August 7, 2015

{Love & English Teacups!}


Dear Bride-to-Be
With the popularity of Downton Abbey, all things charmingly vintage and elegantly English have a renewed appeal. (And for some us, such charm never went out of fashion!) I recently met a delightful woman at a wedding event who has a clever new business; she rents out “vintage mismatched fine china” for special events—like for your bridesmaid luncheon or wedding reception. Vanessa Gilbreath is English, ‘natch, and the treasures you can rent are from sets of beautiful china she inherited from her mother, grandmother and great-aunt ... all reminiscent of English flower gardens.

Like a lot of people who watched Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding and were inspired by the brides bouquet or lace-trimmed gown or veil or serene bearing, Vanessa’s idea for her Vintage English Teacup business was also inspired by this splendid yet intimate royal wedding. (And the table designs that can be created with Vanessas plates and teacups and other pretty things are something I’m sure Duchess Catherine would love!) 

Wherever your inspiration comes from for your wedding, be sure to include the elegance and beauty that calls forth your delicious imagination as well as your royally open heart!

Love. Listen. Let go.
....with love from Cornelia

[Images from Vintage English Teacup website]

July 29, 2015

{Bring Intimacy Back to Weddings}


Dear Bride-to-Be
“Weddings are increasingly notable for their amazing lack of intimacy, their evolution into industry,” commentator Jacki Lyden wrote in a report for NPR several years ago. And in our overly-commercialized, up-noised, garish culture, I share this idea over and over in an attempt to urge couples to “look inside” and follow their hearts first when planning their wedding.

In my book for same-sex couples (The Handkerchief Has Been Thrown!—just re-published in print form), I remind the reader of this dilemma. Suggesting ways to return intimacy to the wedding celebration, I encourage gay and lesbian couples to not just follow the fashion of “traditional” weddings, but to set a new standard inspiring all ceremonies to be more real and from the heart.

Unfortunately, Bridal Expos—those big gatherings that bring wedding vendors together with potential brides, grooms and assorted entourages—tend to boost the commercial, big-sexy-party aspect of modern weddings. (I was invited to have a book signing at a first-of-its-kind Same-Sex Wedding Expo recently. Aaaargh!! The epitome of “lack of intimacy.” Please guys, you can do better!)

Whether you’re marrying a man or a woman; whether your wedding is teensy-tiny or ballroom huge; whether you’re on a mountaintop or in a grand cathedral, you may want to hear what journalist S. Bryan Lowder has to say:  “I’m a gay man who wants to get married. But how do I have a wedding that’s not so … straight?” In other words, you don’t have to copy-cat the matchy-matchy, ho-hum aesthetic of many mainstream weddings—trends that have squeezed all the depth and intimacy out of the ceremony and celebratory festivities.

So, planning a wedding? Just don’t forget to bring your good taste, good sense, and especially your good heart along with you!

Love. Listen. Let go.
…with love from Cornelia

[Couples photograph: Courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings]

The Handkerchief Has Been Thrown! 
Something Old & Something New for Same-Sex Couples 
is available on Amazon.

July 8, 2015

{Princesses, Heiresses and Weddings}


Dear Bride-to-Be: 
I thought youd enjoy my article published in the summer issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it from the online magazine...and Ive reprinted it below. ’Tis an excerpt from my new book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.


Princesses, Heiresses and Weddings

“We knew that we wanted Diana to have a large bouquet,” explained her gown designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel. “The scale of the dress meant that a small one would have simply disappeared.” With the universal appeal of Princess Diana’s shimmering wedding in the summer of 1981, over-sized, shower-style bridal bouquets became the fashion. (Of course, most things in the glitzy, high-flying ‘80s were on a grander scale!)

Almost a hundred years earlier, Princess May of Teck (who became Queen Mary, Prince Charles’ great-grandmother), started a similar trend when she carried a huge, cascading bouquet for her 1893 wedding to the future King George V. It was called “a modern touch” because its “shape had only recently ousted the posy,” shared historian Ann Monsarrat. The 19th century English journal Manners for Women attributed this “extravagant fashion to the influx of heiresses from the New World into British society through marriage.” These were daughters of the nouveau riche of the Gilded Age who took their fathers’ immense wealth abroad between the 1870s and early1920s to marry cash-strapped noblemen, like the character of Cora Crawley on Downton Abbey. They not only rescued a way of life for the British aristocracy—at least for a few years—but also lent their opulent taste to wedding celebrations.

Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman who set up shop in Paris, became the father of modern couture—and a favorite designer of these rich American girls who in turn became famous for their expensive Worth wardrobes and diamond tiaras. They spent thousands every season at his salon and when the time came, ordered a dazzling wedding gown and fancy trousseau. Consuelo Vanderbilt, Jennie Jerome and Frances Ellen Work (Princess Diana’s maternal great-grandmother) were three of those nearly 500 heiresses from America who put their glittering mark on weddings.

During this time most British princess brides followed Queen Victoria’s lead and, instead of wearing one of the many diamond tiaras at their disposal, opted for the more sentimental choice of an elaborate, yet rather humble, bridal crown made of wax orange blossoms. However, many of the American heiress brides, more into opulence than sentiment, wore diamond tiaras—usually a gift from their father. 

Perhaps to make a proclamation all their own, several Windsor brides of the 20th century (namely Princesses Marina, Elizabeth, Margaret and Anne) also broke with the orange blossom tradition and chose diamonds for their hair—large, old, spectacular ones. So for her wedding, Lady Diana followed suit by wearing the Spencer family tiara: a whimsical floral design in gold, silver and heirloom diamonds. (And as far as I could tell, there was not an orange blossom in sight!)

Weddings have always been a time to dress up, make a statement and dress like a princess. As author Carol McD. Wallace shared: “If a wedding isn’t the ultimate chance to show off, what exactly is it?” ~

June 29, 2015

{Flowers and Their Meanings}


Dear Bride-to-Be
Brides and the language of flowers have a romantic and mystical heritage. Through the ages, sentimental folks assigned meanings to flowers and herbs according to their innate nature—and a language was created.

Bridal folklore throughout history, inspired by goddess mythology, tells of maidens entwining creamy white, aromatic orange blossoms into a bridal wreath for their hair, to ensure fertility; or carrying a bunch of sweet smelling white lilacs, representing innocence; or tucking fragrant herbs into their bouquets, rosemary for remembrance and dill, believed to provoke lust. Both herbs were also eaten for their supposed powers!

So whatever flowers you are carrying or wearing or displaying at your wedding, consider their folklore and mystery and romance (like from Kate Greenaway’s Language of Flowers)—because sometimes knowing the ancient story of something, especially flowers, opens up some “fragrant” yummy-ness in the present...perhaps even opening your heart to give and receive more tenderness!

Love. Listen. Let go.
.....with love from Cornelia