Monday, March 30, 2009

How to leave feedback

I've had a lot of people asking how to leave comments back on the actual page, so I thought I would just lay it out on the blog itself. It's pretty simple.

Just scroll to the bottom of the post you want to comment on.
Click "Comments" (it probably says "0 Comments" or "2 Comments")
That should open a box where you can leave your own comment.

If this still isn't working for someone, just let me know. And please, comment on the posts! It makes me feel like someone out there is actually reading these!


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The Magic Bridesmaid dress

Finding bridesmaid dresses was pretty tough for me. I didn't want anything that looked like a bridesmaid dress (or really was a bridesmaid dress.) So no taffeta or satin or bows. Like at all. Originally I just wanted to ask them to pick any blue dress of their choice. But eventually, it turned out that this was more stressful for the bridesmaids who (very sweetly) actually wanted some guidance. But what could I do short of just picking dresses and then having that matchy look that I'm so not into? Enter Butter by Nadia. Nadia (whomever that is) makes these great wrap dresses that can be worn in at least a dozen different ways. And they're one size fits all. Really. So I just pick one dress and everyone can still customize their own look. Genius right? And I've read reviews swearing that they really are flattering on every figure and several styles are bra-friendly. The only downside I could see was the price. These babies run about $250! I felt like that was way too much to ask my friends to pay. (even though they can definitely wear it again. for those that wear dresses.) Luckily, (I'm truly bridally blessed) bridesmaid Kristen stepped in and volunteered her mom to make the dresses for us at cost! Yay! Awesome magical bridesmaid dresses back on! She's in the process of making a sample dress now, and if that works out, the only thing left is finding the material and figuring out how to convince her to make me one too! Check out below to see some of the many, many styles this dress can be worn in.

And here's a video demonstrating how to wear one of the styles:

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The Rehearsal Dinner

One of the aspects of the wedding weekend that I'm really excited about and not at all stressed about is the rehearsal dinner. It is being hosted by the future in-laws already totally planned! Done. Yay! When Matt and I first started talking about doing the Austin wedding, we talked about trying to work in as many of our favorite places as possible. One stand out choice was Guero's Taco Bar. Guero's is a landmark in Austin. It's a favorite of President Clinton--who purportedly loves the El Presidente plate and they swear he eats the whole thing. It's also been in a couple of movies, most recently in Tarantino's Grindhouse. It's just a great taco bar (with free salsa bar!) and a great place to relax. It also features live music and is within walking distance to our hotel. So perfect right?

Unfortunately, when we looked at their website they specifically said, no rehearsal dinners. Really. Literally spelled it out. So we were super bummed and started looking into a replacement. I put out a Facebook message to all my Austin peeps asking for a recommendation and a former teacher of mine from UT replied. He had some feedback on other places, but also said he's old friends with the manager from Guero's! He said he'd see what he could and....wait for it...he actually did it! He emailed me the next day to say that the manager was willing to work with us! It took a bit longer to get the manager on the horn b/c he was vacationing, but he told us that as long as we didn't do it too late, he could seat our whole party together and we could hang on the patio and listen to free live music while we wait.

So that's done! The place already has a great decor, so no worries on that. The menu is already set. So that's done. I guess I could make rehearsal dinner invites if I have time, but that's it. So yay! Check it off the list and get hungry for some tacos!

The patio and live music venue.

The front porch.

Tarantino filming Grindhouse.

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Pound for Pound challenge

Because I'm getting married and my sister's getting married and my fiance's sister is getting married, pretty much everyone I know is trying to lose weight right now. (Also, bikini season! I know, I know. That was mean.) Anyway, while doing my favorite workout--watching Biggest Loser--I heard about a great motivation for losing weight.

Kraft and The Biggest Loser are sponsoring the Pound for Pound challenge. They're asking for people across America to pledge to lose weight this spring and for every pound lost, they will donate the equivalent of 1 pound of groceries to a local food bank. You need to report your weight loss between April 1st and May 5th, but so far more than 2.5 million pounds have been pledged! There's also recipes, workout tips and videos from the Biggest Loser trainers to help. But I say, don't think of this as more pressure to look better, think of it as great motivation to help others by helping yourself. It's a great cause and hopefully will talk you out of that second dessert after dinner!

