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Brides Magazine October 2016-November 2016 Archives - New Orleans Weddings - Reception, Venue & Planning
Oct 232016

Newsflash, brides-to-be: Gone are the days of just chicken or fish. "A wedding meal should be a narrative of you as a couple and the foods you love," says Hugh Acheson, the James Beard Award winning chef at Atlanta's Empire State South. So get hungry, brides, because no idea is off-limits when it comes to your reception food!

Obsessed with brunch? Surprise guests with breakfast for dinner. Was grilled cheese your favorite childhood snack? Serve a gourmet version as an appetizer. Now is the time to experiment. "The beauty of weddings is that guests are happy but hungry, so they're willing to try something new," says Acheson. "The reaction you want is 'Wow, this isn't typical wedding food.'"

Need a bit(e) of guidance? The first rule in menu planning: It's about you. "Start by choosing two entrees, using the proteins you and your groom love most," suggests Chris Huerta, executive chef at North Carolina's Old Edward's Inn. "If he wants beef, there's no reason you can't choose fish or poultry to accompany it." And don't feel like you have to change your entire menu or offer individual dishes to suit a handful of guests with food allergies (like those with gluten intolerance) or dietary restrictions (vegans and vegetarians). Rather, provide a variety of dishes to choose from, which is much easier to handle than many custom plates.

But what are the ultimate dos and don'ts of personalizing your wedding menu? Read on to find out.

DO Offer simply prepared dishes ideal for large groups, like stewed meats with grains and veggies or cured-meat and cheese boards. They can be total wedding budget savers.

DON'T There's no need to overdo it with labor-intensive (and expensive) entrees like individually temperatured beef tenderloin.

DO Set up interactive stations where dishes are made to order by a chef. Plan on one station for every 50 guests.

DON'T Ditch the fried foods, like french fries, which get soggy quickly. (You can always make a pre-honeymoon pitstop at In-N-Out!)

DO Go for fresh salads chock-full of local, seasonal veggies, like burrata with tomato, corn, and basil in summer.

See More: 3 Things Not to Do at Your Wedding Menu Tasting

DON'T Avoid choosing out-of-season produce. "Research seasonality in your area and ask the caterer to devise a menu using those ingredients," says Stephany Wilder of the Ace Hotel Palm Springs in California. "You'll save money and support local businesses."

DO Consider a vegetable gratin. "They can be pre-assembled, are cooked at the last minute, and are cheesy and beautiful," says Acheson. Don't offer risotto, which is hard to execute and tastes gummy if it sits too long.

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Oct 202016

What should be one of the first things you do after getting engaged (after taking that picture-perfect engagement ring selfie, of course!)? Choosing your wedding venue should top your to-do list. Before you send out invites and start tasting cakes, you gotta pick your place! After all, your wedding date, your décor, and your guest list all depend on the size, feel, and availability of your chosen space. Another major wedding day detail your wedding venue can influence? The food!

Whether you've been dreaming of saying "I do" in a classic hotel, a trendy restaurant, or a unique event space, the wedding venue you choose will greatly impact just how unconventional your catering can be (although most locations can accommodate some degree of personalization and surprise). Be sure to add these pro and con columns to your list when venue shopping. You do want your guests asking for seconds, don't you?

Great chefs are often found at restaurants, so buying one out for your big day is the ideal way to get the menu you want. You could also save big because food, rentals, and service are included. "But avoid small places that don't have the staff to handle a party of your size," says Hugh Acheson, James Beard Award-winning chef at Empire State South.

For a truly stellar meal, find a hotel with an award-winning restaurant where ingredients are locally sourced or made from scratch. But no matter which you choose, meet with the chef to tell him about your wedding style and the foods you like, says Chris Huerta, executive chef at North Carolina's Old Edwards Inn. Work with the in-house team to create a custom menu or, at the very least, tweak the preset options to reflect your own tastes. "Good caterers can adapt, so don't be shy about telling them what you want," Acheson says.

