Tanning Before a Wedding

Happy Memorial Day!  I hope you are enjoying a terrific long weekend and kicking the Summer off on the right foot.  And with the Summer upon us, the big question for brides, bridesmaids and guests alike looms: to tan or not to tan?

I will start with a caveat: I do not tan.  After 34 years on this planet, I have finally learned, and accepted, this fact. It should have been obvious given my Irish & Danish heritage.  But for years, I hoped against hope that this Summer would be it - the one where I became a golden bronze goddess like the women in those Bain de Soleil ads from the 1980s and early 1990s (see below).  Instead, I would turn any varying shade of red - from slightly pink to full-on beet.  Nice.  These days, you will find my beach bag stuffed with spf 6000 or whatever the highest level it is that the kind folks over at the sunscreen company are currently putting out on the shelves.  So, without further ado, the Dos Don'ts & Nevers of pre-wedding tanning.

DO:  Plan ahead.  Figure out if you want to be tan on your wedding day and plan accordingly.  And if you do choose to have a summer glow, then please please please go the faux tan route.  We have heard great things about those spray-booth tans.  Try it a few months before the big day to see how it looks on your skin.  If this isn't in your budget, consider an at-home formula.  I have had great luck with the Jergens Daily Glow lotion (bonus - you can use coupons!), Clarins and Dior.  The key is to test long before the wedding.


DON'T try something new right before your wedding.  Remember Samantha Jones in the episode of Sex & the City when she made the "impulse decision" to get a chemical peel before Carrie's big book signing party {note: season 5, episode 71 "Plus One is the Loneliest Number ... have I mentioned how much I love this show}?  You do not want the reaction that she got when she entered the room, especially if you are the bride.  Test out your options months or weeks before the wedding day, and if you are doing it yourself, perfect your technique.  That week before the wedding is stressful enough: you do not want to have to spend a few extra hours trying to de-orange your skin.

NEVER:  this should go without saying, but really, never make your poor skin suffer through a session at the tanning booth or sit in the sun with hardly any spf and hope for a tan and not  a burn.  The last thing you want is a painful sunburn, whatever your role in the wedding.  Query what is worse: being super pale on your wedding day or being super red.

What would you do? Do you embrace your skin tone or are you a fan of tan?  And if it's the latter, how do you achieve it?

See you swoon,

Maid of Honor Speeches, yay or nay?

Such a funny yay or nay to be writing about especially considering I will be doing one of these in about two and a half weeks. These days MOH speeches are becoming more and more common and I for one am all about them. This can be a moment that is caught on camera and will be heard by the bride and grooms nearest and dearest so make sure that you know your audience if you decide to take the humor route. I plan to make my speech short and sweet, extend my congratulations to the happy couple and let the festivities continue. Speaking in public is not one of my strengths but this day is not about me and I know how important it is to show my best friend how happy and proud I am of her.

For all of you out there that are giving MOH speeches or have in the past what do you think, do you like them or not? What were some of the moments you remember most?

See you swoon,

Swoon-Worthy Pros: Eric & Kass Mencher, Eric Mencher Photography

One piece of advice that I give to brides is to make the photographer a top priority.  At the end of the day, aside from your husband and your wedding ring, those photos are the only tangible things you will have from your wedding.  In all likelihood, you will gaze upon at least one (but probably more) of your wedding pictures every single day.  A good photographer can make a decent venue look amazing, pretty flowers look lush & gorgeous, and most of all, will make you look like the most beautiful bride possible.  Because you are trusting your memories to this person and because you will spend your entire wedding day with him or her, it is really important that you like your photographer.  If you get the sense the photographer is bossy, impatient or rude, it's probably best to pass and find someone whose art and "bedside manner" you like in equal measure.

Why the long lead-in for this post? Because Eric and Kass Mencher (check out Eric's website here and Eric and Kass's wedding blog here) are pretty darn amazing photographers and super cool people to boot.  Jamie and I have worked with them twice: once as professionals when they photographed and we coordinated/styled Colleen's wedding, and a second time as clients when they kindly agreed to take our headshot photos for this website.  Eric and Kass are true artists, and they are actually photojournalists, too.  One thing I like and admire about them is that weddings are just one piece of the work that they do.  They travel around the globe to immerse themselves in the cultures of different places and photograph what they see there.  Looking at Eric and Kass's pictures is like looking at something completely anew: they somehow manage to capture things that most people do not see.  They're gifted, and their work speaks for itself.

