The Scent of a Woman

My mother used to say that a real woman needs a signature scent, something she can always be recognized by, a fragrance that will remind people of her, even if someone else is wearing the scent.

I love this ideology. It is so reminiscent of Old Hollywood, when women never left the house without a good shade of lipstick, their heels, and a beautiful fabric hat. This was the dawning of the era of the celebrity fragrance endorsement.

No one can forget the infamous words of the iconic Marilyn Monroe when after being asked what she wore to bed, giggled, smiled demurely and whispered in her breathy voice, "Why, only Chanel No. 5 of course!" No doubt that was the chart topping Christmas gift that year. The unforgettable Elizabeth Taylor created the fragrance White Diamonds though it is rumored that her personal signature scent was actually Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez. 

Tips to Leave Your Scent Lingering: 

Spray your scent on your bed pillows, or your man's so he is reminded of you and will drift to sleep with sweet dreams of the two of you. Spritz any cards, letters, or invites you are sending out. Your friends and family will begin to relate the scent to you without even realizing it! Spray the perfume in your hair when you are getting ready in the morning. The scent will stay with you all day, and will linger in your wake as you walk away! 


Arden Ward Upton's Expert Advice: Fall Bridal Makeup

There is something about the deep hues of fall that compliment a woman so beautifully – just look at what happens to Mother Nature this time of year! The rust colored leaves, the golden sunlit rays, the red, ripe berries and apples; it is easy to see how this inspires makeup trends.

For your fall wedding, envision wine-stained lips, classic reds, magenta shadow-swept eyes, and hints of metallic gold and silver. If you aren’t accustomed to wearing a lot of color, incorporate it subtly. Apply just a pop of metallic gold shadow on the inner corner of your lids. You could opt for a bolder burgundy lip color and go for the bare minimum everywhere else. Remember to keep your favorite product on hand for touch-ups, and after quick stolen kisses with the groom ;) 

Check out a few of my brides who opted for a splash of color other than in their floral decor!

I am in love with these beautiful bridal makeup looks! Perfect for the fall bride!

Top left image: www.aubresbridal.com; Top right image: Chris Nicholls; Bottom image: www.rockmywedding.co.uk

Top left image: www.aubresbridal.com; Top right image: Chris Nicholls; Bottom image: www.rockmywedding.co.uk

If you are a bolder bride who loves trying different makeup trends, be brave, and opt for one of these jaw-dropping palettes! 

Top image: www.thewingedlady.com; Bottom left image: Smashbox.com; Bottom right image: www.thefashionfox.co.za

Top image: www.thewingedlady.com; Bottom left image: Smashbox.com; Bottom right image: www.thefashionfox.co.za

A few of my favorite fall products are courtesy of Smashbox cosmetics. This makeup line was engineered by photographers - of course I love it! Work a few of these products into your fall beauty regimen and you'll battle Mother Nature for the prettiest colors this season! 

Limitless 15 Hour Wear Cream Shadow in Riches (click for link)

Limitless 15 Hour Wear Cream Shadow in Riches (click for link)

Always Sharp 3D Liner in Gunmetal (click for link)

Always Sharp 3D Liner in Gunmetal (click for link)

Be Legendary Long-wear Lip Lacquer in After Dark (click for link)

Be Legendary Long-wear Lip Lacquer in After Dark (click for link)

No matter what color your lips or eyes are, nothing will be able to compare to that beautiful bridal glow you'll have on the day of your wedding. Now if only we could get someone to bottle that up! 

Surviving the Ceremony: Emergency Wedding Kit

*Read with Australian accent for authenticity*

On today’s episode of “Surviving the Ceremony”, we take a look at how to make it out alive on the biggest day of your life! Torn dress hem!? Run in your stockings!? Fainting bridesmaids!? We can teach you how to solve all that, and still have a good time! Grab onto your veils mates, it’s going to be a wild wedding survival!

