I've said it once, twice, hell; many times: the most rewarding part of of what I'm doing is when we're a perfect fit. We, being YOU and ME. You; my brides, your friends, your families (hi, dads!), your fiancees...

The thing that I felt strongest about, the thing that was the final, biggest push to make me open Glitter & Grit was the feeling of, "I CAN'T be the only one." I can't possibly be the only woman who didn't want to be fussed over, told what to do, pressured into wearing and doing things that weren't representative of me when it came to wedding planning, and yes; wedding dress shopping. So when you, my brides, are in the same place? I know that I'm doing the right thing; no. question.

I hope you know how completely full of gratitude I am for those of you who validate the existence of Glitter & Grit! Today, I'd like to thank my bride Stephanie and share with you this incredibly sweet testimonial from her. Yes, I want to brag - who wouldn't?! - but really, I can only say "you are not alone" so many times; I'd much rather the rest of you hear it from someone else who's going through the whole thing right now, just like you are. 
From Stephanie (thanks, lady!!):
Speaking as someone who always thought they were born without the "bride gene", when I finally got engaged and the countdown to all things wedding began, I dreaded the thought of shopping for my dress. Don't get me wrong; I love fashion, but wedding fashion is a whole different world, one that I didn't want to be a part of. So I began my search online, trying to find the least painful place to begin the process. And that's how I happened to find Glitter and Grit. Although I have lived in Washington DC for the last 8 years, I will always be a Pittsburgher at heart, and decided to start my search in my hometown. It's a decision I didn't regret; Glitter and Grit made the 4 hour drive home to Pittsburgh totally worth it. Owner Erin Szymanski is down to earth, helpful without being pushy, won't use cringe-worthy phrases like "your special day", or be disappointed if you don't cry and jump up and down when you find your gown.
After visiting four other bridal salons, I can truly say that Glitter and Grit is the answer for us brides who still want a quality selection of gowns but don't want to deal with the "traditional" wedding gown shopping experience. You won't find annoying brides with huge entourages or catty salesclerks trying to force you to make a decision you aren't comfortable with. Also - unlike a certain chain who puts you on a mailing list without your permission - you won't be inundated with wedding junk mail/email from other vendors. Erin is tactful with her non-intrusive display of local vendor information as well as her collection of unique accessories: they are there for the browsing, but nothing is forced upon you. Erin also takes wonderful care of her sample gowns; unlike other salons I visited (where samples were either missing hooks/zippers, covered in makeup/self-tanner, or had hemlines that looked like they had been used to mop the floors) everything I tried on was in pristine condition so I could truly get an idea of what the "real" dress would look like. From my first appointment to actually purchasing and picking up my gown, Erin provided an experience that was relaxed yet professional. She promptly responds to email/phone calls and her policies are fair with no fine print or unreasonable fees. I highly recommend Glitter and Grit to Pittsburgh area brides - as well as to anyone who wants a wedding gown shopping experience without the drama that our reality TV based society has made us believe it should have.
Interested in sharing your own Glitter & Grit experience? You know where to find me!
i was working on my computer at home one day last week, with the t.v. on in the background, not paying much attention to whatever mindless crap that was showing. then this commercial came on. and i found myself having a very physical and emotional reaction to it. seriously. take a moment and go watch it - i'll be right here when you're finished.
Dress - Grace by Lindee Daniel from Glitter & Grit, photo by Palermo Photo
photo by Palermo Photo
now. i sell wedding dresses, as you might know. so, i should be all about perpetuating the "it's all about the dress" message, right? i also probably shouldn't tell you to go watch my competitor's commercial, either... but i need to rant:
I AM SO ANGRY about this advertisement.

if your fiancee feels that he* is "the invisible man"
a "mere cog in the wheel of this carefully choreographed extravaganza"

then you're doing it wrong.

your wedding is about who each of you are, as individuals, and as a couple. not "all about the bride." or your dress. it's about your love, trust, and commitment to one another. it's about openly sharing that with the people in your lives. i hope that he IS the reason that someone "gets all emotional," at the very least YOU, his bride. if not his mom, your mom, his sister, his best friend, your friends that have been waiting years for this day and are oh-so-excited for you both, etc. etc. etc.

why do we keep acting like grooms are insignificant? they want this, too. and chances are, they actually asked for it. you decided, together, to get married, and then you decided, together, whether or not you wanted to share that life event with other people. there's even a chance that he wants the wedding more than you, or maybe just has more time, better organizational skills, or is a little more picky than you, and has actually participated in, or taken charge of planning your wedding day. you might choose to wear a pretty dress - or sexy suit - and he probably wants to look a little fancy, too. you might include other things to make the day feel special, like floral arrangements or great live music or a menu featuring all of your favorite foods. even better, you might ask your guests to be active participants in your ceremony or share stories and truths while making a toast at your reception; all of these things celebrating the love you share. THAT'S what it's all about.

is it all about the bride? and your dress?

hell. no.

*i prefer to write less specifically, but yes, sorry; this is a strictly hetero post, since the commercial involved a man and a woman. either way, neither partner should feel invisible or insignificant on your wedding day!!
i'm often asked how i came up with the name for my store. the short answer is: a long brainstorming session with my sister.  this session occurred on her facebook wall, so there's actually a record of this insane event (well, most of it).

want a very real peek into the minds of two loopy gals, drunk on possibility? keep reading.

