13 HONEYMOON WORTHY AIRBNBS by Elizabeth Leese

YOU'RE WED. Now you and your love need a vacation after planning the most beautiful and exhausting event of the year.

Airbnb is the perfect way to honeymoon with all the comforts of home-- certainly a step up from a hotel when you don't have to fight for a chair at the pool or make small talk with strangers at breakfast. Enjoy our top picks for swoon-worthy, unique stays abroad!

HISTORIC SPANISH GETAWAY

With a beautifully updated home from 1647 and the town of seaside town of Corcubión, Spain outside your window, there's not much else you could need. Except maybe some homemade snacks and according to reviews, your host will have those waiting for you. Brb, booking now. 

$116/night


Ten times out of ten we would chose a fun and funky place over a hotel room. Guests rave about how much they love this listing and it's location in the center of Rome. 

$132/night


Get off the grid without having to give up comfort! What's on the inside counts as much as what's on the outside because this cabin from 1890 is finished with a surprisingly modern interior. The day of travel to get to this cabin is most definitely worth it for the views and stillness of the Swiss countryside. 

$181/night


The price tag on this is almost as beautiful as the apartment itself. This stylish flat is located within walking distance of the metro and the perfect place to come home to after site seeing in Vienna.

$80/night 


As if the aesthetic wasn't already a draw, guest reviews rave that this loft is located in a perfect area of Budapest near bars, restaurants, museums and shopping. The listing has every amenity a couple would need including a fully equipped kitchen to cook up something for a night in. 

$100/night


The picture sells this one. The price on this lavish volcanic stay changes depending on the time of year and nights booked, but once you scroll through the gallery, it may be worth planning a delayed or extended honeymoon!

$328/night


This tree house villa was built around trees that stretch two floors and is complete with waterfall, private pool, and outdoor bath. The listing even has staff that makes breakfast, cleans, and will help you book excursions, massages, basically whatever you need. This hideaway stands next to a villa, but is separated by a tropical garden and wall and secluded from the busy town of Ubud.

$165/night


You will never find yourself in shortage of wine at this stay complete with a shop-able wine cellar in the Sausal wine region. The modern retreat is a matchless place to honeymoon and enjoy the Austrian countryside as the host writes, "you will sleep "under the stars" and wake up with mother nature."

$114/night


Driving on the wrong side of the road will never feel as right! This gorgeous cottage in Tralee, Ireland is a perfect location to tour County Kerry and Dingle Peninsula. We would be remised if we didn't also mention the host will have wine, scones, and other treats upon your arrival!

$123/night


Although there may be 4 more beds than what you need, this Moroccan riad is perfect honeymoon hideaway. This private residence is staffed part of the day to set up breakfast and clean, but a couple could otherwise go undetected among the many rooms, terrace, and patio.

$166/night


CAPE TOWN SEA VIEWS

If an Airbnb ever screamed honeymoon vibes, it would be this one. You will definitely want to scroll through the gallery of this listing and it won't be long before you find yourself in the pool or curled up on the couch. 

$282/night


Away from busy tourist areas and 27 miles from the town of Chania lies this stunning studio built around a natural rock formation. The studio is connected to a villa with a host that guests say will offer treats, amazing food, and even a seat at their table. Renting a car is recommended to travel here, which will be worth it to experience this beauty.

$58/night

MIND YOUR P'S & FAQ'S by Elizabeth Leese

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Lately I've been so overwhelmed by the love and support from brides and followers. I will hear stories every now and then how a friend of a friend has my work saved on their phone or a complete stranger has me at the top of list for when they get married. My heart you guys. So, I wanted to spend a little time with you answering your questions! I like to reach my brides on a personal level so it's only fair that I be an open book to you. 

DO YOU SEW EVERYTHING?

As of right now, yes! I usually always have an intern on hand and they help tremendously, but as for the process, I take it start to finish with designing, fitting, and sewing. Over the past year I've kept a log on each dress and found they take an average of 50 hours to make and one of those actually took over 100 hours to complete. Yeah, I had to scrape my jaw off the floor when I totaled that one- it's a labor of love!

Did you have to go to school for fashion?

