Should You Buy a Reception Dress?

After you spend all that money on wedding dress you have to wear it all night, right? Not necessarily. Some brides choose to change into a reception dress once the party gets started. A reception dress is typically a shorter, usually just above the knee, white dress. However, you could choose to wear a different color if you wished. It depends on how you want to look on your wedding day.

Is a reception dress right for you?

Reception dresses aren’t for everyone. Before shelling out another $100 to $600 plus on another white dress, consider these questions.

Do I love my wedding dress so much that I want to wear it all night?

Will I get uncomfortable in the wedding dress? (Consider length, heaviness, and restrictions.)

Do I want to change into a dress that will be more comfortable to dance in?

What do I want to be wearing in my wedding photos? (Consider the garter toss, cake cutting, and dancing photos.)

Is there money in my wedding budget for a reception dress?

Where to Find a Reception Dress

Where you purchase a reception dress depends on your style and budget. Reception dresses can be simple, white cocktail dresses or extravagant gowns with bedding and lace. They are also available in a wide range of prices. Here are just a few stores to consider.

Department Stores – Most department stores have a dress section. You may be able to find a white cocktail dress or be able to order a dress in white.

Bridal Stores – Many bridal stores carry reception dresses. They also carry cocktail dresses or short bridesmaids’ dresses. Sometimes these are available in white.

Online – There are tons of online stores that offer reception dresses or dresses available in white. Be sure to check reviews and return policies before ordering. Check out BHLDN.

Whatever you decide to wear, make sure you feel beautiful. You don’t want to spend the night uncomfortable and self-conscious, and don’t be afraid to bend the rules. Just because you are bride doesn’t mean you have to spend the night in a long, white gown.


Fun Alternatives to a Groom’s Cake

Though the tradition of a groom’s cake started in the South, lately we’ve been seeing the tradition spread, as grooms everywhere are staking their claim in the form of cakes.  Recently, we met a groom who wasn’t the biggest cake fan.  No matter the flavor or icing, he just didn’t like cake.  So he got us thinking about some fun groom’s cake alternatives.

Milk and Cookie Bar.  We love this playful option and can’t help but think back to our childhood when milk and cookies were the perfect nighttime treat.  This fun wedding treat can be done a variety of different ways, and we love the idea of offering your guests their pick of the cookie lots.  Start with the classics, including snickerdoodle, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and of course chocolate chip.  But then get creative with whoopie pies, homemade Nutter Butters, and candy coated cookies.  Stock the table with carafes of milk, including chocolate and strawberry milk for playful options.  We also love the idea of having an individual glass milk bottle for each guest.  The perfect throwback for guests with a sweet tooth.

Milkshakes.  If baked goods aren’t your groom’s thing, think about a yummy milkshake.  To keep the treat feeling fun and playful, we suggest reducing the serving size to something smaller, so guests aren’t overwhelmed with a drive through sized milkshake.  We love the idea of milkshake shooters complete with a shortbread cookie on the top.  For those doing a vintage inspired wedding, think retro with bold colored straws.  And for those feeling brave, treat your 21+ guests to adult milkshakes.  For flavor inspiration, check out these favorites!

Ice Cream Treats.  There are a million different ways to satisfy a sweet tooth with this option, and really, who doesn’t love ice cream?  We love the idea of passed ice cream sundaes or banana splits.  We also love the idea of having an assortment of novelty bars available for guest choosing.  And for a big wow factor, how about having an ice cream truck outside, waiting to treat guests as they exit your celebration!

Whatever you choose, remember that its about what you and your partner love.  So if its cake, cookies, milkshakes, ice cream, or something else entirely, follow your sweet tooth wherever it takes you!

Original Wedding Vows

Personalized wedding vows add romance and originality to any wedding ceremony, but they’re not for everyone. Some couples choose to recite traditional vows that have been used for generations, while other couples enjoy putting a customized spin on their commitment to one another. Before you decide to write you own wedding vows, ask yourself these simple questions:

Are they permissible? As crazy as it sounds, certain denominations prohibit couples from using personalized vows during the wedding ceremony. Once you settle on a ceremony site, ask your officiant if you’re required to use traditional vows on your wedding day.

