Category Archives: wedding

Wedding: Ceremony and Reception

After the first look and photos, it was time to actually get married.  It all goes incredibly fast the week leading up to the wedding and you really just want everything to go in slow motion so you can savor every moment.  But that wasn’t an option, after our final pictures at Congress Park, it was a mad dash  to the church for the trolley with all the bridesmaids, groomsman, ushers, and my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.  We had three buses that were picking up guests at four different hotels on the way to the church.


I, on the other hand, had a little time on my hands.  It was fun to hang with my parents in the limo in the moments leading up to the ceremony.


And then it was time, things proceeded as you might imagine they would…


For some reason, I didn’t expect the church to look so packed. It was a big church.  When I stepped in and saw so many people there for us, I was so thankful for all the great friends and family in our lives.


I was extremely emotional going up the aisle.




Giovinazzo_0670 Giovinazzo_0674 Giovinazzo_0683 Giovinazzo_0712 Giovinazzo_0731

And then, it was time to PARTY!

Our reception was at the of Hall of Springs, which turned out to be everything I’d ever dreamed of and more.

The Hall of Springs turned out to be the perfect venue for so many reasons, for one, it is the only place we looked at that could have fit our 240 guests.   Giovinazzo_0820Second, the food was insane.  We only had one choice of caterers, Mazzone, but they killed it.  The tasting was nothing special, but boy did the more than deliver the day of.  I  wish I had pictures of the food–especially at cocktail hour! There was about 60 different items at the cocktail hour, which was a mix of things they automatically include, in addition to many things that we got to select, such as lobster rolls, filet mignon bites, shrimp mac and cheese, mini philly cheese steaks, tuna tartare cones, and our favorite, a full mexican taqueria station with margarita shooters and sangria to boot.  I managed to grab a lobster roll from the bridal suite, but I was too excited to greet everyone at cocktail hour to spend much time in the suite.

We took a second to check out the ballroom. It’s amazing to see all your ideas come together.Giovinazzo_0822




We also took a moment to practice the first dance. I’m pretty sure I could have taken 20 lessons and not felt 100% ready. Fortunately, our 2 minute rehearsal went well, which as a much-needed confidence boost.


I also got to show Frank his groom cake, which I had managed to keep a secret for 8 months.


Yankee Stadium and Derek Jeter on the jumbotran.Giovinazzo_0828

Since we did the first look and Mazzone was kind enough to extend our cocktail hour to an hour and a half, we actually had a fair amount of time to say hello to people at cocktail hour.


After the first dance, we went right into salad and speeches.


After the entrees were served, it was time to dance!


My gorgeous girls…


Jewish or not, the hora is important!


And all too soon, it was the last song of the night…



Happily ever after.

Photography By JoeyG Memories.

Wedding: Getting Ready and The First Look

Wedding posts. I’m sure some of you love them and some of you hate them.  I get it!  I love weddings and still can’t read enough about them.  However, there are plenty of topics out there that I don’t relate to and just glaze over while I’m reading.

I wasn’t sure how to approach my wedding as it was months ago now,  so it’s old news, but I finally got my pictures back.  I think I’ve decided to go a few posts, maybe 3 or 4 about the wedding, but not write about every little detail, as I’m sure no cares as much about my wedding as I do.  I’ll try to pick the topics that I appreciated the most from other bloggers. But if you do have questions, feel free to ask!

All right.  Here we go!

One of the things that I was looking forward to the most about my wedding day, was getting ready with my girls!  I knew they would keep me calm and make the time before the first look fly by.

To take a step back, something truly magical happened during the course of my wedding planning.  My bridesmaids, who for the most part didn’t know each other before the planning began, became really really good friends.  I never expected it to happen, but suddenly, we had a gang full of brilliant, sexy, talented and industrious  besties and it was the greatest thing ever!

