WEDDING ETIQUETTE: DO’S AND DON’TS

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Traditionally, there are a few wedding protocols that are associated with planning a wedding. As a bride myself, there are several “rules” that I question throughout the process of planning. There are easy questions and there are questions I feel like I don’t even want to ask out loud. What I have to consistently remind myself of is that this our (Matt and I) big day and though it may seem like it, there aren’t any rules when planning a wedding. Here are some tough questions that I tried to answer 100% honestly.

 

What is the #1 of wedding etiquette?

Do not make your guest’s wait! Not only is it rude to have your guests waiting for you to walk down the aisle, but it also puts a damper on the entire celebration. It does not matter how great the catering is, how entertaining the DJ is, or how beautiful your decorations are…People will certainly not have fun at your wedding if it isn’t a timely production. Momentum is everything when it comes to celebrating at a wedding. Take advantage that is not only the most important element of your wedding, but that it does not cost a thing!

 

Single Guests. How do I tell them that they can’t bring a date?

This is your big day and you want to spend it with people that have had a big influence on your life, right? Right! If you have a strict budget, the easiest cuts to make to your guest lists are the people you don’t know. The only time it is acceptable to bring a date, is if they are in a serious relationship.

 

How do I tell a friend that she is not a bridesmaid?

This is a tough one. Being mindful and compassionate is about all the advice that I can give you. As long as you are honest with them, they should respect your decision.

 

How do I explain the lack of help to my Maid of Honor?

Choosing a Maid of Honor is an extremely hard decision that every bride has to make. Letting them know that you are happy and confident in your decision, will give them a sense of pride. Also, choosing a Maid of Honor is a two-way street. They have to accept the fact that they are responsible for being your right hand, which requires a lot of time, effort, and patience.

 

Is it acceptable to ask for cash as a wedding gift?

Personally, I don’t want the three toasters, matching mugs, and set of wine glasses. However, it is tacky to put on the invitation “Cash Gifts Only!” Letting your immediate family, Maid of Honor, and Best Man know your gift requests is your best bet, because guests will ask them for gift ideas.

 

I have a crazy mother-in-law that is overbearing during the planning of my wedding. How do I confront her?

Fortunately, I do not have this problem. However, I know a lot of brides that have run into this issue and it had put a stitch into the experience of planning their wedding. The important thing is to be respectful, loving, and honest. Letting her know that this is your big day, not hers. Though her opinions and ideas mean a lot to you, you’ve decided to go a different direction in the wedding plans.

Who sits at the bride and groom table?

Whoever you want! This is your big day and you have to remember that there aren’t any rules that you have to follow. Typically, there are three options. 1) Bride and Groom table, where you and your newly married lover share an intimate table. 2) Bride, Groom parents and siblings. 3) Bride, Groom, and Bridal Party.

 

How do I let people know that there will not be a full meal provided at the reception?

Instead of writing “Ceremony at _:__ time and reception to follow, simply write “Ceremony at _:__ with drinks and h’ordeuvres to follow. Personally, our wedding isn’t formal whatsoever. I didn’t like the idea of a plated dinner. To create a relaxed atmosphere, I wanted to have an extended cocktail hour. (Finger food, carving station, and open bar) Perfect! Like I said, there isn’t a rule book for planning weddings, just suggestions.

 

Who is invited to the rehearsal dinner?

Anybody you want! For me, I am inviting my family, the bridal party, and out-of-town guests.

 

These are only a few questions that I could think of. Let me know in the comments below if you can come up with any other questions for me!

 

Xo,

Jessica Calkins

On My Way Down the Aisle: Centerpieces! Shopping with Daddy & Matt

6 months, 30 days, 11 hours, 5 minutes, and 44 seconds…

In 6 months, 30 days, 11 hours, 5 minutes, and 44 seconds I will become Mrs. Schwartzback! I can’t believe how quickly this year is going by. There is so much planning left to do. Entertainment…cake…decor…invitations…so much on my mind! Last weekend, my Dad and I got to talking about what was left to plan. He offered to take me out to all the local Home Goods in our area to find some cool vases for the centerpieces this week. That’s exactly what we did!

