The New Disney/Alfred Angelo Line…Your Thoughts?

July 29th, 2011

Photo: alfredangelo.com

Have you seen this new line? It’s not Disney-Disney…there are no mermaid tails or anything. But it’s inspired by Disney princesses, and I think the job Alfred Angelo and Disney did together is absolutely spot-on.

Listed as the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings collection, the line includes eight gorgeous gowns that honor the spirit of your favorite princesses. Some are decidedly princessey, others are high-glam with the perfect touch of romance.

None is silly, we’re glad to say; even the Cinderella is wearable. Very wearable. And very, very fantasy-wedding spectacular without an ounce of tack to be seen (but then again, what do you expect from Alfred Angelo but the best?). All take your little-girl dreams and grow them up into a fabulous and elegant gown that, somewhere in those eight dreamy choices, is perfect for you.

Let us know what you think. Yea or nay? Fab or flop? Leave us a comment and catch up with us on Facebook to tell us your thoughts.

Way to go, Alfred Angelo! We love it, and we hope to see more princess inspiration in future gowns. Now if I can just find that glass slipper

How to Choose an Awesome Wedding Gift

July 19th, 2011

Caveat emptor: your tastes and hers might not be the same.

Finding the perfect gift for the bride and groom isn’t necessarily an easy task. The ancient stand-bys — a blender, bed sheets, lamps — can be unnecessary considering the fact that these days the bride and groom are often already set up in their own apartments and have all that stuff. And of course, there’s the question of taste. (Who knew your cousin would go crazy over the clock shaped like a cat she got from her mother, rather than your carefully-considered crystal collectible? Eew.)

And yeah, you kept the receipt. But the image of the newlyweds arriving home from their honeymoon and jumping right back into work, writing the thank-yous, returning phone calls and running all over town to return your gift — or struggling online with a faulty server that refuses to behave — isn’t exactly appealing to you (so imagine how it sounds to the bride and groom — oops).

So. What to do?

1. Always Assume the Bride and Groom Know Best

The obvious first option is frequently overlooked by well-wishers who think they know better than the bride and groom what the new couple wants: do they have a guest registry? Too obvious? You might be surprised. We’ve had guests completely overlook a registry stocked full of useful, inexpensive items in favor of what they felt the bride and groom really wanted.

And granted, we’re sure you have taste. You just don’t necessarily have the same taste as the new couple. I once went through a  cobalt blue phase. I figured since I absolutely loved cobalt blue, particularly cobalt colored glass containers, everyone else must adore them, too. Not. Out of perhaps four or five cobalt-glass couples gifts I gave, I saw one on a shelf after the wedding. (And it wasn’t a prominent shelf.  Ow.)

So go for the registry, even if it’s a registry at a local pet food store. (Yes, they have them…believe it or not.) If the bride and groom don’t have a registry, send the hint along via a close family member, or if you’re best buds with the bride, put the bug in her ear to open a registry, already! It’s so easy to do, so many registries can be opened online, and she’ll be saving her entire guest list one big hassle…while getting everything her heart desires (which is the whole point).

2. Enlist in the Help of Close Friends and Family Members

No registry? There’s a Plan B: bug the bride’s family, and the groom’s too. It’s not gauche or against wedding etiquette to outright ask family members what the couple may want as a gift, so you’re okay. Ask away!

The simple fact is, even without a registry, many — if not most — marrying couples do know what they want but feel uncomfortable spreading the word themselves. Perhaps they want one larger gift that a number of guests, or the wedding party, can chip in on. Or maybe the gift just can’t be had via registry; for example, they may be dreaming of luxuriating in an on-locale spa for their honeymoon but the VIP spa room isn’t included with the cost of their honeymoon package. There is a surprising number of circumstances that may make a registry inadequate, despite the plethora of registries out there. So if in doubt, ask!

3. Think About What They Really Enjoy

Why yes, there is a Plan C, thank you for asking!

This one is simple: think about what the couple really enjoy, either separately or together. Are they avid skiers? How about ski lift tickets? Do they like doing movies the old-fashioned way (going to a theater rather than Netflixing)? Give them either tix or coupons for popcorn, soda and snacks. Is she into calligraphy? A beautiful calligraphy set is a gorgeous wedding gift.

Even if the gift seems non-traditional as weddings go, if the activity is something the couple truly loves, then they’ll truly love the gift, and yes…it’ll be perfect.

Happy shopping, and try not to stress. Once you’ve considered all the options and have asked the pertinent questions, there’s not much else you can do but sit back and enjoy the wedding. You did your best, so pat yourself on the back — you’re a great wedding guest!

Cruise Travel Accessories Contest

July 13th, 2011

It’s been a while since we hosted a contest, so here we go!

