the Shoe Industry

Buzzy Sandal Designer Claudia Aragon Talks About Succeeding in the Shoe Industry


BASE: California

MADE IN: Southern Italy

YOUR SHOES IN THREE WORDS: “Whimsical, colorful, well-made.”

CREATIVE PROCESS: “My best ideas come to me 4-8 a.m. with coffee and a laptop. It’s very much a one-woman shoe show. Designing, selling, managing production, marketing, etc., all falls in my lap.”

SHOP TALK: Revolve, Shopbop, ShopBazaar, Madison Los Angeles.

BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT: “From 2014 to 2015, when I was able to increase wholesale by 600 percent. Having return customers from all over the world who reach out season after season to order more. When these women say, ‘I literally wear your sandals every day,’ they have no idea how happy that makes me.”

WISE WORDS: “The lessons never end. Once you overcome one obstacle, you are greeted by yet another and then another, and each is a harder test of your will than the previous.”

MENTORS: “My grandfather, who passed in 2009, was a one-of-a-kind man and entrepreneur. Imagining how amused and proud he would be of my sandal plight keeps me going in my darker hours.”

WHAT’S NEXT: “Businesswise? To expand Cornetti’s distribution to retailers all over the world. Personally? To own a boat. Just a smallish sailboat would do.”

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cheap smashed avocado

David Jones plans to lure customers into stores with cheap smashed avocado

David Jones' strategic muse is Fanny Fern.

While the American writer said; "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach", DJs has updated the outdated heteronormative mantra and gone one step further. Knowing these days the way to anyone's heart is through gourmet, Instagram-worthy produce, which is what its new Food Hall in Bondi Junction is bursting with.

The department store, which has also just added 30 new fashion labels to its racks, is also now stocking 6000 edible products. There are no vision-blocking aisles – so forget avoiding annoying neighbours, colleagues or former lovers – this multimillion dollar food hall that took five months to renovate has "worlds" of food, a juice bar and a porter service which will help carry your bags to the car.

The high-end retailer has also introduced something brand new, something that will make the customers from the days of yore clutch at their Paspaley baubles; trolleys and shopping baskets. The suburban supermarket staple - hand baskets - are now available in the revamped 2000-square metre food emporium that also boasts more leather, marble and granite than a Mehajer house.

David Jones food group director Pieter de Wet knows there is only so much Dom Perignon, dry-aged steak from Tasmania, Sonoma bread and Godiva chocolates one can carry without ruining your $90 bassike T-shirt.

"These will be a game changer," de Wet said, pointing to the hand baskets, just prior to the store opening this week.

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Wedding Beauty Routines

We're working our way through skincare regimens from all around the world. Among the likes of Parisian and Japanese beauty regimens comes a hard hitter in Korean skincare—and the more we learn, the more obsessed we get.

Korean beauty focuses on creating gorgeous skin from the inside out so that your natural beauty peeks through your makeup as a glowing base, rather than having it covered up. The average skincare routine is approximately—are you ready?—nine whomping steps. We repeat, NINE. We won't lie—it's a commitment, but one that'll pay off when it comes to looking as fresh-faced as possible for your wedding.

We chatted with Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily, to get the details of each recommended step.

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1) Double Cleanse

Oil is actually the best ingredient for removing impurities like makeup and sebum. Yoon says to wipe with an oil cleanser first, then follow with a mild water-based product. (Skip the oil-based cleanser in the a.m.) Try Kopari Coconut Cleansing Oil ($32; koparibeauty.com) and Simple Foaming Cleanser.

2) Exfoliate Sparingly

Coarse exfoliating beads can make skin susceptible to irritation, so Yoon recommends using gentle, natural exfoliants once a week (or twice, if your skin is oily). Try Province Apothecary Regenerating + Stimulating Exfoliator ($16; provinceapothecary .com), which contains soothing lavender and oatmeal.

3) Tone

“A toner balances your skin’s pH,” which is essential for a flake-free, oil-free complexion, Yoon says. For oily skin, find one with pore-refining witch hazel, like Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner ($55; net-a-porter.com). For sensitive skin, she suggests using a cotton ball to pat on Be the Skin Power Nutrition Toner ($29; peachandlily.com).

4) Apply Essence

Essence might look like water, but Yoon says it’s considered the foundation of the Korean beauty regimen. This hydrating solution preps skin to allow serums and creams to absorb properly. “Hydrated skin expands, easily grabbing onto moisture,” she says. Try Erborian Eau Ginseng.

5) Brighten

The Korean regimen often uses neroli oil to fade spots and oxygen serums to boost radiance. “Oxygen speeds up cell renewal and makes skin glow,” Yoon says. Use Odacité Ma+N Elasticity Booster ($42; shen-beauty .com) and Omorovicza Oxygen Booster ($155; sephora.com), which is pricey but lasts a long time.

6) Try a Mask

Sheet masks are made from fabrics drenched with active ingredients. In Korea, a bride might wear one every night the month before her wedding. Use Dr. Jart+ Brightening Infusion Hydrogel Masks ($7.50; sephora.com) and Leaders Insolution Mediu Amino Pore-Tight Masks($3; peachandlily.com) to help prevent blemishes.

7) Moisturize

“We Korean women know it’s difficult to keep skin hydrated from the inside,” Yoon says, which is why she’s obsessed with lanolin, an oil derived from sheep’s wool. It’s similar to human sebum, so it absorbs easily into all skin types with no residue. Her favorite is Kicho Sheep Oil Cream ($58; peachandlily.com).

8) Add Eye Cream

To prevent dark circles, dab on an antioxidant- infused undereye product with your ring finger. (It’s the weakest finger, so it won’t tug on this delicate skin.) Go for Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream ($31; sephora.com); its main ingredient is ginseng, a Korean superfood with skin-brightening benefits.

9) Protect

Korean women never skimp on sunscreen, Yoon says, and she suggests using those with physical UV sunscreens, like zinc oxide, and chemical sunscreens, like octinoxate. (Physical ones deflect UV rays; chemical ones absorb the damaging rays.) Try Glytone Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 40 ($38; dermstore.com).

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タグ :Wedding Beauty

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Wedding photographer

Ah the delight that is the guest list - the gift that keeps on giving... headache, after headache. From those who casually ‘forgot’ to RSVP to the dreaded issue of who gets a plus one and who well, doesn’t. The opportunities to cause upset are endless, but if done correctly, there are ways to quash any potential drama.

As an attendee of a number of weddings myself, I have seen my fair share of ‘plus-one’ debacles plague the bride and groom. Here are some general rules I’ve learnt on how to approach the allocation process and, fingers crossed, keep everyone happy whilst staying true to yourselves.

