Vendor Spotlight and GIVEAWAY: Morning's Mist Country Store (CLOSED)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , , | 145 comments

There are a few things I have a penchant for, and one of them is handmade soap. There's something about a great bar of handmade soap -- take a whiff, close your eyes and, mmmmm, heavenly! That's the feeling when I first tried bath products from our next Vendor Spotlight, Morning's Mist Country Store. Based out of Minnesota, Juanita from Morning's Mist sells handmade soaps, lotions, lip balm and dead sea bath salts made with all natural oils and butters, including olive oil, shea butter, kokum butter, apricot kernel & evening primrose oils, sweet almond oil and silk protein. She says she found the inspiration to create effective bath and skin products when she noticed her own skin looking dull and aged. Through research and trial and error, Juanita developed a product that can soften and soothe diverse skin types.

I tried the Mango Papaya soap and I'm still addicted to the scent. Think tropical and sweet, as if you're sitting in an exotic island garden of fruits and flowers! The accompanying body butter left my skin feeling smooth, soft and never greasy. Yes, even the future hubs noticed (boy, was he extra snuggly!). You'll see right away that these are products made with with unltimate care and the finest natural materials, unlike the store-bought, mass-produced items full of harsh chemicals.

Juanita can also personalize each order, as well as offer discounts for volume orders. What a great idea for homemade, natural wedding favors or bridal party gifts! Without further ado, introducing Juanita from Morning's Mist Country Store!

What got you started in creating handmade bath and body products?
I started having difficulty with my skin - too dry in some places, too oily in others. I bought handmade soap and realized it was helping my skin, but I still needed more, so I researched and through trial and error came up with the products I now manufacture.

How long have you been making these products?
Over 10 years

Which from your line is your favorite scent/product and why?
I have to be very careful about scents, so the scents I use are all the ones that I love and my favorites change from day to day. I am currently trending to the Tangerine Spice that I have recently created. I have two products that I cannot live without and that is my soap and body butter.

Tell me something unique about your products.
Mine is a castile soap that I have enhanced with Shea and Kokum butters for skin elasticity and moisturizing, as well as Apricot Kernel and Evening Primrose Oils for damaged and problem skin. The butters use the same exotic oils. The butter soaks into the skin almost immediately with no greasy feeling and you can still feel the goodness after washing your hands.

What advice can you give to brides who are planning a wedding on a shoestring budget?
Make your own items as much as possible. It gives your wedding your own personal feeling and your guests really notice it. Simple table top decorations are a hit when personalized with your touch. Use your picture or inspirational sayings on gifts to your bridal party and guests.

Links where we can find out more of your work:

Juanita has been gracious enough to give one lucky winner their pick of any one item on the Morning's Mist Country Store Web site (except for the gift boxes).


1) Go to Morning's Mist Country Store and comment on which scent you're most interested in trying 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 more comments to increase your chance to win if you do the following (please leave a separate comment for each additional entry):

2) Become a new follower of this blog (1 entry)
3) Are currently a follower of my blog (2 entries or 2 separate comments!)
4) Become a facebook fan of “I Do” Budget Weddings (2 entries or 2 separate comments)
5) Blog about the contest and include a link to the giveaway. You must also include a link to Morning's Mist Country Store in your post (3 entries or 3 separate comments)
7) Buy anything from Morning's Mist Country Store (5 entries or 5 separate comments)
8) Follow “I Do” Budget Weddings on Twitter (1 entry)
9) Tweet on this giveaway and include a link to this giveaway in your tweet. (1 entry)
10) Subscribe to my blog emails (1 entry)
11) Grab my blog button located on the right sidebar and put it on your blog (2 entries)

The deadline to enter this contest is 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, April 12, 2010 (PST). A winner will be randomly chosen and announced the following day. Good luck! (This giveaway is now closed)

* Don't forget, your chance to win earrings from BellaLu and Me ends this Friday so don't miss out!

Tomorrow starts today

Monday, March 29, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 1 comments

There's been something I've been putting off that I'm not too proud of. I haven't been exercising. It was my New Year's resolution and nearly four months later, I haven't really resolved anything. I'm not trying to get in shape just for the wedding, but for piece of mind and health. I used to be a pretty active person -- I ran a half marathon and went to the gym at least four times a week, but these past few months, I haven't been very motivated to work out. Why? When I graduated from grad school, my university gym membership expired and I never went out to look for a new membership. You can certainly work out without a gym membership, but for someone who needs motivation and accountability, it's not so easy for me. It's easier to put on your gym clothes and head to the gym when you know you're paying for it. Two, I tend to be big procrastinator. There's always tomorrow, right?

Well, tomorrow starts today. It was especially humbling when my niece patted my stomach and asked me if I was pregnant (kids say the darnest things!) and the FH discovered his BMI was in the "poor" range. With the wedding four months away (yikes!), the future hubs and I decided to start our married life together by getting into a new routine. We decided to stick to a workout schedule and even purchased a gym membership together. LA Fitness was having a grand opening special for a new location and we purchased ours for a $29.99 initiation fee and $29.99/month (we can cancel anytime after the 2nd month). We also resolved to eat out less and cut out fast food.

