Vendor Spotlight and GIVEAWAY: My Shining Lights (CLOSED)

Friday, January 29, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , , , | 165 comments

I have to admit, I have an unhealthy obsession with all things etsy. I’ve been stalking vendor shops, particularly those that sell jewelry and accessories. I’m on the lookout for cute gifts for my ladies, but let’s just say some of the budget bridesmaid gifts out there are a bit tacky and generic. But log onto etsy and you’ll find countless options for lovely gear for your ladies. Enter my next Vendor Spotlight and the sponsor of my very first giveaway: Jo from My Shining Lights. I received a pair of pearl earrings from Jo’s shop and I must say they are much prettier in person! The products are made very well using the best materials, including genuine pearls and Swarovski crystals. Dainty, feminine, chic and affordable. Music to a budget bride’s ears and wallet! Take it away, Jo!

What sparked your interest in creating jewelry?

I would say that I have two answers this question. The first would be that it’s a girl thing! From the moment that we spot that glittering piece of jewelry most likely on a loved one’s neck, grasp it with our tiny fingers, I think we are hooked! At least that is how it was for me. Then a few years ago I started having dreams. The good kind of dreams, the type that when you awaken you just think, “Oh, I wish I could fall back to sleep and dream about this for a longer period of time.” I would just wake up feeling so happy! I would be in this place that had glass counters that were full of containers of sparkles and gemstones and I could go from place to place and choose from the trays the items that I loved the most.

What words would you use to describe your work?

Quality materials, precise, feminine, lovely, elegant, organic, romantic, inspired by dreams

Which pieces of your jewelry would you say would be perfect for weddings? Why?

Any of my Bridal Collection earrings such as Promise, Always, Pursuit, Starlight, Romance and Devotion.

Also, Dancing With Cinderella, Sarah, Violets and Daffodils, Lavender Sweetness, Loving Pearls, Pearls with Violets. I have two necklaces in my shop that would be perfect for weddings. They are titled Something Blue and Romance.

I have a sweet pair of earrings that would be perfect for a Flower Girl as the ear wires and the earring itself are proportioned to a delicate size.

As for why? I designed the Bridal Collection, of course, with weddings in mind where they would be well suited for the Bride, Bridesmaids or Mothers of the Bride and Groom. The names of my necklaces Something Blue and Romance is pretty much self explanatory of their appropriateness for weddings. The other earrings that I mentioned are made of sterling silver, pearls, Swarovski crystals, and some have gemstones. I like to make wedding jewelry with the finest quality of materials that I can find. I love to use pearls, there is something about them that seems pure, they are organic and there is something romantic about the thought that they started out as a tiny irritant, and that over time they developed into something that is lovely and cherished.

Tell us one interesting tidbit about your jewelry.

It often has a dragonfly adorning it. My first pieces all had dragonflies. Sometimes a few, sometimes just one hidden like a little sparkle of whimsy. It finally became impractical to include a dragonfly on everything, but you might want to inspect my pieces carefully as you never know when one might show up!

Any advice for brides-to-be out there?

You have so much preparation for a wedding and though it is joyful and exciting, it can also be exhausting, so my advice would be, “Take care of that to do list, but once the wedding day arrives, put that list aside, take a deep breath and allow yourself to soak it all in. Savor this special day with the man you love and just soak in the beauty, the joy, the tastes, the sounds and the love!”

View more of Jo’s work at:

Now for our giveaway! Jo has been very gracious in giving two prizes to one lucky reader!

The winner will receive Key to My Heart

as well as these pearl earrings!

Perfect as a bridesmaid or attendant gift, or even a lovely set to give to your MOH! 
*All photos provided by Jo from My Shining Lights

To enter, leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win. Each entry without any contact information will be disqualified. For each entry you complete, you must leave a separate comment. To leave a comment, each contestant must:

1) Go to My Shining Lights on etsy and comment on your favorite item for one entry! This is mandatory! Contestants who do not do this will be disqualified. Remember to leave your email address or some way to contact you with each entry!

