Sunday, January 27, 2013

Registry do's (and don'ts!) - Part 1

Let's talk about the bridal registry! This is going to be divided into two separate posts. In this post, I will provide registering and etiquette advice. In the next post, I will focus on unique registry ideas. But first, a brief history lesson on the concept: According to Wikipedia (which we all know is the most reliable source), the practice of the bridal registry first began with Marshall Fields in 1924 "as a means for the engaged couple to indicate chosen china, silver and crystal patterns to family and friends." Target was the first to introduce online registry services in 1993. I always knew I liked Target!

Here is a short list of things to pay attention to when registering:

  1. Timing. Registering early is a great way to share gift giving ideas with family/friends for birthdays or holiday presents. However, consider time frames and seasons when you register. Don't register for seasonal items that will be replaced within a few months. Also keep in mind that certain stores like Target have quicker inventory turn, so they may not have your items in stock for long. This concept applies to certain categories such as towels, bedding, casual china, etc.
  2. Wants and Needs. Register for what you want and need! Don't be afraid to register for a few big ticket items. Sometimes friends or co-workers will pool their money together to get a more expensive gift. If you end up with enough gift cards, you can take advantage of the discounts that some stores offer couples who purchase items from their registry after the wedding. (This is known as a completion program.)
  3. Variety. Register at a few places (2-4) and register for a variety of items. Provide guests with multiple options. Some like to shop online; others like to shop in the store. Not all stores have locations accessible by your guests. A variety of items in a variety of prices at a variety of places helps make the process easier for your guests.
  4. Your Friends/Family. It doesn't hurt to ask your friends and family for recommendations. They can give you advice on what to (and what not to) register for, as well as where to (and where not to) register.
  5. Store Policies. Some stores require appointments to get your registry set up. This is a great time to ask questions on return policies, completion discounts, and more. Ask about reward points and how long your registry will remain active after the wedding.
Here are a few etiquette tips:
  1. It is inappropriate to include registry information with your wedding invitation. Appropriate methods of sharing this information include word of mouth, including details on your wedding website, and/or including this information with shower invites (since the invitation is not coming from you).
  2. Traditionally, receiving a wedding invitation is an obligation to give a wedding gift, regardless of attendance. I actually never knew this myself until reading a wedding etiquette book. I don't know how many people follow this rule. I think it's safe to say that with the recession, don't expect this to happen. Also, although it is very generous to do so, not all guests will give a gift at a shower and then again at the wedding. Just something to keep in mind.
  3. Aim to send thank-you notes for your wedding presents within a day or so of receiving a gift. Of course as a bride-to-be, you will be busy with all things planning, and of course you and your husband will be leaving for your honeymoon after the wedding. If you fall behind, aim to send a thank-you note within a month of returning from the honeymoon.
In the next post I will be writing about unique registry ideas and fun things to register for!

the Bride

Saturday, January 19, 2013

(Belated) #h54f

Happy (belated) High Five for Friday! #h54f
  1. Found these gems at Ikea for $3.99 each. I just love cheap wedding décor!
  2. Got to see my good friend Emilie and her two adorable daughters while they were visiting family in Charlotte. I brought little Tess her very own teaset!
  3. Was so excited to find these beryl green placemats and napkins at World Market. The tablescape is inspired by Tricia at The Dull & the Dutiful.
  4. So excited for David as he starts his new job on Monday! This has truly been a blessing from God, and I'm so ecstatic for him.
  5. I spent Friday night with LaurenKate, and Sam. We ate breakfast for dinner, played Square 9, and had many laughs.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

One is silver and the other...

China? Check. Now what? Silver? Err...silverplate! :) 

At Bloomingdale's, a 5 pc. sterling place setting by Wallace in "Grande Baroque"  sells for $1000. A silverplate 5 pc. plate setting by Christofle in "Royal Ciselé" sells for $572. I don't know about you, but I'm not about to register for $7000, let alone $12,000, in flatware.

Enter: eBay! Since inheriting Grandmama's beautiful heirloom china, and thoroughly scouting out and collecting the missing pieces, I realized that we could do the same thing with our flatware! 

