House Beautiful

Wedding Planning 3.0: All the Pretty Dresses

photo from Sixteen Candles, courtesy of Universal Pictures {via}

I should actually title this post: “I’ll pay you a billion dollars if I never have to try on another wedding dress.”  That’s because I actually tried on *one trillion of them*… but am now the wiser, and ended up with a damn gem.  But (!) let’s rewind to April, when we got engaged and I embarked on a planning blitzkrieg.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had a gaggle of dresses you love saved somewhere on a secret (or not so secret) Pinterest board since – oh, I dunno – the beginning of time?

But if you’d asked me when I was 25, I’m sure I would’ve wanted a ballgown or Cinderella dress of sorts… but the older I’ve gotten, the simpler and more pared down my taste has become.  What’s the wedding dress version of (my favorite outfit): jeans + a white t-shirt (with some bling)?  Cuz that’s all I really wanted to know.

Which brings us to Debunked Theory #1: I thought I had plenty of time.  Whoops.  My college bestie, favorite setter of all time and trusty Maid of Honor, Mary, asked me in April: “When are we dress shopping!?” and I was like, “Eh, I dunno?  l’ll be home in a few months for my 20-year high school reunion and we could do some shopping with my Mom then.” She gave me a polite chuckle and was like, “oh honey no, that’s too late, you have to start now.”

Um, I DID NOT KNOW DRESSES TAKE 6-7 MONTHS TO BE MADE.  If you’re buying a sample or something off the rack, then you’re good in the hood, but if you try on a sample at a wedding boutique and they’re ordering it for you based on your measurements, you’re going to wait 6+ months for it to be made.  Holy crap, a November wedding (with 6 months to plan) literally *never* would have worked, confident as I was with my decisiveness and umpteen style boards comme ça:

So, after realizing I had to bust moves, I looked at my calendar to see what cities I’d be traveling to in the coming months – because the closest thing to a wedding dress I can shop for in Crested Butte is a bedazzled Patagonia puffy, so I knew I had to hit the streets hard when I was out of town:

CITIES TO SHOP IN

  1. Denver (we had a ski weekend + time in the city coming up with Chris’ Family)
  2. LA (for the Elle Decor / Bravo Premiere party for Best Room Wins at Martyn Lawrence Bullard’s showroom)
  3. San Diego (I was flying in to nail down a venue)
  4. Indianapolis (for the Delaware County Hall of Fame Induction – #muncieburrisorbust)
  5. Chicago (for Mother’s Day with Jayne, Mary & her mom, Missy)

PLENTY to peruse between all of those, right?  HEAVENS YES.  But I wanted to be efficient – with my time and with other peoples’ – so – here’s how I mapped out where and how to shop, and some things I learned along the way.

GET ON YELP.

…Or just talk to friends who have shopped for dresses in the hood you’ll be in, and make a list of the best rated boutiques.  For those of you looking in those cities, these are the boutiques we hit (with Cliffsnotes on each, the best in each city starred*, and the fab consultants at each that I loved):

Denver:

  • **Anna Be (higher end boutique with a smaller curated collection of gowns, cozy & intimate space for trying on and for your guests) – GINA IS LOVELY!
  • A and Be (their little sister – more affordable, little more laid back – lots of Rue de Seine)

Los Angeles:

  • **Kinsley James Couture (amazing selection of designers I loved with price points ranging from affordable to insane) – KIMA WAS SO WONDERFUL!  
  • Grace Loves Lace (Aussie brand, super long lead time to make, super affordable, very beachy)

San Diego:

  • The Dress Theory (lots of Rue de Seine and ethereal / Boho dresses, tons of affordable options)
  • **The Bustle (in Del Mar, little higher end… they also have some bridesmaid dresses upstairs… plus how cute are they?  This was outside waiting for me that day.) – PAYTIN WAS A LOVE!  

Indianapolis:

  • The Wedding Studio, Clay Terrace (Justin Alexander was my fave designer there + the nicest consultants!  God Bless the Midwest)
  • Blue House (quaint and in an old house in downtown Carmel)
  • **Marie Gabriel Couture (my favorite in Indy with a MASSIVE selection – and a really good one) – VEDORIAN WAS MAYBE MY FAVORITE CONSULTANT OF ALL SHOPPING TRIPS!  HILARIOUS, MADE ME SUPER COMFORTABLE, AND I WANTED TO BE FRIENDS WITH HER.

