DIY or Buy?

The wedding dress…I NEVER, NEVER…EVER thought I would be DIYing my wedding dress.  But, after going to several bridal boutiques and just not finding the right dress…I finally said yes to my Mom’s dress albeit with a bit of a DIY element.  Obviously I am not going to be able to go at this project alone so, I have enlisted the help of a professional.  However, I still consider this a DIY project because believe it or not if you are going to be embarking on this journey you are INVOLVED! Much more involved than I originally anticipated, but I have been loving every second of it!

The design has been a work in progress…and I feel like every time I meet with our dressmaker it gets better.  This past Saturday my Mom and I went for another fitting and it is just coming along beautifully.  I am so excited! I can already tell this is going to be one of my most adored elements of our BIG day!

So, in my experience this was a definite DIY.  I think it goes without saying that it is a very personal choice.  However, I will say it’s important to make sure you are open to options that you may not have thought were for you…because they may be better than you could have ever imagined.

Here’s a little sneak peek of the dress…



Upcycled Vintage Wedding Dress 101

This weekend Mom & I had our first consultation with the dressmaker.  We learned a lot about upcycling Mom’s dress! So, I thought I would share some of the insights she provided to us with you.

1. Turn off the Lights.  

First things first, light is the enemy…when you have a dress that has been locked up in the dark (attic) for 40 years, you shouldn’t carelessly expose it to mass amounts of light.  It will yellow the dress at an exponential rate, so be careful.  I was not aware of this, so I am so glad Carol shared this with us.

2. Box it Up.

Hanging it in your closet is not a good idea.  In my case the dress is 40 years old, its fragile.  Hanging it up could really damage the shoulders, also something I didn’t think of.  Carol suggested getting a big coat box and secure the dress inside with acid-free tissue paper between layers of fabric.

3. Work with What You Got.

In my case Mom’s dress is made of a beautiful Chantilly lace, which is a very fine airy lace, usually with lots of detail and elaborate motifs.  Lucky for me Chantilly pairs quite nicely with other airy fabrics like tulle, more on that here.  It is my personal favorite out of all the laces :) So, with that in mind I want to use every square inch of the lace in good condition.  We have come up with ways to not only include in the dress but, other places as well.

Also, I was hoping to do a corset back but, the fabric in the bodice is not quite strong enough.  Instead of going ahead with a corset and risking tearing the front bodice we have come up with a new plan to preserve the pretty.

4. Be Prepared.

Come with sketches of what you want to do, if you can.  If you are not very artistic chances are you know someone that is, a simple sketch will really only take a few minutes.  Also, bring photos of other dresses with the same elements you want to incorporate in your dress.  That way the dressmaker knows what type of finished look you are going for.  A picture is really worth a thousand words.  While I will say being prepared is important, I must also say so is being open-minded…

5. Be Open-minded.

Without being too repetitive, see here. I can’t stress the importance of being open-minded during the planning process.  You will save yourself a lot of stress.  But, when considering upcycling there will be things you can’t do, things you didn’t know you could do, and maybe somethings you will have to do to make it work.  If you can let go a little bit , it can be the things you don’t expect that will make you the most happy.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a planner and can have a tough time being open-minded with something I have spent a lot of time preparing for…but, I can honestly admit sometimes you are just wrong.  Our dressmaker had a lot of great recommendations based upon the originality of my Mom’s dress and in some cases the condition.  Surprisingly to me, I loved all of them.  And I am so excited to see the finished product… the anticipation just might kill me.

Here’s some upcylced vintage wedding dress inspiration to dull the pain of anticipation

A Love Affair with Tulle

I honestly didn’t anticipate having a love affair with tulle, but it is in full force.  From my wedding dress to my little flower girls, tulle will have a big presence on our BIG day.  Here is some of the inspiration behind the obsession:

Are there any other brides out there that find/found themselves fixated on a certain fabric or detail of your BIG day when planning? If so, share in the comments, help me feel a little less crazy. LOL!

Say Yes to the Dress, UPDATED

Ok, so I know I told you I found my dress, but I have had a change of heart.  The dress that I had found with the help of the dress whisperer Randy is gorgeous and I love it but, there was just something missing.  I think that is one of the reasons I felt like I had to sleep on it.  I was originally super excited about the many alterations I had planned for the dress because it would really make it unique.  However, I kept have these nightmares of like a Frankenstein dress and I just couldn’t do it.

Here we are months later and I am still searching.  This past Saturday Mom and I had another appointment.  The ladies were so nice and the dresses were beautiful, they were just for a different bride. The more I try on dresses the more I realize how impossible it is to find what I want without many costly alterations, err Frankenstein dress nightmares…

After thinking about it I realized if I was going to invest in numerous alterations it wasn’t going to be on an off the rack dress.  It was going to be on my Mom’s dress, which is honestly something I never thought I would say.  I was even stubbornly resistant to trying Mom’s dress on at all.  I was just concerned that I would try it on and not like it and she would lay the Ruth smackdown of pressure on for me to wear it on my BIG day.  We all know she is a force to be reckoned with, where do you think I got it from. Lol!  But, something happened when I slipped it on.  I fell in love! I fell in love with the history, with the meaning, with the lace, with the veil.  There are so many elements of my Mom’s dress that I absolutely love.  The lace.  I mean shut the front door its insanely beautiful.  I also love that it has sleeves.  So many dresses today are strapless.  I am also obsessed with the cathedral veil, which is the last thing I thought I would love.  I was planning on going with a tiny birdcage and here I am starring at myself in the mirror in this regal cathedral veil with a life of its own and loving every second of it!

