Month: April 2018

Saying Yes to the Dress

I spent last weekend in Arizona with my family, which is always so much fun! This trip was a little different though – we had a very important task to tackle. My sister needed to find a wedding dress! Okay, she didn’t NEED to say yes to the dress that very weekend, but since it’s rare that us gals (me, my mom and sister) are all together, we definitely wanted to go dress shopping.

She had made two appointments, one at Brilliant Bridal East Valley and one at Luv Bridal in downtown Phoenix. The last time we were all together (Labor Day weekend 2017) we went to a shop and she tried a few things on, just to get a sense of shapes and styles she likes. So, going into it she had a general sense of what she wanted. Armed with a mimosa she picked out several dresses to try on, and we were off!

Ultimately at the first appointment she ended up with two dresses she really loved – very different styles. She was having a hard enough time deciding between the two dresses when she learned that you’re unable to place a hold on dresses on the weekends. Brilliant Bridal is a shop that sells overstock designer dresses, so you’re actually purchasing off the rack. That’s when panic set in. She ended up choosing her favorite of the two, but she wasn’t quite ready to commit to that dress before seeing what else was out there. She didn’t want to lose the dress either. What’s a girl to do?

Talyn and the team at Brilliant Bridal were so wonderful, and they really helped put it into perspective. They asked if she would be devastated if she were to walk out the door and the dress sold to someone else, or if she would be okay with continuing her search. They told her not to make a decision from a place of fear or panic. When you say yes to the dress it should be because you feel calm, 100% confident and happy. It should feel right! They told her, more or less, to take a deep breath and just walk out of the shop as if we were leaving. If gut instinct told her to turn around and buy the dress, go for it! But if she felt okay walking out the door and taking a moment to regroup, do that instead. We could always turn right around and head back to the shop.

We decided to take the breather, and it made a world of difference. We headed downtown for lunch and a libation at Mother Bunch Brewing, and then made our way to the second appointment. At first glance so many of the dresses had the exact look Kristin was going for. We weaved our way through the racks and found a lot of great options for her to try on.

She tried on dress after dress, and while she liked several of them, she didn’t LOVE any of them. None of the dresses gave her the glow that THE dress did. When we asked her if she liked dresses as she tried them on, more often than not we got a halfhearted “yeah…?”. A couple of hours into the appointment she asked us to see photos of herself in the other dress. That’s when she decided to call it quits at stop number two.

After giving them a call we learned the dress was still available, so we booked it back to Brilliant Bridal. She put the dress back on, and when she came out of the dressing room all three of us were in tears. It was THE dress, after all. She said yes to the dress!

Dress shopping is so much fun, but it can also be a little stressful! Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin your search.


When you begin your dress search, chances are you’ve never tried on a wedding gown before. You may have an idea of what you want, but until you actually start trying dresses on you have no idea what looks best on your body, or what gives you all the beautiful bridal feels. Keep an open mind! Try on styles you had in mind but pull a few that may surprise you or grabbed your attention, and let your consultant add some as well. Maybe you thought you wanted a princess style dress but you actually love the way a fit and flare hugs your curves, or vice versa. There’s no harm in trying it on!


There’s a little thing I like to call “sash magic”. A sash or belt can make a dress look entirely different and can really complete the look! If you’re into a particular dress but feel it’s missing a little something, try it with a sash. Also feel free to try on your dress with accessories like hair pieces, veils or jewelry. It will help you to envision a complete look!


As Kristin was deciding between her two favorite dresses at stop number one, which were quite different, we heard a game changing statement. “A wedding dress is the most self-expressive dress you’ll ever wear”. At least I think that’s how she phrased it. So true! You should feel like yourself in your dress. Perhaps a fancier, more elegant, princessy, (maybe) white-clad version of yourself, but it should still feel like you. Whether it’s timeless and classic, sparkly, boho, romantic or a little sexy, let your personality shine through in whichever gown you choose. Don’t feel forced to choose something just because you think that’s what a bride ‘should’ wear or it’s how you ‘should’ look.


