I Guess I Do

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Le Salon Bridal Boutique

Everyone has their dream dress in mind with the style and shape they've envisioned. I fell in love with a St. Pucchi gown in high school that had a high flowered neckline and billowing train. After I got engaged, I began scouring the LA salons trying to find this designer.

Little did I know, there was a salon that carried St. Pucchi right under my little Midwestern nose. Even though I live in Los Angeles now, I hail from good ol' Sandusky, Ohio. I had hopes of finding a dress back home with my mom, but had no idea where to look.  Like you all, I wanted the high-end designer look without the designer price tag. My mom ended up having to fly all the way to LA because I came up empty handed in Ohio. 

This is exactly why I wish I would have known about Le Salon Bridal Boutique. Le Salon carries high-end designers like St. Pucchi, Jenny Packham, Rosa Clara, Jesus del Pozo, Paradiso, Junko Yoshioka, Liana Couture and many more. (For all you Say Yes to the Dress people - Liana Couture is the original Pnina Tornai from Israel. She is sold exclusively at Le Salon)

But the added bonus is that you don't have to travel to LA or New York to get the high-end designer experience. They have boutiques in Chicago, Illinois and Birmingham, Michigan. Their Premium Bridal Outlet just opened on January 1st and is located in Valparaiso, Indiana (50 miles outside Chicago) which means couture samples at 30%-70% off.  The outlet also has a St. Pucchi Gallerie room with over 30 discounted one of a kind dresses and veils. If there's one thing better than finding your perfect dress, it's finding your perfect dress on sale. 

Below are some of the latest looks from Le Salon's designers.

Le Salon also has a selection of bridesmaid dresses and accessories via ChiChi Styles online at wholesale prices. They are self serve online with expert advice, videos, Chi Chi Styles Pinterest Boards and Online Tracking.

For that couture experience with Midwestern charm, visit Le Salon Bridal. I wish I would have! All of the salons are strictly by appointment only. To book your appointment now contact Le Salon.

And as an added bonus to all my Midwestern un-brides, mention I Guess I Do and receive $100 OFF of your purchase of a dress.

If you order your maids dresses from ChiChiStyles.com before March 31, 2013 - You get $10 off. Coupon code: "Raquelhookup"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Best & Worst Dressed

Overall I thought the Oscar red carpet was a bit of a snooze fest - no Angelina leg or Sasha Baron Cohen spilling ashes on Seacrest. Not big on Seth McFarland as a host - plus I heard he gets spray tans in his office three times a week and is a dick in real life, so that didn't help. But I was happy Argo won for Best Picture. Here are my Best & Worst Dressed of the Oscars. Do you agree?

Best Dressed: Zoe Saldana in Alexis Mabille Couture
Best Dressed Runner-Up: Naomi Watts in Armani Prive

Worst Dressed: Anne Hathaway in Prada
Worst Dressed Runner-Up: Brandi Glanville in let's be honest who's looking at the dress

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

You'll Wear It Again - Um, Yeah, Ok.

Every bride says it, but is it true? "I picked out these dresses because you can totally wear them again!" My closet in Ohio is full of bridesmaid dresses that I could "totally wear again." Having been a bridesmaid myself, I swore I would pick out a dress that would hold true to this statement. 

When choosing the dress, I tried to look beyond the conventional bridesmaid looks. Sometimes you have to snap yourself out of what you're told a bridesmaid should wear and just pick out something you genuinely like. I said I would only choose a dress I would wear myself, not just in a wedding but to any normal occasion. I ended up choosing an asymmetrical studded dress by BCBG, Napier earrings, and nude Vince Camuto pumps.

Then comes the part that every bridesmaid dreads. How much? This is when they dig into their pocketbooks, write a check with rage, and proceed to call the other maids and bitch about you. When I first saw this dress it was very pricey - $365. I knew I would never make my bridesmaids pay that much, because I myself would never want to spend that much. 

So I asked myself what I would want to spend if I were in a wedding and that was $200 for EVERYTHING. So I ended up waiting to purchase the dress during their Friends and Family sale, which I knew happened every Labor Day and got 40% off. Don't let me fool you, I like nice things but every nice thing I own comes from Ebay. I'm the Ebay Queen. So when it comes to your bridesmaid dresses, hold off a bit. Never buy a new style. Wait a month or two and the dress you like is sure to drop in price. 

