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Friday, March 30, 2012

Sneak Peek for KC and John











Once in awhile,
Right in the middle of an ordinary life,
Love gives us a fairy tale.
~ Anonymous ~

This month we had the privilege of photographing KC and John's wedding. When we met them a year or so ago, we immediately connected with them. They are really adorable together and you can just feel the love when they look at each other-they seem to truly get each other. They've actually known each other since they were little kids. Those kind of love stories always feel magical---like they were truly destined to be together.

For their special day, they combined traditional elements with a few unique touches to make their wedding accents special. There were plenty of hand-crafted elements combined with a beautiful, natural lakeside setting and a bright and sunny day. 

Shown here are a few peeks at their wedding day. It was a special day for two great people. We at True Story Photography wish them a long and happy life together. 

 Love doesn't make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile. ~ Elizabeth Browning ~

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saying Yes to the Dress!

One of our clients recently shared this article about a mother of the bride's journey to the perfect dress. Not only is it humorous but it is filled with little tidbits of great information for the average person out there seeking that special dress. We loved the post and thought our clients might find it valuable too.

Re-posted from
Link to original post: Saying Yes to the Dress by Sandi Tuttle

As a Mother of the Bride, I felt overwhelmed about 5 minutes after I saw the ring on my daughter’s hand.  Unbeknownst to me, there are so many details I have to master that I wish the kids had taken me up on my offer to fund an elopement to Las Vegas.  Call me a wimp, but I can’t imagine how anyone does all this stuff without a full time staff and a prescription for Xanax!

But one thing I do know about – buying that perfect dress.  I work in a fabulous specialty dress shop, “Fashions by Penina” in Marlton, NJ.  And what I have learned there could help a lot of moms out there in Weddingland.  So, since Sharing is Caring, I am passing along some valuable bits of knowledge to make your journey a little easier!  In addition, since I broached this topic during and episode of my Internet Radio Show, “An Average Woman in a Superwoman World”, I received more suggestions from other women around the country, which I am happy to share.

In most cases, my customers are either the Mother of the Bride or the Mother of the Groom, but I also have customers looking for gowns for events, etc., or even just a great outfit for a high school reunion.  They all have certain things in common – they want to feel beautiful, look great, and have a good time while they are finding what they want.

It is sad, but so many of my customers approach looking for their dress as only slightly less pleasant than having a colonoscopy.  Really.  They will come in, already convinced that they won’t find what they want, and in some cases, actually resisting looking at all.  Or they have been to multiple stores, and have had truly bad experiences.  One woman actually came in our store, in tears, saying the last store she had been to told her flat out that they didn’t have anything pretty for someone as big as she was.  Can you imagine?  No wonder so many women hate to shop.  And I call that unfair!  Shopping used to be fun.  And tears, fears and anxiety are no way to approach your child’s big day!  So I’m here ladies to tell you, it doesn’t have to end up that way.

I know you can’t all come to shop where I work although I sure wish you could – geography would be a problem.  But there are things I have learned in the past two years that might just help you start off on a good foot, and make it work for you.

First, I want to start with the list of “Do’s”.  After all, it’s kind of depressing to start out with ‘don’ts’ right off the bat.  So get your pencils and papers ready.

Here we go:

Do remember the rules have changed – it used to be that you had to match the bridal party and you couldn’t wear black.  That isn’t the rule any more.  Granted, if the bride wants you to coordinate with the bridal party, that’s what you do.  If you feel uncomfortable wearing black, then don’t do it.  But there aren’t rules against it like there used to be.  And honestly, how many pictures are you going to take standing with the bridal party?  Wear what makes you feel beautiful – unless the bride has asked you to do something specific.

Very important here – DO trust your sales associate.  If you go to a shop that specializes in special occasion dresses, you will have someone who knows her inventory, knows what can and can’t be done, and is invested in you being happy.  NOT all sales associates work on commission – and whether they do or they don’t, no one benefits if you buy a dress you are not happy with or can’t afford.  Your associate will work hard to make sure you are absolutely happy and satisfied – but she can’t do that if you don’t let her.

Be ready to shop – do yourself a favor, and don’t go into the store resisting the whole process.  If you don’t want to be there, do it another day.  You are going to have to do it at some point, but it’s easier to like what you see if you want to see it in the first place. You will never like how you look, no matter what you put on, if you are in a bad mood and don’t want to be there.

Be Ready To Buy – I know it seems crazy, but it is possible to find the perfect dress on the first day you are shopping.  If you want to waste the next 2 months looking at more dresses, that’s your prerogative.  But it seems that you could spend the time and gas money a lot more productively.  Also, be aware that most designers now expect the full price of the dress to be paid up front before they will ship – so you will need to pay for your dress in full before it is ordered.

