Dear Brides, Remember What’s Important: Advice from Your Photographer

courtesy of kirracheers.com/

courtesy of kirracheers.com/

There’s no questioning that we live in a time of Web 2.0 / social media overload.  We engross ourselves daily with Facebook feeds, Pinterest boards, tweets and the like.

Anne Almsay, an award-winning photographer, recently wrote an article for huffingtonpost.com, and I’m so glad she did.  As we all know, I’m a huge fan of remembering the real importance of a wedding day, and her article really struck a beautiful cord with me.

It’d be easy to blame it on the holiday season and how it always seems to make us a little more sentimental, but even more so than that, I think it’s because her message was so  substantial and resounding.

She really stressed the importance of not getting caught up in all the Web 2.0 of the world.  To her, it’s not about the number of beautiful editorial shots you’ll have, but the memories you make in the process.  She said it was her job…

To photograph your parents, who will hold hands and cry on the first row of the chapel. To photograph your sister dancing with that boy she will marry in three years. To photograph those kids who will grow up so, so quickly. To photograph your grandfather, who will pass away next spring. To photograph your first kiss as a married couple, your best friend busting out her signature dance moves, the flower girl asleep under a table, and maybe even your ex looking pretty wistful as he hugs you a little too long in the receiving line. {Anne Almsay via huffingtonpost.com}

This is incredibly sound advice, and I remember it all too clearly even when my own photographer, Jessika Feltz, told me something similar all those years ago… During one of a final meetings, she told me to make sure I made a list of – not just must have wedding shots – but also of important people / couples / groups that I wanted to make sure were captured.

The example she gave – and it has still stuck with me today – was if there was an elderly grandparent or great aunt or uncle that may not be around for the next wedding… I like to think of these photos as the “I would give anything” pics that will really mean the most in the end.  Like, “I would give anything… to have a picture with my grandma like that OR my mom OR my brother, et.al.”  You get the point :)

Bottom line, remember the importance of your day and capture the moments and memories… not just the details :)

Kid Friendly, Bridal Approved: Custom Coloring Books at the Reception

courtesy of helmutwalker.com

courtesy of helmutwalker.com

Okay, so I know there is always a debate on whether or not to invite children to a wedding… I’ve been to both, and can see the arguments from all angles.  But I think the biggest one comes down to budget.  Because of the expense, I’ve known several couples who to make the difficult decision and ex-nay on the ildren-chay.  And that’s quite alright and more than understandable!  Anyone who’s planned a wedding can vouch.

But for those couples who do make room for children in their nuptial celebration, I have the CUTEST idea to share!

Recently, my younger bro (wad up, Goob!) tied the knot with his lovely lady-in-no-longer-waiting, Ms. Jamie.  Aw, would you just look at them?

courtesy of Jessika Feltz Photography (jessikafeltz.com)

courtesy of Jessika Feltz Photography (jessikafeltz.com)

Jamie, being a school teacher and overall awesome human being, had the organizational skills most brides would kill for… Legit, I had first hand experience in watching her plan.  In a word?  It was masterful :)

Anyhoot, there wasn’t any wedding detail stone she left unturned, and with the help of her mama (all partiality aside, of course!) threw one of the most beautiful weddings ever!  One of the details I truly LOAFED were the custom coloring books she had for all the kids!

Going through the company, Simply Sherlock: Custom Coloring Books & Designs, Jamie was able to create a one a kind coloring and activities book that featured her, Kevin and the bridal party as the stars!  It was all kinds of adorable and even had the adults entertained.  (I should mention, we’re an “easy to please” kind of crowd, haha!)

The book was presented in an 8.5 x 5 in. format and came complete with a 6pk. of crayons in a plastic bag and ribbon wrap.  (Like I said, adorable!)  Jamie also had the opportunity to proof the book via PDF format to ensure each page was perfect before printing.  It seriously was such a smart and sweet way to keep the kids entertained and make them feel like an important part of the day!

