Behind the scenes tricks for planning Elle’s Big Day

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.
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.
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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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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?

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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!