Friday, August 30, 2013

End Of Summer Getaway Ideas For Couples

This article originally appeared on DateNight.Is

While summer isn't quite over, it's hot enough now that we wish it would be. The heat is draining and tempers are flaring, making this the perfect time to plan one last escape before the summer vacation mentality melts away and everyone expects you to actually get work done on Fridays. So here are five easy-to-plan getaways to fuel your wanderlust...

Plan a Road Trip

Everyone gets caught up in the destination of a vacation. "Oh, we're going to ________." It sounds impressive. It sounds like you've planned. But when was the last time you travelled with the sole purpose being to enjoy the journey? Load a good driving mix on your iWhatever, fill a cooler, and grab your camera. Then hop in the car (or grab a Zipcar) and Pick a direction you've never travelled and GO.

The key to a good road trip is keeping your plans to a minimum and your willingness for an adventure to a maximum. Plan to pull over whenever it strikes your fancy – because you saw a cute cafe, or a seedy bar that you swear they filmed...something at. Or because you want to grab a photo of the view. All those things that you would never bother to do if you were heading to a destination because you'd rather not waste the time. Do them now.
In fact, we're planning our own road trip up the California coast in August, and we could use some help deciding where we should stop.

Head to a New City

Chances are you live within a day's travel to some city that you just haven't quite made it to yet. There's nothing particularly special about this city (or town). Your friends haven't been raving about it for years. You have no idea what's there. And that is the perfect reason to go there.
Head to a new place and just see what it has to offer. Every town has its own personality and culture that's fun to discover. Keep an eye out for summer festivals as well; they're a great way to get a feel for a small town. Need some help getting started? Here are Smithsonian Magazine's 2012 and 2013 lists of the 20 best small towns in America for a visit. Or, check out recommendations from our own recent adventure in Richmond, Va.
Find a Nearby Farm to Visit

With the growing interest in the locavore movement, many farms have opened their doors for picking more than just pumpkins and apples in the fall. You can now head out into the field, basket in hand, to harvest your own...just about anything. This is an outing that's equally romantic and/or family-friendly depending on what you're looking for. And you'll walk away with a bounty that's worthy of some good recipe hunting when you're done. (Hint: cooking classes also make for a great date night!)
There are a few sites dedicated to helping you find a farm to visit: (for the NY'ers out there)

Visit a Winery

Want to visit a "farm" but not enthralled by the idea of wandering around a hot field picking fruits and vegetables that you could otherwise find at the grocery store? Fear not! There's a type of farm visit just for you, and it's called...a winery.

Believe it or not, there's a winery to be found in every single state in the U.S.. Most of them will gladly schedule a tasting or tour of some sort to whet your appetite. (Just be careful with your transportation plans on this getaway, please!)

Want to find an option near you? Here's few directories to get you started:

Summer Camp, Grown-Up Style

Do you miss the days where summer meant weeks on end in creaky cabin bunk beds somewhere in the woods? Well guess what? You can do it all over again. Summer Camp for Adults is gaining popularity every year amongst the crowd who wants to relive their glory days of roasting the perfect marshmallow, wearing Tevas all day every day, and singing campfire tunes until sunrise. In fact, according to the WSJ, it's estimated that a million adults went to camp last summer alone.
Want to find the perfect Summer Camp for you? Check out and start sifting through everything from Wine Camp to Theatre Camp to Cowboy Camp (just like the one in City Slickers!). Oh, and remember "that one time at Band Camp..."

The Night We Met: Jeremy And Brittany Share Their Accidental Love Story

The Night We Met
The night you first met your now-fiancé or spouse will go down as one of the most pivotal nights of your life -- even though you probably didn't realize it at the time! Maybe it was love at first sight for both of you, one of you or neither of you. Maybe you started out as co-workers or study buddies or two people who hated each other's guts. In any case, each of you probably has a different take on that very first encounter. For our The Night We Met series, we're asking engaged or married couples to each tell us their version of that fateful day or night. Have a good story to share? You can send it to Each partner should send us one paragraph telling the story from his/her perspective. Meet our latest couple below!

In November 2012, Brittany thought she was accompanying her pregnant cousin to a maternity photo shoot at the Chinese Lantern Festival in Dallas. It seemed like an odd location to take the pictures and she couldn't figure out why it was happening after dark -- but she didn't want to question a woman who was eight months pregnant (smart girl!). While they were walking around the festival, she saw a guy in a suit who looked a hell of a lot like her boyfriend, Jeremy, standing in a candle-lined pathway. It took her a couple of seconds to register what was happening.

"I was so excited that I barely remember what Jeremy said, or even if I said 'yes,' but the next thing I knew there was a beautiful ring on my finger and we were laughing and hugging," she told The Huffington Post. "I turned around to see not only my cousin, but Jeremy's sister and her husband, and Jeremy's good friend taking pictures. It was perfect."

After nearly six years together, the Frisco, Texas couple tied the knot in July 2013. Find out how they originally got together below:

His version:
I first saw Brittany at a mutual friend's party and thought she seemed like a fun girl. I wasn't looking for a relationship, but I thought my fraternity brother, Cody, would be great for her. My roommate was dating one of her friends, so I convinced her friend to bring Brittany to a hockey game so I could set [Brittany up with my frat brother], thinking it was the perfect opportunity for them to get to know each other.The night of the game, I was yelling funny insults at players like I always did, just being myself. I hadn't intended to meet a new girl. But Cody never showed up. So I was "stuck" entertaining Brittany.
I started talking to her and quickly realized how nice she was. I wanted to be a good friend to Cody, though, so I decided to get to know her, just in case things ended up working out for them. I asked her the most random questions, like her favorite movie quote, just to see how she answered them -- that way I could report back for my bro. Honestly, by the end of the night, I just thought she was a cool girl -- I didn't think anything else of her. But I was glad that my brother stood Brittany up.
It wasn't until the next day that I found out why Cody never showed -- he had decided to take a nap instead. I told him not worry though, because he was about to get another chance. I had just gotten a text from my roommate that Brittany was throwing a party. So when I got home I started getting ready for the night. That's when my roommate walked in and started asking me questions about Brittany and I found out that she liked me. So the first thing I did was call Cody to let him know and he just laughed because he had made other plans and wouldn't have been able to go to her party anyway. Two words: his loss!

Her version:
Jeremy and I went to a relatively small college (Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas) where we were both active in Greek life. I saw him at different events and around campus, and as time went on, I always thought of him as "that balding guy who everyone loves." Halfway through my sophomore year, my sorority and Jeremy's fraternity had a mixer together and we were finally properly introduced. Again, I thought he was a ton of fun to be around, always the life of the party, but I wasn't looking for a relationship. I was 19, too young to settle down (or so I thought).
My sorority sister, roommate and close friend asked me one night to go to her boyfriend's hockey game. I didn't really want to go because I was already in my pajamas studying for a test, but then she told me, "That Jeremy guy really wants you to come." Naturally I thought he was interested, why else would he want me to come?
I went to the game with my friend and took my seat next to Jeremy, where we joked and chatted and laughed. By the time we left the game, I couldn't stop thinking about him. I had a party at my apartment the next night just so I could hang out with him again. That night, we texted until about 4 am, and I knew he was someone special.
It was pretty embarrassing to discover a few months later that I was actually stood up and Jeremy was "stuck" with me that night. Nevertheless, we continued talking, hanging out, and were eventually attached at the hip. I would have never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that the bald, funny guy I saw around campus would be my husband one day. I'm so thankful I not only went to that hockey game, but was stood up as well.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Marriage Fears Revealed By Our Readers

Huffington Post

Getting married -- however exciting and wonderful it may be -- is a major life decision that can also spark fear and doubt. Have you found the "right" person? How will marriage change your relationship? Do you believe that great love really can last a lifetime?

