We were fortunate enough to participate in a styled photoshoot of epic proportions last month, featuring our bohemian dream of a gown MOJAVE by Elizabeth Dye. Set amongst the beach near the Golden Gate Bridge, this amazing couple session took our breath away. The supremely talented wedding photographer Kendra Elise captured the magic on film. Bay Area-based floral artist Paeonina provided the stunning bouquet.
Don’t have enough vacation days or funds for that ultimate honeymoon getaway? Enter the Mini-Moon! Our guest blogger, the lovely (and recently married), Kira Shaw, reveals her top 5 Places to Mini-Moon on the Best Coast. Follow Kira on her journey of new beginnings, creation, and learning through life and art on her re-launched blog S P O I L S // O F // T H E // W E E K E N D
Ahh, the honeymoon. Well it’s not over yet. The one question that folks (inevitably) ask you, right after “the dress” question, is usually: “Where are you going to honeymoon?” This question seems to make my cortisol levels spike and make me stress-sweat-real bad. A honeymoon?! I am supposed to plan that TOO? The feeling is overwhelming and sinking. So you are telling me I'm now supposed to get on a plane, and somehow feel instantly relaxed? Gahhh. And do all newlyweds really just pile into a car with clanging cans after the reception and head for the airport? Father of the Bride, I think you may have misinformed me of this post-ceremony reality. The truth is — there is no right answer. No correct way in which to bridge the small gap of time between singledom and man-and-wifery. All California weddings are different, that is what makes them great! All couples are different, and everyone should have their own idea of how and where they would like to do their ‘moon. If you are like me, you fantasize about laying in the sun while drinking coconut water that magically replenishes itself. Everybody has a unique vacation fantasy, but not everyone can afford the overwater beach bungalows in Fiji or a yacht to Crete. Factors such as funds, travel style, level of tolerance for international customs lines, and timeline will come into play. Maybe you chose to postpone a bigger trip for a different time in your life, and you have settled in more. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a journey to signify and celebrate your new partnership. Why not stay local? To Californians, there is always something new to discover, and to the California newbie: even the smallest taste of California will leave you wanting more. And yes; the best coast is on the left coast — just ask anyone around here. We will tell you all about how great it is.
xo, The Alt. Bride
Joshua tree is a magical place that is quietly humming with energy and heat. There is something breathtakingly indescribable that happens when you are there. Besides the planet Mars-like landscape and complex plant and animal species that call it home, it appears almost stuck in time. Stuck between the retro edges of the Palm Springs periphery and a hippie community of artists and practitioners living in the surrounding areas, therein lies a no-man's land that is free, and truly wild. Trust me, you don’t need the peyote, you will feel out of your mind just being there. In a really good way. A few of my favorite stops are Pioneertown, the church where they filmed Kill Bill, and Joshua Tree National Park. Poolside at your private desert oasis, or at an off-grid yurt — Joshua Tree is like no other. Perfectly placed for new lovers to star-gaze into the warm desert nights.
“And when the fog's over and the stars and the moon come out at night it'll be a beautiful sight.”
― Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
Jack really did say it best, because well, he knew what he was talking about. Miles of miles of road and waves catch the craggy coast of Central California. That sweet spot between Monterey and San Luis Obispo, and everything in between. Being from from this area, trust me when I say that it’s pure magic. Redwoods and pines for days. The coast campgrounds here are unreal, so if you’re not really into spending mucho money on a hotel ― the outdoor accommodations are beyond beautiful. At Plaskett Creek Campground you can wander across Highway 1 for an early morning beach walk (for the glamping version of this scenario, Treebones might be more your speed). Heading South of Big Sur, make sure you pass through Cambria, and get a burger (with those fries!) at Main Street Grill.
Certainly, there will be a multitude reasons why you may only want to stay here for a long weekend. However, there are even more reasons why you may never want to leave. My mother aptly dubs the dense Redwood forestry here as “the enchanted forest," and is convinced that small fairies that roam about leaving dewdrops as wetted footprints along their way. I have to say: she could be right. Truly a town caught in time, many hippies flocked to this area to escape the war, their parents, commercialism, conformity and ended up were all finding the same thing. The perfect small town. Founded on these thoughts and ideas-Mendocino is home to artists and craftsman supported by the town’s art community, and spaces. The beauty of the land, the people, and the purpose is a continual bright light of warmth in this often foggy mystical place.
