A Hen Party Hike in Andalusian Spain

Bride Rebecca chose to have her “hen stomp” a few days before her wedding, which was held in a rustic finca in the middle of the Sierra de Las Nieves nature park in the Andalusian region of Spain. As many of her guests had traveled far to be with her, Rebecca wanted to show them more of the gorgeous region that she calls home. Her closest friends gathered in the mountain village of Yunquera, not far from her home, to go on a hike. The trek (led by Jacqui, a friend who knew the area well) took them along country roads, down a steep gorge to a lush valley, a huge dam and the Zarzalones cave, where the Rio Grande river is born. Afterwards, the group gathered at the bride’s favorite nearby restuarant and were joined by other women from her family for a night of delicious regional food, wine and laughter. Photographer Ruth Joy, a close friend of the bride, captured the beautiful countryside walk and emotional dinner party that followed.

A Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy PhotographyA Wilderness Adventure Hen Party in Andalusian Spain | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Ruth Joy Photography

From bride Rebecca:

I chose to have a long walk for my hen party because so many guests had come a long way to stay in this particularly beautiful part of the world, and I wanted to show them some special local places. As everyone had paid for their flights and accommodation, I didn’t want to ask people to start forking out for activities. My friend Jacqui, who knows the area well, led us along country roads and pathways, down a steep gorge to a lush valley, a huge dam and a cave called Zarzalones, where the Rio Grande river is born. We sat on the dam and enjoyed the surroundings with a glass of bubbly. A friend, Kayte, picked some wild flowers on the way and wove them into a crown, which I still have. A few women jumped off the dam into the crystal clear, very cold river water, to cool down after the hike. We then walked across the dam and into the cave, to find the source, where the river bubbles up from a deep underground channel. There were bats hanging from the roof, and a wonderful stillness and darkness inside. Some of us had a swim in the source pool, which was icy cold but very invigorating. This was one of my favourite moment of the whole day—bathing in the source pool while singing with some wonderful women.

After an hour or so at the cave, we made our way back up to the path, and walked the last five kilometers into the village, to a restaurant called Enara’s, my favourite in this area. The owners are so welcoming and accommodating. We had about ten more people than I’d booked for, but the lovely food just kept coming and the wine flowing. There we met the rest of the hen party—those who’d been unable to join the walk. We got changed and scrubbed up a bit in the loos, then sat down to a fantastic feast. My best lady, Steph, had prepared a Mr and Missus quiz, which got quite awkward at times because my Mum was there! Steph had also made a slideshow of photographs taken during our long friendship, along with pictures of my childhood, my family and—this part had me crying—my two daughters. 

I’m so grateful to Ruth for capturing the magic of the day with her photography. We’ve been great friends for half our lives, and I admire her talent for capturing the beauty and essence of people and places.

Photography: Ruth Joy Photography | Restaurant: Enara

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

We’re all familiar with the concept of “get the look for less.” Well, let’s call this “get the bachelorette for less.” Bachelorette expenses can add up quickly, so here are a few ways to keep costs down for everyone while still creating a memorable, kickass bachelorette party.

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of hopping on a flight…
Pick a central location that’s drivable for most of your guests. The highest cost associated with a bachelorette party is usually the flight ticket. Choosing a location that is close to most of your guests will greatly help reduce costs for all. This may require you to do a little research and to think creatively to find alternatives to far-off locales that still offer the activities and vibe your bride is looking for. Instead of a getaway to Napa, look into nearby wineries—almost every state has them! Rather than booking a trip to Vegas, consider the nearest big city instead. From Charlotte to Nashville to Seattle, there’s plenty of fun bachelorette action to be had, without the Vegas price tag. Rather than a beachfront hotel in Miami, rent a lake house or choose a beach that’s closer to home (and more affordable). Keep an open mind and be creative. You may be glad you picked a less flashy destination when you find out how much the areas closest to you have to offer—and how much you’ll save.

