Monday, September 30, 2013

WW#5 Modest Autumn

Hello everyone! I am very excited about this weekly wedding theme! Why? Well, first of all, it celebrates autumn, which is truly my favorite season (and getting near my wedding anniversary!), and secondly, it was very much an invigorating challenge.  I chose a modest theme because I wanted to do something that was quite different for me and I was inspired by the number of conservative people I know who are recently engaged.  Now, modesty means different things to different people so I'm not claiming that this post is a definitive, catch-all style guide for modesty.  My ideas of modesty are rather general; covered from the shoulders to below the knees. To some people this may be more modest and to others it is definitely less modest. I know some people think modest dress means absolutely nothing form-fitting, and some people also believe that contrasting buttons or seams are immodest.  Hopefully this post fits a happy medium and will give you plenty of ideas that can be modified to your own tastes and views of modesty.

This is going to make the post a little bit longer than usual, but I want to start out with some tips on what NOT to look for in modest wedding apparel.  It is in no way my intention to offend anyone with this section; I just want to show that there are plenty of stylish, beautiful modest wedding dresses out there and that you don't have to settle for a plain, boring, short-sleeved satin A-line dress.  Some people may think that a very plain wedding dress is fine because it allows the bride's natural beauty to shine, but that clearly isn't always the case.  This type of dress is hardly flattering on anyone because of where the bodice and skirt meet.  Instead of framing the bride's face, the high, unadorned neckline actually detracts from her beauty, and the plain sleeves make it look no better than wearing a plain white Hanes tshirt with  matching white skirt.  Understandably, some religions find this style of dress to be the only appropriate wedding apparel for a bride, so I am not criticizing brides whose case that may be. However, if you have a choice and are not convicted by your religious beliefs to wear this type of old-order Mennonite looking dress, then you have a world of gorgeous and flattering modest options available! One last word here, if this is the type of dress you want, don't be afraid to dress it up a little bit. Add a decorative belt, sash, or pin! Also, lace looks beautiful on almost any style of dress so consider using it instead of satin, or as an overlay.

First of all, depending on how modest you want your dress to be, you can choose from several sleeve and neckline variations. One way to combine visual interest and modesty is to choose a dress with an embellished neckline. I personally like the illusion neckline trend, and it can be very modest if the illusion material has spaced lace or appliques. You can also look for dresses that have lace or scalloped edges; a scoop neck dress with lace edging is super stylish currently! Cap sleeves, flutter sleeves, and longer length sleeves are all good options to personalize your modest look according to your personal style.
Modest Neckline Options
Now, onto the fun stuff- a beautiful modest autumn wedding!
For this wedding, I chose to go with a lacy 1/2-3/4 sleeve dress.  As I stated before, there are plenty of modest sleeve options but I thought that a longer sleeved dress would be seasonally appropriate as the weather in September and October can be chilly (as I learned the hard way when I about froze doing pictures outside at my late October wedding).  As a side note, I completely sympathize with brides who are trying to find a modest dress that fits their comfort level.  It took me a very long time to find the right dress(es) for this post based on what look I wanted. I knew I wanted a dress with sleeves, but I also wanted to avoid the overdone Kate Middleton dress style. Additionally, it is apparently now popular to pair 3/4 sleeves with knee-length dresses now, and fit and flare dresses are also popular; neither look is something I would be comfortable wearing and neither of which I wanted to use in this wedding.  I eventually found two dresses to use; one is a fit and flare but I really like how it looks, and the other has a looser fit.  I chose to include a second dress option because some brides may feel that the form-fitting look of a fit and flare style is not modest. 
Modest Satin and Lace
Justin Alexander Signature

*A note about the second dress: This dress is sold on Etsy and I personally would be hesitant to buy this dress because you have absolutely no guarantee that it will be of acceptable quality. I am including it because I like how it looks, but this should not be taken as an endorsement of the dress itself or the seller of the dress. 