What my vision for my centerpieces is simple yet adds to the bohemian element of my wedding. My table cloths are gray, napkins are white, cutlery is silver, and the glassware is a standard clear glass. I wanted something funky; different shapes, sizes, and colors. One of my favorite things to do as a designer is mix metals. So I chose mercury glass in shades of silver, golds, and rose golds. My Dad, Matt and I went to every single Home Goods within a 20 mile radius and wipe their shelves of everything made of mercury glass! The metallic element against the gray table-cloth will create a funky, yet elegant centerpiece design. As a nature lover myself, I had to add a naturalistic element to my centerpieces. So I plan on either chopping down a tree myself or buying the center cuts of a tree trunk and placing the vases on top!

As for my flowers, I was to keep the palette clean and neutral. Whites, greens, and maybe some blush colored flowers to bring out the Rose Gold Jewels that me and my bridesmaids are wearing, made by Bare and Me. I really love the look of succulents, in the shades of that dusty blue-gray, white peonies, and LOTS of greenery! Let me know what you think of my centerpiece vision in the comments below! I can’t wait to fill you in on the rest of the wedding details as we come closer and closer to my big day! Check out the pictures below!!

Xo,

Jessica Calkins

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On My Way Down the Aisle: Bridesmaids Dresses

Thinking about walking down the aisle to marry my best friend, is quite nerve racking. I’m sure there are a lot of girls out there that feel the same way. Every time I think about each step I will make towards Matt, my eyes start to tear up. When the song that Matt and I chose to walk down the aisle to plays on my Pandora Station at work, my eyes start to tear up. When I think about my Daddy walking me down the aisle arm and arm, my eyes start to tear up. But the one thing that I am excited about is having my best girlfriends stand by me while I make the biggest decision of my life, my bridesmaids.

My bridesmaids Mary, Samantha, Adrienne, Delaney, and Kristin will stand by my side on September 13th this year and I could not feel more blessed to have them a part of my wedding. Something that we are all excited about are the bridesmaid dresses! After choosing my dress, it’s now time for us to shop for them… Bridesmaid dresses should never upstage a bride, but enhance the brides dress and the theme of the wedding. There are different paths you can take when choosing the dresses.

Figure out everyone’s budget for the dress. Nowadays, you can either BUY or RENT a dress. One of my favorite websites for Buying or Renting a dress is littleborroweddress.com! They offer a bunch of styles of dresses in different colors. Because the shop is online, they will send you fabric swatches to make sure that you are satisfied with the color. Perfect! Once you buy or rent the dress, they send you two sizes in case the other does not quite fit! Little Borrowed Dress takes the guess factor out of purchasing a dress online.

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Same dress, same color. This is the traditional bridesmaid dress scenario. The style and the color of the dresses are the same. Usually, the bride will chose the dress and whether you love or hate the dress does not matter! You would wear anything to make your bride happy!

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(This obviously isn’t a picture of bridesmaids but flower girls! My sister (Samantha) and I are leading the flower girl line! Thought it was too cute not to put in this post! Still shows the same dress, same color concept!)

Same dress, different color. This is another bridesmaid dress scenario that is a bit of a twist of the traditional same dress, same color. This could either be a hit or a miss. If you are not careful with the colors you chose, there will not be any sense of consistency in your wedding photos. However, if you can pull this off, your wedding photos will be creative and fun! One of my favorite themes for same style with different colors is pastels.

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This is a photo from my friend Adrienne’s wedding with her two bridesmaids my sister and I! Different dress, same color! Adorable…

Different dress, different color. This could also be a hit or miss. I was a bridesmaid in my friend Kristin’s wedding and she could not have pulled it off more beautifully! Her colors were a champagne/blush theme. The different shades and styles of dresses created a bohemian/eclectic look. Each bridesmaid felt comfortable in her dress, considering we all got to pick our dresses!