This contest is SO EASY. Simply submit your opinion about the cruise travel items we’re listing for the contest. (No purchase is necessary; let us know how you feel each would be a benefit to travelers.) The winning entry will receive all three items, a $28 value. Please submit entries to info@favorsbyserendipity.com.

We can’t wait to hear from you! Thanks for your comments to the blog and for your e-mails that continue to inspire us.

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Now, for the tiny print…

July 2011 Favorsbyserendipity.com Cruise Travel Accessories Contest

Contest Dates: July 13 – 29, 2011

Prizes: Travel Accessories  kit including  Cruise Shower Caddy, Soap Pocket-on-a-Rope and 4 Cruise Luggage Tag Holders ($28.00 total value)

Contest Rules: Eligibility is to Favorsbyserendipity Facebook Friends/Favorited members. To sign up, click here and Friend or Follow the page. One entry per e-mail address. Participants will be entered to win one Cruise Travel Accessories Kit personally designed by me for Serendipity.  Contest ends July 29, 2011. To enter, send a brief description of what you like about the three prize items (read descriptions for details) and how you plan to use them to info@favorsbyserendipity.com. No purchase necessary. Rules and contest end date are subject to change. A winner will be announced August 15, 2011.

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Well, alrightie then, lovelies…do you heart them? We sure do. As an avid traveler who favors cruises (ahh…luxury), I can vouch for these products; in fact, I designed them myself to make traveling easier. And I’m so proud of them — they really live up to their name.

The Cruise Shower Caddy is already five-star rated — wow (check out reviews here). It includes 3 travel-size product pockets, 2 additional pockets and velcro straps to fit on any horizontal bar, or it can be hung with suction cups (included). It’s machine-washable and small enough to take along easily. Check out how much this little baby can hold — you’re going to love it.  Made for cruising, but also can be used in an RV, houseboat, or hotel.

The second prize is Our Soap Pocket-On-A-Rope . Nothing against standard soap-on-a-rope (we love this too!) but for travel, it can be messy, and it’s no fun to pack up and take back out. That’s why I created the Soap Pocket-On-A-Rope. No more dropping the soap, easy accessibility and it’s so neat…everything’s in one place.

But over here I think we’re proudest of all of our Cruise Luggage Tag Holders. These are such a hit, according to the reviews and from comments we’ve received from travelers all over the globe. The tag holders are designed for print yourself luggage tags required by cruise lines and the printed information on the tags can be seen clearly and concisely, are very readable, protective and include a durable vinyl loop (a larger loop for longer handles is available for an additional charge — see the details page). Worry-free travel…it doesn’t get any better than this!

We can’t wait to announce the winner, so tell your family, friends and fellow travelers about the contest. (Here’s our Facebook link, and have participants spread the word via your cruise forums, FB and Twitter if they’d like.)

Hope you’re as excited about this as we are, and we hope you’re the  winner!

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

July 7th, 2011

A photographer should be motivated to capture you at your best. Photo: Hair and Makeup by Georgette Roles, www.lipsandcurls.com

Ruh-roh.

It’s that time.

Yes, that’s right, my wedding lovelies. It’s time to…start searching for a wedding photographer. (cue ominous musical score)

Okay, so it’s probably not all that bad. But many a bride-to-be balks at the thought of starting the search for the perfect wedding photographer. The task can seem daunting, but we’ve broken things down into manageable chunks for you. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Start Looking Early

Like your gown and your venue, the photographer is one wedding search assignment you’ll want to start right away. We don’t recommend saying “Yes!” to your guy at the restaurant and running for the phone book or the web before the poor man can get the engagement ring on your finger. But do put the photographer near the top of your wedding planning agenda.

The more time you have to look, the less stressful things will be and the less pressured you’ll feel to settle on someone just to have a photographer booked.

Talk to Your Friends

Naturally, your Smartphone is going to be a ginormous part of your wedding planning, and let’s face it, the internet broadens your search range farther than anyone would have thought possible 25 or 35 years ago. That’s a given.

But don’t discount the oldest form of marketing available: word-of-mouth. No matter how many glowing reviews you may find on Yelp, how can you really know how the entire process will go, from dealing with prices to the photog’s personality? Ask your best buds how their entire experience with the photographer was, start to (photo) finish.

Meet With at Least Five Photographers

Caveat emptor. You may be blown away by the first samples you’ve seen, but check out several operations before handing over that deposit.

Another tip: Go home and think about things. Even if you’re 99% certain of a specific photographer, give yourself time to think about everyone you’ve seen before making a final decision.

Ask to Look at Samples

While visiting with your prospective photographer, ask to see samples of his or her work. She should have plenty. If she can only produce a handful of samples, run, don’t walk to the next person on your list. Photographers take dozens, even hundreds, of shots at a typical wedding. If your photographer can’t produce a nice fat book (or filled-up website) of great shots, it’s a red flag.

