A Little Bit of Engagement Ring History

If you think about it, the most important piece of wedding jewelry you’ll wear probably won’t be one you choose yourself. We’re talking about your engagement ring! We know that not every bride will wear – or even have – an engagement ring, but in most circles it’s still a must-have.

But why a ring, anyway?

When you go back far enough in history, brides wore wedding rings as part of their bridal jewlery and beyond but only on and after the wedding day. Historians think that the Romans were the first culture to practice giving a ring to signal one’s intention to marry, but their custom didn’t catch worldwide on until much later. The Ancient Greeks had their own version of the engagement ring, but the giving of these rings wasn’t necessarily linked to betrothal.

It was only in medieval times, in 1215 if you want to get specific, that engagement rings became a part of the lasting lexicon of matrimony. That was the year that Pope Innocent III declared a mandatory waiting period between a couple’s engagement and the wedding ceremony. And there was nothing like a ring to show that a bride-to-be was off the market. Not that you or I would recognize these rings as engagement rings by design.

If you’re wondering when ‘modern’ engagement rings hit the scene, you’d have to jump forward to the 1400s – and then visit a wealthy family with a wedding in the near future because the practice was typically limited to high society. It’s in this century that you’d start to see engagement rings with precious gems like emeralds, sapphires, or diamonds.

Today, engagement rings are still a traditional part of the betrothal process, but the common diamond solitaire isn’t the mainstay it once was. Sapphire engagement rings, the perfect complement to blue wedding jewelry, have been popular ever since Princess Diana’s day and are modish again thanks to the divine Kate M. Semi-precious stones and lab gems like moissanite give buyers more bang for their bucks. And some couples are replacing rings with necklaces, watches, and other alternatives!

What’s YOUR engagement ring history? Did you help shop for your own or was it a surprise? Are you even wearing an engagement ring?


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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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11 Wedding Veils Dos and Don’ts

Our March series of dos and don’ts is moving on, and this week we want to talk about your wedding veil. How you choose it. How you wear it. How NOT to wear it! A lot of modern brides are choosing to go veil-less, but we just can’t stop falling in love with this wispy, flowy bits of bridal tulle.

Face it: veils are never going to go entirely out of style. Are you embracing the veil? Then read on!

  • DO think about wearing a veil. Maybe you love the idea of wearing a bridal veil. Or you think wearing a veil would be awful. In either case, consider the alternative before rushing out and buying one (or not). You may find your perfect gown doesn’t call for a veil – or that you unexpectedly feel gorgeous in one!
  • DON’T assume that you can’t wear a wedding veil for a second wedding. It’s up to you, not random etiquette “experts,” to decide what’s right for you.
  • DO try on less traditional veil options, like birdcage veils, the mantilla, or veils that cascade down from a hairpiece versus classical two-piece bridal veils that cover the face.
  • DON’T choose a veil that will compete with your wedding dress for attention. Make sure that any ornamentation on your veil hits your silhouette either above or below where the embellishments on your dress ends.
  • DO opt for crystals over rhinestones. The latter can end up looking like black specs in photographs, whereas crystal embellishments catch the light beautifully.
  • DON’T wear your veil for your entire wedding unless it’s small and comfortable. A long, formal veil worn beyond the first dance may just end up giving you a wicked headache before the cake is even cut.
  • DO make sure your blusher is long enough to flip back over your head for that all-important kiss.
  • DON’T forget to check yourself out from the back – or have a friend take snapshots from all angles. Your guests will spend a lot of time staring at your back so your veil should look amazing from all angles.
  • DO choose a veil that will be easy to remove after the ceremony. The easiest way to handle putting on and taking off a veil is to use a hook and loop closure to attach the veil to your headpiece.
  • DON’T wear a veil with a ribbon edge if you’re worried about looking short. It will cut a horizontal line right across your body and that’s a recipe for the incredible shrinking bride.
  • DO give yourself room to move. Long, classical veils are amazing in pictures but can easily trip a bride up as she walks down the aisle.

P.S. – We are 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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10 Wedding Hair Dos and Don’ts

In our continuing March series of dos and don’ts for brides-to-be, we naturally had to tackle hair!

While we don’t deal directly in hairstyles, your wedding day do will influence the kind of wedding jewelry and accessories you wear… not to mention your wedding veil, and vice versa. Here are our favorite tips:

  • DO make time for the hair trial. As much as you love your stylist, there’s no way to know whether her vision of the world’s greatest wedding hairstyle will match your own. And if you’re using someone new, you need to know they can do what you want.
  • DON’T assume your regular stylist is the best choice when it comes to your wedding day. Loyalty is important, but this is your wedding we’re talking about!
  • DO bring pictures, which really can speak a thousand words apiece. It’s a lot easier to point at a picture and say “This!” than to explain how big of a bun you want or what loose means to you.
  • DON’T hesitate to explain exactly what you want. Your stylist won’t know that you really hate fussy updos unless you actually tell her. She’s not a mind reader. Speak up!
  • DO bring your wedding headpiece to every meeting you have with your stylist, including your first chat before the hair trial. Seeing your tiara or comb will give her an idea of how to incorporate it into your style.
  • DON’T be afraid to ask for suggestions. Your stylist is a pro and might have some amazing ideas!
  • DO let your stylist show you some alternate styles. You may love long, loose looks, but your dress may be screaming for a half-up/half-down do. Remember, you can always veto styles you don’t like so there’s no reason not to experiment.
  • DON’T assume you’ll remember every style you see at your trial. Taking pictures of all the options will help you make your final decision.
  • DO make sure you’ll have plenty of time with your stylist on your wedding day. How many hairstyles will she be handling? Ask how much time she thinks she’ll need and then pad that, just in case. More time to get ready means less stress for everyone.
  • DON’T forget that button down shirt! Wearing a t-shirt could mean having to cut that t-shirt off to get out of it and into your gown.

