Friday, January 30, 2009

Wisdom from the east

A phone consultation with my stylish and sophisticated Spanish SIL opened my eyes to the elegance of European design. She directed me to this amazing site. It seems likely that the designs are far beyond my budget, but it's nice to dream....

One of the dresses appears to be in light linen, which got me thinking outside of the silk/satin/taffeta box. Linen could be really pretty, and a bit more wearable, at my beach wedding. I went wandering around the internet to see what's out there in linen. The Cotton Bride has lots of light weight organic dresses, that are a bit more casual and unstructured than I would like. So far, everything in linen seems to be for a tropical beach wedding which ours definitely won't be (though Oct. is the warmest month on the California coast.) Any ideas about where to find a structured linen dress?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More blue...

Another blue dress option, via Stupid Wedding Crap.

I've suggested it to my friend, Dr. Cowgirl, since she's getting married in Idaho. Might be just the thing at a ranch along a river. Anyone ever worn denim at a wedding?


Apparently a friend of a friend wore this at a wedding, and it was awesome. So shut me up. I won't knock denim 'til I've tried it.

Something blue

I've been a bit obsessed with the idea of wearing a blue wedding gown. I love blue of any shade, it looks better with my complexion than white, it seems to go better with our outdoor beach-side ceremony site, and there's always the possibility of wearing it again.

I just stumbled on an amazing blue silk gown here. It's even made with Ahimsa silk, which means that caterpillar doesn't have to die for the silk. How cool is that?

This Maggie Sottero dress comes in "blue haze", barely off white and really beautiful too.

This one might be better, as Mr. Barefoot is pretty traditional in certain ways, and might not be psyched if I showed up in a bright blue dress. Though I do love the idea that no living beings were harmed in the making of the dress.

Anyone else out there wearing a colored wedding dress? Other good sources for blue wedding dresses?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh my!

This just in, via A $10,000 Wedding :

A Photo Package Giveaway
for a 'green' wedding in NorCal, from Sabine Scherer.

Her photos look awesome. She sounds like our kind of gal - former marine biologist turned wedding photog. (We're both in the environmental field.)

Per-fecto! This is JUST what we need! I am going to have to rock the entry, using all those skills I apply to my research funding proposals.

Good advice that I totally ignored

Planning a wedding - and writing a blog - are not my only creative projects right now. I'm supposed to be finishing my PhD dissertation, in environmental policy and management (hence the 'green' theme of my wedding). It's shockingly easy to avoid coding interviews and writing chapters by perusing wedding websites and shopping for a dress!

When preparing to start writing the dissertation, I read a book on the topic that suggested minimizing distractions in one's life during the dissertation year. This is the time to turn down unwanted social obligations, it said. The key piece of advice I remember from that book was not to move houses during the diss year.

Well, Mr. Barefoot and I moved in together right before Christmas, in our newly purchased house. Combining two households turned out to be a bit of a challenge, as both of us have lots of stuff -- kitchen stuff, outdoor gear, books, souvenirs from travels, etc. We're still settling in, and the newness of the place makes it hard for me to focus sometimes (make that: often).

Another good piece of advice I remember from my first days in my graduate program came from another student, several years ahead of me, who was trying to graduate. "Don't try to finish your dissertation and plan your wedding at the same time," she said, as she struggled with the printer and looked totally frazzled. The image of her standing there, waiting for her huge document to print is seared in my brain.

Who knew that shred of advice would be so important someday?

But what to do? One can't put one's life on hold indefinitely, and there's never a perfect time for these big life transitions, much as we try to plan them.

Now, I'll try to keep track of the third piece of advice I received, again from another grad student: Don't get pregnant while you're finishing your dissertation! Use birth control!

Blue Shoes

In keeping with the whole "wear it more than once" enviro theme, these shoes are pretty spectacular. I wonder how they'd look with a white dress?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Go retro?

These beautiful dresses from LeLuxe Clothing give me hope that I can escape the frothy, poufing confections.

I love the Cream Honey Vamp

And I could see the Mocha Black Diamond Cocktail Gown or the

Dusty Rose Egyptian Dress for a rehearsal dinner.

(What reasonable prices!!)

via Elizabeth Anne Designs

Saturday, January 24, 2009

eBay to the rescue!