Our goals? He wants to lose 25 pounds. Me? I'm not too concerned with losing weight. I just want to be in shape, tone up and feel more energized (which I'm sure will result in weight loss). We sat down, looked at our schedules and drew up a realistic plan. It's a little harder for the FH (with work and school, his schedule is a bit cramped as it is). But he's choosing to look at workout time as another scheduled event in his week, like class and work--not just something he wants to do, but has to do. I'm excited to get to do what I always used to love--swimming, yoga and kickboxing. Wish us luck with our fitness goals!

The budget wedding ring

Sunday, March 28, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 5 comments

Good news! The FH and I have purchased our bands! We knew the exact style we each wanted, headed to the jewelry district in LA and was prepared to haggle and bargain until they kicked us out of the store. We budgeted just $300 total for both rings, a laughable budget according to one jeweler who demonstrated for us when we disclosed how much we were willing to spend early in our search. Luckily, the whole process overall was easy peasy!

My e-ring is a simple Tiffany band with a solitaire diamond seen here (a snapshot we took of the ring right after he proposed!)

I wanted something simple to go with it, but maybe with a little more bling. After some research and trying on other rings, I decided I wanted a channel set band with princess cut diamonds. I loved the style, the price? Not so much. I was getting prices between $500-$2000. That was way out of our league!

The FH decided he wanted a Titanium wedding band. He liked the size, the more masculine look...and the fact that most were around $40 was even better! While there were decent prices online for the bands we wanted, we knew we wanted to see the bands in person and try them on.

We decided to deal with a family friend who sold jewelry in the Jewelry District in LA. If you've never been there, you can find great deals at wholesale prices. There are so many shops/stalls it can get overwhelming, so it's best to have an idea of what you want, and who you want to deal with (refererals are good!)

After describing what I wanted, our jeweler pulled out three rings. One with diamonds but without the princess cut, a guard ring (not channel set), and an 18K, princess cut channel ring (exactly what I wanted). Of course, I fell in love with the latter. The price? $320. Not bad considering the retail price was $799. But...that was $20 over our total budget, and that didn't even include his ring yet! I decided to wait to see what the future hubs picked before I kissed our budget goodbye.

18K white gold princess diamond cut

The fiance decided he liked this titanium ring:

Simple 6mm band with two grooved stripes. We loved it! The price? Even better! $40!

Our jewelers gave both rings to us for $350. $50 over our original budget, but we figured it was still a pretty good deal, especially with my ring being 18K white gold with diamonds. The rings were a good fit and size for both of us, so we we were able to bring them home!

My new band with my e-ring

But get this, we showed his ring to some friends. They liked it, said it looked great and asked us how much it was. Guess, we told them.

$400? $500? They gasped when the heard the actual price. $40? Why do you want such a cheap ring? Titanium? Who's ever heard of a titanium ring?

Actually, titanium is a very popular metal for a wedding band. Many consider it more durable and lasting than gold as it doesn't scratch. Titanium doesn't rust, and while gold naturally loses its luster over the years, titanium stays consistent. Titanium is also lightweight and very comfortable to wear.

So what's the big deal? Let's examine some of the arguments against titanium, shall we?

1)Wearing titanium is dangerous. The band is so durable, that if you gain excessive weight, or were to have some kind of accident, hospital workers won't be able to cut through the metal. Not so. Hospitals are equipped with tools to cut through nearly every kind of metal, including titanium and tungsten for that matter.

2) You won't be able to resize it. True, titanium, as well as tungsten, can't be resized all. That's why you should make sure measurements are properly taken care of. Luckily, with our jeweler, if we need a new size, we are able to switch rings at no extra cost. But honestly, at $40, you can buy another titanium ring without much of a dent to your pocket.

3) Titanium is less shiny than precious metals. True, but that might be what makes it attractive, especially to guys. I know the future hubs didn't want anything too extravagant, and actually liked the luster of titanium. Although some jewelers say that over time, gold loses it luster and may look more "dull" than a titanium ring. Titanium will pretty much look the same forever.

4) Titanium is way too affordable. You don't want to wear a cheap ring. Since when did being affordable be such  a disadvantage? As I've said before, price isn't always in direct proportion to quality, and titanium rings are one such example. Some elitists won't wear titanium just because of the price, and well, to each his/her own.

So, titanium is a great quality, cost-effective option for couples on a budget. Maybe you don't have to tell people how much you paid for your titanium ring. When they ask, keep them guessing and enjoy listening to those three digit numbers they throw at you!