Funny story actually. I was introduced to Reed & Barton while working in New York, and have always liked the "Dresden Rose" pattern, as it fuses traditional and modern style with its rose and scroll border and smooth sculpted handle. While searching for an affordable set, I came across another beautiful pattern called "White Orchid" by Community (now Oneida). I was having a hard time deciding between the two and posted a picture of  the patterns side-by-side on Facebook. David's mom responded, recognizing the "Dresden Rose." It turns out that this was the exact same pattern that David's parents' picked out for their wedding 33 years ago! We ended up liking the "White Orchid" pattern with our china better, but it's still a fun story to tell.

After months--and I mean months--of waiting for what seems to be the longest eBay transaction ever, David and I finally received our silver! I had already begun collecting the missing pieces to complete the set, but was waiting for the bulk of it (service for 12, storage chest, some serving pieces) to arrive, so needless to say, I was a nervous wreck until it finally did...but the wait was well worth it, because believe it or not, the set cost us less than $100! Talk about a great deal.

This is not the exact set we received, but it is very similar. It came with the original storage chest, manufacturer guarantee, and even the original wedding gift card. Isn't that neat?
What about you? Did you register for silverware? Would you consider purchasing a vintage set? Please feel free to share your stories and pictures!

the Bride

From china with luv.

It is 5:19am and  I have class in four hours yet I am awake writing a blog post. Why? I couldn't sleep. What did I decide to do? Hand wash and dry our heirloom china--service for nine, plus serving pieces! Yes, this is what I do when I can't sleep...and I often can't sleep! 

So while I wait for the dinner and bread plates to finish drying, I thought I would share the wonderful story of our china with you.

When I graduated from college, I moved to New York City for a job. I became a buyer for a well-known luxury gifts and home furnishings store on Park Av. This was a complete change from my previous buying position with a discount bed and bath retailer (now out of business). Suddenly I found myself engrossed in the wonderful world of $455 china place settings and $1,900 sterling flatware place settings. Needless to say, after canvassing various tabletop shows, and meeting the Hungarian artists who painstakingly hand-painted each and every brush stroke on each individual plate, I developed an admiration and appreciation for all things fine tabletop.

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no way I could ever register for such gorgeous (and expensive) pieces on our gift registries, thus posing a dilemma since I couldn't find the "perfect" china pattern at the typical department store or "beyond."

One evening this past November, David and I were at his parents' house for dinner, and I was asking his mother about what they registered for. I explained to her how I just hadn't found any china patterns that really stuck out to me, and the ones that did seem exquisite were much too expensive. It was at this point that she remembered that Grandmama (her mother) had given her a few china place settings that she wanted to sell to Replacements, Ltd. in Greensboro. She brought them out for David and I to look at, and before we knew it, we were on the phone with Grandmama. It turns out that this was the fine china she registered for at Shiffman's when she became engaged to the late Gramps in 1950. She explained that in those days, it was common to register for two china patterns; one fancier than the other. This one was the "fancy" one she had registered for, and they ended up using the other collection and just never completed this one. 

I have always loved and appreciated family heirlooms, and it is such an honor for Grandmama to share her special china with us after all these years. She actually never used any of the pieces, carefully tucking them away and saving them for 62 years! To me, heirloom china is worth far more than any fancy $455 china place setting. You just can't put a price on it.

For the rest of November and beginning of December, I diligently scoured eBay and Craigslist for the missing pieces, and with the help of David's mom and her generous siblings and their spouses, we have collected complete service for 12 plus serving pieces! Grandma's own pieces are safely tucked away for now, but this morning, amidst my insomnia, I decided to hand wash the other pieces before carefully packing them away until a later date. :) The only piece we are missing is the teapot, and I am still keeping my eye out for one at an affordable price!

Here is our Golden Retriever, Emery, modeling some of the china!

Grandmama, Noah and I after dinner last week. (I have no makeup on and look awful!)

I fell in love with this tablescape designed by Tricia of The Dull and the Dutiful. I love the color of the placemats and napkins and think they compliment the blue band of the china so well. For those who are interested, the pattern is "Gloria" by Castleton-USA.

What about you guys? Did you register for fine china? Did you inherit any heirloom pieces? I'm interested to hear your stories and see your pictures!

the Bride

Update: June 4, 2013 1:49am -- I received my coffee pot today! Read about how I found this lovely gem here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

27 (or 27 million) dresses.

