Yes or No: Doing Your Own Bridal Hair on Your Wedding Day

doing your own wedding hairstyle - bridal hair accessories

Thinking of doing your own bridal hairstyle on your wedding day? Then we have three words for you: practice, practice, practice. Even if you’re used to doing your own hair. And especially if you want to try a new style! To start, you’ll want to have your bridal hair accessories ready to go and plenty of weeks or even months in which to do trial runs of your ‘do. Here are six tips for DIY brides from Gretchen Maurer, creator of

1. Time your practice session and make a list of all of the tools and products you will need. You need to be 100% sure you can create the bridal hairstyle you want, including the insertion of any bridal hair accessories, in the time you’ll have.

2. Put everything in a basket and hide it away to bring out fresh and ready for your special day. Don’t try to substitute out products on the big day – use exactly what you tested in your practice sessions.

3. Schedule times for showers if you will be having relatives stay over. Make sure your bathroom needs take priority if you’re going to be sharing.

4. If you are not dressing at home make sure there is a mirror and a counter or table to work from. Take a tour of the ceremony facility to figure out exactly where you’ll be doing your wedding hair.

5. Make sure there are proper outlets – if not bring an extension cord. And bring extas of everything (e.g., hairpins), just in case.

6. Put on all of your pretty under things and cover up with a button down shirt or robe. This way after hair and makeup are done you can just slip into your gown instead of having to wiggle out of a t-shirt without mussing your hair.

Now you tell us: Would you do your own wedding day hairdo?

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Wedding Etiquette and Buying the Mother of the Bride Dress

bridesmaids dresses - wedding etiquette advice

If you’re like a lot of brides, you probably thought you’d be the one calling your mom to ask her the questions… and then it came time for mom to buy her Mother of the Bride dress. Suddenly, your cell is ringing off the hook because she has questions about colors. Styles. What your fiance’s mom is wearing! It’ll drive you bonkers if you let it, but remember that she’s only asking so many questions because she wants you to love her dress as much as she loves yours. Sweet, right?

Here are our tips for buying a mother of the bride dress that you can share with your mom as she she shops for the perfect one:

1. While it is important to allow your mother and future mother-in-law to pick a style they both feel comfortable in, what they choose needs to at the very least be appropriate. And you get to choose what that means (e.g., no strapless, no plunging necklines, no mini dresses, etc.).

2. Tradition holds that the mother of the bride chooses her dress first, followed by the mother of the groom. Their dresses should complement each other, as well as the bridal party. That’s so they’ll look their best in posed photos.

3. Having one mother in a floor length dress and another in a cocktail length skirt is a major no-no. Likewise, your mother wearing an orange dress next to your bridesmaid’s light green ensembles is bound to make your wedding pictures look kind of gross.

4. While the moms shouldn’t be wearing the exact same style and color a la matching bridesmaids dresses, their dresses should coordinate.

5. Generally, at formal weddings, your mother and mother-in-law should be in floor or tea-length dresses. Semi-formal or informal weddings allow them to get more creative with the length, but they still need to make sure they are complementing one another.

6. Unless your bridesmaids will be wearing black, a mother of the bride or groom should avoid this color. Until recently, black at weddings was considered a social blunder and many guests will still look at the color choice with suspicion. Are they like, mourning, or something?

7. Don’t forget to finish the look with a matching corsage or a small bouquet to honor your moms and ensure they feel special on your big day!


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Wedding Garters: Steeped in Tradition

bridal garters - wedding garters

Bridal garters might seem like a somewhat outdated and far-from-essential wedding accessory, but this is one wedding tradition that actually boasts roots in truly ancient customs. Brides and grooms in more cultures than one would toss items of clothing at rowdy guests to avoid being ransacked by revelers as they made their exit. Whoever snagged pieces of the newlywed’s clothing would be blessed with good luck!

