Nine mistakes all newly engaged brides make


(Photo:cheap formal dresses online)GETTING engaged comes with a wide range of emotions.

First, you’ll feel so suffocated with excitement and joy that you’ll cry happy tears. Then you’ll want to let every single person you’ve ever known that you’re going to marry the person of your dreams. And finally, you’ll find yourself with your head in your hands wondering where the heck you should start.

As you start your wedding planning adventure, here are nine of the most common mistakes all newly engaged brides tend to make.


As soon as that ring cuddles up to your left hand, you’ll suddenly have the urge to flip through every bridal magazine in sight and spend countless hours browsing the web for wedding ideas and inspiration.

You may even find yourself in a race to pick your date and book as many vendors as you can in the first 48 hours. Remember to take it easy and take it slow. You don’t need to plan everything at once or even everything in the first month or two. Spread your wedding decisions out over the course of 3-4 months. That way you can make decisions that aren’t rushed or filled with a mountain of stress.


You’ll find yourself on cloud nine of happiness that you may forget to tell the people closest to you about this major milestone. So before you blast it on social media, make sure you call your immediate family and good friends. That way, they can hear about your engagement before the rest of the world does.


If you begin to feel overwhelmed about where to begin and what to do next, be sure to ask for help from the people around you. You can even reach out to friends who have gotten married already or friends who are currently engaged for advice and tools that they found worked best for them.


Don’t rush to decide who you want your bridesmaids to be. Just because you got engaged, doesn’t mean you need to invite your leading ladies to take on their bridesmaid role yet. Spend some time deciding how big of a bridal party you want before you hand out the bridesmaid invitations.


Everyone knows weddings can get expensive and the moment you’ll engaged, you’ll start to see that clearly. One of the very first things you should do is set a budget and stick to it. Once you have a budget, you’ll be able to research vendors and take pricing into account.


When you’re engaged, the people around you will ask you a lot of questions and try to make wedding decisions for you — especially family members. Even if everything they are saying sounds amazing, don’t rush into an automatic yes just yet. Spend time deciding what kind of wedding you want before agreeing to the kind of wedding they want.


Don’t hand out verbal invites so quickly. Make a guest list first and then send out save the dates. That’s how people will know if they are invited. If you start handing out verbal invitations to everyone all at once, you’ll forget who you invited or end up inviting a large group of people you didn’t really want to invite in the first place.


Take a break from the wedding world every once in a while, when you first get engaged. If not, you’ll become wedding obsessed and over stressed.


While a lot of the excitement about being engaged is the idea of the giant wedding to come, spend some time enjoying the engagement milestone. Have a mini-party with family or friends. Pop open a bottle of champagne and enjoy it with your new fiance and forever love of your life.Read more at:unique formal dresses

Five HABA Categories to Watch in 2016


(Photo:short formal dresses)If your personal care section hasn’t branched out much beyond moisturizers and bar soap, you (and your shoppers) could be missing out on some up-and-coming product areas. Check out these skin and hair care categories, which are seeing increased interest from shoppers.

1. Bye-Bye Plastic Beads

At the tail end of 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law The Microbead-Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321), which bans the sale of products containing microbeads. Microbeads are tiny plastic bits used as exfoliators in soaps, scrubs and toothpaste. This bill, with thumbs up from many in the natural products industry, phases out their use and fully eliminates them by July 1, 2017.

“This ban is great news and should have happened a long time ago, especially with so many natural alternatives available that do not pollute our oceans and lakes,” says Adam Grossman, cofounder and CEO, The Seaweed Bath Co., Austin, TX.

To Grossman’s point, millions of plastic microbeads wash down the drain and enter the water system every year. This endangers marine life, which consume the beads by accident. The plastic could even enter our food supply in this manner.

As if this were not bad enough, Santosh Krinsky, president of Lotus Brands, Inc., Twin Lakes, WI, says plastic microbeads have other serious detrimental environmental problems, including the negative effects associated with petroleum and its byproducts.

“There is no need to use microbeads for exfoliation or even for esthetics when Mother Nature offers so many natural alternatives,” says Amy McKelvey, senior brand and communications director at Andalou Naturals, Petaluma, CA.

These physical exfoliation options from Mother Nature, she states, include papaya, kombucha and pumpkin puree for an enzymatic exfoliation.

Demara sugar is also good for scrubbing, as are dried fruit seeds like apricot, raspberry or strawberry, suggest Jess Piestrup and Whitney Acheson, owners of Moody Sisters Skincare, Cashmere, WA.

Meredith Soden, communications manager at EO Products, Corte Madera, CA, brings up another interesting option for sustainable alternatives to microbeads: candelilla wax. “Candelilla is a waxy powder that coats the Euphorbia cerifera plant, a succulent-like plant that is native to semi-desert climates,” she states. “The wax can be used in skin care products to provide texture for physical exfoliation.”

To this list, Grossman adds coffee grounds, which he says make “healthy, effective exfoliators without the negative consequences on our environment.”

Timothy Schaeffer, senior vice president of marketing at Mineral Fusion, Denver, CO, says his firm uses walnut shells combined with enzymatic exfoliants (papain and bromelain) in a scrub to offer deep exfoliation and promote soft skin.