Ahh, the dress. How many TV shows are there now on picking the perfect wedding dress? Say Yes to the Dress, Girl Meets Gown, I Found the Gown, Wedding Dress Wars...

Believe it or not, I don't watch any of these shows. I'm not sure why, but I've just never enjoyed watching them as much as I have enjoyed reading bridal magazines or surfing through Pinterest boards.

In a previous post, I talked about ordering my wedding dress and included 10 tips for dress shopping. Today I am going to share some wedding dress styles that are flattering on different body types. Every body (and girl) is different,  so this is meant to be a loose guideline. It's something you might consider if you're shopping for a dress and are interested in knowing what may look good (or not so good) on your body.

Hourglass-shaped women typically have equally-sized hips and busts with narrower waists. Select a dress that shows off your sexy curves. Low-drop waists and mermaid (fit and flare) styles will accentuate your curves. You might also consider choosing a dress with a ruched bodice to highlight your narrow waist.

Apple-shaped women generally have broader shoulders and busts, with little to no waist definition. Weight is largely distributed among the abdomen. Look for a dress that cinches in at the smallest point of your waistline, then flares out into a gradual A-line. Opt for a bodice with texture such as ruching or lace. This helps to camouflage and fit snugly, creating a corset-like effect. Consider a deep V or sweetheart neckline.

Large Bust
Look for a dress with a scoop neck which will open up your face and display your décolletage without showing too much cleavage. For a strapless dress, consider a sweetheart neckline rather than one that goes straight across. Avoid fabrics with sheen up top, which will add more volume.

Pear-shaped women generally have fuller hips, thighs, and bottoms, with smaller chests. Look for a skirt that gradually flares out into an A from the natural waist to the floor. This will highlight your narrow waist and then flow away from the hips and thighs. Consider sturdier fabrics that are less likely to cling.

Straight or banana-shaped women have waist measurements that are less than 9" smaller than the hip or bust, making a typical ruler/straight shape. Find a dress that lengthens your torso and gives you some curves. The mermaid (fit and flare) or ballgown is a great way to create curves. Other things to consider are ruffles, which helps create the illusion of shape.

If you're petite, consider wearing a shorter length! Shorter girls can typically pull off higher hemlines than taller girls can. Avoid tea length dresses though, which shorten the appearance of your legs. Consider empire waists which make the lower half of your dress appear longer, and make you appear taller.

Small Bust
Some people say girls with small busts should avoid daring necklines, but I disagree. I think girls with smaller busts can pull off plunging v-necks, as they will be able to do so without seeming too provocative. If this is too daring for you, consider a neckline that goes straight across, which emphasizes the chest. Choosing a dress with extra fabric and texture up top will also help create curves.

Look for a simple, but classy silhouette. Consider a lower waistline, to balance your proportions. Women with longer necks and more height in the décolletage look beautiful in lace detail! Think: lace sleeves, lace backs, backless, off-the-shoulder, halters, etc. 

Again, this is just a guideline, so don't be afraid to do your own thing and try different styles! You never know what something will look like until you put it on! 

the Bride

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Save or splurge?

Budget is one of the most important aspects of wedding planning. Many people have trouble deciding where to save and where to splurge. In the end, every bride is different and what may be important to one bride might be obsolete to another. 

For me, I want to spend money on a good photographer. I have spent a lot of time in the darkroom, and have a true appreciation for black and white photography and darkroom printing. With the growing popularity of digital photography, I have found that there are more and more amateur "photographers" available now in the industry. While some of them do possess a great amount of talent, there are others who simply purchase a digital camera and call themselves a "photographer." I spent a lot of time doing research and interviewing photographers before deciding on the perfect one for my wedding. The things that are important to me may not be as important to you. For example, it was important to me that he have experience, education, equipment, examples, and a studio. I also enjoyed seeing his raw images (i.e., unedited, no filter, etc.) which were magnificent and breathtaking, as well as his low-light images, which were absolutely stunning. What sealed the deal for me was when my second choice photographer turned out to be one of his students. I knew then I had made the right choice.

I know brides who felt it was more important to spend money on other things, like the menu. For some, a $50-$100/head meal may be more important than a glamorous photographer. For me, good food is great, but it's not something I'm going to allocate the majority of my budget to.

