Honeymoon shopping checklist and deals

I’m currently on the search for the perfect honeymoon clothes. Like most women, I despise bathing suit shopping and avoid it at all costs. In fact, I think the last three bikinis I’ve bought have been purchased online from J.Crew and Victoria’s Secret, just to avoid the poor lighting and torturous mirrors at stores. I’d rather try a suit on and send it back than go through swimsuit after swimsuit at a store, ultimately choosing whichever is the lesser of the evils.

Currently on my honeymoon checklist: two new bikinis, a cute cover-up, two sundresses, a dressy yet comfortable pair of sandals and a pair of shorts (I’m not a shorts girl – but with the super heat of Greece in August, I’m trying to be realistic and caving in).

I’m starting with the swimsuits, as I know this will be the most challenging task. Victoria’s Secret currently has two great coupon codes: SPRING13 ($15 off of $100, $30 off of $150, $50 off of $200) and SWIM100 (free shipping on swimwear purchases). Just note that they’re not combinable – so you’ll just have to figure out which is the bigger discount for you, based on the estimated shipping price, etc. I ordered two suits this weekend – fingers crossed that they look halfway decent!

In the interest of time, I also started the sundress hunt. Sebastian was running late at the office (somehow I forget 6:00 really means 6:30pm in South American time!), so I popped into the boutique next door and came across a few cute pastel-colored dresses. I settled on a pale sea-foam green high-low flowing dress – a total steal at $30.


It came with a black and gold rope tie belt, which I’m still on the fence about. I think just the dress itself, with some simple gold sandals and earrings will be perfect for an August evening in Mykonos!

DIY Diaries: Flower wedding programs

This is our second DIY Diaries post from newlywed Jayne Pillemer, who got married in June 2012 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Check out her first post here.

Ceremony programs do not just have to be a piece of paper! Get creative and incorporate your theme without paying a professional printer.  These floral programs looked beautiful, accented the décor and allowed me to put almost my entire paper budget toward custom-made invitations.


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Colored Card Stock  (8 ½ x 11 sheets)
  • Linen Paper (or another elegant, pretty printing paper, also at 8 ½ x 11)
  • Ribbon
  • Paper Cutter
  • Glue Stick
  • Craft Clue
  • Paper flowers (from any scrapbooking site)

Using Microsoft Word or another comparable program, format your document so that the layout is set to Landscape. Create two columns on your page.  Draft your text: the left column will include the Bride and Groom’s names and the date, as well as the members of the wedding party.  The second column on the right will feature the ceremony breakdown (ie, Processional, Exchange of Vows, etc).  Be sure to pick a font that is representative of your wedding!  Print your text on linen paper, in color if you want.

Next, cut your card stock in half, width-wise, using a paper cutter for clean lines.  Trim your printed linen paper, also using the paper cutter, so that the margins are just slightly smaller than the size of the card stock (you want to leave an edge of the card stock showing on the bottom and two sides of the program).  Using a glue stick, put a band of glue at the top of the card stock and affix the second page of your program.  Then put a strip of glue at the top of the second page and stick on the first page.  While your pages dry, measure and cut your ribbon into pieces, so that each piece is long enough to go around the top of the program.  Lay an even strip of glue around the top of the program (use the glue stick here as well to prevent anything from seeping through the ribbon!) and wrap the ribbon around the program.  Using your craft glue, add the flower to the center of the ribbon.  Display in a pretty basket and have your ushers hand them out to guests as they arrive to the ceremony venue!


These programs are too pretty to leave behind! My guests brought them into the reception and displayed them at their seats!

Jayne Pillemer is a freelance writer and editor.  Check out her garden wedding inspiration page on Pinterest.

