Bridal Weight Loss

Most brides-to-be want to lose a few pounds before the wedding, even if they don't really need to. It's just a fact of life for brides -- everything they look at, from movies to bridal magazines to wedding web sites is encouraging them to be (or become) a certain size. Losing weight or toning up requires aerobic exercise, but you shouldn't neglect your diet! After all, working out doesn't mean you can go nuts at the buffer table.

Here are five bridal diet tips that you can use for the rest of your life. Remember, you should always think of pre-wedding diets in terms of simple lifestyle changes instead of excessive changes that could be unhealthy. To clarify, we don't want to see you starving yourself or exercising four hours a day!

1. Drink plenty of water. Sometimes we feel hungry when we're actually thirsty. When we don't address that thirst, we keep feeling unfulfilled even after having a snack. Hint: Brides should be drinking water anyway, so their skin looks beautiful on the wedding day.

2. Up your fruit and veggie intake. It seems simple enough, but most of us still do not get enough produce. Why? It spoils quickly, it can be boring, and it costs money. Makes sense to me! So look for ways to sneak more veggies and fruit into your diet. Roasted Brussels sprouts are awesome. Make a pumpkin pie without crust and omit some of the sugar. Yum!

3. Focus on health. Even if you are looking forward to your wedding, dieting sucks. If you're obsessed with depriving yourself, you're going to fall off the wagon. Think about healthy choices you can make now and keep making after the wedding, like cutting out trans fats or eating less processed food.

4. Join a farm share (if you can). Supermarket produce gets boring. Apples and oranges, apples and oranges, right? A farm share will introduce you to foods you wouldn't try otherwise. Burdock root, anyone? How about kale? Expanding your horizons can shrink your waistline!

5. Get supportive to get support. Join a weight loss group. Ask your sister, mom, or best friend if she wants to diet with you. That way, when you're jonesing for a chocolate chip cookie you know you aren't actually hungry for, you can call your weight loss buddies and they'll talk you down from the fridge.

Click to learn more about bridal fitness

Wedding Blogs and Wedding Websites

Getting a little bored reading the usual wedding websites? We feel your pain, and we'd like to suggest a novel solution: Make your own! A personal wedding blog or wedding website is a great way to make wedding planning a lot more fun and accessible to the important people in your wedding, like mothers, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. Oh, and your future spouse, too!

There are plenty of free wedding website hosting services online, or you can use a free blog program like Blogger to set up a simple collaborative wedding blog. We like both options, having tried each, though both have different utilities.

A wedding website is great if you're looking to share wedding information with your wedding guests. For example, you can put directions to the ceremony and reception on your wedding website, as well as links to the stores you're registered at. You can share the story of your courtship and pictures of you and your fiance on your wedding web site, and pretty much anything else you want to show people.

A wedding blog, on the other hand, can be a place where you share your wedding ideas (like we do) or a place for you to communicate with your bridesmaids. You can make both a wedding website and a wedding blog that link back to each other so wedding guests and wedding VIPs can keep track of your wedding planning progress.

Connect with other brides-to-be on our awesome wedding forum -- it's free!

Inaugural Gown Inspiration

In light of last week's big inauguration, I thought we should take a look at some past First Lady inaugural gowns. It just so happened that I was in DC last weekend and ran into the American History Museum right before closing. I was really excited to go in because it has been closed for the past year and a half for renovations. Anyhow, the place looked amazing, and I ran to the second floor to take a peek at the First Lady section. I was a little disappointed at first because there weren't very many gowns, but I did manage to snap a couple photos. Please try to ignore the horrible flash photography.

Helen Taft's 1909 inaugural ball gown is the first gown showcased when you walk into the room. It is absolutely gorgeous (This photo does NOT do it any justice). It is made out of silk chiffon appliqued with floral embroideries in metallic thread and trimmed with rhinestones and beads. It was made by the Frances Smith Company. I could not believe how this gown sparkled!!!

