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Inspiration: Put On Your Red Shoes and Dance

The lovely Leah writes:

My friend is getting married in September. She has the lovely and classy wedding dress in ivory and champagne (see link). The length of the dress has been measured for a 2 1/2″ heel. She would love to find a beautiful and classy shoe to wear with this wedding dress. In red. Oh, and no wedges, please. While I find them comfortable, my friend has a dislike for the wedge style which I don’t quite understand but have given up trying to overcome.

Her wedding dress can be seen here. Please ignore the fact that the model is doing her best Kim Cattral ala Mannequin impression, and also disregard the Spanish bolero in the final picture as it won’t be worn in this ceremony. My friend looks devastatingly beautiful in this dress, possibly due to the glow on her face when she wears it. Awwwww….

I have tried to use the resources available to me in the links of the Manolosphere, however my amateur self has been overwhelmed in my red shoe search by the silly, funky, daring, whimsical, exotic, and just plain tacky offerings. I turn to you, the professionals, to help me pull the beautiful and classy from the piles of other. Can you help? I know at the very least you can inspire.

I, like the Manolo, love the shoes, even if I do spend most of the year puttering around the house barefoot. While I don’t spend a lot of time shoe shopping, I do spend a lot of time looking! That’s why, out of all of the problems I figured I might have fulfilling Leah’s request, I never imagined that it would be heel height of all things that tripped me up.

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Put the Rose in (Your) Hair Like the Andalusian Girls Used

The superbly lovely Kate wrote to ask:

I’m a regular reader of your blog and was wondering if you could help me out. I’m getting married at the end of September and want to wear a cream-colored “flower” in my hair, to match my dress. Problem is, what I find is either something from the WIC that’s eighty bucks, or a shoddy-looking fake “silk” blossom that is 1.99 at the craft store. Can you help me find a pretty off-white fake flower for my hair, for less than forty dollars? My hairdresser says it doesn’t have to have a barrette – if it has a stem, she can weave it in.

I feel Kate’s pain, even though I when I was getting married it wasn’t flowers but rather hair gems I sought. Everything truly elegant was way out of my price range, and everything in my price range looked like it had come from a girls bracelet making kit from the Toys ‘R’ Us. Eventually, I let my hair stand on its own, which was more than fine because my stylist was truly a wizard.

Now, anyone looking for faux blooms should learn a little background and a little lingo before hitting the shops. Today’s silk flowers typically aren’t actually made of silk…except when they are, in which case they may cost you a pretty penny. The reason so many fakies look so awful is that they’re made of cheap polyester. Even worse, they are sometimes embellished with things like rhinestones and plastic water droplets.

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Event designers branch out

I was recently sent two freebies to review, both of which sprang from the minds of event designers. It’s a common phenomenon — when you live in the world of weddings, it’s not that difficult to envision yourself creating a product that will bring joy to brides-to-be. (Note to companies looking for new product lines: I’m available. Really available.)

First Impressions
The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day is indeed BIG. With it’s sweet two-column, multi-color design, it rather reminds me of the many home hack books I was given when I first moved out of my mother’s house. Not a page goes by where some tip of Weiss’ is highlighted in cream or taupe — overall, it’s very dignified. Information is easy to find, and there’s plenty of it!

Deeper Deets
I’ll admit that I had high expectations for this book, because Mindy Weiss is a highly sought-after event planner and “lifestyle expert.” It’s the little details she slips in, like three ways to fold a handkerchief, sample reception menus (Weiss admits that Thousand Island is her favorite dressing), an illustrated gown guide, and multiple wedding timetables make this book stand out among its peers. For those brides who like to jot things down, there are plenty of fill-in tables and blank note pages in the back of the book.

The Verdict
Other than iDo (which still has no reviews on Amazon, hint hint), this is probably my favorite book dealing with mainstream modern-traditional weddings.

First Impressions
I really like the box that envelops the Zinke Design Going to the Chapel gift set because it’s substantial and complicated. You really have to work to get the garter, ring bag, and handkerchief out of that box — I was almost afraid I was going to rip something, but Arin Robinson’s products are auspiciously sturdy. The trio of accessories matches The Wedding Book, which is a little weird in light of this review!

Deeper Deets
The set is made of satin, linen, lace, and the garter is lovely. It combines a ribbon with elastic, which means I can make it as small as my wrist or wide enough to fit over my head. I’m actually wearing it on my head right now. The hanky and the ring bag unfortunately gain nothing from being made out of linen. Both are pretty, but the handkerchief would do little to dry a tearful eye and I don’t know that putting one’s rings in a bag is the best of ideas. This leads me to believe that these items are meant just for show, and I’m a stickler for design that’s lovely AND functional.

The Verdict
I personally would not buy this $92 set for a bride-to-be, but I could see an older female relative doing so. When, exactly, do the rings go in the bag, anyway? Is it meant to be used before the wedding or as an alternative to the ring bearer’s pillow? I’d much prefer to give my hypothetical engaged friend or sister a vintage hanky embroidered with her initials or a handmade ring pillow I sewed myself.

Like the Andalusian girls

The world outside my office is absolutely lovely today. The temperature is just about perfect, the sun is shining, and the scent of flowers wafting in through my window is divine. You might just say I have blooms on the brain.

You know who else occasionally has blooms on the brain? Bareheaded brides, that’s who — except the blooms and brains in this case are separated by a nice layer of living organic matter. Done right, wearing a rose in one’s hair like the Andalusian girls used can look smashing.

