Friday, February 27, 2009

Which dress for Dr. Cowgirl?

My dear friend and fashion consultant Dr. Cowgirl is getting married in August. Since my wedding is in October, we have had great fun shopping for dresses together. It's been an absolute blast trying on white dresses all over the Bay Area. But now my favorite fashion consultant is stuck. She's having a really tough time deciding between these two dresses.

And that's where you come in, Dear Cyberspace Reader (if indeed you are out there...). Give a girl a little help - the benefit of your stylish and informed opinion, 'cause I know you've looked at as many dresses as we have. Dr. Cowgirl is 5'3", beautifully slender yet curvy (what a dreamy combo!), and brunette. Her wedding will be outdoors, on a ranch in the Rocky Mountains. She's wearing her cowgirl boots under the dress. (See, she's soooo cool!) Other factors: she'd really like to spend less than $500 on a one-time wear dress.

Which dress do you like for her?

Option 1: Mori Lee, with beading and embroidery, $730 on sale
I have never seen this dress on her because it's not available nearby, but her sister and mother saw it on her down south and loved it.

Option 2: Lynn Lugo, silk satin, dreamy luscious fabric, $1100 new
I saw this one modeled today, and it looked smashing on her!

Do give a holla! We'd love to hear the wisdom of the crowd! Kisses!


BARK cufflinks! Too cute!
From blockpartypress, via Project: 10K Wedding.

Perfect for those outdoorsy groomsmen!

And BARK rings!
from bcyrjewelry
via Project: 10K Wedding.
If we hadn't already picked out our rings, I'd be all over these. Maybe we should get 'em anyway. They're beautiful, and a great reminder of the constancy and change that is a tree - and a relationship.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Not *just* a bride

Reading Sara Cotner's thoughtful response to Hortense's tirade about becoming an Officially Engaged Person inspired me to come out of the closet as an Ambivalent Bride. Don't get me wrong: I am thrilled to be marrying the spectacular Mr. Barefoot who is as fun and talented and fascinating as they come. But the whole bride thing has had me tied up in knots for weeks. It's good to know that others share my distaste for the Wedding Industrial Complex, as well as the societal message that this is the Most Important Thing You've Ever Done.

Sara said it so perfectly, I just have to quote her verbatim:
It's sad to me that a person can do all sorts of meaningful and important things with their lives and yet getting engaged seems to trump them all.... . Over the years, I've announced amazing job offers, my decision to go on a self-subsidized sabbatical and travel for a year, awards I've won, etc. When I announced that I was getting married, I received more responses than I ever had before.
I had the same experience. By the responses I got, getting engaged seemed to top all my other professional accomplishments, which include winning prizes, research grants and awards, and being invited to present at international conferences. In the societal eye, these matter little next to Hooking the Guy. Whatever comes next will no doubt be better, now that I have someone to share it with, but I hate the society discounts our single life, implying all that was preliminary to finding the Right Guy. My single life was just as important to me as my newly coupled life, and entirely gratifying in different ways. Maybe I was able to accomplish all that I did because I was single, pouring my focus and attention into my work and personal pursuits.

I can certainly see the converse: now that I'm engaged, my attention is split between my professional work and planning a big blowout party. Which I am very excited about, but neither the party, wedding or ring is the be all and end all. The much more significant and meaningful moment was that one that was just the two of us on the beach when we decided to get married.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bridesmaids, old maid

The amazing thing about planning a wedding is the endless number of details for my monkey mind to fuss with. I thought after the date/ location/ caterer/ dress decisions were made that I would clear my head and return to my regularly-scheduled dissertation writing. But now I'm thinking about bridesmaids: whether to have them, what they should wear, how coordinated it should be.

My two closest friends from college, along with my two brothers, are obvious choices to stand with me while I'm getting married. I was "Best Woman" for each of those friends. Each of them got married a decade ago, and now they have small children. It feels almost unseemly to dictate what my fully grown up friends would wear at my wedding. The practical trend is for brides to ask their friends to choose a color, and all wear dresses in that color - ideally black, because everyone has a great black dress.

