Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5 Things Every Man Needs to Learn Before He Gets Married


5 Things Every Man Needs to Learn Before He Gets Married
I’ve been married for almost two years, but I still feel compelled at times to share bits of wisdom I’ve collected over the years with singles that have intentions of being married some day. I think it’s especially important for married men to share with single men because so much of what we have all been taught about being a man is counterproductive to having a good marriage. I hope current husbands will also find this list useful because sometimes we don’t realize we’ve brought some unhealthy beliefs into our relationship until after we’re married. That said, here’s a simple list of five things every man should know before tying the knot.

 1. Women are people, not objects

Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately too many men have grown up believing women are objects to be collected or challenges to be conquered. This is a global problem, but this first lesson is especially important for the millions of black men who grew up hearing men that look like them casually refer to women as “bitches” and “hoes” in their music, in movies, and on TV shows. Understanding this fact will impact every interaction you have with a woman, whether as a single man on the dating scene or a married man at work. Most men will give lip service to how precious women are when they are talking about their own mother, aunts, grandmother, or daughters. Sadly, some of the same men who talk about their love for mom will leave their mother’s house and harass the first woman they see on the street. Your future wife will have her own thoughts, desires, ambitions, and feelings, but it will be hard for you to receive them and value them if you don’t see her as your equal. Always remember, “objects are collected, people are respected”.

2. Being a good husband requires more than having a degree and a job.

I know a number of black women who have dated in big cities that have described what I would characterize as a sense of entitlement among many of the black men they have encountered. Given the effects of substandard schools, mass incarceration, and unemployment, I could understand how some men with a degree and a job could have an over-inflated sense of their value on the dating market. While impressive on paper, advanced degrees and ambitious career aspirations say nothing of your ability or desire to resolve conflict, practice forgiveness, or encourage your future wife in her professional endeavors. Make no mistake, I certainly believe that part of my duty as a husband is to provide for my family. But, meeting material needs is only one aspect of provision. My wife also has social, emotional, and spiritual needs that a paycheck or letters behind my name won’t help me meet. I’ve learned the hard way that becoming a good husband requires moving beyond the basics.

3. Nothing you bring to the table is as important as your character

The type of husband you become will be strongly influenced by the type of man you are, and ultimately the consequences of a lack of character development (e.g. infidelity, abuse, etc.) will be remembered far longer than your ability to pay the bills. Your honesty, consistency, and integrity are not just a personal foundation for you. And, will also serve as a source of stability in your marriage and prepare you for the many challenges that you will face over the course of your relationship. Men have been mistaught for so long to focus on the parts of our lives that are easiest to quantify while neglecting the intangible qualities that really make us who we are. Thankfully, it’s never too late to develop the type of character that will help you weather the storms that will come in your marriage.

4. You need to love you before you can love her

I’m willing to bet that almost every relationship book for women includes some advice to women about learning to love themselves. The same advice holds true for men. A man that does not love himself or cannot accept himself is not ready to become a husband. If you are not happy with your life or have not dealt with the hurt caused by bad relationships, abuse, or family issues, you will find it difficult to fully receive or give love in your marriage. It’s important to know the type of baggage you bring into your relationship so that you can own your feelings and start on the road to healing. There’s one other point you need to know about being comfortable with who you are and where you are in life. If you are intimidated by a woman that is smart and successful or makes more money than you, that’s your problem, not hers. No woman wants to be with a man that has to make her (or others) feel small for him to feel adequate.

5. One body has to be enough

Sex is one of the most important parts of marriage, but many people don’t realize that we begin preparation for our married sex lives long before our wedding day. As a Christian, I believe that sex was created to be enjoyed within the context of marriage. While that may seem archaic to some, I have seen the types of problems that arise when one or both parties fail to properly manage their sexuality as singles.
For men, mismanaged sexuality often takes the form of unrestrained indulgence. We are trained from an early age to believe that manhood is defined in part by the number of women we’ve been with. We are also taught that it is normal for men to feed our sexual appetite in whatever ways we find convenient, from mistresses to strip clubs to pornography. All of these things reinforce one message: one body is not enough. And while we have come to see this as a fact of life for single men, taking this attitude into marriage is a recipe for disaster.
A man who has sought variety and relished the feeling of conquest (again, see #1) may find the transition to a single partner in marriage to be quite difficult. That’s why men who have no desire or show little ability to remain monogamous should not get married. One body has to be enough. That’s what you commit to when you take your vows and that is the expectation your wife should rightfully have. In the event that you fall short of that standard for any reason your response should be to confess what you have done wrong, accept the consequences of your actions, and begin to do the hard work of rebuilding trust in your relationship.

