Thursday, February 11, 2016

2/11...... 31

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'coz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

Happy Birthday Baby.... I Love You! 


 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 Gift Ideas to Give Your Groom on Your Wedding Day

Right before you take your first few steps down the aisle and give the love of your life your first kiss toward a forever future together, it's customary to give a little something on the morning of the wedding. Whether the gift has a special meaning or is something that will make him laugh out loud, we have you covered with five our favorite gift ideas to put together and wrap up for your groom on your wedding day.

1. A handwritten letter
This is a simple gift you can give and something that often has the most meaning and value. Spend some time before the wedding writing a letter to your groom that covers the span of your relationship. Add in their funny moments along and the way and even insightful things, for example, a reminder of the first time you realized you were in love with him.

2. Something for the honeymoon
Whether you're going on a beach vacation or an adventure through the wilderness, the day of wedding gift can be a little something they can stick in their bag and pack with them on the wedding day. You can also plan an excursion for the honeymoon, which is sure to be fun for the both of you!

3. A post-wedding relaxation gift
Depending on their hobbies, maybe it's a massage or a golf day. This kind of present is great for the groom relax and recover after the hectic wedding weekend.

4. Something handmade
Add your personal touch with a gift that's handmade. Pull pictures or items you kept throughout your budding relationship, and create a photo album, scrapbook, or other keepsake. This kind of gift is one he is bound to save forever.

5. A laugh out loud present
Want to make him laugh the morning of the wedding? Take one of your longest standing inside jokes and turn it into a gift you can give him on the morning of — it's bound to be a hit.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How to Choose a Wedding Date that Works for Everyone


how to choose a wedding date that works for everyone
Photo: Minted
 
One of the hardest parts of planning a wedding is the very first thing you have to do after you're engaged: You have to choose a wedding date. While most of wedding planning is about you and your spouse-to-be, the date can get political (or emotional) quickly. Here's how to navigate a minefield of opinions and requests and come out on the other side relatively unscathed.

Your parents. Their parents. Siblings. Anyone you want to be in the wedding party. All of these people will expect to have a say in what date you choose for your wedding, and we haven't even started to talk about what the weather might be like in the part of the world you've chosen, or whether your dream wedding planner is free that weekend. Sorting through all of this information can be a daunting task, but if you break it down, you'll have a wedding date in no time.

Pick a season.
If you know you'll be getting married in a certain area, narrow down the season (ideally a 6-8 week period) when you'd like your date to be. Hoping to marry in the mountains? Avoid the muddy spring season and remember that it rains almost every afternoon through the summer. Dreaming of a ceremony on a Bahamian beach? Hurricane season is June through November, and March might leave you with a whole lot of spring-breaking onlookers.

Find out which dates won't work.
Call or email your VIPs and ask them to let you know which dates during your selected season are no-gos. Will your parents be travelling internationally? Does your fiancé's sister have final exams? Have everyone involved make a list of non-negotiable dates, as well as weekends where they have plans but are flexible about changing them. Don't forget to look at your own work and personal schedules so you're not saying "I Do" the same weekend as your college bestie.

Make a calendar.
Mark all of those unavailable weekends on a calendar, then put down the flexible ones in a different color. You now know which weekends you won't be getting married, which should hopefully leave you with a few options when everyone is available.

 Spread the word.
If you're left with a single date that's the best option, let everyone know before you contact any vendors. Ask your VIPs to save the date, but to also keep it to themselves until you've put together a guest list. You may want to pick at least one backup date, but keep that to yourselves unless something comes up.

Above all, be as diplomatic as possible. Don't take it personally if you'd always wanted to get married on Columbus Day Weekend but none of your family is free — that's why you're asking for their input in the first place! Take everyone's information into account and give them a chance to have an opinion, then make an informed decision so that everyone you really want to have by your side can be there with you to celebrate.

Monday, February 8, 2016

How to Change Your Last Name

You signed your marriage certificate with your new last name, but sorry to break it to you – your last name isn’t legally changed. We’ve simplified the steps and created the list below to help guide you along the process. However, the time commitment and confusion of changing your name can be overwhelming, but that’s why HitchSwitchwas created to help!

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1.    Marriage License
Once you file for your marriage license and complete the ceremony (YAY!) you’ll receive your certified marriage certificate, in the mail approximately 10 to 15 days after you wedding.

You need your marriage certificate in hand to complete the steps below.  

2.   Social Security
This is what HitchSwitch refers to as the “gateway step”. Visit the United States Social Security Administration website and complete the SS-5. HitchSwitch suggests you take the application to your local Social Security office, as the update happens within 24 hours. Alternately, please note that everything can be sent through the mail if so desired.

3.   Passport
There are a few different cases in changing your name on your passport and all the possible documents can be found on the U.S. Passport and International Travel pageon the Department of State website.

Use the…

DS-5504: If it is less than a year since you updated your Passport

DS-82: If it has been more than a year

DS- 11: If you are a first time applicant, or if your passport was lost, stolen, etc.

You’ll need a new passport photo (taken within the last 6 months) and must include it on your application when applying for a new or updated passport.

4.   Change Your Driver’s License
Head down to the local DMV with your new social security card, your old license, your certified marriage certificate, and anything else stated on the requirements from your state (found online).

5.    Everything else!
–       Credit Cards
–       Club Memberships
–       Address/Post Office
–       Utilities
–       Doctor’s Office
–       Alumni Associations
–       The List goes on!

Overwhelmed? Confused? Don’t know where to start? Simplify your name change and visit  HitchSwitch– they’ll be able to help!

Friday, February 5, 2016

The 16 Rules for Choosing a Wedding Venue (Yes, 16!)

wedding venues for every style
Photo: Laura and Gennia of Docuvitae
 
Your wedding date, your décor, your catering — they all depend on the space. To find yours, consider meaningful locations (have a favorite hotel or art museum?), like the best wedding venues in the U.S. or the most romantic spots to tie the knot around the world, as well as places and spaces to which you have emotional ties. When you've narrowed down some options and are ready to tour reception sites, keep these expert piece of advice, from planner Claire Bean, of Claire Bean Events, in mind.

1. Never visit more than three wedding venues in one day.
Or you'll experience sensory overload!

2. If you're having a religious ceremony, first reserve your house of worship.
Many have set ceremony times, which will dictate when your reception can start.

3. Exclude any place, however dreamy, that doesn't accommodate your head count.
Don't gamble on RSVPs lowering the final number. It never works!

4. Make a list of nonnegotiables.
Like, say, outdoor space — and avoid touring places that don't tick those boxes, advises Bean. Otherwise you risk falling in love and having to change your plans to make
it work.

5. If the majority of your friends and family are traveling, consider a central location.
A remote estate that's a four-hour drive from the airport can be tough for guests.