Our jewelers: 
Sue & Sam Jewelry Co.
 637-639 South Hill Street
Booth B-8 &C-8
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 623-9083

Links on titanium:

Looking to purchase titanium wedding bands online? Try Titanium Knights on Etsy

Winner of the Kreations by Kawai Giveaway

I'm so ready for Hawaii! I went to a friend's luau last night and now I'm literally dreaming of our honeymoon in Kauai! Last night's dream: sunbathing on a beach with the future hubs and eating my favorite plate lunches, don't wake me up!!! Alas, I must wait. But now, I'm excited to give you the winner of the Kreations by Kawai giveaway! And the winner is.....

 Marci who said
"I love the Wood Plumeria Earrings (White). I would get several in different colors! SO pretty."

Enjoy your gift certificate to Kreations by Kawai, Marci! Congratulations! If you didn't win, no worries. Keep checking back on my blog as I'll have some exciting giveaways coming up, including some cool options for your groomsmen and maybe your own groom!

Also, don't forget to enter my current giveaways: A pair of lovely earrings from BellaLu and Me and a gift certificate to Lovli Day!

Freebie Friday

Friday, March 26, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 0 comments

Jewelry and accessories
* Key to my Heart necklace by The Vintage Pearl
* $25 gift certificate to Rosy Handbags at Two Thousand Things
* Another $25 gift certificate to Rosy Handbags at Leslie Loves Veggies

* 150 gift certificate to The Wedding Outlet at Brenda's Wedding Blog.

* 6 quart Le Creuset stockpot at Chic N Cheap Living.
* Free apron from Flirty Aprons at Etsy It Up
* pack of 6 cupcakes from Saint Cupcake...mmmmmmmmm
* $20 Amazon Gift Certificate at Simply Stacie

Trends are trends (even indie ones)

Thursday, March 25, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 4 comments

I'm a huge supporter of couples doing whatever they want for their weddings regardless of how crazy or how far off the beaten path it is. But here, I discuss wedding trends and yes, I support them too! Once you've been exposed to the lovely world of wedding blogdom, you're prone to falling in love in at least one wedding trend. Non-white wedding shoes? Had me at hello. A family tree guestbook? Perfect! Ringbearer dish? Yes, mam!

 There's a reason why trends are popular...because they're cute, beautiful and meaningful in their own right. Being trendy is not necessarily a bad thing at all. If it's meaningful and reflective of the person/couple doing it, it's perfect for them. Not everyone might agree with it or really get it, but if it fits the couple and the celebration, then who are we to judge? When I told my more traditionally minded sister about my friend's plan for the In N' Out truck to cater her wedding, my sister smirked. But why would you want to do that? She asked. I spent the next 20 minutes sticking up for my friend's In N Out truck even though it's not something the FH and I ended up doing. It works for them, so get over it.

But when I tell my more unconventional, heavily tatted friend I seriously wanted the traditional white dress with a long train, she smirked. That's so boring, she said. You seriously want to look like every freakin' bride out there? Can't you find a cool vintage dress? As much as I love, love, love vintage dresses there wasn't one I wanted. I tried them on, and to my surprise, didn't really feel any of them. I just couldn't see myself wearing one down the aisle. I wanted something more...can you believe it?...conventional. But after looking through so many blogs with offbeat, kickass, indie-minded brides in their vintage gowns, I thought maybe I should want a vintage gown.


But just because a trend is more popular, conventional and tried a zillion times, doesn't make it better or worse than what we call indie-trends. Mason jars, outdoor, DIY photobooths, even non-white bridal gowns, are all great alternative touches to a wedding and yes, probably fresher and newer to your audience. But just because they're less popular and conventional doesn't make it less of a trend. They're still trends, people!

 But yes, trends do get a bad rap. Because, unfortunately, people tend to latch onto them thinking it's something they should do, that they're supposed to do. If they don't well, they're weddings will be viewed as just not chic enough. I'm not just talking about the usual, more traditional trends, the ones that grace most wedding mags and The Knot. I've seen this happen with "indie" trends as well. Some people (note, not all people)  assume they're weddings are cooler and more original, more meaningful just because they've done something considered "indie." No, I'm not saying that everyone that does something considered trendy are just trendsetting posers. I don't judge everyone that does something I've seen somewhere else as unoriginal and jumping on the bandwagon. But there's an irony in folks trumping something "different" just for the mere fact of trying to be different -- yes, those folks do exist. Some people might think just the mere fact of having moustaches on a stick at their wedding makes their wedding more unique and original. Unfortuantely, no it doesn't. You just have to look at a Real Wedding feature on any blog to see why. What truly makes moustaches on a stick unique at a wedding is that it's something that the couple really wanted at their wedding, it's quirkiness is reflective of them and it adds a fun touch to their wedding. And, yes, it might be something fresh and new for their guests.

