“KEY TO MY HEART” DIY PINK & BLACK WEDDING | Bakers twine, antique knobs, black bows, paper straws and a baby in a fedora… + DEAR TKB: Should I fake my look, or keep it real, on my wedding day?

(↑ This wedding is giving me a contact high.)

BE WARNED: Menstruation makes for emotional blog posts.  So if you are related to me, or have an *outtie* instead of an *innie* in that region about five inches beneath where *innies* and *outties* are typically used to reference a part of the body, then you’ll probably want to stop reading right around this point.  Like now.  Because it’s gonna get sticky icky icky.  Ok?  Stop reading.  Stop.  Stop it.  Leave the site.  (I’m serious, Dad.  You don’t want any of this.  I love our relationship, and I love that you care enough about me to read my blog… now let’s not ruin it all with something like this next sentence that YOU NEED TO NOT READ.)

It’s not even funny anymore how horny I am.

Sorry, happy Saturday afternoon, friends (and relatives who are still reading and therefore should consider themselves punched).  I’m pumped to show you today’s hella chic wedding, which was submitted by the fabulously fantasmagoric Nichole of Ampersand Studios, because it is white hot fabulosity.  In juuuuust a hot second.  First, I wanna address something, because I’m starting to think I’m not normal.  I mean in a new way - not normal in a *new* way – in addition to all previously mentioned/inferred ways I’m not normal.  Ehhem.  Yes.

I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that I hung out with Kristen of Haute Boudoir this week, and we talked boudoir, which has this funny way of getting you focused on T & A.  Also Kristen’s hot.  I can’t deny that.  But I’m more concerned about the persistent lining up of my hornballness and my Shark Week.  Am I alone in this?  Anyone else ever experience this ironic double-edged sword?  Typically I love twofers, but this is just mean.  Saving grace is that it was sunny out yesterday and so far today, and there’s something about sunshine that lessens even the sharpest of uterine blows.  But, OF COURSE, I chose to enhance my already debilitatingly heightened emotional state by listening to Adele, Jason Mraz, Ray LaMontagne and various other moody, emotionally-charged voices my Pandora station has been programmed to slam deep into my ears’ souls.  (My ears have souls when I’m menstruating.  My entire body has feelings.  And during this time every month, it’s like they’re all suffering the emotional aftermath of being caught farting in social studies class by a popular girl right before lunch.)  I should probably start throwing in some Rage Against the Machine or something similar to make the programming less tear duct aggressive.  What would one call this listening to moody music while prone to moodiness… is it torture?  Or is it “enhanced interrogation?”

I was hoping I’d get used to it by now but for some strange reason, every single month, I am genuinely bewildered by the heightened sensitivity that arrives immediately before the levies break.  It’s so weird how I can’t remember that it’s just my period that’s doing it to me.  Weird, right?  ANYWAY.  Thanks for reading about my vag.

Ok.  I’ve been wanting to talk about this topic for a while now, so I’m glad someone finally asked me about it.  I don’t know why it took this long, but anyway it’s here, and it’s happening, finally……

I don’t mean the topic of my vahine.  We’re off my vahine now.  I mean the topic I’m about to introduce with today’s…



I can’t decide what to do about this so I’m hoping you can give me some guidance.  I have fair skin, but I do tan during the summer and on the very rare occasion we go on vacation.  We’re from the northwest so our vacays usually involve beaches and margaritas, and tans.  Point is I can tan, but I’m naturally a pretty pale person.  

My problem is that I prefer how I look when I have a tan versus pale skin.  But we’re having a winter wedding so I have to decide what to do about this stupid little issue of mine.  For some reason I feel like I’m going against my truth or whatever if I get a spray tan for my wedding day.  Is that lame?  But I also really want to feel as pretty as possible!

Ugh.  As you can see I’m probably making this into a way huger moral dilemma than it deserves to be but I can’t help myself.  I realize I’m being superficial.  I should just be thankful I’m marrying a kind man who loves me pale skin or not, right?  I don’t what to do.  I can’t stop obsessing about it!

