The Best Gifts to Give for Wedded Bliss

Picture it... Your friend in a beautiful white gown, her groom looking dapper in a tuxedo, people crying and balling up tissues in their hands while vows are exchanged. Champagne flutes clink, cakes is consumed and the dance floor gets busy. You hug your newly married friends as they talk excitedly about the honeymoon. When they get back they'll eventually write a thank you note for that gift you gave them. So what will they write you?  Thanks for the pots and pans or the silly pot holders and towels they registered for? Why not give them a unique gift that they won't forget. These are the gifts that symbolize their love and marriage, they'll use to entertain guests and savor their time together.

Let Love Bloom


Kate Spade 'Pearl Place' Vase, $75  Bed, Bath and Beyond

Waterford 'Diamond' Vases, $135-250 Bed, Bath and Beyond

Ok, so a vase doesn't sound like an unique gift, but it's the additional step you take that makes it so memorable. Most people stop at the elegant vase, but go the extra step and set up bouquets to arrive a few times over the first year of marriage. Now your vase is awesome!


With names like "Wild About", "That's Hot" and "Darling" and "Devotion" you can brighten up their week by setting up bouquets to arrive at their door several times over the year. What better arrangement for the vase you bought them. $40-60, The Bouqs

Always Find Time For Eachother

Jord Wood Watches, $120-295 Wood Watches

For men, a watch may be the only piece of jewelry he wears, for women – we see them as a statement piece and add other jewelry around it. And while we may check our iPhones regularly, watches have made a strong comeback for their style and aesthetic. Sure the couple exchanged wedding rings, but you can give them an accessory that symbolizes never taking their "time" together for granted. These wood watches are not only conversation pieces, but unlike metal or other surfaces that get dinged and scratched over time, these wood watches develop a rich natural patina over time.  The company's name sounds Swedish, but they're not. They just love the Swedish way of life: progressive, creative, modern, without stepping all over the environment in the process.  JORD is a Swedish word with multiple meanings, but it stands for: earth, soil, land. The brand said it was a good fit for what they wanted to evoke in their designs and company – an appreciation for nature and natural materials. So besides the ring the couple shares, they'll know they share a watch with symbolism as well. Personally, I found it hard to choose just one as a favorite. I love the minimlist styles with a circle face in both the dark wood and the light wood and switch it up depending on my outfit.

   Remember Where It Started


Real Foil Art Prints, $96-106 Minted

Such a simple artistic gift that can hang in plain sight for years. Commemorate where the couple came from, where they live or where they got engaged or hitched. 

Keep Celebrating And Toast To Good Times


Three Nights Wine Box, $130 Uncommon Goods

Anniversary Wine Box, $130-180 Uncommon Goods

The toast-worthy moments dont; stop just because they tied the knot. Customize a box for the couple and fill it with the some of their favorite wines for future celebrations whether it be the everyday or the extraordinary.

Add A Little Mystery Into The Mix

Aphrodisia Love Potion Cocktail Kit $42, Uncommon Goods

Lovers have looked to nature for help in producing a potion that could spark a spontaneous, amorous attraction. Well, your friends already nabbed the ring so say it's about keeping love strong. Follow the simple instructions to infuse your favorite neutral spirit with rose hips, elder flowers, paradise seeds, and raw honey for a potion that's potent on its own, or as a secret ingredient in cocktails. Be sure to add in some of their favorite liquors to blend with their potions.

Grow Together


Mickey Hargitay Plants in Hollywood,

Planting a tree to celebrate a marriage is an ancient tradition that is shared by numerous cultures around the world. It's a novel twist to symbolize their newly intertwined lives.

These trees symbolize:

Olive tree - health and well-being and a symbol of peace

Orange - generosity and welcome invitation

Get Back to Basics


Vintage and Vine Slate Cheese Board, $20 Bed, Bath and Beyond

Arthur Court Designs 3-Piece Antler Marble Cheese Board, $49 Bed, Bath and Beyond

These boards are just the start of the gift. Wait until they're back from the honeymoon and settled into daily life and give them one of the cheese boards PLUS some fancy cheeses, crackers, fig jam, proscuitto and a baquette for a picnic dinner. A reminder that the simple things in life can be good.

