Photo: Getty Images
After you have walked down the aisle, whispered "I Do" and locked
lips with the love of your life, you'll spend the rest of the night
dancing, eating and hugging guests. But once that's all over and the
night comes to and end, one thing you can look forward to is wedding
gifts. Chances are each of your guests gave you a little something,
whether it was an item from your registry or just cold hard cash.
Either way, those gifts are yours. If you're wondering what to use all
that wedding cash for, here are 7 ideas to get you started.
1. Clear Your Debt
If you have a stack of unpaid credit card bills
or student loans that are still haunting your finances, you can use the
money you received from your wedding to clear your debt and start from a
2. Pay Back Your Parents
If your parents picked up most of the bill
for your wedding, you can write them a check to pay back some of the
money they spent throwing you the celebration of a lifetime. Even if the
amount of money you received from wedding gifts doesn't amount to the
total that they spent, you can still offer to pay back a portion.
3. Open a Savings Account
Put the money away for a rainy day and don't spend a penny of it now.
You never know when you'll need some of the money — whether it's to pay
for a future emergency or even for a future purchase that you'll need to pay a lot of money for upfront.
4. Put a Down Payment on a House
Use that money to pay for a down payment
on a house or to buy an apartment to live in. If you've been renting
for years and looking for an opportunity to buy, use the large sum of
money you just received to make you a homeowner.
5. Invest in the Future
It may be hard to put the money you received away for a long time, but
you do have the option to invest that money in a mutual fund or an IRA.
If you're planning on having kids, you can even think far ahead to the future and put the money in a CD for a college fund.
6. Let Yourself Have Some Fun
Remember, you can do what you want with the money. There are no rules
attached. So no matter what you decide to do, use a chunk of the money
on something fun, whether it's investing in a new hobby or buying that
72-inch TV for your living room.
7. Take off On a Honeymoon
If after paying for the wedding expenses
you feel can't afford to have a honeymoon, you can use the gifts you
received from your guests to plan a honeymoon for the next year or two.
Whether you've just gotten married or are taking the plunge way
before your wedding day, moving in together is a huge milestone in any
relationship. You're going from spending as much time together as
possible to living together, 24/7, and that come with its own set of
challenges. Maybe you're moving into his current apartment, the two of
you signed a lease together, or you've secured a mortgage and are buying
your first home. Whatever the situation, here are five things you should make sure to do before you start packing those boxes.
Two people means double the stuff — and a lot of duplicates of things
you only need one of. Go through both of your current homes and make a
list of big items you both have (like sets of dishes, couches, or beds).
Then decide which you'll keep, which you'll toss, or if you'll get rid
of both and invest in something new. Try to do this before you've
registered for anything so you can shop around for upgrades or items
you'll both love. This way you're not stuck eating off of his chipped
beige dinnerware from college, and he doesn't feel weird sleeping on
your pink floral sheets.
Create a Budget
Combining households means sharing a lot of costs, from your rent or
mortgage to the Netflix subscription and groceries. Even if you aren't
planning to share finances, you'll want to outline how much you plan to
spend together every month. Find a number that feels right to
each of you, then decide if you'll open a joint account for household
expenses or if one of you will pay for electricity and heating while the
other will cover your parking pass and internet.
They say opposites attract, but when a neat freak shacks up with someone
who can't remember the last time they made the bed, tensions can rise
quickly. You probably have an idea of your partner's living and cleaning
habits at this point, but you'll want to set expectations before you've
opened the front door instead of waiting for a month or two and then
getting upset when something isn't put away properly. Some couples
choose to divide cleaning tasks, while others tackle things together.
Whichever style suits you, talk through ways that the less organized of
the two can contribute to controlling clutter while the more organized
can allow for certain less-than-perfect arrangements.
Plan For the Unexpected
This goes back to budget. Even if every monthly expense is covered,
there's always something you don't expect, from a leaky sink to an
unseasonably cold week that kicks your heating bill into overdrive. Set
aside some funds to provide wiggle room, and talk about how you'll
handle surprise expenses that are above and beyond what you've planned
Even after you've decided what to keep and what to toss, you may still
want to downsize a little bit. After all, moving in together doesn't
always come with double the space! Use this as an opportunity to clean
out your closet, get rid of those things you forgot you still had
(college textbooks, anyone?), and get organized. This is especially
important if one of you is moving into the other person's current home:
Making room for their things is the quickest way to make them feel like a welcome addition instead of an intruder.
Reading your vows during your wedding ceremony
will be one of the most intimate and possibly even scariest moments of
your life. It's a time when you're standing in front of the person you
love, committing your plan to spend forever with them — in front of all
of your closest friends and family members. It's a moment of laughs,
tears, and an urgent request to find tissues so that your mascara
doesn't run and stain your veil. So when you're sitting down to figure
out what you want to say, here are six things to know before you write
your wedding vows.
1. You don't have to make them perfect.
Don't bog yourself down with a desire to make your vows sound absolutely
perfect. You may run out of words, ideas, and time. Instead, focus on
getting a draft done and then revise that draft until your wedding day arrives.
2. You can add in humor.
Your vows don't have to be all mushy, all the time. You can add bits of humor throughout to get your guests laughing.
3. Your vows don't have to be very long.
Try to keep your vows under two minutes. That's the perfect amount of
time to keep your guests' attention and also a long enough time to say
what you want to say — without rambling or repeating yourself. Keep it
as concise as possible.
4. Start writing as early as possible.
The sooner you start, the more time you'll have to brainstorm what you'd like to say. If you wait for the night before your wedding, you may be suffocated by nerves that you can't seem to string together a sentence.
5. Try writing them as a letter.
If you're having trouble starting, try opening up a card or take a piece
of paper and write your vows down as if you were writing them as a letter to the person you're marrying.
6. Pick your words wisely.
It's always best to skip the clichés and instead use specific details
that define your relationship with the person you're marrying. That way,
it will feel very personalized and geared towards showcasing your true
passion, commitment, and connection.
1. WeddingWire Best for the bride who doesn't know where to start
This venue and vendor
database is a one-stop shop, with more than 200,000 local listings and
2.5 million reviews by real brides. So if you're clueless about where to
wed and who to hire, do a quick search and narrow results by type,
location, price, or rating. When you're done with the big-ticket items,
you'll find checklists, budget templates, and etiquette tips.