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This photo, shot by Kati Rosado, is a PERFECT example of how to accomplish the different dress, different color deal! Well done, Kristin! ❤

I love each of these options for Bridesmaid Dress shopping! My favorite is probably the different styles of dresses with different shades of the color of your wedding…I might steal that from you Kristin ;).

XO,

Jessica Calkins

Statement Pieces

Here at Bare and Me, we like to pride ourselves on our dainty jewelry that can be paired and layered with anything, but every once and a while, we like to surprise you with some beautiful statement pieces. Whether it is for a wedding or a night out on the town with your girls, our jewelry will make you the center of attention!

If you are looking for something that will grab the attention of everyone around you, you definitely have to take a look at this statement piece we have been selling a lot of lately. Everyone is looking for something to brighten up their wardrobe, and this should be on the top of your list.

:::Turquoise & Natural Wood Beaded Necklace in Gold:::

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*Turquoise Blue Swarovski round 12mm pearls
*Natural light wood (12mm) round
*Gold plate chain & findings

-Measures 19 inches but this necklace can be adjusted to be shorter

This necklace is even prettier in person! It hangs so beautifully and looks good with any colors! I love wearing this necklace with a plain white T shirt and some jeans and booties. It always plays up a normal outfit into something fun and unique. The beads are actually made of wood so they can either be dressed up or down to make the perfect outfit for a perfect night out.

:::Chalcedony & Natural Wood Beaded Necklace:::

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*Natural Chalcedony
*Natural light wood (10mm) round
*Gold plate chain & findings

-Measures 15.5 inches in length to 18 inches

This style is also another great statement piece if you are looking to tone things down a bit. Much like our three row beaded necklace above, this necklace is great for a night out, but is a bit more muted. It would look beautiful with an all black outfit and used as a pop of color! I adore this piece of jewelry and think it would be beautiful for Spring of 2015.

As you all know, Valentines Day is around the corner and this would be a wonderful gift for a loved one! So check us out on Etsy and put in some orders because we are selling fast! Hurry Hurry Hurry!

Love is in the air!

On My Way Down the Aisle: Aisle Style

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There isn’t anything more exciting and nerve racking than searching for that perfect white dress for your wedding. I couldn’t tell you how many “Say Yes to the Dress” reruns I have watched or the amount of wedding magazines I have read to find my perfect dress. No matter how many reruns I watch or how many magazines I read, it does not make my decision of finding a dress any easier. I’ve researched what dress looks best on my body, color, and budget; all major factors when choosing a dress. However, researching will only take you as far as a pretty dress that looks great on you. The most ESSENTIAL aspect of choosing a dress, it was feels right. Can you see yourself walking down the aisle in this dress?

As I’ve said before, I am not too traditional of a bride. I wanted a dress that was unique but fit my personal style and the style of the wedding. I was lucky enough to fly to Los Angeles and search for the perfect dress! (Thanks, Mom!) My sister, my mother and I flew to LA last October. What brought us to LA was the Trunk Show for Grace Loves Lace. I’m sure most of you are familiar with Grace Loves Lace, one of the most unique, wedding dress designers from Australia. I had my eye on a few of their dresses for a while, even before I was engaged! Anyway, we decided to plan a few visits to small boutiques in the LA area as well, one of them being Lovely Bride Wedding Boutique. Lovely Bride has several shops; even one in Washington D.C.!

