Wednesday, September 30, 2009

review: tweezerman products

Tweezerman Petite Manicure Set
Retail: $20
Review: Adorable little nail care set with everything you need for a quick and easy mani/pedi. Plastic case is perfectly small for travel and tools are well-made, yet incredibly easy to use. Hangnail trimmer is a godsend.

As I mentioned in this post, I have all but given up on professional manicures. However, the one thing holding me back was my cuticles, which need a trim and cleaning up every so often (despite my best attempts with the Burt's Bees cuticle balm and towel post-shower). I went to Sephora searching for a cuticle pusher, and came out with this nifty mani set. First off, the entire set was $25, while a full-size cuticle pusher is nearly $20 when purchased separately. I'd say the extra little tools and case are worth the extra $5. Second, the hangnail trimmer is proving to be quite useful as we start to enter the drier months of fall/winter. I am notorious for picking at my loose hangnails...this habit combined with my obsessive I-need-to-wash-my-hands-constantly-so-I-don't-get-your-flu-or-cold regime leaves my hands a scaly, itchy, dry mess. This trimmer will help me keep things neat, so I can avoid the urge to pick. Gross.

This set is perfect for a quick and simple at-home mani or pedi. I mainly use the cuticle pusher and nail cleaner (opposite ends of the same tool), along with my full-size metal nail file. The cuticle pusher really helps clean up the nail bed and prep it for color. Plus, the small plastic case is perfect for travel. Although I'm guessing the metal file wouldn't make it through advice is to ditch the file at home and bring your own disposable file on your trips.

Tweezerman Petite Tweezer Set
Retail: $25
Review: Good value if you're after the Tweezerman brand. Tweezers are small...may be too small for some. Also, they are quite sharp...took about 2 months to wear them down even a little. Can't beat the Tweezerman lifetime warranty - a HUGE plus!

I bought this set after my cheapo Revlon tweezers were so dull, they failed to remove even the thickest hairs. Most of the regular-sized Tweezermans run at $20-$25, so when I saw these slightly smaller tools at a two-for-one price, I caved. It is nice to have the separate tip options...the pointy tip can remove even the smallest, most stubborn hair, while the slant tip is a classic option for everyday grooming. The tools are small...this doesn't bother me since I usually hold the tweezers close to the ends during use...but I'm guessing that those used to standard-size tweezers might find them difficult. Also, they are incredibly sharp at first. Nearly every time I used them for the first 2 months, I'd end up ripping out some skin along with eyebrow hairs. Not good and ouch. They finally seem to be softening up at the edges, but I still think I need a ginger touch for a few months more. Overall, I'm super pleased with these, and think my sentiments are summed up best by the following review from the Sephora website: "So glad I found Tweezerman and I love the pink color. FINALLY, I can pluck with abandon! :-)"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

people foods for pooches?

Before we got Griffin, we would spend every night going through a stack of puppy books. All of the books had sections about feeding times with the same tenets - dry kibble is best, and 'people food' is a no-no. Unfortunately, our baby couldn't handle the dry food...his jaw and teeth were too weak, and his stomach couldn't properly digest it. So, the dry kibble wasn't happening...

Husband and I LOVE food, and I'm a total pushover (have you ever looked into the eyes of a hungry puppy?), so our plan to keep 'people food' from him totally failed. Oops. Now, I've seen some crazy stuff on tv...the woman who had 'tea time' with her dogs, the one who cooked a complete veggie and meat dish for her dog while nuking tv meals for her husband and son, and the woman who kept an unending supply of popsicles in her freezer for her dogs. Crazy! We are NOT those people. We keep it pretty basic and infrequent:

*Yogurt: Specifically Greek yogurt (it's what I eat everyday). I'll leave a tiny bit of yogurt and honey at the bottom of the container and let Griff lick it clean. He loves it (comes running as soon as I pop off the foil), and it helps with digestion and regularity.
*Apples: I usually cut a few small pieces and let him munch on them...always incorporating training, with the apple pieces as rewards. Don't forget to remove the skin and seeds before feeding!
*Bananas: Some dogs go crazy for bananas! Griff doesn't beg for this like the other foods, but he'll take a taste every now and then.
*Baby carrots: Great for their teeth and super healthy. Freeze them when your pup is'll be really soothing for him, and keep him occupied.
*Chicken and rice: The best remedy for an upset tummy. Boil the chicken (not sure why this is the best cooking method) and mix it with some plain rice. A meal or two of chicken and rice will usually get your pup's GI on track.
*Honey: Griff only gets this with my yogurt. I would have never thought to give it, but when we picked him up from the rescue group, the rescue worker gave a squirt of honey before some bitter medicine. Griff takes meds like a champ, but we might try this trick if he ever becomes difficult.
*Cheese: Umm, dogs LOVE cheese. Griff loves cheese. This was our treat of choice when housetraining, to really offer something special for the...occasion. Griff doesn't discriminate...feta, swiss, havarti, cheddar, goat...he'll happily take it all.

The list of TOXIC foods for dogs is pretty surprising. Everyone knows that chocolate is a no-no, but so are onions, grapes, and raisins. It's a good idea to do a quick google search before treating your pup. This is a good chart that shows foods to avoid.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

favorite fall things!

In commemoration of the Autumnal Equinox, I present to you my favorite things about fall. Admittedly, the end of summer and those wonderful warm nights is all kinds of depressing. No longer can you get away with a cute summer dress and sandals for a day out. It means the end of lazy days...back to work, back to school, and getting serious.

But it's not all doom and gloom for the next 7 or so months! You get so many of those bright, sunny days that aren't blazing hot towards the beginning of autumn. The fall foliage is truly something to be seen (we're determined to get to Central Park while the leaves are still beautiful). And what's better than sleeping with the windows open and a slight chill in the air!

And now, on with the fall faves!

Thanksgiving dinner. Mmm trytophan. Comfort foods in all their glory...sweet potatoes, turkey, gravy, stuffing. Followed up with a nap and football. Yum!

Pumpkin. This really signals fall for me. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin-laced green monsters, pumpkin butter, pumpkin ice cream. I love it all!

College Football! Watching the games takes me back to those amazing Saturdays, surrounded by thousands of fans, or tailgating in front of the stadium. This year is shaping up to be an exciting season!

Fall Fashion! Blazers, scarves, boots, tights, texture...layers, layers, layers. I love it all! Unlike winter, during which most NYC gals are swathed in huge, down, black can still look super stylish and chic during fall. Here are some inspiration pics from a recent piece in Page Six Mag:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

wedding review: Susmita Patel (hair/makeup)

Susmita Patel
Review: Communication was a bit difficult, but she absolutely came through 110% on our wedding day. The epitome of professional, she was calm, cool, collected, and quick! I couldn't have been happier with mine, and my family's looks!

By most accounts, our wedding weekend went off without a hitch, and I am constantly asked for advice by friends with upcoming weddings. I always respond with the same two pieces - (1) most of the things that you think are a huge deal probably aren't going to make or break the wedding, and (2) everything always works out in the end. Such was the case with Susmita, who we booked to do our hair, makeup, and sari draping. She came recommended by some friends from Florida, where she often traveled to work at Indian weddings.

