Real Bride Blogger Jessica: Seafoam, Celedon, and Mint Oh My!

Hi, I’m Jessica and I’m a people pleaser. Finding bridesmaid dresses, aka, one of the most dreaded tasks for a bride like myself, almost lead me to a full on wedding meltdown. Lucky for me, I have such amazing bridesmaids, that as soon as I started to panic they stepped in and reassured me that I should be focusing on what I want, and told me to pick the outfits I had always envisioned for the wedding. My girls are so accommodating and flexible, they definitely turned this daunting search into a joyous one.  I would love to share how my bridal party came about being out-fitted in this post!

I knew from the beginning I wanted my girls to wear floor-length, flowing bridesmaid dresses to compliment my lace gown; that was the starting point. I also wanted the dresses to match the beachy vibe of the wedding. Nothing too fussy, just effortless chic. Long & airy dresses to capture the perfect balance of casual, yet put-together for our fall wedding night at the beach.

{Via Peppermint Bliss & People }

I played around with putting all the girls in the same dress, but ultimately my heart was set on the mismatched look. Browsing through Pinterest, I was able to find pictures of my vision. Different dresses but overall cohesiveness was the final choice. I think the key to the mismatched dresses is to make sure they have a unifying element such as the same fabric, color, or shape. The dresses really need to look interrelated and not competing to work together, in my opinion.

{via Ruffled & Annette Gomez }

I also love that the mismatched look means each girl is able to pick out her own dress that matches her body type and personal style. Let’s be honest it’s hard to find a dress that looks good on everyone. Plus, bridesmaid dresses can be expensive, so why not let your besties pick something they want? I really felt it was important that my girls each selected something they loved- because I really want them to feel beautiful and special on the Big Day. Honestly, I can’t stress how important it is to have happy bridesmaids that adore their dresses- I want my girls to feel great and be dancing the night away, not hiding from embarrassment in the corner!

{via Swell. ASOS. Nordstrom}

The dresses above were all contenders. Then, I discovered that Dessy offers a huge selection of bridesmaid dresses in every style and shade under the rainbow. At first I thought of doing the girls in different shades for an ombre effect. We played around with the  Spa, Celadon, and Meadow colors. Since there are only three girls, we decided to stick with one shade to make it more consistent. We chose Meadow, as the perfect shade of blue/green that will also go great with the guys’ grey suits.

I told my girls to pick any Dessy or After Six dress they liked in Meadow in a long chiffon style. I think the combo they came up with looks amazing, see the winning dresses above. All the dresses go together but each girl’s style will be able to shine. See Kate’s inspiration board below for how she’s envisioning the look coming together. I can’t wait for us all to get dressed up together on the Big Day. We are going to be one sexy bridal party!

Click board above to see larger! {necklace.dress. nails. hair. shoes}

Real Bride Blogger Jessica: The Backyard or The Beach?

After determining the guest count, the next thing for us to do was choose a VENUE. I’ve never been one of those girls who grew up knowing just  where I wanted to have my wedding. Plus, I’ve moved around a bit- so as much as I may have liked a certain spot in Texas or LA it just didn’t make sense for the wedding now.

We did have a few basic guidelines that helped us to narrow down the search:

– Ceremony site near the ocean (Nick is an avid surfer)

– Something casual and not too formal

– Nothing too pricey (rather have more food than space if you ask me!)

– Something with vendor options (definitely wanted flexibility to choose my own vendors)

This is really where having a planner helped me out. There are so many incredible venues out there; I never would have seen all the right ones for us without guidance. Kate and Ellen sent me a list of venues that matched the requirements we gave them, plus a couple extra venues they thought were worth looking at. My favorites were Condor’s Nest Ranch, Leo Carrillo Ranch Park,  The Thursday Club, Martin Johnson House, and my parents’ backyard.

{Condor’s Nest Ranch by Katie Neal}

To narrow down my choices, I started by making a list of pros and cons for each venue. Condor’s is a lovely scenic ranch, but ultimately is too far from the ocean for us. The Thursday Club in Point Loma is near the beach, but doesn’t let you have hard alochol. This may not be a deal breaker for some, but knowing our friends, we had to keep looking. Leo Carrillo Ranch is located fairly close to the ocean, full of charm, and is flexible with vendors. It was definitely a top contender

{Leo Carrillo by Tec Petaja}

Ultimately, it really came down to my parents’ house (ceremony at J Street look-out and reception in the backyard) and The Martin Johnson House. Both choices had the feel we wanted our wedding to exude. I really liked the idea of a causal backyard wedding and I figured it could save us some money that we could use elsewhere in our budget. Plus, I would be able to have the sparkler send-off that I always envisioned.

However, when we budgeted out the two options, they were more comparable than we thought. We really weren’t saving that much by holding the reception in the backyard, since we had to bring in more décor elements and all of the rentals. The final deciding factor: I really just disliked the idea of guests having to commute the distance from the ceremony site to the reception location. With Martin Johnson house it was all right there with a pretty ocean view bow on top!