Since I never posted about it, here are my best girls at my Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed shower:


Minus Ashley, who was in Geneva.  They also threw me a killer bachelorette with a workout at Uplift, dinner at Stanton Social and drinks and dancing at Ward 3.  But let me stay on topic….back to getting ready

After begging and pleading and bribing the lovely hotel contact, I managed to wind up with the best bridal suite in the place.  There were 4 other weddings and a conference happening that weekend, so this was not small feat. While it wasn’t as charming as some of the beautiful bed and breakfast suites I considered, it was super functional and practical, since almost everyone in the bridal party was staying at the Saratoga Hilton. I had the suite stocked with everyone’s preferred snacks and a 2 hour getting ready playlist that I had solicited ideas for.  My dad graciously got us huge platters of veggies, fruit and sandwiches, so no one was going hunger on my watch.  I’m italian, feeding people is in my blood.

Here we are in the midst of primping and pampering…



I wish I could get my hair and make up done everyday…I’d look so much better! You’ll see in the collage below my panicked call for hair advice from the girls! I can never tell what looks good on me!

PicMonkey Collage


I have to give a shout out to the A and Co. Salon team.  They rocked it out for us.  Honestly, everyone looked awesome!  The make up was super flattering and hair styles were amazing. If you remember way back from my hair and make up trial post, this was place #3, which many of you voted for!


The morning of a wedding is really a whirl activity with personal flowers arriving, last minute questions from the day of coordinator, hair and make up, greeting the photogs, etc.

Then of course there is the whole getting dressed thing. My  Tara Keely dress seemed super low key, but even a simple dress takes a while to get into!

Giovinazzo_0092 Giovinazzo_0113 Giovinazzo_0123 Giovinazzo_0124 Giovinazzo_0126 Giovinazzo_0147


Phew, and then it was time to get on with the first look! I love the photo below because it proves that it takes an army. I  love those girls for carrying my 5 million bags and “emergency” items.


I was so excited for the first look, but I had to be patient and hang out in the limo for a bit while everything got set up.


The first look was easily the best moment of the day and one of the best of my life.  It was incredible.  Originally, we really didn’t want to do a first look, but with the innumerable logistics involved, it just had to be.  In the end, we were both elated that we had made the choice to go with the first look.

Giovinazzo_0286 Giovinazzo_0288 Giovinazzo_0293 Giovinazzo_0295 Giovinazzo_0298 Giovinazzo_0300 Giovinazzo_0304 Giovinazzo_0307 Giovinazzo_0313 Giovinazzo_0318



After we had our “romantic session,” we did lots of portraits…



The guys are wearing tuxes from Joseph Bank.  The flower girls are wearing the Alfred Angelo Disney Princess collection dresses, although we swapped out the petals in the skirt and replaced them with colors that matched the bouquets.Giovinazzo_0410

The ladies are wearing Alfred Sung dresses in black dupioni.

We arranged to do some photos at the Congress Park Carousel.  I think it was fun for the whole bridal party.



After a few more photos, it really was time to get married, so everyone boarded the trolley while my parents and I hoped in the limo.  See you soon for the ceremony/reception recap.

Photography by Joey G Memories

Wedding: My Dress

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the day I found my wedding dress. So while I don’t have any “official” pictures back from the wedding, I thought now would be a good time to write about finding and fitting the dress.

I would say finding the dress was a little more stressful than I anticipated.  I really enjoyed the process on some levels, but I also was really nervous that I would never get “that feeling.” To be honest, I never really got “the feeling.”  I went to 3 fittings in the city (Kleinfelds, Wedding Atelier and Designer Loft) and two upstate (Something Bleu and Angela’s), plus a couple trips to David’s Bridal to check out the Vera Wang, Oleg Cassini and Melissa’s Sweet collections.

By the time I went shopping last thanksgiving weekend, I was really getting nervous that I would never find something, I had plenty of time, but I needed to find the dress for my own sanity.  I tried on a few things at Something Bleu on Black Friday and almost bought something that was beautiful but not right. Fortunately, I felt like I was being pressured by the staff, which made me question whether the dress was really what I wanted. I don’t respond well to sales team pressure. You can read a little more about my dress shopping experiences in this post.

