MAC Powder Kiss Lipsticks | Review + Swatches

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One of my favorite things about the beauty world is watching trends evolve. First everything was all about the super opaque and precise matte liquid lip look, and now we’re coming around to more sheer stains and glosses. MAC’s new Powder Kiss Lipsticks are coming at a perfect time - they promise a soft, weightless, velvety finish perfect for a blurred lip stain straight from the runway, that you can wear every day.

When I first saw the photos of these lipsticks, I was immediately intrigued. The bullets themselves looked SO matte that they seem like they could be powders pressed into a lipstick bullet shape. They also come in a rubberized matte tube - think NARS packaging. I’m all about a more sheer, worn-in lip look so the Powder Kiss Lipsticks seemed perfect for me.

When first swatching these I was surprised at how easily they glided onto my lips/skin. They truly feel velvety and are like nothing I’ve ever tried. They feel so lightweight as you apply them and while wearing them - it’s almost like you can’t feel them at all. They’re not quite as pigmented as MAC’s regular matte lipsticks, and they have a soft-focus finish to them that makes them look like a lipstain once applied. Weartime has been good for me, a few hours if I’m not eating, and they’re easy to blend back into place as they wear away, too. I’m surprised something with such a matte finish doesn’t feel dry on the lips - they almost feel like you’re wearing a lightweight balm, so even my prone-to-dryness lips stay hydrated throughout wearing them. They apply best on dry lips (with no balm), otherwise they can tend to go a little patchy. And just as a heads-up - the scent is a little different than most MAC lipsticks here: it’s like the normal MAC lipstick vanilla scent, mixed with a little bit of rubber (?), which isn’t great, but the scent doesn’t transfer to the lips. I just love the finish of these - it’s like you spent a lot of time blurring and blotting down your regular full-coverage lipstick, and you’re left with this beautiful blotted stain.

MAC Powder Kiss Lipsticks come in 16 shades (descriptions from MAC’s website)::

 MAC Powder Kiss Lipsticks in (top to bottom) Devoted to Chili, Fall in Love, Lasting Passion, Impulsive, Sultriness, Style Shocked, Influentially It, Burning Love, Sweet No Sugar, Scattered Petals, My Tweedy, Shocking Revelation, Mull it Over, Mandarin O, Best of Me, A Little Tamed

MAC Powder Kiss Lipsticks in (top to bottom) Devoted to Chili, Fall in Love, Lasting Passion, Impulsive, Sultriness, Style Shocked, Influentially It, Burning Love, Sweet No Sugar, Scattered Petals, My Tweedy, Shocking Revelation, Mull it Over, Mandarin O, Best of Me, A Little Tamed

Devoted to Chili - warm brick red

Fall in Love - bright creamy fuschia

Lasting Passion - clean bright red

Impulsive - warm brown

Sultriness - baby blue pink

Style Shocked - clean red orange

Influentially It - nude beige

Burning Love - deepened red wine

Sweet, No Sugar - clean warm pink

Scattered Petals - pale clean pink

My Tweedy - blushy nude

Shocking Revelation - clean blue red

Mull it Over - dirty peach

Mandarin O - bright creamy salmon pink

Best of Me - pale milky beige

A Little Tamed - midtone pink

My favorite shades have been a mix of Sultriness and Devoted to Chili for daytime, and Burning Love for more special occasions. The MAC Powder Kiss Lipsticks are out now and are $19. Will you be trying them?

MAC Powder Kiss Lipsticks were sent to me for consideration, but all opinions are my own.

The Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Look

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Few shades of beauty products have reached the instant fame and cult-status as Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk shade has. The shade first showed up in her Lip Cheat, quickly becoming an iconic favorite for being a universally-flattering pink nude that helped to sculpt and shape the lips. She then followed by making it into a Matte Revolution Lipstick (which I ordered the second it became available). And now she's done it again, adding to the Pillow Talk collection with a new Luxury Palette eyeshadow quad and a Cheek to Chic Blush.

