"Love note found on my desk at the end of the day."
Cara Thomason Embry
"My loving husband of six years often leaves me and our little
daughters love notes on our bathroom mirror. He leaves really early in
the morning for work so I always wake up to a sweet note in the
"It's the little things."
"Best part of my first day back to work."
My marriage is 25-years-old this week.
What would I whisper in that bride's ears if I could? What would I tell her that she would be grateful for these 25 years later? It would be the little things.
The smiley-face post-it notes left in your car, reminding you not to
plow into a guest's vehicle parked in the driveway. Which you have done.
2. The iced water left for you by the back door, after a hike on a sweltering summer day.
The way he reaches out his hand when you are attempting to inch down a
steep slope. He has learned what a klutz you are. And remembers.
4. How he somehow changes light bulbs before you do.
5. The extra Kleenex he had in his pocket at your mother's funeral.
The specially-adapted wheelchair he found at the beach when you were on
crutches, so you could play in the sand with your son.
7. How he
has learned to like pesto. And theatre. And, although a Jersey boy and
dedicated New York Giants fan... your beloved Dallas Cowboys.
The ritual of putting silly stuff, carefully gift wrapped, in your
stocking at Christmas. Like a bottle of tarragon. Or soap from some
hotel. Which you already owned. And how he gets tickled every year,
watching you open them.
9. How he strings the lights on the
Christmas tree. And then busies himself as the rest of us put on the
ornaments. Because it makes him too emotional.
10. How he grumbles
about how messy your car is, as he pulls out a Taco Bell sack and other
mysterious bags of whatever you had for lunch over the last week.
11. How he laughs at you, jumping up and down, to fit into a pair of jeans.
12. His consistent words of encouragement when you decide to go for something.
13. His sitting and delightfully playing with anyone under the age of six. Any game they want.
14. The solid belief that you could get pregnant. After three years of infertility treatment. And a miscarriage.
15. Laughing with you, whenever possible, during that entire process.
16. The tears in his eyes after your son was born.
17. The slight
panic he had when you left him alone with the baby for the first time.
And when you came home, the baby was screaming. He had changed him,
rocked him, tried to hold him. Only had forgotten ... to feed him.
18. How he took to everything from swaddling to diapers to bathing. And stayed a hands-on dad. (Not really a little thing...)
19. The tears in his eyes when you left that son at college.
20. The extra Kleenex he had for you on that same occasion.
21. How he makes fun of the way you talk with your retainer in.
22. His attendance at multiple theatre productions. Whether they were good or not so hot. You were in them, and he was there.
23. His careful attention to people in the generations older than yours.
24. His screaming at the squirrels in the bird feeder.
25. His courage in facing his own cancer. How he has grown through that process. How you have become closer in many ways. Also not a little thing.
marriage won't be perfect. There will be arguments and
misunderstandings. There will be things that you don't have a clue about
yet that will irritate the heck out of you.
And you will be no shining star yourself all the time.
Marriage is a chance to give and receive acceptance for all of who you are.
So what would I whisper to that bride-to-be?
"Go on. Walk down that aisle. This one will be the love of your life."
mom doesn't live in NYC and my friends work in offices during the day,
so I decided to brave the Manhattan salons and boutiques solo. Here are
my lessons in bodices, butts, and budgeting...and how I found my Fairy
BHLDN (important: pronounced "beholden" not "B-H-L-D-N") was my first stop. If you haven't heard of BHLDN, it's Anthropologie's
wedding line. Unique and affordable, BHLDN curates beautiful gowns and
accessories from international designers and sells them online and
in-store. I loved the dresses I saw online and was convinced that one in particular was MY DRESS but I couldn't find it A N Y W H E R E because it was discontinued (yeah, they do that, and yes, I tried looking on Tradesy, OnceWed, and PreownedWeddingDresses.com...and
called around to every BHLDN in America), so I booked an appointment
with Amy at the Upper East Side location on a Tuesday afternoon in hopes
of finding something similar to the dream dress.
I arrived late
(because trains) and met with a stoic Amy on the bridal showroom floor
of Anthropologie. They had about 20 dresses on display and Amy asked me
to point to the ones I liked. I didn't like any of them really, so I
stroked a few fabrics I thought were nice and kind of poked at stuff I
didn't (sequins, crystals, wedding buttons, hoop skirts). I also showed
her a picture of my lost gown, hoping it would jog her memory and she
would pull it from some secret discontinued gown rack in the
Anthropologie basement. She did not, and instead told me to undress and
wait for her in a dressing room while she chose my dresses for me. I
immediately congratulated myself for wearing undergarments and waited in
one of the warmly lit bride boxes until Amy returned with an armful of
The options she chose for me were great; tasteful and clean Badgley Mischka
designs, and a couple boho style gowns. Every dress was in my price
range, the most expensive hitting the $1500 mark. After wrestling me
into seven or so, Amy was friendly and offered to take 360-degree phone
shots of me in each and every dress. I sent each posey panorama to my
parents and friends and everyone had different opinions and it was
In the end?: I didn't go with any of the
dresses here. Nothing took my breath away and while all the gowns were
beautiful, I didn't see mine. Still, BHLDN is a perfect option for the
bride on a budget or any bride who wants a gorgeous dress for a steal.
This was my first experience wedding dress shopping and where I learned
that A. it's good to wear underwear sometimes and B. most of the time,
consultants don't let you pick the dresses you want to try on. I miss
Amy and would like to hang out with her outside of BHLDN, maybe in a
park for iced coffees or like, a Bravo night in, my place or hers, it
really doesn't matter. Her place is probably cleaner.