Mendocino Proper, sits atop what seems like the edge of the continent. In fact: it is. Cliffside homes and rooms in town are sought after and hold the tourist crowds that flocks here year-round for wine, art, and music events. For the best eats around the coast: Wildfish in the Little River is a gem, Cafe Beaujolais town is unforgettable, and Table 128 is worth the drive. Walk, hike, bike, kayak, read, or do nothing. By day three of your stay you will forget what day it is here, and that’s kind of the point.
OK, so it’s a little bit more lively than the other choices but depending on your need for the night, West Los Angeles has you covered. Venice is the casual yet bustling kid brother of L.A., and has the right enough weird and cool mixed together to work. The beach boardwalk is endless and seems to crawl on for days. Public drunkenness is usually (somewhat) overlooked, and you may wake up vaguely remembering yourself signing a waiver to be in an episode of a Bad Girls Club episode, but hey, it’s cool. Los Angeles is always fun ― and makes for dreamy long warm nights stumbling into new bars and staring at all the beautiful people. This moment also includes yourselves as you bask in the light of that newlywed high. Bikers and beaches are a “go” pretty much year round.
Nearby is her fancier and vegan sister, Santa Monica. And her older sister Topanga Canyon beckons you with sweet mountain sounds. Joni, Neil, everybody was there. they are all California Dreamin’. Anything goes in L.A. ― which makes it so unique and full of color.
Photos by Nik Zvolensky
You can’t argue with the fact that San Francisco weddings have their own distinctive style—beautifully relaxed, alternatively bohemian, and effortlessly cool. So it’s no surprise that a mobile bridal boutique that embraces those same values (read: Alt. Brides) would attract the attention of the locally-inspired online wedding planning resource, Borrowed & Blue.
Intrigued by our unique concept, Borrowed & Blue approached us for an interview. We were, of course, equally happy and flattered that they saw us completely in tune with the pervading ethos of SF.
In their words: "Five minutes with these fab ladies will have you jumping on their fabulously-wedding-dress-filled bandwagon."
Keep reading to check out our Q&A . And thanks again to Borrowed & Blue for reaching out!
What is Alt. Brides not?
Marisa: Alt. Brides is not your traditional, unapproachable bridal boutique. We’re not pretentious, judgmental, or even remotely boring. You won’t find mainstream and often mass-produced gowns here.
Alt. Brides is one of a kind—what sparked the concept and what was your lightbulb moment?
Kristin: I got engaged several years ago and instead of finding engagement (and the required wedding planning and dress shopping) enjoyable, I found it quite frustrating. I had trouble finding a gown that fit my non-traditional style and budget. This is when my sister and I began brainstorming ideas for opening a very different type of shop.
Marisa: We really wanted to bring accessibility and ease back into wedding dress shopping while highlighting indie designers. With the huge boom and popularity of food trucks in the Bay Area, and the need to simply make bridal more approachable and fun, the idea of mobile bridal came about.
If you had to sum up Alt. Brides in three words?
Kristin: Unpretentious, laid-back, personable
How would you say Alt. Brides lines up with the general aesthetic of San Francisco weddings?
Marisa: Whether weddings takes place in the city, on the coast, in wine country, or in the Redwoods, Bay Area weddings tend to be relaxed, slightly casual (but polished and classy), a bit bohemian (but with a modern edge), and effortlessly cool. These are all adjectives that we’d use to describe Alt. Brides aesthetic and selection. Our selection ranges from edgier, minimalist styles to airy, ethereal silhouettes.
Can you give us the verbal (or visual?!) tour of the truck?
Kristin: Our goal from the very beginning was to design a space that would excite and inspire the brides who shop here. We went to great lengths to maximize every inch of space inside — and the result is a cozy and ultra-stylish retreat. Customers enter through our sliding transparent doors, and once inside instantly see our gorgeous gallery of unique SF wedding dresses. On the opposite side you’ll notice our signature decorative ram’s head “Goldie” wearing one of our unique jewelry pieces, our hand-crafted walnut display/accessory shelf and a comfy seating bench. Our spacious dressing room follows, complete with lux velvet privacy curtains and lots of mirrors, a gorgeous wall of non-traditional veils and sashes, as well as an additional seating bench inside the dressing room. Warm lighting, a pressed white tin-like ceiling and loads of bohemian decor touches are featured throughout. We wanted brides to get excited to try on gowns in a bridal boutique on wheels, but once inside, forget they were actually in a truck.
Besides the obvious (a bridal shop on a truck!), what makes Alt. Brides unique from other bridal shops out there?