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The eyeshadow quads and “swish and pop” blushes have been favorite formulas of mine for awhile, so it’s no surprise that I’m absolutely in love with these two new additions. Charlotte Tilbury’s eyeshadows are some of my favorites - they perfectly toe the line between creamy and soft, hitting that sweet spot between too dense and too powdery. They’re buildable shadows, so they can be applied as a sheer wash or built up to something more intense, and they layer on top of themselves easily with no fallout. These eyeshadows are also some of the longest lasting on me - I always use a primer of course, but there’s no creasing or fading at the end of a long day (they even last through my kickboxing class, which is the ultimate test for me). The shades in the Pillow Talk quad just completely speak to me - the setup is the same as her other quads, with the “Prime, Enhance, Smoke, and Pop” shades. Prime is a soft pink champagne that brightens the eyes and also doubles as a lovely inner corner highlight. Enhance is a pinky brown matte that adds soft definition to the crease. Smoke is a deeper pink-brown that’s perfect for adding some depth to the outer corners or smoking out an eyeliner. The Pop shade might be my favorite, a lovely rose gold glitter that I’ve been packing on with my finger. I haven’t gone a day without wearing these shadows since they were delivered - they’re so wearable, and I could definitely see myself finishing this palette.

 T-B | Liner, Lipstick, Blush outer, Blush inner, Eyeshadow Prime, Enhance, Smoke, & Pop

T-B | Liner, Lipstick, Blush outer, Blush inner, Eyeshadow Prime, Enhance, Smoke, & Pop

The blush is also a beautiful formula. The other shade I have is First Love, which is a light peach, so using the darker nude shade of Pillow Talk made me realize how pigmented these blushes really are. I simply need to tap my brush in the compact once to have more than enough product for my cheeks. The Pillow Talk Blush shade is the absolute perfect pinky nude that adds both a flush of color and definition to the cheeks. Rather than another blush color in the center, the Pillow Talk Blush houses a rose gold highlight instead. Some days I mix the two together, and others I apply the outer ring as my blush and the inner circle as my highlight. They’re both beautiful, finely milled powders that blend over the cheeks seamlessly.

To complete the whole look I of course had to use as many other Charlotte Tilbury products as I could. One thing I love about her line is how well the products all work together. I started with the Hollywood Flawless Filter as a primer to give my skin a glow, and then followed up with the Light Wonder Foundation. This left the glowiest base and a pair I’ll keep using again and again. I don’t have a Charlotte Tilbury concealer (do I need the Retoucher or her new one?), so I used the Milk Makeup Flex Concealer. I also don’t have any CT brow products, so here I used a base layer of Glossier Boy Brow in Brown and then filled in sparse areas with the MAC Eyebrow Styler in Stylized. I used the Glossier Lidstar in Slip as an eyeshadow primer and then applied all four shades of the Luxury Palette in Pillow Talk - Prime all over my lids and in the inner corners, Enhance in the crease, Smoke on the outer corners, and then dabbed Pop on the center of my eyelids. Again, I don’t have a CT mascara, so I used Milk Makeup Kush Mascara on my top lashes and Glossier Lash Slick on the bottom. To sculpt my face a little I used the contour side of the Filmstar Bronze & Glow Palette (I forgot how much I LOVED this), and I went in with the outer ring of the Cheek to Chic Blush in Pillow Talk in sort of a draping-shape. I tapped on a little bit of the Beauty Light Wand highlighter to the high points of my face and then dusted over it with the inner portion of the Pillow Talk Blush. Lips were finished off with, of course, the Pillow Talk Lip Cheat and Matte Revolution Lipsticks. I’m in love with how this look came out, and frankly I’m a little offended that Charlotte didn’t release these products before my wedding - I definitely would have used them!

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So the new Pillow Talk additions are a definite win for me - so much so that I’ve been contemplating picking up a backup of the eyeshadow quad when it comes back in stock. The Pillow Talk products are exclusive to CharlotteTilbury.com (you can get the full collection or the blush & eyeshadow duo as well) and are limited edition.

Have you tried them yet?