Reformation - $
I like Reformation and their low-impact, highly Instagrammable Easy Ups
for it-girls. And guess what?! They have a very small bridal line!
Reformation isn't exactly "so me" because I'm definitely poor and
unstylish, but their wedding dresses are in the same price range as
BHLDN, which is great. On the internet, Reformation's wedding gowns are
beautiful. Long, chic, painted on the models like a nuptial sealant,
these garments are on-trend, like you could wear them to a hide-and-seek
garden party in Bushwick and not get side-eye from the other guests.
appointment was needed to try on the gowns, so I showed up at the Lower
East Side location unannounced. The store smelled so good, like chopped
wood and Greek yogurt and clean hair. I was immediately greeted by two
girls wearing different wide-brimmed hats and dark lipsticks, who were
both very excited when I told them I wanted to view their bridal line.
One girl ran downstairs and reappeared with their entire line (3
dresses) and told me their internet was broken so it would be a few
minutes before I could try them on (...). I didn't question her,
thinking maybe Reformation had built some sort of wifi-operated Ava/Ex
Machina robot consultant (which I would have been TOTALLY game for). I
sat on an oversized woodblock for a half an hour, chewing my nails, and
watching the Hat Girls try on sandals and laugh at each other. Time
slipped away, until Hat Girl #2 flicked a dressing room curtain, gave me
permission to enter, and quickly left me alone with the dresses. I was
relieved that neither Hat Girl would be present for my undressing, and
massively bummed that there wasn't a robot consultant in sight.
dresses were so easy. Completely free of bells and whistles,
Reformation's wedding line is lighter than Popchips and felt like
wearing sexy nightgowns. I probably tried on their whole line in under
In the end?: Reformation's
wedding dresses weren't for me. While the dresses were comfortable and
cheap, they didn't make me feel special. I guess I learned at
Reformation that I wanted something special. And a robot consultant.
experience at Adrienne's was non-existent. The store looked close to my
apartment on Google Maps, so I called and made an appointment on a
whim. When I arrived, I was surprised at how dingy Adrienne's looked
from the outside. Along with the tinted windows that made the store look
like an escape vehicle, there were sale bins and racks of dirty
bridesmaids and wedding dresses outside on the street.
In the end?:
I didn't go inside, met up with a friend for lunch, and forgot to
cancel the appointment. Truly, my bad. I received an angry phone call,
from whom I assumed was Adrienne, and I genuinely apologized for
forgetting to cancel the consultation. At Adrienne's, I learned to
always call to cancel a consultation, even if the store looks like a
place for smuggling rhino horns.
Lovely Bride- $$$
Bride in TriBeCa is faaabbbullouuuss. This was my first experience in a
real bridal salon and it was everything I'd hoped for: mothers and
daughters and friends sipping tea on fleshy armchairs cooing at their
bride/niece/bestie standing on a box, consultants speaking in soft,
clipped sentences rushing in and out of dressing rooms trailing heavy
stacks of rejected, creamy fabric behind them. Crying brides, happy
brides, miffed brides, and a sassy receptionist who likes to remind
clients that "she's got you." In Lovely, all your bridal worries are
numbed by the blush and warm and sparkle of the place, like you're on
painkillers, or suspended in the womb of a very wealthy person.
consultant was named Lindsay and she was very sweet, even when I told
her my budget was under $2,000. We walked along the aisles of gowns in
the back of the store, every once in a while Lindsay would pull a crop
top or a tulle skirt separate from the racks, reiterating that these
were my options in my price range. The moment you realize you're out of
your league in a bridal salon is kind of an embarrassing one. You're
vulnerable and stuck in an hour-long appointment with a stranger who
sells things to richer people than you eight hours a day; to walk out is
admitting defeat, to stay means driving yourself further into debt. So
like an intelligent person who sticks to her budget, I stayed and tried
on dozens of gorgeous dresses that I couldn't afford. I halfheartedly
told Lindsay that if I found "the one" I'd spring for it. She offered to
sell me a faded, stained sample I really liked for $3,000; twice my
budget. I told her yes of course I'd come back and buy it on Friday. We
had a deal.
In the end?: I didn't buy the
sample. I emailed on Thursday and cancelled the second appointment to
buy, and told her I couldn't afford it. Somehow, admitting defeat was
easier via email. She never responded and I was sent an
auto-cancellation from Lovely the next day. In Lovely I learned this:
Just wait. Don't let the wedding industry intimidate or coax you into
overpaying for anything, especially A DRESS. And also, don't fool
yourself. If you can't afford something, it's okay. There are millions
of wedding dresses out there. Wait, wait, wait.
The White Gown- $$
was tired when I walked into this 5th floor studio in Midtown. The
White Gown was empty and dark, I think the staff hadn't turned the
lights on yet. The place felt like a Manhattan apartment, a sad one,
stuffed with dresses and rhinestone ribbon belts. I was drowsily
welcomed by Portia, who asked me what kind of dress I was looking for. I
told her I didn't like strapless, lace, or glitter, and that something
simple would work. Portia led me over to a pair of wide windows facing
an office building and told me to undress behind a curtain. She went to
pick my dresses for me (a pet peeve of mine at this point) and I waited
in a black bathrobe. Portia returned with two lace dresses, one sequined
gown, and a strapless dress, all unattractive, none of which I asked
for, and none worth their price tag. I tried them on to be polite, but
explained they just weren't my style. Portia didn't seem to care, which
is fine, we were both tired.
In the end?: I
didn't like this place or what they had to offer. Portia was clearly out
of it. I left The White Gown discouraged and a little put off. At The
White Gown, I learned I needed coffee and that I should figure out a way
to talk about what I wanted in a wedding dress, because somehow, it was
getting lost in translation.
