Ann Taylor’s 2010 Collection

Ann Taylor has a beautiful wedding collection and they just introduced their new line for 2010. Also, on their wedding website they have some useful articles and styling tips like this one on how to wear your dress after the wedding.

Here are a few of my favorites.

I love this dress with a front and back V-neckline!

The color of this dress is great, but the pockets are even better!

Another short but classic dress. Perfect for a summer wedding!

Vendors Reviews Part II

Here are more vendor reviews. I will post the rest tomorrow.

Bridesmaid Attire
Ann Taylor

Ann Taylor made bridesmaid dress shopping completely effortless. I bought the dresses when they were having a sale. By opening a credit card, I was able to get 25% off the dresses. Sandra on Michigan Ave. offered to press the dresses for us. Additionally, the girls were offered the ability to come back to the store to learn the 5 different ways to tie their bow. Oh, and the week before the wedding when one of my maids admitted that her dress didn’t fit– they were able to get a replacement gown within a day. I would highly recommend.

I saw these shoes in In Style Weddings magazine. We ordered them before we picked a dress. They were comfortable but after 7 hours, my Maids were dying! Luckily, I had super cute flip flops for them to wear for dancing. I would recommend.

Marilyn did a wonderful job on the calligrapher on my outer envelopes. She gets the + for putting up with our multiple trips to her home (last minute addition, change of last name, change of address, can you add my nephew’s name to this inner envelope, etc.) I would higly recommend.

Ceremony & Reception Venue – Hotel Allegro

Since none of my guests saw the problems, I am inclined to give them a higher grade.

Wedding– The night of the wedding, everything was perfect. More than that, the week of the wedding, we had absolutely no problems. Let’s start with the good. The hotel was amazing when it came to food. For the entrée duet, we changed the salmon to a crab cake. We also added a pasta course and supplied our own recipes. We also came up with some more unique hors d’oeuvres and they were totally willing to do it. I really appreciated it. The service was outstanding.

Things that I didn’t like– I wish that Kerry could have gotten back to us more quickly during the planning process. I don’t know if she is under-staffed/over-worked but 10 days for a reply is far too long. I loathe the draping in the Music Room and the Walnut Room. If I had the money, I would have brought new drapes in for my event. They are absolutely hideous. I would recommend the venue. Overall, we really enjoyed the Allegro.

Dance Lessons – Monica

Monica met us several times over the past three months to give us dance lessons. She was extremely profesional. I would highly recommend. For more information, read my blog entry.

Dress – Lazaro
After trying on close to 200 dresses, I can safely say that I absolutely love my dress. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Dress #2 – Dame Couture
After months of looking for the perfect dress, I came to Dame Couture. While I didn’t find a wedding gown, I found the perfect dress for the after party. The dress was designed for a runway show and was one of a kind. I purchased it without a problem. I did post a review on Yelp! about their dressing rooms needing to be freshened up. Apparently, the owner wasn’t too pleased and asked me to remove my review. Since Yelp! let’s you post your uncensored opinion, I left the review as is.
My favors are the perfect compromise. My Mother in law really wanted to have us make a donation to a charity. I wanted to give our guests something. We are doing both with Girl Scout cookies. I was a Girl Scout as well as a leader for my niece, Sarah. To save a little dough, we bought them in Indy where they are $3.50/ box VS $4 in Chicago. We will be wrapping them in different color wrapping paper to designate the types of boxes that we have. As far as the Knot Rule that guests don’t really care for favors, well then, you should hand out girl scout cookies. We had 5 boxes left over. Yup, 5 boxes. I’m actually a little bummed out about that.
Hotel Block – Hotel Allegro
Through out the entire block process, Sarah was quick to respond and wonderful. I was very happy with the entire process. Then, there was the day before the wedding.

My in-law’s were the first to check in on Thursday night. When I went to visit them on Friday, I realized that their room was on a floor with construction. I was livid. I specifically had a line added to my contract stating that I did not want any rooms to be booked on floors with construction. To top it off, my mother-in-law said that it was loud. Sarah was on vacation. Kerry was away that day in training. After speaking with the front desk, my in-laws were finally moved.

When my Maid of Honor and I went to check into our room at noon, I was unable even though Sarah had assured me that I would be able to check in early. We tried to check in again around 5PM. The room was still not ready. Luckily, I had rented out the Stardust Suite so we were able to get ready in that room while guests were drinking and socializing. Not ideal, but it worked. When we did go to check into the room at 10:30PM, the front desk associate told us that he had bad news for us. The only room that was available was the room that my in-laws had vacated. Great. I am having my wedding at the hotel and I get the crappy suite. I even asked if we could get a regular room but there was none available.

