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Brides Magazine August 2016-September 2016 Archives - New Orleans Weddings - Reception, Venue & Planning
Aug 282016
 
Best Bridal Salons of the Western US

Photo: LOHO Bride; Josh Gruetzmacher

Finding the right wedding dress may be trial-and-error, but finding a bridal salon shouldn't be. Our editors polled more than 1,500 brides to discover the places with the prettiest dresses (from the designers like Carolina Herrera, Mira Zwillinger, and Houghton, just to name a few!), nicest consultants, and chicest spaces from coast to coast. Every single shop on this list is a true standout in style, service, and atmosphere whether it's the white dress mecca in your state or a gem in the middle of nowhere (we didn't judge!). Get ready for our curated, tested, and fully endorsed list of The Best Bridal Salons in America. Here, our editors narrow down the best bridal salons in the Western United States. Happy shopping!

Bateau Bridal Boutique, Anchorage, Alaska
With both hot designers and fab consignment finds, this salon is a true standout. But it's really the owner, Tara, our reviewers are obsessed with: "She got on the floor at nine months pregnant to fluff my dress!" says one.

Lillian Lottie Bridal Couture, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Every reviewer was referred by a friend — and has since spread the word herself. And with a huge stock of gowns under $1,500 and consultants who "have your back," that's no surprise. "My rep even called after the wedding to see how everything went," says one customer.

Erin Cole Couture Bridal, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Sure, SoCal brides could buy directly from a designer salon in Beverly Hills, but the ladies we talked to came here instead because of the awesome alterations team. "I'm a size 16, and they made me feel like Vera Wang designed my dress just for me," says one.

The White Flower Bridal Boutique, San Diego
Brides count shopping here, with its super-fun vibe (think paper umbrellas on the ceiling and Selena Gomez on the speakers) and "a team that really cares," as a highlight of planning. In fact, one says, "I wanted to invite the staff to my wedding!"

Jin Wang, San Francisco
Designer Jin Wang's thing is a modern-meets-classic aesthetic, and her penthouse oozes that with cases of statement jewels, floor-to-ceiling windows, and gowns from the likes of Angel Sanchez.

LOHO Bride, San Francisco
Owner Christy Baird's specialty: a bride who wants to rock something cool and unique on her wedding day. (It's very Solange.) In San Fran and now L.A., her customers snatch up looks from Rime Arodaky and Houghton. Says one, "Forget the whole princess thing; this place makes you feel like a woman."

Anna Bé, Denver
This Front Range favorite is a go-to for chic Colorado brides, thanks to its "nearly endless selection" of the designers you love (Berta, Anna Maier) and up-and-coming ones you need on your radar stat (Sareh Nouri, Tara LaTour).

Little White Dress Bridal Shop, Denver
You'll be finding more than a LWD at this downtown salon, which is basically the coolest dress shop ever. Why? It's located in a restored church that's spacious and awesome, and it's the only place in the state selling J. Mendel and Naeem Khan.

Velvet Bride, Missoula, Mont.
Some Montana brides trekked 400 miles on mountain roads to shop the gorge gowns (from Leanne Marshall, Willowby, and more), vintage jewels, and uber-feminine lingerie.

Swoon... A Bridal Salon, Reno, Nev.
Go-big-or-go-home types will get lightheaded over pristine samples from ball-gown favorites Hayley Paige and Lazaro. And the owner knows wedding dresses; she literally wrote her graduate thesis on them.

Ania Collection, Portland, Oreg.
Grab your gals and head here to choose between Theia and Watters for yourself and a rainbow of gowns for your 'maids. Take it from this client: "There's a bridesmaids' dress for every price point, every size, and every style."

The Dress Theory, Seattle
Calling all cool girls! This airy boutique features a unique collection (Truvelle, Claire Pettibone) that's hand picked and carefully edited.

Alta Moda Bridal, Salt Lake City
Indecisive? Don't fret if you're torn between that Katie May and a Yolan Cris because the salesladies here are, in a word, patient. "I must've tried on my final two dresses 100 times each, and they didn't pressure me once," says a bride.

Subscribe to BRIDES now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration.

See More: 50 Things to Know About Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress

Aug 272016
 
Best Southern Bridal Salons

Photo: Maddison Row Bridal Chic; Virgil Bunao Photography

Finding the right wedding dress may be trial-and-error, but finding a bridal salon shouldn't be. Our editors polled more than 1,500 brides to discover the places with the prettiest dresses (from the designers like Carolina Herrera, Mira Zwillinger, and Houghton, just to name a few!), nicest consultants, and chicest spaces from coast to coast. Every single shop on this list is a true standout in style, service, and atmosphere whether it's the white dress mecca in your state or a gem in the middle of nowhere (we didn't judge!). Get ready for our curated, tested, and fully endorsed list of The Best Bridal Salons in America. Here, our editors narrow down the best bridal salons in the South. Happy shopping!