Fortunately, I walked into Angela’s the next day and it was a totally different experience. I loved my sales attendant Nora, who sat down with me to discuss what I wanted and never once put a drop of pressure on me.  They made the process so fun and made me and my mom and sister feel so special. I tried on a few dresses and then I tried on a Tara Keely  2206 dress that I had tried on at Kleinfelds and Wedding Atelier that hadn’t left my mind.  I stepped out and my sister and mom immediately loved it.  This was the first time I got a real reaction from anything I tried on with anyone. I looked in the mirror and I knew it was the one.  It wasn’t that I had a “feeling,” but I realized this dress had all the pieces I was looking for, it was strapless, it was short of a fit and flare/mermaid combo, it had a sash.  It’s funny, I tried it on in white at Kleinfelds and the white made my skin look really red, while the ivory was much more flattering.

White at Kleinfelds

dress kf1 dress-kf

Same dress in ivory at Angela’s (old location)

dress angela's 2 dress angelas 3

They pop the champy when you find your dress at Angela’s–another reason that I’m pretty sure I was meant to buy my dress there. While I knew I would have to travel back and forth from NYC,  if I got my dress at Angela’s; I fell in love with the people there. In addition, they were offering 15% off that weekend, plus alterations were capped at a reasonable price, so it was kind of a no brainer.

What I didn’t know was that they were moving to downtown Albany and to the most beautiful wedding dress store I had ever seen.  When I walked in to their new space for my first fitting, my jaw dropped to the floor. It’s gorgeous and luxurious and the dresses are STUNNING.

angelas store 2 angelas store

I felt like a total princess throughout my fittings. I’m going to be honest, I had a few crazy bride moments when things weren’t laying right or I didn’t really think it was flattering, and they handled everything so graciously.  I had about 6 fittings and they never complained when I wanted to fix just one more little thing.  They even hugged me goodbye as they helped me put the dress in the car when I picked it up a few days before my wedding.

Here’s a few photos from my first fitting (I’d advise that you brush your hair before fittings, do as I say…):

angelas 4 angela's store 3

The belt might look a little strange to you.  The belt the dress came with was about $500. I opted not to buy it and went on an all out rampage to find it used or to find something similar for less.   On a side note, Angela’s was the only store that totally me that I wasn’t obligated to buy the $500 belt. After probably a few months of constantly checking preownedweddingdresses and scouring Etsy, I finally bought the sash above from an Etsy seller.  It was about $85.  However, the ribbon was a strange color, so I spent another $50 buying ribbons, trying desperately to find the perfect shade of champagne.

Finally on my second to last fitting, I still hadn’t found the right shade, and my absolutely wonderful tailor and the store owner, Janet, decided to see if they had any spare ribbons in the back, she came back with the perfect color and reattached the appliqué to the ribbon–all free of charge. This seems like a good time for an open letter to Janet: Janet, I don’t think I could ever express how wonderful you made the fitting process for me and how much I absolutely adore you.  You exceeded my every expectation.

Here I am, on my wedding day, in my dress.

dress in parking lot



Despite lots of anxiety along the way, I was so happy with how my dress ended up and I am 100% happy that I went with the dress.  So if anyone out there is wondering if they’ll ever find “their dress,” I want to assure you that you will. :)

Comparing Bridal Training Packages

Way, way, way before I was engaged or even had a boyfriend for that matter, I dreamed of the day I’d be able to hire a personal trainer who would whip me into the best shape of my life for my wedding.


I figured I could finally have an excuse to splurge on a personal trainer.  Fast forward to reality.  Weddings are EXPENSIVE!  There are so many costs that I didn’t even think about.  While getting in shape is still hugely important, I’m definitely reevaluating what I am willing and able spend on it.

Thus for the last few months, I’ve tried to make better decisions with my diet and I’ve bought pretty much every gilt/groupon/ruelala deals that have come up for studios I know and love.  I’m also insanely grateful for the summer rates that places like Revolve and Uplift are offering!

I dropped my gym membership and have been dividing my time between Refine, Revolve, Uplift, Exhale and running.

So far, it’s been fairly successful. I’ve shed a few pounds and have at least a few to go, but moving in the right direction without driving myself crazy.

However, for the last month or so, the home stretch if you will, I am considering upping the ante with a more structured plan.  I thought I’d share some of the plans I’ve looked into and see what ya’ll thought.

