Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Shelley Rossetter, Kameel Stanley, Keeley Sheehan & Keyonna Summers

Wedding Week: A wedding planner answers your wedding questions!

The professional became personal when wedding planner Brooke Palmer married Craig Kuhl at the Ringling Museum of Art on March 15. Friends in the industry rose to the occasion to stage an extravaganza that some of the guests tweeted was “the wedding of the century.”

Ryan Joseph Photographs

The professional became personal when wedding planner Brooke Palmer married Craig Kuhl at the Ringling Museum of Art on March 15. Friends in the industry rose to the occasion to stage an extravaganza that some of the guests tweeted was “the wedding of the century.”

If you're planning a wedding, we hope your happy days are just beginning. Sadly, Wedding Week is coming to a close. We hope you had as much fun as we did!

Throughout the week on the blog and Twitter (@dealdivas) you all have lobbed some questions our way. Rather than trying to pluck the answers out of thin air, we turned to an expert. Brooke Palmer Kuhl is an event planner based right here in Tampa Bay, president of RSBP Events. She has coordinated over 100 weddings, including her own. You should take a few minutes to read the Times story about the glittering affair at the Ringling. We can only begin to dream.

Here, Brooke gives us straight answers to your questions, not coated in any Jordan almond sugar. I'll let her take it away.

Am I terrible person if I wear a black dress as a wedding guest?

You aren't terrible, you are just probably not appropriate. This is Florida. I guarantee you can find another color in your closet. I'm guilty of doing this too, but it's kind of like wearing white to a wedding. You just don't do it. Period. I didn't make this rule. Call Emily Post. Or even better, Google it.

Selling an old bridesmaid dress: What's the most effective way to do it? …

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The joy of Jell-O shots, and other wedding alternatives

Trying to cut down on open bar expenses? Add a round of inexpensive, homemade Jell-O shots to the wedding menu!

Pinterest

Trying to cut down on open bar expenses? Add a round of inexpensive, homemade Jell-O shots to the wedding menu!

Here, on the Deal Divas blog -- and especially during Wedding Week -- we often talk about ways to make shopping more economical.

Case in point: What started out as a big joke ahead of my friend Amanda's nuptials – aka “Let's have some fun and offer her extended family 'liquid courage' so they'll groove with us on the dance floor” – has led to a something of a staple among my girlfriends: Wedding Jell-O shots.

“I have had a tradition of Jell-O shots for parties: in college, in grad school, at that UCF game (where a bunch of our friends tailgated),” said Megan, the brainchild. “I thought, 'Why not expand this to weddings? It's the next stage of life to celebrate'.”

Thus, was born a trend which, IMHO, is much more fun and hundreds of dollars cheaper when used to supplement, say, an expensive open bar.

It's a job we now take seriously. We spend weeks giggling over how we'll pull off shots that match the wedding party's colors, or poring over recipes that call for solidifying the gelatin into cutesy shapes or into fruits like orange rinds or strawberries ... because, hey, weddings are classy events and it's all about presentation. …

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Most favors are forgettable, and other real talk from a frequent wedding guest

Still from Sony Pictures' "Jumping the Broom" (2011).

Photo via IMDB.

Still from Sony Pictures' "Jumping the Broom" (2011).

We've heard from the four-time bridesmaid. We took notes from wise brides. Now let's hear from the other important member of the wedding day experience: the constant guest!

Times writer Tia Mitchell was invited to six weddings in 2014 and has attended dozens in her life.

What gets people on the dance floor? A certain kind of music, copious alcohol, activities?

Although it seems like anything less than a wide open bar is frowned upon by the wedding-going masses, I'm not one to get drunk at weddings. Mainly because no one wants to be the drunk guy/girl at the wedding because people never forget. What gets me on the dance floor is good music, plain and simple. The smartest wedding DJs start out the night playing tried and true line dances like "The Electric Slide," "The Wobble" and "Cupid Shuffle." Segue into some old-school hip-hop or R&B (think Biggie's "One More Chance," "Candy" by Cameo or "Poison" by BBD and you have yourself a party!

What's the best wedding favor you ever received and why? …

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Wedding advice from Times writers who have been there

The scene in Bride Wars when everything worked out for the best.

The scene in Bride Wars when everything worked out for the best.

Your Deal Divas have made no secret about our lack of wedding bands in spite of the advice and thoughts we've dished for #WeddingWeek. So, to fill the void of first-person wedding advice, we asked several Times writers and editors about their experiences.

Answering our questions about what they loved about their special day, as well as what they would change, are book editor Colette Bancroft, Pasco bureau editor Molly Moorhead, deputy editor of editorials Joni James, St. Pete business writer Katherine Snow Smith and food critic Laura Reiley.

