Friday, March 6, 2015

12 Signs Your Husband Is Happily Married

We call it "dropping the bomb" syndrome and it usually follows the same pattern: one partner believes their marriage is going along fine when the other suddenly announces it's over -- finished, done, period. It turns out that things were far from fine. There was a lot of denial going on, a lot of saying "yes" when you meant "no" and a lot of unexpressed anger simmering just below the surface. When that simmer reaches a boil, the bomb drops.

In many cases, husbands are those who make the unexpected announcement, leaving their wives in shock, disbelief and anger at being left. The resulting collateral damage on children and extended family only widens the circle of pain.

How can you know if your husband is really happily married? Is there a way to tell if your marriage is bomb proof? When he says "I love you" can you believe it?

Here are 12 ways to know he's happy in your marriage:

1. He feels that you notice and appreciate him and do not take him for granted.
In surveys, men consistently identify feeling appreciated as a prime measure of how happily married they are.

2. He knows he can be himself and confide in you without being judged or criticized. This kind of self-disclosing communication is crucially important because it builds trust and commitment.

3. He sees that you desire him and express it sexually. No matter how much a man enjoys sex, it's a turnoff to feel like he's the only one interested.

4. He likes how he feels about himself when he is with you. Your affectionate attention outside of the bedroom, (compliments, praise, hugs, warm touches, saying "I love you") makes him feel good about himself and endears you to him.

5. He knows you love and accept him for who he is, but he also knows you will not tolerate bad behavior on his part. He knows your love is real and respects it because he sees it's not based on submissive compliance.

6. He likes that you need him but that you aren't "needy". Relying on one another is a part of a healthy relationship, but being needy (overly dependent) creates control and the desire to flee from it.

7. He likes that you care about looking attractive in your own personal way. He doesn't expect you to look like a Hollywood starlet, but seeing that you care about your appearance makes him feel you value yourself and the relationship.

8. He feels respected and admired by you. There can't be love without respect. Feeling admired by the one you love enhances self-esteem; it renews both sexual and emotional passion between you two.

9. He never feels belittled or humiliated when you are angry at him. When you are angry and don't resort to personal attacks, you make it safe for him not to be defensive and rather more open to hearing your reasons for being upset.

10. He sees that you can let go of the past. You do not hold grudges, keep score or consistently feel victimized by life. This makes your marriage flexible rather than rigid, exciting rather than dull and open for a future of growing together.

11. He knows that for you, he is a top priority. He is comfortable taking a backseat to all you do and he's confident that when he seriously needs you, you'll be there for him 100%.

12. He appreciates that you are kind and welcoming to his family. No one gets to choose their family and many have problems. When you make a genuine effort to accept his, he feels respected and valued by you.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

5 Bridal Moments You Shouldn't Share on Social Media

Wedding Moments Not to Share on Social Media
Photo: Getty Images
In an era of wedding hashtags and ceremony live tweeting, the line between sentimental and inappropriate social media posts can get a little gray. If you ever catch yourself wondering whether your upload crosses the line, consider these suggestions for five strictly offline bridal moments.

1. The Planning Frustrations
Whether it's gripes with the mother of the groom, annoyance with vendors, or budget resentment, every bride encounters a few hair-pulling moments when wedding planning. While we strongly suggest airing out these issues over a glass of wine with friends, your social media accounts are not the place to broadcast planning problems. Not only do these posts have the potential to hurt feelings, they're also, just, unflattering. Trust us.

2. The Dress Fittings
We know, you're in a wedding dress, you feel magical, your grandma's grinning and you're so happy your insides are probably filled with glitter. That said, do not post pictures of your wedding dress — or contenders — on social media ... in any form. You may think this is harsh but we've heard far too many horror stories of "private posts" being shared beyond their intent and the last thing you want to do is deflate your big entrance with a poorly-lit smartphone photo.

3. The Registry Details
Just because you're really, really excited about that china you registered for at Bloomingdale's does not mean you should Instagram it. Err on the side of discretion and keep any mentions of your registry off social media. If someone happens to ask you a question about your registry online, kindly direct them to your wedding website (where you can divulge all the registry details you'd like) or contact them privately.

4. The Bathroom
You know that photo of all the bridesmaids holding up the bride's dress as she pees? It's been done ... and it never looks graceful. Ditch the cliché and find your own quirky moments to capture. Preferably ones that don't include toilets.

5. The Wedding Night
Once you and your groom exit the reception, turn all social media off and enjoy your private time, um, privately, for everyone's sake. We know, you're excited to share your newlywed bliss, but save the selfies for the honeymoon, lovebirds.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

3 generations of brides share 1 dress — and 100 years of happy marriages

For one Pittsburgh family, a wedding-day tradition has also served as a good luck charm — a beautiful satin and lace gown, worn by three generations of brides on their wedding day.

