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One part I love most about being a bridal makeup artist is listening to my client share their engagement story and gush about their ring. A common thread between all brides is the symbolism of their ring. It is not just a piece of jewelry, but a representation of the love and commitment they're making to another person.
bianca + kim
Some of you may already know that I was the one to propose to my wife. Despite my love for planning, proposing was not my best execution. How do you surprise someone you tell everything to and often use one another's phones? I tried getting someone there to take photos. No go. I tried making reservations for dinner post proposal. Fail- we waited 90 minutes to be seated. But this is life, right? The perfectly imperfect. And what truly matters, especially looking back, is that I am now married to my favorite person.
Sometime in early 2014, Bianca and I made a trip to Joe Escobar to see what rings we each liked. By chance, Bianca chose a ring for me, and I hers. Later that year in December of 2014, I made a visit to R&J Jewelry. A shop owned by one of Bianca's cousins. I love giving my business to friends and family when I can. Everyone was so helpful, especially when I decided to make a custom ring for Bianca. I quickly chose my own ring and spent several weeks working on Bianca's from choosing the diamond to the design and metal. Her dream ring was a compression style, but due to the price and possibility of the stone falling out, we quickly tossed that idea out the window.
As soon as I got an email that the rings would be ready, I put my plans into action. Another little tidbit about me: I love giving gifts so much that I really can't keep them for long. I just love seeing someone's reaction to a gift that I picked just for them. That being said, I had to propose right away. I picked up the rings right from work. Told Bianca I was taking her out. We cleaned up, got our nails done, and then I took her to "our bridge". I had her close her eyes while I wrote "marry me?" on the bridge. When she opened her eyes we both giggled like little girls. We had talked about marriage for so long, but the fact of it being reality made us giddy with excitement! Three year of wear our rings and we still stare at them regularly.
nina + eric
"Eric and I had been dating 2 years when he proposed, and living together one of those years. We had talked about marriage over the last year prior and he asked me what my ideal proposal would be. I told him that I wouldn't care how or when, as long as it came from his heart and it was something he wanted. He said that he would propose in the year 2016. Well, New Years was approaching and I had almost completely forgotten about his promise. I love New Years Eve. Eric planned this whole event: got us a huge suite at the Hilton in Downtown San Jose, tickets for Haberdasher (the old Single Barrel) a small underground bar also is DTSJ. This tiny little bar was my favorite but only had like 8 tables, and tickets were gifted out on a raffle. And all of our friends were going to come hang out with us and spend New Years with us. So, I knew the entire plan. Eric even paid for me to get a blow out and my nails done- now I know why. So, we are in the hotel room with all of our friends just talking and hanging out, its about 9:45pm/10:00pm and because I am the bossy pants I am, I was suggesting that we all get down to Haberdasher and enjoy our free appies. No one would get up! So I tried to herd them harder and now everyone is silent and staring behind me- I turn around and there Eric was on one knee with the ring of my dreams. No idea what he said, he can't remember either, but I said yes! We got to ring in the new year as an engaged couple and every day since then has been just as magical.
I love how unique the ring is. Eric spent a long time looking for the ring. He was originally going to have it hand made. I have never been into diamonds much. I had told him that I want something that no one has, but please don't break the bank. Our life is not built around money, so the ring shouldn't portray that either. So he found something that represented me and our love, something that no one else shares except us. The band was then handcrafted by one of my moms closest friends, which is very personal to me."
shannon + andy
"We got engaged after being together for 10 years. Our first date was Brokeback Mountain and, NO Andy had no idea what the movie was about. His friends had told him it was 'an artsy film that would impress a girl.' After that movie, he was certain I would never see him again. But I stuck with him for the long haul, and it became the running joke in the family. Andy ended up proposing to me at the end of seeing Fifty Shades of Grey in theaters on Valentine's Day. He said he had to top our first date some how! He used all my favorite lines from our favorite movies and ended it with 'I'm with you till the end of the line' which was our wedding theme.