I had to edit out some responses for the sake of keeping this a manageable blogpost. Click here to see each person's full response (because it's fun).

Some takeaways:

* Personal gifts are more memorable, no matter your budget.

* Stress less.

* Serving beer and wine only is an easy way to trim costs.

* No one said it would have been better to elope (though Laura had a destination wedding and loved it -- scroll to the bottom).

* Watch the pre-wedding shots, ladies.

What was your most memorable gift? …

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Wedding advice for the girl who has not been planning her wedding her whole life (and maybe also for the girl who has)

Just got engaged and don't know where to start? Let my friend Emily, who got married last week in downtown St. Pete, give you tips on planning your big day

Just got engaged and don't know where to start? Let my friend Emily, who got married last week in downtown St. Pete, give you tips on planning your big day

Last weekend I went to a lovely wedding of a friend. It was at the St. Petersburg Museum of History (a pretty cool venue for those out there looking), and had a great casual feel. Everything looked and felt effortless.

So after the last toast was done, and the last song played, I snagged my friend Emily (the bride) and told her we HAD to talk. Not every girl has been dreaming of her nuptials since kindergarten. I certainly haven't, and neither has Emily. So I wanted to know: what tips could she give for the bride who doesn't have a vision board under her bed?

Here's why she had to say:

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Awkward questions about Bridesmaid World answered by a four-time bridesmaid

As bad as it gets for a bridesmaid?

20th Century Fox

As bad as it gets for a bridesmaid?

My friend Hilary is a wise person whose opinion I ask about most things. She has particularly strong credentials in Bridesmaid World: An August wedding will mark her third occasion as a bridesmaid this year, and fourth overall.

So, yeah, she has real talk for the alleged recycling qualities of bridesmaid dresses and spontaneous, lavish bridal party expenses. 

Here's to hoping her advice helps you as much as it helped me.

Have you ever worn a bridesmaid's dress again, or is that idea a big lie?

To use your PolitiFact terminology, it's probably a Mostly False. I do have a dress that I am re-using for another wedding where I got to choose my own bridesmaid's dress, but for the most part I just feel like it's a losing proposition. It's tough to make bridesmaid's dresses look like anything else, frankly, even the prettiest ones. It might be a beautiful dress, but when you wear it, it always feels like the best accessory is a bouquet.

Is it better for the bride to pick out the dresses without input from the bridal party, or is trying to avoid trouble just asking for more trouble? …

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Questions to ask a wedding caterer -- and yourself

Well, here's one catering option for a wedding reception. In this 2012 Times file photo, Chef John Sellers of Chef Images checks the roasted pig at Christopher and Megan Inthiraj's Lord of the Rings themed wedding reception at the Hernando Beach Yacht Club.

Times archives.

Well, here's one catering option for a wedding reception. In this 2012 Times file photo, Chef John Sellers of Chef Images checks the roasted pig at Christopher and Megan Inthiraj's Lord of the Rings themed wedding reception at the Hernando Beach Yacht Club.

I always heard weddings were expensive, but it didn't really hit me until I started researching services for my own.

Food and drink costs are cray, basically. I want my guests to eat, drink and be merry, of course, BUT AT WHAT COST? 

Times food critic Laura Reiley has our backs. Last year, she wrote a story detailing what questions to ask potential wedding caterers, as well as some basic questions to ask yourself before letting costs go out of control for reasons you do not understand.

Read the whole thing or absorb her main points in the story copied below. Then weigh in in the comments or on Twitter (@DealDivas, you already know) with your thoughts or questions. How did you, or how would you, throw the best party possible without going broke?

In order to keep the price down, here are some things to bear in mind:

• Saturday night is the most expensive time to schedule a reception. A weeknight or weekend afternoon event might save money on the site rental and caterer. Also, there are seasonal differences in cost. Hit a caterer off peak season and the prices reflect that. …

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My Outfit Monday: Wedding Week style!

Here's me on the steps of the St. Petersburg Women's Club doing something weird with my arm. On the right, my retro clip-on earrings and mermaid makeup.

Photo/art direction/open bar escorting by Brittany Volk

Here's me on the steps of the St. Petersburg Women's Club doing something weird with my arm. On the right, my retro clip-on earrings and mermaid makeup.

A poofy ballgown on a flower girl. A white veil on a First Communion. A sparkle dress (or a sparkle bow tie because we're not gender-normative here) at a first school dance. And let's not even get started on the backless bra-and-ringlet money pit known as prom. The ritual of event dressing starts early, doesn't it?

But after prom, unless you work for a company with lots of money that throws annual galas (who else is picturing the Nakatomi Plaza building Christmas Party in Die Hard?), there are big, fat gaps where you have no reason to put any extra thought into your outfits. No reason, that is, except weddings!

