Category Archives: From the Expert

From the Expert: 3 Beauty Areas You Can Focus On to Prepare For Your Wedding


Renata Rensky, lead artist of Bridal Beauty by Renata, shares her expertise about locking in a wedding makeup artist and areas of your body to pay attention to so that you’re prepped and ready for the wedding!

A woman’s wedding day is one of the most important days in her entire life! Every bride dreams of feeling gorgeous on their special day, but there are some crucial steps to take in order to make that dream a reality!

If you’re going to go this route, it’s an absolute necessity to schedule an appointment at least two months in advance. The reason for this is that you need to determine ahead of time whether the wedding makeup is well-suited for your skin. A nasty allergic reaction is definitely one accessory you don’t want to be sporting as you walk down the aisle!

The day that you meet with your makeup artist, you should bring pictures of makeup looks and hairstyles that you like. However, it’s also a good idea to stay open-minded to any recommendations that your makeup artist might have. An experienced and knowledgeable makeup artist can help you choose the right products based on your coloring and desired look.

Keep in mind that makeup always looks different in person than it does on camera, particularly foundation. Therefore, it’s essential to do a test run and take plenty of pictures. No one wants to look washed out in their wedding photos! Those pictures will stick around long after you say “I do,” so make sure that your makeup looks great on film prior to the big day.
Choose products that will last the entire event so that you feel beautiful all day (and night) long! That means you should carefully select high-quality, long-wear foundation, eye shadow, blush, and lipstick.

These are all things that your makeup artist will advise you, but what about the things you can do on your own leading up to the big day? Yes, you have homework, too!

For flawless skin in person and on camera, forgo the sunscreen. SPF creams can cause your face to look chalky on camera.

If you struggle with skin issues, such as acne, wrinkles or discoloration, get the blushing bride glow by consulting an esthetician or dermatologist. It’s a good idea to do this at least six months before the wedding so that your skin can heal from any treatments in time for the special day. You could also look into getting a professional peel.

Using a gentle exfoliate can help clear up annoying skin blemishes. It’s best to choose one that utilizes round polyurethane beads rather than those made with apricots or nuts. Harsh scrubs can irritate the skin and enlarge pores.

For soft and smooth lips, use lip balm made with natural ingredients like Vitamin E.


There are a few things that you can do to get your body looking perfect for your wedding day. First and foremost, make sure to drink plenty of water every single day. Water helps to keep skin hydrated. Of course it’s important to also watch your diet and avoid salty foods which can cause you to bloat. We want to make sure you fit into that stunning gown!

As far as spray tanning or facial waxing is concerned, it’s vital that you test them out prior to the week of the wedding. It’s wise to start spray tanning a few months before the wedding so that you can determine the perfect skin tone. Face waxing, especially eyebrows and the upper lip, should be done at least two weeks before the wedding to avoid redness.


Hair can become damaged easily due to the effects of harsh weather and pollution. Prior to the wedding, you can get your hair looking healthy and shiny by visiting your local salon for some hair treatments. There are also many wonderful gloss and shine products on the market that will keep your hair looking perfect as you shake it on the dance floor with your new hubby.

Make sure to do a few trial runs with your selected hairstyle so that it looks just the way you want on your special day.


Follow these tips, consult a makeup artist, and have an amazing wedding. Then, on your honeymoon, relax and don’t worry about a thing!

renataSince she was 10 years old, Renata has been fascinated by the way makeup can transform a woman’s face. Her passion and talent was evidenced in her European childhood as she crafted such transformations on a daily basis for the women in her neighborhood. Through this early commitment, she demonstrated the sort of artistry and eye for detail that became the building blocks of a successful career in the United States. Her intuitive use of color, mastery of technique and ability to tap into the needs of her clients has distinguished her as a team player and invaluable asset on any creative projects. Whether accentuating one’s natural beauty or creating more dramatic and character-specific looks, Renata brings her creativity, inimitable enthusiasm, and cooperative spirit to each and every job. She believes makeup is a powerful mode of expression and is truly grateful to participate in a process which not only celebrates the inner and outer beauty of the individual, but honors a greater artistic vision. Check out Renata’s site to learn more about her and make sure to “like” her on Facebook.