It's a thread that connects the family through nearly 100 years of marriage among them.
Jenna Bush Hager met up with these real-life love experts to find out their tips for relationship success, and learn about their magic weapon.

IMAGE: Chester and Helene Gryzwinski
Courtesy of Jackie Fiterman
Chester and Helene Gryzwinski, the couple that kick-started the family tradition. 
The story begins with Chester and Helene Gryzwinski, who were married in 1947 after Chester returned home from war. Helene's fond memories of their time together back then include her roller skating hobby, and how Chester would come and watch to make her happy, even though he couldn't play along. "He didn't roller skate good," she laughed.

Helene's daughter Cindy Kost describes her parents' marriage as "success in simplicity," and granddaughter Jackie Fiterman has fond memories of her grandparents' love.

"The two of them just clicked," she said. "I have a lot of great memories of just, you know, sitting on the porch with them while we would just talk about nothing. It felt easy and good."

Helene and Chester's marriage inspired their daughter, who married her husband Denny nearly 40 years ago — and Jackie, who tied the knot with hubby Eric five years ago.

She shared the best advice her mother and grandmother have given her: "Laugh a lot. Love hard. Work at it."

IMAGE: Cindy, Jackie, and Helene pose with their wedding dress.
Courtesy of Jackie Fiterman
Cindy, Jackie, and Helene pose with their wedding dress. 
This is a family with ties that run deep and traditions they hold dear: The most cherished tradition being the same wedding dress that all three woman have worn on their big day.

"The dress was never a question. I knew I was going to wear it," Jackie said. "Growing up, I had heard the stories of the dress. You know, my grandma would talk about it. My mom would talk about it. And it was almost like a mystical, magical thing."

To Jackie, the dress is more than just a beautiful article of clothing. "It symbolizes, for me, generations of happiness in my family," she said. "Every woman who's worn it has been happily married."

IMAGE: Detail photo of the wedding dress
Courtesy of Jackie Fiterman
A detail of the shared gown, which a clipping of Helene's wedding announcement describes as a "bodice of lace, seed pearls and irridescent [sic.] sequins." 
Of course it takes more than a lucky dress to keep a marriage working successfully.

Denny says that Cindy makes their marriage work by not going to bed mad — the couple joke that she will keep him all up night to avoid this situation, and that if he starts to fall asleep, she'll poke him.

Jackie says she and her husband's key to success is laughing often with one another, together, and at themselves. "Enjoy the journey," says Eric. "Enjoy the ride."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This Luxe Wedding Had 42 People In the Bridal Party (And 800 Guests)!

With a guest list of over 800, it’s no surprise that Claire and Clint had a hard time narrowing down their friends and family when it came time to pick their bridal party attendants. For their traditional ceremony at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, the couple was joined by 13 bridesmaids, 13 groomsmen, nine house party members, four flower girls and three ring bearers.

The lavish couple also didn’t hold back when it came to their grand reception. Verve Austin transformed the Austin City Limits at The Moody Theatre into an over-the-top soiree with a springy lavender and pale pink color palette. Fete De Fleurs filled the expansive space with lush hydrangea and rose arrangements—including a fresh flower wall and an installation over the cake. Sylvia Winestock Cakes perfected the majestic six-tiered confection with a mix of fresh and sugar blooms. The incredible Baylor Stadium groom’s cake featured a six-foot bear mascot and a functioning Jumbotron that flashed pictures of the bride during her cheerleading days. Jennifer Lindberg Weddings captured all of the seriously stunning details from the BIG day, check it out here and below!

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Want more? Right here!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Let's Dance! Listen to Our Playlist of the Best Celebrity First-Dance Songs Monday, February 2, 2015 by Terri Pous

View image on Twitter

Even if you can't have your favorite celebrity's wedding dress, venue, or any other crazy over-the-top detail they had (we're looking at you, Kimye and George and Amal Clooney), you can certainly have their first-dance song! Though superstar couples seem to be unattainably cool and glamorous, some have had downright traditional tunes play during their weddings. For your listening and inspiration pleasure, we curated a playlist of some of the best choices, from classic to downright unexpected.
But first, Kimye. Love them or hate them, they had a truly inspired idea for their moment in the dance floor spotlight: They made a mashup of Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine" and "Tenderness" with Etta James' "At Last." As for George and Amal, they went with a good, old-fashioned standard — Cole Porter's "Why Shouldn't I?".