I'm sure plenty of people hate getting dressed up due to the childhood experiences listed above, but not me! I'm always wishing for more galas to attend. I was thrilled to attend a wedding of two co-workers this past weekend and enjoyed the chance to plan a fun outfit. It was like the 1994 Columbus Day dance at Palm Harbor Middle School all over again, without the controversial holiday and/or short-sleeved angora sweaters and Doc Martens. …

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Thinking outside the veil with wedding fashion

Waterfall dress, complete with swingy skirt, perfect for cutting a rug with your main squeeze til the wee party hours.

via BHLDN

Waterfall dress, complete with swingy skirt, perfect for cutting a rug with your main squeeze til the wee party hours.

When I was little and would dream about my big day marrying whatever member of NSYNC I was most in love with that week, my outfit always looked the same: pristine white ballgown, long flowing veil, towering high heels, crustiest hairsprayed up-do.

Because that's what brides wear, right? Except none of that is actually me, and I think one of the simplest, but most often overlooked pieces of wedding fashion advice is to look like you on your wedding day.

Perhaps looking like you on your wedding day does mean poufy dress and veil, but if it doesn't, here are a few suggestions to help you think outside the veil.

Go short! Remember Carrie's dress? Not that big crazy designer one, but the one she bought originally and ended up going back to? Short and gorgeous. Sure, some short wedding dresses look like cupcakes, but there are plenty of other great options to make whatever look you're going for a reality. Short but not too short? Chic and sophisticated? Tradition on the top, party on the bottom? The fashion world is your oyster. …

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WEDDING WEEK STARTS MONDAY. We want your questions!

Despite the fishy premise about young women destroying each other, Bride Wars was a surprisingly tolerable wedding movie, if you ask me, especially late at night on cable over a bag of chocolate chips. I relate to it mostly because I have had SOME REALLY BAD SPRAY TANS, YOU GUYS.

Times files

Despite the fishy premise about young women destroying each other, Bride Wars was a surprisingly tolerable wedding movie, if you ask me, especially late at night on cable over a bag of chocolate chips. I relate to it mostly because I have had SOME REALLY BAD SPRAY TANS, YOU GUYS.

Remember how Katie tried to slip the exciting news of her engagement into her run-of-the-mill blog post about gel nail polish this week? She was like, "la la la nail polish la la la cough cough I got a huge rock and soon I will be wed cough gel manis ler ler ler."

Yeah, we're not having that.

Since subtlety is the devil, and since it's high summer wedding season, we are celebrating this very special Deal Diva Engagement with Wedding Week, starting Monday! Each day, we'll tackle a different topic relating to wedded bliss. What topics? That's where you come in.

Send us your questions, thoughts, ideas and general Haterade about all things wedding and we'll focus our posts on them. This is not just for the brides of the world (bless you, sweet sweet-faces, but four out of five of your Deal Divas are unmarried and unengaged over here). This can be about you as a wedding guest. You as a bridesmaid. You as a mother of the bride. You as someone who presses her nose to the glass of the Harborview Center during wedding season and sings a somber refrain of I Who Have Nothing.

Some ideas to get you started: …

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Another bad influence post: Weekend sales and giveaways

Get a leg up on fall by heading over to Bar III's Instagram account and competing for a chance at this free boot.

Instagram

Get a leg up on fall by heading over to Bar III's Instagram account and competing for a chance at this free boot.

As if Deal Diva Kameel weren't a bad enough influence yesterday, I'm here to add fuel to the fire by alerting you to a few weekend sales and giveaways you don't wanna miss!

*Dillard's is hosting a blowout clearance sale this weekend, where everything from clothing to accessories to home goods is discounted either 30 or 40 percent.

*On Friday only, H&M is offering its Twitter followers 25 percent off a single item.

*Buy one and get one half off at Famous Footwear, and score up to 70 percent off shoes and purses at Naturalizer.

*Kohl's is knocking 20 percent off for online shoppers who shell out $100 or more, and 15 percent for those who spend under that amount. Details here.

*Wait, that's right! Kameel's post was about avoiding the pitfalls of impulse buying! But what if I told you that you could still have nice things without buying at all? Click here for your chance to win one of 50 free pairs of Keds from DSW.

*Does the summer heat already have you longing for fall? Through 8:30 tonight, Bar III's Instagram followers are invited to compete for a free pair of gorgeous high-heeled boots. …

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This sale won't cure you of your shoe obsession. Oh well.

Get yourself over to Target, where there is a sale on canvas shoes RIGHT NOW. Oh, and please pick the kicks in this slideshow for me. (Hey, they're only $15) K? Great. Thanks.

Get yourself over to Target, where there is a sale on canvas shoes RIGHT NOW. Oh, and please pick the kicks in this slideshow for me. (Hey, they're only $15) K? Great. Thanks.