On Tuesday, we asked our readers to reveal their biggest fears about tying the knot. Scroll down for nine honest confessions. Then, share yours in the comments below.
When my wife and I married over five years ago, we were young (still are). We didn't have much money, rented a cheap apartment and lived very busy lives to make ends meet. My biggest fear going into our marriage was wondering how we would find time to help our relationship grow in the midst of all the business. We've learned that marriage takes a lot of work, but that there is beauty in the fact that you get to experience life together. - Lawrence, 25, of Greenville, N.C.
My biggest fear was that I would give in to the cold feet. Forever sounded like a death sentence. "One day at a time" is more my speed. I like discovering my husband every day, without any prior promises of eternal love. I like knowing that I may or may not like everything I learn about him. "Till death do us part" sounds more like a prison sentence than love. I prefer "let me see what I can learn to love about you today." - Raluca, 36, of Los Angeles
My biggest fear about marriage is its potential failure. These days, it seems like epic love is rare -- you know, the kind of love you see in "The Notebook" (thank you, Nicholas Sparks). There are plenty of stories where people fall out of love, don't want to settle down, cheat, come out of the closet, want someone younger or find that after spending thousands of dollars on a platinum wedding, the marriage falls apart. You have no control over how your partner acts or thinks. What if I'm all in and he (or she) is partially out down the line? What if we decide that forever is not a real option for us? - Christine, 25, of California
My biggest fear about marriage is that I won't have enough time to explore myself or my career because I'm still 24 and have a lot on my plate. But maybe that's just me being self-centered. - Marantina, 24, of Indonesia
That it will somehow make things change. That my best friend of 10 years will suddenly become a stranger, or just a roommate. That life (and reality) will get in the way of the fairytale love we've had so far. That I won't be good enough. That he won't be good enough. - Ololade, 27, of Nigeria.
For over a year while we were planning our wedding, every conversation (and argument) we had was about colors and flowers and party planning details. I was terrified that we had nothing else to talk about! I was scared that once the party planning was over we would be silent and grow apart. But it was just the opposite. Once the party was over and everyone was gone, we began to really talk again. About everything, anything. It was like dating all over again -- we were catching up and remembering why we fell in love in the first place. Now we are silent from time to time. But it is a beautiful silence. And when you're not busy talking, there's an awful lot of kissing you can do! - Shayna, 29, of Manhattan
My greatest fear is boredom. I understand that after a few months, the butterflies disappear and real love kicks in. I need to find someone who's totally different and passionate so I'll never be bored. - Eudo, 24, of Texas
When I got married, my biggest fear was that it could fail. I love my husband dearly, and I had all kinds of confidence about the strength of our relationship at the time. But I had seen all too often how people around me had grown apart from their spouses after a number of years. And I had many failed relationships prior to marriage. Now happily married for nearly four years, I no longer have this lingering fear. I know that because I waited for the right partner and until my late 30s to get married, I found someone who can and does grow with me. I'm happily playing for keeps! - Brande, 40, of Philadelphia
I fear the unknown when it comes to marriage. Will he grow as I grow? Will he be able to be faithful? Will he be willing to stay with me if he already knows I don't want another child? Will the man that I finally decide to break down walls for, love me when I'm most vulnerable? The unknown is scary and I don't think I'm willing to risk it all to find out. - Michelle, 29, of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

20 Prayers For My Husband

1. Father, I pray that You will pour Your abundant love into my husband’s heart. I pray that You will help him to know today how wide and high and long and deep is Your great love for him.

2. Lord God, today I ask that You will help my wonderful husband to find his identity in You. I pray that You will remind him that he is Your son, and he is accepted and loved by You, just as he is.

3. God in heaven, please give my husband strength for the journey. Remind him that he does not have to work in his own strength, but in Yours, and fill him with that strength today.

4. Father, I pray that You will fill my husband with Your joy today. Give him every blessing that You desire to give him, and help him to take joy in all the blessings, and even in trials, as they produce perseverance and stronger faith.

5. Lord God, please fill my husband also with Your peace. No matter what he faces today, please remind Him that You are God, and You are in control.

6. Father, I ask that You will help my husband to walk in freedom today and every day. You have forgiven his sins and set him free from bondage, and I pray that the enemy will not get a foothold in any area of my husband’s heart today.

7. Father I pray that You will give my husband a clear understanding of Your will for his life today, and in this season. Please give him grace as he strives to be obedient to Your will.

8. Lord God, I thank You for the wise husband you have given me. I pray that You will continue to fill him with wisdom so that he will grow in his knowledge of You, and so that he will know how You desire him to respond to anything he faces today.

9. Lord I thank you for my husband’s hunger for Your word, and his reliance on it. I pray that You will speak to him today, through Your living word, and help him to hide it in his heart so that he will not sin against You.

10. Lord God please help my husband to clearly hear Your voice. I know he is listening. I ask that You will quiet the voice of the enemy, the voice of our culture, and any other voice that is contrary to Yours. Help him to hear what You have to say to him today.

11. Jesus, if there is anyone that my husband needs to forgive, help him to do so today, so that he will not leave the door of his heart open for the enemy to enter in. Help my husband and me both to forgive as You forgave us.

12. Lord, please help my husband to rest in You. I pray that he will trust You in everything and that he will be able to just relax and enjoy the view of what You are doing.

13. Father I pray that You will be glorified in our marriage. Help us to place You above all else, and to place one another as our greatest priorities here on earth. Help us not only to believe that in our hearts but to act it out in our lives.

14. Lord God, I pray that You will strengthen and bless our marriage. Help my husband to lead and me to follow, and help us to grow in love for one another every day.

15. Jesus, help my husband and me to have Godly attitudes and speak Godly words to one another today. Help us to have patience with one another, as You have patience with us. Help us to speak words that encourage and build one another up.

16. Father, please give my husband and me the strength and grace to be faithful to our marriage vows. Please help us both to guard our hearts against anything that would harm our marriage.

17. Father, I pray that You will provide for our finances. I pray that you will help my husband and me to trust You in that area and to be good stewards of what You have already given us. I pray that You will give my husband favor at work and allow his labors to be fruitful.

18. Lord God I ask that you will bless the intimacy between my husband and me. Please increase our spiritual, emotional and physical connection to one another.

19. Father, I pray that you will help both my husband and me to surround ourselves with people who are Godly influences upon our lives. Please help us to be humble and to always seek wise counsel for our lives.

20. Lord, I thank You and praise You for my wonderful husband and for the blessing of marriage. I pray that You will give us grace today and every day to be obedient to Your word and will, and help us to be Godly examples to others.


Photo of the Week

This Photo of the Week is my Husband and I as Bridesmaid and Groomsmen at his Mom's wedding... Don't we look so cute????

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Confessions of a Newlywed: Month 10

1. Its been 10 months... Holy Cow!
2. It still feels like it is all brand new
3. Being called Mrs. Cameron always makes me smile.
4. I am excited to celebrate our 1 year anniversary.
5. I feel like a little kid when I see him at the end of the day.
6. I cant wait for us to buy our home together.
7. It has been confirmed after a recent trip that we in fact need a King Size Bed...LOL
8. I love that he continues to be a gentleman, Even when me moves me over on the sidewalk.
9. I still text him every morning... I think he likes it.
10. When I hear our first song ring on my phone... Its nice to know he is on the other end.
11. I cant wait for our next adventure together.
12. I love that we are still the "It" Couple.
13. He has made me more of a lover of Spicy Food
14. He completes me
15. Romance
16. There is something special about knowing that someone is going to spend their life with you...
17. His laughter makes me laugh
18. His smile is my joy
19. He is everything I wanted and more in a husband and I am the luckiest girl in the world.
20. No one else could be better for me than Scott.

The Night We Met: Kristin And Carlos Share Their Online Dating Success Story

the night we met
The night you first met your now-fiancé or spouse will go down as one of the most pivotal nights of your life -- even though you probably didn't realize it at the time! Maybe it was love at first sight for both of you, one of you or neither of you. Maybe you started out as co-workers or study buddies or two people who hated each other's guts. In any case, each of you probably has a different take on that very first encounter. For our The Night We Met series, we're asking engaged or married couples to each tell us their version of that fateful day or night. Have a good story to share? You can send it to Each partner should send us one paragraph telling the story from his/her perspective. Meet our latest couple below!