Think Ahead – You need to know that you have to allow time to have the dress – and the safe average we have found is 4 months before your wear date.  If you wait until 2 months before the wedding, you may have to settle for something less than ideal.  The rule of thumb we use is: if the dress is available in your size, it could come in within 2 weeks.  If not, it could take at least 3 months.  Or, not be available at all.  Designers are not keeping big inventories on hand any more – it’s too costly.  So your dress may be ordered from somewhere in Idaho while you are making up your mind.  And it might be 2 months before that designer is cutting that dress again.  Then too, fabrics are more and more coming from overseas.  The days when you could just get great fabrics here are disappearing.  I know, being a sewing person myself, it is really hard to just find a fabric district and get great fabrics locally.  So, even if the dress is made here, it may be a delay of a couple of months for the designer to even get the fabric – considering customs, situations in other countries, etc.  You also need to allow time for alterations.  Everybody will need some kind of tweak – accept it.  A good dress shop will measure you, and try to make sure the dress is as close as possible, but you will need alterations.  If not, light a candle and say a thank you prayer that you got lucky.  You should allow about 6 weeks before your wear date for alterations.  If you keep your dress in a bag in the house for 3 months because you got it early, what’s the problem?  You will have other things to drive you crazy – you don’t need the dress to do that also.

One unknown fact – I learned when I started working at Penina’s that most of the designers close for a month for vacation either in June or July.  That means that they aren’t going to be making any new things for at least a month before they shut down – and that it will probably take at least a month to get new things ready to ship after they open again.  What does that mean?  That to be safe, assume that from May 1 to August 1, you can’t just call and order the dress to be available during that time.  So, if you have a September wedding, it isn’t crazy to buy the dress in April – it’s smart.

Be Smart – buy the dress based on the size you are today – not based on losing that 20 pounds in 3 months.  You may lose them, and if so, tell me how you did it.  But in reality, we don’t often get that lucky.  You can always have a dress taken in, and how good that feels!  But you can’t let it out more than a couple of inches, and you can’t return it once you have bought it.  So be realistic.  Every woman in that shop is facing the same fears and problems (and we ALL hate our arms), so be smart not hopeful.  Get the right dress, and the right fit can be adjusted in time.

As part of Being Smart – if you have a price range you have to stay within, tell your sales associate up front.  A good store will have dresses in a wide range of prices.  Not all dresses cost more than your property taxes for the coming year.  But if you don’t share this information at the start, you may fall in love with a dress that you simply can’t afford, and there is no fun in setting yourself up for a disappointment.  If you don’t find a dress you love in your range, at least the sales associate can suggest dresses that are close and would be possible for you.  Most shops have layaway for dresses purchased off the floor.

Be Aware of your Timing – it isn’t always possible to avoid shopping on a Saturday afternoon, but if you have any flexibility in your schedule, try to shop during the week, or on a Sunday (if the store is open).  Saturdays are usually extremely busy, and you won’t get the personal attention you would get if you are the only customer in the store on a Wednesday afternoon at 2:00.

Bring pictures of gowns you like from the Internet or magazines – the store may not have the exact dress you saw, but all good stores have a selection that will likely include the style you want to try on.  It will help your sales associate select dresses that are closer to your vision, and not waste your time.

Bring shoes and proper undergarments – First – let’s talk a minute about shoes.  Not every store will have shoes available for a try on – and nothing says elegant like those furry clogs sticking out under the hem of that ball gown.  Besides, you stand in a different way wearing heels.  Your posture changes, and that is the posture you will be displaying on the big day.  So get an advance view of how you will look.  Also, if you have a reason for needing to wear specific shoes, like flats, bring a nice pair with you.  If you bring heels, bring slip ons – it isn’t easy to fasten ankle straps while struggling with 10 yards of tulle in your skirt.  Most stores will insist you wear shoes during a try on.  And this is why.  Many stores also do fittings in the dressing area, and no matter how hard you try, it’s pretty difficult to vacuum up every single pin.  Stepping on a pin may ruin your shopping day…  Now, a few notes about undergarments.  If you have Spanx, wear them.  It will help you visualize just how awesome you will look in that one shoulder number.  Wearing a strapless bra helps as well - it kind of ruins the look of a strapless gown when your bra straps are hanging out.  And DON’T wear a sports bra! You wouldn’t wear a sports bra under the gown anyway, and it will seriously affect how the gown looks if you have on that old, stretched out racerback.  Also, it is just common courtesy to wear underwear when trying on clothes. And if possible, the type of underwear you would wear on the big day.  Cotton granny panties may be the most comfortable thing in the world, but they are going to bunch up under the gown and ruin the fit, which means you won’t see how it will really look.  But even grannies are better than none at all, ladies.  No one really cares what you do, or don’t, wear on an average day.  But it’s just polite to wear upper and lower underwear when trying on gowns.  Nuff said.