{a few notes first: the beginning of this conversation is lost in space, but the full explanation on my about page can give you good enough background. also, i'm leaving all typos, swearing, and music, film, and book references as they are. oh - and? this is really long. sorry, kids.}
photo by nicole jarock
click through to continue:

a milestone, the holidays, the end of the year... these three things have me thinking an awful lot about the past year; the last six months.

this coming weekend marks the six-month anniversary of glitter & grit, and i just cannot believe it's only been six itty-bitty months. i feel so at home, so right in what i'm doing, that it feels like so much longer - in the very best way. i have no way to appropriately thank everyone that has gotten us ("us," meaning me and the store because yeah, we're a couple) this far, but i will try my best. firstly by simply saying: thank you.

thank you to the customers who have supported my business (and for all of the hugs!!). thank you to the designers for creating amazing dresses that the world so needs. thank you to the friends and family who have supported and lifted me up from the early days of brainstorming.  thank you to the lovely ladies of propelle, for helping me take flight. without all that you have offered, i may not have had the courage to leap, arms spread wide with a huge grin on my face and peace in my heart. you kick ass.
and lastly, thank you to the local wedding vendors that have welcomed me in my stumbling eagerness to be a part of something so much bigger than each of us...

seven months ago, before glitter & grit was in any shape to open its doors, i had the honor of providing dresses for an amazing photo shoot with veronica varos photography, mt. lebanon floral, bliss events, ltd., and a handful of other creatives from around the city. what happened that day was pure magic. ladies: thank you for that entire experience, and for the friendships that followed. and a huge, inappropriately gushing thanks to lindee daniel for hustling to finish part of my opening sample order so that i actually had dresses to use for the shoot!

since that day, i have been honored to connect and work with a star-studded list of local vendors on various photo shoot and events, and i couldn't possible be more humbled and grateful for each and every connection.
behind the scenes of my first styled shoot!
before opening my doors, i set my intention, here, for exactly what it was that i wanted glitter & grit to be, and i feel that i have upheld my promises to be real, to try to love myself as i am, and to empower other women to shine their damned brightest - every day, but especially on their wedding day.

as the months have passed, i have grown to love every inch of this business so much more than i ever imagined, and that's because of all of you... i wanted to make a difference, and even though, on the surface, trying to do so in the wedding industry seems like a shallow way to do it, it had been immensely rewarding to make women happy - and if i've turned anyone's prior - or anticipated - experience around to a positive one, then i AM making a difference, and one that matters.

i hope to continue on with my mission in 2014, and to help spread the *love* of self-love and truly personal weddings around pittsburgh. i hope to remain honest, inviting, and accepting in my life and in my business. i hope to keep dreaming and making those dreams come true, for you and for me... but most of all, i hope for a lot more hugs.

sweeping and dreaming, as captured by veronica varos - who was selflessly helping me prep the store for opening
glitter & grit: reclaiming romance for the boldly engaged

reclaim {transitive verb} to rescue from an undesireable state; also: to restore to a previous natural state
photo by Veronica Varos Photography
"what do you mean, 'reclaiming?"
"are these all vintage dresses?"
"are these, like, upcycled?"

...all valid questions, of which i'm hearing a lot. i guess glitter & grit's tagline is a bit confusing, and possibly misleading. in this wonderful world, we've come to associate the word "reclaim" with the upcycling and recycling of vintage and pre-loved wares. this is a fantastic thing; that the default association leads us to making the world a better, less wasteful place gives me great joy. there's hope for us humans yet!

however, i use the word "reclaiming" in a more literal sense. i want to reclaim romance from the wedding industry, from the people ~ and businesses ~ that tell us what romance looks like (weddings), how romance feels (chick flicks, romance novels), and what actions are necessary to display and experience romance (dating advice from any and almost every source)... we deserve better! we deserve to know that romance is what works for ourselves and our partners, period.

romance, and our society's impresion of it, has certainly reached an undesireable state. if your ideal date night is sitting at home, playing video games and snuggling with kitties, or hardcore mountain biking followed by a craft brewery tour, why are you still being told that dinner and a movie is where it's at? if you feel most attractive in jeans and a leather jacket, why are only cute little dresses and heels the "acceptable" first date ensemble? and, more relevantly here: the whole white dress, daddy giving you away, bouquet-tossing wedding? great, if that's your thing (truly). but if it's not? THAT'S OKAY. then don't do it. we've all grown up with the understanding that there's one way to do the wedding (including, of course, the opposite-sex spouse), and that's simply not the case. the only important thing about your wedding day is the union being made, and being shared with those you choose to share it with. everything else is optional - but, in my humble opinion, should be a true reflection of the people involved; not any sort of watered-down version of themselves, or what the wedding magazines/books/blogs tell them they need to be.

so. i challenge you: reclaim your romance! make it your own, bring it back to a desireable state!

i'm here to help. i'll support whatever represents you the most, and try hard to make sure that you love yourself as much as your spouse on your wedding day. and if you want to find the version of beautiful that makes you feel romantic? i just might have a new, non-vintage, made-just-for-you dress (and/or, hopefully someday, suit, etc. etc.) that fits your truest, brightest shining self.
so... here's the thing: i'm on a mission.

a mission to be as transparent with you, my friends and clients, as possible.
to be open and honest with you about who I am, and how glitter & grit does business.
to remain true to myself while i plunge into the world of fashion and the wedding industry; two places that can certainly make you question your integrity and self-worth.

i'm also - most importantly - on a mission to help YOU stay authentic as you go through the whirlwind of wedding planning, and to make sure you're shining as brightly as only you can on your wedding day.

i don't think that i can succeed in my mission if we, as women, aren't all holding each other accountable, being truthful with each other, and making conscious decisions to change the wedding industry "standards." so, let's make a pact, okay? let's promise to be real, to try as hard as we can to love ourselves - as we are - so that everyone else can have the chance to love the best of us. let's celebrate each other (i'm talking all ladies; not just the two of us!) and empower one another to be amazing, to love openly, to sparkle brightly.

pinky swear?
here's MY glitter & grit: a fancy dress, and filthy feet. there is no better summation of who i am. photo by hot metal studio