Top Hats and Goodnight Kisses

15 Dec

“Every night in your married life should end with a kiss goodnight.”- Grandma Gladys

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On June 7, 1953 my grandmother Gladys married her love Selwyn at the sweet age of twenty. Last week my grandmother visited my new home in Savannah for the first time. My only request was that she carry her oversized wedding album so that I could share in one of her happiest memories. She unpacked a love story that I had never known, and explained certain charms from her wedding day that will now be part of mine.

My grandparents married at the Hotel Essex House, a structure in New Jersey, which no longer stands. The ceremony took place on a Sunday afternoon, surrounded by about one hundred friends and family. The first picture that caught my eye was taken of my grandmother posing with her blue garter. In the process of planning my wedding I have disregarded the tradition of wearing a garter. Since I blush at the thought of showing some leg in front of wedding guests, I can only imagine how brides felt in the 50’s! The real treasure was learning that my grandmother still owns her delicate garter and would be honored to pass it down as my “something blue.”

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My beautiful grandmother with her blue garter.

My grandmother’s dress was made of white tulle with iridescent pearl flowers, a sweetheart neck and a crinoline slip. The intricate details of her dress have certainly inspired my own wedding gown.

After looking through the entire album I was most surprised by my grandfather’s choice of attire. Standing over six feet four inches tall, he chose to wear a top hat in combination with striped pants and a rather elegant tailcoat. The top hat is my favorite aesthetic detail from their wedding. It evokes memories of my grandfather’s effortless sophistication.

Although I am not carrying on the tradition of wearing my grandmother’s dress like my own mother did, I am honored to adorn my leg with “something blue” from one of the most special women in my life. As I have taken the time to learn about both of my grandparents’ very different weddings, I have decided to frame one picture from each of their special days at our venue. I feel very lucky that wedding planning has provided the opportunity to learn and appreciate the love stories of those in my family. I only hope my ceremony, like my grandmother’s, will officiate fifty-plus years of romance and memories with my groom.

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At the end of the wedding album my grandmother told me that although every wedding has its own bells and whistles, the real treat is kissing your groom goodnight.

~Written with a newfound appreciation for top hats and goodnight kisses~

Walking Down the Garden

12 Dec

When I imagined my wedding as a young girl, I always closed my eyes and replayed my walk down the aisle. There is something magical about the moment when the bride walks toward the groom surrounded by her family, friends and escorted by her loving father.

In the upcoming months I will meet with my hometown florist to discuss the options for creating the aisle of my dreams. Since the ceremony will take place on the grounds just outside our venue (weather permitting), I plan on describing my vision to the florist as a white garden. I imagine crisp white petals with gold accents creating a trail down the aisle.

Below are a few images that have inspired my vision…

Option 1: White Wonderland 

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The first picture was taken from the elegant wedding planners at Posh Petals and Pearls who have fueled my passion for the bridal industry. I recently spotted this photo on their instagram account, and was immediately captivated by their use of simplistic white petals in combination with the flawless backdrop, specific to the charm of Savannah. The look, although subtle, is overwhelmingly beautiful. Since our wedding will be in New Jersey on June 20th, which is coincidently the longest day of the year, the natural nighttime backdrop is simply unattainable for the ceremony. With that said, I will remember the warming effect that soft white petals create when scattered throughout the aisle. If you don’t already follow @poshpetalsandpearls for wedding inspiration, what are you waiting for?

Option 2: White with a touch of Whimsical

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The second picture was captured at my wedding venue, the Pleasantdale Château. Since the aisle will be set on grass, for the sake of my heels and those of my bridesmaids, I know we will need a runway that is both sturdy and dainty. In the picture above I am drawn to the use of white cloth, not only for the aisle, but also as draping for the chairs.

Not an Option, but Dare to Dream? 

The third and final aisle inspiration might be more practical for the type of fairytale seen in films rather than everyday weddings. Although undeniably breathtaking, Sean Parker’s wedding took the elegance of a decorated aisle from a classic garden to that of a wild, untamed forest. Aside from the fairy-like costumes created by the “Lord of the Rings” designer, Ngila Dickson, I was particularly awed by the aisle, or should I say jungle?

Here’s a link like no other:

http://www.vanityfair.com/style/photos/2013/09/photos-sean-parker-wedding

I plan on taking the first two images from this post with me to the florist as points of inspiration. I believe the aisle, although definitely a place with fairytale potential, should remain practical for the bride, wedding party and the budget. I’ll be sure to keep posh brides-to-be posted on my plans to walk down the garden.