I was even unhappier when I found that there was a second hotel block under the name of Jacobs that had received our suites. While the chances of two hotel blocks with the same name are slim, I was still very frustrated with the entire situation. We were having our wedding there. Therefore, we deserved first priority.

Additionally, I was frustrated that my husband and I were unable to check into our bridal suite until 5PM because the room was not ready. Surely, one would assume that the bride and groom would prefer to check in to the bridal suite long before the reception commences. It is extremely disappointing customer service. The silver lining of the situation is that my guests did not have to experience any of these problems.

Invitations – White Aisle
Our invitations arrived about 5.5 weeks after ordering. A few days later– as I was assembling them to mail out– I noticed that some of the response cards had a printing flaw. It wasn’t very noticeable but it was nonetheless a flaw. After emailing Rebecca, she responded within minutes. She asked that we send her some pictures of the problem. My camera is crap so the flaw wasn’t clear. Since she was using mine invitations as samples, she already had plenty of extra to mail to me. The next day I sent her my flawed response cards and she mailed me the new ones. I received mine in the mail.

A few days later, I emailed her to see if she saw the problem. Apparently, the cards were destroyed in the mail. Maybe I am overly sensitive, but she never accepted the blame or apologized. While I see her point of view (she didn’t get proof of the mistake), I wish that she would have been a little more regretful about the entire situation.

Late Night Snacks – Minnie’s
We had a late night snack of Minnie’s for our after party. It was a huge hit! The food was delicious. I ate three mini-burgers at the after party. I loved everything. My only suggestion was that I wish that they would have packed up little mini containers for the french fries. To keep the frittes crisp and hot, they came in a huge tin serving container. We had little plates to put them on but I wish that we could have had the little french fry containers. I would highly recommend. EVERYONE raved about these suckers at midnight.

Ann Taylor Bridal Event

The flagship Ann Taylor on Michigan Avenue is hosting a Celebrations event this Sunday. The Celebrations Consultant, Sandy, will be on hand to show you the various looks for your bridesmaids. Refreshments will be served. The dresses will be marked down 10% for one day only!
Ann Taylor
600 N. Michigan Avenue
To rsvp,
please call Sandy at 312-587-8301.
And please tell her that we sent you!

Dress Shopping with the Maids

My plan was simple. We would buy three black dresses off the rack for my three bridesmaids that would be re-wearable. Since one of my bridesmaids was pregnant, we decided to wait until early January. Once she had her adorable little girl, Maggie, she wanted a few weeks to recover and then we could go shopping.

We met at Oak Tree in Bloomingdale’s for lunch. Beforehand, I checked out J. Crew. They don’t keep their celebrations line in the store and didn’t have any cocktail dresses either. Earlier in the week, I visited BCBG and found nothing that would work. Two stores were already crossed off the list!

After lunch, we hit up Bloomingdale’s. While we found a few possibilities, but ultimately, this season’s short hem line severely limited our options. I wanted the dress to be either tea length or floor length because my dress is so formal.

Our second stop was Black House White Market but we totally struck out. Our final stop of the day was Ann Taylor. The Celebrations Collection is amazing!

Everyone loved this dress. It is universally flattering as V necks with wide strap dresses are on most girls. I also like that you can see their red shoe.

The Long Strapless dress. It looked great on 2 maids but terrible on one. Who wants an unhappy bridesmaid? Once they tried it on, I was pretty set that I wanted a floor length gown to match with the formality of my dress.

At this point, we weren’t sure what to do. We left, looked at Nordstrom, and then called it a day. When I went home, I checked out Ann Taylor’s website and realized that there was another dress— the Christine Long!

Christine Long- The pearls and bun make the dress look a little prudish. I called up B. and asked her if she could go back to the store to try it on for all of us.

This is it! Christina Long is very chic and will look perfect for our formal evening.

Other details to keep in mind…

The dresses come with a built in sash. Since I don’t want them to be cookie cutter, I’m going to have them each tie the sash a different way. One maid loves this bow. Another plans to wrap it and tie for a minimalist look.

I also think a brooch in the middle of the sash is a great way to add some bling. I’m going to hold off on purchasing the brooches until I purchase their bridesmaid jewelry.

Another great detail– the ruby red Nine West shoes! Very sassy and makes the dress less bridesmaid-y yet just as formal.