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August 30, 2013

Brideology: Big Day Prep

Married lady Cara shares the details of the days leading up to the wedding, prepping mind and body.

While I’m waiting to get my photos back from the photographer, I thought I’d share a few details of the last couple days leading up to the wedding. They were definitely a mix of stress and fun, with family in town and lots left to do!

I took two days off work before the big day, and on Thursday my mom, sister and I had a fun afternoon at the Nordstrom Spa. I hardly ever do spa treatments but I thought, If not now, when?

I had an amazing facial, focusing on hydration because I knew my skin was showing wedding-week stress. It was pretty incredible…I felt like it lasted forever, with so many relaxing and delicious-smelling treatments. I also realized that I hadn’t been alone all week, and in that warm room with no sound except for a little music, it was just so peaceful. I have to say my skin was looking fresh and shiny afterwards! This might be the beginning of an addiction…

My mom and sister joined me for mani-pedis with the awesome team at the spa—we laughed with them the whole time, which helped with our jitters. Here my sis Haley and I are getting our essie wedding colors on. They turned out great!

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(Side note: The entire week before the wedding I was so afraid of getting sick I drank Emergen-C and tons of water every day. I think it really helped! I actually felt healthy and rested despite late nights and crazy days working and doing last-minute tasks. Brides, take note: Water is your BFF!)

The rest of Thursday night Drew and I spent packing up sooooo much stuff to take to the venue. We’re talking over 300 drinking jars, stacks of tablecloths, boxes of decorations, centerpieces: DIY doesn’t just mean “do it yourself” but TAKE it yourself too! It was definitely overwhelming to do so much packing when I really just wanted to crawl into bed.

Before we finally turned in for the night, we went outside to look at the city and take a minute to acknowledge our last night at home as fiancés. It was such a weird feeling to know that such a significant change in our long relationship was just around the corner.

Look for more next week—the kickoff to the wedding! (I have to admit I’m going to miss writing about the wedding, so don’t mind me as I draw this out…)

Cara

Bride-to-be Cara is now a bride-has-been! The married lady gives us a quick scoop on the big day.

We did it! It has been a little over a week since our wedding and I am still living in a bit of a fairy-tale dream land. I can’t stop thinking about how wonderful it all was!

The wedding weekend was beautiful, relaxed, and filled with so much love. With about 100 friends and family all together laughing, crying, eating, drinking, dancing, hula-hooping (yes, that’s right), it was better than I ever expected. I could go on and on!

But instead of gush like a crazy woman, I will try to recap different parts of the wedding in a few posts here on Brideology over the coming weeks and share pictures. For now, here’s a sneak peek!

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More soon!

-Cara

Bride-to-be Cara talks through her DIY wedding decor projects and shares a few hard-earned tips!

I have a love-hate relationship with DIY projects. On one hand, whenever I see certain home decor, accessories, and sometimes even clothes, I think “how could I make that?” and I usually try to find a way. But I also tend to get stressed by big projects and then become regretful that I took them on.

Because I’m a bride on a budget, I haven’t had the luxury of buying or paying someone else to make things. We’re also trying to be eco-friendly, meaning re-using as many materials as we can. This all made for some interesting DIY projects! Here a few things I chose to source or make myself (and a sneak peek at a few of them!)

Invitations: My super-talented mom drew our invitation design by hand (just doodling one day!) We then scanned it to a digital format and added text. After a local shop printed them, we embossed little red hearts onto each one and addressed the envelopes by hand. This was one of the more time-consuming DIY projects, but I think it’s so special that they were designed for and made by us.

Tablecloths & Glasses: Instead of renting through our caterer we bought canvas drop-cloths (the kind painters use) from the hardware store. They have great color, texture, and can be re-used. We also found an amazing deal on Ball® mason jars which we’ll use for drinking glasses and can sell or use for projects after the wedding. It took a bit of time to find everything, but in the end it was a cost-saver and has a unique look.

Napkins: I wanted to add color to our neutral tables and searched everywhere for vintage napkins, but had no luck. So I decided to buy fabric and cut my own colorful, patterned napkins. I’m still working on the finishing touches, but I found this great tutorial on The Sweetest Occasion that looks pretty easy–I’m all for no-sew projects! (This might be one of those things I can’t squeeze in at the last minute, but for now a bride-to-be can hope!)

Signage: I started making signs after lots of Pinterest inspiration. My parents have old wood in their backyard from various projects so I found some broken boards, spray painted them gold, and wrote directional signs.

I looked online for how to DIY calligraphy and found easy tricks to make it look semi-professional! (Hint: Make every down-stroke thicker.) I used chalk pastels, which are much easier to control than paint brushes. I learned this the hard way!

My dad also created a welcome sign out of some old fence board. I wrote the text in pencil and then he burned the text into it with a wood-burning tool. I love this one!

HeroFor signs with more text, like the menu, I used black chalkboard spray paint on foam-core poster board. After writing on them again with (the amazing) chalk pastels I attached the boards to some old ornate frames I’ve had for years, originally from Goodwill or garage sales. (Good ‘ol vintage shopping!)

Table Décor: We found thin branches from fallen trees in our neighborhood, stripped the bark, and then painted them gold as well. These will line the middle of the tables along with succulents from our garden. There’s a gold and neutral wood theme going on…if you can’t tell! I’m calling it “forest glam.” Ha!

