Bride-to-Be: Take a Break

How easy is it to get so wrapped up in planning a wedding that everything else in your life gets the short end of the stick? Too easy. Trust us, we get it. Wedding planning is alternatingly fun and tear your hair out stressful in that way that makes you feel like a reality TV star. We love it all, the good and the bad. Touring venues. Shopping for wedding jewelry. Oohing and ahing over gowns.

The only problem is that wedding planning 24/7 is not exactly healthy when you stretch it out over a period of months. You need to do something else. Anything else. But preferably something else that makes you happy and helps you reconnect with you. You are, after all, more than just a bride-to-be.

We say take a break.

Treat yourself. Go shopping. NOT for the wedding! For you. Buy yourself something fun that isn’t related to the ceremony or reception. Like a pair of amazingly impractical shoes. Or a funky ring. A book you’ve been dying to read – and then make the time to actually read it. Or sign up for a dance class. Buy a huge bag of yarn and learn to knit.

Go crazy! Buy an old junker and fix it up in your spare time – that’s right, you could DIY your own classic limo.

In other words, the sky is the limit. The purpose of this exercise is to spend some time not thinking about your wedding. You’ll be happier, less stressed out, and will have more energy to devote to planning that wedding. Pinky swear.

So do something nice for yourselves, brides! Something just to make you smile!


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Five Ways to Rock That Something Blue

Stymied when it comes to your Something Blue? You’re not alone! While it’s perfectly fine to get married without the old and the new and the borrowed and yes, the blue, most brides-to-be find themselves scratching their heads when it comes to finding all four. Do you borrow your gram’s wedding jewelry? Does your wedding gown count? Is it all right to tell your MIL and your mom that, no, you’d rather not wear a bracelet on each wrist, but thanks anyway? That last one is up to you – we’re not touching it. But we do have five Something Blue ideas to help you in your search!

Blue wedding shoes are the darling of brides who want to add a little color without going crazy. And we love it because it’s so exciting to catch a glimpse of a splash of blue peeking out from under a lacey hem.

blue_wedding_shoes - wedding jewelry

Shoes still too much? A blue bridal garter will only make an appearance once during the reception – that is, if you plan to do the garter toss, which many modern brides specifically do not do. (True story: One of our bloggers didn’t toss, so went around giving everyone free peeks of her Something Blue.)

Some brides opt for blue earrings, which are noticeable but not overwhelming when they’re the only color in the wedding day ensemble. We love these, but what’s not to love? (Of course, there’s plenty of blue wedding jewelry to choose from!)

bridal bracelet - something blue

A blue sapphire engagement ring may be trendy thanks in part to certain royals who shall go unnamed but there’s actually scads of tradition to support picking sapphires over diamonds. These gems have been linked with fidelity and engagements since the 1700s at least.

On the flip side, there is the blue wedding dress. Not an option chosen by most brides, we admit. But still, we’re kind of in love with the thought of a deep blue gown on the bride and bridesmaids all in white. Very quirky and fun.

What’s your Something Blue?


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Earrings and Hair: A Love Affair

Have you ever wondered how some brides look so put together and other brides look a little, well, discombobulated? As if all the pieces aren’t fitting together quite right, we mean. Usually, that’s a symptom of a bride who didn’t bother to think about how her wedding accessories and her gown and her bridal hairstyle and her makeup would work together – or not – on her big day. Look, it’s not easy. Most brides-to-be have never had to worry about styling themselves for a formal event past prom, and prom was a lot simpler.

bridal earrings - wedding jewelry

Luckily, we’re here to help, and this week we wanted to share a few tips for choosing bridal earrings that will make a hairstyle shine (and vice versa):

  • Ideally, you’ll have checked accessory shopping off your wedding planning to-do list before you go to your hair trial with your stylist so she or he can style around your jewelry, head piece, and veil.
  • Your bridal earrings and your wedding day hairstyle should complement one another. If they’re competing for your guests’ attention, the whole look you’ve worked so hard to create is going to seem ‘off’.
  • Remember, some earrings are meant to be seen. If you’re wearing an elaborate hairstyle that has tendrils falling over tendrils or an otherwise soft, loose style, choose gem or pearl studs because chandelier earrings are just going to get lost in your locks.
  • Subtle doesn’t have to mean small when it comes to earrings. If your bridal earrings are subtle and larger than the average earring, your ‘do needs to be prim and polished. Conversely, flashy complements flashy.
  • It’s all about volume. A huge hairstyle is just crying out for a big, bold pair of earrings, so pick yours accordingly.
  • Statement earrings are totally hot but not at all right for every bride (or every bridal hairstyle). If you don’t like the way you look in what the fahsionistas tell you is a must-have, feel free to ignore their advice. You’ll feel more beautiful on your wedding day if YOU like the way you look.


