Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The much-anticipated LUBE POST.

Part One:

Lube is not just for kinky people.

From age 16 to about 32 I thought I was bad at giving hand jobs. Pretty much avoided em altogether. It turns out YOU NEED LUBE FOR THAT. Guys use lube. (Or hand lotion, depending. But the sophisticates know that lube works better.) So why should you have slap around on it with your bare hand?

When he touches your clit during foreplay or inthemiddleoftheact -- or when you touch your own clit -- you know what works soooooooo much better than just licking your fingers? LUBE.

If you guys feel like having a quickie and skipping all that foreplay bullsh*t and your mind is so in it but maybe your body isn't ready yet... As in, there's not much natural lubrication happening? You know what's good for that? YEAH YOU DO.

Part Two:

Organic/Vagina-Friendly ingredients make a difference. There was a time when I thought Astroglide was, like, really super fancy amazing stuff. And the shit is slippery, there's no question about it.

But. I can't use Astroglide or any other glycerin-based lubes anymore. Even a glycerin-free lube that contained parabens sadly made me a little... itchy. And if you won't put that shit on your face, why would you put it up your twat?

Blossom Organics is the only personal lubricant I've found that is a) sufficiently slippery and b) totally gentle. You can read all about their ingredients vs. harsh ingredients + YOUR VAGINA over on the Blossom site.

Full disclosure: This is not a paid post, but my friend J who works for Blossom Organics has been supplying me with free lube for about a year now. She even sent me an emergency supply that time my 4oz tube was confiscated at airport security. J, YOU RULE!

F*ck accessories. You're wearing a VERA WANG

Hey ESB,

I’m a wedding blog obsessed soon to be bride, and yours is among my very favorites. I love how practical down to earth your posts are, it leaves me feeling like it's possible to have the wedding of my dreams without breaking the bank. I don’t have any sort of huge moral dilemma. We aren’t doing the bridal party, I’m going for easy peasy, low drama, fabulous modern, somewhat reasonably priced affair.

So far,  the moms have been super super good to me. My mama was kind enough to foot the bill for this amazing dress, in ivory (I wasn’t crazy about the peach in person).

And my fiance’s mom bought me these incredible shoes.

So, obviously I'm delighted about all that. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I was fortunate enough to get exactly that. 

Now I’m really really struggling to decide how to accessorize this glorious dress/shoe combo. Future mother in law offered up these very simple fresh water pearl earring to borrow, and fiance’s sister's veil. I think it would be very special to wear something from their family, I adore them, but aesthetically not so sure. I’m just feeling wishy washy and non-committal about how to accessorize. I'm hoping for some ideas, advice, thoughts, whatever from you and your lovely readers. 

Also, I’m probably on my own for accessories, so I’d like to keep everything under $200. I’ve attached a “mini mood board” so you can kind of get a feel for what I’m going for.

Thanks so much for your help!
Keep on rocking with your hilarious, blunt, GOOD advice.

Unaccessorized Bride


here's a KAZZILLION DOLLAR DRESS and some KAMILLION DOLLAR SHOES! now go shop etsy for the accessories?

i'm sorry but no.

also: NO NO ONE THOUSAND TIMES NO on freshwater pearls. (did I mention: NO?)

throw your $200 at hair and makeup -- i'm loving the ballerina beehive situation our model has going on, actually -- and ROCK. THAT. DRESS.

*"Lil" is apparently my word of the week? No idea.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


How bout this SWEET lil special edition pair of geo earrings by A Merry Mishap? You can get married in em!


I know.

You're welcome.

Via Pennyweight

my headache diary is a pret-ty good read

I was just paging through, making a lil note, and I thought I'd pull a few selects for you:

4pm Headach (sic) = 2
No reason.

Felt a little feverish today -- probs the drop from 50mg to 30mg
No headache until I ate a lollipop though. Now at 2

Stinky Cheese + Sun --> 3

Mint Choc Chip Klondike Bars --> 3

Drank two old-fashioneds, took pills late -- NO HEADACHE!!

5pm --> 4
Yoga or Blue Sno Cone?

I smell a book deal. 

Can anyone put me in touch with Maira Kalman?

Have realized that on my scale of 1 to 10, I generally rate a pretty fucking sucky headache a 4. It has to get BAD for me to give it a 5/6. (Here's hoping I never make it to 8.)


pls discuss

TOPSHOP via Carolines Mode

C'mon, Mom. Isn't an invite to the wedding enough??

Dear ESB,

Your blog is rad. I need your help although I'm afraid of what you might say. This is hard to confine to a couple of paragraphs but here's the deal.

