Author Archives: Caitlin

It’s Ultimate Bridesmaid’s Birthday (We’re 3)!

Ultimate Bridesmaid Year 3 Top Posts

Photo courtesy of Aly Carroll Photography

That’s right, Ultimate Bridesmaid is 3 years old!

It’s crazy to look back at some of the first posts I wrote and then see where the blog is today. Thanks are due, as always, to the amazing friends, family and readers who have supported this crazy blog project of mine. Your words of encouragement mean the world to me. It is also such a privilege to get to work with incredibly talented and inspiring photographers and creatives—the wedding community really is full of generous, warm-hearted people.

Usually for our blogiversary, I share what you loved the most (check out our top 10 posts from year one, many of which are still some of your all-time favs + our year two milestones here). But this year I decided to share some of my favorite posts from this year—ok, and yours too.

What’s in Your Cell Phone Game: This party game, with versions for both a bridal shower and a bachelorette party, debuted just a few short weeks ago, but it’s already edging into the daily top 10, which is fast in blog world. Usually a post has to gain momentum over time or have a really big surge due to some influential social sharing, but this baby is just knocking it out. I hear you—you like games, more games!

Bridal Shower 101: This is one of those posts that took forever to write—like, weeks. Because I really tried to cover every basic and not-so-basic question you could have about a bridal shower. From who is responsible for planning the shower and who should be invited to what to serve (is alcohol allowed?) and what to do (does the bride have to open her gifts?), this post will answer many, many of your questions. A great article to peruse for new bridesmaids!

MOH Speech Writing Prompts: As evidenced by our all-time favorite post, The Ultimate Maid of Honor Speech, writing a great maid of honor speech is a topic on many a MOH’s mind. Since I already tackled the basics of speech writing and some major do’s and don’ts, I decided to focus on one of the hardest aspects of writing any speech: getting started. These speech writing prompts will give you ideas for exactly what to talk about during those three minutes in the spotlight.

33 Spectacular Bachelorette Party Ideas: Following the success of 21 Spectacular Bridal Shower Themes, we had to bring the same treatment to the bachelorette party. Ideas include a nude drawing classes, belly dance lessons, river tubing and so much more!

What’s Wrong With the Bachelorette Party (and How We Can Fix It): Writing this post was a bit like writing Ultimate Bridesmaid’s manifesto. I really wanted to express my thought process for the aesthetic choices I make on the blog and the mission behind it, and the bachelorette party is the perfect microcosm to express all that. In a nutshell: Down with pink boas and penis-shaped straws, up with parties that reflect the bride’s personality and style!

Plus, here are a few of my favorite real bridal shower and bachelorette parties from this year!

birthday collage

Top row: Donut Bridal Brunch, Poolside Bridal ShowerCooking Classy Bachelorette
Middle row: New Orleans BacheloretteLondon Tea Party Shower, Garden Bridal Brunch
Bottom row: Bridal Crafting PartyLowcountry Bridesmaid Luncheon, Peacock Blue Bridal Shower

Personally, this was an exciting year for me because I got engaged! Andrew and I have decided to have our wedding in Maine, which is a place we fell in love with together and now visit every year (see past recaps of our trip and the places we love here and here). Originally I was going back and forth on whether we should get married in Brooklyn or Bar Harbor. Before Christmas, I was pretty much set on Brooklyn and had even scoped out a couple venue—and then all of the sudden I totally switched directions and landed on Maine.

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So what happened? Well, I realized that when I thought about planning a wedding in Brooklyn, it stressed me out—there’s so much competition for venues and vendors, and don’t even get me started on the prices. But when I thought about getting married in Maine, I felt relaxed. Once I realized that, the decision was simple. Plus, as my awesome future sister-in-law pointed out, New York weddings can be a bit scattered. Guests want to go off and explore the city, and hotels may be far from the venue, so you get to see less of the people who have traveled so far for the event. At a more intimate destination, everyone will stay close and you’ll get to spend more quality time together.

Next week we’re taking a trip to Maine and will choose our wedding venue and finally set our date (eek!)! I’m trying to decide between late May and September or early October. Any advice from those familiar with the area? We always go in May and love it, but fall is my favorite season…plus, it would give me more time to plan. If anyone has gotten married on Mt. Desert Island, let’s talk!!

I’ve got big blog dreams for the coming year as well. I’ll share one with you in the hopes that putting it out on the Internet will help hold me accountable: I think I’m finally ready to tackle a site redesign. I’m in the process of looking at designers right now and trying to find the right fit, but I’m really excited about this. And nervous! So nervous. I want to improve functionality and navigation and add new features and photo galleries and spruce up our look a bit and I just need to find the right dream-vision partner to make this all happen.

