Something I’ve learned about weddings as a bride is that they’re not about you. They’re about family. The family you’re creating by marrying your beloved. And the family and community that has supported each of you along the way.
There’s never a good time to lose someone close to you. But some times seem harder than others.
Roo’s dad passed away last December, just a few months after we were engaged and two days before our smiley engagement session (those photos will always be a little bittersweet for me). As tough as it was for us, I know their dad’s passing had to be tough on Roo’s sister, Mandy. When her dad passed away, she and her fiancé, Matt, were in that we’re-definitely-almost-engaged stage (you know how it is). They’re getting married this November. As much joy and love is surrounding them on that day, there’s going to be a huge something missing.
So one of my gifts to her at our dual bridal shower was a photo charm for her bouquet. When her brother Roo is walking her down the aisle, their dad will be right there alongside them in spirit.
Putting it together was simple and easy, thanks to a store-bought photo frame charm. I wanted to make the presentation a little something special, too.
Photo charm (I got this one at Michael’s for $2)
Clear tape or laminate
1. Print your photo(s) to size. My charm had a fake photo inside, so I measured that to get the right sizing. My frame also has two sides, so I printed two photos next to each other so I could fold it in half. It also had the added benefit of making the frame insert double thick and helped it to better stay in place in the frame.
2. Laminate, or “laminate” the photo and insert it into the frame. My first attempt at slipping the photo into the frame scratched all the ink off my delicate printout. The second time around, I laminated it with two pieces of clear tape. It worked like a…. um…. charm, I guess.
3. Design and print out a card for your charm. Use scrapbook paper or anything else to create a thick card that fits your envelope. I added Mandy’s name to a photo of a bouquet I found online, then printed a purple cable-knit pattern on the back.
4. Punch holes on either side of the card, then string a ribbon through the back. If you’re looking at the back of your card, push each end of the ribbon through the holes so they’re coming out the front.
5. Tie a knot, string your charm on, then tie a bow. Trim the ends and slip it into your envelope.
This was a small project with a huge impact. I hope Mandy is looking forward to having a small token to remind her of her dad on what will surely be a very special day for his youngest daughter.
Another gift I put together for the shower was a gift for our hostesses, Roo’s sisters and aunt. Mandy and I chipped in on a few cute bath sets from Lush Cosmetics to give our hosts. They were already packaged in a cute little handkerchief, so I just added a custom tag I designed for each of them.
I wanted to share this because it incorporates my favorite trick for adding a little flair to a handmade tag: Eyelets. A handwritten, hand stamped or hand painted tag is instantly elevated with a little metal hardware.
Adding eyelets or grommets is easy to do (here are some DIY instructions that explain it way better than I ever could) and instantly adds polish to a crafted tag.
Giving really is better than receiving. I’m glad I got a few opportunities to give gifts at my bridal shower. Hopefully these projects might inspire one of you to try it out.
Did you give any gifts at your own shower?
When it rains, it pours! My first ever bridal shower experience was double the fun thanks to a very special co-guest of honor, Roo’s sister, Mandy. We’re getting married just a few weeks before Mandy and her fiancé, so Roo’s side of the family decided to throw us a joint bridal shower over the Fourth of July weekend in his home state, the mitten of Michigan.
I think I can speak for both Mandy and I when I say that our amazing hosts did an incredible job of honoring us. Roo’s sisters Amy and Wendy along with his Aunt Diann coordinated a colorful brunch shower that was so full of love and laughter that I don’t think either of us will ever forget it.
On Saturday morning, family and friends descended on Garage Grill & Fuel Bar in Northville, Michigan for a double-trouble bridal brunch. The venue was very cool; Garage is a restaurant and bar set in a restored 1940’s-era gas station. There’s tons of charm and they retained a lot of industrial garage elements in the architecture and decor to tie in to the building’s history as a service station. And the food… I should have gotten a picture of the food. It was great! We had a spread of all the brunch favorites, including French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and a made-to-order omelette station.
When guests walked in, they were greeted by an entry table with photos of the two couples of honor (that’s Roo and I in the left frame below).