Lest you think Kimye were the only ones to take a spin as James' song played, you're mistaken. Known to be one of the most popular first-dance songs in existence, it was also played during Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman's wedding, as well as Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed's nuptials.
Some other, less common choices include Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman's pick, Band of Horses' "No One's Gonna Love You," Kate Middleton and Prince William's pick of Ellie Goulding's cover of "Your Song," and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's idea to dance to Green Day's "Last Night on Earth." And in one of the most delightful selections of all, Paul McCartney and wife Nancy Shevell swayed to one of his non-Beatles songs, "My Valentine." How adorable!

We know you'll love imagining your favorite celebrities dancing to them. Enjoy!

Lauren Conrad and William Tell: "You're My Best Friend" by Once

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel: "A Song for You" by Donny Hathaway

Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth: "Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan

Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo: "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" by Steve Tyrell

Kate Moss and Jamie Hince: "If There Is Something" by Roxy Music

President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama: "You and I" by Stevie Wonder

Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher: "Love Never Fails" by Brandon Heath

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi: "Ribbon in the Sky" by Stevie Wonder

David and Victoria Beckham: "It Had To Be You" by The Starlight Orchestra

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Christina Hendricks and Geoffrey Arend: "Origin of Love" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Fergie and Josh Duhamel: "Sweethearts Together" by The Rolling Stones

Joel Madden and Nicole Richie: "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert: "No Doubt About It" by Neal McCoy

Friday, February 27, 2015

12 Seconds to Wedding-Planning Happiness

It's easy to focus on the annoyances you're dealing with every day. That vendor who won't return your phone call. Your mom who won't stop calling. Your fiancé who's obsessed with the playlist — and the playlist only. But if you're focusing mainly on the pain-in-the-butt parts of wedding planning, you're actually shaping your brain to remember this time of your life negatively. "What you focus on becomes what your brain is made of," writes neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D., in, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence. "Negative mental states can easily become negative neural states," he explains.

You can change this pattern in just 12 seconds at a time. Here's how: Next time you're in a wedding-planning snit, stop and make yourself aware of a good fact in your life. Conjure up, for example, that excitement and joy you felt when you discovered that perfect wedding detail that means a lot to you. Let that private giddiness (that would be dorky to anybody else) wash over you for 12 seconds; really feel it, sink into it. Now, you've shifted yourself from a crappy mood and into a positive neural state.
This isn't just a lesson in the power of positive thinking. You're actually changing the structure of your brain. By feeling and focusing on the good for 12 seconds, you're moving the experience from short-term into long-term, or implicit, memory.

This technique helps you create new, positive neural pathways in your brain, and it works with just about everything. That surprisingly sexy goodbye kiss you had with your fiancé this morning? Revisit it in your imagination. 12 seconds later, you've moved that delicious kiss from a brief moment in time to a long-term memory that not only turned your mood around right now, but you can recall at later times.

What you're doing is "consistently and systematically [taking] the extra seconds to install these experiences in the brain," writes Hanson. You're making the good fact — the sexy kiss, — into a good experience, not just letting it just float away unnoticed in your busy flotsam and jetsom of wedding planning, work and life. Keep it up and watch how your overall mood and attitude — about wedding planning and even life — improves.

Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is the author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the '"Happiest" Time of Her Life and has been helping brides feel happier, calmer and better prepared for marriage since 2002. She is a bridal counselor, an expert in engagement anxiety and cold feet, and the founder of Emotionally Engaged Counseling for Brides.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

6 Things No One Tells You About Marriage I Had to Learn on my Own

Your feelings about your spouse will change all of the time. 

Even though you love your spouse every day, how connected you feel can ebb and flow. You will have days where you don’t necessarily wake up beaming with love, you will have other days where you are head over heels and a lot of days in the middle. It’s important to remember not to do or say things on your temporary less-than-loving days that can permanently damage your relationship.


Your spouse will change, but you can’t change him. 

Living, breathing beings are meant to change and grow daily. Your spouse isn’t going to be the same person in 10 years that he is today. On the flip side, your spouse is the only one who can decide what he is going to change. Going into the marriage thinking you’re about to change him makes no sense, nor does thinking that he will always stay the same. You have to learn to accept your spouse as he is, and be willing to re-learn him as he grows.


Kids completely change your marriage.

To be fair, people talk about this, but you never quite know how much until it happens or how much each kid changes your marriage even more. With a broad view, these are good changes: after all, there’s nothing like a real-life combination of the two of you to remind you of how powerful love can be. Still, that lesson is hard to remember in the day-to-day. Walking that balance between knowing each other as husband and wife vs. mom and dad can be hard, but well worth it.


You can get better at marriage over time. 

People often talk the “honeymoon phase,” and how it’s all downhill from there. But done right, your marriage can get better year by year. So much emphasis is put on those initial enamored feelings that we lose sight of the friendship that grows and deepens over time. Like most things in life, few things trump experience. Learning your spouse inside and out makes it easier to meet his or her needs over time.