Carlos Cataque, 29, popped the question to his girlfriend Kristin Pallozzi, 27, at the National Arboretum in Washington D.C. in April 2013. He had scheduled a "date day" for the pair to go look at the beautiful flowers. After spending the day enjoying the outdoors and each other, Cataque asked another couple to take their picture. Little did Pallozzi know that the couple weren't strangers at all -- they were actually there to photograph and record Cataque's marriage proposal! As they posed for the picture, Cataque got down on one knee to pop the question. Now, the couple is set to tie the knot in June 2014 in Watertown, Mass. (they currently live in Arlington, Va. but Cataque is originally from Boston). Below is the story of their first in-person encounter.

His Version:
We met online, like any well-adjusted person who doesn't have the time/desire to look for people in bars and clubs. AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! We met for the first time at a diner. I used a smooth line that went something like this, "Do you like food? Because I like food. And if you want, we could get food together?" Not an exact quote but something very similar. You all have my permission to use the line if you need it (hey, it worked for me!). Back to the story -- I walked in and she was already there, seated at a table. She looked up from her menu and smiled at me and I was hooked. We sat and talked for almost five hours. It was the easiest, most beautiful conversation I've ever had with a stranger. No forced talking to fill in the spaces, no effort needed, just ease.

The most memorable part of the conversation was when we talked about our idea of the perfect day. I wanted to know how well we matched so I asked her, "If money was no issue, there were no rules about weather or time, and anyone you wanted could be there, what would you do on your perfect day?" And we sat there and talked for a while, just constructing our own perfect days. The funny thing was that by the end of the conversation, we were no longer constructing separate perfect days -- we were constructing OUR perfect day together. We did everything and went everywhere! We met the president, led a parade held in our honor, spent time with our loved ones, laid on the beach, we laughed, we danced, we watched the snow fall in the street lights. But, basically, it was perfect.

Little did I know when I walked into the diner that night, I wasn't just meeting a BEAUTIFUL woman, I was meeting my future wife.

Her Version:
We met online. Seriously. Yes, we need our own OKCupid commercial.

The first thing he ever said to me was "Wow, you're pretty!" At first I thought, "Oh great, he's a flirt." Then I thought, "Maybe it was a genuine compliment, that's nice." And lastly I thought, "He thought I would be homely? How rude." The rest went on pretty much as he describes -- fantastic conversation over mediocre food. My face hurt from smiling, I couldn't stop talking and I felt more comfortable than I had ever been with anyone.

We started talking about what a perfect day would be to each of us. He went first, talking of bonfires and beaches with family and friends. I went second and just decided to invite myself to his perfect day (it sounded fun!). Then, we decided that we were going to make a perfect day together. It consisted of private islands, bonfires, a thunderstorm, a nap in a hammock, the invention of a teleporter (so we could do all these things in one day), the ability to never get tired, saving lives, accepting a few "keys to the city" for our good deeds and even an award from the president. Best part of our created perfect day? It didn't end until we wanted it to.

After our date, I called my mom to reassure her that Carlos was not, in fact, a serial killer. I told her, "Mom, I'm gonna marry that man!" It's fun to think about how that turned out to be true.

Monday, August 26, 2013

11 Ways To Keep Stress From Hurting Your Marriage

stress marriage
We recently profiled four couples who have established what we think of as Third Metric marriages -- relationships where both partners value wellbeing ahead of accumulating wealth or climbing a career ladder (which can responsible for so much misery). You can read their individual stories here, here, here and here, but we realized that in the aggregate, their choices offer a nice cheat sheet of marital dos and don'ts. If you're looking to shape or reshape a shared life that doesn't feel like a grind, where you have less stress and more time for each other, consider following their lead:

1. Work the important stuff out before you get married (to the extent that you can).

When I asked Meghan and Josh what the biggest challenge in their marriage is, Meghan said a lot of their hardest moments so far came before they got engaged, when they were figuring out "if we can actually function and work together, being who we each are." Meghan was used to her independence and wasn't even sure she wanted to get married. She tended to work more and have more work-related stress than Josh, who described himself as a "late bloomer" -- he still lived with his parents in his late 20s while he was establishing his nutrition practice. Before anyone put a ring on it, Meghan made it clear that Josh needed to move a little faster, and she committed to including Josh in her decisions and not letting work infringe on their time with each other.

Other couples we talked to also had key decisions and positions worked out when they married. Sarah and Jeff knew that Sarah would always be focused on her career, whereas Jeff would work part time or stay home as soon as they had a family. "Even though we got together pretty young, it's always been an understanding," Sarah said. Although they had lots to work out in terms of how they spent their money, high school sweethearts Bethany and Dustin knew that they wanted several children. As much as possible, figure out the big stuff before you say "I do."

2. If you have trouble coping with stress, marry someone who is less affected by it.

Both Meghan and Dana, who admit their vulnerability to stress, married people who are temperamentally less likely to become unmoored by their own stress. As a result, there's always a voice of calm and reason in their dynamic.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be responsible for managing your own stress or that it doesn't deplete the less stress-prone partner to be constantly trying to help the other unwind. But tough situations are much easier to manage if both of your nerves aren't constantly singed.
3. Know that your job affects your marriage. 
Most of the spouses we profiled saw their lives and marriages get profoundly better when they left jobs that didn't offer them flexibility or fulfillment. Not everyone has the option to switch jobs or careers, much less quit, like Sarah and Jeff, did, but if you have a sense that you're not where you're meant to be, think about the steps you would need to take to move into something you enjoy more. The person talking you off a ledge every night will appreciate it.

4. Have a plan.

If Josh and Meghan's life together seems like a designer marriage, that's because they consciously built their life in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes time for pursuits they believe in and enjoy.

For them a key piece has been assuming that they can do what they set out to do and refusing to accept that anything simply can't be done. Here's how Josh put it: "I think people don't really look at what they truly want to do in life and then take the steps to see if that's a feasible thing. [They] just jump to conclusions -- 'oh, that's not responsible,' or 'I don't have the money to do that.' You can pretty much do anything if you take the appropriate steps to set it up that way."

5. Reevaluate the plan.

If you didn't start your marriage with the lifestyle that works best for you, you're not stuck. Almost all of the spouses we interviewed once thought they would always be in the careers that were making their lives miserable and putting pressure on their marriages. Sometimes together, sometimes at different moments, they questioned whether that was true, and simply asking the question led to changes that have made them healthier, less stressed and happier with each other.

6. Even if you think you're doing everything right, reevaluate the plan.

Dustin and Bethany were learning how to lead marriage retreats for engaged couples when they realized their marriage "just wasn't what we'd set out to do," as Dustin put it. It wasn't terrible, but they realized it could be a lot better, and they were willing to experiment with doing it differently. Like the other couples who reorganized their lives in an attempt to feel better and enjoy it all a little more, their effort wasn't wasted.

7. Do the corny exercise.

You can understand why Bethany and Dustin were skeptical of a marriage retreat activity that asked them to describe their "dream marriage" to each other. It also happened to be one of the most useful excercises they had ever done, and it's one every married couple or prospective married couple should probably do, maybe at several different junctures in the marriage. There may be things your spouse wants that you're not even aware of, or have long forgotten -- in Bethany's case, it was being a stay-at-home parent. And there may be desires of your own that you think you've made known but haven't actually communicated all that clearly.

Talking about your shared future also helps reinfuse the relationship with that element that so often goes missing in periods when you're feeling bored or less connected: a sense of possibility.

8. Choose sex over your to-do list.

Most people know stress affects their sex lives, but Dustin pointed out that it's easy to start thinking of sex as something you do when you have nothing else on your plate. That's a great recipe for having sex a few times a year, tops.

"It used to be [that] sex was reserved for when we weren't stressed out, when everything else is already done and perfect," said Dustin.

And he pointed out that insane lust isn't the only acceptable provocation. "It could be, 'Hey, I'm stressed,' or, 'Hey, I'm sad,'" he said. "Sex doesn't have to just be when things are in line in the rest of our lives."

