Archive for March, 2009

mar20I won’t be posting next week, as I am committed to making sure every detail is in place. Once things are triple confirmed, I will be watching an intimate ceremony of two souls coming together. Then celebrating with the bride and groom by dancing to the couples’ favorite reggae songs and enjoying a a fruity drink on the beach in the Virgin Islands. However, I promise to have a “Real Wedding” of Jess & John very soon! Bon voyage! Until then, here is a sneak peak of two DIY projects I’ve been working on (Cake Table Banner and Rehearsal Dinner Menu Cards).

jess and john


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I want to start a tradition of compiling a collage of wedding gowns every Wednesday. When I first started looking at dresses (as a serious buyer), I was shocked by the price tag of some. This week’s theme is “Under $500”. This is not a joke. I scoured the net for the latest in wedding dress options and found fanciful frocks that are gentle on the budget. Please continue to see and read the details!

wedding dresses under 500 dollars

1) Island Fever: This silk chiffon and charmeuse number will captivate your inner island girl. The banded empire waist is flattering on most body types and the floral clusters accentuate the bust. Check your Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus for this stunning silhouette. Phoebe Couture by Kay Unger ($408)

2) Fit and Flare: A bubbly hem with help you float down the aisle. The lace bodice and scallop detailing on the square neckline has just enough drama and elegance for any bride. Jessica McClintock ($381)

3) Silky Sweet: Silk dupioni (textured, raw-like silk) drapes your body ever so elegantly. The cinched waist flatters the frame for a slimming effect and the slight train makes this a classic choice. Nicole Miller ($420)

4) Beaded Beauty: The straps have touches of beads and rhinestones with continues to the back of this dress. The back is absolutely breathtaking, as the sheer edged straps cuts deeply for an exposed back creating a strong and sophisticated statement. Faviana ($338) 

5) Leafy Loveliness: The fitted bodice has boning to help provide a bit of structure to this free flowing dress. Along the bodice there is an intricate beaded leaf design that is highlighted in this elegant dress. Aidan Mattox Niteline ($408)

6) Dancing Queen: This dress reminds me of the song Dancing Queen for some reason. It resembles the 80’s ballet uniform (thin straps, v-neck and a cross back). Which is good, as it cuts to a deep V in the front, a neckline that flatters the small busted (read: athletic). The spaghetti straps show off toned arms and back, while the adjustable/removable sash is tied at your natural waist. The soft skirt softly drapes your body rather than clinging onto problem areas. So don’t worry about doing extra pliés. J Crew ($325)

7) Lovely in Lace: This halter dress has a lace overlay on the bodice and a flared skirt.  The bow gives a feminine dress a one-two punch of sweetness to the kisser. Jessica McClintock ($210)

8) Grecian Goddess: This goddess inspired gown has a drop waist accented with pleats that flow down like a waterfall. This fitted bodice and shirred texture will give the impression of “more”. BG Haute ($440)

9) Pretty in Princess: The bodice has princess seams (hooray!). Meaning for the petite woman it provides an illusion of curves, hourglass shapes emphasize a smaller waist and for larger busted women it creates an aesthetically pleasing dress.  A sequined appliqué is along the neckline for a hint of detail. Jessica McClintock ($333)

10) Embellished Empire: This sleeveless v-neck dress has a brooch to spice up this simple yet classy dress. Thicker straps provide hidden support if needed. By BCBG ($380 + 100 off code SPRING09)

11) One Shoulder Wonder: The high-waisted skirt is perfect for bodies that have a longer torso, by cinching the waist, it takes off inches from the upper body.  It also is perfect for the small busted woman.  Thread ($480)

12) Sweet Sweetheart: The sweetheart neckline is as sweet as sweet can be. The shirred bodice will help accent the smallest part of the waist and elongate the body as the dress flows to the floor. Laundry by Shelli Segal ($295)

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mar15Even if you have a limited budget, you don’t have to shop at the dreaded David’s Bridal. Here are resources for dresses that don’t cost the equivalent of a car made by KIA (aka the dress that stole my heart)
::Shakes fist in the general direction of the Monique Lhuillier dress shop::
1) Custom costumes: Make sure to bring pictures and inspiration for your dress design. Unsure about everything else? But know you hate taffeta. Check out brides.com and theknot.com and look at their dress galleries. You can search for specific items, such as silhouette, length, fabric etc. Few things to remember for custom dresses: a) The price of a custom dress depends on the difficulty of design, type of fabric and how much fabric. A ball gown style dress big enough to sit 6 people comfortably will cost different than a mermaid dress with no train. b) Time is essential. Make sure to give your designer ample time. Rushed projects always incur a “rush” fee. Favorites in Portland: English Department, Embellish, Anne Mauro

2) Shop Locally (off rack options): Off the rack means the dress you see is the dress you get. They are discounted for a number of reasons a) Design is discontinued, b) It was a sample and dirty from thousands of women trying it on. A good cleaning is all it needs c) The shop needs to move old merchandise for the new spring line. Favorites in Portland: Ania’s Collection, Lena Medoyeff Bridal, English Department and Divine Design.