Check out details at

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pingg without the Pong

I just found a new email invite service that I LOVE. is such an awesome service. There you can create email invites using images from professional artists, photographers and event stylists like Martha Stewart. Or you can upload your own image to make a custom invite. Almost all the designs are free (custom designs are always free) and the emails take you to a customized web page that manages all your rsvp's. You can also add pictures from your desktop or from a flickr feed, videos from youtube, links from anywhere and there's a message center for guests to mention how excited they are to come. (or how sad they are they can't come.) The designs are organized by theme such as baby shower, wedding, bachelorette party, March Madness, birthday, girl's night out, etc. But probably the coolest part of the service is all the ways they can contact people for you. Obviously they can reach people through email. But they'll also post a shareable invite on Facebook, Myspace or about a dozen other social networking sites. And they'll text message your guests...for free! Yup, they'll text for the first invite, to remind slackers to rsvp and to get people excited the day of. And they'll send an email thank you to everyone who rsvp's yes the day after the event. So civilized!

Here are some of my favorite free designs.

But what really, really sold me on Pingg and the reason I went with them for my sister's bachelorette party and bridal shower (2 events, not a weird combo), is that they will print, address and mail real invites for you too! Yes, they really do everything. Now, you do have to pay for the print versions and right now they only come in a postcard version, but at $1.25 each where you don't have to do anything but put in the info, not bad! And if you type in "print20" at checkout, you get an extra 20% off printing.

Anyway, here is a look at the custom Pingg invite I designed for my sister's bridal shower.

All the info will be printed on the back and has already been mailed out to our peeps. And here's the accompanying web site:

So what do you think? Will any of you be using Pingg soon?

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Bridal Garden

On Sunday this weekend, I visited the Bridal Garden and RK Bridal in New York. The Bridal Garden is a great non-profit organization where designers donate sample dresses and the proceeds go to a music program at a Brooklyn elementary school. So I had high hopes for this place. And while they did have some nice things, I didn't find a winner for me. There was one very nice dress though by Mon Cheri that a mother there assured me was "the one" and when I decided to leave it behind, another mother snagged it for her daughter. (they should hire me to wear these dresses around the store and increase their sales.) I actually tried on several w/o taking pictures. Including one with a slinky silk skirt that I was informed could not be worn with underwear. Really? No underwear at all? How much of a charade is wearing white if you go to the alter a la commando? Anyway, here's the close but no cigar dress.

After The Bridal Garden, we went to RK Bridal which is kind of a New York equivalent of David's Bridal--except they carry mid-price gowns from other designers instead of their own. So it's kind of a big warehouse with a LOT of dresses (like an intimidating amount) and a LOT of brides. You have to sign a waiting list and wait for an available salesperson and dressing room. I think we waited, oh hour. Seriously. Eventually we just sat on the floor (no chairs) and watched other brides try on dresses and quietly gave American Idol like commentary. "Whoa, that skinny girl needs to be on the hamburger diet." "Ugh, that is not the dress for that butt." "hmm, doesn't look the dress type as much as the comfortable shoes and cargo pants type. I wonder who she's marrying." When we fi-na-lly got a dressing room, I was assigned to Olga. An adorably tiny old lady who's probably been doing this for forty years. She got me into each dress and then stayed in the dressing room and ate and apple while I checked it out in the mirror. (the dressing room, btw, looked like a retirement home. Complete with rocking chair and pics of brides/grandkids." Anyway, out of the 5 emerged 2 possibilities. Since we weren't allowed to take pictures, I can only post the pics of the dresses I could find online.

This is the first dress by Watters. It has a sweetheart neckline and the lace goes to tea length. I would wear it with a satin blue sash and a lace mantilla veil.

Here are several pics of dress #2. It's all satin, no lace or beading. But the design is very glamorous and probably more formal. I would wear this also with a lace mantilla veil and hopefully blue shoes.

So which do you like better? I have to decide like immediately b/c apparently it takes 6 months to order a new dress (although I could get the 2nd one used which would save a ton of time and money.) Should I go with the classic, romantic lace and a pop of color? Or the form fitting, glamorous all-satin number? Please let me know what you think.

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Pronovias Sample Sale

Last week while I was checking out Facebook instead of working, I saw an ad for the Annual Pronovias Sample Sale. (imagine trumpets and acrobats and a big ta-dah.) Pronovias is a Spanish designer who about a year ago opened their flagship US office in New York. I've heard raves about them so I signed up via Facebook for an appointment. When I got there it was a bit ridiculous. I arrived at 10:20 for my 10:30 appointment and was greeted by a doorman who checked to see if I was on the list. (Yes, exactly like at an exclusive nightclub.) When I was finally let in, I had to re-check in at the front desk with a woman who is clearly not a people person. (How did she get the front desk job?) After she told me to head upstairs (and snipped at me to get upstairs after asking about my friend who was meeting me), I ascended the spiral staircase to find a room of white dresses and girls scrambling to score one. I tried on 3 dresses there, but didn't find much b/c most of their dresses are pretty elaborate and too fussy for my taste. But if you like beading and pouf, it's definitely worth checking out. There were even several dresses for $500 that I'm sure people went home very happy with. Anyway, no winners, but here are the ones I tried on.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Destination Wedding Cake Tasting