I'm having a big damn wedding in NYC. My parents are paying for the reception venue and we are paying for everything else. I'm having a sweet rehearsal dinner and I want my close friends to get to experience it. I have too many guests for the dinner, though. My dad is one of four kids, and my mom is one of six kids. We are relatively close to my dad's siblings and all are invited, along with their kids. I talk to these people. I see them at holidays. My mom's family is more...complicated. Due to a crapload of drama you don't want to hear about, only two of my mom's siblings are invited, along with their kids and the spouses of those kids.  All from both sides would be traveling out of state to attend the wedding.

I would rather invite close family friends (my godparents, for example) to my rehearsal dinner instead of my mom's siblings and their kids. This stuff is getting expensive and crowded. I don't want another wedding the night before my wedding. The last time I spoke to any of that side of the family was years ago at my grandpa's funeral. The two invited siblings are nice people with nice families, but I'm just not very close to them. Isn't an invite to the wedding enough? My mom doesn't seem to think so...

Am I an A$$hole?


Basically, what you're telling your mom is "I don't like your family." 

Do you want to tell your mom that? No. No, you don't.

Photo: Stella Maxwell via Stockholm Streetstyle

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear ESB: The Podcast

I went on a Savage Love bender this weekend and decided it's time for me to do a podcast. (Dan Savage = My Hero.)

I'm lucky to have a husb who knows a little something about stuff like OH, AUDIO ENGINEERING, so when I announce things like, "I just registered the goog voice # for my podcast!" instead of saying "Um. What?" he spends 45 minutes finding just the right robot voice for the outgoing message.


CALL THE ESB VOICEMAIL NOW to record your dilemma*: 323-905-4ESB

Image courtesy of Popular Science via this guy

*Or, you know, just to hear our robot message.

Can we put a wedding pic on our xmas card?

Dear ESB...

My husband and I were recently married in July and would like to send out Christmas cards with our favorite pic from the wedding. We had a somewhat small reception and did not invite all of our friends. 

Is it rude (or inconsiderate) to send a Christmas card (with the wedding pic) to people who were not invited?

Thanks for any advice you can provide...

-Am I Scrooged?


Even if I had been in attendance, I wouldn't want to see your damn wedding photo on a Christmas card.

Wedding, Christmas. Christmas, Wedding. TWO ENTIRELY SEPARATE OCCASIONS, mkay?

Why don't you take a newlywed holiday pic with your cat.

Photo by Melina via dreamcats

Saturday, November 26, 2011


We have consumed 7 episodes in the past 48 hours.


So satisfying to watch a show that is scary and complicated and also CONFUSING: as in you don't know why that just happened and you have no idea what's about to happen next. And there's no fucking voice-over telling you what to think and how to feel and explaining it all to you.

Bonus: American Horror Story is shot in our neighb, and Dylan McDermott runs/hikes in all the places I hike/pretend to run. So if you want a badass tour of Echo Park....

Warning: The show is pretty fucking scary. If you're pregs, you may want to skip it.

In case you're wondering HOW? We watched the pilot on the FX site, bought eps 2-3 from Amazon, and then drilled down into our on-demand to find eps 4-7. A repeat of ep 9 is set to record on Wednesday, so we may shell out the $2.99 for ep 8 if it's not available on demand by then.

My own behavior gives me hope for the industry. I mean: YAY! If you make good sh*t, people will TRACK IT DOWN and happily pay money to see it. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Going broke for my sister's damn wedding

Dear ESB,

I'm a married lady, but I still read your blog because you're awesome.

My little sister is getting married next year, and I could use some advice. My sister is doing a super fancy formal wedding in NYC. I was appointed a bridesmaid (no choice, not that I would have said no). My husband and I will be flying in, staying in a hotel, and of course paying for our food and such while we are in the city. Both of us work full time, but we don't make much, and just attending the wedding is going to cost us about a month's salary, which is fine, it's her wedding and we will be there. 

But here is where I start to get upset. My sister has decided that all her bridesmaids will be wearing matching full length formal gowns to the tune of about $250 or up. I have (tactfully) suggested many, many less expensive but still great options, and talked to her about the expense and the fact that I will never wear this dress again. Her response? Suck it up. 

I can save up the money for the dress, or borrow it if I have to, but really, should I have to do that? I didn't even spend that much on my own wedding gown... 

I don't care if she blows a year's salary on her own wedding, it's her choice, but do I have any say as a bridesmaid? Resigning as a bridesmaid would cause untold family dramatics and hysterics. Any ideas?


Brides be crazy.

She really ought to pay for the damn dress. (OR: YOUR HOTEL ROOM)

But if that's not happening, you do, in fact, have to suck it up.

Photo: Vivienne Westwood by Juergen Teller via Charles Hall

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Asking guests to donate to NO on PROP 8: Tacky or Thoughtful?