Every bride has an idea of what she thinks she might need on the big day. We are here to tell you there are things you’ll probably forget, things you will need, and things you might want to have just in case. Compose a list, gather everything together, and place it all in a handy-dandy case that can easily be accessed at any point in time. Small tackle boxes are great for this kind of thing (if you love being crafty, you could even decorate it with glitter or spray paint in your wedding colors!). Baby diaper bags are also a great option – lots of pockets. You could even gift your bridesmaids with clutches that come pre-stocked with a few of these items, so that you’ll be ready for anything at any moment’s notice.

Essentials::

  • Aspirin or pain reliever of choice
  • Mini first-aid kit – extra band aids
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Tape – every kind imaginable (duct tape, scotch tape, double-sided tape)
  • Safety pins
  • Bobby pins/hair ties
  • Eye drops
  • Tissues
  • Dental floss
  • Nail file
  • Touch-up nail polish
  • Tweezers
  • Baby powder
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Lint roller
  • Sunblock
  • Scissors

Just-In-Case::

  • Chalk – use to cover minor stains or smudges on your dress
  • Clear nail polish – use to prevent runs in stockings/tights
  • Super glue – you will use this for something (jewelry, décor, etc.)
  • Smelling salts – remind your wedding party not to lock their knees!
  • Bleach pen
  • Allergy medicine
  • White sheet – for bride to sit on if necessary
  • Medicated pads – typically found with the hemorrhoid creams, great for swollen/puffy eyes if tears have been shed!
  • Extra undergarments – you never know!
  • Cell phone charger
  • Extension cords
  • Tums/Pepto

Not to be Over-looked::

  • Umbrella
  • Pen/Notebook – secret notes for the groom
  • Makeup
  • Hair spray
  • Breath mints/spray
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • Q-tips – use with a little lotion to remove mascara runs!
  • Cash – don’t forget to tip your hair stylist/makeup artist/bartender
  • Tampons – just in case!
  • Straws – to prevent lipstick smudging when hydrating
  • Razors

Yes, this seems like a lot of stuff, but the good Girl Scout knows to always be prepared. Think small – travel size, divide up certain things. You’ll be amazed at what you do actually use and will need - and the things you don’t use: well you’ll be incredibly grateful it was there either way.

Now you are ready to venture into the wild, a beautiful bride with all the tools to… SURVIVE THE CEREMONY! 

Pinch Provisions Minimergency© Kit (click for link)

Pinch Provisions Minimergency© Kit (click for link)

Minimergency© Bridesmaids Kit (click for link)

Minimergency© Bridesmaids Kit (click for link)

Open Bar: To Have or To Have Not

Have you seen that Internet e-card floating around social media? The one that’s all, “We’re having an open bar! Oh… and a wedding.” This is hilarious to me because as a wedding guest, I like to know whether or not there will be free alcohol. We are there to celebrate two people coming together to declare their love and unify as one for the rest of their lives! Your friends and guests want to celebrate with you, dance with you, laugh with you, and revel in the glowing light of your love - and everyone enjoys dancing a bit more after one or two adult beverages.

Choosing whether or not to do an open bar is one of the most stressful decisions you’ll make while planning the wedding.

First off, there’s the family politics of the game: do both families drink? Will anyone be offended by the presence of alcohol? Or do they get a little too rowdy after one too many drinks – because being featured on Cops rather than Weddings Weekly isn’t exactly every bride’s dream.

Second: the budget *insert dramatic score*. Is there room for an open bar in your budget? This can often be one of the biggest expenses of a wedding.

And last but certainly not least: how do you feel about it? On some levels, having an open bar might feel like it diminishes the importance of the ceremony at hand. Are you here for my husband and I, or are you here to eat and drink for free?

These are the questions you will have to address before you ever start tasting cocktails. And if after deciding yes, you do indeed want your wedding to also be a rocking party, then read on to learn a bit more about price and definitions of the phrase, “open bar.”