Will you write them together? Some couples prefer to keep their vows under wraps until the wedding day, keeping their spouse-to-be in the dark. If you and your fiancé decide to write your own wedding vows, discuss whether or not you’d like to write something cohesive together or compose something separately for one another.

What style will you use? It’s imperative that you and your fiancé determine what style the vows will be, especially if you’re planning to write them independently. Some couples prefer romantic and serious vows, while others like to incorporate humor and charm. Regardless of what you choose, make sure you’re on the same page so your vows have the same feel and neither one of you is disappointed on the wedding day.

What’s the structure? Determine an outline for the vows that you both can follow so they’re structured and cohesive. Maybe start with a short anecdote about how you met, when you knew he/she was the one, or what you love about each other, before diving into your vows, promises, and commitments.

How long will it take? There’s no way to predict how long it will take you to write what will be, undoubtedly, one of the most important promises of your life. What’s important is that you give yourself plenty of time! Don’t put off the vow writing until the day before the wedding. Get started earlier so you have ample time to organize your thoughts and communicate everything you want to say to your future spouse.

3 Unusual Bridal Gowns

When you think of bridal gowns, you think of lace and satin and pearls and rhinestones. You imagine bright white or soft ivory. But there are more options than traditional dresses. If you are a daring bride or would like a moment of entertainment, check out these unique designs.

If you want to feel like you’re floating on the clouds on your wedding…

Wear a wedding dress made of balloons. Yes, balloons. Even your bridesmaids can get in on this outlandish style, but they won’t be able to wear the dress again. Balloon dresses are one-of-kind and less expensive than designer gowns. Plus, they are guaranteed to have your guests whispering as you walk down the aisle and talking for years to come.

If you want to look delicious on your wedding day…

Wear an edible wedding dress or an edible sugar-coated rose petal wedding dress. Just in case your mouth isn’t watering yet, check out this wedding dress made of cream puffs. It is perfect for a bride who doesn’t want to wear white. Best of all, your bridesmaids can rock an array of edible dresses too; possible ingredients include eggplant, tomatoes, bubble gum, chives, bananas, bread, shrimp, spring onions, lotus root, mushrooms, and white radishes. Be sure to check out Sung Yeonju’s yummy creations.

If you want to outshine your bridal bouquet

Wear a dress made of real flowers…this gorgeous bridal gown made entirely of fresh white flowers. It resembles a Maggie Sottero design. To really break tradition, check out this colorful wedding dress made with hundreds of fresh flowers. With these designs, you can skip the bouquet all together.

While most these designs aren’t practical, they are a reminder that you are allowed to break the rules on your wedding day. Your dress doesn’t have to be a traditional white gown with lace and beads. You can wear unusual shapes, colors, designs, and materials. Choose a dress that showcases your personality (and figure), and rock it.














Chicago Wedding Summer Favorites

With the weeks of Chicago summer fleeting and fall creeping in, we can’t help but stop and think about some of our favorite summertime wedding trends we’ve seen this season.  Not sure if it’s the heat of the weekend or the summertime rays, but we just can’t get enough of these five things.

Mason jars.  These glass beauties make the perfect partner for summertime weddings.  They are a great way to showcase a signature cocktail or fruit infused water and add an extra ounce of décor if your drink matches your wedding color scheme.  Mason jars can be ordered from most restaurant supply stores, but we’ve also seen tons at flea markets and garage sales.  And for an extra punch of fun, add an old fashioned swirly straw.  Can a drink get any better?

Yellow.  Nothing says summer like the color yellow.  And this summer, we’ve loved the color pair with just about everything.  Yellow and teal, yellow and coral, yellow and navy; its hard to go wrong, really.  And because yellow is such a contagious color, a little goes a long way!