My fiancé and I live in the Castro district of San Francisco and I can't help but feel guilty that we're legally allowed to get married while the vast majority of our neighbors are not. Yes, I realize that my neighbors do not personally view us as the "hetero-enemy" or anything, but it just makes me sad that same-sex marriage is still illegal in California and I don't want to ignore that fact.

I read one suggestion that I kind of liked: on the registry page of our wedding website, include a section that says we would also appreciate donations made out to "charity X" so everyone in California can legally marry their loved ones, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Would doing that be tacky/pretentious or respectful/sensitive? Do you have any other suggestions that are better? I don't want to make a big deal out of it, but this issue is important to us and we'd like to respectfully address it in some way.



I love that idea.

Couple and Child, San Francisco Gay Parade (1978) courtesy of the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

speaking of SPARKLEZ

oh my holy mfg.

so my friend Gladys told me weeks and weeks ago that she did a custom headpiece for this bride....



and will someone pls invite me to a mexican wedding?

uh oh.

So I freely admit that I got this one wrong the first time.

But did I just muff it again??

Could it be the one Dear ESB that has NO RIGHT ANSWER?

Unrelated: Gold Pills Make Your Poop Glitter (thx kidchamp!)


you have sooooooo many readers and so many important DIYZ to get up what with it being the tuesballz before t-giving.

can't i make fun of one little basket of DIY GLITTERED FLATWARE?

i mean.

(Lady Gaga poli by Nobuyoshi Araki via Design You Trust)

okay, so i made fun of the DIY BABY MASKS too. in my defense, they were total Creepsville.

p.s. i'm flattered, though somewhat unsettled, that you took the time to dig through the archives and track down my real name and shit.

How can we live together without being disowned by our church?

Dear ESB,

I'm pretty sure that my boyfriend of 6 years is going to propose within the next few weeks, he sucks at hiding his excitement and wants to tell me everything but that's not why I'm writing you. 

We want to start house shopping once we are engaged, and are unsure what to do about our living arrangements between buying a house and the wedding. We currently don't live together and our parents have made very clear their expectations. His parents and some of our friends don't think we should live together until we get married, due to religious beliefs. We do go to church every week and some of our friends choose to believe that we have never slept together but come on we have been dating for 6 years! 

On the other hand my mom has made it very clear that she believes anyone planning to get married should live together before making a life time commitment to anyone. I agree I want to live with my boyfriend when we are engaged but I don't want to be judged or dis-owned by our church community. 

Do you have any suggestions on how to make both families happy?

-Stuck in the Middle



And maybe consider joining a new church.

(I'm not joking.)

There's no magical fairy dust way to make everyone happy here, so you might as well focus on making yourself happy.

Photo: Yohji Yamamoto Fall/Winter 1999 by Inez & Vinoodh via I Saw A Film Today, Oh Boy

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yet another reader is forced to make HER OWN STYLE CHOICES

Aug 10

Dear ESB,

I would greatly appreciate your stylish opinion on my wedding ensemble.

So far I have everything I need but have recently been rethinking what I'm wearing. I am a somewhat traditional bride but am about doing what I want despite tradition and yet have ended up making some very typical choices. This is what I get for going shopping with my dear sweet mother instead of my FSIL who has kick ass style.

Here is what I have so far that I'm happy with:

This Romona Keveza dress but with a sash I'm making that's more casual. These Seychelles flats. This rad sparkly bangle.

Here's what I have so far that I'm rethinking:

This necklace, which now seems waaay too sweet. And a sweater similar to this with no polka dots.

Before I got my engagement ring I never wore any jewelry, so I could really use some help finding a necklace that's more unique (preferably in a white or coral or peach). Our wedding is an evening garden wedding in 1 month and we are doing about 1/2 traditional things and 1/2 whatever we want.

Also, I'm thinking of switching the sweater for this because I'm a blazer girl at heart. Any of your superb input is highly appreciated!

Sucked Into Sweetness


Aug 10

Addition: the blazer is no longer available in my size (s, xs, 0-2)


Aug 11

Also, I'm wearing this in my hair. And I completely understand if you don't respond to this simply because I have sent you 3 emails instead of 1


Oct 13

so, yeah. i never responded.



Nov 20

No worries, you're clearly very busy. It was great!

Although I probably could have gone with no necklace, I ended up buying that blazer and LOVED it.

Pictures attached and credit to our awesome photographer. And yes, there's a link to some incredible underwater engagement photos at the bottom of that link - that's why you take engagement photos.

You're awesome,


Clearly you did not need my help one bit.