This is the *average* breakdown of what a liquor shopping list looks like for 100 guests:

Beer: 5-6 cases                                 

Whiskey: 1 liter

Bourbon: 1 liter

Gin: 2-3 liters

Scotch: 2 liters

Light Rum: 1 liter

Vodka: 5 liters

Tequila: 1 liter

Champagne: 1½ cases

Red Wine: 2 cases

White Wine: 3½ cases

Dry Vermouth: 1 bottle

Sweet Vermouth: 1 bottle

The keyword here is “average.” You know best what your family and friends will drink. If no one you know drinks scotch – scratch that from the list. If you know that you and yours are mostly beer drinkers, be sure to buy more or go with the keg option instead. Also this list does not include mixers, syrups, or garnishes, so be sure to factor that in as well.

The next important thing is understanding exactly what “open bar” means. There are a few other options instead of having an entirely open and fully stocked free bar.

Definitions:

Open Bar: Guests do not pay at all; they can drink anything and everything they want. Generally, the payment plan works as charging per person per hour.

Hosted Bar: This is essentially an open bar: guests do not pay and can drink anything and everything they want. However, instead of charging per hour, each drink made is rung up and at the end of the night, the final bill is charged to the host.

Limited Bar: This can be when there is a limited selection of drinks like beer and wine; or it can be when the hosts choose to set specific drinking times like toasts or for an hour after dinner.

Cash Bar: The guests pay to drink - just like any other bar.  

There is some wiggle room in all of these. If you want to do a limited bar with beer and wine, but you have a few friends who drink only vodka, then get creative! Add on one signature cocktail in the color of your wedding. Blue bridesmaid dresses – Blue Hawaiian cocktails! Big Alabama fan – Crimson Tide cocktails! (click the link for the recipes!)

There are always inexpensive shortcuts you can find when planning a wedding on a budget (and honestly who isn’t these days). Those pictures of you and your besties getting down on the dance floor will be some of your absolute favorites. The one candid shot of your groom and his friends toasting out on the balcony, one of your favorites. Not saying, of course, that there needs to be alcohol present to have a beautiful and fun affair. But, hey, if it helps the chances that all of your guests will get out there and spontaneously break into the “Thriller” dance, then it is totally worth it. #yolo (too much?…Probably) 

Tell me what you think about having an open bar! Do you think cash bars are acceptable? If you've got any fun and crazy cocktail recipes, throw them in! 

Top 5 Must Have Wedding Photos

You have fantasized about this day since the first episode of Full House when Uncle Jesse came walking down the stairs with that signature grin of his… say it with me ladies, “John Stamos.” You pictured the dress, him lifting your veil, the first kiss, the first dance – all of it! And while John Stamos might not be the man at the altar in reality, you still want that picture-perfect wedding! The big day can go by so fast that it’ll be like a blur in your memory. This is why the photos are such a big deal – you’ll have these forever! This is the list of our top five must have wedding photos featuring some of the best memories you will make.

1.    Mom Arranging Bride’s Gown

Getting a snap of mom tying up your dress, clasping your necklace, or pulling your veil down is something both of you will cherish for years to come.

2.    The “First Look”

This is a controversial one. Some couples want to wait until they’re together at the altar to see each other for the first time. But we love it when couples do a “first look.” It’s special, the one moment you and your very soon-to-be husband can just admire each other with no one else around (but us photogs of course!). Even if you choose not to do this, that moment when he first sees you coming down the aisle, is a gorgeous memory to capture.

3.    Bride and Groom Holding Hands at the Altar

Right after you hand off your bouquet, and before the rings are exchanged, there’s an instant where you and your groom clasp hands while you declare your vows. This stands out as that moment of unity.

4.    Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dances

There is so much emotion to capture while you twirl about on the dance floor. Dad whispers something to his daughter and you see her tear up. Mom laughs and smiles at her son as he says something about “crazy Aunt Millie over there.” They are so proud of you, and this is worthy of every photo album ever.

