25+ Planning, Style, and Life Wedding Tips From a Newlywed Editor
This is what nobody tells you about planning a wedding: the entire process is all about decision-making. First, you make the biggest decision: should I marry this person? If the answer is "yes!," it moves onto should we have a wedding? Where should it be? When should it be? How much will we spend? Band or DJ? What will I wear? Who will do my makeup? Are mason jars just so 2013 or still cute? And it goes on and on.
After planning a wedding in 10 months and feeling satisfied with how it came out (OK, fine, it was magical!), I'd love to offer you the best tips I learned on my journey. (Expect a lot of hair and makeup advice, since I am POPSUGAR's senior Beauty editor).
Keep reading to discover every decision I made throughout the planning process to end up feeling like it really was the event of my dreams.
Choose a Venue With Equally Gorgeous Indoor and Outdoor Settings
You can control the budget. You can control your flowers. You can control just about everything — except for the weather. Make this stress-free on yourself by choosing a venue where you love the indoor setting just as much as the outdoor one. I booked mine at The Garrison (pictured) in New York's Hudson River Valley. You would never be able to tell it was about 50 degrees and chilly in this photo. Learn more about how I made the decision to book my wedding there.
Create a Photo Op
As a beauty editor, I love flower crowns but decided not to wear one for my big day. (More on the accessory I did wear later!) So when my florist, Lee Vazquez, presented this idea of creating a giant floral wreath for the perfect photo op, I was instantly sold. If you can find a way to work a photo setting — be it this, a wall of roses, etc. — into your budget, it will make your event unique.
Also, hire vendors you creatively vibe with! I was on a strict budget for florals and hired Lee because she had innovative ways on how to stretch what I could spend and reuse different pieces throughout the night.
Pick a Venue With Good Food
This sounds obvious, but don't assume the food is delicious. Either do a food sampling, get a recommendation from someone you trust (like a foodie friend), or dine at the venue's restaurant. Most people remember three things: the venue, the food, and the music.
Design Your Own Wedding Invitations
To make my event personal, I designed all of the paper goods — invites, table cards, menus, programs, etc. — through Minted. This gave my wedding a color theme (blush pink, white, and green florals with rose gold details) and ensured no one would have the same invite as me. And it didn't cost a fortune! Read more about the process.
Hire a Glam Team You Can Rely On
Eliminate day-of stress by enlisting a hairstylist who understands you and knows your hair well. Dhiran Mistry of Spoke & Weal (pictured) has been cutting my strands for five years, so he was the perfect man for the job. We had three hair trials to choose my half-up style, cut the extensions, and perfect the look.
On the big day, he kicked everyone out of the room to concentrate. He nailed the updo in one shot, and not a hair fell out after hours of dancing. That's the sign of a good friend (and a pro!).
Find Your Dream Hairpiece
Many moons before I got a rock on my left hand, I obsessed over this Lelet NY Orbit Pearl Halo piece. Lauren Conrad's hairstylist Kristin Ess posted photos on Instagram of Lelet NY accessories, and I fell down a rabbit hole, swooning over crowns, barrette, and combs. This one spoke to me because it felt classic with a twist. And the pearls show up well in brunette hair!
Whether you just love hair flowers or jewels, trust your gut when you find a hairpiece that seems like The One.
You Don't Have to Spend a Fortune on Makeup
As a beauty editor, I felt pressure to get the best glam team. After trials with many brands and pros, Phillip Silvas fell into my lap. I had booked GlamSquad for my bridal shower hair and makeup, and Phillip was the artist the on-demand service sent.
He nailed my makeup that day, and I received many compliments on it from my friends and family. People even told me: "Wear this exact look on your wedding."
I did a second, more formal trial with Phillip to perfect his art (tip: do it for your engagement photos, so you can see how it photographs!). We decided on a rose gold eye (to match my theme), a bronzy cheek, and faux lashes.
GlamSquad is affordable enough that I was able to pay for all seven of my bridesmaids plus the two moms. It costs about $100 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
Give Your Makeup Artist Your Favorite Products to Use
What is also great about GlamSquad (and most on-demand services) is that you can give them your own makeup to use. This leaves less room for problems, such as an allergic reactions to the formulas.
I provided Phillip with a handful of Charlotte Tilbury skin-perfecting products (including Magic Cream and Film Star Bronze & Glow Palette), the Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette for my eye shadow, and Christian Louboutin Lipstick in Petal Rose.
Fun fact: I sent Phillip selfies of me trying lipstick colors from the makeup counter, and he helped me choose the right shade for my complexion.
I love nail art, so of course I had a professional nail artist come up to do all of our nails. Simcha Whitehill, also known in the manicure community as Miss Pop, set up shop in my bridal suite to give the bridal party and me chic nail art. She created gold, silver, and rose gold accents, stripes, half-moons, and other minimalist decals on neutral and light pink bases.
Get an Authentic Manicure
Here is my nail art featuring Chanel Le Vernis in Pink Rubber (a limited-edition color) as a base and Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro in Stargasm for the rose gold monogram (my initials and my husband's). I chose long-wear polish over gel so I could take it off during my active two-week honeymoon in Southeast Asia and not worry about chips!
Don't Be Skimpy on Photography
At the end of the event, all you will have is a new husband or wife and your photos. You also spend all day with your photographer, so make sure you like the person. I hired Bruce Plotkin, a second-generation wedding photographer who I trusted to get every classic shot and then some creative ones — like this ring photo he staged on a newspaper of the wedding date. While I honestly spent more than I expected to on photography, it was worth it (just look at this gallery!).
If you really can't spend much on photos, create a wedding hashtag and ask guests to take pictures for you.
For video, I hired NST Pictures, and you can read more about that here.
