For this relaxed and airy bridal shower brunch, bride Selma’s friends and family decorated the white party tent with plenty of roses and pictures of her and her groom-to-be, a personal touch that I just love. And can we talk about Selma’s modern floor-length lace gown? I’d wear it as my wedding dress it’s so gorgeous! Selma’s friends even wore floral dresses to complete the garden theme. After mimosas and macarons, everyone took a turn with the bride in a sweet DIY photo booth while Alisha Maria Photography snapped away.
For this DIY gold and blush bridal shower, MOH Anne Molnar served as both the photographer and event planner, pulling together this thoughtful party for her sister Beth. One of the highlights of the shower was a video created by Beth’s fiance, Steve, in which Steve impersonated some of Beth’s friends and family to create a hilarious mockumentary. Guests enjoyed a so-sweet dessert bar decked out with a buttercream rosette-covered cake, red velvet cupcakes, raspberry and key lime macarons and more. Each guest left with a grapefruit-infused Himalayan sea salt scrub and a grapefruit aloe lotion. We love the stunning portraits of bride Beth…but especially the ones with her adorable black labs!
We asked our friend and native of Austin, Texas, Nikki of Fling Before The Ring to share her recommendations for a perfect Austin bachelorette weekend. And Nikki is something of an expert since she started her own personalized planning and design service customizing Austin bachelorette parties. Nikki says, “Although it’s almost impossible to tell you all my favorite things in this city without writing a ten-chapter novel, I was up to the challenge! I’m giving you the lowdown on my favorite iconic sites, posh places and hidden gems that help ‘Keep Austin Weird’. No matter what you envision for your big trip, you’re not going to want to miss this!” Need more help? Contact Nikki for details on personalized party agendas for your Austin bachelorette party.
Where to Stay
Hotel Van Zandt: The chic, modern gothic boutique hotel is within walking distance to the popular bars on Rainey Street. Plus, check out the secret fourth floor where you’ll find Geraldine’s restaurant and a rooftop pool with a roaring fireplace.
Hotel Saint Cecilia: This quaint boutique hotel is every girl’s dream. Grab a cocktail in their pretty garden or snap a pic by their famous neon “SOUL” sign out by the pool.
Airbnb: Snag a cool Austin pad on the East Side for easy access to neighborhood coffee shops and feel like a true Austinite.
Where to Eat
Walton’s Fancy & Staple: A great spot for a lazy Sunday brunch. Get there early though as they often run out of the scrumptious weekend specials as the day goes on!
La Condesa: For a special dinner, try this Tex-Mex institution with a modern flair. Keep the tapas and margs coming!
Josephine House: This picture-perfect neighborhood bungalow-turned-restaurant makes for a quaint lunch spot. Dress up their picnic benches with your own custom tabletop décor.
Wu Chow: Great atmosphere, even better food.
Bangers: Beer, sausages and outdoor live music. Say no more.
Gourdough’s Food Truck: If you can dream it, this place will put it on a donut. The strawberry shortcake and the Fat Elvis (with peanut butter, bananas and bacon) are some of our faves.
Craving something sweet? Check out Austin’s favorite Amy’s Ice Creams, or swing by Moojo for the best ice cream cookie sandwich of your life. Or take it up a notch and have dessert cocktails and tableside s’mores at Halcyon.
What to Do
South Congress: All things weird are found on this strip. Explore funky shops like Kendra Scott’s very first jewelry store, grab an iced turbo at Joe’s Coffee and take a picture in front of the “I Love You So Much” wall with your gals.
Milk & Honey Spa: A local Austin favorite for a day of pampering
Sweat it out at local yoga studio Wanderlust, or find a barre or cycling class (ask about private classes for your group ahead of time!). Or if you feel like being a bit touristy, rent those cute red bikes to ride around the lake.
Up for day drinking? Book a tour out to Deep Eddy Distillery for some delicious flavored vodka cocktails. Or take your pick of local breweries, like Austin Beerworks if you’re trying to pace yourself.
Picture a bunch of cute old houses that have been turned into bars complete with corn hole and live music in the backyard. That’s Rainey Street in a nutshell. Check out the famous Banger’s Sausage House for live music, pop over to Lucille’s and order a Ruby Mule (you’ll thank us later), then be sure to end at Craft Pride for some late-night Food Network-featured pizza at the food truck out back, Via 313.
Austin’s music culture is seriously on point. People travel from all over the world to experience it. If you aren’t lucky enough to travel during the largest music festivals (SXSW in the spring and Austin City Limits in the fall), not to worry! Go catch some good live music any weekend at venues like Stubbs BBQ or go dance the night away anywhere on the “Dirty 6th” strip. Head west on 6th Street for something a bit classier. You might even spot a famous Bachelor who happens to own one of the bars!
The world outside my window is so green right now, so this springtime garden bridal shower felt perfect to share. For this brunch bridal shower, Catalina’s bridesmaids set up a gorgeous mimosa bar and rolled up their sleeves to DIY all the flowers, including the adorable succulents each guest received as a party favor. Cute little donuts made for the perfect sweet spread, and guests played a few low-key bridal shower games, like sharing date ideas (to help keep romance alive!) or guessing the number of corks in a vase to win a prize. Thanks to Kathryn Hyslop Photography for sharing!