6. Hotels sometimes book more than one wedding per weekend.
Be sure to ask about overlapping events and how that could affect your bash.

7. Find out how the venue handles catering.
Is it done on site? If so, can you customize the menu? If not, can you hire anyone you like, or do you have to pick from a list of approved vendors? If you're a foodie, ask about the venue's tasting policy. You might be able to sample the cuisine for a fee that gets credited back if you book there; if not, seek out referrals from past clients.

8. Do you want to party all night long?
Many venues (especially those in residential areas) have a curfew or a maximum decibel level for music. Check before you book.

edding
9. Is your dream venue really on budget?
Before you sign that contract, make sure there aren't any hidden costs that will push you over your limit.

10. Is the site fee all-inclusive?
If not, you may have to shell out big-time for rentals (tables, chairs, china, flatware, et cetera). Ask if the total accounts for state tax and gratuity (known as a "plus plus").

11. If your ceremony is on site, you may be charged twice for setup.
Some venues double the fees for reception and ceremony prep, even if it's just to lay out chairs.

12. How much time is allowed for setup and tear down?
An hour of overtime can cost $1,000, according to Bean.

13. Check the power needs for a DJ or band.
If the site's supply isn't sufficient, you may have to rent a generator.

14. Will you need additional lighting?

15. Confirm the valet and security policy.
Venues can charge between $5 and $25 per car, while others tack on a flat fee, which could be several hundred dollars. (And don't forget tips— about $40 to $60 per attendant.)

16. Are there bathrooms there, or do you need to rent them?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

7 Genius Party-Snacking Tips for Brides

party-snacking tips for brides


Your engagement is such a social time— drinks with friends, engagement parties, tastings, and rehearsals. These strategies will help you navigate the buffet tables and bars without your dream dress fitting any differently.

1. Pregame before the party.
"Before you head to a cocktail and appetizer party, make yourself a small meal of protein and veggies to eat at home," suggests Carlene Thomas, RDN, author of The Wedding Wellness Workbook: Your Nutrition How-To Before "I Do." "You know there will be lots of starchy options being passed around when you get there!"

2. Wear bright lipstick.
"This sounds so weird, but I find that wearing lipstick makes me more aware of what and when I eat, since I don't want to smear it!" says Thomas. "When I'm wearing no lipstick I have nothing to be a barrier for mindless eating if there's a bowl of chips next to me."

3. Stick to bubbly.
Prosecco, champagne and other brut wines are lower in sugar and calories than other wines or mixed drinks, says registered dietitian Kate Scarlata, RDN, co-author of The 21-Day Tummy. Stay away from frozen or tropical-y drinks like mudslides, piña coladas, and daiquiris— they're packed with extra sugar (and therefore, calories). If you're not a fan of bubbly, "try a single shot of your favorite liquor with seltzer water (zero calories) and a squeeze of citrus or a sprig of rosemary or mint," suggests Thomas. If you're really focused on slimming down, stick to sipping seltzer with a lemon wedge. It tastes good and gives you something to do with your hands, without a hangover or the calories in booze.

4. Grab a small plate.
"Using a small plate and filling it just once is a good strategy," says Scarlata. Letting yourself have a full plate of nibbles (instead of trying not to snack at all, or going back to the table to pick at things over and over) will leave you satisfied, but not overfull.

5. Fill up on veggies.
Hit the crudité and fruit platter first. The more you fill up on fiber-rich carrots and celery (only 25 calories per cup), the less room there is for less-healthy finger foods like creamy dips and chips. "For a smart party plate, aim to make half your plate produce and half your plate lean protein," says Thomas.

6. Pick one: Drink or Dessert?
"If you're dining out frequently or attending a slew of parties, pick a cocktail or dessert to have that evening, not both," says Thomas. "If you're loving the champagne, say no thanks when dessert rolls out. Or if you're feeling dehydrated that day, stick with water with lemon and split a piece of cake with the husband-to-be."

7. Chat it up!
"Switch the focus of the food to the social aspects of the party. Try to spend more time talking than eating!" says Scarlata.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

BRIDES New York: 3 Things to Look for When Choosing Your Custom Wedding-Invitation Designer

Ceci Johnson Custom Wedding Invitation Tips
Photo: Courtesy of Ceci New York via Facebook
With Pinterest playing a huge role in wedding planning, it's easy to get dizzied by pin after pin of invitation designs... and even easier to crave something totally custom after seeing so many options!
We sat with couture NYC wedding stationery designer and expert Ceci Johnson, of Ceci New York, to chat about the overwhelming world of custom wedding invites — and how to make sure you pick the right design partner to suit your vision. Read on to learn Ceci's three point checklist for interviewing a custom invitation designer!
1. Design Capability
It's important that your designer is able to make your vision come to life. Do your research to be sure the designer's reputation and talent level is up to par with all you wish for your wedding. If you are truly looking for a couture experience, be sure that the designers are artists listening to you and creating from scratch, not just modifying templates. A custom experience should be just that — tailored perfectly to suit your individual style with no limits. Don't settle for anything less!

2. Quality
After you've worked so hard creating a custom design, you must ensure that your designer can deliver what they promised. "It's heartbreaking when I hear stories of clients that went elsewhere and were pitched one thing and then received something totally different — with errors, poor printing, or (even worse!) a product that was not delivered at all! I truly believe great design is only 50 percent of our job and the other 50 percent is execution and service. Ask what the designer's process is for quality checking orders," Ceci suggests. Your designer should be a perfectionist, double-checking each piece by hand to ensure each order is as promised.
See More: Still Cake-less? Browse Our NYC Cakes Page to Find Some Local Sweet Treats!

3. Experience
Consider how long the company has been in business before jumping headfirst into a contract or seeking out a less expensive option. You'll want to work with an established, reputable company that you are confident can bring your dreams to life (and will still be in business on your wedding date!). "With over eleven years in business, I'm proud that our clients know and trust our ability to manage both the big picture and all the tiny details," says Ceci.
From the etiquette and wording to design, printing and final delivery, there are so many parts that go into the process. "With all the time, effort and money you put into your wedding, it's worth it to find someone dependable, creative and with a sharp eye for detail to be sure it all comes together for you. Cutting corners, never works out in your favor."