Exhale Bridal Bootcamp

exhale-pic (1)

What You Get?

Unlimited mind body classes, weekly check-ins with Mind Body Manager, a series of facials, a 60-minute Fusion Massage, a private group Mind Body class, and discounts on Rent the Runway, and BluePrintCleanse.

Cost: 6 Weeks: $680 and 12 Weeks: $975

My Thoughts

I like the structure of this plan, it suits my love of group fitness classes– and you can work out as much as you want! Exhale has a lot of locations and a nice variety of classes too.  Plus it has some nice beauty/spa perks that I probably wouldn’t buy for myself.  Perhaps my favorite aspect is the free private group class, bachelorette party, anyone?  I’m not sure exactly what the Mind Body Manager does, but I imagine they help you design a plan to reach your goals and keep you on track. Price wise, it’s about as good as it gets, the 6 week plan is around $113 a week!

On the other hand, this is fairly self-driven without personal training, so you’d have to be self motivated.  I also find that my favorite exhale classes (cardio/sport) are only offered a few times a week at my local location and they fill up FAST, so I’m not sure how many straight up barre classes I’d want to take in a week.

Uplift Fit to Be Tied


What You Get: (They have 1, 3 and 6 month programs–this is just the 1 month “whip up”)

One-hour consultation in our NYC Uplift fitness studio with both your personal trainer and health coach, to set goals and prepare for the intense month ahead.

Two private, one-hour, get-your-sweat-on personal training sessions per week with your personal trainer. (Total of 8 sessions).

One private, one-hour nutrition counseling session per week with your health coach. You can meet over the phone or in person, whichever is most convenient for your schedule. (Total of 4 sessions).

Pass to four Uplift NYC studio classes.

Cost: $1395

My Thoughts:  This is great if you are looking for lots of personalized, individual attention.  The emphasis on personal training and nutrition counseling gives you the a comprehensive approach to getting in shape and lots of accountability. It’s nice that you get to take advantage of a group fitness class each week as well.  I’m totally bias in that I love uplift and pretty much everything they do, so that’s a big selling point as well. Plus, cutest name for a workout program, ever!

This plan is on the clearly pricier side, but nutritionist and personal trainers tend to be more expensive than regular fitness classes, since services are personalized.  In this program, you’re getting about 3 workouts a week included, so while that might be a lot for some, I’d need to find a way to fit in (and potentially pay for) additional workouts–I wish there were a few more group classes included.  I’m haven’t had enough experience with personal trainers to know whether the results are worth the cost. Anyone out there have experiences with personal trainers, good or bad?

Fitist Bride Plan


What You Get:

“This plan ensures the stressed-out bride gets a well-balanced plan that burns calories and promotes mental relaxation and a sense of calm—while helping you attain a lean and toned body.”

  • 8 Cycle Classes (Flywheel)
  • 4 Core/Pilates (Like Flybarre, Pilates ProWorks and Nalini Method)
  • 4 Performance (Think uplift, barry’s bootcamp, fhitting room)
  • 2 Yoga (Like New York Yoga, SLT and YogaMaya)

Cost: $500/month (18 classes)

Fitist allows you to book classes at the fairly large network of studios they have partnered with throughout the city.  I like that this plan offers a lot of variety, you’ll never be bored.  I think you can work with a fitist expert to customize your plan even further. However, this plan is larger self-driven and there is no personal training or nutrition built into the package. Generally monetary commitment is all I need to be motivated, so I could see myself enjoying this type of plan.  But to be honest, it’s pretty similar to what I do in my daily life anyways, so I’m not sure it has quite as much structure as I am looking for.

The price comes out to $27 a class, which is a slight discount at most studios, a large discount at Barry’s, and little to no discount at other studios.  I’d like to see a slightly larger discount, since I can get these prices through buying packages, but it’s still a decent value. Having never used Fitist, I think I’d really have to try out a 5-pack to see how the availability of classes, ease of scheduling, etc works out to  be able to really evaluate this plan fairly.

There are obviously many more bridal fitness programs out there, but these are the ones I have been considering.  But I’m certainly open to recommendations! If anyone wants to share their plan of attack for getting in shape for a big event, I’d love to hear it!