Buy a Dress That Fits
My best piece of advice in this whole damn story is to buy a dress you don't feel like you have to lose weight for. While I got toned and worked out almost every day in the final weeks leading up to my wedding, I probably lost about three pounds total. I didn't worry about losing weight, since I bought a gown that flatters my shape. This is the Reem Acra She's in Love style with a simple veil from Saks.
Wear Shoes You Can Dance In
I love sexy, strappy stilettos just as much as the next person, but since you could not actually see my shoes under the gown, I opted for a practical style. These Stuart Weitzman Nearly Nude Sandals in Lame were the perfect combination of glam and functional. The block heels with grip allowed me to move about the room feeling supported. And I will wear them to other affairs!
Find a Signature Bridal Fragrance
One of the best pieces of advice I received came from another POPSUGAR editor who wrote this story about picking a signature bridal fragrance. I did this early on and chose Chloé Love Story. I wore the fresh jasmine and citrus scent to every event — engagement party, bachelorette weekend, bridal shower, wedding day, and honeymoon. Now, every time I spray it, I am reminded of this special time in my life. (I received this gifted monogrammed bottle for my big day.)
Pick Flattering Robes
You know what is not cute? Giant t-shirts or robes that don't close properly. A bunch of us at POPSUGAR are fan of the lightweight jersey robe from Yummie by Heather Thomson, and I owned a black one before investing in the white bridal one. To be honest, on the hanger it looks limp, but on your body it's transformative. It gives you a sexy cinched waist while hugging the rest of your curves in all the right spots. Plus, the jersey is soft and machine washable. My bridesmaids liked them so much that they ditched their gowns and wore the robes to my afterparty!
Monogram Your Own Robes
To make the robes even more special, I had them monogrammed in gold lettering via jeplus.com for $25 each. The moral of this story is: buy the robes you love, and then get them embroidered — instead of just buying cheap embroidered ones off of Etsy.
Get the Groom's Accessories on Sale
OK, now over to my husband, Michael. He is a superb sales shopper, so I wanted to spotlight his accessories. His $19 bow tie was from The Tie Bar and features just a hint of glitter.
Men's Shoes Can Have Personality
Instead of basic patent leather dress shoes, he found this cool pair with a pony-hair texture from the Hugo Boss outlet in Woodbury Commons.
Invest in Cufflinks He Can Wear Again
Michael got a dapper pair of Lanvin cufflinks that were on sale for $90 at Mr Porter.
Buy a Suit on Sale
He also found his Theory tux on sale! (Similarly, my brother snagged a discounted John Varvatos suit at Woodbury Commons.)
Borrow Family Jewelry
My grandmother and aunts pulled through, lending me these pearl earrings and diamond bracelet to wear. The pieces had been worn by different family members for their weddings and brought good karma to my event. (Also, I just put on my dress here, so I was feeling emotional.)
Show Off Your Personal Style
My florist — who made this gorgeous South of France-inspired bouquet — told me your wedding is the time to be your most elegant self. For me, that meant wearing lace (an homage to my late grandfather, who owned a lace factory) and ruffles (a nod to all of the dance costumes I wore growing up). It also inspired me to choose a simple blush, white, and green color palette — because I actually love pink!
Don't Reinvent the Wheel
Like I said, be creative — but if you also love blush, white, and green flowers, it can still be original.
Get Customizable Bridesmaids Dresses
You know what is even less cute than an ill-fitting robe? When all of your friends have to wear the same dress — and when it looks like a bridesmaids dress (sorry to every strapless chiffon gown out there). POPSUGAR's fashion editor recommended Fame & Partners to me after she wore one of the dresses to a wedding.
While these gowns can be bridesmaids dresses, they can also be regular wedding guest dresses (in fact, one of my guests wore a Fame & Partners dress to my affair!). The modern styles also come in an array of cuts and colors, so you can find the ideal one for your event. I went with this mushroom-mauve shade that felt perfect for early Spring.
The best part is that all of the dresses are customizable for free or a small fee. You can raise a low back to be able to wear a bra, add or hide a slit, change the skirt length, and alter other features. This ensured each 'maid got a dress that flattered her body type.
Beauty tip: we all got Vita Liberata spray tans two days before the event. If you're asking your squad to wear a light color, they might want to get a glowy faux tan for it.
The Music Matters
After my venue, my first phone call was to Kim Sozzi. I met her years ago while writing another bridal article and knew I had to hire her family's band, Creations Music. First of all, they offer continuous music, meaning no breaks (even for dinner!), and they also don't sound like a cheesy cover band. The eight-person group did everything from Dave Matthews to Katy Perry. Plus, they learned special songs for my wedding, including Jennifer Lopez's "Let's Get Loud" and Backstreet Boys's "I Want It That Way." The dance floor was bumping until the last song, which ended with a conga line started by my father to "(I've Had) the Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing. Again, worth the investment if you want to get down!
Make Monogrammed Accessories That Are So YOU
My husband teases me that you won't find me without a denim jacket glued to my body during the Summer. Instead of getting a fancy bolero or fur topper, I had a white Levi's jacket monogrammed in gold with stars (for Goldsmith!). I love it, and wore it during my honeymoon.
Wedding Sneakers Are a Thing
I also could not find wedding sneakers that felt "me." Some were too bedazzled, while others too expensive. So I had the idea to customize a cushiony pair of Nike kicks in white featuring my new last name. I now wear them all over Manhattan, including to workout classes!
Actually Have Fun at Your Wedding
When the planning was over — the decisions were made — it was time to eat, drink, and dance my big night away. While some brides have told me they were to busy to eat anything at the wedding, I ate everything — even the pizza and apple cider donuts at the afterparty. Once it's go time, enjoy yourself.
Keep reading to see more images from my wedding!