Archive of ‘Steals and Deals’ category
If you’ve been reading along my crazy wedding planning journey, you already know that finding a wedding gown was challenging for me, to put it mildly. By the time I chose my dress, I had shopped at ten different dress salons on two different coasts and tried on easily 50-60 dresses. Just typing that made me exhausted.
At first, it was fun. I mean, trying on beautiful gowns is FUN. But, as the months wore on, I became anxious and worried. I was starting to doubt that I could find a gown I loved. I was seriously considering ordering a replica gown from a Chinese dress shop. Eventually, I was able to narrow it down to two, which I asked you lovelies to vote on. And vote you did! And guess what? I actually listened to you! Don’t say I never give you anything.
Here’s my beautiful gown, Melissa Sweet MS251004, from David’s Bridal.
(Side note: David’s Bridal, please, for the love of god, NAME your gowns! No one wants to call their gown by a stock number. It’s just gross. I know it’s more work for you, but I don’t care. You are a giant monster of a company. You can figure it out. I know you can.)
In case anyone is curious, I named by gown Bette. Because reasons. So there.
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Brides Against Breast Cancer event in Pasadena at the Brookside Golf Club.
Brides Against Breast Cancer sells all brands of new designer and “gently worn” wedding gowns in all shapes and styles. Their “Nationwide Tour of Gowns” will contribute over $2 million dollars this year and provides free support programs and services for those impacted by cancer. Education, nutrition, exercise, support and therapy are just some of the many programs and services they support, all designed to help cancer patients, their families and caregivers. Brides Against Breast Cancer will distribute over 10,000 breast “self-exam” cards this year. 2 MILLION DOLLARS. Wow.
It was my first time volunteering for this event, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I arrived at 8am, ready for anything!
a giant truck full of wedding gowns!
No, this is not another wedding gown post…
Our invitations were sent out last Monday. Our guests have almost all received them, and right on schedule, All The Questions have begun. Which I totally expected. Honestly, I welcome them. I’d much rather have a question asked than a guest confused. Which leads us to the most popular query thus far: “What does “black tie optional” mean?”
This is my fault, because I put it on our invitation.
Very early on in this wedding planning journey, Bob the Builder and I decided that we didn’t want a videographer. We would rather use those funds for something awesome (like a photo booth!) than use it for a video of our wedding that we are pretty sure we would never watch. Decision made. We felt great about it.
A few months later, and due to the power of Pinterest, I got wind of a new company called WeddingMix, whereby you basically DIY your videography. The idea appealed to me, and the price was right – packages start at just $99!
My favorite stationery site is having a big anniversary sale, this week only! 15% off EVERYTHING on the site!
Thank you cards? Yup.
Save the Dates? Uh, YEAH.
I got our kick-ass Save the Dates from Minted, and now I’ve got my eyes on some rehearsal dinner invites too. I mean, for 15% off, how can you go wrong?
Eat, Drink and Be Married Rehearsal Dinner Invitations from serenity avenue
Also, did you know that Minted now offers LETTERPRESS? Seriously, I am so bummed that I bought my invitations before they debuted this line. It’s just exquisite. Someone out there order some and send me one so I can feel it.
SO. MUCH. PRETTY!
So go get to shopping because the sale starts tomorrow (Tuesday!) and only lasts one week!
15% off expires on Monday, April 8th at midnight.
Happy Shoppings, Moxie Brides!!
We booked our honeymoon!
Well, more specifically, MoxieMom has gifted us our honeymoon, and we couldn’t be more thankful or excited!
Bob the Builder and I will be spending a week in Jamaica!
Photo credit: http://www.zytu.org/public/photo.php?p_id=167
Considering that we didn’t know how or when we would be able to take a honeymoon, this turn of events has been awesome!
Let me back a bit.
