16 Nov

Your Questions, Answered: Trying a New Color

KC emailed me this week with a common hair concern…

I have a hair appointment scheduled for this Saturday morning, and I’m itching to go dark. I’ve been blonde my whole life (started highlighting when I was about 16, my natural color is an ashy/dirty blonde), but am tired of the upkeep, and just want to try something new. My complexion is fair, so I’m concerned about looking too washed out if I go dark. Any recommendations/photo examples of what I should do??

I’ve always felt like blondes were lucky because it’s MUCH easier to be blonde and go dark than it is to be a brunette (like me) and go blonde.  There’s a perfect shade for everyone, you just have to find the method that’s right for you.

Here are a few tips for taking your blonde hair dark…

1) Start with lowlights. If you don’t want to dramatically change from one color to the next, weave some lowlights into your hair and increase them over the next few appointments.  It’ll darken your look while maintaining lots of dimension in your locks.


2) Stick to neutral shades. Hair colors come with three undertones: cool, neutral, and warm.  For your first time going dark, stick to shades with a neutral undertones and you won’t wash out.  After living with your neutral color for a while, you can decide if you want to adjust your color to a warmer or cooler shade.


3) Go dark on the bottom. Cut down on the upkeep by only highlighting the top of your hair  and going for a darker shade all-over on the lower half of your hair.


Hope this helps, KC!  Please send pictures of the final product, I’d love to see :)

Readers: help KC out!  Which of these looks do you like best?

8 Aug

How to Create a Top Knot

The top knot has become a style staple in 2012— it’s the perfectly-imperfect look that will keep you looking chic without being overdone.  Reader, Carissa, wants a step-by-step guide… here you have it!

My hair is currently too short for this look, so I’m using my trusty mannequin, Amanda, as a model.  (You may remember her from my post on ombre hair color…)

For this look, you’ll need:

-1 hair elastic

-bobby pins that match your hair color

-a comb


Step 1: Use your fingers to pull your hair into a high pony.  Skipping the brush and using your hands will add texture and dimension to your hair so it’s not too perfect.

Step 2: Use the comb to backcomb your ponytail a bit.  My mannequin has very thin hair— the thinner your hair, the more you’ll want to backcomb.  (It helps to create a voluminous bun.)

Step 3: Collect all of your hair above your head, smoothing the outer layer slightly with your hands.

Step 4: Twist, twist, twist your hair until it starts to wrap around itself like a bun.

Step 5: Pin your wrapped bun into place with your bobby pins.

Step 6: The bun will probably be a little smaller and tighter than you’d like, so once it’s pinned, lightly pull it apart with your hands.  The backcombing will help it all stay together.  (And if little pieces fall out, all the better!  It’s supposed to be somewhat messy.)

Step 7: Spray with hairspray, and you’re done!

What do you think of the top knot look?  Do you ever rock it?  Excited to try out this tutorial?  Share in the comments!

23 May

Wedding Wednesday: When Do I Send Out Save The Dates, Invitations, Etc…?

Last week, commenter Cynthia wrote:

Are “save the dates”, the actual invitation for the wedding? Or is it the first heads up that someone got engaged and is getting married soon? Do people need separate invitations for engagement showers and bridal showers?! So many invitations! How did you do it?


These are SUCH good questions!  I did a ton of research when I was getting married, trying to figure out how all these different invitations worked and when to send them out.  Here’s the breakdown of everything you need to know:

Save The Dates

Save The Dates are by no means necessary, but they have become more and more common in recent years.  When you start planning your wedding, one of the first things to usually be decided is the date of the wedding and the general location.  Couples send out Save The Dates to people they know will be invited to the wedding, so guests will have a heads-up and won’t schedule anything else for the same day.  If you’re planning to send out Save The Dates, do so about 6 months before the wedding.  Take a look at ours here for a general idea of info you should include.  REMEMBER: if you send someone a Save The Date you MUST invite them to the wedding.  So don’t send these out to people unless you are positive that you’ll have the space and budget to include them.

Bridal Shower Invitations

The bridal shower is generally thrown by the bridesmaids, so brides don’t have to worry about invites for this.  (You will have to provide the Maid of Honor with a guest list and addresses, though.)  These invites should be like any other party invite and sent out 1 to 2 months before the event.

Engagement Shower & Bachelor(ette) Invites

Once again, these events aren’t hosted by the bride and groom, so it’s up to the bridal party or family of the couple to decide how they want to do this.  The type of invitation will depend on how formal the events are and how many people are invited.  Trav and I didn’t have an official engagement party, but the day after we got engaged, we invited a group of friends to our house for a pool party and it turned into a “yay, we’re engaged!” party.  (Thus, no invitations were necessary.)  Our bachelor and bachelorette parties were small and not very formal, so we set everything up via email and skipped the invites altogether.

