Thursday, January 29, 2009


Mr. L is a (surprising) big fan of wedding cupcakes. He has suggested before that I make our cake, and I wasn't so sure about that. But now that he wants cupcakes, there is a real chance that this could be my DIY project. And think about how cute they would be with fantastic cupcake wrappers like these:

Or lacy ones!

Don't they just make you swoon? I just wish they weren't over $1 each. :(

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I found a dress!!!

After the three shops that I've already chronicled, I hit up a local bridal shop, Amhrein's. I thought the lady there was very helpful, and I must have tried on another 20 dresses. I narrowed it down to two dresses there that I liked, and I could fit in both of them, and could get a really good deal on either of them. I called up RoaMaid*, and had her run out to look at them. She was wonderful, and helpful, and brought a little perspective. I liked both of them, but neither was absolutely perfect.

After the first four stores, I knew the things I wanted in a dress. So, today, I went to Lynchburg. I'd heard about a charity bridal store there run by the YWCA, Church Street Bridal, that has dresses donated by stores all over the area, all for $200-350. Pretty amazing. We even saw a Monique Lhullier Scarlet! Unfortunately, most of the styles that they had today were far from what I was looking for. So no dice.

But we did see another boutique in Lynchburg. RoaMaid was amazing and called over as we waited for a dressing room at Church Street Bridal. They said that no appointment was needed and that they weren't too busy. So, after a great lunch at Hot and Cold, a great local Mediterranean place, we headed over to Celebration Bridal.

And that's where we found the dress! We couldn't get the attention of any of the salespeople at first (because they had definitely gotten busy since we'd called!), so the two of us wandered the racks, and pulled out three dresses that seemed to fit my criteria. We finally found someone to help us, and I started trying them on! The first one was it. I finally made myself change, and try the other two, but I knew I didn't even need to show RoaMaid. I wanted to put the first dress back on. After hanging around in it for a while, I ordered it!!!!I love it. It's perfect.


*RoaMaid - my one and only bridesmaid who is here in Roanoke with me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I take back all the mean things I said about Bella Rosa

The girl there sent me an email following up today, and when I actually asked for the styles that I liked, she sent them right away!

So here they are, in all their modeled glory (and I'd want them in white, not ivories):

Mikaella style 1367

Pronovias Harlem

Can't you just imagine either of them with a viel with stand-out trim like this one?!


I've been doing lots of planning, I swear. First, the dress shopping so far:

Saturday, I went up to Hitched, in DC, then to Bella Rosa in Richmond, and finally, I stopped in David's Bridal.

Hitched was amazing. The attendant was helpful and professional and totally understood what I wanted, even when I was struggling to find out. There was no sales pressure, and she let me have my fun day - not worrying about finding the perfect dress, or even staying in the realm of the affordable. It was fun, and relaxing, and totally enjoyable.

I was able to try on several different types of dresses and figure out what looked good on me (as opposed to a model in a bridal magazine). I had an idea that what attracted me in the magazines would not work on my body, and I was right. The dresses that I liked on me looked nothing like any of my inspiration pictures.

I started with pictures of dresses like these: all lace, slinky, v-neck, and fitted low. Not good things for my body.

I realized that I really liked dresses with rouching through the middle, with a natural waist, a-line, and often, sweetheart neckline. And I loved a little brooch or flower accent. I loved the drama! I also was surprised that I didn't mind a slightly busy skirt. Oh, and it definitely had to flare out higher up - none of this fitted around my hips stuff! I'm a little too curvy for that!

I found a couple of dresses there that I liked in that basic style. She wrote the styles down for me (and then I left the piece of paper at my friend's house - oops!), so that I could look at them online, since they didn't allow photos.

And then if was off to Richmond! Bella Rosa is also a boutique, but a little less shee-shee. The attendant was more sale-focused, and obviously younger and less professional (but still very nice). Still no pictures allowed, but she didn't let me have the info on the dresses either. She just wrote it down. I totally understand wanting to keep the sales in the store, but I really can't handle making a decision just in the hour that I have an appointment. And do they really want me coming back every time I want to remember what it looks like?! maybe.