To keep the bride's overall look simple and elegant, and in order to not overshadow such a gorgeous dress, I chose to pair the dress with simple peep-toe low heels and a long veil with no other hair adornments. Delicate jewelry and  natural, radiant, dewy makeup completes the look.  The bride's bouquet would be shades of cream, orange, red, and yellow, to reflect the changing colors of the leaves on the trees.  These colors would also really pop against the background of the bridesmaids' green dresses.  

Finding a stylish and attractive bridesmaid dress was even more difficult than finding the bride's dress.  Part of this is my fault because I had a set style and color in mind (yes, this goes against my #1 wedding planning rule of flexibility, oops!)  I wanted the main colors to be green and gold to reflect the bounty of the harvest season, with accents of fall's reds and oranges.  I was looking for a mossy or olive green bridesmaid dress but could not find any to my satisfaction.  Finally, I found this simple yet sophisticated dark green dress listed as a mother-of-the-bride dress.  It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but dressed up with a soft gold sash it would be perfect! Add nude or gold low pumps and the bridesmaids perfectly complement the bride. 

Wedding S'mores Bar

Finally, I imagine that the setting of the wedding itself would be someplace woodsy and charming.  If not performed in a church, perhaps the ceremony would take place outdoors in a woodland clearing in front of a small cabin.  The reception could be either in a lodge or covered pavilion, or just outdoors in the same clearing with tables set up underneath a large awning.  Live music is a must have to set the mood for both ceremony and reception.  Instead of a full dinner being served, there would be a wide array of hors d'oeuvres to encourage guests to mingle.  Along with the traditional wedding cake, dessert would be a s'mores bar offering many varieties of chocolate and specialty marshmallows. I know some people choose to have a firepit to roast marshmallows during an outdoor reception, but I prefer small sterno flames to avoid guests having to deal with their clothes smelling like wood smoke.  

Hopefully you all enjoyed this little foray into modest wedding planning as much as I did.  For more inspiration, please visit my Pinterest board Modest Autumn Wedding! Also, I'm running out of ideas for new themes so please leave a comment with what you want me to cover next. Happy wedding planning <3

Thursday, September 26, 2013

WW#4- Red and Black Romance

elegant wedding

Once again I find myself apologizing for a huge delay between posts. I'm having health issues again and to top that off my computer is not working quite properly :(

Anyways, my inspiration for this weekly wedding is the classic red and black theme that many brides seem to favor.  Honestly, it is not one of my favorite themes, but I think I can find a way to make it work. To really make this theme stand out and not look tired or overdone, the colors need to be crisp and clean.  No ivories or off-whites here please.  I think a crisp, bright white dress accented by vivid red or crimson is the way to go here.

I really like this dress from JC Penney with its bright satiny white fabric.  I'm not sure if this dress is in-stock anymore, but online it is still listed as costing less than $100! At that price, I would be slightly concerned about the fabric quality, but most of the reviews are generally positive and I myself have bought other formal and semi-formal dresses at JC Penney without problems.  To keep the look more formal the bridesmaids dresses have a bit of a ruffled collar and would be paired with black shoes.  Of course, the bride gets to have a little bit of fun so red shoes perfect! These ones listed cost $50 from DSW.  The bouquets should be elegant but simple; red roses from Globalrose or 50flowers, maybe accented with lilly of the valley or baby's breath and some green ferns.

Black and White Romance AccessoriesIn keeping with an elegant look, the bride would wear a mid-length or longer veil, dramatic makeup and statement jewelry.  I also think the bride should wear her hair down or in a low updo to balance out the rest of her ensemble and prevent it from looking too stiff and ultra-formal.

The decorations of the ceremony and reception could be any myriad of styles, depending on what style the couple wants.  Personally, I would use a lot of candles and soft lighting, with sleek and tall centerpieces. Good music for this style would be classic strings, either live or recorded.  Perhaps some Tchaikovsky or Mozart.

That's all for this post and I apologize if it's not quite up to my usual quality. For more black and red inspiration, check out my Pinterest, and please leave me any comments or questions you may have, as well as suggestions for future themes!  