Here’s to year 4!

Around the Clock Shower Gift Guide

Around the Clock Shower Gift Guide: Ideas for every hour

If you’ve happened upon this post, you’ve probably already been invited to an Around the Clock Shower. For this popular shower theme, each guest is assigned a time of day and asked to bring a gift that can be used at that time. Though the concept is cute, it often leads to scratching of heads when guests are assigned a time that doesn’t immediately correspond to an activity. Common outcry of “but you’ll just be sleeping between 1 and 5am” or “what exactly does one do at 3 in the afternoon?” can be heard from party guests around the globe. Though it can take a bit of creative thinking, you can find a present for any time of day. Here, I’ve given you a bit of help. Remember to consider both weekday and weekend activities when brainstorming. Don’t like my suggestions for your exact hour? Look at the ones right before or after—I bet you they’d work for your time too.

Also, make sure to affix a tag with your time of day to the outside of your present (some hosts may provide this with your invitation). Often the gifts are opened in chronological order. Feel free to include a little note on why you chose the gift for that hour, or just share with the group as the bride is opening.

6am: Rise and shine! Does the bride like to work out in the morning? Gift her a new yoga mat, your personal favorite workout clothes, or passes to a new class she might enjoy (barre, body pump, spinning, whatever the cool kids are doing now). Is she more likely to hit the snooze button than the gym? Go for a fancy coffee maker, your favorite brand of fair-trade brew, or a cute coffee mug like this one. Andrew and I have a tradition of gifting each other mugs each Christmas printed with the funniest pictures we’ve taken of each other that year. Feel free to start that tradition for the bride.

7am: Getting ready. Gift her with your favorite beauty products or a subscription to Birchbox so she can try new products each month. She’ll need a beautiful mirror in the hallway to check her hair, right? Or how about a handy coat rack, mail holder or jewelry box—she’ll have to make a stop there before she heads out the door.

8am: Time to head to work. A nice leather tote that can fit all her work essentials would be a stellar gift. Help her hide Monday morning hangovers with a pair of sunglasses. Does she take public transportation? A monogrammed Kindle case or some of your favorite recent reads make a nice gift. Drive to work? Would she like Sirius radio or a Garmin GPS?

9am: Breakfast is served! If it’s a lazy weekend, she’s going to need a great pair of slippers and a fuzzy robe to match. Stock her kitchen with everything she’ll need for a gourmet breakfast: silver grapefruit spoons, a crepe pan, muffin tins, a juicer, whatever. Personalize a kitchen gift with your favorite breakfast recipe handwritten on a recipe card.

10am: 10am is like the perfect time to catch a flight, right? (Sure it is. Just go with it.) A set of luggage is a generous and long-lasting gift (I’m still using a set that was gifted to me over a decade ago—god, now I feel old) or opt for smaller travel accessories, like a monogrammed passport carrier, leather luggage tags, makeup pouches (great for stashing all kinds of little things) or packing bags like these to separate your dirty clothes from the clean while on the trip—so clever!

11am: Weekend brunch begins. And brunch makes me think of two things: Eggs Benedict and mimosas. Provide the gear necessary for these classic brunch staples, or present the couple with a gift certificate to a fancy local spot. You could also stock their pantry with fancy jams, designer pancake mixes and Bloody Mary mix.

12pm: Create a whimsical lunchtime picnic in the park with a picnic set and blanket. Want to get away from kitchen/food gifts? Decorate her home so that she has something to gaze at while she enjoys a sandwich at the kitchen table or on the couch. Artfully Walls and Minted both have very affordable prints in all different styles and allow you to create groupings for instant gallery walls.

1pm: A Saturday afternoon is the perfect time for an outing. Get the couple a membership to a local museum or zoo, or buy them tickets to a nearby attraction, like a theme park. Sessions at a rock climbing gym, a cooking class, a deep-sea fishing excursion or kayak trip could be the perfect thing to help the couple de-stress or connect over sharing a new activity.

2pm: Commence weekend lounging hour. Get her ready for an afternoon by the pool or at the shore with a cute beach tote, pretty patterned beach towels, a flirty coverup or useful sun hat. Add high-quality sun protection for her skin and hair or a ridiculously awesome pool float.

3pm: She works hard for the money…especially at 3pm when she’ll start to glance at the clock, waiting for quitting time. Poppin carries basic office supplies in very non-basic colors, or check out Knock Knock for clever, cheeky paper products. A cheerful terrarium would certainly brighten up her space. Or how about a snappy little business card holder to step up her business-lady game?