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Guy’s Guide: 6 Gift Ideas for Your Groomsmen

real weddingTo switch things up today, I wanted to direct my focus on the guys. With everything on Perfect Wedding Guide being geared towards the ladies, it only made sense to give just a little bit of attention to the opposite sex… after all the wedding is their day too.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all received some pretty interesting and most often unusable gifts as a thank you for being a part of a wedding. Whether it be superhero socks or a pocket watch that no one in this century uses. Sadly they all end up sitting in drawer or being thrown out after the fact. To eliminate that, I’ve done some much needed research for you. I’ve asked numerous guys what kind of gifts they’ve received from being in weddings to see what they loved and what they loathed.
Across the board, the below ideas are the ones that they all loved and or wished they had received. To make life even easier, I’ve included where you can buy each item. So get ready to get all your groomsmen excited when you present them with one of these gifts!
1. YETI Products
The one brand that came out of everyones mouth was YETI. Now as a female I do not understand the excitement that comes with a fancy cooler, but after looking up the specific products that the guys talked about, I now get it. Anything Yeti can be a little pricer, but this is the one thing that will be used time and time again from your groomsmen. Consider YETI Coolers Rambler Colster Beer Insulators ($29.99 each) or YETI Rambler Drink Tumblers ($29.99 for 20oz or $39.99 for 30oz). Go one step further by getting any of the stainless steel products engraved for each groomsmen.
groomsmen gifts, yeti tumblers(Image from Pinterest)
2. Barware
Something that will never go out of style is barware, whether it be stainless steel flasks or beer steins and shot glasses. Similar to the YETI products, you can get them engraved with your groomsmens names, the date of the wedding or their nicknames. As an added bonus pick up mini bottles of their favorite liquor and mini Cokes to have one final toast as a single man.
groomsmen gifts, flasks for groomsmen(Image from First Pick Planning)
3. Watches
While asking the guys about gift ideas, I quickly learned that they are not as specific as us females. Particularly because the purchase of a watch was another standard thought among them all. When I select a watch, it takes time and lots of thought on whether or not it will match things I own, etc. But all the guys said that if it matched with their suit or tux, they could add it to their existing collection and would wear it often. So with that, consider picking up a nice watch for your groomsmen. Something like this JetMaster Silver-Tone Michael Kors watch ($154.88 on sale) or this Seiko Solar Sport ($180 on sale) or this Marc by Marc Jacobs Chronograph Dillon ($275 at Macy’s).
gifts for groomsmen, groomsmen matching watches(Image from Pinterest)
4. Cufflinks
Granted most men do not wear cufflinks on a daily basis, this is one gift idea that can be very nice to have. One of the guys recommended offering to buy the cuff links and having your groomsmen pick out their own. You can go novelty with it and get these Superhero Cufflinks ($165 for set of five) or get a little more personal with these Custom Groomsmen Cufflinks ($237.55 for set of five).
gifts for groomsmen, cufflinks(Image from Lavender Hill Weddings & Events)
5. Leather Wallet
Something that a gent can always use is a wallet. Unlike women’s handbags, you all sit on them and they get worn pretty quickly. Picking your boys up a nice leather wallet will be a great gesture that will be used until a new one is needed. Make it more personal by having their initials stitched on them. My personal favorites include this Slim Billfold ID wallet ($125 at COACH) and this Mitchell Leather Money Clip Billfold ($102 on sale at Jack Spade). Or perhaps your guys would prefer a money clip like the one in the image below from Miller’s Leather Shop ($24.95).
gift ideas for groomsmen, groomsmen gifts(Image from Miller’s Leather Shop)
6. Rent or Purchase
One of the more costly ideas would be to take care of the groomsmen’s attire. Whether you prefer to rent the tuxedos and suits or purchase them, picking up the tab for them is one grand gesture that will make all your boys grateful.
wedding blog, wedding ideas, what to wear to a wedding, menswear(Image from Pinterest)
If you are trying to stick to a smaller budget, consider one of these options as an alternative:
    -Fun socks
    -Handkerchiefs
    -Cigar or two
    -Bottle of their favorite liquor
    -Cool beer bottle openers
Keep in mind these are just the ideas I received from a group of gents I know. This may or may not be the mass consensus on the topic. One thing to keep in mind is your overall budget. Asking your best bros to stand next to you on your wedding day can be thank you enough. After all, it means they are the ones who are closest to you and have shared and experienced the most with you.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Renting vs. Buying: Your Guide to All Wedding Fashions

With stores like Rent the Runway and Adorn, its no wonder more and more women are renting for their wedding. The option can be great, but it can also be a bit stressful. I’ve put together a list of the different rentable items for your wedding. Take a look and see if the pros outweigh the cons.

Dresses
One item I would strongly recommend not renting is your wedding dress. Unless you are looking for something nontraditional, you need to suck it up and make that purchase. The reason dresses made this list is because there are many other people who will need dresses on your wedding day – your bridesmaids and the mothers. Instead of forcing your girls to buy a dress they will never wear again, they can rent. Consider using Rent the Runway or Vow to Be Chic for fabulous designer dresses that normally would cost a fortune to own, but are much more affordable to rent.
renting vs buying wedding, bridesmaid dresses, rent the runway(Award Winner Gown by Badgley Mischka on Rent the Runway, $70)
Pros
    -Bridesmaids will not be stuck with a dress they cannot wear again.
    -A lot of availability options in all colors.
    -Rent the Runway allows renters to order an extra size as a back-up.
    -Zero alteration costs.
Cons
    -May be hard to find the same dress for all your bridesmaids (especially if you have more than 6 girls)
    -Rent the Runway requires you to purchase insurance on the items.
    -You must spend time reading reviews to insure you order the right sizes.
Jewelry
Don’t have a family heirloom that can be passed down to you on your wedding day? Perhaps you don’t have the budget to buy that dreamy diamond or pearl necklace you’d love to showcase with your strapless gown. Let renting be an option. Similar to the dress, you can pick up designer jewelry from Rent the Runway for yourself and your bridesmaids. Another company to check out is Adorn.
wedding attire rented, renting vs buying(Lockwood Diamond Chandelier Earrings from Adorn, $210)
Pros
-Real stones and gems.
-Jewelry pieces are all inspected and cleaned before they are shipped to you.
– Easy returns after use.
Cons
    -Adorn can still seem costly.
    -There are late fees if you forget to send jewelry and accessories back.
Accessories
We’ve seen it on every episode of Say Yes to the Dress, the bride has the dress then you see the consultant ‘jack her up’ with the veil, a fancy belt and a hairpiece all so she says yes. What they forget to show you is how much each of those adds on are. A veil alone can cost $200. Rent the Runway offers an accessories department were you can get veils as low as $30 and belts with bling for $50.
Murphy_Cito_DannaFrostPhotography_mr0193_0_low(Dreamcatcher Veil by RTR Bridal, $40)
Pros
    -Saves you money.
    -You can go designer on a budget.
    -Pieces are inspected before shipment.
Cons
    -Rent the Runway does not have a ton of options.
    -If renting a veil, you will need to steam clean to remove creases.

