A Bohemian-Meets-Glam Wedding in New Jersey

 Amber Herring, New Jersey, Real Weddings  Comments Off on A Bohemian-Meets-Glam Wedding in New Jersey
Jul 202015
 

Rajiv has always said that what makes his relationship with Amber tick is the fact that they were friends for five years before they started dating, but that after only a month as a couple, he knew that she was the one. After years of friendship and dating, he decided to make it official when the couple traveled to Paris in March of 2013. "Everyone said I was going to get engaged, but I didn't want to ruin the trip by expecting it so I put it out of my mind," says Amber. After a stroll through the Jardin de Tuileries and a ride on the iconic carousel, Rajiv pulled Amber aside and got down on one knee. "I'll admit that I swore, which isn't exactly Disney romantic but is fitting for our relationship, before I said yes!" she remembers.

A year and a half later, with moments of serious wedding planning interspersed with months when the couple could simply enjoy being engaged, Rajiv and Amber wed at the Stone House at Stirling Ridge in Warren, NJ. Between the charming stone patio, fire pits, and amazing on-site restaurant, the couple created a wedding that was a little whimsical, a little bohemian, a little rustic, and a little glam, all tied together with a gold-and-red color scheme.

Keep reading to see the celebration, captured by Christina Lilly.

Though she was originally hesitant about the slinky silhouette, Amber fell in love with how comfortable she felt in her gorgeous lace gown by Marchesa. With off-the-shoulder sleeves, a sheer back, and a lace and tulle mermaid skirt, she was picture perfect in lace. Amber paired her gown with a simple veil and a red floral crown, as well as shimmering Christian Louboutin peep-toe pumps that she scored at a sample sale. She accented her ensemble with lace-like mehndi to incorporate her husband's Indian culture, and fixed her late grandmother's green leaf pin to her bouquet.

Almost black calla lilies and burgundy dahlias, roses, and scabiosa blossoms were tied with bronze ribbon. Rajiv's boutonniere featured a succulent accented with scabiosa buds.

All of Amber's bridesmaids wore black gowns by Amsale, with her maids of honor in lace and the rest of the women in black chiffon. Instead of bouquets, the women carried amber lanterns that glowed during the ceremony.

Amber and Rajiv wrote the ceremony, combining different aspects that they liked. They answered a series of questions about one another, which the bride crafted into an introduction. Readings included the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love."

Though the bride and groom weren't unable to do their first look outside because of the rain, it ended up making the ceremony even more romantic. "We got married on the outdoor covered terrace, and all the candles glowed against the darker sky. One of our guests said it was the most romantic ceremonies they'd ever seen," says Amber.

Amber and her mother ordered vases, spray-painted them gold, yellow gold, and rose gold, then scattered them on tables covered with roses, dahlias, and candles. Lace linens added a vintage touch to the more glamorous arrangements.

Instead of a traditional guest book, the couple asked their guests to sign Jenga blocks, creating a fun and interactive guest book the bride and groom will be able to enjoy together.

The four-tiered cake featured layers of Devil's Food cake with chocolate fudge filling and vanilla cake with hazelnut filling, all topped with white buttercream and calla lilies, dahlias, and roses.

"The dance floor was backed all night!" says Amber, who surprised her guests as she and her bridesmaids performed a flash mob dance they've added on to at one another's bachelorette parties. "We didn't want the night to end, so Rajiv came to the rescue and paid the DJ to play for an extra 30 minutes."

The bride and groom are glad they spent a year and a half planning their wedding. "We were able to book the big things, then give ourselves a break before the rush in the few months leading up to the wedding," says Amber. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Stone House at Stirling Ridge || Wedding Planner: Aurora Serrano of Stone House at Stirling Ridge || Bride's Wedding Dress: Marchesa || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Hair & Makeup: Cari Duprey || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: The Diamond Mine on 9 || Floral Design: Laura Clare || Invitations: Minted || Music: ceremony & cocktail hour - Kurt Borst, reception - Jay G of Elite Sound Entertainment || Catering: Stone House at Stirling Ridge || Cake: Palermo Bakery || Videography: Wedit || Photography: Christina Lilly Photography

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Did you love this bright New Jersey wedding? Then check out another Garden State bash in the video below!