This post contains affiliate links.

The Sephora VIB Sale Haul

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So Sephora seems to have sprung an extra VIB sale on us this year (I'm hearing the one usually in November is still happening!), and despite not having much time to save up, I still managed to come away with a nice little haul. I've come to the conclusion that I'm currently drowning in skincare to test, so I managed to not order anything but makeup and one hair repurchase. 

Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Coconut Oil Micro-Exfoliating ShampooI ran out of my first tub of this right before the sale, so I figured it was perfect timing. I love this stuff so much - I use it about once per week, always on a day when I've had kickboxing class and I've gotten my sweat on (anyone else get a super sweaty scalp? just me?). The particles aren't too rough, but you can still feel them scrubbing your scalp, so it's the perfect middle ground. It smells minty and invigorating, it's not too difficult to wash out, and it leaves my hair feeling super clean but not stripped or dry. I always follow up with Briogeo's Don't Despair, Repair hair mask (which we now buy in the giant size because Brett loves it, too!).

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Milk Makeup Kush High Volume MascaraI just talked about this in my recommendations for the sale, but I needed to get a backup because I'm just about out of mine. This is one of my two favorite mascaras - I use it every day on my top lashes and just love how fluffy and volumized it makes them look without being clumpy. It lasts well on me, too, without flaking or smudging, which is always so rare for me to find.

Pat McGrath Labs Lust: Lip Gloss in Divine Rose | I also mentioned these glosses in my recommendations. After wearing the shade Flesh Fantasy once, I immediately added Divine Rose to my cart for the sale. The formula is lovely - so creamy, not sticky, and beautifully glossy, and the shade Divine Rose is the ultimate my-lips-but-better for me. It seems to be slightly more sheer than Flesh Fantasy, which makes it all the more perfect for everyday for me. This has already earned its place in my everyday makeup bag.

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First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming MoisturizerI mentioned the Smashbox Primerizer in my recommendations post, and I really do love that, but I just wanted to try something new now that I'm almost out. I've heard nothing but rave reviews for First Aid Beauty's Priming Moisturizer, with lots of people saying they even preferred it over the Smashbox. It's a thicker consistency than the Primerizer, but it instantly plumps up the skin and makes it SO dewy and moisturized. It's definitely more moisturizing than the Primerizer. The jury is still out on which I like better, but I'm looking forward to testing this one more.

Laura Mercier Blush Colour Infusion in Rose | I was 100% influenced by Amelia's post for this one - I didn't even have it in my cart until about 10 minutes before I placed my order. I'm so happy with this impulse buy, though. For some reason I've really been getting into powder cheek products again, and this one is just beautiful. It's a soft, smooth formula that goes on quite sheer but is easy to build to your desired effect. The shade Rose is my perfect blush shade - it's actually more cool-toned when swatched than I was expecting, which was a pleasant surprise. I'm for sure going to be reaching for this one on an everyday basis for the foreseeable future.

NARS Highlighting Powder in Capri | I kept seeing these NARS highlighters popping up in people's recommendations, and once my sister confirmed that they're worth picking up I was sold. I was originally going to get Fort de France, which seems to be the standout favorite, but she convinced me to get Capri instead, which is a more pink champagne, while Fort de France is a more gold champagne. This is so beautiful - again I find it to go on quite sheer at first, but you can layer and blend until you have a mirrorlike sheen on your skin. It has quite a unique formula too - when you swatch it, it almost feels like a gel/powder hybrid. It looks like a cream on the skin but has the longevity of a powder. On the first day I wore this, I found myself just layering on more and more throughout the day not because it was fading, but because it was just so pretty. Despite being a powder, I didn't find it called attention to skin texture. 

Are you getting anything in the sale?

The VIB Sale is currently ongoing for Rouge members and starts for VIB/Beauty Insiders on Thursday, August 30th, ending for everyone September 3rd. 20% off for Rouge with the code YESROUGE, 15% off for VIBs with YESVIB, and 10% off for Beauty Insiders with YESINSIDER.