Something Old

11 Dec

I always love to hear stories about brides who acquire treasures for their special day from previous generations. In an upcoming post I plan to reveal my choice of “something borrowed,” but first let me share a very unique story of “something old” from somewhere very far away.

When my grandmother returned from a recent trip to Belgium, she brought back a selection of bridal goodies. In a previous post, I mentioned an elaborate antique pillow with pearls, which my adorable ring bearer will use on the big day. The next gift was unwrapped and received with thoughtful hesitation.

Here is the photograph and story behind a framed doily of a bride and groom that will grace a wall in my new home after our wedding day.

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two images of “something old” with a riveting story.

When my grandmother exited the antique store, she saw an elderly lady setting up shop in an attempt to sell some of her possessions. The woman explained that this lace doily was made by her own mother as a wedding gift many years ago. Although passed down to her daughter, at this point, the lace would be of most value in the hands of another bride.

And so, the bridal antique traveled from Belgium to New Jersey…

When I first took hold of the framed doily I felt uneasy about accepting a gift that wasn’t intended for my wedding. Although intricate and beautiful, I was now the owner of someone else’s bridal charm. I ended up accepting my grandmother’s gift with a sincere responsibility; I promised to pass on the story of a complete stranger who was once a young bride with the prospect of a fruitful marriage.

Although I will never meet the previous owners of the doily, we share a connection as brides. The framed lace will be used as “something old” in honor of a distant shopkeeper who proved that although wedding gifts are exciting, the real symbol of marriage is loyalty and endurance in the face of prosperity and hardship.

~Written with admiration for bride somewhere in Belgium~

Lessons Learned from our #esesh

8 Dec

Last weeks engagement session (#esesh) felt like dance classes for our wedding. I never realized the importance of mastering head placement, posture and focusing on certain body parts, rather than others in order to achieve a winning photo. For the shoot, we worked with a very impressive photographer, Teri Slotkin, who had previously snapped photos of me at my Bat Mitzvah, a coming of age in the Jewish faith. Despite my tutu-like dress and rainbow colored braces, Teri managed to produce rather glamorous photos, many of which remain framed in my house to this day. Now, that’s the sign of a true professional.

Ten years later, Teri returned to capture my other half, which would literally complete the picture. In the beginning of the shoot I was noticeably stiff and concerned with nonsense: Was the zipper of my dress off center? Did my hair stylist wisp away any frizz? Was JB embracing me on my better side?

Yes, it’s true. Before our engagement session I believed in the myth of a better side. Don’t most brides favor one side? Anyway, within an hour Teri corrected my long-lived insecurities with her expertise, guidance and a light-hearted attitude in the face of a rather difficult bride-to-be. Much to my surprise, some of my favorite pictures were actually snapped on my “forbidden” side.

Below are a few selects from our #esesh, along with the lessons learned in preparation for the big day:

Even Candid Requires Direction

Looking candid for the camera can be quite frustrating. Teri reminded us that on the day of our wedding there will be many more people, romantic scenery, and additional photographers on-site. One photographer will be designated to capture the more structured, organized family photos, while another will fade into the background documenting the heartfelt kisses and laughter at unexpected moments. And so, for the engagement shoot, due to the restricted nature of the scene (I wore heels and a dress to pose by my couch), organic shots had to be scripted. Thankfully, Teri provided us with direction and flirtatious ideas throughout the shoot, encouraging JB to tell me a secret by whispering in my ear. At one point we actually staged a fall backwards while arm-in-arm.

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Here’s the epic “fall” we took together.

Don’t Always Look at the Camera

Teri was quick to catch my limitations in front of the camera. Sometimes I stared at the lens so intensely, focusing on my smile, that my eyes actually appeared lost in the photo. After gazing at other objects in my house and concentrating on the role of my eyes, the photos began to look more effortless. Take a look at what happened when both of our eyes drifted every so slightly from the camera…

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Looking together towards the big day.

Embrace with Ease 

Since Teri photographed us in several different rooms, there was ample time to pause and think about our progress or lack thereof. It was during these moments when JB would put his arm around my waist and sneak a kiss. Teri would laugh and say, “Now that’s the ideal shot.” Too bad the camera was in the other room. However, toward the end of the shoot, we finally began to embrace each other as if the camera was off-duty. Here’s the kiss that took nearly two hours to achieve…

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Kissing in front of the camera is tiresome! The #esesh pushed our limits (but it was worth it).

Although I’ll never grow old of admiring top models, after our photo shoot, I do not envy their job. Engagement shoots certainly require patience between the bride, groom and the photographer. I am very grateful for Teri’s advice and direction throughout the entire experience. After practicing with a professional, I have no doubt that our wedding album will be wonderful!