  • deanapruden says:

    Thanks for sharing .

From The Expert: Three Ways You Are Ruining Your Wedding With Social Media


Photographers know a lot as they are on the front lines of wedding planning and the wedding day. Ashleigh Henning of Ashleigh Taylor Photography is here today to tell us the three ways that social media is ruining your wedding experience and what you can do about it.

Wedding Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay! And while it can be a great resource and add a lot of fun to your wedding planning process, it can also ruin your big day! Wait what? As a wedding photographer, I have seen it happen. The good news is you don’t need to fall victim to the social media induced wedding day blues. Here’s three ways social media can really ruin your wedding experience and what to do about it so it does not happen to you!


Sharing big life moments on Facebook has become the status quo. It’s easy on a big day like your wedding to want to update your status, check out all your likes, and all the lovely words of congratulations people are writing on your wall! However, I am always amazed by how many brides spend a lot of their time in the hair and make-up chair looking at their phone & Facebook on their wedding day.

The Problem: There are three big problems with this. 1) It makes it much harder for your hair and make-up artist to do their job when you are constantly checking your phone for updates. 2) It doesn’t really look that great in photos to see a bride engrossed in her phone. It’s totally not that idealistic image of a bride looking excited as she’s being primped, but rather one where a bride looks concentrated on something else other than her wedding day. 3) The biggest problem of all is that it is actually taking you out of the moment of enjoying what is actually happening. Your wedding day only happens once, but your Facebook wall will still be full of messages tomorrow. It’s so much better to live in the day rather than the social network because, well, YOLO.

The Solution: Turn your phone off or give it to your MOH so you don’t feel tempted to check it. Maybe your friend can even periodically check your fb for you and report back. But you should really do your best not to check it and enjoy the moment!


Pinterest is practically synonymous with wedding planning these days. Most brides have several Pinterest boards dedicated to wedding inspiration with everything from their dream decor to must-have shots they want for their wedding pictures. I do love Pinterest and think when used wisely it can be a great resource, but it also has its pitfalls.

The Problem: Pinterest creates a LOT of unrealistic expectations for your wedding day which can lead to a lot of disappointment for brides. Keep this in mind: when you are pinning photos you are pinning one or two of the BEST photos of someone’s wedding. So your Pinterest board is not actually representative of every shot every person gets in one wedding but rather a “best of” compilation of photos from hundreds of different weddings. And there are a lot of unique factors to each wedding such as location, scheduling/timeline, whether or not a couple did a first look, weather and lighting conditions, etc., which may make recreating these “best of” shots hard to accomplish. Each wedding is unique so it is very unrealistic to think your full wedding folio will look like the highlights from many other weddings. That’s not to say your photos won’t be AMAZING, it’s just to say they might not be a shot-by-shot recreation of your pin board. Beyond just unrealistic expectations for photos, pinterest can also create unrealistic expectations for what is doable in decor. A lot of stuff that is popular on Pinterest is from styled photo shoots — not even real weddings — and to execute that look for a real event would cost $$$$.

The Solution: I am not saying you need to get rid of your Pinterest board, just to keep your expectations in check. Use the boards to figure out the overall style you’d like for your pictures or decor, and then find a vendor who fits that style and can create something ORIGINAL just for you within that style. Your original photos created by a photographer you trust are going to be so much more genuine, beautiful, artistic, and meaningful than recreations of shots on your pin board. And heck, a few of them may even end up being popular on Pinterest down the road too.

3) INSTAGRAM (or similar photo sharing apps/sites)

Your friends, family, and even your bridal party are whipping their phones out to live-Instagram your wedding day! That might seem great in theory, as you are excited to see some photos from your day right away, but there is a real trade off for this.