Your chosen flora can even serve as a symbol of your your heritage if you choose blossoms native to your ancestral lands or wear the same type that your mother, grandmother, or great grandmother carried in her wedding day bouquet.

Perhaps, however, you’d prefer floral headgear that’s less likely to attract insect life at your outdoor wedding or wilt in the sun as you make your way from the air conditioned ceremony to the air conditioned reception? In such a case, I’d recommend flower hair pins…but NOT those nasty rhinestone-encrusted monstrosities you find in shops like Claire’s.


These silver-plated hairpins from Ben & Oliver are long, sturdy, and as pretty as a perfect summer’s day. The vintage floral cabochons and glass stones the seller uses are small but striking, and the perfect accompaniment to a elaborate updo. Plus, at less than seven bucks a pop, they’re probably one of the least expensive accessories you’ll buy!

Branding your wedding

Monograms are easy to come by — you can get your and your honey’s initials plastered on everything from napkins to invitations to favor bags. At its core, however, a monogram is just a set of letters written in fancy script…and put that way, monograms start to sound rather unexciting.

How do you spice up a set of initials? If you’re one of the many people designing custom wedding monograms for brides- and grooms-to-be, you capitalize on the fact that branding is hot right now and call it a logo. Why does semantics work in this particular instance? My guess is that the same people who think monograms are classy (albeit boring) also want to make their wedding accouterments as individualized as possible.

I googled ‘wedding logo’ and found Love Letters logos, Marry Monograms, and Love Logos, among others. The prices are, respectively, $75, $49.95, and $35, which buys you a logo such as this one from Love Logos:

But if you’re at all artistically inclined or have a friend who was born with the design gene, do you really need to shell out thirty-five smackers to brand your nuptials?

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As real as it gets

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a wedding. The last wedding I participated in was my own, and I don’t think that counts. No, “being in a wedding” means being a bridesmaid or a groomsman or bridesman or groomswoman or flower girl or ring bearer or whatever. I’m only qualified to do some of those jobs, and I’m a quite a bit to old for the latter two.

The first wedding I was ever in was my father’s wedding. Of all the things I must have thought on the day he married his third wife, I remember most clearly thinking how odd it was that my future step-mother was crying. People told me I’d cry at my wedding. They were wrong. The last wedding I was in was a relatively simple affair, and I had no responsibilities whatsoever.

So, yeah, it’s been a while, which means I adore reading other people’s tales of happiness and woe, worry and excitement. One of the best and most vivid tales from the wedding front I’ve ever read came from the keyboard of Anne of Elastic Waist:

The day started at 6 in the morning with makeup, then running laps around the hallways of the hotel, looking for money and keys and some person to tell something and breakfast and coffee and back for touch-ups and hair and pictures and a furtive cigarette out by the pool and pressing the dress and being asked “Are you going to press your dress?” and indignation because it was fine except after Aunt Betty gets ahold of it with her iron, it is returned in pristine condition and maybe you just don’t know how to iron, and arranging for rides, and rearranging, and rearranging again, and ducking in to make sure the bride’s head, which seems on the verge of exploding, has not yet exploded.

Photo courtesy of the WPJA

Arriving at the venue—a beautiful Victorian mansion. Cringing at the video camera—a video camera! No one said there’d be a video camera! Oh, holy hell. Trying to act natural but realizing it is completely and one hundred percent impossible not to keep looking straight into the lens of the camera like some kind of giant dork and knowing any reality television dreams have been cut abruptly short. Starving. Starving to death. Sitting in a small room, all the dresses lined up on a rack, the hem of the wedding dress trailing against the rug, and realizing a wedding is going to happen, and happen soon, because there is the dress and here is the bride, wringing her hands. Oh thank god, cheese. Oh thank god, champagne.

Disappearing into the bathroom and dressing. Emerging, one by one, in yellow, and suddenly we are a flock of lovely birds, in lovely plumage. Blaming the champagne for the terrible, emotional analogies, but wallowing in the treacle. Holding tight to the arms of the chair as the bride steps into her gown and turns to the mirror. She is nervous, but she shouldn’t be. He loves her so much, and she is so lovely right now. Her mother holds her hand as she steps into her yellow heels.

Isn’t that just divine? I feel like I’ve just been given a behind the scenes look at what being a maid of honor or bridesmaid is really all about, once the invitations have been addressed and the programs have all been folded. It almost makes me want to be asked to be someone’s attendant…almost.

A little funkier and a little more sole

I love French Sole flats, despite the fact that they have no arch support and are in no way designed for serious walking. They’re your classic “get into the car and out of the car and into a chair” kind of shoe. My own wedding shoes came from French Sole, as I’d never seen anything prettier than the gold and deep red satin slim-fitting, low cut ballet flats.

As it turned out, they were comfy enough to wear throughout the wedding, even though I was on my feet for most of the day. That wasn’t the best part, however. No, the best part was the fun splash of color they added to my otherwise gold ensemble.

French Sole fs / ny fuchsia python print 'Zoe' ballet flatsFrench Sole fs / ny beige quilted leather python cap toe flats
French Sole fs / ny gold trim leopard 'Zoe' ballet flatsFrench Sole fs / ny white patent leather 'Zoe' ballet flats

I’m not saying shoes from French Sole will cradle your feet like a cloud or even wear particularly well, but they did work for me. I needed to wear flats — or chunky heels but I hate chunky heels — as my aisle was sandy and my dance floor was grass. Though I did have a backup pair of gold leather flip flips ::cue the gasps:: I never had cause to put them on.

If your wedding shoes are (or were) hipper or more colorful than the usual white satin or silk pump, let’s hear about them!

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