You can add another comment to increase your chance to win if you,

2) Become a new follower of this blog (1 entry)
3) Become a new follower of Jo's blog (1 entry)
4) Are currently a follower of my blog (2 entries)
5) Become a facebook fan of “I Do” Budget Weddings (2 entries)
6) Blog about the contest and include a link to the giveaway. Each entrant must also include a link to My Shining Lights etsy shop in their post (3 entries)
7) Buy anything from My Shining Lights shop (5 entries)
8) Follow “I Do” Budget Weddings on Twitter (1 entry)
9) Follow My Shining Lights on Twitter (1 entry)
10) Tweet on this giveaway and include a link to this giveaway in your tweet (1 entry)

The deadline to enter this contest is 11:59 p.m., Thursday, February 11, 2010 (PST). A winner will be randomly chosen and announced the following Friday morning. Good luck! THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!

*As the host of this giveaway, I received a pair of earrings from My Shining Lights.

Free labels giveaway!

Thursday, January 28, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 2 comments

Planning a wedding makes you such a nerd about things you never thought twice about before. Like labels. Who thought I'd be absolutely giddy about them now? Think about it, you can use them for your invites, your favors, or maybe water bottles for OOT guests. Now With this Ring blog is giving away free labels from Uprinting! Enter the contest here!

Everything is illuminated

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 1 comments

I have another unnecessary obsession, this time it's paper lanterns. Why, oh why, would I need lanterns, given that our reception will be in broad daylight? I don't know why. Just look at them! They're so pretty! Picture them, round globes hanging in the air like some whimsical celestial setting. Bunched together or hanging at different lengths, how can you not look at them and just *sigh*. And, they would add a great Asian-inspired detail to our intercultural wedding. I can just envision them hanging from the rafters of our venue. Check 'em out! 

So how much would this cost me considering our decoration budget is quite meager? A brief online search brought me to two sites. You can get a plain, 10" lantern for as little as $1 each here.

Looking for more colors? Try Luna Bazaar.
I found these plum colored 14" lanterns for $5.20.

I'm sure the lighting to go with this will be the tricky/expensive part, although I'm thinking considering the time of our reception, I might not need it. I'm also not sure how many lanterns I'll need, or the best way to hang them. Are you hanging lanterns at your wedding? Anyone have any suggestions/advice?

A New Look

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 0 comments

In case you haven't noticed, I've changed the look of my blog. I was getting tired of the default template blogger gives you. I might change it again. Like many brides out there, I'm so indecisive! But here's a few more things to get excited about in the next few weeks. First, another Vendor Spotlight and my first giveaway! Stay tuned!

The Talks

What engaged couple doesn't have The Talks? How can you marry someone, intend to spend the rest of your life with that person without making sure you're on the same page about...oh, say, children? Finances? Goals for the future? Values? Spirituality?

Well, apparently a lot of couples, if divorce rates are any indication. The fiance and I went to a Catholic Engaged Encounter, a pre-marriage retreat for engaged couples over the weekend. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy discussing our future with my fiance, but I kind of saw the weekend as a timecard to punch. The church we're marrying in requires us to attend one of these retreats as their Pre-Cana, or preparation for marriage. I'm all for marriage preparation. I'm a planner for sure. But a weekend without Internet, cell phones, television and sleeping in strange surroundings? Not so much.

Honeymoon on a white sandy beach of...

Friday, January 22, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 3 comments

We booked our honeymoon!!! Imagine us, lounging by the beach, frolicking on a white sandy beach of...Kauai, HI!!!

What? But what happened to our free honeymoon? The one we won at a bridal show??? *Sigh* Cue the violins. It was not meant to be.

When I last mentioned our honeymoon, luck landed in our favor and handed us free accommodations at a resort in St. Thomas. My name was drawn from hundreds of entries at a bridal show and we were thrilled beyond belief. Perhaps I was overly excited about our prize, because I purchased a wedding gown on impulse 20 minutes later. Well, let's just say our luck did a complete 180 by the next morning. Not only did I agonize about my decision over my wedding gown, but we discovered our certificate for a free week in the Caribbean expires one week BEFORE our wedding. Noooo!!!