Then guests continue on into a beautifully decorated private room with a big banquet table inside. Mandy and I each had places of honor at the heads of the long table. The whole room was decorated in red and teal blue, with lots of whimsical decorations like chalkboard signs, potted topiaries and favors at each place setting.
It was perfect, and you could tell our hosts (especially Aunt Diann, they tell me) had put a ton of effort into making it look spectacular.
My favorite part of the decor was probably the table runner. Roo’s sister Wendy is quite the photographer and put together a table runner made from black-and-white photos of myself, Roo, Mandy and her fiancé Matt. There were photos from every stage of our lives—or at least every one available on Facebook.
I found a tutorial for a DIY photo table runner here from Ruffled, but the idea is easy to grasp: Wendy printed out photos, slipped them into plastic sleeves and used double-stick tape to attach the photos together to form one long piece that runs the length of the table. (She actually did in three pieces at home so it was easy to transport, then fastened those pieces together on site.) It was creative and looks great, both in person and in pictures. The photo table runner idea would be right at home in wedding decor, too.
Along the wall behind the table was a dessert spread—all homemade by our hosts and perfectly coordinated to the theme. There were red velvet and blue velvet cupcakes tucked into mason jars, plus the cutest miniature apple and cherry pies. I can report that they were as delicious as they are adorable.
Behind our seats at the ends of the room, Mandy and I each had tables for guests to drop gifts. Each table had our names and wedding dates written down on chalkboard-painted platters.
My table had a few gifts wrapped in One Direction wrapping paper (I loved it), courtesy of pranksters Mandy and Roo’s other sister, Heidy. Roo has four sisters in total—it was hard for me to keep straight when we first met, too.
The Fab Five: My co-bride Mandy, our hosts Amy and Wendy, Roo (J.R. to everyone who’s not on the ‘Bee), and Heidy, mom to our sweet flower girl.
If you’re wondering why Roo is so underdressed, it’s because this wasn’t really meant to be a co-ed shower. Roo’s family is spread out, and more than a few people were traveling to Michigan for the shower. So Roo and his brothers-in-law (and future brother-in-law) had big plans for a guy’s day out/bachelor party while us gals were doin’ the bridal thing. But after dropping us ladies at Garage, the boys had a few hours to kill before they needed to be downtown for the Detroit Tigers baseball game, so they stuck around.
Roo and Matt helped me and Mandy open gifts for a little while…
…and what did the guys do the rest of the time?
If you answered “get drunk at the bar at 11 am,” you’re absolutely correct!
It was an incredible day that I’ll never forget. I’m so grateful to Amy, Wendy and Diann and everyone who was there for going above and beyond and really showering us with love. The whole thing was beautiful and touching.
During brunch, Wendy made a really sweet speech about Mandy and me—I wish I had a photo of that moment. I also wish we’d gotten a photo of the brides together. Duh! It kind of reminds me how important a wedding photographer is and how useful a detailed shot list can be—they’re there to capture once-in-a-lifetime moments.
The next big wedding event on my calendar is Labor Day weekend—my bridesmaids and family are throwing a shower for me in my hometown of Miami, followed by a bachelorette weekend in Key West. So give me your best bachelorette advice! Any wisdom or wish-I’d-done-it moments for my “hen party”?
Ponytails and pops of color. That’s what I was after for my wedding day look. Inspired by Olivia Palermo‘s bridal style, I wanted hair that was laid-back and a little messy, with dramatic eyes and a bit of bright color on my lips.
So how did my trial go?
Even after years running a blog and promoting my personal brand on social media, I still feel a little strange just talking about myself. Weirder still is posting a bunch of photos of my face and asking you guys to comment on it. But it’s important to share things like a bridal beauty trial, especially for the brides looking to find advice for working with hair and makeup artists. For me, it helps to remember we’re talking about a hairstyle and makeup and not the hair and face beneath it.
So… here’s my face. The makeup on my face here was done by the lovely and talented Brielle Brenner.
