Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Engagement Ring Trends Of 2014

The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them. I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.

Recently, someone asked me what types of engagement ring trends I've been seeing. Honestly, I think it's kind of scary to think of engagement rings following trends. See, an engagement ring is an accessory that you will wear every day for the rest of your life. You don't exactly want it to be trendy since you're not tossing it after the season like a pair of new flip flops.

A classy solitaire is always safe. But safe is so predictable. So you need to find a balance between safe and modern, and I guess that means you toe the line of trendy.

One of the biggest trends I've been seeing lately is colored stones replacing diamonds. Instead of a traditional diamond, many brides are showing off their individuality with birthstone rings. You can choose your birth stone as the major stone, then have small diamonds surround it, like a halo.

Personally, I love halo rings.

Photo credit: Don Roberto Jewelers
Pete's friend had given a halo ring to his now wife and I just fell in love with it. It's a diamond with a circle of diamonds around it. This one above from Don Roberto Jewelers (which looks closest to what I had originally wanted) also has embellishments on the band, which adds a bit of bling.

The only trouble you might run into with non-traditional styles, though, is finding a wedding band that actually fits. With the center stone being off center or embellished, a wedding band might not rest flush against it. So you can't just choose any band to go with any ring.

If you follow the trend of colored stones replacing diamonds, you won't need to worry, but something like a bypass cut might cause you a problem. If you have your heart set on a bypass cut (then you and I would be fast friends because that's what I have), make sure your fiance finds one that is part of a set.

Photo credit: Don Roberto Jewelers

If you look at the ring above from Don Roberto Jewelers (which looks closest to mine) you can see that the engagement ring is embellished with diamonds and the band itself is just gold. The brand's standard size is 7, so anything other than that will take extra time to create and send.

And that's actually a good thing to note when you're looking at rings. With Don Roberto Jewelers, the price of the ring stays constant even if you need to change the size. With other jewelers, the standard size is the standard price and any other sizing is subject to an additional charge.

You can check out the entire Don Roberto Jewelers bridal line via that link. Prices in the collection range from $699 to $2,999. You can shop by stone size, material, category, and price.

Speaking of price, we have an exclusive code for you. Feel free to share a 25% off discount code with your readers. This exclusive discount code was created for your readers: BP25FP (25% off first purchase) Must be be entered at checkout.

Connect with Don Roberto Jewelers: Facebook | Twitter

BRIDAL BABBLE: What engagement ring style is your favorite?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Five Things You Can Absolutely Skip At Your Wedding (And no one will notice or care)

When you're planning a wedding, costs really add up. There's so much to pay for and you really don't want to pay for everything but brides don't know what they can cut.

When brides ask me, they always ask if they can skip favors. I'm totally against that. I really like favors. I think you should give your guests a token from your wedding: a personalized wine glass, a cookie, some sort of thank you for coming. Don't skip that. You guests will notice. But there are a lot of other things you can skip (and save money by doing so) and no one will even realize you did.

Five Things You Can Absolutely Skip At Your Wedding (And no one will notice or care)

1. Champagne toast

Champagne is about $3 a glass, so that's an extra $300 per 100 guests. That's a lot of money (pretty much equal to the favors everyone wants to cut so quickly). But, let's think logically about what happens with the champagne: It's poured before the reception starts and is left at each plate, next to the water. It's there when you guests walk in, but can't be enjoyed until the best man says his toast. Which is after dinner and often after the bouquet throw and the garter toss. And it's always after your guests have had plenty of time for trips to the (open) bar. So, after a trip, your guests have a drink in their hands and the best man or maid of honor makes it to center stage to make a toast. Instead of running back to the table to grab that two ounce glass of champagne that's been warming all night, your guests listen to the speech and toast you with the glass in hand. The wait staff comes around after the toast, dumps the leftover, and there, at $3 a glass, your money is being poured away.

Savings: $3 per guest

2. Toss bouquet

If you remember the post about my flowers, you remember that I had a cascade bouquet. It was absolutely not something that I wanted to throw across the dance floor when I was facing the opposite direction of the potential receivers. So I ordered a toss bouquet, made in our wedding colors. The florist brought the bouquets to the church and, after the ceremony, the toss bouquet was left behind. Along with all of the vases that the bridesmaids bouquets were accompanied by. No one thought to grab my toss bouquet and bring it with us. When it was time for me to do the bouquet toss, I grabbed one of the bridesmaid's bouquet and tossed that. No one even knew I didn't toss the toss bouquet, and no one said anything about me not throwing the bridal bouquet.