 First, I called Travel by Horizon, the vendor who sponsored the prize. Initially, their rep assured me that they would be able to extend the expiration date, but I would need to wait for a confirmation. So I waited. And I waited. I made several unanswered calls to their office. I was now being completely ignored. (A call back explaining the situation would have been nice. Seriously, if that's how they treat a customer inquirey, I would never consider booking a trip with them!) So I called the company who issued the certificate, but I was finally told there was nothing they could do for me. We would have to travel by the expiration date.

Moving our wedding date to fit in our honeymoon was not an option since we had already put down our non-refundable deposits for both venues. We simply would not be using the certificate for our honeymoon (I decided to give the prize to my sister, lucky girl!) So there we go, we won a free honeymoon, and then we lost it. Major bummer.

But where would we go on a meager budget? $3,000 was all we set aside for the entire honeymoon. We knew we wanted tropical. We wanted to get away from California. We weren't interested in Mexico, or a cruise. We wanted a place where we could fully immerse ourselves in our surroundings. We also wanted a place with a kitchen. Not only is it romantic to make dinner and eat a quiet meal together, it saves us so much money!

Then my FSIL who works at a travel agency offered help us find a deal. Bless her soul, she found us a great deal: 6 days 5 nights at a beachfront condominium in Kauai!

Kauai is an island both of us have yet to go and it was actually our first choice, but with crazy rates on airfare, we thought it was beyond our price range. With my FSIL's help, we booked our package through Costco, and with accommodations, airfare and rental car, we paid $2200 for the both of us! Sweet!

I am so excited for this trip! Sure, St. Thomas would have been nice (free is always nice!) but really, Hawaii is where we have our hearts set on. We have a soft spot for Hawaii- with its tropical surroundings, great food and Asian and Polynesian cultural influences, we feel right at home! Our wedding theme is a mixture of our cultural backgrounds--Filipino, Chinese and Samoan and Hawaii encompasses all of those multicultural aspects.We love Hawaii so much, the tune playing in the background of our Web site is the Hawaiian song "White Sandy Beach of Hawaii." So, hello!!! Makes perfect sense to head there for our honeymoon! Anyone out there wanna tell me where they're headed for their honeymoon? How did you go about finding yourself a great deal?

PS. Don't fall for promotional gimmicks offering you a free honeymoon if you buy their products. If it sounds too good to be true, it is...unless, of course, you really want to buy expensive knives...

Ask and you shall receive

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 1 comments

I had been really worried about our reception timeline for awhile. When we booked our ceremony and reception venues, the only things we asked ourselves were: Love the place? Check. Fit our budget? Check. Available on our proposed wedding date?  Check. We were good to go. The thing is, our church schedules morning weddings at 11 a.m. Our reception venue is booked from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. What we didn't realize was that an 11 a.m. ceremony would cut our reception to about three and a half hours. A very cramped three and half hours. Our ceremony will last at least 30 minutes, and with 1 hour of portraits and photos, and about 10 minutes of travel time, lunch won't get started until close to 1 p.m.  I figured we would be tossing dishes in front of our guests and as soon as they take their first bite, we'd be moving right into dessert. Bouquet toss? Forget about it. Speeches? Say "Thanks and good luck," Dad, and move right along. Seriously, I never knew that one lost hour would cost us so much.

So what to do? We already put down our deposits for both venues. Any way we can borrow time? Our reception venue told us extending our time slot was not an option. Great. My fiance thought it was a lost cause. We would just have to live with a very casual reception. I can live with casual, but darn it...we would barely have time to eat with that time frame, let alone dance. Would we even get through a song?

So, I thought I'd try and talk to our priest to see if starting our ceremony earlier would be an option. I thought it would be a long shot...perhaps they would have events already lined up for the day. If it wasn't possible, it would be ok. We had already resigned ourselves to a bare-boned, lunch-only-and-that's-it reception.