The Problem: First, by live-Instagramming the day, your friends and family are not being in the moment with you. I’ve actually had to ask bridesmaids to stop taking photos of the bride getting into her dress so she could actually be in the photo with the bride and be a part of the getting ready process. Really?! Yes, really. I’ve seen moms so focused on getting a photo of the bride walking down the aisle with their phone, that their face registered no actual emotion as to what was going on other than the concentrated look of “must take this photo.” It is really so sad, especially since part of the reason you hire a professional photographer like me is so you don’t have to get the shots yourself and can enjoy the moment of the day! Second, it actually ruins your pro-photos when you have a bunch of people trying to take amateur pictures. It can be as simple as looking at your ceremony photos and seeing a sea of hands holding iphones where your guests’ heads should be. But it can be much worse too. I’ve had guests get up and stand in the aisle to take pictures during a ceremony blocking or limiting my shots. I’ve even had a guest during the cake cutting ask me if I could move out of their shot, but I am pretty sure at the end of the day the bride preferred my pro-shot to her guest’s blurry Instagram one.

The Solution: Have an “unplugged” wedding or at the very least an unplugged ceremony. This means asking guests to put away their phones and cameras and not take pictures during the ceremony (or sometimes the entire wedding). You can do this really nicely by putting up a cute sign, a note in the program and/or by having the officiant say something about it prior to the start of the ceremony. I’ve had several couples do this and it has had a tremendously positive impact on both the photos and the whole mood of the day!

In conclusion, I think the common thread here is that all three social media outlets (Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram) detract from your wedding day because in one way or another they take you out of enjoying the moment of your day. Whether it is referring back to your Pinterest board to make sure all your “must have shots” got taken, or checking your Facebook feed for messages from friends, or your guests jumping up with their phones to take tons of pictures during your ceremony instead of actually watching it, all of these things prevent you from fully experiencing one of the huge milestones of your life. Your wedding day will go fast. Enjoy it fully.

ashleighBased in Santa Barbara, California, Ashleigh loves to be behind the camera, documenting the most important moments her couples get to experience. She loves getting to know her couples and offering them guidance and direction so they can look back at their photos and feel happy about their time in front of the camera. Ashleigh’s work has been featured in many major wedding print magazines and on high-end and frequented wedding planning web sites. Her favorite part about the gig: connecting with real couples, telling their story through vibrant images, and helping people see themselves as beautiful as they truly are.

Visit Ashleigh Taylor Photography, “like” her on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest and Twitter. … just not during your wedding day.

  • ashleigh says:

    thank you for sharing my article with your readers! i truly hopes this helps some brides have a better wedding day and live in the moment!!

  • julia says:

    Very well said Ashley!

  • Kathy says:

    You have managed to impress me with your interesting innimratoofal article. That¡¯s no small feat. I share many of your same views that you¡¯ve expressed very well in this content.

From The Expert: Perfecting Your Jewish Wedding Registry With The Perfect Guide


Today’s Expert: Dena Siegel of Chai & Home: Jewish Life, Beautifully Lived

I didn’t listen to my mother when I was setting up my wedding registry. My mother had a reputation for expensive tastes and spending quite freely, especially other people’s money: at least that is what Dad said. Anyway, when she expressed dismay at my registry full of general household goods and encouraged me to remove that stuff to instead list a proper set of china, crystal, and a real silver set, I was incredulous.

When I was setting up my registry, my fiancé and I were very aware that we didn’t want other people to see us as money-grubbing and desirous of expensive gifts. We placed practical items on the list: a wok, lamps, some small cooking appliances, towels, and the like. It was stuff we really needed everyday and most of it was inexpensive. I thought the guests would appreciate my practicality and see items they could easily afford.