See More: 5 Things All Instagram-Worthy Wedding Venues Have In Common

Event Spaces
Aim for one that lets you bring in any outside vendor (cue food truck for cocktail hour or late-night snacks). "Look for companies that participate in local food festivals or have a background in the restaurant industry," says Lara Ziemba, private-events manager at the Chicago Cultural Center. If the venue insists that you use a "preferred vendor," ask if you can pay a fee to go off the list. If the site's people won't budge, Ziemba says you can hire a chef you love to work with the caterer (the chef will craft the menu, which the staff will execute and serve) or enlist your favorite restaurant to cook the meal for a licensed caterer to simply pick up, transport to the venue, heat in ovens or warming trays, and serve to guests.

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These Are the Cookware Products You NEED to Add to Your Wedding Registry Pronto

 Brides Magazine October 2016-November 2016, Home & Registry, Wedding Registry  Comments Off on These Are the Cookware Products You NEED to Add to Your Wedding Registry Pronto
Oct 142016
Wedding Registry Cookware Ideas

Photo: Jarren Vink; Prop Styling by Beverley Hyde/Art Department

Sure, setting up your wedding registry is just another thing taking up space on your wedding to-do list, but don't stress out — stock up! Half the battle is simply knowing what to register for —nd we've got you covered on that front.

We've rounded up some seriously stellar cookware that you'll actually want to unwrap and get using post-"I do." And not only are these chef-worthy products useful — they'll be sitting pretty on your countertop too, thanks to their modern shades and copper finishes. Why copper, you ask? First, it's an excellent heat conductor, which is why it's a favorite among chefs (the most famous being the grand dame herself, Julia Child). Copper bowls are also the ideal vessel for whipping egg whites, thanks to a reaction with the metal that makes them extra fluffy. And, if maintained well, copper kitchenware will last forever. (Just polish frequently with a cleaner like Mauviel's Copperbrill.)

So what are you waiting for? Invest in your new life together with quality kitchen gear that makes cooking amazing meals together a totally achievable #relationshipgoal.

1. Copper Tea Kettle
Copper kettles like this one, handcrafted in England, boil faster and retain heat longer than others. (Tea kettle, $295, Simplex available at Sur La Table)

2. Round Dutch Oven
Not sure you need a large cast-iron pot? If you ever plan to cook for/impress a crowd, you do. (7.25 quart dutch oven, $360, Le Creuset)

3. Glass Jar
This classic canning jar, whose carved wooden top is lined with a rubber seal, is insanely useful and pretty. (One-liter tulip jar, $14 for two, and wooden lid, $7, Weck available at Shop Terrain)

4. Copper Colander
As a budget-friendly option, go for stainless steel with copper plating. (Colander, $49, Rejuvenation)

5. Rectangular Baker
A kitchen essential, this enamel-coated steel pan can be used for everything from brownies to lasagna. (Three quart baking dish, $172, Dansk Kobenstyle available at Lenox)

6. Casserole Pot
This lightweight piece in enameled steel is great for side dishes or a casserole built for two. (Two quart casserole pot, $115, Dansk Kobenstyle available at Lenox)

See More: This Is the Most Pinned Wedding Food on Pinterest

7. Cast-Iron French Oven
A cross between a sauté pan and a Dutch oven, this pot is perfect for making long-simmering dishes like risotto or polenta. (French oven, $150, Staub available at Zwilling J.A. Henckels)

8. Copper Sauce and Sauté Pans
These multiuse beauties will last a lifetime and are excellent for making sauces, vegetables, grains, and soups. (Copper pans, $250 to $685, Mauviel)

Additional items above: Copper measuring cups, $28, Anthropologie; Matte navy 3.5-quart round Dutch oven, $180, Le Creuset available at Williams Sonoma; "Kinley" copper sugar bowl, $25, Crate & Barrel; White 3.25-quart saucepan with lid, $265, Le Creuset; Sapphire cast-iron oven, $150, Staub available at Williams Sonoma; Large striped mixing bowl, $20, Crate & Barrel; "Color Lab" teacups, $16 each, Revol; Marble canister, $65, Vagabond Vintage available at Mothology

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Update Your Up-Do: 4 Fresh Twists on the Classic Bridal Bun

 Brides Magazine October 2016-November 2016, Hair & Beauty, Wedding Hair  Comments Off on Update Your Up-Do: 4 Fresh Twists on the Classic Bridal Bun
Oct 132016

Up, down, or somewhere in between, there seems to be a million and a half ways to do wedding day hair. But one of our forever faves is an oldie but a goodie. You can't get more classic than saying "I do" with your locks done up in an elegant bridal bun. But we're not talking about the tightly pulled-back updo that your grandma's rocking in her wedding photos. It's a look that'll never go out of style — that's for sure — but nowadays the look to fresher and can be as unique as the bride wearing it. Yes, the new way to do a bridal chignon is one part ballerina, one part cool girl, and totally chic. And hairstylist extraordinaire Cristian Pignatta is here to show us how it's done...