This was supposed to be an intervention post.

Inspired by this article on one of my favorite sites, I was all ready to lay down a sermon about responsibility, frugalness and how not to fall in the trap of impulse buying. (Yea, I hear you laughing.)

Then Deal Diva Katie messaged me this morning, talking something about a deal at Target, and I was pretty much ruined. 

So blame her for me spilling these beans to you. Cute shoes are on sale there right now, and we say DO IT. 

I mean, it doesn't get any better than cute canvas flats for under $15, amirite?

In the meantime, let's just plan to revisit my original premise next week, ok?

Or you can just go read the post yourself, which actually is really full of good tips, like considering that if you can't decide between two items, you may not need either one. (Oooh honey, preach.)

Anyway. Carry on. Happy Wednesday. 

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Is the DIY gel mani more than an illusion?

Get more info on Sally Hansen Miracle Gel here: bit.ly/1r3ALss

Screenshot of Sally Hansen's website.

Get more info on Sally Hansen Miracle Gel here: bit.ly/1r3ALss

I've probably had more manicures in the past month than in my whole life.

Like Deal Diva Keeley, I normally don't enjoy the pricetag for something I can do pretty adequately on my own. Plus, I always said, it's not really worth the cost when my nail-chipping obsession reliably kicks in and ruins the day (a post for another time, hopefully once I figure out how to stop doing it).

Then I got engaged (!!). Something inside of me said, It's your time to become a manicure monster now. Did you know Essie has a light pink polish called Got Engaged? Did you know that's the only shade of nail polish I know by name? 

The thing is, I know the slip-into-the-nail-salon lifestyle is not sustainable. I KNOW. I also know I don't have the patience of Keeley, who was really diligent in walking us through this at-home manicure process.

I need a magical, long-lasting polish without the cost. NYMag.com's The Cut says I should try Sally Hansen's new Miracle Gel nail polish ($8-$9, Target), debuting in drug stores now.

A UV light is not required, and neither is a complicated, painful removal process that leaves your nails looking gross and scratchy. …

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My Outfit Monday: Teal for a steal

Our marketing department has colorful and uplifting walls and it isn't fair to run-of-the-mill newsies, but it did work out for this photo so I won't complain too much.

Brittany Volk | Times designer and Friend of Deal Divas.

Our marketing department has colorful and uplifting walls and it isn't fair to run-of-the-mill newsies, but it did work out for this photo so I won't complain too much.

You really can't go wrong with basics punched up by color and fun accessories. Groundbreaking information, I know. Hear me out.

I have a known obsession with Express Portofino button-downs. With good reason! They're light, professional and vibrant. Reliable, too. But they're also expensive at $50 or so, so I did what any of us would do: I waited for a sale and bought two at once. (20 more styles to go!) 

This pencil skirt's name is Old Standby, and I am grateful for it weekly, including here. It's Banana Republic.

The earrings from Misred Outfitters in St. Petersburg add a funky edge to an otherwise clean but not terribly interesting ensemble. Somehow they are the exact shade of seafoam as my shirt, with a touch of hot pink. I pop these on and people are like oh, hey earrings! 

Same with the two-tone heels from Modcloth. They're not the best-made heels, so they're not in my weekly shoe rotation. But that's okay, cause I'd rather them make a sporadic splash.

Imagine my delight when I logged onto my new favorite blog this morning, The Mindy Project Style, and saw Mindy recently combined teal and pink as a possible outfit to model on the cover of her new book. …

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Karl Lagerfeld getting his own Barbie doll because of course he is

Sketch of the doll.

pinned via WWD

Sketch of the doll.

A few months ago I told you about the very important app filled with Karl Lagerfeld emojis (you're welcome, btw). If you've been sitting around thinking, gosh, these tiny little Karl icons are great for expressing all my deepest emotions, but what I really need is a Karl doll for my shelf, you're in luck.

Check out the sketch at InStyle of Barbie dressed up as everybody's favorite creative-director-of-Chanel. The limited edition doll will be available in the fall.

So that got me thinking, what other fashion-y folks need their own Barbie doll? A few humble suggestions for Mattel:

Mindy Kaling, obviously, with a mix of her outfits from The Mindy Project, and outfits from Mindy in real life. With a BJ Novak doll sold separately that has his own tiny iPhone to take pictures of her in all her cute outfits to post on Barbie-stagram.

A limited edition Victoria's Secret runway set of dolls because can you imagine the crazy giant bedazzled wings it would come with?

A Reese Witherspoon doll with all the cute "oh, this? I just threw this on to errands!" dresses she wore recently because if I can't afford them in my size, maybe I can just look at them in tiny size. …

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