Now onto the accessories. This is what typically sends any bridesmaid over the edge. Not only do they have to pay for a dress, they have to pay for shoes, earrings, hair and makeup. My bridesmaids were flying out to California for my wedding, so I felt it was only right to pay for all of this. I gifted the shoes, earrings, makeup, and hair. Remember, these people are your friends. Not your indentured servants on your big day. Treat them right. 

This is also why I went with 4 bridesmaids. It's not only expensive on them, but on you as well. Now if you have a boatload of friends then go for it. But I choose my friends like I choose my gynecologist - wisely. 

Dress: BCBG  Shoes: Vince Camuto  Earrings: Napier via Kohls Makeup & Hair: Christine George via Luxe Parlour

Monday, February 18, 2013

Always a Bridesmaid...

Meet Smitty. A professional bridesmaid. I feel she has earned this title because she has spent the greater part of her adult life buying strappy sandals and acting like she cares about your big day as much as you do. Why the need for an I Guess I Do bridesmaids contributor? Because they should be able to bitch too. Enjoy her post in her own words below. 

Will you go bankrupt to be my bridesmaid? 

It is truly an honor to be a part of your friends wedding. Out of all the people she has ever met in the entire world to stand next to her on wedding day, she chose you. The answer should be easy but sometimes, it comes with hesitation because it’s no secret that being a bridesmaid means spending time and spending money. In a perfect world, you could look into the future and see how much time and money this wedding is going to cost you. If you couldn’t handle it, you could gracefully decline and save yourself; but this isn’t a perfect world because *N’Sync is not back together and I’m not a size 2. 

The first option is to say YES! And if you say yes to being a bridesmaid, you say yes to everything that comes with that role – buying whatever dress she wants, booking a Las Vegas hotel suite for the bachelorette party, using your vacation time to attend a week of wedding events. However, if some of that hesitation creeps in, it’s best to be honest with your bride about the months ahead. I'm a west coaster who moved from Ohio so I've been a bridesmaid for a few friends back east. When I get popped the question, I flat out give a disclaimer before committing. "I can't fly back for all the extra events like the showers, bachelorette parties, and dress shopping. But I will be there by your side, fluffing your dress and reaching down my cleavage to find you a tissue, as you say your vows to the man you love." All of my brides have understood where I'm coming from because even though I would love to rack up frequent flyer miles by traveling back and forth, it's just not realistic. Being open and upfront right off the bat lets her know your situation so later she’s not surprised that you’re M.I.A for all pre-wedding festivities.

Now there’s a whole different idea I haven’t even explored yet. I can’t say that I’ve done this myself but what about the option of saying NO? Some feel that shouldn’t even be an option – why is that? Is it because it’s ungrateful to decline such an honored request? Is it because the bride was in your wedding, so you must be in hers? No, it’s neither of those things yet it’s so wrong to think someone could say no to being a bridesmaid. Perhaps you’re super popular and are committed to 3 other weddings this summer. Or money is tight due to the fact that you just graduated college and have yet to land a job where income doesn’t come from tips. Whatever the case may be, save you and the bride a headache and politely decline the offer. In the end, you’re probably doing the bride a favor. The last thing she needs to worry about is you being able to make shower favor gifts, while she’s shitting a brick because her future mother-in-law is threatening to sing at the reception.

But if you’re like me, you’ve said YES! Congrats. All you can do now is just suck it up, share any bridezilla moments to your other girlfriends, and pray your bride isn’t shopping in the couture dress section – otherwise you can kiss your bank account “Bye, Bye, Bye.”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ester & Jason : Blue Lane Studios

Riddle me this. Q: What is a sure fire way to speed up the wedding process? A: Two blue lines instead of one. Meet Ester & Jason. Their I Guess I Do moments include an unexpected arrival and a groomsman's indecent exposure. Check out Ester's story in her own words below. 

“This CANNOT be right!”… I un-wrapped a third little wand that very quickly would become my destiny. “There has got to be a mistake…” I remember thinking over and over to myself. I waited for what seemed an eternity for the results, and checked for a third time to be sure. It was the same - - POSITIVE! How could this be happening to me?! This is not the way it was supposed to go! I had a plan… and this was not the plan I had in mind.

Back up two months… I had just made the move to Charlotte, North Carolina from Houston, Texas to finally live in the same city as my long distance boyfriend of three years. I had found the perfect apartment, a great job teaching at one of the best schools in the city, I was in love and I would FINALLY be living within minutes from my guy! Things were going so perfect for me and Jason... or at the time it was a “perfect” I had envisioned.