DIY Diaries: Hardcover book table numbers

Today’s DIY Diaries project is from Kristen Jones Unger, who married her husband Sebastian in June 2012. Her gorgeous backyard wedding took place at her parents’ house with tons of creative DIY touches at the garden affair. Here’s her step-by-step guide for creating DIY hardcover book table numbers – perfect for couples with a love of the written word:

I am more than a little bookish myself and work at a middle school aspiring to get preteens to fall in love with reading. Add to this the fact that my husband’s mother is a town librarian and I was eager to include some literary touches in my big day. As I browsed Etsy for something that suited my style, I stumbled upon an image that seemed easy enough to DIY. I’m eager to share the steps I took with you, in case these table numbers could be the perfect, simply homemade touch to your own celebration.

Follow these steps to create your own hardcover table numbers (photography by Tatiana Breslow)…


You’ll need:

  • One well-loved hardcover book for each table, preferably no more than 150 pages in length.
  • A type-set font of your preference (Computer, Printer, Word Processor)
  • One X-Acto knife
  • Flexible cutting mat (found with scrapbook supplies in craft stores)
  • Pencil

To begin, you need to break the books spine roughly at the halfway point, avoiding choosing a page with significant white space.

Create sample text on your word processor, scaling to fit onto the book’s width. (I printed off the world “Table” just once, but did print each number to ensure precision.)

Using the X-Acto knife, create a stencil from your printouts, by cutting around the letter’s outline against the cutting mat.

Trace your text stencil lightly with a pencil in the center of the page. (I placed the word “Table” on the left and the numeral on the right.)

Placing the cutting mat behind the each page, cut the top and sides of each letter, ensuring NOT to detach the bottom.

Pop each letter up to its standing position.



Notes: To ensure that the books had time to settle into their open position, I left them open on shelves around my home from a few weeks. I also used giant bobbypins to gather the pages to the front and back cover to hasten this transition.

I also create a more personalized one for my husband and I on our table of 2. It still has a place on my bookshelf in our married home.


Kristen Jones Unger is a teacher in Newark, New Jersey who shares her passion for books with her students daily. You can follow her on Instagram.

Deal of the Day: Groupon wedding deals!

Hey, brides to be – Groupon is now offering a “weddings” tab, just in time for wedding season. Image

New weddings section on Groupon.com!

They currently have a wide selection of wedding deals for couples planning to tie the knot. Among the deals, you can purchase a $100 credit to Blue Nile for $50 (perfect for your wedding rings or bridesmaid gifts), $25 for $50 at Charles Tyrwhitt (to complete the groom’s outfit), $99 for $225 at Delphine (letterpress wedding invitations, anyone?), $25 for $100 at Vistaprint (remember the deal I got on my amazing postcard save the dates?), and more. These offers are only available for the next six days, so don’t miss out! Thanks to Leanne for spotting them while I’m on the road for work:)

Newly engaged? Where to register – Part 1

Oh, the wedding registry. One of the first questions my relatives asked me after getting engaged was, “Where are you registered?” as they were looking for direction with engagement gifts. We hadn’t even booked a venue yet and people wanted to know if we’d chosen our china pattern – crazy! While it seems like every store out there has a great deal for a wedding registry, some really are better than others. Here’s part one of my guide to the best stores to register:

Macy*s: This is my number one choice for registering. Not only does this iconic department store offer everything under thesun and frequent sales, but they also have an excellent registry program full of incentives to load more items onto your wish list. When a couple registers with Macy’s and gets (or has already) a Macy’s credit card, the real benefits happen. As soon as we heard that you get 5% back in rewards on registry gifts that people buy for you and 10% back in rewards on any purchases that you make on your Macy’s card, we were sold. I signed up for the Macy’s card that day and started scanning with the gun (well, when I could pry it away from my tech-loving fiance). That means 5% back in rewards from the new towels and blender that friends and family will purchase for your shower, and 10% back in rewards on the ties that you buy for the groomsmen, your shoes for the wedding – and even your fiance’s tux. And after the wedding, you receive a gift card with a nice chunk of change on it – perfect for buying that KitchenAid mixer that you registered for but nobody purchased!