♥ ♥ ♥

(Photos by Cameron Ingalls)

I'm really not a totally disorganized a$$hole

Hey lady,

I have a post-wedding etiquette question for you and your team of wise sages:

I live on the other side of the planet, but got married in CA. I had all the registry gifts sent to my mother's place  - so items wouldn't have to be shipped across the planet. Some people also brought gifts to the wedding (in other words, gifts everywhere). After the wedding I went through the gifts and created a gift spreadsheet to ensure everything was organized and accounted for. Then I left for my honeymoon and then home. Now, I am back home visiting this month and am doing some further organizing (we left the country a couple days after the wedding and I couldn't do much more than open the gifts and write down who gave what). 

I'm going through the list and I see a couple friends on there who I'm pretty sure gave us something, but nothing is listed. Additionally, there were a couple gifts that did not have cards (or in all the mayhem, the cards got lost). I have no idea who gave them to us. Finally, there are some people on my list who I'm pretty sure didn't get us anything. 

So my question is this:

How do I find out who gave us the gifts with no card without making the friends who didn't give us anything feel uncomfortable? I was thinking of going the process of elimination route and emailing people on the list where no present is listed, but what happens if that person didn't get us anything? Their presence at our wedding was their present, and we're honored that they joined us to celebrate, I don't want to make them feel bad. I also don't want to be ass and not send a 'thank you.' 

Finally, what about the people who I suspect got us something but I don't have anything written down? I mean, I don't know for sure, but again, I cannot not send a 'thank you' if they did give us something. And what if I'm totally wrong in my assumptions? I honestly don't know.


Doesn't want to be an a$$shole & is usually more organized


I was doing my best to ignore your email. Or, rather, peeking at it every other day and promising myself, "I'll get to it..." And then Rachel's thank-you-note-spreadsheet post smacked me right in the face.

It is thus with great pleasure that I bring you this response from the blogosphere's foremost expert on thank-you-note spreadsheets:

Dear Doesn't Want to be an A**hole, 

I can completely sympathize because this is basically my worst nightmare, re: wedding gifts. And I can't even slap you on the wrist because you are doing exactly what you should have done (spreadsheet, etc) and against great odds, what with the flying back and forth issues. Now is the time to hone your thank you ninja skills.

1. Since you registered, work the registry. Most of them will keep track of who bought what. Some of them provide this information online if you dig (usually called "thank you manager"). This will definitely clear things up for all the gifts people purchased online. I've found that it's much more sketchy for in store purchases, although I did spend some time calling customer service and attempting to badger them into giving me more information. Probably don't waste your time with that. 

2. Get stealthy. You know where the gaps are on your list, which is good. What you need to do is spread the word in those circles (but NOT to those specific people) that due to the craziness of intercontinental wedding planning, some gifts got separated from cards. Mention some of the specific gifts. Play up the fact that you feel terrible because you're sure that you're missing some thank yous and you'd really appreciate it if you could figure out who the gifters were. Basically, if you currently have a blank next to your aunt's name, it is much less weird for your mom to casually ask your aunt if she might know of someone who gave you an coffee maker (because naturally you absolutely adore it and it's tearing you up inside not to be able to thank the giver) than it is for you to go down the list and confront the people with blanks next to their names. NEVER talk to someone about gifts if you aren't sure they got you something. That's uncomfortable and looks like fishing.

3. Some people will out themselves, but they'll never do it to you directly. They'll ask your parents or your mutual friends if they know whether you received x,y,z gift because they never received a thank you note. This is where the spreading the word part helps again, because those people are now primed to say "Oh my god, she was agonizing over that because the gift somehow got separated from the card!" and the gifter will feel relieved that you aren't just an ungrateful a**hole and then your informant will pass the information along to you and you can send an effusive card.

4. Yes, there are people who didn't get you anything. That's fine. I was awkward about this because I genuinely wanted to send these people thank you notes just for attending (because some of them made a huge effort to be there) but I didn't want it to seem like I was being a passive-aggressive asshole and pointing out the fact that they didn't buy gifts. I think my solution is going to be including a "it meant so much to have you at the wedding, it wouldn't have been the same without you on the dance floor" type note in a different context (casual email, holiday card, etc). 

Good luck and god speed, friend.

do have a team of wise sages, don't I?

p.s. Rachel did terrific how-tos on planning + budgeting a DIY weddingstreamer backdropspainted tablecloths and hand dyed napkins for 100 Layer Cake last week. And you should probably take a look at her wedding photos. (Spoiler Alert: THERE ARE SPARKLES)

Photo: Sarah Bebe Holmes via Arial Edge via Peonies & Polaroids

Sunday, November 20, 2011

if you hate kids, AVERT YOUR EYES

If, on the other hand, you are in need of a not-too-girly flower-girl dress, these holiday dresses by Ses Petit Mains are pretty cute.