Ivory & White Bridal Boutique, Birmingham, Ala.
The consultants at this Mountain Brook mainstay are "thoughtful, detail oriented, and stylish," reported one southern belle. "They were able to expertly tie my vision to the beautiful dresses available in the salon," raves another.

Hitched Bridal Couture, Washington, D.C.
The above-and-beyond staff at this Georgetown staple got perfect reviews. Take it from one same-sex couple: "They celebrated us and guided us to dresses that would complement each another. They even pulled my wife's pick from the rack so I wouldn't be tempted to try it."

Chernaya Bridal House, Miami
No need to hit Drybar before your appointment: Priscilla, whom one bride called "the sweetest person ever," is handy with a bobby pin and happy to give a quick updo before she guides you to your dream Elie Saab or Angel Sanchez.

Ever After Miami, Miami
International and local brides agree that this dress mecca is worth the trip because of its seriously chic owner, killer gown selection, and in-house alterations shop/atelier, where "there's no limit to what you can do to customize your dress."

The Collection Bridal, Winter Park, Florida
With some of the best couture gowns around (Vera Wang, Inbal Dror), this light-filled store on Park Avenue wowed reviewers and passersby alike. "When I stepped in the front window during my final fitting, people came in from the street to tell me how beautiful I looked," says a satisfied bride.

Joan Pillow Bridal Salon, Atlanta and Houston
In the South, this salon (with two locations) is the spot to score in-demand designers, like Oscar de la Renta, but don't mistake sophisticated for stuffy. "They didn't bat an eyelash when my young daughter and stepdaughter touched every dress in the store," says one bride.

The Sentimentalist, Atlanta
Down-to-earth brides heart this whimsical shop in Midtown's Berkeley Park, citing the cozy cottage location, two cool chicks who own it, and "unique inventory of modern and antique-feeling" gowns.

Blanc Bridal Couture, New Orleans
It may be the new kid on Magazine Street, but this glam salon is gaining traction, thanks to its bend-over-backward consultants, including one a reviewer was legit girl-crushing on.

Garnish Boutique, Baltimore
Self-proclaimed "Garnish girls" gushed about the "one-on-one experience" and gorge decor at this newly renovated shop a short drive from D.C. "It looks like it came right from my Pinterest board," says a fan.

Hayden Olivia Bridal, Charlotte, N.C.
If you like transparency, this is the place to visit. "Everything is laid out for you" — the dresses, the prices, and the alteration fees — so go ahead and let your squad take a seat while you twirl around in a Hayley Paige or Jim Hjelm gown.

Maddison Row Bridal Chic, Charleston
This salon's high marks come courtesy of the kick-ass seamstresses. "I lost 40 pounds after ordering my dress, and they made what could've been a stressful process seamless, pun intended," says a bride.

Maggie Louise, Collierville, Tenn.
Molly Farrell is the Memphis bride's BFF for good reason: She asks each client to fill out a questionnaire and chat on the phone before she even arrives in the shop. "I love that Molly was able to focus on my individual needs, taste, and style from the get-go," says a fan.

White Dresses, Nashville
It's all about the atmosphere at this year-old salon, which nails it on dressing-room lighting ("insanely flattering") and big-reveal moments. ("The vintage mirror is perfection.")

Warren Barrón Bridal, Dallas
The ladies here always deliver, but especially when a gown is designed by Dallas's own Lela Rose, whom nearly all of our reviewers chose. One says, "My consultant tracked down a dress I had seen at her runway show and had it shipped to the store for me to try on in person."

Subscribe to BRIDES now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration.

See More: 50 Things to Know About Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress

Aug 252016
 
Best Midwest Bridal Salons

Photo: Alice in Ivory; Kristin La Voie Photography

Finding the right wedding dress may be trial-and-error, but finding a bridal salon shouldn't be. Our editors polled more than 1,500 brides to discover the places with the prettiest dresses (from the designers like Carolina Herrera, Mira Zwillinger, and Houghton, just to name a few!), nicest consultants, and chicest spaces from coast to coast. Every single shop on this list is a true standout in style, service, and atmosphere whether it's the white dress mecca in your state or a gem in the middle of nowhere (we didn't judge!). Get ready for our curated, tested, and fully endorsed list of The Best Bridal Salons in America. Here, our editors narrow down the best bridal salons in the Midwest. Happy shopping!

Alice in Ivory, Chicago
A year in and business is already booming at this Lincoln Park shop, where boho brides can find all the Stevie Nicks-inspired silhouettes they desire from Carol Hannah, Rue De Seine, and Houghton. "I've referred at least a dozen friends already," raves one bridal blogger.

Ultimate Bride, Chicago
This landmark on Oak Street is considered "the ultimate salon" by Midwest brides for good reason. Reviewers went nuts over the massive selection of high-end designers (Carolina Herrera, Marchesa, and more), plus the pro staff "makes you feel confident with your decision."