I am a little obsessed with dresses right now. I don't know why - it's not urgent. I've got a good ten months before the wedding in which to find something to wear. But the fact of not knowing what I'm going to wear right now stresses me out.

I am still dreaming of the lovely Vera Wang dress I tried on at the Saks sample sale on Weds. Maybe I should go for it... but I'm really not comfortable throwing down $2K for a dress to wear once.

Meanwhile, I searched on eBay for my favorite party dress designer, Tadashi. Their dresses are always so comfortable and flattering. My go-to party dress is a fushia silk, with a gathered - 'ruched' in design industry speak - bodice.

Lo and behold, I found a beautiful white dress, that could be altered down to my size. I suspect I'll get it, as there were no other bidders within 30 minutes of the auction close.

I AM a cliche

Even though I'm not a 'typical' bride - being a bit older, a bit broke-er, a bit eco-freakier, it turns out that in my wedding dress quest, I have been following one of the latest trends: trying to spend less on the dress in order to spend more on a great pair of splurgey shoes.

This seems so logical to me: the shoes can be worn again, especially if they are silver, or gold, or beige. For heels to be comfortable, they have to be wellmade, which usually translates into a splurgier price, which is so worth it when you'll be wearing them for a whole day.

Wouldn'tcha know - Jimmy Choo has a whole bridal collection!
I'm thinking these are pretty hot

So now I need to find a dress that won't break the bank to go with them!

Everyone's getting STDs

Ewwwww......! Yeah, since middle school, I thought STDs were Sexually Transmitted Diseases. These days, STDs have been updated to STIs: Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Which is a good thing, because Save The Date (cards) have usurped the STD acronym.

I keep reading on bridal websites about STDs, and marveling at how openly people write about them - only to realize that they are talking about little letterpressed cards that let people know that a wedding is in the offing.

So Double Black Diamond and I had the STD conversation. No, not that one. We had that one ages ago. The one about whether or not to send out Save The Date cards, since we are trying to be environmentally sound, relatively inexpensive and sane about this wedding.

He said we could just send emails. I concurred. That is until Dr. Cowgirl proffered the great idea of using vintage California postcards as Save The Date cards. Perfect, since we are getting married on the coast of Northern California, just north of San Francisco.

And lucky for me, a vintage postcard dealer on eBay was liquidating his unsold inventory, selling lots of California postcards for 99 cents. I had to buy several lots to get enough, but all told, I spent $13.69 on postcards and shipping for about 60 postcards. Not bad when you consider that each family/ guest will get a unique vintage postcard as a memento of our wedding. (Some of them were so great that I couldn't resist ordering a few extras. I'm going to frame them and hang them in the entry way.)

The Quest for the Goldilocks Dress

You know, the one that is not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

In the case of dresses, it's the one that's not too expensive, not too cheap (looking), but (feels and looks) just right.

It may have been a mistake to begin my wedding dress shopping at a Saks sample sale, but I am deadline driven, and knowing the sample sale was going on for a limited amount of time, and that my dear friend and sister bride, Dr. Cowgirl, was in town, got me off my desk chair and into the fray.

Starting out with Vera Wangs - even at half off - had us starting out too hot/ expensive. The dresses were gorgeous, the fit was incredibly flattering, they made us feel like princesses... but it's hard to slap down $2-3K for ONE DRESS for ONE DAY! Especially if the hem is dirty, as was the case with an ivory mermaid style dress that I still dream about. Like this:

(did I make a mistake passing it up???)

Or if there's a lipstick kiss of unknown origin, and uncertain removability, in the middle of the skirt. Who kissed the dress after they tried it on?!?!?!? Yes, it is beautiful, but now it's virtually unwearable: I can't imagine paying $3000 for a dress with lipstick on it, unless I worked in the dry cleaning business and knew for sure that I could remove the stain.

Onward we went, to Jessica McClintock, which turned out to be far too cold. After I had been fondling the lush silks of Vera Wang and Carolina Herrara dresses, the 100% manmade polyester felt rough and unnatural. The colors were just a little too garish - amazing how wrong a white or ivory can be - and the cuts were to unidimenional and unflattering. The prices were nice: $300 and less! A whole rack of $99 sale dresses! But what good is an inexpensive dress if it doesn't flatter.