Here is a sampling of the photos that they took of Colleen's wedding and of us.  Check out their website & blog - we guarantee you'll be blown away by what you see.

See you swoon,

{Eric & Kass Mencher have not paid or otherwise comped us for singing their praises.  We just happen to think they're among the best of the best wedding photographers in the Philadelphia-area. And of course, all photos courtesy of Eric & Kass Mencher}

What Would Jamie Wear: Beach Wedding

Let's face it, dressing for weddings is not always the easiest thing to do. What time of day is the party, is it outside or inside, will it be cold or warm, how dressy should I be? There are so many things to take into consideration. Recently I was asked what my thoughts were on dressing for a beach wedding for a couple that is getting married in Mexico and planning a beach themed reception when they return home. Good question. This can be tough because while it is beach themed it is not actually on the beach so I would not as far as wearing flip flops or items that you associate with a day on the beach soaking up the rays.

I love dresses so I have an arsenal of dresses here that I think would be very nice for a beach themed wedding without making a guest feel too overdressed but still keeping with the feel that the bride and groom are going for.


{Dresses Clockwise: Suzy Chin Maggy Boutique, Banana Republic, ECI, Aqua, Calvin Klein}

Shoes are a weakness of mine and the trends this season show beautiful wedges and sandals with gems, jewels and metallics that can really make your outfit stand out.  Here are a few of my favorites.

{Shoes from left to right: Nine West, DKNYC, Steve Madden}

Have you ever been to a destination wedding or a beach themed wedding reception once the couple got home?  What did you wear and what tips do you have?

See you swoon,

Tutorial: DIY projects from Sheila's Shower

Last week, I posted about a bridal shower that Jamie and I styled, and that our client, Sheila, hosted for her niece.  As promised, here are the simple and inexpensive, yet super chic, projects that we created for her.

* Wrapping Paper Runners:  sounds crazy, right?  We have made these for oodles of parties and we get the same question every time: "this is really just wrapping paper?  but it's so pretty!"  Yes, it is really just wrapping paper trimmed in ribbon.  We took our inspiration from Martha Stewart Weddings, although I simplified the procedure a bit.  Green tip: assuming no one spills on it, you can reuse the wrapping paper runner as gift-wrap for presents when the party is over.

- What you need: One roll of wrapping paper; one spool of ribbon (grosgrain works best); one bottle Tacky glue.  (one roll of wrapping paper and one spool of ribbon will make two runners)

- What you do: cut the wrapping paper to size.  Cut the ribbon to size - one piece for each edge of the wrapping paper.  Starting at a corner, run a thin bead of glue from corner to corner.  Press the ribbon into the glue (don't bother wrapping the ribbon over the sides of the wrapping paper - it is way too much effort and it looks just as neat with the ribbon going to the edge of the paper).  Cut any overhanging ribbon.  Repeat with the other four sides.  Dry flat or lightly draped over a chair for about 1-2 hours until the glue has set.  Done!

* Congratulations Banner:  Another project using the inspiration of and template from Martha Stewart Weddings.  This one is really cute and can be used for any party.  Green tip:  Save the letters that you don't use.  You can use them on future banners and won't have to reprint.

What you need: full sheets of card-stock, skinny ribbon, hole punch

What you do: download the template from Martha Stewart Weddings (above).  Print and then cut the letters that you need.  Punch two holes in each letter at the top of the circle (tip: if you imagine the circle as a clock, you want to punch the holes at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock).  Thread the ribbon through the letters leaving plenty of extras on each end for hanging.

Paper Lanterns: Oh, how we love paper lanterns.   They are so pretty and festive, not to mention incredibly affordable, usually around $1 per lantern. And they fold down completely flat for easy storage!  Green tip:  as long as you take care when handling and hanging them, you can use paper lanterns for quite a few parties, saving money and trees.

What you need: paper lanterns (we've found them at Michael's, Dollar Tree and Save-on-Crafts, but we are a bit partial to those from Save-on-Crafts for selection, price and durability); ribbon, string, fishing line or twine (whatever you choose for hanging); thumbtacks or 3M removable Command hooks like these or these.

