Tuesday, June 21, 2011

That Other Dress Hunt: The Bridesmaid Dress

After we found my dress, I started thinking about that other dress I was going to have to look for: a bridesmaid dress.  What I wasn't sure about was whether that was the way I wanted to proceed: did I really only want to find one dress?

And since I'm talking about bridesmaids, obligatory Bridesmaids trailer included: 

I really was (and still am!) focused on making sure my bridesmaids do not have a horrific experience by agreeing to stand by me on my wedding day.  I don'twant anyone spending a fortune on anything, especially a dress that they didn't really get to choose, and more likely than not, would never wear again.  The idea of wearing the same color, but styles each girl would individually pick, really appealed to me.  Not only would this give each of the girls some autonomy in their choice, but they would have a bit more freedom with their own budget, and a style they were comfortable wearing. 

When I threw this idea out to Mr. C he was not thrilled by the idea.  He couldn't really imagine how it would work and how our bridal party would still stay cohesive.  So how did I try to sway his opinion?  With inspiration pictures, of course!  And I needed to find some real life brides who had pulled this off to make it look cohesive and still like a bridal party to ease Mr. C's fears.






After showing Mr. C some of these pictures, he seemed more open to having mis-matched styles in the same colors.  But he still wanted some proof that it would work with our bridal party.  So our next step was shopping with the girls!

How do you feel about same-color-different-style bridesmaid dresses?  Have you seen Bridesmaids?  I thought it was hilarious...you?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Giveaway Results

Giveaway results are in!  Wahoo! 

Congratulations to The Vintage Modern Bride on winning!  Please e-mail me at jennybusybeeblog@gmail.com with your address and I'll send your goodies to you!

On The Hunt: Monday Funday

Catch up on my dress buying hunt:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

After our adventures at Kleinfeld's, Mom Busy Bee and Sister J and I had scheduled our Monday shopping trip around RK Bridal, Priscilla of Boston, and the Saks Bridal Salon.

RK Bridal didn't take appointments, so we decided that would be our first stop and hope to get there before the 'crowds' rushed in.  Then our plan was to make it across town to Saks, a quick lunch, then an appointment at Priscilla before Mom Busy Bee and Sister J had to hit the road. 

When the doors at RK Bridal opened, there was the three of us, and one other girl with her mother.  If you can make it on a weekday, I highly suggest it.  We weren't battling anyone to get a consultant, and we had the full attention of our consultant.  We also had no time limit imposed by RK Bridal, we just had to make it out to the other appointments in time. 

I can't remember my consultant's name (but I will call her Ruth, as that seems to be a great I'm-an-older-woman-who-works-in-a-bridal-store name), but she was great.  She let Sister, Mom and I roam freely around the store, pulling dresses, looking through the stock.  We all pulled a few dresses, and Ruth had a good sense of the dress I was looking for after I showed her some photos from Kleinfeld's and told her she had "stiff competition."  (Yes, I turned dress shopping into a compeition.  So what??)

Originally, we were told we were limited to trying on 8 dresses, but we quickly accumulated a stack of 18 or so.  The first dress that Ruth pulled on me had a corset back and she spent some time lacing the back up.  I came out of the dressing room, and Mom, Sister and I quickly eliminated the dress.  Ruth told me that if I have an immediate reaction to the dress, to go with it.  We had a lot of dresses to go through, and she wanted to be sure I saw everything I was interested in.

With that in mind, we continued, and I was able to eliminate some dress pretty quickly.  Whether it was shape, material, or something else, I pulled them up and quickly took them back off without even stepping out of the room.  Even if this may have been a little frustrating to Mom and Sister J, it gave me exactly what I was looking for: the chance to try on many, many, many dresses. 

At one point in the stack, we got to a dress that Ruth had pulled while in the middle of our dress-trying-on-marathon.  She told me they had just got it in stock, but she thought it would suit my taste well.  When I pulled it on, Sister J and Mom Busy Bee liked it right away.  But I kept looking longingly at the stack of dresses we still had left.  Isn't that why I left Kleinfeld's?  Because I wasn't ready to commit, because I hadn't seen enough dresses?

I kept the dress on longer than the others, but eventually took it off.  Ruth and I kept trucking through our pile, but three dresses later, I had to be honest with her.  I stopped her from pulling the next dress, and just pointed to the dress she had pulled.  "Ruth, I really just want to put that dress back on."

When I came out of the dressing room without announcing to Mom and Sister what my plan was, they smiled at me knowingly.  Mom started to get a little teary eyed, and Sister J rushed off, looking for veils.  I walked back and forth across the floor, feeling how the asymmetrical skirt pulled.  Sister J put the veil on my head, but it didn't take that veil for me to feel bridal, as it did at Kleinfeld's.  This amazing gown already made me feel like a bride.

I turned to Mom and Sister J, and without a tear in my eye, I calmly told them that this was my dress.  This was the one I wanted Mr. C to see as I walked down the aisle.  This was the dress I wanted to be married in.

Then, came the tears.  I mean, I'm a crier, the fact I stayed dry-eyed that long is remarkable.

So here she is, Delaware by Blue By Enzoani.  It's love.


Back detail and asymmetrical skirt.  Source.

Detailing on the hip.  Source.

Without Ruth, Del-Del (that's what I call her) and I would never have met.  Thank you, Ruth.  Thank you so so much.  Eek!  Can't wait to wear her on the big day!

Did anyone unexpected help you find the perfect dress for you?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why The Pretty Didn't Feel So Pretty

Super-wordy-mostly-pictureless post ahead!  But first... Scram, Mr. C.  Oh, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!  You have until 8 pm (EST) tonight!

I had my big photo shoot on Saturday.  Luckily, Mr. C had to work a rotation in the hospital, so he had to leave the house well before I did.  I hadn't really devised a plan to explain where I was going.  Like I said before, apparently a year hadn't given me enough time to think these things through.

I showered and blew dry my hair straight.  I didn't put anything on my face, other than my normal Proactiv routine, as I knew my make up was going to be done, so it was best to arrive clean-faced.  I packed a bag with a few outfits I had prepared, and I left with ample time, because it was raining and the MTA likes to mess with train schedules over weekends in the summer (why do they do this?  it seems like the least logical time of the week/year...but that is a separate rant for a separate day). 

Before heading out

When I arrived, I was five minutes early and feeling really, really nervous.  A friend laughed when I told her what my plans for the day were, and said if I had told her ahead of time, she would have come over and made me breakfast cocktails before I went.  That probably would have calmed my nerves, and right around then, I was wishing that had happened. 

Luckily, the makeup artist was great at chatting me up and keeping me distracted.  She asked what look I was going for, and I told her I wanted enough makeup to be fun, but nothing over the top.  Mr. C isn't really into that look, and really, this shoot was for him (even though the old competitive dancer in me was begging for ridiculous eyeshadow and bright lips).  She told me that I should be a little more dramatic with at least my eyeshadow, "after all this is a boudoir shoot!" and I told her that made sense, and we could go a wee bit dramatic with the eyes.

When she was done, I headed to the bathroom to check out her work and pee before heading to the studio.  I was...feeling only ok about the makeup.  It was heavy.  The eyes were a little out of control.  But she told me it needed to be darker for the photographs, and plus a little heavy to make it that "more dramatic look I was going for."  Right, that look I was going for.

All made up

I figured it wasn't all that bad, and headed in to be photographed.  When I was let in the room, I realized another girl was still finishing her shoot.  I felt terrible they had let me in!  I tried to keep my back to her, so that she wouldn't feel uncomfortable.  The assistant for the shoot asked me to pull out the outfits I had brought, and she would choose which ones looked best.  I thought this was odd, but considering I liked everything I had brought, I decided to go with it.

She selected a black corset number (one that I already owned) and told me we would hopefully have time for the white "Sexy Little Bride" number I had brought as well.  I changed into the black outfit, pulled a robe over myself, and was introduced to the photographer, a man.  I was pretty surprised that they had a man doing the shoot, without allowing anyone to state their preferences.  There are definitely times when I would like to have a choice of a man over a woman (the lady doctor, boudoir shoot, maybe hair salon?), and this situation was high on my list.  But, with no choice, I headed over to be photographed.

Now, part of my problem with this whole set-up was that it felt like a factory.  I was shuffled in, the last girl reviewed her photos and was shuffled out.  While I was changing, they let the next girl in, and I heard her get the same speech I did at the beginning.  It wasn't very personal (obviously, they didn't even ask if I would be comfortable with a male photographer) and it was very cheesy. 

Part of the cheese-factor came from the props.  I've seen lots of fun boudoir shoots with props, and had even considered bringing some of my own.  But had I done that, I would have worked in fun, personal props that meant something to Mr. C and I.  Instead, I was photographed with a feather boa, a beaded curtain, lace gloves (that didn't even fit my arms!), and a silk sheet.  Very..."stereotypical" and "cheesy" boudoir shoot props.  If I had picked them for myself (hey, I was wearing thigh-highs.  That could definitely qualify as "cheesy" too...but I chose those).

When I started my shoot, I was told to kneel and play with my hair.  I. Hated. This.  And "play with your hair" is probably this guys go to move.  He literally was telling me to throw my hair around for the entire hour or so we were shooting.  Then, his assistant, in an attempt to get rid of my frizz (um, what do you expect when I'm whipping my hair all over the place?) used some hairspray on my roots.  I immediately sensed this would lead to disaster, but for some unknown reason (ok, totally known, I was basically shaking with nerves), I told her it was fine.  When I was checking out the proofs - yup, my hair looks totally greasy and nasty.  And that was within the first 2 minutes of the shoot.  So 99.9% of the shots, I have greasy and nasty hair.

No one did much to help calm my nerves or make me feel more comfortable (even after the photographer turned his camera to me to show me my "beautiful" smile, and I told him that is my anxious and uncomfortable smile, not natural looking at all), other than offering me a sip of champagne to gulp.  It took the first 40 minutes of the shoot to get comfortable.  After that, I told myself that I had spent my hard earned dollars on this, I wanted the pictures to come out great, and I didn't really care what these people thought.  You can totally see that shift in my attitude in the photos.  So, great, that left me with about 13 quality photos.  And even those, something is off.  I'm no photography expert, but whether it was the lighting, the lens, or the angle of the shots, they just don't...thrill me. 

Reviewing the photos, I felt my heart sink shot after shot.  This definitely was not what I had hoped for!  I wanted to come out of that shoot feeling like I could do anything!  That it didn't matter what size I was, how frizzy my hair got, but I would feel that I was beautiful.  Instead, I felt fat.  Un-photogenic.  But mostly, stupid.  The poses looked ridiculous (legit, some awesome Glamour Style shots in there, if this was 1981).  The angles weren't flattering.  The "angelic" look the photographer said he obtained looked like he hadn't cleaned off his lens.   

I'm not sure how many photos were taken in all.  I did find that there were probably about 20-25 photos I felt confident that I could use to make Mr. C a book as part of his wedding gift.  And maybe a few more that I could mess around with and maybe make a little better (Photoshop tutorial, anyone?).  So I bought the right to the digital images.  Part of me is really worried I'm going to regret that money spent.  But I needed something to prove this had happened (other then the two 8x10s included as part of the package).  I needed something to make the initial money worth it.  I wanted to walk away with more than disappointment.

I'm still waiting on the low-resolution files, and then I can request a few touch-ups, and my two 8x10s, then in about two weeks I'll have the high-resolution files.  I don't think I'll be posting anything on here to share (sorry!  I don't want pictures of me in my under-roos to pop up on the Internet somewhere), but maybe I'll password protect a few images to share if anyone is really interested.

The best part about all this was when I got home.  Mr. C was there already!  Dammit!  I wasn't expecting him there, and was still wearing my "stage" makeup.  Mr. C looked up from his studying, said hi, and then did a double take.  I covered by saying I had been a Sephora trying to look into buying wedding makeup, and this is what the woman had done for "natural."  I told him she said it was justified, because I needed things to be more defined for the photographer.  About 20 minutes later, he leaned over to me, and very quietly and cautiously, he said, "Beez [his nickname for me], please don't wear your makeup like that for the wedding.  You don't even look like yourself."  I kissed that boy on his nose, and told him not to worry, he wouldn't see my makeup like this on our wedding day...haha, or would he???  (Get it, cause I'll give him the album with the boudoir photos...Get it???  IT'S HILARIOUS). 

Is there anything to be learned from this situation?  Can I look at it as I did my evening of DIY fail?

I think I can...Here were my thoughts coming away:
1) SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF.  Seriously, you are paying the money, they are working for you, tell the people what you want.
2) Work on that self-confidence, lady.
3) Invest your money into someone/something that is worth it (mmm, this was totally a lesson from my DIY fail too.  Dammit.)
4) And seriously, seriously, seriously, speak up for yourself.

Have you ever tried something new/different/crazy/daring and had it be a flop?  What lesson did you take away?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summertime Giveaway!

Time for my first-ever giveaway!  Summer is here, and I always use it as an excuse for fun, bright toenails and fingernails.  I found an awesome purple, a green and lilac travel bag, and small nail kit.  Great for fun colors and quick weekend trips, hopefully to fun summer locations.  

Here's how to enter:

Leave a comment with your favorite summer nail polish color.
For an extra entry, tweet the following and leave a second comment letting me know you tweeted!
"I entered @jennyburgo giveaway for some fun summer color from Jenny Busy Bee http://tinyurl.com/688fark"

The giveaway will end Wednesday, June 15 at 8pm, and I'll announce the winner on Thursday!

Good luck!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My First Fail.

Guys, I tried to DIY last night.  I had a friend come over, we called it craft night.  I was going to complete my first wedding related DIY craft project.  I was looking forward to it all day.

Instead, the project failed and I pouted.  Stupid!  How could my very first wedding DIY, which was supposed to be easy, fail?

I'll tell you why:

1) I got too eager to start, and didn't really think through my process.  I dived right in, and wasted some supplies.
2) I bought the cheapest supplies possible instead of spending a little bit more (which I'll have to spend now anyway!) to buy the supplies that would quickly and succinctly get the job done.
3) I was really distracted by other things going on: having a friend, picking our menu for our tasting (!), being ridiculously warm, and so I wasn't focused on the task at hand.

So at least my DIY fail was a good learning experience?  I'm definitely going to hit craft stores this weekend and buy the CORRECT supplies, look up some instructions for the project, and focus on what I'm doing.  I can't wait to share it with you when it's a WIN.  (I'll show you the fail ones too, but we'll wait on that til I can also show the win...it's better for my ego.)

What's your biggest DIY fail?

ALSO - we have officially hit 100 Posts!  Wahoo!  Unfortunately, I don't have the number of followers I said I wanted to hit as well...short by 3.  But you know what, let's celebrate anyway!  I'll post my first ever giveaway tomorrow...get excited!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More Beauty!

I saw a clip of a newstory that was really interesting to me today...and is actually relevant to something fun and wedding related I am doing this week...but first...

Seriously, beat it.

All clear?

So the news article I saw had to do with this month's cover of Vogue in Italy (site NSFW).  Why is the cover of Vogue in Italy making news?  Because on the cover are three plus-size models.  Looking fabulous.

Property of Vogue, Italy/Found here.
I have a lot of thoughts on this cover, but many of these thoughts aren't related to the rest of the blog post, so maybe I'll keep them to myself? (theylookbeautiful, theyarentreallyplussize, whydoesthisstuffbecomenews)

What it does have to do with, however, is boudoir photography.  Remember my post about self-improvement v. self-loathing and finding beauty within yourself?  This didn't come totally out of the blue, this was because on Saturday, I will be participating in a photo shoot in my under-roos.  EEK.

Yes, boudoir photography.  It wasn't something I had never heard of before entering the wedding world, so for any of you who may be unfamiliar, here's a quick synopsis:
A great deal of "boudoir" is now created in the photographer's studio or in luxury hotel suites, where it has become very fashionable to create a set of sensual images for women in "boudoir style". This often takes the shape of partly clothed images or images in lingerie, and has become more than just a passing fad for brides to surprise their future husbands. Although in the past there were many negative connotations associated with boudoir photography, in recent years the trend has begun to gain momentum, and the entire look of boudoir photography has begun to change.

Bridal boudoir photography is becoming particularly popular. Brides often have an album of boudoir style photographs made as a present for their soon to be husbands. Other common themes for boudoir photography are anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine's Day, weight loss, maternity, any form of body change or alteration (breast augmentation or reduction, etc.), and for soldiers overseas.
Thanks, Wiki.  When I started reading about this popular trend, I thought it was such a fun and empowering thing to do!  For the women who were brave enough to share their photos, I found that they were tasteful, fun and definitely sexy.  I would have loved to do something like this for Mr. C, but I was sure it was going to be way too expensive.

That was until...Lifebooker stepped in.  A deal for boudoir photography??  The deal didn't expire for one year, so quickly, I snatched it up and figured I'd deal with the details later.  But now, a year has passed, and on Saturday, I'll be walking into the studio, having my make-up done, and posing for pictures for Mr. C.  As I said before, I'm not 100% totally comfortable and confident in my body right now, but it's photos like the ones above that show that plus-sized girls can be confident and sexy in minimal clothing.  I pulled some other shots that I really love:


These women all look stunning!  I love the way they show you can have beautiful, sexy, fun pictures without showing (what I consider to be) a trouble spot, my tummy.  I definitely find the more subtle photos to be more sexy.  A little bit of restraint goes a long way. 

And now, I have to go shopping!  Gotta find some outfits that are going to achieve all the things that I want, to make me feel comfortable and sexy!

What do you think of the trend of boudoir photography?  Have you/will you/could you pose for shots like this?  Whether for someone else or for yourself?  What do you think of the Vogue cover?  And most importantly....WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finding Beauty

What's the difference between self-improvement and self-loathing?

For me, there seems to be a fine, fine line to when I'm positively working towards a goal or when I'm negatively getting down on myself.  I'm certainly not a perfect person, physically or emotionally.  No one is, but personally, I have always felt the need to be working on who I am.  If we stop working on who we are, we'll never grow!  So it is important to be working for self-improvement, inner growth, and a healthy lifestyle.

However, my problem comes when my attempt to work for one of these things turns into hatred for myself.  Usually it has to do with my body.  My clothes start to feel a little too tight or I catch a side view of myself in the mirror and don't like what I see.  The easy solution would be to keep better track of my diet or add some extra workouts to my week's schedule.  But usually this turns into self-loathing.  Rather than think of improvement, I can't help but think nothing will ever change, things will always be this way, and I'll never be the person I want to be.

Um...unhealthy much?  On top of the negative mood this puts me in, it also makes me want to do the opposite of everything that would make me feel better.  When I feel this down, I want to climb into bed with a delicious snack and never come out.  That is not going to make me feel better about my body!  And even when that makes sense and seems as clear as can be, when I'm feeling that bad, my common sense seems to get clouded making that option the most viable and obvious choice. 

As the wedding creeps nearer, my once clear vision of myself 50 pounds lighter is less and less feasible.  And that's ok!  I don't want to become a small version of Jenny Busy Bee that will likely never materialize again.  My wedding pictures shouldn't show a body that only existed for that moment in time.  But that doesn't mean my self-improvement needs to stop.  Eating healthy with the goal of losing weight, for me, is a great option right now!  I don't need to starve myself or work towards unachievable goals, but healthy eating and regular exercise are great habits to have no matter what year it is.  And doing this without hating every moment of it and without hating myself is a work in progress.  Sure, I drank a ton on Saturday (liquid calories!), but you know what, I had a great time, hung out with friends I hadn't seen in awhile, and made sure to counter my drinking with a run earlier in the day.  Sure, my weight has been yo-yo-ing in a five pound range since January, but I do feel more confident in the way I carry myself and that makes such a difference in the way my body looks. 

The balance between self-improvement and self-loathing is important.  I find more and more that I am better at accepting myself, who I am, and what I'm capable of, as well as how I can approve on my current capabilities.  I'm not perfect, but dagnabit, I'm me. 

Do you ever find that your battle towards self-improvement sometimes dips into self-loathing?  How do you stay positive when you're working to achieving something for yourself?

Friday, June 3, 2011

On the Hunt: Dress Shopping at the Kleinfeld Sample Sale, Part 3

I received an email about the Kleinfeld Sample Sale from...some wedding website that I signed up for.  Which one it was, I'm not even sure.  At that time, I was getting a lot of daily emails from different places.  Some of them were relevant, but most weren't.  Eventurally I realized most of these email lists were unhelpful, and unsubscribed. 

When I saw the listing for the Kleinfeld Sample Sale, I emailed Mom Busy Bee and Sister J to check their availability (because really, I knew the person who would be most excited would be Sister J).  Lucky for me, they both gave me a huge thumbs up in August for the appointment date the first weekend in November.

I was pretty stressed about this appointment at first.  How would I be sure that there would be sample dresses that fit me?  How would I be ready to pick out a dress for my wedding, almost 11 months later?

Rather then stress about the appointment, I decided to be more lackadaisical about it, have fun with it, and make it an afternoon for the girls.  So not only did I invite Mom Busy Bee and Sister J, but 8 other girls.  They were totally pumped to head to the famous (infamous?) Kleinfelds.

This was all back in August...

The first week in November came, and our plans had changed a bit.  My dear friend Ashlie was planning a trip to visit Bridesmaid AF and I.  As the Kleinfeld appointment was on Sunday afternoon, Mom Busy Bee and Sister J would just join us early on Sunday, so we could also enjoy the New York City Marathon which runs (almost) right by our apartment.  Then all the women would march on over to Kleinfelds and play bride-dress-up. 

On Friday morning, however, I got ridiculously exciting news that changed the tone of the weekend: I had passed the New York State Bar!  I literally freaked out - both my mom and I cried when I told her over the phone.  Our weekend turned out much more celebratory then we anticipated, and so I wasn't as prepared as maybe I should have been when I left for Kleinfelds.  I printed a picture of the one dress I had loved enough to save a picture of and we went on our way.


When we arrived, we were running a tad bit behind schedule, but Mom and Sister J insisted on getting some photos.

Some sort of...happy dance?

Sister J and I waiting to be called.

While we waited, Sister J and Bridesmaid AB freaked out about seeing Joan and Sarah (and other consultants, but those are the only two I know by name) and we patiently waited for all the girls to arrive.  Some were later than others, and our consultant was getting antsy, so we headed back to our room.

Which was TINY.  It was not one of those rooms that you see on the show that appear as though they could squeeze 8-10 women in there.  Oh no, it was squished with the consultant, Mom, Sis and I.  All the other girls were left outside (no couches for us!) and were constantly being bumped with other consultants carrying armfuls of dresses.  They weren't exactly super accommodating with our large group, but...we were a LARGE group. 

Our consultant sat with me, discussed budget, dress style, and whether I wanted samples or regular stock.  I said I was open to anything, and she suggested for plus-sizes, we would have more options in the regular stock.  So we did both!

We pulled a bunch of dresses, and nothing really blew me away except for two dresses.  One was a sample (I think  it was a Pnina Tornai, but honestly I can't really remember [and nothing like some of those super ornate over the top dresses you see on the show]) and although it was way under budget, there was a rip in the skirt that I wasn't really confident about having fixed.

The other dress, I really loved.  It was the style I wanted, and with a beaded belt, had that extra something I wanted.  It was a teeny bit over budget...but just a teeny bit.  I put on a veil, and we all cried.  Isn't this the moment that everyone talks about?  When you know your dress is the ONE?  The tears, the excitement, thinking about Mr. C seeing this dress...

But, I couldn't do it.  Kleinfeld's had closed at this point, and our consultant started to get a little more pushy.  She started to tell us about payment plans and alterations and all the details.  She reminded us many, many times that they were closed.  So I couldn't make a decision under this pressure.  I knew we were shopping more the next day, and I wasn't ready to commit when I had barely looked around!

We got our consultant's card and she talked with the management and told me that if I wanted the dress after shopping the next day (Monday) she would let me come in at 10 on Tuesday (an hour before they open) to be measured, and the discount she promised me would still be valid. 

So we set out, met up with all the boys who were holding our table for 15 at a restaurant a few blocks away, and I felt disappointed.  I hadn't expected to find the dress of my dreams at Kleinfeld's (or even the dress within my budget or size) but...had I just passed her up?  Would I go back?  Would nothing else compare???

Stay tuned for the answers to these questions and many more dress pictures...in the next post...or maybe the post after that!

Have you ever been to a sample sale?  What was your experience like?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What We Did in Miami

I wanted to share with you where we stayed and the places we went in Miami.  It was definitely a beautiful place to visit, with great places to eat and fun bars to check out.  Hopefully I can remember the names of all the places we visited...

Mayfair Hotel and Spa in Coconut Grove

Pictures above from the Mayfair Website

The Mayfair was spectacular.  There were three rooms between ten of us, and two of them were suites.  The beds were ridiculously comfortable, there was a ton of room (even though the two suites had a stand up piano in it), and the housekeeping staff lined up my pairs of shoes next to my suitcase everyday.  We didn't see a lot of the staff outside the rooftop, but the ones on the rooftop were super accommodating and helpful, moving around chairs and umbrellas and bringing water and drinks as needed.

The spa was I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E.  Comfy robes, water and tea, and two great masseuses.  It was a beautiful space, and super duper relaxing.  Bridesmaid Y wants to replicate their lounge and have her own "zen room" someday.

The hotel was a $26 cab ride from the hotel, even with a little traffic.  The ride to Miami Beach and South Beach was a bit longer (although, as I mentioned before, I was riding in the trunk, so I'm not really sure how much longer) and we didn't take a cab, so I can't really give any information on that.  But if you're looking to be in South Beach until all hours of the night, it might not be your best bet.

Coconut Grove was a really cute area with great shops in the Coco Walk (mostly chain stores) and bars and restaurants in the area.  We really didn't need to leave a mile radius for anything other than the beach...but we had the rooftop pool, instead!

So basically, on a scale of one to you should stay here, the Mayfair gets a you should stay here.  It was really great.


Scarpetta was delicious.  Pricey, fancy, small portions, your classic fancy-schmancy restaurant.  But it was really yummy.  It was also in a beautiful hotel, the Fontainebleau, and we spent a little bit of time people watching by the pool.

If you can afford it, and you like fancy Italian food, I recommend Scarpetta.


The CocoWalk was right across from our hotel and had a bunch of fun options.  There were a few bars, including Fat Daiquiri and a Hooters, restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory and Chili's, and stores like the Gap, White House Black Market, and Victoria's Secret.

We hit Fat Daiquiri on Friday night and the crowd was....interesting.  Interesting mix of people.  And mostly, interesting jello shots.  We had fun.  Saturday night was spent under the Fat Daiquiri at a smaller bar, enjoying some quiet conversation.

I wouldn't go out of my way for CocoWalk if I wasn't in the area, but it was a good place to hang out since we were so close!

The Jaguar

Ceviche restaurant!

Dinner here was fantastic.  The ceviche sampler was fresh and delicious with a great variety of flavors.  The atmosphere was a little deceiving.  The people outside seemed to be dressed way more casually then the people on the inside, but it didn't really matter.  The worst part about the meal was that to get a real "jungle feel" (I swear, this is what our waitress told us), the lights flickered on and off.  Make it more of a jungle atmosphere, I guess?  A few glasses of sangria later, we barely noticed.  But if you're sensitive to that sort of thing, consider yourself warned.

The Jaguar gets a Busy Bee thumbs up!

The Clevelander

This was the bar we went to on Saturday afternoon in South Beach.  It had a very Spring Break-midafternoon-party vibe to it.  But we had a blast.  The waitstaff was super friendly, the manager bought us a round of shots, and invited us back for VIP service later in the night.  We never made it back, but it was super fun there.  Two Busy Bee recommendations for this place (if you like the party atmosphere!)

Taverna Opa

This place was super fun, and obviously catered to bachelorette parties (including a complimentary bottle of champagne!).  We had a blast dancing around on the tables, admiring the belly dancers, and enjoying the fun music.  As I mentioned before, this place wasn't really what we had expected it to be, but we still had a blast.  For me, it was the combination of all the sun I got that day, the day drinking, the lights and music, and eating Greek food while drinking a cranberry-orange-sprite-vodka mixed drink (we got a bottle of vodka, and those were the mixers provided) that left me feeling a little...well, sick.  I think if I had gone there fresh and ready to party, things would definitely have been better.  And after getting some air, I did feel refreshed.  And to warn you, the older ladies in the group found the place a little loud...but I think my New York City ears were pretty well adjusted. 

I do recommend Taverna Opa, it was really fun, but I wouldn't go in there if you can't handle the club-like atmosphere!

Those are pretty much all the places we hit over the bachelorette weekend...not too bad, huh?  And none of them were misses, I would recommend all of them!

Have you ever been to Miami?  What was the best place (restaurant or bar) you went to while you were there?  Never been?  Any of these places sound like a place that you would want to hang out at?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bienvenido A Miami!

Two weeks ago, I was flying off to Miami for my bachelorette weekend.  Finally, I got some photos from other gals, so I can share my trip with you!  I'll use a post to tell you about what we did, and then another post for more specifics about hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. in case you decide to make a trip down to Miami!

I landed on Thursday, early evening-ish, and was looking forward to shaking off the delays and flying drama I had gone through.  I immediately joined the "old lady" group (they're not really old ladies...they are just older than the rest of the girls!).  My mom, aunt, Cousin D, family friend B (from now on, FFB), and Sister J (my MOH) landed a few hours before I had and helped Bridesmaid S (who couldn't join us) pull off a surprise of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.  

Sister J and I toasting to the beginning of bachelorette weekend!

We immediately popped open one of the bottles of champagne. It was great to have a moment to sit, sip, destress and laugh after the semi-stressful day of traveling. Aunt Busy Bee had also brought a gift, a cute tank top and panty set from Victoria's Secret. I'm looking forward to wearing them in October!

We then took time to dress up and headed out to a nice restaurant that my aunt had selected.

We had an amazing Italian meal, at Scott Conant's restaurant (from Chopped, on the Food Network), and even ran into a Top Chef contestant!! I think my aunt and I were the only ones who were super excited (I think we were the only ones who knew who he was) but Dale totally obliged us with a photo, wished me luck, and was on his way.

This is my second meeting with a Top Chef contestant.  First one was Richard Blais.
Aunt Busy Bee was totally stoked.

After dinner, we went back to our hotel in Coconut Grove and explored the area. We were across the street from some fun bars, restaurants and shops. We got dessert out and then called it a night. I think we were all pooped after a day of traveling and looking forward to a fun filled weekend.

On Friday I woke up and Sister J and I immediately put on our bathing suits. We were super pumped to get some sun! But I didn't have too much time at the pool right then because the ladies had booked me a massage. A whole hour! I felt so pampered and relaxed after that. The spa in the hotel was incredible and they did an amazing job making you feel like a goddess. 

Sister J and I poolside, drinks in hand
A view of the rooftop pool
We went back up to the pool after the massage and enjoyed the rest of the morning, swimming, sunning and of course, drinking. At lunch time we decided to venture outside the hotel for lunch and found a cute bistro steps from our hotel. After some shopping, I headed back to the hotel to meet Bridesmaid AF who had just arrived. After excitedly gabbing, we changed into our suits and, of course, hit the pool again, where we saw Friend J who had arrived. We spent the rest of the afternoon all on the rooftop, enjoying the weather and rooftop bar. Soon, it was time to shower up and head to dinner. Bridesmaid AF had made us reservations at a ceviche restaurant not too far from the hotel which had amazzzzing food. I thought it was my first ceviche, but Mr. C informed me this was actually the THIRD time.  Oops. So I'll call this my first memorable ceviche. For my entree I had another amazzzzing dish: mango mahi mahi. It was so ridiculously fresh, crisp and delicious with yummy bites of cilantro.

Ready for Friday night!

Sangria time!
Ordering confusion.

Bridesmaid AF and I, loving it

After dinner and a delicious dessert (not sure exactly what it was, but it had bananas, nuts, caramel and was fried.  OMG DELISH), things started to get a little wilder, and we found a bar down the street that served delicious hurricanes.  It led to some dancing up on Cousin D.

Oops, where'd my hurricane go?

Bridesmaid AF found a dude on the street and paid to play with his snake.  This is not dirty-bachelorette-innuendo.  She literally found a dude with two huge boa constrictors and put them both around her neck.  She is a wild and daring lady.

The last of the traveling bridesmaids finally arrived (Bridesmaid AB and Bridesmaid Y) around 11, and after the old ladies retired, we hit up a bar, had some "delicious" jello shots (OMG, check out Bridesmaid Y's face) and danced our booties off before calling it a night.  Oh, and obviously splashed around in the hot tub on our porch.

Saturday was beach day!  We hopped in the rented mini-van, the pimpest of rides (and yes, all 10 of us.  AF and I chillaxed in the trunk space), and headed off to South Beach.  Trying to find parking seemed to be the most difficult part of that day, but once we were on the beach, I dropped my things and ran straight into the ocean.  It was magical.  I love the ocean.  Unfortunately, no one has pictures from the beach, but trust me.  It was stunning.  We spent most of the morning there, and around lunchtime, Sister J, Aunt B, Mom, FFB, and Cousin D went hunting for food and drinks.  The rest of us lounged on the beach, but, classic for me, I got antsy, and went off with AF to hunt down the other women.  Little did I know, they were at the coolest bar ever.  Outdoor bar, TVs, misting fans, and a POOL in the middle of it all.  Our waiter, Frankzilla (yes, that was the name on his name tag) was hilarious, and totally allowed us to become silly ridiculous women at 2 in the afternoon, full of booze and a deck of bachelorette dares.  ....Those photos stay in the circle of trust, sorry!

After a few hours in South Beach, we headed back to Coconut Grove for (another!) massage and more pool time.  Up on the rooftop, someone was throwing a party so it had much more of a party atmosphere which we all enjoyed. 

The "young" girls enjoying the pool party
After the pool party, it was time to get all dolled up again and head to Y, AB and J's room which they had decorated all in bachelorette stuff.  You get the idea, right?  Let's just say, I had many things hanging from my neck, including a pink feather boa, and pin the _______ on the naked dude may have made an appearance.  We had a blast, enjoyed the second bottle of champagne, and then headed out to dinner.

Dinner was a Greek restaurant that a friend had recommended to me, saying: "It's Greek food, there are belly dancers, and you dance on the tables!"  So off we went.  Although it really wasn't what any of us were expecting, we had a ball dancing around, jumping up on tables, and lighting bottles of booze on fire (ok, the waitstaff did that, but as the bachelorette, I was the lucky one who got to dance around on the table with it).  There was lots of napking throwing, "Opa" yelling, and general boogying.  The night ended earlier then I think we expected it to in South Beach.  The mix of juicy drinks, food, club lighting, plus all the day drinking and sun we got made me feel a little sick.  So we went with the old lady crowd and headed back to Coconut Grove.

Waiting outside with our penis paraphenilia

Chair dancing

Mom Busy Bee and I, loving it.

This is literally my favorite picture of the whole weekend.

Triumphant Bachelorette, Flaming Bottle of Booze in Hand
Let's dance.  Yes, you.

The night ended a little quieter with me, AF, Y, and AB drinking some beers and playing Bachelorette conversation starter games.  It was good conversation with good people, and even if it wasn't a wild crazy night in a club, AF and I still decided to have Johnny Rocket burgers at 4 am.  That means it was fun guys!

Sunday the old lady crowd and Sister J had an early flight to catch, so they were all gone by the time we woke up.  Sad.  The rest of us spent the day lazing poolside, trying to be better about sunscreen, and reliving the weekend.  It was a much quieter day, but it was so relaxing and fun.

Friend J and I caught the latest flight we could out of Miami back up to NYC.  I didn't want to leave Miami, but the second we were on that plane, I couldn't wait to be in my own bed.  It took me almost the entire week to feel finally caught up on sleep, and I still am rocking a little bit of the color I got. 

I had such an amazing, amazing time.  I felt so blessed and lucky to have 9 amazing people (+ Bridesmaid S who wished she could be there) who were able and willing to go all the way down to Miami to party with me.  They wouldn't let me pay for anything the entire time, and constantly were checking to be sure that I was having a blast.  Which, of course, I was.  I sent thank you notes to each of them yesterday, and one little card will never be able to express how truly humbled, grateful, blessed and lucky I am.  You know, when we started talking about bachelorette options, I immediatley was like, LETS GO ON A TRIP.  I just thought it sounded fun and awesome.  I never really considered how pricey and complicated things could get (I'm a little delusional sometimes).  But not a single one of these women batted an eye.  Each of them is in a very different place in life, but they made it work and they made it happen. 

Did I mention how very lucky I am?