One Bride Shares the Pros and Cons of a Long Engagement

 Amber Herring, Engagement, Planning Tips, Real Brides, Real Weddings, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on One Bride Shares the Pros and Cons of a Long Engagement
Aug 262014
 
Pros Cons of Long Engagement Amber Herring

Photo: Courtesy of Amber Herring

Meet our latest real bride blogger Amber Herring, a New York City-based fitness and style editor! Over the past few weeks, Amber has chronicled every last detail of her wedding planning process — from getting into shape to accessorizing her look. Here, she's sharing how she's managing her long engagement.

It was almost 18 months ago, that my fiancé Rajiv asked me to marry him in Paris. The feeling of "so much time" to plan is gone and the big day is three weeks away. While I'm happy we chose to have a long engagement, it's ironic how time was both our enemy and our friend in the planning process. Here's some of my most notable pros and cons and how I handled it all:

Pro: You can plan the big things far in advance, then take a break.
Since vendors like the venue, photographer and music are so important and have limited availability we booked them all quickly and then decided to take a break. With the major elements set, we could relax knowing we had lots of time.

See More: Why Wedding Planning is Really Just Marriage Practice

Con: You have time to mull over decisions.
The blessing of a short engagement is you are forced to think quickly and make decisions that youcan't change. Even the most decisive person can have a hard time making choices on theme, flowers and dresses. Pretend you don't have that time. It will force you to go with your gut and trust your instinct.

Pro: You have time to DIY, if you want.
We decided to cut back on our florist budget by providing our own vases and candles. My mother and I had time to shop around for the vases and even do a project to make them all different shades of gold. But beware: DIY is not as easy as it looks. Don't over commit yourself, no matter your time restraints. Once we finished the vase project, we decided that was enough DIY for us.

Con: You feel like the possibilities are endless.
Time is your friend and your enemy in the long engagement. A bride can get lost in the black hole of Pinterest weddings and research. Give yourself a time limit and stick to it. For example, I have one week to look up centerpieces and narrow it down to my favorites. Don't get caught up in feeling like you can always find something better, it's not true.

See More: Cool Online Tools That Will Simplify Your Wedding Planning

Pro and Con: You have lots of time to get in shape for the big day.
The long engagement is a double edge sword for a get fit plan. Don't put it off. Make a plan and allow yourself some cheats. Commit to eating healthy and working out, but accept some indulging along the way so you don't burn out. My plan was to cut carbs, dairy and sugar and work out six hours a week once I hit the six-month mark. I had some cheat meals in there, but always kept my eye on the prize ... and the scale.

Pro: You get to enjoy being engaged.
The stresses of planning a wedding can get to couples. With a long engagement, I felt like I could enjoy the planning and being someone's fianc&eaute;. It's fun to have the anticipation build between us and with our family and friends. It also keeps you mindful of how much you need to savor the day when it comes.

How One Bride Managed Her 13 (Yes, 13!) Bridesmaids

 Amber Herring, Bridesmaids, Etiquette, Real Brides, Real Weddings, Wedding Etiquette  Comments Off on How One Bride Managed Her 13 (Yes, 13!) Bridesmaids
Aug 192014
 
Large Wedding Party Etiquette Tips

Photo: Courtesy of Amber Herring

Meet our latest real bride blogger Amber Herring, a New York City-based fitness and style editor! Over the next few weeks, Amber is chronicling every last detail of her wedding planning process — from getting into shape to accessorizing her look. Here, she's sharing how she's handling her 13-person bridal party (plus her top tips for fellow brides-to-be!).

People's jaws drop when I tell them I have 13 bridesmaids, including two maids of honor. But, honestly, I couldn't imagine getting married without each of them by my side. Made up of family, friends from home and Syracuse University (where my fiancé Rajiv and I met), a large wedding party is worth having. Here's a few helpful tips I learned along the way:

Designate a Point Person: Other than your maid of honor, who will likely have her hands full, pick one or two bridesmaids who can serve as a liaison between the group and the MOH when planning events like the shower and bachelorette. This particularly comes in handy when you have different groups of friends and makes awkward situations, like collecting money, easier.