Thank you in advance for your advice!


Dear R,

I’m gonna keep this completely real.

Lemme start by sharing that I have yet to do engage in a spray tanning session, but I am hardly against it.  In fact I’m totally into the idea.  I just haven’t found an entire day-into night-into another day of my life that I can devote to smelling like absolute s**t.  Because that’s what spray tans do.  Also it costs like $20 where I live to have sheets washed (our building is one of those lovely places devoid of a laundry facility).

Ok, now.  When I’m feeling down, or have my period like now, I usually put on a really pretty outfit, one that makes me *feel pretty* and I UNDOUBTEDLY apply bronzer to my cheeks and/or entire face/neck.  Because I know it always perks me up, and I feel more attractive with color.  So I feel you on this.  And while it IS a superficial dilemma, it’s intrinsic to being a human to be concerned about your appearance.  There are a gazillion and two studies showing that appearance is The Major Factor in attraction, and so it’s natural for us to want to look our best.  Especially when there’s gonna be a camera in our faces.

It’s clear to me that you like how you look much more when you have some color.  So get spray tan, it’s no biggie.  I don’t want you to give yourself a hard time about it; you’re making it into a life choice complete with self-inflicted repercussions, as if it’s indicative of some deep emotional struggle you haven’t addressed.  Will you feel better and smile more and generally be happier if you have a spray tan?  If so, there’s your answer.  It’s not like you’re baking yourself in a tanning bed every day and purposely accelerating cancer.  A spray tan is legit.  EXPENSIVE.  But legit.  BUT VERY EXPENSIVE.  But legit.

Now, I would like to address the public about skin tone and insecurity.

Even though I have no intention of stopping you, I DO NOT think everyone should go out and get a spray tan.  Take Lindsey Lohan for example.  She looks RIDICULOUS with a tan.  Straight.  Up.  Redonk in the face.  ’Course, it’s the least of her problems.  But seriously her skin is so lovely whenever she returns to her normal porcelain state.  Thus, spray tans are not for everyone.  (If I had my way, I’d eradicate the whole obsessive tanning thing this nation has going on, but the desire to be tan is as old as time.  Well, actually, movie stars.  But whatever, it’s probably not going away.)  So hear me out, please, anyone who’s listening…

WE ARE BEAUTIFUL, NO MATTER OUR SKIN COLOR.  You don’t need a tan to look AMAZEBERRIES on your wedding day.  Embracing your appearance, your natural appearance, has amazing consequences for your life and happiness.  I’m from the NY as you know, and went to college in the south, and tanned often because my friends were doing it.  But I’ve since returned to my natural look, and I’ve got to say, it’s such a relief.  It’s just, easier, to live.  To function.  Without planning my next trip to the tanning salon.  And while I still believe I look better with a tan, I don’t let it rule my life, because that’s just no fun.  And I honestly don’t have time to let something other than me rule my life.

I’m sure there are lot of you out there who are like Miss R, and are debating getting spray tanned for your wedding.  It does seem like everybody’s doing it, amirite?  Well, I’m cool with what you do either way, I just really want everyone to know that there is gorgeousness and a lot to be said for keeping it au naturel.  Case in point… this porcelain beauty named Courtney, who married this guy Justin, who loves her for everything she is, including her unbelievably gorgeous skin.  Aside from the all the fantastic DIY details, I deeply hope this wedding will inspire my porcelain beauties out there to rock their natural gorgeousness…

First, the details on the wedding, from the lovely Nichole:

Courtney and Justin had a very thoughtful DIY wedding. All of the decor, planning, floral, and execution of most everything was done by the Bride. They had a theme: “Let My Love Open the Door” in which their letterpress invitations, matching print throughout the wedding, had a skeleton key and heart lock. They elegantly re-iterated the theme by placing antique keys and locks throughout the venue decor. All of the flowers were a fresh garden rose assortments and the men had simple boutonnieres made of grasses and small succulents, tied with pink bakers twine. The ceremony was in an indoor loft, the alter was a wall of antique doors behind them. The reception was elegantly put together- the table settings had a personally calligraphed name for each of the guests, inside was a donation to a charity from the bride and groom. Escort cards were tags dangling from assorted drawer pulls attached to a lone door against the wall. The centerpieces were a mixture of branches and dangling keys and locks to garden roses in antique vases; all of which were set on a bed of loose-leaf book pages, another detail that was repeated throughout the decor. Overall the event was beautifully executed and had so much of Courtney and Justin’s personality and charm in it all. There was so much love among everyone there for the happy couple and Ampersand Studios feels so blessed to have been a part of it.


✭ a fedora on a toddler at a wedding = maximum adorable ✭

So my friends, I ask you…

1) Can you offer Miss R any advice/thoughts?  And do you use a self-tanning product that you find works well?  I’d love to hear your thoughts/advice on the matter.  Even if you don’t agree with me.  Dissent is just as lovely to me as agreement.  Though agreement has some gorgeous eyes.

2) How inspiring is this wedding?!  Love the skeleton key theme throughout.  She really kept it going all the way through!!  Quick note: a fully DIY wedding is a TALL ORDER, to be undertaken by couples who fully understand the time commitment.  Because it’s A LOT. OF WORK.  I just wanna make sure y’all are aware of that, though you probably all are already.  Since we talk about it all the time. :)

xoxo!  - Alison

Photography: Ampersand Studios / Submitted via Two Bright Lights / Caterer: Open Table Catering / Reception Venue: The Linen Building / Dress Store: Chic Bridal Boutique / Cake Designer: Marsh Cakes / Makeup Artist: MAC Cosmetics

Label(s): "DEAR TKB..." Advice Column, Black, Color, Pink, {Real Weddings}

Love all of this...


  1. Jackie P on November 19, 2011

    I think fake tanning is A-OK! I’m naturally tan, and hell, even I faked it for the wedding! For mostly the same reasons. Even though I am blessed with year-round brown, my skin takes on a very unsightly yellow, pale undertone in the winter. I feel healthy and happy when I’m tan, and I feel like this is the look people want to project. I went the DIY tan route, with a little gradual self-tanner lotion, and the effect was great. I looked like myself only not pale and unsightly. Even my mom faked it! She got a spray tan. And looked hotter than her usual self. Spray tans also aren’t one-size-fits-all these days. You can get a super subtle one that is barely noticeable, or you can get one that makes you look like you spent the last 3 months in Cabo. If it will ease you mind and make you feel more confident and beautiful on your wedding day, I say GO. FOR. IT. You’ll thank yourself later.

    Oh, and awesome wedding feature! I love the vintage bent on the color combo, which makes it feel different, in very good way! Love!

  2. Tamara Nicole on November 19, 2011

    First off this wedding is so pretty, I esp. love the escort tags! AND that bride is gorgeous. Simply gorgeous!

    As for tanning, I am a pale red head chica. I DO feel slightly better with a little tint though. I DID a spray tan for my wedding day and love it. I think it’s ok to do a spray tan, but I am against tanning booths. Good topic!!!

  3. Mindy on November 19, 2011

    A bride should feel free to do whatever makes her feel her best on her wedding day. End. Of. Story.

  4. libby on November 19, 2011

    Miss. R. I feel your pain. The pre wedding beauty regiment is very important. I spent months thinking about my skin. I’m also very fair and my May wedding allowed little opportunities to get some true color. I decided to skip the tan and embrace my pale shade. My makeup people made me beautiful. I honestly did not regret the decision to not tan. I think you’ll feel beautiful on your wedding day no matter what.
    This wedding is beautiful. I wish I had thought of that!! I love the seating chart!!!! I want it all.

  5. I really like weddings on November 19, 2011

    Um so I’m kind of REALLY REALLY obsessed with this wedding. I love the combination of black and pale pink. And at the ‘mo I’m so totes obsessed with the “key to my heart concept.”

    So I died over this wedding. Gracias mi amor.

    Also- I love your writing style. Keepin’ it real.

