4 Ways to Stay Sane While Planning Your DIY Wedding

A few months ago, I became a Mrs. It was the most amazing day of my life and filled with tons of Pinterest-ready & to-die-for details.

But seriously, there were so many details–I almost ran myself ragged pulling it all together. Sound familiar?

As a creative director and a mostly DIY/budget bride, it only made sense that I’d design and plan my own wedding, but the key I found to being a successful DIY bride, is planning way in advance, building out a realistic calendar for DIY projects and knowing when to hand things off to professionals. Then it’s just a matter of using great services to hack a personal touch, without having to hand-letter individual place cards, or pay for a calligrapher for every single detail (more on that later).

Write a budget's wedding budget tool

Writing a budget was a crucial step, but was really hard at the beginning. There are so many little things that you don’t think of right away. They sneak up on you at the end, and it can be really frustrating to realize that you have to spend another couple hundred dollars on something you hadn’t anticipated. My advice? Set aside a contingency fund of about 20%. Or at least beware that whatever you budget, there will be SOMETHING that comes up at the last minute, that you need to be prepared to eliminate, pay for, or hack. We made a budget and a priority list, so that as quotes from vendors came in on or above budget, we could decide whether that was something we were willing to splurge on, or what would have to go to make room in the budget.

Regardless of your budget, one of the biggest tips I can give on planning is to make a master list. Pick out the items that are most important to you as a couple as well as ALL the items that you are going to include in that budget, down to Thank You cards and the under garments you’ll wear the day of. Start with priority items and customize your budget around them. To help us get a feel for what we could afford, my fiancé and I started with the Vertex42 budget tool, which we loaded to google sheets, that way both of us had access to it as we paid for things to keep a tight eye on our spending. When our photography came in over the “default 10%” suggested by the tool, we ended up retooling the budget to fit our needs.

Get Organized

There are tons of wedding planning checklists out there, (you can find tons on Wedding Wire, Aisle Perfect, or any number of them on Pinterest) and there are some that you can use in google docs, or Microsoft Excel to keep yourself organized. I actually converted a few of these lists into tasks in Asana which was a life-saver.

If you’re not familiar with Asana, it’s an awesome tool for the DIY Bride. You can manage projects, set due dates, and manage assignments for your groom and Maid of Honor/Bridesmaids so that nothing slips through the cracks! My strategy was to break the major categories up (ceremony, flowers, invitations/correspondance, logistics, music, etc), and set myself due-dates as reminders for things I needed to get done. When things got busy, I never had to worry that I’d missed some little detail slipping through the cracks. The other great thing, was that as my “team” completed their tasks, ASANA would let me know that “bridesmaids dresses had been ordered” or “check was sent to caterer” by my fiancé.


Manage Your Time & Delegate

I would credit the one thing that kept me sane during all of the wedding prep was managing my time well, and delegating projects when I could. Folks love to get involved with weddings, so when people offered to help me do stuff, I’d take them up on it. Usually that meant inviting a girlfriend over for some vino while we tied little bows on invitations, or asking my mom to keep me company while I stuffed and sealed envelopes. Tasks that the fiancé was game to do were perfect for delegation, he’d ask if there was something he could do to help, and I’d say “Sure! How do you feel about stamping all the envelopes while you watch the King’s game tonight?” It was win-win. He would get to help while doing something he’d really prefer to do, and I got to check something off the to-do list!

Take it ‘One bite at a time.’

The ultimate advice I got for wedding planning was to take it “one bite at a time.” And with a few tools and tricks to stay organized, it was really a fun process. Just remember that it’s supposed to be fun, and don’t get too caught up in the stress that you don’t enjoy the process!

If you’re a DIY bride, did you have any tricks to help you keep your sanity during the wedding planning process?

Check back later for posts (and recipes) about how we brewed and bottled our own Mandarino liquore, how I used Moo to make beautiful tags and place cards, and other double-duty printables to save money!

 Stay fabulous.
Bachelor Parties, Entertaining, Lifestyle, Weddings

Throwing a co-ed Bachelor Party that Everyone enjoys

One of my best friends is getting married in less than a month and I got the supreme honor of being his Matron of Honor. Yep, you read that right, his.