Chicago:

  • **Ultimate Bride (the name says it all – probably the highest end in the city – Monique Lhuillier, Berta, etc)
  • Second City Bride (all steeply discounted samples – mostly from Ultimate Bride – and they’re only open Thurs-Sat)
  • Bella Bianca (they were closed the only day I was in town, but I would’ve loved to have gone here to have tried on Galia Lahav and Rita Vinieris)
  • Dimitra’s (really great, comprehensive selection) – NANCY IS SUPER AMAZING
  • **Mira Couture (HUGE selection of lots of embellished and stunning gowns – all of which I loved) – KHRYSTYNA WAS MY CONSULTANT AND MADE ME SNORT LAUGH AT LEAST 7X.  I ALSO WANTED TO BE FRIENDS WITH HER.

{image via Brides.com, “The Top 5 Things That Annoy Bridal-Shop Consultants”}

A note on bridal consultants: man, it can’t be easy shimmying stuff over other peoples’ hips & nips all day, or dealing with the bride’s entourage, the bride’s whoopsie on going commando that day – what have you.  Make sure – if there are any styles you love – ask them to write them down before you leave, and in the sample size you tried (and they *should* write your faves, along with their contact info, on a card anyway).  And they will inevitably follow-up with you in the week or so after your appointment, and EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T LOVE OR PICK ANYTHING FROM THEIR SHOP, always write them back and thank them for their time and effort.  After all, they’re now best friends with your nipples.

DO YOUR RESEARCH AND DO NOT GO IN BLIND and be like, “EHH, I DEH-KNEH WHAT I LIKE.”

Otherwise, you’ll waste everyone’s time, your brain will explode, and also, the bridal stylist will want to punch you in the face.  So do your homework: it is tedious (I think I went cross-eyed doing it) – but go through each of those boutiques’ websites, and look at the designers they carry. Figure out which designers’ styles align with yours – for example, I knew when I went to Anne Be in Denver, I could pretty much rule out trying on anything by Hayley Paige, because most of her gowns are – while really whimsical – poofier and more princess-y.  E.g. what a younger me may have wanted.  And if you’re lucky, some boutiques will list on their website which styles from each designer they actually have as samples (this is rare, but so helpful when they do).  On the flip, I knew Anna Be also carried Ines di Santo and Berta, which I was dying to try on.

WHO MAKES WHAT YOU LOVE? 

Look at the dresses you’ve saved that you love the most – what designers are they by?  Go to each designers’ website and see which retailers/boutiques carry them.  I did this with Lee Petra Grebenau – a designer that a friend of mine who’s a bridal consultant told me to check out.  I’d emailed her to ask guidance on what designers would be a good fit for me based on the styles I liked.  I basically wanted a Berta with a smaller price tag.  Berta is an AMAZING designer out of Israel and every. single. dress I saw that I loved was by them.  She suggested Lee Petra – which has a similar look but is a bit more affordable.

KNOW YOUR BOD.

What’s your best feature?  Try to look for dresses that highlight that.  Mine might be my décolletage, so I tried to look for dresses that didn’t come up too high or cover that up.  I also know I don’t look good in V-necks or anything with a big sweetheart neckline, so I told them not to pull anything like that for me.  This basically put me into the strapless or spaghetti strap, demi cup / low-and-cut-straight-across-neckline category, which helped whittle things down.  Also, I don’t really have a natural hourglass – I’m more straight-up-and-down – so I knew I needed a dress that made me look like I have more curves than I actually do – like a corset bodice.

KNOW YOUR BUDGET.

I was torn on this… and leaned more practical when it came to what I was willing to spend on a dress.  I mean, you wear the thing for 5 hours and then never again, so it seems frivolous to spend a boatload on a 5-hour frock. That is… unless you’re going to repurpose it as hallway decor later. Hey – to each her own!

On the flip side, every single person I talked to was like: “You have to get a beautiful dress.  You have to feel like a movie star in it.  And no you may not buy a used dress.” – because I thought I was going to be super practical and non-snobby and do just that: buy a beautiful dress that someone ELSE had worn for 5 hours at a deep discount… it’s the wedding equivalent to buying a brand new car that became worth 70% less the second it drove off the lot.  But I’ll give you a spoiler: I AM SO GLAD I DID NOT BUY A USED DRESS.  Not because I’m above it (you know Goodwill is my favorite store!), but because as soon as I started trying dresses on, I realized you never have ANY idea how anything would fit, how each designer is sized, and most of all: if it’s already been altered, you’re literally screwed.

I was thisclose to pulling the trigger on the (super discounted) Berta below – never worn (is it bad juju to buy a dress from a bride who canceled her wedding?  Eek) – and almost 80% off.  But I almost bought it in a size 6, which is what I am in real life, but I soon came to find out that you can basically double your regular dress size, and that’s your wedding dress size.  Thanks for the vanity sizing, clowns!  I was so hung up on getting a deal that I almost pigeon-holed myself into a dress that (I now know) would never have worked for me.