And at $118, they are priced below any of the special occasion dresses over YOU KNOW WHERE.

Friday, November 18, 2011

try to convince us to do The Walk. just TRY.

Hi there Ms. ESB,

I'm looking for an argument in support of The Aisle. 

My FH and I are in the early stages of planning an October 2012 wedding, and the first thing we agreed on was to trash everything we *know* about weddings, and just plan an event that we want to host, with and for the people we want to have there with us. By the end of it, we'll be married, but it may or may not end up resembling what folks expect from a wedding. Including not having an Aisle to Walk Down. This means my father won't be walking me down anything. I'm fine with the idea, and I'm not worried about my father (he will be involved in other ways, and it will be wonderful, we just haven't figured it all out yet). 

At this point, we're dreaming as wildly as possible - not quite hippy dippy marriage circle, but some kind of participation based, everyone's involved and it's a total celebration type of thing. There may be a grand entrance involved (air lift? enter on horseback?? smoke bomb POOF magician style?!?), but probably not a stately walk down a center aisle, if you get me. 

I'm just wondering, what is it about walking down the aisle that is so quintessentially American Wedding? There's a reason it persists as standard practice, and I respect that it has serious emotional significance for many people. Are you (or your readers) willing to play devil's advocate and try to convince us to do The Walk? Why should we? Or, really, just what is it that's so special about Walking Down the Aisle - what makes that moment an important part of the day? 



You've already decided to ditch the walk down the aisle but you're "just wondering" why the tradition persists?

If this is your sorry attempt to con me into writing some stupid research paper you put off while you've been DREAMING YOUR WILD DREAMS, you're out of luck.

Photo: Susie Bubble by Frederike Helwig for Ten Magazine via n &n

You better believe I made that tag.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


And vintage?

Who cares if it's not real!

or maybe you should just wear this!

a white tuxedo, i mean.

the yellow furry/feathery thing is optional, but i do kinda dig it.

Natalia Bogdianova by Gabor Jurina for Fashion Magazine via Fashion Gone Rogue

I dare you to wear this with your dress

It's $142.80 in the 100 Layer Cake pop-up shop, today only. (Regular price $238)

I was actually hoping for THE CAFTAN but hey.

I feel like a Hasidic cast member on Little House on the Prairie

Dear ESB,

I've been a fan of the site since I got engaged, but have considered myself lucky not to need your guidance until now. But now I've hit a roadblock, so I'm turning to the wisest blogger I know.  

Anyway, a little background: my fiance and I live in NYC, we're both creative types (he's a writer, I do music PR) and we are getting married in February. We initially wanted something really small, but because I'm the eldest of three sisters, my mom has sort of co-opted the whole thing and it's gotten a bit out of hand. I know she must be feeling many strange feelings, and if she needs this to be a big fancy wedding, I understand. We are an easygoing couple, so it hasn't been a huge source of contention. Plus, my folks are footing the bill, so we are very thankful and willing to follow their lead.

The feel is Boardwalk Empire/Fancy haunted house? I guess? Prohibition era glam party bourbon bar? The wedding is also Orthodox Jewish, so we're beholden to all the traditions and confines related to the faith even though my fiance and I are secular and eat at Momofuku and have tattoos. You get the picture.

Everything was moving along fine until I got my dress! I am a curvy girl, so we ended up going with a custom dress by a fairly well-known designer. I have lost a lot of weight since we ordered (56 lbs yeahhhh) and yesterday I had my first fitting, meaning I actually saw the dress for the first time. Everyone cried. EVERYONE -- including the sales staff and all the seamstresses and my mom and the wedding planner, but I just sort of stood in front of the mirror in shock. It's not that the dress isn't gorgeous, because the fabric is breathtaking (platinum threading in ivory lace, white sequins, it's actually kind of 1970's glam) and the body of the dress is very flattering, but it is just so totally modest!! I was always on board with having to cover my shoulders, and since my back is tattooed, I knew I would have to camouflage that too, but the way everything has come together, I feel like a Hasidic cast member on Little House on the Prairie!

It is just so totally divorced from my personal style (80's goth-meets-UWS shrink? A lot of sheer blouses, bold lips, skinny pants and over-accessorizing) that I can't imagine wearing it on what is supposed to be a special day. I'm not allowed to lower the neckline or really make very many alterations at all, because of the modesty thing, but I just feel so totally un-sexy in the dress!

Help! Is it all in my head? Do I just need to be thankful and know that my fiance will love it because it is kind of silly and just live with that? Is this normal dress regret?  

I have attached a full picture of the dress, but you can't post it because it is TOP SECRETTTTTT but you can post the photo of my back because you can't see the rest of the dress ahhhh getting married is hard.