The only other gown that inspired me wasn't actually an inaugural gown but an evening gown that Jackie O wore to a state dinner in 1961. The gown is made out of yellow silk with an overlay of crepe chiffon. Oleg Cassini designed it. I would wear this gown in a heartbeat!

I'm still so in love with the one-sided shoulder strap gown. I think it would make such a chic and classic bridal gown. I really want MILLIE to design one!

Avoiding Wedding Risk

How can you protect yourself from unknowns like sick vendors, really bad weather, and fire damage when planning a wedding? You, bride, need some wedding insurance.

Wedding insurance (also known as event insurance) is a type of property and causality policy that originated in Great Britain in 1988, but has only been available in the U.S. since the mid 90s. It typically covers cancellation or postponement of a wedding if a member of the bridal party dies or gets sick. Keep in mind that if the wedding party member becomes sick or dies because of a pre-existing medical condition your wedding insurance probably won't cover it.

Wedding insurance also covers a bridal party member's failure to show because they are injured or are called up to active military duty or there is a shutdown of commercial transportation. Additionally, it will help pay for the reassembling of the bridal party in the event another photo session is necessary because the photographer lost the film or it's damaged at the lab. Finally, it will provide money for new wedding rings if the originals are lost and the replacement of damaged, stolen, or lost wedding gifts.

What isn't covered? Changes of heart! If you or the groom gets cold feet, your wedding insurance will not reimburse your expenses.

The typical cost for a basic policy is between $125 and $350 (with a $25 deductible). Like any other insurance coverage, the premium varies depending on the amount of coverage needed. But unlike other coverages, the premium is a one-time payment even if the policy is purchased well in advance of your wedding date. In most instances, a policy can be purchased from two weeks to two years prior to the event.

Wedding DJ or Wedding Band

The question that every bride and groom must answer is this: Wedding DJ or wedding band? If you aren't getting married anywhere near a big city, the answer may be clear. In less densely populated areas, you'll find more wedding disc jockeys and fewer wedding bands, simply because demand for the latter won't be as high. If, on the other hand, you live in New York or Boston or some other musically inclined metropolis, you'll probably have a ton of wedding entertainment options to choose from!

Oh boy, another decision to make... To make it easier, let's lay out some pros and cons. A wedding disc jockey is less expensive, able to play selections by original artists, generally does not take up much space, and travels just as far as a wedding band. On the other hand, people who make a living studying, writing, singing, recording, and performing music are more apt to have a better foundation of music presentation.

But selecting a wedding band can be a frustrating and time consuming process -- just ask some of your married friends who opted for bands over DJs.

Videos of live performances can sometimes be helpful, but you should know that 99% of them are lip-synched and are seldom a true representation. People also tend to hear with their eyes and not focus on the music. After the fifth video the eyes can get a bit blurred from all those tuxedos. A very basic band video costs about $5,000 to produce and can quickly become outdated depending on its content of current music selections. With a CD you can really hear the care that a band puts into their product. You can listen to it in many different situations, and if it's any good, you should hear a wide range of material. If a demo has a great variety of songs sung well by different people and features decent horn playing, guitar work and strong background vocals you are headed in the right direction. Having an excellent song list is also a good indicator that can help in the selection process.

If you find a wedding band that you think is the one for you, and are having a Saturday evening reception on a popular wedding date, don't put off hiring them. There is a very high likelihood that others are inquiring about the same date, unless your wedding falls between January and the end of March. Bands generally can't "hold" these dates due to the high number of Saturday calls they get. It is very normal to book a band with a good name from a promotional package instead of risking waiting for the perfect opportunity to see them live.

Click to read more about choosing wedding entertainment

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my latest photo shoot - Japanese Beauty!

I'm excited.... i always get excited after a photo shoot, knowing that we captured some GREAT new pix, & seeing my designs "come alive" on our models, plus having a fun day being imaginative with like-minded people, creating beautiful images's definitely one of my favourite aspects of my job!

So check out these "sneak preview shots" from my latest "Japanese Beauty" shoot.... and these are just the images i took myself, on my little pocket-camera. When the official professional photos come thru, i will be adding them to my website gallery....VERY soon.