MH Pomander's, Indianapolis
A number of women we surveyed experienced "love at first try" here, thanks to the two owners' almost psychic ability to read brides. "They immediately understood my vision and brought out beautiful dresses, veils, and accessories that matched it perfectly," says one client.

The Gown Shop Bridal, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Want to feel like the only bride in the world? For your appointment, the doors are locked and the curtains closed to give you time to test-drive that Sarah Seven dress you were eyeing. "It was so private! I felt as special as I did the day my fiancé proposed," says one customer.

Roma Sposa, Birmingham, Mich.
This posh salon has the best selection of Inbal Dror, Zuhair Murad, and others in the Detroit metro area, maybe even the entire state. Add to that a perfect score for service — one called her consultant "the dress whisperer" — and it's a no-brainer for Michigan brides.

A & Bé Bridal Shop, Minneapolis
Sure, the trendy designers (Truvelle, Katie May) and approachable price points (tons under $1,500) are a draw, but for our reviewers, what sealed the deal were the engaged consultants who get exactly what you need.

L'Atelier Couture Bridal Boutique, Minneapolis
In this spacious industrial-chic showroom, racks hang from the ceiling to display on-trend dresses at eye level, meaning you can do a 360 degree inspection before hauling a gown to the dressing room. Bonus: You can rent out the space on the big day to get ready with your bridesmaids.

Fleur De Lis Bridal Boutique, Clayton, Mo.
When Connie and Kristin, a mother-daughter duo, shopped for Kristin's dress in 2007, they were bummed they didn't get "that special salon experience." So they created a bridal haven with gorge gowns made in North America and the kind of above-and-beyond attention brides crave.

Rhylan Lang, Omaha, Nebr.
Worried you won't find a decent salon (or dress) in Omaha? Our reviewers were — until they found this gem of a shop, where they lost their minds over ball gowns from Hayley Paige and jewels from Haute Bride.

Amanda's Hyde Park Bridal, Cincinnati
This pretty pink boutique is all about the custom experience. It starts with a reserved parking spot and a big welcome sign with your name on it and ends with, say, a Pronovias gown that makes you feel and look like a million bucks.

White of Dublin, Dublin, Ohio
This place is such a stunner that reviewers admitted to window-shopping here before they were even engaged. Once inside, "the consultants will do anything" to find you the One. "My dress was over my budget, and they gave me a deal to make it work," says a bride.

Subscribe to BRIDES now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration.

See More: 50 Things to Know About Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress

Aug 232016
 
Best Northeast Bridal Salons

Photo: Courtesy of Lovely Bride

Finding the right wedding dress may be trial-and-error, but finding a bridal salon shouldn't be. Our editors polled more than 1,500 brides to discover the places with the prettiest dresses (from the designers like Carolina Herrera, Mira Zwillinger, and Houghton, just to name a few!), nicest consultants, and chicest spaces from coast to coast. Every single shop on this list is a true standout in style, service, and atmosphere whether it's the white dress mecca in your state or a gem in the middle of nowhere (we didn't judge!). Get ready for our curated, tested, and fully endorsed list of The Best Bridal Salons in America. Here, our editors narrow down the best bridal salons in the Northeast. Happy shopping!

A Little Something White, Darien, Conn.
If you're the sentimental type, make an appointment with Ashley Krauss, who adds a personal touch to each gown — like sewing in your married initials as your "something blue" or adding lace from your mom's veil — to yours.

Everthine, Madison, Conn.
Here, dresses are ruled out by sudden death: "You're allowed two at a time, and you have to choose between them before you can see another. It sounds restrictive, but it works," says one bride.

Ceremony, Boston
You get this industrial-chic loft in Beacon Hill to yourself, so go ahead and blast the Beyoncé while playing dress-up in romantic, easy-to-wear looks from cool designers like Rose & Delilah and Rue De Seine.

L'élite Bridal, Boston
Fashion types head straight to this Newbury Street salon for the latest looks from Monique Lhuillier and Amsale. Bonus: The consultants are rock stars. "I tried on my dress at the designer's boutiques in NYC and L.A. but ended up buying here because I knew they would guide me through the entire process," says one devotee.

Elizabeth Johns, Morristown, N.J., and Ardmore, PA.
You don't have to hit Manhattan to find familiar names (Reem, Lela). Beyond the labels, brides dig the pristine samples and in-the-know stylists who've worked for our sister mag Vogue.

Bridal Reflections, New York
Want a "Big Salon Experience?" This Fifth Avenue mecca has endless options and an actual red carpet for the reveal — plus an out-of-this-world seamstress, Zizi. "She knows her stuff," says one reviewer. "Even when you think you know better, you don't."

Gabriella New York Bridal Salon, New York
At this SoHo hot spot, the honest, genuine stylists feel like true partners in the selection process. And heads up: They're known to crack a good joke or two, so don't forget to bring your sense of humor.