When I called our priest and sheepishly asked to move our ceremony earlier, say 10 a.m., he was more than willing. Not a problem, he said, that actually works out better for us. Perfect! It's an early ceremony (yeah, I'd like to see my punctually-challenged relatives be on time for that!), but hey, it gives us more time to really enjoy the day! We don't have to rush the ceremony or reception. Now we can listen to their embarrassing speeches! 

Vendor Spotlight: Richelle Dante

Monday, January 18, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 4 comments

I’m very excited to share with you my first Q&A feature on this blog. I started this blog merely as a personal journal for my own amusement, but as I discover talented people throughout the wedding blogosphere, I decided, shoot, why not give them their props? My first feature comes from the very talented Orange County photographer Richelle Dante. You might recognize her name and work from the ultra fab Broke Ass Bride. Richelle offers some great advice for couples out there from a photographer’s viewpoint. Her price range is $2000-$4500, although she does offer the opportunity to tailor her packages to work within a couple’s budget.

Without further delay, meet Richelle!

How did you get involved in photography?

I've always had a love for photography and when my church offered a photography class, I jumped at the opportunity. It was taught by Dane Sanders, Jessica Claire and Mike Colon. At the time I had no idea they were some of the top photographers in the wedding industry but I did know I wanted my photos to have the same quality. I am based in Orange County but travel to LA and San Diego for many weddings and shoots.

When did you start shooting weddings?

Last year was my first wedding season and I absolutely loved every minute of it!

What is your photography style?

I love to feel like I am a fly on the wall capturing real moments. I would say my style is definitely more of a photo journalistic style.

What would you say would be the most interesting wedding you ever shot? What was it that made it so good?

My first wedding was a very cool wedding. They were on a tight budget but the wedding was so them. They had a friend with a home in the Hollywood hills that offered their beautiful backyard. Since they met in elementary school they had kind of a shabby chic school theme to the day. They were the sweetest couple and so in love that my second shooter at the end of the night said, "they make me believe in true love." Besides riding a tandem bike during their formal shots, my favorite moment was when the wedding party jumped in the pool. The bride jumped in with her dress on... it was awesome!

As a wedding photographer, what are the components you look for that make a great wedding shoot?

The biggest technical component is light! The best light is right before sunset. That is when you can get the beautiful back lit shots! Other than that, I think having a relaxed bride and a fun wedding party make the event much more fun!

What advice would you give to couples out there as they pick their photographer?

Definitely meet with your photographer in person or at least talk on the phone. I think the most important thing is that you’re comfortable with your photographer. They will be there pretty much every moment of your day so if you can't be yourself around them, you will have a bunch of awkward photos. Trust is also important. The last thing you would want to worry about on your wedding day is if the photographer is getting the shot. If you really click with someone but their prices don't quite fit in your budget, you might want to consider shifting things around. Remember that the photos last forever and you want to be able to enjoy them!

All images by Richelle Dante

Finally! Our Save the Dates!

Sunday, January 17, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 0 comments

I'm kind of shy about sharing these with you. As I said before, I'm no Martha Stewart. I'm a wannabe crafter. I'm the kind of person with more ambition than actual talent, the A for effort kind of gal. Our STD's are not the blog-chic STDs that will make every bride mad with envy, the kinds that I've been gushing over lately. They're simple, and that's what I love about them, I'm also kind of shy about showing my face. My friend designed our STDs using shots from our engagement shoot, and if I want to share these with you, I'll have to let you in on a peek at our funny mugs.

But I love our STD's because they're uniquely ours. C'mon, nothing says "uniquely yours" than your own faces! My friend did a great job designing them and I'm thrilled to finally send out our first official piece of our wedding to our loved ones. This is really it. This wedding is really happening! The fiance and I will be married...soon! I actually started tearing up as I wrote out the addresses.

And I love that I had some part in the crafting process, even if that part screams novice to some folks. It was fun. Embossing is my new obsession.

So without further delay and stalling here they are, step by step to the finished product!

Materials for my DIY envelopes. I made liners out of scrapbooking paper and embossed a stamp image using embossing powder, ink and an embossing gun. My friend threw in a box of 4X6 envelopes along with the design. Awww!