As I stared down at that little white wand, I realized very quickly my definition of perfect may not be so. Thoughts swirled through my head like a storm... I have so much left to do before kids!; Am I going to get fat?!; What is Jason going to say? And, Oh My God, what will my Dad say?!?! I grew up in an ultra conservative Southern Baptist family where, getting pregnant before you’re married is our century’s version of having the plague! Things like this did not happen to a perfect little angel like me, or at least... they weren’t supposed to!

The rest of the day progressed like normal – I just went through it on auto-pilot. That night, snuggled up on the couch with Jason, watching our ritualistic Tuesday night line up of primetime TV, I just blurted out without any finesse, “I’m pregnant.” I think what people say is true about being in true love. No little hiccup, or change in destiny can alter the love you have for one another. Jason responded exactly the way I needed him to, deep down... he grabbed me and held me as I balled my eyes out.

Clearly, this was not how either of us had imagined our future. I had just graduated from college and he was still in residency. There were so many things we wanted to do before we got to this point in our lives- like do some traveling, get married, buy a house, then have kids. But our destiny had taken a turn, with something a little different in store for us at that time - a blue bundle of joy!

Like most women, I had dreamt of the day I would become a bride since I was a little girl. Thoughts of flower arrangements, dresses, tuxedos, color combinations, and fabulous venues, had forever danced through my head. But ALL that changed the instant I held the first ultrasound of my baby. That moment, I realized I cared more about being a family than I did about my long fantasized teal and brown color scheme or the perfect fitting wedding dress.

Jason and I always knew we would get married, I guess this just sped up the process a little… ok, A LOT! There wasn’t much time to be picky, with things. Within 2 days of our announcement to our families, I had my colors picked out, bridesmaid’s dresses chosen, and selected a location for our “I Do’s”. This baby bliss I was in, caused me to operate in a serious “pregnant fog”. Invitations went out within two weeks, and my mantra this entire 4 month period was – “I trust your decision, whatever you think I am sure will be fine.” I never actually saw my invitation until my bridesmaid gave me a special custom framed version as a gift (which was the first time I noticed… there is a misspelling!!) There are details about my wedding that I don’t even remember agreeing to.  I can’t even tell you what we served for dinner that night, much less noticed that the wedding cake wasn’t what we had actually ordered.

Most brides at least go and visit their reception venue to get a feel for the magical night sometime before the day of the event. Nope, not me! The first time I saw it was when the DJ introduced us on our wedding night. The venue manager actually said to my sister the day before our reception as they did the final walk-through, “I have never had a bride this relaxed about things in all my years of planning!” For me it was such a blur, and ultimately, I didn't really care about the details, I just want to walk down the aisle and start my new life! Funny thing is, it was all such a whirlwind that I was more focused on the perfect plan to reveal the sex of the baby. I had planned for it to happen immediately after the rehearsal on the beach, by giving our families their own framed ultrasound that read “Grandsons are the Best” and “I love Nephews”.

Believe it or not, I still had my own I Guess I Do moment, which I am sure is a little different than most. I didn't have that moment when the bridesmaids felt the need to impose their own fashion sense into what I picked out (like when my own sister bought the wrong pair of shoes to go with the dress), or when the head table seating assignments could not be accommodated because of space issues. MY  I Guess I Do moment was getting so caught up worrying about what my family and close friends would think of me getting pregnant before I was actually married. At one point, I was hysterically crying to Jason, because I was certain that I would not have ANYONE sitting on my side at the ceremony. Because, who would want to come to MY wedding after what has happened to me?!

My wedding day went very smooth; at least I thought it did that day. I was completely in my own little pregnant world... now looking back my hair looked like a terrible style that was popular at an 80's prom, but that day I remember walking out of the salon and just thinking - Whatever! I’ll just have my sister fix it. And when the groomsmen got stuck with a flat tire at the grocery store two hours before the ceremony, it didn’t phase me one bit. And when our DJ clearly confused our “Do Not Play List” with his “Playlist”, I didn't even think twice because everyone looked to be having so much fun. And in what normally would have been a final straw for me, my brother-in-law (now ex-brother in-law), decided to whip out his dong during the groomsmen pictures!! But it wasn’t anything a little PhotoShop couldn’t fix (if you look really hard you can something is a little off with his pants!) All these things, they didn’t take me over the edge one bit – thanks to that pregnancy fog!