Friday, January 29, 2016

20 Nontraditional Processional Songs for Your Wedding

processional songs

Can you imagine a wedding where the bride processes to the song “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC? Believe it or not, I once worked just such as wedding. Was the song choice an appropriate one? Not for most people. Do I still remember it many years later? Well, I think we’ve already answered that.
Are you thinking of processing down the aisle to something other than “Here Comes the Bride” or “Canon in D?” Here are some ideas for you:

1. “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban
2. “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” originally recorded by Elvis Presley
3. “Marry You” by Bruno Mars
4. “Reign of Love” by Coldplay
5. “When You Say Nothing at All” by Allison Kraus
6. “I Do” by Marie Digby
7. “Magic” by Colbie Caillat
8. “The Luckiest” by Ben Fold
9. “Love You Like That” by Canaan Smith
10. “Grow Old with Me” by John Lennon
11. “At Last” by Etta James
12. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
13. “One and Only” by Adele
14. “I Want You to Know” by Zedd and Selena Gomez
15. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
16. “I Choose You” by Sara Bareilles
17. “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri
18. “All I Want is You” by U2
19. “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison
20. “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by the Mamas and the Papas

Thursday, January 28, 2016

9 Things Every Father of the Bride Thinks

Your father has rejoiced in every other milestone in your life … first smile, first steps, first day of school, and now he's expected to just give you away?! Color palettes and escort cards may not pique his interest, but you can bet your wedding's got him thinking!

tiffany-david-wedding-dad-0673-s112676-1115.jpg
Photography by: Aaron Delesie

1. Time flies.

He remembers the day he and your mom brought you home from the hospital, a little thing all swaddled in pink. He's so proud of the woman you've become, but he can't quite believe you're about to become a Mrs.

2. She'll always be my little girl.

It killed him when you started dating in high school, so on the one hand he's relieved that part of your life is over, but you're still his little girl. Sure, you've grown a bunch, but fundamentally you are still you, and your relationship will always be special.

3. He better take good care of her.

No matter how much your father likes your fiancé, he will always be the person who raised you. Even though he gets that a modern marriage involves taking care of each other, he can't help being a protective dad about wanting his little girl to be safe and happy.

4. Let's sort out who's paying for what.

Very traditionally speaking, weddings are paid for by the bride's family, specifically by the father of the bride, so even if you and your fiancé decide to finance the entire celebration yourself, your dad will want to know what part(s) of the wedding he's covering.


5. The dress costs how much?!

It's practically your dad's job to be shocked at how much you will spend (regardless of the dollar amount) on a dress you'll most likely wear only once. Don't worry, though, cost won't be on his mind when he walks you (in your dream gown) down the aisle.

6. Time to figure out my speech.

Whether his style is off the cuff or carefully composed, your father will give some thought to his speech. He'll aim for the perfect blend of humor and sentimentality that will communicate just how much you (and his new son-in-law) mean to him.

7. Will I keep it together?

Guys never cry, right? Wrong. Seeing you in your dress for the first time, walking you down the aisle, lifting your veil, recounting a touching tale from when you were a kid during his toast … it's hard to remain completely dry-eyed in the face of so many emotional moments!

8. Can't wait to dance with her at the wedding!

You won't be standing on his freshly polished oxfords like you did when you were six, but he's still psyched to spin you round the dance floor.

9. She's always been beautiful, but wow!

He's your dad. To him you look great in sweats and a quick ponytail. When he sees you all dressed up and ready to say "I do," he will be completely blown away (potentially speechless) at what an incredibly gorgeous bride you are.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sitting Pretty: Formally and Informally

Sitting Pretty: Formally and Informally


Basics for diner seating arrangements.

Whether I’m entertaining a half dozen people or ten people or more, I’ve gotten my seating arrangements down pat. Here are a few basics.
At any table:
  • At a seated dinner party, men should remain standing behind their chair until the women are seated.
  • Men, make sure you’ve introduced yourselves to everyone before taking your seat. 
  • Formal dining may not be part of daily life, but a gracious host always serves his female guests first! And himself last.
For six, ten or fourteen people:
  • If I’m hosting a party in someone’s honor, I will always sit at the head of the table with the guest of honor seated directly to my right. If you are a hostess, and feting a male guest of honor, seat him directly to your right. The hostess should sit at the end of the table, nearest the kitchen, with the host at the opposite end.

For eight, twelve, or sixteen people:
  • In this instance, the hostess should move one place to the left and seat the male guest of honor directly to her right, opposite the host. This way you avoid seating two women and two men together.
Plates and flatware:
  • If I’m entertaining formally, I will set down decorative chargers, which serve as placeholders and anchor each place setting. For informal occasions, I bypass the chargers and simply set out my dinner plates.
  • I’ll often place a folded napkin atop the charger or dinner plate.
  • I position flatware in the logical order of its use, to the left or right of the plate, beginning from the outside in; in other words, moving toward the plate. Thus, guests will use the outermost fork for the salad, the middle fork for the fish course, and the innermost fork for the dinner itself. Knives and spoons sit on the right of the plate, again using the same intuitive order. If you’re serving a fabulous soup for starters, the soup spoon goes in the outermost position.  Assuming you’re serving a fish course, place the fish knife in the middle, and the knife closest to the plate is reserved for dinner (make sure you keep the sharp edges of your knives facing toward the plate, with the bottoms of your flatware neatly aligned).
  • The knife should only be in your right hand when cutting. The fork should be placed in your left hand and used to hold the food with the tines facing down.
  • Only cut one piece of food at a time.
  • Once your food is cut, place the knife on the edge of your plate and the fork in your left hand. Turn the tines of your fork upward when eating.
  • If I’m serving bread with the meal, I place a small bread plate to the left and slightly above the dinner plate, and lay the butter knife diagonally across the bottom.
  • If I’m serving dessert, I place the dessert fork and the dessert spoon right above the plate.
  • When everybody is finished, I clear the dinner settings away and bring out the after-dinner items: dessert plates, and if I’m serving coffee, a tray of cups and saucers along with teaspoons, which rest either on the saucers or on the table (your choice).
  • Very simply, informal meals require less of everything. You don’t need to go the whole nine yards. Position a salad fork and a dinner fork to the left of the plate, a single knife to the right, and you have the basics for a casual meal. 
- Colin Cowie

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top 13 Wedding Color and Style Mistakes Not to Make

Just because you have two favorite colors doesn't mean they will work together for your wedding.