For those of you that haven’t seen my Mom’s dress here she is with Dad looking amazing on her BIG day:

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I decided to get to work researching local dressmakers. I found  Carol’s Custom Dressmaking in New Windsor.  If anyone has worked with her please leave a comment with your experience.  I have read a few reviews online and most of them are really positive, so I felt comfortable setting up a consultation.  If I can get all of the updates done within my budget this is going to be what I wear on my BIG day too, so wish me luck!

The Countdown Begins

Today marks the 1 year countdown(just kidding. UPDATE wedding is now on May 10, 2014, fingers crossed the wisteria will be in bloom at the Lirio)…enter freak out mode! LOL! Well not completely freak out but, just a little.  First things first I have to get serious about my WORKOUT.  My lovely trainer/friend Larisa has been telling me this for weeks but, I’ve been politely ignoring her, haha.  But, the harsh reality just smacked me in the face and this just got real.  The way I look at it the photos from your wedding are going to staring you in the face for the rest of your life so, you better look good.  Lucky for me my dress isn’t super body conscious, but it is strapless so my upper body workouts are going to have to get intense and quick.

Larisa has put together one upper body circuit for me and after 3 weeks doing the same routine I think I finally feel comfortable lifting weights hans solo for the first time in my life.  This is what she has me doing:


I have a feeling she is going to force me to switch it up this weekend.  I have yet to get too comfortable with any workout before she makes it harder, but I guess that’s why she’s so good at her job.  She is always pushing you to make you stronger. By the way, if anyone needs a trainer in the Owings Mills area let me know I can send you her info.

Say Yes to the Dress

Well, we didn’t quite say yes…haha! But, we were really close.  Mom and I had the experience of a lifetime last week.  We went to Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection in Pikesville, MD for some wedding dress shopping and to meet the Wedding Dress whisperer as I like to call him, Randy Fenoli, from Say Yes to the Dress. It was quite an incredible evening! Betsy Robinson’s is a beautiful boutique with so many options for just about any budget and they have samples on sale at all times, which I think is awesome.  I definitely recommend it to all brides-to-be in the area.

I must admit I was rather nervous to go to Betsy’s because there were so many horrible reviews on Google about previous brides having an awful experience.  But, I decided that the chance to meet Randy was worth the risk and thank god!  Our consultant Kate was so sweet and patient and great! Kate the Great! HAHA! (If you want to go to Betsy’s make an appointment with Kate, trust me she is awesome) She was so helpful in steering me clear of all my confusion from my previous dress shopping experiences and she patiently honed in on the style that I loved.  Then we found what worked and what clearly didn’t.  Then we found THE dress!


As soon as I put THE dress on Mom started crying, I couldn’t breathe … I mean literally it took my breathe away.  I love this dress!  I just knew, Mom just knew, Kate knew, it was a great moment.  Then of course Randy came into see and he knew.  (Randy by the way is so down to earth and funny and genuinely a really nice guy. Of course, he is also beyond fabulous.  He is so well dressed and not a thing is out of place with his look, impeccable style that Randy.  I mean just look at that pocket square.)  While, I didn’t say yes to the dress because I wanted to sleep on it just to make sure, I know now that this is my wedding dress and I am soooo excited!

Not only is it gorgeous and incredibly flattering, I can make it my own.  Betsy’s doesn’t just offer alterations they offer customizations, so that you can really make THE dress your own.  We all know that I have this desire to be my own person in almost every aspect of my life so, we all saw it coming in regards to John and I’s upcoming wedding and in this case my wedding dress.  Betsy’s is going to help me make this dress just as I want it and I can’t wait to see it.

Pre-Wedding Dress Shopping Brunch

This past weekend my MOM and MOH joined in for some wedding day dress shopping fun.  I wanted to thank them for coming by preparing a super yummy brunch to start our day off right.  Our menu included a yummy fruit salad, lemon poppy seed pancakes with a sugared blueberry topping, bacon (because what’s brunch without bacon, we may love bacon a little too much in our house), and of course mimosas.

Everything was so delicious I thought I would share some of the recipes:

Sunrise Golden Fruit Salad, adapted from recipe found here

1 mango, cubed
1 banana sliced into thick rounds
1 lemon, juiced
1 fresh pineapple, cubed
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp. honey 
3 bartlett pears, cubed

Directions- Toss all ingredients in large bowl. Serve immediately or slightly chilled. Note: This salad does not do well overnight since the pineapple enzyme bromelain will eat away at the other fruits.

Sugared Blueberry Topping, recipe found here

2 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions- mix together blueberries, sugar, honey and fresh lemon juice. Let marinate in the fridge while you prepare pancakes.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes, recipe found here

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
butter, shortening, or vegetable oil for frying

Directions- In a small bowl combine granulated sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with your fingers until sugar is fragrant. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the lemon sugar. Set aside.

In a separate bowl (or you can use a large liquid measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients. Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine. If a few lumps remain, that’s no problem. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes while the griddle heats.

Place a griddle, or a nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add a bit of butter, shortening, or vegetable oil to the pan. A teaspoon of fat will do for a n0nstick saute pan, a bit more fat may be necessary for a griddle. Dollop batter onto hot pan. For small pancakes, I use about 2 tablespoons for each pancake. For larger pancakes, I use about 1/4 cup of batter. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and and bubbling on top. Flip once and cook until golden brown on each side.

Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (about 150 degrees F) oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve. Serve with butter and the sugared blueberry topping.

Enjoy :)

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After my 105 pound weight loss, I started this blog to inspire and motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle!


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