2. Carats & Cake Best for inspo you can use
Ever see a wedding photo and think, "Who made that centerpiece?" Or "I
have to have those shoes!" Carats & Cake eliminates the guess-work,
providing a rundown of all the vendors used in its real weddings
(caterers, florists, photographers, et cetera). Check out full
portfolios and reviews, then book them on the site.
3. The Venue Report Best for finding a Versailles-worthy chateau in the south of France
With "reporters" who research the latest event spaces, this directory
has the hottest hotels and party pads, plus off-the-beaten-path locales
like, say, a glamping venue in Montana that can accommodate 250 guests.
The experience is seamless: Filter results by region, price, and
capacity, review essentials like site fees and curfews, and contact the
4. WeddingHappy Best for planning without the planner
Think of this free app as your personal assistant. It's preloaded with
tasks to guide you through your to-dos, and it even alerts you as you
approach deadlines for things like "mail invites" or "pay deposit for
the band" — same as a planner would do in real life. Share your "event"
with your fiancé, mother, or hands-on MOH so everyone has access to the
5. myPantone Best for color coordination
Did a certain teal nail polish strike your fancy? Fire up myPantone
(from $7.99), snap a photo, and the app will identify the exact color
and point you toward others that anyone struggling to pick a palette or
who's letting her bridesmaids choose their own dresses "as long as they're seafoam green," this is a must.
6. Minted Best for fab invitations that won't break the bank
Minted works with indie artists and graphic designers to offer chic
ready-made invites, save-the-dates, ceremony programs, escort cards, and
more. Templates can be customized, down to the card size and paper
stock. On a tight budget? Print your suite at home or take the file to a
local copy shop. Minted also offers bespoke invitation design (from
$234 per 100 invitations) in case you don't have an illustrator on speed
dial but still want a hand-drawn map of Nantucket or a watercolor
rendering of you and your fiancé.
7. Riley & Grey Best for a wedding web site that looks totally different
Riley & Grey is where design-minded brides go to create their
wedding hubs ($35 per month). Modern templates are added every few
months, so you won't accidentally use the same one as your BFF who's
getting married six weeks after you. Your site will be not only gorgeous
but also user-friendly, with zero clicks required; simply scroll down
to toggle between tabs like People, for bridal-party bios, and Place,
for tips on where to stay, eat, and drink near your wedding venue. You
can even embed links to Kayak for flight bookings and Google Maps for
8. Mint Best for tracking your spending in life — and on the wedding
While not made specifically with weddings in mind, Mint is a popular
free money-management site for a reason: It's easy to use, syncing with
your bank account and credit cards so you can monitor your spending and
move funds around as needed.
(And it probably will be needed.) Create a wedding budget and stay on
track, thanks to weekly email summaries and text reminders when payments
9. Skipper Best for organizing hotel-room blocks
Your Maui destination wedding will be epic. Finding hotel rooms for 150
guests? Less so. Let Skipper (hiskipper.com) do the work: Plug in your
wedding location, dates, and the number of rooms needed, and the site
will populate nearby hotels at a variety of price points. Smaller
parties can lock in discounted rates at one hotel directly through the
site (in most cases, 15 percent off); brides who need more than nine
rooms can pick up to four hotels, and a Skipper booking agent will
negotiate deals at each on their behalf and email contracts to secure
the group rates.
10. Google Drive Best for keeping your crew informed and on point
Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, photos — anything and everything
can be uploaded, stored, and shared in Drive for seamless viewing and
editing by anyone with a Gmail account. (So, anyone.) Want to pull up
your guest list, budget, vendor contacts, or décor inspo during a venue
walk-through? The mobile app is there in a pinch. Need to share
important dates with your fiancé, parents, and planner? The hub links
directly to Gcal — so no one gets to complain about being out of the
11. Trello Best for anyone who loves a to-do list more than life itself
Forget that massive notebook; organize your entire wedding on Trello's virtual
pin board. Line up each "card" in a column (which you can name for a
category like Venue or Photography), and drag and drop as the task is
completed or pushed back. You can attach photos (place-setting mock-ups)
or documents (final contracts for review) to cards, then give them
color-coded labels — to indicate things like "vendor paid" or "follow up
later" — and set deadlines, which the auto-generated email reminders
will help you hit.
12. Zola Best for registering for what you really want
We love a blender as much as any kale-juice-obsessed bride-to-be, and
Zola has that standard department-store stuff, like Matouk bedding and
Waterford-crystal stemware. But you can also request specialty goods,
like a Sonos sound system or a BioLite camp stove, or set up a honeymoon
or charity cash fund. Bonuses: Guests can easily go in on pricier items
together with group gifting, and you also get 10 percent off all items
on the site for up to one year after your wedding date.
13. Newlywish Best for registering for experiences
Kitchen already stocked up? Check out Newlywish, where you'll find an
incredibly diverse list of registry activities. Dance lessons, cooking
classes, massages, concert tickets, sporting events — the list goes on
and way on. You can even register for interior-
design consultations and OpenTable gift cards.
14. Tendr Best for getting cash,the classy way
What to do if you'd rather get money toward a down payment than gifts?
Register on Tendr, which lets guests electronically send funds (by wire
transfer or credit card). You can specify where the cash will be
allocated, and it's delivered via beautiful artist-designed e-cards.
15. Amazon Best for a registry that's as easy for guests as it is for you
If you've been saving items to an Amazon Wish List, it will be easier
than ever to get started on the mega e-tailer's new registry site. All
the staples are there (KitchenAid appliances, Le Creuset cookware), plus
spruced-up sections like a list of the top 100 most popular items,
curated lifestyle collections (minimalists will flock to the
Scandinavian-inspired edit), and "boutiques" for products by Jonathan
Adler, Michael C. Fina, and the MoMA Design Store (a.k.a. Narnia for
cool kids). It's also a gift for your guests, since most just have to
log in to shop.