Kristin: We provide a 100% private and personalized experience where it's all about the bride. For example, when a bride initially schedules an appointment with us online (we have a user-friendly, modern website which features all of our gowns and an accessories shop!) we ask what her favorite band/style of music is so we can play this during her fitting. We also greet every bride and her support crew with something cold to sip on, (hello bubbly). We want each and every customer who walks through our doors to feel welcomed and supported, as if they are hanging out with their best gal pals in their living room.
Marisa: Our vision has been to create an environment that was not only unique and fashion forward, but at the same time laid-back, cozy, and approachable — where brides can let loose, be themselves and simply have fun. In addition, we strive to carry designers that can’t be found in lots of other boutiques in the Bay Area. If other boutiques do carry some of the same designers, we carry only their less traditional gowns.
What informs the style of dresses and accessories you offer?
Marisa: We both spend a lot of time online scoping bridal trends and researching up-and-coming indie designers who carefully craft their gowns in small batches, as opposed to mass-produced in a factory. We also make a point to attend Bridal Market in New York City each fall where we get the opportunity to see previous and new collections in-person.
Kristin: We also listen to what our brides are looking for in terms of styles, and are conscious about balancing price with beauty and uniqueness.
What’s the hardest thing about starting a business like Alt. Brides?
Marisa: Starting any new business has its challenges! What proved to be the most challenging for us was the actual buildout and customization of the truck as it needed to function a bit like an RV, tiny house and retail shop. Prior to transforming it into a San Francisco bridal boutique, our truck was a police gun cargo vehicle, so it took a big vision, a talented crew consisting of local artisans and designers, and a whole lot of patience to transform it into a hip and beautiful boutique.
Where do you see the company in three years?
Kristin: We definitely see ourselves growing in the next three years, but remaining down-to-earth and true to our free-spirited, family-run values. We hope to open a flagship brick-and-mortar store in the next few years which will offer an even larger selection of unique gowns and accessories, simply in a more spacious environment. We’ll hire a small team of help to keep the truck going strong, so that we’re still providing the convenience of mobile bridal.
What’s your advice for Bay Area brides looking to say yes to the dress?
Marisa: Finding that perfect dress doesn’t need to be a stressful experience! Make sure you feel amazing and are true to yourself in what you choose and that you aren’t settling on a dress that others want to see you wear.
Our guest blogger, the lovely Kira Shaw, is back with this creative DIY tutorial on how to ask your besties to be part of your Big Day. Be sure to check out her captivating blog www.laughlivelovelearn.com for even more crafty wedding ideas.
After getting engaged I was thrilled to start my wedding planning process. Of course when I say "after" I mean about 6 months after the actual question was asked of me. Life tends to get busy after this intense-life-altering-weird-adult-transformative period, and hence, slows things down in the process. With graduate school and work, it took a while to get organized and spend some thoughtful time on the next steps. I was excited to share this joyous and momentous occasion with the people I love—beginning with asking my bridal party to be a part of this exciting nuptial journey. My urge to celebrate and honor these women as special people in my life was abound with ideas on how to pull it all off. As an uber-planner I knew I couldn't control myself for very long, so I set out to plan an "asking party" and invite my lovely ladies to be a part of the big day. After overdosing and falling down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, I came up with a few ideas. Some of which are borrowed, some are blue, some are old, and some are new.
First, I figured out how I wanted to ask the question, "Will you be my bridesmaid?” I searched for some simple ideas via (the ever-trustworthy) Pinterest and Etsy and came across a few great ones! Seen here on Etsy, this person made these incredibly cute boxes (that I was tempted just to buy and save myself the time) although the crafty voice inside my head said "Hey! You can make that yourself—so do it!" So I sourced all the materials needed, and waited upon their arrival.
The small asking boxes (shown above) were my favorite thing to make. My lovely and extremely talented mother was such a big help in their construction. The craft boxes were easy to source online, and my sister found some vintage sheet music that I used for the circle cut out on top. Tip: Make sure your hang tag discs are in the right order and hang to your liking. It may take a few attempts to get it just right, and they may not stay straight—but that's OK. I happened to like the more "wind chime" way in which the discs fell on the ones we crafted.
Vintage sheet music (search for something that speaks to you, lyrics with love, etc.)
The craft boxes were placed on top of cigar boxes, which I sourced from, where else? Amazon. Prime, baby. It's all about Prime. The boxes came as an assortment of different kinds, shapes and colors. I liked that they were all different—this way I could customize what was inside of them as well. The cigar boxes were filled with items from my favorite local shop, Foggy Notion. The shop holds local artisanal goods for face, body, home and life. It is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the Richmond neighborhood in San Francisco. To cushion the items placed inside the box, I used some kraft paper shred.