Remember whose wedding it actually is

Funnily enough, this big old shindig you’re organising to celebrate your love as a couple is actually YOUR special day. But this can be easily forgotten when you have people sticking their oar in trying to convince you of who to invite. So my rule numero uno is to remember who and what this rather momentous day is about, and most importantly stick to your gut. The more people you ask for advice, the more confusing and frustrating it can become. Compile and edit the guest list as a couple and potentially ask someone like your maid of honour or your mum for a touch of insight. That’s it. No other views needed.

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Finally, if you really don’t want to invite someone then - within reason - you shouldn’t have to. I’m all for wedding etiquette as a general guideline but at the end of the day, nothing is gospel and if it’s going to upset you having that individual there, then don’t invite them.

Be consistent

I can’t emphasise how important this is, as inconsistency is when people can start to get annoyed. For example, if you’ve told one friend you’re not allowing plus-ones and then your mutual pal turns up with their other half, this will start irritating folk. So decide the rules for various friendship groups and stick to them. Don’t forget people talk and friends and their uninvited other halves will likely start to take things personal, especially if it’s one rule for one and one rule for another.

Consider the overall size of your wedding

This is a quick determiner of whether you’ll be able to offer plus ones or not. If you’re going for a small and intimate wedding, you’ll probably be wanting to limit it to purely people you know well. In this case treat each guest individually and if they happen to be great friends of yours and coupled too, then so be it. Similarly if you’re limited on budget, this may be another reason to restrict plus-ones - most people should be able to understand this, although you may be surprised.

Go all or nothing

It’s often a suggestion that if you can’t invite plus ones to the ceremony and wedding breakfast then invite them to the party, but I actually disagree with this approach. I think it should be all or nothing, as it can make other halves actually feel quite uncomfortable having to turn up separately after the main event. Plus it can have a tendency to scream “I’m a reluctant invite” a little bit, so think wisely before creating an evening-only list. It can also change the dynamic of the party.

Look at each case individually

There is no hard and fast rule for who should be allocated a plus-one, so treat each case individually. Obviously there will be groups such as work colleagues where you can decide one rule for all, but it’s likely you’ll have different situations that will crop up with their own minutiae. As individuals, we are lucky enough to collect various friends throughout the different stages of our lives, from primary school to work, so it’s highly possible you’ll have guests who will be attending alone and not as part of a group. In this case, you may consider giving them a plus one so you know they’ll feel at ease attending.

Consider the length of time they’ve been together

Although some guests don’t like to hear this, the couples who have been together for a long time, be that married, engaged or cohabiting should definitely be considered for a plus-one. The risk you run when allowing anyone and everyone to bring someone - especially if they’ve only been dating a few months - is that you end up with a bunch of people you don’t know at your wedding, and likely in your wedding photographs too. If you’re a more the merrier sort of person, then by all means go to town. But if you’re into the more intimate and carefully considered vibe, then treat your plus one allocation as a well considered process too.

weddingplanner.co.uk is an online platform helping couples save time and stress when planning their weddings. With intelligent, digital planning tools, smart supplier recommendations and daily tips and inspiration.

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wedding vows

Hannah Elizabeth South of Hartselle and David Owen Kennum of Toney were married on April 1, 2017 at 2 p.m. at East Highland Baptist Church in Hartselle. The bride was given in marriage by her father, Don South.

The bride is the daughter of Don and Jackie South of Hartselle.

The groom is David Owen Keenum of Toney. He is the son of Tim and Lisa Keenum of Toney and the grandson of Betty and the late Jimmy Keenum of Danville and Tom and Jewel Owen of Speake.

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The wedding was April 1, 2017 at 2 p.m. at East Highland Baptist Church in Hartselle. The minister was the groom’s father, Tim Keenum.

Serving as maid of honor was sister-in-law of the bride, Erin South of Birmingham. The bridal attendants were Bonnie Pike Pearce, Alicia Gray and Rachel Stockman, all of Hartselle.

Serving as best man was brother of the groom, Jonathan Keenum of Trinity. The groomsmen were Matthew Smith, Caleb Cottles and Drew Stockman, all of Ardmore.

Music was provided by pianist, Wanda McAbee; soloists, Leah Sapp and Steve Owen and Wade Oliver, guitarist.

The reception was at the East Highland Baptist Church fellowship hall.

The wedding director was Monica Blythe. Floral Designer and Catering done by Cindi Whitaker and Angela Johnson of Lillie Belle Wedding and Event Planning assisted with the reception. The book attendants were Caroline Wilson and Bailey Vinning. The rehearsal party was hosted by the groom’s parents at J.W Steakhouse in Priceville on March 31. The bridal luncheon was at the home of Carol and Junior Hill and was hosted by Carol Hill, Melanie and Julianna Pike and Bonnie Pike Pearce.

The honeymoon was a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn. and the couple will reside in Athens.

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wedding vows

Hannah Elizabeth South of Hartselle and David Owen Kennum of Toney were married on April 1, 2017 at 2 p.m. at East Highland Baptist Church in Hartselle. The bride was given in marriage by her father, Don South.

The bride is the daughter of Don and Jackie South of Hartselle.

The groom is David Owen Keenum of Toney. He is the son of Tim and Lisa Keenum of Toney and the grandson of Betty and the late Jimmy Keenum of Danville and Tom and Jewel Owen of Speake.

Images: lace wedding dress

The wedding was April 1, 2017 at 2 p.m. at East Highland Baptist Church in Hartselle. The minister was the groom’s father, Tim Keenum.

Serving as maid of honor was sister-in-law of the bride, Erin South of Birmingham. The bridal attendants were Bonnie Pike Pearce, Alicia Gray and Rachel Stockman, all of Hartselle.

Serving as best man was brother of the groom, Jonathan Keenum of Trinity. The groomsmen were Matthew Smith, Caleb Cottles and Drew Stockman, all of Ardmore.

Music was provided by pianist, Wanda McAbee; soloists, Leah Sapp and Steve Owen and Wade Oliver, guitarist.

The reception was at the East Highland Baptist Church fellowship hall.

The wedding director was Monica Blythe. Floral Designer and Catering done by Cindi Whitaker and Angela Johnson of Lillie Belle Wedding and Event Planning assisted with the reception. The book attendants were Caroline Wilson and Bailey Vinning. The rehearsal party was hosted by the groom’s parents at J.W Steakhouse in Priceville on March 31. The bridal luncheon was at the home of Carol and Junior Hill and was hosted by Carol Hill, Melanie and Julianna Pike and Bonnie Pike Pearce.

The honeymoon was a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn. and the couple will reside in Athens.