Keep It Fresh
"I always start with a basic style, then add originality with details like twists," says Pignatta. For example, he likes to divide up the hair into three ponytails, braid them together, and then pin upward.

Simplify The Front
A center part makes it modern and balances a statement gown or earrings, Pignatta says.

Prep with a Thermal Spray
It's the essential product to maintain soft texture and give your bun major hold. Spritz on damp hair and blow dry with a round brush.

Now that you've got the basics down pat, it's time to customize your chignon. No matter your wedding style, whether it's laid-back and super cas or a black tie affair, a bridal bun is totally appropriate with just a few modern tweaks and unexpected details.

Bohemian Bun Wedding Hair Idea

Photo: Zoe Lonergan

A twist leading into a bun is the perfect medium between done and undone.

Clean and oh-so-sleek. Keep a shine spray on hand for a polished finish.

See More: 20 Stunning Wedding Hairpiece Ideas

A few face-framing wisps always make an intricately woven style appear effortless.

Put down the iron! Enhancing your natural texture is the easiest way to look timeless — not old-fashioned.

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Oct 122016

Planning a wedding is like a second job, right? So treat it like one — especially when assembling your team.

You've set a date, found your venue, and determined your budget. Now it's time to tackle the next step one your to-do list: booking vendors. Whether your day job has you supervising many or you've never had so much as an intern work for you, you're now project manager of your wedding — congrats! Use these corporate-world tips to make some great hires, and watch them turn your vision into reality.

1. Sketch out a job description.
Sit down with your partner and decide the big stuff: What's our budget? What look and feel are we going for? What are our top priorities? Write down your answers so you can refer back to them throughout the process.

2. Search for candidates.
If you're not using a planner, you're your own recruiter. Start by talking to people at your venue about who they recommend; if someone's done a wedding there before, she's likely within your budget. Next, search magazines and blogs, ask for recs from newlywed friends, and visit the local-vendors page on Brides.com. (You can search by zip code and vendor type.) Another trick? Scour the preferred lists on websites for other reputable venues, ones you like but didn't book, says Lindsay Landman, a planner in New York City. It's a built-in reference letter.

3. Conduct interviews.
Go for coffee at a place where you'll both be comfortable (or Skype if it's a long-distance hire), be punctual, and dress professionally, says Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster.com. "You're the one hiring, so you should look and act like a manager," she says. To avoid burnout, meet with no more than three of each type of vendor you're hiring. Besides, says Landman, "You'll never know everyone out there."

4 Focus on chemistry first.
"An interview is about mutual selection," says Caroline Ghosn, founder and CEO of Levo, a site helping millennials navigate the corporate world. A huge part of that is whether you like each other. "You need to, because you're going to be building a months-long relationship with this person," she says, and you'll be collaborating on a very-near-to-your-heart project. So focus on the rapport: Does conversation feel natural or forced? Do you trust her? "Think about it like this: When her name pops up on your phone four months from now, are you going to be excited?" says Ghosn, who's currently planning her own wedding.

Once you establish that you're simpatico, then move on to discussing details of the job, such as the vibe you're after, timing, and how you see the process should you decide to work together. And be sure to ask how available she'd be to you throughout the planning. As you're chatting, take notes. The questions you should ask every vendor: What's your story? Why and how did you get into this business? What does the process look like, during planning and on the day of? What's your availability, during planning and on the day of? What's your preferred mode of communication?

