Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Favorite Dresses of 2013

If I could do it all over again, here are some of the dresses I would try on. I love asymetrical designs and body hugging fits. Some days I like simple, and on others days I like over-the-top. It all just depends on my mood...

So try on a bunch of styles, the one you end up liking may surprise you!







Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day Un-Brides! Hope you are enjoying your long weekend with family and friends. At a Weight Watchers meeting years ago, I was told overeating is good sometimes because it "Shocks the Body." I know, it's sad that of all things, that's what I took away from Weight Watchers.

So forget about the diet and if the dress will fit, have at it today! You know I will, because after all I'm already married, a.k.a. granted permission to let myself go...






Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Build a Wedding Photo Wall

Regardless of what Raquel says, I really did try to participate and pay attention to details throughout the wedding planning process. Sure, I may have “zoned out” during some moments (see: wedding invitations) but for the most part I was there. So near the end of the planning process we decided that we wanted to have a photo booth type experience for everyone to enjoy. But wouldn’t you know it, we ran out of money.

So I decided to take it upon myself to build a photo wall for us to use at the wedding. Mind you, at the time we were living in a 1 bedroom apartment, with no garage, a semi-covered outdoor patio space, and oh yeah, no power tools except for a drill! But thanks to the help of my dad and now father-in-law, the photo wall was finished the day of the wedding and turned out to be a huge hit! We added our own touch by making it an "Awkward Family Photo Wall" and displayed less than flattering pictures of us and our family over the years. We then bought a Polaroid Camera and let people take pictures themselves, rather than spend money on a photographer. We now have an album full of all the Polaroids and everyone's comments, which is priceless (for many reasons).

It was a great sense of accomplishment to see the finished product and I felt like I really contributed something meaningful to the wedding since so many people enjoyed it. I had “plans” and “ideas” of the materials I would need and the steps it would take to build the photo wall, but as they say, nothing goes as planned. This is designed to be a walkthrough of the process for you to create your own photo wall for your wedding. Your wall may require different materials or additional steps, but this is a great guide to help you through the process. And as with any project involving power tools, take all proper precautions and wear protective gear (glasses, gloves, etc.) when necessary.




1. Decide the size and layout of the photo wall you would like to have. It is very important to have a plan in place before beginning this project. Make sketches, draw pictures, and visualize what you want it to look like so you know what you are working toward.

2. Buy the materials for that size. We decided on 10 feet wide by 7 feet tall. I’ve seen other walls built 8 feet by 8 feet because it is easier to buy (2) 4’x8’ sheets of plywood and make the wall that way. But those of you who know my wife, know she is not that simple. So of course I had to make ours bigger.


Materials you will need: sheets of plywood, 1”x2” studs to frame the back of the wall for support, 4”x”4 beams for floor/leg support, 2”x4” studs for angled support between framing and floor beams, L brackets to join 4x4 to framing, screws, nails, fabric (or wall paper, depending on your preferred finish), wainscoting, chair rail, and picture frames (also sand bags or other weights to throw on the legs, just for extra precaution)

Tools needed: circular saw (jig saw or reciprocating saw also preferred to cut the windows), drill, hammer, screwdriver, sandpaper, glue, scissors, and staple gun




3. Now that you have the materials, you can begin the assembly. First, I framed the plywood with the 1”x2” studs, on all four sides, using screws every 8-10 inches. You will need to cut the studs to fit the size of your wall. This makes the wall stronger and will help maintain a true “wall” shape, otherwise the plywood is going to warp or bend and make it look crooked.

4. Decide how many and where you want the “windows” to be (When I refer to windows its actually going to be a picture frame, but its open, so you and your guests can stand behind the wall and make it look as if you are the ones in the picture). It helps to actually lay out the picture frames you have bought on the wall and tracing the inside of them to mark where cuts should be made. This should be done on the opposite side of where the framing is.




5. Cut the windows out along the lines you traced from the inside of the picture frames, using a jig saw or reciprocating saw. Use the sand paper to smooth the edges of the windows so there are no splinters or rough pieces of wood sticking out.

6. Next, attach 4”x4” beams to the bottom corner of the wall framing to become the floor support. To do this, use the L bracket and screws. For our wall, I used a 5” L bracket and 1” lag screws to join each 4x4 to the framing. Again, this is to be done on the back side of the wall.




7. Once the floor beams are attached, the ends of the 2”x4” beams need to be cut at an angle so one side will be flush with the floor beam and the other side will be flush with the framing of the wall. Screw the 2x4 in place using wood screws.

