Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hang Your Dress in Style!

I know I have posted a little bit about hangers before, but I decided the topic deserves an entire post.  I know you may be thinking, hangers?  Really?  Well, I am a big fan of using nice, fancy hangers for your wedding dress on your big day.  This is always on that list of "things every bride forgets," and I would agree that most people don't realize how important it is to have nice dress hangers!  Think about that classic photo of your dress hanging there, ready for you to get all dolled up.  You do NOT want a gross old plastic hanger that the dress came on.  It will ruin that classic shot!  Now, you can always buy something nice on Etsy or other places, but I preferred to make my own- much less expensive and very unique!

I made hangers for my wedding dress, my bridesmaids' dresses (also part of their gifts), and for my sister's dress for her wedding.  It was pretty simple- all I really needed were plain wooden hangers, paint, tulle/ribbon, and some time!

First, I bought a package of plain old wooden hangers from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I think I got them in packs of 5 for $10 or something along those lines.  They looked like this:
Next, I bought some paint (regular acrylic craft paint and spray paint- either works, spray paint is faster but possibly messy) and some tulle and ribbon at Michael's, of course.  The first thing I did to make these was to paint them all in the main color (purple for my wedding, white for my sister's).  I did my best to tape around the top so as not to get paint all over the actual hanger part while I painted.  I also found that it works best to hang them on a rod of sorts in order for them to dry faster and more evenly. 

For the bridesmaids' hangers, I wanted to personalize them with initials (plus this way they could tell their dresses apart on the day of!).  I found a font I liked and then printed out the letters in the right size and traced them onto the painted (and dried) hangers.  Then, I used a tiny paintbrush to paint in the traced letters in the darker shade of purple.  If you can find stencils that are in the size and font you want, I am sure that would be easier.  I did not have that, so I did the best with what I had!  I also added a gem or two to the dried hangers to jazz them up a little.  Here is a close-up of these hangers:

For the bridal hangers, I used tulle for mine and organza ribbon for my sister's to fancy up the plain hangers.  You can obviously do anything you want, but I pretty much played around with the ribbon to create fluffy bows that would add some excitement to the hangers.  For mine, I also added a jewel in the center of the bow because I am all about the bling.  For my sister's, I used a damask printed ribbon since that went with the wedding theme.  Feel free to be inspired to do whatever suits your style best, but I would highly recommend either making or buying some kind of beautiful hanger to accent the beauty of your dress! 

Check out how nice our dress photos came out by using stylish hangers:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Flower Favorites

One of the hardest things to figure out when doing your own flowers is what kind of flowers to even buy.  Where do you start?  This was something I struggled with, especially when I realized that there are about a billion types of flowers out there.  Typically, if you go to a florist, you can give them the general idea of what you want, and they will fill in the rest.  So if you do your own, you need to figure out ALL of the flowers and filler that you'll be using.

So what did I do? Lots of research, some more research, and some experimentation.  Most people at least know the color scheme they are looking for.  When you want a color flower like blue, that will limit you right there, which may make things easier (hydrangeas, anyone?).  BUT if you want purple, pink, yellow... there are a lot of options!  Once I figured out my colors, I did millions of google searches looking for bouquets and arrangements with these colors, which definitely helped me find ideas.  I also did a lot of research on what types of flowers work best in bouquets.  FYI: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!  Some people loooove the look of peonies, but take them out of water, and they wilt very fast- not pretty.  Since I was doing hand-tied bouquets, I needed flowers that could survive out of water without a problem.  Lots of sites online can tell you about the sturdiness of flowers, or, see below.

Finally, we did some experimentation.  This means, buying a dozen roses (or callas, etc) and a bit of filler and practicing making bouquets, and seeing how they look.  This can help you, especially to know how big of a bouquet you want and how many roses/callas/etc you will need to buy for each one.  I would recommend doing some kind of tester before buying things.  Other than that, you just have to trust that what you buy will be enough and that your research paid off!  Here's some info that hopefully can help!

Roses, alstroemeria, lisianthus, and limonium of course top my list of favorites.  Callas are also a new favorite.

Roses: These are obviously a classic wedding flower, and for good reason.  Roses are very sturdy and make for a great base for any bouquet.  The stems are thick and make a bouquet easy to construct.  And I think they are beautiful! They also come in a ton of colors, and are easy to fit into any wedding color scheme.  In my opinion, they are a great addition to any flower arrangement!

Lots of color choices!

Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lilies): These are my new favorite flower.  They are super affordable and go really far.  Since there are multiple flowers on each stem, you really only need a few stems in each bouquet or arrangement (and they are often priced around $1/stem).  They also come in a ton of colors, and usually have a second color on the inside of the bloom, making them very interesting looking.  They also stay looking great out of water, and when they are in water, they will last for weeks (no joke).  As a filler in a bouquet or arrangement, these are a must have for me!

Lisanthus: I love this flower.  They are a little more delicate, and not strong enough to be the main flower in an arrangement, but as a filler they are fantastic.  I used different shades of purple as well as white.  I think they are beautiful, and lasted no problem out of water in the bouquets.

Limonium: This is a filler flower, similar to baby's breath.  I love this flower as a filler in bouquets, arrangements, boutonnieres, etc.  It comes in a lot of colors and is easy to kind of stick into any place you need a little extra filler.  I like using it in bouquets for just that little something extra.