This post contains affiliate links.

What to Buy in the Sephora Sale | 10 Recommendations

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I feel like I only just wrote a Sephora recommendations post, but there are so many more new favorites that I need to tell you about before the next sale! Sephora seems to have bumped up their VIB Sale - it's usually in November, but it starts August 24th for VIB Rouge and August 30th for VIB/Beauty Insiders. If you're like me and are panicking a bit because you thought you had more time to save up, here are a few current favorites that I think are worth picking up in the sale.

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Fresh Vitamin Nectar Antioxidant Glow Water* | I've only had this for a week, but I'm already hooked. I love a good fancy face water, and this one amps up the glow, smells like oranges, hydrates the skin, and gives it a good refresher throughout the day. The mist is beautiful and fine, delivering a fine veil rather than a sticky stream. It's alcohol-free so it won't dry you out over time, and I've really noticed it giving me a brighter and peppier appearance than other face mists. There's also a mini that's perfect for throwing in your bag for on-the-go refreshers.

Smashbox Photo Finish PrimerizerThis isn't a new release, but something I've been using consistently since I first bought it and would repurchase again and again. It's a thin, serum-y consistency that instantly plumps up the skin and leaves a moisturized, glowy finish. It makes my makeup go on so much better on top - nothing ever looks dry or cakey when worn over this primer. This is the primer that turned me into a primer-believer, too, so that's saying something. It really does make my makeup last longer, because my issue with longevity was always my skin getting dehydrated and drinking up my foundation. Now this hydrates my skin enough so that doesn't happen.

Bite Beauty French Press Lip Gloss in Dirty Chai | I've seen people raving about these glosses lately, and for good reason. They're one of the most non-lipgloss-feeling lipglosses I've ever used, if that makes sense. They feel more like a balm on the lips than a gloss, but they still give a beautiful shine. All the colors look beautiful, but I'm head over heels for Dirty Chai, a warm rose that is quite similar to my natural lip color. It's more pigmented than I was expecting it to be, but it still lets a little of my natural lip color show through, so it looks very natural. I've been pairing it with the Bite Lip Pencil in 016 too, if you're looking for a perfect match.

Origins Mega Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Face MaskThis quickly became one of my favorite masks after I bought it in the spring. It's a creamy mask (it feels like a thick moisturizer) that feels so comforting and soothing on the skin. It's not exactly cooling, but it takes away redness and irritation right away for me. This has been so great for summer mornings when I wake up feeling a little dehydrated and heat rash-y. I love popping it on on a weekend morning, going about my chores, and then rinsing my face with cool water to get rid of any remaining mask that hasn't sunk into my skin. It leaves my skin plump, clear, and hydrated.

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Caudalie Instant Detox Mask* | This has to be my favorite clay mask I own. It uses a combination of papaya enzymes, pink clay, coffee, and grape marc to detoxify, brighten, and purify the skin so pores appear smaller and skin is smoother. This really does give instant results for me without drying out my skin like other clay masks I've tried. It actually really reminds me of the Aesop Parsley Seed Mask - it looks, smells, and feels so similar. It's a thinner consistency than other clay masks, forming a flexible film as it dries rather than a thick, caked-on layer, so it doesn't feel super tight as it dries, and it's easy to rinse off. If you're in need of a new clay mask that won't strip your skin, look here!

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume MascaraI don't know how this didn't get included in my last recommendations post, because it's been tied for my #1 favorite mascara since it came out. I was skeptical because I usually don't like fiber mascaras (the fibers usually fall into and irritate my eyes), but the fibers in this stay put and give the lashes a super fluffy, full appearance. It really looks like I've gotten a nice set of fluffy lash extensions when I wear this mascara. I'm going to be repurchasing this in the sale. 

