Trash Your Dress?

By now most brides have heard of "Trash the Dress" photography shoots. If you hadn't, the concept is simple ... either at the wedding or (more commonly) a few days later, re-wear your precious wedding dress and "trash" the hell out of it in front of a photographer by any of the following methods:

(a) swimming in it

(b) rolling around wet sand/mud/grass

(c) doing anything else non-wedding-day-ish that dirties the dress (and get your mind out of the gutters, ladies!)

(d) all of the above

It seems like trashing the dress started back with beach weddings, and have since spread to all sorts of places. I briefly thought of doing it for my own desination wedding, but am such a sap for memorabilia that there is no way I could have gone through with it. My question is, would you?

I can appreciate the artistic quality of TTD shoots. They tend to be taking from either an ethereal perspective or a "to hell with this wedding crap, I'm a modern bride" perspective, and both show up nicely in print. While I couldn't personally live with myself for ruining my wedding dress, I give kudos to those brides who can -- it takes balls, ladies, and I don't got 'em!

There are two things (only two!) that I take issue with:

(1) Those people who post about their TTD shoot, and then its only a bride, like, walking through a meadow or something. I mean, come on! If you're going to trash it, TRASH it! Don't chicken out and then call it something its not! I guess some brides/photographers assume that if the train gets a smidgen dirty, then it automatically becomes a de rigeur TTD shoot. And its so not. Its SO not. I mean, crap ... I walked down a beach at my Mexican wedding, and wandered all over a soggy farmer's field at the at-home reception, but I don't call that "trashing the dress". Sure, I got a couple hundred gnats in the tulle, but whatever. It added a spash of green ....

(2) TTD shoots that seemingly portray violence against women. I've only ever seen this a few times, but am surprised to see it called "art". See pic, below as an example. I know these are supposed to be taken very tongue-in-cheek, but I don't know .... maybe the fact that I've worked with abused women & girls in the past has just made me sensitive to the issue.

Whether you decide to do a TTD shoot or not, a great website to check out is the aptly-named TrashTheDress (with European and Australian affiliates). Here's a few more images to tickle your fancy:

*images courtesy of the following websites, in order from the top: Sol Tomargo Photography; Chelsea Nicole Photography; AltF; Henry Aarvold Phorography; AltF; Olaf Siebert*


Tag, I'm It

I've been tagged by the lovely Jessica Lynn over at Tying the Knot, and (a) need to post 7 random or weird things about myself, (b) link to the person that tagged me and post the rules on my blog, (c) tag 7 random people at the end of my post and include links to their blogs, and (d) let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Wow. Lots of rules for an itty-bitty game! :) Seeing as I've already accomplished (b), here goes with (a), (c), and (d):

Seven Random or Weird Things About Myself

1. In the past 4 1/2 years, husband and I have built 3 houses. Its a sickness, really. But this last house (#3) that we move into in January is the LAST one. I swear. Well, maybe not LAST last, but close to the end ....

2. Though I would love to design invitations full-time, currently the big bill-payer is my position as a Special Education teacher. I love it as much as I love making invites. I work with Grade 1 & 2 severe behavioral and emotional children (all boys), and they are my heart.

3. Up 'til I was 5 years old I had a quasi-British/Australian acccent, even though I was born and raised in Canada. This was thanks to my various British/Australian nannies I had from ages 1 - 5. I had no idea I spoke differently then the other kids until a snotty little girl named Kristy made fun of poor little 5-year-old me for the way I said "Mirror". Bitch. I went home and vowed to learn to talk like a regular Canadian. Here I am, eh? :)

4. Husband and I have 3 foster children through various agencies (ie. World Vision) from Ethiopia, India, and Thailand respectively.