We've recently discovered the biggest drawback to a destination wedding. It's not that the planning is harder or that people don't want to come. It's that there's no cake tasting. I was super bummed about this b/c I've always looked forward to this part (and all events involving eating cake). So, earlier this week we hosted a fake cake tasting. No, we didn't taste any fake cakes. But we did do a kind of fake cake tasting to figure out what to do about the cake. Since we can't fly down to Austin just to try cakes (really? we can't? but I want too!), we have to figure out some way to decide what kind of cake to serve. I emailed a few bakers up here to see if we can just try some different flavor combinations and learn about different kinds of frosting and it was not met warmly. I even offered to pay for the tasting! One guy wanted $100 for a tasting, another wanted $25 per flavor. Are they serious? For essentially the equivalent of a slice of cake? Who am I, the Sultan of Brunei? Anyway, these options were promptly denied. Moving on. I still wanted to do some kind of cake tasting and I'm not sure what to do about cake flavors so I kept looking and had an idea. New York is basically the World Capital of Cupcakes. Seriously people are cupcake crazy here. Like if they had to choose b/t eating a cupcake and rescuing a baby from a careening pedicab, that baby would be toast. Anyway, we have tons and tons of cupcakeries in the city and isn't that basically like a cake tasting? Mini cakes in different flavors? Duh. So I went to my nearest cupcakery, Billy's Bakery in Chelsea and got a small sample of all their flavors. I got a yellow cupcake with vanilla buttercream, a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream, a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing, a slice of banana cake with banana puree filler and vanilla icing and a slice of yellow cake with coconut filler and meringue icing.

Yellow cake with coconut filler and Meringue icing

Banana cake with banana filler and Vanilla Icing

Red velvet with cream cheese icing

Here's what we thought:

1) Yellow cake with vanilla buttercream: Classic combo, but the buttercream was give-you-a-toothache sweet and not as creamy as I like. (this is very common with New York buttercream. I don't get it, but then again, I prefer Duncan Hines)
2) Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream: Ditto on the icing and I think we'll leave chocolate to the groom's cake (for those of you Yankees who don't know about groom's cakes, please contact me immediately)
3) Red velvet with cream cheese icing: I'm not opposed to red velvet wedding cake, but I'm not completely sold either. The cream cheese icing, however, was my favorite of what we tried. It was really, really creamy and just the right amount of sweet. But you could definitely taste that cream cheese tang. Would that be good with other flavor combos? What about fillers?
4) Banana cake with banana filler and vanilla icing: This non-buttercream icing was pretty good and not too sweet although not as pretty. And the cake was kind of...awesome. It was basically a lighter (in density, not calories) banana bread. I also really liked the banana filler. But is banana too weird for a wedding cake? I'm not especially a banana person. What about just banana filler? Would people be into that?
5) Coconut cake with meringue icing: Now, I love coconut cake, but I'm worried it will be too polarizing at the wedding. Don't some people really not like it? The coconut filler with the yellow cake was great and the meringue icing was better than most, but not my favorite, so not a wedding contender.

Now the best part of this tasting option is that we can just keep doing it! More cake, yay! Here are some flavors I've seen from the Austin bakeries that sound interesting: mexican vanilla, yellow cake with banana filler and chocolate ganache, yellow cake with chocolate mouse or vanilla custard fillings. What do you think? What's your favorite kind of cake? What's the best you've had at a wedding? Are banana or coconut too polarizing? Should we reserve any chocolate for the groom's cake? Does cream cheese icing work with everything? Should I stick with buttercream icing (I'm definitely not doing fondant) even though if made incorrectly, I really don't like it? Whew, that's a lot of questions. Anyway, let me know!

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Austin in the News

Austin was just named the #1 travel location for 2009 by Budget Travel magazine! Check out what they have to say about why Austin is the place to be!


Why in 2009: For years, the capital of down-home cool (and Texas) has been working to become the nation's capital of pop culture—at least among cities of a similar size. This city of 1.6 million residents has succeeded in its mission, especially as a venue for indie rock, bluegrass, and country music. Its largest music festival is South by Southwest, a multi-day, 1,700-band extravaganza that draws serious music fans nationwide (, Mar. 18–22, 2009). Austin's economy, meanwhile, is well diversified between public and private sectors, which means that Austin is poised to weather the economic downturn reasonably well, says University of Texas at Austin economy professor Daniel S. Hamermesh. So it should be full speed ahead on spending for free and affordable cultural events. A bonus: In the past year, discounter JetBlue has added flights to Austin. Rival airlines are feeling the pressure to keep airfares low.