5.    The Big Send Off

We’ve seen couples do some truly unique exit strategies – this is hands down why it is one of our favorite captures! Everything from old Volkswagen buses, café racer motorcycles, golf carts, and Gatsby-esque Rolls Royces have been used to whisk off the new couple to their happily ever after!

The truth is that there are tons of must have photos on your wedding day. Everything should be captured from beginning to end, so that you’ll always have those memories. That’s our job, but it’s also what we love…. And John Stamos ;)

Hot Tips for a Winter Wedding

Generally when someone mentions the word “wedding,” you immediately picture a spring or summer outdoor affair with lots of sunshine, flowers in bloom, and strapless gowns. But what if I told you that there is a wholly forgotten wedding season where just about everything is less expensive, with readymade décor, and a warm glow in everyone’s hearts. Hearing “Jingle Bells” yet? That’s right – winter weddings. Here are a few reasons why you should consider one.

Cost-Efficient for the Budget-Savvy Bride

 The most popular months for weddings are May through October, so during the winter off-season you have the chance to negotiate better prices with venues, vendors, even your honeymoon. Ask if there is some wiggle room in the rates or if they can waive certain fees if they require them. We’ve heard that the venue of your dreams might offer a Friday discount for a Saturday wedding during the off-season – this can shave off thousands of dollars for some!

You also have the better luck of choosing the date you want at the venue you want. More availability equals less competition for you. I mean who wants to wait five years out for a June 6th wedding at The Plaza (you’ve seen Bride Wars, right?). 

Winter, for me, is all about the holidays and you certainly do not have to incorporate them into your big day, but your piggy bank might thank you if you did. Think about it – that is a whole bunch of free decorations for you: twinkling Christmas lights, glittering ornaments, fresh pine, and bright red poinsettias – what a gold mine! And most of those things come standard at venues, churches, and hotels during the holiday season. I say – embrace it! Winter weddings, themed or otherwise, are rare in the glossy pages of all the bridal magazines.

*And if you choose a date right after December 25th shout out for the clearance prices on all that Christmas swag!*

Menu, Flowers, and Favors

Planning the menu should be fun for this time of year. Keep the chilly weather in mind, and think about serving warm soup, winter squash, and a variety of yummy drinks like spiked hot chocolate, eggnog, and spiced wine (set out candy canes as drink stirrers!). You could use gingerbread houses as edible centerpieces.

Flowers this time of year could get costly. Instead prepare arrangements with flowers and plants that are in-season: garland, glittered branches, pinecones, and fresh berries. Just grab everything off your fireplace mantle at home and carry it down the aisle!

Send your guests home with their own do-it-yourself hot cocoa mix in mason jars, or an ornament that commemorates the day. We’ve seen jingle bells used too!

Photos

Remember that it gets dark earlier in the winter. If you want your wedding portraits taken outside, be sure to plan accordingly. Opt for a pre-ceremony photo shoot. And if you’re imagining snow-covered trees in the background, stock up on fake snow spray or choose a destination wedding to Colorado – because Alabama.

Scout out public decorations and light installments. Colored Christmas lights will make for gorgeous bokeh-filled backgrounds and these can be found at public parks or even your local zoo (Zoolight Safari at the Birmingham Zoo). Train stations, hotels, ice-skating rinks, window displays at malls and toy stores, and roaring fires all make for fantastic winter-themed photos!

There are tons of ideas out there to make your winter wedding a truly spectacular event. No matter how cold it is outside, all that love in your heart will fill you with warmth (but maybe supply your guests with hand warmers, just in case)! 

Arden Ward Upton's Expert Advice: Face It

Love is more than just a pretty face, but let’s be honest - on your wedding day, we all want that picture-perfect smile! Seems easy enough, right? Then suddenly, you are flipping through your photos, and *gasp* there it is – that dreaded double chin! Now, you could spend an entire week binge watching Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model give girls coaching on how to thrust that chin forward, or you could read on below and save that time for addressing your wedding invitations!