What you do: we think the most effective use of paper lanterns is hanging them in large clusters or over tables in a symmetrical fashion rather than random or sparse placement.  It looks dramatic and fun when they are hung in bunches.  This takes some time to plan out, and we highly recommend working with a partner so that one can hang while the other guides the placement.  We have hung lanterns using all of the above materials (ribbon, fishing wire, twine, string) and it all works - just depends on the look you're going for.  We really like those Command hooks for hanging because when the party is over, they come down lickety-split and won't tear off your paint or wallpaper.  We have also used thumbtacks to suspend the lanterns from wood beams too - as long as you (or the homeowner/venue) do not mind some teeny thumbtack holes in the wood, it is a very effective and quick way to hang the lanterns.

See how simple?  Hopefully you can use some of the ideas for your next party.  Got any easy and inexpensive ideas for decor? We'd love to hear!

See you swoon,

Swoon-Worthy Pros: Up and Coming Accessory Designer Jessica Dunphy

I am so excited to talk about this accessory designer since she is someone very near and dear to my heart.  Jessica Dunphy is the proud owner of a beautiful accessory line for hair and clothing.  Everything she has created is hand made so no item is exactly like another.  I think you will love all of these hand crafted pieces of art, please stay tuned for where you can buy these items.  Until then please swoon over these amazing pictures of all of her hard work!


See you swoon,

{just a quick note that we haven't been paid or otherwise comped by Jessica Dunphy to feature her fabulous creations!}

Real Events: Sheila's bridal shower

Two bridal showers in two weeks! Jamie and I sure have been busy.  Yesterday Jamie blogged about her friend Julia's shower, which was held two weeks ago.  And just this past Sunday, Jamie and I styled a shower for our client, Sheila.  Sheila's niece is getting married in the Fall, and Sheila was kind enough to offer up her home and host a bridal shower for about 50 members of the bride's family.  Not a small feat!  Sheila enlisted our help with the decor, and you know we were all about it.  We love bridal showers to begin with ... but in this case, our client had a beautiful home, she and her family were warm and kind, and oh-my-goodness: did I mention it was 74 degrees and sunny on the shower day?  How lucky can two event stylists be?!?

Jamie and I created several projects for the shower and decorated the space a few hours before the party began.  Because the weather was so unbelievably perfect, Sheila made the no-brainer decision to have as much of the party outside as possible.  The bride's wedding colors are black and fuchsia, so Sheila opted to go with those colors for the shower.  That was our starting point.

Jamie and I made custom black & white damask printed runners trimmed in fuchsia grosgrain ribbon for the tables, favor tags for the favors (which were the cutest little terracotta pots with flower seeds inside, snagged from Target's Dollar Spot), a custom "congratulations" banner for the entryway and a custom sign for the bar, which listed what the bar had to offer.

For decor, we really, really and I mean really love paper lanterns for showers & parties.  They are so inexpensive and so beautiful! We hung lots and lots of fuchsia and white lanterns and some big fluffy white pompoms around the dining space on the porch, including rows of lanterns over the tables.  We also hung a few lanterns over the bar outside.  The lanterns made the space look so festive and pretty and infused color at every turn.  Stay tuned for step-by-step instructions on how to do some of the DIY projects that we created for Sheila's shower in future posts. They're so super simple and fun!

In the end, we all loved the way the space turned out.  Our client was tickled pink (sorry, couldn't resist), the bride was touched and Jamie and I? Well ... let's just say this was a shower where we really kind of wished we could have hung around and stayed for the party.  They were just cracking open the wine as we left, and it looked like a pretty perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. <sigh>

What are your favorite color combinations for bridal showers? Jamie and I have been loving the black-pink-white combos we've done lately.  Do you like bolder colors or softer hues?  Black & white? Or is that too stark for you?  Color us curious -- we would love to know what you think!

See you swoon,

Real Events: Julia's Bridal Shower

About a week and a half ago I had the honor of throwing my best friend in the entire world a bridal shower. The day went off without a hitch...well except for the major wind storm that took place. The theme we decided to go with was a rooftop deck party with a touch of "Sex and the City". We used three main colors that consisted of cream, black and hot pink.