8. At this point, the wall should be free standing and ready to begin work on the front side. This is where your creativity and individualized look will come into play. We decided to buy a patterned fabric and use that as our “faux” wall paper. It took some time to match the pattern up on each of the three pieces (I told you she never makes things easy on me), but eventually it worked. We then attached the wainscoting to the bottom portion of the wall using wood glue and tack nails, added the chair rail using white screws so it could be removed easily, and finally added all of the picture frames to make the project complete. Whatever you decide to do, fabric or wall paper, the order should be: 1) wallpaper/fabric, 2)wainscoting and/or chair rail if desired, 3) picture frames.




This is a great way for the fellas to get involved in the wedding process. It ended up being more work than I expected, but as I said I felt a great sense of pride and accomplishment knowing I was able to contribute something fun to the wedding and the fact that the thing didn't fall apart. 


Sunday, May 19, 2013

kids. kids. kids?

On a side note: Devil Child suspicions were correct. Not only did our genes combine to make a ginger, but something that looks like Lucifer Incarnate. It's like he's not staring at you, he's staring through you.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Arm Workout 2 - Triceps

Since our first Wedding Arm Workout went over so well, here is another variation courtesy of Angela Bennett co-owner of Fit On Studios in Manhattan Beach.

Same deal - a set of 2 lb. weights and your favorite song!

This workout focuses more on triceps (you know the bat wing flab that waves before you do). Alternate this with the Original Arm Workout 5 days week and you'll be set for summer. Now get to werk!


Fit On Studios in Manhattan Beach offers Spinning, Barre, Boxing, & TRX Circuit Training Classes. To book your class visit www.fitonstudios.com




Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kelsey & Kyle : Ben & Les Photography

Now this is how your do a winter wedding! Everything from the flowers, to the hair, and the fresh snow made it the perfect mix of vintage and warmth. And it doesn't hurt to have one of my favorites Ben & Les Photography to make it look ah-mazing! But as we know- there's always more to the story. Kelsey & Kyle's I Guess I Do moments include a 22 person bridal party, winter weather, and a name tag mishap. Enjoy Kelsey's story in her own words below.

...

I am Kelsey Racette and my husband and I wed on December 29, 2012. I am a fourth grade educator, so I pretty much teach the awkward stages of life, while my husband Kyle works in downtown Cleveland as a sourcing analyst. With the chaos of my first year teaching, I also decided that getting married would be feasible. It was insanely crazy, but magnificently beautiful. I am so blessed to have my spouse Kyle to venture on this wild ride of life with.


Being obsessed with snow it seemed only fitting to get married during this holiday season. My prayers for snow were answered just as Kyle & I were exiting the church. It certainly was a winter wonderland. Although the snow served as an excellent accent to the pictures, it created a hassle when trying to back out of the driveway on the morning of the wedding. With accessories in hand and just leggings and a “Mrs. Racette” robe as my wardrobe, I was digging myself out of the snow. Yep, my morning started with loads of shoveling, laughter and a wet bottom. Talk about an awkward view.




In addition to my stuck in the snow story, I had a few other I Guess I Do Moments along the way, including a bridal party of 22, the size of our invitations, the labors of love and the nametag mishap. With a bridal party of that multitude, it made it hard to book all of the bridesmaids together for up-dos. Rather than having my bridesmaids at my side throughout the preparation process, I did not get to see them until I was preparing to head over to the church.


Our invitations were homemade, so they had many inserts, pockets & additions. Upon having it weighed, the post office in Tiffin, Oh indicated that it met the requirements. Well Sandusky seemed to think differently. They sent certain mailing areas notes stating that they needed to come and pick –up/pay for a piece of mail. Yep, it was our invitation. How embarrassing. Luckily, my family was able to get them from the post office, pay the bill and deliver the invitations. Talk about frustrating.


Since our wedding reception was held in a large building (similar to a warehouse) at the Erie County Fairgrounds, it required a bit of a transformation. My wedding week was spent overseeing, directing & contributing toward the decoration. From fabric on all the walls to placing R’s on the backs of the chairs, the décor took loads of time & was frustrating at times.


The last I Guess I Do Moment occurred on our wedding day. We have assigned tables for our guests with small nametags at the entrance. Somewhere in our crazy week of transforming the structure, we forgot to create nametags for two whole tables! Luckily, we had the tables but just neglected to assign the guests to them. Two of the families were relaxed about it and just hung out at the bar until they saw the open tables. One of the others actually came out to us in the hall before our entrance and told us about their absence of a table. It was embarrassing and frustrating. 



Through the chaos and mishaps of our wedding experience, we were able to focus our energy toward what was truly important. The I Guess I Do Moments added spontaneity and directed us toward the real purpose of the event, that being marriage.



For more DIY bridal tips and to see more details from Kelsey's wedding - visit her blog Desire for Love.

...
 