Both these one-off Oriental-themed Couture wedding gowns were custom-made from authentic vintage Japanese textiles, which i sourced direct from Japan. Can you imagine how divine this would look on a bride, on her wedding day, perhaps in a lush garden setting, or a sleek & stylish restaurant? Chic and elegant but at the same time, edgey and downright sexy.... and both these bridal gowns could easily be worn again afterwards, as eveningwear.

For this photo shoot, my model Eve had her customised make-up look specially designed by local make-up artist Simone Cozens, who did an amazing job... so if you're looking for a great make-up artist for your wedding, Simone can be contacted on ph 0424 948 593, and is available for weddings in Sydney and beyond, working with both hair and make-up... she comes highly recommended.

Stay tuned for more sneak previews coming up from another recent shoot i did up in the Hunter Valley of NSW... more NEW wedding gown designs, more exciting ideas, and more reasons to come & see me here in my Leichhardt studio!!!

Please feel free to email me via my website if you have any comments or queries, as you can tell from this blog - i love chatting about fashion and discussing my designs, and i feel very passionate about encouraging my brides to "think outside the square" and to be creative & ORIGINAL with their wedding gown ideas, to really express WHO YOU ARE and to celebrate your individuality!

cheers for now, xx Lisa

Wedding Reception Itinerary

No joke: I have actually attended weddings during which the father-of-the-bride approached me (the family wedding expert) to ask when they should cut the wedding cake! Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but it did strike me as somewhat odd that neither the bride nor the groom had taken the time to research a sample wedding reception itinerary! After all, it was their own wedding ceremony and wedding reception. They had a vested interest while I did not.

To ensure that your loved ones never have to do the same at your wedding reception, here is a sample wedding reception timeline that will give you a rough guide you can modify based on your own needs and wants.

First Hour of Reception
  • 5:00 Wedding guests arrive. Cocktail hour begins. Waiters may serve trays of champagne and hors d'oeuvres to guests.
  • 5:15 Bride and groom arrive. Photographs may or may not be taken at this time. If not, bride and groom may mingle with guests or retire to a private bridal chamber for some quiet time.
Second Hour of Reception
  • 6:00 Wedding party and guests of honor line up to be announced by the emcee or wedding disc jockey.
  • 6:05 Wedding DJ makes formal announcements.
  • 6:10 Bride and groom's first dance. Caterer begins serving champagne to the tables for the champagne toast.
  • 6:20 Cocktail hour ends. Cash bar may begin here. The wedding disc jockey may announce dinner and introduce the wedding officiant if he or she is saying a blessing.
  • 6:25 Wedding DJ introduces the best man for his toast.
  • 6:30 Dinner is served.
Third Hour of Reception
  • 7:00 Bride and groom cut the cake.
  • 7:15 Father-daughter dance.
  • 7:25 Mother-son dance.
  • 7:35 Wedding party dance.
  • 7:40 Wedding DJ invites all wedding guests to hit the dance floor.
  • 7:45 Wedding cake and coffee are served.
Fourth Hour of Reception
  • 8:00 Wedding DJ announces the Bride's bouquet toss.
  • 8:15 Garter toss.
  • 8:45 Bride and Groom's last dance.
  • 9:00 Bride and Groom say goodnight and leave for honeymoon destination or hotel.
  • 9:15 Parents of the bride (or other designated persons) gather all the wedding presents and other items (see After the Reception Checklist for more details).

Wedding Music Order of Events

If you can afford to have live musicians at your wedding ceremony, we say "Go for it!" Live music adds a special touch to a wedding ceremony that cannot be replicated with a CD in a boombox or a wedding disc jockey playing Here Comes the Bride. Live wedding ceremony music is not only a nod to wedding traditions of days gone by; it's also extremely elegant and entertaining for wedding guests waiting for the bride to make her grand entrance.