Honeymoon Swimwear: Because Bridal Fun in the Sun Should Be Flawless

Collective Hearts Swimwear courtesy of Micala McClain Photography

Collective Hearts Swimwear courtesy of Micala McClain Photography

Earlier this week, I did a post about 7 Budget Friendly, Honeymoon Must Haves every bride needs to look good and feel good on her post-nuptial vacay, but some of you may have been left wondering,  “How can homegirl do a honeymoon post and leave out the most important item of all… the bridal bathing suit!!?”

Ladies, please.  Have I ever let you down?  (Don’t answer that, haha!)  But alas, I didn’t forget the swimwear! In fact, quite the contrary… I was saving it for its own post!  #duh

So, without further adieu, I give thee… Collective Hearts Swimwear: Swimwear Sass for Hot Honey*swooners!

Collective Hearts Swimwear courtesy of Micala McClain Photography

Collective Hearts Swimwear courtesy of Micala McClain Photography

Please, no need to hold your applause or “ooh la la’s” until the end.  By all means, let ‘em rip&roar right now :)

And while y’all continue to cheer, let me steer you in another direction ;)  As an internet based company, we here at Marilyn’s Keepsakes like to think of ourselves as drenched in Three Musketeers mentality: all for one and one for all :)  With that said, however, we also take great pride in our home base of Indiana!

That’s right!  There’s more than corn in Indiana, kids, and being located at the Crossroads of America, we can truly appreciate living and loving Midwest style!  So, when we’re gifted upon a local business as talented as Collective Hearts, we have to share!

Founded by the diva fashionista extraordinaire, Ashley Meyer of Daleville, Indiana, this unique collection of vintage swimwear has MC Hammer’s “too legit, too L.E.G.I.T to quit” written all over it!!  Designed with care and made with love, Meyer’s suits are 100% suitable for any and all body types, which let’s be real, is a rarity in the world of beach world :)

A retro throwback to the Golden Era of Hollywood glam, the contemporary pinup styled suiting not only looks like a dream, but as an owner of one myself, I can vouch, that it feels like a dream too!

And what’s even better??

Ms. Meyer is the soon-to-be Mrs. Nixon!!  You heard that right y’all!  Her Mister (wad it do, Chirs!) recently decided to put a ring on it, giving this darling designer one more reason to take extra care of all her ladies in waiting because now, they’re also her ladies in arms ;)

I was lucky enough to do hair and makeup at a recent photo shoot, and if at all possible, I think I fell even more in la-Louvre with her ahhhh(to the)mazing work!  Can’t wait to see what this Indiana based beauty has in store for us next :)

A Lifetime of Love: One Couple’s Exquisite Example

courtesy of tumblr.com

courtesy of tumblr.com

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” — Pablo Neruda

I can think of no more appropriate quote to introduce the story I’m about to tell: the story of Les and Helen Brown.  After coming across this southern Californian couple’s story on today.com, I felt myself warming from the inside out.  There’s was a love of true beauty, and because things of true beauty were meant for the light, I’d like to share it with you all here.

Meeting in high school, Les and Helen fell desperately in love despite their differences and their parents’ disapproval – his a prosperous businessman and landowner, hers a blue collar railroader.  Already set up with a background fated to some of the greatest love stories of all times, Les and Helen didn’t let the dissatisfaction of their elders bring them down.  Oh, no.  In fact, they spent the next 78 years proving them all wrong :)

courtesy of Daniel Brown via today.com

A vintage photo of Helen and Les Brown. (courtesy of Daniel Brown via today.com)

Born on the same day in 1918, Les and Helen celebrated 75 years (!!!) of marriage this past September amongst family, friends and cake.  Despite suffering from illness (Les from Parkinson’s and Helen from stomach cancer), the couple still remained very much in love up until the end.  Their son, Daniel, perhaps summed up their love the best by saying,

“It knows no barriers and seems to know no bounds. They were from different sides of the tracks and it didn’t seem to matter to them. After 78 years, they were very much in love.” (today.com, Rebecca Ruiz)

But like all good things in life, this one also had to come to a physical end.  After slipping into a coma earlier in the month, Les was given only a few days to live, and while Helen had a more lengthy prognosis of a few months, she decided it was time to let go and passed away July 16, 2013.  Not to go a day without his love, Les passed away the very next day… to – no doubt – go on to be with his love again.