    For the tanning advice: I agree with what you said. I think a bride should look natural on their wedding day. I guess my suggestion would be, if you want to get a spray tan is to PRACTICE FIRST. Because no one wants to look orange especially in a white dress where it can a) rub off onto the dress b) be more obvious because you’re wearing white.

  6. Nichole on November 19, 2011

    That is absolutely a beautiful wedding! So excited to be featured on the Knotty Bride—great blog! :-)

    Thanks for putting all the DIY blood, sweat, and tears into this Courtney!! SO worth it.

  7. Chandra ~ Oh Lovely Day on November 19, 2011

    I say go for a trial run spray tan and see what you think! Because my motto is, everyone looks a little better with a little color (actually, it is fat looks better tan, but that just applies to my ass).

    Next, I love that wedding and the key theme. I did key elements too, and my hubs even gave me the tiffany key necklace as a wedding gift (I got another one when our baby was born, although I think I deserved a diamond as big as what I had just pushed out of my vahine!)

    See that segway? Hope your vag is feeling cheerier. Chocolate always works for me. Happy weekend. xx

  8. Montesa on November 20, 2011

    I love your site, it’s nice when you can tell somebody actually puts effort into a topic.

  9. Lena on November 20, 2011

    Brides with oval halo engagement rings are now ALWAYS my favorite-unfair? And when she’s super fair skinner and dark haired and impossibly chic, well, it’s pretty damn hard not to love her. And her wedding.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen any of my photos, but I like to call my skintone “milky”. It’s a nicer word than “translucent”, and as much as I pine for a tan, I know not to run out and get one. But if R loves the way she looks with one, she should go for it. And yeah, definitely do a trial run, and then another, and then spray like, a week before in case, God Forbid, you end up orange or who knows what else.

    Also, I feel your pain.


  10. Sandra W. Wood on November 21, 2011

    Beautiful wedding photographs. The little child looking very cute. I love both rings.

  11. Libby on November 21, 2011

    If you want to get a spray tan or if you apply self tanner yourself absolutely TRY IT OUT out a few weeks BEFORE and see how it wears off. Your skin will slough off in places that rub (you’re bra straps, just for one) and you will have lighter areas starting to peak through. I think having even skin is better than having even one tiny place of tiny blotchy skin. Also, you don’t want to have spray tan rubbing off on your white dress, which it will do.

  12. Party Bus on November 21, 2011

    What a beautiful wedding ring, love it !

  13. jacin {lovely little details} on November 21, 2011

    wow the photography in that wedding is absolutely stunning. as is the bride. as is the groom. as is everything about it.

    and PS how on earth do you come up with this stuff? i give you big time props that you can continually write what’s on your mind but in such a weirdly eloquent way. and i mean that as a compliment in case it came out sounding the opposite :)

  14. Jenna on November 21, 2011

    This is why TKB is my favorite blog by far. Always tasteful weddings and you’re funny so it’s not annoying (well, AS annoying) when I email my FH a billion of your links to get his opinion. And Bambino (who we need more of by the way!!! Where is he lately?!) is the icing on the wedding cake. :D

  15. Carolina on November 21, 2011

    I LOVE the black and light pink!!! So pretty! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Ashley Rae on November 21, 2011

    I can completely understand the bride-to-be’s worry! I’m half black and half white… i have pretty light (mocha as my mother calls it lol) skin tone. I also have freckles which to me complicates things further. I tan like crazy when I’m outside, so its really hard to look like a completely different person in the summer and winter.

    I totally agree with your advice, go however you are most comfortable, paler or tanner :) I always worry about pictures because of my freckles i cannot get a smoother (more porcelain-like) tone of my skin in photos- if the pictures are airbrushed, my freckles go away… and those are one of my favorite things about myself.

  17. Wedding Car Hire on November 21, 2011

    Wow! These Wedding Pictures are really stunning, Love these pictures. This Wedding looks so perfect. Thanks for Sharing this awesome post.