{Lookout From Martin Johnson House}

After walking through the Martin Johnson a couple times with Kate and Ellen (this had been their number 1 all along) and looking through past weddings held there, we knew we had found the perfect venue for us. It was casual beachy, but still beautiful. Our ceremony will be held facing the Pacific Ocean. Black’s Beach (a favorite surf spot) is even visible from the ceremony site, a big plus for Nick. I love that the ceremony and reception can both be held in the same area.

The actual house has a homey feel and a huge deck overlooking the ocean that is perfect for dancing. There is ample room for lawn games, which I really want to incorporate into the cocktail hour. But what really sold us, is the amazing natural beauty found on the property, including huge trees, vibrant succulents, and the breath-taking views. The only bummer for me, is they don’t allow sparklers. So we’re brainstorming other options for my perfect send-off

{Ceremony at Martin Johnson House}

Finding a venue was a piece of cake compared to my next challenge…dress shoping! Boy was that a HUNT! Stay tuned to find out all the knitty gritty details on the dress!

From B & A: Jess covered a lot here so we don’t want to overload you with venue talk, but we would love to point out a few tips! Options… it’s always good to look at multiple locations even if you think you know exactly what you want. Jess didn’t seem too keen on the Martin Johnson House at first, since it was in La Jolla and they were originally thinking of a surf spot in Encinitas, however, we just knew it hit everything on their checklist.

Seeing a site in person makes all the difference. A site that looks gorgeous in one particular picture might not be so charming when you see the surrounding area in real life, and vice versa a lesser-known site could have lots of hidden potential!

Definitely do what Jess did and make a list of requirements from the start. Then weed places out through pros and cons. You should feel great about the venue you choose and really be able to envision YOUR wedding there!

Real Bride Blogger Jessica: Making the List & Checking it Twice

Woooo-hooo! I’m engaged. I honestly jumped up and down for over an hour. I could not sit still. I don’t think I even slept that night I was so happy. And the next day, all I could do was stare at my ring. I barely got any work done.

And then it hit me- now I have to start planning one of the most important days of our lives together. Seriously, I recommend taking a week or two to just enjoy being engaged. Don’t make any decisions- just relax, because pretty soon all you are going to think about is your wedding and everyone is going to be asking you a million wedding questions. After giving myself time to simply bask in the newly engaged bliss, I decided to get down to business. Right off the bat, we both knew we wanted to tie the knot in October. October in Southern California is just beautiful- perfect weather and no crowds. It’s pretty much summer with no tourists.

Next came the hard part, deciding what kind of wedding we wanted. I poured over pictures on Pinterest and all the standard wedding blogs- SMP, GWS, Ruffled….However, looking at all the different wedding styles only confused me. One day I was sure I wanted a rustic barn wedding, but the next day my heart would be set on backyard soiree.

Luckily, Kate & Ellen gave me a solid little piece of advice– make your guest list and everything else will follow. Smart, but I still tried to avoid making the guest list right away because it seemed like a daunting task. Who wants to sit down and determine which friends and family  make the cut!?

I’m not going to lie, it was hectic and emotional narrowing down the people who matter most to us. We knew all along we wanted a smallish wedding with our close friends and family, but sitting down and selecting names was rough. Our conversations went something like this:

Me: If you invite so-and-so then you have to invite his girlfriend too, you know.

Him: What?! No, I don’t.

Me: Um, yes you do.

Him: We should invite what’s-his-name. He would be funny.

Me: You’d rather invite him than your <insert family member>.

Him: Well, he’s a good dancer.

Me: Um, don’t you think that would cause problems with your family. And how long has it been since you talked to him?

Him: Uhhh I don’t remember. A long time.

Frankly, there is no secret way to get the guest list done, except for sitting down and talking it out. We created a couple different lists and then asked ourselves these questions: Would we regret not inviting this person? Has this person played a role in our lives? Do we see them remaining close with us? After a few solid hours of work, we finally decided on seventy-five people we knew had to be part of our special day. Stay tuned for my venue selection post next week…

From B & A: It seems easy to blow off the guest list, but guest count really does play the central part in your budget. With additional guests- you have to budget more food, alcohol, tables- which then affects linens, centerpieces, chairs, etc. Likewise, the guest list can really help to determine the venue. Fifty people would look silly in most ballrooms and two hundred and fifty people are not going to fit at the cute little beach look-out.

As Jess mentioned, a ton of brides want to figure out every detail (favors, bridesmaid shoes, signature cocktail) of their wedding within the first couple weeks of being engaged. In order to stay sane and make sure the important things get tackled first we recommend strarting from a priority list and locking in important vendors before thinking about all the small things. And of course, first and foremost the guest list!