Mark Ingram Atelier, New York
Ladies fly in from across the country to shop industry heavy Mark Ingram's collection of right-off-the-runway designs from the biggest first names in bridal (Vera, Carolina, Oscar).

Wedding Atelier, New York
This intimate boutique near Madison Square Park is for city brides who want to get their zen on while shopping. Yes, that is possible even in NYC. One smitten client says, "They had the most exceptional customer service I've ever experienced, and I work in the customer-service industry!"

Lovely Bride, Philadelphia
Most reviewers discovered this gem on Instagram and were glad they did; it has a mix of nontraditional and classic styles at a wide range of price points, plus amazing accessories, like Twigs & Honey headpieces.

Glitter & Grit, Pittsburgh
Erin Szymanski's Lawrenceville shop is filled with gowns that are romantic and sparkly but slightly less traditional. (She calls it a balance of glitter and grit.) If that's your style, book a one-on-one with the boss, who reviewers describe as "inviting and relaxing, just like her salon."

Andria Bird Bride, Newport, R.I.
Tons of Rhody brides tie the knot in Newport, but even those who don't make a beeline for this seaside shop selling only made-in-America gowns. After you find yours (from up-and-coming designers like Rebecca Schoneveld of Brooklyn and Lindee Daniel of Santa Monica), owner Andi Sperl will custom make any silk flower crown you dream up to wear with it.

Subscribe to BRIDES now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration.

See More: 50 Things to Know About Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress

Couture-Inspired Wedding Centerpieces That Are Totally Runway-Worthy

 Brides Magazine August 2016-September 2016, Flowers, Wedding Flowers  Comments Off on Couture-Inspired Wedding Centerpieces That Are Totally Runway-Worthy
Aug 132016
 
Armani Inspired Wedding Centerpiece

Photo: Victor Virgile/Getty Images; David Meredith

How could one not get inspired when they first lay eyes on the latest couture creations making their way down the runways during Fashion Week? With the endless yards of luxe fabrics, epic embellishments, and unexpected silhouettes, the designer duds couturiers send down the runways give us enough wedding dress inspiration to last the whole year. But we aren't the only ones feeling inspired. These New York florists used the new couture collections as their own personal muses to create six seriously stunning wedding centerpieces.

Purple Reign (Above)
Inspired by this piece from the Armani Privé Spring 2016 collection, Brooklyn floral designer Denise Fasanello used a laundry list of blooms — ranunculus, delphiniums, anemones, hyacinths, garden roses, muscari, and more — to create an arrangement that's "elegant and chic but still has lots of movement," she says. "I especially love how the frilly sweet-pea blossoms perfectly mirror the flowing silk pleats on the dress." (Price upon request, Denise Fasanello)

Valentino Inspired Wedding Centerpiece

Photo: Victor Virgile/Getty Images; David Meredith

Fresh Greens
To channel this earthy-but-glam gown from Valentino's Spring 2016 line, designer Todd Rigby of VSF used serious foliage (eucalyptus, jasmine vines, dusty millers) as the backdrop for a garden-fresh array of spray roses, phlox, lilacs, and lisianthuses. (Price upon request, VSF)

Giambattista Inspired Wedding Centerpiece

Photo: Victor Virgile/Getty Images; David Meredith

Ruffled Whites
Manhattan floral designer Olivier Giugni of L'Olivier Floral Atelier used phalaenopsis orchids as the spotlight for this chic white-on-white arrangement inspired by a Giambattista Valli Spring 2016 minidress. Dianthuses, lisianthuses, and white lilacs fill out the look. "We used diverse textures to capture the layers and ruffles of the fabric," he says. (Price upon request, L'Olivier Floral Atelier)

Ralph and Russo Inspired Wedding Dress

Photo: Richard Bord/Getty Images; David Meredith

Textured Pinks
Fringed tulips and novelty roses create a dense field of color in this over-the-top centerpiece by Lisa George at Michael George Flowers. "The concept was tight and sculptural on top and looser and lush at the base," she says of the arrangement, inspired by a show-stopping Ralph & Russo gown. "The dress is unquestionably bold, and so is the centerpiece." (Price upon request, Michael George Flowers)

Chanel Inspired Wedding Centerpiece

Photo: Richard Bord/Getty Images; David Meredith

Soft Pastels
Brittany Asch of BRRCH paired the silver and nude tones of Earl Grey roses, carnations, and lilacs with feathery agonis and chocolate cosmos to create this centerpiece inspired by Chanel's Spring 2016 edgy-fem look. "I added dark accents for contrast and edge," says Asch. "I wanted it elegant but also a bit glam." (Price upon request; BRRCH)

Zuhair Murad Inspired Wedding Centerpiece

Photo: Victor Virgile/Getty Images; David Meredith

Rosy Outlook
To get the look of Zuhair Murad's gorgeous gown, floral designer Bridget Vizoso blended exotics — orchids, passion vines, amaranths, and monstera leaves — with a medley of bridal classics, like roses, sweet peas, lisianthuses, and ranunculus. "The ruffled, lighter flowers add an airy delicacy," she says. "Combined with tropical elements, the result is dramatic and sensual." ($450, Bridget Vizoso)

Subscribe to BRIDES now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration.