As a fashion director, I've styled my fair share of wedding dress shoots. As a TV host I've covered everything from the best bets of where to shop for your gown to bridesmaids do's and dont's to what to buy the bride and groom. As a stylist, I've helped clients find the right gown at the right price, helped dress the groom when he doesn't want a tux and always suggest the bride-to-be have a reception dress because if you can avoid the weight of a gown when it's time to get your groove on the dance floor, then you should. 

The scoop with these dress picks? Well, after a friendly game of tennis, my friend Amy mentioned her friend had asked her to go from being a guest at her wedding to taking the wedding photographs as well. Amy's a professional photographer so that's easy. But the kicker in this story is the wedding is in two weeks and while they've had all the other tasks and choices completed for months they were missing a few important ones. I immediately asked about the dress because in my world it's all about the dress and the photography. (If I'm attending a wedding then it's about the food, drink and dancing.) Amy says,"She hasn't gotten her dress yet." Crazy, right?! She said it had to do with part budget and part at a loss of what to wear. I get it, weddings are stressful and the dress is a big part of it. You want to look GORGEOUS, but wearing a dress for just one day with a hefty price tag is daunting. Well, challenge accepted. I offered some advice on the spot and then decided to find 10 wedding dresses that could be found online or in store last minute and under $1,000 bucks.

Couldn't help but show off my big day as well:

Here they are:

Arianna Papell High Neck Beaded Gown, $350 Bloomingdale's

Erin Fetherston Tiered Lace Gown, $695 Cusp

Sadie Gown In Swiss Dot Chiffon, $695 J. Crew

BCBG Max Azria 'Elisia' V-Neck Lace Gown, $498 Bloomingdale's

Tadashi Shoji Sleeveless Illusion Lace Pin Tuck Gown, $428 Bloomingdale's

BCBG Max Azria 'Elyse' Strapless Gown, $338 Neiman Marcus

Floral Beaded Slip Dress,  $495 J.Crew

Zimmerman Silk Plunge Long Dress, $390 Zimmerman

Adrianna Papell Lace Peplum Dress, $150 Ideel

A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz Sleeveless Peplum Back Drape Gown, $99.99 Ideel

One more before you go:

Dress by Lloyd Klein

When I was getting married, I gave over some of the reigns to an awesome wedding planner. This allowed me to enjoy the amazing day and not fret about a thing. That planner, Christina, is now one of our regular contributors! While I was enjoying art, architecture and plenty of wine, pasta and croissants in Europe recently she put together this post. Hopefully this helps you on your special day!

Contributing Blogger
Christina Wright

Okay, so you found the perfect man and that oh so perfect dress. But you can't forget about those perfect accessories that add another touch of fabulous to your day. The key to selecting bridal accessories is to choose pieces that enhance your bridal look, not overwhelm it.

Here are some things to think about...
-What is your true bridal style?
Don't fight what you've already got going on.
- What is the overall feel of your wedding?
Try to keep the look cohesive.
- What do you LOVE?
Not what your mom loves, or whatever the sales person is pushing onto you.
- Sometimes simple is best
But in other cases over the top can work best...the key is knowing what works best.
Here are some lovely pieces to inspire you...
-black & gold: 100 layer cake
- gilded crown: twigs & honey
-heels & sash: erin hearts court
- art deco pieces: ruffled

Wedding Wear

'Tis the season when most people will be attending wedding, myself included. First up, for my husband and I, is a wedding in Paris followed by a vacation in Italy where I'm looking forward to plenty of wine and pasta.

For this week's Friday Favorites we picked our top looks of what to wear to a wedding. Plus, two to-the-point wedding attending tips:

-Don't wear white unless the bride asks you. Don't wear anything too short, too low cut or just too revealing-leave your clubbing dresses for just that, when you're looking for attention at a club. There's nothing worse than being the talk of the wedding for your breasts being on display. It won't snag a date from the inebriated groomsmen and you'll be disrespecting the occasion.