Wedding: Engagement Photos

I’m traveling up the Hudson on Amtrak right now. It’s definitely my favorite train ride ever. So relaxing, such a pretty view of the river towns.  I have a busy weekend of wedding appointments ahead and I can’t wait.

Oh, just a little reminder (as if you didn’t know), google reader is disappearing on Monday (why google? I love you, but why?). I finally switched over to feedly.

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 6.52.46 PM

While I put it off and put it off, the entire process took 5 seconds, so go ahead and switch over!

In other news we just got our engagement photos back!  It’s been quite a while since we got engaged, but we decided to get photos taken for a couple reasons:

1.) To get comfortable in front of the camera, it’s surprisingly challenging to do anything other than stare at the camera and smile.  But a little practice really helped me relax in front of the lens.

2.) To feel comfortable with the photographer and their work.  Our company leans a little more traditional than the photojournalistic style I prefer, but I gave just a few words of direction and the photos came out pretty darn good. I think with one more meeting to discuss style and preferences, we’ll be all set.  I actually have a whole pinterest board of shots I love, so I’m a girl who knows what she wants :)

We decided to do our photos in the meatpacking district, highline and chelsea market for a nice mix of gritty and green.

Here are a few of my favorites!


I just want to say that I spent an hour at Blow getting my hair blown out and curled.  The stylist pinned every curl and really tried to give it some hope for staying power.  I’m pretty sure she even gave it a pep talk. But I went to the bathroom to do my make up and in the 5 minutes it took, my hair was straight was a broomstick. #fail  I’ve given up on blowouts and am seriously rethinking my hair down for the wedding plan.  MFEngage_0025 MFEngage_0044 MFEngage_0074

It’s not easy to get a shot alone in NYC.

MFEngage_0090 MFEngage_0102 MFEngage_0108

This isn’t a favorite shot–I just think it’s hilarious how mad I look when I’m trying to look serious.




Wedding: The Grand Tasting

Don’t forget to enter my Self Workout in the Park Giveaway.

This weekend Frank and I went upstate to attend our “grand tasting” and to take care of other wedding details. It’s getting down to the wire on booking things and we are in full steam ahead mode!

We are working with Mazzone, a company that is the exclusive caterer to many venues in the capital district. Rather than set up hundreds of tastings, they host four “grand tastings” a year and invite you to pick the one that works with your schedule.

It’s a cool idea because you get to sample so many different appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts.  You also get to see how they serve a few hundred people at once.  We didn’t get a whole lot of personal attention, but we have a meeting with our event coordinator next month and we’ll already have a good idea of what we want.

Here’s just a quick sample of what we tried.  I only had my phone, so the photos don’t do the food justice.

I didn’t get a shot of any of the items from the vegetarian room, but they had cauliflower steak which was one of my favorite dishes of the night!

The real highlight for me might have been meeting photographer JP Elario. I read his blog almost everyday for wedding and vendor ideas.  There are many great photographers upstate, but Elario has hands down the best blog. I always feel like I was at the wedding and he links to almost every vendor used. It’s actually been invaluable in my own planning! After I gushed all over about how great his blog was, we hopped in the Elario Photobooth.

I am still a very bad jumper.

The rest of the weekend was spent trying to run and getting rained out, which wasn’t ideal considering all the eating we did.  But we did manage to get in one sweatfest of a spin workout.

Frank’s parents came into town to finalize the rehearsal dinner location.  I’m happy to say–we did it!  We even nailed down our after party locations.  Somewhere along the way, I got to meet Giddy P. who works at the gift shop at the Gideon Putnam.  He is one hardworking bear. And that is one hardworking dress :)

While I was fairly exhausted when I got home from the weekend, I am more excited then ever to get down to the details of wedding planning! The one thing I really didn’t expect going into planning was how often you have to compromise or pick one thing over another.  For example, we wanted to get married in a church, but we also wanted people to arrive at the reception venue during daylight since the venue is in a very beautiful park.  However, the church only had a 5:30 ceremony, so it might be close-to-dark by the time people arrive at the reception. Yet, we didn’t want to get married at the reception venue if we couldn’t do it outside–and in late October, outside is a gamble.  I’ve found that once I realized I couldn’t have everything I wanted, but I could pick the things I wanted most, I’ve been much happier moving forward with decisions.