RK Bridal - $-$$
by the Chelsea Piers, this store was a trek on foot from the East
Village, and when I arrived, I was wiped out. No appointment necessary, I
took the elevator up to the 6th floor and walked into the sprawling, RK
Bridal. This place is HA-UGE. The store is a one-stop-shop, stretching
with aisles and aisles AND AISLES of gowns, jewelry and tailoring
counters, and dressing rooms.
The cheerful buzz at RK Bridal was
palpable. The manager greeted me warmly while I was signing in and
chatted for a bit. She was so personable and seemed genuinely interested
in what I was looking for, and even made a few helpful suggestions for
designers I'd probably like. She asked what my budget was, I quietly
told her the number and I think I even asked "Is that ok?" She laughed
and said, "You'll find something here that you love." ??!!??
manager invited me to look through the aisles of dresses, choose the
ones I liked (?!?!) and to hang them on a rack near the dressing rooms
while I waited for a consultant. I was thrilled to be able to actually
see, touch, and feel the selection of dresses; this was the first time I
was allowed to do this in Manhattan. The manager walked me over to a
few sections she thought I'd like and told me she knows the store is "a
lot" (referring to the size) and not to be intimidated. Most of the
dresses were smashed tightly on the racks, so in order to get a complete
visual, RK attached photographs and prices of each dress to the hanger,
which I found really useful. The manager left and I combed the store,
not really finding anything initially. While the price point was
spectacular for the quality (I saw beautiful dresses from $400 - $2000,
nothing was priced unreasonably--so refreshing) RK's selection seemed
too "pageant-girl" for my taste. The dresses I saw were heavy and
sparkling, very Glinda the Good Witch. Not very me.
When I met my
bubbly consultant, Sheryl, I wasn't sure she could help me. I told her
immediately I didn't want anything "pageanty". She asked if I had any
pictures. I didn't. She pointed to a girl trying on a classic,
high-necked gown and asked, "Do you like that?" I said sure. Sheryl
darted off, and I trudged into the dressing room and waited. I was sure
she'd come back with exactly what I didn't want since I hadn't seen
anything in-store I liked on my own search. I was wrong. Sheryl quickly
returned smiling, with a rack of gowns that were so on-point I could
have screamed. I didn't know where she found them in the labyrinth of
charmeuse and chiffon and I didn't care. Every gown was more beautiful
than the last, and dare I say, Sheryl actually made the experience fun
for me. We laughed, took pictures, and talked about Real Housewives. She
complimented my butt. I told her she was an angel. Sheryl the Fairy
Gownmother owned it. And guess what? She sold me my dress. I would have
never tried it on if she didn't push me, but once it was on, I think we
In the end?: I bought my dress at RK
Bridal and learned to try stuff on that maybe doesn't look like "me" on
the hanger. And that everyone should strive to be more like Sheryl.
From budget insight to scoring awesome "honeymooner" treatment, this brand-new bride has the details on maximizing your trip.
Amena, Orlando, Florida
After planning a wedding in less than
a year with her now-husband, Dev, Amena couldn't wait to relax on her
honeymoon. Married on March 21, 2015, the couple took off to Jamaica for
six days following their big day. (Read his take on their honeymoon here.)
I wish I knew…to call ahead about the crowd.
got married at the end of March, so we wanted to avoid spring-breakers
at all costs. But it never occurred to us to find out ahead of time what
the typical crowd was like at the resort. While we avoided the party
scene, most of the other people at our resort were older, which was kind
of a buzzkill. We were hoping to meet and hang out with other
honeymooners, but because the clientele was older, there wasn't lively
evening entertainment. I would definitely recommend asking what the
hotel scene is like before you book.
I wish I knew…how far our budget could go.
had recommended that we honeymoon at an all-inclusive from the get-go;
that way we wouldn't have to worry about blowing our budget or stressing
out about money while we were traveling. Once we came up with a budget
(about $3,500), we both agreed to contribute about half and soon began
researching options. Our goal was to get the most bang for our buck.
Since we live in Florida, flying to the Caribbean wouldn't cost us too
much, so the bulk of our budget could be spent on the hotel, food, and
activities. After looking at reviews and prices of several all-inclusive
resorts in the Caribbean, we decided on our Jamaican resort because it
included the most: In addition to the room and food, excursions (like a
hike to a nearby waterfall) and water sports (like scuba diving and
snorkeling) were also part of the package. We loved not having to pay
for anything while we were there; not thinking about money and how much
everything was costing us helped us feel carefree.
I wish I knew…how well honeymooners are treated!
you let people know you're on your honeymoon—whether it's your taxicab
driver, your waiter or your hotel's reception desk—they go out of their
way to treat you special. Our travel agency, HoneymoonsInc.com, told the
resort that we would be on our honeymoon. When we checked in, a
complimentary cheese-and-fruit tray was sent up to our room, and we got
free 30-minute massages in the resort spa! No one told us to announce
that we'd just got married, but once we mentioned it, it was so lovely
to get extra attention and recognition. (Too bad we didn't say anything
on our plane ride; maybe we could've gotten upgraded!) For us, this was
our first trip alone together, and we really wanted it to be special—and
by telling people that we were just married, we felt like everyone
wanted to celebrate us.
I wish I knew…what a smart move it is to go right after the wedding.
couples want to wait a few weeks or months after their wedding to save
up for the ultimate honeymoon. But I'm so glad that we got married and
then went to Jamaica the very next day. After all the excitement and
stress of wedding planning, being together away from everyone else and
experiencing a little adventure was amazing. We had the chance to
celebrate the experience of becoming husband and wife away from all the
Marriages are often thought of and celebrated in milestones --
weddings, babies and new houses, to name a few. But it's really the
small, everyday moments of love, support and kindness between two people
that define a lasting partnership.
