On the hunt: Maddison Row

28 September 2012

My first wedding dress shopping experience was actually not with my family — or at least, my family by blood! While on vacation in Charleston in August, about a month after we were engaged, I went with the ladies of John’s family to try on dresses at Maddison Row. One of his sisters was also engaged, so we both got to try on gowns — very fun! Lindsey and the ladies were super sweet and patient, and I loved that they let us take pictures and that they were happy to share the designer, name, and price of any dress (I think it’s so annoying when stores try to keep the style or designer a secret!!). Plus, their salon is adorable!

I tried on fewer than ten dresses, but they ran the gamut from fairly ridiculous to thiscouldbetheone. I was committed to trying on anything they stuck in front of me, though, so I didn’t mind the duds! Speaking of which, these two were the funniest:

The one on the left is only funny because it’s so not me, but it could be lovely on another gal. The one on the right, by Fancy Bridal NY, is actually supposed to be tea-length. Apparently I have really short legs??

This one, the L251 from Romona Keveza Legends, was lovely (with quite the sweep train!), but a little too glam for my style.

I liked how the “Bellflower” by Monique Lhuillier looked on me (left), but the skirt was way too wide for me to actually wear at my wedding. L257 by RK Legends was, again, beautiful, but too sleek for me.

At the end of our visit it came down to two dresses, neither of which won out over the other. (And, speaking honestly, both were wayyy outside of my price range!) Even so, I can definitely see now that they both have similarities to the gown I eventually chose.

This one is the “Bailey” by Monique Lhuillier. I loved the sleeve, the interesting (sweetheart) neckline, and the beautiful natural waist. I also liked the shape of the skirt, and some of the texture, but all of the layers and fluffs and pieces together were a bit too much.

And this one is the “Emmeline” by Vera Wang. Again, I loved the sleeves, the natural waist, and the big old bow. I felt neutrally about the hand-painted skirt (loved the softness, though). The biggest issue was the top — it was even more corset-y than it appears in this photo, which is just not my style.

So — no winner in SC. But a little experience in my pocket, and a fun morning with some of my favorite ladies!

Up next: We travel to Connecticut!

On the hunt: inspiration

26 September 2012

I wasn’t kidding when I said we still had lots of wedding goodness to discuss! Let’s start with the gown, a topic I’ve been dying to talk about for almost a year but that has been off limits because someone special just happens to read this blog.

Clearly, the suspense is over, since y’all saw the gown I ended up with last week. So there’ll be no surprise ending to this series, but we will have the extra richness of hindsight as we go through the journey, so that’s something.

Let’s start with inspiration! I gathered many photos of dresses I loved, and they all had a few things in common. Here are some of the pretties I printed out and brought to salons with me. In a binder. I was thorough.

I kid you not, the Brisa was one of my inspiration pics from the beginning! Even though Christos is clearly a favorite brand of mine (always has been), Brisa didn’t stand out as a top contender until I tried it on.

From top to bottom, we have Christos “Julianna” and “Arabella,” Christos “Maribel” and “Brisa,” a Liancarlo design with added sleeves (photo by A Bryan Photo), Priscilla of Boston No. 4709 and Melissa Sweet “Dora,” Jewel by Priscilla of Boston No. 307 and Pronovias, Watters “Sydney” and “Carins,” and Oscar de la Renta (photo by Meg Smith) and Reem Acra.

Of course, there are several more dresses that have caught my eye since I was looking in summer 2011, but this gives you a good idea of what I like: natural waists; soft, full skirts; soft and flowing fabrics like silk gazar, tulle, and organza; bows; sweetheart necklines; tiny or gauzy sleeves; point d’esprit or swiss dot fabrics; matte fabrics; and draped bodices.

Of all these dresses, I would say my favorite before visiting any stores was the “Maribel.” Oh my goodness, I loved (and still love!) those sweet swiss dots! But, as you know, she is not the one I took home in the end, so stay tuned to see where we go from here!

