Monthly Archives: February 2014

Dressed to Impress: the Third Time’s a Charm!

For the third time around, MOH PT and I headed to MB Bride in Greensburg.  I had never been there, but had seen it advertised at some of the bridal shows.  When we arrived, I was blown away by the sheer size of it.  It was bigger than David’s Bridal, and the selection was staggering.  Best of all, it carried all the designers in which I had an interest, and then some!

We met with our consultant, Katie, and she asked for my specifications, and what I had in mind.  I think I said something like the following gibberish:

I’m looking for a lace gown, not too full, probably not strapless, but maybe we could add straps, I want beading but not too blingy, nice lace, not tablecloth lace, maybe a keyhole back, or cap sleeves, a train but not too long, chapel length maybe, with scalloped lace around the bottom, and we came for the Allure trunk show.

Poor Katie.  Except that she was awesome, and she took my absurd and somewhat contradictory descriptions in stride.  Fun fact – Katie had just gotten engaged herself the night before, and so was extra over-the-moon to talk wedding stuff!

We strolled through the various rooms (yes, this place has multiple rooms of gowns, so awesome), I pointed out some dresses that I liked, and Katie pulled some others that she thought I would like.  We headed to a fitting room with a pile of dresses bigger than Katie, and we were off!

All photos personal unless otherwise noted.

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As far as my checklist went, this one pretty much hit all the marks.  As far as me loving it, not so much.  I think this one is Allure C207, but I’m not 100% sure.

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A very similar style, I think Allure style C202, but without the cap sleeves.  Again, nice, but no cigar.

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Allure style 8770 did not win me over either.

And then… something magical happened.  Katie put a dress on me, and I walked through the curtain and looked in the mirror.  I looked at myself, I looked at MOH PT, and then back at myself.  For once, I had nothing bad to say.  I said “hey, this one looks pretty good, it’s pretty much just like my dream dress.”  But not one to stop trying on dresses, I said “but let’s try on the last one anyway.”

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So back into the dressing room we went.  As Katie was hanging up the dress, I asked her for the style number (because MOH PT had been recording them all, even though I have no idea where they ended up since, sorry again!).  She said “oh, this one is ##### (random store ID number), which is Maggie Sottero Bernadette.”

MOH PT and I just sort of looked at each other wide-eyed and then laughed.  Well, of course I had nothing negative to say about this dress – it was only the one I had been looking for for months now!  But lost in the chaos that is dress shopping, I didn’t even recognize her.

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Oh hey girl, nice to finally meet you in person.  I’ve been stalking you online for quite some time now, I feel like I already know you.  Would you want to go out sometime?  Maybe an outdoor garden wedding in September?

So I tried on the last dress, because I’m stubborn and I’m not a quitter, and was less than enthused.  I couldn’t get over it though – I tried on my dream dress and I didn’t even know it was my dream dress, just that I liked it!  After obsessing over the dress for months, you’d think I’d recognize it, but I didn’t.  I totally believe now that a bride could order a dress, go back to the shop months later for alterations, and be adamant that the dress she was putting on was not the dress she purchased.  It’s so easy to get overwhelmed!

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I think this one is a different designer and I can’t find it anywhere, sorry! But it was not a winner.

At any rate, I told Katie I wanted to put Bernadette back on, now that I knew it was my dream dress and could give it the proper fanfare necessary!  So we put it back on, and my heart was pounding through my chest.  I was so amped up, it was like I just scored the game-winning touchdown! You know, if I ever actually played football outside of gym class.  But whatever.  It was like my entire body was electrified and I was practically shaking with excitement getting ready to walk out and look in the mirror.

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And I did, and I turned and admired myself and the sparkle in the mirror.  And I looked at the keyhole back that I loved so much, and the gorgeous train with the scalloped lace edge, and I was just freaking SOLD.  But, as I mentioned last time, I didn’t plan to buy from a bridal shop, I wanted to buy online.  I wanted a deal!

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So we walked out to another part of the shop where there were bigger mirrors and a chandelier, and Katie got me a flower clip for my hair that matched the lace of the dress.  My hair didn’t want to cooperate, but I loved the clip all the same.

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How gorgeous is the lace on that clip?! AH, I love it.  The clip was, wait for it… $125.00.  YUP.  Definitely not buying a hair clip when I can make that on my own!