My first appointment of the trip was at Lovely Bride and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to start my journey on finding my dress with my mom and sister. When we first arrived, we all looked around the shop and picked out our favorites. I was really open to trying on any dress since it was my first appointment. As a bride, I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted this to be a fun experience for all of us. So, I tried on all types of dresses of different shapes, lengths, and styles. One after the other, I would walk out and we would talk about what we liked and what we didn’t like about each dress. After a few, I tried on this beautiful lace gown (I don’t want to give too much away because Matt reads this blog!) that made me feel like a bride for the first time. As I pulled back the curtain to show my mom and sister, we could all see that it was a top contender. I still had a few dresses to try on, but that dress was definitely in the back of my mind for the remainder of the appointment. After I had tried on all the dresses, I wanted to put that beautiful lace gown back on. I’m looking at myself in the mirror with only my wedding dress consultant in the room with me. I kept telling her, “this is it…THIS IS IT!” Again, I pull back the curtain to show my mom and sister and tears start streaming down my face. I felt so beautiful and knew that I wanted to walk down the Aisle and marry Matt in this dress. It couldn’t have been more perfect for me…except one thing. I did the one this you are NOT supposed to do when trying on a wedding dress. I tried on a dress that was WAY out of my budget. I was upset to say the least. I could never spend this amount of money on a dress that I was going to wear once in my life. I would never forgive myself.

We decided to hang up that gorgeous dress and leave. The way that dress made me feel was something I’d never felt before, and it was so, incredibly hard to let it go. We headed toward the Grace Loves Lace Trunk Show and were feeling optimistic about what we were going to find. Once we arrived, there was an extremely long line to try on dresses that weren’t even in your size. There was one dress of every style of dress that they had, which was maybe 20-25 dresses. Feeling discourage, we left. It just didn’t feel right.

We ended up flying back to Washington, D.C. without a dress in hand. I have tried on a couple dresses here and have found a very close second but that dress is ALWAYS on my mind. I have recently enter a contest on Instagram for Lovely Bride! They are giving away $5,000 toward any purchase of their dresses. Of course, there are thousands of beautiful brides entering…but there is always a chance, right? Wish me luck!

Xo,

Jessica Calkins

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On My Way Down the Aisle: Location, Location, Location

Now that Matt and I had a rough idea of the style of our wedding, the next big step for us was to find a location where we would say “I do!” The location of your wedding dictates the theme, date/time and overall atmosphere of your big day. I have always dreamed of getting married outdoors and near water. Originally, my dad came up with the idea of renting out an estate somewhere in Maryland. We would host the rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony, and reception in the same place; easy and affordable! However, it was very difficult finding a place that allowed events over 15-25 people. I wanted to keep our wedding small, but not tiny! Also, my dad is an incredible chef and I always envisioned him cooking for my wedding; no one could do it better!

We had a couple places on our list, but only one of them fit the criteria (within budget, allowed events over 50 people, and didn’t restrict us on what vendors we used) that we were looking for! It was this beautiful outdoor lighthouse museum that they had converted into this event space. The lighthouse was by the water and from the pictures, it looked perfect! So Matt and I decided to take both of our parents to look at the property. I was so excited and so sure that Matt and I were going to get married at this gorgeous setting. As we pull up to the property, my mom says “Oh Jessica! Heck no! What is that? Is that a barbed-wired fence?” I tried to stay positive and told her maybe it was worth looking past the barded-wired fenced gate!? The property manager met us at the gate and let us in. She took us for a tour and there was barded-wired surrounding the entire property. Not happening!

My heart was crushed and I felt so defeated. My dad told me to stay positive and start looking up places that we could look at on our drive home. I found this one venue that seemed a little out of our budget and they also had their own catering company. My dad insisted that we go take a look because of how beautiful the setting was. I called the Event Office and let them know that we were coming. Once we pull up, my mom (who is sitting in the passenger’s seat) turns her head back at me with these round eyes and big smile. It was STUNNING! There was water, sailboats, green grass, flowers, sand, and one happy couple. Even though I was so excited, I couldn’t get my hopes up because we had a budget to stick to!

We walk into the reception space where the Event office was located and I am literally designing the reception space in my head as we walk around. Dark hardwood floors, light that filtered into these large windows that framed this beautiful picture of the water and sailboats outside, light white pieces of fabric…Picture perfect! We walk up the stairs to the second level of the reception and balcony area and meet the event coordinator, Michael.