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Three Ways to Carry a Clutch on Your Wedding Day

bridal clutch

Let’s talk about the clutch purse. Now we know that utilibags – we’re talking handbags you could stash a small country in – are still all the rage, but brides just can’t be toting a massive sack around the reception. We’d love a white Valentino bag as much as the next group of fashion-obsessed girly girls, but context! When was the last time you saw a bride sporting a monster purse?

Enter the cute clutch, a petite place to stash an extra lippy, a hanky, and a couple of safety pins. Mid-reception touch ups and wardrobe malfunctions won’t bring a bride down when she’s carrying her trusty bridal clutch. Her maids? Also outfitted with bridesmaids clutch bags that coordinate with their (hopefully) re-wearable dresses. Be prepared is our wedding day motto and ought to be yours, too.

teal bridesmaid clutch

Here are three ways to carry your clutch!

In your hand: When you’re simply transporting your bridal clutch from the reception venue doors to the sweetheart table, you can confidently use a hand carry. This gives you the freedom to quickly put it down on the nearest table when some random auntie wants a hug.

Under your arm: But not too close to the armpit lest your clutch bag end up looking like those dress shields your gram used to wear. Tip: Clutching your clutch under your upper left arm positions your arm in such a way as to show off your sweet engagement ring.

By the wrist strap: When you’re singing ‘Get Me to the Church On Time’ and you’re not being facetious, you need to have a strong grip on your clutch. Involving the wrist strap in your carry means never having to say “Oops, I dropped it!”

How do you like to carry your clutch?


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Wedding Budget Dos and Don’ts

In our last installment of wedding planning dos and don’ts, we’re tackling a biggie. Wedding budgets are a leading cause of stress among brides-to-be – at least the ones who we call besties!

Everyone wants more for less these days. Heck, with the price of weddings, you have to be a cost conscious shopping (yes, even when it comes to your bridal accessories) if you don’t want saying “I do” to mean going into debt.

  • DO ask your wedding vendors for discounts. The worst they can say is no and then you’re no worse off than you were before. Note: Expect to compromise.
  • DON’T skimp where it counts. Most brides want to feel beautiful, so it pays to splurge on things like bridal accessories. Just keep splurging under control.
  • DO spend what you need to for your guests’ comfort. Everyone needs to refresh themselves, so don’t order fewer meals than you’ll need or less cake. How sad would it be if grandma missed out on the wedding cake because you wanted to save a few bucks?
  • DON’T worry about what people will think of your menu. There’s nothing wrong with dry weddings or bar menus with a limited selection. Buffets are awesome. And there’s always the champagne and cake reception we wrote about a while back!
  • DO shop around for everything. eBay can be your friend. Look for deals. Don’t be afraid to buy online. You may be able to find a whole wedding’s worth of stuff by buying in bulk from last season’s brides who want to get rid of all that tulle.
  • DON’T forget to prioritize. Spend your money where it’s most important to you. Love music? Hire an amazing band. Love decorations? Stick to amazing décor in high traffic areas.
  • DO print your wedding invitations and info on a single card and ask guests to RSVP via email. There is no etiquette rule that says you need to bankrupt yourself buying tissue paper inserts and embossing.
  • DON’T use Evites to save on wedding stationery. Just don’t.
  • DO have your wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue – in the same space, if possible. You’ll get a deal on what is usually the biggest slice of a couple’s wedding budget.
  • DON’T choose out of season flowers or any bloom that needs to be flown in from another country. Locally grown flowers are as good for your budget as they are for the ecosystem.
  • DO reuse your and your bridesmaids’ bouquets as table centerpieces at your reception. Repurpose everything you can, including ceremony decorations if you’ve paid for them.
  • DON’T limit yourself to traditional centerpieces. We’ve seen brides use everything from books to lanterns to photos in frames as their reception table centerpieces.

P.S. – Don’t forget that we’re running a sweet promo this month for 20% off all veils, so if you’re going for the traditional bridal look check out our selection!

 


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2013’s Springtime Brides are Counting Down to the Big Day

Springtime weddings are glory realized. The flowers heralding in a new long stretch of blissfully warm weather. The colors, perfect pastels and so feminine. There’s a ethereal quality in spring itself that’s also found in every aspect of springtime weddings. When a springy wedding invitation comes in the mail in the dark of winter, you’d better believe we’re saving the date!

Right now, this year’s springtime brides are poring over their wedding planning to-do lists to see what’s left. What’s nice is that when you’re this close to a wedding, there’s usually not as much you need to do moment-to-moment because you’ve hopefully got all the big stuff squared away. So let’s check in on our springtime brides and see what they still have to do before walking down the aisle!