4pm: Sun’s out, grill’s on, time to head to the backyard for a BBQ. Does she need some lawn games like corn hole or croquet? How about a fun hammock, pretty planters or twinkly outdoor lighting? Find her the perfect crystal pitcher for lemonade (or sangria). Plus, cute serving platters and bowls will be appreciated for entertaining. Girl’s gotta have something to serve guac in!

5pm: As the saying goes, it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere. Stock her bar for the quintessential happiest of hours with glassware and cocktail accessories, like a shaker or muddler. Splurge on top-shelf liquor or mixers she might not normally pick up—here’s a great guide to stocking her bar cart.

6pm: The couple who cooks together stays together. There’s a whole range of special and long-lasting gifts you can pick out for the kitchen. A Dutch oven, grill pan, immersion blender, high-quality sheet pans and baking dishes will all last and get lots of use over the years. A word on gifting knives: I recently found out there is a superstition that giving people knives is bad luck, but I got a set of chef’s knives for my high school graduation and they are to this day one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten.

7pm: Dinner is served. Time to break out those cute novelty plates, wine glasses, and other much-needed serving ware. Provide dinner inspiration with your favorite cookbooks as well, or a copy of your go-to simple dinner party menu.

8pm: Board games for two are great. I mean, party games are great too, but games for two are better because she has a built-in opponent now, so she’ll be able to play them more often. Some of our favorites are Carcassone, Forbidden Island, Ticket to Ride, and this version of Trivial Pursuit (which adds a betting element that’s fun and includes fairly modern categories to pick from). Classics like Scrabble, Monopoly and Clue also work for two people.

9pm: Send the couple out for a night on the town with tickets to a Broadway show, a concert they’ll love or a local comedy club. What about a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant? Slip the tickets into a cute clutch or wallet that she can carry on her hot date.

10pm: Movie night in. If she does not have a Roku, may I suggest one? I love ours to bits. A popcorn maker really does make superior popcorn to the microwave kind and she’ll need a warm throw to snuggle up with her hubby on the couch.

11pm: Bedtime. Perfect for sheets, pillows, comforters and other items to make up a comfy cozy bed for her to rest her head. Let me tell you, sheets may sound like a boring present, but nice sheets are expensive. As I’ve gotten older, they have become like the king of gifts. That and socks. I’m not kidding. Sheets and socks, for the prematurely elderly woman in us all.

12am: Cheers! While most days she’ll be sleeping by 12am, there’s at least one night a year she’ll be awake—New Year’s! Celebrate with champagne flutes, a fancy silver ice bucket and a nice bottle to toast their first year of marriage.

1am: Sexy time. Judge your audience on this one. You can be subtle with massage oils and scented candles or go wild with sex toys and skimpy lingerie.

2am: She’s fast asleep, but gift her something that can be working for her while she’s catching some zzz’s. A slow cooker, a bread maker, a sous vide machine or an ice cream maker can all can be turned on overnight and provide a welcome surprise in the morning.

3am: Can’t sleep? Maybe she needs some soothing decaffeinated teas and a fancy teapot. Or a gift certificate to a local spa so that she can relax and ultimately rest better at night.

4am: Does anyone else always wake up at 4am after a night of drinking with a terrible hangover? I can’t be the only one. Stock her medicine cabinet for this and all other ailments. And while you’re at it, maybe she needs a cute soap dispenser and toothbrush holder, plus a cleansing face wash to help her feel refreshed.

5am: For the super early riser, create the perfect bath or shower. Opt for fancy shampoos and soaps, a high-power shower head (seems silly, but it’s such a luxury!), a new patterned shower curtain or soft fluffy towels.

Win Custom Bachelorette Favors from Flhair Accessories!

flhair giveaway

Looking for the perfect custom favor to add to a bachelorette survival kit? Emma from Flhair Accessories and Ultimate Bridesmaid are giving away one set of 12 custom bachelorette favors from Flhair’s new collection. Adorable and handy, these would be the perfect party favor before a night out on the town—you know you’re gonna need to throw your hair up on the dance floor! The winner will be able to choose from four just debuted designs—an engagement ring, a diamond, lips or a cocktail glass—then select the perfect colored or patterned hair tie to match the bachelorette theme. Emma will create a custom tag with the bride’s name and the saying of your choice. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I particular love the “To Have and To Hold Your Hair Back” ones—too clever and cute. How do you enter? There’s seven ways below (each counts as its own entry, so share the love!). May the odds be ever in your (bachelorette) favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

flhair bachelorette giveawayTerms and conditions apply. The winner will be randomly selected using Rafflecopter. Valid for residents of the U.S. and Canada only. The winner may choose from the designs shown in the following links: Option 1, option 2, option 3, and option 4.