Cards (I used one of my favorite artists and authors as a child, Cicely Mary Barker)
It was an amazing day. Look at those lovely girls! Not pictured (to much regret) are my lovely sister, my maid of honor and my beautiful mother.
We also added this fun hand henna dyed tambourine to the mix…check out that tutorial here!
The Alt. Bride
Alt. Brides is honored to have Kira Shaw as our first guest blogger! Kira is a teacher, writer and blogger living in San Francisco. She single-handedly planned her own wedding, and started her wedding Pinterest page years before she even said, “Yes." Kira enjoys writing about DIY, crafting, fashion and more. She usually chooses not to wear a bra on the weekends, and Sunday is her favorite day to drink coffee in bed. Chasing after her roots, Kira would eat Mexican food every day if it were allowed. Check out her captivating blog at laughlivelovelearn.com
I have been wearing (real) flower crowns for most of my life. Far before I was engaged, I was donning flower crowns in my hometown at the park on May Day celebrations. Yes, my parents were hippies and yes, I wore cloth diapers. In fact, if you peek inside our family albums, you will find my mother’s flower crown dried and gently pressed in between photos of champagne on ice in the bathtub. Regardless, far before I was engaged, I planned on wearing a crown at my wedding. And no, I'm not interested in trying on a veil: I’m pretty sure everyone at this wedding is aware my fiancé has seen my face before. Unfortunately, the flower crown gets a bad rap (thanks a lot, Brandy Melville). The trend runs amok on Pinterest and practically every wedding blog one finds when searching "boho bride." But truly, who can blame these tastemakers? Flower crowns transcend time and, I find, look good on everyone. But alas, crowns continue to crowd our feeds and sadly, they may have become the burlap mason jar of bridal accessories, which honestly bums me out.
But if you're choosing not to wear flowers in your hair on the day-of, look no further. Below are some cringe-free alternatives to spice up your dome zone. With something for everyone in mind, these beau accessories are bound to turn heads.
The Alt. Bride
KERRY ANN STOKES
ROSI QUARTZ COATED CROWN
Get stoked on this epic crystal good vibes headpiece. Good energy that orbits all around. Perched in loose curls, this metal crown is made for the ultimate earth mother bride. $98.
The anti-headpiece for those ladies who plan on rocking a bare-shoulder situation. And yes. I highly recommend you do. For the gal who is armouring up, this piece is strapped. Plus, this gal makes her pieces in the USA, uses recycled materials, and they don’t break the bank. Check.Check.Check. $62.
KERRY ANN STOKES
JENNY CHAIN + BLUSH JADE HEADPIECE
This delicate boho chain design is sitting pretty. The thin draped gold chain is not only lightweight, it pairs well with nearly every dress, it’s perfect for the girl who doesn’t let anything get her down. $92.
This one is channeling major Game of Thrones vibes. Hopefully your nuptials have a better ending than the red wedding, but at least you’ll be the queen of the castle in this Edwardian style golden crown. European designer, Naturae Design, has so many gorgeous headpieces to choose from including combs and headbands. If your wedding plans on being more renaissance fair than music festival, get this. Get it now. $143
CASEY BOBBY PINS
OK, so you like to wear flowers in your hair? Trust me, we don’t blame you if you do. These sleek tiny and delicate golden flower bobby pins are laced with center pearls and have sweet city vibe. If you prefer to put on the glitz, place them anywhere for a floating look. $90.
ANA DAISY HAIR PINS
Mix two parts Drew Barrymore and one part Courtney Love. And, voila! Everything Luna Bea does reminds me of a decomposed flower crown for the Alt. Bride who prefers who likes her martinis dirty, rocks a mid-drift on the daily, and has a few tats.
*Alt. Brides carries some, but not all, of these pieces, though many could be custom ordered!, Call, write, or stop by for more info.
We're back home from our whirlwind trip to 2016 Bridal Market in NYC (which is basically fashion week for the wedding world), where we had a chance to see some of our favorite designers and take a peek at their latest collections. Still on a high from some seriously amazing designs, we thought we’d share a few trends that stood out. Best part? We'll be adding a few of these styles to the Alt.Brides collection.
Back in Black
Cream of the Crop Tops
So excited to have our site up-and-runnning! Check back soon for Grand Opening updates and more! xoxo