We recently asked HuffPost readers
to share the little, unexpected tips and tricks that make a
big difference in their relationships. Find out what they had to say
1. A good, long hug makes all the difference. "At
least once a day, especially after work, we just stand and give each
other a long hug. No words or kissing or moving. I stand with my arms up
and he stands with his arms out, then we fall into our hug. It's a nice
quiet moment in which we can decompress with each other." - Michelle Gold
2. Go out of your way to do something silly and sweet to make your partner smile. "I
hide things like his favorite snacks or a reminder of something fun we
did recently in his shoes, pockets or cup holders in his car with little
notes full of stupid puns to make him laugh." - Lacey Marie
3. Never stop saying "thank you" -- even for the simplest of tasks. "Even
after 12 years, my guy always says to me after dinner, 'Thank you for a
great dinner' -- even if it's a TV dinner. Makes me feel
appreciated." - Debbie Wagner
4. Create a quirky nighttime ritual that's just about the two of you. "We snack in bed -- a late-night ice cream or a chocolate bar that the kids know nothing about!" - Humi K.
5. Don't just say "I love you." Tell each other why specifically. "Every
night before we go to sleep we say to each other, 'I love you today
because...' We do this no matter what happened that day. We even make
sure to call or text it to each other when we are apart." - Jae Russell
6. Kiss each other goodbye no matter what. "Every
morning when I leave for work, he's still in bed. And every day I say
'I'm leaving' and even in a dead sleep, he kisses me." - Steffanie Anne
7. Inside jokes are a must. "My husband and I quote movies all the time, and even recently during sex. Me: 'You keep moving my hands.' Him: 'I don't know what to do with my hands, quoting Ricky Bobby. Instant humor." - Lindsey Lipp
8. Think about how you can make your partner's day easier, and then do that. "My
husband warms my car up for me and scrapes the ice and snow off of it
in the winter time, even though I go to work way earlier than him and am
fully capable of warming up my own car. It really means a lot that he
gets up early and freezes just so I don't have to." - Wendy Griffith
9. Spending some time apart can strengthen your bond. "It's
going to seem backwards but it's important in my relationship for my
husband and I to have our own interests and do our own thing. I'll go to
yoga or dinner with friends and he will play cards. The time apart
gives us the opportunity to miss each other and gives us more stories to
share." - Sarah Goodier
10. Don't underestimate the importance of touch. "We always sleep naked and touch in bed, even if it's just a toe against a leg or a hand on a thigh." - Lauren East
11. Even when you're busy, let your partner know that he or she is always top of mind. "I
program 'events' in my husband's phone calendar to alert him throughout
the year. Sweet things like 'Thinking of you xoxo' and memories like
the day we met." - Kasey Christine St. John
While some celebrity marriages have ended faster than you can say “Vera
Wang gown,” others have stood the test of time, setting an example of
what a happy relationship looks like. But just as in their seemingly
flawless pics and near-perfect performances, it takes a lot of work to
get to that level. We rounded up eight Hollywood couples whose marriages
are successful, inspiring, and better yet, something we can learn from.
Iman and David Bowie
Married: 22 years
Secret: Keep Things Fresh—“I think you’ve got to feel hot for each other and respect each other. That’s where it starts,” Iman told Interview. “And we have fun with each other.”
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick
Married: 17 years
Secret: Communication—“We really are friends beyond everything else and we talk a lot,” Matthew said on the Meredith Vieira Show. “Keep talking. I know how cliché that is. Too much silence is definitely not a good idea.”
Beyonce and Jay Z
Married: 7 years
Secret: Stay True to Yourself—"I was independent before I met my
husband, and we have such a natural chemistry and a genuine
relationship, and it's based on the things that relationships are
supposed to be based on,” Beyonce told GQ. “I've seen, growing
up, when a woman or a man in a relationship — it doesn't matter which
one — doesn't feel confident, they feel a bit trapped. Your self-worth
is determined by you. You don't have to depend on someone telling you
who you are."
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Married: 12 years
Secret: Keep Working At It—“I mean, it’s work,” Sarah told MSN’s Wonderwall. “You have to work at anything. It’s any relationship in your life. You have to nurture it and take time with it.”
Meryl Streep and Don Gummer
Married: 36 years
Secret: Keep Talking—"You have to talk about all the issues that arise, even the smallest things," Meryl told New Zealand’s Women’s Weekly.
"You have to listen to your partner's problems, suggestions, and
advice, and accept that you're not always right. Conversation is the key
to a successful marriage."
Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon
Married: 16 years
Secret: Date Night—“It's having the apartment to ourselves: We lock the doors, fool around, make dinner, watch a movie,” Kevin told Good Housekeeping.
Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas
Married: 14 years
Secret: Keep Some Things Separate—"For marriage to be a success,
every woman and every man should have their own bathroom,” Catherine
told Woman’s Day.
Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith
Married: 17 years
Secret: Be Prepared For The Rough Patches—“You have to be able to
withstand tough times and just because the tough times comes doesn't
mean it's time stop,” Jada said during a TCA presentation. “It means
it's time to dig in.”