Back to budgeting – I knew I wanted a fab dress, but I also knew there was no way in HAYLE I was going to spend $10k on a Berta – or even a small fraction of that.  At the same time, I knew I didn’t want to feel “MEH – I settled for this but don’t feel great in it.”  So whenever bridal stylists asked me what my budget was (and they’ll ask you – online when you book your appointment and then again in person), I told them the honest number I REALLY didn’t want to exceed, but I ALSO told them to not NOT show me anything, because who knows… and while this is generally not considered advisable, I’m glad I did this, because I feel like it made me make a more informed decision in the end.  I quickly realized that some $12k dresses were a flop, and some under $2k were my favorites.  You just never know until you look (at everything).

BOOK APPOINTMENTS IN ADVANCE (they book up quick!!  especially on weekends)

…and give them as much info as possible: the style you’re looking for, any designers you love, any styles by said designers that you want them to pull for you, and what budget you’re comfortable with.

LET YOUR CONSULTANT PULL WILD CARDS FOR YOU!

It’s the dress equivalent of letting friends set you up on a blind date.  The dress I ended up with was not even one that I pulled, but one that was EXACTLY what I wanted that I hadn’t even noticed, because it wasn’t anything to write home about on the hanger.  I am forever grateful to you, Kima!!!!  My consultant was something like 3 weeks new and sweet as can be.  I now have the most perfect dress ever, thanks to her.  Some other wild cards I tried on elsewhere – not so hot.  But you gotta be open!

DON’T BRING A HUGE CREW.

Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids. Photo: Universal Pictures

In theory, it sounds like a real bang-up time to bring an entourage with you, but I wouldn’t recommend ever really bringing more than 2 or 3 people.  What was fun about trying on in different cities is that I brought a different mini-crew each time and got to have that experience with my mom, Chris’ family, and a few close friends, but it was always small.  And after the first few appointments, I went on a few by myself, which worked great because I blew through those places and didn’t have to worry about being like: “there’s nothing here I wanna try on – thanks for suiting up for this but let’s roll.”

HAVE FUN.

Oh you know – just re-enacting the scene from Sixteen Candles when Samantha’s sister takes too many muscle relaxers on her wedding day.  Karrie & I were amused; not sure the people at Kinsley James knew what was happening.

DO KNOW THAT THERE’S (A LITTLE) WIGGLE ROOM.

  1. You can always ask if there’s an upcoming sample sale for the designer whose dress you just fell in love with.  If there is, you’ll probably be able to get something like a 10% discount on it.  If there’s not, you can (politely) ask if they’d be willing to extend the sample sale price to you anyway.  I did this 🙂
  2. If you live out of state and have the dress shipped to yourself, they don’t charge you sales tax on it.  I also did this 🙂

FUN FACT: THE BRIDAL CONSULTANTS DRESS YOU.

If you didn’t hear me before, hear me now:  You strip down to your skivvies and they literally shimmy dresses over your boobies and tuck and pull it in all the places.  It takes to sec to get used to, and then after a few minutes I was like, “Oh, I get it – I am Queen Elizabeth and too important to dress myself, so please, continue to dress me because I’m very busy and important.” – haaaaaaaaaaaa.  Jk – it’s cuz they don’t want you to bust a seam trying to shoe-horn yourself into their pretty dresses and cuz you can’t zip and clip them yourself.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.

Howsabout some outtakes?  Cuz pictures are fun – but bloopers are even more fun.  Let’s do a wee slide show, shall we?  This time instead of judging celebrities’ red carpet faux pas from the comfort of my sweatpants on the sofa – I’ll let you judge mine.  Here are a few that didn’t make the cut…..

CRUISE SHIP CHIC.

Have you met Stacy?  She’s the newest performer on Carnival Cruiselines.  The only thing I was missing in this was a pair of nude sparkly pantyhose.

GREETINGS DADS EVERYWHERE, HAVE YOU MET MY BOOBS?

Also, this one made them look lobsided when they’re not.  But the dress itself was actually really wispy and beautifully made.  It did not do much to mask that area below my belly button though.

PRETTY BUT A LITTLE TRADITIONAL FOR ME.

The A-line felt a little too 2003, but the lace was beautiful and the material felt like buttah.

THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY BEADED SPARE TIRE KNOWN TO MAN.

My face says it all: it’s *just* not quite right.  This was probably the most expensive dress I tried on. $11k or something crazy like that, but it had the most beautifully intricate beading.  Before this dress, I thought I wanted ALL THE BEADING – give me all the sparkly shizz, I said.  I am laid back Cinderella, I said.  But when I had it on I had an epiphany called: “holy crap, this beading weighs more than I do” – and also: “holy crap, beading makes a dress EXPENSIVE” – and last but not least: “holy crap, unless you’re a stick insect, beading actually makes you look heavier than you really are.”  The detail around the waist – in person – was super beautiful.  But if you scoot back 5 ft it just looked like a spare tire.  I did love the antique-y, Victorian feel of it, though. This dress is the reason I’m glad I tried dresses on that were far above my price range. Because (wedding dress) knowledge is power, people.

