Five Ways to Surprise Your Groom

Your wedding day is a day that you and your groom will not soon forget. Add to the magic with a special surprise for your groom!

1. Send something to his room as he’s getting ready. Order from the concierge if you are staying at a hotel, or have a mutual friend do the honors of delivering a special treat to your groom on his wedding day. It can be a romantic note, a bottle of champagne, a case of beer, pizza, cufflinks, your panties (!), the list goes on….The unexpected gift will be a hint of spontaneous fun on a day that is planned down to every detail.

2. Take boudoir photos as you get ready. This tip should be filed under delayed gratification, but it’s totally worth the wait! Schedule extra time in your day for a session with your photographer to capture some intimate moments alone. Download boudoir photo poses from online and practice in front of a mirror to get your best angles. This is the prime time to show off some skin when you’re all made up & look and feel your best!

3. Write a toast/rap/poem/song for your groom. And share your art with him at the end of the night or the next morning! You’ll melt his heart with your creative ode. Afterwards, you can frame or scrapbook it with your favorite wedding photo of the two of you.

4. Buy him an over-the-top gift! Spoil your man with a splurge on something that he’s always wanted. This move will absolutely send him over the moon on your wedding day. A nice watch, golf clubs, or tech gadgets are some luxury items that have that ‘wow’ factor. Consider this gift as an investment, since quality products should last for years to come, and he can think of his awesome wife every time he uses his wedding gift!

5. Pull a prank on him. If you’re a practical joke-loving couple, the wedding day presents a myriad of opportunities to pull gags & pranks. Thoughtfully plot your devious plan, taking into account his level of comfort and style of humor. Get your bridal party involved in pulling the whopper of the century on him! Best of all, you’ll have it captured on film by your photographers! Just don’t ‘joke’ about leaving him stranded at the altar or you’ll be in trouble!

Choose a surprise that fits you as a couple, or if you’re super ambitious, take under all five surprises! He’ll be thanking his lucky stars he found such a fun, creative, witty lady!

Five Budget Friendly Wedding Ideas

Who doesn’t love to save money? Even brides with mega-sized budgets want to save cash in one place so they can spend more in another. Budget simply means getting more bang for your buck! Bridal Hot List has narrowed down five of the most practical and classy budget friendly wedding ideas to use in planning for your big day!


1. Limit your bar to beer, wine, & champagne only. The majority of guests will have more than just one drink during the celebration, so offering a nice array of beers, red, and white wine will satisfy these folks throughout the meal and reception. It is also difficult to plan for hard alcohol drinks with all the different brand choices and mixer preferences that might be ordered. The hard liquor drinkers will either choose an alternative beverage, or hit a bar on the way home. Eliminating hard liquor from the reception also reduces the chances of possible over consumption and resulting horror stories courtesy of your guests!

2. Enlist a talented friend or family member for beauty services. Here’s why: licensed professionals charge more because they bring their own make up & fresh applicators, plus the cost of advertising and opportunity cost for not being available to other clients all day. They also charge brides extra because they see dollar signs! There’s a good chance that out of all the women (& men) you or your friends and family know, somebody has a knack for applying make-up and/or styling hair. Ask around and start contacting these people for a trial. They don’t have to be professionals or have a portfolio, but you do have to love their work and feel comfortable with them. You already have make up that works for you, and plenty of it. Your bridesmaids do too. Why not use what you already have & work it?

3. Cut your floral costs. There are a few things you can do to keep your floral costs low. The first is to choose a floral scheme that only includes blooms that are in season. This not only makes sense financially, but will tie your wedding in with the season it takes place. Second, talk to your florist about incorporating greens to ‘fill out’ arrangements. Fronds from palms and ferns add an exotic and dramatic touch to centerpieces and décor. Lastly, have your florist set up sturdy vases with water at your table and where your bridal party will sit. Your bouquets will have a special place to go, instead of lying on the table looking all sad & wilted!

4. Order plain invitations & add fancy details yourself. Unless you absolutely hate doing crafts, this idea will please your wallet as well as your creative side. You can glue on lace, feathers, decals, add monogrammed stickers, tie on a ribbon….whatever you like! But, don’t over-do it! Be sure to order extra invitations to practice on and have someone you trust give you honest feedback. Also, factor in postage. Extra large, heavy, or awkward envelope shapes may need extra stamps. You’re well on your way to expensive looking invitations that you can take pride in!

