30 November

{Guest Post} Bridesmaid Gifts

Amy, from Belles on a Budget stops by to give her ideas on how to thank your girls without blowing the wedding budget.

Your bridesmaids contribute so much to your big day. They are there to shriek over the phone when you announced your engagement, help you find that dress of your dreams, and offer moral support along the way. Not to mention the amazing shower and bachelorette party they will be throwing for you! So of course you want to show your girls how much they are loved and appreciated. Even on a budget, you can give them gifts any bridesmaid would envy. Here are some of my favorite bridesmaid gifts and tips for scoring them without breaking the bank:

1. Get Personal

Personal gifts not only thank your girls but provide a meaningful memento to show them how important your relationship is to you. A photo book with your favorite memories of the two of you, a photo collage of fun pictures, or a framed print all show your girls how special it has been to have them involved in your wedding. To do this on the cheap — be on the lookout for photo book deals or free photo collage offers. The holiday season is an especially good time to snag inexpensive photo gifts: Snapfish recently featured a Buy 1 Get 2 Free photo book promotion and several sites have free photo print offers.

2. Provide Wedding Day Essentials

Gifts to keep your girls stylish and comfortable on your big day are always a hit! Think flip flops (or my new favorite- foldable flats) to keep your girls dancing the night away, a tote to carry all of those necessities for the day, or pashminas to keep the bridesmaids warm during a cool evening reception. And all of these are doable on a budget!  Pick up cheap flip flops on sale at the end of the summer or combine coupons and sales to score an absolute steal on bridesmaid totes!

Photo Credit: The Wedding Channel Store.

3. Make Them Sparkle With Jewelry

Whether a keepsake piece or some inexpensive bling, jewelry can complete the bridesmaids’ looks and give them new accessories they can wear later. Browse sale sections and use coupons to score jewelry on a budget. Daily deal sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Plum District can also be helpful here — keep your eyes peeled for discounted vouchers to use at your favorite jewelry stores. Or opt for affordable handmade creations or vintage pieces to match your wedding style.

4. Pamper Them!

Indulge your girls with something they rarely buy themselves: luxe bath and body products, a personalized robe, or a fun make-up set. Or give them an experience: A day at a local spa, a massage, or a manicure is enough to de-stress anyone! It is definitely possible to splurge on your girls without blowing your budget. Wait for a sale at Sephora or Philosophy, or be on the lookout for a deal on a personalized robe at a wedding shop. Daily deal sites can provide a great resource for discounted massage or spa gift certificates to treat your bridesmaids and stick to your budget!

Photo Credit: The Knot Wedding Shop.

5. Be Creative

Sometimes the best way to thank your girls is to give them something that is uniquely them and fits their personality and lifestyle. Shop around and think like a couponer for the best prices on these items. A designer clutch for your fashionista sister, for example, could become affordable by using an extra 30% off coupon at a nearby Coach outlet. Or you could score an inexpensive weekender bag and passport cover — the perfect gift for your jet setting friend — at a blowout sale at an online gift store.

No matter what your budget or wedding style, you can find the perfect way to say a big thank you to your bridesmaids– without breaking the bank!

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Amy is the creator of Belles on a Budget — A how-to site for weddings on a budget. On the site, Amy combines her experience as an event planner for a non-profit with her love of weddings and scoring a fabulous deal to give brides tips, inspiration, and deals for having that dream wedding without spending their life savings.

23 November

{Guest Post} How To Pick Your Wedding Day Jewels

SmartBride Boutique stops by to give our readers some tips and tricks to finding your perfect wedding day jewelry:

Once you’ve chosen your wedding dress, it’s time to complete the look with accessories including your veil, jewelry, clutch, and shoes. When choosing jewelry for your wedding day, it’s important to consider both the overall theme or look you are trying to achieve AND the color, texture, and neckline of your wedding dress. The goal is for your jewelry to complement your dress, reflect your personality and create a visually balanced look.

The ladies over at SmartBride Boutique have you covered! Here are five questions to ask yourself before you choose your wedding day jewelry:

1. What color is your dress? And what colors of gold and silver compliment your skin tone?

Wedding dresses often come in several different shades. Brides are no longer stuck with true white; many designers offer ivory, platinum, and blush wedding dresses. Hopefully you’ve already chosen a dress that compliments your skin tone the best. Now, it’s important to choose white gold, yellow gold, or other colored jewelry based on the tones of your dress and your skin.