We used white curtain panels that we dyed pink to hang as an entrance to the beautiful deck covered with vines. Globe lights were hung throughout to give a touch of soft light (I love globe lights and plan to use them on a deck of my own one day).

We had planned to use floating candles in the pool that would have been surrounded by candlesticks in wine bottles around the pool to make the pool area glow in the dark...however the wind prevented that idea so we moved inside.  One thing that cannot be controlled-WEATHER!

Paper lanterns were used near the bar and on the deck to add an area of interest and color.

One of the most fun ideas was the accessories that we used as favors for the party. We handed them out to each guests to wear during the shower and then to take home as gifts. There are some wonderful, inexpensive ideas such as these that you could use any day to jazz up any outfit.

Tell us about a shower that you planned. I would love to hear some of your favorite decor themes or ideas that you have planned or seen at an event that you attended.

See you swoon,

Shanna's Picks: swoon-worthy blogs & sites (part I)

I am always on the hunt for a fun new blog or website to add to my ever-growing list of daily reads.  I have a handful of blogs & sites to which I am fiercely loyal (or as loyal as one can be to a blog anyway), and I go out of my way to read them every day, or as often as they post.  Below are my favorites in the home and wedding arenas.  We will post more of our favorite blogs & sites on other topics in future posts - stay tuned!


Young House Love:

Oh.My.Gosh.  This is, without a doubt, my favorite home blog, even though their style and my style are not 100% in sync (they are a bit more modern; I am a bit more cottage).  They have impeccable taste and are committed to the seemingly impossible ideal of creating and then blogging about sustainable, budget DIY ideas that look anything but.  Plus, their writing is sharp and fun to read, and their site is perfectly organized and maintained.  They post twice a day, every weekday.  I warn you: the site is addictive.

* The Lettered Cottage:

Similar in concept to Young House Love, The Lettered Cottage is the blog of a designer who has creative, lovely ideas for her super sweet cottage home.  The style in this blog is a bit more like my own than Young House Love, and I'm always itching to see what projects she is tackling this week.  My favorite feature is her unique approach to before & afters: simply move the cursor over certain pictures and those pictures will instantly change from the before to the after and back again.   Way cool.  She posts a lot of videos, which are great as they show step-by-step instructions for several of her projects.  She post a few times per week.

* Design*Sponge:

Oh how I love this site. Fabulously creative DIY projects that tend toward the modern side.  I especially love their "before & afters" section.  Tons and tons and tons of eye candy and inspiration here.  And now they've added a recipes section.  Danger, my friends. Danger.   Design*Sponge updates several times per day.


* Style Me Pretty:

Hands-down my favorite wedding blog out there and my go-to source for inspiration and ideas for events.  The site is pretty and feminine, and the writing is effusive and sweet.  Style Me Pretty posts a wide variety of weddings, though the style that seems most prevalent on the site is a more vintage-inspired, rustic-elegance type wedding.    Style Me Pretty posts between 3 and 5 times per day, every weekday.

* Snippet & Ink:

The best feature of this site, in my opinion, is the bevy of inspiration boards.  There are over 400 of them (you can search by topic).  I never fail to be inspired by the boards she puts together, and often just one picture in her inspiration boards is a jumping off point for me in creating an entire scheme for an event.  Anyone who has made a style board/mood board/inspiration board knows that they are far more challenging to put together than they appear.  Those on Snippet & Ink are truly inspired and visually beautiful. She posts once or twice per day, every weekday and often on Sundays.

* Martha Stewart:

My list of wedding sites could not be complete without a mention of the one who got it all started: Martha Stewart.  She had a wedding-devoted section of her website long before blogs were a glimmer in the eye of the Internet.  She had it all back then and has it all today: countless inspirational photos, real weddings, creative DIY ideas, templates for projects, and an online community (where I met 35 very dear friends back in 2001 - friends I am still close with to this day! hi wedding friends!).

So those are my faves -- the blogs and sites that I am sure to check out when I have my second cup of coffee and log on the computer and have a few minutes before my day begins.

What about you? Any home or wedding blogs out there that you love that I missed here? I'd love to hear from you!

See you swoon,