Stamping and covering the image with purple embossing powder. Tip: Using a small paintbrush to brush off the stray flakes really helped create a cleaner image.

The embossed image up close

Of course, postage will be added.

Adhesive seals from Michaels

Sorry, about the unattractive redaction. Well, at least you can see how we look like...sort of.

The backside of our card.

While the cards, envelopes and address label were free, I did purchase the materials for the embossing, liners and stickers. Using coupons from Michaels, everything came out to $30 for 50+ envelopes. I'll also reuse some of these materials for our DIY invitations.

STD's...they're infectious

Saturday, January 16, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 1 comments

We thought we weren't going to send out Save the Dates. It just seemed like they were an added expense we didn't need since most of our guests were local. But when you see STD's like these, it's catching (I'm sorry, just had to throw that pun in there). And it's hard to wait until three months before the wedding to share the good news! You want a cute official announcement of your exciting day, and sorry, newspapers aren't cutting it anymore. (Although I still read the paper, I hardly know anyone that actually subscribes to them anymore!)

It's just ridiculous how creative people are getting w/ their STD's. I saw this cute, budget-friendly and paperless STD, and I got envious. I just can't copy this. This is just too cute and unique to even try.

So why STD's? Yes, they're a recent trend in the wedding world and yeah, I thought they were just a frivolous expense. Someone told us that our STD's were a waste of money and since we're on a tight budget and we're having a local wedding, we shouldn't even bother. Well, luckily for us, our STD's were free. A friend of ours designed them and the folks at work printed them as kind of a wedding gift. Even if they weren't free, I would have probably thought of sending some out at some point. We are having a summer wedding, people have busy lives and tend to plan out their summer vacations in advance. I know my trips are usually planned out at least six months ahead of time. Friends are even starting to ask us when the big day is so they can work their summer plans around it. STD's can be a great courtesy heads up for the guests you really would like to attend your wedding.

Giveaways Part II

Friday, January 15, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 0 comments

Who doesn't love free stuff? Check out more chances to win!

The Giveaway Diva is giving away a gorgeous clutch valued at $75! Be sure to check out Clutch That on etsy!

Check out more giveaways from her site:
Handmade Pink Pearl Earrings Giveaway from

Also: Win a Kodak digital frame at

Giveaways! Part 1

There's a huge load of giveaways happening in the blogosphere, and I highly suggest you try your luck! I know I am! First up, the Bon Bon Rose Girls' Five Day Giveaway! Win a handful of cool prizes, like etsy jewelry, gift certificates and more! Perfect for those Bridesmaids gifts! Good Luck!

Things could be worse

For the last couple of days, wedding planning has kind of taken a backseat again. You see, my fiance's family is going through a crisis right now and he kind of hinted that it may affect our anticipated budget for the wedding. I haven't really thought about the impact of that right now, or it hasn't really hit me as I thought it would. A lot of self-centered brides would be crying over this "tragic" development, but um, no. For one thing, there are more important things to take care of. Things beyond the wedding that are far more "tragic." Family crisis needs to be resolved. The well-being of loved ones are our priority.

How much is our budget now? I don't know. But if we thought we had to be resourceful and creative before, we definitely need to turn it up several notches. But I'm not worried. We're still going to be married, regardless. That's just how I see it. Things happen, s!%t happens. Move on. There are worse things that can happen. (Thanks, $2000 Wedding Budget for putting it into perspective!). But you know what? Despite not really do anything for wedding, things are kind of getting done.

Well, I met up with some friends for pho (Vietnamese noodles, yo!), and I told them a little bit of what's been going on. My good friend's boyfriend graciously offered his talents to DJ for our wedding, for FREE! I was really touched by his generous offer and he insisted it was his wedding gift to us! Wow! I mean, really, wow! Even though things might be a little bleak right now as far as funds, we have been really blessed. A friend just offering to volunteer to help plan the wedding, another friend agreeing to do both photography and video for way, way less than he normally charges, and now someone DJing for free. People have been really good to us and we're so completely grateful.

