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Etsy Envy: Bridesmaid Gifts

They’re there for you every step of the way, offering opinions when asked (OK, sometimes not when asked), agreeing to wear whatever frothy frock you choose, helping you with wedding prep chores at your whim, and occasionally talking you off the ledge of wedding planning indecision. That’s just what it means to be a bridesmaid. So please, be an exemplary bride, and show those amazing girls just how much you appreciate their patience, good humor, and most of all, their love. Etsy artisans make gracious bridesmaid gifting easy and, yeah, a heck of a lot of fun. We’ve hand selected our current favorite bridesmaid gifts to help you say “thank you” in style!
Etsy Envy: Bridesmaid Gifts ~ Houston Wedding Blog
1. Shop Memento ~ 2. JuJu Baju ~ 3. Tyra Handmade Jewelry 2 ~ 4. Delicacy J ~ 5. Brilliant Bashes ~ 6. Ickady Bags ~ 7. EmenGee Designs ~ 8. Anista Designs

A Custom Illustration of Your Bridal Gown…Plus GIVEAWAY!

A Custom Illustration of Your Bridal Gown

Every now and then we come across someone, or something, really special in the bridal universe. And that’s just how we feel about Jennifer Hancock. The lifelong artist, illustrator and designer, who loved drawing princesses as a child, now makes brides feel like princesses, with her beautiful custom bridal illustrations.

Here’s how it works: You visit Hancock’s Etsy shop, The Illustrated Bride. You “ooh” and “ah” at the lovely bridal gown illustrations, thinking to yourself, “Wow, I would LOVE one of these!” You place your order—which at about $130 a pop is an amazing deal—and Jennifer e-mails you requesting photos of you in your bridal ensemble, either from your wedding day or from a bridal photo session.

She’ll ask you to make sure your photos provide “a clear view of design details such as seams, lace, and intricate beading,” along with accessories like jewelry, footwear and your veil. “The illustrations are completely customizable,” Jennifer explains. “I choose a pose based on the bride’s favorite part of her dress or accessory.” Oh—and while Jennifer’s wedding dress illustrations usually skip the facial features, in the tradition of fashion sketches, if you want more of a “portrait” look, she can add facial features at no extra cost. Turnaround is about two weeks from the time she receives your last photo to the time she ships your finished work. Shortly after that, you receive your beautiful, unique, original, keepsake 8X10 illustration, to display as you wish. Though, for her part, Jennifer says, “I enjoy the thought of an illustration hanging as a conversation piece, or in a child’s room, having been passed down through generations.” Can’t you just picture it?

Got a good friend who’s planning to wed, and access to a few of her bridal photos? Jennifer’s custom illustrations make really amazing gifts, too!

A Custom Illustration of Your Bridal Gown

OK, here comes the fun part: One lucky Houston bride will WIN a beautiful custom bridal gown illustration from The Illustrated Bride. To enter just e-mail us your name, fiancé’s name, wedding date and Houston-area wedding venue. Entries must be received by Friday, April 6. Winner will be notified by e-mail and announced on Facebook.

Good luck!

Houston Valentine’s Day Gifts, Goodies and Getaways

Houston Valentine’s Day Gifts, Goodies and Getaways

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Wedding in Houston vendors are the best in the business. But besides weddings, know what else they’re really good at? VALENTINE’S DAY. Gorgeous flowers, couture confections, decadent spa treatments―our partners have got you covered. Here’s just a handful of the goodies they’ve got going to help make this Valentine’s Day the most deliciously romantic you’ve ever enjoyed.

Michael’s Cookie Jar, creator of the delightful cookie tower that had so many of you oohing and aahing at the I Do! show, has too many adorable cookie gifts to count. But our fave has got to be the Valentine Gift box, with 18 bite-sized cookies to say “I love you” in six yummy flavors including espresso shortbread, gingerbread and sugar cookie, plus a personal love note at no extra charge. Order 24 hours ahead for pickup, or have your sweets shipped to your sweetie.