Today, it’s slightly less common to see the groom tossing the wedding garter over his shoulder at the reception, but the tradition isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The right time to buy your wedding garter — if you plan to wear one — is any time after you’ve chosen your wedding gown and your wedding colors. That way, if you want to coordinate fabrics or colors, you can.

Tips for Choosing Your Bridal Garter

Though bridal garters come in every possible color, pattern, and material, many brides opt to have their garters be their “something blue.” If you’re planning to do just that, don’t limit yourself to common hues like baby or Tiffany blue. Consider a wedding garter made of deep navy, cornflower, or Majorelle blue fabric.

Wedding garters are commonly made of beautiful feminine materials like satin, organza, lace, Swarovski crystals, pearls, and delicate ribbon, but why not think outside the box? These days, brides can choose garters featuring everything from sports teams logos to animal prints to vintage charms.

Finally, if your new husband is going to toss the garter at the reception and your garter is just too pretty (or meaningful) to give away, don’t forget to buy a tossing garter. These are wedding garters that are as pretty as, but usually less expensive than, your main garter. Sometimes garter sets will include a matching tosser.

But that said, consider that a lot of singletons are committed these days and don’t necessarily have plans to marry. The reason the toss is falling out of favor is because it turns out a lot of people just don’t like being paraded in front of a crowd of wedding guests! So our advice? Wear a gorgeous garter under your even more gorgeous gown, and let your new husband remove it in private 😉

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10 Real World Tips to Combat Wedding Stress

combat wedding stress

Many times, brides and grooms experience different kinds of stress. Brides are usually more emotional about wedding planning and grooms can be more concerned about – or just plain stressed out – about money. Whether you are a bride or a groom, though, there is plenty to worry about! Will the vendors show up? Will I like my dress? Will I love my wedding jewelry? Will the photographs turn out? Will guests like the reception dinner? Will people dance? Can we afford this? Is our venue still available? It’s enough to drive you crazy!

But wait. Stop. Breathe. Stressing out about wedding planning is not inevitable and if you’re already stressing out, it’s something you can work on. Contrary to popular belief – and reality TV – you do not have to spend every day of your engagement freaking out. Promise. Just re-read these tips for combating wedding planning stress and guaranteeing a happy wedding day whenever you feel yourself start to lose it:

1. Expect that there will be stress in planning your wedding. Why? There are a lot of decisions to be made, many details to be worked out, and others may want, or try to influence you. That is not bad or wrong, it just requires that you and your fiancé be aware of what is really happening. Try to respond to issues and avoid reacting to things.

2. One of the greatest challenges facing brides and grooms is their feelings of wanting to satisfy everyone. There are so many people involved – family, friends and relatives. Setting realistic expectations is very important.

3. Don’t expect perfection. Expect a terrific day. Expect to marry your sweetheart and have a good time with the people you love and that’s it. Setting expectations that are too high will create stress and lead to frustration, and then more stress.

4. Feeling stressed about certain elements of the wedding such as, saying your wedding vows or your first dance? Then, visualize the event. Spend some quiet time alone, relax and really visualize in your mind the events going smoothly. Do this exercise several times a day if you need to!

5. One of the best ways to combat stress is to exercise. When things start getting out of control – STOP. Take a break and go to the gym or go for a brisk walk.

6. There are always some people (relatives or friends) that know how to “push your buttons”. When you are feeling very stressed… be sure to stay away from or at least limit your time with these people.

7. Wedding planning can cause a great deal of stress between the bride and the groom. Individually, they should be aware of their thresholds for stress, and how much stress they can handle in a given time period. If you notice that one of you is nearing your “threshold”, then take a short break from your wedding planning and do something fun together.

8. Parents can also experience wedding stress as their children get married and leave “the nest”. This is commonly referred to as “separation anxiety”. It can be a time of great anxiety for the parents which can then create stress and highly emotional issues for the bride and groom. Being aware of what is happening, REALLY happening, is a big part of dealing and managing stress.

