A Bride's Best Friend - wedding coaching and consulting

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7 Wedding Day Beauty Tips for Brides (Bridesmaids too!)

Ready for some tips from the pros on how to look and photograph your best on your big day?  I interviewed some of my favorite bridal beauty experts and here is what they had to say...

About Radiant Skin

Maria beautifies everything!

Taylor covers up a tiny tattoo ;)

The stylist's palette.

If you are planning on getting a facial for the first time, make sure it is not the week of your wedding. Facials often give the opportunity for the icky things beneath the skin to surface.  I find that my brides that enroll in a 6 month series of facials always have the most radiant skin, thus giving me a cleaner/smoother canvas to work with.

-Armando Sarabia of Get Your Do Up!

The best way to moisturize?  Hydrate yourself the week and especially the day of your wedding.  That 8 glasses of water per day rule is tough to achieve, but don’t ignore it the week of your wedding.  It makes a difference!

-Taylor & Mimi of Thi Cosmetics Studio

Wearing a strapless, off the shoulder or spaghetti strap dress?  The back and shoulders are one of the areas often forgotten.   A spa service that I suggest a bride should include to enroll in is a 6 month back facial service. A back facial will ensure that your shoulders look their most radiant. If you are wearing a off the shoulder dress do keep in mind that your back is facing your guests for the first part of the ceremony then your back becomes the most caressed and photographed while on the dance floor.  Tip: Assign a Bridesmaid to help you moisturize.

-Armando Sarabia of Get Your Do Up!

Your Lovely Locks

A neatly pinned half updo looks good at all angles.

Incorporate heirloom jewelry in your 'do like Mandi did.

A beautiful chignon by Taylor.

Do not condition your hair the day of the wedding. (The night before is fine, but use a detangler spray instead of conditioner). Unless you have extremely curly hair, then condition as usual to prevent frizziness. Do not have any hair products in your hair.

-Maria Chang of Professional Makeup Artistry

Keeping your hair healthy means you have to keep it trimmed. Keeping the split ends at bay is an important part of healthy looking hair. Keeping it trimmed every 6-8 weeks will keep the hair from fraying. Don’t let your hair fall out of style on the road to your wedding day.

-Armando Sarabia of Get Your Do Up!

Wedding Day Calm

Mandi relaxes before dressing in her gown.

Taylor giving Joan a final touch up.

Dress in clothes that are easy to remove and will not have to go over your head. If you are wearing a low back or strapless dress, do not wear a bra the morning of the wedding. The strap and back clasp of your bra will make a mark on your skin, which can take several hours to disappear.

-Maria Chang of Professional Makeup Artistry

Place all of your jewelry and accessories in an easy to see box (a shoebox is perfect). A box is convenient because the photographer may ask for these items and a box is easy to grab.  Also the photographer will know to put them back in the box and not leave them scattered. Remove any tags attached. Move your engagement ring to your right hand. You are not in charge of the timeline, so NO Watches!

-Maria Chang of Professional Makeup Artistry

Bonus Tips from Me:

Opening a gift from her groom, Joy has a blast on wedding day morning!

Bridesmaids admire Kristen & Sean's wedding rings while Kristen's hair is set.

Arrange to have water, soft drinks and your favorite healthy snacks available while you are getting ready. It is very important that you and your bridal party eat and not get dehydrated.  Hang your dress in a low traffic area, where no part of it is touching the floor.

Joy's radiant smile that lasted all day. Thanks Maria!

Plan to have your bridesmaids “camera ready” 15-30 minutes before your photographer and videographer is scheduled to arrive.  Hang your dress in a low traffic area, where no part of it is touching the floor.  Assign one of them to tidy up the area where you are getting ready so that your photographer has a clean backdrop to shoot.

Be Prepared and Be Beautiful!


Stay tuned for my next post: How to budget for beauty services.

Photo Credits:

Geoff White Photographers: Photos 1, 10, 11

Catherine Hall Studios: Photos 6, 7, 8

Lori Paladino: Photos 4, 9

Jay Kelly: Photos 2, 3, 5


How to be a Good Bride, Groom, Wedding Planner and Guest

Your wedding day won't be perfect.  Are you surprised I said that?  Now, wait, let me explain.  Perfection doesn't exist, and holding yourself to that perfect standard takes away all possibilities for spontaneity and authentic moments.  But if you're like me, you still aim for a pretty high standard.  And you should.  But you should also keep in mind these things, which are often overlooked, when preparing for your wedding day.