9. Do not underestimate the power of exercise (and kale).

Every couple we talked to mentioned that exercise has helped them reduce their stress, cope better with the stress they have and be nicer to each other. Dana found Pilates and ran a half marathon, and she and James often go for walks together, as do Sarah and Jeff. Meghan and Josh do yoga and ride their bikes as much as possible.

Eating well helps, too, even if it seems only distantly related. If you feel better, you're a better partner, and you're less vulnerable to stress. "It takes a lot more for our health to be affected because we maintain those non-negotiables of eating good food and exercising regularly," said Meghan, who obviously served lots of kale at her wedding. Stress "doesn't take the same physical toll [on us] that it would otherwise."

10. Forget other people's expectations, or "We're just happier. Deal with that."

For Dana and James, a huge part of changing their life and their marriage was abandoning other people's ideas of who they should be. James had been told his entire life that law was his calling. Now he works at Whole Foods, where he says he goes to work happy every day. "I didn't have any lawyers in the family, but everyone thought that's what I'd be a natural at," he said. "It doesn't feel like my calling anymore."

Dana said that some acquaintances and coworkers have volunteered commentary on the choices she and James have made, along the lines of, "Oh my God, how can you pay your student loans? Don't you feel like you should be making more money?" Her response? "We're just happier. Deal with that. These choices weren't easy, but this is what we want."

11. If they aren't too devastating, the hard times make you stronger.

Most of University of Texas psychologist Lisa Neff's work on stress and marriage shows that the best way to keep stress from weakening relationships is to cut out as many stressors as possible. That said, two studies she conducted in 2011 showed that couples who had good coping skills and were exposed to mild to moderate stress as newlyweds were more resilient in the face of later stressors, including parenthood, than those who had good coping skills but saw relatively little stress during the early phases of matrimony. The key was that the stress the first group of couples were exposed to didn't exceed their ability to manage it.

Dustin seemed to echo Neff's findings when he said that in retrospect, the hard times early in his marriage to Bethany "put a lot of pressure on our relationship, but at the same time it kind of proved to us that we can make it through those things. There's going to be other stuff that comes up that we can't control. It's good to be able to look back and say, 'You know, that was tough, too, but we made it through.'" And they're happier than they've ever been.

Music Monday: Amel Laurrieux: No One Else

Friday, August 23, 2013

Here at HuffPost Weddings, we're all about celebrating unique and innovative ideas in the wedding world. In this series, Wedding Trailblazers, we'll be spotlighting wedding-industry professionals doing creative new things. Check out our latest trailblazer below.

The best wedding photographers are trained, ceremony after ceremony, to capture those perfect moments in time: the groom's face when he first sees his bride; father and daughter dancing cheek-to-cheek.

Jeffrey Lewis Bennett, the owner of JLB Wedding in Clawson, Mich., is there, cameras in hand, to record the essential memories. But his unique wedding GIFs are a creative way to give eternal life to those fleeting hours of Big Day bliss.

"The way that wedding GIFs work, they look more like a photograph that happens to be telling a story inside of it," he told The Huffington Post.

Bennett, who is married with two small children, said it was a gamble to leave his full-time graphic design job three years ago to concentrate on weddings and engagements.

"For the photography business to make me happy, I wanted to fulfill my own artistic need more than I was -- and if I could find a way to do that and pay all the bills, then great," he said. "But I wasn't 100 percent sure it would work."

Bennet's GIFs, which are created solely from images, not video, require hours of digital manipulation after he's done holding the camera. He made his first GIF after shooting several quick images of a bride and groom practicing their first dance. All the while, he and the groom were joking about internet culture and their favorite memes. The groom suggested that he upload those images together to make a wedding GIF.

"It was actually pretty bad," Bennett admitted. "I went back and found it today, and it does not look good, compared to the stuff I've done since."

Clearly, his skills have improved. Who wouldn't want one of these captivating keepsakes?
Scroll down for more animated and still photographs by Jeffrey Lewis Bennett and to learn more about his creative process. See more of his work at his website.

jlb weddings
"My mother's father was an electrical engineer, and he taught me how to use a 35mm camera. I remember him explaining to me how light creates an image on film and what you can accomplish by controlling that light; whether it's aperture or shutter speed or film speed."

"There isn't always a GIF that comes from every wedding. The majority of them, I have the idea before I take the picture. It's often something I thought of before the wedding even came, and then tried to find a way to make that happen."

"Other GIFs, we just happen to be walking around the corner of a building, and the wind is blowing, and there's an interesting wall. So I have the bride and groom stand there, and I set up my tripod, and I take a photo of the wind blowing the bride's dress and her hair and the jacket of the groom ... and there it is."

jlb weddings
"I love to capture somebody's imagination and make them want to work with me."

"It wasn't enough for me anymore to just make sure the exposure was right and what was supposed to be in focus was in focus. That wasn't satisfying enough to me."

jlb wedding
"I really didn't know how many people in this area would see the weirder work and think it was cool and something they wanted to preserve their wedding with."

jlb weddings
"I have to focus on everything about the day, I can't exactly focus on my own ideas, even though that's what feeds me creatively in this job. It's still a small portion of the whole. They might have me for eight hours, but only one of those hours, do I have the bride and groom alone, to be really creative."

"What you see now, I'm very proud of. ... I was hoping that enough people out there found my work, felt the same way, hired me, so I'd be able to feed my family and buy health insurance and stuff. It's worked out very well."

jlb weddings
"I've gotten to meet incredibly creative people. Some of them have their own ideas, but most of them don't. They just want me to run with it, and they're looking for me to art-direct the day and have ideas and lead them. They really are."

jlb wedding
"I'm not afraid of my clients' ideas, at all. If they've got them, I want to hear them, but the majority of my clients believe in setting an artist loose and are excited to see what can come out of that."

jlb weddings
"You may have 200 different photographers all over the world that make up your Pinterest board, but it's not realistic to hope you can find one local creative who can take your Pinterest board and make all those things happen to you. I'm looking to work with people who wanted me to do the thing that I do. Hearing your clients wishes and dreams and playing off their own ideas -- that's true collaboration."

"That shot didn't enter my head at all when I was taking the pictures. Weeks later, when I was editing the pictures, I saw the potential for a GIF. ... That moment, that couple's first dance ... everyone at that reception was watching them dance. Every eye was on them."

"They're standing in Lake Michigan. It was a really organic moment that I hadn't decided would be a GIF until it was happening. Of all the moments throughout the engagement session, that was THE KISS. When they kissed and that moment happened, I saw it through the viewfinder and changed my settings so I could take pictures quicker, and they were still kissing. I just tried to be as still as possible."

Wedding Dress Malfunctions

Photo: SMS Photography/The Knot

True tales of wedding attire gone wrong. By the editors of

Ever been to a wedding where someone's outfit got more attention than the couple getting married? Or where a mishap with the bride's dress created a completely unplanned distraction? These people have -- and they told us their most outrageous wedding attire stories. We've removed their names just to be sure we won't get anyone into trouble.

"My aunt does competitive ballroom dancing, which usually involves outfits that attract a great deal of attention. One of her dresses is bright pink with sequins and is very revealing at the top and bottom. She thought this was a good choice for my brother's wedding since she would be dancing. It was so embarrassing!"

"I went to a wedding once where a female guest not only wore white -- she wore an actual wedding dress."

"At my best friend's wedding, her sister-in-law wore a salmon-colored dress that looked like a figure-skating costume. It was too short, strapless, and just all around completely inappropriate for their wedding."

"Four uninvited guests showed up to my sister's wedding -- a couple with their two children (they were relatives of a distant cousin). The daughter, who was about 10, was dressed in a full princess outfit, complete with a tiara. During the reception, she wouldn't leave my sister's side, so this little girl dressed in this strange princess outfit (who my sister didn't even know) was in almost every photo from the wedding."

"I was in a wedding last summer where we wore bright pink J.Crew bridesmaid dresses. Well, the bride had a friend who wanted to be in the wedding, but the bride was trying to keep the wedding party small, so she couldn't include her. Apparently this girl wouldn't take no for an answer: She showed up to the wedding wearing the exact same pink J.Crew dress the bridesmaids had on! The bride was mortified!"