Then, just for funsies, we tried on a birdcage veil.  I was debating whether or not I wanted a veil at all, and with such a gorgeous back, I didn’t want a veil to be covering my dress.  Alas, I do not have the edginess required to pull off a birdcage veil.

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Trying to figure out how anyone wears one of these things without it stabbing them in the eye and feeling mega awkward, because that was all I could feel at that moment.

As Katie and MOH PT looked on, I continued to admire the dress and kept turning side to side in the mirror, loving the way the light hit the beading.  It’s the perfect amount of bling!  I mentioned that, though I liked the look of the white in the bridal shop, I always thought I wanted an ivory dress.  In fact, the Bernadette that I had fallen in love with was the ivory and gold option.  Upon MOH PT’s insistence, however, I opted for the white, because I love the sparkle of the white.  Not that the ivory wouldn’t be as sparkly, but it could impact the glitz factor.

Oh, but wait, what’s that?  Why am I talking about colors?  I’m not buying a dress today!  I’m going to buy a used one online and get a great deal on my wedding dress!

Nooooooooooooooooope.  Just kidding.

Oops. via Gleewiki

Once I had that glamorous dress on, talking colors and beading and options, I knew I wasn’t going to buy that dress used.  If I was settling for a different dress that wasn’t my dream dress, absolutely.  But I wanted the best, I wanted it new, I wanted it made just for me, and that was all she wrote.

I talked with one of the alterations experts about shortening the hem (I have a long-ish torso with stubby legs), and she and Katie informed me that I could actually order a 3-inch-shorter hemline when I placed my order for the dress, rather than having the alterations.  For me and my short legs, that’s a great option!

So then we talked measurements.  I have a narrow waist, but have much bigger hips than I have bust.  This meant a wackadoo sizing apparatus.  You see, my bust measurement fits my “normal” (aka non-bridal) dress size.  Okay, fine.  My waist fits one size above my normal dress size.  Fine.  BUTT (pun intended), my hips required THREE sizes bigger than my normal dress size.  Yes, THREE.  I contemplated ordering two sizes bigger in order to cut down on the alterations necessary (I’m so paranoid about the lace and beading being messed up during alterations, I have had multiple nightmares about it), but ultimately went with their recommendation so I don’t end up unable to sit in my wedding dress. 😉

And so, there you have it, kids.  After trying on so.many.dresses.  I  bought my dream dress, the first dress I ever loved, Maggie Sottero Bernadette.  And I can’t wait to wear it on our wedding day!

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And just because I love you guys, here’s a sneak peek of my ACTUAL dress, in my weird sizes, with the shortened hem, unaltered. I’m still in love!

Did you try on a lot of dresses, only to end up with your original dress crush?  Do you know how to wear a birdcage veil without losing an eyeball?  Did you change your mind and buy a dress when you thought you were just browsing?

Dressed to Impress: Back to the Drawing Board

After our impromptu dress shopping day numero deux, I decided to look for more options that suited my initial inspiration of lace, non-strapless, slim-fitting dresses.  One thing that Connie at CK Bridal said was that Allure gowns may be a good option for the type of dress I liked.  She didn’t have much to offer at her shop, but that stuck with me.

So I looked up Allure gowns, and found myself drooling over the gorgeous options!  I was particularly drawn to the “Romance” dresses, and they seemed like they were just what I was looking for!

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Allure style 2653 is pretty and different.  I like the high neckline but I don’t think I want to be that covered, even if it’s gorgeous.

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Allure style 2619 is pretty similar to my dream dress.  Slim-fitting, nice lace, not strapless, a little bit of bling, keyhole back even?!  I like it.

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Allure style 2558 is pretty similar, but with a fuller skirt and a closed back.

Back view via

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This one is gorgeous on top, but lacks the lace around the hem that I really liked.

All this to say, now that we went back to the drawing board, I was feeling like I found my match.  The Allure lace gowns were gorgeous, and it seemed like they were much easier to find in-store than the Maggie Sottero gown for which I had fallen so hard months before.

