Fab find.

Don't you love it when someone dishes with you about a product they are obsessed with and then you run out and buy it and it's as fabulous as they said?

I want to share with you a 'product' that is saving my face this summer. I've used blotting wipes for ages, but I starting using Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets last winter and I've stayed loyal to this brand, which for me is pretty much a first.

Why they are great:
1. If you have oily or combo skin like me, they 'soak' up the oil and eliminate that shiny look.
2. They don't take off your make-up.
3. If you pat them on your face, you can re-apply your powder without getting a smeared 'pancake' look (caused from skin oils).
4. They are pretty inexpensive and last for ages.
5. It's summer and if you get all hot and sweaty, they remove the stickiness and shine and leave you looking all fresh-like.
6. If you're a bride, you can pat your nose in between glamour shots and don't have to obsess about messing up your make-up.

. Hope you love them as much as I do.


Going to the dogs.

I recently read an article in USA Today about couples having their dogs step in as wedding attendants-not just in casual affairs, but more in more in elegant, chichi affairs. One shop, mentioned in the article, has seen sales of upscale doggie accessories like gowns, tuxedos, bow ties and crystal leads and collars go up in recent years.

While I think this is an adorable idea, it should be said, that your little furry creature should be trained and should love crowds. Otherwise, you might have more fuss than fun on your big day.

Here are some tips for pet success on your wedding day, courtesy of USA Today:

-Make sure your venue allows animals
-Does your pet need some extra training before walking down that aisle?
-Take your pet to the venue to get accustomed to it before the big day.
-Assign a pet-sitter: someone to tend to it and transport it while it's not with you.
-Most pets won't last the whole day, so prioritize it's schedule and events.
-Take photos with the pet on a different day--hire a pet photographer.
What do you think? Pets or no pets?


Real wedding: Candy and Andrew

My husband was recently a groomsmen in our friends' wedding. Andrew and Candy got married in beautiful Taos, NM at the stunning El Monte Sagrado resort. When Candy sent me the link to their photos, I was happy to see that the talented Stacey Adams captured some of the more unique aspects of the resort, as well as fabulous shots of the couple. Right away, I emailed (Santa Fe and LA-based) Stacey and asked her to send me some of my favorite shots.

The wedding was a ton of fun. The guest list consisted of 45 close family members and friends which, with a group like us, made for a great party. Candy and Andrew were both cool as can be on the big day and when the officiant didn't show up (!), they took it in stride and had the site coordinator read them their vows. I loved watching them laugh about it and not letting it ruin their day. Most guests had no idea that the officiant was a no-show until Candy started laughing half-way through the ceremony and the site coordinator explained what was going on. After the ceremony, my brother-in-law saved the day by signing the marriage license and making it official--he's an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church (who knew!?). Now they have a great story to tell people and a memory that most of us will never forget.

Lesson to brides: even if your day doesn't turn out as perfect as it should in your mind, go with the flow, spend time with your friends and family and enjoy your party. After all, your wedding day will be what you make it.

Taking it all in stride....

The girls...(love the orange)

The boys...

The happy couple...

Check out the chandelier!

El Monte's pool area was a topic of conversation all weekend...

Best part of having your reception in the 'gallery' room of a resort? Instant decor.

There were a ton of great shots to choose from and Stacey's candid shots of the reception were amazing. You can check out more of her work at Stacey Adams Photography.


I wouldn't mind...

...if you nominated this little blog for an award (nope, I sure wouldn't)! In fact, I think I'd actually really (really!) like it.

If you have a couple of extra minutes let the Wedding Channel know that you like Once A Bride.

Thanks a million!


Profiling your planner.

Recently, I heard a story from a bride who had a bad experience with her wedding planner. I use the word 'bad' here lightly. I simply think it was a case of misunderstanding. The bride felt she wasn't getting what she needed from the planner. This particular wedding planner is very well established and has raving reviews. She is also extremely busy and isn't the creative type-she's all business. What this bride needed was a planner who had time to go to dress fittings, time to answer questions when family problems arose and someone who understood her creative vision and could help it come to life. Who she hired was a women who is fabulous at logistics and getting the job done quickly, but not much on the hand holding and chats.

Deciding to hire a wedding planner, or coordinator is a big decision and it's not something an engaged couple should take lightly. If you want a planner to help you through the process, more often than not, this person will be in your life for the next year or more. It's important for you to decide what type of planner you want.

Do you need someone every now and then to help you make a tough decision?
Are you the type of bride who wants your planner with you every step of the way?
Do you want someone to help mitigate the family dynamic?
Do you need someone who is all business who only sets appointments and isn't big on creativity?
Do you want your planner to also have design credentials?

With every planner comes a different personality. Don't let the planner's portfolio rule your emotions in this process. You may be interviewing a planner who designed the wedding of the year in your city, but you have to like the person who is going to help you with one of the most important days of your life. Be prepared when you meet with potential planners and ask the questions that are important to you. If you want someone to hold your hand through the process and be there for you daily, you need to let your prospective planner know that. Likewise, if you have strong opinions about what you want and you only need someone to coordinate the details, you may want an entirely different planner than another bride.

Make sure to ask the planner what their approach is when it comes to wedding planning. How often will you see her/him? Talk to her/him? Are they involved in the design or will they turn to an outside decor company? Are they good at DIY elements?

Go into the meeting with your prospective planner questioning whether you want a personal relationship with this person--after all, you will be trusting them with a once-in-a-lifetime event.


The dreaded 'B' word: tipping.