2. What’s your style personality?

Are you bold or bashful? Are you comfortable with bold statement pieces or do you prefer simple classic pieces? Once you’ve narrowed this down, it’s time to consider your options based on the neckline of your dress.

3. What type of neckline does your dress have?

Not all necklines can be paired with statement pieces. Your neckline will dictate the weight and visual interest you can add with your jewelry. Remember, you want people to notice your sparkling smile, and then your sparkling jewels, not the other way around! Here are some examples:

Simple necklines like strapless, or scoop necklines are perfect for necklaces of all sizes and styles. Pay attention to the length of your necklace. This bride (above) has it just right!

For high or asymmetric necklines, necklaces can take away from the beauty of the dress. Instead, consider a pair of pretty earrings that don’t compete with your neckline. This beautiful bride opted for earrings instead of a necklace with her Vera Wang Wedding Dress.

This halter wedding dress could be worn with or without a necklace. V-necks and halter gowns can sometimes accommodate a necklace, but it’s best to stick with something light or smaller pendants so your décolleté is not too busy.

4. Does your dress have a lot of intricate detailing (e.g. lace, beading, ruffles)?

If so, take care when picking your jewels. Dresses with intricate detailing around the neckline may call for a simple necklace, or to skip the necklace all together and opt for a great pair of statement earrings with a coordinated bracelet. Adding a necklace might detract from the beauty of a lace wedding dress, like the one above. The old adage “too much of a good thing” applies here. Try balancing textures so you don’t overdo it. If your dress already has beading, opt for something other than pearls. Sparkling embroidery might be best paired with matte finish jewelry. An abundance of ruffles might mean simple, clean lines for jewelry.

5. Is your dress stunningly simple?

Is your dress simple like a sheath (e.g. no intricate bead-work, ruffles, or pleats)? If so, the world is your oyster! A bold, statement necklace can really dress up your gown and pull your look together. Just be careful you don’t over do it. Stick with a flattering combination or necklace, earrings and bracelet. Rings are fun too, but be careful not to take away from the main attraction – your engagement ring!

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Leah and Andrea are masters of the save & splurge mentality when it comes to weddings. Together they run SmartBride Boutique, a free wedding classifieds website helping brides-to-be save on their wedding without sacrificing designer style. Brides save 30-70% off new, sample, and used wedding dresses, jewelry, decorations and more.

15 November

{Guest Post} Are You Warm or Cool?

Yelena, from AllGlamThings, stops by to give our readers some guidance on finding their best colors:

Did you know that the right colors can change you appearance dramatically? You can look younger, fresher, slimmer, and more naturally beautiful. That’s a fact! Look at the beautiful Audrina Patridge in two different color palettes:

I believe that in person everything should be beautiful and harmonized. That’s why it’s important to know your best colors. Do you know if your skin is warm or cool? Well, most people don’t, but it’s actually pretty easy to figure out!

Warm colors are colors of sun and fire: red, yellow, and orange. Cool colors are blue, green, and violet. When you look at the color of your eyes, hair, and skin you can intuitively feel whether you are warm or cool. However, metallics can help you figure out your skin tone temperature easily. Warm skin tones look best in gold jewelry, while cool types shimmer in silver.

Do a little test — buy foil wrapping paper in gold and silver, then hold a piece of each below your face. Which color makes you glow? Which one makes you skin look pale or sick? If you respond to cool, chances are you skin has more blue undertones and burns easily. Your best colors are blue, grey, and soft feminine tones. In jewelry I would suggest these gorgeous Rose de France 14K White Gold Earrings.

If warm colors give you that glow, then rich, earthy colors works great on you.  I like this stunning and delicious Checkerboard Citrine 14K Yellow Gold Ring for warm skin types.

If you are not getting a reading then you are a balanced season (between warm and cool). This skin type is quite flexible. When you’re not sure about what color to choose, pick a hue that brings out your eyes. Or why not mix few hues? Try this piece — Lemon Quartz 14K Yellow Gold Earrings with London Blue Topaz.

If you want to learn more about finding your best colors then make sure to check out my weekly posts on Glamthings.com or order your personal e-color analysis.

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Yelena Starikova is an Image Consultant and Editor at Glamthings.com — a website where you can find fashion advice, color inspiration, and personal thoughts on being 20-something and glamorous.

10 November

{Guest Post} 5 Proposal Tips For Men

The Man Registry stops by to give guys a few tips on how to pop the question:

So you’ve decided to get married – congrats! If you haven’t figured out how you’ll pop the big question yet, here are five tips to consider before taking the proverbial plunge.

