Desiree: The Epic Toaster

If you want to give a good toast, take direction from this girl.  Desiree has been a bridesmaid at two of my recent weddings.  First as the Maid of Honor for her sister Dianna in 2013, then as a bridesmaid in her brother Kenny’s wedding in 2015.  Desiree reminds me that good toasts are completely within reach!  Stick to what you know.  If you like speaking in front of people, take your time and make it fun.  At the same time, if you’re not funny, don’t try to be funny.  Start with a little about how you know the couple, maybe tell one NON-EMBARRASSING story about the bride/groom, then end with something heartfelt.  Simplicity goes a long way.

Lastly, there is nothing wrong with writing down what you want to say!  This isn’t speech class.  No one cares if you’re reading from a paper.

If you would like to see a pro in action, take notes.

First there was this:

Then this:

Doesn’t get any better than that.  Thanks Desiree!!! ❤


How I Lost Two of My Best Friends From My Wedding

Yep you read that right.  Two of my best friends.  One was even my Maid of Honor.  I got married almost 3 years ago and never wanted to write this because I always had hope we could rekindle our friendships.  Just saying it out loud made me feel like a bridal failure 😛 Plus I was still furious about the whole situation.  Angry, sad.  All of the above.  It still hurts.  I had known these two friends individually for more than 8 years.  Met in college, grew our friendships, lived together, traveled with each other, played college sports together.  Yet all that history couldn’t save us.

We all seem pretty happy right? 😛

Lisa Hadley Studios Bridal Advice

Photo by Cary Pennington Photography

So where did we (or I) go wrong?!  It is of course a long story.  One I’m not proud of as I look back now.  Of course they say hindsight is 20/20 right?  Without airing ALL of our dirty laundry, I want to describe what I did wrong, in hopes of preventing other future brides from doing the same.

When my fiancé and I got engaged, I was like any other bride.  Excited to start planning (I had a guest list drafted day 2 after our engagement), share fun experiences with friends and enjoy the best time of our lives.  I never had a lot of close, long term friends growing up.  However, when I got to college, I felt like I found them.  I was excited to include them in my day, and hopefully share the rest of our lives with each other.

One danger I encountered was the problem with technology.  It is both a blessing and a curse.  I had the ability to chat with friends at a moments notice.  G-chat became my daily go-to for catching up with bridesmaids and talking about wedding plans.  This was the first problem.  While I was sure to ask how THEY were doing (I’m sure they would tell you otherwise), the discussion always moved to dresses, jewelry, hair and makeup, photographer decisions etc.  Any bride knows the list goes on and on!  I’m definitely an indecisive person so getting opinions helped a lot.  However after a few months of this, I’m sure my friends got sick of hearing about it all.  I almost wish I hadn’t been online all that time.  Maybe one day a week.  It seemed great at the time but I know it was only hindering our relationships.

When it comes to dresses, shoes, hair etc, I wish I hadn’t cared so much.  Imagine dressing 6 people exactly the same, and wanting them all to love their outfit equally.  Not gonna happen.  We all have a different style, and I know I’m not the trendiest person.   I also come from a pretty traditional family with moms wanting things to look pretty standard.  I am also a bit particular and sometimes when I have an idea in my head, it’s hard to change it.  Looking back, none of it mattered.

Next up, money.  Money is the root of all evil.  I had planned and saved for this day for years.  My husband and our families were all contributing to a special day that we would remember forever.  However our friends, were all at different places in their lives.  Some with student loans, others with great jobs, and a mix of people in between.

What’s funny is, my husband picked 6 of his best friends for his groomsmen.  And how many arguments did they have??  ZERO.  Men are completely different.

This is sad to say now, but I think it would have been so much simpler if I opted to not have any bridal party at all.  You can still have someone speak at your reception, take pictures with you afterwards, and throw your bachelorette party.  The only difference is they just won’t be standing up there with you during the ceremony.  And ultimately, a wedding is about you and your partner right?  So who cares!  Your friends should be there to support you whether they are standing by your side, or looking on from the second row.

Without getting into what I think my friends did wrong, let’s just say this…..

BRIDESMAIDS:  You were specifically picked by a friend who loves and cares for you.  While you may not agree with every decision she makes, or how she handles situations, she is doing her best to make a lot of people happy, not just herself.  Please be there for her.  She will live with these memories forever, while you will move on to the next big thing.  And one day, it will be your turn, and she will be there for you.