Because while all physical journeys must come to end, in their wake, new beginnings are given flight… they just need the wings.

And I don’t doubt these two received their sets and reunited asap!  Such a beautiful story and an even more wonderful example of the power of love.  Congrats to 75 years of marriage, 78 years together and spending the rest of their days in eternal, marital bliss :)

courtesy of Daniel Brown via today.com

75 years strong! (courtesy of Daniel Brown via today.com)

I Guess I Do: Budget Friendly Bridesmaid Gift Picks

Getting to know other fabulous women in the wedding industry is one of the many highlights of my job. I have had the privilege to get to know one of the funniest and most charming wedding bloggers out there! I asked her to share her experience of deciding on bridesmaids’ gifts with all of you. Straight from the mouth of E! Fashion Police Producer & Creator of the Wedding Blog I Guess I Do, I proudly bring you Raquel Kelley!

photos courtesy of Marianne Lozano

photos courtesy of Marianne Lozano

Often times the phrase “Will you be my bridesmaid?” is synonymous with the phrase “Would you like to go bankrupt?”

The latter is what your friends are really hearing when you ask them to be part of your wedding. From the dress, to the flight, to the shoes, hair and makeup – it does get pricey.

So while yes, it is your day, it is also important to show some love to your friends who are shelling out a lot of time and money to be there with you to celebrate it!

While going through the wedding planning process, I tried to be very giving and mindful of my bridesmaids needs, having been one myself many times.  Since all of my bridesmaids were flying to California for my wedding, I wanted to help with costs as much as possible.  I gave them their shoes and earrings as bridesmaid gifts, and paid for everyone’s hair and makeup.

I was able to do this because I had a small bridal party, 4 in total, which is something to take into consideration when deciding the number of people to have in your wedding!

In the end, these ladies are not only your bridesmaids, they are the shoulders you’ve cried on, and the hands who’ve held your hair back in college. They’ve sat through countless conversations over wine about you and your soon-to-be husband’s relationship – from the first date, to the first kiss, to the first time he forgot your birthday.

These gals have been there for it all and are part of the reason you are with your man today. So be sure to show your appreciation and help give their bank accounts a bit of a break!

To aid you in your search, I’ve picked out some of my favorite personal yet practical bridesmaid gifts from Marilyn’s Keepsakes!

Bridesmaid Survival Kit:

mkbmsk-bridesmaid-survival-kit

It’s easy to remember the dress, jewels, and bag, but what about the basics? Often times it’s the necessities we need most! That stain remover or pain reliever may come in real handy by the end of the night.  It’s a simple yet thoughtful gift your girls can keep in their purses well beyond the wedding.

Personalized Gold Bangle Bracelet:

gd-gsib_gold_hand_stamped_stackable_bangle_bracelets

I’m a sucker for anything gold lately. This bracelet is something they can not only where on your big day but can pair it with any outfit later on. I would definitely be excited to find this bangle in my goodie bag – I mean doesn’t it seem layering bangles up to your elbow is all the rage these days anyways?

Personalized Stemless Wine Glasses:

1110_stemless_wine_glasses

Remember all of those conversations I was talking about? The ones they’ve had so sit through with you? Well at least now they can do it with these personalized stemless wine glasses! I own some of these myself and prefer them over the ones with stems – maybe it’s the sleeker design or the easier access – whatever it is, these glasses are sure to be put to good use. After all, we all know that wine is God’s way of saying, “I feel ya girl.”

Toast to You: 5 Ways to Personalize Your Day

courtesy of weddzilla.com

courtesy of weddzilla.com

Alright, ladies, if it isn’t clear to you by now, let me lay it out in the simplest English… Your.Wedding.Day.Should.Be.All.About.You+yourgroom :)

Working at Marilyn’s Keepsakes, I have the distinct pleasure of seeing how personalizing your wedding can truly make all the difference. Every couple’s love is incredibly unique; so, why, oh why, should any his and hers celebration not ooze with their own personal awesomeness?

I was totally inspired by an article I read in InStyle Weddings about how to tailor a wedding to your style and would like to share some of my favorite picks with you! Feel free to check them out, pick them up or put them down, but regardless, just be sure to live it up!