Fall to do list

25 September 2012

Photo by Inspiring the Everyday

Happy fall, friends! We spent the first official full day of the new season doing a decidedly un-fall-like activity: swimming in the Eno River. While I savored one of our perhaps last outings with a summer feel, I’m looking forward to squeezing as many cozy activities into the next two months as possible!* Here are a few on our to do list:

-– go on a trip to the mountains
-– make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (SO good. Even if you don’t like pumpkin.)
-– catch the goat showmanship competition at the NC State Fair (yes, watching the goats and their child handlers is our very favorite activity at the Fair)
— also at the Fair: volunteer in our church’s ham biscuit booth (nope, it doesn’t get much more Southern than that!)
— buy some baby boos for the house
— make a fall crafty project
— cheer at another high school football game (we’ve already been to one!)
-– join in the sweet potato harvest at our church
— send out some secret surprises to friends
-– drink hot apple cider (my favorite)

What’s on your fall to do list?

*Why two months? I pretty much consider fall over by the time December rolls around, even though it officially lasts for most of the month!

Marvelous mondays: built-in bunks for four

24 September 2012

Time for a new column! Can’t promise how long this one will last, but I’m liking the sound of it. The idea is that I’ll post five things in one category. I’ll try to keep the category very narrow, so we can keep this going for awhile. I have a feeling the categories will usually be from home design, but I could also see MM posts falling under fashion, weddings, parties, or holidays. Today: my top five favorite built-in bunk beds for four. There were a surprising amount of contenders.

Top to bottom: Elle Decor (photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna) | Domino Mag via Flickr | Urban Grace Interiors | Platt Byard Dovell White via Handmade Charlotte | Traditional Home

These bunks make me so happy, especially the small details: the privacy curtains, the individual reading lights, the clever ladders, the little knick knacks in each space. Now I just need an expansive vacation home to build a set in! Which one is your favorite?

New beginnings

21 September 2012

Hello, beautiful friends! Guess what? I GOT MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew! Now that that’s out of the way, I want to backtrack quickly and relate a few things I didn’t have a chance to get to pre-wedding. Turns out my schedule was a bit busier than I had anticipated, but I knew you all would prefer I spend time doing things like playing cornhole, going to the beach, and running errands with my Mom, even if it meant I didn’t get to write a sign off post.

BUT, if I had had time to write a final post, there are a few things I would have said.

I would have thanked you all for your excitement. From genuinely sharing in our enthusiasm from day one; to being thrilled for us at every step of the way, even if our steps were at times more like shuffles; to loving our engagement photos almost as much as we did. Even though I didn’t share too many of our projects in advance, you were delightfully enthusiastic over the ones I did share, like our marriage certificate, our wedding website, and our invitations.

I would have thanked you for your honest feedback. You helped me choose save the dates, shoes, and a rehearsal dinner dress, among other things. You offered kind opinions and tips when we were looking for a dress for my mom, when I shared our preparations for our wedding morning, and when we were struggling with whether we could afford videography.

I would have thanked you simply for reading, for showing up and listening to my thoughts and plans, and sometimes, when I got lucky, for commenting. Sharing the experience with you all made it twice as sweet!

I also would have thanked a few of you individually, though I would have been worried about leaving someone special out! I’ve loved growing closer to online friends throughout the last year, including longtime readers Charity, Kelly, Lisa, Paloma, and Laura F., as well as newer readers Madi, Madelynne, Elizabeth, and Amanda. Of course, lots of my “real life” friends have followed our planning via EFM, too, and I always love hearing from them! Alyssa, Molly, Jackie, and Laura B. form my most ardent fan club, with Emily, Anna, Caity, Meredith, Nancy, Megan, Cassie, Meghan, and Jesse also popping in frequently. Lastly, even though I chatted with them about plans often offline, I always loved seeing all FOUR of my sisters’ AND my Mom’s names pop up in the comment box.

So that’s what I would have said. And even though I didn’t get to say it beforehand, I still mean every word. Thank you, thank you, thank you! So much love to you all.

One final note: While chatting with the official EFM fan club at our post-wedding brunch, the gals mentioned their impending withdrawal from monthly planning to do lists. (I don’t think I’ll miss them quite as much!) There seemed to be some concern that I would have nothing to write about post wedding, but lest anyone else have the same fear, let me assure y’all that I wrote this blog for three years before I ever had a ring on my finger, and I will happily keep going now that my third finger sports two rings. There are always new adventures around the corner, after all.

P.S. Our wedding was perfect, from the weather to the emotion. In fact, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces, as evidenced below. Can’t wait to share it all with you soon. xo

Thank you for the photo, Laurie!