Don't feel bad for actually wanting something trendy or doing something you know a bunch of other couples have done before. There's nothing bad about it at all and you don't lose your individuality just because you do. But just as there is such thing as pressure to conform to the conventional wedding trends (super expensive bridal gown, ultra-nice invitations, and a wedding cake to the ceiling, etc.) some folks might feel the pressure to conform to to "indie" trends (wow, isn't that an oxymoron?). No, I'm not going to judge you if you do something I've seen somewhere else. Just remember, don't do something just because everyone else is doing it and you think it's something you should do, whether it's conventional or even indie and alternative. But don't do it either, just because you want to fit the image of being offbeat, unique and original. Maybe you don't want a huge ballroom celebration with a sparkler send off. That's fine. Maybe you don't want a vintage Anthropologie wedding with brown bag picnic in the park. That's fine too. Do it because it fits you and your FH. Once you do something that's truly reflective of you two, it truly becomes a unique and orginal celebration of YOU!

*Additional comments: Now, if you do decide to do something considered "indie" and offbeat (i.e. something that would make my mom and FMIL take a seat in horror), I commend you. I'm fully aware you're in the minority and it takes a lot of guts and perseverance to stick to your guns about something that means a lot to you. Trust me, I get it. I know the comments and resistance you might be facing. The FH and I deal with this too with our own wedding plans. This post in no way dimishes your efforts. I'm just saying...we shouldn't be apply expectations and standards on anyone for a celebration that is truly personal--whether those expectations are Martha Stewart conventional or Offbeat Bride alternative. You may look to friends, family, magazines, blogs and ,shoot, even those wedding reality shows for inspiration...just don't look to them for validation.

Winner of the Mon Amour Boutique Giveaway!

I haven't forgotten to annouce the winner of the Mon Amour Boutique giveaway, but here she is....


That sixpence coin must really be working for her because she also won the 100 free postcard prints from Vistaprint! How's that for good luck? Congratulations Shanna!

Just a reminder that your chance to win a $20 gift certificate to Kreations by Kawai ends this Saturday at 11:59 pm (PST)! The shop is full of awesome Hawaiian jewelry, so check it out! Be sure to also check out my current giveaways!

Vendor Spotlight and GIVEAWAY: Lovli Day (CLOSED)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , | 77 comments

After working in the media and print industry for awhile now, I find that I've had moments where I've totally geeked out on fonts. Like, I've actually had debates with co-workers about which font is the best. No way! Helvetica is so much better than Impact! Really. So I was really intrigued when I came across our next Vendor Spotlight: Lovli Day on Etsy. Jessie from Lovli Day shows us how the fonts, rather than images or design embellishments, can really make your stationery stand out. The mix and matching of typography with cool color schemes take on a fresh approach to the traditional invite or Save the Date. Not only does Jessie design stationery, but you can buy the very popular, but very awesome family tree guestbook from her store.

I received a poster from Jessie and I'm really thrilled about the enduring keepsake the future hubs and I can have. Display it at your reception, and your guests can leave their imprints on the branches, along with their signatures.The poster comes with a small instruction card you can frame and green ink pads.I liked the quality of the print and the paper, and Jessie can customize the tree design with you and your FH's names and your wedding date! The 18" x 24" poster is large enough for 200 thumbprints. Hang it in your future home and it'll be something you can cherish everyday, instead of wondering..."Honey, whatever happened to our guestbook?"

Take it away, Jessie!
The fonts and typography of your Save the Dates and invites usually take center stage. What draws you to more text/font-driven designs?
As a graphic designer, I’ve always had a love for typography, but I feel like good typography is often missed in traditional invitation designs. I'm hoping to help change that.

What sparked your interest in making wedding items?
I had so much fun planning my own wedding, even after it was over I wanted to keep looking through bridal magazines and websites. Eventually, I do hope to expand my business to include something for every aspects of a wedding. Honestly, I’d love to do everything from the invitations to the cake!

What else can we expect to see from you in the future?
Definitely more guestbook alternatives, my wedding tree poster is my most popular item by far. I’ve always felt like the traditional guestbook is a little outdated, and personally I never really understood the concept. To me, its just a book you’ll put away in storage and maybe never look at again. I do still think it is very important to capture a list of everyone who has participated in your very special day, but much like your favorite wedding photo, it should be a piece of art, something you can frame and enjoy on a daily basis.

What was the best detail of your wedding?
That's a tough one, I don't think I can pick just one detail. I was really blessed to marry a wonderful man on a very beautiful day. Everything was just perfect in my eyes.

The Save the Date and/or invitation usually sets the tone for the wedding. What advice can you give to brides as they select their wedding stationery?
Have fun with it! Your wedding invitations should not only set the tone for your upcoming wedding, but they should reflect you as a couple. Traditional invitations are great, but if that’s not who you are then don’t be afraid to do something a little different.

Links where we can find out more of your work:
Someday soon I hope to have my own website, but until then I am selling exclusively on etsy ( ) I do have a facebook fan page:

Jessie is giving one lucky winner a $20 gift certificate to her store!

