Tying the Knot: Bridesmaid Dresses

Bridesmaid dresses are tricky.

Not only do you have to find dresses that you, as a bride like, and match the style and colors in your wedding, you also have to be mindful of the budgets, body types, and personal comforts of your bridemaids. A tall order, to say the least. When you are asked to be a bridesmaid in a friend or family member’s wedding, you accept the inevitable of paying a lot of money for a dress you likely will never wear again. Its part of supporting your friend and their wishes, knowing you will someday be put in the same position. I was a bridesmaid for a good friend, who picked beautiful bridesmaid dresses. The color was sort of a raspberry/watermelon, the cut was a fitted bodice and flowy on bottom. It was perfect for a summer wedding. She also negotiated a discount on the dresses, so they weren’t quite as crazy expensive. She did everything right, and as a bridesmaid, I completely appreciated it.

My wonderful friend Becca, with all her gorgeous bridesmaids ;-)

My wonderful friend Becca, with all her gorgeous bridesmaids 😉

The only problem is the dress just did not work well for my body. While it looked flattering on all of us ladies, I was missing a key element to this dress: boobs. Without boobs to fill out and hold up my dress, I had to have the tie up corset portion of the dress pulled so tight I had a hard time breathing. It looked beautiful and fit the bride’s vision perfectly but the beauty came at the expense of a little pain. The dress did find a good home with my friend Evyan, who happens to have the boobs necessary to make it look and feel fabulous, so it will live a happy life with its new owner, who will give it a wonderful home in her closet. When I became a bride a few months later, I realized what a challenge she faced. There was nothing I was loving that wasn’t super pricey, so I decided to go the mismatched bridesmaid dress route. I found some inspiration on Pinterest: source

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I had faith in my ladies that they could find dresses that fit the bill, as they are all stylish and beautiful. Unfortunately, I was getting feedback that they were having a difficult time finding what I was asking for. I didn’t want finding a dress to be an additional burden on them.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I went to Orlando for a Christmas Shopping weekend. We were in the Mall at Millennia and decided to stop into Anthropologie. I spotted a dress that was the perfect soft blush pink, and also had an adorable, slightly vintage feel. I asked my mom to try it on, since she was looking for a dress as my Maid of Honor. She put it on and lo an behold the dress was perfect! Not only was it my style (which tends to differ from my mom’s) but it also was flattering on her body. She decided to purchase it, but at $200, I didn’t feel comfortable asking my other bridesmaids to buy it.

The next Monday, I was talking to a coworker about the dress, and decided to pull it up from the Anthropologie site to show her. Amazingly, in the 2 days since my mom had purchased the dress, it had gone 50% off. The dress was now $99!!!!!!!!! I quickly called my mom, who was able to get a price adjustment through the store. I also called all my bridesmaids, and got their okay to get the dress. I felt the price was way more reasonable and was so happy to have found a dress I truly loved. I ended up ordering one for myself and it came in just in time for our engagement pics, so I wore it for them.

I am super excited and grateful for such a fantastic find!

Brides: did you have a difficult time picking out your bridesmaid dresses?

Bridesmaids: how did you feel about the dresses you’ve been asked to wear in various weddings?

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Tying the Knot: Engagement Photos

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Let’s talk about how this engagement has been flying by.

When Ryan proposed to me we had a little over 7 months until the date we set for the wedding. It seemed quick, but I am a pretty organized person and knew I would be somewhat wedding crazy until the date, so I figured it would be plenty of time. Sitting less than 3 months out, I cannot believe that in 80 days I will be a wife and all this planning will be executed. In the midst of all the planning, I realized my goal to document the process was not being fulfilled. As a result, I am working on a bunch of catch up posts for major tasks we have accomplished and will be posting those over the next few days.

One of the most exciting tasks I accomplished last weekend was finally having engagement photos taken. Our search for a photographer was probably one of the most challenging parts of wedding planning. I am a very “laissez faire” bride in many facets of the wedding, in that I just don’t care enough to get worked up over a lot of the little things – the important part is marrying the man I love. However, good photography, that also matched both Ryan and my standards was one thing I DID care about.

One of my best friends, Becca, was recently married and I LOVED the photographers she used. Not only were they super friendly and fun, they also produced beautiful pictures. She also told me they were very reasonably priced. When I met with them, I was all set to go and use them, but unfortunately their prices had risen significantly in the year and a half since Becca had booked them. I was still considering using them, but was not happy with the idea of going 500+ over budget. Ryan and I talked and decided to shop around a bit and if we still didn’t find anyone that compared we would come back to them and cross our fingers they were still available.

I emailed a TON of photographers and most were very expensive. We narrowed it down to 2 of the responses that were close to budget. We ended up meeting first with Amy Mullarkey of Amy Mullarkey Photography. She had recently moved to St. Petersburg, so while she had a lot of experience and great photos to show, she was building her business locally, and as a result had very reasonable prices. We ended up getting both 6 hours of wedding day coverage and our engagement shoot for only $100 over our budget! Additionally, our personalities clicked, and she lived very close to both our home and wedding venue, so I felt she had a good feel of the area we’d be taking photos.

We talked about the engagement photos when we first signed a contract with her, and all had lots of ideas, but nothing was really clicking with us. I did some poking around Pinterest and decided I liked the idea of a picnic style engagement shoot. I was on the hunt for a number of props that would reflect the feel of the wedding. I thrifted, bought , and scavenged from around the house items that would be useful for both the photos and the wedding itself. At the last minute, I asked if we could include our cats, which are like our children. She thought it was a great idea, and so we decided to have a backyard picnic, and some shots inside the house so we could easily wrangle kitties.