"My friend wore a gorgeous (expensive) wedding dress that she had had made by a very reputable boutique, but not even halfway through the reception, the lace straps started shredding to pieces. In the bathroom, we duct-taped the straps of her dress and hid the duct tape under the capelet. That lasted for an hour or two, but eventually the rest of the lace over her shoulders began to shred as well. We still had her green jumpsuit that she had gotten ready in earlier that day at the reception, so the bride changed into her jumpsuit and rocked it with her veil for the remainder of the reception!"
"I went to a wedding where the invitation said 'formal,' but one of the groom's friends thought it said 'lumberjack.' He was scruffy and wore faded blue jeans and a plaid long-sleeved shirt. The couple was pretty upset."

"When my cousin got married, she chose very subdued browns and creams for her color scheme -- I don't think the mother of the groom got the memo. She showed up in a shiny, bright lavender getup. Her skirt was all sequins and beads, and her top was a wraparound shirt with a collar that came up to her over-the-top hairdo!"

"I attended one wedding where a female guest showed up wearing a purple, pleather snakeskin mini-dress. Needless to say, she's not in any of the pictures!"

"At my brother's wedding, the minister was a sweaty, nervous mess decked out in a black jacket, navy blue pants, and brown shoes, with hot pink socks peeking out where his pants didn't meet his shoes. Wow. Where did they find this guy?"

"I was a bridesmaid in a wedding last summer, and as we started the procession with the bride's mother at the front of the line, she was wearing a yellow chiffon dress with hot pink Crocs! I couldn't believe I had to wear these uncomfortable silver heels and the mother of the bride was wearing Crocs."

Everything You Need to Know Before Shopping for Wedding Lingerie

Over the years, lingerie specialist Susan Nethero of has fitted hundreds of brides. Read on for her sage advice on shopping for the best wedding undergarments.

How should the bra fit?
"If you don't look perky and proportionate, you're not wearing the right size. The best way to guarantee a proper fit is to get sized by a professional. Then think of a bra as a seesaw: the lower it sits on your back, the more lift you'll have in front. If you need a lot of support, adjust the straps so it rides low, and vice versa. Also, a brand-new bra will relax with wear, so it should be taut when you clasp it in the loosest position. Remember that bras are a lot like shoes-they're not comfortable until they're broken in." 


Any suggestions for finding a style that works with your body type and dress? "For strapless silhouettes, be sure your bra is really snug; women often buy them too big around. You don't want to be hiking it up all night! Look for designs that have silicone grips along the sides, which hug the body. If your gown has one shoulder or a deep V, you can wear a convertible strapless bra or adhesive backless version, which sticks to your skin. Or, ask your bridal store to sew in cups so you don't have to worry about fit issues."

What's your advice for curvy women? "'Overflowing,' which is when the skin spills over the front of the bra, is one of the biggest problems I see. This can be prevented by wearing the proper cup size. The trick is to find a shape that's deep but not necessarily wide. Many women don't know that specialty stores stock bras up to a size K." 


And for those women who'd like to add curves?
"To help fill out a dress that's a little too big, buy a bra with larger cups and add silicone-gel pads. If you're full on top and smaller below, you can get padded panties to make you look more shapely, which is nice if you're wearing a very fitted gown. A line called Bump-a-Booty makes a great pair. They're so subtle, no one will ever know."

What about finding something special for the honeymoon?
If you're going to splurge, choose Aubade or Chantelle, two of my go-to lines. The quality is exceptional, and the details are always exquisite. Plus, they 're made to last for years."

How about buying a bikini-is it different from shopping for lingerie?
"Not really. The one thing to remember is that two-thirds of women are a different size on the top than they are on the bottom. So when you're shopping, look for styles that allow you to mix and match, and test out a lot of different combinations. I like the Panache line, which has great-fitting suits. Just like lingerie, the right suit with make you look-and feel-incredible."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

4 Secrets to a Perfectly Imperfect Relationship

"♥ Love isn't finding someone you can live with, it's finding someone you can't live without." - Rafael Ortiz

On a fateful evening back in December of 2008, I met the man of my dreams. I just didn't know it yet. It started with a cheesy pick up line -- or so I thought -- until I realized that he was really that sincere and sweet. He told me that my arms looked amazing and wanted to know how I trained. At the time, I was guarded. I was struggling to put the pieces of my life back together as a newly single mother of two young children, and the last thing I was looking for was a relationship. Chris was working through his own issues, trying to make something of his life and struggling to get back on his feet after losing everything. After the seminar we talked for hours. We discovered how much we had in common and developed a genuine appreciation for each other. For months, we supported each other as friends -- I helped him restructure his business, and he helped me through my daily trials and tribulations. The more we got to know each other, the more our appreciation grew for each other. We tied the knot in June of 2010. Little Cash joined our family in 2011, and we're all anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new little one in November, who will make our Powell Pack a six-pack!

That being said, our life together is not always full of "butterflies and roses," as Chris likes to say. Oh, no. We have relationship and family challenges just like everyone else! Not only are we trying to be the best spouses and parents we can be, but we also work together 24/7/365 to help guide transformations for some incredible people (featured on Extreme Weight Loss on ABC) and other projects that are so important to us. And while we love every aspect of the life we've chosen, it can sometimes take a toll on our relationship if we're not careful. So how do we keep that spark alive? I'll let you in on our four little secrets:

Take advantage of every single moment. From caring for our amazing kids, to nonstop schedule revisions, to running the family business, to being year-long coaches to our transformation contestants, to doing household chores, to dealing with Chris' crazy travel schedule (he's gone pretty much 75 percent of the year) -- I could go on and on -- it can be difficult to find time to spend together and reconnect. I know we're not alone in this challenge -- this is the reality of life! We've realized if we don't create time to spend together, it's just not going to happen. Some of the time we spend together isn't what you'd necessarily call "romantic" (although any time with my man is what I'd call "romantic"!): we run errands, do household chores, work out, take walks, and just sit and talk. We've discovered that a few minutes here and there can truly strengthen our relationship, and believe it or not these moments of "real life" we get to experience together are the ones that truly define our relationship -- it feels so good to know that we can enjoy even the most mundane of tasks together ;). And how do we do it when we're on opposite sides of the continent? Simple: we take advantage of technology (video chat and our iPhones) to spend as much time together as possible, every single day. We set "family dates" between breaks to play games, eat dinner/lunch, and just play... all over computer!! We make it work, and make it enjoyable!

Take time for yourselves. While time together is crucial, it's equally important to have some personal time to keep our individual souls happy and healthy. Whether it's yoga, meditation, working out, cooking, writing, or simply relaxing, we make sure we take care of ourselves so we can take better care of each other and our kids. The stronger, happier, and healthier we are individually, the strong we can be as a team and a family ☺

Be a team. Chris and I are two imperfect people. We both have strengths and weaknesses. Chris excels at some things I struggle with, and vice versa. We've learned to combine our strengths to form this amazing team that is so powerfully effective in reaching our common goals. And when one of us is struggling, the other one steps up to the plate to make up the difference. When he's on the road and I'm left to run the family business and take care of the kids, I do it, because that's what true teammates do. When I'm struggling with the kids, he steps in and takes over, because that's what true teammates do. But no matter what, I know he's got my back and he knows I've got his. No matter what. We are a team.

Be each other's best friend -- always. Chris and I were best friends long before we decided to get married. We had a relationship built on openness, honesty, vulnerability, and an unconditional appreciation of how perfectly imperfect we were, and this best friend relationship formed the foundation for the marriage that we value and fiercely protect today. I know from past experience that when we get close to someone, it's easy to take that person for granted and fall into the stereotypical "nagging wife" and "lazy husband" roles, or vice versa. It's also easy to get irritated with your significant other's imperfections. The solution Chris and I discovered is that we ALWAYS treat each other like a best friend -- we even have "My Best Friend" tattooed on our ring fingers as a constant reminder. So the next time your significant other leaves the toilet seat up or the lid off the toothpaste -- again -- think, "How would I approach my best friend in this situation?" and then do it. When he tells you the truth about how a certain dress looks, even though it might hurt, try to react and respond to him like you would your best friend. And when your best friend talks, really listen to what is said, like a best friend would.