Thanks in advance,
Laura Ingalls "Help Me, I'm Drowning In Lace" Wilder 

ps. please ignore the white chicken feather hairpiece, it is NOT HAPPENING


I don't even know you, and I know the Laura Ingalls dress is NOT. YOU.

Tell your mother thankyouverymuch but I can't wear that, go for mimosas with your BFF and (I can't believe I'm saying this) ask those damn ladies at Kleinfeld to help you find a killer, curvy, Probihition Era-modest dress.

Helpful Hint: F*ck lace.

Photo of Laura Ingalls Wilder via Pamela Smith Hill

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Announcing: The First Annual ESB Award for I DON'T SMELL BAD ANYMORE

Shortly after H and I got together, he asked me to please stop using antiperspirants containing aluminum. He said he'd be willing to change my diapers if I got Alzheimer's, but he'd really prefer not to.

So. Yeah.

I went down the long road of trying out every single natural deodorant on the shelf at Whole Foods, and most of them don't work for shit.

I SWEAT, you guys.




When I saw that Malin + Goetz is making a eucalyptus deodorant I wrote and begged them to send me a sample for review.

I am proud to say have now tested this product on 14-hour film shoots, 3-days-without-a-shower-road-trips and, as of Monday afternoon, in HOT FUCKING YOGA CLASS.

It rules. Truly.

The eucalyptus scent (which is unisex! you can share with your husband!) doesn't linger for more than a few minutes after application. And when I start to sweat, I don't smell like eucalyptus so much as I don't smell.

Image courtesy of Wallpaper. They like the M+G deodorant so much they gave it the Wallpaper Design Award for Best Grooming Product.

Ye Olde Seating Chart Dilemma


I realize a seating chart question may be a little dull, but it seems like an issue that other brides may need some practical advice on. Anyway, here goes. 

We are having a small wedding. 50 guests max. Buffet-style dinner, so it's not like the caterers need to know where everyone will be seated. My parents are divorced, and not in an amicable kind of way. Some family members can't sit with others during dinner because of divorce-related tension, etc. I was planning all along to have a seating chart to micromanage this drama to the best of my ability. It's going to be a little tough to figure out how to arrange everyone so that no one feels excluded or like they got the short end of the seating stick. But I think I can figure it out. 

Anyway, now my MOH and FH are advocating for open seating. They make some decent points, i.e., that our wedding will have a more casual vibe, so assigned seating might be too formal. Another good point: if people end up sitting at a table they don't like, they can only blame themselves. However, I still worry that leaving all this to chance could lead to some uncomfortable situations.

I'd appreciate some outside perspective. 




Trust me. With divorced and/or grudge-bearing family members running around, you'll all be much happier.

Photo: Lindsey Wixson by Terry Richardson for Purple Fashion F/W 2011 via Fashion Gone Rogue via Jessica Goldfond

I won't even go into the whole introvert v. extrovert thing again. Fucking extroverts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Engagement Photo DOs and DON'Ts

I still don't get the point of engagement photos. Feel free to write an essay below -- in 100 words or less pls -- explaining to me WHAT THE FUCKING POINT IS.

But. Maddie's comment over on "Pleez help me dress myself for my engagement photos" was so bloody helpful -- not just for those of you preparing for engagement photos, but for any of us preparing to be photographed EVER -- that I thought I'd try to squeeze a little more advice out of her.

(Lady does know how to shoot an engagement photo, or a "love photo" if you'd prefer to call it that.)

Here. She. Goes.

I have a confession to make: The first engagement session I ever photographed was for a friend. She and her fiance let me "style" their shoot, and in all of my novice glory, I put the poor bastards in matching outfits. Red shirt for him. Printed red dress for her. sweet. ::shakes head::

BUT - you don't have to repeat my mistakes! So, to make up for the evil done against my poor friends, I offer you the do's and don'ts of engagement outfits:

DON'T. Wear. Matching. Outfits. Coordinating a *little* bit is fine, but you're not a member of Destiny's Child. You and your partner are unique individuals (it's why you love each other!) If you don't dress like each other every other day of the week, don't dress like each other for your engagement shoot.

DO think of your surroundings when picking out colors for your outfit. For example, if your photos are in a park, know that a green dress is going to make you blend in with the bushes. Something on a red scale (like pink) will really pop against the green, or for a more subdued look, a cool color like blue will still differentiate from your surroundings. If you need help figuring out which colors will pop the most, look at a color wheel. The hues directly across from each other will stand out the most (red and green, purple and yellow, orange and blue). But basically anything other than the color you're standing in front of will work.