Keep It Simple: Be a decisive bride and clearly relay your choices (like the bridesmaid dress, hair, where you want your bachelorette party) to the group. That leads me to my next point...

See More: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Your Bridesmaids

Don't Try to Please Everyone: It can be hard to resist the urge to make everyone happy. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it's your wedding.

Remember You Can't Control Everything: Pick the areas that are most important to you, for example everyone wears the same headband, and give them some freedom for others, they choose their own hairstyles.

Pick a Unifying Element: You want a strong common thread that visually ties a large group together. I chose a one-shoulder dress for all my bridesmaids and my two maids of honor will wear a lace variation to make them stand out.

Take Pictures Before the Wedding: It's easiest to get and keep everyone's attention before the party starts.

Aug 122014
 



Meet our latest real bride blogger Amber Herring, a New York City-based fitness and style editor! Over the next few weeks, Amber is chronicling every last detail of her wedding planning process — from getting into shape to managing a gigantic bridal party (she has 13 bridesmaids!). Here, she's sharing how she's accessorizing her big-day look (plus her top tips for fellow brides-to-be!).

I have a serious accessories problem. I own more jewelry than I know what to do with and my shoes are like the third roommate in my one bedroom apartment. So it's only fitting I wear more than one look on my wedding day.

Dauphines of New York Bed of Roses Headband Wedding Accessory Photo: Courtesy of ShopBop

For the ceremony, I'll wear a gorgeous handmade red floral crown paired with my cathedral length veil. Don't want the real thing? Try something faux like this sweet white rose crown from Dauphines of New York.

Deepa Gurnani Floral Crystal Headband Wedding Accessory Photo: Courtesy of ShopBop

For dinner and dancing, I'll swap the flowers for something more comfortable (and sturdy) like a Deepa Gurnani crystal headband.

Kate Spade Basket Pave Stud Earrings Wedding Accessories Photo: Courtesy of Kate Spade

With lots of other accessories, I'll stick to sparkly studs. These from Kate Spade, are simple, but not boring.

See More: How to Accessorize Even the Trickiest Wedding-Dress Necklines

Dannijo Katie Sparkly Earrings Wedding Accessories Photo: Courtesy of Dannijo

Want to switch it up for a dramatic late night moment? Reach for these sparklers from Dannijo.

Edie Parker Bride Box Clutch Wedding Accessory Photo: Courtesy of Edie Parker

I'll need a clutch tableside for touch ups. This Edie Parker bride clutch is something you can pass down to family or friends.

Jimmy Choo Gold Glitter Leather Strappy Sandals Wedding Accessory Photo: Courtesy of Jimmy Choo

A Jimmy Choo sparkly shoe is the perfect surprise under a long mermaid dress.

Jennifer Behr Laurel Leaf Gold Grecian Headband Wedding Accessory Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Behr

And, of course, I can't forget about my girls. All 13 of them will have a golden Grecian-themed headband, like this one from Jennifer Behr, paired with braids.

When it's time to choose accessories for your wedding day look, here's some tips to keep in mind:

Comfort is key: Wear your picks for a few minutes at home and during trials to make sure you can wear them for a few hours.

Pick a stand out piece: Then choose other accessories sticking with that theme (gold, romantic, bohemian?).

Think of your wedding day in parts: Break up your day into pictures, ceremony, reception and after party (if you're having one). There are lots of opportunities to change your look with a simple switch of accessories, if you can't choose just one.

For more of my favorite wedding day accessories for the bride and bridesmaids, visit my Pinterest board and BRIDES!

How to Plan a Multicultural Wedding: The Indian Mehndi Party

 Amber Herring, Real Brides, Real Weddings, Showers & Parties  Comments Off on How to Plan a Multicultural Wedding: The Indian Mehndi Party
Aug 062014
 
Multicultural Wedding Mendhi Party Amber Herring

Photo: Courtesy of Amber Herring

Meet our latest real bride blogger Amber Herring, a New York City-based fitness and style editor! Over the next few weeks, Amber is chronicling every last detail of her wedding planning process — from getting into shape to managing a gigantic bridal party (she has 13 bridesmaids!).