5. Choose a Friday or a Sunday for your wedding day. Saturday is typically the most expensive day to book a venue for your wedding, because it is the most popular! Most people don’t mind taking Friday off work and enjoying a long weekend for the sake of attending your lovely wedding. If you have it on a Sunday, a daytime wedding is equally delightful, and gives your guests plenty of time to travel to your venue the night before and check into their hotel room. Extra party points if you invite your guests out to drinks after the rehearsal dinner!

Budget saving ideas are actually really all about incorporating creativity into your wedding and affording you freedom to splurge on the things you want. If you find yourself fretting about money as you plan your trip down the aisle, one or all of these ideas will slash costs without sacrificing quality.

Five Hot Tips for Bridesmaids


Congratulations! You have been chosen to be the next best thing after being an actual bride. Think about it- you get to throw pre-parties with your friends, you can book yourself guilt-free spa treatments & beauty appointments, and you will ultimately spend an entire weekend lavishing in the joys of fantastic food, fashion, and friendship. Behold our Five Hottest Tips for the Bride’s Favorite Ladies.

1. Share your ideas with the bride, but don’t be hurt if she doesn’t use them. Most of the time, the bride has a pretty good idea of exactly what she wants her wedding day to look like. That doesn’t mean she has thought or heard of everything! Be open with your suggestions because you never know what might strike her fancy. If she signals for you to slow down, then respect her wishes and share only the best few ideas that you find. At the end of the day, it’s all about the bride and her specific vision.

2. Bring extra cash. No doubt you have heard of packing a wedding day emergency kit complete with bandages, aspirin, tweezers, and a needle & thread. These things are great, but they cannot buy you the conveniences that cash can offer. Let’s say you forgot something at home; you can pick up just about anything at the local drugstore. Taxi cabs take cash, waiters take cash, and cash-only bars take cash. Get the idea? Money talks!

3. Have a classy, unique toast prepared (hint: keep it short!). Should there be an unfortunate situation where the Maid of Honor bawls through the entire toast, is too nervous, or no one could hear her, have a few thoughtful lines prepared that sum up how special/hilarious/happy/thankful the bride and groom are, and deliver them like a boss. A nod to the parents in case someone forgets to thank them is another quick go-to toast and absolutely necessary if they are not otherwise mentioned.

4. Ask the bride for a list of no-no’s, and stick to it! The bride most likely has a mental list of cringe worthy conversation topics (exes, wedding costs, bachelorette party secrets) and behavior (complaining, constant texting, smoking near her dress) that she is hoping to avoid during the bridal festivities. By approaching her with this request, it takes the pressure off her from having to bring it up or worse– address problems directly on her wedding day. Some brides will already have this list prepared, and be very vocal about her no-no’s. But if you know your bud has a hard time being assertive, this list will be a lifesaving tool for her to keep the no-no’s at bay so she can relax and have the perfect day.

5. Be familiar with the wedding day logistics. Your bridesmaid dress acts like a beacon for guests to come and request information. Since you’re in the bridal party, you must know everything about the reception, transportation, where gifts go, you-name-it, right? If you don’t, study up! Review maps of where the ceremony and reception will take place. Know alternate routes in case there are road closures or an accident. Be familiar with the timing of events, things to do in the area, where people should park, etc. because you can’t always count on those groomsmen to know!

Share these tips with the bride and fellow bridesmaids. Better yet, add on some of your own must-have hot tips! Happy Bridesmaiding!

Five Tips for the Groom

Celebrating with the band of brothers known as your groomsmen is the second best part of getting married! You’ve probably already mentally chosen certain friends to stand with you on your wedding day, plus maybe a future in law or relative has been thrown into the mix. Assuming everyone survives the bachelor party, these tips will help you and your buds make it to the altar and through the reception with minimal potential for disasters!

1. Depend on one guy to keep everyone on task. Usually, this job belongs to the best man, but maybe your best man lives out of town, or isn’t best suited for getting things done. Approach the friend with the best leadership skills that doesn’t mind stepping up and reminding the others to get fitted, pick up their tuxes, and buy shoes. This will take some stress off of you and keep you from looking like a groomzilla!