Wedding Invitations

THIS is where guests can find all the details about your big day.  Send out your wedding invites 6-8 weeks before the wedding and make sure to include information about both the ceremony and reception, the dress code, and a full address for the venue (we even included a little map!)  Also, make sure to include an RSVP card and a deadline for guests to get back to you.  (We chose to have guests RSVP on our wedding website.)  DO NOT put any information about your registry on your invites.  Guests know to track down family members for that info, and if you have a wedding website, you can put links to your registry info there.  Check out our invitations to get a better idea.

Hope this helps, Cynthia!

Married gals: were you confused by all of the different invitations for wedding activities?  Did you send out save the dates?  Unmarried gals: do you think it’s important to have formal invitations for the bridal shower, engagement party, and bachelorette?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

11 Apr

Wedding Wednesday: Finding A Caterer

Today I’m answering a question sent in from a bride-to-be.  Camille writes:

Any tips for finding a good wedding caterer? I’m getting married next spring and starting to do some planning, and for some reason we’re having a really hard time finding the caterer. Any advice about where to look, and opinions on sit down vs. buffet?

For Travis and I, food was super high on our wedding priority list.  (I like to eat, what can I say?)

We considered doing a big family style, sit down dinner with overflowing plates of food at the tables so people could serve themselves (reminiscent of the holidays), but we were told that doing a buffet would flow better.  And I’m really glad we did it that way.  Here’s what I love about a buffet:

1) We had the catering coordinator load up two plates for us and put them on the head table as we were announced into the reception.  That way, when the first table was called to serve themselves, we could take a few minutes to shove some food into our mouths before we made the rounds and said hi to each table.  This was a GREAT time-saver and we got enough food to keep us going through the reception.

2) Since tables were getting food at different times, we let that dictate the timing of our “table visits”.  Once we saw everyone from a table sit down with their food, we moved on to say hi to them.  This helped the evening flow and made it possible for us to acknowledge all of our guests. (Don’t worry about people waiting in long lines for the buffet— a good catering staff knows how to move things along quickly.)

3) Everyone got to enjoy the exact food they wanted at a nice warm temperature, rather than waiting to be served a pre-chosen meal or fighting over “family style” food.  (This is a huge help when you have guests with dietary restrictions!)

So there’s my plug for buffets :)

As far as choosing a caterer, we went with a great local restaurant.  We knew their food was awesome from years of eating there and we had heard great things about their catering staff.  I think it’s worth going on Yelp or talking to other brides in your area when looking for good food because it’s about more than how everything tastes.  Our catering staff went above and beyond in SO many ways— our entire wedding went more smoothly because of them.

Hope this helps, Camille!  Let us know how it turns out!

As a wedding guest, what type of meal do you prefer: buffet, sit down, or family style?  Brides: how did you choose your caterer?  Got any advice for Camille?  Agree or disagree with my thoughts?  Share your own in the comments!

8 Mar

Your Questions, Answered: Properly Dressing For Every Type of Event

Today I’m answering a question sent in from a reader, just like you!  Amber writes…

I got invited to a gala, and the dress code says:

MEN: A tuxedo, a suit, or business casual (jackets, no ties) will look sharp. Please no jeans or casual shirts.
WOMEN: Cocktail dresses and gowns are acceptable and will look beautiful on you.

What exactly does that mean? Length? Color?

Trying to determine the appropriate attire for any event can be tricky, so I’m going to break it down by category for future reference.  Check out these common dress code terms and how they translate to real life…


Casual: Anything goes with this one— women can wear jeans, sandals are appropriate.  But no matter what, especially if this is a work-related event, make sure you’re still covered up and put-together.

Semi-casual: Men should wear khakis and maybe a polo, and women would be best in a sundress or cotton skirt.  Sandals are still appropriate for the ladies.

Semi-Formal: (Other terms for this can include Sunday best, casual elegance, or afternoon elegant.)  In this situation, men should wear suits, but aren’t required to put on ties.  Women should wear dresses— something a little more substantial than a sun dress— and heels instead of sandals.

Formal: (Also called cocktail attire.)  Men should wear suits and ties.  Women should wear a nice dress, but it doesn’t have to be floor length.  (Stick with dresses right around knee length— please don’t wear something super short!)  Heels are pretty much mandatory at this point.

Black Tie Optional: Men can wear either a dark suit & tie or a tux.  Women should wear their nicest dress and a long gown is often preferred, though a modest cocktail dress would be fine.

Black Tie: Men should be in tuxes.  Women can wear the same thing they’d wear to a “black tie optional” event.

It sounds like Amber’s gala is pretty flexible, if men can wear either a tux or a suit without a tie.  For this reason, I’d stick with a knee-length cocktail dress, rather than a full-length gown.  (I hate feeling like I’m the dressiest person in the room!)  If it’s an evening event, dark colors are a safe choice (navy, plum, black), but feel free to pair your look with a pop of color, either jewelry, shoes, or a cute clutch.

Hope this helps, Amber!

Have you had trouble deciphering a dress code for a wedding or event?  Do the “rules” I outlined above seem right to you?  How do you determine what’s appropriate?  Share your thoughts in the comments!