P.S. – We are 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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11 Wedding Jewelry Dos and Don’ts

Guess what, ladies? March is Dos and Don’ts Month here at the USABride blog and naturally, we’re starting with wedding jewelry. We’d of course prefer that brides-to-be not think about their wedding jewelry and accessories in terms of mistakes to be made, but we all know that one bride who just didn’t hit the mark with her big day look.

Luckily, a little prep is all it takes to nail bridal beauty. It really is as easy as lunch hour research, and we’re here to help! First up is our 11 dos and don’ts for the bride-to-be who is ready to shop for the necklace, earrings, and bracelet she’ll wear when she goes from miss to missus.

  • DO give yourself plenty of time to find the perfect wedding jewelry. If you shop in a rush, you might not be happy with what you end up wearing on your wedding day and that’s the saddest thing we can think of.
  • DON’T limit yourself. We know, we know, all the guides say embrace your innate style, but a wedding should be a once in a lifetime event. Why not try a once in a lifetime look?
  • DO go big. For real, there is no reason not to let your wedding jewelry do the talking for your big day outfit. Think focal point, especially if you’re wearing a relatively simple gown. Think lots of sparkle. Think tiara if you really want to!
  • DON’T wear a watch. Seriously, just don’t. Even if it’s a watch that looks juuuust like a bracelet. You do not need to be anywhere on time once you are at your wedding, so don’t make it look like you’re on deadline. Wear a bridal bracelet instead.
  • DO make sure your jewelry coordinates with your bridal veil! While it might be tempting to collect pieces as you encounter them, you’ll look more beautiful on your wedding day if you think of your bridal ensemble as a unified whole.
  • DON’T wear a necklace with a wedding gown with an asymmetrical décolletage – let the neckline speak for itself.
  • DO consider wearing two sets of wedding jewelry. Something subtle and feminine for the ceremony and then something striking and shiny for the reception, for instance. If brides can change into a second gown, no one should look askance at a jewelry swaparoo.
  • DON’T go cheap. You know that we’ll never steer you toward breaking your budget, but we do suggest staying away from a certain mall chain that will sell you jewelry that looks okay for an hour or two… before turning your skin green.
  • DO look for pieces you can wear again. You may not find them and that’s okay, but there’s no reason not to think long term when you’re picking out wedding jewelry.
  • DON’T worry about whether your wedding ring matches your necklace and earrings. Your ring stands alone and shouldn’t dictate which finish you wear.
  • DO mix and match. Wedding jewelry sets are great – seriously, we adore them – but if you’re brave enough, think about letting the old maxim inspire you to mix old and new and borrowed, too.

P.S. – We are 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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Color-Loving Brides, Choose Your Pearls!

Color has long been treated as symbolic, and it’s no different in the world of gemstones. The symbolism associated with pearls, in particular, is strongly associated with color. As I noted last week, pearls come in almost every color under the rainbow – and with every color of pearl you’ll find a different meaning. Here is just a tiny taste of pearl color meaning, along with recommendations from our carefully chosen inventory of pearl wedding jewelry.

White Pearls: Classic white pearls have been a symbol of purity for ages upon ages. Try our Pearl & Pave set!

Rose or Pink Pearls: These ultra feminine pearls are a traditional symbol of love. Your bridesmaids will love our Lauren set!

Golden Pearls: Unsurprisingly, gold pearls are a potent symbol of wealth. Keshi pearls can have a lovely golden hue!

Green and Green-Blue Pearls: Deep hues like those found in these pearls are a symbol of romance. An olive coil bracelet can add the perfect touch of color.

Sapphire Blue Pearls: Much like the vastness of the ocean itself, these pearls are symbols of eternity. We recommend our Navy set!

Black Pearls: Classically elegant, these eye-catching pearls are a symbol of dignity. Black is still the new black!

Are you going to wear colored pearls on your wedding day? Let’s hear about it!


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A Quick Look at the Rarest of Pink Pearls

Pink pearls are a relative rarity, even today. While saltwater varieties of pearl-producing oyster can whip up pink pearls naturally and freshwater pearls can be dyed, you probably won’t find these in pink pearl wedding jewelry. The pink pearl produced by the Queen Conch, the Caribbean pink pearl, could be called the rarest of the rare. The animal itself, from which astounding flaming pink pearls originate, is pretty finicky. Only one near-perfect will be found among every hundred thousand shells. On top of that, the Queen Conch is officially a threatened species, so there aren’t even that many pearl producers in existence!

Every attempt to produce a cultured Queen Conch pearl has failed and so the only pink pearls of this variety are found the old fashioned way. That means that only a few thousand new Caribbean pink pearls make it out of the sea every year, and then only 15% of those are of a high enough quality to be used in jewelry. You can imagine that the price tag for these pearls is pretty steep!

Of course, the pink pearls we offer are the most exquisite cultured freshwater pearls and colored glass pearls versus natural pink pearls – which means every bride can wear pink if she wants to!


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