2. Have the photographer capture some flirty pics of your bride with your groomsmen. It will be the last time she can take photos with a bunch of studs!

3. Ask someone to have an emergency toast prepared. In case the best man somehow bombs the delicate balance of a hilarious, yet sentimental toast, you can cue the back up to do damage control and end things on a fabulous note. Your guests will appreciate it, as this important toast often sets the tone for the beginning of the reception party!

4. Each groomsman should have at least an extra $100 cash in pocket. This tip cannot be stressed enough, because when you need something spontaneously, cash is king! Do you need extra tip money to award extraordinary service? Check. Picking up last minute beverages for the impromptu post-wedding hotel party? Check. Need cab money to send a friend or family member home who’s had too much to drink? Check. In desperate need of a Red bull? Check. BridalParty065The possibilities to save the day are endless, and it gives the groomsmen a chance to be the hero! As the saying goes, ‘better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it’.

5. Finally, be realistic about the groomsmen gifts. If you get them something they will actually use, they will love you for it! Personal size cooler totes are a great gift for men who love camping, playing sports, being outdoors, or just drinking beer. So, basically almost any guy will appreciate this gift. Pack it in advance with each friend’s favorite snacks and beverages.

Treat these guys well and they will treat you great back. Not just on your wedding day, but years down the road when you and your family need to lean on them for support. Cheers!

Five tips to help you plan ahead for Contingencies

Freak rainstorm

Freak rainstorm

The invitations are out. The dress is fitted. The butterflies are making their way to your stomach.

In the days before your wedding, there are so many indescribable emotions, but fear of a major disaster will not be one of them, because BHL helped you identify potential wedding day pitfalls and five tips to prepare for them!

Problem #1- Inclement Weather. The most obvious problem that comes to mind is rain or extreme wind on your wedding day at your outdoor venue. It could be in the middle of the desert in July, but trust us, it could happen and it has happened. Never underestimate Mother Nature! If you have planned your wedding to be primarily outdoors, be certain there is an indoor venue on standby or easy-up tents available.

Problem #2– A member of the bridal party is MIA. Your bridal party has a life outside of your wedding, and sometimes situations arise. Maybe they have to attend a funeral instead, came down with the stomach flu, or missed their flight. Don’t take it personally, and besides, no one in the audience is going to really know that person is missing. The show must go on. If you want to keep your bridal party numbers equal, ask a cousin or a co-worker to join your team!

Problem #3– The bride or groom has an emergency. Again, things have a way of coming up at the last minute, so take a moment to think of hiccups tailored to your own life. Have a back up inhaler or allergy medicine if you need such items. Do you wear contacts? Have an extra set handy as well as contact solution. Sometimes limos are late, vintage cars break down, or the horse for the carriage gets spooked. Have a backup transportation plan, just in case!

Problem #4– A vendor is MIA. Keep an open line of communication with your vendors. If you have trouble getting a hold of them in the beginning phase of business, then you probably want to find another vendor. Have a few different modes of contact for them and their assistants. Share these contacts with your Maid of Honor or wedding planner so if something is late or missing, someone else will take care of it and you don’t have to stress.

Problem #5– Your Dress got Ruined! Oh no!! Aunt Rose spilled red wine on your dress when she went in for a hug! Savvy brides have an extra, likely less elaborate dress and shoes on backup just for situations like these. Maybe it’s a cocktail dress and sparkly Tom’s shoes, or a slick white satin pantsuit. You can quickly and discreetly change out – not only will no one be the wiser, but you’ll look simply fabulous in a second ensemble!

Yes, it is hard to be prepared for random disasters that may never happen, but for every major planning decision you make, imagine how it could go wrong. Brainstorm with your bridal team on ideas to creatively work around any contingencies. At first, it may be anxiety inducing, but at the end of the exercise, you should feel confident and ready to face whatever comes your way.

In the end, the only thing that matters is that you and your honey are hitched. The disasters make great stories, but are avoidable for the most part. Be sure your bases are covered so you can enjoy your day as smoothly and carefree as possible.

Three Tips for Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

Incorporating a beloved child or children into your wedding ceremony adds both sentiment and a whimsical touch to your special day. For a blended family becoming united as one, this tradition can be of major significance, as your kids will be there to witness and celebrate the establishment of your new family. Bridal Hot List has three simple tips for making the little ones of your bridal party feel included and confident in their duty.