While a veil is no longer an absolute must for the modern bride, many engaged women
are still choosing to wear them, mostly because, well, it makes them
feel like a bride. The trick is knowing what type of veil to pair with
what type of wedding dress to make the most impact. We asked several renowned bridal experts to share their top secrets. A Heavily Embellished Gown
If you have your heart set on a heavily beaded or embellished dress,
you can go one of two ways with your veil. For the princess-y bride who
loves herself some sparkle, a classic, raw edge cathedral veil with
scattered Swarovski that will 'twinkle' as you walk down the aisle is
absolutely stunning, says Carla Imbriano, lead designer at Boutique de Voile. Another fitting option she suggests: "A veil with minimal matching beadwork along the edge." A Simple-But-Stunning Dress
If a bride has a simple dress and wants to amp up the drama without any
embellishments, an angel cut veil trimmed in satin, horsehair or organza
is always a good choice, notes Kleinfeld
Fashion Director Terry Hall. "It will frame the face of the bride
beautifully, and when it cascades down, you'll see a spiral of fabric on
the edge that gives you that dramatic look and feel." A veil with
touches of light lace is also very elegant styled with a simple dress,
says bridal stylist and wedding expert Renée Strauss. A Dress with a Statement Back
A breathtaking ornate or sheer illusion lace back
is a popular trend. To show off your backside, Imbriano recommends a
special custom cut cathedral without any accents (beadwork or crystals)
in the body of the veil. Think sheer and chic and remember to steer
clear of multiple layers of fabric. See more:14 Miracle Products That Can Save You From a Beauty Emergency on Your Wedding Day A Gown with a Long Train
As long as your gown doesn't have a ton of back detail, you can pretty
much wear any type of veil with a dress that has a long train, tells
Hall. His favorite, however, is by far a cathedral veil. "It's so
interesting and creates a dramatic, ethereal look." Just make sure the
veil extends past the train, he advises. This is particularly important
if the train on the wedding gown is heavily beaded, adds Strauss. A Modern Dress
For brides opting to go the contemporary route (think fit-and-flare, mermaid gowns and tea-length dresses), a more modern style veil is perfectly appropriate, points out Elisha Caplan, Designer and Owner of Elisha Caplan Veils & Headpieces.
"These are the short, layered, square-cut and blusher styles. A short
veil (shoulder to elbow length) is great for a tea-length dress or a
city hall dress," she says. A Vintage Wedding Dress
If your something borrowed happens to be your wedding dress, why not go
all out with a birdcage veil to match? "It will become the ornate part
of the ensemble," says Strauss. A Short Wedding Dress
The shorter the dress, the shorter the veil! "For a sassy, cocktail
length gown or shorter, we love a birdcage veil, or better yet, a
whimsical multiple layer veil in a shorter length ... something
reminiscent of an Audrey Hepburn movie," say Imbriano. A Beachy Bohemian Dress
Getting hitched oceanfront? According to Strauss, a chapel veil is great for a beach wedding when you want the veil flowing in the wind but not to be too cumbersome.
Ask any newlywed couple -- even couples that have been married for a
long time -- and they'll all say the same thing: The key to a
planning successful wedding (read: a wedding that goes smoothly, without
any major glitches) is smart planning. You can save yourself from
migraine headaches and crying spells by making a plan and simply
sticking with it. These simple wedding planning tips should help take
away some of the stress (or at least minimize it!).
Lose the Laziness
One mistake that many couples make is
basking in the glow of their engagement until 4-6 months before their
wedding date. Then they try to cram all of the planning into a too-short
period of time. Of course you should just sit back and be thrilled about your engagement for a while, but then you've gotta get cracking!
Buy a Calendar or Datebook
Once you determine your
wedding date, set specific dates by which you want to get things
accomplished. For example, you got engaged in June, and your wedding
date is April 24. On August 31, mark in that you want to have the
ceremony location and reception hall reserved. Try to get as much done
as possible in the first few months so that the last few months won't be
Set Aside Time
Choose a day of the week when you'll focus on the wedding details, or several days if you're pressed for time. Sit down together
and plan. This eliminates confusion -- i.e., the groom thinking he's
supposed to call and check on hall rentals when the bride already has it
narrowed down to what will suit their needs.
This is the best way to get
things done. You both should be involved every step of the way. Make a
list of details to be taken care of, then divide the list in half. Each
of you choose what you want to do. This will make grooms want to be involved, instead of making them feel like they have
to help. Sure, your sweetie probably isn't concerned with exactly which
flowers you carry. And maybe you're not picky about what tuxedos he and
the guys wear (or maybe you are!). But involving your husband-to-be
will make him feel that it's his wedding, too -- something he helped plan, not just something he has to show up at. Which brings us to...
Talk, Talk, Talk
We can't stress this enough. Be sure
that if you're sharing duties that you're also sharing the details. It's
okay to take care of certain things by yourself, just make sure you're
telling each other about it so the caterer isn't contracted with twice!
Okay. So you really didn't want the
groom/ushers in those tails and top hats. And maybe he doesn't want the
cake to be lemon with pecan icing (!). Each of you is going to want
things that the other doesn't care for, but flexibility is a must. Be
willing to bend. If you really object to something, let your objection
be duly heard and noted. Just give the other person a chance to explain why he/she really wants to arrive at the reception in a hot tub in the back of the limo.
Details, Contracts, and Negotiations
When dealing with
wedding professionals (caterers, florists, etc.), be sure to clarify
all the details and your expectations during the initial discussions.
Make sure you get a contract specifically stating dates, times, and
locations. Be sure to include what you feel is appropriate dress, and
what you feel isn't. Spell out everything. Try to negotiate the
best deal for goods and services, but don't sell yourself short on
important things just to get a better price.
Most importantly, be sure to read the fine print
on every contract before you sign it, and make sure you're aware of
cancellation policies and fees. Also ask if there's a grace period to
cancel just in case you change your mind or something happens and you
need to postpone the wedding (you never know).
This one's pretty obvious! The more
organized you are, the less chance there is that something will go
wrong. Buy a notebook, and keep all your wedding information in it.
