Sunday, September 30, 2007

Review: Country Miss Bridal: Upper Marlboro, MD

Also see: Review: RK Bridal, NY, NY

Saturday morning I visited another local bridal called Country Miss. I know. I said I had found a gown. But hey, no harm in looking around, right?

First impression:
The shop is cute...located in a mini strip mall on a narrow street in the very "country-looking" neighborhood of Upper Marlboro. It was not far from where we live, but I had never ventured into the area.
Just from the way the store looked on the outside (small) I assumed their collection of gowns would also be disappointingly small.
I was wrong.

The store was larger inside than it appeared. There was a staff of about six women, who were for the most hands-off and not at all pushy. The girl who helped me asked what I was looking for and grabbed some gowns while allowing me to also look through their racks.
Compared to the other bridals in this area I've been to--maybe 4--they had the largest selection of gowns.

The girl helping me was laid back and helpful. There was a stage to view yourself on. I thought it was weird they had a sign that read: "No cameras on Saturdays." Not sure what that was about.

Like most other bridals, deposit for gowns and BM dresses is 50%. If you get al BMs dresses from them they offer 15% off each dress (mothers' too) plus 10% off yours. I think that was the most generous I'd seen. It looked like they did alterations on site. They said the longest any gown would take to arrive was 3 months. I've heard longer delivery times quoted other places.

I think the best thing about Country Miss is that they double as a tuxedo rental place. Compared to some of the staple tux rental spots (i.e. Men's Wearhouse,Tuxedo Junction)they had way nicer tux options and
many designers.

A downfall of this bridal is that they don't carry any couture gown lines.

I may take fiance back there with me to look for a tux though.

Overall score: C+

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Moon for me and my Honey: Part I

Me: "Babe, what exactly do you want for our vacation? I mean..what do you have to have?"
He: (While watching football game) "Water. Activities. Warm. Anywhere in the Caribbean would be fine. Somewhere with reasonable flights. But not Jamaica."
Well, at least he's not picky!
I am happy to present to you honeymoon option #1:
The Grand Palladium Bavaro Resort and Spa
Playa Bavaro, Higuey, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This sea-side, all inclusive resort is constructed on a 320,000 square metre site and is next to two other resorts which we'd have full access to. It's surrounded by a coconut palm plantation and tropical vegetation. Also, there's a coral reef.
There are 11 restaurants, 3 buffets in the beach area, 12 bars, 4 pools with swim-up bars and sunbeds, 2 theatres, clubs, casino, golf, scuba diving, watersports (motor, too), shopping, get it!
To put the icing on the cake, it has a Tripadvisor rating of 4 stars and is one the most popular resorts in the area.

So, why are we thinking DR for vacation?
A few reasons.
1. It's a wonderful value for what you get.
2. We can afford 6 nights in the very best of their accomodations.
3. The history of DR. (Well, maybe that's my personal reason)

As you may know, DR is an island-nation on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola which it shares with neighbor Haiti.

Both Haiti and DR are historically conflicted/tumultuous regions, colonized, marred by national government corruption, foreign economic interference in the country, and a rift between rich and poor.
90 % of the contemporary Dominican population has African ancestry, and the country is a part of the African Diaspora.
The African diaspora is the diaspora created by the movements and cultures of Africans and their descendants throughout the world, to places such as the Americas, (including the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America) Europe and Asia. Much of the African diaspora is descended from people who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade, with the largest population living in Brazil.
For more on the African Diaspora go here
Or here
So this is why the trip would be important to me...besides the beauty/fun/relaxation potential. (Anyone who knows me knows I love being black and I love being able to "touch" my history, and make it, too... (Maybe I'll be able to afford a trip to Africa someday?)
That said, I don't like being a "tourist" when travelling. And though that may seem like a joke staying at an all-inclusive "mega-resort," it means a lot to me to be able to take something more away from our journey than pretty photos.
I really would like to spend some time away from the resort (the feasibility which I still need to research).

