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Bridal Party Gift Idea: Vivabox

They throw unforgettable bachelor and bachelorette parties. They wear what we pick out for them without comment or complaint (and pay for it, too!). They stand by our side on the most important day of our life. They are our bridesmaids and groomsmen, and they deserve our love and appreciation—and a little something nice for their trouble.

We at the Houston Wedding Blog come across a lot of good bridal party gift ideas in our line of business (and will always share the best of them with you!), but when we encountered Vivabox at a recent gift show in Los Angeles, we were truly impressed. These themed gift boxes give recipients a “taste” of the good stuff, then allow them to choose the items they want most, making them a great gift choice for groups of people with different passions and preferences, who all share one thing in common: our eternal gratitude.

Here’s how Vivabox works:
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Vivabox themes include Wine, BBQ, Spa, Coffee and Fragrance, among others. Say your groom-to-be selects the Wine Vivabox for his best man. That lucky lad will receive a sleek, well-designed box containing a copy of Wine Spectator magazine’s must-have guide, Essentials of Wine, and a menu of wines from which he can select six choices that will be delivered to his door. Your groom’s right-hand man also gets a subscription for 12 issues of Wine Spectator magazine. How cool is that?
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Want to lavish your bridesmaids with luxury fragrance, but don’t know which scent each girl prefers? The Fragrance Vivabox contains 10 designer-fragrance samples–five for her, five men’s scents she can try out on her guy (ladies’ choices include Dior J’adore, Lolita Lempick Fleur de Corail and Juicy Couture) and a gift certificate she can redeem at Sephora for one full-size bottle of the perfume of her choice.

You get the idea.

What we love about these versatile boxes is that they allow you to show that you know your bridesmaid or groomsman, but they also give the gift recipient the freedom to choose what he or she wants for himself or herself (without the impersonal quality of a gift certificate). What could be a more thoughtful token of your appreciation, Houston bride?

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What Lies Beneath: Best Bets in Bridal Shapewear

No matter what shape or size you are, Houston bride, chances are you could probably use a little extra help fitting perfectly into your perfect wedding gown. That’s where wedding shapewear comes in. A good foundation garment is a bride’s best friend—essential for firming, flattening and enhancing your figure and showing off your dress at its very best.

Choosing bridal shapewear can be a tricky task. You want a piece that works body-contouring magic, but you also want to wear an undergarment that’s worthy of your wedding day. Here’s a bit of advice: When it comes to bridal shapewear, go for invisibility and comfort. You can always slip into something slinky, lacy and wedding-night sexy after the guests go home. What’s most important on your wedding day is that you feel confident, comfortable and gorgeous in your gown. After all, there’s nothing worse than having to hoist a bodice or suck in a belly bulge as you pledge your eternal love to your betrothed.

Of course, prioritizing function over femme-fatale fashion doesn’t mean resigning yourself to a grandma-style girdle. Here, instead, are two of our top bridal shapewear picks:

A Little Assistance, Please

Ah, Spanx, what did we ever do before you? No, these are not the most glamorous undergarments you’ll ever encounter, but for sleek, simple, effective body contouring that completely disappears under even the most form-fitting gown, nothing beats Spanx.

The Hide & Sleek Hi-Rise Body Smoother, with terrific tummy- and bottom-smoothing power, is a seamless, no-legband garment that ends just below the braline—perfect for almost any dress style.

Major Support

For fuller figures and ample bustlines, Va Bien is a lifesaver. Our top choice is the Ultra-Lift Seamless Bustier (Va Bien style 1503), which features incredibly strong support, super-soft microfiber material and silicone-treated elastic for an extra-secure bustier grip. All this, and removable straps and garters, too!

There are, of course, many more shapewear styles to choose from. Your selection will depend upon factors like your dress silhouette and material, bodice style and tightness, and whether you plan to wear stockings or not. No matter what undergarment you ultimately choose, remember: Always bring your bridal shapewear with you to your gown fittings to ensure a flawless fit.

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How to Look Gorgeous in Your Wedding Photos

Your wedding photos, like your wedding vows themselves, are meant to last forever. You can make sure those photos capture you in all your bridal glory by following these foolproof steps to picture perfection.

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Step 1: Hire a good photographer. The best wedding photographer is the one who makes you feel comfortable at your very first pre-wedding meeting, and who understands exactly how you want your wedding photos to look and feel. Make sure the photographer shows you actual wedding photos he or she has shot, and talk to the photographer’s former clients for feedback and referrals. Don’t rely on eager but inexperienced family members or friends who offer to save you money by snapping pix on your big day, but do let them take photos of their own and send you the best shots as keepsakes.

Step 2: Have your makeup done by a professional. A pro makeup artist knows how to utilize cosmetics to make your face look its best under specific photo conditions (harsh lights, flash, sunlight, etc.). Do a run-through with your makeup artist prior to your wedding, and make sure you feel comfortable with how you look. On your wedding day, have touch-up supplies at arm’s reach (oil blotting sheets, pressed powder, lipstick and lip liner, mirror, etc.). Last but not least, two words: waterproof mascara!