Forget the little details, at the end of the day even though I had to forgo the champagne and go with apple juice for the toast, dance to music I didn’t like, and eat a cake that I had not actually picked out – I got everything I wanted that day. There was not one empty seat on my side. Actually several family and friends travelled across the country to show their love and support for us. And most of all, I was with the love of my life and we were finally a family which was all I really wanted! My "I Do's" may not have gone the way I always thought that they would, but I learned through all this that the most important decision was not what flowers, colors or dress you pick, its making sure the one you are marrying really is "THE One". That little white wand that held my future, was a life destiny to be married to the man I love, with three beautiful healthy children... 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Picking a Venue

The first tip I posted was about talking money, which directly correlates with your next major task - picking a venue.  After awkwardly talking with your fiance, parents, and in-laws about how much they're willing to spend, your next step is picking the place to have it - which is fun. Like when my friends try to convince me to run because I like running as much as I like getting pap smears - 'Hey let's do a 5k together. Aww c'mon it will be fun!' (I mean that kind of fun.)

Picking a venue basically determines what your entire wedding will be like - where you'll have it, when you'll have it, and how many people you will have. Kyle and I both grew up in Ohio but now live in Southern California. Naturally, people thought we would get married back in Ohio because that's what you 'do'. We toyed around with the idea but couldn't wrap our heads around having a 400 person shindig which included our family dentist and our mother's brother's cousin twice removed. It just wasn't us. So while trying to make it more convenient for everyone else, we were losing sight on what we really wanted. Finally we said screw it and decided to do a small 100 person wedding in Redondo Beach where we lived.

Now this decision pissed some people off. Obviously, some people couldn't make it and it was going to be more expensive on our friends, but that's a consequence that comes with having a destination wedding. There are always going to be some trade-offs. But on the flip side, those who did make it out treated it like a vacation and said the trip was well worth it.

So I guess my biggest piece of advice is to do what is most personal to you. If you have a vacation spot that is meaningful to your relationship - have it there. If you want to do it in your hometown church where your parents got married - have it there. Point being - stop trying to make everyone else happy and do what makes you happy. You'll piss some people off - but you're going to do that regardless, so you might as well get what you want in the process. 

Below are some pictures of the venue we chose - Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club in Redondo Beach. My mom found this place online which was literally two blocks from where we lived, yet I had no clue it existed. Remember that part of the story where I said I didn't like running? 

Photos Courtesy: Marianne Lozano

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Kim & Mike : Easywind Studios

Un-Brides meet Kim. She has great advice when it comes to rehearsal dinners, bridal parties, and overall un-bride attitude. Her I Guess I Do moments include a poor planner and first dance jitters. Enjoy her story in her own words below. 

My name is Kim and I married Mike, the man of my dreams, and I can honestly say that I had the perfect wedding day. Well, in my own head anyway. I chose to wake up and not let any problems stand in the way of what was going to be one of the biggest days of my life. That isn’t to say my day...or the days, weeks, months, or year leading up to it...didn’t have its load of mishaps. Nothing is perfect, but it can be if you let it. 

 I had a year and a half engagement. During that time, I was living with my parents in Ohio while my fiance, Mike, was living in Pittsburgh. As you can imagine, planning a wedding with my fiance 2 hours away made for some “interesting” phone calls. Lots of stress and unfortunately, lots of tears. I can remember scheduling our first meeting with the wedding planner at the Ritz Carlton and being super excited. We had to plan things out far in advance because it was hard scheduling things with my fiance living out of town and getting him to Cleveland in time to make appointments. Well, our first meeting was supposed to be a sit down dinner at the Ritz’s restaurant, where we sat with our assigned planner and went through some of the details: picking out the linens, going through the daily agenda, talking about food, etc. Exciting. 

We arrived, expecting Ritz Carlton customer service to be even more ramped up because we were their future bride and groom, but we ended up being sorely disappointed. Our planner, Jenny, started off the sit-down letting us know that she was missing her father’s birthday party because of this late appointment. Wow. Gee, sorry? She was the one that booked this appointment in the first place. I actually apologized to her. There was no dinner (not even a glass of water offered) so we sat through the meeting knowing this girl was pissed while having our stomachs rumble with hunger. First meeting: huge disappointment. I left crying. After all, this was the first meeting about our wedding day....a day that I would remember for the rest of my life (and our pocketbooks would remember, too). My husband ended up calling the Ritz Carlton and Jenny was taken off our account and we got a new planner. Later, I learned that Jenny got promoted and is now working for the Ritz in California. Doesn’t really give me much hope for those future Ritz brides.