Since we are getting married in Philly and we live in Los Angeles, we always knew we would not be honeymooning directly after our wedding. Logistically, it’s just a nightmare. We would have to pack for the week of the wedding, and then a week of honeymooning, and then, what would we do with my wedding gown? Or any gifts we may receive? We just couldn’t wrap our brains around it. Also, we don’t want to leave our furry family for more than a week at a time. AND both of our jobs actually require us to be present in order to happen. Neither one of us get any vacation time at all. I work for myself, so if I’m not there, the work doesn’t get done. And if I miss work, I have to find a sub. And my favorite sub is actually coming to Philly for the wedding, so I’m not sure what my clients will do when I break that bit of news to them.
Anyway, we knew it wasn’t happening. And with everything else to plan and pay for, B the B and I just kind of put it in the back of our minds.
Early on, we had talked about going to Italy for our honeymoon. Bob the Builder has never been. I’ve been once, about eight years ago. I desperately wanted to go back to Rome and Positano (and Tuscany and Venice and Verona and, well, everywhere!) and share that with B the B. The more we talked about it, the more we realized that although Italy is awesome, and amazing, and we still very much want to go…it wouldn’t be an ideal honeymoon for us. We agreed that the urge to SEE EVERYTHING would be stronger than the want to just relax and enjoy each others company.
We decided that our honeymoon should be somewhere with sand, and warmth and somewhere we could just unplug and RELAX for a while.
Obviously, Jamaica was at the top of our list.
I did the research on all the major all-inclusives. And, well, they seem lovely. And very American. With a major price tag to go with it. So, I browsed, and searched, and tried to get our week-long stay down to a price that didn’t make me gasp. No such luck.
One day last week, I get an email from MoxieMom, and she says, “Check this place out. It looks perfect for you two!”.
MoxieMom had sent me a link to a very reasonable deal on a week-long stay at Zimbali Retreats in Westmoreland, Jamaica. Nestled in the mountains, and twenty minutes from Negril, Zimbali is truly off the beaten path. And totally awesome.
“A natural life with colorful foods, warm sun, and plenty of time to smell the tropical flowers: Jamaica is truly a Caribbean dream, and the folks at Zimbali Retreats have taken it upon themselves to preserve that dream. Here, a gorgeous seven-acre organic farm provides fresh ingredients used in the delectable, all-inclusive meals; solar power supplies 100 percent of the electricity; natural springs and rain harvesting provide the water; and the Old World charm of a real mountain community makes for many smiles.
At this award-winning retreat (FlipKey rated it a “Top Vacation Rental”; TripAdvisor named it a “Certificate of Excellence Winner”; and Eco Hotels of the World awarded it five stars), you’ll lodge in complete comfort. The suites and cottage each offer outdoor space with great views of the natural surroundings, plus private baths, fresh-ground Blue Mountain Coffee, and plenty of all-natural snacks. The Mountain villa features a common area with a large porch overlooking the valley, complete with hammocks for relaxing, and a large library of unique books provides a bit of entertainment during downtime. Of course, there’s always music and fun at the Reggae Bar.
At Zimbali, foodies unite. You’ll be in the front row as your personal chef takes you on a culinary journey in the specially designed Mountain Cooking Studio. Stroll through the farm, picking fruits, vegetables, and other essentials, then return to your choice of seafood, chicken, vegetarian, and traditional Ital dishes, all creatively woven before your eyes. At Zimbali, food takes top priority.
This retreat gives guests a chance to hike the fertile valley, eat an Ital wood-fired lunch on a real Rasta farm, and take a dip in the clear mountain springs where Jamaica’s iconic reggae Rasta once bathed in the shade of a bamboo canopy.
The retreat also offers a full line of treatments at Serenity Spa, and an opportunity to consult Bongo Roach—a Rastafarian elder and certified herbalist—or Isadora, a practical nurse and intuitive healer. You’ll leave with a belly full of food and a heart full of love, because what’s good for the environment is also good for the soul.” – from Living Social
I mean, seriously? Can we just leave tomorrow? I can’t wait to go!!!!
I think the thing that Bob the Builder is most excited about is the lack of WiFi. An entire week of me, not looking down at my iPhone? That IS a honeymoon!