The case for sleeves

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , | 0 comments

I may be going against the grain here. I might be bunking wedding fashion sensibility of say the last decade or so. But I'm just not feeling strapless. I know I'm dissing 90% of wedding gowns out there, but it's true. You see one strapless white gown, you feel like you've seen them all. Don't get me wrong, but strapless is quite lovely. Beautiful, really. But I never really saw myself as the the long, svelte model with the posture of a graceful swan who can really pull the look off.

I'm not saying strapless has got to go. I'm just saying it would be nice to have some variety out there. Yes, I'd like sleeves, straps, or maybe even just an interesting neckline, but I don't want to look like this:

Much too modest for my taste.

A saleswoman at one of my last visits to a bridal shop got frustrated with my no-strapless policy, considering her selection of non-strapless gowns was pretty shabby.

"Strapless has been the main style trend for the last decade," she said. "We only carry the styles that are popular in the elite wedding fashion scene." Meaning, non-strapless is soooo out. Listen, I didn't need a lecture on what's in, lady. I don't need you telling me that if I don't wear a strapless gown, I'm taking several years back in wedding fashion. Just find me a gorgeous gown with sleeves!

It was designed by Vera Wang and I love it! Modesty meets elegant and chic. Very lovely. Can the dress spark a renewed interest in sleeves for brides out there? Maybe. But even Vera gets strapless overload: "I've been doing strapless for 15 years. It's tiring."

I'm baaack!

See, that wasn't so bad. A few days not really worrying about wedding stuff  was actually quite nice (but I have to admit, I did catch myself daydreaming, or allowing myself to entertain a random thought or idea for wedding). For the most part, I tried not to focus on the big day. The fiance and I watched Inglorious Basterds (not for the squeamish, that's for sure), walked the dog, took my parents out for dinner to celebrate their birthdays, resumed my job search (the publication I work for is currently on "hiatus"), I read a book (The Pursuit of Happyness -- so much more to the story than the film portrays)--all to remind me that I do have a life outside of wedding planning.

So what to do now? Well, I have a full plate of to-dos to take care of. First, and this is a biggie, the dress. I have a couple of maybe's -- dresses I think are lovely, clean, classic and, um, verrry much in my budget range. But there is another possibility that I know I need to explore. It's a long-shot considering my budget, but it doesn't hurt to look into it. Keeping my fingers crossed!

I need to research DJs. We were thinking of going with my cousin, but...I don't know...he upped his previous proposed quote and, well, we're not so sure he's much of a deal anymore. We'd love to include him in the wedding cuz he's family and all, but dude, what happened to the family discount?

I'm finishing our STD's, and I'm really excited about them. More on this later.

I'm gathering quotes for local hotel blocks. Didn't think we would need to do this since most of our guests are local, but since we'll reserve a couple of hotel rooms for the bridal party that weekend anyway we figure we can save money with the group discount rate.

Hmmm, what else? Does anyone know of a good Samoan dance group in the So. Cal area? Just thought I'd ask.

Cranes for a Cause

Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 0 comments

I've decided to take a little break from wedding planning. Looking back at my last few posts, I was starting to get a little tired of my rants about the craziness of wedding planning -- the search for THE dress, budget issues, ettiquette. True, wedding planning can be crazy, but to make sure it isn't all about the craziness, and to remain a little sane, I'm going to not touch wedding stuff for a few days. It is afterall, a new year. I have a lot to look forward to--yes, I'll be married to the love of my life, but I have a lot of goals and plans for the coming year that doesn't necessarily involve the wedding. It's good to step away from the wedding insanity and find some balance in your life.

So, let's start off the year right, and before I take a little break, I'll leave you on a positive note. Some of you have already heard about this project, but I thought it's worth spreading to those who haven't. The Wedding Co. in Toronto, Canada are organizing this feel-good project for a great cause. They're collecting paper cranes from engaged couples around the world, and for every crane they receive they'll donate 50 cents to cancer research.