16. Vensette Best for on-demand beauty
Have the experts come to you with this VIP beauty
booking app. Reach out at least three months before your wedding to
book a custom package (from $200) that includes two trials and day-of
hair and makeup by editorial-worthy artists (currently available in
cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami, plus
wedding hot spots like the Hamptons, Napa Valley, Palm Springs, and Palm
Beach). Pick pros who fit your price and style, and they'll show up at
the time and location of your choosing, making it easier than ever to
find a crack team for your engagement photos, shower, bachelorette, and
17. Weddington Way Best for crowd sourcing bridesmaids' dresses
Need to rally your girls from coast to coast? Skip the stress (and the
travel) of a group shopping trip with Weddington Way, which lets you
browse styles using a variety of filters (color, length, body type,
price) and share and comment on selections in a virtual showroom. Plus
the site has more than just bridesmaids' get-ups: You can find attire for the groomsmen, flower girls, and yourself. (Check out the LWDs.)
18. AllSeated Best for nailing your venue layout
Having trouble visualizing how to organize tables at your reception?
Send AllSeated a photo of your venue and it will deliver a 3-D rendering
of the space so you can digitally arrange tables, chairs, bars, and
other furniture and assign place settings
as RSVPs roll in. Share the graphic with your vendors (caterer, rental
company, DJ) to make sure the room is set up right — because there's
always that one cousin who shouldn't be within arm's length of the bar.
19. Postable Best for painless thank-yous
You're back from the honeymoon, convinced the stresses of planning are behind you. Not so fast. It's time for thank-you notes.
If you just can't even, try Postable: Choose a design, type a heartfelt
message, and add the recipient's address (manually or imported from a
spreadsheet), and the site prints a card, puts it in an envelope, and
mails it ($3 each, plus postage). Will guests know you cheated? Likely
not; Postable uses "smart fonts," so repeat letters are slightly
different from one another. Handwritten cards are ideal, but our
etiquette experts sign off as long as each note is personalized.
Photo: Readyluck No one wants to seem like they're begging for gifts when they get
married, but that doesn't mean having an opportunity to stock (or
upgrade!) your home isn't welcome. And etiquette does state that
accepting an invitation to a wedding is a nearly-contractual agreement
to send a gift in return. So what happens if your wedding date has come
and gone, and there are guests you haven't received gifts from? Here's how our experts recommend handling it.
Tradition states that guests have up to a year to send a wedding
gift, but etiquette experts agree that wedding gifts should really be
sent within a few months of the wedding date, after which they cease to
really be gifts for the wedding. So, first things first, wait a month or
two before taking any action, because technically the guests in
question have some time!
Before you start calling people and asking where your gift is (which
would definitely make you look greedy instead of grateful), ask your
parents or a mutual friend to subtly do a little digging. Whether it's
having your mom excitedly let them know about your new address or a
friend bringing it up in the context of the next wedding you're all
attending together, this could either be good encouragement for the
guest to arrange to have something sent to you, or for the guest to
comment on the fact that they haven't received a thank you note — which
hopefully will inspire them to ask you if you got their gift so the two
of you can figure out what happened to it.
If you never hear anything and more than a few months have passed,
you'll unfortunately have to write this off as a loss, as you don't have
much recourse here. After all, they did take the time and spend the
money to come to your wedding, even if they did come empty-handed. Do
your best to forgive and forget, send them a thank you note thanking
them for their presence on your big day, and remember that their
friendship is more valuable than a picture frame or some new dishes.
Having a toast at your wedding
is one of the most special and memorable moments of your reception.
It's a time when all of your guests can take a pause from eating dinner
or from breaking it down on the dance floor, to cheers to you and the
love of your life, wishing you a strong future of health and happiness.
It's one of the most engaging and special moments of the evening. That's
why it's usually christened with some bubbly. But if champagne isn't
your thing or you're looking to make your wedding as personalized as possible, it's okay to skip the champagne toast. Looking for a champagne alternative? Here, four ideas you and your guests love.
1. Your Favorite Shot
If there's a specific liquor that you adore, you can have that poured
into mini shot glasses for your guests to toast with. Just know that not
everyone may be up for taking a shot.
2. A Signature Cocktail
If you've invested time into thinking about a signature cocktail
that you'd like to have at your wedding, you can tell guests that's
what they should fill their glasses with for the toast. This will be
more personal for your reception and for the toast.
3. A Non-Alcoholic Beverage
If you're not a big drinker or you have a lot of younger guests at your wedding and you want to get them involved, you can skip the alcohol
and have your caterer make a beverage that's fun for everyone to drink.
Maybe it's your favorite kind of soda or something old school like a
4. A Non Traditional Toast
Skip the toast all together and have all your guests meet you on the
dance floor for a moment of everyone getting down to your favorite song.
Sometimes this is an even more fun way to have your guests celebrate you with well wishes.
We like to think our besties will make the perfect bridesmaids.
But as these brides reveal, they can seriously get on your nerves.
Here, they share their biggest pet peeves from their bridesmaids on or
around the big day.
"I asked all of my nine bridesmaids to wear silver shoes
and one of them showed up in black. I know, I know, not
earth-shattering, but I was still kind of annoyed since they wore short
dresses and her shoes stuck out in photos. I've always wondered if she
forgot or just decided the heck with it. I'm like most women and am
super passive-aggressive, so I'm sure I'll never have the guts to ask." — Jeannie
"Taking on the posture that it is your wedding and not of mine. It is
one thing to be supportive, share tips, and opinions. But it is a whole
different ball game to attempt to take over. I am all on board for
hearing and taking advice, but don't be so overbearing to the point
where you make the person feel like it's not just a suggestion but a
mandate or command. It's only one big day and it's mine, so stand by my
side, not in front of me. And when it's your time, I'll do the same." — Chantay
"I'm recently married,
and I would say my biggest pet peeve is bridesmaids who don't realize
their role in helping you plan the big day. We're so excited you will be
standing next to us on our big day, but we're not just asking you to
put on a dress and show up at the wedding. Planning the big day takes an
army, and part of being a bridesmaid is being a part of the planning
committee. There are so many elements that go into the big day, and
trust me, your bride would really appreciate if you offer to help and
roll your sleeves up. Planning a wedding is a lot of work and super
stressful. That's why she needs your support in the days leading up to
the wedding." — Diana
"My biggest pet peeve was with my sister-in-law
complaining about paying for her bridesmaid's dress. Part of the
problem was that the dress was multi-colored, which was symbolic for
both the groom and me but which also meant she was unlikely to ever wear
the dress again. Another part of the problem was we had only met once,
and she was a newlywed and recent college graduate, so money was tight
for her. I think we paid for her dress or offered to. We finally have a
functioning relationship, but it has taken a very long time." — Ruth
A Pennsylvania bride who
lost her father to tragedy 10 years ago found herself walking down the
aisle with the man who received his heart.