During the year and a half engagement, I had plenty of other ups and downs that were beyond the scope of wedding planning. I was the maid of honor in my twin sister’s wedding, which was 2 months before mine. Yes. Double the engagement celebrating, double the bridal showers, double the bachelorette parties and double the drama. It was quite the busy year....and expensive! Luckily, my sister Colleen and I were never competitive for attention. In fact, it actually worked out in my favor for a lot of things: family members coming in from out of town for hers and not mine (huge savings on that invite number!), already having addresses for more than half of my invite list and learning from all the problems that were encountered on her day. Biggest lesson learned from her wedding day: don’t stress the small stuff.

Looking back on that engagement time, I think the most stress came from the people that were supposed to be the stress relief: my bridal party. And that probably isn’t even exactly fair to say so let me elaborate. I was not the typical bride where everything I did was to make me happy. In fact, I ended up doing more than I should have to make everyone else happy. I had 10 bridesmaids (along with 2 flower girls) because I wanted all my close girlfriends to feel included and couldn’t bear the thought of hurting anyone’s feelings. (For all you future brides, keep in mind that large bridal parties mean lots of money on bridal gifts and fewer spaces for the dinner rehearsal!) Well, when others started getting engaged, they didn’t include me in their parties. It was incredibly hurtful (and admittedly, embarrassing). Here I was going out of my way to make sure everyone felt special by being included, and they had no problem when it was their turn to be “bride” to be inconsiderate towards my feelings. At the time, it was honestly devastating. Looking back, I can really only give them kudos. Good for them for doing what THEY wanted. It was their wedding day, too. And at the end of the day, no matter how hard you try, you aren’t going to be able to please everyone. I learned that the hard way. 

Before I knew it, my sister’s wedding was over and mine was upon me. I had my dinner rehearsal and my husband gave the most tender and romantic speech that night. I was in heaven with him. Of course, behind the scenes of that dinner I had family members pissed at me for not inviting them and others members mad because I didn’t include children to the reception. Dinner rehearsals are even more difficult to plan than the actual wedding day because of the limited number you can work with. We decided to only include people directly involved in the wedding (bridal party, readers, ushers, etc) and those who came in from out of town. Mind you, because Mike and I each had 10 people in our bridal party, that was already 40 people invited because of dates. We had limited space and my husband’s family was paying for it, so I wanted to be fair when it came to money. On top of that, my side of the family is HUGE so I would never have been able to invite everyone, especially at that venue. Ughhhh. One can never win. But I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying every second of every minute of every hour of that memorable evening. Today, I am absolutely thankful for that positive attitude.

My wedding day. Bliss. Why? How? Because I woke up with an attitude of no matter what happens, nothing is going to break this smile. After all, I was marrying my best friend and was incredibly lucky in love and blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who were genuinely beaming with happiness for us. When I put my wedding gown on, I truly felt the magic it possessed. I felt radiant and beautiful and for the first time, I felt absolutely perfect. There was nothing or no one that could turn that off. It was an emotion I wish I could have bottled up. It truly is all about your attitude.

While all of the above is absolutely true, I do have to admit one minor break down and a couple of mishaps that happened throughout the day. Mike & I had a choreographed dance for our first dance as husband and wife. It was to the song “She’s Everything” by Brad Paisley and it was beautiful. We took ballroom lessons and had it choreographed in Pittsburgh. Anyway, before the reception started, Mike & I were in our hotel room at the Ritz and decided to do a practice routine because I had never done the dance in my dress. Bad idea. I was so overwhelmed by everything, I was stepping on his feet, tripping on my dress and forgetting the moves. I had a minor break down in the room and told Mike I didn’t want to do the routine anymore. A couple tears and deep breaths later, my husband had calmed me down and we went downstairs to greet our guests. God bless that man! Our dance routine....well, it went off without a hitch!

So all in all, it was an over-the-top beautiful affair. All the work to feel like a “perfect bride”: the practice hair and makeup sessions, the careful planning, the dedication to details, the menu and food tasting.....it was all worth it. I am not sure if anyone even noticed all those “little things”, but I remember them. I have the pictures and memories to prove it, both of which will last me a lifetime. The drama....who cares. The people who were meant to be in my life, they still are. And the wedding...well, in my humble opinion, it was the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended. And I hope for all you future brides, that you feel the exact same way about yours.