See More: 15 Stunning Wedding Flower Wall Ideas

Spanish-Inspired Wedding Dresses Perfect for a Summer Fiesta

 Brides Magazine August 2016-September 2016, Wedding Dresses  Comments Off on Spanish-Inspired Wedding Dresses Perfect for a Summer Fiesta
Aug 012016
 
Spanish Inspired Wedding Dresses

Photo: Derek Kettela; Styling by Eleanor Strauss

The bridal runways have been a bit of a fiesta as of late, as they've been positively teeming with a whole new slew of wedding dresses toting a stunning Spanish influence. ¿Por qué? you ask. Well, because the style is simply gorgeous, that's why! Since the Fall 2016 bridal lines descended upon the runways a year ago, designers have been looking to Spain for inspiration and the too-die-for result is gowns with the added dimension of fantastic fringe, gotta-touch-it texture, and endless sex appeal. ¿Muy caliente, no?

Listen up señoritas, because we've rounded up the coolest, chicest, Spanish-inspired wedding dresses by some of our favorite bridal designers. From Vera Wang to Naeem Khan, these couturiers have crafted Spanish-influenced frocks as hot as the Barcelona summer sun and whether you're throwing a sunny stateside bash or a destination wedding (in Spain coincidentally, perhaps?), wearing any of these daring dresses will instantly turn your soirée into a bonafide fiesta. Your hubby-to-be does know how to salsa, right?

So what are you waiting for? ¡Ándale! And add some Spanish spice to your bridal style with these fiesta-worthy frocks.

Spanish Inspired Vera Wang Wedding Dress

Photo: Derek Kettela; Styling by Eleanor Strauss

Vera Wang
A down to there V-neck, choker collar, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield your peepers from the Mediterranean sun — we're predicting this will be the new wedding uniform of all those Insta-famous, effortlessly cool girls you can't help but follow. (Silk-crepe gown with tiered tulle mermaid skirt, price upon request, Vera Wang Bride; Hat, Lack of Color; Earrings, Fallon)

Spanish Inspired Yolan Cris Wedding Dress

Photo: Derek Kettela; Styling by Eleanor Strauss

Yolan Cris
Flamenco-esque lace and sheer paneling offering hints of sexy skin elevate this elegant look. (Wedding gown, price upon request, Yolan Cris; Earring, Oscar de la Renta; Choker, Dannijo)

Spanish Inspired Self-Portarit Wedding Dress

Photo: Derek Kettela; Styling by Eleanor Strauss

Self-Portarit
Tiers of lace help add dimension and volume to an otherwise straight silhouette. (Tiered lace dress, $1,550, Self-Portrait available at Bergdorf Goodman; Earrings, Salvatore Ferragamo; Ring, David Yurman; Clutch, Jimmy Choo)

Spanish Inspired Naeem Khan Wedding Dress

Photo: Derek Kettela; Styling by Eleanor Strauss

Naeem Khan
These layers of beaded fringe are just begging for a salsa spin! (Beaded dress with tulle illusion neckline, $6,990, Naeem Khan; Earrings, Oscar de la Renta available at Neiman Marcus; Ring, Tacori; Shoes, Sebastian available on Amazon)

Spanish Inspired Lazaro Perez Wedding Dress

Photo: Derek Kettela; Styling by Eleanor Strauss

Lazaro Perez
This train of Venise-lace and cashmere-chiffon would be right at home as you draw it along Spain's cobblestone streets. Hey, a bride can dream right? (V-neck wedding gown, price upon request, Lazaro Perez available at JLM Couture; Veil, Tia Mazza; Earrings, Larkspur & Hawk; Ring, Tacori)

Spanish Inspired Marchesa Wedding Dress

Photo: Derek Kettela; Styling by Eleanor Strauss

Marchesa
Say adiós to the traditional bridal white and steal the show in rojo red. The brocade design is simply unforgettable and manages to tote a flamenco-inspired vibe without descending into costume-wear. (Tiered brocade gown, $5,495, Marchesa available at Net-a-Porter; Hairband, Jennifer Behr; Necklace, Me & Ro)

Michael Kors Skirt and Blouse

Photo: Derek Kettela; Styling by Eleanor Strauss

Michael Kors
This silk-georgette blouse and embroidered faille skirt ensemble is beyond muy bien. We love it for casual courthouse nuptials or even as your go-to wedding guest outfit. (Blouse and skirt, $875 and $3,995, Michael Kors Collection; Earrings, Yael Sonia; Shoes, Walter Steiger)

Subscribe to BRIDES now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration.