Let's be honest: all relationships go through good times and some not-so-good times. Put these four little secrets to the test and see if they can not only keep that spark alive, but help those not-so-good times become better as well. Now that's a win-win!

Where NOT to Honeymoon

Photo: Thinkstock
What a honeymoon should include: romance, relaxation, new bikinis, and the "do not disturb" sign displayed 24/7. What it shouldn't include: daylong layovers, machetes, subzero temperatures, and male "sponsors" to escort female travelers (?). So before booking that post-nuptial vacay, read on. Unless you're Anthony Bourdain or Lisa Ling, these places may not be worth the stress.

by Shawn Bean

Yes, we saw the pics of Jay-Z puffing a gordo and Beyonce rocking tropical prints and a beehive. But the embargo still makes travel to the island nearly impossible for U.S. citizens. The celeb couple visited Cuba on a people-to-people license: travel authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department under the guise of "cultural engagement... and supporting the development of peaceful, independent activity and civil society." Translation: It helps to have several multi-platinum albums.

For years, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan abided by a strict "high value low impact" tourism policy: visitors must be part of an official Bhutanese tour group, apply for an approved visa from the tourism council, and pay a $200-per-day visitor's fee. A couple years ago, the rules started to loosen up. The result: In 2012, Bhutan tripled its annual visitor total to 100,000. Great news, except when you consider that Florida welcomes that many people every 10 hours.

Saudi Arabia
Leisure travel to this monarchy, bookended by the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, is anything but easy. Visas are issued only for work, visits with relatives, and religious pilgrimages by Muslims. Female visitors must be accompanied by a "sponsor" (husband, brother or other male family member).

Leave on Monday, arrive on Thursday. That's the reality of traveling to this atoll in the middle of the Pacific. Here's a sample itinerary: After departing LAX, you're facing 63 hours in transit, including daylong layovers in Sydney and Fiji. (International flights only serve this destination twice a week). And that one-way ticket just cost you $6,200.

A subtropical locale with more than 1,000 miles of Atlantic coastline, the African nation of Angola makes for quality postcard fodder, but the tourism industry remains in its infancy. A nearly 30-year civil war ended in 2002, leaving Angola with a crippled infrastructure: crumbling roads, nominal oversight for air travel, and little security. The U.S. Department of State recommends that visitors "avoid travel after dark... and no travel should be undertaken on roads outside of cities after nightfall." So maybe avoid the "bars filled and local music and dancing" that the Angolan Embassy promotes on its website.

Front row seats to the Northern Lights sound enticing? Here are a few things to consider before booking. There are no roads between the towns in Greenland. Let us repeat that: no roads. Because of the extreme conditions, all transportation is conducted via airplane, boat, snowmobile, and dog sled. And you can't get picky with accommodations: According to Visit Greenland's official site, this 720,000-square-mile expanse of land has 23 hotels. If you're open to hostels and campgrounds (pack layers!), the options increase.

Papua New Guinea
The mountainous landscape comprising 800 islands is a bucket list fave, but Paupa New Guinea is a developing nation, so proceed with caution. (It was named one of Forbes' "Most Dangerous Destinations" in 2006.) Recently, the U.S. Department of State alerted travelers that "tensions between clan groups may lead to localized conflicts involving machetes or firearms." Is mace available in three-ounce containers?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wedding Venue Myths: Busted!

This article originally appeared in Wedding Ideas magazine

Thought you couldn't afford your dream wedding location? Think again, as we dispel some of the most common venue myths...

Myth 1: Sit-down meals cost a fortune

Even at the cheapest venues, three-course wedding breakfasts can be pricey, but you can have a sit-down meal without going bankrupt. "Think creatively about the menu," suggests Sarah Callander Beckett, owner of Combermere Abbey. "Old favorites like bangers and mash are reasonably priced but go down well." To cut costs further, offer canapés with pre-dinner drinks instead of a starter, or serve your wedding cake for dessert. Or try the new idea from Lancashire wedding venue West Tower: a "serviced buffet," with sharing platters served to each table, combining the ambiance of a sit-down meal with the value of a buffet.

Myth 2: There’s no room for maneuver with set packages
On the face of it, set packages sound like they offer better value than bespoke weddings. "But if you want value for money, don’t be dictated by a venue’s set package," says Terry Pullen, founder of Kent gastro-pub The Bickley. "Package deals can mislead you into thinking you’re getting excellent value, when in fact you’re paying for add-ons you don’t want, so prioritize what is most important to you." Don’t be afraid to negotiate so you only pay for the things you want.

Myth 3: You have to spend thousands on decorations

Flowers, favors, bunting... Pretty, yes, but are they really necessary? "People spend a fortune on decorations, but often, less is more, especially if you have a venue that’s architecturally stunning and in a beautiful setting," says Jason Henderson, general manager at Knock Castle Hotel & Spa. Many venues provide table linens, printed menus and accessories like candelabras free of charge, and you can also use any seasonal decorations already in situ, such as Christmas trees and holly boughs. And if you’re having flowers in your ceremony room, move them to your reception area afterwards, with the bridal party’s bouquets doubling as top-table decorations.

Myth 4: Early booking is essential

If you’re willing to take a risk on availability, you can get brilliant deals by booking at short notice. "A last-minute wedding puts you in a great position not only with venues but also with florists, photographers, and other suppliers," explains Julie Swanwick of Last Minute Weddings. "They would rather reduce their price to fill a gap in their schedule than have no booking at all."

Myth 5: You have to use your venue’s suppliers

 You’ve found your dream venue, and it’s within budget -- until they present you with a list of their recommended suppliers. But don’t assume you have to use these companies. "If you choose a venue that provides food and drink, like many hotels, it’s reasonable for them to expect you to use their catering and bar," says wedding co-ordinator Samm Riley. "But for other supplies, like flowers and entertainment, you should be able to use your own suppliers. Getting the best deal is all about research, but if you put in some work, there are savings to be made."

Myth 6: Exclusive = extortionate

Exclusive use properties are the ultimate wedding venues, and if you’ve ruled them out on cost grounds, think again. "Taking over a venue exclusively gives your wedding the wow factor, and needn’t cost the earth," says Ian Dockreay, director of Exclusive Use Limited. The key is to plan an off-peak wedding -- perhaps on a weekday, or in the winter months.

Myth 7: Hiring a wedding planner will blow the budget

You may balk at shelling out for a wedding planner, but a good consultant could save you more than her fee. "A wedding planner is a repeat customer, and suppliers and venues love them," says Natasha Honan, director of Highland Country Weddings. "She will have negotiated deals with venues and suppliers over the years, so will be offered their best rates, and will be able to recommend areas where you can make big savings."

Myth 8: A separate evening event will double your costs

An evening reception can seem like an expensive addition to your wedding day, but many venues include evening room rentals free of charge when you book an afternoon event, and you can also cater cost-effectively. "As your afternoon guests will have eaten already, cater for 70 per cent of your evening guests, rather than the full amount," suggests Teresa Howe of Inspired Wedding Venues. "This works especially well for cold meals like cheese platters or finger buffets." And if you’re having an open bar, set a limit after which your guests have to pay for drinks so you’re not hit with a mammoth bill.

Myth 9: Expect to spend a fortune on booze

Panicking about thirsty friends drinking your budget dry? "Look for a venue that offers a minimal corkage fee, or none at all, so you can bring your own alcohol," says Vincent Charles of Organic Buffet. "You can find great wine deals in supermarkets, and can also save by choosing a quality sparkling wine instead of champagne." Other ways to contain your booze bill include choosing budget-friendly arrival drinks (Pimms and lemonade or virgin cocktails), serving non-alcoholic drinks with dinner, and allowing half a glass of bubbly per person for the toast -- it looks elegant, and will go twice as far.