Yes! I picked up sewing when I was younger, but I was winging it in a major way. I've seen fashion design on lists of degree-less careers which is like saying since I can use calculator, I'm basically a mathematician. There are so many working parts to fashion that it does take going to school to learn them all. In school, you start with basics of designing, sewing, and pattern making and you build upon those as you go. There's also a technical/computer side of the industry for the tech savvy, and the labor intensive beading/handwork side for the people (like me) that love monotony. 

I want to go to fashion school! DO they TEACH YOU ABOUT TRENDS?

Well.. not quite. Where I went to school, the fashion program is art-based so we begin with art classes before we can even take any fashion classes. They taught us more about how to think as an individual and an artist rather than follow trends. There are, however, degrees like fashion merchandising that explore trends and the business side of the industry. 

How many brides do you take per yer?

This year I took around 20 custom orders and I may be taking a few more in 2018! Wedding dresses take around 4-6 months to complete so calendar space is limited. Most brides book from now until spring, so if you're looking to get married in 2018, now is the time to secure your spot! 

DO I GET TO KEEP MY SKETCH?

Absolutely! I keep it until the dress is complete and then I wrap it up for you to take home with your gown. Pretty much a second Christmas. I even had someone ask if I would ever redraw a sketch in a bigger version or a painting and my answer to that was heck yes! 

How are brides finding you?

Word of mouth is my BEST form of advertisement. I have paid for several advertisements that haven't done anything compared to good ol' conversation. It is the best compliment to hear that people have been recommending me or showing my work to others so THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

WHERE DO YOU FIND MOTIVATION to be your own boss?

I love work and I love talking about work. I believe we are hardwired to work whether that looks like rearing children, manual labor, or crunching numbers. I found it very challenging to be working toward someone else's dream after a certain point in my life, which is when I left and started my business. You will find that motivation comes easy when you love what you do. No bones about it, it's difficult working for yourself. It seems like a dream that I can do whatever I want because I only answer to me, but it comes at a price. There are a lot of pressures in the fashion industry that add to existing pressures of paying bills, staying relevant, you get it. Some days it is hard to get out of bed and be 100% self-motivated and enthusiastic. So I pray. A lot. I also try to exercise (as much as I'd like you to think gym- don't) healthy habits. I listen to my emotions and if I'm on a downhill slide I take time to get re-inspired. Not every day is a win but I don't have to treat it like a loss. 

HOW DID YOU GET INTO BRIDAL?

I suppose at the heart of it all, I just wanted to do good. I wanted to be able to give back, help people, and create with purpose. Wedding dresses are so personal and meaningful, especially when they are custom-made. To be able to design and sew gowns for the most important day of a couples life is truly dreamy. My job has me constantly starry-eyed!

DO YOU ALWAYS WEAR WHITE?

When I was 12 my mom let me paint my room 8 different colors and I think that was when my brain started to question whether I could handle color. (Yall, my ceiling was 2 shades of purple, all the trim was dark blue, the bottom half of my walls were green and the top half was sky blue and in the middle were pink, yellow and white daisies.) I have been through so many phases of colorful clothing and decorations and I've finally settled on one that makes sense to my brain. So now, I have to carry shout wipes and clorox pens everywhere, but it's worth it to be monochromatic. Creatives are continually making decisions and living with one less choice about what to wear is like taking a friggin vacation. So I wear whites! Trying to find something to wear to a wedding when your closet is one color is the major design flaw though. 

Where do you fall with all the comparison happening in social media?

We live in a show-off era and it's very weird when you think about it, but it's pretty easy to get sucked into wishing we had someone else's life. I like to think of it in terms of God's imagery for the church, "If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell?" 1 Corinthians 12:17. Our talents gather dust when we look at others and wish we had their abilities. "God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another." 1 Peter 4:10

More questions? Write them in the comments! 

-EL

 

2018 BRIDAL TREND: HOW TO STYLE BLACK by Elizabeth Leese

There’s no color pair that stands the test of time like black and white, so it's no wonder it's showing up in bridal. It’s new. It’s edgy. And long overdue. Here are the best ways to work black into your wedding look.