See More: One Couple's Intimate, Garden-Inspired Destination Wedding in Bidania, Spain

Why Your Marriage Won’t Be Perfect, and That’s Totally OK

 Brides Magazine August 2016-September 2016, Married Life, Relationships  Comments Off on Why Your Marriage Won’t Be Perfect, and That’s Totally OK
Jul 312016
 
marriage advice

Photo: Getty Images

For advice columnist Heather Havrilesky, wedding planning was easy compared to the actual marriage. She learned that when it comes to sharing a life, a home, and a family, there's no such thing as perfect.

Wedding planning can be all encompassing, and at some point between picking out a dress and choosing a caterer, you may lose sight of the fact that this is just the opening ceremony of a much more rigorous lifelong event: marriage. And that actually requires an entirely different set of skills than hosting a wedding does. Instead of focusing on every little detail in order to get it right, you have to do the exact opposite. You have to let go.

This concept was lost on me as a newlywed. My approach to marriage was identical to my approach to planning the wedding: maintain focus and total control, get everyone up to speed, and strive for excellence in all things. Even though I'd worked hard to be cheerful and accommodating when my fiancé and stepson moved in months before the wedding — I wanted my stepson to like me, and I didn't want my fiancé to be stressed out — something changed once we said "I do." We were officially a family now, so the stakes were much higher. It felt like everything we did would set the tone for the rest of our lives together. If the windows were smudgy, if the rug was covered in dog hair, if anyone argued or grew silent and sullen, then that's how it would be forever. Although I'd never been afraid of commitment before, I think this was how my commitment phobia manifested (after the wedding, ironically): in my certainty that every failure, every flaw, every grumble, every strained silence meant that we'd be chained together, failing and falling short and grumbling and sulking, until the end of time.

I was maybe just a tiny bit oversensitive in those early months of marriage. I was also, not coincidentally, more than a tiny bit pregnant. I'd gone off the pill the minute we got engaged, figuring it would take a while for a 35-year-old to get pregnant. Wrong. So now I was newly married and hormonal, and every single challenge felt like a matter of life or death. I had a yard that needed planting, walls that needed painting, and a full-time job. My husband had to be schooled on how to clean up and buy groceries to my specifications. My stepson had to be schooled on how to put his clean clothes into his drawers and put down the toilet seat. Everything had to be perfect or it would be imperfect for the rest of our lives.

I wouldn't have admitted this at the time, but I definitely saw myself as the CEO, in charge of the smooth functioning of the household. It was up to me to give everyone the on-the-job training required to perform his duties in a timely fashion. Sadly, this meant that I hovered and nagged around the clock because, it turned out, my husband was far less detail oriented than I was. "This milk wasn't on my list. It isn't even organic," I told him one day upon his return from the grocery store, disbelief in my voice. "I read somewhere that most so-called organic milk isn't even organic, not really," he replied.

"Yes, but the brand I specified is one of the truly organic dairy companies!" I snapped. How could he imagine that I hadn't done my research? Did he even know me at all? "Why does this matter so much to you?" he asked.

That was a good question. But to a pregnant woman, them's fightin' words. Of course the milk mattered. The milk mattered because everything mattered. Every oversight or mistake meant one thing: I would be surrounded by filth and hapless, unruly animals forever. And once the baby came, we'd be sleep deprived and everything would be a million times worse. My stepson would decide to live with his mother, and we'd never see him again, and our marriage would fall apart.

My attempts to micromanage us away from our dystopian future only made things worse. My husband — who'd always seemed so relaxed and capable before the wedding — started to forget everything I told him seconds after I said it. He was probably in shock over how he'd landed such a critical, temperamental wife. The dishes piled up in the sink, the laundry accumulated in dirty heaps, and the toilet seat was left up so often that this CEO had to ask herself, Is this merely an employee oversight or an act of direct defiance? "Haven't we talked about this a million times?!" I yelled at my stepson and husband one day. My husband rolled his eyes at me. My stepson sulked off to his room. They'll be looking for new career opportunities soon, I thought ruefully, maybe at a company without a growling, red-faced boss lady in charge.

See More: Real Brides Dish on Their Funniest Wedding Disasters

I wish I could say this thought spurred my immediate reform. But I wouldn't resign as boss of the household until our second Christmas together, when my stepson gave me a piece of wood as a present. It had a blue felt hat glued on top of it and a very angry face drawn onto it with black ballpoint pen. "It's a grumpy elf," he explained. I knew it was me. I was the grumpy elf. So I gave myself a demotion and joined the team. I needed to step back and watch things unfold from the sidelines for a change. I needed to live in the moment and enjoy my messy life. This took some work; I had to force myself to allow things to remain broken, flawed, and out of place. Occasionally I had to ignore the laundry or pour the wrong milk into my cereal (and realize it tasted just as good) or shrug off the toilet seat. I had to breathe deeply and love the imperfect world around me. I realized that this was the only way I'd be happy.