WE REALLY DID TRY TO RECONCILE THE SPARE TIRE THING.

Hence the face.  Karrie was there with me that day and took this pic.  We just couldn’t do it.

SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE.

This was one of my favorites.  It’s Rivini (and this was at Dimitra’s in Chicago), though I think 3 different places put me in it.  It felt spare but not boring.  Everything by Rivini is cut SO BEAUTIFULLY and is super flattering.  I loved the shape of the skirt.  But I think in the end, I wanted a little bit more detail, and I also felt like it was great for a big city wedding, or even a Nor Cal wedding, but maybe not-so-much an intimate, France + Mexico had a baby on the beach in SoCal wedding.

MADONNA CALLED – SHE WANTS HER BOOBIE CUPS BACK.

This one was actually a contender in person – I loved the cleanliness of it, loved the wee lace detail – but this dress taught me MAYBE THE BIGGEST LESSON OF WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING: it is entirely possible for a dress to look and feel fabulous on, and to not photograph well.  Sometimes it just doesn’t translate in photos.  Which is why it’s SO IMPORTANT to have your homies snapping pics from every angle of every dress (thank you Karrie, Mary, Linds, Nikki & Nikki!)  Because the camera sees things you cannot see in real life.  It’s like the true test – and if it passes that, then you have yourself a contender.

IS THERE A BUTTERFLY RELEASE COMING AFTER THIS?

This was actually a gorgeous, gorgeous dress (I think by Pronovias)… but it felt like it belonged in a slow-mo, wispy Estée Lauder ad in all pastels with butterflies flying around. Not on me on my wedding day. I give the bridal consultant props – (Vedorian at Marie Gabriel Couture was one of my favorites) – at first with this one we were all: “oooh!” and then when I was like, “Something about it just isn’t right,” to which she so wisely replied: “You know what it is?  The dress is wearing you, you’re not wearing the dress.” And then we hi-fived and went onto the next.  See why she was my fave?

YOU GOIN TO YOUR WEDDING OR YOU GOIN TO THE OSCARS?

Such a great “almost”!  This one was at Second City Bridal in Chicago.  I really did love this one, but it was super structured and not super comfortable.  I also kind of felt like I was going to the Golden Globes.  Also… it did photograph well, but you know what’s telling??  …my face.  That’s the other thing you should pay attention to in photos besides the dress itself.  Your face says it all about how you feel about it, even if you don’t realize it when you have it on.

Back was pretty though!

MORE CRUISE SHIPS, MORE BOOBS, MORE BUDDAHS – STILL NO WINNERS.

INTRODUCING THE LITTLE MERMAID, IRIDESCENT COLLECTION.

That said, I did actually love this dress.  But more for an Ariel Mattel doll, or for Ariel on her wedding day, not mine.

IF LOOKS COULD KILL.

Then I might have murdered someone.  Please take this off of me immediately before anyone sees.

IF YOUR OWN FACE DOESN’T SAY IT ALL….

THEN YOUR FRIENDS’ FACES WILL.  NEXT!

WHEN WILD CARDS DON’T WORK.

Sometimes they put you in bespoke things you never could’ve picked for yourself… like the dress I actually ended up with.  Other times… this.

NUDE + BLUSH UNDERLAYERS ARE A REVELATION.

I always thought of wedding dresses as white on white on white.  But the more I tried ones on with nude or blush detail underneath, the more I liked them.  They’re just more flattering to most peoples’ skin tones.  I thought we might have a contender until I sent this to Karrie (the week after she and I had already found what would end up being my dress) – and she was like, “Gurl take that off. It’s not in the same hemisphere.” HAAAAAAA – if you can’t count on your best friends to tell you the truth, who can you?

WE HAVE A MAJOR CONTENDER.

This one I did LOVE.  It was a little more modern and a little Spanish-influenced, which was a fun idea for San Diego.  I hadn’t seen or tried on anything else like it.  Also, could we please all get a slow clap for Tinkerbell?  She’ll be taking pictures with kiddies at the Magic Kingdom later – BAAAHAHAHHA.  I made her try that on because I thought I wanted to put people in that color.  She’s a good sport.  Also, this gorgeous contender is Justin Alexander’s “DARWIN” – #99068.  Tried on at Mira Couture in Chicago.

RUE DE SEINE = GREAT FOR BOHO, GREAT FOR DETAIL, GOOD FOR BUDGETS.

But ultimately not for me. They do have really really beautiful, unique lace detail though – and always a flattering bust.

LIKE A RUNNER UP ON THE BACHELOR.