How to “DO YOU” on Your Wedding Day

I have seen weddings done 34,846,245,135 different ways.  Okay not really.  But you can literally do anything YOU want on YOUR wedding day!  Crazy huh?  We often get stuck with preconceived notions of what a wedding day is supposed to … Continue reading

Bridal Advice: Keep Calm….and Go Get Married!

The night before my wedding, I had 6 girls staying with me in my room….. to say it took a while to fall asleep would be an understatement.  But then when we all woke up, there was nowhere to get … Continue reading

Vendors We Love

I often get asked by my couple’s what vendors I recommend!  There are some great ones around so here’s a list!  FYI none of these people have paid me to be on this list…they are genuinely great vendors!  I also put an asterisk (*) next to the vendors I used for my own wedding!  I will keep this updated as I find new and fabulous people to work with in the wedding industry:

After the Engagement
Engaged Events

The Crossings at Carlsbad*
The Villa San Juan Capistrano
Marbella Country Club
L’Auberge Del Mar
Grand Tradition Estate

Cary Pennington Photography*
Limelife Photography
Adrian Jon Photography
Janet Wheeland Photography

My Splendid Sentiments*
Designs by Tricia
Three Petals Floral & Event Design

Positive Energy Productions*
San Diego DJ & Video
Sandeep Kumar

Hair and Makeup
Lindsey Jones Makeup Artistry (my childhood friend!)
Dolled Up by Lulu
Oscar Makeup
Ting 2 Beauty

Bridal Stores
Mary Me Bridal* (Orange, CA)
2000 Dreams Bridal Shop (San Diego, CA)

Sarah & Doug | Planes of Fame Air Museum

Sarah and Doug’s awesome day was one for the books!   These two had a stunning wedding overlooking Chino Hills at the Yorba-Slaughter Adobe.  Next they moved onto the Planes of Fame Air Museum, which had plenty of choices of backgrounds!  Here are a few stills from their beautiful day!  I can’t wait to put their film together!

Cheers to the newlyweds!

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Camila & Elliot | San Juan Island

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel up to San Juan Island!  It was definitely a TREK to get there (more on that later) but I had such a great time once I arrived!  Camila and Elliot’s wedding was simply stunning!  Their wedding and reception was held at the home of Elliot’s parents, where he grew up.  Set in the woods near Friday Harbor, Washington on San Juan Island.  As a California city girl, I was definitely blown away.

Their film will be coming soon, but for now here are a few still photos and of course, check out their awesome first dance!

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After looking through all these photos, I couldn’t help but notice how awesome this pairing would be!  Check out this post from Wedding Paper Divas for some other great woodsy ideas! Wedding Paper Divas Woodland Wedding

“Who Has the Groom?” A Bridal Shower Game

For my friend Dianna’s bridal shower, we wanted to come up with a funny way to incorporate the groom and groomsmen!  This is where I got the original idea from ( but then decided a little step further 🙂

I started by finding a generic photo of a guy in a tux (I think this one was for Men’s Warehouse).  A quick google search and you’ll have plenty to pick from.  Then I found LOTS of celebrities photos.  Whoever I could think of.  I copied and pasted them into a word document and tried to make them all roughly the same size.  The original post used photos from magazines but I didn’t feel like getting a bunch of magazines.  Plus I wanted to make a LOT 🙂 Just start trimming and glue the celebrities faces to the body of the “tux model.”

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It felt like I had my own little “bachelorette” show going on once they were all put together!  Haha.
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You of course need the groom in there 🙂  I created the heart in word with a text box that said “I LOVE DIANNA!”  A perfect touch.

Last but not least I also included the groomsmen on a few of the tuxes!  Just stalk their Facebook photos for a little while and I’m sure you’ll find something.  We also snuck these into the groomsmen gift boxes on the wedding day 🙂  They were quite confused by them.  hah.