-If your invite doesn't say plus one, don't write one in or show up with a date. Weddings are costly and unless you've been dating someone for at least six months you shouldn't expect to be able to bring a date. Most brides and grooms are thinking ahead and a year from now they really don't want to look at photos of you and wonder who that guy is standing next to you in all the photos. Just go and have fun, dance with your friends and make new ones.

Alison's Pick



Raoul Bita Bow Maxi Dress, $590 Saks Fifth Avenue                 Crystal Crush Bobbi Pin, $25

I purposely skip black dresses at weddings and opt for color instead. Nothing that steals the thunder from the bride, but nothing that disappears in the sea of other dresses either. This blue dress is elegant for an evening or black tie affair. I'd add a crystal covered bobbi pin to pull hair away from my face and add a little more color to my outfit.


Christina Wright's Pick


                 Stapless Green Dress, $128 LuLu                       Ivory Crescent Necklace, $28 Francesca's

One of my favorite things about working weddings is seeing all the amazing style from the guests. My team style is always hip & onbrand when working, but we still have to have comfort and ease when working 12+ hour days. So I LOVE when I actually get to attend a wedding and wear something absolutely fabulous! This dress from LuLu's is exactly that! The green is bright and fun for the season and the silhouette is fun & flirty....perfect dress to dance the night away! Love the simplicity of neutral accessories with my bold dress. The styling makes everything feel much more luxe, and I love that I can get so much use out of them after the wedding!


Simply Modern Weddings

Lauren's Pick


Bead Embroidered Dress, $85 Feel Luxury           Thyme Wedge, $95 Seychelle's Footwear

Two of my favorite things about weddings are a 1. open bar and 2. a rocking wedding band! If I'm gonna shake my stuff on the dance floor, I want to wear a dress that twirls along with me. This apricot, beaded & embroidered dress has a soft, romantic look to it to suit the ceremony, but give it a twist or two and that lace and those beads will be catching the eyes of all the eligible bachelors in the room. To top it off, I wear a comfortable matching wedge to give me some height without killing my feet from all the sweet moves I'll be doing.

Endless Amusment

Christina Moffitino's Pick


     Bustier Georgette Maxi Dress, $148 BCBG        Havanna Clutch, $88 J.Crew

With a friend's beach style wedding coming up, I'm planning gifts and, of course, an outfit for the occasion. I love this bright coral dress because the color reminds me of a beautiful summer sunset. It has a sexy silhouette with still enough room to get down for a night of dancing with the bride. I'd slap some bangles on with the woven clutch to create a perfect pairing for seaside style. 

Street Swag



Question: How can we tactfully encourage my daughter's soon to be mother-in-law and sister-in-law to have their hair & make-up done for photos and the wedding? They normally like "the natural look". I have set up hairdresser and make-up to come to the bridal suite to specifically work on the close relatives. Also, how do I approach payment for themselves? -Donna, NY

Alison: Awkward is right! First let me ease some of your concern by saying that the majority of posed wedding photos with family are full length which means that you won't be able to see up close whether makeup is good or not. Instead it will just come across whether they look attractive or not.  And that's for others to judge. Also, when it comes to choosing photos that will be printed larger to be displayed in frames in your daughter's home with her husband, I guarantee that besides one or two photos with family or bridesmaids/groomsmen the prints that she will choose will be her favorites of just her and her husband.  You may end up choosing a few photos to display in your home as well, but again you'll choose the prints that have you and your daughter looking best because let's be honest-that's what's most important to you. As for all the photos that end up in the album, you and your daughter will look at it often once it's completed, but after friends have seen it when they happen to be at the house, the excitement will die down and then it will be brought out just once in a while. Again, it's the photos that are hung on the walls or in frames on display that will be seen and those will likely be just bride and groom. So I hope that helps diminish some of the wedding stress.

Next is the phone call or face-to-face with the in-law members you'd like to get H & M done.  The best way to approach these women is to join them in on the excitement of the wedding preparations.  Example conversation:  "Hi Jane, we're so excited about Mary's upcoming wedding so she and I wanted to join you and your mom in on the beauty of that day. She and the bridesmaids are getting their H & M done and we were able to get a great deal on all of us getting similar treatment. I don't know about you, but I'm no pro with a makeup brush so when they offered a deal to help us look good in the photos I thought it was a great idea. And I know Mary wants us all to join in on the glamour part of the day. The H & M team quoted me a price of $$ per person. I wish I could pay for all of us and I know that H & M can be pricey, but we'd love for you to be with us when we're all getting ready. A true gals bonding experience. I'll bring the champagne and we can sip the bubbly while we get ready."