Secret #1: Pull your shoulders back, push your chest out slightly, and gently extend your head forward. This is a great way to avoid that double chin. It may feel a bit awkward and weird, but Tyra says that makes for the prettiest pictures anyway. It also helps to accentuate your collarbone, allowing your shoulders and neck to look thinner.

Secret #2: Angle your face. Try to avoid direct head-on shots as these can sometimes result in an absence of shadows, and this can make your face appear wider. Instead, turn your head just slightly to the right or left, tilt your chin outwards and downwards and look at something just above your natural line of sight. This has the added bonus of emanating a soft and demure pose.

Secret #3: This one may also seem a little strange at first, but you’ll swear by its results! Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth while smiling. This draws very subtle tension into your jawline – an effective way to avoid the double chin, and also aids to elongate your neck.

Bonus Tip: “Look Away Trick” – this one takes practice, but is easy enough to do in the privacy of your own house (something I suggest since it could look a bit strange to anyone who might be watching – trust me). Instead of freezing your smile in place for a hundred photos, try looking away from the camera and look back with a big smile just before the snap of the shutter. Your smile will be more genuine and fresh, lighting up your eyes, and making for a gorgeous shot!

Tyra’s Bonus Tip: “The Smize” – Tyra loves this word, a mash-up of her most-used phrase on ANTM, “Smile with your eyes.” If you don’t like to show off those pearly whites, this is a great tip for you. Take a second to relax your face, open your mouth just slightly, and allow your lower lip to match the curve of your upper teeth. Tilt your chin just barely down, look up at the camera with your eyes, and faintly lower your lids – be sure to channel all the happiness of your big day to shine through!

Image Credit @Fanpop.com

Image Credit @Fanpop.com

So let’s face it, maybe you didn’t lose that last five pounds before lacing up your gown, but who’s going to notice when you’ve got a face like Tyra Banks? 

Arden Ward Upton's Expert Advice: How to Pose for Photos

Okay, so we all do it. We see photos of celebrities on the red carpet with their super high heels, lean legs, and flat stomachs and then we look at photos of ourselves. One bad photo of yourself is enough to make you delete Instagram and swear off social events all together. But you can’t miss your best friend’s wedding next week, and there will be pictures – lots of them. So here’s some advice on how to pose for photos and turn that wedding aisle into a glamorous catwalk.

Secret #1: Turn partially sideways to the camera and plant one foot in front of the other. Point your toe and place your weight on your back leg. This works best to minimize the size of your waste and accentuate your legs – a great way to show off all those hamstring reps you’ve been doing.

Secret #2:  Try to avoid facing the camera head on, but rather, stand at an angle. Drop one shoulder so it is comfortably lower than the other. Celebrities use this trick to make their body appear smaller and draw attention to their face.

Secret #3: If you have to be photographed straightforward, try a tip from the fashion bloggers around the world: cross your ankles. This works well in long and short dresses, makes your hips look slimmer, legs look longer, and gives off a more casual vibe.

Bonus Tip: Celebs love using props. I mean, come on Scarlett Johansson, we all know you’re pregnant – those strategic baggy overalls aren’t fooling anyone. Instead, hold a small clutch or purse, or try wearing a stylish jacket to hide unflattering parts a la Gwyneth Paltrow – now there’s a woman who knows how to stylishly and strategically hide a baby bump.

Image Credit: Richard Young                                                    Image Credit: ETOnline

Image Credit: Richard Young                                                    Image Credit: ETOnline

Then there’s the good old fashion fallbacks – a good pair of Spanx Hosiery, and you’ve got that tight, flat stomach without ever entering the gym. Spray tans also help to accentuate muscle toning and give a thinner appearance, plus you have the added bonus of looking like you just got back from a beach vacay!

Practice these advice tips in front of your mirror at home, wear your dress to get a good idea of which poses work, and if all else fails, just claim you were trying to look your worst, so that the bride could be the true celebrity star of the day!