One of the questions I get asked most about from my couples is what to tip their vendors. It's always helpful to read a guide like this before the big day and divvy up each tip to the appropriate vendor, marking them in envelopes. If you don't have a planner or day-of-coordinator, you can give the envelopes to a family member or friend you trust to hand out at the end of the day.

Tipping of course, is not required and is simply a gesture of gratitude. However, you wouldn't stiff your waiter on a Friday night and it's important to remember that although your wedding is costing you a small fortune, your vendors are offering you a unique service and work extremely hard to make your day perfect. Receiving a little extra something at the end of the day can well, make their day.

Waitstaff/Bartender: 15-20% of the food and/or beverage cost. Make sure this gratuity isn't included in the contract before you decide to hand them cash. The 'service charge' on your catering invoice however, is not gratuity.

Officiant: $50-100, if they are not associated with a church or synagogue. If they are associated with a house of worship, it is customary to make a donation of $250-500.

Band/DJ: $15-25 per musician in a band or $150 for a DJ.

Hair/Makeup Artist: They will usually expect between 15-20% of the total bill, same as if you were going to a salon.

Delivery and setup staff: $10 per staff member. This can also be applied to floral delivery staff (depending on the amount of time of setup), any food/cake delivery.

Transportation: 15-20% of the bill.

Site Coordinator and/or Wedding Planner: If either has done an amazing job for you, a tip of $50+ is always appreciated.

Remember that one of the most important 'tips' you can give your vendors is your word-of-mouth. If you loved something a vendor did, tell everyone you know. The wedding industry thrives on recommendations. Also, a nice thank-you card goes a long way.


The dreaded 'B' word: hidden costs.

When you're planning your budget, it's important to remember that there are hidden costs to many elements of your budget. Some are literally hidden, but most are numbers you forget to consider, like postage.

Here are some of the most common 'hidden costs':
~Postage: Don't forget to add this number in your stationery budget. Keep in mind that square or bulky invitations can cost up to $2 each to mail. When you're mailing 100 invitations, this is a significant number to keep in mind.

~Dress Alterations: These can be a doozy. It's known that there are some shops that will order the dress in a much larger size than what the bride wears so that alterations will cost more. Make sure the dress shop orders the dress is the size you are at that moment and ask what their alteration costs are. I like to recommend finding a shop that puts a cap on their alteration costs. For instance, Destiny's Bride in Scottsdale, AZ won't charge more than $250 no matter how many alterations you have to get.

~Cake Cutting Fee: Make sure you ask if either your caterers or reception site managers will charge you a fee to cut and serve your wedding cake. Some charge per slice, anywhere from $1-$5 a slice.

~Gratuities: If you plan on tipping any of your vendors, these costs should be figured into your original budget.

~Taxes: Taxes on your bigger budget expenditures, such as catering will certainly add up.

~Rental Delivery and Pick-Up: Find out how much that rental company is going to charge you to deliver folding chairs and glassware. I coordinated a wedding last weekend and the rental company charged a delivery fee of $25 and a pick-up fee of $200. These numbers can be budget busters if they are not accounted for early on. These charges can change depending on the time of day of your delivery and pick-up, so make sure you check beforehand.

Knowing these tips and tricks can help you stay within your budget and prepare you to read the fine print of your contracts.


The dreaded 'B' word.

I don't think any bride and groom get engaged and then turn to each other and say, "I can't wait to figure out our budget!" It's simply no. fun.

But it must be done. In fact, this should be the first thing you do, because the funds available can help you pick the season/date and the formality of your wedding.

After you find out what parents may or may not be chipping in, decide how much you have to spend and then crunch some numbers, using the guide below to get you started.

Ceremony-3% (of your total budget)
Includes ceremony location fee, officiant fee, marriage license, ring pillow, flower girl supplies

Includes transportation, food, cake, bar, rentals, parking, favors

Includes gown, shoes, jewelry, veil, lingerie, hair/makeup, tux, rings, groom's shoes


Includes videography, wedding albums, engagement photos

Includes ceremony music, cocktail hour, reception

Includes ceremony decor, bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces, flower girl, etc.

Includes save-the-dates, programs, seating cards, invitations, thank you cards, menu cards/place cards, postage, guest book, calligraphy

Includes bridal party, parents, welcome baskets, etc.

Since the above budget planner can be modified to your needs, it also helps if you decide beforehand which elements of your wedding are more important to you. If your budget allows for $1000 for both flowers and music, but having your dream band is more important to you than Peonies, then by all means move some of your flower budget over to your music budget. The key word here though, is move. You'll be happier when all is said and done if you stayed within your budget.


Another bride on the other side.

One of my most favorite bridal bloggers, Maggie, got married over Memorial Day weekend. Her wedding is a true inspiration and testimony to making your special day your own, unique event. I urge you to run over to Eat, Drink, Marry and check out her wedding day photos. They will bring a smile to your face as you peruse through their campaign themed wedding (yep-red, white and blue, baby).


Bride trashes dress, saves lives!

And you thought trashing your dress was all in the name of fun...

{Photo: Yahoo News}

A Connecticut bride was on her way home from her reception when she noticed that a house was on fire. When she heard a woman inside the burning home yelling that she wouldn't leave without her animals, the bride, still wearing her wedding gown, dashed into the house and pulled the owner out.

Talk about a wedding night you'll never forget!

Read more here and here.

Thanks for the tip, Mary!

Did I miss anything?

I love to post inspired ideas and photos from other blogs and the web. I try my best to give credit where it's due, but if I miss something, please let me know. And, if you want something taken down, I can do that. No problemo.