Donna, while you want everyone to look fabulous, this invite you offer to the in-law ladies should focus on the bonding time while prepping and the glamour that we all don't get a chance to partake in regularly.  If they say yes, you must include them in the group experience or else you face backlash of the having them feel like the ugly ducklings. So what happens if they balk at the price? You're next step is with grace and tact to let them know you'd like to pay half the price to have them be a part of it. (And that means more money out of your pocket.) You can't pressure them to pay or get H & M done if they don't want to do it. And nobody wants an uncomfortable wedding day. And while you may not care what they say behind your back it will be tense if you pressure them.  So if they say no, then with a smile say, "We'll miss you and your mom behind the scenes, but look forward to us all looking lovely for the photos." And why not go one step further and invite them to to join you when you're all getting ready even if they don't partake in the H&M. I’m sure they’ll get the hint and hopefully take a little more time getting ready for Mary's wedding.

Dress for son's wedding

Ask Alison:

Hey Alison! Been keeping up with you, girl! So cool how many people and places you are charming with your sweet self. You are rockin' it! Way to go. My oldest son is getting married in July, outside at a country club. It is a 4pm ceremony. As you might recall, the ladies are large! I have dropped from a size 22 down to a 16 since I saw you last, but am still on the heavy side. What would you suggest? And what about a hat? I so appreciate any ideas! -Becky, Keystone Heights, Fl