While this isn’t the most important thing, do take into account where you’re getting married so your bridal look is cohesive with the locale. While Kristin’s wedding plans aren’t entirely nailed down after all, we do know that at least the ceremony will take place in Yosemite. Kristin wanted something that not only represented her personality but would be elegant in nature.


Give some thought to who you want to join you for dress shopping, and don’t feel obligated to invite every single one of your friends. We kept it small for Kristin’s dress shopping experience, which was perfect. If the process is intimidating as is, it can be even more difficult if you have a lot of opinions coming at you.


We heard bride after bride at both appointments say yes to the dress in front of their posse – that cliché moment we’re all waiting for. If you’re not finding what you’re looking for or you’re having a hard time making a decision that can be a little frustrating to hear. Tune it out! Every bride is different. Never feel like you need to move forward with a dress because everyone else seems to have found theirs. Let’s face it, how often do you get to try on fabulous gown after fabulous gown? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking your time. Don’t feel pressured to make an impulse decision.


When the tears become tears of panic rather than tears of joy and excitement, that’s your cue to take a break. You may think you’ve found the dress but you’re not 100% sure. There are a LOT of dresses out there, and it can feel overwhelming trying to find THE perfect one. I get it! If you make the decision from a place of panic, you may always regret it because you’ll wonder what else was out there and whether you made the right decision. We left the first shop, relaxed over lunch and went to the next appointment, and Kristin was so glad she did that. She was really excited about the second shop from the beginning and was so happy she followed through to look at their options. It also just affirmed the fact that she’d already found her dress!


At the first shop we had a lovely little vignette of our own, so we could chat with Kristin about the dresses as she tried them on. Yes, there was another party at a spot nearby, but we still felt like we had privacy. At the second shop, while it was gorgeous, there was a stage with six pedestals facing the entire shop, and a small cluster of seating in front of each pedestal. There was no more than two feet between you and the next bride when showing off the goods. While she ended up simply loving another dress, it probably didn’t help that there was a lack of privacy. It was difficult to have conversations about the dresses and hear her feedback. When you’re narrowing down options where you’d like to shop, consider ambiance and privacy – they make a difference.


When you find the right dress, you’ll know (much like finding your soon-to-be spouse!). It’s a gut feeling. You’ll feel beautiful, amazing, comfortable and confident. If you keep thinking about a dress while trying others on, or if you never want to take it off, that’s your dress. While I urge brides to take their time rather than make a decision they’re uncomfortable with, I also urge you to say yes when you know it’s the one! It’s okay to say yes to the dress.

  • If you have a budget, be honest about it with your consultant. Unless you truly have wiggle room don’t bother trying on dresses that are totally out of range. Chances are you’ll fall in love with something you can’t have. And that’s no fun.
  • Don’t be intimidated by sizes – wedding gowns are sized differently, and you’ll wear a bigger size than you’re used to. It’s only a number! Size up rather than size down. You can always have a dress taken in, but it’s a hell of a time trying to let a dress out.
  • If the shop doesn’t have an in-house seamstress, get their recommendations on professionals they work with often and trust.
  • I think every bride asks her fiancé which style of dress they like before shopping. And even if your fiancé has an opinion, I think we can agree that your fiancé’s ultimate goal is for you to choose something YOU love, to have the best day ever, and to get married! Choose for you instead of anyone else.
  • Start your search about nine months in advance, especially if you tend to be indecisive. If you’re ordering a gown that will be made for you it will take several months before it even arrives at the store, and you need to consider the time you’ll need for alterations.
  • Check out off the rack options! This was my first experience doing this, and it was pretty awesome. Great designer dresses that may be overstocked or last season, yet brand new, at a much friendlier price point.
  • If you like certain elements of dresses but you’re just not finding it in a composed dress, create your own look. Don’t be afraid to try bridal separates, piecing a skirt with a top for the perfect look.