The good:
*Susmita was always calm and cool, even when I (and my mother) were super frazzled or frustrated. During the wedding, she was probably the most collected person in our hotel suite, pinning up hair or touching up makeup without missing a beat. She even stopped to give me a quick massage when I was having an 'OMG I'm going to lose it' moment!
*Susmita arrived at the hotel early and stayed with me for the entire day with her assistant. She handled touch-ups during my pictures, and fixed me up just after the wedding ceremony was over.
*She's got a great resume, having worked with Hollywood artists for starters, and has been in the business for years and years.
*She is FAST and CREATIVE. She does hair and makeup quicker than I've ever seen a professional work, and the results are truly a work of art.
*She's honest, and will tell you if she thinks a particular look will work for you or not. I was drawn to casual, piece-y updos, but she did not think it would work well for my hair texture or color. Instead, she suggested a sleek (but not tight) updo accented by flowers that matched my sari. Truly perfection.
*That's not to say she won't listen. I'm a minimal makeup kind of girl, and I didn't want a heavy look at all. She stayed true to my comfort level, but still made me look better than I ever thought I could look.
*My mother and mother-in-law loved her. They're both a bit picky about hair/makeup, and loved what she did.
*She can tie a sari about a thousand different ways. Amazing.
*She has an arsenal of makeup and tools, and she comes fully prepared. For example, my skin was less than stellar on the day of my wedding, and she airbrushed it to near perfection.

The not-so-good:
*The number one frustration I had with Susmita was some trouble communicating. I often did not hear back from her for some time following my calls/emails, and when I would try to call or leave a message, her voicemail box was full. My biggest worry was that I wanted to sign a contract beyond our verbal agreement to secure our date, and also that she might be flaky on our wedding day. Looking back, I can say this: Susmita is an incredibly hard-working person, and she basically runs her own business. She was also working to open her own salon/spa, and was super busy on that end. She tried to reassure me numerous times that although she is very busy, when it counts, she is always 100% focused on her bride and bride's family. Did I have a right to be frustrated and worried? Probably. Do I look back with any regrets to booking her? Absolutely not.

Lessons Learned:
*If you can (and if your wedding day schedule might call for it), try and book Susmita for the entire day. It was great having her available to fix me up just after the wedding, and for touch-ups during my morning and afternoon photos.
*Bring inspirational photos if you have them, but keep an open mind. Susmita (or any good hair/makeup artist) should be honest about what will or will not work for you. After all, your work is what keeps their business going, and it's in their interest to make you look your best.
*For Indian weddings, having someone who can do hair, makeup, AND draping is a godsend. I only included my mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law in my wedding party, so Susmita and her assistant were all we needed for the day. Most artists will advise you on whether they'll need to bring on more assistants, etc., depending on the size of your wedding party.
*Do a trial or two to make sure you feel comfortable with your final look. Make sure you have the look(s) squared away so you can calmly sit back and get beautiful on your big day.
*I know everyone says this, but it bears repeating. Don't do anything you aren't comfortable with. You want to look like yourself...just a better version of yourself. If you don't normally wear heavy eye makeup, your wedding day is not the time for a smokey eye. You'll regret it every time you look back at your photos.

Susmita recently opened her own salon/spa - Studio Sush. It was her lifelong dream and I couldn't be happier for her. I suspect that future brides will have a much easier time scheduling meetings or trials now that she has a salon. Susmita is multi-talented, a true professional, and a pleasure to work with. She was without a doubt one of our favorite vendors, and I would recommend her services to anyone and everyone!

Monday, September 14, 2009

wordless mondays

I realize I'm missing the alliteration here, but I'm installing a regular 'Wordless Monday' post. Partly because it's tough enough to get my act together on Mondays. It'll let me rant, rave, and generally emote without having to think too much. Just how I like to start out the week.

And now, on with the post!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

fall wishlist

Ok, even though I've vowed to shop my closet this fall, I still have my eye on a few amazing things! Some less affordable than others. I realize 90% of the list is from Anthro, but I am really loving their pieces right now. Lots of unique items you could make your own (never again want to be the girl dressing straight out of a J Crew catalog!)

I have been wanting a cape-style coat for some time. Even when they were 'out,' it's always seemed like such a chic top layer. I love the neutral oatmeal color too. If this doesn't work out, Anthropologie's First Chill Cape ($158) and Tulle's Cape of Good Hope ($97.99) could be good stand-ins.

