The Sweetest Thing  
Styling a Wedding Dress To Make It Your Own 

When I first tried on my wedding dress, I knew it was the one.  It was exactly the fabric I wanted (pure white Chantilly lace) and the shape I wanted (strapless, form-fitting with a train).  I fell in love with it instantly.  However, there were a few details I wasn't so sure about.  The Melissa Sweet gown had a dusty rose silk sash around the hip area that flowed down the back of the dress.  It was beautiful but I had always imagined my dress being all white.  I thought about keeping it but ultimately, I knew I'd regret it later.  

All Wedding Photos Below by:  Studio One

Here are the changes I made to my dress to make it my own:
1) Added a Crystal Sash:  I had my seamstress remove the dusty rose sash and eventually found a sparkling crystal sash at another bridal boutique (Madeleine's Daughter in Portsmouth, NH, which was extremely impressive).  It was just more my style.
2)  Changed the Neckline.  When I bought the dress the neckline was straight.  I had always wanted a gown with a slight sweetheart neckline, so I had my seamstress alter it.
3)  And, of course, the dress was about a foot too long even with heels.  It's incredible just how long most wedding dresses are.

In finding a dress, I think you have to be true to your style.  My dad accompanied me on my first (and what turned out to be my only shopping trip) and we saw exactly what happens when too many people get involved.  A bride-to-be stormed out of the fitting room arguing with her mom about dresses shouting the stereotypical line, "It's my wedding, my dress - not yours!"  I also don't think there's an exact price you can equate with wedding style.  I know brides who have spent $100 to $200 on their dresses and look absolutely stunning and I know brides who have spent what some spend on an entire wedding and looked equally as stunning.

The original Melissa Sweet dress with the pink sash.

The new sash from Madeleine's Daughter in Portsmouth, NH

Other Things I Learned:  
Seamstress:  I did not use the seamstress from Priscilla of Boston where I bought the dress.  First, it just wasn't convenient.  Second, I have always had more luck working with an independent seamstress recommended by friends.  In my experience, they've always been much more timely and have cared about the fit a lot more. (But I am sure other women have the opposite story, so you just have to do your research.)
Sample Dresses:  I bought my Melissa Sweet gown at a sample sale in Boston, which means the dress had been on display.  The dress was in mint condition, so it didn't bother me, and I saved thousands of dollars - more than $4,000 off the original price to be exact!  (I also couldn't get this dress made anymore, so this was really my only option for this particular dress.)   One of the best things about buying a sample dress is that you can take it home that same day; you don't have to wait several months for it to arrive at the store. (I opted to have it hand cleaned rather than having Priscilla ship it out for cleaning for $500.   I was worried it would be damaged because of the delicate lace, which turned out to be a valid concern based on other reviews.) 

Veil:  I also didn't buy the veil and dress at the same location.  Priscilla of Boston wanted a small fortune for the veil.  I looked and looked and finally found a cathedral length veil with delicate lace on the edges that matched the lace of my dress exactly at David's Bridal.  The one thing I wish I'd done is weigh down the edges of the veil.  I always pictured walking down the aisle with the veil perfectly flowing behind me as it does in pretty much any bridal movie you can imagine.  That didn't happen; the veil pulled towards the center rather than flowing out to the sides.  If that's the most of my worries, I certainly can't complain!!
Shoes:  Although I wouldn't change the shoes I wore because I loved them, they were unbelievably uncomfortable.  I had blood blisters all over my toes on our honeymoon.  I should have taken the shoes off or switched into more comfortable shoes after our first dance was done.  The things we do for shoes...

Bridal Hair Styles

I wanted my bridal hair to look like a more glamorous version of how I frequently wear my hair.   I love to part it then pull it back out of my face.   I looked through numerous bridal magazines and found similar bridal hair styles I loved.  (Now, I would use Pinterest!) I took them to my good friend and trusted hairdresser, Lauren Messina.  Lauren took one look at my very damaged hair and first devised a plan to get my hair healthy in the months before the wedding. 

I used a real orchid from my florist, Royal Bouquet, for the reception.
I wanted a different look after I took the veil off.
Photo by:  Studio One

My hair never would have looked as healthy as it did in any of the pictures if it weren't for regular glossing treatments and cuts.  We also did several trial runs, which was an excellent idea because it helped us perfect the style.  Lauren was so committed, she even came to my parents' house after one of our sessions so she could perfect the last trial run.

Photo by:  Studio One

Photo by:  Studio One

Lauren attached both my veils for me before the ceremony, which was a huge help.  She also took them out after the ceremony, fixed my hair, and then attached the orchid.  I couldn't have asked for a more committed and phenomenal hair stylist!   You can read more about Lauren here, formerly of Vibe Salon and the Loft Salon and Day Spa in Manchester, N.H.