But as much as I have experience throwing a good party, I was pretty stressed about how to take on throwing a bachelor party for a group of co-ed, cultured, 30-somethings… after all, this wasn’t going to be the stereotypical bachelorette party we’ve all attended with the stripper, night clubs or excessive shots and dare games.

You see, Mark and his fiancé Gene are quite possibly the ultimate SF couple. They are both extremely athletic (Mark is a gymnast and Gene regularly cycles a couple hundred miles for charity every year… you know, nbd) and they are both lovers of fine wine, food and all things cultured. In other words, this was not going to be an easy challenge…

Location, Location, Location

In order to stay close to SF (the majority of the party were local to the area) we opted to head to wine country. I found a darling place on airbnb (I’ll probably regret sharing this because it will always be booked up) located in Glen Ellen. It was just a 30-minute drive from both Napa and Sonoma, and within driving distance to Healdsburg and Sebastopol, leaving all of the area open for us to adventure.

Staying in a house rather than a hotel helped with the budget, as I was able to put all of Mark’s talented foodie-friends to work cooking gourmet dinners, and bringing their favorite bottles of wine to the house. Rather than racking up a huge bill at a restaurant and awkwardly dividing it, we delegated groceries and drinks and everyone brought something to share.

After a day of wine tasting in the area (Joseph Swan Winery is a hidden gem) tapas in Healdsburg and another tasting room or two, we were able to come back to the house, lounge in the cozy living room by the fire and sip on more wine while we nibbled on cheese and took turns cooking in the kitchen.

Silly Games for Adults

We may all have been over 30, but that doesn’t mean a few good games weren’t in order. I hit up Amazon before the trip and ordered some of the new (adult and somewhat inappropriate) classics:

And of course, it was a bachelor party so I threw in a few gags too for the late night giggles when we’d all had a little bit to much to drink:

Fun and Functional Swag

Being that our adventure weekend was a trip to wine country, I figured tying the swag to the occasion only made sense. I opted to order awesome custom water bottles that I had made by Metal Depot via Etsy. Crafted from premium stainless steel, the 25 oz Wine Bottle (yes, they hold an entire bottle of wine) keeps your wine cold for up to 24 hours with modern double-wall insulation technology. In the case of the bachelor weekend, we loaded them up with water so they kept us all hydrated in between wine tastings, and the variety of colors meant none of us had to worry about picking up someone else’s water all weekend long.

The team at Metal Depot was so great in helping me secure a variety of colors, and I designed my own artwork in illustrator, to create a dapper bow-tie design. You can even see the artwork highlighted on their etsy site now.

In all I think the weekend was a success. Unlike all the bachelorette parties I attended in my 20’s we didn’t require a strict schedule or an itinerary to entertain us. Instead, letting the weekend flow, and allowing for great conversation over great bottles of wine, was the order of the day. A few fun details made for some great giggles and photos (that I promised I wouldn’t share)

Fun Details

The final icing on the cake, or in this case–charm on the glasses–were hilarious glass tags of little men in speedos that marked our wine glasses all weekend long. To keep it simple, they matched our water bottles, and kept us from accidentally grabbing someone else’s Pinot.

Speedo Men Drink/Wine glass tags

Are you in charge of throwing a co-ed bachelor or bachelorette party?
Share your tips and tricks with us!

We also love to hear about how our designs or details inspire you, so please share below in the comments.

 Stay fabulous.
Fashion, What to Wear Wedesday


If there is one item in my closet that I’m absolutely obsessed with, I’d have to say it is my “LBD” Lands’ End Ponté Knit Sheath Dress.

Yep, you read that right. It’s from Lands’ End (and yes, I’m under 35, and no I don’t live the North East). But seriously, this dress is amazing. Not only is it cut beautifully, it’s made of great quality fabric–that is not only washable, it can go in the dryer, and it comes out fabulously–Every. Time.

Whether I have an important presentation at the office, a date night out with the hubby, or a party that I just couldn’t find something to wear, it’s my go-to dress.

Lands’ End LBD 3 Ways: 



My mom once taught me that if you have a great handbag and a nice pair of shoes, it almost doesn’t matter what you wear with it, so I’m always on the lookout for great essential pieces and quick to snatch up beautiful/timeless/classic shoes and handbags when they are at the right price. Last year I was lucky enough to have my family go in on a Louis Vuitton handbag for me at Christmas, so it’s my go-to bag these days, and I have to say, it doesn’t disappoint.