SOLID BLACK- Black uniform girls, you know who you are. Even a life event or national holiday can’t keep you from wearing black. It doesn’t have to stop with the dress. This spring, designer Reem Acra partnered with Tiffany & Co and debuted a bridal collection that pulled inspiration from Breakfast at Tiffany's, "little black dress". Cosmopolitan is calling the Acra show that opened with 12 black bridal gowns the start of this unexpected trend. Despite what you may think about tradition, brides have only been wearing white for less than 180 years; before Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in white, women got married in every color, including black. Although many will think of it as a color of mourning, what can stop a bride from being entirely elegant, modern, and mysterious in black? Besides, fashion's new rule is: there are no rules. 

STYLING- Greenery, greenery, greenery. This will help soften the boldness of a black dress and put it in a bridal context. Because you may not want your wedding to look like a funeral procession, contrasting and complimenting colors can be pulled into invitations, bridesmaids, table settings, etc. Solid black can get flat as a color, so play and pair textures like velvet and silk or satin and sparkles. See Style Me Pretty for this moody bride in black velvet pictured left.

BLACK ACCENTS- A subtler way to bring this trend into your wedding look is through pairing black accessories with your white dress. Art Deco themed weddings seem to have the black and white trend down, but even without a defined wedding theme, working black into the color scheme is as easy as selecting your favorite black details. With black accents, it's just enough of a contrast to add sophistication without completely shocking your family.

STYLING- Cohesiveness in your wedding comes mostly from color palette, so try pulling black accents into not just your accessories, but your bridesmaids, invitations, and table settings. For the bouquet, anemones paired with other white flowers and black velvet ribbon will compliment both your white dress and bridesmaids in black. With white and black being a stark palette, pulling light floral colors into your bouquet is an effortless way to soften the contrast. As for those staple black accents, here are our top picks: 

-EL

5 SIGNS YOU'RE BUYING THE WRONG DRESS by Elizabeth Leese

When it comes to choosing the dress of your dreams, let's face it- you might know what chiffon is but if you have to start distinguishing raw silk from taffeta you're in trouble. Luckily, help is at your fingertips. These few tips will help you separate the Vivienne Westwood's from the "Lady St. Petsois JuJu's"of dresses.

1. FABRIC You may not know what it's called, but if it looks and feels cheap, it probably is. Fabrics such as chiffon and tulle are commonly used for mass production because of it's low cost. Never order a gown without feeling the fabric first, you can always return the shirt you ordered online for feeling cheap but most wedding gown sales are final. And thanks to photoshop you can get duped by lace that looks amazing on websites but feels low-end. The good news is, you don't have to be an expert to find the higher quality versions of these fabrics! The best way to determine the quality is by feeling the materials and seeing how the fabric looks in different light sources. If fabrics don't feel right, it's time to walk away.

2. CONSTRUCTION You would never buy a new house that's crumbling, so why buy a dress that's poorly built? Take a look inside your dress and underneath too. The first sign of a poorly made gown is the lack of a hook and eye at the top of the zipper. That tiny element may seem arbitrary, but by industry standards it's essential. While it's common to find raw edges between the skirt and the lining, you should never see threads and fabric edges on the inside of your gown. You don't have to be a designer to know when something just doesn't look right. 

3. FIT The Ready-To-Wear industry produces garments that adhere to a sizing system. While this does leave out many body types, it's still the best way for the industry to dress consumers. However, when you're looking for the dress of your dreams it's frustrating to try on a size 10, order a 2 and still end up with alterations. For this reason, customizing your wedding dress is on the rise; the best way to ensure you love the fit and feel of your gown is to have it made to your measurements. 

4. DESIGN Wedding dress styles have subtle changes in comparison to the styles that are in and out of Zara within a matter of weeks. For this reason, we end up seeing the same sweetheart necklines and ballgown skirts every season. Having had many brides contact me in a panic after already buying a dress wanting a more unique design, my advice to my brides is don't settle. I promise your dream dress (or even pant suit) is out there. Here at Elizabeth Leese Bridal we are committed to creating it.