Disclaimer: As always, I only provide links for your benefit and they are not monetarily beneficial to me.  I am not affiliated in any way with any of the companies mentioned and provide these posts solely for your information and entertainment.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Few Things

Re-reading my old posts, I realized that I forgot some key information.  I gave you tips on how to find a good photographer on a budget, but I never mentioned what to do with the pictures!  Most independent photographers can offer prints through their preferred lab, which is usually a 3rd party and not actually done by the photographer.  I recommend getting at least a few pictures professionally developed through a photo lab because the quality is MUCH better than from "discount" photo printing sites such as Shutterfly or Snapfish.  I just used Shutterfly to get my prints because I didn't want to spend any extra money and was a bit disappointed with the quality.

However, I definitely recommend using a cheaper service to do any small 4x6 prints you might want because at that size the quality difference will be negligible and having the best quality prints isn't quite as important for pictures that are just going in an album.  Another great thing about Shutterfly is that they partner with a lot of bridal companies, such as David's Bridal and, to offer you special deals after your wedding.  I managed to get two free Shutterfly photobooks because I was registered on The Knot website and filled out some evaluations of my wedding vendors, and because I bought my dress from David's Bridal.  These books made great presents for my parents and my in-laws and didn't cost me a thing!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekly Wedding #3- Burlap and Pink

Hello again! For the third installation of my weekly wedding series, I decided to go with a country princess theme.  Now, this theme is inspired by my best friend in the world, so I tried to keep in mind my friend's preferences and modest budget.  I love the soft, feminine style of the bride's dress and the hint of pink really makes it stand out. The style of this wedding is right on the border of casual and chic, so complementary bridesmaid dresses really work well here.  I think a convertible wrap dress is perfect for this early summer wedding.  There are a ton of different convertible dresses out there and they pretty much all can be worn in one of at least 5 different ways.  I really like the style pictured here, but instructions for wearing the dress in a different style can be found at

Besides the short convertible dress I chose to use here, there are several other lengths to choose from.  All of these styles would look great for a country chic wedding, and the sea pink color perfectly complements the whisper of pink in the bride's dress! An added bonus is that these dresses are made of soft jersey material, which looks incredibly comfortable and doesn't wrinkly as easily as other fabrics! The only drawback that I can foresee with these dresses is that many of the styles have an open back, necessitating the use of an uncomfortable backless bra, or buying the company's matching bandeau ($30) to wear under the dress.  Cowboy boots set off the country theme, with the bridesmaids wearing brown high heeled boots and the bride wearing pink and brown boots. Light colored eyeshadow really makes the bride's blue eyes pop. To enhance the princess part of the theme, the bride would wear a simple crystal flower tiara from Icing paired with an elbow length veil.
The bridal bouquet would be made up of soft pink peonies, cream roses, baby's breath and ferns as greenery.  The bridal party would carry smaller versions of the same bouquet, minus the roses. Each bouquet would be wrapped in a soft tan burlap, with the bride's bouquet pinned by an antique brooch. In keeping with the country theme, the music would be a recorded selection of country love songs and classical wedding music played on acoustic guitar.  To add variety and keep costs down, instead of one large wedding cake there would be a dessert bar consisting of various fruit pies and buttercream cupcakes.  

For more burlap and pink inspiration, check out my weekly wedding #3 board on Pinterest at


Sponsored Links:

Globalrose - Perfect for every occassion

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weekly Wedding #2- Blue Christmas/Winter Wonderland

My apologies for the long delay since my last weekly wedding post.  I've been under the weather and miserable in the nearly 100 degree weather.  Anyways, I'm ready to jump back into fantasy wedding planning with a cool blue and silver winter wedding.  I want this wedding to be elegant and timeless, but also simple and understated.  No huge princess ballgowns here, just classic beauty that takes inspiration from ice and snow in the outdoor landscape.  

DB Galina Signature $700
I love the one shoulder design of this dress! It's more unique than the run of the mill strapless wedding dresses (nothing against strapless, I wore one for my wedding, I just wanted a more unique look here).  The fabric of this dress looks elegant and the hint of sparkle is perfect for the winter wonderland inspiration.  I would pair this dress with some simple but elegant crystal jewelry, a polished low updo, and blue shoes to match the blue of her bouquet and bridesmaids dresses.   
Once again, I think a mixture of bridesmaids dresses in different styles but the same color and fabric looks more natural and stylish than having each woman in the same dress.  It allows each bridesmaid to find a dress that fits her the best and I think will end up looking less "dated" in photographs.  