5. Don't rush your decision.
After each meeting, debrief. You need time to evaluate the candidate based on your notes and first impressions, call her references, meet with other contenders for comparison's sake, and make sure she fulfills the job description. She should be willing to hold a date for two to seven days after your initial meeting or, at the very least, agree to call you if someone else inquires about your date. "If she won't do you that courtesy, walk away," says Lisa Thomas, owner of Ooh! Events, a full-service planning, floral, and rental company in Charleston, South Carolina.

See More: 50 Things All Brides Should Do The Week of Their Wedding

6. Negotiate.
Once you're ready to pull the trigger, gird for the part that's hard for most brides: talking money. "Always, always, always negotiate!" says Salemi. Of 450 vendors we polled with help from our friends at WeddingWire, 87 percent say they're willing to negotiate. How do you start? First, make her throw out a number. Then compliment her work — the more specific and heartfelt, the better — which vendors told us is the key to getting them to play ball. From there, ask clarifying, nonchallenging questions from a point of curiosity: Can you help me understand this part? What's included in this cost? Finally, thank her for the work she's put into the proposal and say you need to consult with your fiancé.

When you're ready, come back with specific ideas to get you to a place that pleases both sides. (Can you throw in engagement photos? Waive a tasting fee? Add a food station at cocktail hour?) And if it's just that the number is too high, be honest about it. "If a bride tells me she loves my work and asks if I can make my vision work within her budget, I'm happy to try," says Thomas. "If I can't make it work, I'll recommend someone who can." Note: Never use a competitor's pricing as a bargaining chip, which telegraphs that you think everyone's work is the same. (It's not.)

7. Seal the deal.
Once you've settled on a figure, your vendor will work up her standard contract. Make sure the basics are included: logistics (date, time, and location), payment schedule, the scope of services offered (what's expected to be done and when), and a timeline for deliverables (for anyone who owes you something after the wedding, like your videographer and photographer). And make sure it includes the deal-breaker clauses: one on cancellation, and one for the extent of liability insurance (covering circumstances beyond the vendor's control, like if the photographer's negatives were damaged, and "acts of God," meaning cancellation due to a natural disaster; $1 million is standard). "If a contract doesn't include these things and if the vendor won't add them, walk away," says Landman.

Read the contract in its entirety and understand what you're agreeing to. "If you don't know what something means, have her explain," says Mary Herrington, a New York City lawyer focused on the wedding industry. Says Herrington, "You need to be on the same page about everything for this relationship to work."

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How This Bride Made the Best of Torrential Rain on Her Wedding Day

 Brides Magazine October 2016-November 2016, Planning Tips, Real Brides  Comments Off on How This Bride Made the Best of Torrential Rain on Her Wedding Day
Oct 112016

Uh-oh! We hate to break it to you, but whether your bridal bun is more Bride of Frankenstein or the wedding party's limo never arrives, wedding day disasters can — and do — happen. But as the BRIDES October/November 2016 issue proves, brides-to-be can survive any catastrophe. (Trust us!) In our latest issue, real and very brave brides are sharing their wedding nightmares. These major mishaps might have you clutching your pearls, but don't worry — everyone still had their happily ever after. See? Brides can handle anything! Still don't believe us? Read one of the catastrophic wedding day tales below.

"Wow," said my cousin Jen, putting her arm around me. "How much did it cost to get a waterfall at your wedding?" Friends, it wasn't a waterfall. It was a pure, driving rain that had broken through our pristine white wedding tent and was pouring onto the dance floor, threatening to ruin the night and send 243 people out into a storm and back to their B&Bs.

Flash back to 10 months earlier: Jake and I got engaged under a weeping willow along the Seine in Paris, and I pledged to be the most chilled-out bride in the history of brides. We weren't even going to throw a wedding, per se, just a wild, carefree celebration of us, and how happy we make each other, at my in-laws' house at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains.

The day before our wedding, as I was double-checking the seating chart against the master guest list, I thought back to that Paris pledge and laughed at my naïveté. Because once we wrote that guest list, which topped 250 people, all of whom would want to eat, drink, sit, and dance, we realized we were planning not only a wedding but a big one. And if we were going to ask all those souls to schlep out to rural Massachusetts, we wanted to make it worth their while. They deserved welcome baskets stuffed with locally tapped maple syrup and a hand-drawn map of the area. They deserved linen napkins in our signature apricot color.