So when I received an email regarding an Allure trunk show at a bridal shop a couple of weeks away, I emailed MOH PT and asked if she’d like to go with me.  I wasn’t holding my breath, and we were still a long while away from the wedding, so I just thought I’d browse and didn’t expect to buy a dress that far in advance of the wedding.  She agreed, so I made an appointment at MB Bride, and that was that!

Now, I haven’t addressed this yet, but during my pre-wedding planning research (aka reading a lot of wedding books after we got engaged), I read a lot about pre-owned wedding dresses.  Like Miss Llama, I had a champagne taste on a beer budget, and the thought of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a wedding dress pained me to no end.  So, during my research, I decided that I would find a dress online that was pre-owned, or buy a sample in order to get something I liked at a fair price.

So all of these trips to try on dresses were really just for me to find a dress that I liked so that I could scour our beloved interwebs and find a great deal on the dress.  I’m a bargain hunter, amateur coupon-er, and all-around cheapskate… when I want to be.  So I was sure (I’m not cocky; I’m confident!) that I would find a great deal on a wedding dress.  I really wish I had known about VOWS from I Found the Gown back when I was shopping.  There’s a very real chance that I would’ve taken a road trip to find a designer gown at a huge discount!  Alas, I did not, and was confined to browsing locally, and shopping online.

You may ask, why am I telling you this?  You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!  The third shopping trip is coming up next…

Did you do a lot of dress shopping before finding the one?  Were you concerned with finding a good deal?  Who’s your favorite dress designer?

Dressed to Impress: the Second Go-Around

Our first dress excursion was during my summer break from school.  After not finding THE DRESS, I anticipated waiting until winter or spring break from school before I tried on any more dresses.  And then I got an email from The Knot about a “local” boutique, which was having a Maggie Sottero trunk show.  I hoped they’d have my dream dress, and made an appointment on short notice.

MOH PT came with me, and we checked out this small boutique, CK Bridal Boutique, which I think has since closed.  We met with Connie, who was very helpful and gave me some great advice, which was to ask about certain options offered by the designer.  For example, Casablanca had some gorgeous dress offerings, and they will do customization (ie., creating a sweetheart neckline, or adding straps, changing details, etc.), which was a huge draw for me, since I couldn’t seem to find anything that was perfect as-is.

Sorry for the blurry cell phone pics, ya’ll.  Super mega apologies, too, for not having any links to what these dress styles were!  I think they were older styles of Maggie Sottero and Casablanca and I couldn’t find similar ones online.

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This one is a little more of a mermaid than I tried on before, and we modified the neckline to be a little more of a sweetheart.  It didn’t woo me, though, so we moved on.

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Another satin gown, which was pretty much the only one that satisfied my love for bling, but not lace, and not at all what I wanted.

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I categorized this one with the tiers of lace into the “tablecloth lace” category, so it was quickly vetoed, even if it had some pretty characteristics, like the scalloped edge on top.  It just doesn’t say “wedding” for me.

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This one was probably the best option of this stop.  But it didn’t have bling and it didn’t have anything special for me.

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It may have had a little something to do with the fact that this sample was gigantic on me, but I thought this one was awful.  I think this is an old Maggie, but I could be wrong.

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To finish on a high note, this one had great beading, lace, sweetheart neckline.  Overall a really nice dress.  But I still didn’t love it.

It was really at this stop that I started realizing that I really just wanted what I wanted.   Connie asked me if I had picked a dress already, and I said “No, but I have a dream dress.”  and she said, “then you’re just going to keep comparing everything else to that dream dress.”  Such obvious words, but she was so right.  The reason why nothing was working for me was because I was trying to compare these dresses to what I had in mind… even though that idea was totally different from the dresses I was trying on.

It was time to quit trying on other dresses for the sake of trying on different styles, and time to buckle down and try on the dresses that I could see myself wearing!

I did a little more online searching, and loved this Maggie Sottero dress too.

Lorie by Maggie Sottero

This dress fit all my criteria – straps, lace, bling, a nice (small) train, slim fit.  Although, I don’t really have pronounced shoulders, which means that straps slip off my shoulders fairly easily.  Almost as annoying as strapless dresses.  I’m really just not made for dresses!

I even thought about something with sleeves, to help my straps/strapless issue.

Theda by Maggie Sottero

But for now, MOH PT and I packed it up, thanked Connie for her time, and with no plans for dress shopping ahead, went back to the drawing board.