Other natural exfoliants include external tools such as ayate washcloths, loofah sponges and bath brushes, says Krinsky.

Expect these options to get hot as companies focusing on synthetic products reformulate. Just be sure that shoppers are aware of the benefits of the real deal: natural exfoliators with no parabens, chemicals or synthetic fragrances in sight.

2. Don’t Sweat It

Fans of the WholeFoods What’s Selling page have likely noticed a common theme in our listing of popular HABA offerings: shoppers love natural deodorant.

To many consumers, the switch from the drug store variety to natural isn’t a hard sell. Soden explains why: “Drug store deodorants are full of toxic chemicals and ingredients that clog pores and prevent our bodies from sweating, which is a normal, healthy function.”

Hilary Orr McMahon, founder of Honestly pHresh, Huntington Beach, CA, elaborates on this point. She states, “It’s part of the body’s natural detoxification process. Sweat is also odorless. Only when mixed with the bacteria on our skin does it turn to body odor.”

Many antiperspirants contain aluminum, which blocks pores to prevent sweating. Several industry experts, like Soden and Orr McMahon, feel this is a very bad technique. Not only does it put a roadblock in front of a healthy bodily function, but it can also ruin clothing. When sweat reacts with the aluminum in conventional antiperspirants, it can cause unsightly stains to develop, especially on cotton materials.

“All-natural deodorants eliminate costly yellow pit stains on clothes and toxic ingredients,” states Amy Cazin, founder and chief executive officer, P3 Organics, LLC, Pflugerville, TX.

The chief types of aluminum in deodorant—aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium—are actually classified as drugs, says Eric Rabichow, senior vice president of French Transit, Ltd. (maker of Crystal Deodorants), Burlingame, CA. He asks, “Did you realize you were putting a drug on your skin every day? Most consumers do not.”

He calls this a “cheap and antiquated way of solving the age-old problem of body odor.”

There’s another major problem with aluminum-based products: some believe antiperspirant use may be linked with diseases like breast cancer. One study published in 2005, for instance, found that aluminum-based compounds applied regularly near the breasts may be absorbed through the skin and cause estrogen-like effects (1). Estrogen is said to promote breast cancer cell growth. One study found that cuts made in skin during underarm shaving may allow the passage of aluminum and other chemicals even more readily to tissue with estrogen receptors (2).

Meanwhile, other research suggests that the parabens found in many synthetic health and beauty aid (HABA) products are also endocine disruptors, another possible factor in the development of breast cancer (2). One 2004 study found parabens in 90% of human breast tumors tested (2). Combining various types of parabens may be even worse for the body (3).

Experts at the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and elsewhere have assured the American public that there’s nothing to worry about, with the belief that any aluminum absorption from antiperspirants is extremely minimal. But, many shoppers would prefer to eliminate the risk altogether and choose a natural product.

According to Piestrup and Acheson, there’s more to worry about: synthetic fragrances. “A fragrance can contain up to 100 different synthetic chemicals—many of which are known skin irritants,” they say. “Fragrances may also contain phthalates, which studies have linked to hormone changes, diabetes and thyroid irregularities…While your drug store variety deodorant may be cheaper, there can be a great cost when risking your health with chemical deodorants.”

So, what’s available for your shelves as an alternative? Plenty.

In addition to ingredient and scent variety, you will find several product formats. Stick deodorant is popular for its convenience. “I think the advantage of using a stick is the ease of application,” says Orr McMahon. “Most people prefer this method and when switching to a natural option, most consumers would opt for the stick for familiarity.”

Adds Katie Shaw, licensed esthetician and education manager at Nature’s Gate, Chatsworth, CA, “[Stick deodorant] applies evenly and smoothly to the underarms so you can feel confident that you are covered throughout the day.”

Companies are also branching out to other formats. EO, for instance, makes organic aerosol spray deodorants that are safe for the environment. “These are a healthy alternative to drug store deodorants, the only difference being that some people need to apply more often,” says Soden.

Another format available on the natural market are deodorant wipes (from companies like EO Products), which are intended for shoppers that travel or want to use them on-the-go.

You may also have noticed the trend toward jarred, spreadable deodorant. Orr McMahon says one key advantage to this format is effectiveness.

In addition, says Cazin, “Spreadable deodorants make it easier to control the amount and coverage of the deodorant and they tend to apply much better—and at least for ours—outperforming traditional sticks.”

Application of spreadable products is straightforward. Remove a pea-sized amount of product from the jar (many come with a spatula), use the fingers to warm and soften it, and then gently apply a thin layer.

Some say the spreadable format is more economical than other forms of deodorant since less product is needed, but shoppers tend to apply more than is actually needed.

Also speaking of economical products, Rabichow says his firm’s rock deodorant can last for a year or more. “The idea that natural deodorants are more expensive than mainstream deodorants is actually a misconception,” he states.

For shoppers that have never tried it before, tell them that rock deodorant must be dampened or applied to wet skin for use.

Piestrup and Acheson say one of the most under-rated deodorant types is a powder that can be applied with a soft powder puff all over the body and layered with other products. “Powdered deodorant can also be a little messy to apply at first, but the greatest benefit is that it can be applied over cream or spreadable deodorants for dual protection,” they say.