The problem is, I don't really want people wearing black - I love color! And, I bought pastel-colored dresses for my friends weddings. Matching - or at least coordinated - bridesmaids look pretty in photographs. Despite everyone's conviction that those dresses were 'so wearable,' I never wore them again (well, formally. One of them did become my Halloween 'forest sprite' costume. Actually, I got quite a lot of mileage out of it as a costume.)

I've been scoping out bridesmaid's dresses, looking for a cut/ feel that is similar in style to my dress, in a brighter color. I'm loving Amsale's bridesmaids dresses. These options echo the v-neck and ruffle of my dress, and I love the bright colors. They look sophisticated enough to *actually* be worn again. Now, if I could just figure out where they're sold, and how much they cost (I don't want to ask my friends to spend big bucks, when they'll also be traveling). It appears that all the boutiques that carry them are in SoCal.

This LuluKate dress is adorable, too, but maybe tricky to get, since it would have to be ordered online, and there's no way to try it on first and make sure that it's flattering.

Decisions, decisions...

All this points to the general conundrum at the center of my wedding planning: do I keep it simple, low-key, practical as I do with much of the rest of my life, and as the books and blogs tell me is appropriate for a Grown-up Bride (gak! they'd put me is a simple yet elegant suit in front of a judge at the courthouse!), or do I indulge the whims and fancies of the Inner Bride who has waited a helluva long time for this event, and wants it to be a total blowout celebration?

These two positions are not mutually exclusive, of course, and much of what we will do at the ceremony and reception reflects the practical, socially- and ecologically-conscious perspective. We don't want to have an enormous ecological footprint with this event, and we want it to reflect our values, so no random geegaws that the Wedding Industrial Complex says we have to have (see bunting, Unity Candle, aisle runner, favors that are not edible or useful). At the same time, aesthetics and fashion are important to me, and I want it to look, feel, and most of all, be, great fun!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More ideas on table decor

via Earth Friendly Wedding

via Toasts and Tables

Kristina at Lovely Morning on how to make succulent centerpieces

Seasonal fruits by Gia Canali via SMP's Little Black Book Blog

A few more hours, and I should have this whole thing planned

Now that the dress and shoes are taken care of, I'm thinking about accessories. This silk flower from Psalm 117 would be great with my dress.

I pulled a marathon 15 hour day at my computer working on the dissertation today. Which means I had to take lots of mini-breaks (no getting up or talking to people allowed, lest I lose my concentration) during which I looked at lots of pretty wedding stuff, and added some content to our wedding website (that makes three blogs, which is probably three too many for getting the diss. done...).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Great idea: Even if you're not a calligrapher...

You can have calligraphed envelopes, according to this brilliant shortcut from Jenn over at With This Ring...Comes a Lot of Hard Work!

You should check out Jenn's blog to see just how she did it, but basically she used her printer to print addresses in a fancy font, just slightly darker than the color of her envelopes, on the envelopes. Then she traced over the printed type with a calligraphy pen to give it that hand written feeling.

Super cool idea! My handwriting sucks, and Mr. Barefoot's is no better - after all, we're academics, and we're not supposed to write clearly :) But printed labels are ugly, and there's no room in the budget to pay someone to do all the envelopes by hand.

A weekend of wedding planning


Calla lilies are bursting out all over our backyard right now. I think they'd make an awesome bouquet - apparently very trendy right now. Just one of the many ideas floating around my mind...

Since Friday, my brain has been occupied by all things wedding, all the time. Friday night, after a day of dress shopping, I dreamed of wedding dresses all night. I kid you not! A slideshow of poufy white dresses danced in front of my head all night, making it very hard to sleep. It was like those drawings that accompany "The Night Before Christmas" in which kids are dreaming of sugar plums... visions of wedding dresses danced through my head.

I guess it was some sort of strange catharsis after buying my dress. My poor tired brain had to release all the images that it had been analyzing and storing for so many weeks. It turns out that what they say about finding YOUR dress and knowing that it is YOUR dress is true. I'd been stalking this dress on line for a while. Independently, my fabulously stylish Spanish sister-in-law pointed out the dress to me online. Though there are only a few bridal salons that carry Pronovias dresses in the San Francisco area, one of them had a trunk show last week. I walked in with the style name, tried on the dress and saw that it was indeed the one. It was even within range of my budget (which I feared would not accommodate the style of dress I was seeking.)