3) Non-Profits: Brides Against Breast Cancer is a non-profit that accepts gently used wedding dresses and new dresses from designers and bridal saloons. Then tours around the US and sell their dresses a deep discount. All the proceeds benefit breast cancer research, breast cancer education and support women with metastatic breast cancer. Another example is Bridal Garden. They carry HUGE designers at a fraction of the cost. However, they won’t you return the dress, even if you bought it 3 minutes before (true story). So be sure this is not an impulse buy. If you donate your dress to either organization, it is a tax deduction!

4) Discount digs: There are many stores that advertise “Below designer price” and “super savings”. It can be unsettling when EVERY designer has a part of their website warning buyers of unauthorized dealers. I can only attest to two of those websites through personal experience. House of Brides and Pearl’s Place. PP tends to be a few dollars cheaper than HOB, but HOB lists the designer and the price on the page. In contrast, PP wants you to send an email requesting that private information. My suggestions: a) Try to find on the specific dress in question in an actual bridal salon. Doesn’t mean you will buy from them, but at least you can get an idea on the sizing. Or ask a professional tailor/seamstress to take your measurements b) Be sure to order with ample time. It takes time to process your order, ship to the store, process, then ship to your house.1994 channel wedding dresses in paris channel window

5) Plain Jane: Buy a plain dress in the silhouette you love and have your seamstress (or you) add the embellishments. Basic dresses are cheaper! Search your local fabric store or Ebay for feathers, lace, ribbon, beads, pearls etc.

6) You’ll find it downtown: They are catching the wedding fever and starting to feature bridal lines. Luckily, they didn’t jump on the pricing bandwagon and charge up the wazoo. If the store does not have a specific bridal line, search for white/ivory dresses and you will be surprised by the results. Some people may not stick with the “No White before Memorial Day”, but designers have. If you check in the late winter/early spring, you will find a gaggle of gowns, which is perfect timing for wedding season (April-September). Check out White House Black Market, Nordstroms, Saks Fifth Avenue and other nice retailers for dresses. If your wedding is not during this high priced wedding period, then good for you! J Crew usually have their bridal dresses on sale in the fall/winter (after the wedding rush is over). So now, that gorgeous silk ball gown is 60% off and very much affordable. Don’t forget about special occasion gowns, such as Jessica McClintock, Simply Dresses and Edress Me.

7) Always a bridesmaid: Bridesmaid dresses usually come in some variant of white (ivory, white, eggshell, champagne etc). Don’t worry about sizing, most bridesmaid lines are larger in size, so you will have to get it altered to fit your body. I suggest the JLM Couture (a line by wedding dress designer Alvina Valenta and Jim Hjelm). It may be expensive for a bridesmaid, but the rich silks and details will surprise you and your budget (around 280 dollars).

8 ) Use and Reuse: Ebay, Craigslist, Preownedweddingdresses.com are three sites that come to mind. However, please be wary of sellers on Ebay. Several brides ordered their custom designer wedding dresses and it ends up costing more since the dress is basically a shell (no lining, no boning, tulle, etc). These little things will add up when you take it to the seamstress. Additionally, on Craigslist, I’ve only seen dresses with uber puffy sleeves and chiffon overlays like there is no tomorrow. Furthermore, be cautious and take a friend/bridesmaid AND tell your fiancé where you are going if you plan on looking at a dress. As for POWD, the sellers are only selling one dress, their dress. The website is quite reputable, so don’t worry. J


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mar12There are several people who I really admire. Ina Garten is one of them. She is the hostess with truly the mostess. Have you seen her houses?! I mean, really. East Hampton AND Manhattan. Niiice. She does have it all and seems quite happy. She cooks AMAZING food (I use a lot of her recipes for my events), hosts fabulous parties, she even laughs at her own jokes. She is totally my kind of person.

My most recent cookbook is Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessinagarten10a Back to Basics. Throughout the book, it lists tips in the way of top 10 lists. This particular list is great. I should email this list to everyone, because I’ve definitely had spinach in my teeth, more times than I like to admit. Here is her list, however, I left her commentary out. I’ve add my own comments, because I laugh at my own jokes too.

  1. Double Fisting – For all events other than a dinner party, focus on snacks that can be eaten with one hand.
  2. Bears eat Beets – I am usually the guest who will wear white and drop my plate full of beets on your off-white silk covered couch. For your furniture’s sake, don’t serve beets.
  3. Three rich courses – Pick a menu that will balance your heavy entree or super rich dessert. You don’t want to roll your guests to their car.
  4. In a Nutshell – With the  percentage of people with allergies rising, be cautious and don’t serve food with nutmeats. Unless you keep an Epi pen around, I would advise against the Cranberry Nut Orange Zest Tea Cookies.
  5. Garlic and Raw Onion Breathe – Don’t worry. The cast of Twilight won’t be knocking at your door. Try to avoid dishes heavily laden with garlic and raw onions.
  6. Is there something in my teeth? – Yes. There. Is. If you serve it, then watch out for karma. Your teeth will have poppy seeds, spinach and basil in every possible crevice.
  7. Corn on the Cob – This is another food item that loves to live in between your teeth. BBQ are great for this, but at a dinner party, cut it from the cob and serve in a nice bowl.
  8. Smells fishy – Always have another food option besides fish available.
  9. That’s Gutsy – In general, avoid internal organs. Unless (here is another exception), you are hosting a Fear Factory themed party. Then go hog wild. heh.
  10. In the Raw – Avoid using raw beef or raw eggs in your dishes. Being the hostess and finding out you gave food poisioning is a horrible feeling.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Agree to disagree (my favorite)? Disagree completely. Leave your comments, I promise not to flame.