Photo by:  Studio One

Photo by:  Studio One

Sweet Bridal Style
Bridal Makeup

I absolutely love a wedding!   I loved being a bride and am always honored to be a wedding guest or bridesmaid.  If you have a wedding to attend this summer,  or you are blessed enough to be a bride or bridesmaid, over the next 5 days, celebrity makeup artist Kriss Blevens of Kriss Cosmetics shares with us 5 key bridal products to help you look absolutely gorgeous!  Read more about Kriss below.   She radiates warmth and beauty!

Day 5:  The Bright and Beautiful Bride

The 5th product Kriss recommends for any bride (or bridesmaid & bridal guest), is a BB Cream.  I have to admit, I'm not overly familiar with a BB Cream but the description makes me sold on it.  You use it instead of or with a primer.    It brightens, corrects and perfects.  At Kriss Cosmetics, they call it a "miracle product!"  It helps diminish any redness, rosacea and blemishes on the face.  It sounds as if this product was made for me :)  To apply, you use two fingers and put it under your eyes and over the bridge of your cheeks.  It comes out white and oxidizes to your skin.  Magic!

Photo by:  Studio One

Day 4:  Let the Tears of Joy Flow

I was certain I would cry during most of my wedding ceremony but I was wrong.  For some reason, I cried before the wedding but not during it.  As I wedding guest, I cry at most weddings.  So, you can guess, water resistant mascara is a must for me!   Kriss recommends Blinc Tube mascara.  You put it on like regular mascara and it forms tiny water resistant "tubes" around your lashes that add length and volume.  It won't run, smudge, clump or flake even if you cry or rub your eyes!

Photo by:  Studio One

Photo by:  Studio One

Photo by:  Sweet on Style

Photo by:  Sweet on Style

Day 3:  The Glowing & Refreshed Bride

Before my wedding and I think before almost any wedding, stress is usually at an all-time high.  Stress, of course, isn't great for your skin.  That's why Kriss recommends a Refreshing Primer.  You put it on after your moisturizer and it minimizes your pores.  It also hydrates, retexturizes and illuminates.  Essentially, it gives you a perfect base for your makeup.  I remember Kriss applying it to my face and finally feeling such a sense of calm because it feels so great on your skin.

Photo by:  Studio One

Day 2:  The Blushing Bride

As soon as I hear the traditional wedding music, I immediately think about the glowing, blushing bride.  As a bride or a wedding guest, you can get that same beautiful glow with a pressed mineral blush, according to Kriss Cosmetics.  Mineral blush not only offers a glow, it has serious staying power.  The color featured below by Kriss Cosmetics is called "Mauvelous" and it's a nice neutral color that flatters most skin tones.

Makeup Product Photos by:  Mary Morin Carlin / Sweet on Style
(That is my wedding dress and veil in the background!)

Photo by:  Studio One
Bridal Makeup:  Kriss Cosmetics

Day 1:  Sparkling Lips:  A Mineral Lip Gloss

To be a sparkling, glowing bride or wedding guest, a beautiful mineral lip gloss is a must.   Mineral lip gloss lasts longer and will give you great shine, according to Kriss Cosmetics.  Kriss's mineral lip gloss is called Diamond Gloss.  She has a rainbow of shiny colors, including "Cinderella's Castle," which is absolutely stunning on. It has a hint of color and a remarkable shine.  (It looks darker here than it actually is.)  I wore the shade "Ballerina" on my wedding and it stayed put with just a couple of touch ups for more than 12 hours in 90-plus degree heat.

From Top to Bottom:  Cinderella's Castle, Jewel, Ballerina, Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Celebrity Makeup Artist Kriss Blevens 
An Inspiration & Makeup Miracle Worker

Kriss Working Her Magic on My Wedding Day in 2010
Photo by:  Studio One

When you walk into Kriss' studio, you are surrounded by warmth and beauty.  It's a rush of positive energy.  Gorgeous sparkling lip glosses and eye shadows of every color fill the bright space.   And the most amazing force of positive energy and warmth - Kriss herself - is usually in her tranquil space in the main window working her magic with a client.  That's what I love about Kriss the most.   Kriss is as real and genuine as you can get.  While she is making you look and feel beautiful, it's as if you are the most important client in the world to her - and you are.  

Kriss and I met more than 16 years ago through the Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program.  She first painted my face for head shots and we've been friends ever since.  Kriss has reached the stars (literally) in her journey as a makeup artist.  She served as CNN's Chief of Makeup for Special Events and traveled the country for every presidential debate in that capacity.  She has worked with the past five U.S. Presidents.   She's also painted the faces of people including Bono, Caroline Kennedy, P Diddy, Laura Bush, and Ben Affleck to name a few.  And she is responsible for Hillary Clinton's acclaimed makeover at the June 3, 2007 presidential debate, which garnered Kriss substantial attention.

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