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Kareena Kapoor

Bollywood beauties like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Genelia D’Souza, Vidya Balan, Bipasha Basu and Raveena Tandon remain close to our heart. The actresses not just impress fans with their acting skills but also with their sartorial choices. Do you know what they wore on their wedding, the colour and designer?

Whether it’s a wedding or a mehndi ceremony, actress look adorable in the designer dresses. Here we look at some actress and their wedding dresses. We are sure their style will blow you away.

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Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Ashwarya looked beautiful in red and golden saree during her wedding.

Genelia D’Souza

Riteish Deshmukh is a Maharashtrian Hindu, while Genelia D’souza is a Mangalorean Catholic. The wedding happened in tradition Maharashtrian way. Genelia look adorable in a red lehenga, heavy jewellery and green bangles.

Vidya Balan

Vidya Balan was seen in a very simple avatar at her wedding. She wore a red saree with simple jewellery. The wedding ceremony was a hush hush affair, but later in front of the media, the couple posed for cameras. She looked adorable in yellow saree at her mehndi ceremony.

Bipasha Basu

Bipasha Basu and Karan Singh Grover’s marriage was done in Bengali style. Bipasha looked beautiful in red lehenga. Even during her sangeet, Bipasha wore a baby pink lehenga.

Raveena Tandon

Raveena wore a maroon velvet gota-patti lehenga with a heavy jewellery, chuda and mangtika for her big day.

Esha Deol

Esha Deol was looking like the perfect south Indian bride. She wore a red and golden lehenga with white and red chuda.

Kareena Kapoor

During her wedding with Saif Ali Khan, Kareena designed a beautiful lehenga from Manish Malhotra. But to family tradition she has wore mother in laws, dress and jewellery on the special day.

Karisma Kapoor

Karisma Kapoor broke the stereotype as she rocked in bright pink.

Preity Zinta

Preity Zinta married Gene Goodenough in a hush-hush ceremony. In attendance of close friends and families, she wore a red lehenga at her wedding.

Mira Rajput

Mira Rajput looked like a Rajputani at her wedding with Shahid Kapoor. She also broke the stereotype of red colour and wore a light pink lehenga.

Soha Ali Khan

Soha Ali Khan chose a bright colour. She wore a cream colour lehenga with orange dupatta. Soha is from Pataudi families and at her wedding she looked royal.


Kajol was seen in a traditional Maharashtrian look, wore a navvari green saree paired with a nath and gajra.

Dia Mirza

‘Rehna Hai Tere Dil Main’ fame actress Dia Mirza exuded beauty in green and cream colour lehenga with gold jewellery.

Urmila Matondkar

Urmila Matondkar wore a red Manish Malhotra lehenga and an ivory lehenga at the reception.

Shilpa Shetty Kundra

Shilpa looked like a perfect Southern bride in a red embroidered sari with kundan jewellery at her wedding.

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タグ :wedding day

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A multi-million wedding

- Jared Otieno, remembered by many Kenyans as the man who took over Meru when going to pay dowry, pleaded not guilty to KSh 22.7 million fraud charges in on Wednesday - Otieno was being accused of obtaining money by false pretense contrary to section 313 of the penal code - The man had become widely known after bought a Porsche for KSh 18 million, paid a bride price of KSh 15 million and later held a lavish wedding in Nairobi Controversial business man Jared Otieno on Wednesday June 22 pleaded not guilty to KSh 22.7 million fraud charges when he was arraigned before Senior Principal Magistrate Martha Mutuku. Many Kenyans were introduced to Otieno after he invaded Meru with cars and wads of cash while paying dowry for his wife- Kendi Mwiti. The two later did a wedding that ruled the headlines for weeks. Otieno was arraigned on the charge of obtaining money by false pretense contrary to section 313 of the penal code.

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Court documents seen by TUKO.co.ke have revealed the specifics frauds that Otieno is being charged with.

According to the documents, the flamboyant man was using fake names when swindling his victims. The first court document read: “Jared Kiasa Otieno alias Jared Otieno alias Jared Smith Otieno alias Richard Otieno alias Jared Smith Mackenzie Otieno on diverse dates between 2nd day of June, 2017 and 13th day of June, 2017 in Nairobi City County, with intent of fraud from Muhammad Imad Mokdad, a sum of 45, 000 Euros (Ksh5.2 million) by falsely pretending that you were in a position to ship 50kgs of gold from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi to Beirut City in the Republic of Lebanon, a fact you knew to be false.”

The second one read: “Jared Kiasa Otieno alias Jared Otieno alias Jared Smith Otieno alias Richard Otieno alias Jared Smith Mackenzie Otieno on diverse dates between 4th day of October, 2015 and 31st day of October, 2016 in Nairobi City County, with intent to defraud, jointly with others not before the court, you obtained from Mustaq Hafeji, a sum of 169, 000 US Dollars (Ksh17.5million) by falsely pretending that you were in a position to ship 50kgs of gold from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi to Kuwait International Airport and in the Republic of Kuwait, a fact you knew to be false.”

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Anchor Chooses Dress Carefully

These are the days of Trolling and Bullying on social media. Politicians get trolled for their remarks and comments, actors get trolled for their choice of script and actresses are being trolled for they type of dress they wear at events.

Ind-Pak Match: Anchor Chooses Dress Carefully

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Recently after the way some people trolled Priyanka Chopra quite derogatorily for her short skirt while meeting PM Narendra Modi, Deepika Padukone too face the embarrassment for her Maxim magazine photo shoot. And then, we have anchor Mayanti Langer abused by trollers for wearing a thigh-revealing folded designer dress while anchoring the India-Pakistan league match in the Champions Trophy.

Though this hottest anchor in the cricketing circuits has chosen not to respond to such worst social media attacks, she made sure that her appearance will not create any such unwanted attention and criticism. For Sunday's Ind-Pak final match in the Champions Trophy, she has come out with a soft looking white outfit, which looked very well on her and this time without any glamorous show.

Mayanti might have taken a safe route to present herself but her terrific talkativeness with huge insight on cricket and emotions doesn't need glamour support. Still, people must first learn to respect her choice even if she turns up in a hotter outfit.

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Wedding day dream

A perfect wedding day dream has come true for a terminally ill mum of three – thanks to friends and neighbours.

They raised nearly £2,000 to make sure Vickie Bone, from Castle Donington, could marry her partner of four years, Ian Plimmer.

The 35-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer in November last year. Four days later she was told it had spread to her liver and was not curable.

Vickie, who is mother to Liam, who is nearly one, Kaiden, six, and Jakob, eight, was devastated and feared her dream of marrying Ian would not happen due to her worsening diagnosis.