Currently: Now is a great time to order wedding jewelry because you’ve presumably chosen a wedding gown and you have a good idea of what your bridal hairstyle will be like. When you’re not doing that, take a minute to find out what the marriage license requirements are in your state. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to choose and order all of your wedding stationery, wedding favors, and other bridal accessories. The wedding cake should also be on your mind right about now, and consider setting aside an hour to review all of your wedding vendor contracts.

Soon: Are you taking engagement portraits? Better get on that! Ditto on newspaper wedding announcements. If you have a hand in planning your rehearsal dinner, now’s the time to start – or just make sure your future MIL has all the deets down pat. Finalize your choice of bridal stylist ASAP or risk missing out on your top choice. And get all of the menswear for the groom’s attendants taken care of. You may also want to mail out your wedding invitations now, especially if some guests will have to make travel arrangements.

And one month before: Schedule your final wedding gown fitting and make sure it’s in your calendar. Speaking of fittings, your bridesmaids should all be scheduling their final fittings, so you might want to remind them. This is the perfect time to grab your marriage license if your state allows you to do so this far ahead. Then you don’t have to think about it again until the big day. Make sure your bridal accessories are all in order and, if you’re traveling, pack them up so they stay safe en route. Finally, start working on an order of events for your ceremony and reception that you can share with your officiant, DJ or emcee, and your venues.

There is also plenty to do the week before and the day before the wedding, but those warrant their own posts. We’ll come back to them in time. Until then, happy planning!


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When You Have to Plan a Wedding Fast

How quickly can you plan a wedding? It’s not a question that many brides-to-be ask themselves, considering the average length of engagement is roughly 15 months. Still, plenty of couples are on the expedited ceremony and reception plan where time is of the absolute essence. We won’t get into why there’s a need for speed because there are just oodles of reasons – suffice it to say, sometimes you need to met all those wedding planning deadlines – from booking a venue to choosing wedding jewelry – sooner rather than later.

For many, the answer is hiring a wedding planner. While hiring a pro to plan a wedding can be a big expense, it doesn’t have to be and in cases where time is of the essence, it can end up saving the couple money (not to mention time) in the long run. That’s because a planner will have the inside track on services and professionals who have openings on the wedding date in question. Some vendors will charge a premium for a wedding that’s a mere month or two away, while most will simply be unavailable. Planners have the glorious ability to find those who aren’t booked and get a good deal.

wedding planning quickly

But let’s say a planner just isn’t in your budget… what then? Then you need to figure out a timeline that will help you realize your dream wedding without freaking out. Step one is still going to be figuring out your budget and whether the number is huge or tiny, it’s an important one. Step two? Finding a venue and reserving it ASAP. Preferably one that can be used as both the ceremony and reception spaces and will come decorated. Then you need to book your priority vendors. Realize that you may not get your first choice pros on your schedule.

These are the three most important things you’ll need to do when planning a wedding fast! Everything else, from choosing a wedding dress (like the Sandals wedding dress in the pic) to buying your wedding jewelry to picking your bridesmaids can be done in a more relaxed way without gumming up the works. Which isn’t to say you can drag your heels, but once you have the big three under control your wedding is pretty much in the bag whether it’s in six weeks or six months.

Just remember that when you’re rushing it, you’re probably going to have to make sacrifices. Maybe that will mean having a Sunday afternoon wedding instead of a Saturday evening affair. Your dream of walking down the aisle in a designer dress may not be realized. And second choices may have to become your top choices. The payoff is that you get to have your wedding when you want to or need to – and you miss out on months of wedding planning stress. That’s what we call winning!

 


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Would You Have a Christmas Wedding?

Every year, around this time, wedding planning blogs and magazines will feature a Christmas wedding inspiration board. And we’re no exception! But in addition to sharing a little holiday wedding inspiration, we also want to pose a question. Namely, would you ever consider actually having a Christmas wedding? Possibly in December and Christmas themed or even on December 24th or 25th? It’s certainly not a popular choice for modern weddings for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that planning a Christmas wedding can be a bit complicated. But for brides and grooms who love this particular holiday, it can nonetheless be ideal.

So where do you stand? For anyone unsure, we’ve put together a pros and cons list to help those couples thinking about tying the knot around or on Christmas decide whether it’s worth it.

The pros of having a Christmas wedding:

  • If your guest list is limited to mostly family, a Christmastime wedding can be the ultimate dual-family holiday get together. No more worries about who gets you on Christmas day!
  • Choosing a wedding color scheme is easy. There’s always red, green, and white, but don’t forget mauve and gold or blue and silver.
  • Red bridesmaid dresses. Need we say more?
  • Winter is an off month in the wedding industry, so you may have access to some amazing deals. That may also mean popular venues have openings!
  • And speaking of venues, yours may already be decorated. But if not, check out our holiday wedding decorating ideas!