9. Time pressure can cause a great deal of stress. Don’t try and do everything yourself. Delegate as much as you can to others. Use the Internet.

10. Are you and your fiancé arguing more than normal? Realize that this is normal because you are spending more time on wedding planning versus spending time on your relationship. That’s why it is so important to take time away from wedding planning and spend time with each other. A romantic dinner, a bike ride — whatever you both like to do together (just don’t discuss the wedding plans!)

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Creating a DIY Wedding Reception Bar

DIY wedding bar

If you’re planning your wedding reception at a location where you’ll be the one making the bar arrangements, it can be a mind boggling task. And if you’re planning to set up a DIY reception bar where you’ll be responsible for everything, it’s even worse. You may be blindsided by questions like:

* How much liquor should you buy?
* What kind do you buy?
* Can you return the unopened liquor?

Yikes, right? But figuring out the answers is worth it if you have the ability to stock your own bar because DIYing it can save you lots of money! Here are some great tips we’ve found for brides-to-be and grooms who are creating their own wedding reception bars or working with an outside distributor to bring bar drinks to an otherwise dry reception space:

1. Choose a reputable company that will consult with you and help you select the right wines, champagne, etc. for your guest list and menu. In addition, be sure they don’t charge for delivery and most importantly, that they will credit you for any unopened wine and spirits.

2. Think about your guests, are they beer, wine, or hard liquor drinkers? This will help you to determine quantities. Remember, the choice is up to you as to what you serve. Maybe you want to have a cocktail reception with just beer and wine. Maybe you want to serve a specialty drink like a Mimosa or Bloody Mary for a early afternoon reception.

3. If you’re having a champagne toast, find out if the guests will see the champagne being poured. If not, it’s a good place to save some money by selecting an inexpensive brand, since most people just sip for the toast! It may enable you to spend a bit more on the wines you’ll be serving with dinner.

4. Set a budget for liquor. A good liquor company will work with you to stay within your means. There are thousands of wine choices at different price points, so you can find one to fit your budget. In addition, you can choose between “top shelf” liquors or “house pour” liquors (i.e. Absolut vs. Smirnoff).

5. When trying to determine how much to buy, you should ask the company you select to provide the alcohol, to make recommendations and help you to determine the appropriate amounts.

6. Be creative – instead of offering your wedding guests the typical run of beers, try to include some of the newer micro-brewed beers. You can still offer the old stand-by’s for those guests who are committed to “their” brands, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the feedback you’ll receive on being somewhat adventuresome!

7. Consider an international coffee bar during the dessert hour. If you do, you’ll want to be sure to serve Kahlua, Bailey’s, Tia Maria, Grand Marnier and other cordials that your guests will enjoy with coffee.

8. Check into liquor liability coverage. Does your caterer provide coverage? If so, find out how much. You may find that the hall carries some coverage and it will be important to determine their role.

The best part about putting together your own DIY wedding reception bar is that you can save a tremendous amount of money! Brides and grooms can keep their costs low, often under $5 per person for the entire evening! Not bad when you consider what it would cost at a hotel!

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Tips for an Amazing Christmas Wedding or Winter Wedding

Planning a wedding for the holiday season can be a lot of fun. There are so many locations already decorated perfectly for a Christmas wedding or winter wedding, for one, so you can take advantage of the free ambiance to make an enchanted wedding to remember. That’s not the only reason to plan a holiday wedding, however. If you’ve always adored Christmas, it does make a great theme. And winter weddings? It’s a no-brainer – off-peak wedding planning can save you a bundle!

Below, we’ve put together some Christmas and winter wedding planning tips that’ll help you create an amazing ceremony and reception.

christmas wedding - red bridesmaid dresses

* Your wedding dress should reflect the joy of the season. A deep red or green velvet cape is a wonderful garment to toss over your shoulders for the reception or on your way to the ceremony. A candlelight or even ivory color dress appears much more dramatic at ceremonies illuminated with candles or soft twinkle lights. Tuxedos are perfect for evening weddings – look into tails for these formal affairs. For a daytime wedding, strollers and waistcoats are more appropriate.