#1- Practice makes perfect. You want to be sure the young ones are well prepared for what to expect,  and when and where they should go. Remember, this is probably the first wedding they’ve ever attended, let alone been a part of the ceremonial procession. If possible, have them visit the ceremony site several times so they are familiar with the surroundings. They can pick a certain spot on the floor where they want to stand. It is a good idea to let them know how long they can expect to stand at that spot. Give them physical cues, like start walking at the sound of the steel drums, or after Aunt Julie passes the first row of chairs with bows. The rehearsal itself can be a chaotic time, so having the little ones pre-rehearsed will get everyone to dinner and drinks faster and it also sets a good example for the adults!

#2- Include some kid-friendly fun. If there won’t be other kids their age at the wedding, let them invite a friend or two so they can enjoy themselves at the reception. Set up their own table with some kid-friendly activities and snacks. If their ceremony clothing is rented, formal, or elaborate, have them bring a change of clothes and comfy shoes so they can tear up the dance floor with the adults and just be kids!

#3- Embrace the hiccups. The best moments happen when a child says or does something funny, misguided, or super touching without even realizing it. These are the moments that create the fond memories of your wedding that everyone talks about. This can also work as great blackmail when that little flower girl or ring bearer grows up and the time comes for their own wedding! Have the cameras ready and rolling to capture their moment in the spotlight as well as intimate moments with the bride and/or groom. Lastly, don’t forget they deserve a bridal party gift too!

Something Borrowed, Something….Emerald Green!

Emerald Green Bridesmaid

Emerald Green Bridesmaid

The Pantone ‘color of 2013’ is versatile & fresh enough to bring into your wedding plans even if your wedding date is in 2015! As a main color, Emerald Green can be considered a neutral background or canvas to juxtapose splashes of vibrant colors against, such as fuchsia, orange, teal, lime green, or red. As a detail color, the possibilities are endless. Here, we will explore some ideas & benefits to choosing this timeless jewel tone.

1. Consider emerald green bridesmaid dresses. This color looks fantastic on absolutely every skin tone. Just look at the red carpet for proof: Julianne Moore, Angelina Jolie, & Viola Davis have all stunned in it. Pair orange roses for contrast or red shoes for an unexpected twist!

2. If you’re getting married on a golf course, you’ll be surrounded by yards of emerald green grass, so you may want to go with another color for your bridesmaids, so they don’t get lost! However, consider using emerald green in your invitations, thank you notes, photo album cover, and other wedding correspondence to ensure continuity of your theme & venue. When your guests receive your thank-you note, the green will remind them subconsciously of what a beautiful, well planned event they attended.

3. Use emerald green foliage to ‘fill out’ your floral elements. Have your florist add extra fern stalks, palm fronds, birds of paradise leaves, (you get the idea) to your venue arrangements for a super lush look. For a modern garden style wedding, consider setting a potted topiary at the end of each aisle. Cutting back on blooms and adding more foliage might also save you some paper green!

4. Have some fun with your signature cocktails by adding Midori or green food coloring to the mix. Ask your DJ if they can bathe the dance floor in emerald green for your couples dance. Extra points if they have green lasers for a club vibe when the music picks up later in the night. Order your favors in emerald green. Group them together for a visual impact, or place at each table setting with some emerald green in the centerpiece.

Emerald bracelets

5. Wear this precious gem for sentiment (& good luck!) if your or your groom’s birthday is in May, if you’re getting married in May, or if there are some cherished emerald pieces in your family collection. To top it off, gift your groom with emerald cuff-links to match!

The almighty Emerald is sure to keep your wedding scheme modern and fresh. Be careful not to over-do it, or you’ll end up with a Wizard of Oz / Emerald City vibe (unless you are going for that, and in that case, please invite me!).


Photos courtesy of Brandon Wong photography.

10 California Locales for your Wedding & Honeymoon

If you currently live in the Golden State, are originally from Cali, or have always wanted to visit, there is no better place to have your wedding or honeymoon than right here! These 10 California Bridal Hot Spots are sure to entice you to at least book a trip to do some wedding or honeymoon venue ‘research’!