I love my rings because they are custom. I get very Gollum like when I don't have them on! I had jokingly sent Andy multiple links to rings I liked over the ten years. I didn't know that he had saved every single one. So when he was finally ready, he printed them all off and took them to Dynasty Jewelers in Oakridge Mall. They had done all our previous jewelry for us! They made me a custom engagement ring that was everything I dreamed of. It's incredibly detailed and very princess like. Andy's ring is also custom. He lost his dad the first month we started dating. So I had a copy made of his dad's ring in white gold."
angie + marquisa
"Marquisa and I had only been dating for a month when she asked me to go shopping for diamond earrings as a present to herself for her birthday. While at the jewelry store, one of Marquisa’s friends (who was getting married in a few months) called and asked if we could scope out rose gold wedding bands for her while we were there. Never one to turn down looking at shiny things, I quickly agreed and started perusing the store’s offerings. Looking at wedding bands naturally led me to looking at engagement rings, which led me to trying on engagement rings (while Marquisa unknowingly was shopping for her earrings). Once she had picked out her earrings and realized what I was up to, we had a quick sidebar about if we were serious about looking at rings. We had briefly broached the subject of marriage, but given that it was so early on in the relationship, both of us were a bit trepidatious. We decided that looking couldn’t hurt, so we immediately drove to the mall to check out a different jewelry store. Once there, we actually found rings that we both liked and put them on hold. This bought us a few weeks to decide how we wanted to move forward and to talk about what we saw for our future together. It also gave us time to do online research about rings, diamonds, styles, etc. We visited a third store, Jared, about a week later and ended up both buying our rings on the spot. It was a huge leap forward in our relationship, but one that we both felt ready for and comfortable taking with one another.
Fast-forward 2 months later...
We got engaged on June 24, 2016, which was quick by some standards, but it just felt right. I surprised Marquisa on the weekend of SF Pride with a secretly decorated hotel room that overlooked the city. The hotel was even in on the surprise and provided us with free champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries. After a private proposal full of laughter and tears (Marquisa said yes!), I had one more surprise waiting for her the next morning--a fancy brunch in Saratoga with a bunch of friends. Then, we both wore custom-made tshirts that said "Just Engaged!" to the SF Pride Parade where we were congratulated by drag queens and parade-goers alike. It was a perfect weekend and a perfect start to building our new life together."
Raise your hand if you are planning a wedding.
Now keep it up if you spend half of your waking life on Pinterest.
Although Pinterest is amazing and has all your wedding dreams, there is such a thing as Pinterest Overload!
My cure? Delete the app!
I know that sounds crazy, but if you eliminate the potential of pinning on your phone and only spend your Pinterest time on the computer, you will gain hours back, and some of your sanity!
But let's take this one step further and turn off all social media and technology for just a moment. Spend time with your love. Talk about what the two of you enjoy doing together, what makes you both the happiest.
This is when you will truly know the direction your wedding should take.
Let me tell you a little story.
Wedding planning started and my wife literally said, "all I want are oysters and pizza." Hmmm, ok. That's doable. Oak and Rye booked. Bill the Oyster Guy booked. Done.
We had an outdoor venue set, but it really was conducive to so many different styles.
After a trip to La Tavola Fine Linen, I was convinced we were going the route of muted blush tones and lace. Gorgeous right?
But so not us. At all!
Then one day, we realized that we didn't love the direction our wedding designing was going. We are bright, vibrant young women who love live music and dancing. We felt that our wedding should reflect this part of us.
In the trash it all went, along with all of the "rules"
Screw one color! We chose five: Orange, yellow, pink, blue and purple! And two patterns: black and white stripes and floral.
The true turning point was my love for the black and white stripes- so Kate Spade! And my desire to incorporate dream catchers.
Thus our theme was born: Bohemian Kate Spade.
It was a mixture of Kate Spade's bright, retro, refined and feminine style with the bohemian fluidity. We hung dream catchers from the trees and made tambourines for our guests. The tables were adorned in single bud vases and the patterns were carried through in the napkins, pillows, and the dance floor.
Oh. And bubbles.
Bubbles make me so happy. A friend graciously lent us this bubble machine with these bubbles. THE BEST EVER!! Bianca ended up buying me this same bubble machine for my birthday. Now, a year later, it is still bringing people so much happiness!