Final Word

There are certainly other things I could say to my single brothers, but I think these five are a good start. Marriage is a big commitment and it is never too early to begin preparing to be a husband. Doing so will likely require throwing out some of the things you’ve learned about what it means to be a man. It may feel like hard work, but it’s necessary if you want your marriage to be successful. Trust me, your future wife will thank you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

These Gorgeous Love Letters Found In Used Books Will Seriously Make You Swoon

What I love about used books is that in a strange way, they connect people and imbue an otherwise solitary activity -- reading -- with a sense of community. Our opinions on Raskolnikov and his actions may differ, but here's something we have in common. We've both held this book in our hands and eagerly turned its pages.

At the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan, we find a lot of mementos tucked in to the pages of used books: traces of other readers. Besides old family photographs, notes are some of my favorite things to find -- particularly when they're handwritten. The photos are great at revealing a single moment, but the letters and post cards often tell more of a story.

Here's a selection of some of the recent notes we've found in used books at the store. To see more found objects, check out the Strand Tumblr.

Monday, October 20, 2014

7 Honeymoon Destinations That Will Be Huge in 2015

Wedding planning can be stressful, but the honeymoon is a sweet, sweet reward. If you're planning a trip for 2015, you may want to consider one of these trending honeymoon destinations. Whatever season you choose to travel in, a world of incredible locales awaits.
1. Turkey. For the couple who loves history, Istanbul is perfect, especially in the spring. The days are long and the weather is calm throughout the country. Because of its welcoming culture, incredible landscapes, and luxurious resorts, Turkey  is becoming increasingly popular for tourists all over the world.
2. Italy. A longtime favorite of many couples, Italy is a feast for all of the senses. Consider Rome, Florence, or the Amalfi coast. (Lauren Conrad headed to Italy on her recent honeymoon!) Shack up with your sweetie on Lake Cuomo, and keep your eyes peeled for George and Amal.
3. Indonesia. A long (but worthwhile!) flight for those of us in the US, Indonesia boasts ancient cities, unbeatable beaches, and French-inspired cuisine. This exotic locale will leave you and your love feeling oh-so-inspired.
4. Japan. There's something for everyone on this island. The white sand beaches of Okinawa, the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, or the hot springs of Northern Japan. This country is particularly beautiful in the fall, when the maple leaves turn lavish shades of red and gold.
5. New England. After late-summer or fall nuptials, honeymooning in New England can be the perfect continuation of the festivities. World-renown for its autumn foliage, places like New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine offer cabin or inn rentals for a crisp and colorful getaway.
6. Northern California. For the fall bride, this is perhaps the best time of year to visit cities like San Francisco, Sacramento, or Sonoma. The leaves turn to match the hue of the "Golden State," tourists crowds thin, and couples have a wider range of places to stay and enjoy.
7. Belize. The well-traveled bride and groom will love Belize; it offers the warmth and sun of many Central American countries, without a language barrier for English-speaking couples. Explore the white sand Caribbean beaches, learn to make chocolate in Toledo, or just cuddle up as newlyweds in one of Belize's charming hotels.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jacqueline Kennedy's Wedding


PHOTO: Kennedy Wedding Photo Auction
It's been more than 50 years since the death President John F. Kennedy and more than 60 years since he married Jacqueline Kennedy, but the allure of this Royal-like couple still remains to this day.
With this in mind, RR Auction house in Boston is putting up 13 original negatives from their 1963 wedding. 

The description on the auction website reads: "Collection of 13 original and most likely unpublished negatives from the wedding of John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy. Each negative measures 3.75 x 5, four feature the newlywed couple, two show the entire wedding party, and the remainder show the cake, reception, and wedding attendees." 

PHOTO: Kennedy Wedding Photo Auction
Frank Ataman/RR Auction
PHOTO: Kennedy Wedding Photo Auction
The website also says, "These images were originally taken by a freelance photographer who had been asked to be a ‘back-up’ photographer for the wedding, and were discovered in his darkroom after his passing. Accompanied by 5 x 4 printouts of each negative, the very first prints that have been made from these negatives. In fine condition. John and Jacqueline Kennedy were married on September 12, 1953, in Newport, Rhode Island. The entire event was chronicled by Life magazine, which noted ‘their wedding turned out to be the most impressive the old society stronghold had seen in 30 years.’" 

The letter in the collection states that the negatives came from the estate of Arthur C. Borges. 