Know that every bride is different, and there’s no right or wrong way to shop. When I was shopping for my own dress, I went to one boutique and chose one of the first dresses I tried on (hey, I like fast, executive decisions). Kristin needed to see what else was out there before committing, and I know plenty of other brides who went to a dozen shops and tried on close to a hundred dresses. Exercise intuition in this process – enjoy it, and trust yourself.

[Here’s a photo of the happy bride after finding her dream dress!]

Do you have any other advice for brides going dress shopping for the first time? Please share your tips in the comments below!

<3 Kendal

DIY or Don’t?

So, you’re getting married. Congratulations! You might want to jump RIGHT into wedding planning, but I urge you to take your time. This is a super special and exciting time – be sure to slow down and enjoy it!

However, when you ARE ready to begin planning what’s sure to be one of the best days of your life, you have a lot of options out there. I mean, a LOT. So many great vendors to choose from, so many whimsical details you’d like to incorporate, so many people you’re trying to please … and all of those options cut right into your budget.

Fortunately, we now live in the land of Pinterest. Who knew what we did before that! But all of the tutorials on how to DIY absolutely everything under the sun can get in the way of logic, and it can be tempting to want to save money here and there by doing a lot of legwork yourself. Drawing inspiration from InStyle, The Knot and a few other trusty resources while adding my own two cents, I’ve compiled a list of things that are okay to DIY and a few things you should leave to the pros.

DIY Approved:

Escort Cards & Placecards

If you have the time, these are a very easy item to DIY! This project is usually something you can work on over time when you have a few hours here and there. It can be completed gradually, meaning it probably won’t add much stress to your plate. Depending on the intricacy of your design, usually all you need is a source for printing, great handwriting or calligraphy chops. If you are going the DIY route, be sure you’re not including a food item without a shelf life, fresh florals, herbs or greenery … you get the idea! It should be sustainable over time.


Similar to above, this one is pretty simple! No need to go to an expensive designer to create menus (unless your vision is elaborate). If you’re looking for a simple and tasteful menu you can print on your own, my recommendation is to head over to Etsy! There are tons of templates to choose from, which can be customized very quickly. Once the file is updated with your specific information and you’ve proofed it, you’ll be sent a file which you can easily print on own at home or at FedEx/Kinko’s. If you’re a little more design savvy, check out Canva! Extremely user friendly with a ton of templates to select from and the ability to make modifications, you can create exactly what you had in mind. You can even have printed through Canva.


Welcome signs, ceremony seating signs, sparkler sendoff signs, guestbook signs (and on and on…) are so simple to do yourself. Whether you’re going the chalkboard route, something printed and placed in a frame, acrylic or something entirely different, you can definitely keep costs down by doing this yourself.


It’s completely okay to work on décor yourself, without spending money on a visionary or rentals. Feel free to collect vases, votive holders, centerpiece additions and so on, and have those be incorporated into your day! Do not, however, expect to set the décor yourself, or even to have a family member or friend do so. The most important thing is for you to simply enjoy your day, but your family members and friends should be able to enjoy it too! Be sure your venue contact, coordinator or planner understands your vision, and make sure someone is designated as responsible for setting. Some couples are okay with creative liberties – handing over your décor items and trusting the person responsible to ‘make it look good’. Well, that’s our job – we do this because it’s something we are good at! If you aren’t one of those people though, and you have a very specific way you’d like your vision represented, feel free to do a mock up and take a picture so that person can replicate the look to a T.

Tip: If you’ve spent money on décor and formed a collection, and don’t care to keep it after the wedding, donate or sell it!

Baked Goods

I know what you’re thinking. This is a no-no. Generally speaking I would agree, but I have seen it be successful! There are a few stipulations to be mindful of though. First, I don’t expect YOU to be responsible for any baked goods. And while I just said family members and friends should be able to enjoy your day as well, and not be assigned tasks, there are a few instances where it’s possible. Before you even venture down this path, be sure your venue allows outside food and beverage. And make sure they allow it if it isn’t coming from a bakery. Next, are you thinking cake, assorted desserts, or both? Be real with your expectations. If you are doing a DIY cake it should be something small-scale and not anything elaborate (and you shouldn’t expect otherwise). If you only want a small cake for the cut, but you’re serving something else for dessert, this might work! If you want homemade desserts to be served with your cake (which you may have gotten from a bakery) I’d suggest making sure it’s someone who isn’t already intimately involved in the day, whether that’s an extended family member or family friend.