* Floral arrangements can include the flowers of the season – poinsettias, roses, and ivy blend with the greenery adorning the ceremony and reception sites. Your bouquet might include deep red or ivory roses in a bed of trailing ivy. Boutonnieres could be made of a single rose or even a sprig of pine with a small cone. If you’re getting married in a church, ask them what sort of decorations will already be up and plan your colors around their color scheme!

* Greenery is an inexpensive way to add aroma and atmosphere to the ceremony and reception. Drape boughs of pine, holly, ivy, or other greens over doorways, mantelpieces, windows, and the altar. Fill baskets with greenery and pine cones and place near the doorways or at the base of stairways for simple decorations with an aromatic impact. Tall vases filled with white pine cones and bare boughs painted white draped with lights can look amazing. Don’t forget festive colored towels in the powder rooms.

* Your ceremony should reflect your personal beliefs. The holidays are a time of religious significance, and you may want to have a traditional ceremony in your faith. Talk with your pastor about what traditional elements you want to include in your holiday wedding. Some traditional holiday music helps to set the mood. You could have your guests sing carols while they are waiting for the ceremony to begin – though that might not be every family’s cup of tea.

* Your reception can be anything from a few light snacks to a full-blown dinner. For a lighthearted reception, serve hot cocoa and snack foods while you have a holiday sing-along. With your guests already in the holiday mood, it won’t take much for this reception to turn into a long-lasting memory for you and your guests.

* A more reserved reception would be lovely as a sit down dinner with ballroom dancing afterward. Serve traditional holiday foods – roast turkey, ham, or beef with the usual side dishes found on holiday tables. You could also serve something out of character for the season such as chicken or pork, or even elegant French and Mediterranean cuisine but with a wintery twist.

* For favors, find small stockings and write your initials with glitter. Place a tiny tree at each place setting with the names of the guests written on ribbon banners wrapped around the base. Get your bridesmaids together and have a paper snowflake party. Use them to decorate the reception site and perhaps as toppings for small silver cake boxes.

* A sleigh ride away from your reception makes a grand exit, and is the cue for your guests to shower you with bubbles or birdseed. If no snow is available a carriage ride in a wintry white carriage is just as romantic!

* When you plan your bridal ensemble, think snow… silver… Santa… red… We love white gowns with red sashes – it’s a classic look that’s never out of style. How about a satin bridal coat with faux ermine trim around the cuffs and collar? Want more color, then opt for red wedding jewelry instead of more traditional crystal wedding jewelry. Red bridal shoes can also offer a pop of color!

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10 Things NOT to Do Before Your Wedding

blue_wedding_shoes - wedding jewelry

We usually focus on the wedding “dos” here at USABride because our intent is to encourage, not discourage. But for every do there is a don’t and some don’ts are more important than others. You’ll never hear us parrot silly no-nos like never pair black and brown or never let the groom see you before the ceremony because we’re not about criticizing any bride’s style or traditions. We have picked up some solid wedding planning tips over time, however, and today we’re going to share some of the things we tell brides-to-be to avoid doing as they get closer and closer to the big day.