Also a big hit at our January show, Nothing Bundt Cakes bundtelets and bundtinis (you may remember these babies from your I Do! swag bag) are cute as anything, and insanely delicious to boot. Flavors include red velvet, chocolate chocolate-chip and white-chocolate raspberry. Pick up a Nothing Bundt Cakes decorating kit and customize a Valentine’s Day cake your honey won’t be able to resist.

Get primped for your perfect Valentine’s venture with a little beauty boost from Evia Spa. Perhaps the Spa Manicure/Spa Pedicure/60-Minute Massage trio ($165), or the fabulous Shampoo/Blow Dry/Makeup Application/Shellac Manicure combo ($110)? Want to luxuriate right alongside the LOYL? All couples services booked for Friday, Feb. 10, Saturday, Feb. 11, or Tuesday, Feb. 14 come with complimentary cocktails, bubbly, beer or wine AND gourmet chocolate-covered strawberries.

Aw, heck, why not make a weekend of it? Lakeway Resort & Spa―you may recall it as the site of Lauren and Zach’s lovely nuptials―is offering the “Sleepless in Austin” Valentine’s package, which includes resort accommodations on Saturday, Feb. 11, chilled bubbly, a five-course dinner and, of course, every gal’s favorite Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks rom-com flick. Space is limited, book now!

’Course, if you want to drop a hint for your honey, you could always let him know that a gift of red roses is still your favorite token of love. For the perfect “bouquet” send him straight to Floriography, which offers gorgeous fresh long-stemmed roses nestled in a sleek white box, “Mad Men”-style, for a modern woman with vintage flair―namely, you. Oh―and you may want to remind him that if he orders by TOMORROW, Feb. 9, he’ll get 20% off, because while you love him, and he loves you, EVERYONE loves a deal. Thanks, Floriography! And happy Valentine’s Day, Houston brides.

Houston Valentine’s Day Gifts, Goodies and Getaways Houston Valentine’s Day Gifts, Goodies and Getaways
Photos (clockwise, left to right): Photo by Morris Malakoff courtesy of Michael’s Cookie Jar, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Lakeway Resort & Spa, Floriography, Evia Spa

Chic Tech Bridesmaid Gifts

Her iPod is practically a physical appendage. She can’t get enough of her Kindle Fire. She loves her iPhone almost as much as she loves you. Sound familiar? Rare is the bridesmaid who doesn’t adore her tech devices. So how about showing your maids how much you adore them with gifts that are both tech-friendly and totally chic? We love everything from chicBuds, but right now we’re wild about their new Fauvette “birdie” speakers, which’ll bring bling to BFF’s iPod, iPhone or other MP3 listening experience—along with four hours of quality speaker sound. Also new, and so freakin’ adorable we could scream: chicBuds ARTS patterned earbud cords—a first for the earbud market (and a fabulous bridesmaids’ gift, or part of a bachelorette-weekend essentials bag). For the many monogram-lovers among you (yeah, you know who you are), may we suggest Lipstick Shades’ preppie-chic monogram device cases and sleeves? Whether your bridesmaid is partial to her laptop, Blackberry, iPhone or Kindle, these guys have got a case, cover or sleeve she’ll love—even more because it’s personalized with her initials. And offered with your profound thanks. Aww…

Chic Tech Bridesmaid Gifts ~ Houston Wedding Blog
Photos: chicBuds (top 3 images), Lipstick Shades (bottom 2 images)

Register Right: The Dish from Entertaining Expert Jorge Perez + Waterford Crystal GIVEAWAY!!

The Dish from Entertaining Expert Jorge Perez

Registering for your wedding is one of the most purely enjoyable parts of the planning process. But all that heady, fantasy-fulfilling pleasure can lead to, shall we say, lapses in judgment. That ultra-modern industrial-steel salad bowl might not look so slick when it’s off the store display table…and on yours. And 32 “As Seen on TV” kitchen gadgets…but no elegant china for entertaining? Is that kind of setup really going to serve you well?

To help us—and you—sort through the best practices and potential pitfalls of registering for your wedding, we turned to one of the foremost experts in the business of stylish entertaining and gracious good living (who just happens to be one of our very favorite friends in the wedding world): Waterford Wedgwood national spokesperson and bridal director Jorge Perez.