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of booking hotel rooms…
Host the guests at your house. The second highest expense for a bachelorette party is lodging. Hosting can be stressful but, if your group is cool with blow-up mattresses and crashing on the couch, it will ultimately save them a lot of money. If hosting isn’t an option as none of your guests live in the chosen destination, look at Airbnb and vrbo.com for vacation rental options. You’ll have more space in a home and will enjoy common areas like a living room and backyard. Plus, access to a kitchen will allow you to save money by eating in at least a few times. Just be sure to be mindful of hefty cleaning charges and refundable deposits and leave the place the way you found it.

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of going out for a fancy dinner…
Cook a gourmet meal at home. Dining in can save you a ton of money. You can make a meal at home for a fraction of what it would cost in a restaurant. Just the savings on wine alone ($10 bottles at home rather than $25 bottles at a restaurant) will go a long way. Tasting Table has a few tips for planning a stress-free dinner party. The host can take care of the main dish while guests provide appetizers, dessert and drinks. Keep appetizers simple with a cheese board (who does not love cheese?), asking a few guests to bring cheese, crackers, bread, grapes, olives and/or cured meats. Assign other guests a bottle of wine or liquor (ask for a mid-priced option) and necessary mixers. For dessert, a store-bought cake or pie from a local bakery with a scoop of ice cream is all you need (or see our tips below to snaz up a grocery store cake).

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of splurging on a limo…
Plot a course for the night that is walkable and then take a taxi home. Renting transportation for the whole night can end up being a big waste of money if very little of your time will be spent in that expensive party bus or limo. If you’re planning to go to multiple bars or clubs, try to pick destinations that are close together so your group can just mosey from one place to the next. Then just have a local taxi company’s number in your phone or your Uber app ready when it comes time to call it a night.

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of mailing printed invitations…
Send stylish (and free) evites from Paperless Post. These digital cards are as pretty as printed stationery, even arriving in your inbox with a custom envelope that unfolds to reveal the invitation. Paperless Post collaborates with lots of stylish designers as well, like Kate Spade, Jonathan Adler, Kelly Wearstler and J.Crew.

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of going overboard on decor…
Harness the talents of your guests and utilize what you have. Make flower arrangements by gathering blooms from a guest’s garden. A lacy tablecloth can become a photo booth backdrop. Wheel a bar cart outside and—boom!—you’ve got a sense of whimsy. Set the table with mismatched vintage dishes borrowed from friends and relatives. Make the cute bunting banner you see above in minutes.

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of starting the night at a fancy cocktail bar…
Host a cocktail hour in your hotel or home. At $8–$12 a pop (depending on where you live), cocktails can add up quickly. Having a few drinks in your home or hotel room before you go out will greatly decrease the cost of liquor throughout the night. Create a specialty cocktail for the bride and ask around to see if anyone collects pretty glassware. Or, break out the paint pens to dress up inexpensive plastic cocktail glasses (time to channel your inner sorority sister, girls). You can also use this time to play a few bachelorette party games, like the Fiancé Quiz or a game of Most Likely To. You probably don’t want to be asking the bride what her favorite sex position is in a crowded bar or loudly declaring who is most likely to hook up with someone tonight as that potential hookup looks on.

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of ordering a fancy custom cake…
Dress up a store-bought cake with a few easy tweaks. Dip a knife in warm water and then run it over the frosting to replace the grocery store look with a more rustic, hand-done finish. Then decorate with whatever you have on hand: herbs like rosemary, fruit like lemons or grapefruit slices, flowers, edible glitter, or a big pile of candy.

9 Money Saving Tips for the Bachelorette Party

Instead of buying an expensive shower gift…
Team up with a friend or two to create a wine basket for her first year of marriage. If you don’t buy a lot of wine, here’s a little secret: Good wine does not have to be expensive. My favorite section at my local wine store is entitled “Cheap and Delicious” and the wines are just that. Trader Joe’s wine shop is a discount wine dream or take a look at wine.com for highly rated but low-priced wines.