Matt, our family, Michael, and I sat down and discussed our vision and budget. There was one downside. Michael said that we would have to use their catering company but assured us that they would do an excellent job. He had his chef serve us food and dessert, which was a nice treat. Matt and I weren’t set on having a traditional plated dinner at our wedding. My dad suggested that instead of doing a platted dinner, we do h’ordeuvres and carving station.  This cut down the price tremendously and would add to the laid back vibe we were looking for. In order for my dad to enjoy the wedding, we compromised on my dad cooking for our rehearsal dinner! Everybody wins. What also cut down the expenses was having our wedding on a Sunday. Since most weddings are held on a Saturday, venues have Sunday’s open on their calendars! Matt and his entire family are teachers in the county school system. So in order to party all night and not have to wake up early for work next Monday, we chose a Sunday that fell right before a holiday that schools normally had off! Problem solved!

After a lot of discussion, budgeting, and compromising, Matt and I decided to get married in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland at Herrington on the Bay! We couldn’t be more excited…Check out the pictures below!

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On My Way Down the Aisle: Time to Start Planning

After Matt popped the question, I could not wait to start planning. We told our families and friends the news and you can only imagine the amount of ideas that overwhelmed Matt and I. What wedding planning really turns out to be is a balancing act of what you’ve dreamed of since a little girl and incorporating ideas of the ones you care about most. Though it was and still is a tough balancing act, I always kept in mind that this is me and Matt’s big day.

The first thing that I did to start our planning process is think of the style of wedding that I wanted. I’ve always wanted a laid back, outdoor wedding, where my family and closest friends could come celebrate my future husband and I. I had three important elements that needed to be a part of our wedding; the water, flowers and greenery everywhere, and candle light. Then we started thinking about color themes…well I guess I did because Matt wanted our wedding colors to be burgundy and gold (Washington Redskins colors). Sorry babe, not happening. After changing my mind three times on the colors that I wanted, I finally decided on a blue-gray and white theme while mixing metal, wood, and glass for texture.

Once I had a few ideas in place, I started pinning on my Wedding Pinterest board. I’m sure everyone saw this coming. Pinterest is loaded with inspiration and it also helps you communicate with your family, friends, wedding planner and vendors exactly what you want for your big day!

Here are a couple of images I pinned to my board. Having this “inspo board” (what we call it in the design industry) has helped as a source that I can reference when making decisions throughout the process. No one likes a wedding where their theme is totally jacked up!

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As I’m sure you can probably tell, I’ve made a lot of decisions based on my design and personal style. I am lucky enough to have a man that lets me have what I want on our big day. He has been extremely supportive and helpful throughout the whole process…Make sure to check back tomorrow to find out where we chose to get married!

Xo,
Jessica Calkins

On My Way Down the Aisle: Wedding Series

A large percentage of the Bare & Me Blog viewers are our beautiful, recently engaged bride-to-be’s…including myself! I am so incredibly lucky to call the owner of Bare & Me, my mother. I thought that it would be really fun to write about my experiences and my process of planning my wedding. During this “On My Way Down the Isle: Wedding Series” feel free to ask me questions or request topics for me to write about.

Naturally, I thought that I should first write about where our love story began and how he popped the question! My incredibly loving fiancé’s name is Matt. When the world is coming down on me, he always has a way of breaking down my walls and finding a way into my heart. I know this sounds cliché, but you know when people say, “When you know, you’ll know?” I knew from the second he held my hand, it was going to be forever.

Matt and I have known each other for a long time, since elementary school but we didn’t develop a close relationship until recently.  During the time that I was single (in 2013) I went to a local bar with my friend and we ran into Matt and his best friend, Casey. Both Matt and I were recently single but weren’t quite ready to date again. But Matt took my number down anyway. Months went by with a few texts messages here and there, but the real love story begins in September 2013.