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Neighbour Jess Limb, 32, was so touched my her plight she stepped in and set up a justgiving page to fund the wedding at The Venue in Ashbourne

Vickie, a community nurse, said: "Thanks to everyone it was an amazing day – it was just perfect.

"I haven't even begun my thank-yous to so many people who did so much.

"I just haven't got the words, the day was just perfect."

She was given away by her mum, Trudi, and her three sons were page boys.

Vickie said: "We had about 40 guests, it was a very intimate wedding. Ian is a very quiet person but he was more emotional than me and my son Jakob cried more than me.

"We were very spoilt. There was a gorgeous wedding cake and 100 cup cakes as well as a chocolate fountain – it was just amazing."

Vickie is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment. She said: "I get very tired but I have three kids and you just have to get on with it. I am just trying to live with it.

"I have been told the cancer is incurable and that is very hard."

As well as making her wedding possible, Vickie has been overwhelmed by the generosity of her friends and family.

She has had tickets for Conkers activity centre posted through the door, with a note saying "have a wonderful day", but no contact details.

After reading about Vickie in the Mercury, Merlin's Magic Wand, offered her and the family a trip to the Legoland Windsor Resort. She said: "The two older boys are mad on Lego. They have gone on about Legoland and I promised I would take them at some point."

Vickie hopes she will be well enough to make the trip in August but is keeping it a surprise from the children until the day before they go.

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wedding dresses Style

These dresses made from redesigned antique kimonos should definitely make the bride feel special on her big day!

Kyoto-based wedding planner Watabe Wedding recently announced that they have started making their unique line of “Shoen” dresses available on a rental basis. And what makes this line of dresses so unique? The dresses are all made from authentic antique furisode kimonos.

Watabe Wedding first released the Shoen line of dresses in February of 2016, mainly for sale to hotels and wedding venues around Japan, but they have now started renting out the dresses to hopefully make them available for use in overseas weddings, post-wedding parties, and more

They’re now renting these five stunning gowns from the Shoen line:

1. The Tsurumomiji (crane maple): This an a-line dress in vivid red, illustrated with cranes flying in the autumn sky. Images of chrysanthemums, maples, and a blue river running through the lower half of the dress complete the look.

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2. The Fujiageha (wisteria and swallowtail butterfly): This high-waisted dress features beautifully embroidered swallowtail butterflies against a backdrop of wisteria flowers and a beautiful gradation of yellow, black, gold and red colors.

3. The Ranbu (orchid dance): This mermaid-line dress is designed with flower petal-like frills on the back and adorned with luxurious patterns of pink phalaenopsis orchids. The specific type of orchid in pink apparently conveys the message “I love you”, so this is a particularly appropriate and lucky design for a wedding dress.

4. The Kanazuru (gold crane): The gold cranes depicted on a cloth of vibrant red gives this sleek dress both a luxurious and bold feel. The black chiffon material further adds to the elegance.

5. The Botangiku (peony and chrysanthemum): This a-line dress stuns with its rich, pink base color containing spun gold and a dazzling pattern of various flowers including peonies and chrysanthemums, making it a virtual floral bouquet on silk.

The five dresses are available for rental for prices ranging from 50,000 yen to 150,000 yen (US$453 to 1,359).

If you have plans to be a bride in Japan, and if you don’t conveniently own a formal furisode kimono that may be folded and arranged into a western-style dress, this could be the perfect way to add a uniquely Japanese element to your wedding wardrobe. And even if you’re not in need of a wedding gown, we’re sure you’ll agree with us that the dresses are still a delight to look at!

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Wedding Vows

Whether you're a bride, a groom, or a guest, wedding vows are important. In just a few minutes, while surrounded by family and friends, a couple is expected to unveil something deeply personal—the groundwork for their future together—including sentiment, sometimes humor, and memories. That's why more couples are leaning toward writing their own vows, or altering the traditional ones, to kick off a lifetime together as equal partners.

In 1981, Princess Diana made headlines when she chose not to include the word "obey" in her vows to Prince Charles. Instead, she promised to ''love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health," giving way to an ongoing, international discussion about the language used during a wedding ceremony. And in 2011, Kate Middleton took the same approach when she married the late royal's son, Prince William.

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Twenty-six years later, modern-day brides are still poring over how to pen wedding vows that are rooted in both reflection and equality. So was the case for Chloe Pinkerton as she prepared to marry Ross Kennedy-Shaffer on a sweltering July day last summer. As their wedding date approached, Pinkerton realized how important the language used in their vows would be.

"We wanted there to be balance in the opening lines; we didn't want [our vows] to be identical because we're different people working on different things, but we wanted to make sure each person's promise was met with a similar one," Pinkerton explains. "The word 'partner' (rather than 'husband,' 'wife,' or 'spouse') was important to us because it involves the idea of equality and doesn't have any of the possession connotations that some of the other partnership words involve. We also wanted to steer clear of the idea that men and women have defined, gendered roles in a relationship."

The couple also chose not to use some of the more common phrases, like "to have and to hold" and to "take [your partner]" because, as Pinkerton explained, "the language felt very ownership-centric, and as a result, dehumanizing."

Ultimately, they decided on five simple statements that embodied the life they hoped to create together:

I promise to love and support you as you continue to grow and learn.

I promise to make time to play your favorite games and mine.

I promise to try to make the world a better place with you.

I promise to laugh with you and cry with you through good times and bad.

Most of all, I promise to be your equal partner forever.

While some couples opt to write their own vows to ensure a balanced exchange, others choose to revise the familiar, giving new meaning to the familiar phrase "to love, honor, and obey."

When Peter Rocco and Marie-Ellen Ehounou tied the knot last May, the couple modified traditional vows so that "honor and obey" would be excluded.

"Our attitude was kind of: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it,'" Rocco explains. "I think the traditional vows end up capturing most of what people try to say when they write their own anyway—with some minor tweaks in our case."

Despite using traditional vows as guidelines, the couple did make it clear they were entering an "equal loving partnership."

"I felt pretty strongly that it was important to have something about partnership even if we didn't call each other partners," Ehounou says.

But for Abigail Myers, a forward-thinking approach to marriage was built into her ceremony via her officiant and church. When writing her vows, Myers says she "didn't have to think too hard about shedding the patriarchal elements of a traditional Christian wedding because our church is famously, wildly progressive, and our (female) pastor is a fierce feminist, so we trusted her implicitly and absolutely to use egalitarian wording."

If you're looking to pen your own—or modify the traditional—writer Fiona Tapp suggests some key concepts to use as inspiration:

I promise to support your ambitions and dreams.

I will comfort you when you can't be strong, and I will lean on you when you can.

And, most simply of all…I will love you.