PHOTO: Kennedy Wedding Photo Auction
Frank Ataman/RR Auction/AP Photo
PHOTO: Kennedy Wedding Photo Auction
The auction ends at 7 p.m. today. 

One of the intimate photos even shows JFK cutting his wedding cake. 

PHOTO: Kennedy Wedding Photo Auction
Frank Ataman/RR Auction/AP Photo
PHOTO: Kennedy Wedding Photo Auction

4 Life Lessons to Take Away from Wedding Planning

Life Lessons to Take Away from Wedding Planning
Photo: Christian Oth Studio
Think wedding planning is all tulle and peonies? Think again. The road to matrimony is paved with poignant moments and important life lessons that every bride should take note of. Here are a few key things you might learn along the way.

1. Anything can be done ... in small steps.
When a bride first begins planning her wedding, the amount that needs to be done can feel insurmountable. "How can I plan a 200-person wedding when I can't even decide which save the date to use?"

The problem here lies in considering what needs to be done in totality, instead of individual tasks. Of course, you cannot make every decision for your life-changing event at once! You can, however, break your to do's into individual tasks and handle them singularly.

It's an important life lesson to remember when challenges or changes seem insurmountable. Marathon runners don't wake up one morning and decide to go for a 26-mile jaunt. Instead, they reach the finish line by training in intervals (and eating pasta... which also may be the fastest route to happiness).

2. Priorities are important.
Unless you're blessed with a Kardashian-sized wedding budget, chances are you've had to learn the word "prioritization" while planning your wedding. It's a process that may seems like the ultimate evil when you're forced to cut back on floral arrangements, but prioritizing is actually a blessing because it forces you to assess what really matters most to you — in your wedding, and in your life. Let your priorities color your choices, and you can't go wrong.

3. People matter most.
Go ahead and call us sappy, but weddings prove time and time again, that what matters most of all is the people you surround yourself with. Even if the cake topples; the rain falls; and the priest stutters, a bride and groom are ecstatic on their big day because they're marrying each other surrounded by their favorite people. It's a fact that extends far beyond the wedding day: life is brighter when you spend your days with the ones you love.

4. Life goes on.
When planning a wedding it pretty much feels like your big day will be the culmination of humanity. When you dedicate so much of your time and effort to something — whether it's a wedding, a career goal or a personal loss — it hard to see past the horizon. Surprisingly, though, the world always keeps turning.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Three Traits that the Best Bridesmaids (and Groomsmen) Share

Bridesmaid with White Tulip and Rose Bouquet
Photo: BlueSpark Photography
Being in someone else's bridal party is both a pleasure and a responsibility. When you consider which of your closest relatives and friends to include as bridesmaids and groomsmen, think about your expectations and how much you are likely to depend on your attendants — not just at the wedding but throughout the planning and preparation. Think of it this way: Just because Betty is your best friend and confidante doesn't mean she's the gal you want to count on to wrangle all of your elderly guests at important events. This doesn't mean you have to exclude her! Simply remember what matters most from attendants so that you can gently nudge her toward the things that are important. In that light, consider these three fundamental traits for selecting bridesmaids and groomsmen:

Reliability. An attendant should be a person you can count on to stay in touch in the weeks and months preceding the wedding, to listen to instructions, to follow up on requests without being reminded, and to show up on time and ready for all events.

Consideration. Considerate attendants may offer suggestions but will understand that they aren't in charge. They will look for opportunities to be helpful but won't add to the bridal couple's worries with special demands or needless criticism.

Courtesy. In a sense, attendants are ambassadors for the bridal couple and their families. At pre-wedding events and during the wedding reception, they will mix and mingle with guests, make introductions, look out for people with special needs, and behave appropriately at all times.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Wedding Veil Styles Plus Tips To Wearing Them

Choosing to wear a wedding veil comes with lots of decisions. What type of veil looks best with your face and wedding dress, to how to wear it, what hairstyles work best with a wedding veil and what accessories will work too. We asked accessories designers Liv Hart of Enchanted Atelier and Myra Callan of Twigs & Honey for their advice on choosing the perfect wedding veil style — plus placement and how to rock this classic topper.

First things first: choosing the right veil. Just like the rest of your bridal accessories, you want to put a little thought into your selection. A few things to consider: color, level of detail and your reception venue. Try to choose a veil in a similar shade to your gown (this probably isn’t the best time to color block…), but don’t get too hung up on this detail. “Your gown and veil probably won’t be from the same designer, so the colors won’t match perfectly,” says Liv Hart, “But as long as the veil is in a similar shade it will blend in with your gown. You won’t believe how many shades of ivory and white are available.” Myra Callan suggests choosing something simple for a dress that is heavily embellished, but for a more understated gown feel free to jazz things up with rhinestones, lace or other intricate details. (See more on choosing the right veil here.)