In my dreams! I LOVE the detailing along the front. Sadly, the price is prohibitive and I'm not even sure this would translate well into my closet. But it's pretty to look at, no?

I own 3 leather jackets. One is a hooded Mike & Chris look-alike from Old Navy, and the other two were gifts from my parents' travels through South America. The other two also have zippers and look a bit dated. This Vince number is great...edgy, but not too cropped. At over $700, this is more of an inspiration piece...I might try and rework the South American pieces or buy a motorcycle-style fake leather piece.

This might be the perfect all-season dress. As soon as I saw it, I pictured it with tall, brown chunky heels, and a long, thick oatmeal-colored cabled cardigan. It could just as easily work with some leather wedges in the summer. As soon as this goes on sale, I'm snagging it.

Yes, I am still enamored with this as the perfect chambray base layer. And yes, I think it could easily transition into fall/winter. It hasn't gone on sale yet and never appears to be available in my size.

I did pretty well buying boots last year, so I'm good for a while. These beauties are a different story. At first glance, they're not much to speak of, but every time I've seen them styled in the catalog I stop. With wide-leg jeans, all you'd see is the cognac leather and a glimpse of the stacked heel. Worn alone, they can make an outfit. And at $90, they're more reasonably priced than most of Anthro's other shoe options (yes I know $90 is still a lot to spend, but imo...with shoes, you truly do get what you pay for).

I don't have a light brown belt, and this season might be the one where I pull the trigger. Such a versatile color, and I love the 'corset' details. Linea Pelle's belt quality is outstanding...this piece would last forever and get better with age. Hopefully I can find a cheaper alternative or a good, deep discount.

I am always pleasantly surprised when it comes to Anthro's leather handbags. I have a cream one from a few years ago that's my go-to bag for tooling around town during spring/summer. I was unsure about this one at first (obv the greenish color grabbed me right away). The leather is soft and perfectly worn and wrinkled, but the bag itself feels quite substantial. It's a perfect fit over the shoulder as well. I only wish there was more than a simple magnetic snap closure. I have found their handbags to eventually be marked down as much as 50%, so I need to stalk this one for sure.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

back to school

I think many of us still equate back-to-school time with something new. A new grade, new school, new season. Not until my mid-20s did I stop calling post-September a 'new year'. I still consider fall a time of change...a new beginning. Out with the old, in with the new! Back in the day, I used to LOVE back-to-school shopping...we'd shop the sales and come out with a nearly new wardrobe!

As I've gotten older, I've tried to focus on acquiring pieces that I love, and pieces with longevity - that can work for years in my closet. In this recession, I haven't found much inspiration from what's available in retail. These days, I really need to fall in love with a piece to invest the $. That's not to say that I don't love a fun, trendy item...I like to grab a few items here and there at the cheaper stores to keep things interesting.

This year, I've decided to 'shop my closet' as much as possible, though I still have my eye on a few key pieces. I am starting to switch out my closet for cooler temps, and I think my style sense needs a small overhaul as well. Below are my New Year's Style Resolutions for fall/winter! Nothing particularly crazy, but just enough changes to make my style choices feel fresh.

Resolution #1: Stop hiding underneath tented, billowy tops. Show off my curves, embrace my shape, and create a more streamlined silhouette with belts and fitted top layers.

Resolution #2: Stop retreating to my safe zone by wearing mostly- or all-black. Incorporate more muted, earthy colors and tones.

Resolution #3: Use blazers and/or leather jackets in new and fun ways.

Resolution #4: Layer, layer, layer! Especially over skinny jeans, boots, leggings, and tights.

Resolution #5: Have more fun with accessories! Hats, belts, scarves, statement necklaces!

Resolution #6: Incorporate some trends on the cheap! I'm currently loving plaid, leather jackets, florals, and all things purple.