Receipts, contracts, ideas -- everything. You might also want to get
notebooks for your maid of honor/bridesmaids and the best man. Put info
such as dates, times, locations, and duties. This will keep everyone
organized as well, and minimize the chance of someone missing a fitting
date or rehearsal time.
I am the only girl with two brothers in my family. One of my
brothers is getting married this summer. My other brother is the best
man, and my daughter is a junior bridesmaid. The bride did not ask me to
be a bridesmaid. My parents are disappointed in the choice, and I am
quite hurt. Is there a polite way to approach the subject with my future
sister-in-law? Should I even bother? — S.A.
This is one of those cases where you feel legitimately hurt, on the one
hand, but on the other, there's absolutely nothing to do about it.
Traditional etiquette gives the bride full license to choose her half of
the wedding party. It would have been lovely of her to include you, but
the exclusion surely reflects the juggling of complex factors rather
than personal snubbing or simple oversight. She may have a large family
of her own, she may have a particular friend group she wanted to keep
intact, or she may have picked her bridesmaids as a last gasp of her old
life before joining her lot with your brother's. Whatever the reason,
the invitation to your daughter is surely intended to be, among other
things, a conciliatory gesture. Be soothed by it, encourage your parents
to do the same, and move on. Your brother is getting married! Celebrate
the happy couple, dance your heart out (in your dress of choice, by the
way), and welcome his bride into your life.
is getting married, and many of us in the office have spent time
discussing the details and the planning. None of us received a formal
mailed invitation. Then, three weeks before the wedding, she invited all
of us (12 people) via e-mail. She wrote that we are her work family and
how important we are in her life. This seems odd. If she wanted us
there, why were we not invited the proper way? How does one respond to
this? — M. S.
Respond by accepting your coworker's invitation and showing up to
celebrate with her. Wedding planning is complicated at best, and there
are loads of variables. Depending on such factors as who is paying, the
smallness of the venue, and the largeness of the families, there may be
competing considerations about the guest list. You don't know what you
don't know. If her fiancé has a gazillion cousins, for example, perhaps
your coworker had to wait to see how the RSVPs shook out before
extending invitations to her large work family. Maybe there were unusual
constraints on the number of written invitations mailed out. It can be
tempting to feel snubbed, but it's a fruitless indulgence. Your coworker
really wants you there or she wouldn't have invited you. Feel glad to
be included and that you work with such a close-knit group of people.
making an invitation list for my bridal shower. The shower will be held
in Southern California, where most of the women in my family live. But
my fiancé's family is on the East Coast. He was raised primarily by his
father, and his aunts and grandmother took on a motherly role, so they
are important to him—and me. Do I invite them all, regardless of whether
or not it would be logical for them to attend? — L.B.
Traditionally, the guests invited to a wedding shower are the bride's
closest female friends and family. That said, you can invite whomever
you like. And since you're inclined to include your husband-to-be's
beloved kin, you should do just that. (Expansiveness is always a good
rule of thumb.) But there's no need to conceal your intentions: A day or
two after the invitations go out, send each of the far-flung relatives a
note or an e-mail: "I couldn't resist inviting you to the bridal
shower, but we don't really expect you to fly across the country for it,
and please don't send a gift. Just know that you're in our thoughts,
and we can't wait to celebrate with you at the wedding." For your
fiancé's grandmother and aunts, this solution will offer the best of
both worlds. They'll be tickled to receive an invitation and relieved of
any pressure or uncertainty about what to do next.
I received an e-card engagement announcement from a friend. Am I
expected to buy her and her future partner an engagement present, and if
so, what would be appropriate? — M.C.
There's one thing that the happy couple ought to get from you
immediately, and that's a hearty congratulations. Since they e-mailed
you their news, you can send an informal response. Just hit Reply and
offer a "happy for you" line or two. Generally I would say that you can
hold off on a gift. After all, should a bridal shower or an engagement
party be held, you will get a chance to give them something then. (This
does not even factor in the wedding gift itself.)
If you feel strongly about wanting to make a gesture, send a token that
pays tribute to the household they are creating: a matching towel set, a
gourmet-treat basket, or a tried-and-true kitchen tool. If possible,
personalize it with a note: "Someone gave us a corkscrew like this one
when we got married, and we've used it ever since. We hope that it sees
you both through many wonderful years to come." The sentiment will be
appreciated as much as—or more than—the item itself.
husband and I just eloped. How can we let everyone know about our
marriage without making them feel obligated to give us a gift? — A.B.
First of all, if you haven't already, be sure to share your news
directly with your nearest and dearest, who should hear of your marriage
in person or by phone, rather than by a mass mailing.
For everyone else, send out an announcement telling them exactly what
you want them to know. If you're not trolling for gifts, say so
directly: "We eloped! We're so happy—and we have everything we need. If
you have the urge to send something, mail us a card, a note, or your
best advice for newlyweds."
Inevitably, some people will send a gift anyway, and that's fine. Since
you haven't had to research wedding etiquette, here's a tiny FYI about
presents: Send a handwritten thank-you note as soon as possible (within
three months, ideally). Also consider tucking in a photo of your
ceremony or even sending one out in an e-mail. There's no reason not to
share a glimpse of the romantic event with your cheering section.
boyfriend's younger sister recently became engaged, and she indicated
to me that I would be a bridesmaid. However, now that she has begun
planning, she has assembled her wedding party and I'm not in it. Is it
wrong of me to feel hurt? We're close. Or so I thought. Should I bring
up the fact that I'm upset or let it go? And when my boyfriend and I get
married one day, am I obligated to include her in my wedding party? I
would have done so previously, but now I'm on the fence.— A.J.