Did you have someone point out an obvious truth to you while you were shopping?  Was your dress shopping a multiple day experience?  Did you have to go back to the drawing board?

Dressed to Impress: the First Time Around

So, when we last left off, I had my dream dress, and I made an appointment at Alfred Angelo to try on a whole lotta dresses to figure out which silhouettes look best on me.  I remember reading Weddingbee and being so jealous of Mrs. Archer‘s pageant past, because I have very little experience in nice dresses and getting all jazzed up.

I had a few dress styles picked out (lace, of course), and showed up to the appointment with dress list in hand.  Then the consultant, Becca, let me have free reign to browse the racks and we pulled a few more dresses, including some non-lace options.  My wish list:

  • Lace, but nice lace, not tablecloth lace (I know, so subjective)
  • Not strapless
  • Easy to move in (I need to be able to walk and sit!)
  • Not too heavy because I get overheated easily and am prone to fainting
  • The fewer alterations, the better

Now, since this was my first time trying on wedding dresses, I ended up having an entourage.  I invited everyone with a shrug, “I mean, I’m going to try on dresses, you’re welcome to come, but don’t feel pressured, I’m definitely not going to buy anything from there.”  But of course everyone wanted to be there, so I ended up with my mom, MOH PT, MOH Big Sis, BM Lil Sis, and friend G.

 

Shopping with a group of ladies… a little like this. /via weheartit

So we pulled some dresses, went in the fitting room, I took a deep breath and got undressed in front of a stranger, and away we went!

Apologies in advance for awkward face photos by MOH PT.

I didn't want a strapless dress, but I really loved the scalloped top of this sweetheart neckline
I didn’t want a strapless dress, but I really loved the scalloped top of this sweetheart neckline

This one is Alfred Angelo style 801.  I liked the way it fit me, I thought it was flattering and overall was pretty nice.  But I really didn’t want strapless, and though I think I could’ve been happy with it, I wasn’t really blown away.  Then, because I wanted straps, Becca added a sparkly lace strap, which actually was pretty amazing.  I was nearly sold, but I wasn’t buying anything that day.

Awkward pose to keep my shoulders up and prevent the straps from falling!
Awkward pose to keep my shoulders up and prevent the straps from falling!

Then we tried on some dresses that fit my idea of a “romantic garden wedding” even though at the time of this shopping trip, we didn’t have a venue or date booked, just some ideas.

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This one is AA style 8507.  I liked the way it made me look bootylicious and I liked the fact that it was similar to my dream dress.  However, it had spaghetti straps, which I don’t like, and I wasn’t crazy about the look on top from the front or the drop waist.  It was part of the modern vintage line, so it definitely fit the idea I was going for, but overall, it just wasn’t what I wanted.

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This one is the most like my dream dress.  This is AA style 854.  It’s very clearly the AA version of Maggie Sottero’s Bernadette, but it didn’t overwhelm me.  Friend G said that the back looked like a sports bra and was unattractive, and I had to agree.  It just was lacking the romantic look of the lace that I was looking for, even though it had all the same traits on the surface.

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It even had the gorgeous lace detail on the train that I was looking for, but it still couldn’t sell me.

Then, just to make sure I tried an array of dress silhouettes before deciding on anything, I tried on a “typical” satin wedding dress (MOH Big Sis had a big satin ballgown, and most of the girls from my hometown had the same.  It’s a thing.) and a full lace dress, just to be sure.

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This is AA style 829 and I was surprised that I didn’t hate it.  I never thought I’d wear a satin wedding dress, but it had me debating it.  I liked the pickups and the bling, but overall, it was too heavy and just didn’t fit what I wanted.

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I’m glad I tried on a big full tulle dress, even though I didn’t think I’d want one.   This is AA style 867. It was nice and light and fluffy, and looked nice.  It lacked the bling, and after trying a couple fuller dresses, it was obvious to me that I wanted a slim-fitting dress.

One thing that I really liked about Alfred Angelo, which I didn’t know was unusual until later, they have a ton of samples in my size.  It was amazing to try on the dresses and see the way they’d actually fit, instead of having to see how a dress 4 sizes too big looks, when nothing lines up correctly.