[I once worked with a visionary bride who incorporated a ton of DIY in her wedding. Cake just wasn’t a huge deal to her! Her cake, which was just the right size for a cake cut photo op, was made by her mom. She served other desserts to her guests, including cookies and milk and a late night cereal bar. It was amazing! Likewise, I once worked with a bride who got a beautiful cake from a bakery, but also wanted to serve assorted homemade miniature desserts along with it – think adorable rice krispy treats, strawberry tarts and such. A family member made those desserts, and the two combined were a hit.]


This one is another one that’s easy to do on your own. And in my experience, I would keep this simple and inexpensive. Sadly, favors are often forgotten at the end of the night, or not used (or consumed) by the guest even if they’re taken. It’s a wonderful gesture but if you’re being mindful of budget, money might be spent better elsewhere… like an end of night food truck or late night snacks!


Please Don’t!


This one is tricky. In theory it seems pretty easy to purchase flowers and create your own floral arrangements, bouquets or boutonnieres. However, flowers are temperamental, and this task is something that must be completed in the last few days leading up to your wedding, if not the actual day of. Think about your wedding week, and what you really want to be focusing your time and energy on in the last hours leading up to the big day. My guess is you’ll want to spend time with family and friends who have flown into town to celebrate with you, enjoying some R&R with your bridal party, and having a heck of a rehearsal dinner or welcome party to kick off the festivities. You probably aren’t going to want to spend your time cutting flowers, making arrangements, making sure they have the appropriate water or are kept chilled, and figuring out how on earth to transport them to your venue without killing them. Florals can definitely be pricy, but there are ways to leave this entirely to a pro while still keeping things budget friendly.

Tip: You don’t necessarily need huge, lavish arrangements on every table at the reception. Have a few focal arrangements which are larger, then keep it simple on the other tables. Go all out on your bouquet and work with your florist to get their recommendation for a low-cost flower for your bridesmaids. Once you nail down the flowers of choice, keep their bouquets on the smaller side. Florists work with a range of budgets, so be up front about which elements of the design are really important to you and figure out how to save a little elsewhere.


This one’s important! You have just one opportunity to capture the wonderful memories of your big day. You don’t get a redo. Don’t let a friend or a relative play photographer for you. While they may be talented, and it may be attractive to save a little here since it can be a big expense, I really suggest vetting out a professional photographer. And not only a professional, but someone who has a lot of experience with weddings in particular and great reviews from previous couples. Look at their work and make sure you like it. Make sure you like their style of photography as well. Twenty years from now I know you’d hate to look back at your wedding photos with terrible lighting, no photos of the special people and moments you wanted captured but a zillion of your dress, or even a lack of time spent editing. While photography is costly, it is SO, so worth it. Same goes with videography!


Music, specifically, is such an integral part of your day. It sets the tone, it maintains the flow, and it controls the energy. Maybe you have a friend who DJ’s on the side, or someone who has volunteered to click ‘play’ on a Spotify playlist (no, no, and no). Unless you’re asking someone who is musically gifted to sing or play a song as a special moment, don’t rely on friends or family to be in charge of the music. There are so many nuances throughout the day – there’s the welcome music, the processional, the bride’s processional, the recessional, cocktail hour music, announcements, first dances and toasts, cake cuts, bouquet throws and garter tosses, incorporating some oldies while making sure the youngins can get down on the dance floor… it’s a lot to manage. Leave it to a pro! It’s also tough because your friends want to have fun at your wedding and may not take their responsibilities as seriously as someone you’ve hired. Being on time, professional and diligent about fulfilling their promises are all important. You don’t want an MIA DJ who is near missing toasts because he or she hit the bar.