I have created a poll for current, future, and former brides to sound off on where they feel it is worth it to "splurge" on their wedding. Remember, every bride is different, and ultimately it is up to you on where you want to dish out the dough!

Where should you splurge on your wedding?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Who knew?

There are so many wedding blogs out there! Check out the Top 100 Wedding Blogs of 2012, presented by BrideTide! Hope I can make it on the list this year!

the Bride

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Say yes, no, maybe the dress.

I ordered my gown today! I first tried on dresses three months ago (October 6) at a small boutique in my hometown. I went in thinking this would be one of many dress shopping appointments, but boy was I wrong! I tried on a number of dresses with my mom that day and fell in love with one in particular...but I wanted to shop some more before making a decision. I went to two stores (one discounter, one boutique) in NC with my friend, Lauren, who was more than gracious in helping me with the yards and yards of tulle and lace! That day I found myself comparing everything I tried on to that dress, so I knew it was the one! Dress shopping can be a stressful ordeal, so I have come up with a list of ten things to help you with the process:

  1. Consider the budget. If you have a set budget for your wedding attire, make sure you consider the following: tax, alterations, shoes, veil, sashes, jewelry, and accessories. These things add to the final cost! 
  2. Make an appointment. Most bridal boutiques require that you make an appointment ahead of time. It is generally frowned upon to bring an entire entourage, so try to limit it to a few important people (such as your mom, best friend, maid of honor, etc.) whose opinions you value. Bring a camera and have someone take photos of the front and back of the dresses while you wear them so that you can go back and look at them when you get home. (Some salons do not allow you to take photos though, so make sure you ask first!)
  3. Check the clock. I have had so many of my friends tell me that I was dress shopping too early or that I had "plenty of time," but it's important to keep in mind that unless you are buying off-the-rack, it can take anywhere from six to nine months for your dress to come in. After that, you still need to give yourself two to three months between the time of your first fitting to your last. Some stores (like David's Bridal) are off-the-rack, so you may be able to walk home that same day with your dress. It's also important not to get your dress too early! Too early means having to find a place to store the dress, and also being exposed to all the new dresses that come out each season...
  4. Keep an open mind. You may want to bring in pictures of gowns you like so that the sales associate can help you find similar styles...but keep an open mind! The style you love may end up looking different on you. For example, I love the look of vintage lace sleeves and lace-back dresses, but I am petite, and I found that many of those styles looked better on taller women than they did on me. I found that for me, a sweetheart neckline and fitted bodice were really flattering. So you may go in with an idea of what you want, but you may end up with something completely different! Don't be afraid to try on different dresses than you had in mind, and be open to suggestions from sales associates. Often times, they will know what may accentuate a bride's small waist or highlight other assets.
  5. Shop around. The first place I went was a full-service bridal boutique in my hometown in MD. I loved that there were only two brides in there at one time, and that you had the full attention of one, sometimes two or even three associates! They provided me with a slip and a longline bra to wear. They also helped me get into and out of each dress I tried on, and fitted them to me with clips in the back, adjusting my train and skirt each time in front of the three-way mirror. There was a lovely sitting area for my mom to watch, and they had no problem with me trying on as many dresses as I wanted to. The second place I went to was a discount bridal and formalwear store (not David's Bridal). This was a very DIY store. There was one sales associate and a number of other brides in the store. They had racks and racks stuffed with dresses and we had to sift through them and do everything on our own. The last store I went to was also a full-service bridal salon, but not quite as welcoming and accommodating as the first one. There are many different types of boutiques, salons, and retailers that you can visit. Make sure you know your price range before you go, so you can avoid the ones that only carry dresses that you can't afford. It was very hard for me to do so, but I avoided one particular salon that I knew I couldn't afford. I didn't want to fall in love with a dress I could never buy! Also, don't be turned off by the DIY discount stores. They carry a number of dresses at very affordable prices, and sometimes carry (or can order) the same dresses that higher-end boutiques carry. The boutique I bought my dress from actually priced-matched my dress and I saved $101!
  6. Don't try on too many. There are so many TV shows that feature bridezillas who have tried on over 100 dresses and still haven't found the one. First of all, I don't even know how someone could have the stamina and mentality to try on so many dresses. I was pooped after four! Christina DeMarco of Bridal Reflections in NYC says that most brides try on between four and seven, and suggests trying on no more than ten to avoid any confusion.
  7. Fall in love! Don't buy a dress you don't love. Many brides are influenced to buy a dress that they don't love. It's important that you buy a dress that you love and you feel comfortable in. After all, it is your day! You will be looking at those photos for years to comand you'll be the one wearing the dress all night! If you have doubts or feel pressured, it's okay to go home and sleep on it. You can always return later if you're still dreaming about the dress. (That's exactly what I did.)
  8. Size doesn't matter. Bridal gowns are usually sized a lot smaller than normal dresses. It's not uncommon for a size 6 woman to fit perfectly into a size 10 or 12. It depends on the designer and the dress! You also might be "more endowed" in certain areas of your body, and usually you end up buying the size that fits the largest part (so you can tailor the rest to fit you). Don't get caught up with sizes! If you are planning on losing weight, take that into consideration, but remember that it's easier to take in a dress than it is to let it out. If your dress needs to be ordered, you will typically have measurements taken of your bust, waist, hollow-to-hem, arm girth, and inside sleeve. With those measurements, the sales associate will compare them to the designer's sizing specifications and order from there. Typically it is suggested to order the size corresponding to your largest measurement, and then you will have the rest of the dress altered to fit you. 
  9. You get what you pay for (usually). Please don't buy that same dress online for cheaper! For the most part, designers do not sell their dresses online like that. You will find a number of unauthorized stores and websites that sell unauthentic dresses! The quality and sizing will not be the same as the gowns you find from an authorized retailer. It's best to go to the designer's website and use the store locator to find an authorized retailer. If you shop around for pricing, the store may also price-match for you! That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying vintage! One of my best friends actually bought a gently used designer gown from eBay that fit her like a glove. Just always be sure to check return policies and do a thorough check of the gown before you buy.
  10. Enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed the dress shopping experience with my mom. It makes me happy to know that the dress I found and loved was with her. I've also had friends that had a great time making their dresses with their moms. Cherish this experience, and share it with your loved ones. :)
These are some of the things I learned from research, from doing, and from my own experience as a fashion buyer. For more advice, check out the 10 Mistakes Brides Make When Dress ShoppingFeel free to comment below with your own experiences!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A few fun (yet frugal) finds.