Working on yourself as an individual is even more important than working on the marriage. 

Before marriage, I had a tendency to talk about my husband-to-be like a matching LEGO piece; someone who could come in and fill in whatever I was missing. Reality: No one, not even your spouse, can meet every single one of your needs. Learning how to be fulfilled as an individual instead of looking for it from your spouse is one of the most important things you can do for your marriage.


The same old stuff can still be exciting.

So much of marriage advice focuses on how to change it up and spice it up, which is important. But often the same old things that you fell in love with are the things that you stay in love with. More than 10 years after we met, I still feel excited when my husband’s number pops up on my phone. I’m still unreasonably happy when he sees something that I might like to eat and brings it home. It’s even further proof that he knows me, and loves me even better than he did on day one. 





Groom Makes Wedding Vows To 3-Year-Old Stepdaughter In Emotional Video

On his wedding day last January, NASCAR driver Brian Scott recited vows to not one, but two of the important ladies in his life: his bride Whitney Kay and her then-3-year-old daughter Brielle.
The couple tied the knot on a snowy day in McCall, Idaho. At one point during the ceremony, Scott bent down so he could be eye-to-eye with Brielle and made a heartfelt promise to love and care for her, no matter what.
Credit: PenWeddings

"I promise to always hold your hand and skip with you down the street and bring comfort to your life," he said. "I vow to make you say your prayers before you eat. I promise to read you stories at night and to always tuck you in real tight. I vow to show you how a man should treat a woman in my relationship with your mother. And above all else, I vow to protect you, care for you and love you forever."

The emotional video -- shot by wedding videographer PenWeddings -- was posted to YouTube last year, but recently resurfaced and went viral with more than 350,000 views at the time of publication. HuffPost Weddings caught up with Scott on Wednesday and reminisced about that snowy day last year, which he called "emotional and surreal."

"I always felt like my vows to my wife Whitney would maybe affect me more and I would get more choked up during those, making those promises to her," he told The Huffington Post. "But I misread that one. It was really when I was reading my vows to Brielle that I got the most choked up. It really all just hits home in that moment -- you're there and dressed up and all the people around. You're living in the moment. It affects you more than when you write it or plan for it or practice it. You get engulfed by it."

Credit: PenWeddings

The Scotts, who live in Charlotte, North Carolina, first met through mutual friends in 2011. In November 2014, they welcomed a baby boy named Joseph. So far, Scott says he's really enjoying fatherhood.

"Just being there for [the kids] and enjoying family moments together and playing with them and hearing them laugh and seeing them smile -- all of those things are so much better than any of the negative aspects people like to bring up about having kids. It’s not baggage -- it’s great addition [to my life]."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stress: 8 Easy Ways to Prevent Wedding Insanity

Let's not beat around the bush: planning a wedding is work. With all those decisions and responsibilities, it's easy to see how some brides and grooms get completely consumed in the minutiae. So how do stressed-out, site-seeing, menu-sampling couples get their eyes back on the ball? By taking a breather from the planning process. Get ready to clear your schedules and forget about picking the favors-the following list of eight stress-breaking activities will help you remove yourselves from nuptial hassles and restore your sanity.

1. Declare a wedding-free weekend.

For a full 48-hour period, pretend you're the two people you were before you got engaged (and, in the meantime, remind yourselves of why you wanted to get married to each other in the first place). No wedding planning or fighting allowed! No talk of hors d'oeuvres, seating charts, or first dance songs. Hang out, laugh, have fun, and flirt with each other for a change.

2. Have a night out with the girls (or boys).

With all the "togetherness" of being a future bride and groom, remind yourselves you're individuals too. Book a night out with your respective same-sex posse (again, no wedding talk). Hit the town like a swinging single and stay out past midnight. Take advantage of the fact that your future spouse isn't around to do something with your friends he or she doesn't like to do -- we're talking chick flick, batting cages, steak dinner, manicures. Then entertain each other the next day with tales of your exploits.

3. Go on a fancy date.

Chances are, for the past few months you've been scrimping and saving every extra nickel to supplement The Budget. If you've done well, reward yourselves for your miserly skills by spending a little of that cold hard cash. Book a table at the fanciest restaurant in town and go for the full monty: fine wine, appetizer, entree, dessert, and after-dinner drinks. Afterward, stop in a local jazz club and catch a torch singer belting out inspiring tunes de l'amour.

4. Take a drive.

Reserve a weekend afternoon and head for the open road. Check out that little place a couple of towns over that you always mean to visit. Test each other's map-reading skills. Play road games like, Who Can Spot the Most Out-of-State License Plates? Sing along to cheesy songs on the radio. Buy a souvenir at a highway truck stop. Stumble upon a romantic restaurant for lunch or dinner before heading home.