Once you’ve picked a style you love, it helps to know where and how to wear it. Both Hart and Callan agree that it depends on both the style of the veil and your personal preference. In general though, the veil sweet spot is the crown of the head, where your head starts to curve downward, or just below. “It really illuminates the bride’s face,” says Hart. Before your wedding day, Callan recommends testing out comb placement. “You want to see how the blusher (if there is one) hangs and where the bottom edge hits to find the spot that is most complimentary to your overall look,” she says. Veils can be fastened with combs or clips. “For extra hold, you can slide bobby pins at a perpendicular angle to the teeth of the comb or make an “x” along the teeth of the comb,” says Callan.

To help you figure out where your veil will go check out the most popular veils below and tips for styling each:

The Drop Wedding Veil
halo veil | veil placement tips |
Veil by Hushed Commotion, Photo: Jen Huang

The halo or drop veil is on-trend right now and has a distinctly bohemian style. “An illusion comb is stitched in with invisible thread to allow the veil to almost float on top of your hairstyle. It can be placed at the crown of the head or just below,” explains Hart. And don’t worry too much about matching the color of your veil to your wedding dress. As long as the shades are close, they’ll blend nicely together.

Tip: To really highlight your veil, add a hair vine or elegant headpiece.

The Juliet Wedding Cap
juliet cap veil | twigs and honey | veil placement tips |
Veil by Twigs & Honey, Phot: Elizabeth Messina

To add a vintage or bohemian edge to your look a Juliet cap veil is it. “There are two ways to wear this style,” says Hart. “You can either take a lace or bead-trimmed veil and wear it as a cap, with the sides pinned back with combs or pins behind each ear, or with a veil attached to a separate cap.”

Tip: Add something extra to your veil between ceremony and reception. Flowers, combs and pins are all fun ideas.

The Cathedral Veil
veil placement tips |
Photo: Joey Kennedy Photography

Traditional veils like the elbow length, fingertip, chapel and cathedral styles can be worn with or without a blusher, depending on whether or not you plan to cover your face for the ceremony. “Typically, they are placed at the back of the head,” says Callan, “but longer veils can be placed further back.”

Tip: A long tulle veil like this one could crinkle easily. Have it steamed (not ironed!) before the wedding day.

The Blusher Veil
blusher veil | veil placement tips |
Heather Roth Photography

We love the modern edge of a blusher veil, especially when paired with a lacy, feminine gown. “Like the more classic styles, blusher veils are placed at the crown of the head, but can be made longer or shorter, depending on how far back you place the comb,” says Callan.

Tip: Want a more structured look? Instead of a nylon blend, choose a blusher in a heavier and more opaque silk tulle.

The Bandeau Veil
bandeau veil | enchanted atelier | veil placement tips |
Veil by Liv Hart Enchanted Atelier, Photo: Laura Gordon

“The bandeau veil is perfect for the fashion-forward bride. It’s typically worn across the eyes to the tip of the nose. It can be secured with combs or alligator clips depending on the style,” says Hart.

Tip: Make sure your wedding dress truly complements (and doesn’t compete with) this fashion-forward veil.

The Cage Wedding Veil
birdcage veil | enchanted atelier | veil placement tips |
Veil by Liv Hart Enchanted Atelier, Photo: Gossamer Vintage

The birdcage veil is the signature accessory for a vintage-glam wedding. “A cage veil is not always a standard size or shape, so you should find out which design is best for communicating your signature style,” says Hart. “I recommend a 9″ cage veil length. It’s the perfect length to place the veil off to the side of the head and drape across your face diagonally to allow your lips to be free.”

Tip: Try not to exceed 9″ — if the netting is any longer, it could come in contact with your lipstick, leaving you with a smudge on the netting and possibly your face .

A Word: Not feeling the veil but plan to wear one to please mom or grandma? Callan and Hart recommend wearing your veil lower on your head to avoid having it distract from your gown or face. “Another thing to consider if you want a subtle veil is width,” says Hart. “A narrower cut will lay flatter and offer more transparency than a wider, gathering veil.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations Of 2014, According To Facebook

A recent study by Facebook has some surprising revelations about the post-wedding travel tendencies of 2014's newlyweds.

Facebook gathered data from couples who "checked in" at destinations more than twenty miles from their homes within two weeks after posting a marriage life event. While the study is far from scientific, it does provide some interesting data about Facebook users.

