Mother of the Bride Series: Handling Your Emotions

LCCer105 LCCer103 LCCer027{Photos of Lindsay’s wedding are by Sandra Reed Photography} 10644857_824239197608294_2642743857463510121_n 10407049_824250927607121_3215972066937727527_n{Photos of Emily’s wedding are by Braun Photography}

inked by Holly

Wedding planning can get overwhelming, and at times, the planning can take the focus off the most important priority– preparing your daughter for marriage.

A wedding day is just that- it’s one day. Granted, it’s a very important day, but be careful not to let the planning overshadow the significance of the marriage. As we’ve parented daughters for the past 30 years, we’ve tried to keep in mind that we are raising someone’s wife. We’ve done our best to train and prepare along the way but wedding planning is a wonderful time to be discussing all that comes AFTER a wedding. Here are some books Steve and I have found helpful:
His Needs Her Needs
For Women Only
Love and Respect
Sheet Music
She Still Calls Me Daddy (for the FOB’s)

I never anticipated how emotional I and the rest of the family would be in the months and days leading up to the wedding (and even a few days after the wedding). My biggest tip is to prepare in advance and don’t let it freak you out. We Neals are a close family–crazy close. When there is a major life change for one of us, there are emotions for all of us. With wedding planning, we may not feel it during the initial phase but definitely during wedding week. You may have a scared and exhausted bride, an overwhelmed MOB, and a sad FOB. Remember that it’s going to be ok. Be prepared for a possible meltdown and reassure the bride (or her father) that this is perfectly normal.

Mother of the Bride Series: The Dress

em-dresses1 linds-dress1inked by Holly

I do love dress shopping! All of my girls have such different taste, and it’s so fun to see what they choose and how it reflects their sense of style.

Here are my dress shopping tips:
*Don’t be afraid to buy off the sample rack. We bought Emily’s ceremony dress for such an amazing price, and we ended up with room in the budget to also buy a fun reception dress. We were so excited to score two dresses for the budget of one, but something I didn’t take into consideration was the cost of alterations.  Buying off the rack means you probably aren’t buying the correct size. You’ll be told by the sales assistants shop that you can alter it to fit, and you can… but it’s gonna cost you. Also, altering a dress that’s a few sizes too big will affect the finished dress so keep this in mind. This is also true when you order a dress–be prepared that the dress may not look exactly like you thought it would when it was initially tried on in a different size.

*Who knew you can machine wash some wedding dresses?! I threw Emily’s ceremony dress in the washing machine on gentle and line dried. It looked perfect! Obviously, that wouldn’t work for her reception dress with feathers which leads to next tip…

*Shop around for dry cleaners. I took the reception dress to the dry cleaner in our neighborhood and gasped at the price. I called around and found another cleaner who did a beautiful job for half the price.

*Bright white isn’t the only option. Lindsay chose a champagne dress and Emily chose an ivory dress. Bright white shades washed them out, and the slightly darker shades were much more flattering.

*Buy what you love, because you only wear it once. But don’t go bankrupt or blow the whole wedding budget on the dress, because you only wear it once.

Any other tips for dress shopping? Any favorite bridal salons?

Mother of the Bride Series: The Venue

LCCer127 LCRec008inked by Holly

Like finding the right dress, finding the right venue requires some shopping and lots of budgeting. I have a strict rule on no outdoor weddings. Don’t get me wrong– they’re beautiful– but the risk of bad weather in on any given day is too high for me. My girls have to choose an indoor venue, which can make things interesting.

Here are my tips for working with a venue once you find the perfect spot:
*Ask if they have preferred vendors.  This can make things run more smoothly if they already have a working knowledge of the venue and relationship with the staff.

*Some venues have preferred vendors, and others have vendors that you must work with. These are often caterers. Request a tasting and get references before booking– you’d hate to land the perfect venue and need to settle on poor quality food.

*Be sure to ask what is and isn’t included in the rental fees. Are tables included? If so, what size? What about chairs? Are they pretty as is, or will you need to rent covers? Does the venue offer a sound system?

If you’re planning a wedding in the Dayton/Cincinnati area, here are some of our favorite vendors:

Wedding Coordinators
Aviva Events
Pink with Envy Events

Cake Diva

LifeTime Video

Braun Photography
Chloe Luka Photography

Schindler Banquet Center
Dayton Art Institute

Party Pleasers Cincinnati

Prime Time Party Rentals

The Flower Shoppe (Mark is so creative!)

Elite Catering

Mother of the Bride Series: Guest List

IMG_5605Photo by Pink with Envy Events

inked by Holly

Weddings and wedding planning are wonderful times of celebration for a mother and daughter. But if you’re like me, it’s also scary, intimidating, and overwhelming. Emily married the man of her dreams in July and the very next morning, I jotted down some notes. I’ve been the mother of the bride twice but I still have two daughters to go, one of which will be walking down the aisle next summer. For me, wedding planning is a lot like child birth. Once it’s over, you really only remember the wonderful and quickly forget the difficult parts. Until you do it again.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you avoid the difficult, or at least make the planning a little less difficult.