  1. Mistake 1: Using Too Many Colors
    The Fix: Keep It Simple

    All-white wedding reception with tulips and candles
    Photo by Abby Jiu Photography
     
    With a few exceptions (see our next fix!), you should pick two to four colors that go well altogether and stick to them. Using the same colors throughout your wedding décor will help create a cohesive flow, so that every detail looks like it belongs in your vision. Narrowing your palette to a few colors will also keep elements like your centerpieces from looking too messy. If you prefer an undone look, opt for a few slightly varied shades of the same color. This will add depth without looking too chaotic. Or, for an especially striking style, go monochromatic with a bold shade, like vivid purple or creamy white. The idea is to keep the look tailored for maximum impact.
  2. Mistake 2: Limiting Yourself to Only Two Distinct Colors
    The Fix: Break Rule #1 (Wisely)

    Neon wedding reception table decorations
    Photo by Philip Ficks
     
    We're so over the strict "color combo" rule. Many gorgeous weddings have a variety of colors -- sometimes up to five -- that work together. The way to pull it off is to use more than one neutral, like cream and brown, in your color palette, or go for multiple shades of the same color to create a tonal color scheme. We love the idea of a summery color palette inspired by the many shades of hydrangeas, including sapphire and sky blue paired with white and gray, finished off with a few pops of sunny yellow to make it feel light and bright. A color palette with more than three or four colors can also help you create a specific scene -- like an English garden with green, yellow, pink, red and cream, or fall in New England with orange, red, yellow, brown and gold.
  3. Mistake 3: Choosing Trendy Colors
    The Fix: Skip Fads

    Coral and turquoise wedding reception color palette
    Photo by Lauren Fair Photography
     
    It's easy to get carried away with ideas you see in other weddings or in magazines and inspiration boards, but just because you love a fresh and unexpected idea on paper doesn't mean it's the right choice for your wedding. Your palette should be one that you won't mind living with for a long time, since you'll be framing photos and filling albums with those colors. If you're drawn to a color that's hot right now, consider using the trendy hue sparingly instead of making it the main event. Think about the colors and patterns you surround yourself with daily. Ask yourself: What colors make you happy? What color is your favorite room or sweater? The simplest meaningful objects, like a scarf or even a pillow, inspired some of the prettiest weddings we've seen.
  4. Mistake 4: Using the Wrong Color Ratio
    The Fix: Balance Brights

    Bright wedding reception palette
    Photo by Christina Carroll Photography
     
    One of the biggest pitfalls in color selection is not considering the eye's need for rest and calm. Just because you have two dominant colors in your palette doesn't mean you should use them equally. Before you go any further in your planning, decide which hue will take center stage -- this choice will affect your decisions from linens to lighting. If you love bright orange, pick a more muted shade for your secondary color, like pale blue or navy instead of bright aqua. You want your colors to be complementary to your décor, but not distracting. The resulting contrast will let your favorite color shine. Thoughtfully balancing your colors is the key to making even the most crazy combinations look chic and sophisticated. Another option: Pick a few shades that are in between colors, like coral instead of bright orange and plum instead of amethyst.
  5. Mistake 5: Choosing Predictable Colors
    The Fix: Take (a Little) Risk

    Yellow bridesmaid bouquet with red bridesmaid dress
    Photo by Jen Fariello Photography
     
    Certain color combos come with obvious connotations. (What comes to mind with the combination of red, white and blue, or red and green?) Keep your colors from reminding guests of their favorite holiday by subtly tweaking your hues. The trick is switching up at least one shade to downplay the resemblance. Instead of your standard red, white and blue, try bandana-red, faded denim and eggshell to banish any thoughts of Fourth of July. The same goes for forest green and pale pink if you're worried about your wedding looking Christmas-y. Or try adding another color to downplay the combo. Yellow dresses with red bouquets might conjure images of a popular fast-food restaurant, but breaking up the colors with white details, like lace or pearls, is a simple way to add elegance.
  6. Mistake 6: Ignoring Texture
    The Fix: Broaden Your Definition of Matching

    Chevron reception table runner with twine-wrapped centerpiece
    Photo by Beaux Arts Photographie
     
    Two colors that go together may not look right when put side by side if they're different textures. A burlap table runner with red satin linens doesn't work as well as wooden planters on maroon cotton tablecloths, even though the colors are the same. Because your linens will cover so much of your wedding reception, they’ll play a huge role in your color and texture decisions. Mixing textures in the same hue can also add more drama and depth to your wedding than simply combining multiple colors. Patterns like stripes or florals can help break up bold colors, so a hue like bright yellow or black doesn’t overwhelm your tables.
  7. Mistake 7: Ignoring Your Venue Colors
    The Fix: Pick A Priority (Colors or Venue)

    Green and pink wedding reception venue
    Photo by Anna and Spencer Photography
     
    As you're venue hunting, have a color scheme in mind while you look at details like the wall coverings, art and carpeting, or keep your color options open until you find a venue you love. Think about what hues you may want to use, and whether you’d want to prioritize finding the perfect venue or having your perfect palette. In a country club with navy and maroon carpets, a color scheme of lime green and hot pink will clash, and there's really no way around it. (Try to pull it off anyway and you'll end up spending twice what you would normally in decor to cover it up.) That's not to say you have to choose a venue where your colors perfectly match the floors, but you should use the venue's decor as a guide when picking out tones and hues. Do you love pink but have dark colors to work around? Try a soft blush instead of fuchsia.
  8. Mistake 8: Not Coordinating Your Paper Elements
    The Fix: Include Your Colors in Your Invitation Suite

    Modern gray and orange wedding invitation suite
    Photo by Tess Pace Photography
     
    Your invitations set the stage for the event, so let them introduce your wedding colors and evoke the right tone from the start. Coordinating the invitation colors with those of the wedding can be as easy as choosing a colored font, ribbon or monogram, or as elaborate as layering colored paper. Most importantly: Don’t sacrifice readability for style. That means the type should contrast with the paper, so balance brighter shades with neutrals and avoid light-colored fonts. Bold ink hues like navy and fuchsia work well, and ask your designer about typeface techniques like letterpress or foiling to make your font stand out. Also consider that invites are a dress code cue for your guests. You wouldn't send out formal ivory cards with black calligraphy unless you're expecting guests to dress black tie for your wedding.
  9. Mistake 9: Trying to Color-Match the Flowers
    The Fix: Don't Force It

    Mismatched floral reception centerpieces
    Photo by Justin & Mary
     
    Instead of insisting your floral bouquets and centerpieces match, ask your florist to choose complementary neutral flowers that will soften (not compete with) the color scheme. Then let your nonfloral elements, like the centerpiece vases and bouquet ribbon wraps, show off your color. If you love blue, keep in mind very few flowers are blue naturally, and the ones that do, including hydrangeas, are extremely seasonal.
  10. Mistake 10: Relying on Your Bridesmaids to Pull Off the Themed Color
    The Fix: Choose Complementary Neutrals and Use Colorful Accessories