The decision to hire a makeup pro was not taken lightly. Anyone who’s seen a price sheet from any sort of bridal beauty specialist knows that the cost is steep. On a random Thursday, I would never even consider spending $100+ for someone to paint my face. But this is my wedding day. And for a handful of reasons, Roo finally let me we decided to hire pros for hair and makeup. And I’m so glad.
Brielle was recommended to me by another makeup artist I found online and reached out to. She was unavailable for our day, but sent over a few of her favorite people for me to check out. The lesson as a bride? You can always ask for referrals. The lesson for vendors? Make friends with your fellow professionals.
The hairstyle here was done by Brielle‘s equally sweet and talented sister, Brittany. (Please excuse those wisps who managed to escape heat and hair spray.) I had so much fun during the trial just hanging out in their studio and chatting about beer and Baltimore (they lived there for a while). I think it’s important to find vendors that you get along with, especially when it comes to the people who will be close to you on your wedding day.
Thanks to these talented artists, our awesome photographer and my lovely bridesmaids, I’m looking forward to the morning of the wedding almost as much as the wedding itself. In my experiences as a bridesmaid, getting ready is always my favorite part of the wedding weekend. It’s a fun time to get pampered and relax with your friends. If I’m being honest, that’s probably the number two reason why I came around to hiring pros for hair and makeup: So we can get ready in the hotel room, primping and sipping champagne along the way.
The number one reason? Here’s my face again.
As soon as I got home from the trial, I put on my wedding dress and pranced around the guest room snapping photos in the mirror (for much longer than I needed to). I’ll pretend that my selfie session was all for the blog, but the truth is, I just felt beautiful. I can’t put a price tag on that.
You know what else is priceless? Perfect winged eyeliner.
This would have taken me two tubes of eyeliner, three boxes of tissues and about six or seven hours. And yes, I went for the giant falsies. Go big or go home, girls.
I know this was a trial, but I’m pretty set on this look. One thing I might change up a bit is the color of the lips. This poppy shade was strange at first (since I’m a girl who’s signature lip shade is “Chapstick”), but it felt really comfortable after a while. So I’m feeling a little more confident that I can maybe pull off the orangey-coral lip of my dreams (and match those neon Kate Spade cluster earrings in the photos above).
If you’re looking forward to your bridal hair and makeup trial, here’s a bit of wisdom from my experience:
- You want to look like the best version of yourself, so don’t feel like you have to step outside of your comfort zone. If you’re a ponytail girl, be a ponytail bride. If you wear long, flowing locks on the daily, don’t feel like you need a blingy updo to say “I do.”
- Think about accessories. (Your earrings and veil, mostly.) My jewelry plan is just a pair of statement earrings, so I want to show them off with a hair style that doesn’t cover my ears. Your accessories can inform your hair choice, like in my case, or the other way around.
- Know what you don’t know. My main motivation in hiring a pro makeup artist was how little I actually know about applying my own makeup. I gave Brielle some direction with inspiration photos, but I trusted her judgement about what does and doesn’t work.
- Just do it. The red lips. The big false eyelashes. Your trial is a good opportunity to try on a daring look you’ve been excited about but maybe too timid to wear.
Did you hire a hair or makeup pro? How did your trial go?
Sorry if you’ve seen less of me around here. I took an unplanned week off from wedding blogging to do some actual wedding planning. I know, it’s crazy. The good news is that I’ve been getting a lot done in the past few weeks, so I have a lot to blog about from here on out. The wedding is just about two months away. We have 65 days to go and only 5 free weekends available between now and then. Five. Free. Weekends.
Aladdin gets it. And so do the other 24 people in these panic GIFs from Mashable.
Right now, I’m in the throes of putting together our invitations, which are way more labor intensive than I thought they would be. I’m aiming to get them in the mail by Friday. Until then, here are some of the other milestones, projects and decisions we’ve been working on.