Apparently, it's a bit too far out from our honeymoon dates to search for travel with most airlines, but I did find a very reasonable rate with Expedia and expect to do more research into airfare using a comparison site like Farecast. I always use Sidestep for flights within the US--basically it lets you see flight prices side-by-side from all the big search engines and airlines (except Southwest for some reason.

Do you have any tips on searching for honeymoon locales or airfare? What did you, or others you know do for their honeymoons?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oh, Shoot!

I came across another great photographer today...
And she is already booked for another wedding on my date! bride's loss is another's gain.
Cleveland area brides, check out Lauren Barney.
Her website.
Her blog.
On a sweeter note, Lauren did refer me to two other photographers.
When I asked her if the referrals' work was similar to her own, she said of one:
"He was my mentor for several years. And if I was getting married, I would hire him..."
Below is some of Lauren's work.

So, my search for photography continues. Stay tuned for the winner, to be announced sometime soon...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Inspiration Volume 2

Inspiration Volume 1
I'm totally loving everything about how this wedding looks!
I got these photos from Heather and Andrae's wedding in Charlotte, NC from The Knot.
I really like the colors used in this wedding, especially how vibrant accent colors were used to make everything 'pop' and come together!
The BMs dresses are a very dark brown, but I imagine them as black and I love it!
I even really dig the red as an accent, although we'll likely use orange or fuschia for our 'pop' color.

I ove the color scheme, especially the monochromatic red Gerbera Daisy bouquets that add color. Then you have the turquoise element seen in the Groom's attire, decor and FG's dresses. (And, at least one of the BMs...maybe MOH... has on turquoise strappy sandals! How cool!)

Pretty bouquet.

I love her birdcage veil!

I love the lanterns...and the urban, lofty space for the ceremony. It reminds me of my venue.

I love the simplicity of the flowers!

I love the white and black paisley gift wrap!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

And the Lil' Black Dress Finalists Are...

As I discussed before, my lovely bridesmaids Anna, Tiara, Kalicia, Joy, Rickelle, Carmel and Dorrian--yes there are seven!--will be wearing black tea-length dresses.
I have decided on five styles that I like and that I hope at least one of which each of my ladies will too.
The idea is that the dress will be something they can wear again. Also, I don't feel it necessary for all of the bridesmaids to wear the same thing...
So basically, they'll get to choose from the below:
(You may click on any image for a larger view)

Dessy, Midnight

Bari Jay, Satin, Shown in chocolate--Comes in black

Bill Levkoff Satin

Impression Bridal Taffeta

Mori Lee Taffeta
Note: Some of the dresses are shown in different colors but would be in black.
What do you think of these choices?
Also, an example of a wedding with black BM dresses that didn't match:


OK--so I mentioned last week that I tried my ever-evolving floral arranging skills with the ever-popular chrysanthemum.
I used two kinds, the traditional mum and the spider-mum, bought from the same florist stand at 18th and H Street by the train in DC.
As I do not plan to use mums in the wedding, I guess the only reason this is relevant is because it was another shot at the actual art of flower arranging.
As you can see, I used a mostly monochromatic color scheme and arranged the flowers in different sized containers. I also added some slices of fresh limes as decoration to one of the vases--a cute trend I'll discuss later.
Oh--I should also be sure to say that these flowers were more than two weeks old when photos were taken.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blast from the past

A little history lesson.
This picture was taken in 1996.
It's a really faded picture of me and my fiance.
In high school!
Something he just happened to still have long after we had broken up and gone our separate ways.
He has lots of pictures in albums from long ago... but this is my favorite.
And I just wanted to post it as a testament to how much I love, appreciate and admire him.
Everyday, my fiance is my better half.
It's true.
He's strong and brave and smart in all the ways I am not.
And I'd like to think I contribute equally.
Anyways, I cannot wait to make my vows to him next year...and our friendship is, in fact, the only reason for this blog.
I'm just very thankful for him, us and our future.
Enough for now...

