Monday, March 31, 2008

Things That Annoy Me About Wedding Planning - #1

So the month of March was the two year mark since I was engaged (and no I don't remember the exact day that Fiance proposed). We lived abroad for work for a year and then needed time to plan so here we are now going on two years.

Some brides *think* they'd like to have a long engagement so they'd have more time to plan. But the reality is you really don't want that. I could go into all the reasons why but lets just say there is a reason most engagements are a year or less.

Anyway in honor of this mile stone I thought I would start a new little series that I will occasionally contribute to entitled "what annoys me about wedding planning." I have no doubt that at least one of the things that annoys me will probably offend someone but c'est la vie.

Number one on my list is probably one we can all agree on:

1) Dress Stores That Don't Let You Take Photos

O.k. so maybe back in they day before internet and thousands of bridal magazines it made sense not to let girls take photos...otherwise they could take the dress to a seamstress and have it remade. But in the information age this excuse makes NO sense. I can find a picture of almost any gown by any designer and usually within a day of it hitting the runway (except for mine apparently, but that's another story).

Here I am about to drop THOUSANDS of dollars on a garment and yet I can't even take a picture to be sure I want it. In what other industry are you treated that way? If I was dropping cash on a car, a house, a new couch, whatever, no one would blink an eye if I wanted to take a pic but for some reason bridal stores are the exception.

I can even see limiting the number of photos the bride takes for time purposes. Maybe the shop doesn't have time for her to be a fashion model for 15. But at least let her take pics of the top 3.

Not only does this not hurt business but it actually heps. I went to TONS of gown stores in the D.C. area and the ONLY one that let me take pictures was the store where I bought my gown. Now don't get me wrong, they weren't perfect...they only allow you to take a picture of your favorite gown, but it was so great to be able to look at it on me from every angle and not feel rushed.

After each store I'd come home and look at that picture again and it soon became the one to beat. This was doubly helpful, as for the most part I was shopping alone and didn't have other's opinions to fall back on. I'll never really know if I would have still chosen that gown had I not been able to take a pic, but I do know it played a major role in my decision.

If anyone out there can give me some good reasons why this rule exists I'm all ears!

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Yellow Makes Me Happy

Tomorrow is April 1st, we're way into Spring, flowers and trees are blooming and budding....so why the heck is it gray, cold, and drizzly outside??

I don't know, but when I saw the below images in my blog reader today they made me happy.

All images below credited to Kristina of Vrai Photography. Check out her blog for more.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Moving On Up: Casey Templeton Photography

One photographer I've had my eye on for a little while now is central Virginia based photographer Casey Templeton. Casey won the 2005 College Photographer of the Year award and shot for National Geographic as part of an internship in 2006.

Since that time he has been shooting weddings, and even though he's a relative newbie to the whole wedding scene I can see how talented he is, and how much more talented he's becoming with each new wedding on his blog. In a few years I think he's going to be the photographer we all wish we could afford but can't!

In my opinion he's been blessed with some really beautiful and stylish brides. Below is just an example!

All photos below the work of Casey Templeton

^Is this dress not the most unique thing you've seen? (you can click to enlarge)

^Here is an up-close pic of the back (you can click to enlarge)

^I love this brides unique bouquet and those beautiful gold doors

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Friday, March 28, 2008


I have a confession to make--I am not crafty...I am not even CLOSE to being crafty, when I was younger at birthday parties my mom use to have "crafts" for us kids--it was a running joke every year how bad the craft turned out. Don't get me wrong, we always had a great time, but these crafts were not something that would later appear proudly displayed on a mantel-- they were more likely to be found at the bottom of a trash can, if you get what i mean :).

So when FI and I started talking about making our own wedding invitations, I was apprehensive, I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted our wedding invitations to look like, at least the packaging part---A 3 fold invitation folder, made of beautiful paper, wrapped with satin ribbon, you open the folder and there is our invitation along with a pocket holding the different inserts *sigh* , beautiful. I was not willing to compromise on my "vision". Our design friend, swears that he can make a template for the inserts/invitation that would mirror any "pricey" invite out there ( he was shocked at the cost, and momentarily thought of changing careers:) ). I researched my favorite types of paper and I can buy them a lot cheaper wholesale--as for printing, even though I love letterpress, I was planning on going the "cheaper" route anyways, which can be done at Kinkos or at our very nice office printer at a fraction of the cost...the only part of the project that I was still hedging on was the pocket innovation. So last night I went to Michael's, to see if I could make the pocket invites.