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Lose Weight

When it came to starting a wedding diet, I procastinated. Hard. In fact, a month before the big day I went on a work trip to Morocco and Paris where I ate all of the bread, butter, and chocolate my appetite desired (as one does). Which is all part of the how I found myself muffin-topping over the sides of my strapless Reem Acra gown (pictured, top left) at my last fitting, just two weeks before I was supposed to walk down the aisle.

I'll admit, I was bloated at the time from my period, so when it ended a few days before my wedding, my body tightened. But, I was also up a few pounds. Instead of accepting it, I took about four private workout sessions per week with celebrity trainer David Kirsch. The pro is responsible for sculpting the bodies of celebrities (like Jennifer Lopez and Heidi Klum) and has a wealth of fitness and health knowledge (to recap, he's written five books, has his own line of shakes and supplements, and owns a top-notch NYC gym). He put me on a routine that was a mix of cardio, strength training, HIIT, and TRX. Every time we met up, the moves and sequences were different, which kept my body guessing and metabolism revved.

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But anyone who has successfully lost weight knows diet is more than half of the battle. And pre-getting "Kirsched," I had been working out almost every day anyways. So I do credit his eating plan for partly pushing those five extra pounds off of my body.

Here, I am going to share exactly what I ate — and most importantly, did not eat! — to shed the lbs, so my dress fit perfectly (top right). Note, the dress was not taken in or out between the two images, but my body actually transformed in two weeks!

"In my experience working with a bride-to-be, the last couple of weeks leading up to the wedding is uber stressful," Kirsch told me. "As you can attest to personally (Lauren), slight tweaking of your diet will go a long way to keeping you optimally energized, fueled, and looking your very best on the big day!"

Let's start with the hard part, things to avoid according to Kirsch:

Say goodbye to pizza, because you will not be eating processed carbs (bread, pasta, crackers, etc.) or dairy. "I have found that dairy can cause bloating, and who wants to be bloated on their day?" Kirsch said. And no whole grains or potatoes either.

I have personally eliminated both gluten and dairy for weeks and added them back to reveal that I am not intolerant to either. I can have a slice of pizza and feel like a peach, but kicking them out of my diet definitely made my belly flatter. After three days of no carbs, I was craving them! So I texted Kirsch asking if I could have a sweet potato. He told me to crunch on celery instead. It took willpower to follow his advice, but it was worth it. I surely enjoyed sliding into my bathing suit when I arrived at my tropical honeymoon a few days after my wedding.

You'll also need to revamp your drinking game. That means, no alcohol (NONE!). While this meant sitting through events, family dinners, and bar nights totally sober, I enjoyed the mental clarity and increased energy in the mornings. "Save the glass of champagne for after you walk down the aisle!" he said. And yes, I got to enjoy a few flutes of well-earned bubbly at my affair . . . and a margarita!

I also had to limit the amount of coffee I drank. Kirsch recommends having one espresso in the morning. While I stuck to brewed coffee beans, I drank it black. I didn't even add almond milk, and I swear it makes a difference in better digestion.

Kirsch believes that "too much coffee can lead to belly bloat!" Think about it, coffee dehydrates you, so you retain water to hold on to it. Instead, switch over to green tea, which has both caffeine and antioxidants. Every morning, I also had one of his A.M. Detox Drinks (it's yummy and fantastic for your skin!). You can see it in the mason jar above.

Finally, the hardest (for me, since I have a sweet tooth): no sugar. Even dark chocolate. OK, I may have had a handful of dark chocolate-covered almonds one rough night, but for the most part (like 95 percent) I kissed my beloved cookies, ice cream, and cupcakes goodbye. In fact, my husband hid the chocolate on a very high shelf so I could not reach or find it in our apartment. Do what you need to do to survive, brides!

Now onto what you can eat. Disclaimer, this was not Kirsch's exact plan but one loosely based off his advice and what I know works best for my body.

For breakfast I stuck to two options. The first, two eggs and sauteed spinach, all cooked in EVOO. Earlier in my wedding prep, I enjoyed that dish with a side of avocado, but the last two weeks I cut it based on Kirsch's recommendation to limit my fat intake (even healthy ones!). Otherwise, I had an antioxidant-rich bowl of unsweetened coconut yogurt with a handful of raw almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, cacao nibs, and blueberries. While Kirsch recommended no fruit (remember, no sugar!), I know blueberries are good for eliminating belly fat and making skin glow, so I had some anyways. If you're going to have sugar, eat it in the morning so you can burn it off throughout the day.

When it came to snacks, I sipped on dark green pressed juice (the kind without fruit) and crunchy veggies (Kirsch likes celery, red peppers, and jicama sticks). I also ate GoMacro bars, which were referred to me by another trainer I'd been working out with, Steve Pasterino. I bent the rules a little since these are made with brown rice syrup, but it ensured that I had an option when I was on-the-go.

Dinner and lunch were pretty similar. I'd either have what I dubbed a "Sad Salad" of spinach, crunchy water veggies (cucumber and snow peas), and lean protein (homemade chicken or salmon with no sauces) — all drizzled with EVOO and a lemon squeeze. Snooze. Otherwise, I would cook veggies (such as steamed green beans or asparagus) and have it with the aforementioned lean meat or fish. Sometimes, I would even have the eggs (see: breakfast!) for dinner, which I found very easy to digest. Occasionally, I'd enjoy a green smoothie (kale, spinach, blueberries, almond milk) with pea protein powder.

And for our grand finale, what to eat during your actual wedding weekend:

By then being a bride had taken over my identity (it happens to the best and most chill of us ladies in white). So I brought my own food to the weekend destination, including unsweetened coconut yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, green juice, nuts, seeds, bars, etc. I made sure my hotel room had a fridge to store it in.

"The day before is a day that you want to make sure to put the finishing touches," said Kirsch. "You have planned hard, sweated hard, and stayed away from the obvious no-nos. What else can you do? I suggest a relaxing massage, sauna, and steam. Eating foods like asparagus and celery will help keep you full and debloat you."

So I couldn't resist a taste of homemade pasta during our rehearsal dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant, but by 7 a.m. the next day, I was back on it.

"The day of, I would have a couple of eggs in the morning and oatmeal as you will need the energy and fuel for the rest of the day," Kirsch recommended. "A protein shake for lunch and water for the rest of the day. Save the drinking and eating for after the ceremony, or better yet, for the honeymoon!"

Here's what I consumed for breakfast on my wedding day: I had the antioxidant yogurt and seed bowl as well as black coffee; for lunch I ate a simple salad with grilled chicken provided by my venue; and for snack, I went with a GoMacro bar. After the ceremony, my husband and I sat in a separate room and ate every single appetizer (including pork buns, pulled BBQ chicken, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, and more!) and drank champagne. Diet. Over. As the evening went on, I enjoyed the goat cheese salad (CHEESE!), the short rib and sweet potato entree, wedding cake, homemade cookies, and apple cider donuts. There was pizza at our afterparty. I ate that, too.