  • Let your pets strut their stuff:  Whether ring bearing down the aisle or simply joining in the festivities and smiling in photos, letting your favorite furred friends be a part of your day and have an event that includes all those you love :)
courtesy of orbridemag.com

courtesy of orbridemag.com

^^^^OMG. I die at that evs time!!^^^^

  • Make your chairs fit for a king (and queen, of course!): If you love flowers, which basically includes every girl under the sun, talk with your florists about what kind of arrangements they can do with your initials. The lettered bouquets are a super chic alternative to traditional chair covers and will bring structural and modern appeal to any setting!
courtesy of theknot.com, confesionesdeunaboda.blogspot.com, yourperfectdayllc.wordpress.com and itsabrideslife.com

courtesy of theknot.com, confesionesdeunaboda.blogspot.com, yourperfectdayllc.wordpress.com and itsabrideslife.com

  • Let your guests sip on a signature drink!  I’ve been to several events where couples concoct their favorite poison, name it after themselves and toast to its genius all night long (all night!). Even more inspiring is when brides and grooms center their witches’ brew around their décor and have them served in clear glasses. It really makes a nice, three dimensional color pop to any setting… not to mention, a great prop for photo ops!
courtesy of bridesofnorthtexas.com

courtesy of bridesofnorthtexas.com

  • Let them feast on your favorite foods: What better way to accompany your signature drink than with gourmet cuisine, centered around your cultural, traditional or simply favorite foods? traditions? Whether there’s a certain food your families have made a tradition or one your culture tells you to grub, bringing a part of who you are into your wedding day buffet is a delicious way to add a personalized touch of you to your wedding!

courtesy of Canopy Rose Culinary Arts

  • Gain greater impact from your place card holders: Is planning a seating chart for 200+ causing you painstaking amounts of stress? Well, fear not my friend, because dreaming up cool place card holders will be your perfect cure! Because the place card will be one of the first things they seek, it’s a great place to put a piece of you!
courtesy of weddingrumors.com and bravobride.com

courtesy of weddingrumors.com and bravobride.com

 

Cinderella Experience for Plus Size Brides: Because Every Girl Deserves to feel Beautiful

photo courtesy of Belle Bridal Boutique's facebook page

photo courtesy of Belle Bridal Boutique’s facebook page

I gotta be real honest with y’all – as if you’d expect anything less :) – but I’m not sure the wedding market has it right when it comes to bridal couture.  For instance, anyone who has ever visited a bridal gown store will know that one of the first things they tell you is that most dresses are “cut small.”

“What?” you ask.

This means that most wedding dress designers follow patterns that cause brides to have to go UP a size… and in some more traumatic cases, maybe even two or three!! Trust and believe, lovelies, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but it doesn’t make it any less real.

The number one reason this is so ridiculous is because women are clothes tag Nazis.  What?  We are.  We can’t help it.  There’s just something confidence-boosting about being an 8, rather than a 10… even if we have to lay down, suck in, lose a rib and <squeeeeezzze> every last, ever loving roll into place in order to make it happen.  In this instance, we are all the wicked stepsisters of Cinderella… simply trying to fit our over-large feet into an uber small slipper…

photos courtesy of animatedfilmreviews.blogspot.com

photos courtesy of animatedfilmreviews.blogspot.com

Yep.  That’s us.  I realize to men – and even some women – this makes absolutely no sense, but that doesn’t make it any less true :)  So why?? OH WHY? On the one day when a girl is supposed to feel her most beautiful, would bridal gown designers make them start with an extra large strike already?  Ugh.

A strike that is further outraged by the fact that the majority of sizes bridal dress retailers carry are – on average – 8′s and 10′s, which according to bridal boutique etiquette, puts them closer to a 4 or a 6.  Really, bridal world… really???

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know a lot of girls who would fit this “norm.”  Sure, they have other sizes, but brides who, like me, might have a little extra somethin’ somethin’ will definitely struggle to get a good fit.  And that’s not the kind of gloom and doom any girl needs on her dress shopping day!

Hence, why I LOAF anything and everything about a place who takes this theory of caution and throws it to the wind, and no place could do it better than Belle Bridal Boutique!!!