5. I am a reading freak. I have in excess of 400 books, and have read them all at least once.

6. I really, really, REALLY wanted to be a criminal profiler for the FBI growing up, so much so that I obtained a bachelors degree in psychology and went to numerous training courses regarding profiling violent crimes. I should have worked on my "investigative" skills a bit more though, because halfway through my 3rd year at university I discovered that you have to be an American citizen to work for the FBI. Crap. The Canadian equivalent, CSIS, is SO not as cool.

7. Husband and I actually won our destination wedding to Mexico through a month-long reality contest in our local paper. We beat out 300 couples AND weren't even "officially" engaged yet (I should give lessons on trapping a man). Due to time restrictions on the prize, we got engaged, planned our wedding and got married in the span of 3 months following winning. We had a huge at-home reception when we got back to accomodate all those people who weren't able to attend our wedding.

There! Thats it. I don't normally fill these things out (they're akin to a chain-letter in my mind), but what the hell. Might as well follow all the rules and pass it along to 7 of my "bloggie buddies". I choose .... Autumn Wedding, Bride of Rochester, A Dash of Diva, These Little Moments, Another Wedding Blog, Love Family Life, Smiles From Lloyd. Tag, you're all it.


Wonderful Wedding Forums

Apologies for the length of time between posts -- a cold bug had me waylaid and struggling to get myself into workable form. But I'm back, feeling better, and want to talk to you ladies about a great source of wedding-planning information -- wedding forums!

Wedding forums, while often affiliated with a popular wedding website (such as The Knot or WeddingBells), are inherently different from said mother company -- and thats the fabulous thing about them. Wedding websites are helpful in that they give you a good starting point for ideas and schemes for your Big Day; unfortunately, many brides-to-be find them more then a tad pretentious. And thats where the wedding forums come in.

Wedding forums are essentially a free place for real brides to get together and discuss ways to achieve their dream wedding, whether this be through do-it-yourself heaven or the recomendation of incredible vendors (NOT paid advertising, but coming straight from the mouths of those that have recently used them). I relied heavily upon wedding forums in the planning of my day, and through them was able to hear about and come up with oodles of marvelous wedding ideas. You don't need to post to be a part of these online communities -- just begin "snooping" every day or so on one or two of them, and I can gurantee that you will stumble across ideas that pique your interest. You may have to register to get initial access, but I have never had the problem of spamming from ANY of the following sites. Here are my absolute favorites:

WeddingBells Forum
This is the one I used primarily throughout my own planning. If you're a canadian bride, its the place to be.

Canadian Bride Forum
WeddingBells competition in the forum market, and just as good. The bonus with this forum is that vendors are allowed to post (in ONE section only, so no spamming), which gives you access to literally hundreds of suppliers that you might not normally have heard of. *Ahem* my company does a wee bit of posting here from time-to-time -- check out epiphpaper's posts!

The Knot Forum
The be-all and end-all for wedding forums. Incredible ideas, especially for you american ladies!

Indie Bride Forum
For those looking for not-so-typical wedding ideas. I LOVE this site!

And there you go, ladies. That should keep you busy for a while!


A Wedding Idea to Flip Over

So crazy it might just be fabulous ...

If you're like most brides, after your wedding you'll have a photo album full of pictures, a dvd full of video, and a head full of memories. These are always lovely, imperative, and traditional. But what if you're looking for a unique addition to that box of post-wedding keepsakes?

Enter FlipClips, an on-line company that will take any 30-second video and turn it into a sassy little flipbook memento (click here to check out a short video). Starting at only $8.99, FlipClip books are absolutely adorable with their retro-chic appeal and distinct personality. You simply have to upload the clip to their website, select an appropriate booksize, and design the cover. Thats it! FlipClips ships all over the world, and has been exceedingly well-received by press and clients alike.

I love the idea of having my very own flipbook. I used to make my own crappy stick-figure ones on the corners of books I was supposed to be using for "scholastic purposes" way back when, and now I can have one thats actually starring me! I can't stop thinking about the possibilities: bridesmaid gifts, shower favours, gifts-for-the-parents ... Let your inner-child run wild!
*allimages courtesy of FlipClips*


The Magic of Samantha Sultana

Here's another Etsy designer that I am lurvin' right now --- Samantha Sultana.