    Mismatched bridesmaid bouquets
    Photo by Melissa Robotti Photography
     
    When it comes to your bridal party, choose the most flattering color in your palette and use it (look to neutral colors if you're at all unsure). Shades like burnt orange and olive green might look great on details like your table linen overlays, dinner plates and glassware, but aren't exactly wearable, especially if you're going monochromatic for your bridesmaid dresses. The days of the exactly matched bridesmaids are over. Instead, it’s much more chic if your bridesmaid dresses complement your palette, and if you really want your bridesmaids to wear a bolder color, then choose accessories in that hue. Have your bridesmaids rock that color with a belt, pretty necklace or shoes. Stick to universally flattering colors like eggplant, navy, blush, ivory or black. Follow this rule and not only will your bridesmaids look great, so will your wedding photos!
  11. Mistake 11: Choosing Colors That Don't Fit the Mood
    The Fix: Lighten or Ramp Up Your Color Palette

    Bright orange and yellow bridal bouquet
    Photo by Aaron Young Photography
     
    Though yellow may be your favorite color, it might not be the ideal shade for an evening wedding on New Year's Eve. Likewise, shimmering metallic silver might not set the right tone for an afternoon garden reception in a small New England town. If you're set on a color you don't think will work with the atmosphere you're trying to create, think about your accent colors. Adding lots of navy can make yellow seem more refined and formal, while pairing it with white or another pastel takes it in more of a whimsical direction. Your color scheme will set the tone for the mood of your wedding, so figure out which emotions you want your celebration to evoke before you pick your palette—whether you're going for a more relaxed daytime affair or a regal and elegant ballroom wedding.
  12. Mistake 12: Limiting Yourself to Seasonal Color Rules
    The Fix: Think Seasonless

    Autumnal tulip reception centerpiece in pedestal vase
    Photo by Tinywater Photography
     
    It's time to forget about outdated seasonal color rules, like pastels are only for spring and the idea that you can't have an orange and yellow hued wedding unless it's fall. You should pick a color palette that you love and then tailor it to the particular season with accent colors, texture and décor as well as changing up the shade. The way to pull off a pastel winter wedding is to swap out rosy pink for a more muted blush and use dusty sage instead of seafoam or mint green. Pairing your color palette with seasonal flowers and seasonally inspired décor elements, like evergreens and faux-fur chair backs (if you're having a winter wedding), will actually make your wedding style complement the season without seeming overly themed.
  13. Mistake 13: Not Giving Visual Examples to Your Wedding Pros
    The Fix: Get Specific With Your Color

    Wedding color inspiration board
    Photo by Antonis Achilleos
     
    Narrow your colors down to exact shades, so instead of green and white, you’ll know if it’s lime green, Kelly green, sage green or forest green, and ecru, ivory or cream. Add any swatches or chips to a style or inspiration board to make it easier to communicate with all of your wedding pros about your vision, and help you stay focused when you’re shopping for décor. Get ideas from paint company websites like Behr.com, Sherwin-Williams.com, Glidden.com and BenjaminMoore.com. Interactive color wheels and looking at color palettes from weddings you like are other good places to start. If you have access to a Pantone color book, use it to select your shade the same way graphic designers do. Many invitation designers mix ink to match the colors in this book, and a lot of cake bakers use Pantone numbers as a reference when creating dye for frosting.

Monday, January 25, 2016

9 things we wish we'd known before registering for wedding gifts

First comes love, then comes registering.

Before anyone walks down the aisle comes the fun yet tricky task of registering for wedding gifts. And with that product scanner from your favorite home store comes a load of decisions. Do we really want 800-thread count sheets? Vitamix or NutriBullet? Are these the bowls we will want to eat ice cream out of for the rest of time? What do you mean you like those curtains? How could I possibly marry someone who likes those curtains?!

Many, many couples have walked the wedding registry path and lived to talk about it. Here are some tips from some of TODAY.com's past brides.
Several gifts wrapped and on a table Jayme Burrows / Shutterstock
1. First things first: Register.
I didn't want to build a registry at all, and then friends started sending my husband and me the most random gifts. Well, not random. Just not things we like. In a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, there are only so many heart-themed prints you can hang! So we built a registry late in the game and added things we were excited about (Apple TV! furry blankets! pretty frames!). We still got a few gifts that we'll never use — at least not as long as we live in New York City — but taking control of the gift-giving ended up being a huge relief for the both of us. -Lauren Sullivan, TODAY.com senior editor

2. Consider a honeymoon registry — or an elegant way for friends to gift you cash.
Your guests want to celebrate you, and give you something you'll love — but it can be hard for friends to get excited about clicking a box on your registry and sending you that cheese grater you asked for, or the remaining four water glasses you need.
If you add a honeymoon registry (Honeyfund is easy to use), you can let your friends give you fun experiences like "1 safari tour" or "1 helicopter ride" — you create items on your honeymoon wish list, and while the gift is technically cash (the site allows your guests to either send you a check or PayPal the amount), the giver will feel like they gave you a moment to remember. Plus, when you send your thank-you notes, you can actually thank them for the experience they gave you! - Meena Hart Duerson, TODAY.com senior editor

3. But register for some real things as well.
Your more traditional relatives and friends will want to get you something tangible. Not everyone will feel comfortable gifting cash, and they'll want to get you something concrete for your house. Make sure you choose a few things you'd actually like to receive, or you'll struggle with people sending you things off-registry that you don't like — and can't return. -Meena Hart Duerson

4. Choose items in a range of price points.
There's nothing more frustrating than going to send someone a gift — and finding the only thing left is the $5 plastic spoon or the $5,000 sheet set. Make sure there are options in the middle! -Meena Hart Duerson

5. Skip the fancy china.
Unless you're close friends with Duchess Kate and she'll be coming over regularly for tea, you won't miss it. We registered for a really nice set of china, but when no one bought those items, it was the biggest relief. We ended up just getting ourselves a set of more everyday dishware, which are much cheaper to replace when things get chipped or broken! -Meena Hart Duerson

6. Register somewhere that reflects your lifestyle and your taste, but definitely look for special events!
Crate & Barrel opened early on certain Sundays for registering couples and had mimosas, paninis and breakfast pastries that were delivered to you as you walked around the store. The food alone was soooo worth the repercussions of holding a registry zapper after a flute or two of champagne. "Why yes, we SHOULD register for those silk curtains we never knew we needed, and I should probably have another panini for good measure." -Carissa Ray, TODAY.com supervising multimedia producer

7. Simpler is better.
I had no questions about the black and blue stoneware we registered for. I mean, you've gotta eat, right? And we received even more settings than we zapped.