img3950_9726_2592_1944Image source: Macys.com

Crate & Barrel: This popular store sells modern home goods at reasonable prices and is another very popular spot for couples to register. They offer “Wedding Parties,” where newly-engaged couples are invited to enjoy light snacks, drinks and product demonstrations while wandering the store with a scanning gun. We went on a cool fall day to one of these events at the Madison Avenue store in New York City and found it to be quite helpful. There were plenty of staff members around to ask questions and they served chips and salsa, a cheese platter and some veggies and dip (thank you, C&B, for keeping my man happy while I perused the kitchen supplies!). I got to test out some of the knives – and the product rep even corrected my carrot chopping knife skills. They carry a large array of dishes, bed linens, furniture, flatware and more. There are also promotional bonuses for certain items that you register for and receive – but I personally found the mandatory selling points for these to be a bit too high ($500 of one brand? A bit ambitious for me). Registering is easy with the store’s iPhone app – you can adjust your list on the go. For the six months after the wedding, you receive a registry completion discount of 10% and you can use this discount on any Crate & Barrel items (not just those you registered for) – perfect time to purchase new furniture.


id529356019Image source: CrateandBarrel.com

Bed Bath & Beyond: A huge perk of registering at this popular chain is that your friends and family can use their legendary 20% off coupons on all registry purchases – from your Wedgwood china to your Keurig machine. Another bonus for friends and family is the free gift wrapping offered at the stores! And for the couple registering, incentives abound. There are incentives to put certain brand name items on your registry and additional gifts when family and friends purchase them. Like other registry locales, BB&B offers a 10% completion discount after your wedding – but it’s probably better to save up your 20% coupons and use those for those final desired items!

After doing my research, I registered at Macy’s (for formal dishes, cookware, knives and appliances) and Crate & Barrel (for everyday dishes, serving dishes and kitchen supplies). After a bit more thought, I also added a Williams-Sonoma registry, specifically for their amazing bakeware. More registry options to come in a future post – stay tuned!

Where did YOU register? How was your experience?

DIY Diaries: Garden-themed welcome bags

Every bride needs to prioritize her wedding budget. Do It Yourself (DIY) projects not only help you save in certain areas, but they also bring more intimacy to your wedding. Your guests do notice and remember personal touches, and a crafty bride will always impress. Jayne Pillemer, who married the love of her life in Cape Cod in June 2012, offered us a step-by-step guide to her wedding’s fabulous garden-themed welcome bags:

For my wedding, flowers were essential in creating the romantic garden wonderland I envisioned. But florists typically come at a hefty price, and I realized I had little room for accents and extras to complement the floral design. The worry with DIY is that your wedding will end up looking cheap, homemade or just plain crappy, but these DIY projects look beautiful and are simple to make—even if you aren’t the next Martha Stewart.

Though my invitations were flower themed, I wanted to make sure guests got the garden feel immediately upon arrival to our wedding weekend. I found cheap but beautiful gift bags at The Christmas Tree Shop in soft ivory, white and blush, which worked perfectly with my romantic pallet, and affixed hand-made paper flowers to each to highlight the theme.

Welcome Bags

Follow this simple step-by-step to create your own floral accents:

You’ll need:
• Drawing compass
• Index card or card stock
• Single-side crepe paper for softer, frothier flowers; double-sided crepe paper for easier-to-mold, more durable flowers (see examples below)
• Scissors
• 1-inch pearl fasteners, found at a craft store like Michaels
• Single-hole punch
• Glue