1) Go to Lovli Day 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 more comments to increase your chance to win if you do the following (please leave a separate comment for each additional entry):

2) Become a new follower of this blog (1 entry)
3) Are currently a follower of my blog (2 entries or 2 separate comments!)
4) Become a facebook fan of “I Do” Budget Weddings (2 entries or 2 separate comments)
5) Become a facebook fan of Lovli Day (2 entries or 2 separate comments)
6) Blog about the contest and include a link to the giveaway. You must also include a link to Lovli Day's Etsy shop in your post (3 entries or 3 separate comments)
7) Buy anything from Lovli Day(5 entries or 5 separate comments)
8) Heart Lovli Day shop on Etsy. (1 entry)
9) Follow “I Do” Budget Weddings on Twitter (1 entry)
10) Tweet on this giveaway and include a link to this giveaway in your tweet. (1 entry)
11) Subscribe to my blog emails (1 entry)
12) Grab my blog button located on the right sidebar and put it on your blog (2 entries)

The deadline to enter this contest is 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, April 7, 2010 (PST). A winner will be randomly chosen and announced the following day. Good luck! This Giveaway is closed.

Excel is your friend

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 3 comments

So you've set a budget for your wedding...but along the way those $200 pair of shoes look so dreamy! It's easy for your once strict budget to fall by the wayside when you don't have a clear picture of what your budget looks like. I strongly suggest to start a budget spreadsheet early on in your planning process. We have our budget itemized and categorized down to every minute detail. If there's something missing that we've left out, we account for it, then adjust our numbers to accommodate it. If something ends up costing more than what we've budgeted for, we adjust. If I'm tempted to pay more than what we've allocated, I take a look at our spreadsheet to see where we would need to cut to make it work, or if I just have to turn a blind to temptation!

There are a few free wedding budget spreadsheets out there, including one on The Knot, but there were a few things left out or items we didn't really need. So, I decided to make our own with items that pertained to us. I made the following spreadsheet with Excel :

Next to each item is how much we budgeted, followed by how much we actually spent, and then the difference.

Each column ends with the total. Once I make any changes to a cell, the difference and/or total sum automatically changes to reflect the new sum.

If you've never used Excel before, it can be pretty intimidating. But just remember, each cell is assigned a code such as A3 or B21. You can figure out what each cell is as if you're reading an XY chart.

If you're still following me, all you need to know is these two formulas:
Subtraction between two cells:  
=(Cell1- Cell2)
Ex. =A1 - B1

The sum of a column or two cells:

That's it! Just type your formula into the cell you want and you have own customized budget spreadsheet!

Giveaway ends TONIGHT!

Today is your last chance to enter to win a lucky sixpence coin and card from Mon Amour Boutique! The giveaway ends TONIGHT at 11:59 PM (PST)

Enter here.

DIY Flower Fascinator

Ever wondered why that wedding day hair accessory is $50 or more? After seeing this tutorial, I'm still wondering! Courtesy of Miss Jellyfish at Wedding Bee, check out her DIY flower fascinator tutorial where you can make your own hair accessory for about $7. Yup!

Our cultural wedding traditions

Monday, March 22, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , | 0 comments

When the future hubs and I first met, we were undergrads involved in an Asian and Pacific Islander student organization called APASA. We were very active in the club (actually he was the president and I was the VP) and we got our first training in teamwork and organization by coordinating cultural and diversity awareness events together (wasn't always a smooth process, but it was something we feel really proud to have worked on together). We discovered a lot about our cultural backgrounds and heritage through our involvement with APASA, and honestly, we wouldn't be a couple today if it weren't for our experiences with the club.

So we naturally wanted to incorporate our cultural backgrounds into our wedding as an ode to our days in APASA, and respect for our families' heritage and culture. We see it as a symbol of us embracing of each other's cultures and our commitment to pass on our multicultural heritage to our children.

But attempting to incorporate three different cultures-- Filipino, Chinese and Samoan -- into one day is difficult. The cultures share a lot of similarities, but they are distinct and unique. How do we respectfully honor each side without looking like a hodge podge mixture without cohesion or unity?

So we've decided to break up the different traditions over three segments of the wedding celebration -- our rehearsal dinner, the ceremony and the reception. During the rehearsal dinner we are serving Chinese dishes and possibly incorporating a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, a tradition where both the bride and groom honor their elders with an offering of tea.

During our Catholic ceremony, we're incorporating Filipino wedding traditions. The ceremony is full of symbolic meaning and rituals, including a veil covering both the bride and groom to signify being "clothed as one," a cord loosely wrapped around the bride and groom to signify unity and the arras, or offering of 13 coins to represent financial security.

And last, but not least, our reception will include a fun and energetic performance of Samoan dance and song by a Samoan dance troupe (We're really honored to have a friend and his family perform for us!). This segment will include a traditional dance that I'm really excited's going to be a surprise ;)

I love hearing about ways other brides and grooms are incorporating their cultural heritage into their wedding! What traditions are you honoring?