Jeni Stepien was unable to hold back tears when she embraced Arthur
Thomas for the first time Friday and felt her father’s heart beating
“Can you feel it?” Thomas asked her in a video taken by Pittsburgh TV station KDKA. She tearfully held his wrist and chest and quietly nodded.
Stepien’s father, Michael Stepien, was killed in a 2006 robbery when
she was 23. After he spent 24 hours on life support, the family accepted
the inevitable and donated his organs, Stepien told The Huffington
At that time, Thomas, who
Stepien’s family calls “Tom,” had been waiting nearly 10 years for a
heart transplant at his home in New Jersey.
“He was going to die if he did not receive a new heart in the next
several days,” Stepien told HuffPost via email Sunday. “Tom received my
father’s heart within the next 48 hours.”
The Christmas following his transplant he wrote to Stepien’s family thanking them for what they had done.
The families kept in touch through letters and phone calls over the
years but it wasn’t until they started planning Jeni Stepien’s wedding
that she saw the perfect chance for them to meet.
“When my fiancé proposed, one of the first things I thought of was
‘but who will walk me down the aisle?’ I could think of nobody more
meaningful than Tom,” she said. “My fiancé suggested I write him a
letter; that way Tom would feel in no way obligated or pressured by my
A few days after sending the
letter she got a phone call, she said. Tom’s answer was yes. She met
him for the first time on Friday.
“Meeting Tom was so incredible!” she said. “He is such a gracious and
kind-hearted man. You could tell he was so thankful for his life, and
that radiated from him.”
The decision to invite Thomas brought joy to her entire family, Stepien added.
“My mother was very touched by the idea also and thought it was a
very appropriate gesture to honor my father. I knew how important it
would be for her and my sister to receive this piece of closure by
finally meeting Tom as well,” she said.
“I wanted to make the day special for everyone, not just for myself.”
In sharing her story, Stepien said she hopes it sends a message to others: Organ donors do matter.
“Organ donation can provide an opportunity for a second chance at
life. It is an exceptional gift, one that is selfless and generous, and
always appreciated by the recipient,” she said. “We were able to see how
wonderfully Tom was progressing all of these years, simply thriving,
and [that] in turn, helped us with our own grief.”
Want to ensure your best friends still love you after the wedding? Here's your to-do list.
1. Realize They Have a Life Outside of Your Wedding
Photo by Lauren Fair Photography
Sure, they've received the honorable
title "bridesmaid," but that doesn't mean your best friends can ignore
their other real-world titles, and neither should you. Be mindful of
their schedules when deciding whom to ask to tag along to your dress
fitting or to an appointment with your florist. For example, don't
schedule something for 10 a.m. on a Tuesday if you know it'll be a pain
for your maid of honor to make it. If it's truly important to you for
her to be there, find out what days are easiest for her to take a long
lunch or leave work a little early. And be mindful of your tone -- ask
them nicely (don't tell them) to be there. Hopefully, they'll make an
effort to attend activities when they can.
2. Ask Them What They Want to Wear
Photo by Jocelyn Filley Photography
Even if you have a super-specific vision
for the bridesmaid dresses, ask them for their input, and be open-minded
to letting them wear styles that will fit their body types. You don't
have to give them free rein to buy any dress in the store, but schedule a
group outing where they can try on different styles, or have them send
you pictures of dresses they think would look good on them. Trust us --
your girls will look great together in photos if they feel great.
3. Give Them Some Direction
Photo by Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography
If you prefer to take a more laid-back approach to their looks, give
them a few hints about the style you have in mind for the wedding, or at
least about what your dress will look like, so they have a starting
point. Dealing with your bridesmaids is a balancing act. While you don't
want to tell them they all have to wear the same strapless gown, you
can't just say, "Wear anything you want," and call it a day. They want
to look good together in your wedding photos, so help them however you
can. Give them a paint swatch from the local hardware store, send them
an inspiration board or buy them all the same statement necklace.
4. Make Them Feel Special
Photo by June Bug Company
Your bridesmaids are likely putting time,
effort and money into your wedding, and chances are, they've been
looking forward to it as much as you have. Make them feel more like your
VIPs (and less like your indentured servants) by making a solid effort
to recognize them. Call them out on your wedding website, along with
photos (or videos) and a little info about how you know each other. Also
include their names in the ceremony program and give them a plus-one,
no matter what. Even if they're not in a long-term relationship, it's
important they be allowed to bring a date.
5. Help Them Get to Know One Another
Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
The people you ask to be in your bridal
party may all be special to you, but they might not all be special to
one another. One or two wedding-chatter-free chances to hang out will,
hopefully, get everyone feeling friendly and make the actual
wedding-related activities more fun for all. As the bride (read: the
glue holding this group of girls together), it's your job to encourage
them to hang out and get along.
6. Keep Track of How Much They're Spending
Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography
You're planning this shindig, or you're at least fairly involved in how
much it's costing, so it's easy to get wrapped up in how much you're
spending without realizing the amount of cash everyone else is dishing
out. If you've been a bridesmaid before, you're familiar with how
quickly it all adds up -- the dress, the accessories, the shower and
wedding gifts, the bachelorette party and travel expenses are only the
basics. Do what you can to keep costs manageable, whether you look for
less expensive dresses or help them find affordable flights and hotels.
And remember: If you're requiring your bridesmaids to get their hair and
makeup done, it's pretty much a given you'll be the one paying.