DO wear something patterned or a color-blocked outfit if you're worried about certain anatomy standing out more than others in your pictures. Because fabrics create shadows and highlights, and photography is all ABOUT shadow and highlight, solids one-piece outfits are going to make every bump show through your clothes. Patterns will still show off your fabulous figure, but will camouflage the bits and pieces you don't want to accentuate. Color-blocking breaks things up a bit - and the different colors, textures and fabrics will add interest to the outfit so it's not just about the silhouette.

DO wear fitted clothes that aren't super clingy if you want to flatter your body (I know this isn't some people's style. I get that. But if you want your body to look smokin' in your pics, it will get lost in shapeless clothing). If you're curvy like me, clothes that fit closer to the body are going to do you more favors than loose-fitting outfits. Also, draw attention to your favorite parts by adding interest there. (Great rack? Wear a v-neck. Sexy arms? Go sleeveless. You get the point).

[Editor's Note: I'm sorry Shannon, but YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A GREAT RACK.]

DON'T wear white. Wedding dresses are full of intricate detail that can photograph beautifully, but for the most part white doesn't really show up well in photos. There are exceptions of course, but color is your friend.

You DON'T need a new outfit. If you have something in your closet that makes you feel like a super star, wear it. You love it for a reason.

DO wear makeup. Even if you don't usually wear it, cameras have a tricky way of picking up every uneven tone on our faces. You don't have to go full-on musical theatre with it, but a little foundation and mascara will go a long way toward making your pictures reflect how you look in real life (and if you do normally wear makeup, wear just a tiny bit more).

DON'T forget accessories. If you are going to wear solids (which is totally cool by the way! You don't *have* to wear patterns) then I suggest a strong accessory like a statement necklace or earrings, or headband or WHATEVER makes you feel cool. The color rules for accessories are the same as above. A mustard necklace is really going to pop against an eggplant sweater.

Speaking of cool. DO wear something that makes you feel cool. Frankly, for all the rules and regulations above, wearing something you feel awesome in is going to make your pictures look fantastic. Nothing can substitute for confidence. Are you listening to me? Nothing.

DON'T play it safe. Nobody else is watching, so none of your friends on Facebook are going to see these if you don't want them too. Engagement photos shouldn't be a chore, so have a little fun with it.

DON'T treat any of the above like hard and fast rules. I'm not Stacy London. I won't come to your house and take all your clogs away from you. At the end of the day you just need to feel good about how you look.

So, those are the general do's and don'ts. The following are some personal beliefs:

You DON'T need a causal outfit. For some reason, everyone thinks they need a casual outfit. But unless you really want one, it's unnecessary.

DO look like the most dressed up version of yourselves. Wear what you would normally wear to a really fun party (this is open to your interpretation of course). This is partly because it dresses up your photos and partly because party outfits put people in a mood to have fun.

DO understand that your photographers don't see your body the way you do. Of course we want to give you the most beautiful, flattering photos of yourself. But if I'm your photographer, then I automatically think you're drop dead gorgeous. I don't know that you hate your arms or that you think your ass is flat. If you look happy and in love in your photos, it's a total disservice to yourself to fixate on body parts (and I say this with love, because I'm guilty of it too).

DON'T be afraid to ask our opinion though! If you're between outfits, we can usually give you a good idea of what's going to photograph better. And if you do have certain hangups about how you might look, we can usually offer advice for how to play up your best assets. (I will, however, refuse to acknowledge anything you might call a flaw. You're fucking gorgeous, ok?)

Nearly all of this advice works for any occasion, amirite?

Photos by Maddie + Monica of Hart + Sol

How do I tell my dad he's not giving me away?

dear esb,

i'll cut to the chase: i need to figure out how to let my dad know he isn't walking me down the aisle.

the long and short of it is that for most of my life, my father and i have had a terrible relationship. he treated my mother horribly their entire marriage and since i was "just like my mother" (who, by the way, is probably the sweetest, cutest of momma's you can imagine), to say we never got along would be a gross understatement. they finally separated while i was in college and divorced a few years later. for a few years,  we barely spoke. then about two years ago or so, we started to have breakfast together every now and then to catch up . . . things certainly are still weird, he cancelled his phone and cell without giving me his number, he drops off the face of the planet for months at a time and then pops up again looking to reconnect. it's odd and sometimes still hurtful, but i've sort of realized that after 28 years of parenting (or not parenting, in this case) he's not really a "dad" and he probably needs our relationship more than i need him at this point. 

