Having personally experienced the light that IS Natalie, it came as no surprise to me that her wedding photos simply radiate love.  She looked stunning in the Aneka by Nicole Miller, paired with Camilla Christine's Letitia veil, both from Glitter & Grit.  Natalie and Amir were married on May 24th at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort. Enjoy these gorgeous photos, and hear a little more from the bride herself below.

all photos courtesy of Craig Photography

When you tried on your dress, how did you know it was the one?
- My mom's face! she said, "That is the one". I felt comfortable, sexy, and happy in my dress, and that's how I knew that it was the one.
What was your groom's reaction to seeing you in it?
- He looked content. He was smiling so big and he told me later that I couldn't have picked a better dress!
Please share your favorite thing about Amir...
- Amir is a constant inspiration. He is motivated, funny, humble, brilliant, and kind to others. He inspires me to aim for those same attributes.

id you incorporate any traditions into your wedding?
- Amir is Iranian so we had The Sofreh Aghd, a Persian wedding spread symbolizing fertility, wealth, sweetness, happiness, etc in a marriage. Amir's mom led the traditional spread after our ceremony. It was so beautiful!
Please describe the most memorable moment of the day.
- Dancing with our family and friends! I was so sweaty by the end of the night because I focused on spending as much time and energy as possible dancing and laughing with everyone there.
Do you have any special advice for future brides?
- The wedding is not about a big show or production. If you are doing it right, you are having a wedding to celebrate a beautiful unity and joining together two families for life. So kick back, relax, and laugh your way through it, embracing every single moment. It's not worth it to take yourself too seriously ;)
You may know by now that I'm not one to tell you what, how, or when to do things when it comes to planning your wedding or shopping for your dress, but something has come up more than once recently that is really pushing me to urge one thing of you...

Please make peace with your body before you begin trying on wedding dresses! It's a tall order to ask you to simply and completely love your body, I know, so all I'm asking is that you accept it.

We are all so, so infinitely beautiful in our own ways, but it's no secret that we are barraged with messages from all angles about why we're not beautiful enough. Our "imperfections" and "flaws" are used against us by marketers so that we will realize how very much we need their product or service to improve ourselves... okay, so I'm not telling you anything new here, right?
{image via women's health foundation}
But here's the thing: if we believe them, oh man, we're just breaking our own hearts!

Fortunately, most of my brides have had very healthy self-images, but a couple very clearly experience a disconnect of envisioning themselves one way, and seeing themselves another
when going through this process... Blame the media, blame Pinterest, blame the voices of our mothers/grandmothers/sisters/aunts ringing through our minds - it doesn't matter whose fault it is.

I can tell so clearly when someone is really struggling to find a dress that she even likes (forget about falling in love with one!), the problem isn't actually the dresses. The problem is that while in each dress, all she can see is that body part (or parts) that she hates, zoning in... "Ugh, no; my hips," repeatedly, no matter the style or fit of the dress. The self-loathing fills the room and leaves no room for love. We can't have that, my friends... if all you are seeing is this part of you that no one else sees the same way, you're missing how BEAUTIFUL you look -and could feel- each time you step out of the dressing room!

I recently read this piece about the "lotion challenge;" taking time every single day to give kind, loving attention to your least-favorite body part(s), so that maybe you might have a change in how you perceive your body. Again; not asking for love, but - perhaps - acceptance?

My general approach here at Glitter & Grit is to acknowledge what I call (y)our "trigger areas," and then move on, focusing on the assets that you like. I also encourage brides to find a dress that they love on their body, as they are right now... I'll respect of you intend to lose a few pounds, or get in a little better shape, but the reality is that life takes over and we can't always control those things - especially here in Pittsburgh, where we all love our food & booze too much! The wonderful thing about clothes (you know, like your wedding dress) is that you can skim over the parts you might not love so much, and draw attention to what you DO. 

SO: let's talk about what you do love, and like to show off; is it your tiny waist, your strong back, your cutie bootie, your long legs, your "nice rack?"  Me, I love my hands... I know it's a little weird, and they're not especially "nice" or feminine; they're actually kind of rough! But I love 'em. Share yours in the comments!
love your body
{image via move lifestyle}
** want to keep going with this? there are tons of fantastic conversations about body image over at offbeat bride **
Do you remember the movie Legend? It's romantic, it's fantastical, and it's even a little scary... all great components to inspire a styled shoot! Tif from Hot Metal Studio really wanted to feature unicorns, but they were already booked that day so their lovely cousins modeled for us instead.