Samantha makes absolutely delicious accessories, from hair pieces to garters to gloves to jewelry and beyond. Her items are gorgeous, delicate, utterly feminine and incredibly unique -- all key elements to a brilliant wedding day. Samantha operates two design labels ("Illicit" and "Dollface" -- dontcha just LOVE the names?), and is a favorite of numerous celebrities, most-notably little Miss Fergie-Ferg (and if you need to ask who she is, then my dear, please feel free to crawl out from under the rock you've been living under).

As someone who herself wore a flowered-feathered-crystaled headpiece on her wedding day (not Samantha's, alas! But if I had known about her at the time ....) I can assure you that wearing something a little less-typical then the traditional veil really makes your day different from other weddings (in a GOOD way!). I continue to receive compliments on my choice of head"gear" for my day, and recently had a close friend borrow my baby for her own wedding. Memorable? You bet!

Make sure you check out her Etsy sight. Samantha Sultana ships worldwide from Australia, her prices are amazing, and she just seems like a fabulous, hip woman (everything I try my damndest to be!), so hell --- why not? :)

*all images courtesy of SamanthaSultana Etsy store*


Invitingly Different ....

How's this for a unique idea ....

Leslie Hamer at Unless Someone Like You (a fabulous Etsy store) has taken invitation design to a whole new level by offering 11 x 17 posters that you mail out to your guests in tubes. How crazy is that?! Crazy like a fox, I'd say.

(wait. I don't think that last line works. Are foxes crazy? I doubt National Geographic would back me on this one.)

I can't get over how cool an idea this is. Definetely something to make your wedding invites stand out. The best part is that Leslie customizes all her work - she can do drawings from a photograph of you and your sweetie or any other type of image that's important to you.

Unless Someone Like You will provide digital copies for you to take to your printer. Make sure you check out the on-line store!

*all images courtesy of Unless Someone Like You*


Great Idea? Bad Idea? You Decide.

File this one under "Hmmmm".

I am a big fan of coordination in an event. And no, I don't mean the grace with which you pick up your fourth glass of pinot, nor your crumpin' moves with a partner on the dance floor. I'm talking about the full coordination of your theme, starting with your invitations and working your way down to table numbers, favor tags and more. Continuing your theme throughout a wedding is a primary goal most brides have; I have seen this carried over into everything from the decoration of the entrance hall to the decoration of the cocktail glasses. I LOVE coordination -- it really pulls together an event.

Thats why I'm not so sure where I stand on this, and as such, will leave the decision up to you.

Kleenex has recently come up with a new on-line promotion called My Kleenex Tissue, where you get to design and produce you very own, personalized tissue box(es). At only $4.99 each they're not much more then the ones you can find at your local grocery store, so price is not the issue. You also don't have to be a wunderkind at design and layouts, either, as their program is super-easy to use. And obviously, if one wanted to truly continue their theme throughout their wedding, right down to the smallest details, this would be an incredible way of doing so.

The big question: Is this tacky or not?

I've tried to think about this from both sides, and have yet to make a decision. The coordination-part of me screams "Yes!! Do it!!!", especially if one were using a clean and simple design with perhaps their monogram and some nice background colour only.

The practical side of me says "Are you crazy? People will think you've taken bridezilla to a whole new level if you've coordinated every teeny, tiny little thing, right down to the tissues. Whats next, personalized toilet paper?". The practical side of me also feels that the only people, unfortunately, who this idea will appeal to are the brides & grooms who feel it necessary to have their image on EVERYTHING (don't even get me started). Monograms = fine. Photos of you all over the place = pure tackiness. They're at YOUR wedding .... I'm pretty sure your guests know what you look like.

