Timeless Romance

Time Warp

“When I get home I Shall write a book about this place… If I ever get home.” –Alice, Alice in Wonderland

Out of nowhere, an elevator appears in the middle of the street. I exit the car in confusion; I don’t remember this tunnel emerging from the busy Dallas streets before.  Then from behind me, I hear a man beckon for me, “Miss Calvert.”

Entranced, I look up to see a nice looking man in a suit. “Yes?” I reply.

“We have been awaiting your arrival. Please take the elevator to the lower level,” he stated with an ever so childish grin.

I got in the elevator and hit the button for the lower level, unsure of where this rabbit hole was going to lead me, but too curious to turn back now.  I started to hear the sounds of rain drops. I turned behind me to see a beautiful underground waterfall emerging. Was I in Narnia? Was this some kind of Secret Garden hidden below the busy streets of Dallas?  The doors opened and I was greeted by two smiling faces and the sudden aroma of sweet, savory smells. The ladies lead me into a time capsule of a room. I felt as if I had emerged from the elevator and stepped into a scene of one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books – Where nothing is too glam, too glitz and rich in every way possible. I had discovered the hidden gem of Dallas called Dakota’s Steakhouse. (Y’all mind you I have lived in Dallas my whole life, and how I missed this AMAZING place is beyond me?!? – I blame my parents.)

Fast forward to me swooning over the entire place, mainly the elevator, because it made me feel so regal and glamorous. I finally controlled myself and stopped taking selfies literally EVERYWHERE, enough to sit down and enjoy my lunch.  The food was nothing shy of, THE ABOSLUTE BEST FOOD EVER. Y’all, I have lately, out of nowhere, spent my time going bankrupt over fine dining. That being said, I have done my homework on good food in the Dallas area, and let me tell you… I would eat at Dakota’s every single time. The food is just as entrancing as the scenery. I literally ate until I developed a food baby… OK, FINE… Maybe they were food twins, but it was AMAZING! The chef was sweet enough to come and greet us after lunch. Joseph Hoffmaster, the chef, was much younger and much more handsome than I had envisioned. He was very poised and extremely kind, double bonus! As I sat in the room I couldn’t help, but to slowly begin planning my dream rehearsal dinner inside my head, and that’s when I decided- this place was just too good not to share!! (I did seriously consider keeping this my little secret, so y’all are welcome!)

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Yes, I took multiple pictures of my AMAZING food!

 

Dakota’s

“Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country.” -C.S. Lewis, Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Not that I should have to give you more reason to pick Dakota’s for an upcoming event, but Janay, Dakota’s Sales and Marketing Manager, is the bomb.com. She is the sweetest and is your contact for WHEN you choose to book an event at Dakota’s. Janay is extremely knowledgeable and helpful with a very soothing demeanor. The perfect combination for someone you want handling your events! So what does Dakota’s have to offer you, my darling bride?! Here’s a list of the events that Dakota’s currently offers for you:

 

Chefs Table:

“We have our private Chef’s table that accommodates up to 12 guests. This can be reserved for lunch or dinner.”

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Waterfall Patio

“Our renowned subterranean patio complete with waterfall, retractable roof, fire pit and private bar. The patio can accommodate up to 60 guests for a seated event or 120 for a cocktail reception.” **MY FAVORITE OPTION**

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Wine Room

“Our semi-private Wine Room can accommodate up to 45 guests seated and 60 for a cocktail reception. This room also offers A/V capabilities.”

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Restaurant Buyout

“The entire restaurant is available exclusively for a buyout and seats approximately 125 guests inside with additional seating on the patio for 60 guests. We can host a reception style event for 200 guests.”

Dakotas_8154Y’all did I even mention the LIVE piano playing they have?! — *cue sigh*

Off-Site Catering

“From 30 to 300, we can accommodate your off-site event needs.”

For more information on Dakota’s visit their NEW website: www.dakotasrestaurant.com

Basically, Dakota’s is your go-to for a dinner rehearsal or a small intimate, but TOTALLY FAB reception.

