Author’s note: This post was originally written in late June, when winter was well on its way here in the Southern Hemisphere.
(Side note: No, I do not watch Game of Thrones. I can’t get past the first episode…)
And with winter comes winter clothing!
Which brings me to the question: what do you wear to an engagement shoot in the winter? I grew up in Australia where “winter” meant chilly nights and warm mornings. Winter fashion isn’t really big in my family (think thick socks and flip-flops…I cringe!), so when I try to dress relatively attractively in the winter, I’m met with the disapproving look of “Why are you not dressed warmly!?” I love my family, but I want to look good and be warm!
New Zealand is a completely different ball game! Winter fashion is an art of the right layers and the right pieces of clothing. A warm, colourful scarf paired with a nice blazer or winter coat; thick leggings paired with a nice tunic and a cute belt to cinch the waist; knee-high boots, skinny jeans, and a cute fleece top—these are the things I see in Kiwi-land that make winter dressing so much more attractive.
So, I’ve been trying to think of ways to dress for the engagement shoot, so I don’t end up looking this guy:
It’s the Michelin Man! / Image via Running With Scissors
This is the route I don’t want to take. I’m a rather big girl (but getting smaller, thankfully!), so layers upon layers upon layers, etc. would make me look two-to-ten times bigger than I already am! So, no, I am not going to layer too excessively!
And so, with a plan of action in mind, I turned to Polyvore and made this board:
Brides wear white, right? That’s what we do? I know wearing colors other than white has become increasingly popular, but I would like to keep this part of my journey somewhat old-school and wear as much white as possible to wedding-related events. I own one pair of white pants and a few white tops and that’s it—certainly no white dresses. Considering I am planning on wearing a white dress for at least three occasions (bridal shower, bachelorette, rehearsal dinner), this leaves me in a bit of a bind.
Enter: Rent the Runway. I can spend less on a dress than I would if I bought it, and then it wouldn’t be staring me in the face post-wedding. I do plan on buying a few white pieces for the honeymoon (don’t worry, I will not be decked out in all white all honeymoon long), but I love the idea of renting most of my needed white dresses.
First up and the most important/most pressing event—my bridal shower. It is close and I’ve been putting off making a decision, so I thought I’d put it to the hive for some input. Here are my current contenders:
#1: BCBGMAXAZRIA, Mazari Palm
Image via RTR
I really, really like this dress. Is it too formal for a 2:00 shower, though? Will the sort-of-peplum make my hips look big?
#2: Lilly Pulitzer, Touch of Sugar
Now that the wedding party was officially and properly clothed, it was time for the mamas to make their dress decisions!
First and foremost, I want both my and Mr. Plane’s moms to feel comfortable and beautiful on the day of the wedding. They both know how to dress themselves, and I was not about to dictate color, style, or designer. Well, OK, maybe I dictated color a little bit—because we have so many different shades of gray in the bridal party, I asked that they just not pick a gray (or a white!) dress.
FMIL Plane went to work early and tried on a few different styles before settling on a light purple tea-length dress with a tiered skirt and a blingy belt.
Dress from Younkers, no longer available online / Personal photo
Mama Plane took a little bit longer to find exactly what she wanted. In fact, she bought four different dresses before she found this one in a resale store! It comes with a sheer wrap that she is considering making into sleeves for the ceremony.
I really like our engagement photos, but whenever I look at them I just get one pang of regret, and that regret is my dress. I was very foolish and put off choosing my engagement photo outfit until the very last minute. Why, you ask? One, I gained about 15 pounds in the past year and didn’t want to try on any of my clothes, as I knew my favorite outfits would be too tight. Two, I can’t really buy clothes in Japan as most stores only sell size medium (which is an American size small). Three, I was in the midst of a very cold winter, and it was not fun to try on summer clothes (the engagement shoot was in sunny South Florida) in my poorly insulated apartment. In the end, I settled on wearing an old but well fitting green dress.
My old, but well fitting, green dress
However, when I went to the States and told my mom and sister what I planned on wearing they were both underwhelmed. I started to get worried and foolishly ran to the mall and bought the first dress that fit me decently. I regret buying that dress to this day!