Wedding: Buying Used

So just to give you a wedding update, we’ve got a number of things done:

  • Venue+Caterer
  • Church
  • Florist
  • DJ
  • Save the Dates
  • Transportation (some but not all)
  • Hotel Room Blocks
  • Dress
Basically, the basics.
In addition to some of the basics, I have one item that is totally non-essential and just for fun. That’s my shower/rehearsal dinner/after party dress.  I hope to wear it for two of these events, but definitely for at least one of them.
I don’t have shoes, jewelry, a veil, garter, but yet I’ve already bought a second wedding-related dress. I guess I got caught up in dress fever.
I wasn’t really looking for a second dress; it just happened. I have been a bit obsessed with websites that sell preowned wedding items, such as Preowned Wedding Dresses, Tradesy and Once Wed.  I am actually looking for a sash to go with my dress. The sash that came was expensive. It costs was 1/3 the total cost of the dress.  I ordered the dress sans sash and I have been holding out to find a sash I like as much or more for cheaper or to find the sash used and at a discount.  I’ve also been looking for deals on veils.
I ‘ve spent an embarrassing amount of time looking for a sash or veil, but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger. However, I innocently came across a short dress I liked. Liked  quickly became must have and all of a sudden I had made my first preowned purchase!
I was definitely a little nervous about buying something I had never seen.  You never know exactly want you are going to get.
Here are the good things about my transaction on Once Wed.
1.) I was able to barter.  The seller was asking $250 for the dress, but accepted my offer of $200.
2.) The dress was new with tags and came in great condition. The tulle is a little flat, but that can be fluffed and steamed.
3.) It fit perfectly.  This was a question mark and is never guaranteed, but my dress fits absolutely perfectly.  I was familiar with the brand, BCBG Max Azaria, so I knew their apparel runs more or less true to size.
The things I wasn’t as happy about:
1.) The color.  The picture that was online showed a white dress.  The dress that came was almost beige. I was a little disappointed at first because I really wanted a pure white dress, but I’ve gotten over it.  The picture was an advertisement, so I should have inquired more about the color, the listing said white, but it is not white by any stretch of the imagination.
Posting Photo:
Actual Dress
2.) The Price–sort of.  The seller said she had paid $500, but the tag on the dress clearly lists $398, so even with tax, the dress was not $500.  If I had known that I might have made another offer.  And again, it’s a little dishonest. I still got the dress for 50% off, but it’s the principal, ya know?
I’m not writing off buying used or online, I’ll just know to ask more questions in the future. I also won’t buy anything without a picture of the actual item. Overall, there are great deals to be had on preowned sites and I think they are a great way to get a high end dress for much less!


Wedding: Hair and Make Up

Wow, it’s been a while!  The week flew by due to the long weekend and all of the sudden the weekend is here again. I guess that’s a good thing!

I spent last weekend upstate trying to finish all the major wedding decisions that really have to be booked now!  I went to about a dozen hotels, bed and breakfasts and potential rehearsal dinner venues. Our wedding weekend is a busy weekend for Saratoga, so we have to be on top of everything.  It’s kind of a stressful, but I am actually really happy to have major things done early, so I have more time for details later.

One major decision is definitely hair and make up.  Of course, I want to look my best, but it’s kind of hard to know exactly what I want.   I decided to try out three places that I had found, but knew relatively little about.  The most popular places upstate, like Make Me Fabulous, are all booked. I am sure there are still great options, but they are a little harder to find!

Here’s a sample of my trials! I’d love your thoughts! Be critical, it’s cool!

You can see my inspiration on my pintrest board.

Hair and Make Up Trail #1:

The first trial went okay.  The salon is super adorable.  My first hair look came out pretty well (above), but my hair was not holding curl, so by the second look, it was a little messy and droopy.  I liked the make up, it was more smokey than I would end up going,  but not bad.

Make Up Trail #2 (no hair). Excuse my unibrow–how embarrassing!