1 – Get a ring. Whether it’s a diamond stunner, simple band or even a placeholder ring representing what’s to come later on, to do it right, you need a ring. Consider taking her ring shopping ahead of time to determine her tastes and preferences (even window shopping can be helpful) or enlist a good friend or close family member to help you do some recon.

2 – Get creative. While simply blurting out the question over frozen dinners or between commercial breaks will get the job done, it’s probably not quite the proposal she’s always dreamed of. Go above and beyond by putting yourself in her shoes. What would she really love? To wow her, cook up her dream day and make it happen. Then put the icing on the cake by asking her to marry you.

3 – Be sneaky. To really impress her, you need to surprise her. Even if you’ve already been ring shopping, wait a few months before popping the question so she isn’t expecting it. Consider enlisting her friends and family to help make everything a surprise. Want someone to take photos from afar while you’re proposing or drive her to the proposal location? Ask her sister or best friend to get involved. Another option is to invite your closest peeps to grab drinks afterward so you can share the big news with everyone.

4 – Put pen to paper. Not quite sure what to say, other than “Will you marry me?” Make your proposal a heartfelt one by writing down how she makes you feel and why you want to spend the rest of your life with her beforehand. This little exercise may also help ease some nerves, so you don’t completely blank on what to say later on.

5 – Be confident. This is a big step in life, but don’t let that scare you. Be cool. You’ve found a great girl and she can’t wait to marry you. You can do this. Man up!


TheManRegistry.com is the leading wedding planning resource for men. Created by three guys who had noticed a lack of groom-focused resources during the planning of their own weddings, the site offers a dude-friendly wedding registry, groomsmen gifts, a local vendor guide and countless articles and blogs. Additionally, The Man Registry’s groom guide will be released this January by Alpha Publishing.

1 November

Fall Fashion Necklace Revival

This past Saturday, I was on a mission to refresh my jewelry collection. After passively shopping the brownstone boutiques on Newbury Street without finding any inspiration, I decided to take action. This fall, rather than add to my necklace collection, I’m revamping it instead.

Here is my call-to-arms: Four action verbs that motivated my necklace revival.

Layer

Layer multiple necklaces and wear them all together.  Choose different length chains with different sized pendants, or try plain chains accented with a strand necklace or colorful pendant. Try layering necklaces over flowing tops or dresses for a carefree look that moves with you.
Stack

Stack two or three pendants on a single chain. Larger, chunkier pendants can go on a longer chain, while you should let smaller, charm-size pendants fall on your breastbone. Take it one step further and experiment with mixing metal types and pendant shapes. This look is totally sweet, yet subtle enough if you have a stricter office dress code.

Ring

Rings aren’t just for fingers anymore. They look great on a chain too. Stack a few thinner rings together or pick one funky ring. Choose a chain that will help the ring-lace stand out: keep the ring(s) on a textured chain that falls an inch below the top of your shoulders. Now that you’ve freed up your fingers, free up your soul. Compliment this rule-bending look with leather and a rock-n-roll attitude.

Wrap

Wrap a long necklace around your neck a few times. Wrap it two or three times so that it covers your neck to your breastbone, or wrap it more so it becomes a tight choker. Pair either option with an up-do and a back-less top. This is definitely a look to wear out; it draws attention to your features and to your sophistication.
Take action, ladies! Revive your necklaces!
20 September

The Emmy for Best Jewelry

Modern Family’s sweep at the 2011 Emmy Awards extended to the red carpet too. Winner of the night’s best jewelry look? Sofia Vergara, by a landslide. She set off her bright coral gown with jaw-dropping emerald earrings by Lorraine Schwartz.

Unlike Angelina Jolie’s memorable emerald earrings from the Oscars a few years ago (also by Lorraine), Sofia’s had a lacy peacock feather motif that made them as artful as they were vibrant.

I didn’t even realize until later that she was also wearing a Lorraine Schwartz pinky ring with a dangling emerald charm and a textured gold Ofira cuff: pieces that would have certainly attracted notice from jewelry trend spotters if the earrings weren’t so mesmerizing!

The runners up for the best jewelry award: Heidi Klum and Padma Lakshmi. Heidi brightened her gray dress with enormous flower earrings and ring ablaze with fire opals, also by Lorraine Schwartz. Padma Lakshmi looked stunning in elegant drop earrings from her own jewelry collection.

Is it a coincidence that, among their other talents, both Heidi and Padma are jewelry designers? I’m sure they give more thought to how jewelry makes an outfit. Design your own jewelry and you may take your jewelry style up a level too.