9/9/09 update: Great article about back to school!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

review: anthropologie walk-a-ways dress

Anthropologie (one.september) Walk-A-Ways dress
Color: Blue silk skirt, grey attached tank
Retail: $128 [paid $79.95]
Review: Gorgeous, vibrant color! Tank is soft but substantial. Runs VERY small...taller or larger-busted girls will want to size up at least one size.

anthro walk a ways dress

The blog world and fashion message boards have been going crazy over this dress for some time. I think it first appeared in Anthro's late spring catalog. Then, the bachelorette wore it. The one that chose that douchy cheater guy. Then, the look-alikes started to come.

Now, I'm a girl with a larger chest, short torso, long legs...and a hourglass shape. I have never been one to tuck in my tops, since I tend to look very top heavy. Just doesn't work. When high-waisted bottoms started popping up in stores - from high-waisted jeans to skirts - it was a trend I did not welcome. Even this dress...when I saw it the first time around, I was very meh about it, and passed up on the craze. Leave it to a decent sale to make me reconsider.

I read so many reviews on the sizing of this dress before purchasing, convinced I'd have to order it online because it would sell out in stores. Wrong. My closest Anthro, at 16th St. & 5th Ave., had all sizes, all colors. Crazy. The bestselling color appears to be the orange. It's been a hot color for summer, and appears to be popular for fall as well (and was the color worn by the bach). Me, I've never been much of an orange fan. Halloween much? Anyway, the blue really jumped out at me. It's a beautiful, vibrant, cerulean blue. It's deep enough to be taken seriously, but the dress still says fun. I tried on all colors, all sizes, just to be sure.

First things first, if you have a larger chest (I'm talking C and up), you'll probably want to size up. The S fit me, but it was definitely tighter in the chest than I was comfortable with. Surprisingly, the L fit fine...the tank part was streamlined but not tight or too loose. Unfortunately, there was a fair amount of extra material in the skirt of the L...almost appearing to be an asymmetrical hem, and quite bulky. The M was a happy medium (hard-dee-har). On me, the top of the 'skirt' falls just above my natural waist...the smallest part of my torso. It has a nice full flare, and ends just at my knees.

The tank itself is a substantial knit, which helps create a smooth shape. There is some distressing along the edges, which adds to the funk factor imo. The tank portion is sewn with blue thread (also appearing on the orange and green/striped versions). The skirt is a weighty silk, and is lined. I played around with the removable can be worn thin, thick, or swapped out.

This dress also came in a green skirted version, with a white/black striped top. It was available in-store, but appears to have sold out online. The big vertical stripes looked HORRIBLE on my larger chest, so I passed. Overall, I'm pleased with this may not transition deep into fall, but can easily pass through the remaining warmer days and cooler nights with some layering before fall really sets in.

Wardrobe Review and Anthroholic have reviewed this dress, while Possessionista and Look4Less have both posted great look-alikes (beware the quality, though)!

review: anthropologie jacqueline dress

Anthropologie (Maeve) Jacqueline Dress
Color: Green & Black (no longer available online - blue/cream, yellow/cream still available)
Retail: $98 [purchased for $88.96]
Review: Runs big, but absolutely adorable. A summery dress that can easily be transitioned into fall.

anthro jacqueline dress

My favorite color is green. It's not necessarily what works best for me, but I am always drawn to green hues in clothing stores. I tried this dress on months ago in a mad (and last-minute) hunt for a dress to wear for a July wedding. I found it a bit too casual for the occasion, and set it back in my frenzy without a second thought.

Fast forward to yesterday. I stopped into Anthro around 3pm. First of all, the place was a zoo. A ZOO. I was elbowed left and right in the sale aisles...I blame the new influx of NYU students. And possibly the recent markdowns. Anywho. This dress was hidden between 2 rather crazy sheer bohemian tunics, marked down to $88.96. Admittedly, not a huge bargain, and also a size 0. Now, I was a size 0 for most of the year leading up to my wedding, and probably a 00 on the day (don't hate me yet)...stress, school, whatever, it happens. One year of marriage and about 10 pounds later, I'm no longer a size 0. But I decided to try the dress on for kicks.