Main events: Thousands of music fans converge on the city each year for two festivals: South by Southwest (mentioned above) and the Austin City Limits Music Festival (, Oct. 2–4). Art lovers come for the Texas Biennial (, Mar. 6–Apr. 11) and the open-air Art City Austin (, Apr. 25-26). Even if you're not in town for a big event, keep in mind that Austin has pretty weather for eight months of the year (summer's the sweltering exception). With its extensive Greenbelt park as well as 10 miles of waterfront paths, it's easy to get outside and enjoy a little nature.
Memorable moment: Chill out on the terrace bar of the Inter-Continental Stephen F. Austin hotel, overlooking downtown. Order a Stephen F. Top Shelf, the house margarita, tip your hat to the mounted longhorn on the wall, and watch the Texas Capitol turn pink as the last rays of the sun hit it. 701 Congress Ave., 888/424-6835,, margaritas from $10.

Price check: Round-trip tickets between Austin and Chicago recently started at $210, a 9 percent drop from a year earlier, says Farecast. Affordable lodging isn't hard to come by. Hotel rates should average a modest $104 a night, says a forecast by PKF Hospitality Research. We like the stylish Austin Motel, starting at $70. 1220 S. Congress Ave., 512/441-1157,

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beautiful Southern Wedding Idea

(pictures courtesy of Flickr)

My sister is planning a very southern wedding for this June in the Victorian Village neighborhood in Memphis, TN. Her wedding will be held on the lawn of a Victorian mansion/museum and the reception will be inside. This is the perfect wedding to add one of my favorite Southern wedding accessories--the parasol. Her plan is for each of the bridesmaids to carry ribbon bedecked parasols in lieu of a bouquet. Love this. Not only is it cost effective ( a favorite) and unique (another favorite), it also adds a great visual element to the posed pictures--(which are often super boring).

Anyway, I did some digging around on the internet and found some unbelievable lace parasols that ooze Scarlet O'Hara. (her style, not offensively racist lifestyle). These are from The detail is awesome and they come in a couple colors. I think it would be beautiful for the bridesmaids to carry white ones and for my sister to carry the red one in her white dress at her red and white wedding. They are a bit expensive, but I also found them on ebay for more like $25 plus shipping.

I also think it would be beautiful to use these paper thin parasols as light fixtures/ceiling decor. I've seen it in store windows here in New York and here's a picture of some on the ceiling of the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas.

(courtesy of Flickr)

So what do you think? Do you love parasols or are they too old-fashioned and fussy? If you like them, should I get one for the pictures? A white one?

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Actual Budget Invitations

I recently read a post on another blog about so-called budget invitations. They started at $2000. $2000? Seriously? For some brides that's the entire budget! $2000 is a budget for a used car or an incredible vacation or I don't know, a boob job (not that I would recommend anything called a "budget" boob job). $2000 is not, however, "budget" for pieces of paper. Yes, I know the invite sets the tone for the wedding and yes, they're very special. But they'll probably be mostly thrown away by guests and no matter what, they're still just paper. So, no $2000 is not a good choice for "budget" brides. Today though, in the mass of bridal blogs I obsessively read when work is slow, I found an actual idea for budget brides. is a new site by a couple of (very talented) graphic designers. They have several designs online, you email them the text you want on your invites and they email you back the files formatting for your printer. Then you either print them out yourself or take them to a printer like Kinko's. Invite designs are $60 plus $15 if you want custom sizes or colors. This is basically the best deal I've ever heard of and if I didn't have a super talented graphic designer friend, this is exactly how I would do my invites. Here are a few examples of my favorites from the site although they have many more options and even do custom work.

P.S. I'm encouraging my friend to start her own business like this so if you or anyone you know would like a custom design, let me know and I'll put you in touch. I'll be posting her design for my invites as soon as they're printed to give an idea of just how talented she is.

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Dress Search Part 1: Warning! More pics of Mary in white dresses

I thought since I posted the bonus dresses, I would go ahead and post the other dresses I've tried on. Most were too expensive but I was just trying to figure out what type of dress to go with. So please let me know which are your favorites and I'll keep you posted as the dress search continues. These dresses were either found at sample sales, David's bridal (the princess dress) or Proposals boutique in Arkansas.

P.S. Try to ignore all the goofy faces I'm making in the pictures. I felt weird having strangers take pictures of me in a big white dress. I guess I should get used to it.

P.P.S. The ones not worn by me are the ones I tried on at Macy's where they stingily don't allow pictures. The first two are the same gown, but look drastically different from the model to the bride. When I tried it on, it look more like it does on the bride, but I guess it all comes down to the fitting. Note: I do NOT like the way it fits the model. The super tight, 80s look is a no. I like the more romantic look on the bride.

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