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Expert Advice

When to Get Your Last Haircut Before Your Wedding

And other beauty must-do's the month before the big day.

By Caroline Cunningham
The ExpertMonth OfWeek OfDay Of

Luigi Parasmo
Stylist/Co-Owner, Luigi Parasmo Salon and Spa
Schedule a trial run with your wedding-day hair-stylist. Bring your veil and any hairpieces to help visualize the final look. Your last haircut should be two months before your wedding. Color and highlight your hair—the color will soften and fade lightly after a couple of shampoos. If you’re wearing your hair up, avoid cutting or trimming it; even half an inch can make a difference in updo manageability. Head to a salon for a hair glaze and blowout the night before. The glaze will help keep hair shiny and the blowout can be worn at the rehearsal dinner. Do not wash your hair the morning of your wedding. Freshly washed strands can be slippery, which means you’ll need more bobby pins and hairspray to maintain your look.

Carlene Thomas
Author, The Wedding Wellness Workbook
It’s crunch time. Opt for whole grains, which are packed with fiber and B vitamins. Add spinach to sandwiches and smoothies, use olive oil as salad dressing, and swap out mayo for avocado. Reach for beauty foods such as berries, salmon, and nuts for other meals and snacks. Make healthy options automatic during a hectic time by preparing or purchasing foods the weekend before. Hydrate with dandelion and green teas, which reduce bloating and rev your metabolism. Remember to eat no matter how busy (or nervous) you get. Opt for a protein-packed breakfast (veggie omelette with salmon, fruit-and-nut yogurt parfait) to avoid bloating and maintain energy. Ask someone in the bridal party to make sure you have food in your dressing room.

Dr. Sherry Maragh
Founder, Northern Virginia Dermatology, Vein & Surgery Center
This is the deadline for considering wrinkle fillers or Botox. Avoid aggressive skin treatments like chemical peels and lasers from now until after the wedding; a hydrafacial by a licensed technician will lift dead cells, clean pores, and leave skin looking radiant. Schedule facial waxing and threading this week so any redness has a few days to resolve. Decrease the use of any products containing retinol or glycolic acid; these can cause redness or increase sun sensitivity on the wedding day. Get plenty of rest the night before, and stay hydrated. Resist the temptation to squeeze any “stress” pimples; instead, apply an acne spot treatment and cover with makeup. Apply primer before makeup to control natural oils and prevent shine, and bring along rice-paper blotters for between photos.

Expert Advice

Quiz: What Kind of Washington Couple are You Actually?

Is your love the stuff DC dreams are made of?

By Sarah Zlotnick Photograph by Melinda Sue Gordon for Netflix.

Do you feed off each other's ambition, or do you get more excited supporting your other half while they work to make this world a better place? Is "this town" your favorite town, a town you visit on the weekends, or just the town you live in? Do Frank and Claire embody your #relationshipgoals, or is theirs a love to be avoided at all costs?

What kind of Washington couple are you? Take our quiz and find out!

Expert Advice

When to Save While Wedding Planning—and When to Splurge

Nar Hovnanian and Sugar Taylor of Taylor & Hov share how to cut costs.

By Caroline Cunningham
Nar Hovnanian (left) and Sugar Taylor (right) have been working together to design weddings for six years. Photograph by Michelle Vantine Photography.

A Silver Spring event design duo—Nar Hovnanian and Sugar Taylor—are behind Taylor & Hov, and they've planned weddings with budgets from $35,000 to $300,000. Here's their tips to make your budget work for you.

Cut costs where your guests won’t notice the difference.
Get a small cake to cut and have sheet cakes in the back to feed guests. Don’t print menus and programs for everyone; you can display one program creatively for all to see using a large frame, and either skip menus entirely or print just one per table. Save money on food by opting for a buffet meal or hosting a brunch wedding.

Avoid Pinterest envy.
It’s easy to see something on Pinterest and say I want that! Executing it for 150 people, on the other hand, can cost a lot more than you think. Start planning your design early enough to have wiggle room. A good event designer can look at a Pinterest board and tell you approximately how much that design will cost for your guest count.

Never skimp on your photographer or flowers. Pictures are so important—make sure you pay for quality! Choose a photographer whose work you are excited about. Please don’t try to do flowers yourself. It’s an added stress that you won’t want to think about the week before your wedding. Instead, save money by shopping for local and in-season blooms.

Limit your liquor.
Don't go for a full bar. Instead choose, beer, wine and one or two signature cocktails to cut down on alcohol costs.