  1. Don’t start your wedding planning without a budget. One of the most stressful elements to wedding planning usually is money. Make sure you decide up front how much your total wedding budget is going to be and who will be contributing and how much.
  2. Don’t spend more than your budget or what you can afford. Your wedding day is an important day, but it is only one day. You don’t want to start your new life together by going into serious debt from your wedding expenses and being strapped with that debt for the next five years.
  3. Don’t rely upon oral agreements with wedding vendors. Get everything in writing!
  4. Don’t try and do everything yourself. Planning a wedding can be a full time job in itself. So don’t try and take on such an enormous project alone, delegate as much as you can! When it comes to weddings, everyone loves to help – let them!
  5. Don’t insist on having it your way all the time! Come to an agreement on the things that are less important. For instance, you have the ultimate say when it comes to your bridal accessories, but may have to give some ground when it comes to the ceremony music.
  6. Don’t skimp on your photography. Your wedding day goes by so fast, and after it’s over, all you’ll have left is your memories and your pictures. If there’s a photo who’s out of your budget range, ask if he or she can do an abbreviated session, like all of the ceremony but only part of the reception.
  7. Don’t get crazy over every detail. It can really take the pleasure out of the wedding planning process. I mean, will it really matter that the ribbons for the favors are baby blue instead of ice blue?
  8. Don’t forget to thank everyone involved in your wedding and those that gave you gifts. Also, don’t let those thank you notes pile up. Send them out promptly after you receive a gift.
  9. Don’t overload yourself the day before your wedding. This is not the time to put together 200 favors. Try to do only one or two small tasks and leave the rest of the day to relax and pamper yourself. You need some time to unwind from the rigors of wedding planning before the big day. Try to make the week before your ceremony and reception fun!
  10. Don’t expect perfection for your wedding day. Expect a “terrific” day and set reasonable expectations. Never forget, the main goal is to get married.

Can you think of any other pre-wedding don’ts?

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Wedding Planning Questions: Can I wear a sleeveless gown for my fall or winter wedding?

We get SO many brides-to-be asking if they can wear sleeveless or strapless gowns for winter weddings or fall weddings. The weather, after all, doesn’t lend itself to baring arms unless you live somewhere down south. But that’s why bridal caps, bridal stoles, and bridal jackets were created! Sleeveless wedding dresses and strapless wedding dresses are still the norm, even with all manner of beautiful sleeved wedding gown options out there.

So, what’s the short answer to the question of sleeveless in cold weather?

Absolutely! Today’s most popular wedding gown styles include strapless and sleeveless gowns that you can wear year round if you bundle up.

With the help of some easy to wear bridal accessories, you can stay warm for your outdoor travels, events, or photo ops without sacrificing that traditional wedding day look. You can add a satin or faux fur wrap, bolero jacket, or glamorous long gloves. We love this amazing silk bridal jacket from Amada Wakeley:

winter wedding accessories - winter wedding coat - bridal coat

The best part? Cold weather bridal accessories can add additional drama to your wedding photos. First, it’s jacket on and then jacket off… or jacket blowing in a chilly wind. Or think of a gorgeous fur or faux fur stole dripping from your bare shoulders. Sounds beautiful, no? And warm, too! We don’t want our brides to freeze their buns off no matter what the weather.


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Brides, Look Your Best in Front of the Camera

Some brides-to-be are excited about the prospect of being the center of attention for an entire day – and the primary subject of the photographer’s lens on top of that. But some, especially the shy brides or the brides who never like how they look in pics, can get pretty worried knowing they’ll be photographed hundreds of times in just a few hours. We get that. It can be a little unnerving to have a pro photographer buzzing around. The best wedding photographers are extra good at being unobtrusive… some, not so much.

wedding planning wedding jewelry

But you can up your chances of getting great wedding photos even if you usually can’t stand how you look in pictures. Seriously. Even if you’re kind of nervous in front of the camera. Use these tips, relax, and smile on your big day and we guarantee you’ll look beautiful!

Enhance Your Look:

When it comes to doing your make-up, don’t fall victim to the saying “more is better”. Use the same shades of make-up that you normally wear and don’t make any radical changes to your looks. Remember, you want to enhance your looks with make-up… not cover them up! You’ll look your best when you look like YOU.

Use a Professional:

Consider using a professional make-up artist. They are trained to understand camera lighting and angles, and how to accentuate your BEST features and minimize others. Make sure, though, that the makeup pro you choose understands the look you’re going for.