We shot bright and early in the morning at the truly stunning Shady Elms Farm, and I was really blown away by how lovely it was! If you haven't been there, it's truly worth the trip. We had a fantastic team of contributors to this shoot:

    * Elizabeth Dye Lewisia from Glitter & Grit, modeled by Michelle Bell
    * Photography by Hot Metal Studio
    * Hair & makeup by Kiss and Makeup
    * Styling by Alexis Maddox of {SHE}
    * Florals by Posy
Stationary by Jack + Bean
    * Cake by Sugar 'n Spires
    * Linens by Lendable Linens

All photos below are courtesy of Hot Metal Studio.
I've been shouting it from the rooftops, so I'm sure you know by now that this last weekend marked my one-year anniversary. Done with the sappy gratitude posts, I thought I'd put together this little infographic to share some of the fun facts about Glitter & Grit brides in the first year. Enjoy!!
There was no question; when Amy tried on the Aneka by Nicole Miller, she had found her dress. Not only did it look slamming on her, she was suddenly just aglow. You simply can't ignore that! I love that her photographer managed to capture that glow, and that Amy and Mike are willing to share them with us! They were married at Friendship Community Church, with an awesome reception at the Washington County Fairgrounds!

Clearly, the Aneka is a big hit at Glitter & Grit, and it's absolutely clear why:
Keep on reading for a little more from Amy!

All photographs courtesy of Christopher Gooden
When you tried on your dress, how did you know it was the one?
- I knew going into dress shopping that I wanted a very romantic looking all lace dress.  When I put the Nicole Miller dress on, I loved how it hugged all my curves, the key hole back and the romantic look of it. 
What was your groom's reaction to seeing you in it?
- When I was walking down the aisle, Mike was biting his lip out of nervousness, but he later told me how beautiful I looked.
Please tell us your favorite thing about Mike...
- When you meet Mike, he has a way of making you feel like you've known each other for years.  He has an infectious smile and makes everyone around him happy.  He's very easy going and just a great person.
Did you incorporate any traditions into your wedding?
- For my something old and blue, I attached my Grandma Ella's rosary, which is very old and blue.  It also made me feel like I had a part of her with me.
Please describe the most memorable moment of the day.
- Aside from marrying Mike, it was my younger brother Dan walking me down the aisle.  He's eight years younger than me, but as we've gotten older, he has become very much the "man" of our family, and our protector.  Having him walk beside me and give me away to Mike was the second best thing that happened that day, the first was marrying my love.
Do you have any special advice for future brides?
- Try not and be so stressed.  Every woman wants the perfect day, but if something doesn't go exactly as planned, remember that you have one goal, and if at the end of the day, you are married, then you had the perfect day!
Meeting Amanda and Shannon, the lovely ladies behind Mina Rose, was one of those moments when I realized that our paths have crossed for a reason. There's just something that speaks volumes about makeup artists whose motto is "beauty from the inside out;" so much of what is considered beautiful is focused on the surface, but these gals just want to help your inner light shine through on your wedding day. Now, THAT'S speaking my language.

Keep reading to hear about these two wonderful, passionate women:
When did you enter the wedding industry? What made you want to do so?
- We’ve been doing makeup for friends and family since high school, but made a decision to make it formal and open our own business about a year ago. So, we both went to South Hills Beauty Academy and got our esthetician’s license (estheticians specialize in skincare techniques), and also trained in NYC at the Temptu Studios to learn airbrush makeup.

What was your most glittering moment in your business?
- The first thing (though there are many) that comes to mind is coming up with the name! We struggled for a while because we really wanted it to mean something—because our mission and what we’re about is so much more than just makeup. It’s about empowering women and our motto, ‘beauty from the inside out.’ So when we finally realized that we should name it after women we looked up to and admired, it all came together. “Mina” is for Amanda’s great-
grandmother Jelsamina, and “Rose” is for Shannon’s grandmother. They were both amazing, simply put. The most incredible thing was that we later discovered that “Mina” actually means “lovely” and so we fondly refer to our clients as “Lovely Roses.”

What's your grit?
- Our grit is that we embody that deeper mission and purpose beyond applying makeup—inspiring confidence in women of all ages. For that reason, we consider ourselves beauty advisors as opposed to ‘makeup artists’ or ‘estheticians’. And, we’ve been best friends since 6th grade, so when you work with us, that really shows in everything that we do. We have fun with you! We hope you think of us as friends when we leave. But most importantly, we think it’s our ability to put you at ease and pamper you. Did we mention have fun?
What is your favorite part of what you do?
- We just love it. ALL. We love color; we love being creative. We both really love studying a woman’s (or girl’s!) features and figuring out what will enhance her natural beauty (as opposed to trying to conceal something, because everyone sees their flaws like they’re under a microscope when they are really more beautiful than they know.) Mostly, we love the look on their faces when they see themselves after the final touches because they are just so happy and confident and ready to have a blast for their special occasion.