I had a great time trying on dresses with my entourage (or should I say, BLONDE-tourage, since we’re all blonde).  I’m glad I tried on some different silhouettes, but it just solidified my plan to stick to the lace dresses that I lusted after.

Next up, I try a boutique for a trunk show!

Dressed to Impress: the Inspiration

I know I’ve said it before, but I wasn’t one of those girls who planned her wedding when she was younger.  I didn’t have visions of me in big poofy ballgowns or anything.  So when Monsieur P proposed, I finally had to sit down and really think about what I wanted to look when I got married.  THAT was a weird time.  What do I want to look like?

Well, I knew that I wanted to look like me, that’s easy.  Years before Monsieur and I got engaged, I actually started easing my hair back to my natural color (I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had dyed my hair dark and I knew I wanted it to be somewhat natural when all the major things in my life started happening.  And that process literally took a year).  So being my natural blonde was one thing I knew I wanted for my wedding look.  And I’m naturally pale, but don’t worry, I got that on lock whether I want it or not.

All terrible photos personal.

Just for fun, the first-ever pic of Miss Parisian & Mrs. Palm Tree - from Mrs. PT's 21st bday.  A testament to how not-blonde I was.
Just for fun, the first-ever pic of Miss Parisian & Mrs. Palm Tree – from Mrs. PT’s 21st bday. A testament to how not-blonde I was.

But what did I want to wear?  What kind of dress even SUITS me?  Who am I?  What fits me?  The whole thing was really strange.  I’ve never been a big dress person to begin with.  If I had the pictures readily available (I’m so relieved that I don’t), I’d share my high school prom photos with you.  Sophomore year I borrowed a dress of my best friend’s older sister, which was a cupcake-type dress.  So I got that out of my system.  Junior prom, I bought my dress from DEB (oh yeah, DEB, taking it back) for a whopping $130, which doubled as my Junior Miss dress (what up, “scholarship program” pageant friends?), and senior year, I borrowed my sister’s dress from a wedding in which she was a bridesmaid.  Suffice it to say, I’m not a huge dress-buying person.  So suddenly I was at a complete loss when faced with this massive endeavor to find a wedding dress.

Ugh, the Deb year.  I still don't wear strapless dresses because I can't hold them up...
Ugh, the Deb year. I still don’t wear strapless dresses because I can’t hold them up…
One of the borrowed-dress years.  And yes, my hair was short as crap and I had braces.  It's a whole different Parisian.
One of the borrowed-dress years. And yes, my hair was short as crap and I had braces. It’s a whole different Parisian.

So let’s take it back 40 years… my mom MADE HER OWN DRESS for my parents’ wedding.  There was a time when I thought “sure, I could wear my mom’s dress.”  Except that MOH Big Sis apparently wore/modified my mom’s wedding dress for a Halloween costume one year.  So that option was out the window.  Which is fine, a clingy satin dress wouldn’t really be my ideal wedding dress anyway, though I’m sentimental so I would’ve liked that aspect.

Simple and gorgeous, but I’m way too lumpy for this plain of a dress.

And so… to my beloved Google I went.

I was drawn to the classic look of lace dresses.  Ahhhhh, yes.  I’m not great at describing myself, but “classic” taste I think fits me pretty well.  Some of my friends might call me “boring” but I like to call it “classic.”  And so, a lace wedding dress fit me pretty well, I thought.  Plus all-over lace is a great way to cover up lumps and body imperfections, no?

Well, all logic aside, when I started looking online at lace wedding dresses, I fell in love with this beauty:

My dream dress. Maggie Sottero Bernadette

They since have updated the model, but I prefer the old model because she’s blonde and I can visualize myself so much better in the ivory.

I mean, look at this detail!

Up close, via the knot

But, alas, my dress lust pointed out that no dress shops near me carried her, and that was the end of that.

Because both MOH Big Sis and MOH Palm Tree got their dresses at David’s Bridal, one might think that I’d start my dress search at David’s Bridal.  But no, I looked online at their selection of lace dresses and could not be swayed.  So I started my dress search at another big bridal store, Alfred Angelo.

I even thought for a minute that I could be swayed by one of their Disney Collection dresses.  I mean, I have always loved Belle… but no.  That dress is not for me.