5. Mastermind a movie marathon.

There's nothing like a good movie to transport you from reality to fantasy. Take the phone off the hook, rent a whole slew of films, and spend an evening in, snacking on popcorn and Sno-Caps. The trick here is to stay away from wedding-theme fare -- sorry, this includes Father of the Bride -- while keeping the romance theme going with a steamy story like The Lover. Or opt for the comic relief of a Jim Carrey or Eddie Murphy flick -- laughter, after all, is still the best stress reliever.

6. Get in some game play.

Sometimes a little healthy competition serves to make you closer, right? Challenge your mate to a night of games: Pictionary, Scrabble, backgammon, even good old cards. If you own a Sony PlayStation 2, take the high-tech road to fun. Rather venture out? Head for the nearest bowling alley -- or look into go-carts, ice-skating, and tennis tournaments for other fun and sporty activities to enjoy a deux.

7. Revert to childhood.

There's nothing like a good amusement park to get you feeling like a kid again. Wake up extra early to avoid long lines, then get your fill of roller coasters, log flumes, and Ferris wheels. Challenge your future mate to a bumper car race. Fill up on cotton candy, funnel cake, and waffle cones. Take an old-fashioned photo. Then spend an hour or so trying to win a supersize stuffed animal to take home as a memento of the day.

8. Engage in an eat-a-thon.

If you both love to cook, compose a special theme menu for a romantic at-home date. Go shopping together and pick the freshest produce around (maybe there's a farmer's market near you) -- and remember to include some aphrodisiac ingredients! Nab a bouquet and some candles to pretty up your table while you're at it. Once at home, take time to really enjoy the meal prep process. Line up all your ingredients on the countertop and open a bottle of wine. And take lots of liberties when it comes to recipes -- nothing's better than creating signature dishes together.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 DIY Wedding Projects That Won’t Break Your Budget

For those of us who are not queens of crafting, the idea of making anything for your wedding probably sounds way too complicated. Our advice: If crafts aren’t your thing, choose one or two small projects and don’t try to take on the bigger details. In other words, don’t try making your own centerpieces or cake but also don’t be afraid to make the ceremony programs or package up the wedding favors. We talked to Sarah Shewey, founder of DIY Wedding Planning Group Happily for project ideas. Below are Shewey’s five simple DIY wedding day projects that she swears you can’t mess up. Even better, all of these ideas are super affordable.

Fresh Flower Bridal Shower Centerpieces 

Photo: Emma Cleary/ Featured: The Knot Blog
Emma Cleary

Keep it simple. Collect various vessels like vintage bottles, teacups and even drinking glasses from around the house to create an eclectic table setting, says Shewey. Then group all the containers in interesting ways placing a few in the middle of the table and filling them with different florals, feathers or other creative elements like berries, pinecones or moss. Try a vintage brass candle holder with a succulent inside or a low ceramic vase or mason jar with bright blooms.

Love this table centerpiece? It’s from this really pretty wedding album: A Traditional Wedding in Kennebunkport, ME

Mini Potted Plant Wedding Favors

Elias Photography / The Knot Blog
Elias Photography

Mini potted plants or succulents can make a great favor for guests to take home, Shewey suggests. Find mini terracotta pots or mini zinc buckets online for a few dollars and pick up seeds and soil from a home improvement store. The pot them yourself. To add a personal touch add your wedding colors on the pot or embellish with ribbon or yarn. If you’re craftier in the kitchen, consider baking in bulk and keeping the goodies uniform by filling brown paper bags with baker’s twine and tagging or stamping with your wedding logo to create a homespun favor your guests will love. (Just be sure you get lots of help from family and friends on this type of project.)

Like these favors? They came from this wedding: A Vintage Pastel Wedding in Franklin, TN

Simple Ribbon-Tied Ceremony Programs

Photo: L Photographie/  Featured: The Knot blog
L Photographie

Graphic designers need not apply here. Sometimes all it takes is a creative template and a few craft supplies. Print out your programs and then punch the corner to tie bits of ribbons, vintage torn fabric or lace scraps for a bohemian vibe, Shewey says. For a summer wedding, consider gluing one side of your programs to a large popsicle stick for an instant fan. Paint the sticks beforehand for an added pop of color.

Think these programs are cute? You should see the full wedding: A DIY Wedding in Edwardsville, IL

Mustache Photo Booth Props

Photo: Alison Conklin/ Featured: The Knot blog
Alison Conklin

If you’re doing a photo booth, you have to have fun props. Hit the craft store for skinny wooden dowels and card stock paper. Create your own patterns and cut them out. The goofier the better. Think: ties, mustaches and lips, crowns and more. Embellish with feathers or even rhinestones. Put all your props in a basket with a handcrafted sign that encourages guests to play with them! (Psst: Don’t really have the time to make these? You can buy them in The Knot Shop.)