After the initial feeling of being overwhelmed, I found my way to the invitation supplies aisle. I purchased some card stock/decorative paper/cheap ribbon ($1) an exacto knife, a ruler, and some tape/glue. I then went home to follow step-by-step directions. A few paper cuts/exacto knife cuts and about oh 20 minutes later, I had something "resembling" a folder invitation. Honestly, it wasn't that bad--I don't have any pictures to prove this haha but I could see the potential! However it got me thinking, what if we made everything but BOUGHT the folder pockets that's when I stumbled across this website - Paper Presentation

They offer a variety of pocket folds, by two favorite being :

^ Both of these folds come in a variety of colors! You can order 5 samples for free, so that's what I'm going to do, see If I love them, and than price out the diff btw buying supplies and making them, and purchasing them made--its about $60 more to purchase them--but it might be worth the saved time and frustration, I'll let you know :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Centerpiece Alternative from CB2

I got a new CB2 catalog in the mail today and I spied a great option for a centerpiece alternative. In general I'd say most flower centerpieces average between $60-100 in our area. Multiply that by 10-20 round tables and you're looking at a $600-2,000 flower bill just for reception centerpieces.

I think the below Lumiere Candleholders bunched into groups of 5 or more would be a really modern and chic alternative. And if you're like me and hate round tables imagine how amazing these would look all lined up in a row down your long tables? I can just see the warm glow of the candlelight now.

^ The candleholders come in a clear hand blown glass style (strong as a chem lab beaker glass). They have both large ($9.95-$12.95) and small ($3.95-$4.95) styles.

^As well as a style of the same glass that has been painted silver ($4.95-5.95)

Below are some more views so you can get a feel for the overall look.

Depending on how many you get for each table and how many tables you have you could decorate your reception tables for as cheap as $250 (5 of the $4.95 candles for 10 tables).

Afterwards you could use some around the house, sell some online, or let your guests take them home (that's better then a centerpiece that dies in a few days!)

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How to spend your hard-earned pennies on something that dies in a day: Part One

Who has the time to meet with 5 or 10 potential vendors to figure out who will be doing flowers or makeup for your wedding (which last only one day fyi)? Not I! But that is exactly what I ended up doing for both. I had a very specific vision for my flowers and a "didn't really know what I want but definitely know what I don't want" vision for my makeup. Either way, this resulted in a whole lot of time schlepping to meetings. First up, flowers.

As a disclaimer, I would probably have worked with any of the florists I met with. But I went with one that really latched on to my ideas (even though they ended up changing entirely, as you will see). For your benefit and resources, I'll review everyone I met with and go through my original and revised floral ideas at the end. And mind you, these are only my personal opinions and experiences!

Barbara Von Elm, Growing Wild Floral Company

Barbara is a popular vendor on the knot and rightly so. She is very friendly and really works to stay within any budget constraints. She will be frank about what is and isn't available, along with what will be best for your budget. That said, I think she works best with minimal guidance--Barbara will discuss the "look" that you are going for, likes, dislikes and take it from there. It's very much an organic process with her. I did have a very specific idea of what I wanted, along with types of flowers, containers, etc. and ultimately it was a more modern look than what she is accustomed to delivering so I decided to keep looking.

Suzann Stotlemeyer

Suzann works out of her home in Chevy Chase, designing florals for all types of occasions. She was a little distracted when I showed up one Saturday morning--she'd forgotten to write our appointment down and was working on a large order for an event that evening. Either way, we sat to to talk--Suzann is clearly enthusiastic and passionate about her work. She took copious notes and really wanted to know about all aspects of the event--better to help create the whole "look" for the wedding. She also brought up a good point about sizing the bridal bouquet--I am quite petite in size and stature, so an overly-large bouquet would look out of place and disproportionate. This applies to any bridesmaids as well.