Namely, although relaxing beach towns predictably claimed nine of the top 10 spots, Las Vegas was the most popular destination among both international and American newlyweds. Sin City was significantly more popular for international couples than those from the U.S., or as Facebook put it, "Newlyweds from the US were much less likely to check into Las Vegas on Facebook than couples from outside the US."

The graph below shows the median distance traveled by honeymooners based on country of origin. Couples from South Korea ventured the farthest, traveling more than 4,000 miles from home, while Americans' median distance was just over 500 miles. (Click on the image to view a larger version).

Here are the top 10 destinations among couples worldwide:

1. Las Vegas, U.S.A.

las vegas

2. Lahaina, U.S.A.

lahaina resort

3. Honolulu, U.S.A.


4. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

playa del carmen honeymoon

5. Cancún, Mexico


6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

punta cana

7. Montego Bay, Jamaica

montego bay

8. Antalya, Turkey

antalya turkey

9. Castries, St. Lucia


10. Gramado, Brazil

gramado brazil


One of our Groomsmen, B.Peace drew a photo of us from our wedding and its just in time for our 2 year Anniversary......DOPE! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

12 Things Marriage Is And 12 Things It Isn't

Become a fan Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health/Midlife Blogger

24 years of marriage.

That's what September 15th meant for me.

We had celebrated earlier so I didn't remember until I was driving to work. I called him. Told him I loved him. I got grocery store flowers when I got home. Beautifully arranged by the way.
What ever did we do without grocery store flowers?

Between being a marital therapist and my own experience, I have learned a few things. Since I am on year #24, I've divided them into 12's. Just to be cute.

1) Marriage is not for sissies. It's hard work.

2) Marriage is not about getting what you want all the time. It's not a dictatorship. It's not wanting to win all the time because that would mean the other person would lose all the time. May be OK for you. Not good for the marriage.

3) Marriage is not rocket science. The principles it's based on are really pretty simple. Kindness. Respect. Loyalty. That kind of thing.

4) Marriage is not unfashionable. It stays vital. Even Brangelina must think so.

5) Marriage is not in and of itself stimulating. Since you are with the same person over a long time, the two of you can get in a rut. You have to keep things fresh.

6) Marriage is not about collecting things. The joys of marriage aren't tangible. You live them. That's what makes them so very special.

7) Marriage is not for the impatient. Some of the best stuff takes a while to develop. You have to stick around to find that out.

8) Marriage is not the place for criticism. For abuse. If it is found there, it will ruin any chance of true intimacy or trust and dissolve the hope that once might have existed.

9) Marriage is not a 24-hour repair shop. Your marital partner is not supposed to meet your every need. Some of those needs you may have to take care of yourself. Through your friendships or other activities.

10) Marriage is not self-sustaining. It does not thrive on its own. If all you focus on is the kids, you are making a mistake.

11) Marriage is not boring. Two lives woven together can be quite exciting! There's just something about watching someone very different from you, living their life in an extremely different way. Up close and personal. You learn from that.

12) Marriage is not without conflict. Knowing how to disagree and work through anger and disappointment is probably the key to lots of stuff going well. Getting to that cooperating, mentioned in #2.


12 Things That Marriage Is:

1) Marriage is the potential for an intense, deep and diverse intimacy. Sexual. Emotional. Relational.

2) Marriage is knowing someone has your back. Always. You have theirs. It's about interdependence.

3) Marriage is realizing that you have been seen in your worst times, and that you are still loved.
There's an overriding sense of gratitude and security.

4) Marriage is sharing old jokes. Or some story that may be told over and over but it still makes you laugh 'til you are left gasping for breath.

5) Marriage is getting teary-eyed together.

6) Marriage is thinking about the other one not being there anymore. And not being able to think about it.

7) Marriage is getting irritated by the things that always irritate you. Have irritated you for 24 years. Will irritate you for 24 more. And tolerating it because it is way overbalanced by the good stuff.

8) Marriage is not being able to wait to get home to share some little something.

9) Marriage is wishing you were the one having the operation. Or the illness. Not him.

10) Marriage is sometimes fighting. Trying to slowly learn to fight more fairly. To apologize. To listen. To learn. To find resolution.

11) Marriage is about vulnerability. Giving someone the right to hurt or disappoint you. While simultaneously giving that someone the opportunity to bring you tremendous joy and laughter.

12) Marriage is a promise. A vow. To try the hardest you have ever tried in your life. Marriage is a place for the achievement of a personal integrity like no other.

