Pretty pretty paper!

I just had to share a blog post that combines two blogs that I love.  Nole from Oh So Beautiful Paper was the guest blogger yesterday at The Bride’s Cafe.  Nole’s wedding was a source of inspiration for me when planning my wedding (check it out here…it is absolute perfection), and her blog always features pretty paper, stationery, and invitations, which are some of my favorite things.  Below are Nole’s words of wisdom regarding Save the Dates and  photos of the ideas she shared.  To see the full feature on The Bride’s Cafe, go here.

From Nole:

1. Set the tone with your Save the Dates. Aside from the invitations themselves, Save the Dates are the first insight that your guests will have into your wedding. Since Save the Dates are usually sent out pretty early in the wedding planning process, chances are most brides and grooms won’t have all the details figured out when the Save the Dates are mailed out, but hopefully you have a sense of the style of wedding that you’re planning. Here are a few ideas:

Photo by Max Wanger
Photo by Olivia Leigh
Design by Simplesong
I really love all three of these.  How great would the hanky Save the Dates be for a vintage styled wedding or bride, especially for a smaller guest list?  I wish I had thought of it…
The keys are great because you can incorporate them into your wedding in so many different ways…and they just happen to be one of the elements I used throughout my own wedding.
There is something so simple and chic about silhouettes!  They could also be incorporated throughout your wedding.  A great example of that can be found here and here, in a wedding featured on Style Me Pretty.
One other Save the Date idea I absolutely love is another I found on Nole’s blog.  I love the initials carved into the tree (maybe I am biased since they are mine and my husband’s initials).
I think every bride should send Save the Dates because they are fun and a great way to showcase your style and personality.  Even if your budget is tight, there are lots of places, especially on Etsy, where you can find very affordable Save the Dates.  I got mine from Tilde Designs on Etsy, and not only were they very affordable, but they were lovely!

{Inspiration Board} Tufted Love

Maybe it is the dreary and rainy weather, but all I can think about right now is curling up in front of the TV and staying in.  I love home design and I have been dreaming of a new couch (the 10 year old slip-covered one we have is just not cutting it anymore).  With new couch research comes lots of other ideas for the living room, bedroom, and rooms I don’t even have in my apartment!  Here is a collection of photos I found on Decor Pad that are inspiring me.  I am loving tufted furniture at the moment! 

All images found at Decor Pad
You could totally use one of these rooms for wedding inspiration too.  Luxurious textures, muted color paletttes, chandeliers, that yellow and grey combo…

{Inspiration Board} DIY Inspiration

I’ve seen so many great DIY projects for weddings and loved doing projects for my own wedding, so I thought doing an inspiration board focused on DIY projects might be fun.  One wedding in particular, featured on Style Me Pretty last week, was filled with so many DIY elements and I loved every one.  The event was carried out beautifully and infused with so many personal touches I feel like I know the couple myself.  You definitely need to head over to SMP and see the feature in its entirety!

Top Row: Clothesline of pictures by Leigh Miller Photography, petal cone & chairs photos by Jessica Johnston, drink stirs photo by Jennifer Roper; Middle Row:  Initals & candy bar photos by Jessica Johnston, programs photo by Amy Squires, menu by Tilde Designs photo by Jennifer Roper; Bottom Row: chair photo by Jasmine Star, petal cone photo by Jennifer Roper, pinwheels photo by Jessica Johnston, cookie photo by Amy Squires

I hope this post will inspire crafty and non-crafty brides alike to find a project they can handle and personalize their wedding!

The husband and I are headed out of town to visit some friends, so happy long weekend!!!

Love is Sweet!

There is something about french macarons that I love.  I don’t know if it is their yumminess, or the pretty pastel shades they come in, or that they make me think of Paris…but I know they make me happy.  While I am more of a cupcake girl when it comes to desserts, there is just something so simple and lovely about french macarons.  And they make beautiful pictures!

Left:  Via Martha Stewart Weddings  Right: Laduree’ Paris,
French Macarons would be a charming addition to any wedding dessert bar or would make great favors for guests.  Many bakeries specialize in making them for weddings, or it could be a great DIY project for a bride!  My favorite bakery, Vanilla Bake Shop, makes delicious macarons, among many other treats (including the cupcakes for my own wedding).  Last month, Style Me Pretty did a DIY holiday feature where Vanilla Bake Shop shared tips and a recipe for making your own macarons.  For the full feature on SMP, go here.

Tips and Recipe:
Color & Flavor Coordinate: Presentation is key! You eat with your eyes first. Take that into consideration when you are making your French Macarons. Choose three flavor and color combinations that compliment each other and taste delicious.
Personalize: Adding a personalized custom label to your favor is a sweet touch that is simple and inexpensive. A helpful online source is https://www.myownlabels.com/. Chose from a variety of label templates and colors. Cost: approximately .75 per label.

Packaging: Choosing recycled eco-friendly cardboard or clear favor box is a creative way to show off your colorful French macarons. A cost effective online packaging source is https://www.papermart.com/ Cost: approximately .50 per box

Ingredients:
3 ½ cups Powdered sugar
½ tsp. Vanilla extract
3 cupsAlmond meal
6 Egg whites
Pinch Salt
½ cupGranulated Sugar

Helpful tips before you get started:
*Oven temperatures vary. Test this recipe first, before you begin production to ensure the cookies bake perfectly. If the cookies crack on top, your oven might be too hot. Turn your oven down by 5-10 degree’s. The cookie should have a smooth shell top.

*Chose three different food colors for your cookies and decide what flavor will correspond with the color. Example: A pale green macaron filled with mint chocolate ganache.

*Gel based food-coloring works the best. Divide your batter mixture into three separate bowls, and add a different color per bowl. This will allow you to have three different colors and flavors.