Photographers: Ben & Les Photography  Hair: Holly Lang via Locksmith's Hair Studio Makeup: Brittany Wolfe via Locksmith's Hair Studio Caterers: Creative Cuisine  Cake: Tonya’s Cakes Bouquets & Reception Décor: Dana Opfer (Mother of the Bride), with assistance from Kelsey Racette  Wedding Dress: Morilee  Bridesmaid Dresses: Bill Levkoff  Wedding Shawls: Michelle Karas (Aunt of Kelsey Racette) DJ: Nyte Flyte


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Luxe Parlour and Blowdry Bar

Which is why I needed a professional to handle this mane. I called upon the uber talented Christine George of Luxe Parlour & Blowdry Bar for my wedding hair. I met Christine while working at E! and knew she did hair for the Victoria Secret Runway shows - which in my book is the greatest night of TV second only to a RHONJ reunion.

I wanted to wear my hair down for the ceremony. I was told your wedding hair should be how you typically wear it so you aren't alarmed by a not-so-familiar hairstyle in your photos. But I also knew that there was no way this hair was going to hold up all night. 

Christine suggested I do a sleek ponytail for the reception so my bangs would be off my face and I wouldn't have to worry about my usual sweaty "beer head" look. Below are Christine's steps for the perfect After Party Ponytail. 


Luxe Parlour & Blowdry Bar is celebrating it's Grand Opening this Friday, May 10th from 6pm-9m with gift bags and prizes courtesy of Alterna. To attend reply to their guest list at RSVP@luxeparlour.com




Sunday, May 5, 2013

STD's

I had this conversation with my mother while driving in traffic on the 405. So all in all, a dream situation. She's always had a way with words this one. 

So apparently, not only do you have worry about the weight of your STD but also its dimensions. A square invite costs more to ship because of its "non-standard size." Well who knew that? Obviously not this girl. So note to self Un-Brides when picking out wedding stationary - it's really not hip to be square. Thanks for nothing Huey Lewis.

Every day for the next two weeks, I would check my mailbox like I was checking a pregnancy test. Luckily only one was sent back to us and Kyle's grandma had to pay 11 cents to get hers. Kyle's mom spared me this information until after the wedding to avoid a possible Def Con 5 or Britney Breakdown. She's a smart woman.

Here's the deal - you can either laugh or cry throughout the wedding process. Thanks to my mom, despite always reminding me of the worst possible situations, somehow she would get me to laugh. 

Below is the wedding stationary we chose. We didn't want to go very literal with a beach theme so we tried to do beach with a modern twist. We went with the Seascape design from Minted for the Save the Dates. For the invitations, I thought playing with texture would be cool, so we went with the letterpress Lucidity line from Elum Designs.

I ended up finding all of my stationary online and both companies were amazing to work with. Once you pick out the design you like, do not be in a hurry to buy. Online companies are constantly sending emails with deals. Save yourself some cash to put towards...dun dun dun...extra postage.

Sorry I had to.








Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bri & Kevin : Jeanette Warner Photography

Meet Bri and Kevin who wed at a gorgeous castle in Michigan. Bri is a long-time family friend and my parents attended this wedding. They raved about how beautiful the venue was and how much fun they had at the reception, so I was completely shocked when I read Bri's story.  It just goes to show you never know what goes on behind the scenes! Their I Guess I Do moments include non-existent programs, a flower frenzy, and a forgotten dress. Enjoy Bri's story in her own words below.
...

My name is Bri and I married my long-time love Kevin. I met Kevin my freshman year of college and it was love at first sight…for him anyway. It took me a little more convincing/growing up to get there but never-the-less here we are madly in love and best friends. I grew up having OCD. If something is not planned out to the exact moments, I am in a flurry of panic for the "unexpected." So planning my wedding was SUPPOSED to be a dream come true.

So much PLANNING and organizing! I was in heaven, especially given that I had 18 months to do it! So there's NO way that I was going to come into snags or total melt downs. NO WAY. I was far too prepared for that. Well let me tell you, you can be as prepared as possible, but things are going to go off script. How you handle them and the people you have to help you smooth things over are the only things that are going to matter (note: if you still want bridesmaids and a groom at your wedding, handling the obstacles is going to be your most important task).

One thing that I’m still baffled by is that my fiancé still wanted to marry me months into the planning process. My stress was stretched to the max (between planning a wedding 1200 miles a way; being in another wedding less than a month after mine; and realizing I only have a FRACTION of the control I wanted to have) and I was MISERABLE to live with. I would’ve left my ass after the first blow up fight. 



THE PROGRAMS
My theme was Peacock feathers. I am a big fan of the "cool" colors on the color wheel and the peacock feather tied together the three colors beautifully. So while sticking with my theme I found these fan programs on Pinterest. This was fitting as the wedding itself was outside and we were getting married in August. The icing on the cake was there was a woman on Etsy who made peacock feather shaped ones! Too good to be true?! (I would later find out...yes it is).
 