For some reason, I always get the same dressing room at Anthro. Weird, huh? The huge corner one with 3 different hanger racks and enough space for a cartwheel. Ok, maybe not a cartwheel, but at least some forward lunges. Digress...

Somehow, the dress actually fit, and zipped up! Without looking like a sausage! I actually had leftover room in my back and bust. I'm still convinced the thing is mislabeled. One month ago, I bought a dress in a size 4... I also purchased a size M dress on the same day I purchased the Jacqueline dress. This dress seems to run big, which is the consensus among the Anthro website reviews. Unfortunately, the store only had 2 left (probably why it was only slightly marked down), so I couldn't try a size up for comparison.

The material is a light, airy cotton, with a full cotton lining. It has all sorts of pintucking in the bust, which I love for the slimming effects. Full coverage in back and front means you can wear a regular bra. The included belt is a matching grosgrain, which is removeable. I'd love to pair something thicker with it...maybe the Tea Rose belt, Snakebite belt, or even a caramel leather one for a different look.

Overall, it's a lovely dress that can be dressed up or down. There is a decent Anthro sale going on now, so try and track this one may very well be discounted in-store! I hope the weather stays warm enough for me to get one use out of this, if not...I have a few ideas for fall:

jacqueline dress

jacqueline dress outfit 2

Friday, September 4, 2009

review: american eagle boy-fit jeans

Color: Vintage Blue Destroyed Wash
Retail: $49.50
Review: Super comfy and soft. Just enough distressing and whiskering in the right places. Sizing is true-to-size to big.

I've been on the lookout for so-called 'boy-fit/boyfriend' jeans for months now. Not wanting to shell out nearly $200 for a possible passing trend (and finding it silly to buy full-price or somewhat reduced designer jeans), I waited for the mall-brand alternatives to appear. Everyone from Old Navy to J Crew has a boy-fit jean, but I was on a mission. Cheap, but not cheap-looking.

Enter American Eagle. They run some pretty decent specials and sales throughout the year...I had been considering these boy-fit jeans, and a $35 denim special sold me. I'm wearing 26/27 jeans these days, so I ordered a size 2 and 4 in the AE jeans. To be honest, I was completely torn on the sizing once they arrived! The 4 fit me exactly as like the website model...all-over slouchy. Amazingly comfy. The 2 felt more fitted in the hip area and upper leg, but the bottom portion was still loose. I think the size 2 worked better for me - they didn't look tight, and were more streamlined while still having the on-trend look. Being 100% cotton (and very soft cotton), they're likely to stretch with wear.

Don't go with the reviews on the website, unless you are a 13-year old girl. The 'real' reviews that I've read are all over the place. If you have a long torso and shorter legs, these may not work for you, since the inseam is longer than typical low-rise jeans (perfect for an old fogey like myself). If you're after the totally slouchy look that most of the celebs are currently rocking, size up. I generally find AE jeans to run true to size.

The only thing that manages to cheer me up when the temp starts dropping is new stuff that can I can transition into fall. Some ideas I'm excited about:

boyfit jeans outfit 1
(Love the idea of a tough cargo jacket with a statement-y necklace and funky flats).

boyfit jeans outfit 2
(Was going for a layered effect here. I'm picturing the scarf draped loosely over the neck, and the bag worn crossbody style).

boyfit jeans outfit 3
(Too many trends? Boyfriend blazer, layered necklaces, boyfit jeans. Eh who cares! I don't wear heels much in the city (I walk everywhere), so I picked the most outrageous ones I could find for the collage. Loubs, natch).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

wedding review: Pampered Bride Weddings (planner)

Review: Eager and excited to work with us, but ended up being a disappointment in the end. Limited meetings meant we could not get to know them well. On the expensive side. Based on how much we personally had planned and organized, we probably did not need them.