Ahh Belle, via Alfred Angelo

Maybe if they had this when I was looking, but it’s too late now.  Plus I never really identified with Snow White anyway.  I mean, what kind of girl lives with 7 men, amirite?! 😉

Snow White, via Alfred Angelo

So I was pretty sure I was looking for lace, but I wanted to try on plenty of different silhouettes so I could be sure that the slim lace gown I envisioned would be the one to look best on my body.  I’ve watched enough Say Yes to the Dress and I Found the Gown (sorry, I REALLY like TLC) to know that what you think  you want isn’t always what you end up with!

Did you play wedding when you were a little girl?  or were you at a complete loss like I was?  Did you wear a homemade wedding gown?

Hey, You! Save the Date: My Inspiration

I am a huuuuuuge fan of paper.  Of course, in wedding speak, I mean all the good stuff we dwell on, stress about, spend hours looking at fonts and formatting, and all that jazz.

I love so many, in fact, that narrowing anything down is next to impossible.  Are you sensing a theme here?  I pretty much always love everything pretty and want to do it all.  But to avoid looking like the internet threw up all over my wedding, I need to reign myself in a little bit!

So I started with the things that make me drool.  From the simple, to the elaborate, showcasing photos, or without.

Gorgeous simple Save the Date card from Minted
Amazing DIY Save the Date by Mrs. Gray Wolf! via Weddingbee
I love Save the Dates with photos, this one from Minted
A cute photo AND a nice clean text block from Wedding Paper Divas
Similarly, I love Mrs. Turkey’s Save the Date and corresponding envelope liner! via Weddingbee

So basically, once again, my inspiration is all over the place.  So I started thinking about what we really wanted, inspiration be damned.  I came up with the following:

  • Magnet – magnet save the dates have been my favorite for YEARS.  Reason being – they go on my refrigerator whether or not they’re made with a magnetic back.  Why not save people the hassle and have it already be a magnet?  One and done.
  • Photo – although there are plenty of cute save the date cards without a photo, I knew I wanted to include at least one engagement photo for the save the dates.  Our invitations will not be using the photos, so this is our opportunity to share an engagement photo with our families who don’t use facebook and such.

Well, it’s not much, but it was a starting point.

In the end, our save the dates ended up something like the lovely Mrs. Unicycle:

Mrs. Unicycle’s Save the Date via Weddingbee

That’s right, I nearly forgot that I had created a bunting banner for us to use for our engagement pictures, that we could then later use for our Save the Dates.  Whew, good thing I remembered to use it!

I originally planned on posting a tutorial, but I really don’t think that’s necessary.  I cut some triangles out of cardstock and printed some numbers in a nice font.  I strung them up on some twine that I had laying around, and boom.  Done.  No tutorial necessary, right?

Anyway, because I had it in my head that this banner was oh-so-necessary, we just had to use it for our Save the Dates.  So here’s the banner in action.

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Photo by Tressa McCune

Now, if you’re planning on doing a banner, let me give you some REAL TALK.  This was a pain.  Both because we had to remember to use it (ha) and because I’m an amateur who created the banner.  The colors were difficult to photograph, and poor Tressa had to edit the crap out of these pictures to make the numbers show up, since the contrast wasn’t enough.  Do your photographer a favor and spare them the bogus props.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the look, but I could have just as easily printed the numbers on the save the date and saved her the hassle of editing the photos like crazy to make them show up.  I have to say that I can’t imagine it was worth it for her!  If I was doing it over again, I would have skipped the banner.

That said, here’s the Save the Date in its final formatting stage, which of course I love (as you know, I love everything, so).

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Save the Date in its final formatting in the Vistaprint studio. Pretty easy to use!

 

I had found a great deal via Living Social last year for Vistaprint, so, like many brides before me, I took advantage of the deal for some of our wedding paper needs!  The deal I had was $19 for $75 worth of Vistaprint.  I got 100 Save the Date magnets, with envelopes, plus 10 photo thank you cards and envelopes, and paid an extra $36.  So our Save the Dates (and bonus thank yous) cost me a total of $55.  Not too shabby!

However, I have a feeling that I will be spending a teensy bit more (not counting postage) before these puppies are ready for mailing.  What do you think?

Did you get a deal on your Save the Dates?  Is there anything missing that I need to add?  Do you agree that banners are more hassle than they’re worth?