Have you thought about or gone the two-piece dress route?  Do you have pointers for designing your own dress? Am I crazy??

Celebrate Good Times :: Wedding Music

Of the weddings I've been to in the past few years, I would say they have been about half DJs, half bands (and equally fun!). Like most wedding decisions, there are pros/cons with both options - if you have a DJ, you can play whatever music you want. If you have a band, it's like a mini concert at your wedding! So, for my own wedding, I could imagine either. Although when we visited our venue in-person, the first thing my fiance said about the dance floor was "it's begging for a band!" As long as the people on the dance floor look something like the ones below, I would be totally happy!



DJs are great because they can gauge what kind of music is working and play the next songs accordingly. You also have more flexibility with what you play. If you love a song and really want it played at your wedding, you don't have to worry that it's not on the band's list.

Source: left, right

Bands are awesome too. They become the life of the party and people love a good show. They also come with a higher price tag, so that's something we are factoring in.

This past week Chris has been doing a ton of searching for bands online. It's been fun to listen what he finds. He's been playing everything from country music to steel drum bands...although we would probably go with something a little more versatile. ;-)



What's your take on band vs. DJ? If you know of any great (and affordable) Portland/Gorge area bands, please share!

Organize the Bride

This is the current state of my (lack of) wedding organization...

Embarrassing, right?! I need to find a better way before I have a stack that is actually falling over, not just looking like it wants to. While those of us planning our weddings are lucky that we can keep a ton of information on our computers, we inevitably end up with some unsightly wedding-related things with no home. In my stack are magazines, contracts, vendor business cards, a wedding planning book, etc. And while I know I could file some of it on my computer and toss the paper versions, I find that I like to have some things that I can pick up and look at. A good old binder or accordion file would be a good start, but there are other shapes and sizes that wouldn't fit and would end up like the above picture (in a teetering stack).

So, this week, I started thinking about what I'm going to do to organize this mess.

I love these hanging organizers...

Source (both)

BUT, I live in an apartment in San Francisco, so it goes without saying that I ran out of wall space and extra rooms a while ago. If I had my own office, I would love to use something like the above options. It would be great to have the magazine tear-out pages hanging, and business cards and bridesmaid dress swatches pinned up.

 Then there are the typical office-looking organizers. Which, again, could work if I had a dedicated 'office.'



What I need is something in between. Functional, yet cute and versatile enough to repurpose after the wedding. I also want something that can fit things of different sizes; from magazines, to books, to invitation samples and stamps. I think any of the below options could work.





I'm especially liking the last baskets, because they would be so easy to use after the wedding (from storing towels in a bathroom, to books in a bedroom, etc.). The only problem is my cat would think I bought them for him as scratching posts ;-)

How did you tame your wedding stack of stuff?

Negative One Year Anniversary

This Friday will mark exactly one year until our wedding date in 2013! It's crazy because it seems so far away, but I'm sure it will fly by. I actually just realized Monday night that it would be our 'negative one year anniversary' on Friday. At the same time I also realized we completely forgot about our 'old' anniversary a couple weeks ago, and it is so not like us to forget. I guess it means, as they say, out with the old and in with the new (anniversary dates, that is)! So for our new day (the negative one year), I wanted to do something special. We'd like to keep it pretty low-key and casual. Here are some of our ideas. Picnic dinner in Alamo Square up the block from our apartment. The only drawback is that it's usually cold and windy up there, so we would need to bundle up (and bring the red wine), which I guess is not such a bad thing!


Movie night at home with a bottle of bubbly, popcorn and our cat? Doesn't get much better than that in my book. Also, a great excuse to watch a chick flick, wedding movie. Any recommendations? I found this list of winners. I've been wanting to watch The Five Year Engagement, so that could be a good one.


Cook dinner together at home. We do this most nights, so we'd have to make it an extra special menu and atmosphere (candles, dimmed lights and no TV).


Head down to our favorite neighborhood dive bar for some beers and sausages from the place next door. Drinking wheat beer reminds me of our trip to Munich where I discovered my love for it. It's also a great place to people-watch!


What's your vote for us?! Did you and your fiance do something special for your negative one year anniversary? If so, what did you do?

Wedding Dinner :: To Family Style or Not

My fiance and I were up in Oregon a few weeks ago for our friends' wedding in the Portland area (such a fun wedding and entire extended weekend, by the way! Future post to come). Even with a full wedding schedule, we managed to fit in two meetings for our own wedding - we have really had to make the most of the time we are up in Oregon! And while our wedding is actually in the Hood River area (about an hour drive east of Portland), we quickly found that so many of the vendors are happy to make the drive for Hood River and Mount Hood weddings. So, while we were in the City of Roses, we met with a caterer and a photographer. For this post, I'll be talking FOOD! My fiance and I both love great food...I mean, who doesn't?! Spending as much time as we have in Oregon's Willamette Valley and the Bay Area, there's no shortage of amazing food; from all the fresh and local ingredients, to an array of restaurants to farmers markets. So, food was one of the first things we thought about when it came to our wedding. We both agreed we didn't necessarily want anything fancy or elaborate, we just wanted it to be good.

What we quickly realized is that there is more to wedding food than the actual food part. You have to also consider how you are serving it. I originally had my heart set on family style for a few reasons. It started with the images of the long tables, below, which are just so picturesque. I also love that family style, long table or not, lends to conversation among the guests and a feeling of community and family (hence the name). Here is some of my family style inspiration...


Source: left, middle, right




Source: all four

What I didn't consider were some drawbacks that came to my attention during our first caterer meeting. The main drawback was the price. The caterers need additional servers than they would with a buffet dinner, in order to bring around the different dishes and clear salad plates. And more servers equals more money. Another possible negative - the timing can be tough. You want people eating at generally the same time, especially if there are large tables involved. You don't want someone with no food sitting next to someone who has already been served. And the other issue can be the amounts of food served. The caterers need to be vigilant to make sure everyone is getting the right amount of food. Some people could take too much and others would be left with not enough.

The interesting thing is that the first catering company we met with a few months ago completely discouraged us from doing family style, saying each of these problems were extremely troublesome. The next catering company we met with a couple weeks ago was much more flexible. They made it seem like each of the issues could be somewhat easily overcome. They also broke out the pricing, while the first guys wanted to bundle everything and wouldn't show us how much each component costed. I don't like to be strong-armed into any decision, especially when it comes to such an important day! Also, we liked caterer #2's cuisine and personality much better, so whether we decide on family style or buffet, we definitely have a great lead on a place to work with.

Have you considered family style for your wedding? If so, did you run into the same hurdles as I have? How did you overcome them, or did you decide on another option (buffet, plated)?