Would’ve made a great winner, but maybe she’ll be next year’s Bachelorette.  This one was also Rue de Seine, and felt very San Diego.

TOTALLY NOT WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR BUT LOVED IT.

It did, however, prevent me from – well, walking – which could be important that day. I can’t imagine trying to do the running man in this thing.  I LOVED the structure of this and the foof & volume and detail at the bottom – it felt super unique and kind of edgy to me – but comfort was high on my list, and so sadly I had to leave this guy behind.  It may’ve felt differently when altered, but I still wanted something a little breezier.  This was the Ada from Tara LaTour at Anna Be in Denver.

REALLY SWEET.

I did love, love love this.  Super comfortable, pretty lace detail without being too much, but it was a little frump.  Especially in photos.  Alterations could’ve fixed that and maybe if I was getting married (outside in a field, at a farmhouse etc) it would have worked.  This was Jane Hill‘s “Valentine.”

OBSESSED… ALSO, BEST OF LUCK EATING (ANYTHING). 

This was the one dress that gave me a super hourglass that I don’t actually have, which made it tough to leave behind.  But it was a MAJOR, major contender.  This might’ve been the dress version of jeans + a white t-shirt, which made me love it.  Looking back, this is the only dress I’m still thinking about that I didn’t get.

THE MOTHERSHIP… BERTA!

All I wanted was a &^%$ Berta.  I couldn’t get away from it.  They were all so effervescent, so flattering, and so perfect.  Everything I found that I loved – when I looked it up – was a Berta.

IN THE FLESH.

I loved the way the Berta looked on… this one is the 19-08.  It did things to my post-Winter, mac-and-cheese-loving body that were obviously not real.  It was my little future-sister-in-law, Emily’s fave (because of the sparkles and the princess vibe, I would imagine). But scroll down for a revelation….

AND MY REVELATION IS THIS: BERTA MAKES THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DRESSES ON THE PLANET, AND THEY ARE GREAT IF ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS TAKING PICTURES. 

And it hurts my soul to say that, but beyond their beauty…  They’re not easy to walk in, so I can’t even imagine trying to dance in one.  I also actually couldn’t physically sit down in this dress.  They are so, so so beautiful though. In the end – (cost aside), it was too princess-y, too dressy and not comfortable enough for me.  And so I waved the white flag on my love affair with the B-word, while I played TAPS.

GRACE LOVES LACE FOR THE (ALMOST) WIN

Out of Australia and perfectly beachy, Grace Loves Lace was the first boutique I hit – and I was thisclose to getting this dress.  I have friends in Colorado who were like: “That brand is so reasonable, we almost got one and flew out twice for fittings, because it still would’ve been less than a dress at a boutique in Colorado.”  The one thing I will say is that you MUST wear Spanx, because these dresses don’t have a ton of structure and aren’t super forgiving.  But their “Hart” – which was brand new when I tried it on – was an almost winner for me.  I could’ve thrown on some glittery flip flops with this and called it a day.  It felt like pajamas.

IN THE END…

I’m actually glad I hit 897 dress boutiques, though I’m DELIGHTED to never, ever have to do it again…  And I bet Mary and my Mom are glad too, because we did about 6 bridal appointments in 2 days and they watched me try on no less than probably 48 dresses, which must have been fun for 10 minutes, quickly followed by absolute torture. But while the dress-trying-on-marathon was exhausting, it only served to solidify my profound love for the one I ended up with, because I knew for SURE that no stone was left unturned.  And no, this one below isn’t it but it was very very pretty.

Debunked Theory #2: This was my biggest takeaway from wedding dress shopping – YOU DO NOT NEED TO SPEND A JILLION DOLLARS FOR A FABULOUS DRESS. Sometimes, you get what you pay for… but I did not find that to be entirely true about wedding dresses. I thought I was going to have to settle, or that the $7-$10k dress would clearly be that much more amazing than a $2k dress. Not really the case at all, and that’s why I’m glad I tried on all those bazillion dollar dresses. Cuz I was like, “Eh. MEh.” What I ended up with was on the lower end (price wise) of everything I tried, and was (if you ask me!) the most beautiful and timeless one of the bunch.

Man, if you thought that was long – just imagine being there in person.  Shifting gears… let’s talk about anyone else’s dress but mine, shall we?

BRIDESMAIDS

{image via Empire Online}

I thought I wanted to source mismatched discount designer gowns, like all of these below… which really would’ve been SO lovely, and I would’ve been totally up for the legwork to do it. But most of these are Prada or Moda Operandi, which cost more than my ovaries… but they were great for inspo!