5. QUALITY CONTROL Dress boutiques almost always keep the dress finding process down to clockwork, but there are no guarantees on the other side of the industry. Allow me to explain. In some cases (and let's hope rare) the sample you try on can be different than the dress you receive; this could be a slight change in colors, fabrics, and construction. These changes can be made in between the sampling phase and the time an item hits the market to accommodate a buyer's request, lower production costs, or quicker manufacturing. It can be like the side by side of advertising and real life fast food hamburgers. While the industry improves each and every day, there is still no promise that somewhere along the lifetime of your dress, someone may have skipped over a detail or changed it entirely.

Thankfully we have solutions to the heartaches of finding the dress. At Elizabeth Leese Bridal our mission is creating gowns as unique as our brides. Custom-made means you don't have to sacrifice any of your must-haves in a wedding dress and the fit down to every last detail is in good hands! Don't let wedding dress shopping get the best of you or your big day. 

-EL

Have a question? Write it in the comments!

 

 

 

AN ELIZABETH LEESE BRIDE by Elizabeth Leese

💭💭 This sample looks nothing like what I found on Pinterest... oh and you're out of my size? Right. Of course. And this one only comes in ivory? Awesome. Looks like I'm not getting married.

I know the hassle and I'm here to put the magic back into finding your dream dress.

Since September, I have been the proud owner of a custom bridal design label bearing my name and modern touch. I will never be the person that shrugs and says, "I can't believe it" because it's all I've been working toward since I came to realize that sewing was kinda my thing. 

A few days after my wedding and into my honeymoon adventure I was jolted by the news that a coworker of mine was quitting. I looked at Hunter and told him I was too. I didn't plan for it, I didn't know if I was ready, all I kept telling myself was that I couldn't get ahead until I got started. Now is a good time to mention that a consistent paycheck is a wonderful thing and very missed when it's gone. But despite all the things telling me why quitting my job--my very nice job-- at 22 as a newlywed was a bad idea, there were still so many reasons that pulled through in the end.

The business world is just like school where one minute you're a senior and the next you're a freshman again. In my case, I was working as the head of the Atelier department for the Dallas designer Nha Khanh. I went from being a designer's assistant flitting from appointment to appointment and hand sewing magical french laces to the bottom of the ladder. But I hit the ground running; I immediately started working and reworking a logo and budgeting every minute of my day to ensure I made enough to cover studio rent. I have since sacrificed every beauty routine besides my hair and funnel it all towards building my brand. I skip lunch more and use scotch tape as bandaids, but let's face it, no good story is without some hardships. 

So, you ask me, why bridal? In high school I was fed up with tennis so I thought trying hurdles would be my next mountain. I failed miserably but came out with a pretty good laugh at myself. The fact was, I wasn't afraid to try and I didn't feel like I was learning anything unless I was challenged. When I looked at fashion design, I saw bridal as the ultimate challenge. The color white alone is a headache for most, not to mention hand beading and tacking lace. But my reasoning doesn't stop at the test on my skill. I love working with the happiest people on earth. No one glows more than a bride, and I swoon at the thought that I get to be a part of the best day of their life. I get to cut out the heartache of never finding the perfect dress off the rack and bring a bride's dreams to life. In a world where you can customize everything from your car to lip color, it only makes sense that on the best day of their life a bride can wear exactly what she had dreamed of. And now, if it's starting to sound like I'm your wedding Fairy Godmother then I'm doing my job. *insert wand waves and glitter here*

Are you an Elizabeth Leese bride?

If you're a bride sitting in a heap of fluffy white fabric with absolutely nothing to wear, then this is for you. This is also for the conscious bride who wants to know that she is supporting a U.S. and hand made creation. Let's not forget to mention the modern woman with eye for minimal and romantic designs. The girl in love. That's my customer. You bring the ideas, I bring my know-how, and together we will create the dress of your dreams. 

Visit my custom page for a dive into the process ✨

-E

A BRIDE'S TWO CENTS by Elizabeth Leese

Emily Post is turning summersaults in her grave.

I didn’t put return addresses on my invitations (or rsvp cards which actually caused mass confusion), I’m not wearing a veil at the wedding, I showed Hunter a picture of my reception dress... you name it and I probably did it the wrong way. But you know what? THE WORLD KEPT TURNING and I was happy. 