Located in Bellevue, KY – right outside Cincinnati, the privately owned, mother / daughter wedding dress store features fashions for the festively (& fabulously!) plump, and they make it their number goal to ensure every bride gets her Cinderella Experience.  And I know this, because I witnessed their awesomeness firsthand :)

A couple months back, I had the privilege of accompanying my gorgeous (seriously, kids, girl has a face for poetry!), future sister-in-law, Jamie, on her dress shopping day.  I was more than happy to make the 2 hour trip to Bellevue, and just when I thought I couldn’t be more excited to be surrounded by rows and rows of blinged-out bridal couture, we made it to the store itself… and my happiness soon escalated to straight ecstatic frenzy!  I’m not kidding :)

Stacey, the daughter portion of the mother / daughter duo, met us with mimosas and smiles, and it was nothing but ahhhh(to the)mazing onward!  Jamie got to try on dress, after dress – most of which had to be tugged back and clipped in due to access fabric, and spent the entire afternoon twirling, swirling and showing off in some of the most beautiful dresses ever!

Not to mention, we were the only ones there, which only made the pampered experience even more special.  At Belle Bridal Boutique, they work by appointment only; so, there was never a need to share the space with anyone else.  It was a very intimate, very sweet time for celebrating.  We were never rushed or hurried and literally spent our entire afternoon sipping on champagne goodness and enjoying Jamie’s dress shopping experience.

An experience which left her feeling fabulous, beautiful, and most especially, comfortable!!

And who can say that when it comes to any experience including a fitting room?  Um, practically no one!  This kind of pleasantry made me start thinking how wonderful it would be to have more stores following this concept!!  After all, it’s a great idea… and there’s npothing better than when a great idea turns into an even better business :)

So, I’d just like to say cheers to Stacey, her mom – Henrietta and all the beautiful memories and brides they’re making at Belle Bridal Boutique!

Oh!  And if anyone other bride has locations of similar plus size bridal stores, please feel free to leave them below!

Traditions with a Twist: How One Bride Tailored Her Day, Her Way {VIDEO POST}

Nowadays, it seems as though weddings are becoming less and less about tradition and more and more about trends.  Be it trends of the times, trends of the industry, or my personal favorite, trends of the bride and grooms themselves, today’s weddings are all about individualized style and customizable flare.

And why shouldn’t they be?

America is known as the melting pot of the world.  With all the different races, religions, cultures and ethnicity, we – as a country – already have the ingredients for a pretty ahhh(to the)mazing, custom-made meal.  AND when you pile on top of that all the different family makeups and breakdowns; we’re left with one of the most eclectic family extensions known to man… EXCITING, isn’t it!!??

***If you’re still sitting in the middle of your seat and have yet to be scooted to its edge in anticipation, then consider what this kind of cultural shock means for everyone’s wedding day celebrations… Oh yeah!  Now, you’re with me!***

It’s true.  One needn’t look any further than a newlywed’s nuptials to recognize just how exciting our assorted arrangement is.

Because, while the meat and potatoes of wedding days may all be the same: boy meets girl, girl greets boy, boy and girl fall in love, boy asks, girl answers, marriage follows, etc…. the side dishes for the “I do’s” couldn’t be more different!

In fact, it never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many weddings I go to – and Trust(AND)Believe, I go to A LOT – there’s always something unique and different involved with each and every single one of them.

I think that’s why I love going to them so much :)  And when it came to the tailored portion of the below bride’s big day, she did a little something I like to refer to as Nailing It :)

Because while I find it heartbreaking and downright criminal for any bride to ever find herself absent a father for the father / daughter dance, this particular bride had to deal with just that. <insert heartbreak here>

And even though her papa had passed away just a few months prior, the beautiful bride (along with her brother) still came up with one heck of a tribute — for reals, it’s nothing short of spectacular.

So, grab some Kleenexes (trust me on this one) and check out below to see what I mean:

Originally posted by their photographer, Michael LaFrance, who wrote:

Andrea had a very special dance with some very close family and friends at her wedding. Her father passed away so her brother [recorded] “butterfly kisses” and she danced with with all of them during her Father and Daughter dance. it was a truly touching moment not a dry eye in the house. Her dad, Mark, died earlier in the year from pancreatic cancer. Andrea’s first dance is with Mark’s father, followed by her brother Luke, then brother Nick and finally her new father-in-law Scott.

