Posts Tagged ‘Guest Post’

Engagement Ring Shopping Tips, With Hearts on Fire’s Ilaria Lanzoni

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

How to Pick the Perfect Engagement Ring, With Hearts on Fire’s Ilaria Lanzoni

Photo: Beloved Diamond Engagement Ring ~ Courtesy of Hearts on Fire

Sure, some guys still do the whole ring thing solo, unbeknownst to their one-and-only. But in these modern times, most women have at least some involvement in the selection of the ring that likely will become the most important piece of jewelry they’ll ever wear. If you want to participate, at least in part, in choosing that perfect piece of precious metal and stone, then this guest post from Hearts on Fire director of design Ilaria Lanzoni is one you do not want to miss.

You’ve met the man of your dreams, you know he’s the one, and now you’re talking marriage—which will inevitably lead to discussions about engagement rings. You know you want a ring that you’re going to love forever, but how do you know which ring will fulfill that requirement?

The abundance of options available can be overwhelming. You have to consider the setting and style of the ring (do you want solitaire, multi-stone, halo, pavé, or split shank?) and also the cut of the center diamond (do you want round, square, oval, or one of the many other options?).

Think about your personal style. Do you prefer more classic designs, and clean, timeless looks? Or are you a trend-watcher who might wish for a ring with a more modern vibe?

Next, you need to consider the size and shape of the ring. Do you want something flashy and bold that really stands out, or would a simple, low-profile ring be better for you?

Once you’ve settled on some of these preliminaries, it’s time to grab a girlfriend, sister or even your groom-to-be and try a few styles on. Because, honestly, what’s more fun than engagement-ring shopping?

While you’re enjoying all your ring shopping, keep a few things in mind. If you and your soon-to-be fiancé have discussed a budget, be sure to respect that. This will prevent the tragedy of falling in love with a ring that puts you both in a tough situation.

If you haven’t discussed a budget yet, stay focused on finding the style of engagement ring you like the best, rather than attempting to choose one specific ring. This is where having a trusted friend or family member with you while shopping comes in handy, as men will often ask someone in their girlfriend’s inner circle for help selecting the perfect engagement ring. If he does, it helps to be sure that the person your man asks knows what you like.

If you’re really unsure, you can always work directly with someone in a jewelry store, who can show you ring options and help you determine which style you like the best. This can actually be done in person or online. For example, at Hearts on Fire you can “drop a hint” once you’ve found the ring you love, and your man will receive an email about the ring you’ve chosen.

On the same site, you can also work with a diamond Perfection Stylist to learn more about the options available and to get personal help choosing the perfect ring for you.

If you’re working with a jeweler, be sure to either have that person keep notes on your preferences, or take notes yourself.In the end, of course, the perfect ring is any ring you receive from the man you love!

How to Pick the Perfect Engagement Ring, With Hearts on Fire’s Ilaria Lanzoni

Photo: Transcend Single Halo Dream Diamond Engagement Ring ~ Courtesy of Hearts on Fire

Guest Post: Invitation Expertise from Katie Hackedorn of Katie & Co.

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Invitation Expertise from Katie Hackedorn of Katie & Co.

Photos: Katie & Co.

Planning a spring wedding? It’s just about time to start spreading the word. To help guide you through the etiquette, scheduling and infinite style possibilities for your save-the-dates, wedding invitations and other wedding correspondence, we’ve invited renowned Houston invitation designer Katie Hackedorn of Katie & Co. to share her expert advice!

Save-the-Date or Not? Not all weddings require a save-the-date, however more brides are sending them now than ever. That’s because there are now so many creative options for printing, including the advent of digital photography—which makes it possible to use that perfectly adorable pic or from your engagement shoot or other romantic photo on your save-the-date. So even if you’re not planning a destination wedding, or a wedding on a holiday weekend or during a time of year when people may be traveling—traditionally the types of weddings for which save-the-dates were must-sends—you can set the tone and build excitement for your big day when it’s still about six months away.

Dinners & Brunches. Rehearsal dinner and brunch invitations should be sent separately from wedding invitations, as these events are not always hosted by the same people who are hosting the wedding. Often the rehearsal dinner is hosted by the groom’s parents, so the invitation should reflect that. It may have a more masculine feel than the wedding invitation and it may be much less formal. Invitation design is also influenced by the location of the dinner. Same thing goes for the brunch, which is generally a less formal affair and somewhat lighthearted and casual, plus it occurs at a totally different time of day, which affects the look of the invitation.

Looking for creative rehearsal dinner invitation ideas? We once did a beautifully engraved dinner invitation with the groom’s family crest embossed at the top. This signified the importance of family and was a lovely complement to the bride’s family’s wedding invitation. I know that some people feel that separate mailings are wasteful, but really, your wedding invitation deserves to stand on its own and be special, and not overstuffed with other items.