Savings: $25

3. Bathroom basket

If you haven't heard of bathroom baskets, they're basically baskets that you stock with items that your wedding guests might need in case of a minor emergency (nail files, aspirin, feminine products, lotion, etc.). If you spend a few minutes requesting free samples from brands when they're available, you can pretty much fill these for free. But, if not, you can spend a couple dollars picking items up from the dollar store. But the chance of your guests actually using these items is slim, which would leave you with a bunch of stuff that you really don't need. And, really, if your guests break a nail, they can wait a couple hours to file it. It won't be the end of the world.

Savings: $50 (I'm guestimating $25 per bathroom, give or take)

4. Chair covers

I never realized how much I would think about chairs. Did we want traditional ballroom chairs, did we want to upgrade to white resin chairs, or did we want to pay for chair covers? Changing the chairs was $2.50 and adding covers was $3 each. Yes, the chair covers look nice, but worth it for $3 per chair? No. Absolutely not. The ballroom chairs would work just fine. And that's what I picked.

We went for our tasting and the on-site coordinator mentioned that there was a wedding the night before ours and they were thinking about upgrading to the white resin chairs. She could leave them for us, free of charge. So I said sure. And then, a few days before the wedding, she said the wedding before ours was using chair covers and they could leave them for us for free. So here I was, making a third decision about chairs. Crazy. We ended up with chair covers, and they looked really nice, but if I asked our guests (the ones who didn't know about my trio of chair decisions, anyway), I doubt they would actually even know that they had covers on them. Upgraded chairs look nice, but as long as you have chairs, that's all that matters.

Savings: $3 per guest

5. Direction cards in your invitations

We live in a day and age where directions are easily accessible. There's a good change you have a GPS or a smart phone with a GPS (or, you're like us and have both). Chances are, your guests do too. So sure, you can throw an antiquated directions card into your invitation, but your guests probably won't use it. You can modernize it with a personalized map card (although that wouldn't help you savings-wise). Instead, you can just leave it out altogether. As long as you have the address of the ceremony site and the reception venue on the invitation, your guests will find their way there. You can save yourself the cost of the entire component (both design costs and printing costs) plus, your invitations will be a little lighter and that may be the bit of paper that is the difference between costs of stamps.

Savings: varied

BRIDAL BABBLE: What is something you are thinking about skipping that you don't think your guests will notice?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Giveaway: Solemates High Heelers (& More!), Two Winners (Ends 8/8)

I ended up with three pairs of shoes on my wedding day. It's not that I was trying to have a trio of costume changes for my feet and, honestly, I don't even think people knew. It was just that different parts of the day required different footwear, so I came prepared.

I started the day in my wedding heels. I wore them for the church ceremony and our bridal party photos (which we took on a boardwalk and then on a cobblestone street ... you know, great places for heels). Our reception venue was on the beach, so when we took photos out there, I wore white flip flops. And then, during the reception (when everyone was getting down on the dance floor), I changed into personalized Converse that Pete and I created ourselves.

Even though I only wore them for the first third of the wedding festivities, my poor wedding heels look beat up.

The bottoms (where Pinterest tells me brides are supposed to have their bridesmaid sign) are completely scuffed up. The sole of the heel is pretty dark (although it did hold up pretty well considering Pete and I played a round of hopscotch during our photos).

What's troublesome to me is that the bottom of the heel itself is really dirty. The shoes I bought (and had dyed to match the bridesmaids' dresses and guy's tuxedo vests and ties) aren't waterproofed. I knew I wouldn't be running in the beach with them (although I did do a shoe change, just to be extra safe), but any sort of moisture ruined the dye. Not that anyone but me is really going to be inspecting the heels, but I'm sort of bummed.

It makes me wish I had these products from Solemates that we were sent for review. Worry not, my engaged friends. We are actually giving away some of these products to two lucky winners.

One winner will win the Solemates SOS Wedding Emergency Kit (check out our review here). A second winner will receive the Shoe Essentials and Complete Collection (winners of these products will be selected at random. Sorry, but the winners can't choose).

Since I chatted at length about the Solemates SOS Wedding Emergency Kit, I wanted to talk a bit about the Solemates High Heelers (there is a pair in the wedding emergency kit, or you can purchase them separately).

The High Heelers, made of plastic, are available in three sizes (narrow, classic, and wide) and four colors (clear, silver, black, and gold). The concept is simple: slide the High Heeler onto the heel and protect your heel from sinking into grass, getting ruined on cobblestone, and pretty much just keep you protect from normal (wedding) wear and tear.