Stock: This is a flower that is often overlooked.  It looks like an expensive flower (similar to freesia in some ways), but is actually really cheap.  I like this best in arrangements, as it is pretty sizable and fills in space really well.  You can also use it to add height, as the stems are fairly long.  Great addition to any arrangement.

Spray Roses: These are literally just mini roses.  They are really cute and are great for corsages, boutonnieres, and cake arrangements.  They also come in a ton of colors and are pretty versatile.  I probably wouldn't use them in bouquets (too small), but they are great for smaller arrangements.

Lemon Leaf (Salal): This is my favorite green to use as a color for bouquets, etc.  I have also used palms before which are very cheap/easy to incorporate into bigger arrangements.

Calla Lilies: I admit, I used to hate these.  BUT, after making bouquets of callas for my sister's wedding, I really do like them.  They are sturdy and stay in good shape out of water.  See My Life as a Florist for tips on how to make a calla bouquet.  I think if this is your style, go for it.  Bouquets are pretty simple to make, and they also look really cool alone (long-stemmed) in a tall vase as another arrangement. 

Now, of course there are other great flowers out there!  Just be aware that you should really do some research and experimentation before committing to a flower, especially if that one flower is going to be the base of all of your arrangements.  Like I said, there are some that just get wilted and won't last (i.e. peonies, hydrangeas out of water), and you don't want that!  Best of luck and remember, it IS possible to do your own flowers!

P.S. If you are looking for a place to get your flowers, I would suggest finding a bulk flower wholesaler in your area.  This way you can actually visit the place to see some of the flowers in person before you order.  This is the type of place that florists order from, so you will need to make sure that they sell to non-florists too.  Another great option is Sam's Club online (provided you are a member).  They actually have great stuff for great prices.  I have also heard good things about, even though I have not used them.  Good luck!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Non-"Bridesmaid"-Bridesmaid Dresses

Something I discovered a while back is that when something is "Wedding" Fill-In-The-Blank, it just means that it is going to be overpriced and generally lesser quality.  My mom helped me learn that lesson.  For instance, when renting a limo, the "wedding" package is going to be the same exact thing as an everyday rental, but it will be priced higher so that you think you are getting something really special.  You can buy "wedding" cocktail napkins for a ridiculous price, or you can find a bulk napkin printer and get your last name printed on there for a much better deal.  Same thing goes with "bridesmaids" dresses.  Essentially, they are dresses, just like you would buy at any store.  BUT you get to order them in bridal sizes (which by the way make you feel like you are 6 sizes bigger than you thought), pay a lot of money, and not necessarily have a quality dress that you would wear again.

For my wedding, and for my sister's wedding, my mom and I happened to find beautiful dresses at regular stores, NOT labeled as "wedding" dresses, for a great deal and a unique look.  I love that NO other bride will use the same dresses/style/color/etc as I did, because I found them in a non-bridal shop.  Here is my/our advice on how to accomplish this:

1. Decide on the type/color of dress you want.  If you want super formal long dresses, you may have a harder time finding them at regular stores.  If you want cocktail style dresses, there will be a plethora of options out there for you.  Try to be open when it comes to the shade/style you think you want.  I thought I wanted a lighter purple, but the dress we ended up choosing was darker and I am so glad for it.  My sister wanted a charcoal grey but the black dresses we chose looked classic and perfect. 

2. Start online.  Go to websites for Macys, Nordstrom, Belk, Lord & Taylor, etc.  Then check out places like,, for even more options.  These types of sites typically offer discount prices on designer dresses (though they may be "last season"... alas).

3.  Go shopping!  My mom came across the dresses for my wedding at TJMaxx.  Have I mentioned that I love TJMaxx? You have to check back every few weeks, but most have great dress departments and you can find some great options. For my sister's wedding, we went to the outlets, and got the dresses at BCBG for a crazy low price.  We are talking like $40 for both of these dresses (regular prices over $100).

4.  The hardest part is committing to the dresses, and making sure you can find a dress in every size needed.  This means getting dress sizes (normal, not bridal) from your friends and buying them a dress sometimes without them seeing it first.  It happens. They just need to trust you and be your friend.  For my dresses, we needed 5 sizes, so we actually had to go to multiple TJMaxx's and buy 1 or 2 online (I think at bluefly?  They all blend together now).

5.  Okay, the actual hardest part is being patient if you have been searching online/in stores for weeks/months and you still can't find anything.  If you have time, wait until the new season of clothes comes out.  If you don't have that much time, keep looking, or resort to the bridal shop if you must.

We happened to find success!  Take a look at the unique non-"bridesmaid" dresses below!

Dresses from my wedding- originally found at TJMaxx- Designer: Max and Cleo.  Actually, those straps were made and added by my crazy talented mother.

Dresses from my sister's wedding- originally found at the BCBG outlet- Designer: Max and Cleo (I guess we had a thing for Max and Cleo dresses... they are great quality though!)
So many newly engaged brides-to-be fall into the "wedding" trap where they think if it is a wedding, they better be buying a "wedding" item.  I want you all to know that it is possible to think outside the box- for dresses and beyond! Not to diminish those who want traditional bridesmaid dresses- if that is your vision or it is the easiest thing, etc, go for it!  Just know that there are other options out there for  affordable, want-to-wear-again, unique dresses!  Happy searching :)