Tip: Give your DJ or band a list of ‘must play’ songs, the ‘do not play’ songs and the ‘okay to play if requested’. Check their timeline and your key song choices carefully to make sure it all looks accurate! Also be clear about how involved you want them to be with your guests, whether that’s minimal interaction, moderate interaction, or okay to be involved! At my own wedding, we were okay with involvement! We had both an emcee and DJ, and after the night got going we had them teach the crowd a couple of group dances, got our friends involved, and it was a blast. Some of our guests asked if they could fly them out for their own wedding!


I KNOW you want to look like a million bucks on your wedding day. If your face or hair just aren’t cooperating that day (which as females, we all know happens!) imagine the tantrum and stress that will ensue as you try to coax your hair and makeup into submission. Sit back, relax, and allow a pro to take care of you. And make sure to do a trial before the day so you are comfortable with the look, and they know your expectations!

Tip: It’s not mandatory to provide these services for your bridal party, if you have one. You could offer to cover either hair or makeup, allowing them the option to ‘opt in’ for the second service. You could even allow the option to ‘opt in’ for both services, which lets them decide. Be clear about how much the service(s) cost and how much to expect for gratuity, so no one is left blindsided.


The consensus among multiple sources is that if it’s not something that can be done months in advance, it shouldn’t be done DIY. You’ll save yourself a lot of time (that could be spent doing much more meaningful things during this time!), energy and stress. The price tag of certain services isn’t always an easy pill to swallow, but in the long run the investment is so completely worth it. It’s important for you to be able to relax and enjoy your day.

Successes with wedding DIY, or horror stories of DIY gone wrong? Would love to hear about it in the comments!
<3 Kendal

Bring On The Bling: Brooch Bouquets

One of my favorite things about weddings are unique touches that have special meaning, which may not necessarily be evident just by looking at them. I can’t take credit for this one but wanted to share an amazing alternative to a traditional floral bouquet, the brooch bouquet.

A dear friend of mine got married a few years ago, and she LOVES sparkle. Whether it’s champagne, glitter, sequins, gold – she’s all about it. As for me, I like all of those things with the exception of glitter. I am a self-proclaimed glitterphobe (but will touch it if I have to for your wedding!). She knew she didn’t want a traditional bouquet of flowers. Instead she wanted to create something that not only represented her personality and her love of the shinier things in life, but something that was meaningful and would serve as a keepsake for years to come. She was going to create a brooch bouquet!

Brooch bouquets can be purchased or made in DIY fashion, and hers was hand created. There’s a handy tutorial here on The Knot, and the main items you’ll need are a styrofoam ball, spray paint (if you want to change the color of your styrofoam), a handle or wooden dowel, and … brooches!

Brooches can be curated a number of ways. Maybe you have family heirlooms you want to incorporate (in which case heed The Knot’s advice and be careful about how you’re securing them to the base), or maybe you’re hitting up antique shops or local jewelry/accessory stores. You can also find options on Etsy, eBay and Amazon, and keep in mind the size of your styrofoam base as you are gathering brooches to ensure you can cover the base almost entirely. If you aren’t able to cover the surface, you can also incorporate silk flowers.

Just as the how-to guide suggests, we used her bridal shower as a way to gather pieces for the creation. As her matron of honor, I included an insert with the invitation to the shower letting guests know she’d like each of them to have a special place in her bouquet on the big day, and to please secure ribbons and bows on their gift with a sparkly brooch.

It turned out wonderfully! There were so many special and unique pieces she was able to use for her bouquet, and the best part was that each fabulous lady who is special to her and was present at her bridal shower is now also forever ingrained in the wedding day and a part of this keepsake. It’s just an added bonus that her bouquet was blingy (insert hair flip emoji).

[Photos courtesy of KMitiska Photography]

If you want the sparkle and shine but aren’t into DIY, or the sentimental value isn’t as important to you, options are available on Etsy, Glam Bouquet or Clay Bouquet Shop to name a few.

Did you have a brooch bouquet for your wedding, or are you planning on creating one? Would love to see photos in the comments below!

<3 Kendal