  18. Alyssa on November 22, 2011

    This wedding is Gorgeous! The bride could not be any prettier. As far as the question; I am very pale with pink undertones and strawberry blonde (red in natural light) hair. I have never tanned, in fact, I avoid harsh sun as much as possible so I can be “wrinkle free when I’m 100″ (unattainable personal goal;) Not to mention skin cancer runs in the family… anyways – I will NOT be tanning, fake or otherwise, for my big day. The most I plan on doing is running a brush with a little mineral foundation powder over my exposed areas (neck, chest, arms, and so on – just so that my complexion will be even and the veins that show could show through my translucent skin are less noticeable. I do agree that tanning is up to the person doing it, I would just look HORRIBLE with one, and nobody would even think it was me! I have only seen one acquaintance that was orange on her wedding day after fake/spray tanning, but in her pictures she looks golden and great – No worries either way!
    When it comes to my vavoom, I am dying the entire week the levy is broken – sex dreams and all! Feel your pain for sure.

  19. Claire Martine on November 22, 2011

    Just a quick note, if you are going to try spray tan- do so ahead of time, at LEAST once.

    My skin does not pick up spray tan bronzer. I have tried tanning places and had a slight tan I could have gotten from a tanning bed. My wedding tan, although I LOVE my salon, the bronze was hardly even a tint. I’m not sure what your budget is but for $45 a pop at a nice salon– make sure your skin can hold and absorb the tan.

  20. Heather on December 12, 2011

    Sheesh…I always read your posts late, so I fear that no one will ever read this, but I think I have a really important piece of information to pass along!
    1. I’m a wedding photographer myself, and I had a little dilemma just a few months ago that I’ve NEVER come across before. So, I was hired for a wedding, because the couple {loved} my vintage processing and my style. Totally honored! The bride has SUPER porcelain skin (SOOOOO lovely), and happened to be sick on her wedding day (poor sweet thing!). So…we edit a certain way, and it does tend to lighten everything…and that means SKIN! We never had a conversation about how she didn’t like her pale skin, and how she really wanted to look darker. Well, 1. I can’t edit what isn’t there, but 2. I wish I could have heard this before, and perhaps made a plan with her that we’d edit a different way. Well, since I didn’t know, I edited my usual way, and while I thought she looked STUNNING, because of her paleness, her being sick that day adding to her paleness, and my editing process that lightens everything up in a pretty way……she ended up hating how pale she looked. {sob} I was heartbroken for her. I totally reworked things, and edited in a slightly different way to ease her sweet mind and she ended up loving her photos. BUT….THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS THIS: Pick your photographer based on exactly what you love about their editing style, and take your skin tone in account! If you love your tan skin, and want to be sure you look TAN in your photos, then you might not love a super airy, vintage, and light-obsessed natural light photographer. Just a thought! Do your research, and pay attention to what skin tones the women in the photographs you love on the internet have, and how it looks after editing! When in doubt, just be very specific with your photographer! You deserve the most {lovely} photographs, to your taste!!
    2. I {love} and am ubber obsessed with porcelain skin! Like, I think it’s the loveliest thing in the world! When I set up photoshoots, I always ask for porcelain skin, not someone who is tan! It’s just kinda my {thing}! And, certainly everyone has their opinion! But…I’m a Scandinavian woman, and I’m really proud of my pale skin & freckles! I used to do the tanning thing in college too, but I realized that it looked silly on me, and I needed to really appreciate my own self in my own skin! And…I feel like a new woman now! So, I always suggest ‘love your skin’, and I’m a nurse to top it off, so I’m obviously always encouraging no tanning booths…spray tan is better, but no tanning booths. pure danger, there.
    Hope that this is helpful! {smile}
    Love. this. blog.

  21. Louise on September 9, 2012

    Beautiful flower girls and the black dressed bridesmaids looking very elegant.

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  23. Jodine on April 5, 2013

    Gorgeous images! We had a key theme for our wedding too! Here are some of the ways we incorporated the theme: http://www.oneloveoneday.net/2013/04/key-theme.html

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