Now that I've had my first wedding dress fitting, sent our rehearsal dinner invites and spray painted over 100 clear vases gold for the centerpieces, it's time for some fun stuff. Next up, is finalizing the details for the Mehndi, or henna, party that my soon-to-be mother-in-law and grandmother are hosting.

While our wedding is a traditional American ceremony, my fiancé Rajiv is Indian and we always planned to represent his culture. One way is through the Mehndi party, a pre-wedding ceremony where intricate henna designs are applied to the bride's hands and feet. The letters of the groom's name are even hidden in the design for him to find before the wedding.

See More: How Real Couples Put A New Spin on Old Wedding Traditions

My mother-in-law Geeta has been hard at work finding a place (an Indian restaurant near our venue) and choosing a light lunch menu for the Friday afternoon before the big day. The restaurant will be decorated in bright colors and include an area where I'll sit while the artist applies the design with a paste to my palms.

Female family friends from both sides will join me in the ritual and all our designs will dry and brush off to reveal a deep red stain. Now all that's left to do is pick an outfit. As the women at a shop in Islin, NJ pulled bright "lehengas" (long skirts with matching tops) full of heavy beadwork, I knew I'd be okay — as a former dancer, I've never been one to shy away from sparkles. Now it's just a matter of choosing one beautiful garment over the next (the look pictured above was one of the lehengas I considered).

See More: How To Pick the Perfect Wedding Venue

At the top of our ceremony aisle there will be a sign greeting guests that reads, "Today two families become one, so pick a seat, not a side." While a wedding is about the couple, it's also about your family's joining, so when planning a multicultural wedding try and pick something that reflects each of you.

For me, adding the Mehndi party never felt like a compromise, because I was always excited about it. I read somewhere that the henna designs are considered a blessing and I think that's my favorite part about the party. It's something I'll carry with me through the ceremony and the first few weeks of our marriage. So whatever your reasons, make sure you choose something that truly makes you happy.

Yes, It’s Possible to Get Into Shape While Enjoying Cake Tastings & Pre-Wedding Parties! This Bride Proves It

 Amber Herring, Real Brides, Real Weddings, Wellness  Comments Off on Yes, It’s Possible to Get Into Shape While Enjoying Cake Tastings & Pre-Wedding Parties! This Bride Proves It
Jul 292014
 
Amber Herring Staying Fit for Wedding

Photo: Courtesy of Amber Herring

Meet our latest real bride blogger Amber Herring, a New York City-based fitness and style editor! Over the next few weeks, Amber is chronicling every last detail of her wedding planning process — from getting into shape to managing a gigantic bridal party (she has 13 bridesmaids!).

Sometimes I feel like the ticker on my wedding website is taunting me: "47 days to go!" it says. I see, "47 days to go and you ate a piece of cake last night." It's true and that's always been my problem. I am a committed cardio queen with a weakness for indulging with good food and wine.

Knowing this about myself, when I got engaged last March 2013, I made a plan. I'll enjoy the rest of 2013, without doing any serious damage to the scale, and then start eating clean in 2014. That plan succeeded and with the help of the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis eating plan I shed 12 pounds by June. I cut carbs, dairy and sugar, and drank lots of water and tea. My energy was high, which helped to log six hours of workouts a week, split between strength and cardio.

See More: Say Goodbye to Cellulite, Scars & More: How to Get Wedding-Ready Skin

But then the plague of the long engagement entered. It's easy to lose steam on a get-fit plan, especially when you have so far to go. I felt great at my early June bachelorette party in Charleston and decided to cut myself some slack for a few weeks since I still had three months to go and lots of events on my calendar including my 30th birthday, bridal shower and, of course, the much hyped food tasting at my venue.

I stuck with the plan during the week, but let myself indulge a little at these occasions — the key word is a little. I enjoyed my birthday dinner, had some sweets at my shower and tried small bites of everything at my tasting. I always kept up on my workouts, because once you get off that bandwagon, it's hard to get back on. On my recent vacation to Miami with my fiancé, I snuck in two workouts over the long weekend.

