Monday, April 27, 2009

I got into a fight!

Saturday night I got into a fight! I never thought I find myself at the boxing arena, but there I was!

See what wedding planning can do to a perfectly friendly and kind person, like everybody knows me?

Just kidding! Our wedding planning is going very peacefully and productively. More about it in the next post. Today I just wanted to share a unique event I got myself into this weekend.
The company that I work for, White Directory Publishers (brand name The Talking Phone Book) sponsored a kickboxing fight.

Aware of my talents not only as a marketer, but also as a photographer, my boss asked me to take photos at the event. "Ssssure!", I said. "I am up for a challenge!" At work they are already sure of my professionalism, and I am working hard to keep this belief :))

Did you know that a kickboxing event is a pretty formal gathering? Cocktail dresses, stilettos. I didn't know that myself. So now we know!

There was a bunch of guys fights and one girls fight! We were lucky to go to the bathroom at the right time just to catch one of the fighting girls braiding her hair in perfect patterns. While she was doing that, she answered a few questions for us. We learned that a cool thing to do in a fight is to answer a punch with a punch that is a level better - this is how you earn your score.

The main fight and the reason for the event was a fight called "Back with a Vengeance".

The team I was routing for won! Here are moments of joy and glory:

Congratulations from a very strong opponent.

Events like this always remind me that we should try new things all the time, even if in the beginning it seems to be not your "cup of tea". I arrived to the event expecting a long, boring night. It turned out a great and memorable experience!
To see a complete set of photos from the event - follow this link.

Update: after I wrote this post, my very talented friend Yuka has also finished hers on the same event. Shooting along with Yuka and her husband Liosha that night made the event so much more fun! Check out their fabulous work.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My frustration - monitor color calibration.

Apparently, my monitor is calibrated very poorly to say the least. :( The images that look great on my lap top appear so dark and red on the blog and on other computers! It is upsetting to see that what I thought was perfectly colored photo to others looks like a piece by an avant-garde artist at best.

After doing some research I became convinced that the process of monitor calibration is as difficult as brain surgery. No, really! So, after some research:
  1. I am buying an Eye-One calibrator as it is an affordable professional option for calibration;
  2. I was also advised to get a "slow" monitor, not a TFT - this piece of advice is still in my "to understand" category, but will probably end up buying one (additional to my lap top monitor).
This calibration disaster prevented me from posting about my photography progress. I hope to start posting soon!

Since eastern orthodox Christians celebrate Easter usually a week after Catholics, yesterday was our Easter. Here is a quick pic of our Easter dinner table (if the food looks off color - you know why).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wedding Websites - so many choices!

We will have many out of town guests at the wedding and to keep everybody "on the same page" it was decided at our family-to-be meeting to create a web-site for the wedding.

Wedding is about choices. In everything. Because of so many options, it took me a whole month to chose a wedding website.

I was looking for:
  1. an easy and fast interface to load information;
  2. a good looking template;
  3. a template that would match our colors (blue and orange);
  4. a back end to the website that would serve as a planning and guests list management tool;
  5. an option of ordering a keepsake CD, so the website and our virtual guest book comments will be saved for us;
  6. in the beginning we were going to rely on the website for RSVPs, but than decided this would not be a crucial feature , as some of our guests aren't internet savvy and we can't have online only RSVPs.
The finalist of the search was: Wedding Window. It has all the features that we needed. So here is the first try on our web-site: nothing is loaded there yet, and the colors might be tweaked.

We also considered:
  • Wed Simple - really powerful back end to the site, but as far as I know you can't order a keepsake. Not as versatile design options as in Wedding Window
  • My Wedding - this is a free site, and you can pick a theme that has a matching invitations! After I posted my web-site dilemma on Wedding Bee (by the way - an awesome place to learn about and ask any of wedding-related questions) and one of the responders suggested to use Joltform to make up for RSVP, that is not so good on this web-site. Great free solution!
  • eWedding - this was a popular response on Wedding Bee.
If you decide to have a website for your wedding, the best way to find the right one for you is to sign up for free trials. I can assure you that after experiencing the tools, your choice will come clear! Be prepared to spend about 30-60 minutes with each of your options. Good starting points for the search are: Wedding Bee Boards, Wedding Bee Wiki on websites and also this comparison chart from Wedding Websites.

I am excited to organize our planning to the back end of our wedding website and finally start logging in our guest list!

Hope you are having a good week!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Complete Report on Wedding Dress Shopping in Buffalo, NY. Part 2.

Good Monday! I've promised to complete my report about wedding dress shopping in Buffalo. Here is part 2, where you will find a review of the bridal shops I visited.

I decided to visit smaller private bridal shops in our Buffalo-Niagara (US and Canada) region and tried on about 40 dresses before I found mine. Here is where my search took me:

a) M.A.Carr- was the first place I visited. Located in Orchard Park, the shop has a tasteful selection of dresses from designers like Casablanca, Watters Brides, Jasmine Bridal and many others. Their prices are between $700 and $2000. Attentive and suggestive service. This shop had a few dresses I ranked as candidates for THE DRESS right on my first visit. Assistants in the shop are a real help - they learn what you like and suggest within your interests.

b) Victoria's Bridal Shoppe - mostly classic, beautiful dresses, big selection of ball gowns. Many dresses under $1,000. Attentive and helpful customer service. Since ball gowns (big and puffy dresses) don't fit me as nicely as I'd require from a wedding dress, I had little selection in this store for myself.

c) The Ballett's - A St. Catherine's (Canada) salon with the most helpful web-site. Many beautiful choices with style, however not all the models you chose from the web-site will be available in the shop. Moderate prices - many options under $1,200. Helpful assistants.