Remember: Products are pricey.
Rentals, purchases, food, alcohol, flowers, linens—all the details cost money. Go with the standard dining ware that your caterer has to offer, use the same chairs for both your ceremony and reception, and try your best to utilize what the venue already has.

Trim your guest list.
The more guests you have, the larger the budget. If you don’t want to spend much on your wedding, keep it intimate.

Related: Taylor + Hov Used Hanging Terrariums as Decor in this Long View Gallery Wedding

Expert Advice

15 Things You Need to Know Before Creating Your Wedding Registry

Real brides share their thoughts on registering.

By Caroline Cunningham Photographs by Kip Dawkins.

As you’re gearing up for your wedding, registering can be a daunting task. On top of planning your dream day, you’ve got to plan and pick out the items you want to use for the rest of your life. No pressure, right? That’s why we’ve reached out to 80 brides who have been there and done that to get their best advice on registering. Check out the 15 things these brides think you need to know before you go, then head to these stores to register with your future spouse a little more informed.

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Expert Advice

Save Money on Wedding Flowers With These 3 Rules

Make your wedding a blooming success without blowing your budget.

By Jennifer Barger Holly Heider Chapple created this cheerful bouquet using daffodils and spirea from her own garden. Photograph by Jodi Miller Photography.

Blame a thousand peony-filled Pinterest boards and the trend toward wild, garden-style bridal arrangements: outfitting a wedding with beautiful blooms is not an inexpensive endeavor. Factor in seasonality, shipping costs, and durability, and totals can wind up far higher than what a couple is prepared to pay.

“Each couple has to make personal choices about their flower budget, and where they’ll save and splurge,” says Holly Heider Chapple, a Lucketts, Virginia-based floral designer. Here’s how to navigate those decisions and still get the style you want.

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Expert Advice

Tell Us About Your Bridal Party, Win $150 to Tuckernuck!

Complete our survey about your bridal party for a chance to be featured in the next issue of Washingtonian Bride & Groom.

By Caroline Cunningham Photograph by Timmester Photography.

No matter how many people you plan to have standing beside you on your wedding day, picking your bridal party is an important part of the wedding planning process. Who do you choose to be one of your attendants? How do you decide? How much is too much to make your bridesmaids spend on a dress? Matching shoes or pick your own? Do you need to give them all gifts?

That’s why we’re coming to you, experienced brides who have been there and done that. We’re looking to you to provide advice for future brides who are faced with all the questions listed above, and more, as they select the people who are going to stand beside them on their big day.

Please fill out our brief, ten-question survey about how you made your decisions regarding your bridal party for a chance to be featured in the next issue of Washingtonian Bride & Groom and a shot at a $150 gift certificate to Tuckernuck, an awesome clothing and accessories company based in Georgetown.

Find the questionnaire HERE.

Expert Advice

What Wedding Guests Really Want

One of Washington's most in-demand wedding attendees tells all.

By Sarah Zlotnick Photograph by Annamarie Akins Photography

Affable, outgoing, and a hit on every dance floor, Johnny Haffey just may be DC’s most in-demand wedding guest. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle: the more word gets out about the 29-year-old Logan Circle resident, the more invite lists he winds up on. Haffey has attended more than 40 nuptials, with five on the docket for 2015. Also an ace on the subject of what pleases party-goers, we asked him the questions you’re dying to put to your own guests.

Keep Reading ...

Expert Advice

How to Incorporate Social Media into your Wedding

Manage your wedding in cyberspace without missing a moment in reality.

By Karina Giglio Illustration by Alli Arnold

Your stance on social media is the wedding equivalent of Democrat versus Republican: On one side of the petal-strewn aisle are hashtag-happy couples; on the other, those so determined to go unplugged that they ask guests to check smartphones at the door and keep any mention of their special day off the World Wide Web.

“Weddings across the board are getting more digital. Hashtags were uncommon in 2012, but over half of the weddings in 2013 had one. I’ve seen charging stations for battery-challenged guests, and I’ve seen projectors that display photos snapped with the wedding hashtag. When something new and digital seems outlandish, pretty quickly it becomes the new normal,” says Sophie Pyle, founder of DC’s Tweet the Bride, which sends a social-media artist to document your day so you—and your guests—don’t have to. “The idea of a wedding website was absurd a few years ago, but now it’s standard for easy access for booking hotels, buying off the registry, and getting to know a couple’s story.” In other words, your wedding already relies on the internet for several elements, so why not make the most of digital love?