Truth-be-told, I did personalized water bottle labels for my own wedding, and for the guests that noticed, they were a hit. Again: for the guests that noticed. I slaved over those suckers, and only about 1/3 of my guests even realized that what they were holding in their hand was not a mere water bottle but an Andra Coulter ORIGINAL. I mean, come on people! :)

However, perhaps thats the key to a fully-cooordinated event. If your items are too obvious, then you've done something wrong. Your guest's eye should travel over the span of the reception room and take in the spelendor of it all, not fixate upon that one-garish item sitting on the counter.

Ladies, if you want to go ahead with this one, please keep in mind two words: "clean" and "simple". Though it might be tempting to throw in a bunch of the cool graphics they've got on the Kleenex site (I can't even believe I just wrote that), keep in mind that less is more. Keep repeating that to yourself: "Less is more. Less is more. Less is more.".

And if any of you DO wind up creating one of these, even just for kicks, please let me know! I'm interested to see how they turn out.

*photo courtesy of Unfortunately, this promotion is currently not available to ship to a Canadian address. Yet*


My Very Own Mini-Me

Some of you might remember a post I did waaayy back about fabulous custom cake toppers by Nicole W Clark. Well, I told you then, and I'll still say now ... these things are adorable. So adorable in fact, that I finally have my own! (and yes, I realize I'm already married and done with the cake-topper-crowd. However, these little guys sure do look cute sitting in my bedroom beside my wedding photo!).

I am ridiculously impressed with the amount of detail that Nicole puts into her creations. Along with the dress and hair style I wore, she included the earrings and bracelet my mother gave me, as well as the fab flower I wore in my hair. Husband's flower for his lapel has also been painstakingly recreated.

Anyways, just gotta say ... love it, love it, love it! Here's a few pics from our wedding day:

... and here's our mini-me's!
The mini-me's are approximately 6 inches tall, and are made of durable 100% non-toxic polymer clay so they're safe to be on your cake.

Again, I LOVE our mini-me's. I cannot say enough about them (obviously). Nicole was incredible to work with, and has joyfully created a keepsake that my children & grandchildren will be able to see.

For more information on your own amazing custom cake topper, check out Nicole's website at .


Some Kind Accolades

Awwwww .... the fabulous Molly over at The Winning Pitch has recently highlighted my little bloggie as one of her favorite wedding blogs -- plus she had some kind words to boot! Thanks so much Molly, and congrats on your recent engagement. Hopefully we'll see your face around here more often!

And while we're on the topic (might as well keep patting myself on the back), I Love Weddings has also found a place on WeddingsinaBox 's extensive "Best Wedding Blogs" list. This list is the preemptive resource for all things wedding, so its nice to have a little mention!

My goodness, I think I'm actually blushing.

Or maybe its just that extra glass of red wine I had.

*image courtesy of The Winning Pitch*

For The Bride & Groom Who Tuly Have Everything ...

... or for those of you who just want to make a difference, this idea is for you.

I was recently notified of this fab new nonprofit website called Changing The Present, and after perusing their site have been lovin' their idea. LOVIN' it (when you omit the "g" at the end of words, it really emphasizes your point. Right?).

The idea is simple: in lieu of (or as an aside to) your typical wedding registry, help change the world instead by setting up a wish list for charitable donations to causes of your choice. Guests choose amongst your suggested gifts (just like in a typical registry), and then simply click to donate. A few more clicks with the mouse will create a custom-made card for the recipient. Changing The Present offers thousands of donation opportunities from hundreds of leading nonprofits, so you're sure to find something that moves you, no matter what cause you care about most. Donation prices range from $2 and up, and include such inspiring ideas as:

- Equip a Student: materials for one ($2)
- Demine a Sports Field: 1 square metre ($5)
- Empower a Woman: jobs for 3 refugees ($50)
- Feed a Child: 2 months of food ($84)
- Sponsor a Chimp: 6 months of care ($90)
- Counsel Cancer Patients: one-on-one session ($125)
- Provide Eyecare: one village screening ($250)

Seriously ladies. Think of the possibilities. Even if you only register a couple of causes, and even if only one of those causes is given to you by a guest ... what a difference that one alternative to your toaster-oven could make in another person's life!
Please believe me when I say that I am not knocking traditional registries (hell, I had one, and used it gladly!). I'm simply putting this forward as an alternative, or as an additional. Another idea, which I have been seeing more and more at my client's weddings as of late, is to make a donation to a charity of your choice instead of favours at the reception. A small note at each individual's tablesetting will suffice, informing them of where the money went that would have been spent on the traditional favour.