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Amika Polished Perfection Straightening Brush* | I just got this for free through Octoly recently, but it's already become such a staple in my haircare routine that I wanted to recommend it to you, too. Since it's a pricier item, it's definitely a good idea to get it during the sale! My hair is quite frizzy and in between wavy and curly, but I'm too lazy to really do any styling. Most days I would just put it up in a messy bun and call it a day. But the Straightening Brush makes it so easy - it would normally take me at least 20 minutes to straighten my hair, but I can now get it done in 5. Instead of dividing my hair into four sections to work through, I only need to do two. It straightens my hair easily, and while it doesn't leave it as pin-straight as a flatiron would, I actually prefer the way the brush makes my hair look - like I didn't try too hard. 

Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask* | This is another product I got free through Octoly and fell in love with. It's a thin, jellylike consistency that you can really feel working (read: it tingles a lot). It's a mask full of natural AHAs (fruit enzymes) and BHA (willowbark), as well as calming ingredients like blue tansy oil and aloe leaf, so it is a powerful chemical exfoliator that won't irritate your skin. Despite the tingling, I find my skin is much less red after I remove this mask than it is before I apply it. It leaves my skin super soft and smooth, and I find it doesn't feel as sensitized as it does after I use something like Babyfacial. 

Hourglass Scattered Light Glitter EyeshadowIf you're like me and have been pouring one out for the Dior Fusion Mono Eyeshadows, hop on over to Hourglass and pick up one of their newest releases. These have the same not-quite-cream, yet not-quite-powder consistency and are filled with the most beautiful sparkles that don't feel chunky or gritty. I have the shade Aura right now, which is a beautiful pink shade, but I've got my eye on the champagne shade and will definitely get it in the sale if it doesn't sell out! These apply easily with a finger for a sheer wash of color, or they can be built up to be quite dramatic and metallic with a brush. They also stay very well on my creasy eyelids - I do need to prime them, but this lasts all day even when I just use concealer and powder to do that.

Pat McGrath Labs Lust Lip GlossI know I already put a lipgloss on this list, but I'm really having a gloss moment and this has to be one of the most beautiful gloss formulas I've ever tried. It's creamy, not too thick, not sticky at all, and it smells like frosting. They have just the perfect amount of pigmentation too - pigmented enough to show up over more pigmented lips, but not so much that it looks goopy or collects in lip lines or the corners of the mouth. I have the shade Flesh Fantasy which is the perfect everyday pinky-brown, and I already have two more sitting in my cart for the sale - a more rosy shade as well as the pink duochrome one.

What do you think you'll get in the Sephora Sale?

Info via Trendmood: The Sephora Sale starts on August 24th for VIB Rouge - 20% off with the code YESROUGE, and it starts on August 30th for VIB & Beauty Insiders - 15% off with YESVIB and 10% off with YESINSIDER.

Products marked with an asterisk (*) have been sent to me for consideration, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

The Sunburned Blush Look

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While I certainly don't love getting a real sunburn, this summer I've been all about the sunburned cheek look. Wearing a blush to make you look like you maybe slightly overdid it in the sun is actually such a flattering look in my opinion - it gives the skin some life and color, and for me, it makes me look healthier. The key here is to look for blush shades that have a bit of a red tone to them and formulas that make themselves one with the skin. I like to apply these kinds of shades pretty much all over my cheeks, and even a little on the bridge of my nose, to really amp up that sunkissed/burned look.

 T-B | Glossier Storm, Dawn, Onomie Tamar, Nudestix Naughty n' Spice, Milk Makeup Werk, bareMinerals Strike a Rose

T-B | Glossier Storm, Dawn, Onomie Tamar, Nudestix Naughty n' Spice, Milk Makeup Werk, bareMinerals Strike a Rose

Glossier Cloud Paints in Storm & Dawn | I'm sure it's no surprise there are Cloud Paints included here. Glossier's two newest shades of the fingerpaint/blush are perfect for this kind of look. They're much brighter/deeper than their first four shades, making them great for a more dramatic blushed look for summer.  Storm is a deep, warm rose that instantly makes you look like you've come in out of the sun or you've spent the whole morning doing some intense cardio. Dawn is a stunning bright orange coral that gives an even more sunkissed look - definitely the one to go for if you want to look more "bronzed" instead of burned. The Cloud Paints of course are a thin, gel-like liquid blush that instantly becomes seamless with the skin, making it look like it's your own natural flush. (As always, you can get 20% off your first Glossier order through my rep link!)