Hey Becky, Outside in July means there will be heat and humidity to deal with, especially if we're talking about Florida. If indeed the country club is in Florida then I would suggest skipping the hat unless it's lightweight, medium to wide brimmed raffia in a pale woven color. Then you can add a ribbon or flower of your choice to match with your dress. While we're still letting thoughts of Kate and William dance in our heads remember that affair was held in a cool interior and most women dressed in conservative suits. The hats were fun, but most of the outfits were a bit dull. Most important is to choose the dress and you can think about a hat later since depending how long the ceremony runs it can lead to a hot, perspiring mess under the hat and flattened hair.
As a mother of the groom you do not and should not feel required to match with the colors of the bridal party. So your first choice is long or cocktail length? Then choose colors that best suit your skin tone. Next, get yourself some good shapewear  from a smooth, but supportive bra and another item to smooth out any lines and lumps from appearing when you slip on the dress. You know it and I know it, no matter what our size, shapewear helps. In fact bring the bra and shapewear with you when you shop or order several dresses via online and get dolled up in your house and see what works best from jewels to heels. While it is the bride’s day to shine you still want photos to remember that you too looked good and to make your son proud.
So here are a few of my top suggestions:
Cocktail Length:
This dress is not white and not close to white, just in case you were concerned. I think the fabric would hug your body nicely and it looks quite chic.
V-neck platinum cocktail dress, $525, but I found it at for $160
A satiny fit-and-fare dress with embellished pockets. Add silver or gunmetal heels.
OC by Oleg Cassini Portrait Collar dress
This dress won't hug your hips or thighs while still accentuating your waist.
Tadashi Shoji Dance Dress, $415
Ruffles, ruching and pleating.
Adrianna Papell Ruched Dress & Bolero
A strong, but sophisticated deep blue that can be dolled up with accessories.
Cybelle Cocktail Dress, $162
Jewel tone stretch satin v-neck cocktail dress that offers a flattering neckline.
While I am usually not a fan of brown this cut is flattering for the neckline and the room it gives in the waist and hips.
Stretch taffeta cocktail dress
Long versions:
Good color for a summer wedding and should move easily on the dance floor.
David Meister Jersey Cowl Neck Gown, $330
This is one of those dresses with the right accessories like gold strappy sandals and jeweled drop earrings that you could look young and gorgeous.
Celebration Wrap dress in jade., $155
Certainly age appropriate and still stylish for mom of the groom. The ruching and wrapping can help hug your curves.
Tadashi Shoji Asymmetric Drape Gown, $312
Skip how young the model looks and think about your face instead. This could swish and sway around guests and make a lovely, approachable look.
Estrella Hyacinth Violet Gown, $275
Q. I am getting married in six months and I have picked out a nice dress that my bridesmaids will be able to get plenty of wear out of. The problem is, one of my girls likes it so much she wants to go ahead and wear it to an event next month. I will not be able to attend, but she, her husband, and my fiance will be going. Is it tacky for me to ask her not to wear the dress until after she has worn it in my wedding? I picked this dress specifically because I thought it was classy and could be worn again, but not before the wedding! Am I being ridiculous? -To Wait or Not To Wait Alison: Call your girlfriend and request that she hold off on wearing the dress until your wedding day. Not only does it seem to pull away some of the initial glory from your special day, but what if the unforeseen mishap occurs like spilled wine, food stains or a ripped seam? Tell her that, while you understand the expense involved in buying the dress and your purpose was to make sure that the dress has an afterlife, you’d like it to occur after the wedding and to please respect your wishes.
Q. I’m getting married on July 1st and uncertain what to give my four bridesmaids as gifts. I’d like to stick to a budget of $100 for each friend. Help, I don’t want to disappoint them. -Giddy about Getting Married Alison: Don’t over think your gift giving. Remember that this is your wedding and a focused, prepared gift can be easily achieved and loved by all your friends without blowing your budget. Also, don’t assume the gift has to be a part of or worn on the wedding day. Since your wedding is in July, I have two suggestions: one that focuses on summer fun and one that is truly indicative of their styles. 1-Purchase canvas tote bags like the much loved ones from Lands' End and have them monogrammed for each of your bridesmaids. Then fill each with a big over sized beach towel , a cute photo album (include a special photo of you and your friend on the first page), flip flops and an inexpensive sunless tanner . All together these items should total about $100 spent for each girl. 2-Give a piece of jewelry that will be treasured and fits each girl’s style. Choose a pretty necklace, a beaded bracelet or dangly earrings that will dazzle with many outfits in your friend’s wardrobe. When buying jewelry for about $100 or less for each bridesmaid, don’t fret if one item is $99 and another is $60. The point is that you’re giving a gift that you believe they’ll enjoy.
Q. What should my 26 year old son wear to a beach wedding in San Diego? -Beach Boy Alison-- Beach weddings are generally a more casual, colorful affair and men should avoid dark colors. Best looks are khaki, cream or tan lightweight dress pants or linen pants worn with a colorful button down shirt. He can wear a full light colored lightweight suit or linen sport coat with a colorful shirt and tie (or no tie), but he may be hot at the beach. And consider wearing nice leather thong sandals to maneuver through the sand. If the reception heads indoors, then have a pair of dress shoes to change into.
Q. I am going to be a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding this fall. She is letting us choose the style of the dress but she chose the color. Cool, I thought. The problem is that my size is not my size. Ok, I wear a 6 or 8 in all my pants, jeans, suits and dresses whether it’s Joe's Jeans, Moschino, Gap, BCBG, or Cynthia Vincent, etc. BUT the dress people at David's Bridal told me my size is a 14! I’m flipping out. I could never fit into a 14. I’m 137 pounds. So tell me, what is with these gown companies? -Schizophrenic Sizing Alison: Ouch! You’re not the first to have that “sticker shock” when reading the size label on the dresses or have the bridal salesperson looking at your body and suddenly claim a size horrifically larger than you’ve ever seen grace your curves. It seems cruel. BUT, don’t get hung up on the size of your dress. Do you think you’re going to get a shake down at the wedding and someone’s going to scream out the size on the label? Most bridal designers offer their dresses in larger sizes with the assumption that the dresses for both bride and bridesmaid will be tailored to specifically fit her body shape, whether it be to hold and support larger breasts and a slim waist or fit a girl with a small bust, but with curvy hips and thighs. So stop flipping out and know that you won’t get the pat down and be forced to divulge the size to your friends and, perhaps, beau.


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