Tuesday, October 13, 2015

15 Love Notes From Couples Who Have The Relationship Thing Down Pat

In a time when couples all-too-frequently communicate via text message, Gchat and email, there's something extra special about a handwritten love note.

Below are 15 cute notes from lovebirds who took the extra time to put pen to paper. Some are sassy, others are sweet -- but all of them are worth holding on to.


"You're never too old to leave love notes on the mirror. Happy anniversary to my honey and very best friend."


"After a rather cranky start to the morning, involving a small argument over something rather unimportant, I showed up at my husband's office with a peace offering. He loved the note best of all."


"Lucky girl."


"Tim always leaves the house before me, but today I left first and came home to this love note and a few others scattered throughout the house. It's the little things." 


"I found this in the drawer of my makeup desk."


"For our wedding anniversary, he surprised me in the bathroom with a note." 


"Morning coffee cup ready."


"My husband sent me this 'memo' that he made for himself. We just found out that we are expecting our second child! I am one lucky lady!"


"My fiancé leaves notes for me regularly, for which I am very grateful. I'm sappy and such a sucker for them!" 


"This note was on my Timehop app. My son Cy was 2 years old then."


"My boyfriend left this for me when he went to work before I woke up. I'm always losing my glasses then spending the day without them and ending up with a migraine."


"Love note found on my desk at the end of the day."


"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 morning!"


"It's the little things."


"Best part of my first day back to work."

Monday, October 12, 2015

25 Not-So-Little Things To Celebrate In 25 Married Years

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.
1. 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. Twice.
2. The iced water left for you by the back door, after a hike on a sweltering summer day.
3. 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.
6. 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.
8. 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.
Your 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."

Friday, October 9, 2015

I Went Wedding Dress Shopping Alone in Manhattan and Here's What I Learned


My 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 Gownmother.

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 gowns.

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 tiring.

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 - $
Okay, 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.

No 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.

These 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 three minutes.

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. Disappointing.

Adrienne's - ?
My 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
- $$$
Lovely 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.

My 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 - $$
I 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 - $-$$
Located 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." ??!!??

The 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 both knew.

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.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One Bride's Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Honeymoon

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.

We 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.

Friends 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!

When 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.

Some 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 wedding excitement.

11 Small Things You Can Do In A Marriage That Make A Big Difference

It's the little things.


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 below:

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


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Successful Hollywood Marriages (and What We Can Learn From Them)

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.”  


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How to Pick Your Veil Based on Your Wedding Dress

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.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Just Engaged And Completely Overwhelmed? Read This Now!

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!).

Bride with iPhone calendar wedding countdown

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 hectic.

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.

Share Duties

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!

Be Flexible

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).

Stay Organized

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.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Your Biggest Wedding Etiquette Woes, Solved

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.

A coworker 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.

I'm 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.

Recently 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.

My 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.

My 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.

A 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.

I 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, your irritation.

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.

My 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.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

5 Home Items Every Newlywed Couple Should Invest In

If anything signals "I need an adult apartment," it's a wedding. But swapping a futon for an Eames can put a dent in the nest egg before it even hatches.

Adding a few key pieces to your home, however, can instantly exude interior design mojo. Lee Cavanaugh, design partner at New York-based design firm Cullman & Kravis, shares her thoughts on the five home items newlyweds won't regret purchasing. And many times, it doesn't take a lot of cash to look luxe.

Dining Table
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."

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.

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."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Easy Ways to Make Your Husband Feel Appreciated Every Day

Make Your Husband Feel Appreciated Every Day Photo: Getty Images
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 marriage."

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.

Touch him.
"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."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

8 Steps to Amazing Wedding-Day Hair

Wedding Hair Tips
Photo: Jesse Pafundi of Golden Hour Studios
Just as you're prepping your skin, stepping up your workout game, and making a few more healthier eating choices to get ready for the big day, your hair could also use some extra attention too, so as to ensure that it's in tip-top shape when you walk down the aisle. Celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend spills his top eight insider secrets on how to get longer, stronger, shinier, smoother, all-around-amazing hair by your wedding

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).

7. Shine on.
In-salon gloss treatments leave a coating that "reflects light and looks amazing in photos," says Townsend. At home, try John Frieda Luminous Glaze Clear Shine Gloss ($7.99).

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.

This Man Popped The Question With A Tailor-Made Monopoly Game

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 story.

He posted the photos and the story behind them to Reddit on Saturday, where they have since been viewed more than 475,000 times.

"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."

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"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."

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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.

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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.

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She landed on "Chance" -- just as Justin intended -- and picked up the special proposal card that he had stealthily placed on the top of the deck.

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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 of everything.'"

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"By the time I was done, she was sobbing," he added.

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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.

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"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."