Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Thank you all for making 2011 a wonderful and super-successful year for us! We couldn't have reached our goals without you. Please enjoy the holidays and we'll see you back here on January 2, 2012.

Wordless Wednesday: Cultural Elegance

In black and white.

Spotted on Tumblr, but source unknown.

Keeping Your Glow Through the Winter

Affordable Ways to Help Style Your Bridesmaids

We are coming up on what wedding experts call "engagement season." With that in mind, I thought we'd take a look at some trends. But not for brides - for bridesmaids! We've seen the ways in which brides are treating their bridesmaids more like individuals these days, by allowing them to be coordinated without being matchy-matchy. But what are some affordable ways to do that? Let's take a look at three popular ideas.

1) Allow the bridesmaids to choose fabrics and colors, and then have the dresses made by a seamstress or independent designer. This way sounds like the most work but is the easiest way to customize the dresses and still have a coordinated look.

2) Get together and purchase color-coordinated bridesmaid dresses from a wedding shop, such as David's Bridal. This option allows you to see various colors and options while you decide if all the dresses will "play well together."

3) Buy the dresses off-the-rack. If you've seen really great dresses at a department store or some other boutique, you could pick up dresses for your bridesmaids in their sizes or even have them come with you to do it. I was in a wedding where the bride did this for us and we were very grateful to not have to worry about finding dresses. The only drawback to this might be that someone could receive a size that doesn't fit. But since everyone isn't going to match exactly anyway, it might be easy to find another dress.

What do you think? Do you still prefer for bridesmaids to be more uniform? Have you seen any other ideas that worked? Let us know!

Top left image by Rachel Alvia

Exclusive Trunk Show Just for our Readers!

What's your "something bling" for your big day?

No more standing in lines or buying a piece of jewelry that you will never wear again. Your day is about being special, unique, and memorable. Wouldn't it be great to own unique pieces you can't find at the mall or department store? To have your very own personal shopper?

Well, here's your chance!

Maryann Reid, Author and Stylist for Stella & Dot (ID# 131438) is holding an exclusive Stella & Dot Jewelry Trunk Show just for The African American Brides Blog community! Starting Friday at 1pm ET you can start shopping your little hearts out. And there's more: Every buyer will be entered into a chance drawing to win up to $250 in Free Jewelry and 4 half-off items! There is also a Little Girls line to shop for flower girls, and the children of your friends.

Your wedding jewelry should not just be for a day! You can transition any Stella & Dot piece from day to evening from wedding to honeymoon! They can become your very own treasures as you make them a part of your wardrobe or your go-to pieces for special times.

Stella & Dot‘s luxurious, handmade pieces have been featured by Vogue, In Style, Lucky, Modern Bride, US Weekly, etc. Celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Rachel Ray, Ali Landry, and Penelope Cruz have been photographed wearing Stella & Dot jewelry. The View, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and more have featured Stella & Dot pieces, too! Check out all the press at

Here are some other things you should know about Stella & Dot:

* Easy return and exchanges policy.
* Lots of fabulous finds under $50!
* Special flat-rate shipping of $5.95 for this online trunk show.

So how does the FREE jewelry work?

The actual amount is based on a percentage of the sales generated from this online trunk show. However, a typical trunk show generates $1,000 in sales, on average. If this online trunk show sells $1,000, that means the jewelry cash reward would be $250, that could be used towards any Stella & Dot jewelry!!!! Sharing is caring! Spread the word and the excitement of this online trunk show to your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers!! Send them the link to this blog post asap.

Ready to go? Here's what you do:

1) At 1pm ET on Friday, Nov 4, 2011 log on to

2) Shop to your heart's content (keep moms, aunties, and others in mind, too) for your wedding day, honeymoon, reception dinner, you name it!

3) At checkout, choose "African American Brides Blog" trunk show for the special flat $5.95 ship rate!

Done! You will receive a confirmation email about the order and tracking info when it ships. Delivery usually takes only 5 business days! Feel free to forward to friends who may want to purchase something, too. Next Sunday, Nov 13, the WINNER of the FREE cash Jewelry and discount items will be chosen!!! The winner will be announced on the blog, so make sure you all check the blog on Monday for the announcement.

How do you get the FREE jewelry?

The winner can get their FREE jewelry in a few ways 1) winner will get email to set up their online account and begin their shopping or 2) place an order directly with me via phone or email. Easy! Shipping and tax are not included.

What do you do now? Take a sneak peek at the jewelry at Bookmark the page, and set a reminder for the trunk show! Everyone gets something great, valuable, luxurious jewelry with the added bonus of a chance at getting plenty more for free! No losers, here!