*Use a toothpick when adding the food coloring. A little goes a long way.

Instructions:

Pre-heat Oven 240 degree’s
1. Whip egg whites in a mixer with whisk attachment until frothy. Rain in granulated sugar slowly. Whip until the egg white is a soft peak. Add salt, vanilla extract and food coloring.
2. Continue to whip until a medium peak forms. Do not over whip.
3. Sift powder sugar and almond meal together.
4. Fold powder sugar and almond meal into egg white mixture.
5. Fold together until mixture is the consistency of slow moving lava. (About 20-30 seconds of folding.) Be careful not to over mix.
6. Fill pastry bag fitted with #828 tip with macaron mixture.
7. Pipe into small silver dollar size rounds on parchment covered sheet pans.
8. Once all rounds have been piped, allow it to sit out for 30 minutes to dry and create a shell.
9. Bake at 240 degree’s for 9-11 minutes. Rotate halfway through baking process so cookies are evenly baked. Cookie tops will pop up creating a macaron “foot” below the shell top.
10. Allow to cool before piping filling.
11. Fill with your favorite butter cream, preserve, or chocolate ganache filling.  This recipe yields 40 French macaron sandwiches.

Try them at home, or if you are in the LA area head over to the Vanilla Bake Shop and buy some instead!
 

Saying YES to the Dress

A bride’s search for THE dress is a daunting but exciting time.  I had many mixed feelings about going wedding dress shopping:  fear of not finding the right one, dread of feeling too fat to look good in them, joy at thinking of yourself on your wedding day, and relief that you are finally getting to shop for a wedding dress for an actual wedding for yourself!  I had poured through bridal magazines tearing out pictures of gowns I loved for 5 months before I went gown shopping.  My mom flew out to LA and we went to a couple of bridal boutiques in an effort to track down the perfect dress.  It was such a memorable experience that we had together, and not just because of a Denzel Washington encounter that we had on our way home!  In the end I found my perfect gown, the one I had loved most from my magazine ripping phase, and the first one I tried on. 

For some brides, it is an easy thing to find a wedding gown.  Others search far and wide and can’t make a decision.  Luckily for the newly engaged, there are many gorgeous gowns from the Spring 2010 season to choose from.  Here is a wrap-up of the highlights, plus a few of my all-time favorite from past seasons:

Ballgown:
   Left:  Monique Lhuillier
Right:  Vera Wang
A touch of bling:
  Left:  Ramona Keveza
Right:  Jenny Packham
A-Line:
 Left:  Vera Wang
Right:  Anne Barge 2008
Simple & Elegant:
Left:  Lela Rose
Right:  J.Crew 
Ruffles:
    Left:  Vera Wang
Right:  Badgley Mischka
Floral touches:
    Left:  J.Crew
     Right:  Rivini
Crumb Catcher:
   Left:  Carolina Herrera (2009)
Right:  Amsale
Vintage Inspired Lace:
  Left:  Melissa Sweet (2008)
Right:  Rivini
One Shoulder:
   Left:  Ramona Keveza
Short:
   Both gowns by Amsale
Unique Details:
 Left:  Amsale
Right:  Carolina Herrera (2009)
I am LOVING Vera’s 2010 Spring Collection!  The Lela Rose gown would be so elegant worn in an urban wedding and the simple J.Crew gown has a beautiful back and would be great for a gallery venue.  The simple Vera gown is perfect for a summer garden wedding or a beach ceremony.  The Anne Barge gown is more beautiful in person and has amazing details (pockets and pleating on the bodice) that would make it perfect for a preppy, nautical themed wedding.  I love the neckline of the bottom Amsale gown and the polka dots in the bottom Carolina gown are adorable.  Both short dresses would be perfect for a simpler affair, a city hall wedding, or as a second dress for a bride who wants to change for the ‘party’ portion of her wedding.  Both gauzy ballgowns are perfect for a more formal affair…or for any bride with an inner Cinderella.  And my very favorite is the vintage inspired lace Melissa Sweet gown…because it was mine!
Photo by Jennifer Roper

{Inspiration Board} Navy & Lilac

I was just contacted by a friend whose brother is in the early stages of wedding planning.  They are having an outdoor wedding in early October in North Carolina, and my friend asked my opinion on color combos and wedding party attire.  The couple wants a dark or navy blue for the bridesmaids, and a more casual option for the groomsmen, but without looking too casual or country.  A lavendar accent color was suggested, a combination that I think is very fresh and chic.  I designed an inspiration board for them to see how they liked the colors together and to get an overall feel for the design of their wedding.  Here is what I came up with:

Top row from left:  photo by Molly Fitzsimmons, photo by Stacey Kane, photo by The Sartorialist, photo by Punam Bean, boutonniere via Martha Stewart Weddings, lavendar photo by Jose Villa
Row 2:  calligraphy by Betsy Dunlap, church photo by Laura Dombrowski, invitation photo by Holland Photo Arts, lemonade photo by Cooper Carras,  blue Converse photo by Worthington Photography
Row 3:  place setting via Martha Stewart Weddings, macarons from Paulette, photo by Punam Bean,  hydrangea photo by Meg Smith
I love the feel of the hydrangeas and lilacs, natural and effortless.  Picture them placed in mixed sizes of blue and clear mason jars…very outdoor southern wedding. Imagine the country charm of a green field and a big oak tree and guests mingling while drinking lemonade and sweet tea out of jelly glasses.  The groomsmen wearing khaki’s and blue converse or vans, and coordinating ties, and the bridesmaids in different dresses in the same family of navy and indigo.  The groom could wear a light grey suit and the bridesmaids matching grey pashminas when it gets chilly after dark…there are so many options my head is spinning!  I can’t wait to hear what the couple comes up with.