Read, learn…register right! And make sure to a) “Like” us on Facebook, b) Drop your comment, right here on this post, letting us know  your first name, the date and location of your Houston wedding, and the one GIFT ITEM YOU’RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT REGISTERING FOR (any brand or type), for your chance to win this month’s giveaway. Ten–count ’em, TEN–lucky brides will each score a stunning pair of Waterford Mondavi Chardonnay glasses! ENTRY DEADLINE IS MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY, OCT. 26. Winners will be announced FRIDAY, OCT. 28 on Facebook!!

Houston Wedding Blog: What should a to-be-wed couple do before creating their registry list?

Jorge Perez: Couples should start by agreeing upon their combined style. He may want geometrics and you may want florals. He has a beaten up leather La-Z-Boy from his frat house…and you do not. You need to compromise, and find a style that is not yours and not his, but a combined style.

You also need to take an inventory of what you already have so you can create a list of what you need. If you’re already living together, or you already have a lot of your own stuff, but it’s a little older, a register is a great place to upgrade.

Consider your entertaining style and make sure to register for all the items you’ll need to entertain for years to come.

And definitely discuss which areas of the registry each of you wants to decide about. You might love the kitchen, he might want to command the decisions on barware or bedding. Have a discussion, and let him know: “Honey, you’re so much better at that area.”

HWB: How should a couple decide where to register—and how many different retailers should they register with?

JP: I recommend that you look for retailers that provide registry and completion rewards. Registry rewards mean that you can gain credit or dollars within the store for your registry. Registry completion rewards mean that the store offers gifts for completing your registry. For example, if you register for 12 items and complete 12 items, you get a free platter. Make sure to take advantage of all the great offers out there.

And don’t register at more than three places—more just makes it difficult to manage, and you don’t end up with complete sets. Personally, I love one-stop registering, where one retailer has most of the things you’re looking for.

And try to stick to a national retailer with online services. It’s easier for you to manage, and easier for guests to buy you what you want.

HWB: What are some of the key items every couple should include on their registry list?

JP: There is nothing more luxurious than a beautifully made bed and a fabulous set of towels. Make sure to register for enough sets so that you can change them out often.

If you’re planning to entertain a lot, don’t forget your china serving pieces! A good way to know what you’ll need is to plan a future dinner party in your head. Write down a menu of what you’ll be serving. That will dictate how many and what serving pieces you’ll need. The menu always dictates the table service. Remember, your table is your label, so make sure yours says a lot about you.

HWB: Speaking of entertaining—can you share some of your best tips for registering for china and crystal?

JP: When selecting china, make sure to register for fine bone china. The Vera Wang grosgrain pattern by Waterford Wedgwood, for instance, is wonderful, because it’s the strongest stuff there is in the dinnerware category, and it is sure to become a family heirloom. For crystal, I recommend registering for two patterns, one for everyday, like grilling or hanging out with friends, and another more dressed-up pattern for special occasions like Friday night. For a luxury bar, I insist on Waterford’s Lismore pattern. It’s what I have at home. I think everyone should live a crystal life!

HWB: What should a couple bring with them when they meet with a registry consultant in-store?

JP: Meeting with a bridal consult, bring your groom and let him register for the category he loves, like bar or small electronics. His opinion counts too. And definitely bring tear sheets of home decor and style ideas. It’s also important that you bring an open mind, since a consultant can help in figuring out what’s best for you.

HWB: Any registry pitfalls or common mistakes a couple should avoid?

JP: Don’t take too many people to your registry appointment. This way, you’ll avoid too many opinions. Another common mistake is not registering for enough. My magic number is service for 12 in all pieces you’ll use most, such as dinnerware, stemware and flatware.

HWB: The last word on registering right?

JP: This is the only time in your life that everyone around you is buying you gifts, so register for the good stuff! Look at it as your opportunity to collect jewelry for your new home: candlesticks, vases, bowls, frames, decorative accessories, etc.

In general, always register for quality brands with enduring style, and you’ll never go wrong!

HWB: Thank you so much, Jorge…for the awesome advice, and for the stunning Waterford Mondavi Crystal Wineglasses. We can’t WAIT to give them away!

Waterford Crystal Giveaway ~ Houston Wedding Blog