7. Let Them Know What You Expect
Photo by Look Wedding Photography
Don't assume your girls know everything
about being a bridesmaid. Even if they do, it's good to be clear about,
for example, who will order the bridesmaid dresses. Will you all order
them together in store, or will each person be responsible for placing
her own order online? Ask in advance if you're hoping they can help you
assemble the ceremony programs instead of calling them the night before
you really have to get the job done. Also, put them on the same page
with your family and your groom's family in terms of big events, like
the shower, to avoid any unnecessary conflict.
8. Divvy Up the Duties
Photo by W&E Photographie
Take some pressure off your bridesmaids by coming up with a mental list
of friends and family you can rely on for extra help during crunch time.
Maybe your mom or aunts are crafty and would actually love to help you
package all of the favors. Think about the little last-minute to-dos
ahead of time before you lock your bridesmaids into helping you with
every single project.
9. Keep the Meltdowns to a Minimum
Photo by Kallima Photography
The occasional bridal breakdown is
inevitable – your bridesmaids are pretty much counting on it. So don’t
think twice if, during a particularly stressful week, you cry over
boutonnieres or lose your cool over favors – it’s par for the course.
Just try to keep the bridezilla moments in check, okay?
10. Give (and Receive) Graciously
Photo by Jeff Wojtaszek Photography
You pictured an elegant afternoon tea;
instead, there’s bridal shower bingo and mini hot dogs. You imagined a
spa-day bachelorette; instead, you got a night of pole dancing in a
strip club. It might be tough sometimes, but you’ve got to smile and say
"thank you." They've worked hard to organize a nice event for you, so
appreciate what they come up with, even if it's not exactly what you had
11. Talk to Them About Normal (Read: Non-Wedding) Stuff
Photo by Abby Fox Photography
Plain and simple, be a good friend. With
the wedding at the top of your mind, it'll be easy to spin any
conversation straight into planning talk. Make a conscious effort to ask
your girls about what's going on in their lives and to remember when
they have a big meeting or final exam, or a date with a new guy. First
and foremost, they're your friends -- treat them that way!
12. Say "Thank You"
Photo by Erin Samuell
You don't have to spend a fortune on bridesmaid gifts to show how
grateful you are. Just make them meaningful and remember to write
something nice in the card! Instead of waiting until the last minute and
scrambling to find something, put serious thought into what you think
each of your girls could use. If you love the idea of gifting them
jewelry to wear at the wedding, consider buying different statement
pieces that will make each outfit unique (and that they'll want to keep
wearing after the wedding). Or go outside-the-box. Think: a gift
certificate to a new restaurant for your foodie friend or kickboxing
classes for your fitness buff bridesmaid.
So much happens during those first few months of wedding planning, from choosing a venue to putting together the guest list to designing invitations. And especially when a couple is on a shorter planning timeline,
it can feel like decisions need to be made IMMEDIATELY. When it comes
to guest lists, there can be a lot more politics and emotions involved
than you would expect, making deciding who to send invitations to a
drawn out conversation. Can you cut yourself a break by sending a
smaller number of save the dates, then finalizing who gets an invitation
later? Our experts weigh in.
The great answer is, yes! You can definitely add guests to your
invitation list after you've sent out save the dates. This is great if
you're still finalizing your guest count, or are trying to figure out if
you'll invite second cousins as well as your college soccer team.
Simply make a list of guests you 100% know you'll invite (most likely
your families and closest friends) and send them a save the date so they
can start reserving hotel rooms and booking flights, then spend that
extra month or so deciding who else will be getting an invitation.
Worried that guests who didn't get a save the date will think they
weren't invited at all? The best way to field questions about your guest
list is to respond by saying that you're still finalizing the details.
If it's someone who you've decided will definitely, without question be
receiving an invitation, you can let them know that they'll be in the
The big no-no? Doing the opposite and sending a save the date and not
following up with an invitation. If you ask someone to save the date
for your wedding, you must send this person an invitation to
your wedding, whether you're not as close as you used to be or you are
wishing you'd cut the guest list down further.
Every couple is different. While your perfect date night out
might be a raucous night on the town, that could be another
Netflix-loving couple's nightmare. But no matter your personal tastes
and past times, our experts say that the happiest couples do these things every day.
1. They have leaving and coming back together rituals.
According to Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint For A Lasting Marriage,
research supports the idea that couples who have a ritual of greeting
and leaving one another — whether that's when they first wake up or when
they head off to work — have happier relationships. Why? "Because you
are making a conscious effort to seek each other out," Doares says.
"These times aren't taken for granted but intentionally acknowledged."
2. They touch base throughout the day.
Couples who keep in contact also keep one another's spirits up, says psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman.
"That means touching base throughout the day by phone, text, or email
just to say hi, tell one another you're thinking about the other, or to
check in about your plans for the evening," she says. "How nice it is to
know we are a priority to our partner — even when we are apart."
3. They have uninterrupted one-on-one time together.
And not just for a few seconds. The happiest couples soak up quality
time for no less than 15 minutes each day, Doares says. "When you are focused on each other
for more than a few minutes, you get past informational exchanges and
can engage in deeper conversations that create connection," she
explains. "Making this time a priority that isn't competing with
children, text messages, TV, or emails shows how important nurturing
your relationship is."
4. They share a laugh.
Happy couples get their giggle on whenever they can. Perhaps you spot
something seriously funny on the sidewalk and snap a photo for your
spouse, or you make a habit of sending one another corny jokes as a way
to break up an otherwise boring day. "The point is, something makes you
laugh and you want to share this with your partner," explains Coleman.
"A shared sense of humor is an important part of relationship
5. They give each other at least one sincere compliment.
The happiest couples make a habit of making one another feel good. Why?
Because regular compliments will do more than give you love a confidence
boost. "The time you spend identifying something positive your partner
does keeps you learning about them and really noticing what they bring
to your life," says Doares. "It keeps the negativity that is so
destructive to relationships at bay. And, it also keeps you from taking
those positives for granted."
6. They tell each other "I love you" in the love language of choice.
There are many ways to make people feel loved, from quality time to
buying gifts. The happiest couples understand their partners' love
languages and speak them. "Some people like to hear words, others
appreciate acts of service, while others need a hug or kiss to feel
loved," says Doares. "Learning your partner's love language and speaking
it daily leaves no doubt about how you each feel about the other. It
also shows a willingness to go out of your comfort zone to let them know
how you feel in a way they best understand."