The morning of our wedding was sunny. But Jake called from the wedding site, a.k.a. his parents' backyard, saying that the rental company had erected a quick tent for the ceremony, just in case. "But it's beautiful out!" I protested. Jake agreed, then explained, with his typical patience, that there was a good chance of rain. "But that's not how I pictured it!" I whined.

"That's not how I pictured it" went through my head at least 20 times during the first hours of my wedding: When the caterer set up the cheese table in the dining room instead of on the patio. When guests started using the bathroom inside the house. When my bridesmaids' apricot pashminas became umbrellas against the misting rain. Every time I looked up at the ominous sky, silently pleading for a break in the clouds.

As my nerves built, so did those clouds. Just as the last guest filed into the enormous tent in the middle of the field, the sky opened up and I felt my own tension break. It was pouring. What was there left to do but accept it? I sidled up to the bar and looked around. People were laughing and smiling, grateful to be inside and dry, and talking more loudly in order to be heard above the pounding rain. The vibe, in other words, had changed from ominous to electric.

Speaking of electricity. When my brother-in-law, Teddy, started his hilarious speech, lightning struck the tent and the lights blinked. "Don't touch the poles," he said, which got a big laugh. "No, really. Do not touch these poles." As the night wore on, I spotted drenched cousins and friends and assumed they'd braved the elements to reach the rather elegant port-a-potties. Later, I learned that many guests were leaving the tent for another reason: Our friends were having sex in the barn, in the pool house, in the forest, in those (ridiculously upscale) port-a-potties, and even on the shuttle bus. The storm had made the party permissive, rendering our country-chic affair more raucous and causing people to let their (wet) hair down. Would all that debauchery have happened if the rain hadn't turned everything up to 11? I really don't think it would've.

See More: How to Easily Avoid These 5 Common Wedding Day Disasters

And that impromptu waterfall? It happened somewhere around 9 p.m. — after the rustic Italian dinner but before the blueberry pie — and elicited a big cheer as everyone danced right through it. Bottoms up, I thought, and I finished my blush-colored Japanese beer (chosen to match the wildflower bouquets). We stepped off the dance floor as someone from the rental company patched the rip and mopped up the water. Aside from one sprained ankle, no harm was done.

There's an old proverb that says rain at a wedding is good luck because a wet knot is harder to undo. It poured on my grandparents' wedding day too. They lived a long, happily married life, sleeping all that time in a full-size bed; they couldn't bear being even inches apart. I wondered if my grandmother had been disappointed on their day or if the rain had made their night more fun. Because after we'd spent months obsessing over the menu, the linens, and the lemon-thyme centerpieces, in the end it was something we couldn't ever plan — that pouring, soaking rain — that made our wedding a wild, carefree celebration of Jake and me and how happy we make each other.

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Oct 092016
Red Mountain Resort Wellness Retreat

Photo: Courtesy of Red Mountain Resort

Looking to jump-start your pre-wedding beauty regimen? Do it Eat, Pray, Love style! Tucked away in posh enclaves, these ultra-chic wellness retreats are filled with workout classes, healthy meals, and luxe spa treatments that'll get you looking and feeling fab, inside and out. And trust us, after dealing with your future mother-in-law's last minute guest list add-ons, some ritzy relaxation is a total must. And why not bring your bridesmaids along for the healthiest bachelorette party, like, ever?

Red Mountain Resort (Ivins, Utah) Above
The go-to exercise at this resort, situated near both Zion National Park and Snow Canyon State Park, is hiking through the red rocks, from guided treks in caves to river walks down in the canyons. You can also throw in a fitness class or two, like Pilates or yoga on top of sandstone formations, indulge at the spa with a facial or its renowned hot-stone massage, and end the day with a sunset dinner on the terrace. The best part, though, is the versatility. Whether you're looking for wellness "lite" or a complete detox and weight-loss program, there's a package for you. From $265 per night, all-inclusive