Here’s some more lovely photos of Zimbali Retreat/Farm:
All slideshow photos from Zimbali Retreats Facebook page
We have decided to visit Zimbali Retreat in January 2014. The weather in January is pretty near perfect, and we think we will appreciate the vacation even more post-holiday season.
B the B and I are also going to mini-moon right after the wedding. The location has yet to be determined, but we are thinking of sneaking off to the Poconos for two days after the wedding before flying home to Los Angeles. Maybe we’ll even get one of those champagne-glass hot tubs. Do they still have those?
Oh, this just makes me laugh. Seriously, if these still exist, I want one. Just for the silly photo opportunities. The Instagram photos of that thing would be immediate! The Poconos still have Wi-Fi after all.
Ok, peeps, tell me. Have you been to Jamaica? Any tips? What about the Poconos? If you have a photo of the champagne hot tub, you MUST share it with us!
Photo: We Heart It
So, now that I have chosen my wedding gown (aka Mystery Dress), I can move on and devote my daydreaming time to something even more exciting than dress shopping. SHOE SHOPPING.
The truth is, I do most of my shopping from the comfort of my Mac. That is, I hardly ever venture out to the mall when I need to buy something. Hardly ever. The last time my girlfriends and I all went shopping together was easily over a year ago. Such is life these days. We are all busy with our husbands/fiances/lives/work/babies and we hardly ever go anymore. Plus, traffic in Los Angeles is a nightmare most of the time, so if I don’t have to drive to shop, it’s a perfect situation.
Back in the day, my original shoe inspiration looked a little something like this:
Red is my favorite color, and also the color of Team Bridal‘s dresses. (I’ll tell you more about them next week.) I was 100% positive that I would be rocking some killer red heels. Even if no one saw them but me, I wanted them. Plain ole white satin heels are just not my jam. Plus, I know if I buy white heels they will never again see the light of day. Never.
Now I know traditionalists will say, “Oh, but you can dye them!”. This is just like, “Oh, you can totally wear that bridesmaids dress again!”. No, you won’t. Not ever. Just give it up. It’s ok. Let’s all just agree to retire that one, shall we?
Once I picked my gown, I decided that I wasn’t really feeling the red heels anymore. First of all, my gown is absolutely ivory, not diamond white. And second of all, it has some metallic/beaded elements to it. So, I broadened my search to include metallic heels. Silver, gold, pewter, whatever. I was just browsing around, seeing what was out there, and BAM.
LOOK AT THESE SHOES!
Image from http://www.art-deco-weddings.com/caption
They are FANTASTIC! They are like wearing the Chrysler Building on your feet! They are sparkly, and mirrored, and amazing and TOTALLY UNAVAILABLE. As I learned on Art Deco Weddings, they are a discontinued Christian Louboutin style. Which is actually a saving grace, because I could probably never ever afford them. Or, I could buy them, but we wouldn’t have a photographer. Who needs photos when you have shoes this amazing?
Speaking of photographers, have you guys seen all the wedding-shoe-porn that’s out here on the inter webs? It’s like every wedding photographer decided to start showcasing the brides shoes a few years ago, and now those photos are everywhere!! It’s like “Shoes in the Wild” or something. I’m obsessed.
[caption id="attachment_1323" align="aligncenter" width="551"]
Photo by Redfield Photography
Photo by Redfield Photography
Photo by Redfield Photography
Photo by Redfield Photography
(Side note: All of the above shoe photos were taken by our ridiculously talented and awesome wedding photographers, Marisa & John of Redfield Photo. Click thru any of the above photos to see their blog and their amazingness.)
I knew I wanted a photo-worthy pair of wedding heels. But I had a few specifications. I didn’t want anything higher than a 3 inch heel. To me, a 4 or 5 1/2 inch heel just sounds like torture, especially on my wedding day. The thing everyone forgets to mention to the bride (but I already know because I worked in event planning) is that you may not get to sit down much all night. You may get to sit down during a portion of dinner. Just a bit. Then you’re dancing, greeting guests, posing for photos, and ya know, DANCING! Or, at least I will be dancing. Even if I’m up there by myself!