I didn't have these until after my wedding, so I grabbed my wedding heels to try it out.

The High Heeler wouldn't fit on my heel. I tried the classic first and it was too small, so I grabbed the wide. It, also, was too small and, I'm not sure how well you can see it, but it took a small bite out of my heel, leaving a white spot. My heart sunk. I quickly rubbed my finger on it to try to fix it, which pretty much did, and then I snapped this shot.

I figured that I might be better off testing these on a pair of heels that is less sentimental.

I grabbed my favorite pair of heels (which I actually ended up wearing for our rehearsal dinner, but since I've had them for years and wore them to tons of other occasions, I wouldn't be too upset if the heel got bit also).

I tried the narrow one first and though these heels appear thin, they're not thin enough. I grabbed the classic and those slid on easily.

The High Heelers give a lot of stability to the heel. It increases the size of the bottom of the heel substantially, which is cool. Because it creates a base platform, your heel won't sink into the grass (or, I would guess, cracks on the sidewalk too). It's a great concept and pretty undetectable as compared to its counterparts.

The Solemates Shoe Essentials pack would have definitely helped with the scuff on the bottom of my shoes. The pack contains a pair ball of foot cushions, a pair of heel cushions, and a pair of anti skid pads. The latter is what goes on the bottom of your shoe, which would definitely protect the base. I actually used ball of foot cushions in my wedding heels to help a little bit with sizing and a little bit with slipping (or, well, making sure I didn't slip). I am obsessed with putting them in my heels. The ones in the Shoe Essentials pack aren't removable, so make sure you put them in the right way when you use them (you'd think it's a no brainer, but in the intensity of wedding morning, my mom actually put them in my shoes upside down. So, there I was, wedding morning, about to walk out the door, stopped, plopped down in my wedding dress, flipping around ball of foot cushions.

Such a funny moment, caught by one of our amazing photographers (plus, what an unsuspecting shot of my shoes, huh?).

These items, they would have been a huge help on wedding day. And so I want them to be a huge help on your wedding day. You can head over to this link and check out all the Solemates products. Or you can win some here. This giveaway starts now and ends at 11:59pm EST on August 8. One winner will receive the SOS Kit and another winner will receive the Shoe Essentials and Complete Collection. The winners and prizes will be selected at random and the winner will be emailed via the address used in the Rafflecopter form. The winner, who must be a US resident who is 18 or older, will have 24 hours to respond before another winner is selected.

Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Bride On A Budget received these products for review but received no additional compensation for hosting this giveaway. A Bride On A Budget is not responsible for prize fulfillment. All thoughts and opinions belong to ABOAB.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Giveaway: Weddings On A Dime eBook, Five Winners (Ends 7/31)

A few months ago, I got a message from  Kristen Castillo, who you may know as @kristencastillo on Twitter, if you hang out with us during #BridalBabble.

She was putting together a Snippet -- it's basically an interactive ebook -- called Weddings on a Dime and wanted to know if she could interview me. If you know me, you know I love to talk, especially about weddings. So I immediately said yes (even though we were doing the interview over Skype, which meant I would have to get prettied up).

Her book finally came out.

She sent me a copy of the book and it's really great. The book is filled with tons of advice about saving money on your wedding, including a bunch of gems from yours truly.

I mean, check this out ...

That's very good advice. And I stand by it. Even if you don't exactly know how much weddings cost or how much you're going to spend, you need to come up with a number in your mind. You have to decide what you will feel morally okay with spending, and that will help you look at venues. There's a great chance that you will underestimate when you arbitrarily select a budget post-engagement and pre-wedding planning but it will give you a good place to start.

There's some other great advice inside, plus videos (although, actually, my video portion isn't working right now so although I know readers can see me, right now, I can only hear myself).

Wanna check out the book? Kristen was awesome and gave me codes to give the book away to five lucky winners. Just an FYI before you enter: There's a Snippet app for smartphones and tablets but if you win, you can’t redeem the code on the app. So it’s best to download the e-book to your desktop/laptop. Be sure to sync the Snippet libraries so you have the e-book on all your devices.

The giveaway starts now and ends at 11:59pm EST on July 31. There will be a total of five winners. Winners must be 18 or older. Winners will have 24 hours to respond to a winning email before another winner will be selected and must understand the process to download the book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Bride On A Budget is not responsible for an electronic issues that a winner may have.
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