Suzann took me downstairs to her studio to look at some containers and I got to glimpse some of her work in action. I wish I had taken a picture because the arrangements were beautiful! They were chock full of vibrant purples, set off with light green bells of Ireland and peacock feathers throughout--headed for some themed lawyer's party at a downtown hotel. The colors were just gorgeous and the flowers so fresh. Even so, nothing really "clicked" and I didn't want to decide prematurely. But I should mention that throughout my entire search, Suzann was the only florist to follow up with me after the proposal.

I have four more to go, so stay tuned!

DIY Moss Letters....

I had never really thought about "Letters" You know The large Initial of your first name , and A large initial of your FI's first name---Although I loved the final look, I didn't think they would be worth adding to the budget..that was until I stumbled across these Moss Letters on StylemePretty

^ I love the way the moss letters look on the door, with the ribbon, classic and beautiful!

I immediately googled "moss covered letters" and surprise surprise a weddingbee post popped up! I tell you up those bee's think of everything!

This post was from Miss.Lemon

It step by step walks you throw making your own Moss letters! Aunties Alexandria's are going to help me with this task, so I will let you know how it goes, but Miss. Lemon did a easy walk thru that I feel anybody can follow!

DIY Invitations...

DIY---My fiance just realized the other day what DIY stood for--I was making a list of DIY projects and he was quietly sitting there .....I had to call Momma Alexandria to ask about a DIY I had seen in a magazine that I really liked while on the phone with her I must have said the phrase "Do it Yourself" because when I hung up FI was grinning like a little kid waiting to tell me something..."yes dear" I asked "DO IT YOURSELF" that's what it stands for!! He was so pleased with himself, I let him have his moment....now he is starting to realize exactly what that means. He mumbled last night, and I quote "I thought the hard part was behind us, getting all the "big stuff"accomplished, now I realize I am so wrong". Hey I love a man that can admit when he is wrong :) The reason for FI's angst--with a little less than 6 months to go, all those DIY projects I've been thinking about/talking about are now starting to become a reality, and FAST. Including one MAJOR project that I will be posting about in the next months to come, our invitations. FI and I are doing them ourselves! We had a designer lined up, she did our Save the Dates and I LOVED them, but for invitations its going to be very expensive, and as I'm sure you all knwo how expensive a DC wedding is, so FI and I are enlisting or Designer friend to help design a template and we are working on the paper choices and with the help of Miss.Bubblegum over at wedding bee ( a picture below of her beautiful homemade invitations) I am feeling confident that FI and I will be able to accomplish this task! Don't worry though I will keep you updated every single painstaking step of the way :)

^ I love how professional hers look--FI and I are aiming for many of the same aspects including the pocket fold!

FI and I are also planning on making our own Menus/Escort Cards/Table Cards ( I will share these with you in another post )

Basically we are going to be busy, but we have a timeline and LOTS of help, so I feel confident everything will be accomplished! I will post more later :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Events at Carine's Bridal Atelier

Reem Acra Trunk Show March 27-29

(and more importantly)

SAMPLE SALE!!! April 3-5

Budget-savvy brides know that one of the best ways to score a designer dress at a fraction of the cost is at a sample sale. And although I didn't purchase my dress from her store, I can say from personal experience that Carine is extremely knowledgeable, warm and helpful. Plus I tried on two gorgeous Jenny Lee dresses that made me look 10 lbs lighter. She features a wide range of bridal designers, ranging from the more traditional to envelope-pushing (I tried on this crazy but amazing St. Pucchi dress with flower cut-outs...let's just say that black undies would not be an option.). Collections include Rosa Clara, Carolina Herrera, Melissa Sweet and so on. You can check out the full list here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blood Platinum?

Unless you are a completely oblivious Bride then you are probably already well aware of the devastating role the world demand for diamonds has had in prolonging conflicts in parts of Africa. Diamonds not certified as having come from legitimate governments are usually referred to as Blood or Conflict Diamonds (and even with a certificate it can be questionable).

This issue has been on our social radars for a while, but today I read a very interesting article on the destructive effect platinum mining has had in southern Africa as well. Who Pays the Price of Platinum? explores the role that platinum mining has played in the displacement of locals from their land and the pollution it has caused in local water sources. This pollution has led to higher rates of death and disease in the local population as well.