What are they going to do with these cranes? Their goal is to collect 10,000 cranes to create a really awesome global community art installation to present at an exhibit in Toronto. Fascinating, huh? Read more about this project at

The fiance and I would love to incorporate this into our wedding somehow, especially since we'd rather put our efforts for favors into something more giving and memorable such as a donation to a worthy cause. It's a nice way to incorporate a cultural aspect into our wedding as well (my fiance is part Chinese, and while origami is a Japanese tradition, cranes are also significant symbols in Chinese culture.) I have this ambitious dream to fold 1000 paper cranes as legend claims it symbolizes good luck, but that is another project for another day. Right now, I need a break!

The tale of mystery gowns

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 1 comments

I have a bone to pick, so forgive me if this sounds too harsh. I walked into a bridal shop...heck, I'm gonna be ruthless and just name which one: Bella Sposa in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I was looking to try on an Eden bridal gown that I had seen before and had found the store on the Eden web site.

Here's the dress I tried on:

I thought it was simple, yet lovely, nice lines--beautiful! Actually, I had tried on this dress at another store, but the sample was way too small for me. So I decided to try a dress closer to my size.

When I tried on the gown, the sales associate made comments like, "Oh, this dress is just so plain," or "I don't know if I like this one on you." Well, true the dress didn't look great on me, but the sample was about 8 sizes too big, and the girl didn't even make an attempt to clip the back so I can see how it should look on me! When I asked how much they were selling the gown for, the sales associate ignored me and said she wanted me try on other gowns that would "look better on me."

She brought back a couple, and the first one she brought out was, I admit, gorgeous. It was v-neck, A-line with straps. Oh, how the sales associate gushed over this dress. She even grabbed a veil and put a hair clip on me. She kept saying how much of a great deal she can give me for the dress.

$599. It's a good price! Better than what other stores will sell it to you for!

 When I asked who the designer was, she hesitated.

I can't tell you the designer. It's against store policy.

Whaaa???? I can't know the name and brand of the dress I might buy??? Then how the hell am I supposed to know if I am getting a great deal? When I checked for tags on the dress, I found that the store had simply replaced the tags with their own store tag, eliminating the manufacturer's name.

Shady? Um, yeah! It's ILLEGAL!

Under the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act of 1963, retailers must disclose pertinent information, including the manufacturers name. Usually, this info is included on dress tags, but some shops will go through a loophole and simply replace the tags with store tags (as Bella Sposa did). You can read more information on this law here.

But it is still unlawful and extremely unethical for shops to refuse to disclose information before purchase of a gown. You don't after all, walk into a car dealership and purchase a car not knowing if it was a Honda or Kia.

So how do you protect yourself? Well, I simply walked out of the store, refusing to do business with them. But what if you found your dream dress? Now the shop really has you cornered! Well, I think there are definitely ways to track down the dress without succumbing to them. I was reading a WeddingBee board post about a girl who had gone through the same thing. She simply had a friend snap a few photos of the dress on the DL even though the shop wouldn't allow photography (hey, all's fair in love and war, right?) and posted the pics on the WeddingBee forum. With fellow Bees' help, she found her gown!

My visit with Bella Sposa has only pushed me further into being completely jaded with the dress shopping experience. I feel like shops are out there trying to scam and steal from me whenever they can! I know that not all shops are shady and I shouldn't be so paranoid, but it doesn't make me feel empowered at all. So, what did I do? I filed a report against Bella Sposa with the FTC and the BBB. I wrote cautionary reviews on Yelp and Project Wedding.

Yes, this is the wrong bride to mess with!!!

I concede defeat

The dress and I were not meant to be. I've been told that my FSIL wouldn't mind at all, "she wouldn't mind if you wore her dress," but what it comes down to is that I don't want to wear HER dress. I want to wear my own dress. The Maggie gown is still very much similar to my FSIL's and while I still think that the dress has everything I want, I can't bring myself to wear the dress without feeling some guilt.