I am thrilled with this dress: it's sophisticated, dramatic, and yet light and flowy enough to look great outdoors, at the beach where the ceremony will be.

However, I do have a bit of angst about the extravagant use of resources and (most likely) poor labor conditions that go into creating a dress like this. I was hoping to find a second-hand or sample dress to minimize the amount of additional labor and resources going into our wedding. We're trying to be as environmentally and socially conscious as possible, since both of us work on such issues professionally. To my mind, the one use wedding dress is one of the most extravagant use of resources at the wedding. Most of the other things are consumed (food, alcohol) or can be re-used (chairs, sound equipment, etc.) Decorations and invitations can be made of recycled materials. But the dress.... all new materials, worn once! I'm planning to donate it to Brides Against Breast Cancer afterward, so they can use it in their fund-raising efforts. At least it can have second life that way. And I will post some of my other green wedding ideas in an effort to decrease consumption and increase sustainability....

The dress is dramatic enough that it doesn't need a veil or even much jewelry - which is perfect, since I don't own much jewelry. I'm thinking a white flower/ feather would look suitable sophisticated.

Something like this

Or this

Or this

So many fun things to shop for...

And, so many things to check off the list:
  • Dress ordered - CHECK
  • Shoes - CHECK
  • Save the Date list - CHECK
  • Mailing addresses - CHECK
  • Location - CHECK
  • Caterer - CHECK
  • Decision about attendants - CHECK
  • Reserved hair stylist - CHECK

Making progress on:
  • Photographer
  • Music

Now maybe I can focus on writing my dissertation...

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Mr. Barefoot just set up a wedding website for us. Awesome!

He did it on Blogger, which connected it to my blogging profile, so I had to confess that I have this secret wedding blog. Not really a problem, but I may have to be more circumspect in my bitchy bridezilla moments, now that I know that people I know may be reading.

And here thought all this fast and furious typing was on my dissertation. Now that I've been outed, he knows that not all of my writing is academic.


And in other news, yesterday was the most spectacular shopping day of my life! With BFF by my side, I found my dream dress at a trunk show for 15% off AND a glamorous pair of Jimmy Choos at HALF OFF! Apparently Sandra Bullock wore the same style on the red carpet. I love love love these shoes. SO much that I want to wear them before the wedding. But I don't want to risk ruining them...

Happy Valentine's Day! Enjoy your sweeties!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mystery solved

Late last night, I finally got up the gumption to open the Mystery Box, and...

{.....drum roll, please........}

discovered that the dress that looked so cute and casual and carefree online (and was just over $100 on eBay) is not the one for me.

It seems that, much to my chagrin, I am leaning toward more expensive and poufy concoctions. Surprising, when I thought I was just a simple, barefoot girl.

But not so surprising: my best friend went through the exact same thing. Bought a simple, straight, white bridesmaid's dress to wear at her wedding, and thought she was done. Proclaimed she wanted to keep things simple and poufy was not her style. Two months later, she got in touch with her Inner Bride, and headed down to some Giant Bridal Warehouse to get a properly poufy bridey dress.

Having been through this before, she has agreed to accompany me to the Pronovias trunk show at Novella Bridal in SF this Friday. I feel it... my dress is out there!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The mystery box

This box *might* contain my wedding dress. Despairing of ever finding an affordable wedding dress, I searched for my favorite party dress designer - Tadashi - on eBay, and found a white dress more of less in my size.

The box has been sitting there for a week!

Mr. Barefoot thinks it's just more random stuff from eBay - or maybe more books for my dissertation.

Insomnia and me

I stay up late, reading wedding blogs and searching for that perfect silk dress that is sophisticated and chic, yet not too plain, yet not too frou-frou, but fancier than anything I've ever worn, and comfortable enough to wear all day and dance all night and walk in the sand and wear with heels and still costs less than $1000.

Am I *mad*???

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The more I talk to people - that is, already married people who have been through a wedding - the more I think that getting a dress custom-made is the way to go.