I'm now living year #25.
So far. So good.

Friday, October 10, 2014

8 Things You Can Do With Your Dress After Your Wedding

After months of searching and saving, you've found your perfect gown! And while the dress is certainly is near and dear to your heart right now, one question lingers: what will become of it after the wedding? Many brides are taking a new look at the life of their wedding dress, post-ceremony. We've rounded up eight ideas for what to do with the dress once your big day has passed.
Great Gatsby wedding inspiration | Jordan Weiland
1. Donate it. Organizations like Brides Across America and Brides Against Breast Cancer afford brides the opportunity to donate their dresses. Paying your perfect dress forward could turn someone else's dream wedding into reality.
2. Make it into a work of art. Dresses, garters, and veils can all be professionally framed into custom art, preserving the happiness of your day for years to come.
3. Turn it into a gown for your little one. Christening gowns are becoming a popular way to re-work wedding dresses. You could also have your gown made into an outfit for a naming ceremony or even a first birthday party.
4. Have a cocktail...dress, that is! You've worked with your seamstress to have the dress perfectly why not reach out post-wedding to have a custom cocktail dress created? A dress that is both loved and fits like a glove could become a great conversation piece at next summer's soiree.
5. Transform it. Dresses made of satin, lace, or tulle can be transformed into beautiful evening bags; we love the idea of carrying your dress in clutch form to your first anniversary dinner. If staying in is more your speed, dresses can also be made into pillows or quilts. What better way to add a cherished touch to your home together?
6. Sell it. If you're feeling the post-wedding budget crunch, you can make a little cash back by selling your dress. Try a wedding-specific website like Nearly Newlywed or, or list it on eBay.
7. Preserve it for posterity. Every bride loves her dress, and if the saying "like mother like daughter" proves true in your family, your unique gown may be just what your children may want when their day comes. Even if that seems unlikely, you still may find yourself unable to part with it.
8. Trash it! This last idea can be a fun way to send your dress off in style. Brides have swum underwater, played in muddy farms, or even set fire to their frocks. With a photographer standing by, trashing your dress can create fun and beautiful photos.

He won her heart, she got new lungs. Hospital proposal has happy ending

Ashley Campbell isn’t a young woman who spent a lot of time thinking about the perfect partner, the perfect wedding, the perfect life. Campbell, 22, has cystic fibrosis (CF) and all she wanted to do was breathe, just a little bit easier.

Ashley Campbell
Courtesy of Ashley Campbell
"An organ donor gave Ryan and me a chance at a life together," says Ashley Campbell.
Her lungs were failing, standard treatments weren’t working and her only hope for survival was a double-lung transplant. However, donor organs are scare. And with a chronic, life-threatening disease like CF, she was never quite sure she would meet a man who would be brave enough to join his life with hers. Those partners are scarce, too.

But life can indeed be filled with surprises.

In March of this year, Ashley was in the Cleveland Clinic’s intensive care unit fighting for her life. She suffered a serious setback and had to be flown to Cleveland from her home in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Her boyfriend, Ryan Denkenberger, 20 — the proverbial "friend of a friend" she met on Facebook — was at her side, watching a ventilator do her breathing as she lay on the bed, sedated.
He remembers their first date on August 5, 2013. It was nothing fancy, he says, just dinner and a movie. Ashley calls him a gentle man, “... a rock, whose mother raised him right.” He would help her carry her oxygen, and when she couldn’t make it up to the second-story of her home, Ryan would put her on his back and climb the stairs piggyback style.

Ryan was a young man in love, but he didn’t know if Ashley was going to survive. But Ashley did stabilize and when she was taken off sedation one of the first people she saw was Ryan.

Ashley Campbell in the hospital with Ryan Denkenberger
J. Wilfong Photography 
When Ashley Campbell awoke from sedation after a serious setback, one of the first people she saw was Ryan Denkenberger, who had a ring and a proposal. 
He was on bended knee, right at her bedside. He had a ring and asked Ashley to marry him.
“I wanted her to know just how much I loved her, no matter what,” says Ryan, who works in the energy industry. “He changed my life,” says Ashley. “I thought it couldn’t get any better than that.”
But it could, and did. A few hours later another life-changing event happened. Her family and fiancé were told Ashley was a match for a pair of donor lungs, and she was finally going to get her transplant after being listed for more than two years.

Campbell is one of the estimated 30,000 people in the U.S. with CF, a genetic disease that causes a buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. That mucous buildup can lead to severe respiratory problems, and trouble with digestion and absorption. With advances in medication and management, many patients with CF live well into their 30s, 40s and sometimes beyond.