A Lovely Peacock Blue Bridal Shower

Sometimes you have to take a moment to honor style—and this bride has it in spades. At first, you’re smitten with the floaty tulle skirt of her dress, accented with vibrant peacock feathers…and then she turns around and you’re like oooohh, lace back with buttons! And though her cobalt blue suede pumps might threaten to steal the show, it’s bride Rekha’s absolutely radiant energy that makes these snaps by Kimberly Photography so special. In every photo you see beaming faces—in fact, the theme of the shower could be love. Well, love and peacock feathers, of course. The vibrant blues, greens and purples used throughout the decor give an almost royal vibe to this beachfront shower in sunny Brandenton, FL.
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Photography: Kimberly Photography | Gown: Olga’s Bridal | Hair and Makeup: Jessica Harjani with Michele Renee the Studio | Cake: Cakes by Ron

A Belly Dancing Hen Night in Zurich

Engaged and pregnant? Don’t skip your bachelorette night! The bachelorette party is about celebrating friendships and that certainly doesn’t require alcohol. Pregnant bride Justyna’s friends organized a surprise hen night for her, and asked photographer Nadine Jayaraj to tag along. After a quick photo session with the bride, the ladies headed to a belly dancing class (what a perfect way for pregnant Justyna to get in touch with her belly and what’s inside!). The group ended the night with dinner at Zurich’s Maison Blunt and toasted the bride with a touching video tribute. I’m so inspired by Justyna’s choice to celebrate and fully embrace two life-changing experiences at once—marriage and the arrival of her baby!

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An Urban Chic Same-Sex Bridal Shower

I cannot tell you how long I’ve been looking for a same-sex bridal shower to feature here. I try to show all different kinds of parties and people, so finding a shower for two brides has been on my list for some time. So when this gorgeous styled shoot by Laura Dee Photography hit my inbox, I maybe freaked out a litttttle bit. Inspired by the idea that “Carrie Bradshaw fell in love with Charlotte York,” this shower is a dream come true of urban chic styling with pops of color and plenty of fun. Just check out the stylish ombre pink and purple hair, stunning jewelry from TheNOTCH, moonshine mixology bar by Onyx and the one-eyed pug named Tater Tot. But what really stopped me in my tracks? The stunning portraits of the couple sharing a few quiet moments together. So perfect and sweet.

In terms of the etiquette behind throwing a gay wedding shower, the “rules” are still very fluid  (i.e., who needs rules?). Many gay couples may choose to have a joint couples shower and may even celebrate their bachelorette party together. Others will want separate parties, especially if they have different groups of close friends or family in far-flung parts of the country. Follow the brides’ leads—they will discuss what they want and then share the plan with their bridesmaids and friends. 
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Photography: Laura Dee Photography | Stationery: AvantGarde Design | Dresses: Bliss BridalJulie Allen Bridals  | Makeup: The Beauty Bar | Jewelry: theNOTCH jewelry | Event coordination: ESTOccasions | Prop rentals: General Eclectic Rentals | Flowers: Datura: a Modern Garden | Cocktails: Onyx Moonshine | Cake: A Little Imagination Cakes

Our Favorite Etsy “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” Cards

It’s no secret that we spend a lot of time on Etsy. What’s not to love about a marketplace that promotes creative makers and artists? In addition to finding something beautiful and unique, you can feel good that you’re supporting a small business, many of which are female owned. Here, some of our favorite “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” cards recently spotted on Etsy.  
Will You Be My Bridesmaid cards

Don’t you just love a card that tells it like it is? The cute illustration and cheeky message on this card from Julie Ann Art will bring a smile to your future maids’ faces.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid cards

Add an element of surprise with this scratch-off card from Inklings Paperie. The metallic gold pops (excuse the pun) against the soft petal pink and the dainty illustration is so sweet.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid cards

We’ve become a little bit obsessed with gemstones as of late. (Have you seen our You’re a Gem party inspiration board? It’s perfect for a bridesmaid ask party.) So it’s no surprise we heart these gemstone-dotted cards from WildHeart Paper.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid cards

Allie Ruth Designs had been printing vintage hankies with “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” for awhile, but discovered that women had trouble incorporating the pretty linens into their everyday life with the bridesmaid message. Problem solved with this hand lettered kraft envelope containing a delicate heirloom handkerchief. Feel free to stuff in a few more surprises as well. Will You Be My Bridesmaid cards

Because honesty matters, we adore this card from Patterson Paper. Just don’t fall pretty to these overdone Pinterest-inspired bridesmaid poses!