Eight years later, I'm totally sick of it and wish I'd realized that the plates were "tippy" when you cut food on them, something we couldn't tell in the store when deciding we needed 10 settings. I now find myself drawn to simpler pottery that fits our lifestyle now and that mixes and matches well rather than having one matchy-match set of dishes. Also, with a butterfingers husband, this helps us avoid replacing full sets when he inevitably drops something in the kitchen. -Carissa Ray

8. Don't select décor items specific to where you live if you're not really, really certain you're in what will be your long-term home. Even then, see above - simpler is better.
My husband and I owned a home in Seattle and unexpectedly received and accepted a job offer in New York City. All those kitchen items that were so perfectly displayed in the newly remodeled kitchen of our first home now had to be packed into a New York City kitchen (or stored in my mother's basement).

Now that we're thinking about what will be our next family home with our two little girls, hindsight would have me fill that registry with more gift cards and cash to have put toward remodels and necessities that came up in our early marriage. -Carissa Ray

9. Take a breath.
The stuff we were gifted was, in many cases, just stuff. A few things we loved, some that were quite handy and many we could certainly live without (and in many cases these years later, are living without). -Carissa Ray

Friday, January 22, 2016

10 Yummy Snack Ideas for the Engaged Girl



  • brides healthy snacks to try
     
    Photo: Getty Images
     
    With your new additional part-time job (wedding planning!) you're probably busier now than you have ever been in your life. Keep plenty of snacks on hand to keep you fueled. "It's ideal to enjoy snacks that have carbs, protein, and healthful fat," says culinary dietitian Jackie Newgent, RD, author of 1,000-Calorie Recipes. "You can choose a single food that has all of these macronutrients-in-one, or pair ingredients from different food groups." One last guideline: "A good maximum calorie guideline for snacks for the average woman is 200 calories. If you're highly active, bump that up to 250 calories." These 10 smart options will keep you feeling peppy and sharp all day long.

    1. Crunchy Chickpeas
    "These can be enjoyed like a better-for-you munchie in place of potato chips thanks to their double whammy of fiber and protein," says Newgent. One brand she likes: The Good Bean Crispy Crunchy Chickpeas in BBQ flavor.

    2. Cheese stick and an apple.
    Easy to carry (their both in their own packages!), and the combo fulfills the magic carb-protein-fat mix.

    3. Guacamole and baked chips.
    You're juggling so many things that it's important to keep your mind sharp right now, too. "Guacamole is a great source of monounsaturated fat, which is important for optimal blood flow and, in turn, key for brain heath," says Newgent. "Scoop it up with a handful of baked blue corn tortilla chips."

    4. Dark Chocolate Hummus plus fresh strawberries.
    Yep, chocolate hummus exists! "This will satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthier way than traditional sweets," says Newgent. "The hummus is still based on garbanzo beans." Pairing it with strawberries adds a dose of brain-friendly antioxidants. 

    5. Pistachios.
    These crunchy snacks contain a good amount of both protein and fiber, plus some fat— they're ideal to help keep you going, says Newgent.

    6. Edamame.
    Just quickly cook up these frozen soybeans in the pod, drain, and add a pinch of salt. "They're lovely squeezed straight from the pod. And naturally protein-packed," says Newgent.

    7. Seaweed "chips."
    Packs of dry-roasted nori (seaweed sheets) are now available at most supermarkets. They're crispy, a little salty, and contain antioxidants like vitamins A and C, which help protect your skin. Dip them in hummus for a boost of filling protein.

    8. Single-packs of olives.
    You may have started seeing individually packaged servings of marinated olives, such as Oloves, at cafes and shops like Starbucks, World Market, and Duane Reade. These snacks have only about 50 calories per pack and plenty of healthy fats, plus some fiber and protein for good measure.

    9. Greek yogurt topped with walnuts.
    Walnuts add a super-satisfying crunch, plus healthy fats and fiber, to the famously protein-packed yogurt.

    10. KIND Nuts & Spices bar.
    Newgent recommends bars that are low in added sugars and made with "real" ingredients and 200 calories or less. One of her favorites is the KIND Nuts & Spices bar, "especially the dark chocolate and sea salt flavor!" she says.

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

    Can Your Mom Be a Bridesmaid?



  • can mom be bridesmaid
     
    Photo: Getty Images
     
    She'll be by your side as you're planning, be the first to tear up when you find THE dress, and have a seat of honor at the ceremony. But what if you feel like your mom deserves more recognition than that, and you want her standing by your side during your wedding? Our experts weigh in on whether to make mom a bridesmaid.

    It's unconventional, but there's nothing to stop you from asking your mother to be a bridesmaid in addition to her role as mother of the bride. In fact, if you're planning on asking her to join the bridal party, you may want to make her your matron of honor, or ask her to share the duties with your closest friend, to really acknowledge the role she's played in your life.


    If you do ask your mom to join your bridesmaids, think about how you'd like her to be involved (as well as what you think she'll be excited about and comfortable with). Chances are she'll jump at the chance to help plan your bridal shower and bustle your dress before the reception, but consider whether the bachelorette party you've dreamed of is one she'd like to attend. She may want to treat her matron of honor status as more of a celebratory title than her role in the wedding (since being the MOB comes with its own list of to-dos) and skip the hen 'do, or she might want to be there for all the festivities.

    Either way, be sure to discuss what you've got in mind, as well as what her expectations are, up front: You might want to redistribute some of the matron of honor duties to other bridesmaids to make sure there isn't too much on your mom's plate. That way you won't be disappointed if she's less involved than you'd hoped — or surprised when mom's buying a round of shots at the bachelorette party!

    Wednesday, January 20, 2016

    What to Eat on Wedding-Dress Shopping Day

    what to eat dress-shopping day
     
    Photo: Getty Images

    You're about to shop for the most important outfit of your life — your wedding dress. That's a lot of pressure! Dress shopping is a marathon, not a sprint. Here's how to fuel up for a successful shopping trip.

    Have protein in the morning.
    For breakfast don't just have toast — you need protein like a hardboiled egg or Greek yogurt to keep you satisfied and full. "Or have leftovers from dinner! Many cultures eat more protein and vegetables than we do here where we love our sugary carbs like doughnuts for breakfast," says Carlene Thomas, RDN, author of The Wedding Wellness Workbook: Your Nutrition How-To Before "I Do." "Another easy way to have a balanced breakfast is to make a to-go smoothie with fruit, veggies and protein. It's also going to be packed with fiber from the produce which will keep you full."

    Drink up.
    Getting dehydrated makes you tired and hungry. So remember to bring a water bottle with you to sip on when you get thirsty.


    Don't forget to eat!
    "Never, never skip meals, especially for long days that can be emotional. Being hangry— angry and hungry— is totally a thing and it can ruin your experience," says Thomas. "If you're way under-eating your brain might not even be getting the energy it needs to make decisions. Make sure you're having balanced bites, not just veggies, so you're satisfied and full and energized the whole day. Instead of just greens on a plate, you need to throw in a healthy fat like nuts or avocado or a protein like beans and lentils or chicken." 