Wedding Invitation Schedule & Etiquette. Wedding invitations should be mailed six to eight weeks before the wedding. The mailing should include the invitation, possibly a reception card and a response set. You can also include a directions or accommodations insert.

I prefer simple straightforward wording, but every bride is different, and often there are circumstances that need to be reflected in the wording. The most reasonable way to indicate whom the invitation is meant for is to address the envelopes accordingly. Not writing “and family” or the children’s names SHOULD be enough. However, there are always those who don’t take note of whom the invitation was actually addressed to and decide to bring whomever they want. You should take note of and address these situations as soon you receive a response card that may have additional names written on it. A polite phone call by the wedding planner or a friend of the bride, saying, “While we would love to have your entire family, we are just unable to accommodate more than…” followed by names of the exact people the invitation was addressed to, should suffice. I don’t think most people realize the cost each uninvited guest adds to the budget until they have been on the planning end of their own event.

And remember, registry information is something that should NOT be included on or sent with the invitation; instead it may be communicated, by parents of the bride and groom or members of the wedding party, to those guests who call or email to inquire about it.

Looking to tap further into Katie’s invitation expertise? Love the look of Katie’s stunning work, pictured right here in this lil’ ol’ blog post? Call her at 713.802.1345 or visit Katie & Co. online!

Guest Post: Bridal Beauty Secrets from Christen Hobbs of Makeup Texas

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Bridal Beauty Secrets from Christen Hobbs of Makeup Texas Bridal Beauty Secrets from Christen Hobbs of Makeup Texas
Photos (From Top to Bottom, Left to Right) : Courtesy Grant Photography ~ Courtesy Ashley K Photography ~ Courtesy Grant Photography

Texas brides are SERIOUS about looking spotlight ready on their wedding day. Which is why so many of them flock to Houston’s Makeup Texas for their bridal beauty regimen. Remember last week’s featured bride Meredith—the gorgeous blonde with the white horse? Yup, that understated-glam look was a signature of makeup artist Christen Hobbs and her in-demand hair-and-makeup studio, which is known for amazing airbrush makeup artistry and warm, attentive service. Beautiful, right? We’re huge fans of Christen’s work here at HWB, so naturally we were thrilled when we proposed to her (you know, that she drop in and share her bridal beauty secrets), and she accepted.

Bridal beauty begins with good skin. “The key to a flawless wedding-day complexion lies in your diet, exercise and skincare regimen. This is not a well-kept secret, but somehow we always fail to follow through with these four simple rules:

1. Get plenty of rest. A well-rested bride lacks bags under the eyes and has a radiant glow.
2. Drink plenty of water. Rinse out those bad toxins from your body with good H2O.
3. Cleanse and moisturize your face every morning and night.
4. Exfoliate once a week. This helps remove dead skin cells and leave your skin looking fresh.

If your eyes are rolling as you read this, have no fear. For every bride that has seven million things to do the night before her wedding and has to drink Champagne for all those rehearsal toasts instead of water, airbrush is your best friend. Airbrush makeup is applied with a compressor that sprays thousands of tiny makeup pixels onto your skin, to give you a glowing, flawless look without the heavy makeup feel. Unlike traditional makeup it doesn’t sit on top of your skin in a creamy consistency, but appears to come from within.”

Natural doesn’t mean nude. “When your photographer takes your pictures on your wedding day, a good portion of your makeup will disappear with the flash and lighting equipment. A photograph is a two-dimensional art piece and it is our job, as your makeup artist, to create shadows and dimensions with contour, so that you appear as three-dimensional as possible. We always tell our ‘au naturel’ brides to be prepared to wear a little more makeup than usual. Don’t compare your everyday makeup to your wedding-day makeup. You are in the most glamorous dress of your life and your makeup should reflect that beauty. We still want you to feel like yourself, just more glamorous.”

A lush lash is a glamour-girl’s best friend. “For our extra-glamorous ladies, we always recommend false lashes. They are the best invention since the push-up bra! They give your makeup that last touch of drama. For each client, we measure their eye width and match their eye shape with the perfect lash size, for the most comfortable fit and posh look.”

Don’t forget your touch-up kit. “Lip gloss or lipstick is essential to have in your wedding handbag. After a good smooch at the altar, every girl needs a quick retouch on her lips. For our extra-glowing brides, a couple of tissues to blot excess oils from the skin are also a must. There are a lot of blotting pads that are on the market these days for similar purposes, but some can have a negative reaction with your makeup composition. Tissues are always a safer bet, and they’re versatile. They can also be used for catching those happy tears!”