This artist was incredibly talented and fun to work with.  The make up was a little heavy, but I think I could work on that.

Last Hair and Make Up Trail #3

This was actually only half a hair trial. I didn’t have it booked, but we had a little extra time. I took the photo after my hair was down.  I liked this trial.  They make up was really natural, almost what I do myself.

Anyways, I’m just not sure, but I am ready to be done with the decision.

In addition to the wedding planning frenzy, I did mangage to take 2 spinning classes. I can’t pass up a $12 spinning classes at The Revolution. I actually tried it back in August and boy has it caught on!  In August there were only 8 people in the class, this time, both the classes I took were packed and they have opened a second studio!  The facilities are not quite flywheel caliber, but I love that boutique studios are spreading. I just hope they start renting spinning shoes soon! 

Finding the Dress

The experience of finding my dress was nothing like I imagined it would be.  I had always thought I would rent a dress or borrow one. I couldn’t imagine investing in something I would only wear once.  But once I was actually at the point where I was in the position to acquire a dress, my mindset changed.  The dress actually became important to me.

The second thing that surprised me was how hard it was to decide on one. I thought that you just “know.” I did not “know.” I went to about 6 places and tried about 70 gowns give or take a few.  The thing with wedding dresses is that they are all pretty. For the most part, they all look good! I went in with a huge range of styles I liked and really went a little crazy trying to sort through all my choices.

If I was going to do this again, I would definitely try to do the following before I started/soon after I started shopping:

1.) Wait until the date and venue were booked. Until I knew the season and the style of my wedding (formal), it was very hard to really know what type of dress to get.

2.) Pick a silhouette and commit to it. My main issue was I kept vacillating between ball gowns and more fitted styles. I loved them both and didn’t want to choose.  Once I did, it really helped rule out a lot of beautiful gowns that just weren’t what I ultimately wanted.

My first stop upstate was David’s Bridal. I went there mainly because I wanted to go with my mom and my sister, and I didn’t need an appointment in advance.  All the dress were nice, but nothing jumped out.  My favorite dress was an Oleg Cassini that was on sale for only $300.  It was very tempting.

My second appointment was at Klienfeld’s!

Living in NYC, I had to see it for myself. It looks pretty much exactly how you picture it. Unfortunately, my appointment wasn’t the best.  The woman was perfectly nice, but because you can’t look through the racks yourself, you really have to know what you want when you go in.  I was still all over the place and the appointment didn’t really help narrow anything down.  I shouldn’t have expected her to read my mind, but this was the first dress she brought me!

I have no idea where this came from. I am pretty sure I never mentioned wanting bare my mid drift.  After that things got better. I tried on a lot of different styles and she was very good about staying within my budget.

I do love the simple romantic styles.

Give me a long train and I melt.

I left Klienfeld’s empty handed, but I did have fun seeing people from the show. Sadly, I didn’t see Randy.

My next appointments were at Wedding Atelier and The Designer Loft.  Wedding Atelier was a beautiful store, but there wasn’t much in my price range. At the designer loft, I was sure I had found “the one,” but the one was actually four.  My family happened to be in town the next day, so they pulled some major strings to get me an appointment. Sadly, my family didn’t really give me the reaction I expected and I then second guessed my choices. The dresses I tried on were on the high fashion side, so maybe they were too dramatic for my family.

This was the La Sposa Detalle was the probably forerunner of the bunch…

I had to take a break after that one.  So over thanksgiving I booked two appointments upstate.  The first was at a beautiful store called Something Blue.

This  Kate Middleton-esque dress by Ellis was almost the one…

When I couldn’t commit to a dress this beautiful, I knew it was because I didn’t see myself in a princess gown for my wedding. I love them, but I just wanted something a little more fitted.

My last appointment was at Angela’s Bridal (which is featured in an episode of I Found the Gown).

The first two dresses I tried onwere both amazing. My third dress happened to be one that I had tried on at Klienfeld’s and Wedding Atelier.  The third time was the charm.  The second I stepped out, my mom and my sister immediately loved it and I knew it was the one.  I realized why I kept coming back to it, it had all the elements I was looking for in a dress. My lovely attendant Nora popped the champagne and the search was over.  Thank goodness.  😉


Wedding: Finding the Reception Venue

Okay, this post is LONG.  All thoughts about the wedding were completely put on hold for the last week and a half, but after having this in my drafts for three weeks, I have to post it already!