Bride & Groom
Your guests can only have as much fun as you are having. A huge part of your job is to be as relaxed and well rested as possible.  When I say relaxed, of course I know that butterflies in the tummy feeling comes along with being a bride or groom and making one the biggest public commitments of your lives.  That's all part of the process, but combine that with sleep deprivation and short nerves and you've got a formula for disaster.  Invest in your experience (and your future memories) by taking one week off work prior to your wedding.  I know times are hard and vacation days are slim.  But 5, 10 15 years form now you won't give a second thought to losing those days.  But you will still remember how you felt on your wedding day.  Work with your wedding planner (or bridal party if you don't have one) so that you aren't doing more than one wedding related task per day that week.  Why?  You need this mental pause to be able to refresh internally.  Plan to get plenty of fresh air, sunshine, nutritious foods and exercise.  All of these things help balance your body and mind and make it more possible for you to be open to the hidden joys and surprises that come along with any wedding day.

Wedding Planner
My job is also to be as well rested, prepared and forward thinking as possible.  Since we've been planning together for at least the last few months, I should know what you and your partner are most excited about (i.e. that organic menu you've been planning with the chef or seeing your best friend from college who now lives in Australia) and also what you are most anxious about (your dad giving a long winded embarrassing toast or your brother taking the mic from the band to do a little karaoke).  This way I am able to cut off any potential problems before they start, and trouble shoot any unforeseen issues that come up on your wedding day.  I will also show up early, staffed appropriately and be a support to you, your family and bridal party, and be a resource to all your hired professionals to trouble shoot any unforseen issues.

Wedding Guests
Your job is easy!  Show up on time (and this means 15-20 minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to begin), leave your day to day stresses at home, and be prepared to fully celebrate the love of this couple and the shared bond they have with you.  Congratulate the couple heartily at your earliest opportunity.  Get up on that dance floor at the first invitation, and bring as much joy as you can to this unique day in their lives.  Want to go above & beyond?  Buy a copy of the local paper to add to your gift as a topper and keepsake of your big day.  Since you probably won't get a chance to talk much with the bride & groom, send them a hand written note along with a print out of your favorite snapshot you took that day and send it out right after the wedding.  Planning on taking lots of pictures on the wedding day?  Great!  Just remember that the couple has likely paid thousands of dollars for their professional photographer, so just don't get in the way of their shots.  Depending on how many photographers there are, below is a list of shots that are often not captured at weddings.  Try for these shots and be adored by your friends!

  • Parents / Bridal Party reactions to the bride & grooms first kiss, first dance and speeches and toasts
  • Your table setting before the food gets served
  • Kids playing away from the main action of the party
  • Late night dance shots after the photographer has left of grandma getting her groove on!

Want more advice that you won't find on any checklist?  Visit my friend Ron's blog for a great post on the invisible moments that make a great wedding.

Happy Wedding Season!

XO Elle


Guest Blogger: Wedding Planning Notes from the Groom’s Journal

I hope you all had a fabulous Valentine’s Day!  This weekend, I had the pleasure of being the wedding planner for an amazing couple, Kristen and Sean.  (Details to come in a future post.)  While I was hard at work, my baby brother (who is engaged!) was sweet enough to be my guest blogger.  I admit, he’s a little bit biased, but so am I – he’s pretty awesome too.  Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Jonathan…

Many weddings have the benefit of a professional wedding planner, and many do not. I am lucky enough to have one for a sister. Elisheva is literally a bride's best friend.

To put it simply, I don't know if I would be having a wedding this June if not for my sister. Having a professional planner means having someone who knows what goes into a wedding, how to choose vendors and locations, and has a network of professionals who love working together.

What goes into a wedding?

A wedding is much more than the sum of it's parts, and Elisheva taught us that. The very first questions she asked us about our wedding were "How do you want to feel on your wedding day?  How do you want your guests to feel?" We didn't even realize that we should be considering such intangible things, but Elisheva knows how to define them and use them as a focal point for all the tangibles in order to create that feeling.

How do I choose a location?

Dione and I didn't know what we were doing before our first meeting with Elisheva. We found ourselves wandering around downtown San Jose looking at a handful of hotels that didn't suit us at all. After Elisheva asked what was important to us and our budget, she set up meetings at three venues we had never heard of and took us to all of them on our day off. They were in the much nicer areas, closer to where we live and that day we found the perfect spot to get married and have our reception.

How do I choose other wedding professionals?