Looks like a fun wedding right?  See the full album here: A Fun Casual Wedding in Elverson, PA

Sweet Felt Heart Cake Toppers

Joey Kennedy Photography / Featured: The Knot blog
Joey Kennedy Photography

This is especially fun for a simple wedding cake. You don’t even need a sewing machine to create these little guys. Grab some felt in your favorite colors, a little batting, a pair of scissors and a needle and thread. Cut out hearts, sew them together and stuff them. Finish them off with the little wooden sticks (you’ll find them at craft stores). Want more cute ideas? Check out our DIY cake topper slideshow (you can create any of them in under an hour).

Cute cake and toppers from: A Modern Rustic Wedding in Lancaster, PA

Monday, February 23, 2015

4 Things All Parents Love at Weddings

Things Parents Want at a Wedding
Photo: Getty Images
Not that your wedding day should be about pleasing your parents or his, but why not include a few elements within your ceremony or at the reception that they're bound to love as well? It's the least you can do if they're footing the bill, and if they're not and your budget can afford it, it's a great way to keep the peace and say thank you for all that they've done for you over the years. We consulted a few wedding planners to find out what things pretty much all parents seem to want at their kid's wedding.

1. Seated Dinners
If there's one thing wedding planner Tracie Domino has picked up on throughout her career it's that parents really dig sit-down dinners. "They have a tough time with food stations and lounge style seating without assigning every guest a specific table," she notes. "They get concerned that guests will want their own spot and won't be able to eat in a cocktail environment." However, once the couple is able to convince them that this is what they prefer, and they select menu items that don't need to be cut with a knife, parents actually enjoy this style of reception a lot, as they get to spend more time with all of their friends, she says.

2. Their Friends
Speaking of friends, parents love to invite their own BFFs to your big day. Think about it, isn't any party more fun when you have your closest pals by your side? Your parents are proud of you, plus it's a big moment for them too, which they're dying to share with their friends. Now, we're not saying you should let them go crazy with the invites if your budget doesn't allow, but do let them request the presence of a few of their friends, especially if they're ponying up the money.

3. Some Recognition
What's a mother of the groom got to do to get some recognition (ahem, attention) around here!? But seriously, according to wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques, the MOG is usually worried about the bar (even if her side isn't paying for it, tradition says they do so she doesn't want people to think they're cheap), the rehearsal dinner (if she's planning it) and making sure that she has a starring role at some point during the evening. "Most MOGs are perfectly content to have a few moments doing a mother-son dance with all eyes and cameras on them," tells Malone. Dads, on the other hand, enjoy the father-daughter dance but not nearly as much as walking their "little girl" down the aisle. Nowadays, Stefanie Cove, Managing Partner at Yifat Oren & Associates, says it's not unusual to see brides ask both parents to give her away. "Mothers seem very touched by the gesture and honored for the special moment."

4. Live Music
Unless your parents are hitting the club on the reg, chances are, the dopest DJ in town will always pale in comparison to that lovely five-piece band they're just itching to book. If it means that much to them and they insist on forking over the money to cover the added cost though, why not compromise and have both?

Friday, February 20, 2015

9 Things Not to Say at a Friend's Wedding-Dress Appointment

Things Not To Say At Friend's Bridal Appointment
Photo: Getty Images

Wedding-dress appointments are full of landmines to avoid, but it's typically the responsibility of a bride's entourage to skirt them. Issues of wedding jitters, weight, and confidence are all wrapped up in this one major purchase, so when it comes to accompanying a friend to her appointment, honesty is not necessarily the best policy. Support, positivity, and delight should be key themes in any word that's uttered at the appointment. As for what not to say, here are nine comments that should pass your lips at a friend's bridal appointment.

1. "Are you 100 percent sure about this one?"
If your BFF is certain about her dress, she may take your question as a sign of your distaste for the design and second-guess her choice. And if she has an indecisive personality to begin with, you may have bought yourself an extra two hours of watching her hem and haw.

2. "But you never wear anything like this style in your daily life!"
A wedding gown is intended to be a step or two outside the norm unless your friend attends galas on a weekly basis. Weddings are a day to indulge in a bit of fantasy, so unless your friend is selecting a design which you're certain she'll detest on her big day, allow her some creative freedom.

3. "I know what you like, and that gown isn't it."
A bride knows her style better than you do. If she's fallen for a dress, attempting to come between the two is a recipe for disaster.