 

Secret Gardens and Pretty Princess’ 

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”  -Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

So, what makes me really trust in Dakota’s? We recently altered a gown for one of our brides, Melissa, and she had her dinner rehearsal done at Dakota’s. I have never seen someone more pleased with the service, food and quality of a venue. Melissa and her now Mother-in-Law Carolyn were ecstatic to introduce me to Janay and tell me all about Dakota’s!  They were right!! (side note: Carolyn has worked at Lulu’s Bridal Boutique for over 10 years now, which made this bride and her experience with us extra special!)

Melissa had her dinner rehearsal at Dakota’s Friday and then was married Saturday. We were so happy to be able to help her for her BIG DAY! The dress she picked from Stardust Celebrations was beautiful and timeless. Just take a look for yourself!

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Photo Credit: Harry Harjabrata, www.harryphoto.com

 I just loved getting to work with Melissa and, through her, also get to meet Janay with Dakota’s! Whether it is with a bride or visiting a new place, I always love getting to escape the everyday and live in the world of enchantment.

Glitz, Glamour, Gatsby

Pretty, Pretty Princess

“When I first met her I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days re-arranging my mind so there’d be room for her to stay.”

 

So, y’all are going to have to live without my childhood story for this one. I have a perfectly, PERFECT story, of all the times I forced my little brother to play Pretty, Pretty Princess with me… against his will. I literally even have PHOTO PROOF (He doesn’t looked forced into it at all, might I add.) Unfortunately, mom said if I posted the pic, I was not welcome to Christmas next year…. I’m really hoping Santa makes a trip to Louis next year, soooo y’all are S.O.L. (I see you breathing a sigh of relief, don’t EVEN.)

ANYWAYS…

I am so excited to share these next two GORGEOUS brides with you!! Both girls were absolutely breathtaking. Each took their own spin on the classic “Gatsby” theme. I could not be more in love with how the two looks turned out and I know y’all will LOVE them!!! So with out further ado, our brides…

 

Caplet Chic

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough!” –Mae West

 

Jessica had me at, “can you help me style my look.” This is because A) As Kate Spade once said, I live in a world where “dress up starts at the age of 5 and never truly ends,” and B) It’s surreal to me still, that women respect and value my fashion input for the BIGGEST day of their life. So dress up we played! Just like princesses. And let me tell you, Jessica did not disappoint. Not only did she have a FABULOUS dress from Lulu’s Bridal Boutique, she found some of my all-time favorite accessories ever! Mainly, her show stopping sheer, crystal caplet she ordered from BHLDN… Y’all I swear I didn’t even know it was from my favorite store until after I fell in love with it. This caplet was Gatsby with a capital “G.”

 

So, set with the absolute perfect assortment of “bride meets Gatsby,” we altered the dress to fit her just right so that everything else would have the perfect stage to shine. Jessica was 100% GORG and perfect for her special evening of celebration. I forced her to only come in on days I knew I would be here, with enough time to play dress up. I had so much fun getting to “play” with Jessica and I wish her and her hubby all the BEST!

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

Stunning, just STUNNING!

Dress: Sottero Midgley Style: Simone, from Stardust Celebrations, www.StardustCelebrations.com

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

We were able to go in an add some sleeves to the gown so that with or without the caplet it still kept that same Gatsby vibe!

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

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The cake made the cut because its just too perfect not to share!

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

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This board also made the cut because it is just so GATSBY!

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

Photos by: www.CoburnPhoto.com

Photo Credit: Kyle Coburn/Coburn Photography www.CoburnPhotography.com

 

Sizzlin’ Shoes

“One shoe can change your life.” –Cinderella

 

You know that little saying, “one shoe can change your life,” well for our next bride that was no lie. Celia found the absolute PERFECT shoes for her wedding day. And they were LIFE CHANGING. Minor flaw with this plan, she bought the dress prior to knowing what shoes she was going to wear – TOTES normal. Well when we received the dress it wasn’t exactly allowing enough length for the height of these shoes. Ditching the shoes was NOT an option. So what does a girl do?! That’s when you call us! Ruth was able to go in an add handkerchief pieces to mimic the dress and allow for more length to the gown. Celia was Thrilled—and so were we!