Fast forward 10 years. Do you know what I have left from those gifts: One set of crystal candlesticks — and these weren’t on my registry! They were given off-list and I can only assume because the giver wanted to give me something that would last and they didn’t see anything like that on my registry. Since then, the wok and towels wore out and the lamps and electric items were left in England when I moved back home to Los Angeles. But I use the candlesticks regularly for Shabbat and now I know what my mother meant.

Here is what I know now but didn’t know then:

1. THE WAY YOU LIVE AND ENTERTAIN NOW ISN’T NECESSARILY HOW YOU WILL ENTERTAIN IN 5 AND 10 YEARS. You may not hold Passover now or many other formal dinners. But when you have kids and a beautiful home and your parents are older, by golly, you will be doing just that.

2. YOU THINK OF THE GIVER AND YOUR WEDDING DAY EVERY TIME YOU USE A GIFT FROM THE REGISTRY. This is really true so most items on your registry should be beautiful and elegant because that is how the giver will be remembered, and they know it.

3. YOUR GUESTS (PARTICULARLY YOUR RELATIVES) WANT TO GIVE YOU TIMELESS ITEMS. They have the wisdom to know how important these gifts are and they don’t want to be the one remembered by the vacuum cleaner because they know how temporal and banal the vacuum cleaner is.

4. YOU MAY NOT BE IN A POSITION TO BUY FINE ITEMS LATER. You may be feeling flush now because you have two incomes and no children, but when you are starting a family and establishing a home, it might be years and years before you are in a position again to buy a gold-rimmed set of china. And it might never happen.

So do your future self a favor and listen to this yenta: plan your registry very carefully.

Here is a tool to help. Chai & Home’s A Very Jewish Wedding Registry. This is a downloadable and printable guide to all the key items you will need in establishing a beautiful, Jewish home. With it you can create a meaningful wedding registry that your guests will be pleased to contribute to and that will set you up for your future household.

You will see there is an emphasis on Judaica and tableware and almost no cookware or appliances. When chosen wisely, the Judaica and tableware should last you lifetime. Not only do cookware and appliances not last, but they have an air of mundane practicality that most givers don’t want to be associated with.

May the gifts of your wedding registry display the joy and love your family and friends have for you during this magical time in your life.


Download the full registry checklist now!

Dena SiegelDena Siegel writes Chai & Home, a style blog about elegant, modern Jewish living. Through Chai & Home, Dena shows how Jewish life is beautifully lived by bringing you the best in accessories and Judaica available today. New ideas mixed with centuries old traditions will enliven your practice and stimulate yourself, your family, and friends. Visit Chai & Home or swing by to “Like!” the Facebook page.Visit Chai & Home or swing by to “Like!” the Facebook page.

All this pretty stuff! After you’re finished making some additions to your wedding registry based on the tips from Chai & Home, try to get your hands on MORE pretty stuff! Enter for a chance to win the grand prize of our current sweepstakes, sponsored by Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design!

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  • Pingback: A Guide to Stocking the Jewish Home | Chai and Home

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  • Marlee says:

    Oh, I know – it can be so hard when friends get together and yor2u8&17;#e left out! I was lucky that I had fun plans this weekend so that I didn’t feel too bummed out.

  • Pingback: Wedding Registries: Brainstorming & Beginnings | BeckyCuthby

From The Expert: Exploring Your Name On The Ketubah With Rabbi Rayzel

By Rabbi Rayzel of

Working with couples on their weddings for the past 20 years, I have had the privilege to enter their hearts at a very special time when they are filled with love and hope for the future. My willingness and intention to officiate at interfaith weddings has always been to become a “loving portal” of connection to Judaism. I believe that a friendly rabbi goes a long way to serve the “yet to be affiliated” interfaith family.

I have met many different kinds of couples over the years. Those with one strongly-identified Jew, or two “we’re not so religious” types, or perhaps the Jewish partner is the ambivalent one and the other partner has strong faith in a spiritual force. It has been fascinating to witness what becomes important and meaningful as the wedding planning unfolds. When I explain the Jewish wedding customs and offer contemporary meanings for them, it is often the partner who isn’t Jewish who insists on breaking the glass or wearing a kippah!