Was dieting fun? No. Was it satisfying? Absolutely not. Was it worth it? Hell yes! For two weeks, you can do this! And you likely will lose inches, but you have to stick to it almost perfectly. We all have our handful of dark chocolate almonds here and there, but make sure you get right back on track. The best part in addition to your tight bod? You can pig out on your honeymoon! (On mine, I sure did my job consuming all of the noodles and dumplings Southeast Asia had to offer . . . and that is another story. Next up: How to get back your hot wedding bod of yesteryear.)

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pop-up wedding

If you haven't heard of pop-up weddings, you will.

Across the country, couples are ditching the idea of the traditional elaborate, expensive affairs and choosing to tie-the-knot with a less stressful, less expensive, less time-consuming ceremony.

Pop-up weddings are different than eloping or skipping off to get hitched in Las Vegas. They are small, intimate events taking place in unique locations supervised by a wedding coordinator for a fraction of the traditional cost of a wedding.

According to a study of 13,000 brides nationwide, The Knot.com found the average cost of a wedding ceremony and reception in 2016 was $13,329. Yikes!

"We hear from a lot of millennials who don't want to spend thousand of dollars and a year or more planning a wedding like their parents did," said Krista Embry, owner of Crown The Day, a pop-up wedding business right here in Louisville.

The couples interested in pop-up weddings aren't the type who care about photo booths, flash mob dances or matching bridesmaid dresses.

What they do want are a few special friends and family at their side, wearing whatever they want, and for the ceremony to take place in a special location.

Embry's scaled down, boutique style weddings are held at various locations throughout Louisville and Southern Indiana.

From the serene banks of the Ohio River to an edgier venue like The Baxter Avenue Morgue (Zombie makeup can be included) to outdoor music festivals, there's something to appeal to everyone.

Crown The Day offers wedding packages for $795. The price includes a unique venue, officiant, flowers, cake (or cupcakes), a livestream of the ceremony to Facebook, unity sand ceremony (couple combines two colors of sand into one vessel), a wedding coordinator, a celebration toast and photographs.

For $350, Embry offers a similar service (minus the celebration toast, flowers and cake) for couples who wish to renew their wedding vows.

By visiting the website, interested couples will find a list of the venues where ceremonies are offered and the day when the weddings or vow renews will take place there.

"Each wedding takes about 45 minutes and is conducted back to back to the next one, but this is not a mass wedding situation," Embry said. "The ceremony is individual and special - we take care of everything - so all a couple needs to do is show up with their marriage license."

Embry is currently booking ceremonies and plans to include more venues options, dates and services in the future.

In the meantime, to help spread the word and educate people on what a pop-up wedding is all about, Embry is offering free weddings and vow renewals this week at Abbey Road on The River, Thursday, May 25 to Monday May 29.

If you are ready to tie-the-knot or renew, simply show up at the Crown The Day booth in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

"It won't be hard to find us. We'll be the booth covered with flowers," Embry said.

Three couples have already signed up to renew their wedding vows but Embry said you can also walk up and get hitched this week.

Free ceremonies will also be available to members of the military on the Fourth of July and Veterans Day.

Another affordable option for those wishing to get hitched this spring is the Portland Wedding Weekend, June 10 and 11. The Portland community is hosting a weekend of affordable weddings at the newly-reopened church at 2718 Lytle St.

Celebrations will be conducted throughout the day and into the evening on Saturday and Sunday. Turn-key wedding packages start at $20 per guest and include the chapel, decorations, catered meal, soft drinks, wedding favors and cake.

If you are ready for a unique and personal way to say "I do" or "I do again" at a fraction of the cost of a traditional ceremony, a pop-up wedding or vow renewal may be the perfect solution to celebrate your union to the person you love.

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Pippa Middleton

It was the party of the year when the world's most famous bridesmaid, Pippa Middleton, finally became the bride. Middleton, who became famous for the figure-hugging dress she wore at the 2011 wedding of her sister, Princess Kate, to Prince William, tied the knot Saturday.

The wedding reception Saturday celebrating the marriage of Middleton, 33, and her husband, hedge fund millionaire James Matthews, was planned with military-like precision and executed under heavy security and secrecy.

PHOTO: Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, left, stands with her daughter Princess Charlotte, bottom left, as they arrive for the wedding of Pippa Middleton and James Matthews at St Marks Church in Englefield, May 20, 2017.

The reception venue, a glass-enclosed structure estimated to have cost more than $100,000 erected in the backyard of Carole and Michael Middleton's Bucklebury home, was draped with curtains to shield the prying eyes of the paparazzi and public.

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Inside the structure, which resembled a crystal palace, the estimated 350 guests partook in one of the most glamorous and high-profile events of the London social season.

Prior to the evening reception, an intimate circle of the couple's friends and family enjoyed a champagne brunch featuring langoustines, steak and chips, and foie gras. The brunch took place on the same Englefield Estate as St. Mark's Church, where Middleton, in a Giles Deacon gown, wed Matthews earlier Saturday in front of around 100 guests. The lavish wedding had an estimated price tag between $500,000 and $1 million.

Guests who received invitations for all three parts of Middleton's wedding day -- the church service, champagne brunch and reception -- were asked to bring a change of clothes. Middleton, who wrote a book titled "Celebrate" about party planning, wore a second gown for the black-tie evening reception at her parents' $8 million home.

The Middletons' mansion, dubbed "Bucklebury Manor," boasts seven bedrooms and sits on 18 acres of property with stunning gardens, fish ponds and a tennis court and pool. Before guests could enter the Bucklebury grounds, they reportedly had to pass through an extensive security check that included a special password matched with their passport.

The guest list for the reception was a who's who of society, including pro tennis stars Tim Herman and Roger Federer. Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Prince Andrew, also joined her cousins, Prince William and Prince Harry, for the day's activities.

Middleton's niece, Princess Charlotte, 2, and nephew, Prince George, 3, served in her bridal party, while Kate, 35, reportedly drew the illustration of St. Mark's Church that graced the wedding ceremony programs.

British tabloids reported one of the highlights of the night was a ping pong match that pitted Prince Harry and William against seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.

Harry, 32, brought his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, 35, to the evening reception. Markle was missing from both the ceremony and the reception at Englefield House.

Markle and Harry, who began dating last year, were reportedly seated apart from each other at the sit-down dinner, following standard etiquette for high-profile events. At night, a spitfire display took place in the sky while a spectacular light show flashing slides of Middleton's and Matthews' love story was projected against the Middletons' home.