Unlike with diamonds, the main destination of platinum is not jewelry markets. Oddly enough the growing demand for clean air is driving the market because platinum is used to create catalytic converters (how ironic, no?). Platinum rings, are also a part of the platinum market, however, and demand for platinum has skyrocketed in the last two decades (the price has skyrocketed as well).

What are your thoughts on this? Knowing that platinum mining causes harm to others does it change your desire to have a platinum ring? Aside from not wearing a ring are there options out there for a wedding ring in which the negative impacts on the earth and on society are minimized? It seems to me that almost any material that has to be taken from the earth has the potential to be destructive...is there a solution?

***In interest of full disclosure my engagement ring and wedding ring are platinum***


Monday, March 24, 2008

Crazy about my sharp dressed Groom

So I posted last week with my side of the wedding day, now it's Mr. Bowie's turn!

The night before the wedding, we parted ways to honor the tradition to not see each other until at the altar. We both wanted to do this but I was (honestly) skeptical that it could actually happen like that. It just seemed like there were way too many things going on and for our paths NOT to cross? For as much planning as we could do to prevent that, I just felt like it was bound to happen. Luckily, it didn't!

While I was off getting my hair, makeup, and nails done, Mr. Bowie was getting into his tux with tails as soon as possible. He was so excited to wear his tux that (I found out later) he changed into it first thing in the morning when he woke up *awwwww!* He even wore it to run some errands and pick up some last minute things before finally arriving at the church on time! Perhaps it's odd that I note this but I felt like it was a big deal because being on time on your wedding day is something that I've seen to be a major accomplishment.

Upon his arrival, he was met by cameras and most of his groomsmen. They all hung around outside for a while so that the sanctuary could receive the last of it's finishing touches *Thanks Mrs. Nearlywed!!!* and I could be shuttled off to the unofficial bridal suite (aka the church's old nursery). Mr. Bowie was fine to stand outside though as it was a BEAUTIFUL Spring-ish day AND he got his traditional groom's gift to open!

We had originally agreed to not exchange wedding day gifts because our budget had definitely been stretched beyond what we felt comfortable with but when I was running around in the weeks leading up to The Big Day, I found something very symbolic that was perfect (and not expensive!) that I wanted to give to him so that he would always remember what he means to me and why I married him.

Can you see what the gift was? It's a knight in shining armor on a horse!!! He loved it and still talks about how it was just about one of his most perfect and memorable gifts ever so much that he did shed a few tears when he read the card I wrote to him.

After I was safely hidden away and my part of the bridal party started showing up, Mr. Bowie and his crew made their way into the church and hung out in our pastor's office and then the church multi-purpose room for a while. Looks like they had a pretty good time killing time!

At our church, playing chess before weddings is a pretty traditional thing as the pastor (who is a good friend of ours) told us later that the only time the chess board is ever pulled out is when the groom and his men are waiting for the wedding to start! Unfortunately, Mr. Bowie lost the one and only game they had time to play. Oh well.

It wasn't long until it was time to finish up getting ready enough to talk that big walk to the altar to meet up with me finally! Mr. Bowie's "details" were captured beautifully by the husband part of the photography team that captured our day...

Our colors were light pink and dark pink and he was the only one with a dark pink boutenniere to distinguish him from all of the other guys. His cufflinks were sixpence pieces that we found on Etsy.com for a little under $20 and I was happy to share the "something old, something new..." tradition with him so that he took care of the sixpence instead. What's mine is his and what's his is mine - that's how we work it! *wink*

His final moments of being a singleton were spent in quiet meditation and prayer after my dad gave him a "pep talk" about becoming THE man in my life.

This is one of the last pictures of Mr. Bowie before I saw him at the altar and it is my absolute favorite of him. Nathaniel did a beautiful job with the composition and really helping to capture the moment that was.

Images: Balance Photography
Location: Trinity Lutheran Church
Groom's tuxedo: MW Tuxedos, formerly called Afterhours Formalwear
Flowers: Proflowers Weddings

Professional Lighting...Is It Really A Must Have?

Over the last five or so years having professional lighting done for receptions has becoming increasingly common and now it's a virtual must-have for many brides.

I'm really kind of torn on the issue. On one hand I've seen really boring and horrible spaces transformed into wonderlands and I'm truly amazed at the difference it makes. And the conventional wisdom says that a bride can spend less on other decorations like flowers and get more bang for her buck with lighting. Not to mention the visual impact it has on your guests.

