Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Costume Change!

The increasingly popular trend that we're seeing in the bridal industry is the desire to have a "costume change" from one part of the wedding day to the next. Brides want one distinct look for the ceremony, with a separate "party" look for the reception and sometimes even a completely different "exit" dress for exactly that- the exit of the couple from the reception!

Designers and bridal shops alike are finding unique and interesting ways to help brides achieve their desired "costume changes." The most obvious choice is to purchase multiple dresses, but once you add on the expense of alterations, this can get extremely pricey. The next most obvious choice and one that several designers are offering is the convertible dress. These dresses come all sorts of different ways- sometimes there's a short dress hidden beneath a long skirt. Other times, the bodice and skirt are completely separate, allowing the bride to wear one piece independent of the other, perhaps the next day at a brunch, or out to dinner on the honeymoon. And since many designers offer these "separates" to be sold separately, there's also the option to mix and match between designer, depending on your preference.

The possibilites are endless, but we thought we'd show just a few options we have available here in the shop. Of course, there's no telling how much longer they'll be here, so if any of these looks are something you may want to try, call us ASAP to see if they're still here!

This stunning 2-piece gown designed by Watters is a perfect example of  how a dress can be worn mutliple ways and for different events. The above look is perfect for the ceremony and dinner portion of the reception. It's elegant and sophisticated and oh-so bridal. But what if you love it so much you don't even want to take it off the next day? Then why not pair it with a simple skirt and wear it to brunch the following morning?
You could dress it down for brunch and then pack it in your suitcase for the honeymoon and dress it up for a nice dinner out. The finished look will depend entirely on the accessories you choose! (Also, if you're not into the blush look, this dress is available in ivory as well.)
Here's another, much slimmer option, perfect for the bride looking for a sleeker look for both:
We were pretty crafty putting this look together- we took a short dress by Nicole Miller and topped it with a ruched skirt by WToo. You'd never know if we hadn't told you, though! Here's the dress by itself:
Isn't it perfect for a reception look? The jazzy feathers and beadwork are perfect for dancing the night away! We loved this short dress so much, we decided to pair it with a different skirt, too, just to see another option. This is a very fashion-forward look ideal for showing off your legs:
This tulle overskirt is designed by Monique Lhuillier and is intended to go over a long lace sheath, but we thought it would be fun to try it with something short! What do you think of our creation? It's kind of reminiscent of the wedding dress in the Guns n' Roses November Rain music video! It's a lot more elegant, and a lot less 80's, don't you think?
If the high-low look isn't for you, and you want something a little sweeter, why not try this two-for-one combination:
We've taken yet another Nicole Miller "Little White Dress" and layered a tulle skirt by WToo on top of it. It makes for a very sweet, romantic look that with the right accessories might even work in a very formal setting. But the LWD all on its own is perfect for dancing the night away at the reception, or to wear for an exit dress:

Are you a bride who may want to wear a convertible dress or have multiple "costume changes?" Leave us a comment and tell us all about it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love Affair: What's it's all about

As you know, the owner of Madeleine's Daughter, Elizabeth, recently partnered with Leslie Barbini the owner of the Wedding Belle, the seacoast's premier wedding planning industry. They've had a long-standing professional relationship between their two businesses, but recently they've gone into business together to create Love Affair, a bridal planning suite that we have no doubt will revolutionize the way couples plan their weddings. I sat down with Leslie a few days ago to find out a little bit more about Love Affair, specifically why couples should head there ASAP.

MD: How did the idea for Love Affair come to be?

Leslie: The idea started about a year ago. Elizabeth and I spent an entire year working on a business plan, developing the concept and building the space.

MD: Tell me more about the concept. What exactly IS a bridal planning suite and why should couples want to use one?

Leslie: Well, we've essentially narrowed down the field of vendors to the most qualified ones, the ones we feel are the best to work with. Between Elizabeth and I, we have decades of experience in the bridal industry, not just working directly with brides, but with vendors as well. We know first hand which vendors to recommend and we've been extremely selective in who we chose to be a part of Love Affair.

MD: So how does that help couples planning a wedding?

Leslie: They can choose to be a member here at Love Affair and then we become their "matchmaker." We pair our couples with the perfect vendor for them based on budget and style. It's sometimes hard to narrow down the field, so we've done the research for them and can much more easily and efficiently find the best vendor for their wedding. We represent ALL price points as well as all styles and aesthetics.

MD: How does the pricing work?

Leslie: Couples can sign up for as little as an hour of our time to the maximum they need. Just like our vendors are represented at all price points, so are our services. And if you upgrade, the previous payment you made gets applied to the new package you choose! It's actually very affordable.

MD: So, what it sounds like is that instead of going to a bridal show and meeting tons of vendors who are all trying to make a sales pitch, or searching endlessly online, reading hundreds of reviews and websites, you help couples choose their vendors in a fraction of the time and effort.