There's nothing wrong with aiming for the perfect wedding. It won't actually be perfect, but you might just pull off an unforgettable event. Aiming for the perfect marriage, however, is a terrible idea. All people are flawed, so all marriages are flawed too. Always.

Now, maybe you're thinking, I'm not crazy like you! I accept the way he tosses his dirty clothes in the corner and uses every single pot when he makes dinner and doesn't clean up as he goes. Maybe you're laid-back and mellow — until he leaves the sink full of dishes for the third time this week. And then you'll want to start an HR file and possibly commence disciplinary action, no matter how delicious his boeuf bourguignon is. If you find yourself slipping into the role of family CEO — which is forgivable in a strong, capable woman who has high standards for her life — just remember that the best bosses let their employees figure things out for themselves. They nudge gently. And sometimes they sit back and pour a martini and say to themselves, This is all going to turn out fine.

These days, I'm just another member of the family, trying to maximize fun, savor every moment, and minimize grumpy outbursts. I'm not always patient, and I'm never perfect, but I'm openhearted enough to recognize when everyone is doing their best. And that's the thing to remember: As long as you and your husband are being generous with each other and each of you is doing your best most days, then your marriage is as close to perfect as it gets.

Heather Havrilesky writes New York magazine's Ask Polly advice column and is the author of How to Be a Person in the World.

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Jul 292016
 
champagne

Photo: Ted Cavanaugh, Food Styling by Roscoe Betsill, Prop Styling by Emily Mullin/Hello Artists

Bring on the bubbly! Whether at your engagement party, rehearsal dinner, wedding reception, after-party, or anything in between, a sparkling cocktail is the prettiest, tastiest way to raise a glass and celebrate your marriage. Soup up your coupe with these festive mixers and garnishes.

Syrups and Liqueurs
An infused simple syrup gives your fizz a fruity tang. (We love Maine-based Royal Rosé's flavors, like orange-vanilla.) Fresh juice is another classic mixer. Think your Sunday-brunch mimosa, but try swapping out OJ for more complex flavors like blood orange, mango, or peach. Rich liqueurs like creme de cassis (black currant) and St-Germain (elderflower) add soft color and a bonus buzz to your bubbly.

Fruits and Florals
Set out small plates of fresh berries, pomegranate seeds, and citrus (try kumquat rounds or thinly sliced blood orange) and let guests DIY the garnish. Edible flowers like pansies, orchids, nasturtiums, and roses make it super pretty. Just be sure to get a pesticide-free variety from a reputable source (like marxfoods.com).

Sweetness and Light
Edible gold flakes are flavorless but festive; add a pinch and watch them catch the light. Don't have the budget for gold leaf? Drop a simple sugar cube in a glass, sprinkle in a
few drops of Angostura bitters, top with sparkling wine, and finish with a twist of lemon for a classic cocktail that's all class.

See More: The Ultimate Guide to Serving Champagne at Your Wedding

Looking for some budget-friendly bubbly to serve with all these delicious mixers and garnishes? We asked Casper Rice, wine director of D.C. restaurants Fiola and the upcoming Sfoglina, for his top all-star sparklers — all under $25 a bottle.

1. Barboursville Vineyards Brut Cuvée 1814

"This standout sparkling wine is produced in Italy using the champagne method. Made of pinot-noir grapes, it's richer in style and very dry." (Brut Cuvée 1814, $25; Barboursville Vineyards)

2. Patrick Bottex "La Cueille" Bugey-Cerdon Rosé

"Everybody loves rosé, especially in summer. 'La Cueille' is like drinking fresh strawberries with a hint of effervescence." ('La Cueille' Bugey-Cerdon Rosé, $20; K&L Wine Merchants)

3. Juve Y Camps Reserva de la Familia cava 2011
Spanish cava is easy on the wallet in general. With fruity notes and chardonnay, this one's "a great blank slate for a cocktail." (Juve Y Camps Reserva de la Familia cava 2011, $17; Wine.com)

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Carolina Herrera is Celebrating 35 Years as One of Our Fave Designers. Here’s Why She’s Just as Fabulous as Ever

 Brides Magazine August 2016-September 2016, Wedding Dresses  Comments Off on Carolina Herrera is Celebrating 35 Years as One of Our Fave Designers. Here’s Why She’s Just as Fabulous as Ever
Jul 262016
 
Carolina Herrera Interview

Photo: Getty Images

35 years after couturier Carolina Herrera took the industry by storm, BRIDES editor-in-chief Keija Minor sat down with the fashion doyenne for an in-depth interview on how she went from the girl-about-town to style setter to sought-after designer.

The year was 1981. Reagan was president, Raiders of the Lost Ark owned the box office, and Diana Ross and Lionel Richie were on top with "Endless Love." It was also the year that Maria Carolina Josefina Pacanins y Nino Herrera presented her first prêt-à-porter collection at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan.