Vendor Spotlight and GIVEAWAY: BellaLu and Me (CLOSED)

Friday, March 19, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 234 comments

Brilla Bracelet
So you’ve found The Dress…now comes the truly fun part—making the dress your own! Accessorizing can make your gown really stand out. As I searched for inspiration for my wedding day ensemble, I found Etsy shop BellaLu and Me. Laura from BellaLu and Me makes beautiful, handmade, vintage-inspired and yet surprisingly affordable jewelry. From strands of pearls, earrings, bracelets and precious stone necklaces, there is plenty of jewelry in Laura’s shop to create the perfect wedding day look! I received a pair of Golden Drop earrings from Laura and I was surprised at how a small, delicate piece can be rather striking. Made of freshwater pearls, plated gold and Swarovski crystals, these earrings evoke a sense of refined elegance. Perfect for the classic style bride and her bridesmaids! The shop is celebrating its two-year anniversary (or as Laura coins it--Etsyversary!) and she's offering free shipping on all orders in the US and Canada!

Without further ado, introducing Laura from BellaLu and Me!

What sparked your interest in creating jewelry?
I took a class at a community college for fun and I loved it! I couldn’t believe how I was able to create jewelry myself. I was hooked right away.
Swarovski Flower with Clear Teardrop Pendant Earrings

How long have you been creating your jewelry?
I started creating jewelry for myself, family and friends for about 8 years now.

What materials are your work made of?
I use the best; Swarovski crystals, Swarovski pearls, semi-precious stones, sterling silver and gold-filled metals. Occasionally I use gold plated items when they are not made in gold-filled.

Is there a specific motto you go by when thinking up designs for your work?
There is not a specific motto, it depends on my mood. Sometimes I feel a little feisty and make something big, bold and eye catching. But I do love classic, timeless looks which can be worn not just on your wedding day but to the many cocktail parties I envision women going to.

Which pieces of your work would you say would be perfect for weddings? Why?
Any piece that the bride is comfortable wearing would be perfect. The great plus about ordering from a person who makes jewelry is that it can customized. Looking for something larger, smaller, more sparkle: it can be done!
Amethyst Crystal and Freshwater Pearl Pendant Necklace

Tell us one interesting tidbit about your jewelry.
I often times keep the jewelry that I made and photographed (I then custom make the subsequent order). I can’t help it; I love every piece that I make!

Which piece from your collection is your favorite?
I love anything with the large rhinestones…the Brilla and Cute as a Button necklace.

What the best advice you can give to brides as they accessorize for their wedding day?
Wear something that you are comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to go a little bold! You should feel and look like a princess.

Links where we can find out more of your work:

Laura has been so generous in giving one of my lucky readers a pair of Golden Drop Earrings, made of freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals.


1) Go to BellaLu and Me 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 more comments to increase your chance to win if you do the following (please leave a separate comment for each additional entry):
2) Become a new follower of this blog (1 entry)
3) Are currently a follower of my blog (2 entries or 2 separate comments!)
4) Become a facebook fan of “I Do” Budget Weddings (2 entries or 2 separate comments)
5) Blog about the contest and include a link to the giveaway. You must also include a link to BellaLu and Me Etsy shop in your post (3 entries or 3 separate comments)
6) Buy anything from BellaLu and Me(5 entries or 5 separate comments)
7) Heart BellaLu and Me shop on Etsy. (1 entry)
8) Follow “I Do” Budget Weddings on Twitter (1 entry)
9) Tweet on this giveaway and include a link to this giveaway in your tweet. (1 entry)
10) Subscribe to my blog emails (1 entry)
11) Grab my blog button located on the right sidebar and put it on your blog (2 entries)

The deadline to enter this contest is 11:59 p.m., Friday, April 2, 2010 (PST). A winner will be randomly chosen and announced the following day. Good luck! (This giveaway is now closed)

Wedding gowns for under $250

Sure, I went over my intended $250 dress budget with my own wedding gown, but not by much --$50 to be exact. Not too shabby for the Alfred Angelo gown I love! But after having gone through what was for me a very frustrating wedding gown shopping experience, I still have faith that one can find a gorgeous gown to spark dress envy everywhere for a fraction of the expected price! There are online retailers that can offer great deals (,, and just to name a few), but you will have to call or email to find out the best price on your chosen dress (worth the research. I saved 50% on my gown!).

But here some of my favorite Internet finds for under $250:

1) I heart Little White Dress. No really, I do! This little shop is one of my favorites on Etsy and you only need to look at one handmade gown to see why. I fell in love with the shop after stumbling onto this blog full of modern vintage chic (serious swooning going on here!).  You can order this gorgeous Audrey-inspired gown for your own casual wedding or reception dress, or maybe just to add to your stylish wardrobe! And this tea length dress is just $125!

If you want more vintage chic, how about this Grace Kelly look?

2) Unique Vintage is full of non-traditional, modern vintage goodness! Some of my faves:

Left to right: $130, $238, $170

3) Etsy's the word!
Found Ellana Couture on Etsy and many gorgeous, affordable possibilities! Here's my favorite deal:
This A-line, retro chic gown has a chapel train and a built in French bustle (all for $240!)