7. They go to bed at the same time if possible.
Finally, says Doares, "settling in together at the end of the day is a great way to increase intimacy — and not just sex.
Your last words and thoughts will be with each other and this is can
increase your sense of security with each other. And, yes, it will
increase the chance of being physically intimate with each other as well
— and that is almost always good for your relationship."
The excitement of opening a gorgeously printed and packaged wedding invitation
can soon turn into panic and fear once you read the words "black tie."
Can I still wear a short dress? Does this mean my date has to buy a
tuxedo? What type of venue must this be? Fear not! We're here to help as
we break down the general etiquette
of what exactly you can wear to a black-tie wedding — and explain all
the variations on the dress code, too. Just for good measure.
This is for sure going to be a glam night, so get excited to look
fabulous. For the ladies, this type of language on an invitation means
to pull out all the stops. A common misconception means that you must
wear a gown — but not necessarily. A chic, fancy and black-tie appropriate (glitzy, formal, embellished, etc.) cocktail length dress can be just as chic, and fit within the dress code.
Traditionally, for the guys, this does mean a tuxedo with a variation
of a black tie. However, a nice (black, obvs.) constructed suit with the
obvious black tie can work — as we all know not everyone has tuxedos
and gowns lying around in their closets.
Black Tie Optional
This type of request on an invitation leaves the door a bit more open
for guests' dress, and we think it's always best to err on the side of
caution in this situation. For those looking to glam it up, dress your
best in accordance with black tie etiquette. For those a bit more
casual, dress up your date in his best suit and put on your best dress,
without the "limitations" of a strict black tie preference. Keep in
mind, though, that traditionally speaking the black tie optional request
technically applies to the guys, while the ladies are still held to the black tie guidelines.
However, as with any formal affair, steer clear of the most casual
options including sundresses, sandals, printed shirts, etc.
Creative Black Tie
Chances are you may never see this on an invitation, as it is rarely
used within current wedding culture — but it's always best to be
prepared. (Girl Scouts code, anyone?) In the event you find yourself in
this situation, have fun with it! Creative Black Tie requests mean that
the men can have some fun with their tuxedo accessories
and add pops of color, prints, and more to their ties, suspenders, and
shirts. For the ladies, it's time to glam up your black tie attire with
statement jewelry, printed or colored scarves and shawls, and more.
Think: fancy and fabulous.
It's the year 2016, and everyone knows that wedding guests are using
their phones during weddings. But if you're worried that your guests
will be staring down their phones the whole time and not enjoying the
moment, you may want to create a social media rule to prohibit cell
phone use. Whether it's because guests are Snapchatting or playing
PokémonGo, it can be very intrusive and cause some to not be able to
enjoy your special moment "in 3D." To spread that message without making guests angry or upset, here are five polite ways to tell your guests to put their phones away on your big day.
Make It Funny
Send out a GIF or a funny slideshow
of wedding social media fails and explain that you don't want these to
happen at your wedding. It'll give your guests a laugh and be something
that is memorable yet endearing. Chances are when they try to post a
photo on Instagram as you're walking down the aisle, they'll remember your funny .
Ask Them Early On
Put a note in the invitation
so that your guests know ahead of time that you're having a social
media-free wedding. That way, they won't be shocked or surprised on the
Give Them an Incentive to Be Phone-Free
Let them know all the cool things at your wedding they can do when they
aren't wasting time scrolling through Facebook during the reception.
Maybe you're having a ice cream sundae bar or a photo booth — let them know of all the fun that is to come.
Pin Up a Sign When They Walk In
A small sign placed strategically at the entrance of your ceremony area
is an easy and efficient way to spread the message before the wedding
begins. Guests will all see the sign at the same time, and it will serve
as a friendly reminder to keep their phones off.
Have the Officiant Give a Reminder
Before you walk down the aisle, ask the person officiating your ceremony to make a statement about refraining from posting on social media during the ceremony.
Wedding dress codes are complicated
for everyone, including the bride and groom. You know not to shop for
super-formal ball gowns for your beach wedding, and there are some groom
looks that are more appropriate for a daytime celebration than an
evening in a ballroom. But cocktail attire? That's a gray area that's often open to interpretation
(and input from the type of venue and season you've chosen). So even if
your wedding is cocktail attire, is it okay for the groom to wear a
tux? Our experts weigh in.
While tuxedos are usually reserved for black tie events, if your
wedding dress code is "cocktail attire" but will run on the dressier
side, your groom should be able to pull off a tux. You have a few
options for keeping his look from appearing as though he's dressed for a
different event entirely.
The first option is to have the groomsmen wear suits that are the
same color as the groom's tuxedo (most likely black). By having them
dress down slightly while still matching, he'll stand out as the man of
the hour, whereas an entire wedding party in formalwear could make
guests feel underdressed.
Another choice is to have him wear a non-traditional tuxedo. Navy
blue tuxes are all the rage, and look sharp with black lapels and a
black bowtie. He could wear a full navy blue tux, or black pants with a
navy tuxedo jacket. Tuxedos also come in charcoal gray, which are a
modern option that's a little more casual.
And of course, remember that it's your wedding! If the two of you
want to dress a little more formal (and it fits with your theme and your
venue), by all means, go for it! No one will fault a bride or groom for
wanting to dress up on their wedding day.
Everything’s coming up roses for Kornelius Bascombe and his new fiancée Rachel Jordan.
On July 23, Bascombe popped the question
to Jordan, his girlfriend of four years, atop the Citibank building in
Los Angeles. At first, Jordan thought she was there for a romantic
couple’s photo shoot. But what her boyfriend had in store was even more
romantic ― a proposal he had been saving up for for three years. During a
special shot with rose petals, while Jordan’s back turned towards him,
Bascombe got down on one knee.
“She turned around, threw the flowers in the air and my heart
dropped,” Bascombe told The Huffington Post. “It was such an amazing
moment because all I could do was think about how much I loved her and
how much she meant to me.”
“It would mean so much to me
if you spent the rest of your life with me,” he told her in the video.
“I know you’ll make a great wife and an even better mother.”