The Bodyholiday Wellness Retreat

Photo: Sunswept Resort

The Bodyholiday (St. Lucia)
If anything will kick-start your bridal fitness program, it's the Olympic athletes and coaches who lead this resort's specialized weeklong boot camps. Or you can design your own schedule à la carte: Activities run the gamut from scuba and cave diving in the Caribbean to tai chi, hiking, and studio classes like Spoga — a combo of spinning and yoga. If you're already in shape and want to get to the next level, sign up for the quadrathlon. It begins with an eight-mile bike ride through the rain forest, transitions into a two-and-a-half-mile run up a cliff and a rock climb back down, and finishes on the beach with one and a half miles by kayak. It's the best way to enjoy both the fitness offerings and the insanely gorgeous scenery. From $530 per night, all-inclusive

Golden Door Spa Resort

Photo: Jessica Sample Photography

Golden Door (San Marcos, California)
Since opening in the '50s as a luxe, reclusive resort for stars like Natalie Wood and Elizabeth Taylor, this spa has been reinvented as a Japanese-style inn where everything — from its 18th-century art to the gardens, spa treatments, and food — sticks to the theme. (You get a yukata to wear at dinner!) It can accommodate up to 40 guests at a time, and most stay seven nights for meals sourced from the biodynamic garden, personal-training sessions, meditation and exercise classes, morning hikes, and in-room massages, facials, and body treatments. Pack your oversize glasses and big, floppy hat so you'll be ready to emerge every inch the glowing engaged girl. $8,850 for seven nights, all-inclusive

Miraval Resort and Spa

Photo: Ken Hayden

Miraval Resort & Spa (Tucson, Arizona)
Miraval is the epitome of Birkenstock chic. Surrounded by desert plants and pools that look out on the Santa Catalina Mountains, it's an environment that's as restorative as the treatments. Brides can try the Bountiful Earth package, which includes a Moroccan-rose body wash, a bamboo-and-ginger-grass exfoliation, a clay wrap, and a juniper shower. Or the Shamana Karma Ayurvedic treatment, which uses steamed herbal pastes to purify the skin. But it's not just the spa that creates a tranquil state of mind: The most intense fitness class is called Zen Boot Camp. And all of the earthy villas have special LED lights to help you get the best sleep you'll probably ever have. From $549 per night, all-inclusive

See More: 50 Pre-Wedding Skincare Products Based On Every Complexion Type

Sha Wellness Resort

Photo: Courtesy of Sha Wellness Clinic

Sha Wellness Clinic (Alicante, Spain)
When supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Natasha Poly are fans, you know it has to be good. (And, well, hard-core.) Offering a fusion of Chinese and Western medicines, it's the most clinical of the bunch, but you wouldn't know that by looking at its sleek interiors and glass windows overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Alcohol and coffee aren't allowed, so if you're a caffeine addict, you'll learn to love the Genmaicha tea that's served. You can book a four- to 28-day program for anything from weight loss to stress management. All include medical examinations, acupuncture, and adhering to SHA's macrobiotic-inspired diet. But you won't feel deprived, thanks to the rooftop infinity pool, full menu of indulgent spa services, and cosmetic procedures like lasers and teeth whitening, which will leave you pampered and wedding ready from head to toe. From $307 per night

Carillon Miami Beach Resort

Photo: Courtesy of Carillon Miami Beach

Carillon (Miami Beach)
Carillon is more than just a super-luxe hotel (marble floors, crystal chandeliers); it's also a wellness mecca. The vastness of the rooms — even the smallest are like airy apartments — and diverse offerings make it great for bachelorette trips. Lure your girls here for private yoga sessions, to relax in hot and cold thermal rooms, or for a detoxifying dry-brush massage called Turquoise Dream. If you want to delve into your diet, staff nutritionists will test your resting metabolic rate to pinpoint the most effective nutrition and fitness plan for you or identify the foods you're sensitive to, which is great for figuring out the culprit behind your breakouts, bloating, or decreased energy — ensuring that you walk the aisle at your healthiest and most beautiful. Doubles from $349 per night

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A Planner’s 12 Must-Follow Rules for Throwing the Wedding of Your Dreams

 Brides Magazine October 2016-November 2016, Planning Tips, Wedding Planning  Comments Off on A Planner’s 12 Must-Follow Rules for Throwing the Wedding of Your Dreams
Oct 092016
Lynn Easton Wedding Planning Tips

Photo: Getty Images

Lynn Easton, the sought-after wedding planner and designer behind Easton Events, has overseen more than 250 weddings in her 25-year career. (Phew! And you thought you were tired just planning your own!) With Easton behind a big day, the wedding photos always look like something out of a magazine editorial or top-pinned item on Pinterest. Here are a few things she's learned during her crazy career about throwing those dream-worthy weddings...