    Bring snacks.
    For a balanced snack, pair fruit or veggies with whole grains and fat or protein, says Thomas. Good examples: Low-fat string cheese with Wasa crackers, or a banana and peanut butter. If you don't have time to bring nibbles from home, you can find healthy snacks in plenty of places, says Thomas. Some of her faves: Sabra hummus to go packs, Starbucks protein or chicken and hummus boxes, dry roasted nori (seaweed) like Sea Snax, and single-serving packs of olives called Oloves.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

    5 Wedding Ideas We Love Right Now

    You'd never plan your wedding at work (cough, cough) — but your lunch break is a whole other story! For your weekly roundup, we picked gorgeous real weddings, pretty style details, and helpful tips from across the web.
     
    Finding the perfect engagement ring is a tough task, but have no fear! Our friends at Popsugar rounded up the best engagement ring Instagram accounts to follow, and be warned, with these gorgeous diamonds — ring envy will definitely be a thing. —POPSUGAR

    Not every bride wants to have a lavish, over-the-top wedding. If you're planning an intimate backyard bash or a quick trip to the courthouse with a small reception to follow, these short wedding dresses are the perfect way to infuse some bridal style without the fuss. —Brides

    This chic, outdoor wedding has all the charm and elegance that comes from an effortlessly stylish British wedding. The fashion-forward bride positively stunned in a plunging V-neck column sheath, adding a modern spin that stylish brides will totally obsess over. —OnceWed
     
     
     
    When it comes to bridal beauty, there's nothing more important than maintaining a rigorous skincare regimen that goes beyond the standard cleanse and moisturize routine. And no one knows that better than Korean skincare guru Charlotte Cho, who shares her top tips for getting that healthy, glowy skin
    without breaking the bank. —Well + Good
     
     
    Prepare to swoon over this couple's two-tiered, gold-flecked wedding cake! Featuring delicate rows of piping and strands of loose greenery, we think we just found our fairy-tale confection. —100 Layer Cake
     
     
     

    Monday, January 18, 2016

    Relationship Resolutions: 5 Bad Habits to Kick This Year

    Relationship Resolutions
     
    Photo: Getty Images
     
    When you sit down to write out this year's resolutions, don't forget to take the opportunity to pen few goals that will make your relationship even better. Here, our experts get you started with five that will stop you from bickering and could even make a few fireworks fly.

    1. Nonstop nagging.
    Says relationship expert and advice columnist April Masini, we often nag when we don't get the results we want. In other words, we're sick to death of finding the socks beside the hamper, so we get into a routine of telling our significant other to put them away until our floors are sock-free. But "you can become aggressive in trying to get those results," Masini warns, which won't do good things for your relationship. "The better strategy is to change your own behavior. Recognize that nagging isn't the best use of your time, and look for a creative solution to the need you want met instead of barking up the same tree over and over again."

    2. Playing the blame game.
    Is it never your fault in your relationship? "It's very easy when problems arise to immediately blame and shame our partners," says Alisa Ruby Bash, licensed marriage therapist in Malibu. But by playing the blame game, couples can quickly cross the line from a calm conversation into dirty fighting. "When we get used to aggressive name calling and hitting below the belt, it can be very difficult to let go of our wounds," Bash explains. "Although arguing is inevitable in even the healthiest of marriages, the way we fight our battles and the words we use can impact our entire future together. So learn to take responsibility for your feelings and reactions when discussing issues. Communicate authentically with kindness."


    3. Not showing your appreciation.
    "Telling your spouse you love him every day is easy, cheap and not fattening, but so many people don't do it," says Masini, who recommends showing our appreciation in even the smallest ways. Sending a sweet text message or going old school with a love letter tucked in your spouse's purse or wallet are heart-melting moves that don't cost a thing, she says. You could also purchase inexpensive items such as a book or single flower to show your appreciation for all your significant other does on the daily. "Make this the year where you really show your significant how much you appreciate him or her with little gestures," Masini says. "A year filled with little gestures is much better than one grand one."

    4. Getting too comfortable.
    Admits Bash, "we all can get too complacent at times." But when we stop putting in the effort we did in our dating days, "we risk losing the spark that brought us together in the first place," she says. "If we start to become more like roommates than lovers, it can be very difficult to find our way back to romantic love." Chemistry, says Bash, isn't always natural. It too can take work. So this year, "pay attention to your partner's feelings and desires," she says. "Try to resolve anger that builds up between each other. Make your relationship a top priority, even if you are parents. And take care of yourself so that you feel attractive enough to be sexual with your partner."

    5. Staying stuck in a rut.
    If you find yourself repeating the same things over and over and over again with your spouse, you could be stuck in a rut boring enough to put your relationship right to sleep. "Lots of us resort to certain behaviors such as having sex in the same position or spending date night only at dinner and the movies," she says, "but a great way to live is to shake it up in all corners of your relationship." Some ways you can shake up your relationship include spending time volunteering together, taking a cooking class, exploring a museum, or setting out on a road trip. "Shaking things up takes effort," Masini says, "but the payoff is finding new interests and new adventures as a couple, and that's a great reason to shake off the rut this year."

    Friday, January 15, 2016

    Man Proposes To Girlfriend 148 Times Before She Even Notices






    A hopeless romantic in Grimsby, England, asked his girlfriend to marry him 148 times over the course of six months, but she didn't even notice.
    Ray Smith discreetly placed a card reading "Will you marry me?" in 148 photographs he took of and with his partner, Claire Bramley, from July to December last year. But she remained blissfully unaware.
    Smith ended up playing Bramley a montage of all the images, which included family and friends also popping the question on his behalf, on Christmas Day. 
    YouTube/Ray Smith
    Claire Bramley, left, had no idea that Ray Smith, right, was popping the question in the pictures they took together.
    The clip ended with Smith directly asking Bramley for her hand in marriage more than six months after his first "proposal." She said yes. 
    The couple are now planning their wedding for 2017, and Smith's video is going viral, according to the Grimsby Telegraph.
    "I had no clue, I was totally oblivious to it all," Bramley, 33, who is eight months pregnant with the couple's first child, told Metro. "He told me he was taking the pictures to create memories for the baby, so I just let him get on with it."
    Smith, 38, said it was "hard work not getting caught."
    YouTube/Ray Smith 
     
    Bramley didn't notice her boyfriend was asking her to marry him because he took different versions of each photo, sometimes without the message.
    According to a YouTube post, Smith took numerous photographs of each situation, sometimes without the card in the shot. That way, he could show Bramley those photos if she asked to see them.
    Dean Smith, no relation, pulled a similar stunt before popping the question to his girlfriend, Jennifer Kessel, in Aruba last January.