Wedding Wear

As a late 20-something (milking every bit of that phrase for the next 350+days), weddings are a frequent occurrence – especially this time of year.  That means a combo of all things I love: celebrating the beginning of my friends’ next chapter in life, ID’ing the perfect dress to fit the occasion and finding only the best deal on the attire.

Over the weekend I watched two of my very best friends exchange vows along the bank of the York River.  The only thing more beautiful than the scenic view was the love between these two.  With a beach theme and primary color of orange, coral seemed like the perfect color complement and that meant I FINALLY got to break out one of my best all-time buys.

During Belk’s season-end sale (one of the most prime times to lock in killer deals on last-season spring/summer dresses), I found this beautiful Trina Turk coral lace dress, lined with a nude underlay. Retailing for $298, the dress was reduced to $138, then $70 – and because of the sale, an extra 50% off.  Just THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS for an amazing designer dress.  I paired the dress with a turquoise drop necklace, earrings and bracelet from Charming Charlie.

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Bachelorette Bach Decor – Day 1 of our Asheville Getaway

Earlier this month we celebrated my best friend Diana’s bachelorette weekend in Asheville, NC.  I spent so much time planning and crafting over the past 9 or so months that now it feels like I have nothing to do!  So, better time than never to write about the amazing adventure.  We crammed a lot into three days so I’ll break the posts up to prevent bachelorette overload!

As a small airport, flying into Asheville can be pretty pricey for girls flying in from out of town so we decided to road trip it out to the mountains.  With an SUV packed to the brim, we made sure to save room for the most important girls’ getaway essential, the selfie stick. car selfie

We hit the road and headed for the windy, and the rainy, and the scary, Blue Ridge Mountains. Upon nearly driving off a cliff (try backing up an SUV that’s not yours, on an essentially one-way mountain road, during a torrential downpour), we FINALLY made it to the cabin we rented on AirBnB. While some of the girls left to gather groceries for the weekend, my friend Steph and I got to work decorating.The fireplace was the perfect backdrop for the gals' gifts.

The place sure was rustic; everything you would expect a cabin in the woods to look like – minus the creepy aspect (though there were some parts…).  Yet, it had so much character.  There was a screened in porch, outside deck overlooking a breathtaking landscape, three bathrooms (a MUST for seven ladies) and more space than we could have imagined. The only thing we weren’t too crazy about was the “Welcome to our home; don’t leave food outside because of the bears” sign.  Luckily, there were no Yogi sightings.DSCN1010

Each of the girls (or “Mountain Maids”) got an absolutely adorable shirt for Saturday’s adventures, made by SassyCraftsKS on Etsy.  I’ll share those in the next post.  To keep with the southern theme (the bride is a New Yorker), I wrapped each one up in burlap and sealed it with custom bridesmaid pins we had designed from Etsy shop owner Lauren Lash, made to match the bride’s sash.  Diana had cups made for each one of us, too!  The fireplace (one of three, including the outside firepit) was the perfect backdrop for the goodies.

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Catherine, the sister of the bride and co-MOH, made shirts for each bridesmaid with a number on the back.  While the random numbers kept us guessing for the weekend (she threw an odd DSCN1004
number in to throw everyone off), it all made sense on the last evening when we took a big ol’ group shot – it was the wedding date! Another fun element of the party was the “photo booth.”  We got some booth accessories, a white sheet and a disposable camera (this way no one could delete the pics!) and snapped away throughout the weekend. Those are probably just pictures that we’ll keep to ourselves; maybe a good way to calm the bride’s jitters on wedding dDSCN1006ay:)

Surviving a bachelorette, especially one in the mountains, can be tough so we had to be prepared.  Mountain survival gear bags were packed to make sure we had everything we needed: gum, breath freshener, Tylenol and hair ties; what more could we need?DSCN1007

There is no such thing as a party in the south without Mason jars.  With four of the seven girls flying in from New York and one from Colorado, we had to make sure they had this southern staple to bring back with them.  I brought along a glass juice dispenser purchased on the Today Show’s Steals & Deals for just $49 (65% off retail).  Although the chalkboard says, “Everything Tastes Sweeter in a Mason Jar,” our cups were filled with other delicious beverages throughout the weekend, such a homemade Sangria.

DSCN1008I’ve been stock-piling supplies for over a year now.  The wedding colors are purple and gray so anytime I saw something that was one of those colors and could come in handy (and was on sale), I picked it up.  This method really helps save on costs.  Instead of waiting until the last minute and being forced into buying the first thing you see because you’re low on time, do your research and take advantage of a deal when you see it.