Sparklers.  Maybe we’re still reeling from the 4th of July, or maybe we’re just suckers for anything shiny, but a sparkler exit is still one of our wedding favorites.  We often hear couples asking about the perfect sparkler length, and we’re fans of the 14 inch sparkler.  Long enough to last for a prolonged exit, but not so long that they feel overwhelming or scary.

Multicolored bridesmaid dresses. Like bridesmaids everywhere, we love letting bridesmaids choose their own dresses, but having each bridesmaid choose a different color, creates a fabulous summertime effect.  Even if you might not expect the colors to go together in normal settings, having them sprinkled throughout attendants creates a fun and lighthearted effect, perfect for summer.

Ice cold treats.  This summer, we’ve seen an emergence of frozen treats throughout weddings.  Ice cream bars and popsicle stands have caught our attention as the perfect summer wedding addition.  As the dance floor gets going and guests heat up, be ready to cool them down with the perfect summer frozen treat.  Talk with your reception vendor about options for incorporating ice cold treats into your reception. Wedding Dessert Options.
















Wedding DIY Pros and Cons

DIY (Do-It-Yourself) is a common buzz word among brides-to-be. Some brides associate DIY projects with savings and individuality. Other brides associate the trend with cheap quality and lots of headaches. Both brides have defendable cases. Here is why.

The Pros of DIY

There are lots of reasons that DIY projects have become so popular. Those reasons include:

Low Costs – Typically, DIY projects are cheaper than store bought versions. For instance, invitations printed on your home computer may be least 50% cheaper than stationary ordered from a traditional printer.

Personalization – The modern couple wants a wedding that is all about them. They want a wedding that showcases their personalities and interests. DIY projects allow you to create wedding accessories and essentials that are 100% unique. No other bride (or groom) will create the exact same DIY project. This is especially true for wedding day accessories such cake toppers or wedding jewelry.

A Fun Experience – Besides the shower and bachelorette party, most bridesmaids have very few responsibilities. DIY projects are a fun way to include the bridal party (and family) in the wedding planning. You can have a girls’ night that involves food, wine, and DIY projects. These little moments are what make wedding planning fun.

A Sense of Accomplishment – When you walk in to your reception, you want to think Wow, I did this. You and your fiancé (and possibly the bridal party and family) created this magical day. That sense of accomplishment is amplified when you can say you physically created something whether it is as small as seating card or as big the centerpieces.

The Cons of DIY

As the old cliché goes, there are two sides to every story. While DIY projects have a variety of perks, there are also some downfalls.

Costs – Depending on the complexity of the project, some DIY projects are more expensive than store bought or professional versions. For projects that require a lot of materials, add up the costs of all materials and compare the costs to a store bought version.

Time – While you may save money on DIY projects, you won’t save time. Many DIY projects can be very time consuming. If the project is going to make your life too stressful, it may be wise to spend a little more money. You have to consider opportunity costs. Would you rather spend the month before your wedding playing Martha Stewart or would you rather be shopping for the honeymoon, getting your nails done with your maid of honor, and enjoying a bachelorette party? Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time for you to do everything.

Mistakes – If a professional messes up, they fix it. You can simply send the product back, and sometimes they compensate you with a discount for the trouble. If you mess up a DIY project, you have wasted time and money, and you still have to fix the project, which means more time or money. Always consider the level of expertise a project requires. If a project requires sewing and you’ve never touched a thread and needle, the month before your wedding probably isn’t the best time to learn. Don’t be afraid to leave some things to the professionals.

Like all wedding decisions, you have to choose if DIY is right for you. The best way to incorporate DIY into your wedding is to pick and choose which projects are important to you. Decide where you’d like to spend the most money and where you would like to save. Also, consider where your talents lie and how much time you have to complete projects. Wedding planning should be enjoyable, so choose projects that seem fun and splurge on the projects that would drive you insane.

Blackboard Decor

A recent trend has been popping up in a bridal magazines everywhere — blackboard décor. This trend is perfect for environmentally concerned couples because it makes everything from table numbers to favors reusable. It is also a good idea for budget-conscious couples who want to reduce the cost of stationary. Here are a few fun ways to incorporate blackboards into your wedding day.