After all this, I have a few tips that are worth sharing for future DIYers:

Research. Don’t just jump into projects! First plan out how you’re going to go about it. (I am NOT good at this. I always impulsively try something and then become frustrated when it doesn’t work!) There are so many great resources online just by Googling things like “how to make a garland” or “how to use chalkboard paint.”

Recruit helpers. Ask friends and family for help! Often they want to find a way to be involved in your wedding planning and have different skill sets to offer. I am so grateful to my extremely artistic mother for leading many of these projects and helping me figure out how to make my ideas a reality. And to my talented and hard-working dad for building all of the things I couldn’t. (He’s working on an arbor now. Yes, an arbor!)

Keep your expectations low. Seriously! Nothing is going to be perfect, so just know that going into it. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised.

Overall, I’m glad we went the DIY route–we did save money (not time) and I’m really proud of what we’ve made! Just a few more projects to finish up before the big day (3 weeks to go)!

Until next time,

Cara

Bride-to-be Cara shares a major wedding milestone: finding her wedding dress!

I have been meaning to share this post for a while now, but all this darn wedding planning is getting in the way of my writing! Even though it’s long overdue, I still have to share my excitement about saying YES to my wedding dress!

I’ll start off with my shopping experience. I know I’m a bit spoiled because I see really gorgeous gowns every day via my job. I am also lucky to work with a team of very knowledgeable and stylish people, including the lovely downtown Seattle Nordstrom wedding stylists. However, all of this wedding amazingness was a bit overwhelming, and made it really hard for me to choose a dress. There are just so many styles, and I found myself loving more of them than I expected!

I also had the added option of wearing my grandma’s or my mom’s dress. I really struggled with this—I loved the meaning behind the concept, and they are both beautiful and unique—but every time I tried on one of their gowns, I felt like I was playing dress-up. They didn’t feel like ME. I eventually decided I wanted a dress to call my own.

And so I tried on SO MANY DRESSES. I started out not really having a specific idea of what I wanted. I just knew I wasn’t a sparkle or pouf kind of girl! I was open to trying on different styles, but was still surprised by a few that I didn’t love when they were on the rack but that I liked when I tried them on—and vice versa. (Brides, take note: be open minded! It’s hard to tell what sample dresses will look like until you actually try them on.)

I ended up finding that the best dresses for my 5’4’’ frame are A-line or a trumpet skirts and sweetheart necklines. And of course, there were tons of those to choose from! Below are a few of my runners up. These were all such pretty dresses in different ways, but at the end of the day, none of them were The One.

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One day, I stopped by trunk show at the Wedding Suite, where designer Olia Zavozina was showing her dresses for the weekend. (Brides, take note again: check out trunk shows! They’re a great opportunity to see gowns that are not normally sold in the store, and often you can meet a representative from the brand as well.)

I got to meet Olia in person, which was such a treat—she’s an enviable combo of cool and adorable at the same time. And clearly so talented! The wedding stylists knew my style very well and pulled out a dress they thought I’d love. And, oh, I did! The color, the shape and the fabric were all perfect.

I tried the dress on, texted a couple pictures to my mom and decided to go for it right then and there! I was so excited. (And I was definitely ready to decide, with only three months until the wedding!)

I’m thrilled with my choice. The dress is light and comfortable, and I feel like myself in it. Of course, I can’t share the photos quite yet… but here’s a sneak peek at my favorite part of this unique gown: the fabric!

Now I have the dress in my possession—hanging in my bedroom with a sticky note saying “Do not look or else!” to my fiancé—and it all feels so real!


In her fifth Brideology post, Cara ponders a floral headpiece for her big day.

There is one accessory I know I want to be part of my wedding-day style–a floral wreath for a headpiece. I’m probably getting a-“head” of myself here (pun intended, of course). I don’t have a dress yet, but I just love the earthy, feminine look of a floral crown. Plus, my mom wore one, and it would be really nice to give that nod to my parents’ wedding. Hers mixed pink and white flowers and had ribbons down the back. She still has it today!

The boho bride in me has always loved this idea, but since seeing current versions on the runway at Claire Pettibone and on Kate Moss’s bevy of flower girls last year, I’m now obsessed.

Here are some of my favorite fresh flower looks:

These big blooms: WOW. “Statement headpieces” are just like a statement earring or necklace–they work well on their own to dress up an outfit.

Orange & Red | Green & White | Green & Purple

These daintier versions are lovely too, and could be paired with more jewelry or a busier dress without looking over-accessorized.

Multicolored | All White | Lavender & Blue

Keeping the overall wedding color palette in mind is important when picking out flowers for headpieces. I love matching the crown to the bouquets–either exactly the same flowers and colors or just similar elements. These images kind of make me giddy, they’re so beautiful.

Matching the bouquet to the crown makes your look instantly photo-shoot-ready!

Green & RedOrange & Green | Lavender & White

A traditional veil is also very special, and I wouldn’t want to miss out on my only chance to wear one! So now I’m thinking flower crown AND veil, like the images below. With a very light, simple veil and a crown that has some white or light colors, it totally works. I would probably wear it just for the ceremony.

Three options here: veil in the back, under or over the crown. It works every way!

Behind crown | Under crown | Over crown

One thing I worry about is that the flowers may not stay intact for the whole night, especially through the dancing! I also like headbands that are floral-inspired, or even a sash tied around as a headband. I would probably wear it more forward on my head. I tried it out a few ways below:

Anyone have experience with a floral crown? Or did you go with a headband? How did you wear it?

Until next time!
Cara