Onomie Boosting Lip + Cheek Stick in Tamar | I've fallen hard for these lip and cheek sticks again, and I've been using at least one of them in every makeup routine lately. The formula is so creamy and leaves a beautiful dewy look on the skin, but they don't move around or wear away quickly. They're quite a bit more pigmented than you'd expect for a "makeup/skincare" product, so you really only need to dab on a bit and blend. The shade Tamar is a lovely wine shade that adds the perfect flush to the skin - it's a little bit brown and a little bit red, so it's great for looking like you've been in the sun.

Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek in Werk | Another new shade - Milk's chubby sticks for lips and cheeks have always been a favorite formula of mine, but there was never a shade I constantly wanted to reach for until they brought out Werk, which is a dusty rose. On me, it has enough warmth and enough of a red tone to give that perfect mix of a little bit tanned and yet a little bit pink. In the sun I only turn pink, so this is an upgrade for me. The formula is creamy and easy to apply and blend, making it a go-to for summer when you just want to get out the door and get to the beach or something.

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NUDESTIX Nudies All Over Face Color in Naughty N' Spice | This is another creamy formula that becomes one with the skin. I love the Nudies formula because it's quite thin, so it really does sink into the skin, feels weightless, and it moves with the skin without sliding around. Naughty N' Spice is a similar dusty rose shade to Milk's Werk, although it's a little more vibrant (less "dusty"). It adds a really nice natural flush to the skin and looks a little more red (on my skin) than Milk's Werk.

bareMinerals Gen Nude Blush in Strike a Rose | This is the only powder blush on this list, but this really speaks to how lovely and skinlike the formula is. When you swatch these blushes they almost feel like a cream to the touch, and I've found that no matter what brush I use, the perfect amount gets picked up every time for a soft wash of color on the cheeks. Strike a Rose is, you guessed it, a warm rose shade that perks up the complexion and looks like a shade a lot of people would naturally blush. This one is perfect for summer because it's the most long-lasting (because it's a powder), so it won't melt off your face on a hot day. 

What are your favorite blushes for a more "sunburned" look?

 

All About Our Wedding

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It's taken over two months, but my wedding blogpost is finally here! I've been gathering questions since before the wedding on Instagram and Twitter, so here are the answers to them all.

Were you a bridezilla?

I don't think I was at all! I feel like I was very easy-going about the whole thing. When I was waiting to walk down the aisle with my dad, the staff member that was holding my train told me I was the "most chill" bride he had ever seen and that he could normally feel them shaking as he held their dress. In regards to how everyone looked, I thought as long as everyone had the same dresses & tuxedos, they could pretty much do whatever else they wanted to make themselves feel comfortable. I let my bridesmaids pick how they wanted to do their hair and makeup, wear whatever shoes they wanted, etc. It was more important to me that everyone felt their best instead of looking like cookie cutter bridesmaids. I think the one thing I was more of a stickler about was that I didn't want any cell phones during the ceremony - I had nightmares about people stepping into the aisle to get a photo and ruining one of the photographer's shots. I wanted to look out and see my family and friends' faces instead of a sea of cell phones. I had our officiant make an announcement before the ceremony started to please put cell phones on silent and keep them tucked away.

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Why did you get married on a Friday?

The most simple reason is money - at most venues, it's so much cheaper to get married on a Friday or Sunday than it is to get married on a Saturday. We also liked the idea of ourselves and our guests having the whole weekend to recover and get back into the swing of things. Brett and I are also not super into being the center of attention, so we liked the idea of people coming and celebrating with us after their workday, rather than having a whole entire Saturday revolving around us if that makes sense.

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Where did you get your inspiration from?