Since I splurge on those great bags and shoes, I have to be more conservative on my apparel purchases, so imagine my surprise this week, when I discovered a darling 3/4 sleeve Hilary Radley swing dress at COSTCO that was under $20.

Yes, you read that correctly. It was only $17–naturally, I bought one in every color.

Paired with a few pops of blush-colored accessories, some amazing (and comfortable) Vionic booties and flawless (read: well-hydrated) skin and you’re set to bring a breath of fresh air to an otherwise gray winter day.

Pink & Greige for Gray Weather Days:

What do you think fashionistas?

Show some comment love below and read more of my fashion musings over here.
Also, be sure to check out my fashion pin boards on Pinterest!

Engagements, Weddings

Designing my dream ring

White and rose gold engagement ring in Pink Mrs. BoxOne of the many plights of being design-eyed is that you can find fault in just about any design. It happens with clothing, handbags, jewelry, advertisements… the works. I’m always constantly looking at the world with an editorial eye, and thinking to myself “they should have moved that text to the right,” or “I wish that pendant wasn’t so heavy looking” or “that bag would be so much more fun if it was two-toned…” It’s why you’ll see things change up so often here around the site. I’m always finding inspiration, or looking for ways to improve.

So you can imagine the trepidation my fiancé faced when shopping for engagement rings… He once tried asking if I had a girlfriend who knew what I wanted, and I shook my head (I hadn’t really wanted to be that girl who had planned it all out down to the model number) and another time he tried taking me to a jewelry store to just pick it out together – but I poo-pooed the idea not wanting to be standing there while he negotiated payment with the jeweler…  and so, like the brilliant man he is (I love you, honey!) he smartly proposed with a simple solitaire setting that we already had in the family (thank you Nonna!) and presented the ring with the notion that I could design a setting that was “just want I wanted.”

Because we had a jeweler that was the go-to amongst family and friends in town (If you’re in SoCal check out Serengheti Jewelers in downtown San Diego) it was an easy choice to figure out who I wanted to work on my ring. A family-owned and run business that is well-trusted or has years of experience is a great place to start. Also, be sure to check out other work they’ve done to see if they match your style.

The Design Process

Getting Started

Anatomy of a Diamond Ring, as illustrated by 90210 Jewelry

A cautionary bit of advice for anyone attempting to design their own ring:

  1. Don’t rush it. Do your homework.
    You’ll want to be sure you know what you want before the jewelers get started or you’ll end up re-inventing, irritating your jeweler, and spending more money.
  2. Start a Pinterest board and zero-in on what you want.
    It’s really easy to get distracted by shiny objects, especially when that’s what you are researching. Find a style, and zero-in on the aspects you like in a ring. Make notes (i.e. I like this
  3. Try on rings!
    Try on as many as you can. Note what you love, and more importantly, note what you hate. Be sure to look at the rise of the ring (how much it sticks up from your hand) and the over-all scale on your hand.
  4. Know your terminology.
    It can be easy to figure out what you like, but hard to communicate it to your jeweler if you’re not speaking the same language. I really liked diamond & ring education at 90210 Jewelry which had a great reference of terminology.
  5. Know your priority list.
    If your significant other told you “the sky’s the limit,” well, then lucky you! But if not, the cost of custom design can vary a lot based on whether you prioritize the Four-C’s. Cut, Color, Clary and Carat weight and metal. I knew that I could compromise in the karat of the gold (and that I didn’t necessarily need platinum) which was good to know when I increased the carat weight of the pave diamonds in round 2 of the design process.

Sketching and Cad Drawings

Most jewelers will either sketch or mock-up your ring after an initial consultation. Some may even have similar rings in their inventory to show you. If you’re selecting a center stone to be a part of the design, that will be the first step. In my case, I was using an heirloom diamond from my grandmother “Nonna.”

This is your chance to speak up, so be sure to use a critical eye when looking at designs. This is not the time to be bashful, or you’ll be stuck with a design feature that bugs you for eternity!

Fine Tuning

My jeweler had an amazing feature where he was able to 3d-print my ring for me. This meant I was actually able to touch, hold, feel and wear the ring (as it would be before the diamonds were placed).