Using your compass, draw a circle 4 inches in diameter on your card stock. Cut out the circle and use this as your tracing template. You’ll need six circles of crepe paper for each flower, but for easiest cutting, fold one sheet of crepe paper into thirds, trace the circle, cut and repeat. Stack six circles of crepe paper and poke the pearl fastener through. Close the fastener in the back so that you can secure the crepe paper before molding it. Then, gather the top layer of crepe paper into your fingers and scrunch. Take the next layer of paper into your fingers and continue scrunching. Continue until the top five layers are scrunched. Leave the last layer flat so that it rests evenly against your bag. Open the flower to give it volume and adjust your “petals” so that the pretty center is visible. Glue one flower to each gift bag and let dry. Fill the bag with tasty snacks representative of you as a couple (we chose Cape Cod Potato Chips for the location of our wedding and Tim-Tams, an Australian cookie for my husband, who was born and raised in Sydney). I topped my bags off with matching tissue paper and added a “Welcome to the Wedding!” sticker made on Wedding Paper Divas. Deliver to your guests’ hotels the day before the wedding.

Tips: Double-sided crepe paper is thicker, so your flowers made from this paper will be hold a firmer shape.

Flowers Double

Single-sided tissue paper is thin and wispy. Use this if you are going for frothier flowers.

Flowers Single

Jayne Pillemer is a freelance writer and editor.  Check out her garden wedding inspiration page on Pinterest.

$20 for $40 at Tiny Prints via RueLaLa.com!

In the market for cute save the dates, wedding invitations or thank you cards with hassle-free online ordering? Check out Rue la la today for a $20 off of $40 deal for TinyPrints.com, the the parent company of WeddingPaperDivas.com. They offer some seriously stylish, fully customizable designs, at reasonable online pricing. And there are some fun new styles for spring weddings! Personally, I’m loving all of the gray…

Source: TinyPrints.com

(Image source: TinyPrints.com)

The search for gray dresses

The search for the perfect chic, stylish, and budget-friendly bridesmaid dress continues. One great resource for dresses in New York City is RK Bridal, a large warehouse with all of the top bridal and bridesmaid designers…at more reasonable prices. Now, don’t expect any of the frills usually associated with bridal boutiques. But the prices are are beyond worth it. As I learned this evening, the store offers an aptly-named “No Frills” choice for bridesmaid dress orders, where you provide one order of dresses with the measurements for your group and you get a significant discount. But there are no measurements, no returns, no on-site alterations and like they say, no frills. I found a cute Bill Levcoff dress in pewter for $144 and a nice Alfred Angelo dress in charcoal for $115 with the “no frills” pricing – two very good options…


Let’s talk bridesmaid dresses.

When I selected the colors gray and green as my wedding colors, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find pretty gray bridesmaid dresses at a reasonable price. I envisioned short gray dresses (preferably one-shoulder) with the girls holding pretty green and white flowers. After much research, the dresses I currently like the most are as follows:

ImageAnn Taylor Silk Georgette One Shoulder Dress in Medium Grey
Picture 2
J.Crew Kylie Dress in Crinkle Chiffon in Graphite color
Picture 4
J.Crew Sinclair Dress in Silk Chiffon in Graphite color
I really like all of these dresses but would never ask my bridesmaids to spend this kind of money. Therefore, I’m waiting for Ann Taylor or J.Crew to have one of their sales – hoping for a 30% or 40% discount to happen soon! For those brides interested in dresses from these same stores, there are some GREAT sales to be had this week (unfortunately not in the gray color that I’m looking for!). J.Crew is offering an extra 40% off of sale styles and Ann Taylor is having their “Semi-Annual Sale,” with dresses up to 60% off original prices. Looking for navy, pink or light purple dresses (colors that there seem to be a lot of in the sale section)? You might be in luck if you’re also searching for a good deal!What color bridesmaid dresses are you looking for?

Our Save the Dates – and Vistaprint DEALS!

While my family is mostly local, my fiance’s family is mostly in South America. Our July 2013 nuptials will be a true destination wedding for his side (more to come on this later). In an effort to save money in announcing our wedding date to family and friends, we created a postcard save the date (32 cent stamps vs. 45 cent stamps for letters!) for the North American invitees and scanned and emailed the save the date to our guests abroad.