Read Over All the Details Before Signing

Yes. All. Including the teeny-tiny print. If you feel like the photographer is rushing you to sign without reading, then don’t sign yet — go home and think about it. Ideally, take a copy of the unsigned contract with you. Then look it over when you’re not feeling rushed. This small step can save HUGE headaches later.

Pick Someone Whose Goal is Making You Look Good

Photographers are artists, and they often look at their creations in the light of whether they caught an interesting angle, appropriate lighting or a fascinating composition of characters.

Wedding photographers, if they’re good ones, know it’s about more than that: it’s your big day. While you’re interviewing your photographer, feel out whether she seems to be gearing her results toward the bride, groom and wedding party. “We stood the bride and groom this way because the afternoon light was slanting in — just look at the bride’s face” and the like can give you hints that the photographer has vision but is concerned, above all, about you.

Make sure your photographer wants you and your hubs-to-be — as well as the wedding party and guests — to look your beautiful best.

Once you’ve found the perfect photographer, book her! Don’t let this chance slip by. Having your wedding photography mission accomplished takes a huge weight off you and your groom and allows you to concentrate on the rest of your planning. And a stress-free couple is a happy couple.

Start early, take your time and enjoy the process, while maintaining a lookout for the above clues — and you’ll look mahvelous, darling.

Our Favorite DIY Wedding Ideas

July 6th, 2011

It’s amazing (and impressive) how many brides we hear from that say they want to create wedding touches themselves. Wedding planning is such a busy time that we just have to give kudos to brides- and grooms-to-be, and their families, who take on the task making things personal with gorgeous DIY additions.

It’s in that spirit that we offer to you our favorite DIY wedding ideas. Why make things harder on yourself? Try these easy, eye-grabbing methods to impress your guests. Here are our favorites:

DIY Centerpieces

One of the easiest and most creative ways to impress your guests is to make your own wedding reception centerpieces. Ideas are wide open here, but generally, you want something pretty, safe (particularly if you’re involving candles in your decor), centralized (keep the centerpieces to a small-ish circle or square area) and within your wedding theme.

Ideas: Try natural touches, like twigs (see your local florist or if you’re really inspired, gather your own), leaves, berries and dried flowers. For a beach-theme wedding, toss a few sea shells and star fish around your arrangement. Be creative and use local choices for gorgeous, kitschy decor.

Pillar candles can really make a centerpiece. Set up two different sizes next to one another and choose two strongly contrasting but complementary colors. Or tie with colorful ribbon. Be careful with scented candles; you don’t want fragrance to overpower the dinner or appetizers that are being served.

DIY Ceremony and Reception Decor

Utilize fabric for color-coordinated touches. Wrap vases in fabric in your wedding colors. Add draped fabric to the backs of wedding reception chairs. Make big, droopy, awesome bows and tie them to aisles for the ceremony. Be daring with color — it’s all about striking individuality this wedding season.

For an outdoor wedding, string pretty white lights amid greenery (trees, potted plants and bushes). Rent a tent in a sumptuous color whether you’re anticipating rain or not; it’s simply a nice touch, and adds instant elegance.

DIY Wedding Menu

Know a great baker in your family or among your friends? Have him or her create gorgeous, gooey cupcakes, then place them in sophisticated cupcake wrappers.

Fill premade favor boxes with candy. For a summer wedding, fill with sand and seashells, plus a wrapped candy or two (chocolate is our favorite). Stuff with pretty fall leaves for an autumn wedding; place a trinket on top of the mini-pile.

Cupcakes are cool for 2011 (see above). So is having someone close to you make your wedding cake. Make sure you give this labor of love to someone you can trust to do a pro job; you want an organic yet professionally arranged look here. Top with a unique and sophisticated topper or ask your “baker” to top with edible real flowers, candy/icing flowers, and pretty piped icing.

Are you a genius with Phyllo dough, and are you planning a manageable-size reception (say, 60 or fewer people)? Then pre-make your own appetizers. Freeze, then have the appetizers baked the morning of the party.

DIY Wedding Stationery

Make your own invitations, place cards and Save the Date cards. There are so many programs available online to choose from that will deliver professional-looking, highly unique results.

Word to the wise: Do not print out your own wedding stationery unless you have a top-notch color printer. And we do mean top-notch. If you’re concerned, take your ideas to a local printer. Have your finished template ready on disc or have it e-mailed to the printer. Choose professional looking card stock in a reasonable weight so your results are fabulous instead of flimsy.

DIY Wedding Site and Guest Registry Site

Again: super-easy…and super fun to boot. Look for free sites online; there are plenty to choose from, with pretty, fun, funky or sophisticated templates and backdrops to keep your guests informed about your wedding.

Link your wedding registry site to your main wedding site to make things easier for guests. Take your time on this idea and make it truly yours, then update regularly. (Have a push e-mail ready for when updates occur, or choose a program that automatically sends out notifications.)