My brother, Zack, played High School Varsity Football and Matt was his Coach. I didn’t realize that it was Matt until I saw him throwing a football down the sideline, their opening game. I yelled “MATT” and told him to meet me at the entrance to the bleachers. As I’m walking down, I thinking “What am I going to say to him!? I haven’t seen him in months!” When we met, I had this goofy smile on my face and he grabs both of my hands and says, “You look so beautiful today…” Instant butterflies. I don’t even know where he got the nerves to say that, neither does he. I was almost speechless. I gave him tight hug and told him good luck. They won that day and I give credit to myself. I was now his good luck charm.

One of my brother’s High School Varsity Football rules was they all had to ride back to their school on the bus together. So I came up with every reason to ask my father to pick him up from school. I texted Matt and told him that I was picking him up and I’d love to see him. Once the bus pulls up, Matt meets me at my car. We talked for a few minutes, about anything that we could think about at the time. We ended up making plans to get a drink after the game at one of Matt’s favorite local bars (Which I secretly hated). But I went anyway, because I wanted to see him. I walk into the God-forsaken bar, sit down next to Matt, and I ask for my favorite beer, a Shock Top. It was Matt’s lucky day because we were sitting next to these men who were questioning Matt’s knowledge and opinion of sports. If I was impressed with ONE thing, it would be Matt’s knowledge of sports. He knows every stat, from any year, about any sport. I happily sat there, staring at him, quiet. He glanced at me about every 5 seconds and at one point grabbed my hand and held it tight. I wouldn’t normally be swooned by a man who was having a conversation with someone else, but Matt assured me that all he wanted to do was hold my hand and let me know that he was thinking about me the whole time.

After a drink, I told him I wanted to get my favorite dessert, frozen yogurt. Finally we had a chance to talk and learn more about each other. Likes, dislikes, family, friends, the usual “first date” questions. I told him that I was speechless when he told me I was beautiful. Then, when I thought there wasn’t anything that he could do to take my breath away, he kissed me. Again, speechless.

After only 3 months of dating, on February 14th, 2014 (Valentines Day), we moved in our first apartment together. You can say that our relationship moved fast, because it did. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. After a couple of months living in our first, small rental apartment, we brought home a little kitty, that we named Moe. It was a perfect beginning to our little family. Moe was very easy and very low maintenance. So naturally, we brought home a little puppy named Rosie because our little 750 square foot apartment wasn’t already a Zoo. I thought I had it all. I had recently scored my first big design job in Washington, D.C., I was living on my own, and had my own little family; Matt, Moe, Rosie and I.

On April 6th, 2014 my family invited Matt and I over to their home (where I grew up) for dinner. My dad built a nice, warm fire in the backyard and we sat outside an opened a couple beers. Only minutes go by until Matt asks to talk to my dad alone. Again, instant butterflies. I knew. I just knew. There are only so many things that Matt and my dad wanted to talk about, right? I run inside with my mom and I just start freaking out. I keep asking my mom, “What’s going on? What the heck is going on, MOM!? She goes outside to talk to them and I hear my mom scream. She runs back inside and says, “Nothing is going on, don’t worry about it!” My mom is not a good liar. After a couple minutes which felt like a couple hours to me, my dad calls my mom, my sister and I back outside. At this point it’s dark and the only light we have is from the fire. I go to sit down and Matt’s not there. Did my dad scare him away!? “Dad, where is Matt?” I start crying because I hear footsteps behind me. Matt stands in front of me, grabs both of my hands like he did the first day of our crazy-in-love relationship, told me a bunch of things I didn’t even hear because I was crying and so nervous, a gets down on one knee, opens this beautiful white box, which held the most gorgeously perfect diamond ring that I couldn’t have picked out better myself, and asks me to marry him. Of course I said yes to my once in a lifetime love.

I will become his and he will become mine September 13th, 2015 and I couldn’t be more excited for this year. I love you, Matt.

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XO,

Jessica Calkins