The cons of having a Christmas wedding:

  • There will always be guests who decline because their own celebrations will conflict with your wedding date or they don’t want to deal with the hassles of holiday travel.
  • Depending on where you’re saying your vows, the weather may be unpredictable. Your wedding probably won’t be snowed out, but it may keep some guests from attending.
  • Some vendors may be unavailable because they want to spend the holidays with their families, not at work.
  • You may end up feeling limited by your theme. A red crystal tiara might feel Christmas-y, but maybe you want to wear a more traditional veil. Could be you don’t care for poinsettias. (Remember, you can have a Christmas wedding that doesn’t scream CHRISTMAS!)

Pros and cons aside, it’s your wedding and if you love everything about Christmas, it can be a wonderful time to have a wedding. Put the aggravations of the season aside – they’re nothing you can’t overcome with a little money or a little effort. Having the wedding YOU want is always worth the trouble!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE WHOLE USABRIDE TEAM!


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Thinking Outside the Bridal Box

Planning a wedding shouldn’t be about following a script, though there are certainly plenty of scripts out there to follow. The traditionalist’s script, with pearl wedding jewelry and a sit-down reception banquet in a hall. The quirky script, with flip flops for guests and cake balls instead of something tiered. The destination wedding script, with sand, sand, and more sand. Go off script, and it’s easy to feel like you’re breaking the rules.

Simple things like choosing tarts over cake, or a bridal brooch over a sash, or getting married in your own backyard can stress out brides-to-be who worry that guests will criticize or even refuse to attend.

We’re not suggesting that kind of thing never happens. Some people are just grumpy and always looking for something to criticize. No bride can please everyone – especially not when you’re trying to bring two families with very different ideas and traditions together. And that’s if there aren’t also differences in culture or religion to contend with! Being that such is the case, why even try to please everyone?

If you’re the kind of bride-to-be who wants to think outside the bridal box when planning a wedding, do it. Get crazy. Take your guests camping. Jump in the deck pool in your wedding gown. Serve virgin mudslides instead of champagne. BBQ. Wear a mini dress or your grandmother’s dress or a biniki or a pants suit or jeans. Have your reception at Taco Bell. Make your parrot your flower girl. Whatever.

As for the stress that comes with thinking outside the bridal box, we say “Why worry?” After all, as much as we’re sure you want to please your guests, your wedding is your party. Make it a good one, whatever that means to you!


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7 Wedding Traditions You Can Safely Skip

When you’re planning a wedding, it becomes all too obvious that the vast number of so-called wedding traditions can easily bankrupt the budget bride and groom. Every new tradition seems to come with a price tag! Many couples are fighting back against the culture of excess surrounding weddings by scaling back and simplifying, but it’s not always easy. Too many wedding planning guides are quick to say that traditions must be upheld, lest brides and grooms find themselves on the wrong side of etiquette. That’s why we want to be just as quick to counter by saying that most of what we think of as tradition is relatively new in its current form… and entirely optional.

Here are seven wedding traditions you can safely skip without offending Miss Manners or Emily Post – though you may have a few not-in-the-know wedding guests who see your omissions as inflammatory:

1. The flower girl – and by extension, the flower girl dress. While a little girl in a miniature gown can certainly enhance the look of a wedding party, whether to invite children to participate in the wedding ceremony is wholly up to the bride and groom.

2. Carrying a bridal bouquet. We love flowers as much as the next bridal accessory experts, but the fact is that a bride can walk down the aisle carrying whatever she wants or even nothing at all. Common floral alternatives include prayer books, candles, lanterns, and fans, but don’t feel like you have to carry anything.

3. Wedding favors. Surprised? While there is indeed a long history of giving wedding guests a little something to take home, there’s an equally long tradition of wedding guests tossing wedding favors right into the trash bin as soon as they get home.

4. Having a bride’s side and a groom’s side at the ceremony. Sometimes it happens that one half a couple has a whole lot of family while the other half has hardly any, or a bride and groom may share all their friends. Ushers can seat guests on either side of the aisle – or guests can simply seat themselves as they see fit, without having to take sides.

5. The garter toss. Wedding garters are so lovely these days that we personally love it when the bride decides to keep hers on her leg where it belongs. Have a toss if you really want to, but could we at least ask that your new spouse not use teeth to remove it beforehand?

6. Matchy-matchy bridesmaids dresses. Besides the fact that it’s unlikely that ALL of your ‘maids will look great in grey or green strapless sheaths, giving bridesmaids a little leeway to choose their own dresses (maybe in one color family) results in more interesting wedding pictures and a more authentic look.

7. Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Though a wedding guest or two may ask you to share your ‘somethings,’ most won’t, so unless you’re very sentimental yourself and truly want to take the time to choose from among the old, new, borrowed, and blue, feel free to just wear the dress and wedding jewelry you really want to wear.

What other wedding traditions do you think brides should consider tossing out?


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