Archive for the ‘Bridal Adventures’ Category

Day Trip to Bordeaux

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I decided to forgo the traditional male strippers and penis straws for my bachelorette party in exchange for something a little more low-key. Having had a blast in Sonoma with a friend a few years ago, I decided on a trip to Long Island Wine Country.

These bachelorette wine tours are becoming more common, now with specific companies basically devoted to chauffeuring around groups of ladies to a few vineyards. We went with North Fork Wine Tours to three vineyards around Greenport – Duck Walk, Osprey’s Dominion, and Pindar Vinyards.

Greenport is about a 2 hour drive from the city. Only limited public transportation options exist to the area. There’s the LIR, but it doesn’t actually run out there that frequently. And then, the Hampton Jitney – not the cheapest way to travel, but it does get you right in the area. The scenery there is lovely – farms, vineyards, and the ocean.

We began the tour near the adorable Greenport downtown, at the Townsend Manor Inn – a comfortable (though not upscale) hotel with apartment-style rooms. Our guide told us that the region was very similar to Bordeaux and discussed some wines in the area. We boarded a small van which took us first to Duck Walk Vineyards, where we tasted some delicious wine and had a modest lunch. The next spot we hit was Osprey’s Dominion, which had a lovely outdoor seating area where we split a bottle of pink champagne. We ended the day at Pindar, a popular (and crowded) vineyard with live music playing. Another bottle of sparkling wine outside and our time was ended.

The whole day was beautiful and a wonderfully relaxed way to catch up with old friends. I don’t know much about what makes a good wine, but I did enjoy the Rieslings and this yummy dessert wine called Aphrodite from Duck Walk. With the summery weather, I wasn’t in the mood for anything like Bordeaux.

Tea with Champagne

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My mother and sister hosted a lovely bridal shower for me last weekend at Lady Mendl’s. A historic brownstone, Lady Mendl’s has a lovely exterior and a ridiculously elegant inside. High ceilings, ornately-carved furniture, and large windows fill this refined establishment.

As it’s just a short walk from Union Square, I thought I’d arrive with moments to spare. But by some odd stroke of luck, nearly all the guests arrived early and I entered to find a full house of guests! We’d reserved one of the private rooms and it was the perfect size for an intimate party. The space feels like some (very wealthy) person’s sitting room – and this just creates a warm vibe.

I unfrazzled myself with the help of some delicious champagne cocktails – the guava and champagne was particularly tasty! The atmosphere made for easy chatting and mingling until the lunch and tea were served. The meal consisted of a yummy salad, a selection of delicious finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and chocolate-covered strawberries with candies. Everything tasted wonderful, and looked adorable at the same time!

After I’d opened my gifts, one of my bridesmaids remarked that she’d like to live at Lady Mendl’s and I agreed.

The Voice of a Bowl


Photo from Wikipedia

My fiance and I had attended a wedding which began with the playing of a singing bowl – a Tibetan traditional meditation instrument, made of metal. The officiant moved a wooden wand around its rim to create a beautiful and rich ringing tone, similar to what you can do with a wine glass, but much deeper and louder. After hearing this magical sound, we decided to use one in our own wedding.

We looked online, but decided it would best to buy one in person. So we went to a shop a friend recommended called Mandala Tibetan Store in the East Village . They have a whole collection of these wonderful bowls, all different sizes. When we began trying them out, the store owner came over. With the competence of an expert, he began to explain the differences between the bowls and demonstrated the sounds they made. Each had its own unique tone. Extremely helpful, the store owner explained which bowls were good for beginners, which made the deeper sounds, and why the handmade bowls made a richer sound.

We chose a small and simple, handmade bowl with a wooden wand that makes a rich, pure sound.  It should be a lovely way to begin our ceremony.

Tailor made

So this whole wedding thing is kind of funny. I’ve got most of my planning done and now we have to focus on a few little things like finishing our vows (we’re writing them ourselves) and putting together little gift bags for our out-of-town guests. One thing I have left to do is to find a tailor to take my dress in a little. It’s a bit big all around, and just needs simple tailoring along the seams – but I don’t have the faintest idea who to take it to. I don’t have a tailor here that I go to and neither do any of my friends, and I don’t want to take it to a bridal shop because a) it’s not a traditional wedding dress, but an evening gown, b) bridal shops are kinda awful and c) they charge a lot and take way too long, and I need this done in less than 3 weeks.

I found a list of the best neighborhood tailors on the NY Magazine site, and I’m thinking of going to the one closest to me – but what I really want is personal recommendations. That’s where you, our fine readers, come in!

So, if you have a tailor that you like, or you or your friends have used a good one in the city, please recommend them in the comments. I’d prefer one on the east side of Manhattan below 42nd Street, but anywhere that’s easy to get to by subway is fine. So recommend away!

A floral oasis in Chelsea

Utowa flowersMy fiance and I lucked out in our wedding planning. We managed to get everything set up within a few weeks. Venue, catering, photographer, invites – all done. The one thing we didn’t do right away was deal with a florist. I’m not much of a girly-girl and flowers weren’t really a priority for me, and I kept hearing that NYC florists were ridiculously expensive and had insane minimums that were way over our budget. After checking reviews on Yelp, though, I found one that sounded promising, and we decided to stop by.