Whichever side of the aisle you’re on, here’s our guide to navigating your nuptials with social media.

“Is our wedding trending on Twitter?”

There’s no limit to the “likes” you’ll get if you’re social-media savvy during your celebration. Many couples create a hashtag so that they can easily search sites for guests’ photos, a great opportunity to see moments they may have missed or to view their celebration from many different perspectives. Hashtags can be your two names à la #BradAndAngie or a clever, Us-worthy combo like #Brangelina.

Let your guests know your hashtag by making it prominent on your invitations, wedding website, wedding programs, and chalkboard or printed signs, advises Frances Reimers, a marketing executive who also consults for weddings.

There’s an App for That

Send an e-mail before the wedding weekend asking guests to download an app to keep track of wedding details and upload any photos they take. Favorites include the free Wedding Party app, a free app, or Appy Couple, which offers $35 and $69 packages.

Not sure if you want everyone to see the pictures before you do—or don’t want to broadcast your wedding to those who weren’t invited? “When clients prefer that only actual guests at the wedding are able to view the photos, I suggest creating a Shutterfly Share site, where it’s easy for individuals to upload their photos to one established location, via a password, and the bride and groom can order photos or create a book—something you can’t do through Twitter,” says Gretchen Learman Burrier, owner of DC’s Blue Ribbon Events.

If you’re somewhere in the middle, make like Northern Virginia-based photographer Natasha Naomi, who used her professional experience when deciding about guests snapping away at her own nuptials. “I went the George Clooney route and rented iPods from Wedit, and I assigned five people to take video and pics during the ceremony and reception,” she says. “The iPod doesn’t allow them to e-mail, text, or post the videos or images anywhere—only Wedit can get them off the iPods.” Editing packages cost $199 for a three-to-five-minute highlight reel, or $349 for a 30-to-60-minute video in addition to the highlights.

Hire a pro (or semipro)

“The bride and groom should be enjoying the day with their guests, not communicating with the world,” says Reimers. Designate a friend or hire a professional to live-tweet the wedding and coordinate all posts so that you can stay in the moment instead of on your phone. Companies like Tweet the Bride even provide instant professional photos that can be browsed on Instagram and Twitter by anyone who knows the hashtag.

Make sure to provide your media manager with guidelines and the authority to remove any inappropriate posts. The cost for a social-media manager depends on the person selected, but for someone who’s not a family member or friend, budget $40 to $100 an hour.

Check your phone at the door?

“In 2014, it’s harder than ever to set digital boundaries for guests. Cell-phone bans are difficult to enforce,” says Pyle. “If you really don’t want them in use, try to set up elegant signs at entryways to events and tell a few guests to help spread the word.”

Not ready to go quite that far—or think you’ll be facing a sea of pouts on the happiest day of your life? Establish ground rules for guests—and keep reminding them.

For example, be specific about what can and can’t be posted, and when. “I always like to snap pictures of the wedding party getting ready, but I hold photos of the bride, the groom, and the parents until after the ceremony to post as ‘latergrams,’” says Pyle.

And since there are no do-overs when saying “I do,” request that guests leave the photography to the actual photographer during especially meaningful intervals. “Sometimes guests think they’re being helpful by taking photos during the ceremony. But if someone happens to take their iPad or phone and lean far into the aisle to snap the first kiss, then it can definitely get in the way of an important moment that only happens once,” says Arlington-based photographer Abby Jiu, who keeps an eye out before the ceremony for snap-happy guests so she can talk to them about how to stay out of each other’s way.

Put your social-media do’s and don’ts on your wedding website, ceremony program, or a sign at the entry. Or enlist someone who will have everyone’s attention. “In more and more weddings I shoot, the officiant is the one who announces that the bride and groom have asked that no pictures be taken during the ceremony. This is so I can do my job and get awesome photos of friends and family instead of friends and family and 60 cameras and iPhones up in the air,” says Naomi.

Remember, too, that it’s completely appropriate to politely request that someone take down a photo. After all, the wedding lasts one day, but the posted images will live in cyberspace forever.

Washingtonian Bride & Groom LOVES social media! Find us on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.

Expert Advice

Got Awkward Wedding Planning Questions? We Can Help With That.

André Wells to the rescue, people.

By Sarah Zlotnick Photo courtesy of André Wells.