Please share a most memorable moment in your adventures in the industry.
- Well, this is more of a funny story! We had a bridal party of nine in a hotel room with three hairstylists doing hair as well (so needless to say, it was crowded!) We always want to be near the natural light when possible, so we wedged ourselves butt to butt against the one lone window in the room. We must have stepped on each other’s feet a million times, and were just cracking up and having a ball as usual. Plus, the bride was just so fun and silly with music going, mimosas, tales of friendship and her future hubby…you name it! That’s what’s really great too is getting to know the gals and actually being part of that celebration before the big walk down the aisle, or whatever the special occasion is for.

Please describe your ideal client.
- We really don’t have an ideal client because we want to work with all of you lovely roses! And we don’t just specialize in bridal makeup, but rather in making all women of all ages happy and confident for any special occasion. We do prom makeup, ‘coming of age’ makeup parties/lessons, and more. We also do tattoo coverage and waxing. Our style is more natural, because again, the goal is to enhance our client’s beauty. However, if you want something a little more intense/exotic for say, a bachelorette party, we can accommodate that too.
Gritty Details
Established: April 2013
Price range: 2014 Bridal pricing: $100, hour session and lipstick.   Maids and Moms: $60, half hour session and lipstick.
  Lashes are $10.
  More pricing for makeup parties, lessons, tattoo coverage, etc. is available on the website
Location / travel boundaries: Our rates include travel from zip code 15017 within a 50 mile radius. A small travel fee   will be applied if travel goes beyond that.
Website: minarosebeauty.com
Facebook: facebook.com/minarosebeauty
Phone: 724.747.1784 and/or 412.952.9483
Ask anyone, anywhere, in the wedding/bridal industry what the biggest trend in dresses is right now, and I guarantee it will involve the backs of dresses. Low back, no back, criss-crossy-strappy back, illusions with lace or beads and embroidery.... the list goes on. But one thing remains the same: you ladies like there to be some interesting detail on the back of your wedding dress. And who could blame you? With options like these around the market, who needs a train?!
clockwise from top: The Lady Vanishes by Elizabeth Dye, image by Mandy Fierens Photography; Willow by Janay A Handmade; Fin by Daughters of Simone; Elizabeth by Nicole Miller; Clara by Nicole Miller, image by Veronica Varos Photography; Helena by Elizabeth Dye
They're all gorgeous, right?!? Great, in theory, but one we're trying these dresses on, and thinking about spending a day in them, often, the question comes up: what kind of bra do I wear with this?

I hear it a lot. So I thought I'd round up some great options for you, because I don't see, or want, this trend going away any time soon!

Sometimes, if you're lucky, there's enough structure in the dress itself that cups or a bustier can be added directly to it, for support and/or shape. But what if that's not the case? A lot of these dresses with fabulous backs are loose and light, and you're left to fend for your ladies, yourself. The awesome part is that there are lots of great options, depending on your needs and the dress.
First up: there's a strap that you can attach to a bra that you already own, to make it wrap around your waist, and sit a little lower on your back. In the case of the Fin by Daughters of Simone, this may be all you need! How awesome would it be to wear your best, hardest-working bra that you already know and love on your wedding day? This option pictured here is by Nordstrom Intimates; similar items are available at Victoria's Secret, Kohl's, ASOS... um; just about anywhere!
So, those are all great if you can use straps on your bra on your wedding day... the chance of that? Pretty slim, sorry.

Now we need to look at low-back, strapless bras. Getting full support, with a low back and no straps, may be a little difficult, but the Dominique braselette could come in handy.
The next plan of attack is adhesive bras, which have really come a long way in the last few years! There are SO many options here. The U Plunge backless strapless bra is a great option that, because of the adhesive band, provides a good amount of support under your dress, plus you get the added bonus of  the plunging neckline. That makes this a great option for the Nicole Miller Clara or the Helena by Elizabeth Dye, both pictured above. Victoria's Secret also makes one of these.
And, lastly, when you just need a little bit of coverage, there are adhesive cups. For the Elizabeth Dye dress pictured above, The Lady Vanishes, this is a fantastic option; the open back and draped bodice of the dress make it basically impossible to even have the side-band adhesive bra without it being visible. From what I've heard, NuBra kills it with their push-up design, which at least keeps the girls together. There are many, many of these out there,depending on what you prefer!

And, of course, if you're comfortable flying free ( but want your photos to be nipple-free? Petals are the way to go.
I'm super excited to share this wedding with you... Keirah was my first Wai Ching bride, which as you may know, is very near and dear to my heart, because I also rocked a Wai Ching dress on my wedding day. Keirah is incredibly sweet and laid-back, and it was such a pleasure getting to help her find the perfect dress! She wore the Prism dress, paired with the Novella sash by Tessa Kim. I think you can tell from these photos how her smile lights up the room.