Father Daughter Surprise Dance Medley

Here's a great example of what you can do when you put your mind to it. Today's Youtube find has apparently been making the rounds for almost two months (even though we just spotted it this week on Yahoo). It's a great father-daughter dance number - with a twist! Take a look:

Wordless Wednesday: Kerine & Craig

Courtesy of Ray Colon Photography

Eagle Creek Country Club
Lake Nona, Florida

This Season's Groom & Groomsmen Trends

by Melissa Phillips of Simply Perfect by Melissa

Men are becoming more involved in the wedding process, from choosing color themes to heading to the salon, and this season grooms and their entourage are taking advantage of their new found enjoyment of everything leading up to their big day. Here is a sneak peek on what we’ll be seeing from the guys:

Color Coordination: Men are opting out of the solid colored tie that matches the color theme of the wedding and choosing a more blended color look. Patterned ties like Polka dot and paisley are making their way to the altar and helping blend all the colors in the theme.

Planned Morning Outings: Women aren’t the only ones heading to the salon morning of the big day anymore. The Groom party trend is morning outings to get any number of salon/barbershop treatments such as shaves, mani/pedi treatments and even massages.

Suits: Groomsmen are being given choices now in what they wear to the wedding. Many are wearing a nice black suit versus renting a tux. Groom’s parties are going from uniform to coordinated, where each man will wear his own style of the same concept. .

Classic Tux: For the Groom himself, classic tuxes are back. Bow ties, the timeless 007 look and black, silver and gold are all making a comeback. The tuxes are less matching and more complimentary in colors with the wedding theme.

Bold Boutonnières
: Boutonni√®res with personality are a hot trend this season. Each male in the bridal party is being given the opportunity to choose his own unique flower rather than sticking to the same ol’ flowers that everyone uses.

In 2012, forget about the wedding being only the bride’s big day and make room for some very involved grooms! It’s the man’s chance to turn some heads, and he’s taking it!

Wedding Cake Trends: Sweet Petite

Yet another trend that makes perfect sense to us - miniature wedding cakes. Economical and practical, these little creations are being used in addition to traditional cakes. Are they almost too cute to eat? Yep!

Kim & Ashlee's Cakes and Cookies

The Caketress



If you decide to go with the idea of having miniature wedding cakes with a centerpiece cake, be sure to personalize the larger cake with one of these adorable wedding cake toppers, which are available at

Yellow Rose Bridal Collection

We know that our readers are always on the lookout for one-of-a-kind accessories. So we want to make sure to tell you about a new handmade bridal collection from hat designer Sharon Harkness-Dobler at her shop Yellow Rose. She's based in Germany but ships worldwide. Take a look at some of her creations:

If you have something a little different in mind, Yellow Rose also offers custom design services.

Chicago Couture Bridal Event

How's this for inspiration? Allen/Williams Events recently held its Chicago Couture Luxury event featuring African-American bridal gown designers Atha Sharod Bridal and Bryan K. Osburn (who we told you about a while back). The show highlighted some truly glamorous looks for brides. Take a look!

See more pics on Allen/Williams' Facebook page.
Photography by Rick Aguilar Studios

Happy Anniversary to the First Couple!

Happy Anniversary to the President and the First Lady. Today marks 19 years of marriage for Michelle and Barack Obama. May they enjoy many more. Do you consider the Obamas an inspiration in your life?

Wedding Day Beauty from Cover Girl

Bridesmaid Trends Not to Be Missed

By guest blogger Melissa Phillips
Event Coordinator & Owner of Simply Perfect by Melissa

Gone are the days of the taffeta nightmare paired with dyed shoes and a miserable bridesmaid. While bridesmaids should be a little overshadowed by the spotlight of the bride, they still deserve to look good and have fun!
These days, bridesmaids are tapping in to the hottest trends and Melissa Phillips of Simply Perfect by Melissa is showing off the best of these trends.

Bridesmaid trends to love:

1. Nontraditional bridesmaid dresses: One of the biggest complaints about being a bridesmaid dress is the cost (and look) of a single use dress. The wedding industry is seeing more maids wearing dresses from women’s retailers such as Ann Taylor, J.Crew and other boutique shops. These dresses can still be colorful, but they have cocktail feel. After the weddings, jewelry, belts, sandals, wraps, etc give the dress a whole new feeling.

2. Fun accessories: Bridesmaids are embellishing their dresses with trendy jewelry, floral pins, brooches, and feathers. Again, this breaks the mold of the traditional bridesmaid dress, and gives them some great new pieces to wear again.

3. Gift for the bridesmaids: The current trend involves less uniformity in gifts and more customization for each girl. Brides are putting individual thought into each of their girls and getting gifts that reflect something about that specific bridesmaid. This gives a much more personal and special touch to gift giving.

4. Metallic shoes: Dye-ables are going by the wayside…Bridesmaids are moving more towards a universal metallic shoe to compliment the dress and add to the accessories. Which is great because these shoes can be used long after the wedding.

5. Variation in bouquets: Vary up the look of the bridesmaid’s bouquet to add a twist to the overall look of the bridesmaids. Brides are choosing a variety of blooms from the blooms being used throughout, or switching up the colors using different shades or colors from the wedding color palette.

6. Smaller bridal parties: Brides are selecting fewer girls to keep their bridal parties smaller and more intimate.

Bridesmaids everywhere can quit groaning and start shopping with these trends in mind. The bridal party has changed gears to allow for way more fun and dresses and accessories that can be used for years to come.