I don’t think the decorations would of looked half as cute if it wasn’t for the country feel of the cabin itself.  Thankfully we were able to capture pictures of the set-up on the first day DSCN1015because with that many girls living in one place for a long weekend, things are bound to get a little messy! All the months of constant, meticulous planning (I’m sure Catherine was tired of seeing my number pop up on her phone 50x a day) finally paid off when our beautiful bride entered her decorated palace for the weekend with a huge smile on her face.

Won’t you stay with me: Step 2 in Bachelorette Bach Planning – Accommodations

Ok, so your bride has spun the globe and landed on the party destination of her choice.  Great! Now, where the heck are you going to stay?  The good news is there are tons of options out there that cater to any group size, budget and preference.  The challenge is sifting through those options, and their claims of being the best/offering guests the world, to make sure you find the right fit.

Is your bride someone who wants to be in a constant state of exploration, out & about with her favorite friends until the wee hours of the morning?

If so, take it to the hotel, motel…okay, you get it.  Hotels are the most optimal options for a group of gals that just need a place to crash at night.  With a big crowd though, there’s a need for multiple rooms and this could get pricey so before you book, do some research.

You can lock in some awesome deals by calling the hotel directly or checking out discount travel sites.  My favorites are Travel Zoo (great for full package options) or Priceline’s Express Deals.  With Express Deals, you won’t know the name of th2013-04-19 09.54.21e hotel you’ll be staying at until the purchase actually goes through but you can ensure the location will meet your standards through the star-rating selection.

For destination celebrations (think Aruba, Bahama, come on pretty mama, kinda places), a travel agent can also be a great resource.  Sure, there’ll be additional overhead for the service charge but instead of spending countless hours researching accommodation options and pricing, just think of the adventures and shenanigans you can come up with in your free time!  Plus, the agent may be able to work in some flight deals too.

Is your bride low-maintenance and more focused on spending QT time with her gals rather than gallivanting through town day & night?

A home rental may be your best route.  It offers a more relaxed, spacious environment to catch up (over wine, of course).

I’ll admit I was skeptical of Airbnb at first, but after spending a week in a San Francisco Row House (pictured) three years ago, I fell hard for the service.  This 2013-05-31 21.18.15modern, social approach to rentals is the perfect way to immerse yourself into the community culture.  From San Fran, Boston, New York, New Hampshire to Austin, I’ve never had a bad experience during an Airbnb stay.  A sound alternative to Airbnb is VRBO.

For my best friend Diana’s Asheville adventure, we locked in an incredible cabin.  Nestled smack-dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we’ll be surrounded by breathtaking views and only minutes away from the one of the region’s claims to fame – breweries, on breweries on breweries.  Oh, and the best part?  We’re paying half of what we would have paid for two rooms at one of the area’s downtown hotels.  Renting also offers another opportunity to shave off the top of that extra spending – eating at home!  Full kitchen access means full bellies.  Instead of venturing out for every meal, make a plan for a homemade dinner at one night or brunch in the morning.  Just make sure you have someone in your party that knows have to cook!

All this advice aside, there’s one message that always rings true: it does not matter where you are, only who you’re with.

Pick a Spot on any Old Map: Step 1 in Planning the Best Bachelorette Bash

I’m a planner by profession.  My office walls are adorned with calendars four+ months out, I begin coordination of PR campaigns six months ahead of time and my vacation days for the entire year are often scheduled by January so my team can plan accordingly.  So when it comes time to plan for things on a personal front, you can imagine I go a little overboard.

My beautiful best friend is getting married in just four short months but before she can walk down that aisle, it’s my duty as co-MOH to give her a weekend she’ll always remember.  Thank goodness her sweet sister shares the role and has been the best partner in planning the upcoming shenanigans.

We started coming up with our game plan waaaay back in August, which probably sounds crazy considering the party is in June, but it takes time to get all the pieces in place for (what hopefully ends up being) the perfect bachelorette bash.  The first thing we needed to determine was where the celebration was gonna go down.

There are so many incredible spots for bachelorette parties, each one catering to a different type of bride.  With so many places to choose from, Catherine (co-MOH) and I came up with a plan to research various spots and put together mini agendas and budget estimates for each, letting our bride Diana make the final call.  We each picked and put together agendas for a total of seven locations (Asheville, NC; Cancun, Mexico; Key West, FL; Las Vegas, NV: Montreal, Canada; New Orleans, LA; Smith Mountain Lake, VA).  After delivering a multi-page guide to girls going wild across North America and presenting each option to our bride, she narrowed it down to two: Asheville and New Orleans.  From there, we put it out to the bridemaids for a vote and after each one was cast, Asheville became the last one standing.

While this may not seem like a traditional choice, there was not a single place on the list that would have been a better fit.  With endless choices of local brews, breathtaking mountain views and a food scene making national news, Asheville is a gem of a spot for brides before they say their “I do’s.”

I can’t wait to share details of the agenda for the weekend but for now, much of it’s still a secret!