For about 7 months of our engagement, I was convinced I did not need the help of a wedding planner or coordinator. I had very specific ideas about things and planned to do a lot of it myself. I had also booked all of my vendors by that point, so I saw little need for a planner. That is, until I decided to sit for my preliminary oral examinations just 3 weeks before the wedding. During a meeting with both of our parents, we started to feel truly overwhelmed...not by the planning itself, but the details that would need to be managed on our wedding day. We decided that an outside day-of-coordinator might be just what we needed.

I had a fairly difficult time booking a DOC for our day...originally wanting an Indian coordinator who would know the traditions/customs and how best to deal with our guests. I eventually settled on Pampered Bride Weddings...a company featured on Whose Wedding Is It Anyway. My main liaison was Melissa Loiacono.

The good:
*At our first meeting, Melissa seemed very eager to work with us, and excited about what we were planning. She mentioned that she had helped coordinate one other Indian wedding, which partially put my mind at ease.
*PBW has pretty airtight guidelines and contract. The terms of your contract are clearly laid well as associated pricing.
*Depending on the size of your wedding, your main liaison will bring 1-2 assistants on your day. Though it'll cost you extra.
*They have worked with a ton of vendors around NY/NJ. For example, they had worked with our photographers, and when we had some communication issues, Melissa stepped in and helped smooth things over.
*I believe they do design work and more extensive planning - having contacts with MANY vendors in the area. If you need those sort of services, PBW might better serve you in a fuller capacity (as opposed to just DOC).

The not-so-good:
*Their pricing is on the high side...perhaps because they are featured on tv? You can definitely find a coordinator that is more reasonably priced.
*The most annoying thing for contract entitled us to only 2 meetings prior to the wedding beyond the the initial consultation. This leads me to my next gripe:
*I didn't feel as if I got to know my coordinator (or her assistants) very well. I don't think my family was super comfortable with them either. This created part of the tension that was felt on our day.
*They seemed not to know boundaries too well. Melissa and her 2 assistants came to my family's suite and stayed for the entire morning (this could be fairly common, I'm not sure). Now, imagine my family of 4, hair/makeup person and her assistant, 2 photographers, 1 videographer, and 3 wedding coordinators...all in one suite! And imagine how you and your family feel before the wedding has started. Needless to say, we were totally on edge, and having so many strangers in the room only made it worse. They were sitting in our room, having their own conversations, trying on our bindis without asking, and generally raising the tension level of everyone. Eventually my mom kicked them out of our room! To their credit, they did offer to help out, but there wasn't that much for them to do...

Lessons Learned:
*Really think about why you might need a coordinator/planner and delineate their roles accordingly. In my case, it turned out that they really just served as an extra pair of hands - and ones we rarely relied on since we had family and friends to help.
*Review your contract and what you are entitled to. I was disappointed in only having 2 meetings prior to the wedding. Perhaps if I had additional or unlimited meetings, I would have felt more comfortable delegating responsibilities.
*Shop around and book early. Anyone featured on a tv program or popular wedding magazine will have a significant markup, in my opinion.
*Get your family involved with the coordinator, so everyone is comfortable.
*Don't be afraid to speak up and ask for something to be done (or not done)! Our coordinators did some things I found to be a tad unprofessional (or at the very least rude and overstepping their boundaries)...I wish I could have spoken up instead of waiting for my mother to kick them all out of the room!
*Find out early if your venue offers a 'chaperone' or on-site coordinator. At hotels, for example, the catering manager or events planner will often act in some capacity as a DOC for you.

Overall, I probably didn't need to hire a DOC. I had a catering manager working pretty closely with me through the Hyatt (though I wasn't aware of this fact until 2 days before the wedding). We had also done a really good job of having everything organized and ready to go for each event. I might have been better off tasking a friend to help out, or just hiring an independent coordinator who might have been cheaper and more accommodating.