4. "It's not really working for me. If it were my wedding..."
The dress doesn't in fact need to be working for anyone but the bride — and hopefully her groom. The bride's happiness is paramount, so save the commentary for a future time when the item she's test-driving isn't quite so high-stakes.

5. "My, it's tight around the bust/waist/hip region, isn't it?"
Your friend is trying on the store's sample, which unsurprisingly isn't cut to her exact shape and measurements. Her actual bridal gown will undergo alterations to fit every curve perfectly, so pocket any potentially devastating weight commentary. Your friend's actual dress will fit like a glove on her big day.

6. "It's okay."
You're not fooling anyone with lukewarm adjectives like "okay" or "fine". If you have nothing positive to say, smile and nod in silent agreement with the rest of the bridal entourage.

7. "That gown been done before. Can't you find something more unique?"
Even if you've attended a wedding at which the bride was wearing an exact replica of your friend's dress, chances are your pal will sport it in an entirely new fashion.

8. "That dress is too expensive; you can't afford it."
Unless you've been specifically instructed to intervene when a gown is over budget, the finances of the appointment are off-limits for discussion.

9. "No. That's not 'The One.'"
Of all the many things you could say to ruin a bridal appointment, simply telling the bride "No" is the most brutal. Give drama a rest and let the bride have her moment, even if your own prerogative differs from hers. You'll thank your good sense later.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Ways To Improve Your Odds Of Living Happily Ever After

By Thomas G. Fiffer

Marriage has one of the highest failure rates of anything we try, and the cost and impact (especially on children) of disentangling can be devastating. The problem is not a legal system that makes divorce easy -- it isn't easy -- or that we're just not wired to be monogamous. We can learn to make conscious choices that override our wiring. And the problem is not that modern life has trumped what some call "traditional values." The problem is that most people who get married have no idea -- none -- what they're getting into, what they should look for or look to exclude in a potential mate, or how to approach the process of choosing a person they'd like to spend the rest of their life with.

Sorry romantics, but love alone is not enough. Nor is a steadfast commitment to staying together when love is absent or one-sided -- that's just a recipe for a lifetime of misery. Ultimately, marriage is about relating, and the key to forging a successful, lasting bond is knowing, before you tie the knot, how you and your partner relate when you're not in courtship mode, and that means getting a handle on how you handle challenges together.

If you've gone through some rough spots while dating and come out stronger, that's a good indication your marriage will survive. But no one likes to be tested, and how do you check someone's challenge response without intentionally introducing trouble? Listed below are five things I believe every couple should do before getting married. While checking them off your prenuptial to-do list is no guarantee your marriage will make it, avoiding any of them sets the stage for failure.

1. Fight.
If you never disagree with your partner, you'll never learn how to handle disagreement. Stuffing it in and sucking it up only creates resentment, and resentment often leads to the passive-aggressive expression of anger. If you feel strongly about something, say so, and deal with the consequences. How you introduce disagreement and how your partner responds to it are probably the most important factors in whether your marriage will develop a healthy and constructive dynamic.
If you're afraid to disagree because you're conflict-avoidant or you fear abandonment, you're not ready for marriage and you need to work on yourself. How couples handle conflict is make or break, and you need to know whether the two of you are capable of resolving arguments or only leaving each other more frustrated. Don't fight over petty things, but pick something you care about and stand your ground. A little unpleasantness early on will prevent a lot of unpleasantness later.

2. Travel together to an unfamiliar place.
Marriage is an adventure, and you need to know how the two of you handle a journey to new and unfamiliar surroundings and the discoveries that follow. If you go somewhere one of you has already been, the dynamic becomes one of guide and tourist, which is not a partnership of equals. It also helps to plan -- and ideally pay for -- the trip together. A surprise vacation planned and paid for by your partner isn't exactly a mutual endeavor. The more unplanned time you allow for on the trip, the better. You'll learn how you plan a day together in the morning and what happens when those plans go awry. And if you get stuck in the airport or lost in a foreign city, you're testing out your communal survival skills.

3. Have sex.
Trust me, the last place you want to find out you're incompatible on your wedding night is in the bedroom. If your faith precludes you from having premarital sex, so be it, and pray that you and your partner are a good physical fit. Beyond having sex and finding out if the magic happens, you'll want to talk about sex -- your likes, your dislikes, your taboos and your fantasies. Frequency of sex can be a bone of contention in marriages, so you'll want to make sure your partner is into it as frequently -- or as infrequently -- as you are. In a healthy marriage, sex is both a generator of intimacy and an act in which intimacy gets expressed. If sex with your partner feels pleasurable but mechanical and doesn't create a feeling of closeness, you may end up seeking that closeness elsewhere, which is problematic for a marriage. And if intimate emotional moments don't progress to physical connection, frustration surely lies ahead.