d) Bridal Chateau, Inc. - I wanted to visit them, but could never get through on the phone to set an appointment. The line was either busy or on answering machine. ??? I had a chance to speak with Beth, one of the owners, at a function we attended together. She was surprised this happened and thought it was due to the construction nearby. She also mentioned they have a tasteful selection under $2,000. I was concerned with communication with the store and decided not to visit.

e) Bridals By D - Despite several negative reviews and an absence of a web-site (!!!), I was very pleasantly surprised with this shop's gowns selection. They had many dresses that fit me very well and looked like candidates for THE DRESS. They even had several Jim Hjelm dresses to offer! A pricier than the usual ($1000 - $2000), but very trendy shop in Buffalo! In this salon I "met" Mikaella. The designer seems to make dresses just for me - I like 90% of their creations. Oh, and all of them fit me beautifully!! Their sister brand, more upscale Paloma Blanca gives me the same feeling as Mikaella. Simple and sophisticated, gorgeous dresses. And yes, my dress is one of their creations! (Andrey is advised not to look through the links). Ladies that helped me in the shop were very accommodating - so far bad reviews posted about the shop proved to be wrong for me. A couple more words about the designer of my dress: both brands are from Toronto, Canada! The designer has been making wedding dresses since 1937. Both brands are astonishingly affordable considering the quality and styles they offer - Mikaella dresses start from $1,000 and Paloma Blanca - from $1,400. I will not deny - I am infatuated with my dress and with the designer. :)

f) Pearl Bridal House - oh, and I visited this shop near Toronto. There I tried on dresses literally off the New York fashion shows. I've visited on Melissa Sweet trunk show weekend. The shopping assistants detected no buying potential in me with their six's sense within minutes. They were not interested in taking care of me, but very interested in taking the dresses off me. Well, yes, they guessed right - while I am an admirer, I am not the spender of $8,000 and up on a dress.... So far. :)

g) Almost forgot about one more Buffalo bridal shop: Classic Bridal. This shop actually talked me out of visiting them!! This is how the conversation unveiled: Me: "Can I please come in to try on your dresses?" - Shop Assistant (SA):"Which brands are you planning on trying on?" - Me: "Well, I don't know, I will decide when I see the dresses" - SA: "There are more than 400 dresses in the store, we need to know what you are going to be trying on! And, besides, with your deadlines you don't have any time for alterations, ... unless you are 5' 9"!" - Me: "I am 5'9"! So, can I come in and try on the dresses?" - SA: "Well, I guess....". I booked and appointment, but after replaying this conversation in my mind, canceled it. :( ... :)

Didn't want to end this post on such note. So here is some magically sophisticated bridal creations from another designer I fancy - Monique Lhuillier. Fall 2009 Collection.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Wedding Dress Search is Over! Complete report about searching for a wedding dress in Buffalo. Part 1.

I walked out of a bridal shop on a Saturday afternoon couple of weekends ago barely touching the ground. .... ;) I ordered my wedding dress! A huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

I instantly felt such joy from a new confidence, that our wedding will turn out wonderful, because I got the dress that makes me feel like a bride I wanted to be. Actually, I didn't know what kind of bride I wanted to be, I was just searching for that feeling of perfection, sophistication, excitement and lightness that will make me look and feel like a bride. A strict panel consisting of my father, my mom and one of my grandmas saw my final choice that morning and approved it. The expression on my family's faces told me vividly that this was my dress. (I'll share more about the dress in the next post).

Feeling like an expert in wedding dress search, I am, of course, eager to pass on my experience to those who still have this special journey ahead of them:

0) This step sometimes isn't necessary if you already have a vision of what you want. If not - head to a bookstore and flip through myriads of magazines. I know that nothing will stop you from buying some of them - so I won't try. :) There are also plenty of resources online:, The Knott, Once Wed to name a few.

1) First of all, you need to figure out the style that suites you. This could be very different from what you envisioned yourself to wear. What if you really like big, puffy dresses, but they just don't look good on you? For this purpose David's Bridal is a great place - give yourself a couple of trips and try everything on! David's Bridal lets you save your favorite dresses into your profile on their web-site, which you can print out and bring to the store to try them on. Strapless or with straps, long or short, puffy or fitted, lacy or plain? Many choices, but within a couple of visits you'll learn the new vocabulary and you'll get an idea of what you should be looking for. My personal observation: puffy dresses look better on shorter girls, on the other hand taller girls look just so beautiful in fitted dresses. :)

2) May be the dress of your dreams will be waiting for you in David's Bridal? That will be light on the budget, as their dresses are priced between $400 and $1,000. If not, you should visit a couple of private bridal shops. In my next post I'll share the list of the shops I visited.

3) Some of the shops will allow you to take pictures, some won't, but you will remember how you felt when you tried the dresses on. How many dresses should you try? My answer - as many as it takes to find the one that makes you feel not just special, not cute, not charming, but unique, sophisticated and beautiful - nothing short of that! I think I've tried about 40 dresses before I found mine.

4) Time to eliminate: gather up your contenders for the dress and eliminate the ones that just don't look 200% great on you. It is also the time to check if you are able to sit, walk and dance in the contender dress (because sometimes we just get carried away by designs). Another cut that you might make is by budget (if budget is a part of your criteria) - as magic as this dress is for us, brides, it is still a dress for one occasion (not counting Trash The Dress sessions).

5) After the elimination rounds, make an appointment to come in and model the dresses to your most critiquing audience that you trust. Listen to what they say. After that make your decision (sometimes it can be against your panel's opinion - it is your day).

Below are my three favorite dresses (besides my dress):
Jim Hjeml Fall 2008

Melissa Sweet Fall 2009

Watters Brides

Good Luck! Enjoy the journey! And for all my friends and readers who are experienced wedding dress searchers - please share your tips!