things started to get even more weird when my guy proposed. since i (still) don't have a way to call him, i couldn't include him in the slew of "i'm getting married" calls and resulted to facebooking him that i had big news to share . . . he called a few days later to say he already knew. ok, whatevs. he has only met my fiance once, at my grandmother's funeral which was months before we were even engaged and since he barely knows me, i guess i could expect that. we met a week or so later and he surprisingly offered to help us pay for some of our wedding (not before warning me that because my fiance is a musician, i should "watch out." he doesn't even KNOW him, for goodness sake). he later sent me a few messages to ask when i needed money . . . i responded and haven't heard back from him in two months (yes, i just sent him a "hello, are you alive and ok???" message; no response.) my mother (bless her heart) took me aside the other day to say that he had called her (HUH???) to ask how we, "we" as in my two siblings and me, were doing. why didn't he just call us??

all the while, i've never once said anything to him about walking me down the aisle. he knows the date and (if he opens his mail) has an invitation with the location like the rest of our guests. i've always wanted my younger brother to do the honors of giving me away to my husband. our wedding is a very small gathering of close friends and family, they all know our family dynamic and even if i was okay with my dad walking me down the aisle, everyone would know it was one big farce. my brother really good friends with my fiance and has pretty much been my protector since we were teenagers. he's taken care of my through knee surgeries, given me fashion advice and been one of my best buddies my entire life. he even went as far to say that if i suddenly changed my mind and wanted our dad to walk me down the aisle, he wouldn't be offended. that will never happen, but i appreciate the sentiment.

OKAY- so this weekend, my mother lays on me that she suspects dear old daddy is expecting to walk me down the aisle. the wedding is in two months, i still haven't heard from him after my "are you alive?" plea and i don't really feel like dissing him via facebook message. i also don't want to stoop to his level and hurt his feelings, but i desperately want to avoid a temper tantrum scene with shouting and yelling all sorts of other lifetime network worthy drama the day of my wedding when he realizes he has no part in the ceremony. i'm set on taking the high road in this situation . . . without compromising what my fiance and i want. which leads me to wonder, what IS the high road?????

nowhere near a daddy's girl

p.s. i cannot flip off and tell him f-you. well, i could, but i would end up more miserable than him in the end. so that's not an option.


I'd tell you to tell him in person, but since he's been communicating everything through your mother -- WHY BOTHER? Ask her to do you the sorry favor of breaking him the news.

Photo: Kelley Ash by Annie Edmonds for Fashion Gone Rogue
Mansies, you guys. I need to make a tag for dad-walking-or-not-walking-me-down-the-aisle issues.

Monday, November 14, 2011

louboutin knockoffs: yeah or nay?

This is Urban Outfitter's take on Margot's see-lammin wedding shoes.

What do you think? Too disco queen??

My guess is that cheap sparkles will probably just look CHEAP.

Margot + Matt's Blissful Catskills Blast

A fabulous dress. A laid-back chic bride. A terrific dance party, COME HELL OR HIGH WATER.

When Noa sent these photos my way, I knew instantaneously this was my kinda wedding. (Bonus Points: Margot is a reader. I mean, OBVIO.)

Here's what she had to say about her blissful celebration-in-the-midst-of-a-hurricane:

I had never been the kind of girl who imagined fantasy weddings in her head, but during the 16 months that my now husband and I spent planning our August Catskills wedding, I succumbed to the romantic impulse. It would be intimately casual, gloriously colorful, righteously soundtracked, botanically lush, wildly celebratory, and sundrenched with that golden end-of-summer light.

As it turned out, we pulled off all of those things--except for the last one, the one category that we could not control. And, I’m not just talking about an overcast sky or one of those passing showers. That’s right, folks, we had an uninvited guest that we never once could have anticipated and her name was Irene. Needless to say, in the days leading up to the wedding, as I maniacally checked and Google News, I was devastated.

On the morning of the wedding, the sky was blue. We watched the clouds drift in and out all day. Passing showers came and went. We were hopeful that that bitch wouldn’t end up paying us a visit, after all. And then right before our bus of guests was scheduled to arrive, an apocalyptic downpour hit and she was here.

Yet, the show went on and our friends and families --all of whom made great sacrifices to be there for us, despite knowing that Mama Nature would likely be throwing a wrench in their travel plans and schedules--showered us with love as infinite and strong as the rain and wind swirling around the pavillon that contained us. Later in the night, we all danced like there was no tomorrow. (For many, that tomorrow involved early morning hotel evacuations and/or maroonings.) In hindsight, I credit Irene with uniting us all, giving us a reason to revel with that much more excitement for the reason we were all there together.

So, it wasn’t perfect. But it was still perfectly us. And we still got married and we still had a blissful blast, hurricane be damned. Plus, how many brides can truly say that it was a wedding no one will ever forget?

Photos by Feather Love Photography. (There are tons more gee-orgeous photos from Margot + Matt's wedding up on her blog this morning.)

p.s. Margot, we all need to know. Is that the Thakoon Addition dress? But with better sleeves?? What's the story?