It's a good thing getting married is a grown-up activity, because wedding planning can come with a whole host of sticky grown-up issues to tackle. For every fun decision you make (Blue or pink for the cocktail napkins?), there's an equally uncomfortable one (Can I leave my bridesmaid's terrible boyfriend off the invite list?), and figuring out what to do isn't always clear-cut.

We know you have questions (Seriously, who are the people that don't have questions?), and we want to help you find the answers. Which is precisely why we've tapped André Wells of Events by André Wells as our new go-to guru of wedding etiquette. With 4,000 special events under his belt, Wells is one of the top events specialist in the DC area, and as a full-service wedding planner he has helped couples tackle everything from policing the guest list to designing the perfect peace-keeping seating chart. His client list also includes Vanessa Redgrave, Patti Labelle, and Aretha Franklin, so you know he's handled bigger divas than your new mother-in-law.

So what things wedding are keeping you up at night? Is it deciding which co-workers to invite? Or perhaps figuring out how to keep your mom from dominating every decor element when she's the one funding the day? No situation is too big or too small to discuss. Let us know your troubles in the comments below, or find us on Twitter, shoot us a Facebook message, inbox us on Instagram, or send an email to realweddings@washingtonian.com. We'll round up the questions, and Wells will provide the counsel. You'll see his insights here on the B&G blog in a helpful new feature called "Ask Andre", in which he'll weigh in on everything from dealing with overbearing family members to keeping unruly groomsmen in check. He is a seasoned siphon of real deal advice, and we can't wait to pick his brain with you.

Find the vendors that will make your wedding dreams come true with Washingtonian Bride & Groom's preferred vendor list!

Expert Advice

Expert Advice: Shopping for Engagement Rings Online vs. In Store

With Mervis Diamond Importers chief growth officer Jonathan Mervis.

By Caroline Cunningham Image via Shutterstock/Syda Productions.

The Mervis Diamond Importers brand has a long history in Washington, with roots in South Africa that go back to the 1930s. Jonathan Mervis has grown up with the brand and now serves as the chief growth officer for the family business’s three area locations. But after his years experiencing the Mervis method for selecting high-quality stones, he has seen first-hand the dangers of thinking purchases from giant online retailers and in-store diamond purchases are one and the same.

Every diamond in a Mervis Diamond store has been hand-picked.

"We go overseas, and we’ll look at hundreds of diamonds to pick ten that we like. We invest millions of dollars into product that we think is the best and that we can be proud of," says Mervis.

Buying a diamond online leaves it up to your own discretion—buying in a store leaves it up to the experts.

"Many shoppers are buying a diamond for the first time," says Mervis. "You can do your own surgery, or you can get a doctor to help you. Take advantage of the guidance of an expert that has done this for 20 or 30 years that can teach you to get the most bang for your buck—or as we joke, the most bling for your buck."

Even if two diamonds online have the same grading, the certificates don’t tell all.

"Having hundreds of options that look good on a computer screen because they have the same color and clarity lettering grades is fool’s gold," says Mervis. "In our industry those that are knowledgeable know that certificate is legitimate—they’re not lying when they say something is a G color or SI quality—but even if it's a GSI, not all GSI are the same. There are the intangibles of the sparkle and brilliance, and ultimately what you derive value from is the sparkle and the brilliance and everybody saying, 'Wow!'"

Treat your diamond buying experience like a relationship.

"If you met someone online, you wouldn’t just agree to marry them without ever meeting. That’s sort of what it’s like if you buy a diamond online," says Mervis. "The certificate tells you the color and clarity, and like a driver’s license will tell you the hair color, eye color, and height, but it doesn’t tell you everything about the person. It doesn’t tell you if they’ve got a sparkling personality or if they’re a little bit dull. And even if you see a picture of them, it doesn’t tell you if they’re fun to hang out with or if you couldn’t stand them after a week."

Shopping for a ring is supposed to be an emotional experience, not just the click of a mouse.

"It’s a romantic endeavor and part of the journey—it’s not just about delivering the product," says Mervis. "It’s the experience that is so important to us, which is why I sometimes put out chocolates or champagne—I want people to feel comfortable and excited."

Mervis Diamond Importers:

1900 Mervis Way, Tysons; (703) 448-9000

1700 K St., NW; (202) 293-0600

1775 Rockville Pike, Rockville; (301) 231-0030


We are always thankful for the support of our sponsors! Thank you to Mervis Diamond Importers for sponsoring this content.

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