It's understandable that you feel snubbed and disappointed. At a
minimum, the bride-to-be should have taken you aside and explained the
change of plans, which may be the result of competing obligations to
family and friends. But in truth she may have extended her offer to you
in the first flush of excitement, before she understood the tangled web
of responsibility that a wedding weaves.
Here's your opportunity to be gracious. Choose to feel flattered by her
heartfelt inclination to include you, celebrate with her, and let go of
the slight. She probably wasn't trying to be hurtful, and you wouldn't
want to darken her joy with conflict. If you feel the need to vent, try
your boyfriend. In addition to a sympathetic ear, he might have some
reassuring family insight to offer. And when you get married someday?
You'll be far more likely to understand his sister's dilemma—and be too
blissful (and busy) to spend time focusing on an old grudge.
year and a half ago, I got engaged and set a date for my wedding. Just a
few months ago, my cousin got engaged and decided to schedule her
wedding two weeks before mine. (Neither of us lives near most of our
relatives.) I feel that my extended family is going to be under a lot of
pressure to choose one wedding or the other. Am I right to be annoyed?
And is there any way to express my unhappiness to her? — K.K.
hope it helps to hear that, yes, you are right to be annoyed, because
there's not much else that I can offer you. If you feel that your
resentment will cause irreparable damage to your relationship with your
cousin, then once both of you have returned from your honeymoons, you
can share your feelings with her. Perhaps you will learn that there's an
explanation for the timing—one that will erase, or at least mitigate,
But do not have this conversation
now. Expressing your unhappiness would only lead to regret, as an
argument could cast its shadow over your happy day and hers without
resolving anything. Don't taint your celebrations with bitterness.
Consider these small consolations instead: This conflict probably won't
affect the plans of numerous guests, including your friends and your fiancé's
loved ones. Contrary to your assumptions, some family members may
attend both weddings. And if some relatives make it to only your
cousin's? If you and your fiancé attend, too, you will have
an opportunity to chat with them, which you'll have scant time to do at
your own wedding. Remember: Marriage is a happy but imperfect state,
and wedding planning gives you a little preview of that fact.
fiancé and I have lost control of our wedding. We wanted to have a
small affair. But his parents and mine both insisted on something
bigger. Now, with their additions, the guest list is more than 200
people. We also wanted to keep costs down. (While our
parents are making contributions, a sizable chunk of the expense is
falling on us.) But our families aren't sensitive to our budget
concerns. For example, they insist that we have a salad course. How can
we have the wedding we want without upsetting anyone? — L.H.
No way—your parents are butting in on your wedding planning?! Just
kidding. Welcome to the club, which includes pretty much everyone who
has ever walked down the aisle. This is to say, what you're experiencing
is a rite of passage and one that's no picnic.
Start here: Tell your parents how grateful you are for their help and
financial support. Then try saying something like "Thanks to your
advice, we made inclusivity a priority. We're thrilled to have everyone
joining in our celebration. But to include all these guests and to stick
to our established budget, we need to make the reception less
elaborate. And that's what we're going to do."
You're stretching your wings, and your parents are watching their child
take flight. Your husband-to-be's parents are doing the same. This
transition might not be graceful, but unlike the salad course, it's
important—not just for the sake of the wedding but for your married life
to come, too. Nip this butting-in in the bud, before you have two sets
of parents opining about your mortgage, your careers, and your sleepless
baby. Remind your parents that the wedding is about your love and
commitment and that the reception is just icing on the cake.
A dining table is one of the most functional items in any home, but it
can serve as a design showpiece too. Look for tables crafted from
long-lasting materials, such as mahogany or walnut, and avoid veneers
that ruin quickly with wear. Mix and match the dining room chairs to
give it a modern aesthetic
or choose a colored glass top for a trendy look. These simple additions
can be changed over time as you move homes or redecorate, but you'll
never need to buy another table. If you're big on entertaining, look for a table with a leaf to expand your dinner party real estate.
Like a dining table, a couch is essential to any home.
Cavanaugh recommends purchasing a standard seven-foot, two-inch sofa
with a solid wood frame. Think comfortable and usable, with classic
lines. With this base, she says, you can re-upholster or refill the
cushions, but the skeleton will last for years. As for fabrics, decide
what feels good to you, but always check samples in your space first. Lighting makes a big difference for colors and the effect on the room.
From place mats to bedding, quality linens quickly upgrade any home. A table runner and napkin rings dress up a dining table
before a friendly meal, and nothing beats hotel-ready sheets at
turndown every evening. For the bedroom, look for crisp, white linens
with custom embroidery and a pop of color for a youthful, modern look.
As for that thread count? Cavanaugh says higher is not necessarily
better: "It's all about what feels good to you."
China Choosing china
is really quite simple. There is not much difference between brands in
terms of quality, according to Cavanaugh, so it's more about what
pattern speaks to you as a couple. Go to a department store and see what
jumps out. Even if you have an heirloom set from grandma, you can
choose a more casual pattern to call your own. For a modern look, mix in bright colors or contrasting patterns. For a more formal look, add a charger plate to a gold- or silver-rimmed classic white.
Art An art collection
does not need to consist of Picassos and Pollocks. For the average
person, art is less about investment and more about what you want to
look at every day. Make a hallway gallery of family photos
set in matching frames or peruse flea markets or galleries for original
pieces by local artists. One of Cavanaugh's favorite projects is a
collection of animal photographs from a couple's safari honeymoon
scattered around their living room. "It's so much more personal than
walking into a place with blank walls."
One of the easiest ways to make your husband happy
is to show that you don't take him for granted — luckily, it's
all-too-easy to make him feel appreciated and give your relationship an
important boost each day. "Having a more meaningful, intimate marriage
requires you to take care of each other," says relationship expert April Masini. "If you make him feel appreciated and not taken for granted, you're setting the stage for deeper intimacy, more fun, better sex, and a marriage that you're both happy to have — not one you feel you've defaulted into."