As you may note from the time gap between my last post, I have been up to my eyeballs. I’m currently wading in a sea of boxes waiting to be moved into our quaint apartment and we leave this week for Ireland and I’m not even packed. My nerves are oddly calm but I’m aching to share about the wedding!

My sweet Hunter got a sneak peek of the reception dress (pictured above) this week because I was too excited not to share. My photographer, Andrea Simon, nailed it. I am mesmerized by her camera smarts (and generally of just her as a person). We spent the day shooting at the Crescent Hotel in Dallas and to be honest, I might wear a wedding dress every day. People stopped to ask about the dress, they offered friendly advice on marriage, and I even got asked if I was modeling or actually getting married! If I felt like like a million bucks that day, there are no words for how I will feel when the only pair of eyes I care about sees me for the first time in my dress.  

So in a few short days, we are lifting off out of Dallas and heading to our dream wedding on the Emerald Isle. I didn’t get menus or ceremony pamphlet things printed, but I got macaroons! And I have the most incredible family and friends joining us to witness and hold accountable the most important commitment of my life. 

I have had the most fun getting ready for this big day. I made my wedding dress using my mom’s lace and this party jumpsuit with a detachable tulle skirt AND my bridesmaids dresses. I also got to work with the amazing House of Hannah (whom I still have not met, but has charmed my socks off with her impeccable styling taste and Irish accent). July 26th will probably look even more incredible than I can imagine, but if I have any words of wisdom it would be this: Brides, don’t sweat the small stuff. Emily’s ghost is busy haunting me so you’re free to put your elbows on the table and lick the icing off your cake before official cutting time. What matters is that the new role you are about to take on is one you know full-heartedly that you will work for every day. ENJOY your day-- What a thought. Imagine if more brides did that! The perfect dress and the perfect place cards will never bring you the joy that comes from giving your all to a marriage. As my mom always says, the wedding is short and the marriage is long.

-E

photographer: Andrea Simon | dress: Elizabeth Leese | shoes: Sophia Webster | jewelry: Vince Camuto | venue: Crescent Hotel, Dallas | makeup: Christina Finkel | hair color: Michael Goude | reflector holder and dress fluffer: Nicole Votolato | 

SNIP, SNIP by Elizabeth Leese

Checking off my first official wedding dress fitting!

The process of pattern making and sewing muslins has been a tiring one to say the least. It has taken 6 months of off and on work to fit my wedding dress. I am very fortunate to be working for a high-end fashion designer in the custom bridal department, so with resources at my fingertips I was able to drive my giant muslin to Dallas to have my sweet coworkers help perfect the fit. 

Recently I had the opportunity to get my hands on the wedding dress of a client who was using their grandmother's lace that was over 70 years old. It was falling apart to the touch, but once we took apart all the seams we were able to piece it back together in a completely seamless manner. In case you need a window into how amazing of a venture this was, it felt like we were restoring the Declaration of Independence! After learning this seamless lace technique I began doing some detective work on my mother's lace wedding dress. Because her lace was starting to show some aging and not all of it was usable, I needed to find a similar lace to pair it with. I eventually found that French Alençon lace would blend in brilliantly with my mothers and then I would be able to piece the laces together as one. And just to add- its not a quick technique.

I have 50 something days to pull this off.

Start the clock.

-E

 

TYING THE KNOT by Elizabeth Leese

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it certainly built designer. My fashion design mentor (and boss) has told me over and over a contributor to her success and creativity is that she never stops asking questions. 

My first question-- how did you tie that knot? I can still remember leaning over my granny's shoulder as she beaded a pillow donned with my name in mauve embroidery thread. She showed me step-by-step how to thread a needle and tie off the end. It was the day I first picked up a needle and learned to sew. I was so frustrated the first time I pulled my needle through the loop of what should have been a knot and watched the thread straighten out, perfectly knotless. I tried until I got it right and then I never stopped. I then proceeded to bead every surface possible from my pants to the toilet-lid cover. I took apart garments and learned their mechanics. I boldly cut up my clothes and put them back together with flare. All it took to light a fire under me was learning how to tie that knot.