Do a Test Run:

Do a bridal makeup test run with hair and make-up just the way you are going to wear it on your wedding day. Put on your bridal jewelry set and have someone take several pictures from different angles and with different facial expressions. Then, look at the pictures. Do you like what you see? Too much make-up or not enough? How about the hair style? Too much height or not enough? If something doesn’t look right ­ start again and do another test run until everything looks just right.

It is important to actually TAKE pictures of yourself because it can give you a different perspective rather than just looking in the mirror.

Freshen Up:

Make sure that you bring along a small make-up bag to “Freshen Up” during the day. All you need is some translucent or pressed powder to absorb any shine and some lipstick. If you’re outside taking pictures, bring along some blotting paper which works great to absorb moisture without rubbing off your make-up.

Type of Photos:

When discussing the type of pictures to take with your photographer, keep in mind that full length photographs capture all the beauty and magnificence of the wedding dress, wedding attire and beautiful scenery or backdrops. Close-up or half length (above the waist) photographs better capture facial expressions and reveal more emotions. So, it’s a good idea to get a mix of both types of shots.

Try to Relax:

Particularly if you are taking pictures before the ceremony, remember to relax in front of the camera. If you’re feeling nervous or anxious, this can show in the camera by your facial expression, your posture and smile.

Change it Up:

On your wedding day, you’re going to be in front of the camera and you’re going to be smiling! Take a break every so often and change your expression and move/exercise the muscles around your mouth. If you don’t, your facial expressions in your photographs may look “strained”.

Simple Background:

When taking your wedding portraits, sometimes it’s better to choose a “Simple ” background (with nice, soft lighting) rather than an elaborate one. A “busy looking” backdrop or sometimes a floral garden landscape can take away from the picture and distract from the focal point – which is the bride and groom. The location you select should also have plenty of open shade. Bright sunny areas will cause you and your family to squint!

Candid Photos:

When your photographer is taking candid pictures during the reception, DON’T look at the camera! The beauty of a candid shot is capturing the magic and emotion of a particular moment when people in the photograph are interacting with each other.

Happy posing!

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Wedding Hair: Choosing the Right Bridal Hairstyle

The wedding day hairstyle can be such a dilemma for so many brides. Up, down, half up and half down… there are just too many bridal hairstyles to choose from! Luckily we snagged Gretchen Maurer, a bridal hair specialist and author of The Business of Bridal Beauty, to get some excellent tips for the bride-to-be who can’t seem to settle on a style:

1. Dress:
Start with the dress because, the brides total bridal look has to be taken into consideration, every thing must balance. The brides dress choice and wedding jewelry sets the tone for the entire ceremony and the hair design has to evoke the same feeling.

2. Texture:
Believe it or not the wedding gown can also dictate the texture of the finished hair design. A smooth, shiny updo of curls or glossy stick straight hair complements a smooth satin gown. Where a gown of sweeping tulle is beautifully accented by soft flowing curls.

bridal headpieces - bridal hairpins - hair brooch

3. The silhouette:
Your look from head to toe has a silhouette, either horizontal or vertical. A full skirt is horizontal and best balanced by a wider hair design and or full veiling. A vertical look being narrow and slim is complemented by a hair design of the same lines; it could be a bob tucked behind the ears or a narrow pile of curls on top of the head.

4. History:
No, we are not back in school. But is there a period of history your gown reflects? Theme weddings such as renaissance or swing, make a great excuse to have some creative fun with your hair.

5. Proportions:
Again the full effect needs to balance. The bride with short hair who is wearing an ornate full traditional dress needs to remember to balance her look with the appropriate headpiece. Like wise the petite bride with too much hair might think about wearing it up to draw the eye vertically.

6. Time of Day:
Next to the dress, the time of day should have some bearing on the hairstyle and bridal headpiece you choose. For a day or morning wedding less glitz and sparkle. Save the crystals, sparkle and tiaras for more formal evening weddings. Headbands, flowers, wreaths, and hats are perfect for day or morning ceremonies.

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