In order to not let my dress fail go to waste, I am making a list of dos and don’ts so that no one will make the same mistakes as me.
Everyone knows that (traditionally) brides wear white dresses on their wedding day. But what about those important events leading up to the big day? Sure, there’s no rule that you have to wear white, but let’s face it—it’s just what a lot of us do.
I don’t tend to wear white on a regular basis, maybe a few tops here and there, but definitely not white dresses. I just don’t find it particularly flattering on my vampire-like skin. This makes it all the more interesting that I feel compelled to wear white to my shower, bachelorette party and rehearsal dinner. I’m going to be whited-out.
I recently went shopping for those three little white dresses. (Okay, actually, I’ve been looking online and in shops for months, but I didn’t want to buy any before I (hopefully) lost some weight, got closer, etc.) I found several I really liked from my favorite online boutique The Red Dress Boutique, but by the time I went to order them, they were all sold out! Such is the problem with the online boutiques. I looked on all the department stores’ websites, and one day last week I finally decided to *gasp* go to the mall.
Side bar: Isn’t it weird how we used to loooove going to the mall for hours, and now we’d much rather shop online for hours instead? No? Just me?
I went into my favorite store, Express, where 99% of my wardrobe is from, and the salesgirl immediately approached me asking what I was looking for. When I said a short, white dress, she of course asked what the occasion was, and when she found out it was for my wedding events, she went buckwild, ya’ll.
She showed me a few cute white dresses, and while I was trying them on, she asked where we were going on our honeymoon. When I told her the Dominican Republic, she got super excited and ran off. Ten minutes later, there were 13 bright pink, orange, blue and yellow dresses being flung over my door to try on for my honeymoon. Then, when I was looking at the jewelery, another salesgirl approached and said “Are you the one getting married?” and helped me choose some earrings. Miss Camera=Bridal VIP.
Anyway, the point is, I found a few dresses. As of today, I have lost 23 pounds on a low-carb diet. It is torture, but it works. Pros: I dropped two dress sizes! Cons: My engagement ring is too big. Everyone says they notice a big difference, but honestly I haven’t, and so I’m just not sure how these white dresses look on me. You know what that mean—the court of public opinion!
*Disclaimer: I don’t take selfies. I never have. So please excuse the awkward faces/poses/hand on the hip. All photos personal.
1. For my bridal shower
A lot of you expressed appreciation for my post about all of the dress research I had done for my mom. Since that seemed to be helpful, I decided that I would share another round of research that I’d done, this time for my sister.
Hive, my family, like many families, is complicated. I’ve mentioned previously that my dad is on his fifth marriage. What this means in terms of siblings is that I have several, of varying levels of relation. I have an older half-brother (GM Taco) who I grew up with. I have two step-siblings from my dad’s current wife (one older, one two months younger). And I have a younger half-sister (Lil Sis Chicken Nugget). I was 12.5 years old when Nugget was born and Taco was 18.5. I can only imagine how hard it must have been (and has been, and will be) for Nugget considering all of her siblings are adults as she’s going through her teenage years.
The night before our engagement shoot would normally have been our weekly date night. Instead we were rushing around until a bit later than we’d intended pulling together our outfits and props for the next day.
We’d procrastinated the whole glasses situation, but I managed to put in an order on New Year’s Day and have my new, frame-free eyewear in hand in a little over a week. Mr. Road Trip, on the other hand, hadn’t even gotten an appointment by then, so I picked up some reading glasses similar to his existing frames to use as stunt specs on the day of.
As far as wardrobe went, we planned for three outfits to roughly correspond to our three locations. For the shoot at Honey Lake Plantation we wanted something a bit bright to stand out against all that nature without clashing violently with it or each other. (Obviously the items in the sets below are NOT what we wore, just the closest representations I could find on Polyvore.)