I searched the Internet for deals on postcard save the dates and found that Vistaprint had the best prices for high-quality printing. I designed my ideal save the date card using their “postcard” template (it’s often cheaper on Vistaprint to use their business printing tools than their wedding-designated ones…similar to calling a salon to get a “bridal” updo versus a regular updo!). I uploaded one of the photos from our engagement shoot, added some text on the front, and included all of the pertinent details (date, time, link to our wedding website) on the back.

Picture 3

I did a bit of research online and came across this Slick Deals link that results in the following free Vistaprint marketing products (you just have to pay for shipping):

1 free pen
10 free note cards
1 free wall calendar
1 free note pad
25 small magnets
1 XL magnet
25 free brochures
50 free rack cards
100 free postcard
50 free xL postcards
140 free return labels
1 free lawn sign
250 premium business cards

At first, I went for a bunch of these free items (they were FREE, after all!) but when I put them in my cart, I realized that I would be paying shipping for many items that I honestly did not need. Instead, I selected the items that I really did need and saved money. In the end, I was able to get 100 of my postcard save the dates for free PLUS:

-an upgrade to 130 lb. premium glossy postcards (since I was getting the postcards for free, I figured why not upgrade to a high-gloss coating and more durable stock)

-10 “note cards” (which I made into thank you notes with a design that will match the invitations I order)

-250 “business cards” (which I will use as tags for the wishing tree in lieu of a traditional guestbook)

-1 pen (with our initials on it, for filling out the wishing tree tags)

….for a grand total of $23.23 (for the merchandise, tax and shipping).

Not bad, considering 100 postcards themselves are normally $24.99, plus $11.99 for the premium glossy cards and $7.80 in shipping. And I loved the end result of the save the dates and think they looked just just as classy as ones from Wedding Paper Divas or other more expensive vendors!

How did you save money on printing?

What to wear for engagement photos – Top 5 tips

It can be difficult to decide what to wear for an engagement photo session, but there’s no need to go running out to buy new clothes for the occasion. Here are a few tips to make prepping easier:

1) Think bright colors! Just like when you attend a TV show taping, they tell you to wear bright colors if you’d like to get on camera and not blend in with the rest of the crowd…the same goes for an engagement photo shoot. Also remember to select colors that won’t blend into the background that you’ve chosen. For example, if you’re doing a photo shoot in Central Park with fall foliage in the background (like I did), don’t wear brown, yellow, or green if you want to stand out. As a general rule, bright purple or blue are always flattering choices and will pop on camera. Just make sure that the colors that your fiance selects are complimentary to your choices.


2) Bring accessories that can tell your story. Are you teachers? Bring a hardcover book to page through on camera. Huge football fans? Jerseys for your favorite team can be a fun change of clothes.


3) Bring 2-3 outfit changes, but keep base clothing the same for ease. If you’re in an outdoor area, it might be difficult to find a bathroom nearby to pop into for an outfit change. Rather than delaying time finding a spot to change, try wearing skinny jeans and a tank top as a base, and bring different sweaters or a jacket to throw on to change the look. Wearing boots? Bring a pair of flats to switch up the outfit.


4) Stick to your personal style. If the only time you wear heels is on Easter Sunday when your mother drags you to church, then stilettos and a short dress aren’t a fit for these photos. Of course, you’re being documented and should look your best, but let your typical style shine through.


5) Don’t waste money on professional hair and makeup! If you’re looking for a more glammed-up look for the photos, stop by the cosmetics counter at a local department store and to have your makeup done for free or make an appointment at a beauty school in town for a cheap blow-out. Often, the students need models to practice on. One of my favorite spots in New York City is the Aveda Institute in the West Village, which offers a wash and dry for just $15 or a wash, haircut and style for $20! Just make sure you book the appointment well in advance, as they tend to book-up quickly.

Note: photography by Timecut.com