Later that evening, Amy sent us some of the first shots she took. I was immediately in love, and can’t wait to see the rest of them!

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Tying the Knot: The Proposal

There are so many exciting wedding posts I would like to do, but I think it makes sense to start at the beginning and discuss the proposal.

Several months ago, toward the end of July, Ryan asked me if I would like to go look at rings with him. I was super excited that he seemed to finally be taking seriously my not so subtle hints that I was ready to “take the next step”. We have been together almost 4 years, live together 3 of those, bought a house together…you get the idea. We had all the elements of commitment to one another, just not the ring.

So we went to a local jewelry store, and I looked at a number of rings. I didn’t know what I wanted excepts I liked wider bands and either round or princess cut stones. I described this to the sales lady and gave her an idea of budget. She picked up this ring with 10 round channel cut stones in the band and a center stone that was 4 princess cut diamonds put together. The band was gorgeous, but I don’t like the small stones put together, and wanted just one center stone. I tried several other rings on, but the first kept capturing my eye. I kept seeing it on my finger, if only it had a different center stone.

The sales person could tell it was the one I truly loved, so she brought out 2 stones, a princess and round stone to replace the 4 small diamond in the center. As soon as she held the round stone up and showed me what it would look like, I was sold. I could only hope Ryan was as well. They asked me to go wait on the other side of the store so Ryan could do some negotiating. I proceeded to text all my close friends that OMG we were RING shopping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As Ryan came back over to where I was, the sales person sized my finger and told Ryan he could pick up the new ring with the center stone I picked, and sized for my finger tomorrow. At that point, the cat was out of the bag and I knew he had bought me a ring.

Now, I am not exactly known for my patient nature, and that following week was one of the longest waits of my life. I knew he had a ring, just didn’t know when the proposal would come. It was extra hard to wait since I was on summer break, and had little to do with my time. I thought surely I would be able to see the proposal coming when he finally did, because Ryan usually can’t keep a secret. I also assumed it would be on the weekend so he could do something special and not just a boring weeknight.

Friday comes around, and Ryan and my brother made plans for us to see The Dark Knight Rises. I was disappointed because, although I wanted to see the movie, I was hoping for a proposal to start the weekend, and was losing my patience waiting. A part of me was still hoping it was a ruse, but when my brother called to confirm the time with me, I accepted there would be no life changing ringtasticness that evening. I decided to drown my boredom in episodes of The Real Housewives, and lounge around in my summer “uniform”- yoga pants and a tank top.

At some point during the day, Ryan sent me a picture of a kitten that they found near his work playing with a ball they had. It was absolutely adorable and I jokingly told him to bring it home. He called me later in the day and told me he had a surprise for me, but it wasn’t the surprise I’ve been waiting for so not to get my hopes up. I immediately thought he was bringing the kitten home. I got super excited and nervous all at once. We were in the process of moving into our new house, and were cat sitting for my mom while she was on vacation. This did not seem like the ideal time to take in a stray cat.

As soon as he got home, he walks in the door with a squeakily meowing sound coming from a small cat carrier. I could not believe he’d brought the kitten home! Immediately I got excited and was like oooooo I want to see it! As I walked closer though, I saw Ryan’s iPhone was in the cat carrier. I became suspicious and asked, “Why is your iPhone in the carrier?” I also wasn’t seeing the cat. Ryan bent down and said, “Here, let me show you.” As he bent down, he got on one knee, and it clicked what was happening. He pulled out the ring from the cat carrier and asked me to marry him. I was in shock and could not believe he had pulled one over on me and still completely took me by surprise, even though I knew the ring was coming. My first response was “You douche, you tricked me!”, followed by an immediate “YES!!”

I asked are we still seeing the batman movie, and thankfully was told no. Instead, Ryan surprised me with a night at the nicest hotel downtown, the Vinoy, and dinner at one of their restaurants. I was so excited to go celebrate our engagement. We quckly packed our bags and headed to the hotel, which was only about 15 mins away. I could not stop looking at my sparkly ring. I of course texted about everyone I knew, called my mom, called my grandma, posted to Facebook, all but shouting it from the rooftops.

At the hotel, we told them we got engaged and were upgraded to a room with a hot tub. My brother came to the hotel with a bottle of champagne to celebrate and the three of us enjoyed a glass together in the room. When Blake left, Ryan and I headed down to the health club at the hotel to say hi to some of Ryan’s former coworkers and share the news (he had worked there about a year before.) They were all very excited for us. After, we went to dinner. We each had a celebratory cocktail before dinner, one of my favorite little indulgences, and enjoyed a tasty meal together. At the end of dinner, the waited brought us complementary champagne and a chocolate dessert. It was so fun being treated with little extras and having others recognize what a special night it was for Ryan and I.

After dinner, we decided to go for a walk downtown to enjoy the summer evening and stop in at our favorite bar, The Ale and the Witch. We played Jenga, and enjoyed a craft beer together. After a while, be both were feeling tired and walked back to the hotel. Ryan’s friends in the health club had sent up amazing cupcakes as a congratulatory surprise. We took a dip in the hot tub before calling it bedtime.

He takes his Jenga VERY seriously.

The next morning, we decided to have brunch before heading home, and went to Ceviche’s which has become one of our favorite brunch spots since then. Ryan had french toast and I had a breakfast sandwich on a croissant. As a lover of all things brunch, it was the perfect end to a wonderful engagement celebration. I couldn’t wait to begin the wedding planning, but most of all, I was so excited to finally marry my best friend. ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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