I also thought about doing a Rent the Runway bunch of them – which would’ve been a super easy solution, but most of their stuff is so heavy on the blush-tones, and they had almost nothing in the seafoam / baby blue color palette I was gunning for.  This is the best I could come up with – which someone else should totally use:

One of the appointments we did in Chicago was at Brideside…  Mary clued me into this fabulous place – which is kind of like an aggregate bridesmaid joint that has ALL the Jenny Yoo, Watters + Watters, Amsale, etc – and has them all organized by color, so you can mismatch and create a fun palette.  They have locations in Chi-town, NYC, Boston and Charlotte.  Bonus: their consultants handle all of the ordering & coordination with your homegirls, so that’s off your plate.  Here’s my best girl with all the blues they had.

Still, it felt too dark for April.  And I kept asking if this velvet guy from Jenny Yoo came in 100 shades of seafoam… like a toddler asking someone something 17x and hoping to get a different answer.

I tried one on myself (that one up there with the deep V) and that clenched it.  THOSE. THINGS. FEEL. LIKE. BUTTAH.  It’s called “English Rose,” but it looks terra cotta in some lights, blush in some and grapefruit in others.  But I mean – DAYUM – look at these.

I really thought I wanted to go mismatched and not do dresses that overtly looked like bridesmaid dresses, but I loved these so much that these are what we went with.  BECAUSE THE NEXT BEST THING TO PUTTING VELVET ON FURNITURE IS PUTTING IT ON YOUR PEOPLE!  It’s not an easy color to wear in the Spring sans bronzing – so spray tanning may be in order.  And maybe Spanx for good measure (you better believe I’ll be in a full bodysuit of it myself), because even though velvet feels like buttah, it’s not super structured.  But I mean, look at this lady – she’s about to pop and it looks beautiful on her!

Last… I’m in love with Chris Driscoll, but I am also super in love with my girlfriends.  I feel like they’re all the reason I am who I am – if I’m a good person, and if I know how to be a good friend – it’s in large part because of them.  The fact that I’m not in a ditch, was never thrown in jail, and have (cough) plenty of self-confidence and think I can do anything I set my mind to: also, them.

There are 8 of them – from all phases of my life thus far – and it was important to me to make asking each of them to be bridesmaids more special than just: “Hey girl wanna be in my wedding k thanks.”  So, I ordered these cards from Etsy, and wrote (rather lengthy – who would’ve guessed?) notes to each of them about how much I loved them, and asking them if they’d stand up with me.  I literally cried for days writing them – like the sap I am.

The really fun bonus was that most of them sent me either video or photo responses like these, which I loved and will keep forever.

Welp, that’s enough out of me today!!  I hope, if you’re shopping for a dress, ANYTHING in this post was useful to you!  And if you’re not shopping for a dress, I hope you popped some popcorn and got a few snort-laughs out of the (white carpet) flops.

So much more wedding biz to spitball about!  Look for these topics in future posts:

  • What’s a Budget?  Love, Stephie
  • To Kid or Not to Kid?
  • Flowers are more expensive than ovaries
  • Registries make me feel funny
  • Oh sh*t, I forgot about videography – and other things I nearly missed the boat on
  • Mock up your tabletops
  • Lounge furniture: to schlepp or not to schlepp?
  • When DIY becomes MYC (make yourself crazy)
  • Engagement is a good time to work on stuff.

xoxo!

{ Currently Loving } Fall 2019

I wish there was a scratch & sniff on that picture above cuz MAN – is there anything better than Fall?!  I personally think Pumpkin Spice Lattes taste like old socks but I DO otherwise get real goofy this time of year… and by goofy I mean almost achingly nostalgic (…I just felt Chris Driscoll’s eyes roll into the back of his head – HAAAAAA).  But it’s true, yo: the Fall always feels like where things come full circle, and it seems to be where all of my sweet, in-slow-motion memories of growing up come flooding back and make a vivid resurgence. To the tune of the St. Elmo’s Fire Theme Song, obviously.

 

Have truer words ever been spoken? Pretty sure I post this quote every year as part of an annual nerd-out post about Fall.

It reminds me of high school volleyball season – squeaky shoes on the gym floor and the sound of whistles and the smell of Ball Gym… and the dynasty that is Burris Volleyball.

It reminds me of the big maple tree in the yard in the front yard of the little red house where I grew up.  Of watching Felicity and wondering if she was ever really gonna end up with Ben.  Of waiting with baited breath, then watching my high school crush round the corner in the hallway the first day of school each year – also in super slow mo – and then dying on the inside when he smiled at me.

Fall reminds me of college bus rides back from away games that were seemingly never-ending, and the fact that we were all always cozied up in our little seats with pillows and blankets and seemed to have Legends of the Fall, A League of Their Own and Sleepless in Seattle on a permanent loop on the bus’ VHS.