Mostly Pinterest - the second I got engaged I pretty much started scouring the wedding boards on there. I started with a general "wedding moodboard," where I figured out what the colors would be and a general idea of how I wanted decorations and flowers to look. Once the wedding got closer I broke it up into more specific boards - one just for wedding dresses, one for bridesmaids dresses, one for cakes, one for flowers, etc. I also started following a few wedding accounts on Instagram, but Pinterest was by far my main source of inspiration. I took some inspiration from weddings we had been to, too - we went to one big, traditional wedding and one that was a more intimate affair, so it was nice to have that contrast to pick and choose ideas from.

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How did you choose your venue?

I actually thought I had my heart set on a different venue when we first started wedding planning. I originally wanted it where my parents had had their wedding reception, but it was a little too small. I also wanted somewhere I'd be able to have the ceremony and the reception, but I didn't like the ceremony room at that venue at all. We then went to look at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, MA - I thought I didn't want to have it there because I had been to a few different events there before and felt like it would make it less special. But right before we drove over to go see it, my dad mentioned it would be nice to have it there because of the location - it's near the top of the mountain in my hometown, and depending on where you stand you can see my parents' house and Brett's parents' house from up there (we grew up down the street from each other), so that really helped change my mind. Seeing how beautiful the ceremony space was as well as the view, and the fact that they took care of so much on site and had a separate room to have the ceremony inside if it rained, made it the perfect choice for us. It was also a huge plus that we got a built-in wedding planner (who was amazing), as well as separate day-of coordinators for the ceremony and reception.

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How did you choose your vendors?

They were actually super easy to pick, and since so much was covered by the venue, I only really needed to look for a photographer and a DJ. I knew immediately I would want Sandra Costello as the photographer - she had photographed a family friend's wedding and the photos were amazing. I loved that all of her photos on her website seemed like they were candids rather than super posed. I gave her a call and instantly knew she would be a perfect fit for us - normally I get the worst anxiety talking to strangers on the phone, but she made me so at ease, which she carried to the actual wedding day. She was great because she made everyone feel so comfortable in front of the camera, so every photo is perfect and natural.

I didn't even look for or meet with more than one DJ - again I went with one who had done a family friend's wedding and who my parents said was great (Chris Bigelow from Cloud 9 Productions). When we met with him a few weeks before the wedding to go over specifics, I knew it would be perfect - he instantly understood the kind of music I wanted, and I was confident he'd keep everyone dancing all night. And he did! I was especially impressed with how well he could read the room and know what song to play next - at one point my Bridesman went up and asked him to play Bad Romance, and he said, "Oh I'm saving it to be the last song, I thought it would be perfect for this group."

How did you budget for the big day?

Honestly, we kind of just winged it. We had a general idea of how much we were going to spend and how much our parents would be helping with, and luckily most things were covered under what we were paying the venue. So if you're bad at budgeting like me, I'd highly recommend looking for a venue that has many things included - things like a wedding planner, the cake, the food, and the bar were all covered under the package we chose through the venue. We also did a lot of things ourselves - I designed the save the dates, invitations, place cards, and programs, so we only had to pay to get them printed at a local printing shop. We made sure we always had a list going of everything we were paying for to keep track - there are a lot of little things that add up!

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How did you pick your dress?

I actually ended up getting the very first dress I tried on. After looking on Pinterest for wedding dress ideas, I found I was pinning a lot that were from Maggie Sottero. So I looked up places where her dresses were sold, and there ended up being a bridal shop down the street from where I was living at the time that carried them. So I went into that first appointment with a few photos and the designer name in mind, and the consultant just knew what I wanted right away. I ended up trying on about five total just to be sure, but the first one was the one. I also got the first and only veil I tried on with the dress, too.

How was the tailoring process?

Pretty easy! I had it altered through the shop where I got the dress (Mariella Creations in Rocky Hill, CT). I had three fittings - the first where she did all the pinning, the second where some things were sewn and others were still pinned, and the third where everything was done and any final tweaks were made if necessary. Then they pressed my dress for me and I picked it up a few days before the wedding. I had my first fitting in the middle of January, and then it was ready for me to pick up at the beginning of June.