Now with the wedding ticker chirping in my ear, I'm starting up Tracy's eating plan again. While the strict eating plan might not be for everyone, it works for me as an all-or-nothing kind of gal. I can't eat one potato chip or just have a bite of aforementioned cake. It's much easier for me to plan out what I'm eating for the week and stick to it. This week, I'll be doing a food cleanse starting with a morning juice, followed by lots of vegetables, soup and a bit of protein.

See More: 4 Healthy Eating Changes Every Bride Can Make Before the Wedding

I eat lots of little meals throughout the day, which keeps me from getting hungry, and end the day with a treat. I typically have to make extra of this chocolate pudding since my fiancé regularly asks for a serving. (I oblige since it's too good not to share.)

As for working out, I alternate Tracy's strength DVD's with Barre, yoga and Pilates classes. I do my cardio at the gym — I run and do spinning classes like Flywheel. I'm adding dance classes this month to keep it fresh and avoid burning out. It's worth noting it's a Beyoncé-inspired dance class, so it doesn't even feel like workout.

When all is said and done, I have a plan, but I'm committed to cutting myself some slack. Being strict is tough and the stresses of life and planning a wedding can always get in the way. Every day I try and make healthy choices, not just for the number on the scale, but to feel my best. When I'm working out and eating clean, stress levels are down and energy is way up and that makes for a happy bride.

Meet Our New Guest Blogger: Self Accessories Editor Amber Herring Talks Her Paris Proposal & Wedding Plans

 Amber Herring, Proposals, Real Brides, Real Weddings  Comments Off on Meet Our New Guest Blogger: Self Accessories Editor Amber Herring Talks Her Paris Proposal & Wedding Plans
Jul 212014
 
Amber Herring Self Magazine Engaged

Photo: Christina Lilly Photography

Introducing our new real bride blogger Amber Herring, accessories editor at SELF! Over the next few weeks, the editor is chronicling every last detail of her wedding planning process — from getting into shape to managing a gigantic bridal party (she has 13 bridesmaids!). For her first installment, Amber reveals how she met her fiancé and shares her romantic Paris proposal story.

For lack of a better intro to our love story, I am marrying my best friend. Even though my fiancé, Rajiv, isn't a fan of that phrase, it's a good starting point for us as we begin as just that. Friends all through the crazy ride that was college at Syracuse University, we ended up in New York City with about a thousand of our other classmates and friends. In the midst of figuring out our adult lives, we finally realized that we were perfect for each other almost six years ago.

He shares my love of dogs, cheesy (but amazing) rom-coms and traveling. So, naturally, we adopted our beloved dog Carter, spent many nights in our Upper West Side apartment watching Just Friends, and traveled a lot. The most notable trip of ours was a year and four months ago to France.

Rajiv and I were dating for five years by then and despite what my friends and family told me, I didn't want to get my heart set on an engagement in Paris. But after a quick go-around on the carousel in the Tuileries Garden, he popped the question.

See More: 50 Ways to Save $500 on Your Wedding

Along with a few surprised obscenities, I said yes and celebration ensued. Back in the States, the full court press was on to find a venue for a September 2014 wedding and we fell in love with Stone House in Warren, New Jersey. I saw the year-and-a-half engagement spread out before me and was content after booking other major things like the photographer and DJ. It's true it's a long time to plan a wedding, but with my busy job as an accessories editor at SELF and his as research manager at Yahoo, we welcomed the leisurely pace.

Now there's two months to go and slight panic has started to set in. First and foremost, I'm thinking about getting in shape. I work out regularly, so my goal is to tighten up and clean up my eating so I feel my best in my amazing, very slinky, Marchesa gown. Working at a fitness magazine, I can't say I don't have access to all the right tools. So I'll be documenting my "Sweating for the Wedding" on SELF.com as well.

Then there's all the "little" things left to do: planning a ceremony that reflects both our faiths, planning my Mehndi party and, of course, accessorizing the big day. And remember how I mentioned NYC being full of Orangemen (that's the Syracuse mascot)? We are still close with all our friends from college, so we have a gigantic wedding party: I'm talking 13 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen, including two maids of honor and three best men. So there's that ...

All and all, the panic is mostly excitement that the big day is almost here. I'm so thrilled to share my journey to the altar and random thoughts and advice with you. I will try to keep it together for all of our sakes.

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