There’s another point about natural deodorants to consider beyond format. Many use baking soda as their chief active ingredient to neutralize odor. “Baking soda works wonderfully for most, but can cause awful rashes for some people—even those that don’t typically have sensitive skin,” explain Piestrup and Acheson.

They say this can turn off first-time natural deodorant buyers. “If they don’t know that baking soda is the culprit, they may try a few natural brands and then just give up on natural deodorants altogether and go back to the commercial chemical-laden brands.”

The pair says one gentle natural alternative is bentonite clay, “which helps neutralize the odor-causing bacteria and pull toxins away from your skin.”

3. Mud Mouth

This past fall, WholeFoods Magazine covered the growing trend of charcoal, mud and clay facial products. But, have you ever thought about using them on your teeth?

Some consumers are strong believers in it. “Our Earthpaste is easily the most interesting new product in the oral care department,” says Darryl Bosshardt, business development at Redmond Trading Company, Heber City, UT. He admits, “Mud-based toothpaste sounds crazy, but it really works.”

His firm combines water, Redmond clay, Real Salt, essential oils and xylitol (most products) in its brand. Don’t expect it to foam (there’s no sodium lauryl sulfate) or be sparkling white (it’s tan or brown). But, Bosshardt says customers and oral health professionals have given the line positive feedback.

Meanwhile, another company working in this area, My Magic Mud, says its “mud” tooth powder detoxifies, removes plaque/stains and whitens. This dark powder can be scrubbed on the teeth for two minutes and then slowly spit near the drain to avoid splatter. Then, consumers can rinse their mouths again with water. Some use it in the shower. The firm believes the product works even better with prolonged use and is suitable for those with sensitive teeth. The product is a combination of activated coconut shell charcoal, calcium bentonite clay, organic orange peel extract and organic mint extract.

Meanwhile, Cazin says her firm has a tooth powder (Tough Teeth) with natural detoxifying clays, salts and antimicrobial oils that are “great for oral health and make your teeth truly feel more clean than the pastes that can leave a yucky film.”

4. No Flakes

Flaky hair is never in style. There are a variety of reasons why shoppers have this issue, but many shoppers have trouble getting to the root of the problem.

“It’s unfortunate that so many consumers believe that they just happen to have a sensitive or troubled scalp,” says McKelvey. “Itching and flaking are some of the most common side effects of using chemical hair products.”

DEA, MEA, TEA, formaldehyde, synthetic colors, dyes and fragrances, phthalates and parabens, she says, are all irritating, and can cause a “chain of reactivity that that causes inflammation and uneven oil production on the scalp,” says McKelvey.

One ingredient that Krinsky says poses real problems is the sodium lauryl sulfate found in most commercial shampoo. They are said to strip the hair and scalp of natural oils, dry them out and cause irritation.

The scalp needs some oil on its surface to be healthy, but when production slows or becomes uneven from harsh topical products, problems occur. “Toxic chemical based shampoos strip all the natural oils (sebum) from your hair and scalp and can be the lead culprit attributing to dandruff and itchy scalp,” says Cazin.

Synthetic chemicals can also seep into the body through the skin and hair follicles, potentially negatively affecting the body. Says Bosshardt, “For some, simply switching from chemical based products to a simple natural formula is all it takes.”

Natural products are often gentle, nourishing and soothing, and there are many options on your shelves to help shoppers with itchy scalps.

Says Caity Stuart, educator at the W.S. Badger Company, Gilsum, NH, “Depending on the ingredients, natural haircare products can be a gentle and effective way to curb dryness and itchiness of the scalp.”

Oils like argan have inflammation-balancing properties, says McKelvey, as well as nourishing vitamin E to calm the scalp. Soden also says that fenugreek extract has anti-inflammatory properties and also nourish and soothe scalps. And Krinsky says rosemary and tea tree oils in shampoo “can be of great benefit as well.”

As for tangerine oil, McKelvey says it “gently cleanses and brightens, invigorating follicles and circulation.” Lavender can help refresh the scalp, she says, and support healthy circulation.

Meanwhile, meadowsweet balances sebum production and counteracts bacteria. McKelvey also speaks of other scalp-support ingredients like camelina oil (nourishes), sweet orange oil (revitalizes hair follicles) and milk thistle extract (detoxifies the scalp and hair shaft).

Stuart adds that jojoba oil “quickly moisturizes and hydrates the scalp by penetrating deeply into the roots.” Plus, essential oils like rosemary and tea tree help cleanse the scalp. Some shoppers also like peppermint oil because it offers a cooling sensation.

Schaeffer adds that shampoos with salicylic acid are good ideas for shoppers concerned about flakes. “It’s a natural ingredient and part of the FDA monograph for antidandruff products,” he explains, noting that one antidandruff shampoo from his company contains 2% salicylic acid and mineral rich clay to help control flakes. “In addition to the flake-reducing properties, our natural ingredients help to stimulate the scalp and follicle while aiding in healthy cell functioning,” he states.

5. Ask for a Mask

Masks are huge in skincare right now, and for good reason. They do wonderful things for the skin.