1. South Bay Sizzle – Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach

Combined, these beach towns create the ultimate Southern California experience. With its ritzy shops, luxury hotels, and hot bods on the volleyball sand courts, Manhattan Beach doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking for an ‘as seen on TV’ beach scene! Check out Shade Hotel for a possible wedding venue. Hermosa Beach is a bit more organic, being the location of choice for local surfers. Redondo Beach, or more appropriately Redondo Pier, is our own little Coney Island featuring an arcade, paddle boats, ice cream treats, and an open seafood market with live creatures!

2. Victorian Romance in San Luis Obispo

Enjoy tea for two in the famous Madonna Inn, named after local pioneer, Alex Madonna. The Victorian architecture and turn of the century gardens & décor will inspire you to indulge in your harlequin fantasies! Oh, and did I mention they have themed hotel rooms? Go to brunch at The Apple Farm, an old time favorite spot with mouthwatering American cuisine. For a daytime excursion, head South to See Canyon to pick up fresh apples of multiple varieties! A wedding at the Madonna Inn and planned weekend here for your guests is sure to be unique.

3. Its Always Sunny in San Diego

Treat your honey to a Padres game at the gorgeous PetCo ballpark, just steps to the famed Gaslamp district. Its basically the Vegas strip of Southern California. Grab some drinks & dinner, then dance the night away! Save the Zoo and Sea World for the family trip.

4. Cozy little Cabin for 2 in Big Bear

Great for summer lovin’ or a wintertime romp in the snow, Big Bear is worth the gorgeous drive up the mountain. Cool Cabins of Big Bear offer themed cabins based on your tastes. You can go fishing, hiking, and boating in the summer, or hit the slopes in the winter! For a truly intimate or family only wedding, this would be a beautiful setting. You can rent a huge cabin with 7 or 8 rooms with a large yard area for the ceremony (if its snowing, in front of the fire hearth) or book a few cabins nearby each other.

5. Mission Style Fun in Santa Barbara

My friend got married at the Santa Barbara Courthouse in 2009 and to this day, it is still my favorite wedding location. The early California-Spanish architecture is truly inspiring, and the city charges only a minimal fee for use. Visit the Santa Barbara Mission, the Santa Barbara Courthouse, and boutique shopping on State Street.

6. Go Glamping (Glamorous + Camping) at El Capitan Resort

A 5 minute drive up the 101 North takes you to the hidden and best kept secret of Santa Barbara, El Capitan Resort! Rustic, spacious canvas tents set up with plush beds, lamps, and bedside tables adorn the campsite, complete with nearby communal bathrooms and a grocery/gift shop and café. Get married in Santa Barbara, then honeymoon at El Capitan. If your wedding party is the camping type, there is a huge Yurt that appears to be available to rent for large events. Be sure to book your yurt & tents well in advance!

7. Wine Tasting in Paso Robles

Treat your senses to the delights of the vine in the popular Paso Robles wine country. The weather is just perfect for tasting outdoors while overlooking generations of old vines. Wineries are always a lovely place to get married as well, since there’s tons of space, delicious food & wine pairings, and gorgeous views as far at the eye can see….

8. Leave Your Hearts in San Francisco

This cultural hub always is and always has been at the cutting edge of entertainment, arts, cuisine, shopping, and trends. Not to mention it is chock-full of significant historical sites. Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Haight-Ashbury, and Ghiradelli square….need I say more??

9. Sonoma Valley/ Dry Creek Vineyards

Head even further up the coast to Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek (take that chocolate with you) to sample some of the best wines in the world! Sit in world-class tasting rooms overlooking massive vineyard estates, making friends with tourists from around the world and sometimes on a lucky day, the owner of the estate drops by for a visit!

10. Peace Out – Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey

These three areas have no shortage of fabulous hotels, exciting nightlife, and million dollar yachts! If your wedding party is the big-city type, this is the place for you. Between The Erwin hotel, Shutters, The Huntley, The Fairmont, and The Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey, you’ll be sitting pretty on your big day and afterward! The nautically inclined can book a wedding on a yacht and cruise through the Marina during your ceremony and reception. Venice Beach and Santa Monica have tons of sightseeing and famous landmarks for you and your group to tour.

Let this humble list inspire you to begin researching and designing your big day & tomorrows in sunny, fantastic California!