(image by Carrisa Katz)

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mar11I love perusing the internet for new blogs and ideas. However, if you already been to this page, then you know it is a great source of ideas and real wedding snapshots. This post caught my eye. I check the page quite often and you can always catch me drooling over the pictures of real weddings and innovative ideas. In my blogging world, SMP is the dreamy out-of-my-league-kinda-guy that owns a 3 story craftsman with all the built-ins. A girl can dream. Right? One. Day.

DIY + Green + Edible = my favorite centerpiece.  It includes all my must haves.  It is simple and very fresh.  Potted herbs flank the basket of goodies. Using several types of bread will create drama and dimension.  As for me, I would choose the focaccia and smear it with the herby pesto AND hummus. Visit the site, but come back soon!

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mar09I must have cabin fever. In Portland, it has been raining/sleeting/snowing/hailing ALL DAY. All I could think about is the warm yellow sun and the sweet smell of summer. The crisp smell of lemons and vivid yellows reminds me of all things summer. Please proceed with caution. It will make you want nice weather and BBQ season to start…NOW.

 yellow wedding

  1. Oh Blimey, Limey!: These simple card stock invitations with a stripe envelopes liner will let your guests know the party is casual but full of character. 
  2. When life hands you lemons: Duh. You make lemonade. The term cocktail hour can mean lots of $$$. To avoid the guests from loading up on expensive liquor, first offer your guests a refreshing drink during cocktail hour, then open up the bar.
  3. Just add water: For a dramatic décor option, 1) use tall glass hurricanes, 2) fill the water at several different levels, and then 3) toss lemons in.
  4. Citrus Surprise: I found this image a few weeks ago and have based this entire mood board on it. The citrus stamp is a clean way to decorate a cake.
  5. Lightweight lemon: This airy dress made of lightweight chiffon will have your bridesmaids float down the isle. This inset empire waist will flatter all body types.
  6. Bolts of lighting: Well, bolts of tulle are almost like lightning. Lay the folded tulle in the center of the table on a crisp white table cloth. This will avoid having to rent renting expensive table runners. This is a chic and updated use for tulle. No tulle bows here!
  7. Don’t tiptoe through the tulips: These intensely yellow tulips paired with classy callas make a fine pair for the bride’s bouquet. Callas are typically more expensive than tulips, so just a few will enough drama without breaking the bank.  
  8. Rain or Shine: These fun parasols are a stunning prop for your pictures. They also provide protection for whatever weather comes happens on your day. You can find them at your local craft store or at lunabazaar.com.
  9. Candy is Dandy: Wrap up these juicy lemon slices for a sweet treat for your guests. Find at your local candy store or online.
  10. A very pretty box with a bow: But there is something inside! Use these plastic favor boxes  wrapped up with thick yellow grosgrain ribbon and place at each setting. This will help complete your table look.
  11. Table turner: To carry the lemon theme through out the wedding, use lemons as name card holder. Use a ball point pin (pins with a little ball at the end) to hold the name card in place.
  12. Wine and Dine: If you do not have table service for your wedding and don’t want to use the unsightly pitchers for your guests. Use recycled wine bottles to hold your drinks. By requesting the empties from at local wine bar you can cut costs. However, drinking wine for the sake of a wedding might be a good idea…
  13. Looking an alternative to the standard boutonnière? An ornamental kale leaf makes a perfect background to the striking golden curly willow and yellow craspedia. It is finished with a crisp cotton ribbon. Dried craspedia may be easier to find, plus you can use the excess for more decoration.

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mar08Searching for a location for your next event can be a touch decision, especially, when you want to stay within budget. The location defines your event and sets the tone. The best way to find a unique location is to use the internet. My favorite search engine is Google. It helps me find what is available in my city, which may not be listed in the online wedding directory.

Look for these alternatives to the typical church and boring country club wedding/event location.

Airplane hanger

Art and photo galleries





Colleges and Universities

Corn Field clearings

Dance Halls


Historical houses (check the National Register of Historic Places)

Local Farms and gardens


Lighthouses & Beaches


Museums (Art, Aviation, Science, Technology etc)


Parks (usually public parks also have large spaces for meetings)

Photo galleries

Rental houses/lofts

Rooftop of a tall building

Sport Stadiums

Theaters and local stages

Train Station



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