Photo credits, top to bottom: Sorella Muse Photography, Dyanna Joy Photography, Cameron Leung Photography, Tiltawhirl Photography, Paperless Post, Maru Photography, Sweet Root Village, Mintwood Photo Co., Ultimate Bridesmaid 

Frock + Flowers // Springtime Yellows

Frock + Flowers: Pair yellow dresses with neutral flowers in whites and pale pink, with pops of greenery

I have to give it to these girls: Yellow is a hard color to pull off. I cannot do it, personally. But I have to say that when I see a row of sunshine-hued bridesmaids, it just makes me smile. Yellow is a happy color and brings a joyful vibe to the wedding party. Choose a soft pastel shade for a beach wedding or a deeper mustard color for a casual, woodsy event. Bonus points: Match your shade of yellow to the time of day and the season: light for a daytime spring wedding, deeper for an evening autumnal event. Since the yellow itself is such a vibrant, show-stealing color, it’s best to go muted with your flower palette. Whites and greens are gorgeous, or add subtle pops of pastel pink and yellow for contrast and depth.

Top left: Style Me Pretty | Top right: Style Me Pretty | Bottom left: Wedding Chicks | Bottom right: Project Wedding

What’s Wrong With The Bachelorette Party (And How We Can Fix It)

bacelorette party copyLet’s play a little game of word association. What images come to mind when I say “bachelorette”? My guess is that most people imagine very similar scenarios—a wild night out, pink and black decorations, penis straws, a tiara and sash, a male stripper. There is a very narrow idea of what a bachelorette party includes, but the reality is that not only is that idea outdated and wrong, but it’s also kind of insulting.

So I’ll just come out and say it.  I hate the ubiquitous pink and black bachelorette color palette. I hate the invitations covered in high heels, bras and leopard print. I hate the phrase “last fling before the ring.” I hate novelty penis products. I hate strippers (not the people themselves, just the expectation that there should be one at my bachelorette party).

The reason I’m so against this type of party is that, for most women, it’s incredibly unnatural. It isn’t authentic. It has nothing to do with the kind of person they are, with their interests, their life. It turns them into just another girl in a cheap tiara.

And yet, women feel pressured into having this kind of party. This image of the bachelorette is so pervasive that sometime it can feel like the very definition of the event. It’s a “last night of freedom” and a chance to “go wild.” But I’m here to tell you, it’s not. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. For some women, the wild and crazy bachelorette party that ends with a policeman wearing sunglasses and toting a boombox knocking at your door is exactly what they want—and that’s totally fine. The point is that way too many women have that type of party not because it’s something they want but because it’s something they think they have to do.

Perhaps looking at the reasons why we throw a bachelorette party could help. Though the phrase “last fling before the ring” may be branded onto T-shirts and invitations galore, the vast majority of brides are not using the bachelorette as a chance to cheat on their fiancé. The bachelorette really isn’t about men—so why are all the decorations and traditions so focused on them?

What the bachelorette should be about is women and specifically the bride’s friendships with women. The bachelorette is in a sense a return to singlehood—but not to the part of your single days that involved man-hunting. It’s to the way you celebrated with women when you were single. It’s reforging the bond you felt at slumber parties growing up or at those late-night gab sessions in college when you stayed up till 4am with your best girlfriends, eating ice cream out of the carton or passing around a bottle of cheap wine you conned some senior boy into buying for you. It’s to the way you laugh with women, the things you like to do with women, the feeling you get when you’re just with the girls.

Part of my mission with this blog has been to inspire women to create parties for themselves. Parties that reflect their interests, that celebrate the things and the people they love. This can mean a quiet getaway to a cabin in the mountains, a day of surfing lessons followed by a beach bonfire or a backyard BBQ with lawn games and cold beers. It can mean a cooking class followed by the four-course dinner you all created or a belly dancing lesson at a hookah lounge. It can mean dressing up in little black dresses or applying zombie makeup to hit the local bars. It can mean a trip to Las Vegas or a weekend in Napa. It can mean whatever you want it to mean—as long as it’s you.

A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch

This bridal brunch inspiration shoot perfectly demonstrates something I firmly believe: Beautiful does not have to equal expensive. Simple touches like a vase of tulips and sweet strawberries to top the champagne glasses add pops of red to tie the rustic decor together and accent the natural beauty of this inviting Georgia garden. Plus, you’ll never believe where that gorgeous cake is from…the Publix bakery! Well, the inside is at least. “We scraped off the original icing decorations and used a spatula (and a little warm water) to rough up the way-too-perfect grocery store look,” says photographer Lydia of Mintwood Photo Co. “Add a few sprigs of rosemary and sliced lemons to the top and ta-da!”
A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co.A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co.A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co.A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co.A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co. A Sweet Strawberries and Champagne Garden Bridal Brunch | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Mintwood Photo Co.