One of my favorite conversations to have during in the planning is in regard to the ketubah, the wedding document. To me this is the defining moment of what direction a couple’s lives will take, and can determine whether they will raise a Jewish family. The ketubah has come a long way; earliest versions guaranteed that the groom would provide food, clothing, and sex to his wife, and in exchange she became the property of her husband. The then black and white printed ketubah was put away somewhere in a drawer — it wasn’t seen as anything more than a contract. Although the traditional ketubah, using this guaranteed exchange and printed out simply, is still used in Orthodox circles, most of my interfaith couples select a gorgeous flowery text in Hebrew and English, beautifully calligraphic, and embellished with other design features to hang on their wall.

Ketubah by Anna Abramzon

Ketubah by Anna Abramzon

The ketubah is not generic: both partners’ names are included in the text. While most Jews are given a Hebrew name at or shortly after their birth, interfaith marriages provide a challenge. How do we fill out this ketubah using Hebrew names when one partner does not have a Hebrew name?

I have always found it odd to transliterate “Chris” or “Christine” in Hebrew for a ketubah. I have used this moment in discussion with my couples to raise the issue of Ger Toshav (Hebrew for “resident stranger”). I explain that there were two kinds of converts in ancient Israel: the righteous convert (ger tzedek) and the one who dwells among us (ger toshav). I explain, “It’s like having your ‘green card’ with the Jewish people.” The Ger Toshav agrees to raise their children with Jewish customs, to be an ally of the Jewish people. To be a Ger Toshav can also but not always begin a journey towards conversion.

One couple, an ambivalent Israeli bride and a lapsed Catholic groom, grappled with what to do with the future children. “A little of both,” they agreed. However when we got to the moment of deciding what Chris should be called in Hebrew in the ketubah, he immediately said, “‘Shlomo’ — I’ve always loved that name.” The bride was shocked; he had never said that before. At that moment I knew that taking a Hebrew name would change his destiny forever.

Jews believe that names carry power. We don’t even mention the name of our God it is so powerful. (Instead, the names used in prayer are nicknames.) We have a tradition of changing a sick child’s name to Chayim (life) or Alter (old) to fool the angel of death. So when Chris became Shlomo, I knew that this moment would define him and his spiritual journey for years to come — even if his bride was ambivalent about her tradition.

Using the category of Ger Toshav also clarifies a murky status. I had a counseling session with an interfaith couple who were stuck on how to raise the children. The groom, grandson of Holocaust survivors, was adamant that his children be Jewish. The young Catholic bride burst into tears saying, “Give me the rationale for why I should put aside my faith to raise these children Jewish. I’m not Jewish!” I replied, “Perhaps your own efforts to raise these children Jewishly will go a long way on some cosmic level toward the healing of the Christian history towards the Jews.” “But I won’t be Jewish or Catholic, I’ll be nothing,” she countered. My response was to tell her that as a Ger Toshav, you align yourself with the mixed multitudes who left Israel creating the paradigm of freedom. The Jewish people have a deep and rich history; by your willingness you help pass on ancient wisdom and meaning you further this history. This satisfied her angst and she agreed to bring the children up Jewish. She’s now in search of her Hebrew name for the ketubah.

I use the ketubah moment to begin the discussion of children, allegiance and affiliation with the Jewish people, taking new names, and spiritual journeys. It opens many avenues to discussion and is clearly a defining moment of transformation.

For more information about ger toshav, click here!

This article was originally published for

rayzel-raphael200Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael is a rabbi in private practice in the Philadelphia area. She has a specialty in interfaith weddings and welcomes couples to her home on Shabbat. In addition, Rabbi Rayzel is an award winning singer/songwriter. She is a proud member of The Wedding Yentas family and is available to discuss your needs for lifecycle events. You can visit her at

From The Expert: Bridal Jewelry Is Not Something You Select At The End Of Your Journey


Event venue? Check. Photographer? Band or DJ? Check, check. Florist? Rings? Check, check, check. Dress, check? Rabbi? Of course!