Bonus? When you whip out these four ways that make him feel good,
he's likely to give them back, big time. "When he realizes how good he
feels because you've complimented him, it's going to occur to him that
he wants to do the same back to you," Masini explains. "It's human
nature, and it's a good practice to get into for the sake of your happy
Give him tasks at which he'll excel.
"Don't give him things he'll fail at," says Masini. "Give him things
that you know he's good at, whether it's automotive chores or heavy
lifting, and be his fan club when he succeeds. Guys want to be your
knight in shining armor, so give them opportunities to do so!"
Talk dirty — during the day!
"Make a phone call, send an e-mail, or tell him how hot he is so he can
remember that you're the most amazing wife ever — and that means he must
deserve the most amazing wife ever," says Masini. "Win, win."
Buy him a gift just because it's Tuesday.
"It can be cologne, a book, some cheese he especially likes — just gift
wrap something with a little love note and leave it in his desk, his
briefcase or send it to his office," Masini suggests.
"It's easy to stop holding hands, putting arms around each other's'
waists, and stroking the back of his neck while he drives," says Masini.
"But affection and touching mean so much to him. He wants to be
touched, and not just in bed. Show him you love him
by kissing him at breakfast, holding his hand while you're out doing
errands and touching his forearm while you're talking about something
that could be anything."
1. Trim your hair to grow your hair.
We know, we know, you've heard it a million times — because it works. If
you don't regularly cut the ends, they split, which can weaken them,
causing breakage higher up the shaft, says Townsend. Get a "dusting" of
the very tips every 10 weeks.
2. Deep condition.
Slather on a treatment mask for 10 to 30 minutes once a week to
strengthen and soften. Tip: Adding a little heat from your blow-dryer
while you condition helps it penetrate! We like Fekkai Essential Shea Riche Moisture Masque ($25).
3. Take your vitamins.
Celebs swear by Viviscal
($50 for a one-month supply), a hair-growth supplement with biotin,
minerals, and marine proteins. "Hair grows about a quarter of an inch a
month, but Viviscal can double that," says Townsend. "In three months,
you start to see longer, thicker, more beautiful hair."
4. Change your pillowcase.
"Regular cotton absorbs moisture and causes friction, which pulls on
your hair and causes tangles," says Townsend, "but if you switch to
sateen, you'll have much smoother hair
in the morning."
5. Cool down on heat.
Just because a flatiron goes up to 450 degrees doesn't mean you should.
"No one but a pro should use more than 375 degrees on your hair," says
Townsend. Pre-treat with a heat protector (we like Nexxus Promend Heat Protecting Mist, $12), and work with one- to two-inch sections. Any bigger and you'll scorch the outer layers and not even reach the middle.
6. Upgrade your blow-dryer.
Switch to a high-powered ionic model, which alters the "charge" of your
hair, making it smoother and shinier, and can reduce drying time. Our
pick: T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i ($250).
8. Smooth it out.
Got frizz? With in-salon keratin treatments, your stylist applies a
solution, then uses a flatiron to seal it in, leaving hair significantly
smoother. Try it a few months out to make sure you like how it looks.
Then schedule a session one week before your wedding. DIY products like Tresemmé 7 Day Keratin Smooth Heat Activated Treatment ($6.99) provide similar — but less dramatic — results.
Justin Lebon and Michal Ott have been dating for four years. Two Christmases in a row, Michal thought Justin might propose -- but he didn't.
On Christmas morning 2014, Justin more than made up for that when he
popped the question with a custom-made Monopoly board -- Michal's
favorite game -- tailoring the different spaces and cards to their love
"As soon as she opened the corner, she was like, 'Oh my god. It's
Monopoly. No f-ing way,'" Justin told The Huffington Post. "I knew how
much she loved the original."
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
"I gave her the tour [around the board] from start to finish because
she was jumping all over the place looking at it," he said. "Match.com is where it starts, the first date was the very next spot, and they go in order from there."
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
He also included different streets they've lived on and the locations of some of their favorite vacation spots.
Fun fact: The pair actually lived on the same street for a number of years when they were growing up in Fremont, California. But because they were four years apart in school, they didn't figure that out until much, much later when they connected on Match.com.
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
After the initial Christmas morning excitement, Justin and Michal
played a round of the game. She rolled first, not knowing that her
boyfriend had rigged the dice so only sevens could be rolled.
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
She landed on "Chance" -- just as Justin intended -- and picked up
the special proposal card that he had stealthily placed on the top of
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
Per the card's instructions, she then headed to the "Luxury Tax"
space. That's when Justin got down on one knee and said those magical
words. But when he reached into his pocket, he pulled out a wire key
instead of a ring box.
"She was super confused," he told HuffPost. "I asked if she could
help me with something really cool and she said yes. And that's when I
popped open the trap door. And it was just like, 'Holy sh*t. You thought
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
"By the time I was done, she was sobbing," he added.
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
The brilliant proposal plan was first conceived in November 2014
while Justin was at work. He quickly enlisted the help of his friend
Mark Becker -- who runs the Etsy store Old Redwood -- to craft the actual board. Five weeks later, everything was ready to go just in time for the proposal.
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
Courtesy of Justin Lebon
"At the end, we were just sitting there laughing," Justin said. "She
was still in shock and couldn't believe all the ups and downs. She was
like, 'Wait how'd you know I was going to roll a seven? I told her to
look at the dice and she was just like, Shut up!' She had them in her
hand the whole time. It was really, really funny."