So, what now? Keep looking again? I know exactly what I want. I want simple, but chic. I want a slim A-line, V-neck and straps, a fitted bodice and some ruching on it (it slims out the problem areas, folks). I prefer no (or at least minimal) beading. I want a corset and a train. I prefer satin. Wait, that sounds like Maggie again! Doh!

After browsing through Maggie Sotterro gowns, I found these options:


V-neck, check, straps, check...but a little too A-line? Not thrilled about the beads, Next.

Then there was this lovely dress:


But the empire waist threw me off, and maybe a little too informal.

Then there was this Marilyn gown. Eagerly, I clicked on it to find out more.

But I was disappointed to find this backside view:

Very low back, and not something I'd wear at church. Great on the model, but definitely not on me.

I was getting discouraged until I found this gown.
Meet Vivien:

Not exactly V-neck, but a sweetheart neckline. A-line, with a tad bit of beading on the cap sleeves. I can live with that. There a little brooch on the side and yes, we have a corset back. But the train is a little short for my taste, but I figure I can compensate with a longer veil:


Hmmm...possibly...Life does go on after an ended affair.

Different dress, same thing

Monday, January 4, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , | 0 comments

I'm in a dilemma. I can't keep my mind off of a dress, even though I swore I would never consider her again. But she keeps coming back to me, driving me insane with desire. I must have her. She beckons. I feel like some sleazy dress owner with a habitual wandering eye. Will I ever be happy? Will I ever settle down with just one dress? Will I ever be certain I have the one? No, because I keep thinking about her.

Remember, my Casablanca gown? No, not the trumpet one I had seriously thought was the one. The A-line V-neck strappy gown I thought was mine for a fleeting moment. I came back from the store, excited about the perfect-fit gown in mint condition, ready off the rack for $400! I loved the dress from the moment I slipped her on. She fit me like a glove. She complimented those dreaded hips of mine, not accentuated. Ah, she had me at hello. I didn't buy her, but I was almost sure I'd come back for her again.

But then I discovered she had already been worn. Not just by hundreds, if not thousands, of other brides, but one person that would end our short-lived affair. My future sister in law had already worn that exact same dress just two years before! Would anyone notice? Um, at least one person would. And I don't think that's how I want to start off my relationship with my FSIL! Imagine me wearing her gown! Awkward.

The Casablanca gown

The thing is, after trying on dozens of dresses and looking at countless gowns, I've finally realized which dress I think really compliments my body, the kind of dress I feel comfortable and beautiful in. V-neck, A-line, with a little bit of ruching on the bodice. It's got to have a train. Something that exudes understated elegance, not too many embellishments. Sounds like a dress you can easily find, right? Nope. A non-strapless gown requirement eliminates pretty much 90% of the wedding gowns out there. Not only that, but they're usually covered in beads. Beads can be beautiful, but I can only stand very little of them.

When I would describe the perfect gown to salesladies, their eyes light up like they know exactly what I'm talking about and they come back with, well, what do you know? That damn Casablanca gown. She haunts me yet again.

I've searched high and low for another gown similar, yet different, with not much success. Until, I don't know, the heavens sent me Maggie Sottero with this eerily similar gown:

My eyes bulged out of their sockets, my heart leaped. It was Casablanca 4.0! A definite upgrade. She's made of satin, not taffeta. And while the Casablanca gown had a splash of barely there beads across the bodice, this Maggie Sottero gown is simply shiny satin. But, get this, she has a corset back! Definite plus! Price-wise, she's a little on the high end for me, but still below my maximum budget.

But wait...who am I kidding? She's basically the same dress! Different designer, different material, slight difference on the details, but put the two gowns together and you're seeing double! I called different bridal shops looking for the sample gown and all of them said the same thing --We don't carry this gown, but we have a Casablanca gown just like it... Yeah.

I love this dress. I've never wanted a dress like this before. But will it still be tacky to wear a gown that's kinda, sorta, but not really the same as the one my FSIL wore on her wedding day? I've been told that it shouldn't matter, it won't be the same, my FSIL probably won't even notice. But still, if you were my FSIL, how would you feel? Help! What would you do???