You Gotta Try It On – some gowns just don’t have a lot of hanger appeal – but you put it on, and it’s magic.  It may not be what you have in mind, but if I had an extra quarter for every woman who ended up buying the gown that was totally different from her vision, I could probably make a house payment.  So be prepared to try on things you didn’t expect to like, especially if it is your first day shopping.
Now, for the Don’ts – They are just as important as the Do’s.

Don’t Go By The Size On The Dress – you will go insane, or instantly go home and start purging.  Most designers cut and size their dresses 1 – 2 sizes smaller.  I don’t know why – I think they are just sadists.  But nothing says panic like being a size 8, and finding that you can’t zip up a size 12.  That’s why you never look at the size on special occasion dresses – they don’t match up to what you are used to buying.  You need to trust your sales associate.  She will know that one designer runs true to size, and the next dress you want to try on has a designer that sizes 3 sizes off.  It isn’t you – it’s the dress.  Don’t panic, and don’t insist that the store order a dress based on a number.  Frankly, you can cut the size label out of the dress if you want to – the point is to have it fit you.  I doubt you are going to have a moment in the ladies room where you undress to show your guests the size label – so why are you worrying about it?  You should also remember that all the designers have their own size charts.  You could a different size for each dress you try on – if you are obsessed with numbers, you will need a valium before you are done, and it isn’t your fault in the first place.

Don’t Shop With A Crowd – bringing 8 people with you to try on dresses is just crazy.  First of all, you may take up the entire dressing room, which means that other customers can’t be taken care of.  Not polite.  Second, and more important, it makes for massive confusion and will add considerably to the time you are spending in the store, which you don’t need!  Finally, you will have at least two opinions for every additional person you bring along – and none of those opinions will match yours.  It makes a big decision almost impossible and gives you a headache.  So don’t do it.  Bring a trusted friend, or the bride and a third party as a tie breaker – but leave the others at home waiting for you with a pitcher of margaritas.

Don’t Wear Lots Of Makeup and Big Jewelry – I know, I don’t like to go out without putting on makeup.  But please don’t get made up like you would on the big day to try on a dress.  Some stores have ‘masks’ that you can put on over your face and hair while trying on dresses (and yes, we all take turns taking them home and washing them) – but some stores may not.  Would you like to put on a dress that is caked with someone else’s makeup and lipstick?  That also gets to be an expensive proposition for the store owner – constantly cleaning inventory because of things like this adds to the bottom line, and it’s tough enough to make a living today.  You work hard for the money you are spending on the dress, and the person selling it to you is working hard too.  Same goes for jewelry – leave it at home, or put it in your purse.  Putting on a dress, and having it catch on your bracelet or ring and rip is just a bad thing.  It’s expensive to pay a seamstress to mend that sort of damage, and it takes away from the price the owner can charge to sell the floor sample.  It’s easy to avoid those problems – just think ahead and be considerate.

While we are talking about being considerate, Please don’t come and try on dresses after spending two hours in the gym.  I don’t think I need to expand on that one.

Also, please don’t shop after a 5 margarita lunch.  We all like to have a good time and a girls day out is an awesome thing.  But being a little more than ‘happy’ and bringing a bunch of happy shoppers into the store is rarely successful or pleasant.  It is unfortunate, but some people may not appreciate your humor or observations at that point, and no one wants to hear a complete stranger shriek “God, you look ugly in that dress” when they are shopping.  The sales associates will always be polite and considerate to you, but if you tend to make personal comments after having a liquid lunch, you may say something rude and unnecessary to a woman who is just trying to make a living and be nice to you.  So, have those margaritas after you shop, when you are celebrating finding the perfect dress.

Don’t Expect Miracles – I know some people will always do so, and I admire their positive attitude.  But the fact is that if you are 5 feet tall, you will never find a dress that will make you look 6 feet tall.  Be as realistic in looking for a dress as you are getting a hair style (I hope).  I once overheard a conversation in the beauty parlor, where a woman with short curly hair handed the stylist a photo of a Farrah look-alike and said “I want to look just like her”.  The stylist said, “ma’m, I am a stylist, not a magician” – and that goes for that perfect dress.  It may not be what you originally thought you wanted, but it will be perfect.  Just keep an open mind and use some imagination – and let your sales associate help you.

To wrap this all up, shopping can be fun, especially for that perfect dress for that special event.  You can find something that makes you feel like a movie star, and enjoy doing it.  But it takes a little thought, a little planning, a little dose of reality, a little imagination, and a dose of courtesy.  But most of all, patience!  You may find it in the first hour – it does happen – but if not, have faith, keep smiling, and don’t give up!

This article was written by Sandi Tuttle. To get more great advice from Diva Toolbox Media Diva Sandi Tuttle, visit her website at:

Picture courtesy of :

Friday, March 16, 2012


Mazel Tov, Justin!
Here is a tiny peek of the many pictures we are currently working on from Justin's Bar Mitzvah Celebration!