Satin Cowl Neck $140
Each bridesmaid would wear simple crystal jewelry and silver shoes.  To add a bit of continuity throughout the wedding party, all the bridesmaids could wear matching jewelry and shoes.  These dresses are all from the same line at David's Bridal in satin and the color is marine.  

Bridal Party Shoes $46
Strapless Satin DB $100

Satin V-Neck $80
   For music, a local university string quartet would provide a beautiful ambiance for  a reasonable price, and would play an array of classical pieces for the prelude, ceremony, cocktail hour.  The bridal party bouquets would be a small to medium sized bundle of blue and white flowers, while the bride herself would have a slightly larger and more complex bouquet interspersed with glittering brooches.  

* I realize that the spacing on this post is weird, and I apologize for that.  I may try doing picture collages instead of the individual item pictures in the future, and then just list the links separately.  For the sake of saving space, check out the rest of my ideas for this wedding at .  As always, any links provided are for your information only and are not part of any affiliate program.  Hope you enjoyed this post and the ideas as much as I did, and please comment and let me know what wedding theme you want to see on future weekly wedding posts! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Weekly Wedding #1- Boho Eclectic

For the first weekly wedding theme I've chosen an eclectic bohemian feel.  This bride is grounded in simplicity and loves to relax and have fun.  She probably plays guitar or drums in a local indie band.

Recycled Slip Dress- Etsy $430
For this bride's dress, I've chosen something that is elegant and beautiful without being fussy.  After perusing many vintage and bohemian style options, I decided the best dress for this bride would be a custom made dress from Etsy.  This dress is made by Etsy seller ktjean from recycled vintage slips in ivory and soft white.  This bride also wishes to maintain a little bit of modesty so she would pair it with a matching bolero jacket as styled in the photograph.

To match the relaxed vibe of the bride's dress, her bridesmaids would wear summery floral sundresses in complementary (but not matching!) prints and colors. By only dictating the style and pattern/color scheme, each bridesmaid is able to choose a dress that she truly likes and will be able to wear multiple times.  The soft blues and purples of these four dresses complement each other without looking too matchy or clashing
Nine West Serious- $40 (sale)
Bridesmaids dresses from left to right:
Beauty in Bloom- Modcloth $53
Lace in the Sun- Modcloth $53
Bohemian Maxi- ecrater $20
Meadow Maze- Modcloth $60

Rocket Dog SHELL $35

To accesorize, the bride would maintain her theme of simplicity and wear these cream and tan thong sandals while her bridesmaids would wear similar black leather thong sandals with blue beading.  Each women would wear their hair down or in a loosely braided style with natural looking make-up.  The bride would forego the traditional veil in favor of a more earthy looking headband.

Satin Flowers Headband- Icing $12.50
As for flowers the bridal party would carry bouquets of succulents and greens wrapped with ivory ribbon and tied with vintage charms or small lockets with photographs of the bride and individual bridesmaid.  
The music would be recorded selections of the bride and groom's favorite modern love songs played by the Vitamin String Quartet.  
Image by Rae Leytham via Elizabeth Anne Designs
*FYI: All links in the above post are for your information only and are not part of any affiliate or sponsorship program*

Friday, June 28, 2013

Budget Wedding Finale- Music!

Last but not least, I want to cover some different options for saving money on the music at your ceremony.  There are really two routes to go depending on your budget and how formal you plan for the ceremony to be.  The first route, which I would recommend for a ceremony music budget of a few hundred dollars, would be to contact the music department of any nearby colleges or universities and see if any students would be interested in playing at your wedding for a small fee.  By hiring music students, you can be assured that they will be competent and professional, because I think nearly every (if not ALL) college music programs require auditions and several performances each semester.