Utowa is a busy flower and clothing shop in Chelsea on west 18th Street. When we walked in, we stepped into something out of a fantasy film- big branches winding overhead, with bunches of colorful flowers flowing around them. The staff was very friendly and helpful. We spoke with one of their flower designers, Katsuya, who told us he liked to do dark arrangements with lots of organic elements (like branches) in them, which is exactly what we were looking for. We also looked through their sample/portfolio book, which has examples of the organic-style arrangements along with more traditional ones. All were lovely. We told Katsuya our budget (small by NYC standards) and he didn’t miss a beat in assuring us that he could do our 15 table centerpieces and gigantic room centerpiece within our budget. Hooray!

Besides gorgeous flowers, they also have vases and other home decor items, jewelry, and clothing. It really is like a pleasant, fragrant oasis from the bustling street outside.

Utowa is located at 17 West 18th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

image from Utowa’s website

The Art of Addressing

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When my sister used a calligrapher for her wedding invitations, they looked beautifully addressed. But it seemed a bit much to pay someone to handwrite every envelope. Plus, the calligrapher wrote them so perfectly that they practically looked printed out from a computer in a nice font.

But then we did our save-the-dates. Since labels seemed a bit informal, we printed out the addresses directly on the envelopes. Between getting the envelopes lined up correctly and getting the ink to print perfectly, this frustrating task added up to a lot of time. After that experience, I suddenly have a different view of hiring a calligrapher.

We decided to go with my sister’s calligrapher Michele Keele. Her work is lovely and her price reasonable. When I think of the time it took to print out those save-the-date envelopes, calligraphy now seems an artful choice.

Magic Slippers

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Due to my freakishly small feet, I’ve been having trouble finding shoes for my wedding. Shortly after I got engaged, I checked out (my shoe Mecca) and saw a lovely pair of $70 Kenneth Cole jeweled slippers with kitten heels that I thought would be very sweet. But I waited since it was so early and they sold out.

A few months later, I ordered several potential wedding shoes on Zappos – but this one was too white, this one too uncomfortable. (Luckily, returning shoes with Zappos is easy since even return shipping is free).

I decided to hit some actual stores with my sister (and maid of honor), despite the unlikelihood of finding a size 5. But after several unsuccessful shopping attempts, it seemed like a bad idea. I told my sister the sad story of those lovely Kenneth Cole shoes I saw on Zappos and didn’t buy. We decided to try our luck at Macy’s and headed to the sale rack. And then I saw them! The very same Kenneth Cole slippers on sale, though unfortunately in a size 6. I showed my sister and she magically found another pair in my size. And the cost — $13.80! A pretty decent price for bridal shoes. I guess good things can come to those who wait.

Becoming a Model Bride

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Hairstylist and make-up artist Lori Dunn started ModelBride as a bridal boutique in Chatham, NJ. The business grew and she eventually opened another branch in Manhattan (recently closed). As Lori did a wonderful job on my sister’s hair and make-up for her wedding, I decided to arrange a appointment .

A former model, Lori is almost shockingly pretty – slender and easily 6 foot tall with shining blonde hair. Her boutique includes a selection of wedding shoes and accessories. Since Lori was already booked for the date of my wedding, I met with Robin, one of the other ModelBride stylists. A hair and make-up artist for the Rachael Ray show, Robin quickly understood the natural look I had in mind and realized it in the trial. That and her easygoing, friendly personality convinced me she was a perfect stylist for my wedding. Like all the ModelBride stylists, Robin will come to most locations in the city and tri-state area on the wedding day and bring another stylist if needed.

Little Place, Giant Taste

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I went out to brunch with my bridesmaids after our dress-shopping adventure. I wanted to take them somewhere close to the store (in the Lower East Side), that served both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, and with tasty breakfast cocktails (without which no brunch is complete, in my oppinion). After research, I chose a place that fit all this criteria – Little Giant.

This restaurant has two disadvantages for brunch: 1. They don’t take reservations and 2. They only accept cash. I was concerned about both, but neither proved a problem. We arrived a little after 12 and got a table right away. The interior is clean and chic, yet cozy. Their menu includes only what is fresh and in season, and they’ll make any dish vegetarian (if possible). I had baked eggs and toast, along with a grape bellini and a mimosa. Everything was delicious and we all enjoyed the meal. I will certainly be back – the cocktails alone are worth it.

Shopping at Adrienne’s

Photo from Jim Hjelm Website

I went dress shopping at Adrienne’s on the Lower East Side with my bridesmaids. I’m actually a bit surprised at the lack of bridesmaid dress shops in the city, but this spot had received good reviews.

I’d already decided that I wanted my bridesmaids to choose their dress. I picked the color, material, and designer, and told them to go with whatever they liked. It worked out well, since, after trying on dresses each girl picked a dress that suited their style. I was ecstatic when one of them told me that she’d be wearing the dress again to attend another wedding.

The store itself was cute and clean. They carried a fairly broad range of dresses, though not everything from the designers’ website. The women were fairly helpful, though they didn’t fuss over us or clip the girls into dresses. Also, the space is limited – two small dressing rooms and two mirrors. That being said, we still had a successful trip there and it may be the best place to go in the city.

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