There are so many elements to finding the venue! Location, availability, size, cost!  The availability is really the clincher.  I was hoping to sit back and enjoy the engagement for a while.  However, I just happened to call a place I had in mind and found out they were booked through November of 2013.  That ended the relaxation portion of our engagement.

Our first decision was where to have it upstate where I am from or in the city where we live and where he is from.

I contacted many venues in both locations to start.  Only 2 places in the city that got back to me in the city.  The first was so expensive, we couldn’t even consider it–I’m talking insane.  The second one was Battery Gardens.

It ended up being our first appointment.  We loved it instantly.  We loved the wedding coordinator, the space, the upper and lower level terraces, the cocktail hour space, the views.  The price was doable. Honestly, I was a little sad we liked it so much because I thought all the venues we would see would pale in comparison.

About two weekends ago, we went upstate to look at venues in the Saratoga Springs area.  I had booked four appointments, plus was considering going to Lake George to look at a few more places.

Our first stop was Longfellows.  We instantly fell in love with Gerri, the wedding coordinator who was so helpful, energetic and full of ideas. Longfellow’s itself was charming and historic, but not quite big enough for the size of our wedding. However, they cater weddings and are so willing to work with you that they were our number 1 catering choice.

Stop number two was right next door at the Saratoga National.

Elario Photography <–he has the best wedding blog.

This place looks like a castle from the outside.  The beautiful fall foliage certainly didn’t hurt the view of the rolling hills across the golf course below.  We really loved the decor of this place.  The foyer was just amazing with the super high ceilings and the awesome bar area.

 Matt Ramos photography.

The best part was definitely the terraces with lots of fire pits, waterfalls and pools.

The National is a popular place, it was booked through mid-November! Overall, this is a great venue–a tiny bit small for our wedding size, but workable. There were some restrictions, like not being able to use the foyer for a ceremony or cocktail hour and limitations due to weather, but I can see why this venue has become so in demand–especially with no venue fee.

Our next stop was the Hall of Springs.

Elario photography.

This venue is located Saratoga Spa State Park down the beautiful Avenue of the Pines.  Inside it is extremely grand with beautiful marble ceilings and columns.  It has all the historic charm of Saratoga itself. The outdoor areas are gorgeous, but weather dependent.  I love that it blends nature and elegance so seamlessly and it is in a place very special to me.

The drawbacks were that it has a high venue fee. The cocktail area is also potentially small and all the marble is a little cold without $$$ lighting and decor. Lastly, if there are events in the park, you can lose access to some of the outdoor spaces.

It was amazing that Frank and my parents made it through all three venues back to back with so much stamina. Total champs.

No rest for the weary because the next day we were back at it. We stopped at a venue that didn’t make the cut (although it could be lovely for a smaller wedding) and then were onto the Canfield Casino.

Matt Ramos photography

This one totally won me over. The stained glass ceilings were beyond incredible and the size was perfect.  It also has the very best location, right in Congress Park and totally walkable from downtown. The cocktail hour space was really cool, but not totally our taste. Not sure if this a positive, but the Casino has its very own ghost that visited us while we were on the tour. While it has a venue fee, you can bring in any cater you wanted, which leaves lots of room for negotiation.

The downsides were foremost availability, it’s booked completely through 2013.  If the weather forced the ceremony inside, I wouldn’t really love the space. However, the outdoor space by the duck ponds is lovely.  Even if there is a lot of quacking. :)

Ultimately, our decision came down mostly to availability.  Everywhere was booked until at least mid-November when its too cold to enjoy ‘toga. While I was pretty okay with waiting until spring 2014, I wasn’t totally thrilled about the idea.  So how did we decide?  The decision was made for us when one  of the venues suddenly had a hold lift, and we decided to go for it!  The contract has not been mailed yet, so I am won’t jinx myself by revealing our choice.

Update: The Hall of Springs won.