I tried on several dresses of the same type that I liked at hitched, but a little closer to my price range. The one I liked best was under $1K, which I considered a victory. Gee, I wish I had a picture of it so I could share, or so that I could refresh my memory.

Finally, I hit up David's Bridal. I tried to fit it in that Saturday, but it was a madhouse. Instead, I dropped by last night after work, and it was much calmer. The salesperson was basically absent, and I was alone, so I had a long conversation with someone else's bridesmaid and she was kind enough to take pictures of me, and suggest things about the fit. There was only one dress I wanted to try on there (most of their dresses that fit my criteria are covered in applique lace/beading that I don't like). It was an Oleg Cassini. And I really liked it. And as the price was the lowest of anything I have looked at. That part was nice. And, oddly, although no one was with me, this was the first one that felt really good. I wasn't just looking at it in terms of which parts I liked - I liked the whole thing. I wish that it didn't have a giant bow in back, and that it did have buttons down the back, but I really liked the basics of the dress.

The process did allow me to pinpoint two ways to describe what I really am looking for: non-pornographic, and dramatic.

And so, after all of that, I come back to the first dress that I ever fell in love with - Joan Shum's Lady Catherine. Swoon. It has the band across the waist (not rouched, but still defining), a natural waist with a fairly high flare, gorgeous, dramatic details (hand-painted roses and a brooch), and lace. It definitely fits the bill for dramatic. The neckline and the lack of a train are the only drawback - it may qualify as pornographic on me (since I'm above an a cup). Oh yeah, and that $5K price tag.

And so, I'm faced with the dilemma. I have had two places recommended - one that is a seamstress who creates dresses from photos of designer dresses (an obviously, can adjust things) for significantly less, and the other who sources knock-offs for you. I love the idea of actually being able to afford a dress like this, but I feel a little skeezy about it. I do know artists, and I'm very protective of them, and think that they absolutely deserve every cent that they charge. So is the knock-off route really the way I want to go? Doesn't Joan Shum deserve to be compensated for her amazing creativity and time designing the dress? (Not that I can afford to do so, no matter how I shift the numbers around.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

How to: dress shopping

As a new member of the Engaged Women's Club, my friends still (mostly) enjoy talking about my wedding planning. They still answer my phone calls, and haven't yet asked if we could please talk about them for a change. So, I'm getting lots of good advice about dress shopping. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Avoid weekends when possible. This makes sense. Of course the salons are busier on weekends, and the attendants just don't have as much time to devote attention to you.
  • Go in with some ideas, but be open. Now, I am in no way certain about the style I want. I love lace, but I'm pretty sure that I look better in something much more structured. And I think I like a long train, but all of my inspiration pictures are train-less or have only a short train. So, I'm taking in all the pictures I've collected - and collecting them helped me see that they do have a lot in common, and to place really see what those commonalities were. It'll give the attendant a chance to see what's in my head (because I'm not so good with the describing), and hopefully, it'll get me to the pretties more quickly! However, many of these people (I dare not say all) know something about what looks good on people. They have seen the dresses on women with all shapes, not just the magazine models that I've been looking at, and they may have some very valid suggestions. What does it hurt to try on a few extra big, expensive dresses with an open mind?
  • Pay attention to your undies. Wear a white or nude strapless (and backless, if you have one) bra, and make sure that you're wearing panties that provide some coverage but don't scream "this is my last pair before I really have to do laundry". The bra, so that you can better visualize what the dress will actually look like, and the panties because at least one salesperson that you've never met is going to see you in your skivvies. On a crowded weekend or sample sale, it's possible that you won't even get your own dressing room, and other customers will see you. Never mind the embarrassment of having your mom with you, helping with a zipper, while you sport those panties with "Dive in" across the butt.
  • Assume that you will run late. Seriously, these are back-to-back appointments. Don't plan on getting out at the exact time that your hour ends. Think about it, this is an industry that runs on bridezillas. Do you want to be the one who has to take off the dress that you think might be the one right now because there is another bride in 5 minutes?
  • Shop around. There was a recent post on WeddingBee that really drove this one home for me. I know that I'm bigger than all the samples. I learned that much when I went shopping with my much thinner, much taller friend, and everything fit her perfectly. That will not be me. I accept that. But I am resolved to not let the horror of squeezing into little dresses and not zipping them up distract from the fact that this is probably the most I will ever spend on an outfit, and I think I should feel pretty. I don't want to pick something that I'll regret. Especially since most bridal dresses are 100% not-returnable! That doesn't leave a lot of room for buyer's remorse.