Lung transplants are reserved for those individuals who have severe lung disease and who meet other criteria. Although the surgery doesn’t cure CF, it could potentially buy Ashley many years of a more normal life.

Ashley Campbell and her fiancé Ryan Denkenberger
Courtesy of Ashley Campbell
The couple hasn't set a wedding date yet, but they’re happy to be home, cuddling on the couch, and binge-watching movies and TV shows. 
According to the CF Foundation Patient Registry, nearly 2,800 people with CF have received lung transplants since 1990. More than 80 percent of these patients are alive one year after transplant, and more than 50 percent are alive after five years.

People over the age of 12 who are waiting for lung transplants are assessed on a regular basis to determine their health status and their likelihood of staying healthy after transplantation.
Instead of allocating lungs based on wait time, available donor lungs are given to those who are the most sick.

For Ashley, the future looks much brighter than it ever has before.

“With healthy living, medication compliance and a healthy soul, in a perfect world, there would be nothing to hold Ashley back,” says Dr. Marie Budev. medical director of the clinic’s lung transplant center, which performed 98 lung transplants last year, 12 of which were for patients with CF.

“Every patient is an individual, but patients with CF seem to do quite well after transplant,” says Budev. “We want to see people go back to college, get married, live a life. Transplants are about more than just survival.”

Ashley hopes to go back to college to study nursing. Ryan was in college studying business, and would like to go back and perhaps study physical therapy. The couple has not yet set a wedding date. Right now they’re happy to be at home, cuddling on the couch, and binge-watching movies and television shows, while Ashley eats one of her favorite meals: a "Mr. Hero Romanburger" and fries with cheese.

“I’m finally putting some weight on,” says Ashley who, at one point, weighed only 64 pounds, and now tips the scale at about 75 pounds. Her goal is to get to about 115 pounds.

“People like us, with serious health conditions, we dream of a healthy life,” she says, "and organ donors . . . can give someone that second chance. In my case, an organ donor gave Ryan and me a chance at a life, together.”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Must-Know Tips for a Successful Wedding Tasting

cocktail party reception 
Photo: Esther Sun Photography
Whether your wedding venue is providing catering or you're using an outside vendor, most reliable caterers offer potential clients tastings of their food, from hors d'oeuvres to main courses — and it's a good idea to take them up on it. The tasting has become increasingly important as couples increasingly choose to personalize everything from their signature cocktails to their desserts; this is the only dress rehearsal for food that you have. Here are some tips on things to watch for during your tasting:

1. If you've hired a wedding planner or consultant, you should include him or her in the tasting; it's the wedding planner's job to be the clear-eyed troubleshooter, and to make sure you get the service you want.

2. Look for signs of good-quality foods and ingredients. If the ends of cheese slices appear dry and discolored, that could mean that the cheese was cut hours before — or even yesterday. Are the vegetables brightly colored and not soggy? Is the salad fresh and not wilting? Are baked breads soft and chewy and not stale and hard? Even little things like butter having a refrigerator taste, can be a clue to a caterer's attention — or inattention — to detail.

3. Notice the attentiveness of the staff. If you're attending a buffet tasting, note whether food is allowed to sit out for long periods without being replenished. The caterer should have sufficient staff to keep presentation as fresh looking at 3 p.m. as it was at noon.

4. Ask if it's possible to meet the chef at your tasting. Be sure to thank the chef and offer positive feedback. Once you empower a chef with your attention and confidence, the results can be amazing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

4 Things You and Your Parents Will (Probably) Disagree on While Wedding Planning

Mother of the Bride and Daugheter
Photo: Getty Images

Ahh ... compromise. It's a word that all happy couples understand well, but when it comes to wedding planning, often it's not with each other that they have to compromise, but with their parents.
Regardless of where you and your parents may fall on the Bridezilla/Momzilla scale, there will be times when you won't things see eye to eye. We asked wedding planners Amy Katz, founder of Amy Katz Events and Nicolle Sellers, principal planner at Mother of the Bride, to share the most common planning disagreements they encounter and offer their wise advise on how to resolve them.

1. The Guest List
Parents don't want to feel limited in how many people they can invite to the wedding, says Katz. "This becomes an especially sticky subject if they also happen to be footing the bill." The key to navigating the issue is to be respectful of feelings at all times. "Don't yell or fight," warns Katz. "Instead, sit down together and make a joint list of who the most important people are to the families and how realistic it is to accommodate everyone given the venue and budget. Any reasonable parent will understand that they shouldn't invite 10 work clients that have never even met the couple if that means the bride's college roommates would need to be cut."