4) Eden Bridals
This was a gown I was debating over before I finally chose the one I'll wear come wedding day. But I thought I'd still share--modest, simple and lovely. Satin slim A-line with beaded cap sleeves and chapel train.
$209 at Netbride. Yup.


Freebie Friday

* Get 100 custom letterpress thank you notes printed in 2-color letterpress on exclusive cotton paper with printed envelopes from Bella Figura.
* Win a free gift packaging kit from Inkling Paper.

*Enter to win this very cute dress from Shabby Apple! Hmmm...major engagement shoot dress? How about a rehearsal dinner ensemble or maybe even a next-day brunch outfit?
* How about a stylish purse to go with that outfit? Bonjour Pierre and Morelle are giving away a purse to one lucky winner.
* For a chance to win $25 E-Gift Certificate to Rosy Handbags, visit $25 E-Gift Certificate to (Giveaway).
* Win a $50 gift certificate from The Vintage Pearl.

* Does your blog need a makeover? Esty it Up and Dumplin Designs are giving away a free blog design. As you can see, my blog has a new, sophisticated look. Shay from Dumplin Designs is the talent behind it all and I highly recommend her! Even if you don't win the giveaway, do take a look at her packages. They're very affordable and worth it!
* Win a $15 Amazon gift card from Mint Green with Envy.
* Get this: 250 pounds voucher ($378) from Amazon. Yup.
* $40 gift certificate to The Joy of Soap.

Vistaprint Giveaway ends this Thursday!

Monday, March 15, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 1 comments

Hello brides out there! I know many of you are looking for ways to cut down on your printing costs. There's still time to enter to win my current Vistaprint giveaway and you can cross one printing item off your list! Vistaprint is giving away 100 free Save the Date or Thank You cards, including FREE shipping. Your order of 100 postcards will be completely free! But hurry! The giveaway ends this Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 11:59 PM (PST).

Winner of the Coaster Creations Giveaway!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! The winner of 4 handmade coaster tiles from Coaster Creations is:

Perfect Blue Moon who said:
"I love the Tavertine Tile Coasters!"

Congratulations! Our winner has been notified and has three days to get back to me.

If you didn't win, you'll have many more chances to win some very cool prizes on this blog, so stay tuned!

Surprise! She's pregnant!

Sunday, March 14, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 2 comments

A couple weeks ago, I found out some exciting news. One of my bridesmaids is expecting her first child! I'm really excited for her and her husband. What's funny is that when I share the news to other people, and they realize a very pregnant woman will be in my court, they give me this sorry look.

What are you going to do? Are you ok with it?

Of course I'm OK with it! It's not like she's fallen ill with some disease! She's having a baby and that should be even more cause for celebration! But I understand that some brides might be disappointed, in a sort of self-centered bridezilla type of way. Like, omigod, all eyes are going to be on her and not me! Or some brides may fear a pregnant woman won't fit in the chosen bridesmaid attire. I've heard a bride oust a pregnant bridesmaid because she'll be "too fat!" Of course, I don't really see it that way, (especially the whole "fat" issue) but most people assume that a pregnant bridesmaid is a serious obstacle. Even my bridesmaid was hesitant to tell me in fear that I would get upset! I'm not, but I do realize that there might be a couple of issues to deal with.

First, does this change how the expectant bridesmaid feels about being in the bridal party? Some women might feel a bit self-consious about their changing bodies and may not want to draw attention to themselves (even it just means a short walk down the aisle). I have to admit, it would disappoint me if that's the reason someone I really wanted to be in my court wanted to drop out, but I also I realize I can't change how women may feel about their bodies. While I can reassure them that I don't care and they'll look beautiful regardless, it's really up to them.

Second, if you've chosen a form-fitting, sleek gown for all of your bridesmaids, and you're really adamant that all your bridesmaids wear this style, this might be a problem for your expectant bridesmaid. Perhaps she won't feel comfortable in the selected style. Luckily, I told my bridesmaids that they can pick any dress they wanted, just as long as it was plum purple, tea length and satin. Each dress will reflect each bridesmaid's style and body-type, including one with a bun in oven ;)

But we are hitting a bit of snag here because we're not sure what size to look for. Many of the maternity sizes are based off of present measurements, and we don't know how what size she'll be by the time of the wedding. Since we have to order in advance, it seems we'll have to guestimate. I've also read that once a woman is past four months along, a maternity gown is best rather than a larger-sized bridesmaid gown. But many of the maternity gowns look...oh, how shall we say it? Rather muumuu-ish? Just because a woman is pregnant doesn't mean she loses her sense of style!

 So far, my search for a stylish, tea-length maternity bridesmaid gown has turned a few possible styles:

Alfred Sung

Bill Levkoff

Alfred Angelo
Very nice! Anyone know of any lines that carry stylish, but affordable maternity bridesmaid gowns? Anyone have tips on gown sizing for expectant bridesmaids? Let me know!

Freebie Friday

Saturday, March 13, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 1 comments

OK,Freebie Friday is more like Free Stuff Saturday this week, but here you go!