Photo Credit: Sofia Vergara by Frazer Harrison / GettyImages, emerald ring by Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum by Andrew Evans / PR Photos, Padma Lakshmi by Danny Moloshok / Reuters.

19 September

Emmy Jewelry: Red Alert

Red ruled the red carpet at the 2011 Emmy Awards. Kate Winslet, Lea Michele, Nina Dobrev, and other stars chose red dresses. But even more stars chose red gems: dangling ruby earrings added a punch of color to dresses of every hue. Lea Michele matched ruby earrings to her red dress. Kelly Osbourne and Anna Torv matched ruby with black. Jane Krakowski wore ruby earrings with a neutral gown. The whole night was a master class on how versatile, even neutral, red can be. No wonder the dramatic shade is a perennial must-have in the stylish woman’s jewelry box: the ruby earrings below are an irresistible example!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Lea Michele, Kelly Osbourne, and Anna Torv by Andrew Evans / PR Photos; Jane Krakowski by Jordan Strauss / WireImage.

27 June

Oh My Ruby!

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore my July birthstone, the regal ruby. And I’m not alone — this gem has been prized for centuries by royalty, Hollywood and the wealthy worldwide.

The Sanskrit word for ruby is “ratnaraj,” which means “king of the gemstones.” Second only to diamonds in the Mohs hardness scale, rubies are durable and can be cleaned easily with a soft cloth and mild dish soap. Or vodka, if you prefer.

Rubies were widely used in royal insignias and crowns — St. Wenzel’s Crown holds a staggering 250-carat ruby. The 167-carat Edwardes Ruby was named for Major General Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes who turned back the tide of mutiny against British rule in India. It rests in the British Museum of Natural History in London, donated by John Ruskin in 1887. American crowds can gape at the 137-carat Rosser Reeves Ruby, on display at the Smithsonian.

In more modern times, rubies remain popular. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, received a ruby engagement ring from Prince Andrew. Singer and budding fashion tycoon Jessica Simpson also sports a ruby engagement ring, so similar to this Gemvara ring here, that we named it after her.

Right now, I’m obsessing over this stunning ruby pendant. Set in 14K yellow gold, this piece just exudes luxury. Eight marquis-cut rubies radiate from a round center stone. Play with color and develop your own unique piece! I added tanzanite accent gems for a spellbinding look. I love it. Maybe I’ll drop some hints to the fiancée. My birthday is in a few weeks after all…

I toyed with the idea of ruby engagement rings for awhile, particularly this one, with its lovely vintage beading, diamond halo, and side diamonds:

And the Natalie Ring, with a ruby in place of a center diamond, surrounded by a double halo of pavé diamonds, is just so hot! I can only imagine the jaws dropping.

If you could wear any piece of ruby jewelry, what would it be?

12 May

Vote for the Bridal Jewelry Awards!

Engagement 101 has nominated an amazing selection of engagement rings in the 2011 Bridal jewelry Awards.  There are eight categories: Classic Cut Engagement Rings, Fancy Cut Engagement Rings, Women’s Wedding Bands, Men’s Wedding Bands, Matching Engagement Ring, Wedding Band Sets, Vintage Engagement Rings, Trendsetting Engagement Rings, and Eco-Friendly Engagement Rings.

We are proud to announce that Gemvara’s stunning Lotus Ring is nominated.  So now it’s up to you!  Vote and you’ll be entered to win lots of royal-wedding related goodies. We hope you’ll consider voting for us!

29 April

Get the Look: Kate Middleton's Earrings

The dress was divine.  The pageantry unforgettable.  The tiara dazzling.  But the one brilliant detail of Kate Middleton’s day that we all can add to our own lives, married to a prince or not, are her dazzling diamond droplet earrings.  Sparkling even through her veil, dancing and catching the light, her earrings were effortlessly elegant. Although they looked great with a tiara, it doesn’t take much imagination to see them looking just as stunning with a little back dress or even a crisp white shirt.

Kate’s earrings were created by designer Robinson Pelham and feature the oakleaf and acorn motif of Kate’s new family crest. They were a gift from Duchess Catherine’s parents, Carol and Michael Middleton.

If you’ve been coveting Kate’s wedding earrings but don’t have a family crest, this fabulous Gemvara style that dances and catches the light in the same way is just the ticket.  They are dazzling in diamond and platinum. But because it’s Gemvara, you can also customize them in a range of other gemstones and precious metals so that they won’t require a crown-jewels size budget.