Kierah and Matt were married at Le Mont on Mt. Washington (gah, the views!!) in March.
Keep reading to hear a little from the bride...

All photos are courtesy of Joe Appel Photography.
q. When you tried on your dress, how did you know it was the one?

a. I tried on several lovely pieces, but felt more like I was wearing someone else's dress.  As soon as I put on THE dress, I felt like myself - just a more sophisticated, "beautified" version - as though it was meant for me to wear on my wedding.  I have to give credit to my mom as she pick it out!
q. What was your groom's reaction to seeing you in it?

a. The huge grin and expression on Matt's face as I walked down the aisle spoke volumes.
q. Please share your favorite thing about Matt!

a. My favorite things about Matt are his calm, zen like demeanor, his sincerity and the genuine love he shows for his family and and friends.  He also has great taste in funk music *wink* !
q. Did you incorporate any traditions into your wedding?

a. It was a fairly non-traditional affair - although, I did wear something borrowed (my mom's pearls), blue (toenail polish), old (my grandmother's wedding ring) and new (my dress).
q. Please describe the most memorable moment of the day.

a. Too many memorable moments to describe! Topping the list would have to be the moments immediately following the ceremony.  Matt and I were taken to a private room and able to spend a few minutes alone laughing and celebrating and toasting our marriage.
q. Do you have any special advice for future brides?

a. Keep it simple!
Congratulations, and thanks so much for sharing, Kierah & Matt. Looks like it was a fun celebration!
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!
From what little I know about the photography world, Mandy Fierens is technically a little new on the scene... from looking at her pictures, you'd think she's been doing this for a full lifetime already. I love how she perfectly captures those *moments* that you barely even realize are happening at the time, but will truly cherish forever. She's also possibly the sweetest person you'll ever meet.*
   *do I say that about all of my star vendors? Well, it's TRUE!

My favorite thing about Mandy is her passion for what she does, and her love of all things creative. I feel like that really shows through her images! Keep reading to hear more from this star photographer.

When did you enter the wedding industry? What made you want to do so?
-I started to get involved in the wedding industry 5 years ago. I was very interested in how I could make a living pursuing photography, so I second shot for anyone who would have me! I learned so much from second shooting, and grew to love photographing weddings. After second shooting solely for a few years I would shoot a wedding here and there alone, but never thought about making it real.

My dear friend Veronica Varos is the one who really inspired me to pursue photography full time. I was at a crossroads after leaving a fashion job of three years, but not ready for another draining full time job. It was perfect timing for me, and I am so happy I took the leap. I am ecstatic to say I that photography pays all of my bills now and I wouldn't have it any other way. I LOVE what I do.
What was your most glittering moment in your business?
- I received an amazing e-mail from a photographer who I look up to. She told me that my work "spoke to her". I almost died. It is such an honor having anyone tell you that, but from a fellow photographer who is insanely talented it basically blew my mind. It may or may not be on my wall next to my computer. ;)
What's your grit; what sets you apart?
- I think having a fashion and modeling background has allowed me to have a unique twist in the Pittsburgh market. I am and always will be very detail oriented. As for my specialty I think it would be non-traditional and destination weddings. I try to stay away from photographing the same traditional weddings over and over again, I create the best product when I am not re-doing things. I like to challenge myself. A passion of mine is travel, so anytime a couple wants me to fly outside of my city I am thrilled.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
- All of it. I know it seems everyone says that. But seriously, I love the whole process. I love to help my couples so they have the best day of their lives! Being a small part of their big day is so magical.

Please share a most memorable moment in your adventures in the industry.
It is truly difficult to share only one. But I must say it is the BEST feeling in the world when my clients trust me. To have someone believe in your work and your creative process is such a unbelievable feeling. But one thing I am known for is climbing in bushes, and putting my body into odd positions to get "the shot".
Please describe your ideal client, i.e. who will love you, what's your style/niche?
- My clients are fun, creative, and unique individuals. A lot of the times my brides are interested in personal style, and sometimes they don't even know it! All of my brides get brownie points if they get their dress from Glitter & Grit! ;) I am a documentary photographer first and an editorial photographer second. I capture things as they happen, but if I see a client is uncomfortable I will assist.

Gritty details
2010 (weddings)
Price range:
$3,280-$6,500 also the option of $2,200 for 5 hours of coverage.
Inclusions or options:
Engagement sessions, elopements, portrait sessions, albums and assorted prints
Location / travel boundaries:
Pittsburgh, PA. Available for (would love to) travel world-wide.