Flash forward and I now have a fashion degree and work in the custom department of a high-end company as an assistant to the head designer. One day while instructing me on how to place embellishment, I watched as my boss tied a knot in one fluid motion of her left hand. How in the world, I thought to myself. Curiosity took over and a few months later I noticed I was mindlessly tying knots with my left hand trying to master a skill I thought I already possessed. 

Although, yes, knots aren't the most fascinating discovery curiosity has led me to make, they have great significance. A knot holds everything together, but whats more, it's your stamp of approval. It's the last thing you do when you finish a garment. Much like marriage, tying the knot means seeing something through until the end. I learned early on by watching my beads dive off my embroidered pillow one by one that if I fail to see a task through until the end, it all falls apart. Which is why I believe curiosity and creativity don't just stop  at brilliant ideas, it's after the follow-through that you make real discoveries.  

-E

 

SISTA, SISTA by Elizabeth Leese

Besides the obvious groom and family, I am taking a couple of special people with me to Ireland. Ladies and gentlemen, meet my bridesmaids.

We despised each other for 75% of our childhood. It has been a rivalry since she tried to sell me to her friend in Kindergarten. While I was playing with Barbies and cutting up my clothes, she was playing with horses and tending to her menagerie of birds, hamsters, cats, and cows. Among our classic home videos, my favorite will always be at the Grand Canyon when she's spouting off facts and shoving me as I roll my eyes and mock her. Time has been good to us- in more ways than one- we grew into our noses and grew a better friendship as we realized we’re cut from the same mold. Now, we get together for no good reason other than to watch documentaries and talk about how much we're turning into mom. This is my sister and Maid of Honor, Laura Nance.

Next to Laura, stifling happy hands and giggles will be Nico. Nicholo. Topo-Nico. Nicoon. This is my person. My bridesmaid [of honor]. God is so good, and I continually see that through this friendship. The Lord knew my wallflower and sloth-like personality needed a high-kicking flamingo of a person to sing me Good Mornin’ and quote Princess Diaries in every life situation. On the plane to Ireland, I will have Hunter on one side and Nicole on the other and it will most likely be that way forever since we plan on her living in the pool house. 

It is disappointing I won't have my childhood best friend or all my cousins in Ireland, but the beauty is that every part of my wedding will be intentional. It's a wedding, not the super bowl and I get to do it with my nearest and dearest people!

-E

 

HERE COMES THE BRIDE by Elizabeth Leese

It's hard to find the perfect dress. Especially when you're making it yourself.

Despite loving all things bridal, I have been very detached from most of the wedding planning process other than my dress. By the skin of my teeth I managed to order Save-the-Dates and I will probably be picking out music on the plane ride to Ireland. As odd as it is for myself as a rigid planner, the only detail I have poured into is my wedding dress. Even then, I have only a slight idea of what I will be wearing down the aisle. As I suspected (and dreaded), deciding on a dress has proved impossible; I have changed my design multiple times and made several muslins (a preliminary garment made of cotton). I'm sure this happens to many designers-- it's like trying to pick out what to wear in the morning except you have to choose months in advance and you really don't get to change your mind.

With more than just my wedding dress on my plate, I gave up my spring break vacation and focused my energy toward identifying my uncompromisable details. What details about my dress can I not live without? I know I am using a brilliant white silk, I also know without a doubt I will have trumpet silhouette to offset the lack of curves and a cape to replace the traditional veil. And knowing that I want simplicity as an element, I then have to find a way to add lace in a way that compliments all the other details.

So over spring break, I brewed a very strong pot of coffee, dragged out my watercolors, and began designing dress after dress with different variations of the trumpet skirt, the lace, and my other can't-live-without details. As it turns out, iterative designing is the best way to translate your brainwaves on to paper. The iterative technique just says, get all of your ideas on paper, then sketch some more. And after you've done that, you choose ten designs you like and redesign those three different ways. It's time consuming, but thanks to all the sketching I was able to narrow down my ideas and restart a new muslin!

There is no guarantee I won't change my mind again, in fact I'm counting on it. And because of that, I know I will end up with the best possible version of my gown. Sketches to come!

-E