I hope the key points below will help other brides let go of petty thoughts and smile confidently in each and every wedding picture:

  • Don’t stare down the camera
  • Posture is pivotal
  • Smile with your eyes
  • Embrace each other with ease
  • Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!
  • Don’t overthink anything, there will be TOO many pictures to choose from
  • Brides don’t have forbidden sides/angles
  • Trust Teri (the chosen photographer)

If Posh Petal and Pearl readers are curious to check out other happy couples, here’s a link to the wonder woman behind the camera: http://www.terislotkin.com

Married with a Toast to Life

1 Dec

On my flight home for the turkey holiday, I thought to myself, “there’s quite a bit of progress I can make on my wedding list this weekend.” Truth be told, I ended up devoting my energy to a wedding completely separate from mine. I hope that sharing my experience will help others brides-to-be put their overwhelming to-do lists in perspective.

One of my favorite memories of returning home this past Thanksgiving was curling up on my grandmother’s couch with old family albums. When I asked my grandmother, Esther, if she had wedding pictures, she pulled out a white, beautifully aged album, which took us back to September 13, 1947.

Here’s an unconventional love story that will inspire every bride-to-be…

As we turned the pages of the album, I watched my grandmother press her fingers against every picture with her groom, Motek. She had fallen in love with my grandfather at the refugee camps in Germany, just days after being liberated from the Holocaust. In desperation to reunite with both of his sisters, Lola and Andzia, Motek searched the liberation camps finding not only his siblings, but also his future wife. It was instantaneous, Esther explained, “He was my Motele, my biggest love.”

It was love at first sight, followed by a painful separation. Not long after meeting, Esther, who survived the war with two of her sisters, traveled to the United States, while Motek awaited his trip. Esther turned to me and said, “I was besides myself when I had to leave him. I remember crying the blues. But even though my heart ached, I knew we would be together.”

One year later Motek, who was renamed Martin, embraced Esther with plans to marry right away. I found every aspect of their wedding stunningly simplistic. They married at a small venue in Atlantic City, inviting their loved ones and fellow survivors to an intimate dinner party. I was particularly inspired by my grandmother’s vibrant red nails and velour gloves. She had been starved of life and color for so many years, yet in this moment she was the most radiant bride.

Over the past few months, I have spent far too much time reading about celebrity weddings, that I overlooked a monumental union within my own family. Although there were many pictures in my grandmother’s wedding album, I have chosen to share just one photo, which captures much more than the potential of my own words.

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Esther’s wedding to Martin in 1947 was a celebration of marriage, and a toast to life.

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This post was inspired by my grandmother, Esther Drew. At 89 years old, she remains the most beautiful bride, representing strength, happiness and perspective for all brides-to-be.

Married with a touch of Military

29 Nov

When I first saw my fiancé in his dress whites uniform I was smitten…

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Who wouldn’t be?

A few months into wedding planning, one of my bridesmaids asked me whether or not JB would wear his uniform to the ceremony. Although unfamiliar with the many wardrobes for Navy Officers, I immediately imagined us both in our “whites.” Wasn’t white reserved for the bride? After coming to terms with such a selfish remark, I approached JB with a question much larger than the color of our fabrics: What role would the military play in our wedding?

As a future wife to a very impressive Navy Officer, I have come to realize the limitations of a bride-to-be expressing her desires in the face of the military. Some things are simply beyond the control of the bride, groom, and the wedding planner.

Here’s the good news for brides-to-be who are in a similar boat: you’re marrying the sailor and not the system.

Over the past few months, I have learned about traditional aspects of a dedicated military wedding, some of which we plan to incorporate into our ceremony as we see fit.

Will there be swords?

We have chosen to marry in an old, charming chateau in my hometown, rather than downtown Annapolis, the historical location for Navy weddings. When I looked at various traditional ceremonies, I learned of a famous tradition known as the Arch of Swords. As the bride and groom exit their ceremony they walk through a man-made arch held up by about eight commissioned officers who stand in formation opposite of one another.

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A serious strut into married life!

Photo credit: http://baysidebride.com/2013/03/military-wedding-traditions-and-etiquette/

Although this tradition is iconic and picturesque, it’s a bit too serious for the softer scene I imagine at our wedding. I would rather make use of JB’s fellow officers in a different way. Perhaps they can surround us with our family as we walk down the aisle into the reception area. I imagine our first steps into marriage being welcomed by rose petals and cheers, rather than officiating an entrance into a Navy lifestyle. Can you imagine men in uniform throwing petals? Now, that’s a picture!

A Call to Arms to Cut the Cake.