 

Celia was a radiant vision of glamour and Gatsby in her bridal portraits. She looked BEAUTIFUL. I got the pleasure of seeing her last week. Let me tell y’all I have never seen someone so in love and just all around full of so much joy – it was contagious!!

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Photo Credit: Memories by CJP

for more FABULOUS Pictures of Celia check out the full portrait session at: http://www.memoriesbycjp.com/celia0118

Dress: Alvina Valenta Style 9350

Belt: James Clifford

Veil: Toni Federici

Gown and all accessories were purchased at Stardust Celebrations, www.StardustCelebrations.com

 

Happy girls are the Prettiest Girls

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” – Audrey Hepburn

 

Can y’all believe I spend all day everrryyyday helping people feel like princesses?!?! Me either, but I couldn’t be more happy than to spend my life playing Pretty, Pretty Princess with all your gorgeous faces! Is your wedding coming up?! Call us today and set up your first “dress up.” We are dying to work with YOU! But remember it’s BYOT (Bring your own Tiara!).

 

Adios,

 

Niña Esclava

#ConfessionsofNiñaEsclava

Glory of LOVE

  Wind Beneath My Wings

“So it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be really hard. And we’re going to have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want you, forever, you and me, every day.” – The Notebook

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My mom (aka the reason all of this exists- literally… she birthed me) will be officially married 30 years this Monday. HOLY COW. I don’t know which one of my parents I am more impressed with. I’m not sure who managed to “put up” with who in order for all of this to happen, but against all odds, it did. Like my dad posted on Facebook, “The devil’s been chasing us for 30 years now and still hasn’t caught up yet!”

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Classic 80’s ski wear.

Throughout my life, both of my parents have had their own business endeavors. My dad and grandfather owned a Collision Repair Center for over 25 years, and, my mom of course, started this whole crazy bridal business. No matter whose “turn” it has been, the other was always right there helping in anyway possible. (My dad can actually press a wedding gown better than our whole staff put together. The BEST part about this is watching my FURTHEST THING from girly father press a wedding gown, and no matter what he says, HE LOVES IT). The downfall to this is that if we ever find someone who give us a reality show, my dad would undoubtedly be the “Si” and hit of the show— sooooooo not fair.

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Ohh the early days…

In all seriousness, my parents have been the best role models for being entrepreneur’s and what for exemplifying what true love really looks like. This is not because everything was all lovey -dovey and perfect 24/7. It is because even when they drove each other crazy, when life threw some heavy unexpected hits or my brothers were a complete pain in the ass (NOT me, I was perfect), they held on. When the easiest option is out, they choose each other every time. They choose to fight through it and come out stronger than before.  Out of everything I have learned and taken from my parents- and they have taught me many things- this perfect example of what love should be is by far the BEST gift they ever gave me. I had them both together my entire childhood, side by side. They have been the wind beneath each other’s wings for 30 years… 30 YEARS! (My dad is totally going to give me hell for this “sentimental post” later, WHATEVUUURRRR).

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That one time my parents had matching braces, hehehe

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Tease it to Jesus

“The higher the hair, the closer to God.” – Every Southern Woman Ever

Well y’all my parents got married in the “Dallas” era — big hair, big dresses and even bigger personalities. As I have told y’all before, it wasn’t too long after this that my mom turned her sewing hobby into a career. In honor of their 30thanniversary and it being VALENTINE’S DAY, I decided to make an ’80s montage of my mom’s early work. It has literally taken me days to compose this blog, solely because I cannot stop laughing every time I pull the pictures out.