Before reaching Jessica McClintock, we had an even colder experience, having spontaneously dropped by Priscilla of Boston. Of course, spontaneously dropping by just isn't done, but Dr. Cowgirl and I are bridal newbies. What do we know? We saw some pretty dresses in a second story window, rang up and asked if we could come up, and the sales consultant agreed. If she didn't want us to come up, she certainly could've demurred. Instead, she sneered at us, in our jeans and boots, as we stepped off the elevator. Apparently, we did not present the usual picture of apple cheeked, 20-year-old blushing brides. The consultant seemed further nonplussed that we were accompanied by two more friends. "Are we really going to have four bridal appointments today?!" she sputtered.

Well, no. Leafhopper is already married. And Musical Marathoning Mammalogist (M3), though also engaged, has already gotten her dress and was along for moral support, and a good pair of dancing shoes. Once we learned how much the dresses cost - $1600 and up - Dr. Cowgirl folded as well. I was game to try on dresses, as the ones in the window really caught my fancy.

But, like I said, I am not the typical size 4, 20-something wisp of a bride. I'm darn near middle age, and would be more pleased with my physique if I lost a few pounds. The Bridal Consultant (BC) wasted no time in pointing this out with every dress I tried on.

"Oh, that's so slimming on you!"
"Now look how slimming this dress is. See how the cut draws the eyes down?"
"This one is really slimming - she looks like a size 4 in it."

Ok, I know women are taught to worry about our weight, to complain about it, to always seek to lose it, but I really didn't appreciate having a stranger imply that I am a fat cow.

I also know that plenty of brides go on diets, in an effort to look their very best for their weddings. Already, I have upped the exercise quotient, and I am looking to increase the amount of green vegetables and lean protein in my diet (notwithstanding the half pint of Ben & Jerry's I polished off tonight.) But all that is my own business. That I am buying a fancy dress does not give strangers free rein to comment on my size and looks.

The longer that appointment went on, the more uncomfortable I became. BC asked several questions about my engagement and wedding plans, and her response to each of my responses was "that's really not the way to do it."

Well, guess what? It's my wedding, and I'll do it how I like.

Monday, January 19, 2009


It looks like one sure route to an affordable wedding is getting other people to pay for things. Amazing how many contests and giveaways there are around the internet!

I'm trying to win a pre-owned gown here.

Hoping to win a free bird-cage headpiece - much more sophisticated than your standard veil - here.

And if I lived in the OC or maybe LA, I could try for a free engagement photo session here.

This reminds me of childhood all over again: sending in proofs-of-purchase to get the free toys from cereal boxes. I guess it is another kind of childhood, in which one gets fascinated with pretty things and beautiful colors.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Going Bridal!

I'm starting this blog to deal with my increasing - and rather unwelcome obsession - with all things bridal.

I am most definitely NOT one of those girls who has dreamed her whole life about the one perfect day: the perfect dress, the location, the guy, the cake, the ceremony, the centerpieces. In fact, until about a year ago, I had no interest in getting married. That was a hard-won stance. Most of my friends got married about a decade ago, just as we all turned 30. At that time, I was eager to find a long-term boyfriend and settle down. However, things didn't go that way, and instead, I developed an amazing career that took me all over the world, meeting fascinating people. During my travels, I dated some amazing men, but all those relationships were clearly short-term. Both parties knew that I would soon be leaving, and often the cultural differences seemed too large to surmount over the long-term.

By 35, I had come to the conclusion that I would not get married, and set about building a happy and fulfilling single life. I had work I loved, many warm and wonderful friends around the world, and even young people in my life, thanks to those friends who had gotten married and procreated. I became a contentedly single gal, with my singleness very much part of my identity.

Cut to two years ago, when I met a brilliant and articulate young professor at a start-of-the-semester party. Though I didn't think much of it at the time, because I was involved with yet another unavailable man, who had just moved 3000 miles away from my and I was desperately trying to make the long distance relationship work, this professor would ask me out six months later, travel to the ends of the earth to visit me during my fieldwork, and eventually ask me to marry him.

Now, as I contemplate our wedding, the girl who was never gonna get married has become obsessed with all things bridal. I stay up late at night, surfing the internet, collecting ideas, reading etiquette columns, searching for dresses.

Though I had never imagined my wedding in detail, there's are a few key elements that I had always imagined would be part of it if I ever did get married: we'd be on a bluff over-looking the ocean, we'd be outside, and we'd be barefoot.

Enter One Barefoot Bride.