- The Flower Girl and Ring Bearer: Our ring bearer’s outfit is all set, and we’re waiting on a dress for the flower girl to arrive from Macy’s to see if it fits. I know the ring bearer will carry an antique book down the aisle, but I’m trying to decide what the flower girl should carry. I’m leaning towards a pomander, since I’d rather not have to pick up petals from the aisle at the end of the night.
- Bridesmaids and Groomsmen: The groomsmen’s outfits were decided a long time ago, but I’ve been pretty hush about the bridesmaids until now. That’s because I was way late on deciding what I want my girls to wear (sorry, gals!). Eventually, I settled on black. The girls will wear whatever they want, as long as it’s mostly black. Easy peasy, right? Gifts for our guys and girls are in the works, too, although I’ll keep those to myself for the time being.
- Out of Town Bags: Since it’s easy to check off the list, Roo and I have been buying up supplies for welcome bags for our 90 or so out of town guests. We’re planning Atlanta-themed bags with plenty of Georgia peanuts and Coca Cola!
- Wedding Shower: I had a shower! (A wedding shower. I promise I’ve had at least a dozen actual showers since you heard from me last.) Roo’s sister is also getting married this fall, so his family planned us a dual shower together near their hometown in Michigan, and it was amazing. I can’t wait to share it with you guys. My ‘maids have also planned a shower and bachelorette weekend over Labor Day with my side of the family in Miami—I can’t wait!
- Program Sign: Instead of printing out programs for the wedding, Roo built us a big sandwich board sign for me to decorate. I didn’t think this was a project we could tackle, but Roo had the brilliant idea to re-purpose two unused shelves from our IKEA coffee tables. Total cost: One $3 pair of hinges.
- Table Decor: I’m steadily buying up supplies to decorate our reception and coming up with little projects we can do cheaply and well in advance to make the tasting room at the brewery feel special and full when our guests walk in at sit down.
Some of my inspiration, from this modern wedding.
- Invitations: This is the real reason you haven’t heard from me in a week. As a graphic designer and frequent paper crafter, I wanted to DIY our invitations from start to finish. But even our simple invites are proving to be a ton of work, and we’re quickly coming up on our “must send” date. The lesson here is to heed the advice of brides before you: Start your invitations early.
Fall and Winter brides, where you at? What do you have left to do?
Whenever I post about our wedding decisions, I usually try to offer some back story. I figure it helps to know how we chose certain elements or to explain the significance of one thing or another. But four our ring bearer details, I got nothin’.
Our ring bearer himself is pretty special. He’s Roo’s youngest nephew, a really cute boy who’s into boy things, like Lego, Batman and Lego Batman. But I have to admit that, unlike most other things about our wedding, I didn’t have a clear vision for what he would wear or carry down the aisle.
So we just…. picked. No Pinspiration, no color swatches. We just picked stuff we liked and checked it off the list.
He’ll be wearing black, like the groomsmen. With a black polka dot bow tie that matches the groom’s polka dot necktie. We don’t want him in a jacket, so he’ll probably be wearing suspenders or a vest instead. We still need to figure that out. (Maybe some Pinspiration wouldn’t hurt…)
As for what he’ll actually carry down the aisle, I always figured it would be a ring pillow. I knew there were other options, like a stack of books or a “here comes the bride” sign, but I didn’t really have a good reason to do either of those. At least not until I went antique shopping last weekend. As we wandered through the stores, I had my mind on our wedding. I was looking specifically at vintage glassware for centerpieces, but I stumbled upon a small weathered book: Honey Bunch, Her First Big Adventure.
Among probably a dozen other stupid terms of affection (Babeh, Booski, Boo Boo), our big pet name for each other is “Honey Bunch.” So this antique store Honey Bunch book was perfect for our ring bearer to carry down the aisle. I snatched it up for $7 and brought it home.
I imagine we’ll give the tattered book a little special treatment with ribbon and maybe a secret cut-out (a la Martha Stewart) inside the pages. I’m just thankful to have found a direction and another thing to check off the list. Now I just have one question: Does the ring bearer actually carry the rings down the aisle? Or do I need to find decoy rings now?
Do you have a ring bearer? What’s your plan?