HLP Engagement Outfit (click for source links)
Next was our stop at Lofty Pursuits—our local soda fountain. There was one inspiration picture at a bar of some sort, with neutral tones and the woman in this amazing red dress. We weren’t planning that swanky of a stop, but I figured it could be kinda neat in an incongruous way.
When I was growing up I used to take clothes out of my mom’s closet. Not all of them, mind you, but every once in a while I’d borrow a shirt or a dress. I imagine if we’d been more similar in shoe size we would have shared shoes back and forth, too.
Mother’s Day gift from last year: portraits done by Love Song Photo
“Looking for cute and affordable favors? Put the treat of your choice in adorable boxes from Weddingbee Favors!”
When we were getting ready for our engagement photo shoot (which was included in our wedding photography package), I spent a long time thinking about what outfits we were going to wear. Sparky was more than happy to let me pick (and tell him what to wear), so I was not only thinking about myself but him as well. I wanted our outfits to be cohesive, but not matching, and I was hoping to wear things we already owned. (I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would have been perfectly happy going shopping for new outfits but that seemed…irresponsible? Or maybe I was just lazy.)
We planned to shoot at three different locations around Seattle, so I wanted to change it up at each location. Before I made any final decisions, I put together inspiration boards and sent it over to our photographer for approval. Her response back was “I don’t think you can go wrong with these and also I want to go shopping.” Then she suggested we finish our session with a snack or a cocktail somewhere since she knows we’re foodies. Krista, in case you are wondering, is a woman after my own heart.
One of the locations is a park, with lots of cool areas and water views. That is our casual portion.
Want to guess how obsessed I was with buying white dresses after we got engaged? Here’s a hint: I already have my dresses for both of my showers AND the rehearsal dinner. Boom.
I really didn’t mean to shop for white dresses. But as soon as I got engaged, all I wanted to do was wear white. Coincidence? Answer: no.
The first dress I found on clearance at Loft. Confession, I wore this to dinner on my birthday last year. I think I can reuse it without too much shame. What, you only wear outfits once? Well…I’m jealous.
Dress: Loft / Photo: Personal
Alternatively titled: “My Irrational Fear of Having Kids in the Wedding Party”
Sooooo, basically I never, ever, EVER thought I would include flower girls or ring bearers in my wedding day.
Although kids are, in fact, absolutely adorable, I just never really envisioned them being involved in my wedding. This probably stems from the fact that as a guest at weddings in the past, every time the bride and groom had flower girls or ring bearers, inevitably I’d be distracted by whatever the kids were doing instead of paying attention to the happy couple’s vows. They’d start crying, or sit down at the front of the church, lift up their dresses, and show their undergarments to everyone in attendance, wouldn’t stand still, would start talking right in the middle of the ceremony, would pick their nose, play with the basket or pillow or whatever they were holding…you get the picture; it goes on and on. And I don’t expect little kids to be able to handle the flower girl/ring bearer job flawlessly. When you’re five years old, standing in front of a huge group of people for 20 minutes probably is the last thing you’d want to be doing, and I don’t fault them for it. In fact, I’ve come to expect ceremony shenanigans when kids are part of the wedding party. It just comes with the territory, basically. And I knew I didn’t really want those shenanigans at my wedding.
Although my mom is unquestionably beautiful, has flawless skin and a rockin body, she’ll be the first to call herself a tomboy.
She grew up with three brothers, races motocross with my brothers, got her black belt a year or two after I did (at age 35), is an excellent shot with a handgun, prefers a stick shift and regularly hounds me to go skydiving with her. Case in point, she’s awesome. She also raised three children, did all of the above, and went back to school to graduate with a business degree all at the same time. She’s my role model in all that I do. She does not, however, wear many dresses! She jokes that the only real dresses she’s ever worn were for prom and on her wedding day, and my grandma jokes she would’ve shown up in slacks to those too if she could’ve!
I think she’s plain silly, because as you can tell, she sure did enjoy trying on these!