A Reusable Sign

Many weddings use personalized signs to direct guests to the ceremony and/or reception site. These signs are especially useful for outdoor weddings. Rather spending money on a sign that you can only use once, why not purchase a blackboard that can be used again and again? For instance, this blackboard arrow from Playing Grown Up is an adorable way to direct guests to your wedding site.

Fun Speech Bubbles

When it is all over, the only thing you will have left from your wedding, besides the priceless memories, is the photos. It has often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but why not add some real words to those photos? Show the camera what you are really thinking with these adorable blackboard speech bubbles. These are perfect for bridal party shots as well as unique bride and groom photos.

Reusable Table Numbers

Save a tree and use mini chalkboards to display table numbers. These elegant blackboards from HerMajestysPug Shop can be reused at other events, plus the silver border makes them sophisticated enough for a formal wedding.

Blackboard Glass Charms

People hate going to a wedding or party and losing their drink. Help your guests keep track of their drink with these adorable glass charms. They are a perfect keepsake for your wedding guests, and they ensure that Grandma doesn’t accidently pick up Cousin Joe’s Seven-and-Seven because she likes it is her Sprite.

An Old Fashioned Blackboard

Most brides spend hours typing up or writing out seating cards. They then go through the agonizing process of thinking of a cute way to display those seating cards. Save yourself the time (and help Mother Nature) by using a cute blackboard to write the seating list rather than using individual seating cards. Upon entering the reception, guests can simply check the board to find their table number. Added bonus: more room on the table for fun décor.

Chalk It Up

























Wedding Cake Alternatives

Let them eat cake. But not you. No, you’re willing to admit that you’ve never been a huge cake fan. So why settle for it now on your big day? If you’re willing to go outside of the ordinary or traditional, there are plenty of desserts that can be adapted perfectly for a wedding.


Even though wedding cupcakes are essentially still cake, something about their miniature size can be more appealing. With cupcakes, you can opt for a huge range of flavors, each one with a different frosty decoration. Plus, it’s still possible to arrange them in traditional layers; just ask your wedding baker for tips! For the true cupcake aficionado, you could even play around with flavored fillings and frostings.


Smooth and creamy, cheesecake is often a great alternative to cake. Once again, there is a variety of flavors available, as well as yummy toppings, and it can also be arranged in layers with the right kind of cake platform. Want a money-saving tip? Many restaurants and caterers will offer dessert as part of your meal package. Opt for the cheesecake dessert, and serve your smaller wedding cheesecake to your wedding party. Your guests will never know the difference!

Ice Cream Cake

Summer months are some of the most popular wedding months, so what could be better to cool off the big day than a hefty slice of chilled ice cream wedding cake? As with the previous alternatives, flavors and toppings are all your choice, and it’s still easily arranged in tiers with the right tools. The only potential downside to this choice is that you probably won’t be able to have your cake sitting out until the time comes to actually cut into it and eat it up, or you’ll have a melty mess on your hands.

Mixed Dessert Table

Can’t decide on your favorite dessert? Have a table arranged with a variety of mini desserts. A small plate of tiramisu here, a mini dish of crème Brule there. Or serve dessert “shots,” with a variety of dessert choices served in shot glasses! Or, if you’ve been to Starbucks recently, get inspired by their adorable cake pops, and put your dessert on a stick! Perfect for a light hearted, more casual wedding!  If you still want something to cut into for those infamous wedding cakes photos, you can always have a small, one or two tier cake made up on the side.


Light, airy, and silky smooth, mousse can be a great finish to a tasty meal. Arrange a display of small dishes, available in as many flavors as you can imagine, and your guests will love this change to the ordinary. Plus, most mousses aren’t quite as heavy or rich as many cakes or other desserts, so you won’t feel as full and weighed down, even after a generous portion!

How to choose a baker

Something Blue

Your dress is new, your mother gave you something old, and you borrowed something from your best friend. Now, all you need is something blue. Incorporating the color into your wedding day is easier, and more fun, than you may imagine.

Why Something Blue

The wedding cliché “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…” originated during the Victorian era. Blue was believed to symbolize fidelity and faithfulness. Today, many brides follow the cliché for good-luck.

How to Include Blue

At first, you may wonder how on earth you are going to wear something blue, especially if your wedding colors don’t exactly coordinate with the shade. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Here are just a few suggestions.

  • Invisible wedding accessories – If blue clashes with your wedding colors, invisible accessories are a great way to incorporate blue. You are still following the wedding superstition, but the guests, and camera, don’t see the blue. One option is a blue garter. If you prefer a white garter, you can purchase one with a tiny blue bow. Another option is undergarments with blue detailing. This can be as subtle as a blue bow on the front of your panties or as extravagant as blue lettering across your hinny.
  • Visible accessories – If you want the blue to be visible, you can choose blue jewelry, headpieces, or shoes. This is a great way to add color to an all-white ensemble.
  • The Wedding Gown – Traditionally, wedding gowns were white or ivory. Today, gowns incorporate any color imaginable. Again, this can be subtle, such a small blue flower, or extravagant, such a blue trimmed train. The best part is you can choose the shade of blue that best coordinates with your wedding theme.
  • Wedding Flowers – Traditionally, brides carried an all-white bouquet. Today, many brides incorporate color into their bouquet. You can include blue flowers in the arrangement, or you can simply add blue details such as a blue ribbon wrapped around the stems. Another option is to wear a small blue flower in your hair.

These are just a few possibilities. We would love to hear your suggestions for fulfilling the wedding tradition of something blue.

Wedding Day Necessities

Wedding Day Necessities

Wedding Day NecessitiesRegardless of what time of day your wedding will be held, the fabulous wedding shoes you purchased, and whether you’re doing your own hair and makeup or hiring a professional, there are a few wedding day essentials that you won’t be able to live without! Avoid pre-wedding disasters by packing a kit of necessities (or delegate the task out to the maid of honor or close friend). Don’t forget these Wedding Day Necessities.

Hair Maintenance: Whether you’re styling your coif yourself or bringing in a professional hair guru, make sure you bring along hair care products for touch-ups throughout the day. Regardless of how perfectly your noodle nest is styled, hair mishaps can happen during your commute to the ceremony/reception sites or during outdoor photo shoots. Be sure to pack some extra hairspray, bobby pins, and a brush or comb to fix unruly tresses.

Make-up Kit: Be sure to come equipped with make-up essentials for touch-ups all day long. Most important is powder to eliminate shine and concealer to cover up blemishes. Also, be sure to keep some extra lipstick/lip gloss, waterproof mascara, and nail polish with you at all times.

Hygiene Products: It’s better to be safe than sorry! Bring along a small container of deodorant, dental floss, tissue, perfume, q-tips, feminine hygiene products, and breath mints to avoid unpleasant mishaps.

Dress Prep: Avoid dress disasters by packing items needed for repairs. Be sure to have a small sewing kit with you for any unfortunate accidents, as well as hem tape, safety pins, double-sided tape, static cling spray, spot remover, chalk (to cover stains on the wedding dress), and scissors. Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress.

Back-ups: It never hurts to have a backup, especially on your wedding day. Pack an extra pair of pantyhose, earrings (and backs), hair clips, and even shoes, just in case.

Sustenance: Most likely, you’re going to be feeling an overwhelming mix of emotions on your wedding day, from excitement to nervousness to last-minute stress, and such anxiety can diminish your appetite, but it’s essential that you have something in your stomach. Pack some bottled water and snacks to make sure you, and all of your bridesmaids, don’t get weak or light-headed.

Miscellany: In addition to your beauty essentials, bring along some additional items for any unforeseen circumstances. Pack some aspirin and band-aids, tweezers, nail file, camera, cell phone charger, cash (just in case), handheld mirror, matches/lighter, and scotch tape.

Bridal Beauty Kit