Head over to Love Charles Vintage for a leather clutch!
- Jenny N. Design is giving away a leather clutch!
- The Classic Bride is giving away a pair of Nina pumps or flats!

- Like Makeup? Makeup By Crystals is giving away Urban Decay products!
- Fiance looking for gifts for groomsmen? A $50 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods coutesy of Mint Green With Envy will help!

Don't forget about my three current giveaways!
- A set of free handmade tiles from Coaster Creations (ends this Sunday!).
- 100 free Save the Date or Thank You Cards from Vistaprint (includes free shipping!) Ends 3/18
- A lucky sixpence card from Mon Amour Boutique (ends 3/23)
- A $20 gift certificate to Kreations by Kawai (ends 3/27)

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Kreations by Kawai

As you might recall, the future hubs and I are going to Kauai for our honeymoon--woohooo! I've been  to Hawaii before (to the island of  Oahu),  and I left that trip with a bagful of Hawaiian jewelry. I love Hawaiian jewelry, but if you want something genuine and made of quality materials rather than the mass-produced touristy stuff, you might have to shell out a bit of money. Luckily, I found Kawai by Kreations on Etsy! Kawai hails from the islands and hand makes her jewelry using local genuine shells and pearls (including freshwater and mother of pearls).Think style and affordability with a bit of island charm! Most of her earrings and necklaces are priced at under $20! Pair her jewelry as standout accessories to your casual outfit, or maybe even  for a night out. Or, give your bridesmaids a piece of lovely handmade jewelry straight from the Hawaiian islands!

As the host of this giveaway, I received a Tahitian blue pearl necklace from Kawai's shop...but don't let its simplicity fool you! This dainty piece, with it's shiny blue pearl and silver chain embodies understated island style.It's a timeless piece--simple, elegant...and did I mention affordable? The necklace came in a adorable lauhala--or palm weave--gift box. Wow...what presentation!

Introducing Kawailani from Kreations by Kawai!

Where are you from?
I was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawai’i, but currently reside on the island of ‘Oahu

What sparked your interest in creating jewelry?I initially started making jewelry as a hobby. However, that later lead to a more serious approach as family and friends complemented my jewelry pieces and actually made special requests. I was flattered when people who saw my jewelry worn by my family and friends asked where they could get that kind of jewelry. Since then I have done my best to perfect what I create and to venture out using different materials that would enable me to showcase the islands while keeping with current trends.

How long have you been creating jewelry?
 I started creating jewelry about 6 years ago and have been creating ever since. I was recently lucky enough to have my jewelry featured in a few local boutiques.

What words would you use to describe your work?
Natural, elegant, feminine, fun, fresh, captivating and a must have J

What inspires your work?From the pristine black sand beaches on the Big Island of Hawai’i to the Honolulu City lights and Waikiki beach, each Hawaiian Island has a beauty and uniqueness all its own. It’s these qualities that are the inspiration for the jewelry that I create. I attempt to both capture and showcase the elements that make these islands paradise.

What are some distinct characteristics of Hawaiian jewelry?
I think Hawaiian jewelry has traditionally always been about sharing the beauty of the islands and giving the wearer a quick way to remember the fun and beauty of their vacation. However, not everyone has had the opportunity to visit Hawaii yet. With my jewelry I attempt to share just a small piece of Hawaii with those who haven’t visited and to remind those who have.

What is the most creative thing you've seen at a wedding?What did they do?One of the most creative things that I’ve seen at a wedding was when a friend of ours sky dived and parachuted in to meet his bride at the altar on a beach on the North Shore of ‘Oahu. The grooms wedding party did an aerial smoke show that preceded his one of a kind entrance!

Hawaii is a big travel destination, especially for honeymoons.
What would you say makes your island, ‘Oahu, unique from the other islands? ‘Oahu is unique from the other islands in that it truly has the best of all worlds. ‘Oahu is home to the beautiful white sand beaches of the North Shore, word class surfing spots, untouched rainforests and the night life of Waikiki. No matter what you’re looking for you can certainly find it here on ‘Oahu.

THE GIVEAWAY: Kawai has been so generous in giving one of my lucky winners a $20 gift certificate to her store!

1) Go to Kreations by Kawai 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 more comments to increase your chance to win if you do the following (please leave a separate comment for each additional entry):

2) Become a new follower of this blog (1 entry)
3) Are currently a follower of my blog (2 entries or 2 separate comments!)
4) Become a facebook fan of “I Do” Budget Weddings (2 entries or 2 separate comments)
5) Blog about the contest and include a link to the giveaway. You must also include a link to Kreations by Kawai's Etsy shop in your post (3 entries or 3 separate comments)
6) Buy anything from Kreations by Kawai  (5 entries or 5 separate comments)
7) Heart Kreations by Kawai's shop on Etsy. (1 entry)
8) Follow “I Do” Budget Weddings on Twitter (1 entry)
9) 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., Saturday, March 27, 2010 (PST). A winner will be randomly chosen and announced the following day. Good luck!