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 This, my friends is my mom with one of her first bridal alteration clients. She also looks like a boy. I really fail to understand how all of you 80’s kids went from Madonna…. to this?!?!

80’s Montage, Lets start with the dresses she custom made from SCRATCH!

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Blush and Bashful.

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Ursuline Graduation, Class of 1988

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On the left is one of our lifetime friends and practically my 3rd grandma, LaVerne. On the right is my mom rocking her own ensemble.

 

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

“You’ve got to give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little. That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.” – “Glory of Love”, Bette Midler

(Y’all should know by now, that I seriously love, and I mean LOVE, Bette Midler)

Well y’all, I haven’t learned a lot in this short life of mine, but I have two valuable lessons for you. 1) The 80’s are NEVER. COMING. BACK. EVER. And 2) Love truly DOES conquer all. No one said this life was going to be easy but it’s easier when you’re doing it with your best friend. My favorite part about my job is getting to watch people find their soul mate every day. If you haven’t found yours, well he’s out their sister! And trust me… He’ll be worth it!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!! & Happy 30th Wedding Anniversary to my Parents!!!

 

Ps.  Special shout out to MY Best Friend and Love, Justin. (He is going to totally kill me for adding him to the blog. I maybe promised I wouldn’t—but hey it’s Valentine’s Day. I should get a free pass.) So Justin, I LOVE YOU!!…

 

Now if y’all could all do me a favor and convince him I. NEED. A. MINI TEACUP PIGGY. that would be totes awesome.

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Adios,

Niña Esclava

#ConfessionsofNiñaEsclava

 

27 Dresses… OK only 1!

SPOILER ALERT: The cutest kid EVER is at the end of this blog… keep reading!

 Professional Flower Girl

I feel like I just found out my favorite love song was written by a sandwich.” –Jane, 27 Dresses

You know that beginning scene of Bride Wars were baby versions of Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway are planning their weddings? They spend their childhood planning out their BIG days and dream of being a bride. I know you all desperately want this to be me, but I’ve got news for you. I never dreamed of being the bride… I dreamed of being the MAID OF HONOR! (I conveniently prefer Katherine Heigl too!)

Now growing up in the industry, matched with being a PROFESSIONAL flower girl when I was younger, left me with a resume well suited for the most prestigious position of MOH.

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(I petitioned for my brother to be my matching Ring Bearer, also this is only 1 of 5 weddings we did.)

 

Sister Sister

“Did you ever know that you’re my hero, and everything I would like to be?” – Bette Midler, Wind Beneath my Wings

I’ve had many dreams for my life, including but not limited to: Making Celine Dion my honorary second mom, meeting Bette Midler, being a MOH, convincing my mom to have another child that would be scientifically forced into being a girl and joining a Sorority in college. While some of these have yet to make my list of accomplishments, I did indeed go through rush in the Fall of 2008 and pledged Pi Beta Phi! While I never convinced my mom that it was necessary to scientifically have another daughter, my sorority gave me what my mom never could… A BIG SISTER!

I know its super cliché and everyone says, ‘my Big Sister is the best, blah blah blah’, but you are all wrong. I have the BEST big sister in the entire world and her name is Ashley Baylor Smith (aka Baylor, Bay, or Bay Bay)! At this point I have started referring to her as my actual sister. But to be fair, she has helped pay the rent, picked me up while stranded in the middle of the highway, wiped my tears over boys and taught me how to curl my hair properly, so in all accounts she really is my big sister from another mister!

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 This was a picture taken in my first apartment EVER that I shared with Bay. It was a one bedroom. We were broke. I lived in the living room all summer. To this day, that is my FAVORITE apartment I ever lived in.

baylor7 My sissy and I, blissfully ignoring the fact that we could hardly pay rent that summer. Circa Summer 2009.

When she got engaged to her now husband Clayton, I CRIED, SCREAMED AND YELLED!!! Loud enough for her to hear me all the way from Lubbock to Dallas. But when she asked me to be her Maid of Honor, I practically had to be resuscitated back to life. THIS. WAS. MY. MOMENT.