Regardless, at husband's and my upcoming housewarming party (whenever our damned house is finished being built, that is!), this is the option we will be noting on our invitation. I am in love with this idea, and hope its inspired a few of you, too!

*all images courtesy of*

Making Memories Last

I would like you to close your eyes and imagine, if you will, that time in the near future when your wedding is past, the presents have been opened, the thank you cards have been sent, and the comfortable familiarity of married-hood has begun to creep in (I like making up words). With slight panic rising in your voice, your question may now be:

"What the hell am I going to do with all this wedding-planning-free time?" (was that another made-up word? Or just a ridiculous use of hyphens?).

Fear not, dear reader, for the fun is just beginning!

Depending on your photographer, you will start getting your wedding-day images back within a matter of weeks or months. In the past, brides were given a "proof book" with which to look through and select a number of photos to be retouched and placed into an album. While this still happens, a more-modern approach has been for photographers to put together a cd of the images (often as part of the package price), which the bride & groom then use as they desire. Currently, many photographers have also begun to offer the additional service of putting together wedding day coffee table books as opposed to the clunky, oversized photo albums of yesteryear.

Professional in appearance, sleek and ridiculously stylish, these books can sit non-chalantly out on display for all to see. The one issue many brides & grooms have with them, however -- price. These babies can cost a small fortune, which isn't what one often wants to be doing once they calculate the "actual" cost of their wedding ("We spent HOW much on table linens?")

Enter the newest trend in post-wedding purchases: self-published coffee table books. Sounds tricky? It isn't. My Publisher, Shutterfly, Picaboo, Blacks, and Blurb are just a few of the companies offering this service, though these five names are regularily noted by brides as being of highest-quality and most-trustworthy. Prices tend to start around $25 for 20 pages, and can go up from there. As the owner of three (thats right, THREE. With more to come. Its like a sickness) self-published photobooks, I'm regularily surprised that more people aren't aware of this incredible resource.

Regardless of who you go through, self-published coffee table books are a breeze to make. Honest! There is no need for fancy software or design experience either. Essentially, you either download a free (and SAFE) program onto your computer, or do your work on the company's website (depends who you use). Download your desired images to said program, drag & drop them into place with the help of pre-formatted templates, click "publish", and voila! Next stop, coffeebook-table-ville (I think I should start calling this post "Making Hyphens Last: A Casestudy").

My original three books were published through My Publisher (see photo above; engagement book, destination wedding book, and at-home reception book), and I was more than impressed with the ease of program use, delivery time, and quality of the finished product. The method used for printing is touted to be the same as professional photobooks, and with that I have no argument. The pics came out smashingly crisp and clear, with lustrous colour and thick pages. Truly, a fabulous find.

I am now addicted to creating these little "books by me", and plan on testing out a different company, Blurb, to publish my SouthEast Asia holiday pics. The big appeal I have to this one is the fact that you can not only publish your books through Blurb, but you can also sell them. Yes, SELL them! This little company has its own on-line bookstore where its users can post and sell their creations -- at NO charge to the "author"! Crazy goodness! As a semi-regular blogger (apologies all around, as usual), I am also intrigued by the option of transferring my entire blog into book format -- Blurb offers a program that makes this not only possible, but easy. Of course, having not yet reached my desired level of blogging-superstardom (YET being the key word. YET), I may have to hold off on that one for a bit. :) Once I complete my book creation and receive my order, I'll make sure to post an updated review about Blurb's service, though if all the research I've done stands correct, it should be incredible!