Middleton and Matthews were spotted early Monday morning at Los Angeles International Airport on the way to their honeymoon destination in the South Pacific.

The couple will reportedly visit the exclusive Brando resort on Tetiaroa island, just north of Tahiti. The eco-tourism hot spot, which caters to the world's most elite and has a price tag of $3,500 a night, recently hosted Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen.

The eco-resort boasts just 35 deluxe cottages on pristine white beaches and private plunge pools. The resort features cuisine designed by a Michelin star chef, and most important of all, privacy.

Marlon Brando was said to have fallen in love with the island while filming the 1962 action film "Mutiny on the Bounty" and purchased the entire Pacific atoll for the less than the price it now costs its exclusive clientele for a week's stay.

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What to Wear

LINDSAY MOUSOUDAKIS OF MUSE is no stranger to fielding wedding-related questions. In a decade of owning the River Oaks boutique, she’s helped brides, wedding parties, their moms and many, many guests pick out the right outfit for the occasion. Now that wedding season is upon us—not to mention bachelorette season, shower season, etc.—here’s her best advice.

It’s shoulder season

“Off the shoulder is so major right now,” says Mousoudakis. “It’s not too sexy and it’s showing such a pretty part of body.” One caveat: as a wedding guest, you probably want to dance and have fun—and that includes raising your arms (hello, bouquet toss) without being restricted by your outfit, so make sure any cold-shoulder dress gives your arms freedom of movement.

Another slightly more covered option? Mousoudakis is a fan of adding interest with a big, bold sleeve. “The bell sleeve for summer and even for fall has this drama, it’s so fun and festive,” she says.

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Pants, Please

“The trend right now is to mix it up with rompers,” says Mousoudakis. “Brides are trying to steer away from a dress because its all about dress on the wedding day. I’ve seen a lot of rompers for bachelorettes or even for the [bridal] shower or [rehearsal] dinner. We’ve got a jumpsuit by Trina Turk at Muse that’s really dressy. You think of rompers as casual and cotton, but they can be cocktail, too—Alexis also makes a great version. It’s something different you’re not going to see anyone else in.”

A Baywatch Bachelorette

“Now it’s all about getting that perfect squad photo because everything is on social media. If your bachelorette is in a beachy area, Baywatch is back and brides and bridesmaids are all wearing matching swimsuits. Of course tanks and T-shirts are fun, too, but the bathing suit is such a fun idea,” says Mousoudakis. While Baywatch may currently be trending, but we’ll credit Taylor Swift for launching this trend by wearing matching suits alongside Cara DeLevingne and Gigi Hadid at her Fourth of July bash in 2016.

Try a surprising shape

The Muse owner is a big fan of making her shoppers try on several things before they make any final judgements—because sometimes something that seems wrong is actually a great option. Case in point: the wedding miniskirt. “What I think is fun is the miniskirt—when you have a blousy top with it or flat sandals its really cute on so many people whether their legs are muscular or skinny. I like people to experiment. It’s the same with the off-the-shoulder look. I think people are so scared to show skin, especially older women, but my mom just bought an off-the-shoulder dress and it’s so flattering.”

Keep it colorful

“For a summer wedding I think prints are fun and festive,” says Mousoudakis. For upcoming fall weddings, she’s a big fan of merlot and forest green, which will be on-trend and very appropriate for the season. And for those not into brights, she has good news: black, once considered a questionable choice for weddings, is a popular option these days. “I see people in black in weddings all the time, even in summer, just because an LBD is always a go-to and black is the most flattering. Everybody’s got a great black dress.”

What not to wear: White (unless you’re the bride)

Yes, we all saw Pippa Middleton rock a white bridesmaid dress, but that doesn’t mean the color is now on the table for most wedding guests. “It’s really important that the guest doesn’t wear any shade of white so there’s no competition with the bride,” says Mousoudakis. So while the little white dress may be trending this summer, save it for non-wedding-related occasions.

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Beautiful Bridesmaid

Looks like Rachel Bilson is going for 27 Dresses -level status. The actress has just rocked ANOTHER bridesmaid dress at a friend’s nuptials this weekend, making Bilson the M.V.P. of bridesmaids this side of Hollywood.

It was barely two months ago since the Hart of Dixie star last took on bridesmaid duty, standing by her bride’s side in an impossibly chic gown featuring a pretty pink hue, a formal floor-length hemline, a romantic off-the-shoulder sweetheart neckline, and a slim, fitted silhouette. Without an unflattering seam or frilly ruffle in sight, it was the dress bridesmaid dreams are made of. But this was far from Bilson’s first foray into bridal party territory.

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In June of last year, Bilson was a bridesmaid at her brother’s wedding, donning a blue lace sheath from Self-Portrait at the rehearsal dinner and then later stunning in a pale pink chiffon bridesmaid dress at the ceremony. “Always a bridesmaid,” the actress captioned a photo of herself getting ready for the big day with her fellow ‘maids. Girl, you’ve got a few more bridal parties ahead of you!

This weekend was the O.C. alum's latest wedding where she stylishly served as bridesmaid. Bilson first took a car selfie of her and pal en route to the venue. “Let’s get this wedding started!” she captioned the snap. But it was her added hashtags that had us LOL’ing. “#alwaysabridesmaid #28dresses #gonnamakethesequel,” Bilson wrote. Too funny! Also, who would love to see a 27 Dresses sequel starring Rachel Bilson? Let’s see those raised hands! After all the nuptials she’s been a part of, it could even be a reality show, TBH…

Bilson also later shared a snap from the wedding, featuring the (huge!) bridal party in its entirety. This chill AF bride apparently let her ‘maids mix and match their frocks, as each girl is rocking a flowy, floral dress in various colors and prints for a pretty, boho effect. Cool, right?

Care to be our MOH, Bilson? Clearly, you’ve had a TON of practice.

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Margot Robbie

Welcome Margot Robbie to the "celebrity bridesmaids" squad, which includes both Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lawrence.

Robbie, presumably still riding high from her own low-key nuptials at the end of last year, recently served as a bridesmaid. The Wolf of Wall Street star posted a picture on Instagram late Thursday night that shows her standing among a wedding party on the steps of a chapel. Although Robbie didn't identify who the bride and groom are, she captioned the pretty photo, "Going to the chapel... J❤️N."

In the picture, Robbie, 26, stands next to the bride in front of a green chapel flanked by palm trees, which the Daily Mail identified as Wai'oli Hui'ia Church in Hanalei, Hawaii. Robbie and the one other bridesmaid wear midi-length ivory slipdresses and carry simple greenery.