Yet another perk of being closely related to a wedding planner is that Elisheva got Dione and I tickets to Wedding University where I met a dozen or so top industry professionals from lighting to dance instructors to florists. During the classes, I picked up on one common element when talking to a vendor you are considering: be honest about your budget. Tell your prospective vendors exactly how much you have to spend on them and they will tell you if they can make it happen. Bonus tip: a vendor is more likely to "make it happen" if they like you. So be friendly and open (and when the big day comes, pamper your vendors and they’ll go above and beyond for you).

What good is a network of vendors to me?

Elisheva already has relationships with all sorts of vendors, and she knows what it is like to work with them and what their work is like.  It isn’t necessary that all your professionals have worked together before, but one of the benefits of having a team that knows each other is that they’ll go out of their way to help each other too.  There’s no “that’s not my job”.  Everyone goes out of their way to serve each other and the bride and groom.

Before Dione and I could blink, Elisheva had arranged for another top notch day-of coordinator for us (Elisheva will be busy being a sister) and an excellent DJ, Ron Grandia to be a part of our celebration. I am super excited to meet more of her colleagues as we finish planning our wedding.

It's only a few months to the wedding day, and Elisheva is keeping the planning process on track. I know most of you don't have a big sister with the professional background Elisheva has, but it's okay. You can borrow mine.  Happy Wedding Planning!


A Bride's Best Friend's Brother

P.S  You can see a slide show of The Wedding University via Janae Shields and a video of the day courtesy of Studio MSV


For newly engaged couples

Photos Courtesy of Jay Kelly Photography

5 things you can do right now to make planning your wedding easier.

Congrats, Anna & Evan!

1.  Bask!  You don't get engaged every day - before beginning the project of planning the biggest celebration of your lives, give yourselves some time to just BE engaged.  No planning, no deadlines, no budgets, just you & your beloved.

2. Count. After you've had a chance to enjoy your new status, put together your guest list.  Most couples do this with some input from their parents, though the ettiquete on who makes the list and who doesn't is different for each couple.  If it's starting to get out of control, group people into categories: immediate family, distant relatives, professional friends, etc...then prioritize those categories.  Put together your dream list first, work on cutting it down later if you have to.

3. Imagine.  Carve out some quiet time together to talk about your ideas and dreams.  Beyond the way your wedding will look, think and talk about how you want it to feel.  What will your guests see, touch and even smell?  Will the environment be upscale and elegant?  Playful and rustic?  Edgy and rough around the edges?  Write it down.  Refine it until it's one paragraph.  Viola!  This is the mission statement for your wedding that you can refer to whenever you are at a crossroads in the planning.  With your guest list in hand and this, you've made your wedding blueprint!

Yes, you can have as much fun as Anna & Evan on your wedding day!

4. Budget.  You've already sketched out your dream, now it's time to see how the dollars and cents relate.  If appropriate, gently ask your parents or grandparents if they will participate and what they can comfortably commit.  Remember that those who pay may want input.  Be comfortable with whatever you decide to do.  Keep in mind birthdays and holidays from now until your wedding are great opportunities to ask for wedding related items: Your sister might want to gift you with a check towards your bridal bouquet, or maybe your step-mom might want to purchase the favors you've had your eye on.  You may need to refine either your guest list or your mission statement to match the numbers, but doing so early will avoid overstretching yourselves financially or becoming disappointed late in the game.

5.  Research.  If you haven't already, investigate hiring a wedding planner.  Now of course, I'm a bit biased, but as a former DIY bride who went without, I've experienced both sides of the coin.  Certainly you can have a wonderful wedding without a planner, but depending on how much responsibility you want to pass off to a planner, you'd be surprised about how affordable we really are in the grand scheme of things.  Many planners also offer hourly consulting, which is great for those projects that seem especially daunting to you.  (For example, I’ve been hired to review timelines / contracts, create budgets and identify venues /vendors, just to name a few…) I'm always amazed with couples who invest thousands into flowers and decor, additional thousands on photography and videography, yet don't think that having a seasoned and experienced wedding planner who can be an unbiased and professional project manager is a good investment.  After all, your photographer will be taking pictures of you all day and if the look on your face says: "I'm worried that my centerpieces haven't arrived, I don't know where my maid of honor is and I haven't eaten all day!" then those pictures will show it.  My photographer buddies agree:  Emotion is the one thing you can't photoshop into or out of a picture.

Do chime in: What has saved you time and stress planning your wedding?

Be Well,