Thursday, June 28, 2018

Tying the Knot: Nautical Bridal Shower Ideas

Last weekend, my girlfriends and I threw a shower for my bestie Lei, who is getting married this August. Party planning is one of my favorite pastimes, so I was thrilled to be able to help out. The venue had a waterside location and she loves the beach, so we decided to go with a nautical theme and a blue-and-white color palette with dashes of pink.

I loved the idea of a "Tie the Knot" banner but couldn't find one anywhere. An online search yielded a cheap-looking version for $20. Instead, I went to Michael's and got patterned pennants, some twine, and sparkly letters that added up to less than $10. I was able to make two banners: "Tie The Knot" and "Lei's A Catch" from the supplies. Pardon the puns, but I recommend this craft for any party—so cheap and easy, all you need is a hole punch!

Another bridesmaid's mom made two mason jar trophies containing taffy and goldfish for a fun guessing game. Aside from the winners, all guests got to take some sweets home from our DIY candy bar, featuring glass vases and "Love is Sweet" gift bags found by the Maid of Honor. We also crafted a little message stand for guests to share romantic weekend ideas with the bride and put advice coasters (found at Marshall's) at each place setting.

The MOH, also the bride's sister, made the cutest favors from little jars filled with bath salts and a sign that read "From Our Shower to Yours." Shells, starfish, and beachy knick-knacks completed the scene, along with a delicious nautical cake from the mother of the bride. 

Lei loved it and everyone had the best afternoon. I got to take home a few decorations that transformed my bathroom into a beachy oasis, and it makes me smile and think of her every time I look at them. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Yes, My Mom Made My Wedding Dress

My mom has always been a talented seamstress, making mommy-and-me dresses and Halloween costumes when I was growing up. Back then, I never would have dreamed that one day she would make my wedding dress. A few years back, she was on a big sewing kick (you've seen many of her designs on this blog), and I remarked that she should make my wedding dress one day. Little did I know that she began doubling down on her practice and tailoring thereafter.

When Sean proposed, I made a proposal to my mom as well. Would she make my dress? Like me, she said yes. Since we're not designers, I searched and searched for a pattern. I knew I wanted something that was both fashionable and classic and loved the idea of a two-piece design. We came up with a combination of patterns: a top from Simplicity and a skirt from McCall's. Neither of these were wedding dress patterns (most of what I found in that category were much dressier than I wanted and frankly outdated), but I had a vision and could picture the finished result in my head.

My mom trekked into the city and met me in the garment district, where we dug through aisles of fabric at New York Elegant Fabrics. We chose a delicate lace for the top and satin for the skirt. She made a test from cheap muslin and after a fitting, cut into the real stuff. 

At the final fitting, we declared a perfect fit and my mom told me I couldn't gain or lose a pound...I did—thanks wedding stress—but at the final, final fitting, my slimmer figure seemed to complement the dress even better; the skirt just hung slightly lower on my waist. 

I couldn't have been happier with the final result. Truly bespoke, my dress was so absolutely me, and all the more special that my mom made it herself. At our wedding, I was met with endless compliments on the dress and remarks from guests that they now understood where I got my fashion sensibility from. The biggest highlight came a few months later, when I interviewed Mark Ingram at his Upper East Side bridal atelier for Quest magazine. I told him my mom made my wedding dress and, before I left, showed him a picture. He was genuinely shocked and impressed, and he loved the dress. 

And of course, so do I, and it will remain one of my most prized possessions. Thank you, Mom. Read more about how she did it on her blog, here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Our Wedding: Virginia Vintage Meets City Style


Weddings are a funny, beautiful, crazy thing. The day Sean proposed last July was the happiest of my life, it was such an amazing high. We knew we wanted to have the wedding in Virginia due to its proximity to our extended families, beautiful scenery, and more-affordable venue options (the average wedding in Manhattan costs $88,000, just FYI). A fall or winter wedding was too soon, anything past June is just too hot down South, and we didn't want to wait to the following spring, so that left April 2018 and nine months to plan. At the time, that felt like a long time. But everyone who said it would blow by turned out to be right.

Slowly, we did the checking off of the lists. Ford's Colony Country Club in Williamsburg was love at first sight. It had gorgeous grounds and the reception space was open and airy—it had me at cafe lights. Sean and I both love purple, so we easily settled on a mauve-and-lavender color palette. For months, I scoured thrift shops for bud vases, dug through bridal magazines for ideas, and read vendor reviews on The Knot. We made the guest lists, sent save the dates, asked our closest friends to be in the wedding party. Check, check, check.

The more tasks we completed, the more real our vision became. And of course, there was the dress. My mom is an extremely talented seamstress, so I immediately asked her if she would make my gown, and she happily agreed. We picked the pattern, fabric, and fit, so it was completely personalized. (More on how it came together soon.) 

From there, the little details fell into place. Sean suggested doing something besides numbers for the tables and, since we're both English majors and avid readers, we quickly agreed on author names. I raided my dad's collection of classic, leather-bound books to give the tables more dimension and my friend Katie—who just so happens to also be a very talented artist—did the calligraphy for the table signs. From there, it only made sense to have bookmarks as favors. 

I picked my bridesmaids' dresses (if you read this blog, then you won't be surprised they were Rent the Runway) and Sean his groomsmen's attire. For the shoes, I was lucky enough to attend a press event for Shoes of Prey where we could design our own pair. When the publicist there got wind I was making my wedding shoes, she brought over company founder Jodie Fox, who helped me execute every detail. I ordered my vintage blusher veil for $20 on Etsy (the exact same one at BHDLN was $300), borrowed pearl earrings from my grandmother, and also incorporated the blue garter she gave me from her wedding to my grandfather in 1954. 

So here's the funny thing about weddings...You put all this planning into every little detail, and then the day comes and it all melts away and you're just so happy to have your friends and your family and most of all, your fiancĂ© there. And then, the day flies by and you process the memories and wait for the photos to come back. 

But when they do, all of those little details are so worth it. Everyone has been commenting how much the day just feels us. It does to me too, and it's thanks to all of those personal touches combined with all of the people we love in attendance. So even if no one reads this long post and just looks at the photos, I'm happy, because they speak to the day more than words can. 
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