I did a little New Year's Eve shopping last night. I drove all the way to the Tyson's Galleria Anthropologie to check out this sale frock, making it with 8 minutes to spare. I had just enough time to try it on, only to find that the sleeves were too big. I wasn't quite ready to go home, so I ventured over to World Market and Target in Rockville. I stumbled across this adorable (and affordable!) cookbook holder (pictured). I have been wanting a cookbook holder for some time, and this one was cheap, charming, and completely me! And of course Target had some great post-holiday finds that I just had to snatch up.

1) World Market cookbook holder ($12.99), Mossimo® Oversized Floral Scarf from Target I got for my mom ($14.99); 2) close-up of cookbook holder; 3) tan Mossimo® infinity scarf and headband (on clearance: $11.88, $7.68), Essie nail polish in Turquoise & Caicos and Chinchilly, Sally Hansen Gem Crush nail polish in Big Money, patterned socks including Merona® Preppy Socks in Purple Stripe and Aqua Polka Dot ($1.50-$3.00); 4) close-up of Xhilaration® Low Cut Socks in Green Hedgehog and Pink Fox patterns, Xhilaration Black Tech Touch gloves ($3.00)

I have been loving that mint green color lately. I typically stick with neutrals and purple, but I have been eyeing that Essie polish (Turquoise & Caicos) since this past summer. And how cute are those socks!? I love fun socks, and couldn't pass up the chance to add to my fox collection! Got some gloves I can use with my iPhone...and they're cheap enough that it's okay if I lose them.

So here are my fun little finds. Hope everyone had a safe and wonderful New Year's! Here's to 2013: the year I get married!!! :)

the Bride

Happy New Year!

Guess what? I'm getting married this year. And this is who I'm marrying:

:) Happy New Year! May 2013 be the best yet!

the Bride