You’re on your way – mazel tov! No doubt you’ve taken great care in selecting all of the above. And what necklace will you wear? Aha – haven’t thought of that one yet?

It’s a common scenario: brides immediately choose the place, the music, the florist, the photographer, the caterer and the dress and then exhale for a while. The other stuff can wait, right? Sure, some of it can.

But not everything should. If you have a family heirloom that your mom and your grandmother wore as brides, you’re all set – just make sure your neckline works with Granny’s necklace. But if that’s not the case, perhaps your jewelry should be a priority as well. After all, you won’t need the band, the venue, the flowers or the dress after your wedding day, but if you wear beautiful jewelry, you’ll wear it over and over again.

Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design

And what bride doesn’t want beautiful jewelry? Once you know what you’re wearing, it’s time to think about jewelry. What type of neckline do you have? If it’s high and lacy, you may not need a necklace, but knockout earrings and a bracelet may be in order.

If you have a sweetheart neckline, something simple works best so as not to make the look too complicated or fussy. A classic, simpler neckline can handle a bolder necklace that makes more of a statement.

Is your dress ivory? White? Bone? All the subtleties of color can be enhanced and reflected in a custom-designed suite of jewelry that’s as unique as you as a bride. Some aquamarine, blue topaz or even turquoise in the piece can serve as your something blue. A bracelet will complement the necklace and earrings. Maybe you need a bold piece for the rehearsal dinner and a more traditional suite for the wedding itself.

What if you want to wear your mother’s pearls or your grandmother’s cameo for sentimental reasons, but they just don’t conjure up the image you have in mind? A good bridal jewelry designer can incorporate those pearls or other elements into a new piece that’s fresh and exciting, but respectful of your family’s tradition and history.

And there’s always the challenge of trying to please everyone! Coordinating jewelry for the bridesmaids and flower girls is the perfect thank-you gift – and you know they’ll be wearing exactly what you want! Sometimes brides have the same necklace made for each bridesmaid with a little something extra for the maid of honor. Sometimes brides commission a different piece for each attendant, based on tastes and personal styles.

Finally, you mustn’t forget mom and his mom! Once they’ve chosen their outfits, surprise them with jewelry as well. Jewelry is the finishing touch that literally lights up the ensemble and makes everyone sparkle. By commissioning pieces for yourself and your attendants and mothers, you unite the bridal party in a beautiful and lasting way.

The advantage of collaborating with a designer – instead of buying something mass-produced and on a rack somewhere – is that you can commission exactly what you want, within your budget for your wedding. When you confer with a designer, he or she will get a feel for your style (photos and descriptions help) and the two of you will work together to create the perfect complement to your perfect day.

Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design

*****************************************Emily Kuvin designs her jewelry to be simple, elegant and original. Her collection comprises of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings. She specializes in working with individual clients to make unique custom pieces for any occasion.

Emily’s pieces are made primarily with semi-precious stones, fresh water pearls and Venetian (Murano) glass beads. Findings and accents are 14 karat gold, sterling silver, vermeil, or gold-filled. Emily personally selects her materials from all over the world, from countries including India, Israel, Germany, Italy, and here in the United States.

A self-taught jewelry designer, Emily began her jewelry designing in high school and continued to refine and develop her aesthetic and skills over the years. After college and graduate school in journalism, Emily worked as a television news anchor for several years, then went to law school and practiced law as an attorney and a corporate communications executive. Once she concluded that her true passion is jewelry design, Emily chose to make this her full-time career.

Emily lives in the Boston area with her husband, two children, and two dogs. Check out Emily Kuvin Jewelry Design on Facebook to stay up to date!

  • Jenny says:

    LOVE her jewelry from what I see her! I plan to check out more on her site. I have an even coming up this spring that I’d love a new necklace for.

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