Any other tips from those of you that have been through this before (as a bride or with a bride)?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Next stop: Richmond

I'm finally getting sworn in at the Virginia Supreme Court on Monday, and I'm incredibly excited! Although I missed the mass swearing in ceremony in October, it actually works out very well for me. Instead of being sworn in en masse, and sponsored by my law school's latest Dean, I'll be sworn in in a much smaller group, with Mr. L as my sponsor! Maybe it's silly, but I am really excited to have my fiance go before the supreme court and make the motion that I be admitted to practice before the courts of the Commonwealth.

Since my mom, Mr. L, and I will be there anyway, I plan to make the most of the time. I'm planning to head down on Saturday, and spend a weekend doing wedding scouting. Here are the highlights of the plan:

Head up to DC Friday, and hit up the sample sale at Hitched in Georgetown. It's not really that far out of the way, and it's an excuse to look at pretty dresses. in the "big city". that are on sale. with a great law school friend!

Then, Saturday morning, it's off to Richmond. Saturday is reserved for trying on dresses with RichFriend*. The plan is to do David's Bridal first, and then I have an appointment at Bella Rosa. Bella Rosa doesn't inspire the best reviews by friends of friends and knotties, but they too are having a sample sale, and, frankly, there aren't that many choices unless I want to spend a lot more time in DC. And although I'm a little wary of facing David's on a Saturday, I'm so eager to go dress trying-on that I think it may be worth at least trying. I feel like it'll all be easier to take since I don't actually plan on finding anything - just getting ideas. I'll let you know if I end up eating my words.

Sunday, my mom arrives in Richmond, and it's off to the bridal show! I wondered at first if these shows were really all that helpful, or if they are really more of an excuse to be around a bunch of other women who are just as wedding crazed as I am, but after looking at the list of vendors, I think there is a good chance to actual productivity.

It looks like there will be a ton of caterers and photographers there, and those are two of my big question marks - and two vendors that I really want to be able to meet with in person. So hopefully, with my uber-focused mom's guidance, we'll be able to maximize time by speaking with the vendors we need to speak with anyway and getting prices and ideas all in one place. At least, that's the goal. This may be another case of me eating my words.

After the bridal show, the plan is dinner, and then a few important stops that are less goal-driven. We're heading to the Jefferson so that I can show my mom where Mr. L proposed; and to the chapel, so that mom and I can both see it in person, get ideas of how much and what kind of decoration it might need, and generally reassure ourselves that it is going to be a great location.

Monday is swearing in in the morning, and then lunch with the moms! I love both our moms, and I think they'll get along nicely. Since our families live in different cities, I wanted to grab this chance to introduce them. I'm also looking forward to getting a chance to talk to his mom about some of the planning, since she's local. She knows everyone and everything around Richmond, so I suspect that she has some great ideas!

And sometime in there, I'm hoping to squeeze in scouting trips to four reception venues. One is almost next door to the Jefferson, so that'll be the easiest to squeeze in - I have no idea when we'll fit in the others. Details on them to come!

*RichFriend because she actually lives in Rich-mond.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cold feet... already?