As of right now, the Arch of Swords has been vetoed from our wedding. With that said, I am not opposed to a touch of a sword, if used in a considerably very different way. I have heard of grooms who hold a sword with their bride to cut the wedding cake together.

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I’m leaning more toward this tradition.

Photo credit: http://www.theknot.com/weddings/photo/cutting-the-cake-with-a-navy-sword-141660

Clearly, there are several ways to incorporate the Navy into a civilian ceremony without shifting the main focus of the affair.

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We are set to marry in June, with or without his “whites.”

In the coming months we will see how Navy traditions fit more clearly into our ceremony. Although military commitments can definitely add to the stress of planning a wedding, I always make an effort to remember the heart of my love story: I’m marrying JB first and a Navy Officer second.

Krazy for Kleinfeld

24 Nov

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Photo credit: http://www.kleinfeldbridal.com/index.cfm?pid=8

Kleinfeld Bridal was the seventh stop on my dress search, which I considered the “the last resort.” I was under the impression that there was something special about a boutique and besides, wasn’t Kleinfeld an enormous bridal factory? I imagined finding my dream dress in an intimate setting free from the drama that I often watch on episodes of Say Yes To The Dress.

Just as I have set the scene, on the day of my appointment, I truly was a bridezilla in the making. I pouted in the waiting room amongst other anxious brides, some of whom brought their entire bridal party to the consultation (big mistake). Throughout my month long bridal search, I stuck with my mother as a dress consultant and cheerleader (best decision).

Here’s why Kleinfeld Bridal stole my heart…

Personal Attention with Passion.

I was greeted in the waiting room by a cheerful bridal consultant and an equally enthusiastic intern. Before we had even met, the team of two knew the mission. I was going to leave with the perfect dress, which would exceed my expectations. I was led into a private dressing room and given a purple silk robe to wear in between gowns. My team of personal stylists listened as I described every detail of the dress I desired, yet had never actually seen.

I’m sure brides-to-be can recognize the self-inflicted drama of demanding a dress that may not actually exist.

Below are the conditions I handed the Kleinfeld team upon meeting, hopeful that this exact gown would waltz into the fitting room:

  • Absolutely mermaid (if it’s not tight fitting at the bottom, forget it)
  • Three-quarter delicate lace sleeves (sleeves are a must)
  • Lightweight fabric (the simplicity of a slip dress is stunning)
  • Subtle embellishments (no heavy, intricate beading)
  • Perhaps pearls? (actually, definitely pearls)

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Although the dress I ended up buying shares no similarities to Carolyn Kennedy’s, I still believe she was the most beautiful bride.

https://brownpaperpackagestiedupwithstrings.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/wedding-dresses-i-love/

While the bridal team took note of my checklist, I believe they knew I would leave the store with a very different dress. Months later, I look back at my fairytale description and laugh at my stubborn mentality.

Although I’m hesitant to reveal too much, my dress is hardly simple, has no sleeves, and isn’t even in the mermaid family. Ultimately, the team at Kleinfeld Bridal knew the dress I wanted better than I did. 

Kleinfeld will Never say “Never.”

By the time I walked into Kleinfeld Bridal, I was discouraged and willing to settle for a dress I had tried on one week earlier in a small boutique. I remember telling myself that I could fall in love with this particular dress over time.

Stay hopeful brides-to-be: love at first sight is a real feeling for wedding gowns!

The other bridal consultants discouraged me from certain styles. I was convinced that a bride with a larger bust requires support and cannot wear a backless dress. When I expressed my concern to the team at Kleinfeld, they proved the finest bridal boutiques in New York City very wrong. With the possibility to add in bones and work with a personal tailor, my dream dress would be built for my body.

You know you’ve found the dress when you struggle to part ways with the floor sample.

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On July 8, 2014, I said “YES TO THE DRESS!”

One of my favorite moments as a bride-to-be with the most supportive MOTB.

The rumors are true: there’s no shortage of dresses at Kleinfeld. They are a bridal “factory” in the best way possible. Day after day they absorb crazy rules set by clueless brides-to-be like myself, and work to select gowns that “wow” rather than simply meet expectations.

I am counting down the months until I fly home for my first fitting this April. The exceptional service continues long after your dress is purchased. Arranging appointments for fittings has been a breeze. I love that Kleinfeld brides are welcome to pop back in and try on the floor sample for family or bridesmaids at any point before the big day. Sometimes, when I am in the midst of a stressful day with wedding planning, I take out the hidden picture of my dress and imagine walking down the aisle toward my groom.

Sometimes brides-to-be can be crazy. For now, I’m just krazy for Kleinfeld!

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