Step 3: Practice in front of a mirror. Take a tip from Tyra and spend a few moments rehearsing your smiling and posing. Closed- or open-mouth smile? Right side of your face or left? You’ll get a sense of your preferences and be ready for your close-up when the photographer points and shoots.

Step 4: Work your angles. Don’t face the camera head-on, but rather tilt your body 45 degrees, even in portrait shots. Also, follow the lead of your favorite celebrities, and slightly cross your legs when standing, placing the heel of your forward foot near the toe of your rear foot. This position will help to narrow your silhouette and avoid the dreaded “deer in the headlights” look.

Step 5: Check before the click. Prior to any posed photo shoot on your wedding day (directly after your ceremony, cake-cutting, etc.), check your hair and makeup, and make any necessary adjustments. Smooth down flyaway hairs, and blot or powder the shine off your nose and forehead. Our favorite pretty-picture trick? After touching up your makeup, press your palms to your cheeks, hold for a moment, then release. This will give your face a natural, rosy glow and minimize the overdone look that sometimes mars wedding photos.

Step 6: Relax. Before your photographer shoots, take a couple of deep breaths and lower your shoulders (but keep your neck long and chin slightly down—again, what would we do without Tyra??). Feel the love surrounding you, savor the joy of the moment and smile.

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Beautiful Bridal Bracelets

It’s a common bridal conundrum: You want to accessorize your gown with jewelry, but you’re worried about going overboard. After all, you don’t want to eclipse your beautifully bejeweled bodice with a heavy choker or pendant. Neither should you overload your crystal-encrusted updo with an elaborate pair of chandelier earrings.

The perfect solution? A statement bridal bracelet. All you have to decide is what you want your wedding-day wrist adornment to say.

For modern glamour with vintage touch, nothing holds a candle to a jeweled cuff. Today’s most stylish brides are sporting thick cuffs that get their delicacy from intricate filigree work and pavé gems, which catch the light magnificently.

We adore this brilliant specimen from Jude Frances, available through Thomas Markle Jewelers

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Meanwhile, the Art Deco elegance of the Mystery Liner Cuff by designer Debra Moreland for Paris is perfect for slender wrists, refined gowns and white silk or satin.

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Also in vogue is the jeweled bangle, worn either alone or in groups of three (or more!).

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Simple, sumptuous, spectacular—that’s this white gold, white diamond bangle by Simon G (style MB 1432), available from Thomas Markle Jewelers.

For the contemporary, less traditional bride, there is the cubic-zirconia-accented, conversation-worthy Wavey Bangle, which gives the impression of multiple bangles in a single piece.

And, for our final pick, we are fans of this absolutely unforgettable bracelet from Select Jewelers, a traditional style that combines clusters of round diamonds with fabulous baguettes in a piece that will make a treasured heirloom as well as a gorgeous gown accessory.
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Wedding Day Survival Kit

The happiest day of your life can also be one of the most stressful. For most Houston brides, wedding-day anxiety is not of the big-picture variety—Is he really the one? Am I ready for this?—but a result of minor glitches: a fussy bustle, chipped nail polish, a lost contact lens. One of the best ways to avoid these sorts of mishaps is by making sure you have a well-stocked wedding day survival kit at your side on your big day.
  

 

Harried bride wishing she had a survival kit  

A week or two before your wedding, print out your kit list and get everything on it; almost all of the items will be available at your local drugstore. Organize items by category, pack smaller items in labeled Ziploc bags for easier access and assemble your kit in a roomy tote bag with plenty of compartments (a diaper bag makes a great survival kit holder!).
 
Every wedding day survival kit should contain the following:
 
BEAUTY
All your wedding makeup (if your makeup is being done professionally, make sure you have all of the products the makeup artist is using, in order to do touchups prior to photos; refresh makeup before you cut the cake, as this is one of your biggest photo ops)

  • Hair spray
  • Nail polish
  • Nail glue
  • Bobby pins
  • Oil blotting papers
  • Q-tips
  • Tissues
  • Mirror

 
CLOTHING

  • Safety pins
  • Sewing kit
  • Clear nail polish
  • Stain remover (brides and wedding pros swear by white chalk or Clorox wipes to erase stains on white wedding gowns)
  • Masking tape (perfect for quickly mending dropped hems)
  • Extra stockings

 
PHARMACY

  • Non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Tums or other antacid tablets
  • Any medication you might need
  • Extra contact lenses and lens solution
  • Feminine protection
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Breath mints
  • Band-Aid Blister Block

 
EVERYTHING ELSE

  • Pen and paper
  • Batteries for cameras
  • Vendor contact list (ask your coordinator to provide one—include taxi companies)
  • Cell phone (to phone taxis, track down a missing vendor or a temporarily misplaced coordinator)
  • Copy of your vows
  • Wedding license
  • Rings

 
Make sure your survival kit comes with you to your ceremony site AND your reception site (you may want to entrust your planner or maid of honor with this responsibility). And, speaking of your maid(s), you may want to pack a few extra…well, just about everything, to make sure your wedding party is as prepped, primped and in perfect wedding day form as you are.

 

 

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