I smell bonfires and wet leaves underfoot and feel a chill in the air – which, we’re def feeling here in Crested Butte (cuz it snowed up on the mountain last night). PS Travel Crested Butte has the most beautiful pics, always.

GRACIOUS IT IS GLORIOUS!  That was a medium-sized tangent… scuzzi!!  (But if you really wanna go to crazy town, these posts from when Covet Living was just a baby are ALL. ABOUT. FALL)…

Fall Faves 2016 | I Dream of Fall 2014 | 7 Fall Looks to Love 2013Fantastic Fall 2011Ode to Fall 2010

Moving along… HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS I’M LOVING THIS SEASON:

THIS is one of my favorite autumn candles – put this guy in yer pipe this Fall & smoke it!  A huge shipment of these are arriving to my shop today and you better believe I’m lighting them all up at once.  You can also buy them here.

WHAT IS THIS FABULOUS OUTFIT AND WHERE DO I GET ONE?

These Ulla Johnson Carin booties are a start.

How fabulous is this rug?  I snapped it up for a client’s office and I’ve been cursing myself ever since that I didn’t keep it for my personal collection.  JUST KIDDIN SUZ!

I do have this one on its way to the shop though and I’m LOVING the sage + tangerine + chocolate hues!

ALSO – could we please discuss this rug I just picked up. I’d love to say “COMING SOON TO THE SHOP!” but I actually don’t know if I’ll be able to sell it (every 5th one or so, I keep… #whoops).  It will, however, look really pretty to sleep on when I’m living under a bridge in a few years because #rugsaremydrugs and when I see a super unique one, my credit card accidentally swipes itself. It’s crazy.

Can we also discuss that Amber Interiors did a wall mount wicker dining banquette? WALL MOUNT WICKER!  I am dead every time I see this.

Perfection. (source unknown)

The only thing it’s missing is THIS:

Would you like for me to make some pillows out of you?  Cuz I will.

SWEET BABY JESUS IS THERE ANYTHING MORE PERFECT THAN A NATAN MOSS LAMP?? I’d put it on my registry if I wasn’t afraid of getting judged until the end of time (they retail for about $1500 each). Oh wait, I put a copper Kitchen Aid Mixer on there, so that ship has sailed (DID YOU KNOW THEY CAN SHRED CHICKEN? #notjustforcookies). Natan Moss Lamps are available through Hollywood at Home.

There are no words.  Except that Ulla Johnson is a damn genius.

I think I’ve posted this short rib truffled gnocchi 75x and haven’t made it yet.  THIS IS THE YEAR PEOPLE.

I think this is Ted Baker from last season and I can’t find it for sale anymore, but I can still dream about it.

If there is a perfect guest room, this might be it. Photo by Luke White.

Same for the perfect Lacanche range.  (via)

I am literally DEAD over these platters by Ingrid Wens Ceramics.

Have you seen Anne Hathaway’s country house in the new Arch Digest?  Pam of Studio Shamshiri is the master behind it (she was one of the founders of Commune) and I think it’s so brilliant. Check out the whole thing here.

WHO KNEW THEY MADE A TILE THAT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE FALL? I get a little tickle in my shorts every time I see a cement tile that isn’t the same black & white pattern that’s circumnavigated the Pinterestphere 875,000x in the last 5 years. Tulipier by Cement Tile Shop.

J’aime beaucoup le bijoux.

J’aime beaucoup aussi having brassy cabinet door fronts.

AMEN. Last night (Chris is out of town), I came home from work, made myself a delicious bowl of ravioli and plopped down on the sofa with a glass of sauv blanc, and then embarked on a Felicity binge, which I do almost every Fall. And it was divine.

The show came out the same year I went to college, so it takes me straight on back to 1999.

Was here last weekend to do a little wedding biz… this picture by Studio Castillo envelops how it feels to be in San Diego, almost to a T.  It was heaven.  We were in Wilmington for Labor Day weekend a few weeks back and one of Chris’ college buddies was telling me about how he went there for a small stretch of time after a breakup and that the only word he could use to describe it was “rejuvenating.” (*Cough* – sounds familiar)… but that’s exactly what it is, that place.

There may not be anything more charming than a pleated / shirred lampshade.  Thinking about starting to stock these…

These little pleated sconces in a laundry room by uber talented San Diego Designer Amy Meier also kill me.

HOW SWEET ARE THESE MUFFINS?

Brass + Mint Green = good times… (though not sure about that “+” hack around the shower trim). Or was that intentional? If it was, I strike the “hack” comment from the record.

Amber Lewis nailing it for – I dunno – the 75th time this week?

I would buy this, except it’s from one of those wild goose chase Tumblr posts. But we can all marvel at it – and then maybe find its doppelgänger at Forever21.