Lisa Hadley Studios bridal shower game

When it was time for the shower, I put each “man” in an envelope and passed them out.  Whoever happened to get the groom won a prize!  It was a simple game that didn’t require a ton of “forced interaction.”  Some games get old after a while 🙂

Bride’s Panty Box

This was a FUN gift to make.  I got the idea from this other blog post here: Lingerie Shower Gift .  It tells you everything as far as how to make the box and getting started.  It’s a good idea to do this with 1 or 2 other people so you can get a lot of cute stuff without breaking the bank!  As we started collecting undies, I realized I had a ridiculous long flannel that my sister-in-law gave me for my bachelorette party…. so we had to incorporate it 🙂  From there we just kept finding more and more funny things to include.  Like His and Hers Candy underwear, nighttime mask and warm fuzzy socks.  Ultimately we wanted to make sure she got a bunch of cute undies… BUT if we could make it funny too, well then why not?!  I got the box at HomeGoods ($15 I think) and with deals at Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood, it wasn’t hard to get the rest without spending a ton.

The ingredients:

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Just my contribution.  We probably had over 30 items between the 3 of us!

I had a little help cutting the hole on top 🙂

I haz underwears?

I haz underwears?

Uh oh.

Uh oh.

All items combined to make a perfectly unassuming package……..And away we go!

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I wanted to include captions to describe what she was getting and to make it more personal.  I typed out each phrase, whole-punched it and put it through the ribbon.  As she lifted the lid and pulled the ribbon, the first thing she read was this:

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I added a new caption for each type of underwear.  Items in BOLD are what we added after the note.  Here’s how the rest went:

For a long day at the clinic. (COMFY UNDIES) <— Dianna is a nurse.  Make your captions personal for your bride!
For those fun date nights. (SASSY, FUN UNDIES)
For a night at your in-laws… (LONGJOHN’S, FULL LENGTH NIGHT GOWN ETC)
For those cold winter nights. (WARM SOCKS)
For days when you just want to get away. (“RELAX” MASK)
Can’t forget the ta-ta’s! (CUTE BRA OR TWO)
For those wild and crazy nights 🙂 (ANYTHING GOES!!!! HAHA)
With all this fun we must not joke, We can’t forget the night you become Mrs. Oakes!

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It just keeps going and going and going….

Oh wait…
We forgot the groom!

Since Adam is such a kind and “sweet” groom, we must find something that’s fitting for him too! (CANDY UNDIES FOR HIM…..BEWARE THESE ARE ONE SIZE FITS ALL….THE SIZE MAKES IT EVEN BETTER)

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Lisa Hadley Studios

Something fun for him too 🙂

The End 🙂 Wishing you a fun, sexy, sweet, exciting life together.


As you can see the gift was quite a hit and you can really customize it to whatever you find or what the bride likes.  Have fun with it!  In the end, she will definitely have several fun items to wear as a newly married woman 🙂  After the shower the groom showed up so we put the box back together and let him have some fun with it too 🙂

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Lisa Hadley StudiosWho would’ve thought their first matching outfit would be candy thongs?! 🙂  haha love these two!


Bridal Shower Activity – The Newlywed Game

Showering your bride but don’t want to forget about the groom?  For my friend Dianna’s shower (you can see all the shower photos here), I sat down with the groom, Adam, and asked him some simple questions about the bride!  We then showed the video at her bridal shower and had Dianna answer the questions before we showed his answers.  It turned out great.  It was so nice to incorporate the groom without him actually being there.  Plus, a few of his answers really surprised everyone and even made most of us tear up!  It was the sweetest 🙂

It really wasn’t too hard to do and you could really do it yourself!  Or better yet…hire me 🙂 haha

Here’s a few photos of the bride playing along with the DVD.

Lisa Hadley Studios

Lisa Hadley StudiosHere are the questions we asked the groom.  Wherever you see “the bride,” put in her name!  Feel free to change up the questions too!
1) When  you met, what was the first thing you noticed about the bride?
2) If you could be any superhero, what superhero would you be?
3) If your bride could only bring one item on your honeymoon, what would she bring?
4) If you were to cook one dinner for your bride, what dish would you prepare?
5) How many children does the bride want?
6) What are your pet names for each other?
7) What would the bride say is your most annoying habit?
8) What would you say is the bride’s most annoying habit?
9) If the bride could get rid of one item from your closet, what would it be?
10) What sound of impersonation do you do best?
11) How many times did you and the bride date before you had your first kiss?
12) What movie star do you think you are most like?
13) Who wears the pants in the relationship?
14) What game or sport does the bride think she’s better at than you?
15) Who is the better driver between the two of you?
16) Who is the better kisser between the two of you?
17) Who will your future children go to when they want something?
18) When was the first moment you realized that you loved each other?

And here’s the video 🙂