Bottom line. DO YOU! Make your day about who the two of you are as a couple and your guests will have the most fun because you are.
For your viewing pleasure, our wedding video and some photos.
Photos by Brittany Bowen Photography
As someone who has been in many bridal suites and planned my own wedding, I present you with my biggest gift- some advice.
- My first piece of advice- take or leave whatever works for you. This goes for my list too! People are going to provide a lot of unsolicited advice. They love you and want to help. So, practice a really good smile and "thank you". There's no sense in discussing their advice if you're not going to use it. This is your wedding, make choices that are best for the two of you. Often others can't understand or see your vision, but they will see how happy you are on your big day, and that's what truly matters.
- Now let's take it back one step- the engagement. If you're not the one proposing, give your love some space and time. Let me tell you as the one who proposed, IT IS HARD! I found it the hardest to keep such a big secret from the person I tell everything to. Trust your partner that they will do their very best and know that the most important thing is spending your life together.
- Now, you're engaged. WHAT DO YOU DO?! Oy vey, if you're anything like me, you want to start planning ASAP. My wife had asked me for a grace period before planning began. In my mind this was two weeks, for her she preferred two months. It is important to explicitly express your ideas with your partner so as not to get lost in assumptions throughout all of planning.
- First thing's first- venue and date! Have an idea for the length of engagement that you want, style of wedding, indoor or outdoor, and guest count. The venue hunt could possibly be the most overwhelming part of planning. There are SO many options and each venue comes with its own set of pros and cons. Have your long list of dreams and your short list of requirements. For us, outdoors and amplified music were the most important in venue hunting.
- Planning is stressful, or at least for the majority of engaged couples. Make sure you take time to enjoy each other and not discuss wedding plans. Try your best to be in the moment and appreciate one another. This is the person you chose to spend forever with.
- Sometimes you just have to give in. Choose a handful of aspects that are make or break for you and be willing to negotiate on the rest. This is a special day for others too including parents. They will have strong requests and at times it may be better to give in and avoid a fight.
- When it comes to the bridal suite you are setting the tone for the day.
- What type of environment are you creating? We wanted our room to be fun but relaxed. Music is the biggest factor to this component. I created a playlist on Spotify. If you have had an appointment at my home office recently, you've heard my playlist. And because I love you, here is the link to enjoy my wedding morning playlist on your special day!
- When choosing a space to get ready, keep in mind the number of people, amount of space and natural lighting. Even a large space can feel small without natural lighting. Not to mention that it is the best light for makeup application. If you cannot get one room large enough, consider adjoining rooms.
- FOOD AND BEVERAGE! Don't derail from your typical eating habits. If you haven't been eating sugar or carbs, wait until after photos to do so, or better yet, the next day. Not as much for your waist line as much as how you feel. This goes for alcohol too. Be careful with your consumption based on comfort level. I highly recommend filling the room with fruits, vegetables, water, caffeine, and light carbs that aren't messy. My mom made us a variety of gluten free (per my intolerance) muffins and scones. This also gave her a way to contribute.
- Have small activities in the room. We had our Poloroid along with some photo albums and temp tattoos that my girls picked up. They worked as conversation starters from our friends who had just met and everyone had a blast together.
- Attire. Even if your photographer or videographer are not present in the bridal suite, there will be plenty of photos. This is the perfect excuse for a gift whether it be a robe, shirt, sweater, jacket or romper. Everyone loves getting clothes and this provides you with the opportunity to control the look of your photographs.
- Give someone the task of keeping time. Actually, give everyone tasks. You finally get to kick your feet up and relax, which was so weird for me.
- Further more, assign friends and family tasks the entire week of the wedding. You have worked so hard to organize and plan for this special event. Make sure you enjoy it and trust the people around you...
- ...even if they fail you. Yes, mistakes will happen. The list of mistakes at our wedding is LONG. However, you are the only one that knows- unless you tell people. Regardless, you are marrying your love with friends and family as witness. Enjoy every second despite what goes wrong. If you only take away one piece of my advice, let it be this. It will make or break your entire day.
Bottom line, this is YOUR wedding. Make sure you and your forever make the day about the two of you and everyone else will have fun in celebrating your love.