I had placed my order with the lady 6 months before the wedding. Now would be a good time to mention that I was living and planning my wedding down in San Antonio, TX and that the wedding was taking place in Charlevoix, MI. Not exactly ideal, but I was on top of things, nothing would go wrong when you ordered the programs 6 months in advance....right?! WRONG. SOO WRONG. After many emails and phone calls to this terrible woman I had my mom print, cut out and build my own programs 5 days before the wedding. Thank God she’s a kindergarten teacher and cutting/assembling is something she does daily. I ended up calling my bank and demanding a refund from the “evil” program woman who set out to ruin my day. She and her programs never made it to me, but the ones that my mother so graciously put together for me? They ended up being significantly cheaper and looked just like the originals would have.


 
THE FLOWERS
So a great way to save money (so I was told) is to order your flowers off an online wholesale place. You can get better colors and the options are more specific. Having a budget and all, I was all about saving some money. Especially since I was not up in Michigan to scope out the floral places and such. I found a website, Fifty Flowers and let me tell you did I save some money! Well as luck would have it, my flowers arrived 2 days early for the wedding AND they gave me the wrong amounts for each color. I was livid! Not only were the the wrong colors but they were early! They actually made it to the hotel before I did.
 
Luckily I was checking in that day so they sent them up to my room. How the hell was I supposed to keep 60 fully bloomed "poofs" of flowers alive for 48 hours?! We couldn't store them at the venue and there was a significant charge to store them in a floral shop so we had to improvise. My dad and I went to the closest Wal-Mart and bought two large tubs. We then bought plant food, spray bottles and googled “how to keep hydrangeas alive.” We cut down the stems, added cold water and had the flowers on constant mist in the bathtub of the hotel room. My dad would be designated to "flower duty" for the next couple of days. The night before the wedding I moved rooms into the wedding suite. There they had a full size fridge! That night my bridesmaid’s and I set to work on making 8 beautiful bouquets. We placed them in vases and put them in the fridge.



The next morning I woke up and it was wedding frenzy! I left to get my hair done with my girls. After hair, it was back to the hotel for make-up and the dress. The dress that in my flower issue-focused mind, I had forgotten was dropped off a few days earlier for steaming in a town 30 min away...and it was never picked up! Two of my bridesmaids cancelled their hair appointments and raced off to go pick it up. As luck would have it, one of the groomsmen's mom was a hair dresser and she did their hair when they got back while my husband and I were doing first look photos.
 
So while crisis one of the day was being averted, crisis two hit. I'm back in the hotel room getting my make-up done when I open my fridge to get the flowers out... and they were dead!!! I mean there’s dead, and then there’s my flowers! There were two bouquets out of the 8 that survived.
 
After DAYS of keeping them alive in a bathtub with a squirt bottle and lots of attention, they died the night before in the fridge!! When I had first gotten into my room I never thought to check the temperature of the fridge. It was turned down LOW and I literally had to use a knife to "chop" the ice in the vases to free my dead bouquets. I couldn't believe it.



My photographer was fortunate enough to capture the photos on camera of this dreaded outcome. My sister/maid of honor went into solution mode and we ultimately decided that there were enough "surviving" flowers to give each person their own "flower" (singular) to hold. Gone were the ribbon tied bouquets made with love, sweat and determination from the night before. In their place was a lonely single flower per girl as the bouquets. Was I upset? Absolutely...was there anything that was going to make those bouquets magically reappear undead?...No. So I decided I couldn't let it bother me. My ladies ended up taking most of the photos without their 'flowers' and I don't miss them in my photos at all. I was even complimented on the "simplicity" of them as the dresses were so vibrant it may have taken away from them to have so many flowers.


 
Sure, your first instinct is to immediately go into a panic. "WHAT do you mean the flowers are dead?!?!?" "The programs have been 'in the mail' for TWO months now!!" etc. But you cannot let the stress and TIME you put into this event going on without a glitch get to you when it doesn't. Because trust me ladies, it won't. It can still be the prefect day (glitches and all) but your outlook is going to be the determining factor.

Either way, my wedding went on. And either way it was the most magical day of my life. With these "hiccups" as I so lovingly call them, I like to think (for sanity reasons) that my wedding wouldn’t have been the unique experience that I hold so dearly in my list of life events.





Venue: Castle Farms in Charlevoix, MI Caterer: Grey Gables Inn D.J.: Ryan with Rusch Entertainment Flowers: Fiftyflowers.com Photographer: Jeanette Warner Photography Hair & Nails: Hair Qtrs. Cake: FunCakes Rental (yes it was fake!!)