Many music programs even have requisite small groups that perform together all semester and you could possibly hire the entire group if it was in your budget.   As long as your wedding doesn't fall on the same day as any university performances, it should be fairly easy to find a music student to hire. I mean, really, what college student isn't looking to make extra money?  You could hire a student of virtually whatever instrument or vocal range you desired  It would most likely be cheaper to hire soloists, though, because I would assume that most students want to be paid individually instead of splitting a lump sum; because of this I think it would be best to hire a pianist or cellist or violinist instead of say, a trumpet player. After asking a few of my friends who were music performance majors in college, I came to the general conclusion that most would be happy being paid anywhere from $50-$150 per person to play at your ceremony.  I paid over $500 for a professional pianist, so you can see that hiring a student is significantly less expensive.

There are, of course, a few drawbacks to hiring a student musician. First of all, college students aren't always 100% the most dependable people so make sure that you thoroughly and completely explain all of your expectations about their responsibilities. Remember, besides the ceremony, most musicians need to be at the rehearsal as well. Have a legal contract drawn up if you have any doubts whatsoever about your musician.  Secondly, a student musician may have a more limited repertoire than a seasoned professional.  They should be able to handle any wedding standards and several classical pieces as long as you let them know many months in advance what pieces you want played, but don't expect them to be able to transpose and arrange a Ke$ha song.   Also remember that these young musicians are working very hard to succeed in their field, so please treat them with courtesy and respect. Don't be too much of a cheapskate when deciding on a price with them, because it does take a lot of time and effort to prepare for a performance, even if it is only a handful of pieces for a wedding ceremony.  And PLEASE don't forget to tip them if they go above and beyond everything you expected!

The second option, which is definitely the cheapest and what I would recommend for a less formal wedding, is to play recorded music from a cd or mp3 player. You can find a good wedding cd online for less than
The Knot Collection of Wedding Music
$20, and it will sound perfect every time (as long as you have a good working sound system).  Another advantage to this option is that you usually have greater variety and individuality than with hiring a musician.  You can literally find a string or piano version of every popular wedding song.  If you want Taylor Swift performed by a string quartet, you can find that! You can also mix up the instrumentation of your ceremony if you want to.  Personally, I think the flow is better if the instrumentation is the same all the way through, but if you want to go from piano to string quartet to guitar, you can do that.  Also, thanks to the wonderful internet age and mp3 downloads, you can pick exactly what songs you want and in what order you want them played instead of being stuck to the track listing on a cd.
VSQ Modern Wedding Vol. II

Classical Wedding Music on
Now, the drawbacks to using recorded music are pretty straightforward. You have to make sure your venue has a compatible sound system, and that you will be allowed to use it.  Most churches and indoor event spaces have sound systems that you can play a cd through or hook up to an mp3 player, so this shouldn't be a problem if you're having an indoor wedding.  However, if your wedding is outdoors you may have to rent a sound system, and that could end up costing more than it would to hire live musicians.  Of course, if your wedding ceremony is in the same space as your reception and you hired a DJ for the reception, they may be
able to handle the ceremony for an additional small fee. That brings me to another possible problem with using recorded music: you need to have someone you trust to play the right piece at the right time and who is technologically competent enough to work the sound system.  Also, it wouldn't hurt to have an emergency back-up sound system or other plan in case the one you are using fails (as technology and electronics frequently do).

One last thing: the reception music. I know some people try to save money by just hooking up an ipod to the venue's speakers, but that is really quite tacky and should only be done if you have an absolute shoestring budget and literally can't find the money anywhere to hire a DJ or band.  Of course, if you are going for a casual party feel for your reception, this may be acceptable, but I do recommend at least attempting to find a low cost DJ to hire.  And... if your wedding is in or close to a city/town with a college or university (notice a theme here?) you may be lucky enough to find a talented student DJ who will work for much less than a professional DJ company.  I know I went to a mid-size university (~16000 undergrad) and there were several well known student DJs who often played the local dance clubs.

This post brings me to the end of my planned series of tips, but soon I will be starting a weekly wedding series where I plan a new and unique mock wedding each week and post my ideas and rough estimate of prices!