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Who was in your bridal party and how did you pick their dresses?

I had my sister as my Maid of Honor, my oldest best friend as Bridesman, and my cousin that I used to spend every summer with, as well as my two best friends from my ballet days were Bridesmaids. Finding the bridesmaid dresses wasn't hard, either. I brought my sister with me to look at David's Bridal, and she probably tried more dresses on than I did when looking for my wedding dress. I already knew I wanted them to be blush pink, and I liked the shade David's Bridal had in their catalogue of colors. I found one dress that I loved and was ready to decide on that for everyone, but then my sister tried on one more with a rhinestone belt that she fell in love with. I decided since they'd all be the same color, she could have a slightly different dress as maid of honor! My Bridesman wore the same gray tuxedo and pink tie that the Groomsmen wore, but he had a pink vest instead of the gray the rest of them had.

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Did you do a First Look & take photos before the ceremony?

Yes, we did! Taking our photos before the ceremony was important to us, because we wanted to be able to relax and start mingling with our guests during the cocktail hour. It was also nice to get to see Brett before the ceremony and spend some time alone together (with the photographer). I didn't really feel that stressed while getting ready, but I immediately felt so much calmer once I could see and talk to Brett.

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What personal touches did you include?

I wanted to try to include a lot of personal touches to make the day unique to us. For the ceremony, we asked my parents' best friend to officiate because she knew us well, and we knew she'd do a great job and be able to add in anecdotes that a Justice of the Peace wouldn't. I also had family members participate in the ceremony - my aunt did a reading, and my uncle and great aunt performed a song. We chose a song from West Side Story because it was Brett's grandmother's favorite movie, and my great aunt who sang also sang a song from a Broadway show (Phantom of the Opera) at my parents' wedding. We had super talented friends of my parents sing and play guitar during the cocktail hour, too. I also asked my grandfather to say the blessing before dinner, because he always gives a really nice, heartfelt blessing before our family Thanksgiving dinners.

We also included a memory table with photos of family members and loved ones who had passed away. I've seen a few wedding websites saying not to do these because they're "too depressing," but it was important to us both to honor loved ones that couldn't be there. We collected photos from both of our parents, and Brett put them all together in a really nice collage.

I put a lot of thought into the music that would play during the ceremony and parts of the reception too, instead of picking cliche wedding songs. My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to "Reflecting Light" by Sam Philips, aka the song Luke and Lorelai first dance to in Gilmore Girls. I walked down the aisle to the version of "Moon River" that Audrey Hepburn sings in Breakfast at Tiffany's. We all recessed to "Crazy Love" by Van Morrison. Our first dance was to "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. My dad and I danced to "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison, because he had told me it was one of his favorite songs a few years ago, so it then became my favorite song and I would think of him every time I heard it.

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What was the most surprising thing that happened at your wedding?

I was surprised by how many people ended up dancing! At many points throughout the night, pretty much every single one of our guests was out on the dance floor. A joke from the rehearsal dinner (we wanted the bridesmaids & groomsmen to do some kind of dance as they entered the reception, and one groomsman jokingly said he wanted to "horse gallop") ended up carrying over to the day - everyone was doing "the gallop" in a big circle at one point and tagging other people to join in. Also, my closest family friends went up and requested the Hava Nagila and 1) I'm surprised the DJ actually played it and 2) I'm surprised that so many people joined in.

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What was your favorite part of the day?

I think it's impossible to pick one thing, but Brett cried during his vows and made pretty much everyone cry, and I think that has to be my favorite moment. I also loved my dad's, my sister's, and Brett's brother's toasts, and just being able to see all my favorite people at once in one place made it the best day ever. It also still warms my heart how well my bridal party got along, too - they hadn't all met each other before my bachelorette party and yet it was like we had all been best friends forever when we were all together.

All photos by Sandra Costello Photography
Dress: Maggie Sottero from Mariella Creations

Hair: The Lift Salon
Venue: The Log Cabin
DJ: Chris Bigelow, Cloud 9 Productions
Flowers: DuRocher Florist