Photography: Mintwood Photo Co. | Party game: Beau Coup

A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower

Bride Hanna’s closest friends all lent their considerable talents to create a beautiful shower at this modern home in Palm Springs (an AirB&B find with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe). The DIY bridesmaids created two tablescapes that day: First, they took the opportunity to mock up the design for the wedding—a rustic, natural spread incorporating simple eucalyptus leaves and the stunning hand-drawn programs by Kathy Choi of A Young April—before transforming the patio into a playful, whimsical retreat for the bridal shower, introducing cabbages as greenery, quirky little owls and soft, feathery florals and tassels. Photographer and friend of the bride Jessica Park says her favorite moment of the day was, in fact, one of the simplest: “We were all just sipping on our homemade sangrias around the table. Shoes off, feet up, completely relaxed, and chatting away on a beautiful sunny day.” Which is exactly what a bridal shower should be all about.

A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park PhotographyA Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography A Modern Whimsy Poolside Bridal Shower | Ultimate Bridesmaid | Jessica Park Photography

Photography: Jessica Park Photography | Stationery & Printed Paper Goods: Kathy Choi of A Young April | Floral Arrangements and Crown: Stacy Seow | Frills + Tassels: Jihan of Geronimo Balloons

14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks

Anybody else cold right now? Well, your bridesmaids shouldn’t have to be. If you’re having a winter wedding, you’re certainly going to want to take some gorgeous pictures in the freshly fallen snow…but your ladies probably aren’t going to look too happy while shivering in sleeveless chiffon dresses. Dress them for the weather and keep them looking cute at the same time with these winter bridesmaid looks. Plus, check out our Winter Bridesmaids Pinterest board for even more ideas.

Coats

I so love the idea of matching coats for a snowy winter wedding. Just be sensitive to cost. If you ask your girls to purchase matching coats, let them choose their own dresses to wear underneath in a basic black or other neutral shade. If you ask them to purchase matching bridesmaid dresses, let them wear their own coat—leather jackets or jean jackets won’t show much variation in pictures anyway.
14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Coats 14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Coats Top: Mountainside Bride | Bottom: The Bridal Detective

Fur Wraps

Nothing looks as cozy and snuggly as a fur wrap—though we prefer the faux kind or a vintage hand-me-down from grandma, please.
14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Faux Fur Wraps 14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Fur WrapsTop: Emily Steffen Photography | Bottom: Ruffled

Cardigans

I am a cardigan woman. I basically wear cardigans year-round. It is one of the top reasons I left Florida for New York (OK, not really, but really great bonus, am I right?). Belted with a cute pencil skirt, it can even take the place of a traditional bridesmaid dress.
14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Cardigans 14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: CardigansTop: Style Me Pretty | Bottom: Green Wedding Shoes

Winter Boots

Heels and snow do not mix. But you know what’s adorable? Bridesmaids in galoshes! They can slip into a shoe of their choice for the reception or just rock their booties on the dance floor!
14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Boots 14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: BootsTop: Huffington Post | Bottom: Junebug Weddings

Long Sleeves

A lacy or sequined long-sleeve frock will look chic and keep your bridesmaids warm. There are more silhouettes than strapless out there! 14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Long Sleeves 14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Long SleevesTop: Green Wedding Shoes | Bottom: Apple Brides

Scarves

A scarf is a simple and incredibly affordable way to add warmth to the bridesmaid look. Layer a classic winter white on colored dresses or opt for a tartan or textured scarf with neutral-toned frocks. 14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Scarves14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: ScarvesTop: Wedding Obsession| Bottom: Southern Weddings

Shawls

A shawl is the most classic accessory to add warmth to a bridesmaid look. To keep it from feeling dated, choose a color that contrasts with the bridesmaid dresses for a more impactful, modern look. The one exception? Nudes and neutrals always look  great layered together—just vary texture and pattern for visual interest.
14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: Shawls 14 Perfect Winter Bridesmaid Looks: ShawlsTop: Southern Weddings | Bottom: Style Me Pretty