“Toxins bombard the skin (the largest organ of the human body) every day,” says Stacy Broff, Diamond Girl Media, spokesperson for Larenim, Worthington, OH. “Masks draw out toxins and other wastes, helping skin stay healthy and clear.”

Clay, especially bentonite, is a big ingredient in this area, especially for those looking for benefits specific to acne, fine lines, sun damage and more. Bosshardt calls this ingredient “the single best ingredient for a mask…A natural, clean, simple, clay mask (just clay and water) is a great way to clean the pores, increase circulation and improve tone.”

Broff explains why this works: “As a [bentonite] clay mask dries, it firms and tightens, drawing out toxins and impurities which have embedded beneath the surface of the skin. This tightening process can also enhance the revitalization process by increasing circulation to the top layer of skin.”

Piestrup and Acheson are fans of bentonite clay, but also like Dead Sea mud masks. They say, “Dead Sea mud improves the appearance of your skin by boosting elasticity and refining pores—both of which help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Bentonite clay and Dead Sea mud are both known to have an abundance of minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.”

The pair adds that boosting masks with minerals “not only detoxifies and purifies the skin, but also accelerates the natural exfoliation and restore the pH balance of skin.” Masks with extra vitamins and antioxidants are also great for the skin, they state. “Antioxidants protect skin by limiting the production of free radicals, which can damage skin cells. Silk amino acids, vitamin E and amber extract are some of our favorite antioxidants to add into facial masks.”

For a soothing and beneficial mask, Grossman is a fan of seaweed, noting that he and his firm has spent the past year researching the best species of seaweed to use in a mask.

Also soothing and nourishing, “Pure avocado makes for an uber moisturizing mask,” says Shaw.

Some masks also help reveal healthy glowing skin cells hiding under dull dead cells. For this, McKelvey says her firm uses Fruit Stem Cell Science along with fruit juice enzymes, AHA, organic superfruits, collagen elastin producing amino acids and rich organic plant oils.

Masks can also be layered, and McKelvey offers an example for how. First, one could use an enzymatic mask to “gently dissolve and lift away dull surface cells.” Then, one could apply a deeply hydrating masks. “We love to cocktail our masks and do two in one evening—or on a luxurious weekend morning,” she says.

One last tip from McKelvey: properly cleanse the skin before using a mask and apply a serum afterward to intensify the results and nourish the skin. “Skin appears plump, smooth, hydrated and glows with a fresh inner health and the spirit is revived from rest and pampering,” she states. Read more at:long formal dresses australia

Fashion statement: Calling out a political double standard

Fashion statement: Calling out a political double standard 

(Photo:plus size bridesmaid dresses)Wearing a nude-coloured blouse under a collarless jacket nearly got Brenda Locke thrown out of the B.C. legislature.

It was years ago, when she was an MLA, but the incident still stands out vividly in Locke’s mind.

“I was walking down the members’ corridor when one of the guards actually stopped me and said ‘Ma’am, you can’t go in there dressed like that,’” she recalled. “I said, ‘I’ve got a shirt on underneath, give me a break.’”

The situation underscores the gender inequality that exists around dress for men and women, not just in politics, but in society.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart sought to highlight the gap recently in a social experiment in which he wore the same blue suit to every council meeting for more than a year.

Nobody noticed.

“I went into my closet and picked out a plain, off-the-rack, boring, dark blue suit. I decided that I’d wear that suit to every council meeting until someone noticed, until someone commented on it. I told nobody,” Stewart wrote Sunday in a Facebook post. “Over 15 months, nobody had noticed how limited my wardrobe was.”

Stewart said his objective was to learn first-hand about the double standards around dressing for men and women.

“Of course, I can’t imagine anybody suggesting that a woman could get away with wearing the same outfit for more than a year,” he wrote. “But clearly a man could, and did.”

The experiment was prompted in part by a female politician who told Stewart she would face criticism if she was caught wearing the same outfit twice in a week.

Stewart said he also read an article about an Australian newscaster who demonstrated “sexist attitudes that prevail in our society” by wearing the same clothing for a year. The anchor, Karl Stefanovic, had lamented that his female co-host gets regular emails and criticisms over her clothing, Stewart said.

Vancouver Coun. Melissa De Genova can relate. As a 33-year-old councillor, De Genova said she was told by older colleagues that if she dressed more conservatively and changed her hair colour — hers is blond — “you’d be taken more seriously.” Others have made remarks when she has worn the same jacket more than once.

“I’m not sure how that relates to the policies I’ve put forward,” De Genova said. “I’ve always felt I dress very respectfully but it’s always in the back of your mind ‘have I worn that jacket lately? Will I be criticized for what I’m wearing?’ because it’s happened before. Women are held to different standards than men.”

Dianne Watts, MP for South Surrey-White Rock, remembers a female colleague calling her out for wearing the same yellow dress to a mayors’ transportation meeting when she was mayor of Surrey, but said “it’s not a significant issue I’ve ever particularly thought about.”

However, B.C. Premier Christy Clark, who was once accused by an opposition MLA of showing too much cleavage during question period, lauded Stewart for raising the issue, saying women are “often judged, discriminated against, or put down because of our clothing.

“I’ve certainly experienced it, but politics is not the only place where this happens,” she said in an email. “It happens in all kinds of workplaces and facets of life. Women should be appreciated for their ideas, what they bring to the table, and the contributions they make.”

Stewart agreed, noting former Prince George mayor Shari Green posted on his Facebook that her male councillors had referred to her as “the skirt.”

“Let’s not elect our representatives because of the clothes they stand in, but because of what they stand for,” he said.

Former Vancouver park board commissioner Constance Barnes, who loves bright and flamboyant clothing, said she would go crazy if she had to wear the prescribed pencil skirt and jacket with high heels all the time. She was surprised when she was told to colour her grey hair and tone down her lipstick when she ran as the federal NDP candidate in Vancouver Centre last fall.

“When you go into a boardroom with all men, if you’re not dressed in a suit with power shoes they look at you differently, like you’re not on their level,” she said. “There is that pressure and I was shocked when women said ‘OK, you have to rinse that out.’ They really toe the line.

“I’m not going to be sitting in that mould. If I’m going to achieve the things I’m doing and fight the causes I want to fight and I can’t do that with the garment I’m wearing, then society is seriously screwed. We’re kind of going backwards.”Read more at:white bridesmaid dresses

Hey Gorgeous! Cocktail & Tuxedo Boutique fills the need for formal wear in Grover Beach


(Photo:formal wear brisbane)Planning your wedding and looking for a local store to pick out bridesmaid dresses? Going to a wedding and need a last-minute tuxedo rental? Hey Gorgeous! Cocktail & Tuxedo Boutique, a new boutique shop in Grover Beach, has you covered on both of those fronts—and more.

Shop owner and fashion guru Valerie Shumaker told New Times that it was last summer when she decided to transport her beloved boutique from the streets of Orange County to 960 W. Grande Ave. in Grover Beach.

“I was sort of the go-to store in that area for dresses,” Shumaker said of her Southern California store. “Coming here, I noticed there was a real need for cocktail dresses and, even more so, for bridal stuff.”

Shumaker is meeting that need by offering a variety of dresses for sale at her boutique—cocktail, bridesmaid, and flower girl—in addition to a plentiful selection of tuxedos starting at $75 to rent or for purchase. The shop also stocks shoes and other accessories. She has a “rent six tuxes and the groom’s tux is free” deal as well.

“I cater to special events like weddings and special occasions for people like birthdays,” Shumaker said. “I want to serve a local area where if someone needs a dress quickly or if they don’t want to go online and count on a dress fitting, they can come here.”

Hey Gorgeous! provides dresses for all age groups and budgets. From flower girls to mothers of brides, Shumaker has something for everyone. While she doesn’t sell traditional wedding dresses yet, Shumaker hopes to add that to her shop’s repertoire in the future.

“My goal is to do a bridal store,” she said. “I’m growing this business and hope to go into that, because there really isn’t anything between San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria for that need. I do carry a lot of white dresses that could be for a rehearsal dinner or a Vegas-style wedding.”

In terms of style, Shumaker describes her clothes as, “unique, bold, classy, and sexy.”

“I try to tap into all of it,” she said.

The dresses are affordable, too. Even though boutiques are often thought of as only carrying high-end, expensive clothes, Shumaker assured that her selection is affordable for anyone. And part of the package is the top-notch customer service Shumaker promises to provide. She said her attention to her customers begins the second they walk through the door.

“I greet everyone with, “Hey Gorgeous!’” she said. “It either gets a laugh, or it puts them at ease walking into my small little boutique. I am hands-on in styling the ladies with belts, shoes, purses, and jewelry when they are trying on dresses. For brides and grooms, I have a little lounge area in here where I can consult with them. We go through the book and choose styles and help pick colors of ties and anything else.”

Working with her customers to help them find the right choice is the reason she fell in the love with her work in the first place.

“I enjoy making everyone’s experience something that makes them want to come back,” she said. “I love to see them feel beautiful and find a look that makes them even more confident.”Read more at:formal wear melbourne

Catering trends to help you plan your wedding day celebration

wedding server with drinks 

(Photo:blue formal dresses)If you’re currently planning a wedding, then you know that making decisions about catering options for your guests is no simple task. Thanks to consumer service website Thumbtack, you can find out exactly what catering options are trending now with their 2016 Wedding Report, which compiled data from roughly 320,000 couples currently planning weddings.

One of the most noticeable catering trends this year is the increase in formal, seated wedding receptions, which 29 percent of couples are choosing in 2016 — up 7 percent from last year — and buffet catering is down from 82 percent in 2015 to 76 percent this year.

”This year we’re seeing couples investing up to 20 percent more to create a memorable, classic affair,” said Ashley Brasier, wedding director for Thumbtack. ”The reception is the focus of this extra spending, with couples turning away from themed weddings and instead focusing on finer touches like formal plated dinners, laser-cut place settings, and bold floral choices.”

As the popularity of formal receptions grows and couples are shying away from self-service receptions, requests for servers are up 25 percent and requests for bartenders are up 42 percent.

Couples are also upping the ante on cuisine choices as most are opting for Italian (38 percent) or formal American fare (35 percent).

”We’re seeing a lot of couples request a full cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres,” says Heather Bublick, a senior certified wedding planner. ”Passed apps all night means the party never stops. It’s also an opportunity for couples to showcase foods that let their personalities shine through.”

In fact, 25 percent of couples are choosing hors d’oeuvres for their wedding receptions this year. Other popular catering options include barbecue (25 percent), Mexican/Latin (19 percent), Mediterranean (14 percent), casual American (12 percent) and French (10 percent).

In addition to traditional reception fare, the report notes that ”couples are increasingly looking to connect the cuisine offered at their wedding with their own heritage and family traditions, with many couples requesting that caterers recreate special family recipes.”

As for wedding cakes, the report states that 80 percent of couples want traditional layered cakes and that they will be taller than ever this year with 57 percent of couples requesting three-layer cakes. Similarly, 21 percent of couples are choosing cakes with two layers and 15 percent with four layers. Cupcakes have also seen a spike in popularity with a 10 percent increase from last year.Read more at:backless formal dresses

Megan McKenna looks smoking hot in a bright pink bodycon dress

Megan McKenna looks smoking hot in a bright pink bodycon dress as she parties in Scotty T’s home Toon… after he tells her he wants to pursue their relationship

Megan McKenna certainly fitted in well as she enjoyed a night out in Newcastle – which is love interest Scotty T’s home town – on Wednesday.

The former Celebrity Big Brother contestant looked smoking hot in a bright pink bodycon dress as she attended a public appearance at a club which is a favourite among 27-year-old Scott and his Geordie Shore cast-mates, soon after he told her he wants to pursue their relationship.

Megan, 23, highlighted her enviable figure in the skin-tight frock, which made the most of her ample bust, as she made her way to House of Smith with her bodyguard.

As well as her pert assets, her lean legs, which were appropriately tanned, were also on show and she elongated them with a pair of nude platform peep-toe heels.

Megan’s sported a full face of make-up, complete with smokey eyes and a glossy lip, while her thick brunette mane was backcombed and curled at the ends.

Little miffed: The Essex-born brunettye revealed she wasn’t too happy with Scott and Tiffany locking lips and their frequent naughty anticsImage: red formal dresses

Her appearance came shortly after CBB viewers were treated to a teaser clip of Thursday’s episode in which she was given the chance to quiz favourite-to-win Scott about whether their in-house flirtation will materialise into something more serious once the show ends on Friday.

During a special press conference inside the house, hosted by Vanessa Feltz, the Ex on the Beach beauty quizzed Scott’s motives, asking him if their blossoming romance was fake.

Quick to defend himself, the Geordie Shore hunk replied: ‘I never expected to have a connection with you in here. When we started hanging out together we got closer and closer, we then obviously kissed and stuff.

‘When I was living with you in the house – I mean look at you – I couldn’t, not [make a move]. For that reason it wasn’t a showmance, it was actually real.’

Pressing for further answers, Megan then asked: ‘Are you attracted to Tiff?’

Later adding: ‘I have been watching everything, obviously you are single, Tiff’s single, I’m single, we can all do what we want. It was only a few hours or a day until I left that you two were getting a little bit erm…’

The 23-year-old recently revealed she wasn’t too happy with Scott and Tiffany locking lips and their frequent naughty antics just hours after her departure .

‘We have had a little bit of flirty banter and stuff like that,’ remarked Scott. ‘But there it was nothing like what we had. I used to spend the night with you in bed.

‘I’ve stood by you, I’ve had a laugh and stuff, I’ve flashed my willy about a bit and daft things like that. But that’s just me.’

But asking the question on everyone’s mind, host Vanessa put Scott on the spot and demanded to know whether things could get serious between the pair outside the house.

Turning slightly red, the Northern lad coyly said, ‘yes’, while Megan answered: ‘Obviously it’s nice to hear, Scotty knows that I liked him. We spoke before I went out but we will have to see how it goes, maybe go for dinner or something.’

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Italian PM Matteo Renzi to open Milan fashion week

Matteo Renzi has been mocked for his personal fashion foibles in the past, but the Italian prime minister will nevertheless brave the tough crowd of Milan fashion week later this month, becoming the first premier to open the event.

While Renzi is not expected to take a spin down the runway, the move is seen as an important show of support for the beleaguered industry, which has been hit by a slowdown in the Middle East and Russia and a drop-off in the Chinese market.

Renzi’s decision also reflects the image he consistently seeks to portray of himself: that he is a dynamic leader and the face of a modernising Italy. Indeed, he has often used fashion to try to make a statement – from the leather jacket he donned for Chi magazine while he was mayor of Florence (some said he was channelling the Fonz) to the “jeans and no-tie” look that became a symbol of his desire to shake-up the political establishment.

Matteo Renzi exposing his blue socks as he waits for the President of Philippines in Rome.Image: long formal dresses

Last year Renzi was criticised by the Corriere della Sera newspaper for wearing trousers that were far too short, exposing nearly two inches of his blue socks, at a meeting with the president of the Philippines. In 2014 he was given some fashion advice by fellow Italian Giorgio Armani, who reportedly said Renzi – whom he described as “adorable” – ought to wear ties and control his hand gestures, given his status.

Italy’s economic development minister Carlo Calenda criticised Italian politicians last year for their snobbish attitude toward the fashion industry, which he said was often ignored by the political class despite its cultural importance.

Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè, a business professor at the Bocconi school of management in Milan, said on Wednesday: “Matteo Renzi needs a bit of refurbishment as far as his personal style. But his personal presence at the event helps a lot in terms of bringing visibility to a national industry. The fault is on those who never did it before.”

He added: “He is also borrowing something aesthetically. Being associated with fashion gives a sense of youth, modernity, of a certain sensibility, which other prime ministers – think of [Romano] Prodi or Mario Monti with his coat from the 70s – [did not have]. They were the anti-fashion figures. It wouldn’t fit their personality.”

Milan fashion week begins on 24 February. Renzi’s office declined to reveal what he would wear to the event.

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Fashion designer Adrian Hailwood on the films that inspire him

An Elizabethan film inspired Adrian Hailwood to pursue a career in fashion two decades ago.

Watching Tilda Swinton starring as Orlando and the gorgeous, elaborate costumes in the period classic, Hailwood finished a graphic design career, shifted to Auckland, and began designing clothes.

”That is still one of my favourite films. The costumes at the Queen Elizabeth court were just quite amazing, and that really threw my world,” says the Auckland-based designer.

It fits, then, that the designer known for his sexy street clothes and tailored eveningwear will front a series of fashion films on Rialto channel from tonight (running throughout February).

Iris Apfel.Image: QueenieAu celebrity dresses

Rialto is one of his sponsors at New Zealand Fashion Week. This year, Hailwood will present his 15th fashion show – using his own fabric designers, footwear and accessories, he has been celebrated for what have become some of the week’s most applauded shows.

He will present four films, commenting about each. One, Dior and I, gives a bird’s eye view of designer Raf Simons arriving at Dior and presenting a collection in just a few weeks.

Says Hailwood: ”He had six weeks to do it and he steered the brand to being cleaner and more simplified. The detail and the fabrics you see are just beautiful, and the film shows you the amount of money that goes into a collection and a show.”

”The pressures on him were just scary. He has since quit after 2.5 years and five seasons.”

That film and three others – Advanced Style, Iris, and Women He’s Undressed – will interest those with a passion for fashion.

”Over the last couple of years there have been a number of good quality fashion docos that tell us a lot about individuals in the fashion world. Here in New Zealand, you can’t compare the scale of what happens in a fashion house like Dior. Here, you’re only as good as your last collection. It’s a tough, tough business, and it’s not just about making a pretty frock.”

The film Women He’s Undressed is about one of Hailwood’s icons, Orry Kelly, a Hollywood costume designer who dressed Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca, Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot and Bette Davis in many of her greatest roles. The three-time Oscar winner grew up in a surf beach town in New South Wales.

Hailwood says that films, and the costumes in them, often inspire designers and their collections too. There is also a cross over between costume and fashion design, with costumiers influencing fashion houses.

”Especially period films. You can see it with collections by Chanel and Valentino. You can see the influence of the [American costume designer] Edith Head in some Chanel collections.”

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Says Mick Jagger as His HBO Series Mines ’70s Fashion

If it seems as if the current culture couldn’t conjure a greater ’70s fashion moment (thank you, Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane) or more ’70s rock nostalgia with the recent deaths of David Bowie and Glenn Frey, wait until you get a load of HBO’s drama series Vinyl, premiering Feb. 14.

It’s got the ultimate period-detail cred, executive-produced by Martin Scorsese (who also directed the pilot), Mick Jagger, showrunner Terence Winter (who was a CBGB patron in his teens), Jagger’s longtime producing partner Victoria Pearman (Get On Up) and Scorsese colleague Emma Tillinger Koskoff – along with industry vets Rick Yorn, John Melfi, Allen Coulter and George Mastras. With this team, you know the costumes worn by Bobby Cannavale as record exec Richie Finestra, Olivia Wilde as his wife Devon, Ray Romano as a sleazy exec, Juno Temple as an aspiring ambitious A & R girl – and James Jagger (yes, one of Mick’s many offspring) as a Richard Hell-type rock star – are going to be a veritable rock feast for the eyes. ”Few people know this,” says Tillinger Koskoff, ”but Marty is very passion­ate – and particular – about fashion. His parents worked in the Garment District and instilled him with fashion fascination at a very young age. I think the importance he puts on costume is especially felt in this series. Luckily for us, that influence has generated a look and feel so spectacularly genuine. Our series costume design John Dunn is incredibly meticulous – and I think, in the two weeks he had to produce the myriad costumes for each episode – made true artistry.”

After the pilot’s costumes were designed by Oscar nominated film costume designer Mark Bridges, Dunn – who cut his teeth with Scorsese on New York Stories, Casino and Boardwalk Empire – came in to do the series, with Vinyl being a horse of many many difference colors: ”Unlike Boardwalk,” he describes, “we could get a hold of actual clothing through vintage dealers and not have it disintegrate in our hands!”

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While many authentic ’70s pieces were used, Dunn and his team designed most of the costumes for the principals, referencing high-fashion labels of the time like Halston, Stephen Burrows, and Biba and Thea Porter from the U.K. They also worked with a variety of high end vintage stores like Decades in L.A. Says Terence Winter: ”If you stop and freeze-frame, you’ll see what a stickler for detail John is. He’s like a fashion historian.” Dunn does confess to one shortcut: ”When we had time sensitivities, ’70s styles from Topshop and Uniqlo were life­savers in a pinch!”

Of course, NYC 1973 was the zenith of cool — a mashup of glam rock, punk and disco. ”I think Marty, Terry and Mick picked it because it was the birth of a new culture,” says Dunn. ”Max’s Kansas City was at its height: Andy Warhol’s crowd, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, Bowie, Robert Mapplethorpe, Alice Cooper hung out there, and it’s extremely well documented.” Scorsese maintains that people related to clothing differently back then with ”all these different uniforms: the mod double-knit stuff worn by Richie and his friends; the glam kids with the sequins, spangles and feather boas; the dressed- down look of the punks; the mob guys with the silk suits — all these approaches to life crisscrossing. With Vinyl, I was going back and looking at a period that I had lived through. Of course I had memories – but when making the picture I left like an archeologist, because that world is as gone as the New York of The Age of Innocence. Getting back to that feeling of the city in the early seventies was like performing an excavation. The brilliant costumes helped give us the world of 1973.” Pearman adds, “The fashion authenticity is particularly fascinating as it is so well documented. Growing up in the UK, my fashion icons were Ossie Clark and Biba – very much the look of Vinyl.”

One would think Jagger, who signed off on final looks (”we would see all the costumes before they went on camera to critique and adjust if necessary,” says Pearman), would have weighed in on fashion specifics, but Dunn laughs: ”I kept asking him, ‘Is this right?’ And he joked, ‘Don’t ask me. I don’t remember any of that!’ But he was like Zelig: There was barely a research photo — from New York or London — that didn’t have Mick Jagger in it.” Jagger demurs: ”As far as the clothes, of course I did live it and knew lots of the players of the times. Lots of the execs would dress according to the artists they represented.”

To convey aspirations of cool among the younger record execs, Dunn relied on New York vintage store Cherry for its ”most extraordinary collection of platform shoes. They were the hardest thing to find, the gold standard, since they were only in fashion for two years.” Dunn decked out Cannavale in Savile Row wool suits and leather jackets: ”Richie’s at the top of his game, and he has to operate with gangster types and rock stars like Robert Plant, who don’t trust ‘a suit.’ It was also a time of major polyester. Some of it bad horrible stuff. Cherry had a lot of that. We ever coordinated belt buckles with the shoes because that’s what trying-to-be-cool executives in music did back then.” While Cannavale’s character doesn’t wear a ton of polyester, he did don a little – “and I told him he’s the rare guy who can make polyester look good,” says Winter. “He grimaced – but he didn’t disagree.”

Dunn describes Wilde’s character Devon as ”a New York artist who finds herself in Connecticut with a kid. In her heart, she’s bohemian. So we reference Patti Smith in her Chelsea Hotel period, but also Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo.”

Seventies nostalgia isn’t likely to go away anytime soon (Dunn says the show hoarded its costumes to maintain distinctiveness: ”We had to fight the new Baz Luhrmann show and some cop shows for resources!”). After all, it’s one of the last decades of fashion that was flamboyant, rebellious, individual and optimis­tic. ”If it’s fun for those of us who remember it,” says the costumer, ”imagine what it’s like for young people who don’t and who weren’t even around for the countless revivals. My young staff is just bedazzled by it.”

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Imogen Thomas flaunts her post-baby body in a short black shift dress

New mum Imogen Thomas flaunts her post-baby body in a short black shift dress and thigh-high boots as she enjoys a rare night out

She welcomed her second child two months ago.

And with two daughters under the age of three running around the house Imogen Thomas was no doubt looking forward to enjoying a bit of me-time as she headed out for dinner in London on Saturday.

Glammed up for a rare night out, the 33-year-old put on a stylish display in all-black as she showed off her post-baby body.

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Donning a black satin shift dress, the former Miss Wales showed off her toned arms as she strode down the street.

Teaming the garment with a pair of over the knee boots, she also flashed a hint of leg in the fun and flirty ensemble.

Keeping her accessories to a minimum, the new mum donned a stack of delicate silver bracelets, whilst a small black cross body bag lay draped over her shoulder.

Styling her caramel coloured locks in a centre parting, her glossy tresses fell in big bouncy curls across her shoulders as she walked.

And still aglow with the radiance of new motherhood, the pretty star opted for a neutral make-up palette, accentuating her eyes with a slick of kohl liner.

The star was no doubt looking forward to a big night out after enjoying a girls night in the day before.

On Friday, the former Big Brother contestant revealed that fellow housemate Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace had paid her a visit to meet ten-week-old Siera.

The newborn is Imogen’s second child with her Australian boyfriend Adam Horsley, who are parents to two-year-old daughter Ariana.

Speaking to new! magazine ahead of the birth, she admitted that she was secretly hoping for another daughter as she wanted Ariana to have a little sister.

‘I really wanted another girl,’ she revealed. ‘I just can’t see myself with a boy!’

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