My mom was 21 when she had me, her first child, so she’ll only be a youthful 43 at the wedding. She was quick to demand that she not be put in any old “grandma dress.” You know the type!
|Cameron Blake by Mon Cheri|
So off we went to the mall. The funny thing is, my mom was cursed almost immediately by the wedding faux-paux of white dresses. Pretty much everything she liked was some variation of white or cream! I kept my cool, obviously, and it became more of a joke than anything else. Besides, she insisted that people still dye clothing these days, which remains unconfirmed.
I love organization. If my closet space allowed it, I would hang everything (in order of length and color within length, of course). Unfortunately, this particular closet doesn’t allow me my fair share of hanging space, so instead I’ve had to *shudder* fold some of my stuff. I’ll come clean—not having to fold things is the main priority in hanging clothes. It’s much more difficult to color coordinate when things are folded…sigh.
Image via I Can Haz Cheeseburger / Text added by yours truly
Anyway, when it came time to think about a hanger for one of the most significant pieces of clothing I’ll ever wear, it was obvious I was going to get something special. (OK, so wire hangers have been done a lot, but that doesn’t make them any less special to me!)
There were so many options…
I’ve been drawing out my dress posts because…well, it’s my favorite part of wedding planning. I could probably have an entire blog dedicated entirely to wedding dresses. And as much as I’ve talked about how I could try on wedding dresses for eternity, even I will admit that eventually you’ve got to pull the trigger.
I made five dress-shopping trips over the course of three months. This was not because I was indecisive. Mostly, it was because I really wanted both my mom and my aunt to be a part of the process, and she couldn’t be there until the very last trip. And I’m so grateful that the very last shop we visited was where I found the perfect dress. But before we get there, I’d like to recap the dresses that were almost “the one.”
First, there was a gorgeous Vera Wang dress from David’s Bridal. It wasn’t until I put on this dress that I truly felt like a bride.
There were also two dress that I knew I would never buy, because they’re not my style AT ALL (the skirts aren’t big enough!!!). But they were so gorgeous that I had to post them. (Pardon any weird poses. I’m not going to be America’s Next Top Model anytime soon.)
Hive, aren’t surprises the best? One Wednesday in September my mom surprised me by booking a last-minute ticket to Houston. I hadn’t seen her in a couple months, and she hadn’t been here since our engagement party in February, so it was about time that she paid us a visit! Just kidding! But really, she’s been traveling a lot for work this year, and with her crazy workload, she hadn’t had much time to stay abreast of wedding planning details. So you can imagine how happy I was to pick her up from the airport!
My mom works 75% of the time in Anchorage, Alaska and 25% in Seattle. There’s not much shopping in Alaska, and she works fairly long hours, so she didn’t have any opportunities to search for a mother of the bride dress. Shopping is a major pastime in Houston, so Mama Wallaby knew she could find something pretty here.
That Saturday afternoon, Mama Wallaby and I set out for the Houston Galleria, a local shopping mecca. We hit Nordstrom first—it’s a department store based out of Seattle, so she and I both play big-time favoritism with Nordstrom compared to other department stores. It was also the closest store to the parking garage, so hey, what’s a girl to do? I am so happy we started at Nordstrom, because soon after we started browsing dresses on the racks, the most amazing stylist began assisting us, and she turned out to be a total lifesaver. (We also had plenty of laughs—at one point I almost peed my pants from laughing so hard. That’s always a plus when you can have so much fun with a total stranger.)
My mom hadn’t thought much about what she wanted to wear, so she and I started by aimlessly looking for dresses in her favorite colors (which conveniently complement the wedding colors) in all kinds of different lengths and styles. My mom even grabbed a lime green floor-length jersey gown. When the stylist, Auriana, approached us, she began to quiz my mom about her favorite celebrity looks to get an idea of my mom’s taste. When my mom mentioned that she admires Michelle Obama’s style, Auriana pulled a number of understated, contemporary dresses in an array of colors.
One of our favorite dresses was a floor-length brocade dress with a beige underlay:
Mama Wallaby in a gorgeous navy brocade dress. Personal photo.
She also loved a teal satin dress with a v-neck cut and half-length sleeves. This dress did wonders for her figure, and is very wearable for other events like company Christmas parties: