Unfake brides. Unfake weddings. Go on, get inspired. You know you want to.

Are you a bride wanting to be featured? If so, go here and let me know! If you are a photographer, please hit me up via Two Bright Lights or send me an email.



A Sneak Peek ~ An Unfake Engagement Session

OK, y'all...I have been waiting for like, forever to feature this happy couple, Savannah and Ryan. It might take me a couple of posts to get through just because there were so many amazing things this couple did to make a wedding that was all their own. To set the stage, I want to show you a few shots form their engagement shoot. Of course, the man who shot this wedding is all things wonderful, Mr. Jonathon Campbell of Jonathon Campbell Photography.


 Love the little snippets of red on the puppy's bow and on her toes!



 Ooooooh, come on! Cute pupster!


 Engagement shoot joy at Nashville's The Parthenon.

 We love happy clouds.


 Complete sass - a girl after my own heart.


 I believe that this shot was turned into their Save the Date cards. Jonathon changed the Purity milk sign into the couple's Save the Date info using a similar font. Too cute!

The red accents were a key element in the couple's wedding colors! Just wait until you see it! So fun and a LOT of DIY! Stay tuned!



The Unfake Wedding ~ Cindy & Bill


You all know I'm a lurker, right? I'm a blog-junkie. I'm a wedding junkie. I think it's a binge thing. I spent the majority of my adult life avoiding all things wedding. Then I get married and I just can't seem to get it out of my system. My poor husband. Here he thought it was just going to be this finite period of wedding planning time. Little did he know that I would fall head over heels for all the stuff. Have pity for the poor Candyman. He got WAY more than he bargained for. So as I was saying, I traipse all over the internet and devour magazines and haunt bookstores looking for divine inspiration in both weddings and all things. I'm looking for something I haven't yet seen, something that means something to me, which I assume might mean something to someone else. Is there a word for that? Is is narcissism? I need my literary compatriots to assist in that one, please. At any rate, I found this photographer who is the guilty party behind the wonderful Unfake Wedding below. Her name is Carissa Fine and she is Dulce Photography.

This wedding is not a typical wedding, so I'm not going to approach it with the standard Thirty-Something Bride questions. It's more of a story than a Q&A feature.

Meet Cindy. Cindy was 44 and had never been married.  

Meet Bill. Bill was married for 25 years, had 3 adult children and was divorced for 10 months.

They met. Six months later Bill proposed.

Cindy said no. Or, more appropriately, not yet.

Four years later, she figured he was sticking around, so they made it official.


They set the date on June 27th for an August 29th wedding - for the same year. On July 5th she broke her wrist mountain biking with Bill and had 6 pins and a plate inserted on July 8th. July 9th they sent out 120 invitations versus the 70 they had initially planned on. Cindy blames the Lortab and Valium. *Note to brides - you might want to lay off the pain killers whilst addressing the invites - as tempting as the drug-induced state may be.*


This lady boogied down her aisle. It's called making it your own, people.


Like a lot of brides, Cindy wanted her father to walk her down the aisle. And holy crap-a-rooni, for 48 Cindy looks DAMN good! Let's hope I enter that decade as flawlessly.


Love the bling in her garden roses!


All done in two months and for $10,000!


It wouldn't be an Unfake Wedding without a little toe-sucking, now would it? LOVE that her father, aka The Silver Fox, caught the garter!



From The Thirty-Something Bride to this Forty-Something Bride and her Fifty-Something Groom: "Hell to the yeah!" There are no rules. There are only traditions that people allow themselves to be tortured by. I love that Bill and Cindy clearly followed some traditions that were special and important to them. What girl doesn't want her dad to walk her down the aisle? The father-daughter thing doesn't end at twenty one, or thirty-one or sixty-one. You will always be his little girl, no matter how old you get or how hard you try not to be. :)  

 What I love the very most about this wedding is this: Bride does not have an age.

Bride does not have a nationality. Bride does not have a skin color. Bride doesn't even have a religion. Help me celebrate this amazing bride and her feisty groom!

Congratulations to Bill and Cindy!

All photos by Dulce Photography.


The Unfake Wedding ~ A Montage, If You Will. 

Yesterday I read a post by A Los Angeles Love and  I was so jealous! I was jealous because I so wish I could write like that woman. She always says it so well.  I also wish I could write as well as The Ugly Volvo, A Good (Enough) Woman and Acadamnit, but alas - I cannot.

Once I got over my jealousy (it was short lived) I really got to thinking about what is beautiful. Everyone says that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That must be true. However, there is always some intrinsic, universal agreement of beauty, right? If there weren't, then things like fashion magazines and Style Me Pretty would not exist. Right? Right?

What I do think we can all agree upon as universally beautiful is love. Love is not just beautiful, it's stunning. It is drop-dead gorgeous. Love comes in as many forms as there are people. What brings two people together to form a union varies, but under those variations is always the love.  So I went hunting for love and here is what I found.

Moved to tears and jumping for joy!

Photos by Jack Arias Photography


Jumping the Broom! Adore this shot!


Image from Face Studios.


Bummer, the groom broke his leg!


Photo by Carrisa Fine of Dulce Photography.


Overcome with emotion - a father daughter dance.


I found the story of this bride here. If her story doesn't move you to tears, you need to stop reading my blog right now because you have a black, black soul and you scare me. This wonderful woman died of cancer a mere 5 days after her wedding.

All images taken by Romain Blanquart.

Photo by Robyn Robinson Photography



 What's beautiful to you?


The Unfake Wedding ~ Monique & Justin

I met Unfake Bride Monique through Maine photographer, Amy Salerno. I am never really sure how brides are going to "take" to my questionnaire. Will they think it's goofy? Will they want to be asked about how they met their husbands? How he proposed? To me, when I see that I just read, "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." It must be the cynic in me or something because I really don't care that much about all the romantic precursor stuff. You are getting MARRIED. You need details, people. And help. Hopefully, this helps. Just a little.

But I digress. Monique took to the questionnaire like a bride to butter cream at a cake tasting. Oh yes, she did. Please enjoy the Unfake Wedding of Monique and Justin.



The most important question: wedding night…did you or didn’t you?

Yes we did. Only because we left the reception right after the last song. Our friends were so amazing and used all of our bridal party bouquets to throw rose petals all over the room and light candles. It was very romantic. Tip: Make sure that you leave your reception and don't head to the bar and drink too much with the rest of the crowd

Who were your vendors?

Wedding Gown: Pronovias Barcelona, from Gesinees Bridal

 Wedding Planner: Diane York

Invitations: Marcy Decker

DJ: Charlie Vacciano

Photographer: Amy Salerno

Ceremony Music (Bagpipes): Kate Savidge

Transportation: Maine Limo

Flowers: Fleur de Lis Floral Designs

Reception Venue: Eastland Park Hotel

Reception Venue: Cape Elizabeth, Maine



Who was your favorite vendor and why?  

It’s a tie between Marcy ( invitations) and Amy (photographer). They were so wonderful, personable, funny, supportive and completely professional. I saw the pictures and the invitations and I almost cried because they were so beautiful. I just sent them a couple pictures with ideas and they both nailed it.

Was there a “method to your madness” in choosing your vendors?

Yes, Diane was our wedding planner and she laid out every single vendor in the area. We got to meet them, see their styles and see their prices. As soon as I interviewed with all of them I wrote down who I liked and she made the arrangements.

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

One year. I know, that’s long. But [having enough time to plan] contributed to me not being nervous or stressed over a damn thing!

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

We invited 140 and 122 came.  This was mostly due to the fact that we wanted to have it close so all the relatives could come. We decided that we would travel across the country to be in a location close to everyone.

What was your budget?


Were you over or under budget? By how much?

We were  about $1,000 under budget.

How large was your bridal party?

We had 8 on each side. We made everything simple for them- I think we skipped out on a lot of drama because I told the bridesmaids to wear whatever black dress they wanted, with any black shoes and any silver jewelry they had.  I think its awful when brides make their friends buy 200 dollar dresses, or tell them how to wear their hair. I think that’s just rude.

What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or handle poorly!)?

It started to rain outside and our ceremony was in a field with noooo tent! On the way there in the car, I started to hyperventilate. My mother grabbed my hand hard and told me to pull it together and that it wouldn’t rain on us. We didn’t have a backup plan or umbrellas but amazingly, the rain stopped as we pulled up and the sun came out. Thank GOD.

What was your biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or handle poorly!)?

One week before, Justin and I were checking out the news to see how the weather would be on our wedding day across the country in Maine.  THE FORECAST SAID HURRICANES!  I cried for about an hour. Our entire ceremony was going to be outside on a field by the ocean....apparently we might as well have planned to have the wedding IN the ocean by the way it was looking! Brides, my biggest advice is to eliminate the worry of things you cannot control; always have a backup plan to avoid situations like very bad weather or extreme cold.

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day (you can opt out of this if you’d like)?   

I will opt out of this one. :)

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

I was shopping by myself for lingerie and had grabbed the most ridiculously priced white teddy that I had ever seen, just to try it on because I thought, What the hell?" I never wear things that pricey or that va va va voom.  I don’t know what it was, maybe it was the fact that I was bored with waiting for the wedding, or the fact that people were coming out of the woodwork saying “Married couples stop having sex!” or “ Marriage is the end to getting ass!” or “ Wait till you have kids, your sex life will disappear!”

Something came over me and I wanted to end all of those stereotypes and start my own sayings like “Sex is best when your married!” or “ I get too much ass now that I’m married!” or “The kids never hear us having sex because we do it in the garage!!!” 

So I bought the damn thing and I felt so powerful knowing that I had some kick-ass undergarments that no one would ever see but my husband. Cheers to married couples getting and keeping a lot of ass!!!!

{I interrupt this previously scheduled interview to say: I effing LOVE this bride!}


What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?

Dance lessons. The freakin' classes were $1,000 and we didn’t learn a thing!  They gave us a package deal that said “ wedding dance package” but they tried to teach us every genre in the book, resulting in no focus whatsoever. I recommend asking someone to teach you a specific dance that you decide on with your husband way beforehand. We ended up creating our own dance, remembering some steps we had learned and adding in dips occasionally.

What was the best thing that was also the cheapest?

My shoes. This was the one thing that I really didn’t care about. I only cared about being comfortable and being shorter than my husband. We are about the same height so when I wear heels I am taller than him.  I was happy as a clam on the wedding day because I was cruising around and dancing in white flats that were only around $30 from Macys.


What was the best thing that was the most expensive or over-budget?

I loved the Bentley we rented. Our driver was so funny and he had a red carpet for us ( by surprise) with a bottle of champagne waiting after the ceremony. Maine Limo is really a five star vendor. They treat people like royalty.

What was the most unexpected thing that happened?

Right before the ceremony it was pouring!  The second we arrived, the rain stopped. Later everyone said that no matter where they were coming from, Cape Elizabeth was the only area that was dry.

What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

Justin, my husband, started to cry as he was saying his vows. I have never seen him cry before. I instantly broke into tears too.

Did you DIY? What parts?

We did all the bridal party gifts ourselves. We made the boxes with huge bows and did the paper wrapping inside the boxes. Justin got different color ties to match the personalities of his groomsmen and wrote a little funny poem about why they got that color. I had an artist design different jewelry pieces for the bridesmaids according to their personalities and I wrote them funny stories of our childhood that reminded me of the jewelry.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

Not a thing.

Many thanks to Monique for being an Unfake Bride and sharing her UNfake Wedding. Many more thank to Amy Salerno for putting us together. You can also visit Amy's blog.

Congratulations Monique and Justin!


The Unfake Wedding ~ Lillian & Craig

So I always get a kick out of all these wedding blogs and web sites that have the "REAL WEDDINGS" sections. Compared to what? All those fake weddings people throw? I know! Let's spend thousands of dollars and invite all our friends and family and just pretend to get married! Won't that be a hoot?

Um, yeah.

So, the Thirty-Something Bride is going to be sharing some totally unfake weddings by some totally unfake brides. For real.

I would like to to introduce to you the wonderful Miss Lillian (we're Southerners, we like to introduce people with honorifics plus their first names - it's casual, yet respectful) and her now-husband, Mr. Craig. Lillian is known to us local blogging folks as A Bride in Boots. She's agreed to be my first Unfake Wedding Recap! Sweet. I've put together a little questionnaire for our booted bride of perhaps some more helpful questions than one might find elsewhere. If there are questions y'all might want to know about weddings and brides, I highly suggest you contact me and let me know. I can always add more questions in!


The most important question: wedding night…did you or didn’t you?

Does a quickie count? We had our limo driver drop us off at the Hermitage Hotel where we were staying for the night, ran upstairs to drop off our things, decided we better do the deed right then and there (my boots never came off, mind you), and then joined our friends at Legends for a spur of the moment after party! You can take the girl out of Alabama, but you can’t take the Alabama out of the girl…

Who were the vendors you used?

Invitations: Southall Eden Paperie

The Dress: Carriage House Weddings, gown by Christos

The Lighting: Nashville Event Lighting

Wedding Design: Blue Nova Weddings

The Flowers: The Enchanted Florist

The Coordination: A Delightful Day

The Band: Trotline

The Photographer: Scottie Jones Photography

The Videography: Dynamic Video

The Reception Venue: The Nashville City Club

The Church: Wightman Chapel


Who was your favorite vendor and why?

Hands down, it was our band, Trotline. They are a southern rock/country band out of Georgia who know exactly how to get things going. The only thing we said we really wanted was a full dance floor at the end of the night. Which is exactly what they did – they had everyone, and I mean everyone, dancing! They opened one of their sets with “Calling Baton Rouge” and everyone went crazy. Craig even danced a jig all by himself – very uncharacteristic! It was the best money I spent by far.

Was there a “method to your madness” in choosing your vendors?

Excellent question! As an event planner in my day job, I had specific ideas on some things (like the décor) and no idea on others (like what I wanted to do on the printed pieces). I attended some bridal shows to get inspiration and basically researched the hell out of the ones I narrowed it down too. I also asked for lots of opinions from other Nashville brides, and looked to blogs frequently for advice. I finally got to a point where I was over-stimulated by all the options and just had to stop looking! 

How long did you take to plan your wedding?

We were engaged on March 11, 2009,  and married on January 2, 2010, so about 10 months.

How many guests did you invite versus how many came?

We invited just over 300, and just under 200 came. We were really surprised (and touched) that so many came, since our guest list was about 70% out of towners, and travel was involved.

What was your budget?

My budget was between $30,000 and $35,000, which was a more than a generous amount set aside from my parents, and I never thought we would use that much, but we used every last dime! Crazy when you think all that went towards one day, but we realized we will never again have everyone we love in one room, celebrating just for us. There is no way to put a dollar value on that. Wow, that sounds like a beauty pageant answer. But it’s the truth.

Were you over or under budget?

We hit it on the nose!

How large was your bridal party?

Huge. Four bridesmaids, two junior bridesmaids, six groomsmen, six ushers, three bell ringers, two ring bearers, and one flower girl. All the kiddos were family except the flower girl, Lilly, who is my adorable namesake.

What was your biggest day-of crisis and how did you handle it (or handle poorly!)?

Oh, this was an epic fail on my part. I must not have printed enough directions to our reception site (The Nashville City Club) or didn’t account for the fact that the Nashville folks would take one too. I know this because my parents and Craig’s parents said none were left by the time they got ready to leave the chapel and head over to the reception. They followed a family member with GPS but got separated at a red light. They got terribly lost in downtown Nashville and were 30 minutes late, which means they missed our introduction and first dance completely. We felt terrible, but thank goodness for video…

What was you biggest wedding planning crisis and how did you handle it (or handle poorly!)?

I was not impressed at all with the staff at the Nashville City Club, and kept ignoring that little feeling I had from the get-go that they would be a pain in my ass, because I loved the venue so much. You just don’t get a better view of Nashville, or a sense of being smack dab in the middle of the city than you do there. The Event Manager was as nice as she could be until she got my deposit, and then it was like they were inconvenienced with every question I asked. We were arguing over the budget up until a week before the wedding – not exactly my idea of enjoying the last weeks of my engagement. They made several changes to the very explicit instructions I had left about set up and décor. Had I not paid the deposit and printed the invitations, I honestly would have pulled out and gone elsewhere.

Who was the biggest pain in the ass on your wedding day (you can opt out of this one, ,if you'd like)?

I’m going to opt in actually, since my pain in the ass isn’t from around here and brides should know how important this person is on their big day. It was without a doubt my very unprepared photographer who acted like he was dazed and confused the entire day. Uh, seriously buddy? I need you to get with it and be in charge and pose us and be creative and tell us we’re lovely and say “Perfect” after every take. Word to the wise: family friends from small towns back home who don’t have photography blogs or Facebook accounts or even great web sites for that matter don’t make good wedding day photographers. I kept hoping he was just old-school and not on the up-and-up – turns out he just kinda sucks.  

What was the biggest waste of money that you loved?

Spending our first night at the Hermitage Hotel. Yes, we were only there for a grand total of four hours, and yes, we didn’t even get to take a shower in the luxurious marble bathroom because we were in a mad rush to make it to the airport for our 6 a.m. flight, but dammit, I felt so special when we walked up to the room and there was champagne, strawberries, bath robes, slippers and personalized “Mr. and Mrs. Turman” stationary waiting for us. Craig would probably say huge waste of money but I say WORTH IT!

What was the biggest waste of money that you wish you’d passed on?

I had adorable little coffee stirrers made that were displayed at our Coffee and Doughnut Bar at the reception. They said “Something To Keep You Warm”  - cute right? I never saw one person with one, or even drinking coffee for that matter. It was a detail that definitely didn’t get noticed. Sadness. 

What was the best thing that was also the cheapest?

My farewell dress that I found at Boutique Bella two days before the wedding – it was designer but on sale for $99! It was a long-sleeved, ivory lace shift dress, and it looked perfect with my cowboy boots that I knew I wanted to leave in. My maid of honor kept calling me June Carter Cash! Also, I found the lanterns my bridesmaids carried at Fabu – they were $7 each and looked amazing!

What was the best thing that was the most expensive or over-budget?

I hadn’t originally budgeted for a videographer, but so many friends who had recently married told me I just HAD to do it. So I found one (Dynamic Video) for what I believed to be a reasonable cost, and decided to just pay for it on my own. I’m telling you, seeing the sneak peek she put together the week after the wedding was the best thing we could have ever come home to. And guess what music it was set to? “Oh Happy Day!” I probably played it a solid 15 times before I could send it to anyone!

What was the funniest thing that happened?

Craig’s two older brothers did an impromptu toast at the reception that turned into a 20 minute roast, complete with a very embarrassing video of young Craig talking smack to the camera while he did his basketball drills. The whole place erupted in laughter!

What was the most ooey-gooey, tear-jerking moment?

My dad has some trouble walking and though he didn’t want to admit it, he was a little nervous about walking me down that very long aisle. Just before the doors opened, he squeezed my hand and said, “Pumpkin, you may have to let Dear Ole Dad lean on you as much as you’re leaning on me.” Needless to say, I had big crocodile tears in my eyes for the entire walk, and was so proud when we made it to the end of the aisle to meet my handsome husband without so much as a stumble!

Did you DIY? What parts?

I tied the ribbons around the programs – does that count? Honestly, I didn’t want the hassle of having to do anything myself – I’m the kind of gal that gets super stressed with those kinds of things!

If you could do it all over again, what would you change, if anything?

Craig and I actually talked about this on the honeymoon, and I would say it would be just one thing – have a shorter engagement. I was just about over the whole process of wedding planning and making decisions about things no one but me would ever notice. I just wanted to marry my best friend and be done with thinking about the blasted wedding! I think I could have done the whole thing, start to finish, in six months and we would have been just fine. Oh, and I would have put a copy of the directions in our parents cars for sure!

Congratulations you guys! And girl, so cool that you left the boots on! Way to keep it Southern....

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