For one thing, I'm a fabric whore, and although there are some pretty styles below $1000, the fabric is just *awful* - stiff, scratchy, not what I want to spend a whole day wearing.

Secondly, I'm getting a pretty good idea of what I want, but haven't seen it in decent fabric for less that $2k.

Third, as noted below, I love designing clothes and working with tailors, so it might actually be fun.

I found some tips on getting a dress made on the Offbeat Bride, as well as links to local seamstresses here and here.

If anyone out there has experience, pro or con, with getting a dress made, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Who is One Barefoot Bride?

I got tagged on Facebook and posted some 'things' about myself. You might want to know also.

1. I'm having an unproductive day... maybe even a 'writer's blocked' day. I figured if I typed something - anything - it might get me going.

2. Despite appearances to the contrary, I'm a southern belle: I was born in the south, and lived there for several childhood years. My family of Yankees never fit in though. Perhaps this is when the urge to travel was born.

3. I angered my second grade teacher (in a small town in the south) by following the spirit of the assignment, but not the letter. She had asked us to write down the numbers, one to 100. I chose to do this by 5s. She was not amused. Perhaps this is when my predilection for marching to my own drum became clear.

4. I relearned to walk at the age of eight, after having spent the summer with two broken legs as a result of a car accident. Perhaps this is when the urge to ramble was born.

5. I love fashion. When I'm in Asia, I design clothes and get them made by local tailors.

6. I am incoherent before my two cups of strong coffee in the morning.

7. I can easily while away an entire day doing nothing. I mean, really, nothing.

8. Each time I have graduated from a degree program, the country has been in a recession. My biggest degree => the country's biggest recession.

9. Since high school, I have always had several friends who have the same name as me. I think this emphasizes our common humanity.

10. Though I've traveled to the far corners of the world, and climbed vertical rocks, two things are scary to many people, I wish I were less fearful.

11. I've won a number of writing prizes, but have yet to parlay this into publishing fame and fortune.

12. I slept on a heating grate in Washington DC with actor Martin Sheen to publicize the plight of the homeless in the Capitol.

13. I taught Bill Clinton how to milk a goat when he was governor of Arkansas. (yes, he did seem to be a rather natural talent ;-) )

14. I lived in Kathmandu at a time of regular curfews, street-closing demonstrations, and riots. I had to get permission from the US embassy to leave the Kathmandu Valley.

15. Since college, I've lived in 13 different apartments or houses in three countries (not counting the numerous floors I slept on while doing field research.) I've lived in 16 different cities (multiple apts. in some cities.)

16. I am slow, but when I figure out what I want, I am persistent. I applied to both college and grad school twice.

17. I was raised to believe in public service, and have been involved in one way or another since I was a kid. Early on, I sent my allowance to save the baby seals (really). It took me a while to figure out that self-expression is important too.

18. I've been a vegetarian since I was 18, when I got involved in hunger and homeless issues, and learned how many more people could be fed with a plant-based diet. Even before that, I didn't really like meat.

19. I can't decide whether I prefer the mountains or the beach. Luckily, here in the Bay, we have both.

20. I think I'm incredibly lucky to have work I love in my favorite city in the world, with a spectacular fiance/housemate.

21. I find solace and inspiration in natural places: Tennessee Valley Beach, Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, random footpaths in the Himalayas.

22. I lived in a village at 13,000 feet in Nepal, and climbed a peak -by myself - that overlooks Everest Base Camp (<18,000). That was my best hiking day EVER.

23. I've learned half a dozen languages, but am competent only in English. My friends in Asia can't understand why I have such difficulty with their languages. I think my brothers got all the language genes.

24. Sushi + ice cream = perfect dinner.

25. I passed up a dream job, traveling through Central Asia because it would have delayed the completion of my PhD significantly. I still wonder about that path not taken...

How it went down

Amazing to find that Jorge Cham of Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD) Comics was listening in after I got engaged.

He aptly intuited my adviser's response to the news.

Her congratulatory gift to me: an end-of-February deadline for three dissertation chapters.

I long for those days when women took six months off work to plan their weddings. Much as I would like to revel in the thrill of being engaged and the beautiful intricate details of wedding planning, academia prefers that I be a brain on a stick.