1. Determine Your Budget First
Otherwise, tears will be shed! A wedding budget determines guest count, which in turn determines venue. (So critical...)

2. Do The Mood-Board Thing
When we first meet a bride, we ask questions to sleuth out her design sensibilities, like: Who are your style icons? If you were a car, which would you be? What handbag would you carry to the Oscars? Based on the answers, we create storyboards with fabric swatches, dress designs, invitation samples, photos of places — anything that evokes her vision. Putting it on paper helps make sure all the elements work together.

3. Keep It Uniform
I always ask to see the bride's Pinterest board to make sure her ideas match her venue. If she's getting married in a barn but wants to do the whole wedding in a contemporary print like chevron, there may be a disconnect. Not every barn wedding has to be rustic, but the design and the setting should be cohesive.

4. Consider the Season
In spring and summer, it's great to be less formal and more florally focused. In fall and winter, I love things more formal and objet-oriented, with rich velvet fabrics and accents like feathers and horns.

5. Try a Fresh Palette
We had a couple years of everything blush. Now our clients are open to interesting earthy colors, like blue-gray and sage green.

6. Clear The Clutter
I hate when standing speakers are visible during the ceremony. Tall speakers and mics can ruin photographs. You can hear perfectly fine when they're on the ground.

7. Dress Up Your Tabletops
Five must-haves at every place setting: beautiful oversize napkins, layers of different-textured plates, interesting stemware and flatware — I love sterling silver or horn — eye-catching items like tiny bowls of cherries, and more candlelight than you can imagine.

8. Go for High Centerpieces
They're back, but in a much more ethereal, deconstructed way than the tight, ball-like ones of the past. Big, loose florals add a lot more dimension to tabletops.

See More: 49 Tips For a Bride Planning Her Own Wedding

9. Don't Rule Out Rounds
Long rectangular tables have more space to showcase complex flower arrangements, but there's something intimate about round tables. I'm a big believer in focusing on the guest experience, and being able to talk in a circle is really delightful.

10. Slow Down for Dinner
More and more brides want to get to the dancing, so they're cutting dinner short. It should be savored. It takes two hours to serve a first-class three-course meal.

11. Create Memorable Moments
At one wedding, we had a gospel choir come out and sing the final song of the
ceremony; at another, a fiddler and a guitarist led everyone from ceremony to reception. These experiences are what really wow your guests.

12. Get Personal
One of the sweetest things I've seen was when a bride and groom wrote a note to each guest and placed it inside an envelope with his or her escort card. It was sensational.

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Monique Lhuillier Is Celebrating 20 Years in Bridal

 Brides Magazine October 2016-November 2016, Wedding Dresses  Comments Off on Monique Lhuillier Is Celebrating 20 Years in Bridal
Oct 052016
Monique Lhuillier Celebrates 20 Years in Bridal

Photo: Getty Images

She designs engagement rings, fine china, and red-carpet dresses for your fave celebs like Taylor Swift, Emily Ratajkowski, Emma Stone, and Anna Kendrick, but for Monique Lhuillier, it started with a wedding dress.

Two decades ago, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising graduate discovered her calling when she was shopping for her own big day — and found very few fashion-forward options: "Everything was so one-dimensional and traditional," she says. She settled on a duchesse-satin gown with a drop waist and cascading bows and resolved to fix the hole in the market.

The next year, at a trade show in Las Vegas, she presented her first collection, five dresses that shook up the industry with sheer fabrics and body-hugging silhouettes. "I wanted beautiful and timeless — but not stuffy," she says.