2. The Invitation Wording
Invitations might look pretty and pristine, but they can be the source of a lot of tension. "Sometimes if the bride's family is paying for the entire wedding, they can get adamant that the groom's parents' names not be anywhere on the invitation," explains Katz. Unfortunately, this may cause the groom to feel slighted and starting off a marriage with a bride vs. groom family feud is never a good idea. "There are ways to list names in order on the invitation that makes it clear who is the host," Katz says. "Your best bet is to have your wedding planner — an expert who has dealt with this before and can bring an impartial view to the situation."

3. The Open Bar
"A lot of disagreements between the couple and their parents come down to the bar," says Sellers. "Whether it's because they want guests to drink responsibly or because it's such a large line item on the budget, many parents want to cap how long the open bar lasts, whereas the couple may want it to go all night." An easy fix? "Split the cost of the bar," suggests Sellers.

4. The More Traditional Aspects of a Wedding
Keep in mind that norms have changed a lot in the past 30 to 50 years, when your parents had their wedding, says Katz. "For example, now couples don't think twice about having a dessert bar or a coffee bar, but when the parents were getting married, the proper thing to do was to have coffee service at the table. Both sides need to compromise a little if they're getting worked up over these types of details."

Another traditional part of the wedding that many parents find important but couples find less so is having a receiving line. "Parents see the receiving line as an opportunity for the couple to thank people who have traveled to see them and brought them a gift," says Sellers. If you have a lot of older relatives who are attending your wedding, Sellers recommends that couples compromise on this to avoid any hurt feelings. "But if a receiving line is not possible because of time or space constraints, then couples should specifically make a point to greet and thank their guests individually."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

10 Wedding Favors Your Guests Will Love

Looking for wedding favors that your guests will want to stash instead of throw in the trash? The best gifts are those that are usable and beautifully wrapped, and a wedding favor is no exception. To thank guests for attending your wedding, consider these adorable gestures your guests will love to take home. 

1. Talk about a way to get things popping! These popcorn kernels are an adorable way to thank guests for attending.  

Courtesy of Lindsay Mccoy, Evermine Blog

2. Having an outdoor wedding? Offer guests blankets that they can wrap themselves in once the sun goes down and can take home after.


Courtesy of Marianne Wilson Photography

3. Mini champagne bottles, complete with striped straws, will help keep the party going even once open bar closes.


Courtesy of Mademoiselle Fiona Photography

4. Want some more? Your guests will when you give out these cute s’more favors!


Courtesy of Stephanie A. Smith Photography

5. Light up the night with sparklers! Your guests will love twirling them around and they make for some seriously pretty wedding photos.


Courtesy of Janet Howard Studio

6. For a destination wedding, why not give your guests luggage tags. You can even have them personalized and use them as escort cards.


Courtesy of Love Travels Favors

7. What a sweet way to thank your guest! We know your guests will bee thrilled with these honey favors.


Courtesy of Occasion House

8. Succulents are hardy and can go for long periods without water, which make them a fabulous living option for your wedding favors!


Courtesy of The Succulent Source

9. Show your gratitude by giving guests delicious preserves in sweet jars tied with twine. It’s a surefire way to make sure your guests are still talking about your wedding over breakfast the next morning.


Courtesy of Yasmin Khajavi Photography

10. Love really is sweet, when you hand out these mini-bubble gum machines!


Courtesy of Beau Coup

After Brain Injury, Husband Helps Wife Regain Lost Memories

PHOTO: Raleigh Hall and his wife Tunicia celebrate her recovery after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

A month after his wedding, Raleigh Hall's new bride was rushed to the hospital following a near fatal brain hemorrhage. Doctors said she had a 50/50 chance of survival.

Thankfully, Tunicia Hall survived, but her recent memories did not -- including the memory of her June wedding. She looked up at her new husband, whom she had known for 30 years, and asked, "Are we married?" reports NBC 4 in New York.
"I felt like I lost her,” Raleigh said.

Rather than sit by and watch the love of his life fade away, Raleigh took action, covering Tunicia's hospital room with 1000 wedding photographs in an attempt to stir up lost memories.
"The photos drew questions -- when were we married? And she saw something, and I believe what she saw was hope," Raleigh said.

"The pictures were beautiful," Tunicia told CBS news. "They were nice to look at."

And they appeared to have worked. After a few weeks, Tunicia's memory slowly returned. Dr. Richard Temis, amazed by the progress, told NBC 4, "This is a great example that patients' families are key to recovery.”