I'm already having second thoughts! Not about the wedding, but about our ceremony location. With all of my presearch under my belt, I thought I was sure of what I wanted. I knew that this morning, I would call the chapel at his law school, and if I could get a date there in September, I would. So I called, and they had a couple of choices, and I booked it! I made my first wedding decision (aside from saying yes, of course).

And I am already second guessing myself. That means that there really won't be a plantation wedding. Booking it for 6pm means I really am having an evening wedding, with all that it entails. And the part of me that is looking at the budget is already freaking out!
I hope I don't go through this with every wedding decision. Am I supposed to be so worried?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The full proposal story

Obviously (since, I did start this blog), I had some idea that the proposal was coming sometime. When, on Christmas morning, Mr. L gave me a very sweet card, I knew that it was coming soon. He wrote the most beautiful message inside:

I hope this is one of many more Christmas's we'll spend together with your family. I love you so very much, and I still have one more gift to give you! Love, Mr. L

For New Year's Eve, he booked us a room at The Jefferson, and when we got there, there was a bottle of champagne and a dozen roses waiting. We got there pretty early, so we laid around he room for a while before changing for dinner. Once we got changed, Mr. L said he wanted to walk around the hotel and look at everything. He took me down to the grand staircase, and we walked down it to the giant Christmas tree in the rotunda. It was beautiful.

See the little alcove just to the right of the tree, one floor up? That's where it happened!!!

I started to think that this must be it because his hands were shaking, and we were both being kinda quiet, and looking around at the beautiful architecture. We finally started walking back up the grand staircase, and he stopped us on a landing and asked if I wanted to sit down. We sat, and he took my hand. By this point, my heart was pounding! He said nice things, but I have no idea what he said! My heart was racing, and I could barely think. He said something about wanting to "do it right", and got down on one knee, pulled out the ring, and put it on my finger, while asking if I'd marry him!

Us, getting getting ready to go out - right before he proposed.

My poor brain was mush, and the only thing that came to mind was "Thank you". I was pretty sure that that wasn't the right answer, so I just kissed him. He had to ask if that was a "yes", and he finally got his answer. I don't even know how many times I repeated the word, once I remembered how to say it.
After we sat and said nice things to each other, and both stared at the shiny ring for a while, I remembered that I promised my girlfriends that I'd text them a picture of the ring when he proposed, so I sent off a picture message. We still had a little time before we left for dinner, and there was a band playing in the lobby, so we danced a little while we waited. It was wonderful.

Well, the actual camera phone picture I sent was much poorer quality, but this is pretty similar.
Then it was off to Davis & Main for dinner. It is a very Richmond restaurant, and the food was excellent. I was so excited that I was barely able to eat or drink. We hung out most of the night at the restaurant, and then headed out to the local festivities with a little before midnight.
The next morning, we had brunch at Lamaire, the 5 star hotel restaurant. It was actually the last meal that was ever served there - they are now closed for 3 months to renovate and reopen as a seafood restaurant. Again, it was great food, but I could barely eat.

I may have posed my ring on everything at our table and taken lots of pictures while Mr. L was at the buffet. This is the flower on our table at brunch.

It was amazing.

The dress

My mom got married a few years ago, and I think she was beautiful.

We're about the same height, and have the same basic build, and if I meet my goals, I'll be close to her size by the time of my wedding. And she has offered her dress if I want it!

She's bringing it up when she comes to visit this weekend (to see me get sworn in - yay!). It'll give me a chance to try it on and to see just how much weight I'd have to lose for it to fit. Obviously, no matter what, there would be some alterations needed, but it would be soooo much cheaper than buying a new dress.

But I like dressing up. And I love trying on pretty things. Is it bad that I want to go dress shopping? And then, what if I find something I like? I don't think my mom has her heart set on me wearing her dress, but I do think it would be awkward to back out of using it if it turns out to work out.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I'm Afianced!

It happened!

On New Years Eve, Mr. L proposed at the Jefferson, on the grand staircase! He even had a dozen roses and a bottle of champagne waiting in our room.
I'm so excited!