Jordan accepted the proposal, of course. Then an elated Bascombe
screamed at the top of his lungs, “She said, ‘Yes!!!’” and literally
swept his bride-to-be off her feet.
Jordan told ABC News that she is still in shock about the swoon-worthy proposal.
“But the great thing about him is [that] he shows me that level of love every day,” she said. “He makes me a very lucky woman.”
Afterwards, the couple took a helicopter tour over downtown L.A.,
dined at a rooftop restaurant and went out dancing with friends.
The pair first met at a pep rally at North Carolina State University in 2010.
“A lasting relationship doesn’t happen overnight,” Bascombe told
HuffPost. “It takes obstacles and challenges to strengthen a
relationship, and I believe the things that we’ve been through as a unit
have prepared us for life together.”
Wishing these two many more wonderful years together!
Hosting a tented wedding reception?
Bring the outdoors in by decorating your tent with beautiful trees and
branches. Doing so will help the tent seamlessly blend into its outdoor
surroundings. Plus, filling the space with elegant, towering trees is a great way to emphasize the tent's height. Here are six of the most stunning takes on this back-to-nature-inspired idea.
Trees in Planter Boxes (above): Help create a focal point in the tent by flanking the dance floor or bar with live trees in clean, white planter boxes.
Woodsy Setting: Create a magical woodland setting
within your tent by adding faux tree trunks to obscure the poles. This
couple's event designer then attached real tree branches to the poles
and added twinkly lights.
Setting a wedding budget can be one of the most stressful parts of the wedding adventure. Once money comes into play, the idea of your dream wedding
goes from large scale to practically impossible. Wondering where you
should splurge and what you should skip to save some cash? Here are 6
things worth splurging on for your wedding. 1. Live Music
Whether it's a professional band, a local jazz band, or even friends who
play instruments, having live music on deck at your wedding is a
guaranteed way to get the party started and have it flowing through the
night. Live music is quite the hefty price tag upgrade from a DJ, but it
may be worth it to go live for an hour or two during your wedding or
even cocktail hour.
2. An Interactive Photo Booth
Most of your guests may be too busy or occupied to pull out their phones
and snap photos. Have a photo booth option where guests can get a photo
to take home with them at the end of the night and post on social
3. Welcome Guest Bags
What better way to welcome guests to your wedding than with awesome
treat bags? Invest in these and give guests items they'll use throughout
the wedding: Advil, candy, water, and snacks, lots and lots of snacks.
4. Late Night Snacks
Your guests will thank you for this (and you'll be happy too, trust us).
At around midnight, have some finger foods or even delivered pizza for
guests to munch on before they call It a night. 5. Rides Home
Your guests may have found their own ride to your venue, but most will
be too tired or even unable to drive home at night. Have options for
paid-for transportation, whether that's a bus or an on-call taxi service
guests can use. 6. Yum-worthy Food
One of the most memorable parts of any wedding is the food. Splurge on
good quality and tasty food. Your guests won't stop talking about this
for months and even years after your wedding.
Decrease in your sex drive? There are myriad reasons why your desire to get down may be slowing down, says Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., sex expert and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive,
and many of them include unintentionally sabotaging it yourself. Here
are seven ways you might be, and how you can get back on a sexy track. 1. You're taking the wrong birth control pill.
By now you know that the pill works to prevent pregnancy, and it does so
with a cocktail of hormones that stop ovulation. But those same
hormones can upset your already delicate hormone balance, "which affects
everything from her moods, to her sex drive, to who she finds
attractive," Castellanos warns. "Some women find that their libido
crashes and they have a difficult time getting back that same intense
sensation that they had before they started the pill." If you've
recently begun taking the pill and experienced a dip in your sex drive,
it could be time to talk to your doctor about making a switch to a
different formula or another kind of birth control.
2. You think something is wrong with your body.
According to Gloria Brame, Ph.D., sexologist and author of The Truth About Sex: A Sex Primer For The 21st Century,
shame over our sexuality and our bodies can impair our ability to
experience pleasure. For example, "women who worry their vaginas are
smelly or otherwise unpleasant can sabotage their potential for pleasure
in bed by rejecting oral sex or preventing their partners from spending
time on the foreplay, which would help them receive more joy," she
says. "Learning to love your body is key to enjoying all the pleasure it
can bring you."
3. Your body is in survival mode.
"If you are routinely stressed out
at work, find that you have no time to work out, and stay up late
answering emails or watching Netflix, that may be enough to throw the
body into survival mode," says Castellanos. And there's no room for sex
when you're in survival mode. "Once this happens, the body tries to keep
its resources by slowing down your metabolism, takes your muscle mass
but keeps fat tissue, and decreases your sex hormones so that you can
rest. Too often people take for granted that their body can adjust and
compensate for this, until they crash." Get your body and libido back on
track by finding time for some serious R&R.
4. You can't admit there's a problem.
The first way to fix any problem is admitting one exists. Yet Brame says
some women endure vaginal pain, dryness, discomfort, or dulled
sensation — whether from childbirth or medications — without ever
acknowledging it. "These are common issues," she says, "but women are
often too embarrassed to tell their doctors, who might have safe
remedies." If you're experiencing anything less than pleasure before or
during sex, consider consulting with your doctor.
5. You're vitamin deficient.
Popping daily vitamins won't just keep the common cold at bay.
Your testosterone and estrogen levels depend on your diet, says
Castellanos, "and another common cause of fizzling sex drive is
depriving the body of the necessary building blocks and nutritional
factors to carry out its complex processes." Vitamin B, Zinc, Selenium,
and Vitamin D are all essential for proper hormone production, so make
sure you're getting enough of each. Plus, Castellanos adds, "remember
that alcohol, sugar, and simple carbohydrates all increase the stress on
the body and deplete the body of these much-needed vitamins and
6. You think sex is the least important aspect of your marriage.
According to Brame, "the No. 1 way women sabotage their sex drives is
scheduling everything down to their toilet-paper buying and yet never
planning time for sex." Instead of scheduling sex, women often wait for
the mood to strike, "which is a sure way for busy career women and moms
to relegate sex to the bottom of their to-do lists," Brame says. "I tell
clients to add sexy time to their e-calendars, and base it on the
preferences they had before their lives got so busy. So, if they used to
like sex two to three times a week, they should try to stick to it,
even if there's only time for quickies. Some sex is better than no sex,
and quickies keep the intimacy and most importantly the habit of making
sex a priority in a marriage."