The other part of me feels like it's just one more thing that's been added to the "must have" list for brides and if you can't afford it then it's just one more thing your wedding is "lacking." And as much as I'd like to tell myself that brides will skimp on other decorations the reality is many will feel pressure to have amazing flowers AND lighting.

We're not going to have professional lighting done..mainly because we don't have the extra couple thousand to spare, but our space is also quite small and because it's already so beautiful it really doesn't need to be transformed into anything else.

For those brides out there who can't afford professional lighting I thought I'd include the below photos from Night Notes and Wine Spills, the photography blog of Ben Chrisman. Isn't it amazing what you can do with simple candle light???

What are your thoughts on lighting? Are you having it for your wedding?

All photos below credited to Ben Chrisman.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cherry Blossoms!!

The majority of my clients to date are hyper concerned about Cherry Blossoms. They are either trying to schedule their engagement sessions around Cherry Blossom Festival, plan their wedding during cherry blossom festival or incorporate the beloved Cherry Blossom into their wedding decor. Ahhh, the Cherry Blossom.... To those of you flying in for your engagement pics, rest assured the blossoms are coming in nicely, not too quickly and there have not been any torrential rain storms to destroy them all, you will be fine. To all my October brides wanting cherry blossoms, best advice i can give you is...Think Silk......

Here's a neat little tidbit of information located over at Flaming Tulle.
And did you know you can get married under the cherry blossoms? According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website:
Please call (202) 619-7225 and ask the Office of Park Programs/Permits Office to fax you a Public Gathering Permit application. The rule is that groups of people over 25 persons are required to have a permit. You will need to fill it out and fax it back to them at (202) 401-2430. This office will help you find a location for your event so that it does not interfere with other groups who already would have a permit.

Hate to be the one answering the phones there tomorrow....

Invitations: Signed, Sealed, Delivered

All the invitations are in the mail and most have arrived to their destinations. Our grand total was around 140 invitations. I know you're thinking..."wait, aren't you the one with the tiny chapel that only seats 85 and a reception place that only seats 100?" Yep, that's me.

Crazy? Well, Fiance and I are expecting a much higher then average "No" rate because a large amount of our friends live overseas and we know they love us but not $3,000 a person plane ticket love us. We had invitations that went to Japan, Korea, Scotland, Belgium, Senegal, Hong Kong, Turkey, Germany and even Iraq. We also had a lot of courtesy invitations to extended family that we knew weren't going to be able to make it but we still needed to include. So far we have 46 "yes" responses and 21 "no" responses

Here is the final product-

^ The outside envelope. The envelope paper is is Aspire Petallics in Beargrass, size A7, 80lb stationery weight. The wrap around labels are from The Bella Bella Co. Couture Correspondence Etsy Shop. The font is Liffey Script SF. The stamps are from the U.S. Post Office and I'm thrilled the green stems of the flowers matched our green/white colors cause I really didn't want to have to pay extra to get "personalized" stamps.

^Here is the back of the wraparound labels with our pre-printed return address on them.

^The inside envelopes are also Aspire Petallics in Beargrass size A6. The font is LainieDaySH.

^The invitation. Not sure of the paper as my sister printed them, but it's a similar light shimmery white like the Beargrass envelopes. Most of the text font is Copperplate Gothic (this comes standard on most word processing programs), the cursive names are in CygnetRound, and the flourish design at the bottom is WMDesigns1 small letter "d".

^Here are the RSVP envelopes. We used clear sick on labels from Office Depot and the font is Liffey Script SF. Yes, the Liberty Bell "Forever" stamps are ugly, but our RSVP date falls close to the date when stamp prices go up, and I'm sure we will have a few stragglers who send their RSVPs late and I didn't want them to be returned to sender. There aren't any 42 cent stamps available yet so the Liberty Bell it is!

We also had an insert for the reception and an actual RSVP card but they just follow the general look of the invitation.

Whewww...glad that's done!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

I don't care if it's the beach! No flip flops allowed!!!