Sherri Shepherd

We were so excited to get this picture of The View's Sherri Shepherd looking stunning in her bridal attire. (Thanks, Atelier!) She married her sweetie Lamar Sally earlier this month in Chicago. Her gown was designed by Rita Vinieris of Rivini.

Love For Grownups Giveaway

There are lots of books about weddings. But the one we're talking about today tackles a slightly different subject. It's a new book about the joys and challenges of getting married as a fully grown adult, called "Love For Grown-Ups: How to Marry for Life When You've Already Got a Life". We know many of us can relate, so we're giving away a copy valued at $78. Everyone who follows The Garter Brides on Twitter and tweets/retweets with the hashtag #LoveForGrownUps is automatically eligible to win. The winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted by direct message. Then it's up to the winner to respond in 48 hours or forfeit the prize.

The giveaway starts now and ends on August 25th. So pop on over and let's get tweeting ladies!

Friday Funny

Do you have a hard time pulling your guy away from his video games? If so, you might relate to this cake topper:

Found at AwesomeToppers on Etsy.

Trend Alert: Cookies as Wedding Favors

- by pastry chef Gail Dosik

Couples planning their weddings often come to me to create special, edible cookie takeaway favors for their big day. It's a sweet and personal way to convey something very meaningful about how the couple to their guests. Need a few ideas for coming up with your own edible wedding favors? Try these:

◆ Traditional - If your wedding is more traditional, a cookie that mimics the bride's gown, bouquet or engagement is an elegant and tasty reminder of the day.

◆ Outdoors - Having a garden wedding? How about flower or butterfly cookies to celebrate the outdoor venue?

◆ Passion - Do the newly married couple share a passion project? If they're animal lovers, an artful cookie rendition of their pet is a wonderful way to bring a smile to everyone's lips.

◆ Destination - With destination weddings being so popular these days, a cookie representing an element of the special location can be fun. Getting married at a vineyard? A wine bottle cookie with the couple's name on the label is a pleasant reminder of the occasion.

◆ Hobby - If the bride and groom share a favorite hobby, let the cookie tell the guests what it is. Music buffs can offer guitars or other musical instruments, for example.

Beginning in the 17th century, wedding guests were sent home with a slice of the cake. With the cake placed snugly under the pillow, the sleepy guest would hopefully dream of their own future spouse. I certainly encourage taking the cookie favors home, but, can't guarantee that it will conjure up nocturnal forecasts of wedded bliss. So, do what I always encourage my clients to do: eat the cookie.

Photo: Royal Wedding Cookies by

Ann's Bridal Bargains Winner: NoelleArtemis

And the winner of the $100 gift certificate from Ann's Bridal Bargains is... NoelleArtemis! Congratulations to her and thanks to everyone who participated. We had a lot of fun with this giveaway and we will definitely be doing more of them in the future. So if you're a bride-to-be or a planner be sure to keep checking back for those!

Is Burlap The New Black?

by guest blogger Amanda Hollowell

Most planners know when you are designing events on a tight budget and the venue gives you the option of free or affordable floor length black linen. You choose that option. Black table linen helps accent any centerpiece or give a great contrast in a room. Do not get me wrong, I love black, it is a mixture of all the colors and by Merriam Webster Dictionary definition it is the achromatic color of least lightness characteristically perceived to belong to objects that neither reflect nor transmit light. HOWEVER, BURLAP is my new favorite for weddings and events.

To be clear I consider Burlap a kind of color and a texture of fabric. It is versatile it works for outdoor, indoor, any season of the year and did I mention it is my favorite. Burlap’s definitions are a coarse heavy plain-woven fabric usually of jute or hemp used for bagging and wrapping and in furniture and linoleum manufacture or a lightweight material resembling burlap used in interior decoration or for clothing ( My definition of Burlap is affordable, malleable and the chameleon of the fabric world. I

Burlap for my wedding?
Yes, Burlap for your wedding. The wedding featured is an outdoor event at Ole Fort Jackson in Savannah, GA.

Tables were banquet tables seating at 16 at each table for a total guest count of 100 or so. Tables were covered in ivory table linen that reached to the middle of the table. Down the middle of the table was a custom made Burlap runner with frayed edges, two small mason jar centerpieces filled with a mix green floral arrangement (set at either end of the table) and in the middle of the table a dark wood lantern with white wax candle. The Burlap also accented the S’mores Station that was placed by the campfire.

When given the chance Burlap can add texture to any of your tables. You can buy Burlap online by the yard it ranges between $5.00 - $7.00 depending on the site. At Joann’s Fabrics it is around $8.00 per yard. You can also rent it from any linen rental company. Cloth Connection out of Arizona offers Burlap linen in multiple colors, sizes and shapes for rental (I love their multiple colors options.) There are plenty of great linens out there that are cost effective and DIY friendly. Try to research your local fabrics stores and look for online vendors that offer great rates.

For more tips you can follow me @mandarellla on twitter, or go to our website

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