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Thousand Words

I really have a deep respect and appreciation for good photography.
The main reason, I think, is because I worked for several years as a newspaper reporter.
As a reporter I wrote stories--the important ones that were accompanied by a picture of what the story was about. And what I noticed was that the picture would often make or break my story.
After all, pictures and visual things are always what first draws people to a newspaper...a magazine...a man, or a woman!
I digress.
But the point is that what photographers were able to say through their images were usually more powerful than anything I could write.
That said, I care very much who is hired to take our wedding photographs.
There are many signs that scream mediocre photography. But the main culprit is simply the lack of imagination and experience of the photographer.
I love photojournalistic photography and think that a photographer should cover a wedding as they would cover any other event. They must capture and tell the story of the day. They must capture the moments that gone unseen by most. They must capture genuine feeling.

In searching for photographers, I've found the ones I like most actually used to work as photojournalists and have a 'fly on the wall' approach to shooting.

What I DO NOT like are pictures that are posed and contrived.

In my mind, there is no reason to spend an hour of the wedding--even if it's during the cocktail hour--posing up silly shots somewhere like we're at Sears...

Yes, I want some pictures of the gals and guys and family all together...but not an hour's worth!
Pictures are so much better when they are natural. No need to purposely smile all up in the camera!
Now--I had major sticker shock when looking for companies to interview to do our pictures.
Nine out of ten Cleveland-area photographers charge upwards of $1,000 for wedding coverage--and that's for a very basic package.
As my mother has agreed to finance the photography, I am hunting around for a skilled photog who is also reasonable cost-wise. No worries momma! I have found a few that we'll interview in a few weeks.
They are: (In order of the one I love most:)
Ken Blaze
Easy Wind Studio
Noble Images
Melissa Rudick
Linczak Photography
Harris Photography

Good thing is that I do think all of the above photogs could do a fine job capturing the wedding--and they all are in, or within reach of, a reasonable price range.
Do you know of any great Cleveland-area photographers?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bouquets: The Good, Bad and yes, (flowers can be) Ugly

Sometimes knowing what you don't want is the best starting place of all.
Which brings me to the matter of the flowers that I and my lovely maids will carry during the ceremony.
Hmmm..let me first say that when thinking of places to spend $$ this is one area always in the back of my mind.
I dunno. It just seems pointless to spend $100 plus for my bouquet and $70 each for bridesmaids' flowers (yes, that is the going rate.
A second consideration about bridal bouquets, is the fact that, in my opinion and taste, I do not like the way a bunch of different flowers in different colors look grouped together. I tend to feel like flowers are much more striking when beautifully displayed alone or few. Same thing with bouquets.
I've found that I much prefer smaller, hand-tied bouquets and posies to those humongous things I've seen a lot of brides carry!
Here are things I definitely don't like:



But HERE are some I love:

Notice how the above bouquet looks feminine (even
though there are a lot of flowers) and is personalized with the crystal accent and the pretty monogrammed wrap.

Above is the pretty carnation bouquet I posted about before. I like its simple, yet elegant look and especially how it's tied together with that black pleated fabric and detail!

Now, the one above may be my absolute favorite! It is composed of white anemones with black-button centers. I hope anemones are in season in August because I would love to use them somewhere.

And these bridesmaid's bouquets I like because they look petite and dainty--more like posies.
And lastly, see the below gorgeous nosegay-shaped bouquets of white spray roses,Vendela roses and anemones:

Or what about bridesmaids carrying a single Vendela rose down the aisle with a pretty fabric wrapped tied around the stem? I've seen large Calla Lillies done this way, but...I don't like Calla lilies at all (don't shoot me).

Also, what do you think about the flower girls carrying pomanders--small versions of the below? A pomander is just a foam ball (available at any craft store) into which you can stick silk flowers or fresh flowers, thereby covering the ball completely with flowers. You can then attach whatever kind of decorative handle you'd like. I'll make one and post it later.

I have a folder on my computer where I keep photos like these of all the things I really like AND dislike so that I can take them with me to vendors. Even though we're still inclined to DIY table flowers, I'm not adventurous enough--nor do I think there will be enough time--to try to make bouts, corsages and bouquets. These are the only thing we plan on using a florist for.