7. You're comparing yourself to others.
Whether it's your BFF dishing the details of her most recent hookup or
the steamy new miniseries you just started streaming, seeing how other
people's sex lives work can make you think yours is somehow lacking. "I
have seen so many women wonder why they don't get aroused as quickly as
they think they should, and I have to ask what has shaped their
expectations about what is normal in sexual behavior and response," says
Castellanos. Not everyone can get turned on as quickly as a TV star.
"For most women, a combination of both psychological and physical
arousal is what enhances their sexual experience and helps drive their
desire," she says.
First, choose a design. Opt for something that matches your
invitation and other paper goods for a cohesive look throughout your
celebration. You could go traditional with a single card or a folded
booklet, or get creative with something like program fans for an outdoor ceremony. Once you've picked your design, here's how easy it is to fill in the details:
Step One: Outline the Basics
Your programs should give guests information to guide them through your
ceremony. They all follow a similar structure, so begin with this
Your names, the date, and the location of your ceremony (either at the top or on the front cover)
A brief word of welcome, a blessing or prayer
An outline of the proceedings
The names of everyone participating in your ceremony
Step Two: Fill in the Details
When you're getting into the details, you can keep things more general
or get really specific. The proceedings could be straightforward
(Welcome, Readings, Exchange of Vows, The Kiss!) or go into detail about
the order of the processional, which readings are included, and any
additional blessings or unity rituals you're including. For a religious ceremony in particular,
you should include the names of any readings or songs that will be
included in the ceremony, with the optional addition of page numbers so
guests can follow along in the scripture.
When you're naming those participating in the ceremony, the
traditional format is as follows: The parents of the bride, the parents
of the groom, the bridesmaids and groomsmen (with the maid of honor and
best man listed first), the flower girl and ring bearer, ushers and
readers, and the officiant. If you are getting married by a religious
officiant or someone whose job enables them to perform a marriage (like a
judge), be sure to include their proper title (Father Michael Smith,
Rabbi Andrew Zimmerman or The Honorable Samuel Brown). You could also
list everyone's names in the order in which they'll walk down the aisle
so guests can follow along as each person appears.
Step Three: Include the Add-Ons
Of course, every wedding needs a few personal touches! A longer note to
guests or a note about the meaning of the venue will help further set
the scene. Having an unplugged ceremony? Put this information
front-and-center so the first thing your guests see is your request that
the put away their cameras and phones.
When you're naming your wedding party, consider adding a brief note
about how you know each person, whether the maid of honor is your sister
or the ring bearer is the groom's nephew.
While religious programs usually do include the names of all the
readings, it's not required for secular weddings — though it is a nice
addition. Include the title of the reading, the author, and the name of
the person who will be reading it.
If you're having a multicultural wedding or including traditions
guests might not be familiar with, your program is a great place to
include some explanations, whether it's the symbolism of the chuppah or
the meaning of the Filipino veil and cord.
And if there are people who have passed away who you would like to honor,
include a note at the end of the program acknowledging their absence.
You could specify particular names, or leave this as a more general note
in honor of the people who can't be with you to celebrate.
Lastly, if your ceremony and reception are in two different
locations, you may want to include the name and address of your
reception venue and the reception start time so guests know where to head after your first kiss (and what time to get there!).
Not sure how to ring in your first-year anniversary? Take a nod from these seven men and women, who celebrated the occasion in unique ways.
"We spent a lovely week in a mountain cottage, just the two of us,
far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. What we gave each other
was a time. We had time to talk, have fun, and spend valuable time
together." — Karolina
"On our first wedding anniversary, we went to Niagara Falls in
Canada. I brought a piece of our wedding cake to enjoy. We went out to
dinner at the Skylon Tower — the view was amazing, and we tried escargot
for the first time. We have celebrated many relationship anniversaries,
but this one was very different. It was special because we were
officially husband and wife. It is a feeling that is hard to describe
but I won't ever forget it." — Felicia
"Our first wedding anniversary celebration was actually our honeymoon
and it was absolutely fabulous. When my wife and I decided to tie the
knot, I was finishing up my undergraduate degree and couldn't find the
time between classes to get away for our honeymoon. Once we were able to
schedule our honeymoon, we took an entire month and visited England,
France, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa." — Antonio
"The day before our anniversary, I took a pregnancy test
and found out we were expecting. I filled his underwear drawer full of
diapers and wrote on one with a sharpie, 'ready or not daddy, here I
come!' And on our actual wedding anniversary, we took the top of our
cake to my in-laws' house to eat after dinner. I insisted my mother-in-law
open it because I had another diaper with a note sitting on top of the
cake. She opened it and let out an excited squeal, and then immediately
started bawling and hugging every one." — Gabby
"We had a second wedding!
Our first official wedding ... was very small and intimate, and none of
my family was able to make it. We decided to wait until our one-year
anniversary to host a much bigger wedding for my friends and family to
participate. The hard part was already over, so this wedding was just a
big party for our friends and family to get together and celebrate our
love. It was great having the white wedding I had always dreamed of,
surrounded by all of my loved ones." — Lisa
"I spent our first wedding anniversary in bed with our week-old
newborn daughter. I had completely forgotten about our anniversary until
my husband walked in with a card and book, and smiled, saying, 'happy
anniversary.' I spent the rest of the day finding him a great card and
anniversary gift. He never lets me forgot the look of horror I had on my
face for forgetting our first anniversary. We laugh about it each
year." — Stacy
"My sweet husband surprised me with a long weekend in Iceland for our
first anniversary and birthdays. I was beyond excited to put my
passport with my new last name to use. We spent the first day driving
the Golden Circle, a beautiful day trip seeing some of Iceland's most
beautiful sights, waterfalls and geysers. We explored Reykjavik the next
two days, ate some deliciously fresh seafood, and visited the local
shops and restaurants. On our final full day, we relaxed and reflected
on our trip at the Blue Lagoon, a geothermic spa, with the help of a
glass of wine and a face mask." — Kristen