Leslie: Exactly! Gone are the days of spending your whole weekend at bridal shows and sorting through hundreds of photographers, caterers, florists, etc. And what's better is that when you're here, we hope other couples will be here, too. You can bounce ideas off each other, not only about vendors, but about DIY projects and anything else wedding-related! Love Affair is about creating a community of couples who can support each other. Wedding planning is stressful and anything that can help ease that stress is a good thing!

MD: You mentioned DIY- what about couples who plan to DIY a lot of their wedding? How will Love Affair be beneficial to them?

Leslie: Starting this month, we'll be hosting events to help those couples learn how to do the DIY projects they intend to do! For example, we'll be having a DIY Brooch Bouquet class very soon! We'll be doing all sorts of events that are educational for all couples, whether DIY or not! We're even going to have events like trivia nights and speed-dating-with-vendors!

MD: Seriously? Speed dating with vendors? If that doesn't streamline the process, I don't know what will! Thanks for taking the time to meet with me and let our readers know more about what makes Love Affair so fabulous!

Love Affair really is an innovative idea and we just know that couples are going to love it! The Grand Opening is Friday April 25th from 5-8pm! Stop by and check it out- you won't be disappointed! Here are some photos to entice you! Isn't it a gorgeous space?

The front reception area is gorgeous and welcoming!

There are lots of nooks to meet with vendors and other couples to talk about your wedding.

This cozy meeting spot is just one of several available to members to meet with vendors and discuss the details of their wedding.

Yet another meeting space...

We're obsessed with this chandelier!!!!

Photos of happy couples are scattered around. It's nice to know happy former customers of Leslie and Elizabeth are on the walls of Love Affair!

Love Affair is located at 51 Islington Street in Portsmouth. For more information, call them at 603-319-8280 or visit their website here!

Our Best Mother of the Bride/Groom Dresses

Choosing the right mother of the bride or groom dress can be a daunting task. In honor of Mother's Day- which is FAST approaching- we're going to be featuring a series of blog posts to help all the mothers out there navigate the confusing and sometimes difficult process of choosing the perfect dress.

So many bridal etiquette rules are out the window as couples are worrying less about adhering to tradition and choosing to tailor their weddings to represent themselves. That being said, there are a few cardinal rules that are still followed, most of them involving the Mother of the Bride and the Mother of the Groom.

It has been said that the Mother of the Bride (MOB) is the hostess of the wedding and the Mother of the Groom (MOG) is the most honored guest. The MOB should be the second most formally dressed person at the wedding second only to the bride. Because of this, the MOB picks her dress after the bride but before the MOG. Unless the bride is in a tea-length bridal gown, the MOB should be in full length so that she stands out from the other guests. If the MOB is in full length, the MOG may wear either long or short. If the MOB chooses to wear a short dress, the MOG must wear a short dress as she should never be more formal than the MOB. The MOB and MOG should not be in the same color.

A bride may wish that the colors chosen by the moms compliment the bridal party, but there is no need to match. Remember, both the MOB and MOG have very important rolls and should stand out from the rest of the bridal party. Both should feel beautiful and comfortable so that they may enjoy the special day!

To help you navigate all these rules of wedding party etiquette, we're going to be writing a series of posts expounding on these rules. Today, we're keeping things simple by showing you what we consider to be the best Mother's gowns available. The following dresses represent what we feel the be the best styles- the most flattering cuts, the highest quality dresses. They are all available in colors other than what is pictured, so if you are looking for a specific color, call us and ask about availability!

Not only is this an amazing va-va-voom kind of form-fitting dress, it's also remarkably comfortable! Designed in two pieces- a slip lining and a lace overlay, this mother's dress mimics the style of lots of similar bridal gowns. With the slightest embellishment all over, you'll sparkle ever so subtly.

Ideal for a late spring or early fall wedding, this style is slender without being too form-fitting. The strapless bodice doesn't feel too exposed because of the sheer bolero jacket that comes with it. The slim, but flowing chiffon skirt is elegant, but also comfortable. The small amount of beading at the waist is a sophisticated touch as well.

Another slim, but not too form-fitting gown, this style offers the added coverage of straps that create a stylish V-neck. Again, the small amount of detail at the waist not only accentuates and flatters your silhouette, it also adds an extra touch of elegance.

This style is very reminiscent of Jackie O- with the beautiful bateau neckline, slim silhouette and silk fabrication. Despite completely lacking in sparkle, it is still the epitome of elegance and sophistication and looks stunning with a fabulous pair of sparkly earrings and a bracelet.

For the fashion-forward mother, this dress is ideal. The asymmetrical neckline is cutting edge without being too over-the-top. The diagonal ruching of the bodice and layered draping of the skirt are both extremely flattering.

Check our blog again soon for more advice on choosing the perfect Mother's gown for your son or daughter's wedding. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Meet Our Bride: Melissa

Our wedding was fantastic.  From the moment I walked into Madeleine's Daughter, I knew I would be treated like a princess.  The service and attention to detail were nothing short of magnificent.  I sat down with my consultant and gave her some pictures of some dresses I had looked at online and described to her the dress I thought I wanted.  She immediately had a dress in mind that she thought would be my dream dress.  I have to say that it was the first dress I tried on and while it wasn't a dropped waist like I said I had wanted...it looked absolutely stunning and I couldn't imagine myself in a different dress once I had it on.  Of course I tried on a few others, just to be sure; but it was the one.  It is classic, timeless and elegant.  This dress was perfect for me, and it looked so beautiful on our wedding day.  I can't say enough about the staff at Madeleine's daughter.  They were all so friendly and helpful, and they have an eye for what will look amazing on your body.  