Ladies, keep this post in mind over the next few months as you plan your wedding. While these photobooks are a decidedly divine way to showcase your wedding pics, they can be used in so many other ways, too. How about putting together a small book with photos of the two of you and using it as a guestbook at your reception? Or hunting down old photos of your parents and creating a book to celebrate their upcoming anniversary? I promise, once you make your first book, your mind will begin to swim with the possibilities. Happy creating!

*photo taken by Andra Coulter*


The Brides Guide -- Its a Good Thing

The wonderful people at have recently unveiled their newest addition -- The Brides Guide, a blog resource written by Darcy Miller (editorial director, Martha Stewart Weddings). Sure to be a bonafide "ultimate bridal resource", I've been scouring its pages nightly. As can be expected by anything Martha, its fantastic. Truly helpful, informative, and unique. You'll all love it ... I do already!

Damn. Lets hope I can keep at least a FEW readers at this blog. :-)

*photo courtesy of The Brides Guide*


Party Girl

As most of you know, I likes me a good party. I enjoy the time spent searching for those perfect detail items, love planning design & layout features, and have nights filled with dreams of colour swatches. Seriously.

However, I know there are many of you out there who desire similar effects with more minimal effort. Jobs, life, and other parties can often get in the way of planning your OWN soiree, which can really dampen the fun of the whole thing.

Enter Social Couture, a fab company out of the States that sell a multitude of coordinated, mod "theme party" kits. Though I know this kind of thing has been tried by other companies before, Social Couture does such an amazing job at it! I fell in lust with nearly all their designs -- everything is included (and I mean everything ... if moss was used to decorate a vase, it comes with the kit. No searching around for half the items to make it look like it did on the website), and all their items are so, well, hip. The creations look like they stepped off the pages of InStyle magazine. Very oo-la-la. Lisa and Colleen, the two lovely ladies who started the company, are doing a ridiculously incredible job.

Social Couture does ship to Canada, and you won't find their prices horrendous, either. Pass this info along to your friends and bridesmaids -- a girl as delicious as yourself deserves a party of the same caliber!

*and seriously, HOW fabulous would their Hollywood Glam pack be for an Oscar party?*

*all images courtest of Social Couture*


Back from Vacation!!!

I'm back, back, back from my AMAZING trip to South-East Asia! While touring that part of the world I was, of course, thinking of you fabulous readers 100% of the time .... or maybe I was just soaking up the brilliant heat & sun. Either way, I'm back, I've got ideas for the next few columns, and I'd like to say a heartfelt "Thank You!!!" if you've somehow managed to find your way back to this little blog after such an extended abscence.

I'll get to weddings in the next post, of course, but as promised, here are a few pics of my travels

Grand Palace, BangkokNorthern Thailand

Karen tribe girl (Northern Thailand)

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

a common sight in Vietnam

the Mekong River

River boy

The Killing Fields, Cambodia

Ankgkor Wat, Cambodia after a rain

novice monk sketching at Angkor Thom Ankgor Thom facesKoh Samui, Thailand
And a few pics of yours truly, only because if I don't, I'll get a bunch of emails asking why not:

Handing out toys to a remote hilltribe in Northern Thailand

Posing by a waterfall (no explanation necessary, I guess) Getting scammed in Vietnam (loong story) Having fun with children at the Hoi An orphanage (hubs in background, children taking photo) My relaxed pose with a 9 foot python Testing out an M-16 (I think) The classic "tourist in front of Angkor Wat" pic And my all-time favorite, taken at Angkor Wat

Well, thats about it for now. If you made it through all these pics, then bravo for you! Until next time .... here's one last one:

I don't think those children are wearing seatbelts

*all photos taken by & courtesy of Andra Coulter and/or her husband. Please do not use without their direct permission*