Shark Week Inspired Wedding Ideas for the Real Fin-atic!

Internet, today is a somber day. “Why?” you may be asking yourself. “Why so sad on this Thursday, you’re so close to the weekend?” I will tell you why…..SHARK WEEK IS ENDING, THAT’S WHY!! Sorry, I got a little emotional there….I love Shark Week. To celebrate the passing of another jaw-some Shark Week, I thought I would honor our toothy friends with some fun, unique, and inspired shark wedding decor! Check this stuff out!!

Fin-tastic Wedding Decor

Some Fin-tastic Wedding Ideas! photos courtesy of Google Images

At the end of this blog post, see if you can guess just how many shark puns I came up with! Ok, lets dive in, shall we (that’s one, stay on your toes people)? Let’s talk food! Cupcakes are becoming a bigger and bigger splash on the wedding scene, because, lets face it, it’s way easier to hand someone a cupcake than to cut up 3 billion pieces of cake at your reception. I promise, these shark fin cupcakes are guaranteed to go over just swimmingly with your guests! I about went into a frenzy when I found out that you can eat the fin, depending on whether or not you’re a fondant lover that is. To me, the stuff tastes like what I think chum tastes like. Not a fan!! Regardless, they are the most dangerously amazing looking cupcakes I’ve seen in a while, and I love me some cupcakes! If you do decide to go with the cake though, totally catch yourself a couple of those non-threatening looking cake toppers. Tooooo coool!

The cufflinks….shut up. Coolest cufflinks going right now! That’s right grooms, every girl’s crazy ’bout a shark dressed man (good one right?!)!

On a serious(ly cool) note, the shark fin wedding favors (bottom right corner) are bars of soap made by LUSH, a nonprofit organization that makes handmade, organic cosmetics! The profits from the Shark Fin Soap actually goes to stop the shark fin trade that is responsible for killing a gross amount of sharks in our oceans, so support it up!!

Lastly (*sheds a single, silent tear*) my favorite things, something you can really…chomp into. The shark fin ice cubes!! What a perfect compliment to whatever cocktail your signature drink may be! Come on, who doesn’t want a “shark” swimming around in their drink?! I know I do! Right now! Too much yelling. Sorry. I feel those Shark Week withdraw fits coming on again. Until next time…da-dum……da-dum…..da-dum da-dum da-dum….

The answer is 11 by the way…..11 puns. Nailed it. :)

I Do-nate: The Wedding Favor that Shares the Love!

 Sometimes it feels like the search for the “perfect” wedding favor is like finding The Holy Grail. You want something meaningful, says something about you, and most importantly, something that won’t end up in the trash! Well, through my quest to find just such a treasure, I stumbled upon this completely amazing gem!

The I Do Foundation is changing the game for the couple who wants to give back with their Big Day! Here’s the idea. You go to I Do Foundation’s website and sign up (duh). Then you take the money you had set aside for that koozie with your faces on it (not a dis! I’m a huge fan of the koozies!) and you place a donation to your chosen cause in the name of your guests. Afterwards, I Do Foundation prints up a card for you to place on the tables at the reception, letting your guests know that you have made a donation in their name (and that they will just need to drink their beer a little quicker for it to stay cold :D)! How Coool!!!

Sample Place Card. photo provided by idofoundation.org

Now, if you’re diggin’ the charity idea, but still want to get your guests a little something to take with them (KOOZIE!), then I Do gives you a few other options too! Through the website you can also set up your gift registry! This way, a percentage of every gift that your guests buy through the special set up site is donated to the organzation of your choice. Now don’t freak out, they are set up with some pretty amazing retailers; not the Quickie Mart down the street! Target, JC Penney, and Amazon just to name a couple!  

I Do Foundation is a really incredible organization and if charity is something that is close to your heart you should highly consider them to help you share that dearly held value with your wedding guests. After all, you are receiving one of the greatest gifts of all. Why not SHARE THE LOVE!? :)