It's remarkable how many of our brides end up purchasing the very first dress they try on in our store. But it's a story that never gets old- no matter how many times that happens, it's still an incredible thing to see- every single time! What was your dress-buying experience like? Did you find "the one" right away? Or did it take a dozen (or more) dresses? Every bride is unique and so is every bride's experience. Tell us about yours and we'll put it here on our blog!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why Professionals are Worth Every Penny

It's no secret that weddings are expensive, so it's understandable that many couples would seek alternatives to hiring professionals for every last detail. While we do believe that well-planned DIY projects can save money for some couples, we also believe that the right professional is worth every penny. It all comes down to one determining factor that just can't be replicated: experience.

Bridal industry professionals have expertise far beyond what any bride could possibly learn in the year prior to her wedding, no matter how much research she may try to do. But it's not just about the DIY choices- it's about finding the true professional. The true professional may cost a lot more than someone else you found on a wedding discussion board, or even a talented friend or family member. And trust us, that extra expense is justified a hundred times over. Just a few examples:

Photography/Videography: Weddings are incredibly special events with incredibly unpredictable elements. Professional photographers and videographers are capable of making split-second decisions to best capture any given moment. In addition, a professional will almost certainly be working as part of a team, thus increasing the likelihood that the moment will be captured, even when that inconsiderate guest steps into the aisle to snap an iPhone photo and thus blocks your professional photographer's shot. And I won't even begin to go into the benefits of working with professionals with regard to the finished product. I would hope that would go without saying.

Please, sir. Make sure you get that shot with your iPhone.

Florists: Not only do professional florists have a keen eye for design, but they also know their product. They know which flowers will need to be warmed up a few hours to ensure they look their best and which ones need to remain in the cooler until the last possible moment. They know what flowers to recommend in July versus December and they know how to properly handle those flower selections to make sure they look the best they possibly can throughout the entire day. One bride we know decided to DIY her flowers on the morning of her wedding. Unfortunately, she didn't think about how that would effect her manicure. (It was ruined.)

Invitations/ Paper Goods: Possibly one of the most popular DIY choices for couples these days, paper goods make up a significant portion of your wedding budget. Having a professional do the job ensures the entire suite- from save-the-dates to escort cards to invitations to menus and beyond- looks cohesive and fits perfectly into your wedding day aesthetic. They also already know all the "rules" for proper etiquette and wording. Even if you want to break those rules, they can help you do so while still ensuring your guests have all the info necessary.

Invitations by The Paper Belle

Wedding Planners: It's a common misconception that wedding planners are exhorbitantly expensive and that they will completely take over the planning of your wedding. Truthfully, the best wedding planners offer different types of services depending on your needs and budget. And unlike a helpful, well-meaning friend or family member, they actually understand how to execute a wedding flawlessly and keep things running smoothly, even when problems arise. Again, it comes down to experience and even a wedding planner who comes in at the last minute and just helps execute on the wedding day can still navigate all the details and coordinate all the vendors involved better than you can even imagine. The peace of mind you'll have as you and all your guests are able to simply enjoy the day is worth more than you can imagine.

Hair and Make-up Artists: Yes, Princess Kate did her own make-up when she married Wills. But I'd bet my bottom dollar she had a back-up plan just in case. And let's face it, if you decide to do your own hair and make-up, Murphy's Law dictates that it will NOT be a good eye liner day for you. And that's just one thing that can go wrong. The assurance of a steady-hand and the experience that comes with hair and make-up professionals is invaluable. They know how much make-up is appropriate for photography, not just to make you look pretty. You'll be looking at those photos on the mantle for decades and you don't want to look like a drag queen, or all washed out. You want to strike the perfect balance, so trust a professional to give it to you.

Joanne McDonough of Joya Beauty appling perfect wedding day make-up for a bride.

Officiants and DJ's: I hate to beat a dead horse, but once again, it's experience that sets the professionals apart from your groom's friend who got ordained on the internet in order to officiate for you. There will be plenty of jitters on the wedding day, and you want a calm, steady presence helping you navigate your vows. And when it comes to the reception- there are a lot of details and logistics to keep flowing smoothly. An experienced DJ understands this while also being capable of going with the flow if something unexpected happens. The right DJ can make or break the toasts, the dancing, the cake-cutting- pretty much everything!

What it comes down to for nearly every aspect of your wedding is this: Are you willing to risk that one day to save a few dollars? You won't get a second chance to make the day everything you hoped for and only seasoned professionals will be able to pull it off to your expectations. So think twice before hiring the photographer with only two or three weddings in his portfolio or the Dj start-up who's only done high school dances and a couple of retirement parties at the local Elks Lodge. Experience is everything.


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