With good friends Bianca Jagger, Andy Warhol, and Diana Vreeland in the front row and fashion giant Bill Blass (also a friend) weighing in on casting, she sent a series of evening gowns down the runway. While she had no formal training, just an impeccable vision — she learned how to sew by making clothes for her dolls in Caracas, Venezuela, where she grew up — the collection was an instant hit. Career-making department stores like Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman placed orders on the spot. "It was so glamorous, with a live band playing Cole Porter songs," she says, now elegantly perched in a side chair in her sun-filled corner office in Manhattan's Garment District.

Carolina Herrera at Studio 54

Photo: With Bianca Jagger at Studio 54, circa 1979; Getty Images

She closed that inaugural show with a wedding dress, as if foreshadowing what was to come. But she wouldn't create a full bridal line for a few more years, in part thanks to another fabulous friend, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. When her daughter, Caroline, got engaged in 1986, the former first lady sent her to see Mrs. Herrera. "As mothers of the brides go, Jackie was the best there ever was," she says. "She let Caroline decide exactly what she wanted and never got involved in any of the design decisions. Jackie didn't see the dress until it was delivered to Hyannis Port for the wedding." The gown seen round the world (it was on the cover of Life), which Mrs. Herrera had embellished with tiny shamrocks in honor of the Kennedys' Irish heritage, catapulted the designer to bridal stardom. A year later, she launched her first full collection of wedding dresses with another glittering New York City runway show.

Carolina Kennedy Wedding Dress

Photo: Caroline Kennedy's famous drop-waisted gown; Getty Images

Three-plus decades later, Mrs. Herrera's passion for bridal fashion is still apparent. "It's full of romance and hope," she says. "There's a lot of fantasy there, but it's a dream that becomes a reality." Best known for classics with an updated twist, she has a great talent for merging old-world elegance with a modern sensibility, and she advises brides to do the same. "A wedding is a traditional ceremony that has been done for hundreds of years. Don't treat it like you're giving a birthday party," she says. "Just because you follow tradition doesn't mean it's not modern."

Carolina Herrera Spring 2017

Photo: Spring 2017; Courtesy of Carolina Herrera

It's contemporary because it's happening right now, she insists. Then she warns about the overtly-sheer-gown trend: "And nakedness is definitely not going to make it contemporary; it's going to make it ridiculous," she says, laughing. But the designer isn't as buttoned-up as you might expect. I point out the plunging neckline on one of my favorite gowns from her latest collection, and she suggests that when it comes to a wedding gown, a bride shouldn't hide her body. However, she says, opt for "seductive over sexy." With more than 1,000 gowns to her credit, and a perennial spot as one of the world's top designers, we think she knows what she's talking about.

See More: Carolina Herrera's Spring 2017 Wedding Dress Collection

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Jul 262016
 
Best Red Lip Stains for Weddings

Photo: Jeffrey Westbrook; Prop styling by Jason Gledhill / Halley Resources

Consider a red lip the little black dress of the bridal beauty world. It's a classic, never-going-out-of-style look that still adds a powerful punch to your bridal ensemble. Seriously, there's nothing like a cherry pout to elevate your wedding day getup. Just pair a ruby red pucker with your gorgeous ivory wedding dress and pearly whites and you're at once an Old Hollywood movie star, a smoldering modern day diva, and totally first kissable.

And just like little black dresses, although they may all look similar, the hundreds — no, thousands — of crimson lip products on the beauty market couldn't be more different. Sure, after an hour browsing at the makeup counter, all those tubes and pots of glossy reds may become a blur — much like the racks of white wedding dresses after your third trip to the bridal salon — but with dozens of formulas and countless crimson shades, there's a red lip out there seemingly made just for your wedding day.

Not to worry, we've done the leg — err, lip — work for you. (You're a busy bride, are you not?) Stains are the name of the game these days, because what bride doesn't need her makeup to last well into the final dance, right? But these tinted lippies are still totally versatile, so whether you want a dramatically pigmented pout or crave a softer, more ethereal look with a beautiful balm, we've got your pucker covered. Read on and discover the perfect red stain to prettify your pout.

1. Most balm-like: "Crush" balm stain, $9.49, Revlon available at Ulta

2. Best for lips and cheeks: "Watermelon" beach tint, $25, Becca available at Sephora

3. Most pigmented: "Exposed" patent finish lip color, $53, Tom Ford

4. Best sheer, buildable coverage: "Posie" tint lip & cheek stain, $30, Benefit Cosmetics

5. Chicest matte: "Lip Maestro" in #502, $38, Giorgio Armani

6. Most smooch-proof: "YLBB Your Lips But Better" waterproof lip liner stain in Perfect Red, $20, It Cosmetics available at Ulta

7. Most versatile (for all of those wedding events!): "Generation G" matte lipstick in Crush, $18, Glossier

8. Glossiest finish: "No. 401 Rouge Vinyle" vinyl cream, $36, Yves Saint Laurent

Subscribe to BRIDES now for the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration.

See More: BRIDES Magazine 2016 Beauty Awards

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