Of course, once you have hired live musicians to play at your wedding ceremony -- we recommend a classical quartet -- you still need to know what music happens when. Your musicians may or may not be familiar with the usual order of wedding ceremony events, which means it's your job to know everything you can about wedding ceremony music. Here's a primer to start you off:

The Prelude
As guests are arriving and being escorted down the aisle to their seats, a mix of classical pieces and soft contemporary songs lets them know that something special is about to happen.

The Pre-processional
Wedding music helps build emotion as family members and other honored guests who are not members of the wedding party are escorted down the aisle. The mother of the bride is usually the last to be seated before the wedding party comes down the aisle.

The Processional
This is the point in the ceremony when the groomsmen, best man, groom, bridesmaids, maid of honor, ring bearer, and flower girl walk down the aisle. The bride and father of the bride are the last ones to walk down the aisle in the most dramatic part of the ceremony.

The Ceremony
In a traditional Christian church wedding, hymns, calls to worship, or other wedding music that is part of the order of the wedding service can be performed by your wedding musicians as the ceremony unfolds. This is also the appropriate time for an instrumental or vocal solo.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the wedding officiant announces that the bride and groom are married and music is usually played at this point. This is when many couples let their personalities shine through with their music selection. During the recessional, the bride and groom are first, followed by the wedding party and the officiant.

Interlude or Postlude
This is when the guests exit the church. Wedding music can be played until the guests are out of the ceremony area.

With a few modifications, this order is appropriate for a quicker or less traditional ceremony. It's always a good idea to have wedding music as guests arrive, as the wedding party enters, and as the bride and groom exit together.

Click to learn more about choosing wedding musicians or the order of wedding ceremony events

Out of Town Wedding Guests

Nowadays, it's unusual for a bride or groom to live in the town or city where their parents, relatives, and friends live. You might have some family nearby and some family in a different country, while your friends are spread out throughout the nation. That means that at least some of your wedding guests will be traveling to attend your wedding ceremony and reception.

We've put together a list of tips that will help you make out of town wedding guests more comfortable. While you don't have to arrange everything for your out of town wedding guests, you can make it easier for them to make it to your wedding!

Hotels and Accommodations
Choose an affordable hotel located near the site of the wedding ceremony or reception. Out of town wedding guests will then have an easy time finding their way to the big event. Out of town wedding guests are sure to appreciate amenities included in their stay, such as pool use, a complimentary breakfast, and free Internet access. A hotel is also a refuge from all the wedding activities and can be a place of relaxation. Make sure the one you choose is quiet and well managed.

Eating is something that can be fun when your out of town wedding guests travel to your locale, but as they flip through the local directory they might be overwhelmed by the large number of options. One useful item for out of town wedding guests is a list of local restaurants that you enjoy, including a general description of food and menu prices. Choose low to mid level restaurants and consider providing coupons to any local favorites. Also, if you know there will be vegetarians, vegans, or gluten intolerant guests at your wedding, include some appropriate restaurants on your list.

Providing out of town wedding guests with telephone numbers of car rental companies can help save them time and frustration. Some companies give coupons for groups traveling to a celebration, so consider talking to the company prior to the event. And don't forget about public transportation! Providing bus, cab, train, and subway information can save time and money for wedding guests. Finally, if many guests are staying in one hotel, consider arranging a hotel shuttle to and from your wedding.

Click to read more about wedding guests

Jewish Wedding Traditions

Cultural wedding traditions are truly wonderful! The best part about cultural wedding traditions is that anyone can integrate them into their nuptials, whether or not they belong to a particular culture or religious group. However, that said, many cultural wedding traditions require that brides and grooms go above and beyond the usual wedding planning checklist! Here, for example, is just part of a Jewish wedding planning checklist that defines all the essential elements of a Jewish wedding:

__Announce your engagement to local newspapers

__Select the appropriate date as certain wedding dates are off-limits as per Jewish law

__Choose an ideal location for your Jewish wedding ceremony and reception

__Send the save-the-date cards

__Decide on a caterer

__Book a photographer and a videographer

__Select a rabbi or cantor to preside over your Jewish wedding

__Check if the bride needs to cover her shoulders or the groom needs a white ceremonial robe called a kittel

__Order the wedding dress and veil

__Choose attendants

__Select a florist

__Compose the guest list

__Book musicians for the wedding ceremony and disc jockey or band for the reception.

__Order your wedding cake

__Order thank-you notes with wedding cards

__Order Kippahs and benchers

__Purchase attire for the groom

__Select a Ketubah for your Jewish wedding

__Choose gifts for bridal side

__Reserve hotel rooms for people coming from out of the town

__Prepare a guest book

__Choose your reception dinner menu

__Decide who will hold the Chuppah and read the seven wedding blessings

__Select appropriate chairs for the bride and the groom

__Arrange Jewish wedding ceremony details using rabbi and/or cantor.

__Mail invitations and design the program

__Obtain a marriage license

__Buy wedding bands

__Workout plans to contribute your wedding dress as offerings, if desired.

__Wrap neatly the wine glass for breaking

__Organize candy for aufruf.

__Ask one of your best friends to handle the ritual elements Ketubah, Chuppah, Kiddush cups, wedding rings, and glass for breaking

__Confirm the seating, and study the Jewish wedding processionals and seating rituals.

__Begin fasting to purify yourself at sunset, only if you desire.

Click to read more about Jewish weddings

Bathing in the Golden Glow....

Happy "Australia Day" Long Weekend, everyone .... 2009 is already in full swing & the Culture Shock studio is a hive of activity, buzzing with energy & a bevy of smiling, happy brides-to-be!

In the past weeks i've met with lots of lovely new bridal clients, looking around for gorgeous gowns for their Spring/Summer 09-10 weddings. The Grecian-inspired look is still very popular, especially after the recent GOLDEN GLOBE awards, where we saw many stunning one-shouldered gowns and fabulous draped silk chiffon creations. Laura Linney's golden coloured Elie Saab Haute Couture gown was so beautifully fitted and expertly crafted, a joy to see.

It certainly was an entertaining night for fashionista's around the world to drool over....all those incredible Couture gowns were just breath-taking, i was glued to the TV for hours! The sexy Fishtail silhouette was seen in many fabulous versions on the red carpet, actually the DIVINE pale blue Dior gown worn by Drew Barrymore was surprisingly my favourite look of the night, big hair and all!!

I also loved Kate Beckinsale's fitted white J Mendel fishtail gown, which she wore so beautifully, and i can just imagine that on a bride - WOW! Slicked back hair, fab make-up, no necklace and big feature earrings... sleek, polished and just so elegant for a wedding day look.

Eva Mendes' funky Dior gown, again in white, also stood out as a potential bridal look, with that AWESOME necklace....the colours of those precious jewels against her tanned skin, exotic face & white gown was mesmerising!

Others worthy of a special mention from this designers' point of view were Elizabeth Banks' cleverly ruffled J Mendel gown, which was such a girly look but with a real vintage-lingerie look, and Maggie Gyllenhaal's blue leopard-spot Lanvin gown, which was a cool take on the one-shouldered approach.

And although i did think it made her look a tad too old and too sophisticated for her age, Rumer Willis's Reem Acra gown in Aubergine had a beautiful silhouette and the skirt section moved so well on stage. AND congrats to Salma Hayek, with those incredible womanly curves, who i thought looked pretty amazing in her Bottega Veneta gown, which fitted like a glove and was draped to perfection!

So now that we've got an appetitie for glamour....bring on the Oscars!! xx Lisa

Erin Gallagher

Have you guys checked out Erin Gallagher jewelry? Her stuff is beautiful.

She makes the perfect bridesmaid gift or something to work with your wedding dress. What I love, love, love is the the everything is customizable. You can pick your gems, adjust the length of the necklaces, the metal of the chains, anything.

And if you enter "gems" at checkout, you'll get 40% off your order until January 25! Thank you Erin.

In case you're wondering, here are my favs:

The Elsa Necklace
The Isabella Bracelet
The Violet Necklace
The Eleanor Earring

Go buy yours now - remember the discount ends on January 25!