An intimate dinner party in a glamorous Chicago apartment was the perfect night out for bride Nancy before her destination wedding in Cancun. The bride’s girlfriends—and one close guy friend—hosted her Chicago bachelorette party at DL Loft, a stylish apartment event space in the heart of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood decked out in Parisian chic decor, including twinkling chandeliers and fluffy white throws. The guests arrived early to have their hair and makeup done, and then enjoyed delicious appetizers and dinner prepared by a private chef. The friends shared old stories and their favorite memories of the bride over flutes of champagne, while Angela Garbot Photography captured a few snaps.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I had a book review blog. And then I started this blog and it was just too much. Though I was still reading just as much as ever, I couldn’t keep up with Ultimate Bridesmaid and work a full-time job and have a life and blog about books. So my book blog fell by the wayside, but I certainly didn’t stop reading and I definitely didn’t stop having opinions about what I read. So once a year I like to share my favorite books from last year with you. Let me know what you’re reading and loving too!
If you have a macabre fascination with cults (like me), try The Girls by Emma Cline.
I’ve always been interested in books about cults, and this is probably the best one I’ve ever read. Set in California in the 1960s, the story follows Evie, a young teenage girl who is drawn in to a group of hippies—mostly women—living on a decrepit ranch off the grid with a charismatic leader who dreams of becoming a celebrity folk singer. The book captures the feeling intensity of wanting to belong to something at that age, of searching for intimacy and excitement. It shows a certain type of young woman—sexual but aloof, powerful in her confidence and ease, her messy hair and wrinkled clothing—and Evie is drawn to the leader of these girls, wanting to be like her, feel loved by her, be part of her world. But people are going to end up dead.
If you identify with tales of disaffected youth or like a dark coming of age tale, try Purity by Jonathan Franzen.
Apparently this was the year of me reading books about young girls being lured into organizations by charismatic older men. I loved Franzen’s The Corrections and didn’t much care for Freedom. Purity felt like a return to the style of The Corrections, but Franzen’s voice has matured. I still feel like he has a woman problem, but nonetheless, I liked Purity. Young Pip takes an internship The Sunlight Project, an organization ferreting out the world’s secrets and using them for good, based in a remote valley in Bolivia. Isolated from the world she’s known, Pip draws the attention of the Julian Assange-type head of the Project, Andreas. Soon she’s not sure what’s she’s doing in Bolivia. Andreas has promised to help her find the identity of her father, whom her mother has hidden from her for her whole life. Is she just waiting for those answers? Does she believe in the Sunlight Project? Is she just glad to be out of her dead-end call center job in Oakland? Or is she trying to exert her sexual power over Andreas…or vice versa?
If you like Chinese historical fiction or stories of reincarnation, try The Incarnations by Susan Barker.
A few years back I read Life After Life and was kind of obsessed with it. Since then, books about past lives have been a draw, so I picked up The Incarnations. Set in modern-day Beijing, the story follows taxi driver Wang and his stalker, who claims to be his literal soulmate, with whom he has shared his past six lives. This mysterious figures leaves letters for Wang detailing the lives they have lived together—as slaves on the run from Genghis Khan, as a fisherman and English captain during the Opium Wars, as two concubines in the court of the Ming dynasty. The souls are yin and yang—they complete each other and destroy each other, again and again. An addictive read.
If you want a peek into New York high society’s golden age, try The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin.
Reviews of this book have been love/hate, but I really enjoyed it. The story follows Truman Capote’s friendship with a group of New York socialites in the 1950s. As a period piece of New York, it’s lovely, showing the transition from the graceful socialites of the 50s to the celebrity culture that rose in the 60s, leaving many of Manhattan’s elite behind. It’s also an interesting look at Truman Capote, painting him as a social climber who recognized that these Manhattan swans (his name for the women who befriended him) were using him as a gem in their collection of artists and writers. It shows how he at first uses this to his advantage, forges at least one true friendship, but ultimately lets his addiction to fame drive him to ruin.
If you love gothic horror stories, try Slade House by David Mitchell.
If you asked me to pick my two favorite authors (I get two, because I say so), I’d easily pick David Mitchell and Margaret Atwood, so it’s no surprise their newest books made this list. But I think this might be David Mitchell’s most accessible book to the uninitiated. This creepy gothic horror novella centers around Slade House, a hidden residence in London that lures victims in once every nine years. But for those who are familiar with Mitchell’s work, you’ll also catch links back to many of his previous books in the expanding, lightly interconnected world Mitchell has been building over the past decade.
If you can’t wait for The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, try The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.
While not as revolutionary as some of Atwood’s earlier work, The Heart Goes Last has her characteristic extraordinary world-building balanced by thoughtful character studies and chilling moments that make you think “oh my god, this could really happen!” The story is set in a poverty-filled world in which the central couple, Charmaine and Stan, are living out of their car trying to keep safe from roaming gangs of street thugs. They decide to enroll in an experimental government program in which they will be provided with everything they’ve ever dreamed of—a home in a safe, gated community with paid, stable employment. The only catch? They’ll have to spend every other month in the community’s prison system.
Ingredients needed to put together a cute champagne bridal shower like this yourself? Cupcakes, roses and plenty of champagne. Christine of Entwined Weddings created a champagne bar using balloons as the bubbles and a cute chalkboard sign telling guests to “Pop the bubbly, I’m getting a hubby.” Bright orange, yellow and pink accent the rose gold color palette, making for a bright, cheerful setting. We’re especially obsessed with the mini Tears of Joy tissue boxes! So cute!