Monique Lhuillier Scarlet Wedding Dress

Photo: Erich McVey

Lhuillier has stuck to that mantra ever since, letting brides shine through all that tulle and lace. "A wedding gown should make the bride feel the most beautiful she's ever felt and reflect her personal sense of style," muses Lhuillier. And now, brides have more choices than ever to show off that personal style thanks to the designer. In 2012, Monique expanded her bridal presence to include engagement rings and wedding bands, and her contemporary collections always feature on-trend details, like soft washes of color. In fact, Monique loves blush so much that it now appears in all her collections! But there are some things that don't ever change. Lhuillier's classic lace wedding dress "Scarlet" is one of her all-time best-sellers and the designer still hails the veil as her favorite wedding accessory.

See More: 14 Celebrities Who Wore Monique Lhuillier on Their Wedding Day

So what's her favorite thing about bridal fashion now? "There are fewer rules, and there's more room for individuality," she says. "I love how girls are open to trying dresses that have different components to them, like a skirt that's separate from the corset." Here's to 20 more years of trendsetting, show-stopping bridal looks!

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Oct 052016
Ashley Madekwe Wedding Makeup Bag

Photo: Jeffrey Westbrook; Prop styling by Miako Katoh; Makeup bag by Tory Burch

Every bride should have an arsenal of must-have products at her disposal to get her through the big day primped, polished, and smiling — with a killer lip color, of course! But what makes up that makeup bag can be as different as every individual bride herself. Ashley Madekwe — the British actress and fashion blogger (@smashleybell), best known for Revenge and now starring in WGN's Salem — offered us a peek in the bridal bag that she toted on her London wedding day, where she took a less-is-more approach when it came to her beauty look.

"I got married in a townhouse in London, so I did a relaxed version of old-Hollywood waves with a comb on one side — classic but not overdone," the actress remembers. "An elaborate undo would've felt out of place, and I didn't want to worry about touchups... I loved my natural makeup look. I checked the mirror just once to apply lip balm. Four days before the wedding, though, I got lash extensions that were too long and thick. Everyone said they'd fall out in time, but they didn't. I don't recommend this, but I cut them myself the morning of!"

So just how did Madekwe accomplish her natural wedding day glow? With the help of her makeup artist, Wendy Rowe, and a few face-perfecting products. "We did a muted 'you but better' look that wore so well," explains Madekwe. Going for a similar look? Try Burberry Eye Color Cream in Nude Glow and Light Glow Blush in Tangerine Blush. "I initially wanted a bold red lip, but Wendy talked me out of it," adds Madekwe. "With the glam gown, it would've been too much of a look for me." The star instead opted for a softer, dusty rose shade. (Cream eyeshadow, $30, Burberry; Blush, $42, Burberry; "English Rose" lipstick, $33, Burberry available at Sephora)

With the man who makes me smile more than anyone else on our wedding day... ??????Happy anniversary baby ??????

A photo posted by Ashley Madekwe (@smashleybell) on

To prep for the big day, Madekwe's makeup artist gave her some homework. "The best advice [she] gave me after I got engaged was 'Grow out your brows.' I'm still growing them!" Short on time? Fill any sparse spaces in with Burberry's Effortless Eyebrow Definer in Ebony. To get her skin glowing, the actress also moisturized like there was no tomorrow. "Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil nourishes my dry skin without looking greasy. And I drank lots of water, which I'm usually bad about," says Madekwe. And finally, Madekwe quickly fixed a beauty emergency with a fan-favorite go-to product. "When I got to London, the change in water gave me a dry scalp, so I massaged in some tea-tree oil, and that cleared it right up!" (Eyebrow pencil, $33, Burberry available at Nordstrom; Face oil, $90, Sunday Riley available at Sephora; Tea tree oil, $5, Edens Garden).

See More: You Need These 17 Tips If You're Doing Your Own Wedding Day Makeup

For her wedding day mani, Madekwe went with an oldie but a goodie. "I wore Essie nail polish in Ballet Slippers," she says. "One of my bridesmaids did my nails — and bikini wax! — at her mom's salon in north London." And the bride was smelling sweet with a special fragrance she bought just for the occasion — but she still regrets not going with her signature scent! "I bought a rose perfume just for that day, but it smelled too old ladyish. I wish I'd worn my usual, Le Labo Thé Noir 29." (Nail polish, $9, Essie available at Ulta; Perfume, $175 for 1.7 oz., Le Labo)

Natural? Check. Glow-y? Check. Totally timeless? Check. What more could a bride want in a wedding day look?

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