Today we’re talking about the guest list. Oh, it still gives me a panicky feeling! This is one of the most difficult tasks for me. Steve and I know and love so many people and we want them all to share the joyous day with us, but unfortunately there are limits to the seating in venues and limits to the budget. And, I have to remind myself that it’s not my day, it’s the bride and groom’s.

Here are my tips as you work on narrowing your guest list:
*Never invite more than your venue seats. It’s very unlikely that every guest on your list will be able to attend, but you’d rather be safe than sorry.

*Invite those who will be investing in the couple’s future, not just those from their past.

*However, those friends from the past are very special, so make room and compromise when possible.

*One of the toughest decisions we’ve made is whether or not to invite children. For both of the Neal weddings, we made the difficult decision to not include children due to venue size and budget. We also wanted our adult guests to be able to enjoy the celebration. This is a sensitive topic and different for each bride and MOB.

Any other tips you’d add?

Mother of the Bride Series


Is it just us, or do the fathers of the brides get all the attention? We do love the movies, but other than writing the checks and giving the daughter away, the MOB’s (mother of the bride for you wedding planning newbs) are the ones doing the hard labor. The planning. The prioritizing. The delegating. The choosing. And a lot of the crying.

With two weddings under her belt and another in the works for next summer, Holly, our MOB extraordinaire, had the fabulous idea of creating a blog series with tips for future MOB’s. Everyday this week, we’ll be sharing tips on creating the guest list, picking the perfect dress, finding the right venue, creating a day-of checklist, emergency kit must-haves, and even how to keep your emotions in line.

Check back with us tomorrow for the first post in the series. We’ll be keeping them short and sweet and chalk-full of advice from a wedding planning veteran. And, if you’ve planned weddings a time or two, be sure to chime in with your tips. It takes a village, right? ;)

Back to Maine

IMG_6653 IMG_6617 main-horiztonal

inked by Julia

This summer has been a summer of weddings for just about everyone I know. I attended four in the month of July and two of those were in Maine. Luckily, they were back-to-back weekends, which allowed me to spend some time in Portland with Michael’s lovely family. I tried my first Maine lobster, we climbed the observatory at sunset, visited the Portland Headlight, checked out L.L. Bean, and had so much fun in between. My parents attended one of the weddings, and when they came in for the weekend, Michael’s parents, brother, and I packed our day full of touristy fun. We had a blast showing them around town, and our favorite adventure was our lobster cruise. We learned how to bait, pull, and toss traps, while learning about other sea creatures. We even saw baby seals swimming in the bay. If you’re looking for a new area of the U.S. to explore, you should really consider checking out Maine. So much beauty, and so many fun things to do. Until next time, Maine!

Need a Stylist? Try Golden Tote!

inked by Julia

Out of all of the Neal women, I despise shopping the most.  I love fashion, clothes, shoes, etc., but the actual act of shopping bores me to no end. But, online shopping is a much different story. I could sit on my computer looking at pretty things for hours. In fact, I purchased all of my homecoming and prom dresses online, and I also bought my bridesmaid dress for Emily’s upcoming wedding online.  Shopping with the click of a button is more my style– it’s in my genes. My mother is the QUEEN of online shopping. If there’s not a UPS delivery at our house everyday, I’m shocked. So when she told me about Golden Tote, I was all in. golden-tote-1Golden Tote offers a personalized monthly subscription tote bag. The things that make GT different from similar sites like Birch Box is that you are not committed to buying something every month and you actually have a say in what you buy.  Once you fill out your style profile, you can purchase items from either the boutique or by ordering a golden tote. For the smaller totes, you choose one item that you want, and then GT stylists pick out one or two other items that fit your style profile. For the larger totes, you choose two items that you like, and the stylists will surprise you with an extra 3-5 items that fit your style profile. They even include a card with suggestions on how to style your new items!

Once you receive your tote (or totes if you’re Holly Neal), you can try on the items. If you love them all, they’re yours! If you hate them all, you return them fairly easily. If you love some and hate the others, you can join a trading group on Facebook. The ladies on the page will post FSOT (GT lingo for “for sale or trade”), and you can either pay them what they ask via paypall, or you can see if they’d like to trade for the items that you were not so fond of. It’s so fun!

I tried GT for the first time this month with a small tote and loved both of my items. I chose the Slouchy Statement Pants and I was surprised with the Naked Zebra dress in teal. They both fit perfectly! I wore the pants when we visited Savannah, and I wore the dress to a fabulous wedding in Indiana. Both items were a hit, and I can’t wait to wear them again! golden-tote-2Golden Tote adds new clothes each month, and the first day you can buy a tote is the first Monday of each month. Check it out and let me know what goodies you find. :) Happy shopping!