It was a good thing he did so, because when I put on the ring, the profile view “W” that we had set into the cathedral was jut too tall. As you can see here, I actually had them make the W less dramatic, a compromise to bring the height of the design down.

The End Result: Pure Joy

In the end, I have a ring that I just absolutely adore. What’s better, is that it is 100% my own, and has little touches that no one else has. I get at least one compliment on it a day (usually more) and my husband loves to show it off (because I designed it). So if you’re thinking about going your own way, take the plunge! Do your homework, find a designer you trust and make your dream ring come to life!

White and rose gold engagement ring in Pink Mrs. Box


Engagements, Weddings

Otherwise Engaged

You may have noticed a little bit of radio silence here at ALMD. But that’s because our very own ‘Elle’ got engaged and we’ve been ramping up on planning for her big day. Be sure to check back to see how the wedding comes together with some amazing personal touches and DIYs!

In the meantime, check out this beautiful white gold and rose gold double halo stunner featuring white and pink diamonds, which was designed by Elle –her brilliant fiancé proposed with a basic solitaire and let her design her own custom setting!

Considering designing custom ring for yourself or your significant other? Check out Elle’s post about the design process here.


Fashion, What to Wear Wedesday


The weather’s warming up, which means our calendar is filling up here at Hauteshoe Studio. Just last weekend I shot a darling lemonade stand styled shoot, and I’m really looking forward to a couple of engagements and couple’s portraits this spring.

For such occasions, something casual with a punch of flare is my usual go-to suggestion for clients. Gone are the days of the boring button down and jeans, so here’s that look with a ‘haute’ twist.

A chambray shirt and white shorts can fall a little flat, so to really bring some life to this look, I’ve added a pop of gold, and my favorite hot pink. Put him in jeans and a button-down with sleeves rolled up and you’ve got yourself a great pair.

Sequins + Chambray:

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Show some comment love below and read more of my fashion musings over here.
Also, be sure to check out my fashion pin boards on Pinterest!

Fashion, What to Wear Wedesday


What to Wear Wednesday on a Friday?

Sorry I’m late fashionistas, I’ve been on the road. So let’s get down to it:

I just love when Opening Day rolls around for baseball season!
And no, it’s not because I’m a Padres fan, or because I like watching men run around in cute uniforms (though both are true). And though for the right seats I could easily be talked into enjoying a beer and a game–I’m excited because the start of baseball season means that the start of sailing season is just around the corner… That Opening Day.

The start of Del Mar season usually calls for fancy dresses, high heels and some amazing hats, the commencement of the sailing season is something that calls for an outfit that is both fashionable and functional. So today, inspired by one of my new favorite brands Lemon & Line I give you the look I’ll be going for when opening day rolls around:

Lemon and Lines:

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Show some comment love below and read more of my fashion musings over here.
Also, be sure to check out my fashion pin boards on Pinterest!

Fashion, What to Wear Wedesday


Since I spent last weekend at the yacht club with my family for Easter brunch, I got a chance to see my own little fashion show of some of this season’s hottest ‘cruise wear.’ And while I’m a fan of the asymmetrical chiffon dress, big navy blue and white stripes and espadrilles (you’ll probably see them pop up on here at some point) I’m also a huge fan of the classics and not looking like the woman who got invited to the yacht club, but rather the woman who belongs there.

Mixing metals is hot right now–rose, yellow & white gold (the Michael Kors watch just ties it all together) and I love adding just a pop of color. Any one of these pieces can be dressed up or down, but I think the combination gives off a sort of effortless class.

An Afternoon Aboard:

What do you think? What’s your favorite piece in this look?

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Show some comment love below and read more of my fashion musings over here.
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Fashion, What to Wear Wedesday

Love Your Valentine’s Style | A Night In ♥ A Night Out

Oh Valentine’s Day. I both love and hate you.

It’s a day that can be filled with anticipation (if you have someone to be schmoopy with) or filled with bon-bon’s and chick flicks if you don’t.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered this year with what to wear–whether you’re stepping out on the town–or burning photos of your exes with your gal pals. Either way, have fun with it!

Valentine’s Style | A Night In ♥ A Night Out:

How will you be spending Valentine’s Day this year?

Like this post?

Show some comment love below and read more of my fashion musings over here.
Also, be sure to check out my fashion pin boards on Pinterest!