4. Spend time with each other's families.
When you're married, your partner's family becomes your family, and respectful interaction will make your marriage much, much happier.The demands of families, their attitudes towards spouses, and the amount of time and interaction with them can all be major sources of conflict for married couples. You don't have to like your in-laws or call them mom or dad, but you do have to respect the fact that they created and raised your spouse.

Seeing how your partner interacts with his or her family and observing whether there's a healthy dynamic can clue you in to what this person will be like in your marriage. If your partner doesn't have a healthy relationship with his or her family, there may be valid reasons, and these are worth discussing. In addition, waiting until right before or after the wedding to present your future mate to your family forces everyone into an uncomfortable position. Finally, if there is conflict between your family and your partner, you'll want to step in sensibly, set your boundaries as as couple, and nip it in the bud. This will set the tone for future interaction during the marriage.

5. Live together.
Unless you plan to inhabit separate homes, your husband or wife will also be your roommate -- potentially for life. Think back to the roommates of your past. Looking forward, compatibility in terms of household habits, behaviors, and tastes is a critical determining factor in successful marriages. There is a degree to which opposites attract, but slobs and neatniks, hoarders and minimalists, carpet-lovers and wood-floor-enthusiasts may find it difficult to cohabit without conflict. You also want to know what it's like to wake up with your partner in the morning and go to sleep with him or her at night. If all your dating experience is on visits to each other's spaces where one of you is entertaining the other, you're missing the full flavor -- both the bitter and the sweet -- of the live-in married experience. So give living together a test-drive.

Some marriages make it without the couples having done any of these things in advance. But if you want a better shot at a marriage that lasts a lifetime, taking these actions before the big day will help you avoid becoming just another statistic and make it to the happily ever after.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

7 Steps To Crafting Your Wedding Hashtag

CD Wedding Photography CD Wedding Photography
Consider yourself officially enrolled in wedding hashtags 101. Now that 55% of all weddings have a hashtag according to our #socialweddingsurvey, (we promise this is the only statistic you’ll need to know for this course) there’s more to it than just typing out the pound sign. Read on for the top tips from wedding planner Jessi Haack and Sophie Pyle from social wedding concierge service Tweet the Bride for the scoop on how to create a successful hashtag.

Step 1.  Start with your names.
Maybe a bit obvious but let’s start with the basics. Use your first, last and nicknames as your starting point. Remember that cutesy mashup name that your friends gave you guys in college that stuck for some reason? Well,  this may be the time you actually want to embrace it. Haack says, “It makes it easier for the guests to remember, which means more people will actually use it!”

Step 2. Use numbers for a simple way to set your hashtag apart.
If your names are common or you can’t come up with anything quirky, using the year or date of your wedding is an easy way to make it your own. “There might be a lot of #JackandJill in the world, but you’ll probably be the only #JackandJill121314!

Step 3. Get punny.
This is one of those parts of your wedding that you can really have fun with, especially when it comes to word play. Look for alliterations, rhymes, synonyms and puns for a hashtag that’s both clever and memorable.

Step 4. Avoid easy misspellings.
Read over your hashtag for any obvious ways it could be misspelled. For example you may want to shorten longer last names or move words around if there’s two letters in different words next to each other. It could be as simple as flipping #wandaanddave to be #daveandwanda instead.

Step 5. Capitalize the first letter of each word.
Capitalizing the first letter of each word can help with readability if guests can see where each word starts and ends. Doing this will also make it more likely that more people will get your joke or pun. With or without the capitalization your hashtag will work the same either way.

Step 6. Check the hashtag.
Before you hit print on your save-the-dates, go ahead and do a quick check of the hashtag to see if there’s already been something tagged to it and if so how many photos. If there’s only a handful of other photos that don’t seem wedding related you should go ahead and use it, but if there’s an entire other wedding with the same exact hashtag you may want to switch a letter to a number or pick a different rhyme to avoid getting the photos mixed up. “Hijacking someone else’s hashtag is no bueno,” says Haack.

Step 7. Spread the word.
After you’ve decided on a hashtag it’s time to get the word out. Start early by telling your bridal party and putting it on your save-the-date. At the wedding you should also have reminders in case they forget. Pyle suggests using, “a cute sign that matches your decor and putting it on the menu is nice too.”

Step 8. Don’t overthink it.
Will you remember your wedding hashtag forever? Eh, maybe. Will you love the photos everyone took forever? Definitely. So if it turns out that your couple nickname happens to be the word for a delicacy in another language and you start seeing food photos that aren’t on your catering menu, just roll with it. “Turn it into a light joke,” says Pyle. At the end of the day it’s the photos you’ll really care about having and that everyone had fun with it.