The lines on this chaise lounge slay me.  I would like to curl up with a nubby blanket and some popcorn and a fat glass of red wine and watch Dead Poet’s Society here… and maybe while burning a pumpkin spice candle.

I don’t think I have ever loved any piece of clothing I’ve ever seen more than this one.  Maybe second only to my wedding dress, which, if I didn’t have it, I might break with tradition and do this green guy.

So I’m not getting married in a green dress, but I sure as sh*t am doing this green bar.

Look at this little Moroccan buddy!

The kind of entry that (mountain rustic) dreams are made of.  (Source unknown)

I love this and I have no idea where I saw it… oh right, Jayne’s closet in 1987.  I LOVE IT STILL!

Um, Clé just started doing Victoria Larson’s fern textile print on cement tiles.  I die.

OBSESSED with this wallcovering from Wallshoppe!  I just got a sample of the removable version, just in case I wanna slap it somewhere in the office or – oh – I dunno… our bedroom?  Did I say that out loud? It’s labeled as “tan” but it’s actually more khaki with a green tint to it which is PERFECT.

You know what I actually really wanna do? I wanna wallpaper some panels – or a folding screen. I just saw this one that I may grab:

I mean, what if I also slapped these in our house before he comes home?  “I dunno babe – some vendor just delivered them by accident.. guess we have to keep them. #whoops”

Where does this lead to?  Probably heaven.  By Lowe Hardware.

I love Pratt & Larson for their myriad of colors, textures, and how the glaze pools in the corners.  This bathroom is by Emily Henderson.

The cutest Smurfmobile I’ve ever seen.  And I think the seats are wicker which means my brain just exploded. (Source unknown).

How stunning are these?  I think they might be artifacts in a museum somewhere or something, because they’re labeled: “MURRLE BENNETT & Co 1896-1916 Art Nouveau Earrings.”

Very into the scarf thing that’s happening this year.  (source unknown)

THESE ARE THE MOST DELICIOUS CHICKEN TENDERS!  My friend made them the other day and I wanted to steal them off the kids’ plates when I was done with mine.

Mommy likes.

I have a thing for handmade, salt glazed pottery.  Why is it so elusive?? Ever since Karrie & I bought the most beautiful mugs that Michelle Luu made for us (shown here, in my grubby little hand, and on Karrie’s shelf)… Um, our open shelf in the kitchen with ALL of our every day (and favorite) dishware fell a few weeks ago and every single piece shattered.  Michelle was lovely enough to tell me she’d make more, but (she’s doing the mom thang now) and her Etsy shop has been on vacation mode for YEARS.

I also do love Freckled Pottery, but she’s also tricky to pin down.  Because I have a wee retail storefront now, I’ve started also curating (in addition to vintage rugs, pillows and some custom furniture) really lovely home accessories… the kind that are harder to find, some handmade, etc.  Things like these… stay tuned!

I love this Lady Pin.  Little pricey at close to $45 after you ship it, but really rad.  I also just got a lecture from a stylist about how I’m murdering my hair by heat styling it all the time, and putting it up in ponytails, so this seems like it would be a little easier on the locks, yes?

What does this mean for you??  My favorite time-wasters are: blogging (heeeey), moviefest-ing (this means a double or triple feature in PJ’s), or meandering through antique stores on Saturday mornings.

I was binge-watching Season 3 of This Is Us last night, and she had a tweed/plaid coat on in one of them and I immediately took to scouring the interwebs for it.  Crested Butte – the little Colorado mountain town where we live – is a little more shall we say – utilitarian?  So I might get laughed off the street if I went traipsing down Elk Ave in that (don’t even get me started on heels – haven’t worn them in years) – but I could put this in the arsenal for an east coast trip, or just whenever I’m feeling like scaring the locals to death.  LOLOLOL

Speaking of fancy… I literally will probably be barefoot for most of our wedding (which they strictly say is prohibited in the Darlington House bible of rules, but whatevs)… but I guess I do need a pair of kicks to walk down the aisle in.  I’m not doing heels, and I know these are a little like, 2000 SJP chic, but I love them still.  Photo by Rachel Elaine Photography.

This should all be in a separate wedding post but HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THESE INVITES?  I have had this pic saved for probably 10 years, and Linda + Harriet no longer do calligraphy… (I begged to no avail)… so looking to do something similar.  In the world of, “Does it really matter?” – ehh probably not, but it’s REALLY FUN.

Hello Fall and nostalgia, all wrapped into one cozy sweater.

Hello shagreen scales – do you see the little mother of pearl detail in there too?  People have so much talent.

Sunnies are the bomb.  Source unknown, which I know makes you want to punch me in the face.

That’s all I got for now!  Well… that’s a lie.  I have GOBS of fun wedding stuff to spitball – but will save it for next time!  Have a great weekend!

xoxo,