Myth 10: The more guests you have, the more you’ll spend

You can do a big wedding on a small budget, thanks to the trend for more relaxed weddings. "If you have lots of people to invite, consider a buffet, barbecue or hog roast instead of a sit-down meal," suggests Laura Hart of the Italian Villa, Dorset. "They’re cheaper per head, and create an informal atmosphere." Think twice about having a separate evening event, too: many brides assume that a small afternoon reception will keep costs down, but then end up with hundreds of evening guests. Instead, get married later in the afternoon and invite everyone on your list to the entire event: you may spend more on the main meal, but you won’t need to provide a second round of food.

Photo of the Week

This Photo of the Week is of my High School Freshman. I cant believe she is in High School already. It seems like only yesterday that I was dropping her off at Pre-K and yesterday I dropped her off at High School with no tears.... Love You Mini Me!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wedding Videography: 5 Questions To Consider Before Booking A Videographer

This article originally appeared on A Peachy Life Productions' blog

The intention of this blog isn’t to communicate that videography is necessary.Videography is popular enough so an argument centered on it needing to be a part of a wedding is useless. The point here is to communicate to those who are on the borderline and perhaps are still unfamiliar with what videography is or what the benefits are.

Finding a photographer or a videographer that fits your needs and your budget is no easy task. Like all things involving your wedding, it takes a lot of work. It is obvious that you care a great deal about your wedding and you want it to be special and you want something that will help you commemorate the day, but it just doesn’t fall into your lap.

It is unfortunate that many people look only at the $$$ and pay little attention to the character or response of a videographer or photographer when an inquiry is made. Budget, of course, takes priority over most things, but you never really know what can be achieved if you just reach out and contact someone.

How do you choose the right videographer? What is a videographer for anyway?

Here are five things to think about when considering investing in a wedding film.

1. Why do I want my wedding filmed?
Wedding films date back to before the 1980s, but it was that decade that saw the birth of the first consumer camcorder. Back then it was more of a hassle as it often took away from the aesthetic of the wedding since there was so much equipment required to make it work. Today’s industry still sees a good deal of technology at work, but technology has allowed videographers more freedom in movement and it has become less necessary to use static light stands and such which can distract from the real purpose of the day: the wedding.

Today, videographers are as agile and fluid as any photographer. Their ability to squeeze into impossibly tight areas and come away with elegant shots and flattering angles has catapulted the concept of a wedding film to astronomic heights. DSLRs have now standardized high definition film, bringing Hollywood-quality filmmaking into the hands of amateurs and semi-pros. This is something a number of people still have no idea about.

Take a look at some portfolio work by videographers and see how much more you can get out of a wedding film when in the hands of a videographer, rather than a family member filming from one spot.

2. How much should I spend?

This question probably carries the most weight. There’s a lot of consideration that goes into selecting a price for services by videographers as well as photographers. The prices generally have a lot to do with what is included in the packages that are offered. The hours provided usually make the biggest difference, but you have to think carefully about how many hours you need or would like to have filmed. Some couples want to have everything from start to finish, but this requires going towards longer hours which will mean more money.

It is also imperative to look at what is included in each package. People tend to make the mistake of thinking that videographers will only provide a DVD with one highlights trailer that appears online, or oftentimes in their portfolio. But many companies have so much more to offer. These features, while they add more cost to your package, are usually designed to make remembering your wedding day an even more unique experience.

The lowest-priced packages generally only offer a certain amount of coverage and are tailored towards jouranalizing the wedding experience, rather than capturing special moments that will tell a compelling story. There’s nothing wrong with taking this route, but if you want more bang for your buck, ask the videographer about what other features they have besides the highlights trailer.
It’s pivotal to be in constant communication with your videographer. If they care at all, they will do their best to get to know you as the more comfortable you both feel before the wedding, the easier it will be to film.

It is also worth asking if packages can be customized. Perhaps you don't want your pre-ceremony prep work filmed, can you add more time for cocktail hour? Can you add a Save the Date video or an engagement video and take off a couple of hours of the wedding?

3. What is the difference between videographers?

The answer to this question leads to another obvious question, "Which videographer is best?" To put it simply, it is just a matter of taste when it comes to which videographer is best. All videographers are in the business because they have talent to film. The spectrum can divide the n00bs from the Pros, but that gap is not as large as one might think. This is becoming more and more apparent with photographers as well. I'm not really involved in that industry at all, but it does seem like it is becoming harder and harder to break away from the pack and get your stuff recognized.

Rather than depending on the quality of your work, there is so much that goes into how you advertise your product. Some argue that it is best to advertise only what YOU love to do and the type of weddings only YOU want to shoot. The flip side is to advertise a variety in your portfolio in order to attract a wide range of clients.

Like the aforementioned, videographers have styles of their own. Some like to stay back and journalize the wedding experience, while others like to get in real close and create cinematic pieces of work that may ignore some of the conventional strategies of capturing every moment of the wedding. The best way to tell the difference is to watch their videos. If that doesn't do it for you, then looking at how they sell their product and their correspondence with you is the next best thing.

4. How can I be sure I’m going to be happy with what I get?

No one can be completely certain of anything in this life. If you do your research and actually watch the body of work of your videographer, you can make an educated guess at how your video will turn out. If the videographer is receptive to your ideas and wants to implement them, you can be sure to be even happier with the end result. If you see a great video by another videographer, don't be afraid to share that with them. Seeing fresh ideas will only help increase the quality of your video.

5. What is the point of having my wedding filmed when I already have a photographer?

There’s nothing to take away from photographers or a beautiful photograph, but there are things that a wedding film can provide that a photograph simply cannot (and vice versa). Besides the obvious moving pictures, a wedding film adds the dimension of audio to your wedding experience. Now, in years to come, you’ll be able to hear the sounds of your wedding. Remember what you sounded like when you gave your vows, remember the toast by your father, your mother or other close relatives and friends.

After all the glitz and glamour of the day has dispersed, how would you like to remember everything? It is likely, as bride and groom, that you will miss some moments of your wedding because you’ll be so busy with a million other things (like dancing, greeting guests, cutting the cake, etc). Your memory will serve as your only source aside from pictures, but how will you remember movement and sounds?

The only way to preserve these precious memories is by capturing it on film. Film can capture the moment in real time and preserve it for generations to come. It will outlast you and it will inform future generations of how you approached love.

You'll also get a unique view of your wedding, a view that no spectator can capture, a view that not even the bride and groom can see.

5 Tricks to Know Before You Pose for Wedding Photos

Whether you think the idea of having six thousand photos taken of you on your wedding day sounds kind of fun or totally frightening, it helps to have a little posing know-how up your lace cap sleeve. Thus, allow us to present five flattering-photo tips from professional photographer Chris Schoenbohm, co-founder of the new iPhone-photo-organizing app Viewfinder.

1. Strike that hand-on-hip pose. Yes, this post is something of a Facebook cliche at this point—but that's because people have discovered its magic! "This common pose is called the three-quarter angle stance, and it never fails to make a woman look slim, sexy, and beautiful," Schoenbohm says. The move: Extend one leg out in front, pivot, and plant the corresponding hand on your hip. "The result is a long, attractive, diagonal line that draws the viewers' eyes across the subject," Schoenbohm explains. Just try and make your hand-on-hip look natural, not forced (a.k.a. maybe try it after a glass or two of champagne at the reception!).

2. Choose the right angle. Even if you totally trust your wedding photographer, it can't hurt to know the ins and outs of which photo angles are the most flattering to a bride. For example: Skip artsy shots taken from a low vantage point. "Most people think shooting from a lower angle pointing up will give the perception of height; however, the result is usually a distorted image that in some instances will actually add weight." The camera should be at eye level or above for portraits. "This will also help avoid the dreaded double-chin effect, and everyone loves a nice, sexy jawline," Photograph at eye level or above for portraits. This will help avoid the dreaded double-chin effect and everyone loves a nice, sexy jawline. One more tip: If you're short and want to look taller, when possible, position yourself away from tall objects or people. "The difference in height is the first thing a person’s eye will be drawn to in your photo. You’d be surprised how tall a subject will appear in a photo without anything else to compare a person’s height with," Schoenbohm says.