Lastly, Christen reminds brides to preview their bridal makeup in natural light, which makes it much easier to see tiny details, “and harder for shadows to conceal imperfections!” And don’t forget to have your photographer or a friend snap a few pix: “A good makeup artist knows that after a wedding the most important piece of evidence a bride has of her beautiful day are her pictures, so applying makeup that is picture-perfect is the way to go.”

To schedule a Makeup Texas consultation, call Christen at 281.394.2922 or e-mail!

Guest Post: Master Bridal Consultant Karen Brown Debunks DIY Myths

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Master Bridal Consultant Karen Brown Debunks DIY Myths Master Bridal Consultant Karen Brown Debunks DIY Myths

Photos: Top, courtesy Karen For Your Memories~Centerpiece, D. Jones Photography~Rings & Cake, Nhan Nguyen Photography

Today we’re really excited to feature a guest post from Houston-based Master Bridal Consultant (that’s the Association of Bridal Consultants’ highest ranking, btw), Karen Brown of Karen For Your Memories. Thinking of acting as your own wedding coordinator, florist, designer and decorator, to try and save money or put your unique imprint on every element of your big day? Don’t dive in until you read Karen’s post, which debunks many major DIY myths. We’d love your feedback, too! Do you plan DIY all or part of your wedding? Which parts do you plan to leave to a pro? Drop your comments and let us know!

Today’s brides are bombarded with ideas for décor, favors, desserts, flowers, etc., many of which encourage the DIY concept. For some reason the DIY idea is touted as something that is supposed to be 1) fun, 2) less expensive, and 3) a reflection of the bride’s unique personality. But is this really the case?

Fun? “Do-it-yourself” can be a misleading title, which implies that the bride herself is going to take on all or part of the tasks necessary for the production of her wedding. However, in most cases, it really means relying on the participation of the wedding party for tons of tasks, along with dutiful assistance from family members, with the bride directing. But can a group of amateurs with good intentions really replace the expertise and efficiency of a professional with years of experience? AND have fun while doing so? Not likely.

Sure, it can be great fun for family members or friends to get together to address, stuff and stamp invitations, or for “the girls” to gather, chat, eat, drink and laugh while assembling bags and tying ribbons around guest favors. But what if you happen to be the “volunteer” who was recruited for some element of the event that ends up in a YouTube video that never seems to go away (dreadful décor, cake catastrophes, flower fiascos, musical malfunctions…you get the picture)? Surely it can’t be much fun  to be ridiculed internationally when you were just trying to help.

Less Expensive? Yes, professional wedding services cost money. Just like professional medical services, professional auto repair services, professional legal services—or any professional service that is based on years of specialized education, training and experience. Let’s consider the service of wedding flowers as an example. Here are just a few of the things you’ll get for the money you pay a respected professional Houston florist:

  • Personnel who order the exact flowers you want from the part of the world where they are at the peak of their season at that time of year.
  • Staff who pick up and transport the shipped flowers in special vehicles at special temperatures to preserve their freshness and beauty.
  • Staff who put the flowers through a series of processing procedures to activate the opening and enhance the longevity of the blooms.
  • Experienced designers who use complex techniques to create exactly the look you have requested, ensuring that the designs will withstand handling and last beautifully through the day.
  • Specifically controlled refrigeration to store the completed floral arrangements until set-up time.
  • A team to deliver, set up, and, after the event, remove all props and arrangements, in the allotted venue time (while you’re getting primped, dressed and enjoying unforgettable pre-ceremony moments with friends and family).

On the other hand, DIY flowers often begin with inferior product that are not handled correctly and sometimes need to be replaced before the event, are not designed in the most flattering or stable way, are not stored or delivered in the proper temperatures, cannot be properly set up in the allotted time allowed, and most likely will not hold up through the entire event. And what about all those vases and containers and votives? What will you do with them once the reception is over?

A similar scenario can be applied to any professional wedding service. You get what you pay for if you use reputable, experienced professionals. And you’re likely to save money in the long run. Remember that cost is relative. What price do you put on being able to relax and enjoy your special day instead of working and worrying?

A reflection of the bride’s unique personality? I like reading and viewing wedding information on the internet—especially the Houston Wedding Blog—as much as (or maybe more than) the next person. But your wedding is your wedding. The best way to achieve an original look is to hire professionals with the talent to take your inspiration and create something fresh and exciting, someone who makes each wedding tell a different story, not the same story in a different color.

Maybe we should redefine what we mean by DIY.  Don’t Impel Your friends and family to participate in anything but the joy of the ceremony and the celebration of the day. Do Invest Your money on quality services provided by those who do things the right way. You will save time and avoid costly mistakes along the way. Definitely Interject Yourself into all aspects of your wedding and hire professionals who can interpret and bring to beautiful life your vision while you relax and enjoy the process.