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This bridesmaid gig comes just five months after Robbie's own supersecret wedding last December. Although Robbie and her husband, film director Tom Ackerley, have stayed mum on the details of the big day, the Daily Mail reported at the time that Robbie's sister served as her maid of honor and her mother gave her away at the Byron Bay, Australia, ceremony. A source also told Woman's Day that all guests were sworn to secrecy and that the pair "decided to marry around Christmas so they could spend time with both their families afterwards, which they've never done before."

Robbie confirmed her marriage shortly after with an Instagram post in which she and Ackerley share a smooch while Robbie flips off the camera with her newly blinged-out ring finger. The couple first met in 2013 while on set of war drama Suite Française; Ackerley happened to be the film's assistant director when he caught eye of the blonde beauty. They began dating shortly after wrapping up on-set, and even launched their own film company, Lucky Chap Entertainment.

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Summer wedding

It used to be that dress codes for a summer’s worth of weddings were pretty much interchangeable. Perhaps that one was a bit smarter and called for a new hat, another more intimate or bohemian. Generally, though, a nice frock would do.

But just as weddings have become 3D Pinterest boards of one-of-a-kind one-upmanship, so dressing for wedding guests has become a quagmire of misread signals and misguided purchases (I’m looking at you, pashminas). With the affianced planning their I-dos everywhere from remote Greek mountain villages to enter-through-the-wardrobe speakeasies, it’s hard to know what the part is, let alone look it.

Jessica Raine wears a floral dress to the Harpers Bazaar anniversary party last week. 

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If you’re hoping for a set of rules to follow here, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. “The ‘never wear white to a wedding’ mantra no longer applies,” says Ellie Pithers, fashion features editor at Vogue. “Obviously, one should steer clear of long white lacy dresses that could cause confusion as you file into church, but a white or cream shift dress is perfectly acceptable. “Hats are now specified on the invitation, and are usually encouraged rather than enforced. Fascinators look cheap – always.”

If the ground feels as though it’s been pulled from beneath your feet, fear not: fashion giveth and it taketh away. The wedding dress code as you knew it might be out of date, but these days, there are many more options than a nice frock to be had: it’s just a case of knowing what to wear, and when.

The City Ceremony

As a general rule of thumb, city wedding dress codes are a bit more tailored, and a bit less flamboyant – imagine yourself on the bus home and suddenly that silk prom skirt is a lot less appealing. Given that jumpsuits will now be allowed in Ascot’s royal enclosure, I’d say that makes them wedding appropriate, too, provided they bear no resemblance to a Ghostbusting boiler suit. Look for a wide-leg, cropped style – the A-line shape is more elegant than a fitted silhouette. Martha Ward’s is £395 from Shrimps, and comes in navy, or try Paper London’s Pepto-Bismol pink if you’re feeling brave.

The temptation with a hot destination wedding is to wear one of those heavily embroidered folk dresses that were so popular last summer. The danger is that most likely everyone else will do the same, and you’ll look like a matrioshka dolls cosplay group.

Wearing ruffles is still entering very much into the spirit of things, but in less of a bringing- my-goods-to-market kind of way, which you’ll thank yourself for when you see the wedding photos. JCrew Collection’s ruffled blue skirt will work with a simple white blouse, but Marks & Spencer’s khaki wrap dress is so good that, really, no other ruffles need apply. Stick to shades of tan, brown and gold for accessories.

And shoes? Suede mules will work in a Tuscan vineyard but not on a Caribbean beach, where it’s safer to opt for ancient-Greek sandals.

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Losing Weight For Wedding

As a young girl, I had a dream I would meet my soulmate, fall madly in love, and strut down the aisle in a pretty dress, surrounded by all my favourite people.

Do you know what I didn’t dream about, all those years ago?

I didn’t dream I’d be standing in the middle of a bridal shop, about to order The Dress, when I heard the words:

“So, how much weight are you planning to lose before the wedding?”

How much what, now?

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In that split second, I began to second guess myself. The years I’d spent healing my relationship with food started to unravel.

How much weight am I going to lose?

Do I need to lose weight?

Is she saying I look fat?

Maybe this isn’t the right dress.

I really wish I didn’t eat that sandwich for lunch.

I should have had the salad.

I composed myself, and turned to face the shop assistant, “I don’t intend to lose any weight before the wedding, but I’m not sure what size I’ll need. Do you have a tape measure?”

Despite her poor choice of words, I don’t hold this exchange against the shop assistant. If online forums, wedding magazines and my friends are to be believed, the pre-wedding weightloss regime is at the top of the to do list for many brides.

But it’s not for me. Here’s why:

For years, I battled to shrink my body. I counted calories, calculated points, and saved my syns for a weekend binge. I ditched bread, cut out sugar, and avoided nights out with my friends. I threw up when I’d eaten too much. I lost weight, but I was miserable. It didn’t matter how much the number on the scales dropped, I was never happy.

Controlling my food had become more than a bid to get healthy and feel happier in my own skin. It was now a coping mechanism for everything else that was going wrong in my life - and it was far from healthy. But I was good at it.

Then one day, something changed.

I fell in love with someone who asked difficult questions, and listened as I muddled through the answers. From day one, he got me to open up about things I’d never spoken about before - and I started to open up to the possibility life could be different.

I wondered, if he could love me as I was, despite my flaws, why couldn’t I?

Something in my mind shifted. I decided, not only was I worthy of his love, but I was worthy of my own love, too.

It took me a long time to change the destructive food habits I’d created over the years, but self-love won in the end. I’m in a much better place now. I eat food that nourishes my body, but I’m not afraid to indulge in a little soul food when I fancy. I try to take care of my body, because it’s the only one I’ve got, but I enjoy life too. That’s what it’s all about, right?

It’s easy to get sucked into the glossy pages of wedding magazines, or the endless Pinterest boards. But the truth is, my wedding doesn’t have to be Insta-Perfect or Pinterest-Worthy - and neither do I.

Ditching the idea of perfection has been a big part of my step towards more self-love - and it’s something I’m still working on today.

So no, I haven’t tried to lose weight for my wedding.

When I walk down that aisle next weekend, I get to marry my best friend, and that’s pretty awesome. My husband-to-be isn’t going to be worrying if I’m carrying a few extra pounds, or thinking about the cupcake I ate three weeks ago.

Our guests won’t be, either. Have you ever been to a wedding, and scrutinised the bride’s weight? I’m guessing not. But, if you have, I think it says more about your own insecurities than it does about the bride.

For me, a wedding isn’t about perfectly coordinated colour schemes, elaborate menus, or shrinking yourself into a dress.

It’s a celebration of love. And that’s what I’ll be focusing on - not the number on the scales.

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