When I decided to get married at the beach, it was very important to me to keep my original color scheme: Eggplant, ivory, champagne and maybe a splash of celadon here or there for fun. I didn't want to be the white and ocean blue bride everyone has seen a thousand times, and most importantly I did NOT want a beach theme. No flip-flops, no sea shells scattered on the tables, no lounge chair place card holders and no sand dollars in a tray of sand as escort cards. It's not that I think it's ugly, so please don't be offended if you've done these things, it's just not in my vision for my wedding. What I did want was to acknowledge the fact that we're getting married at the beach in a few understated aspects of the decor since we're not having a typical barefoot ceremony on the shore, but a formal church ceremony instead.

And it was hard to find a balance. When I originally met with my florist, I said I wanted small square vases with fluffy hydrangeas and limes or lemons in the bases. I mean, why not? Citrus come from Florida - that works, and it doesn't scream BEACH. But then, I started thinking about it, and how well did that fit with my overall design? It felt like I was unsuccessfully merging the formalness I wanted with the tropical location of the wedding. All of a sudden, I was dealing with a hodge-podge of great ideas that didn't really work together.

Thank goodness for my fmil!! It all started with a trip to Michael's and a few little understated beach items. Then, we headed to Marshall's for more big apothecary jars for candy, and she pointed out these beautiful vases. There were three, and they were perfect. But I needed 12. So we bought them and decided to try and few other TJ Maxx and Marshall's stores. Here's what we ended up with.

The vases are champagne, ivory, mother of pearl-ish, a bit of sea glass and a few hints of swirled purple. We plan to use a dark plum ribbon around them (i just threw some on there to show the effect) and still use the fluffy cream hydrangeas. Each table will have one or two vases since some of our tables seat 8 and others only 4, and we found 12 of them on our hunt for around $80 total. I love how they are all different shapes! The two big sea shells are kind of jobless right now, but I thought one would look nice on the "gift" table with a small card in front that tells people to leave greeting cards inside.

We also purchased a few of these little spheres covered with tiny shells to scatter on the candy bar table.

And last but not least, I found 10 of these amazing plum hued lanterns on mega sale at West Elm. We'll be hanging them from a tree with a candle inside. The photo didn't really capture the color well.

I finally feel like there's a cohesiveness to my entire look, and it's light and beachy but also has my purple accents and shows off how beautiful my color palette is! I'm so excited that what I originally envisioned as rich and Autumnal has transitioned so well into fresh and airy!

Have you guys had to go back and revise any of your plans that kind of just got out of control and disjointed? How did you get your design back on track?

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Sexy Something Blue

I spent Monday making my dad feel uncomfortable.

I took a sweet little visit home to Atlanta this week. My dad and step mom accompanied me to the local Priscilla of Boston to see me try on my dress, which I already ordered in DC. I didn't expect any tears from him but when the attendant placed the veil on my head, there was a definite flash of pain, followed by a visible flush of red to his face. He was trying to hold back the tears, but as fast as it had come over him, it was replaced his sheer happiness to see me prancing around like I was on the runway.

Then we went to lunch where my step mom went over wedding details and something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. I explained to her that I'll be wearing a ring that my grandfather gave to my grandmother in the early 70's. It's white gold with two pearls and two baby diamonds. He passed away in Vietnam and the ring was put away for around 40 years. Then when my mom got sick my grandmother passed it down to her and she wore it until the day she passed away. It's of very special significance to me. Something new will be my dress and something borrowed will be my aunt's veil that was also worn by my cousin. Then we started talking about something blue and how I have no idea what it will be.

Our next stop was Bloomingdales where the three of us somehow ended up in the women's underwear department - in the Hanky Panky section. I'm telling you now, if you're having a shower, have a Hanky Panky one. These underwear are the most comfortable thing you'll ever put on. And the amazing thing is that they are one size fits all!!! I know!!! Crazy! Right?! No need to even tell anyone what size you are!!!

I cannot tell you how comfortable these underwear are. Then...I found them. A baby blue pair with small crystals that say "I do." Jokingly I grabbed them and said to my step mom, "Hey Step mom Shirlington!!! These could be my something blue!!" And she grabbed them from my hands and insisted on buying them for me. I couldn't have been happier.

Until I saw the look on my dad's face when he realized he was staring at the pair of panties I would be wearing on my wedding night. It was possibly the most uncomfortable moment of my life! But for the Hanky Panky's - totally worth it!