I also wanted a shoe that had the possibility to be re-worn at another time. Unlike bridesmaid dresses, I know that I will want to wear my shoes again.
I wanted a new pair of shoes. Truth be told, I already have about five pairs of red heels in my closet, so if I really wanted to go that route, I wouldn’t even really need to shop. But what fun would that be?
And lastly, I wanted them to have some Bling. My gown has a little bit of bling, but not much. So there is definitely room to “up” the bling factor before approaching tacky territory. No one wants to be anywhere in the vicinity of Tacky. Never Ever.
I thought briefly about strassing a plain pair of shoes. It’s all the range over on Weddingbee. And the gals who are taking on this DIY project are my heroes, because, well, as we already know…I am not super crafty. Or patient. Whatever. I have many other great qualities. I just know I’d get half way done and just throw up my hands in agony.
They certainly are pretty, no?
This one shoe took this bride 20 HOURS to do. I just don’t have it in me, kids. I know myself too well. Just, no. Plus, when would I wear these again, really?
I then came upon the shoes that five-year old me would have absolutely imagined myself wearing on my wedding day. Peeps, I would like you to meet Kate Spade’s Charm. In all her many colors:
Kate Spade Charm/Sawyer
Isn’t she lovely? Aside from the fact that I am already obsessed with everything Kate Spade, I just think these are the Best. Shoes. Ever. I love them, love them, love them.
They retail for $325.00. And they have a 4 inch heel. And when, really, would I ever wear them again?
I did brief Ebay search before I realized they were not the perfect shoe for me. Lots of times during this planning process, I get distracted by shiny objects. This was no different.
I needed to re-group!
I was pretty absent-mindedly searching Zappos one night, when I happened across these beauties. Badgley Mishka’s Lacie:
You guys, they really are perfect. They have a 3 inch heel. They have just a bit of bling. They are $215.00, retail. Oh wait, that last part isn’t perfect. Damn.
I was just about to mourn them, when I turned to the fine folks at Ebay to see if I could snag these pretties at a discount. And wouldn’t you know it? There was a brand new, in the box pair up for auction, IN MY SIZE! It was fate! I bid, and then held my breath for five long days. Thankfully, no one bid after me!
I got these gorgeous shoes for $80.00, including shipping! Woo Hoo for bridal bargains!!
So, I won’t show you my dress, but I will show you my shoes. Unfair, I know. I’m so evil.
They are here, they are nearly perfect, and I’m super freakin’ happy. Oh, and they are comfortable! (Someone remind me that they are comfy when I’ve been on my feet for three hours or longer, and I want to take them off.)
Pro tip: Never take off your heels at an event unless you never intend to put them back on. The momentary relief you feel is not worth the abject horror and agony you will feel when you try to get them back on. DON’T DO IT. You’ve been warned.
And that’s my public service announcement for today.
Tell me, peeps, where did you get your wedding shoes? Would you buy second hand shoes? Would you spend $200-$300 on your shoes? Tell me all about it!
Four days before the STD’s were scheduled to be mailed, (a deadline that I had made for myself, dictated by the USPS raising the price of postage the following Monday), Moxie Dad emailed me a list of couples that had been inadvertently left off the master guest list. Are you f*#&ing kidding me?? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?? I was so careful, I double checked everything, I planned so diligently.
Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans, right?
And the addition of these fine folks meant that I now did not have enough STD’s. I was 14 STD’s short.
I went back to Minted, only to realize that ordering such a small amount would not only NOT get here in time, but be just about as much (cost-wise) as my initial order of 100. (Remember, I have ninja-like money saving skills. I had a coupon.) So, what to do??
Well, first I had a glass of wine.
And then I did what any other stressed out bride to be would do. I searched the interwebs and ordered the first affordable substitute that did not totally offend me.
Enter the budget goddesses of Vistaprint.
Lots of brides on a budget get their stationery from Vistaprint, so it was easy to find reviews and pretty in-depth info on paper quality and the like on Weddingbee. The general consensus was that the paper quality wasn’t the best, but they get the job done, and since you (and you alone, there is no designer to double-check) are responsible for the accuracy of your work, you pretty much get exactly what you see on the screen.
So, I searched through fourteen pages of STD designs, and finally settled on this:
Have and to Hold Save the Date design from VistaPrint.com
I chose a full color back, I upgraded the paper to the highest quality, and because I learn from my mistakes, I ordered 25. And the cost was about 1/4 of what the same amount would have been (full price) at Minted. I upgraded the shipping, and crossed my fingers and prayed that they would arrive in time to be mailed out before the postage increase.
Well, on that front Vistaprint did not disappoint. They arrived on Friday afternoon, and myself and the girls stuffed them, stamped them, and sent them on their way out into the world.
As for the quality, well, you get what you pay for. Even with the highest quality paper they offer, the paper is still pretty flimsy. And the spacing wasn’t ideal, because you can manually adjust each text box, and I couldn’t get them to be perfectly aligned. And because I was in a rush, I forgot to put the password for our wedding website. A detail that I would have been able to catch at Minted because a designer checks your work and sends you a proof to approve before printing begins. At Vistaprint, as soon as you pay, they start printing. Something to note if you are planning on using Vistaprint. Have someone check your work! That’s what your fiance is there for! Let him/her help you!!
In their favor, I will say that I found the customer service to be excellent. Again, because I was rushing, I ordered the wrong color envelopes. I didn’t notice this until I saw the confirmation email in my inbox. Using the live chat feature, I was able to talk to someone right away, and she cancelled the envelopes and replaced them with the new ones. Vistaprint FTW!!
Before this experience, I don’t think I would have chosen Vistaprint for my wedding stationery needs. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’m glad they were able to help me out.
Do I love these STD’s? Meh. Do they even come close to matching the original STD’s? No, not really.
Do they get the job done? Yes, absolutely. I doubt anyone who receives the Vistaprint Save the Date will think much about it. And if I didn’t write a wedding blog, no one would even know that there were two different designs. Oops.
But I share these things so you can learn from my mistakes, peeps. ALWAYS ORDER MORE STD’s THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED. Just do it. Spend the extra $30 up front to save your sanity and your time. Try to avoid staring at your computer screen at one in the morning and screaming, “FUCK!” and scaring the cat. It’s not pretty.
You better believe I am over-ordering our invites. For sure.
Did you miss Part One of STD Madness? Click here.
Now that our Save the Dates have made it through the US Postal Service and (except for one that I am hand delivering this week) are safely in the hands of our guests, I can share them here. And tell you a lil bit of drama that went along with it. (Question: Why can’t we do something without drama? Answer: What fun would that be?)
So, back in the day when I thought we would be getting married at a winery in New Jersey, I had my heart set on this Save the Date (STD, for the rest of this post. Get all your snickers out now, kids…I’ll wait….)
Little Wine Charmers Save the Date by gakemi art +design on Minted.com
Cute, right? I personally think that STD’s are the time in the planning process to be a little less formal. Show some personality! Formal weddings tend to get a bad rap for being BO-RING, but that doesn’t have to be the case at all!
Our wedding is formal (black tie optional), but I still was on the hunt for a cute, charming Save the Date. I want our guests to know that our priority is fun, even though it’s formal!
Once we ruled out the possibility of a vineyard wedding, and set our sights on Philadelphia, I also changed my search for STD’s. (Are you still giggling every time I call them STD’s? It’s ok. Take your time.)
As you know, I love the stationary site, Minted. I just love their style, even though they source from different independent designers, they have a real eye for what works, and looks professional, while still having personality. I’m hooked. But they didn’t have anything when I searched for “Philadelphia themed Save the Dates”. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.
When I hit a search engine wall, I generally just go directly to Etsy. It seems like Etsy is magical in that way. Can’t find what your looking for? Check Etsy. Etsy will have it!
And for a minute, I thought they did.
by CTDESIGNSWED on Etsy
At first, I was sold. But, the more I looked at it, I was convinced it was not fun enough. As with most wedding related decisions, I put myself in the shoes of our guests. I asked myself, “Would receiving this Save the Date in the mail make me excited to travel to this wedding?” The answer, unfortunately, was no. Although it is a lovely design, it was not the message I was trying to convey.
So, I went back to my old lover, Minted. I searched “destination wedding”, expecting to see nothing but sand, palm trees and star fish, but lo and behold, this beauty popped up:
Up and Away Save The Date by Unless Someone Like You on Minted.com
I changed our names (and, um, mispelled them) to protect the innocent, but that’s our photo!
And it just seemed to fit. I love the retro style of it, and I loved that the little airplane was traveling from west to east, as Bob the Builder and I will be doing for the wedding!
The one snag: the photos! See, even in the age of iPhone cameras, B the B and I did not have one decent photo of the two of us. Not one. We have a lot from the play that we did together almost three years ago, but in that play, my costume was a slip. And his was a wife-beater. So, no. No way can we use those photos. Even though our wedding photography package comes with an engagement session, it’s also in Philadelphia, and won’t happen until the spring. And one of our great friends is a photographer, but she’s in New Jersey. And we are in Los Angeles.
Also, these bad boys had to be ordered before November 15th. Why, you ask? Because I am a money-saving ninja and I had a coupon. Like, a major coupon that gave me $200 off. We could not wait.
Enter the fine folks at Save Local (think Groupon) and a holiday portrait deal from April Rocha Photography. Just in the nick of time, I tell ya! April was able to fit us in before the ordering deadline, and as she is a featured photographer for Minted, she just uploaded our chosen photos right to my account. Easy peasy!
The day of our photo shoot was kind of madness, truthfully. It was a Wednesday, I was coming straight from work (with beauty stops at DryBar and Blushington in between) and we were all meeting down at the beach in Santa Monica. All was well, until we actually got onto to beach and realized how incredibly windy it was! So windy, the umbrella kept flying out of April’s hand and sand was whipping around us everywhere! But, April is a pro and a trooper, and managed to get two useable shots, with no windswept hair in my mouth and with both of our eyes open. WIN!
For the record, this was my (unflattering, I know) before and after. Just to prove, ya know, the value of great makeup, hair, and photography…
I am positive I will regret posting that one day.
So, there you have it! I found the STD’s, we took photos, ordered them in the nick of time, got them months before we needed to send them out, and then myself and Maid of Honor CraftyPants and Bridesmaid Red spent an evening drinking wine and stuffing and stamping envelopes and all was well in in the world. Right??
Check back for Part 2, to see how it all plays out. (Part 2 can be found right here.)
OH! THE DRAMA!!!
While you are all settling back into the normal routine, I hope you can distract yourself with a little online shopping love today! Cyber Monday might be my favorite holiday after Thanksgiving. True story.
Are you thinking about your holiday cards yet? I totally am. Before you know it, it will be here! Check out the sweet holiday cards on Minted, my go-to site for personalized paper goods.
I am going to campaign pretty hard for that dog card to be our Xmas card this year. Not sure if Bob the Builder will go for it, though.
These three are just the tip of the iceberg. They have such GORGEOUS designs, you guys. And, seriously, we just got our Save the Dates in the mail, and I am IN LOVE WITH THEM. I can’t show them to you now, but I will, I promise! The quality is amazing and the attention to detail warms my little OCD heart. And, you can’t beat 15% off AND free shipping. It’s just too good!
So, go check them out. And, if you please, could you use this link? (Click here) Every sale through that link helps support this lil ole blog. So, thanks in advance – you’re super swell!
HAPPY CYBER MONDAY!