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You know I couldn’t tell a sorority story without at least one really great themed RUSH pic… 

Personal Slaves aka Bridesmaids

“I’m sorry. I won’t apologize. I’m not confident which end that came out of.” – Megan, Bridesmaids

 

Of course y’all know we had to do it BIG! Baylor decided that she wanted all of us to have something a little different about our dresses. Everything we looked for just wasn’t up to par with our big expectations, so we took it to the drawing board and decided to create exactly what we wanted. We choose Silk Dupoini as the material for our gowns. We decided that each girl would have the same ball gown skirt, but each girl would get the chance to design and pick exactly what they wanted their top to look like! And, if this wasn’t enough, we enlisted a dear friend of mine named Tamara Crosson, to make us each custom brooch belts. As an additional surprise the day of the wedding, Baylor gave each of us a custom hand made necklace that matched our gowns perfectly! Now while I don’t have any comparisons for other weddings, I have to say I was really digging how much care and precision Baylor took to make sure each one of us looked FAB-U-LOUS!

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  Bay Bay and I with her other “lil sis”, Charlene …. I TOTES the favorite (Love ya Char Char!)

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All the bridesmaids with our BEAUTIFUL bride!

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Mom called this color taupe. Baylor preferred to call it “Pretty Dirt.”

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Typical Bridesmaid Selfies.

 

Double Duty

“Love to! Love the bag, love the shoes, love everything. Love to!” – My Best Friends Wedding

 

When it came time to customize Baylor’s dress, you know Altered for the Altar was ready for the job. Baylor decided that she wanted to custom make not only sleeves, but also a veil. She was lucky enough to be able to order the lace from her wedding gown from the designer. Then we went to work creating the perfect sleeves to adorn her dress and designing the perfect veil to accessorize it! The results were absolutely breathtaking!

 

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How pretty does she look?! I mean seriously!!! 

As gorgeous as Baylor’s bridal portraits were, when it came time to prep the gown for the wedding, Baylor decided she wanted to change the look of the dress. (Side note: this is why I will ALWAYS promote bridal portraits. They are the only “Dress Rehearsal” you can have before the most important day of your life. They offer you a chance to see exactly how everything is going to look and make any necessary adjustments). So, we went back to the drawing board and recreated the dress for her wedding day.

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Dad walking his little girl down the aisle.

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My sister is prettier than yours!

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Weddings are exhausting!

My Best friend’s Wedding

“I’ve got moves you’ve never seen.” – Julianna Potter, My Best Friends Wedding

 

So, what is the lesson here my friends? Even your BEST Friend and Big Sister can be a total diva and change her mind at the last minute…. Did I say that out loud?! (Just kidding Bay Bay I love you and I didn’t mean it….) But, seriously. We always enjoy customizing a dress (even if we need to do it twice) and making a dress beautiful, but sometimes you run into a situation like I did yesterday when a bride told me, ‘The dress is pretty but it’s just not me.’ Your dress should be two things: Beautiful and YOU! So, our goal is to give you a showstopper of a dress that not only looks amazing, but also compliments your personality.

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Mom and I enjoying Baylor’s Beautiful Wedding!!!

 

 

 

 

I rarely get to show you what happened after they got married…. Ladies and Gentleman, meet HUDSON CLAYTON SMITH!

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The Smith’s!

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And they lived Happily Ever After!

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(Side note: When I’m not busy claiming Baylor as my sister, I like to use my time claiming Hudson as my God Son… He’s not Catholic and neither am I. But I love him, so sue me.)

 

Adios,

Nina Esclava

#ConfessionsofNinaEsclava

 

P.S. SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to my Momma!! It is her Birthday today!! I truly do NOT know what I would do without this woman!! I love you SO MUCH! She IS he definition of SUPER MOM!! (As a courtesy I will not tell you how old she is. But, I will turn 25 this year…. and she was 26 when she had me!) — I kept my promise!

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