3. Know how to sit pretty. "Legs crossed at the ankles and arms and shoulders drawn inwards always slim a subject down and draw more attention to the vertical emphasis," Schoenbohm says.

4. Spend time in the most flattering light. Soft light is the kindest when it comes to minimizing your imperfections. "Examples of soft light are places indoors next to a window, or outdoor shade protected from direct sunlight," Schoenbohm says.

5. Choose sides. "We all have a better side. Knowing which one is which on your face can change EVERYTHING," Schoenbohm says. "Take a few test shots and look at the results. That’s the beauty of a digital camera or smartphone."

To further up your photo game pre-wedding, check out 11 secrets of really photogenic people (they're kind of life-changing!).

Monday, August 19, 2013

911 operator offers bride her dress after gown gets stolen on wedding day

A 911 dispatcher named Candice received a frantic emergency call from 23-year-old Amanda, who had her wedding gown stolen before her ceremony that was to start in a few hours. Candice, who had just gotten married 18 months prior, offered her dress and, coincidentally, the women were the same size, saving Amanda's wedding day.
911 dispatcher  Candice (right) received a frantic call from distressed bride-to-be Amanda (left) after her wedding dress was stolen the day of the ceremony.

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911 dispatcher Candice (right) received a frantic call from distressed bride-to-be Amanda (left) after her wedding dress was stolen the day of the ceremony. 

The job of a 911 operator is to respond to emergencies.

And for one bride-to-be who made a frantic call on Sunday morning, it was an emergency after discovering her wedding dress had been stolen just hours before she was due to tie the knot.
The distraught woman had the dress taken from her car while she was packing it outside her Kent, Wash., home and rang 911 to report the crime.

Candice (left) had gotten married 18 months earlier and offered her dress to frantic caller, Amanda, who lived nearby.

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Candice (left) had gotten married 18 months earlier and offered her dress to frantic caller, Amanda, who lived nearby.


  But she couldn't have imagined that the operator who took the call — whose name was Candice and was from Tacoma — would end up saving the day by offering to her own wedding dress.
Candice, began by taking the woman's information down, as is standard procedure, but said she became touched by her story.

Fortunately the women were the same dress size.

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Fortunately the women were the same dress size.

Speaking to The News Tribune, she said she asked when the ceremony was.
  "When she said 'today', my heart broke in two for her," she said.

‘All through the call I was thinking, 'I have a dress,'’ Candice said.

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‘All through the call I was thinking, 'I have a dress,'’ Candice said.

After the call ended, Candice quickly asked her supervisor if she could offer the stranger her own dress.

"All through the call I was thinking, 'I have a dress'..." she told the newspaper.

Amanda (front) texted the 911 dispatcher and informed her that the ceremony had gone well and thank her for offering her dress.

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Amanda (front) texted the 911 dispatcher and informed her that the ceremony had gone well and thank her for offering her dress.

With her supervisor's approval, Candice, who has been married for 18 months, tracked down the police officer who responded to the crime and sent them a text message with pictures of her dress.
Luckily both women had the same dress size so Candice and husband, Brandon, retrieved the dress from her parents' home and quickly delivered it across town.

The next day, Candice received a text message from the bride thanking her and telling her the rest of the day had gone smoothly.

Vonnie Mayer, who is operations manager at Valley Communications, where Candice is an operator, described her as an "extraordinary person".

"She had something someone else needed and she made it happen," he told The News Tribune.

'We Make A Conscious Choice Every Day To Be Happy'

third metric marriage

This story is the first of four profiles of couples taking a third metric approach to matrimony, prioritizing wellbeing and fun ahead of wealth, status and being constantly "on." Look for more portraits of third metric marriages later this week.

When you first talk to newlyweds Meghan Telpner, 33, and Josh Gitalis, 31, their lives sound like an urban fairy tale.

After Josh, a nutritionist, gets back from the gym each morning, he and Meghan, a self-employed online cooking instructor, meditate together for 20 minutes before breakfast. His workday involves client appointments in the morning, and workshops and teaching engagements in the afternoon. In a loft space Meghan renovated to create a double kitchen, she conducts her classes, develops recipes and writes. Each evening Meghan goes to yoga or takes a bike ride (Toronto weather permitting), then meets Josh at the farmers market to buy supplies for dinner. After they eat, they retreat to the infrared sauna they recently installed in an extra bedroom in their apartment. Then they unwind (further) by watching "Portlandia” or “The Daily Show" before heading to bed.

It wasn’t always this blissful. Meghan held eight successive jobs with eight different advertising firms in her first three years of employment, working 10- to 11-hour days that started at 5 a.m. There was huge demand in her specific field, interactive advertising, in 2004 and 2005, so headhunters called her constantly. “They would offer me more money, and I thought that was what I was supposed to want, so I would take the jobs,” she said. “I thought, maybe if I was getting paid more, it would be more enjoyable.” It wasn't.

third metric marriage
Meghan and Josh on their wedding day in 2012.
While logging those long hours, she was battling a painful and mysterious digestive illness that ultimately rendered her unable to work. She took a leave of absence. "I was fortunate that I was making a lot more money than 24- and 25-year olds really need to have, so I had savings that I could live off of," she said. "I had my parents' support as well. If I could no longer afford to live on my own, I could move back home with them. I had that fallback."

Soon after she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation of the lower gastrointestinal tract. She was prescribed medication and told that she might have to have her intestines removed.

"My priority was 100 percent to make sure that didn't have to happen," said Meghan, who began a regimen of acupuncture, yoga, meditation, a lot of rest and a diet of completely unprocessed food.
After six weeks, she was symptom free and wanted to "learn from a more formal perspective what I had done that made this work."

Meghan decided she was done with advertising and the lifestyle it required, and enrolled in Toronto's Institute of Holistic Nutrition where she met Josh.

They quickly discovered that they had a lot in common; both grew up in loving middle-class families near Toronto, their mothers are artists and both sets of parents have been married 40 years or more. But what binds them most is their commitment to health and well-being.

"We make a conscious choice every day to be happy," said Meghan. "If we don't, we ask what we can do about it. I don't think there's been a single day that I've known Josh where either of us wakes up and says, 'today's gonna suck.'"

That's not to say that their lives are completely stress-free. Josh's mother and Meghan's father have had cancer in recent years. And their unpredictable income can be a strain -- especially as they contemplate starting a family. "We both sometimes say, it would be nice to know what you get paid every other week," said Meghan. Adds Josh: "I have similar worries, but I feel like we'll figure it out.”

third metric marriage
Meghan and Josh at the April 2013 launch of Meghan's book, UnDiet
Josh’s more laid-back approach helps Meghan avoid becoming overwhelmed. “Josh does a lot of work with his clients helping them manage their stress. He does a really good job helping me put things in perspective," said Meghan. "We balance out very well.”

But more than anything, it’s their lifestyle that keeps their stress levels low. “We make healthy living a priority, whether it's [sex] or going to yoga or going for a walk or going to the gym," said Meghan. "Those are the non-negotiables.”

In November, the couple will move to Venice Beach, Calif., for three months. “We thought it would be fun to live in a place that's sunny” in winter, said Meghan, “where you can get organic food, and there's great yoga and surfing and bike trails."

Since Meghan's business is online, and Josh works with most of his clients remotely, they can continue their jobs. Josh calls it their "pre-tirement," and the couple agree that they feel no guilt about taking it in their early 30s.

"I don't feel it needs justifying at all," said Meghan. "My dad went through cancer in his 60s, and that's what forced him to retire. Why wait for that?"

The thing no one around them seems to understand, Meghan says, is that the trip and their overall lifestyle wasn't that difficult to establish.

Josh agrees. "I think people don't really look at what they truly want to do in life and then take the steps to see if that's a feasible thing. [They] just jump to conclusions -- 'oh, that's not responsible,' or 'I don't have the money to do that.' You can pretty much do anything if you take the appropriate steps to set it up that way."