Friday, January 31, 2014

10 Great Wedding Ideas That Don't Cost a Thing

When it comes to personalizing your wedding day, it's the little details that make all the difference—a reception playlist that includes handpicked songs from your friends and family, handwritten notes identifying your signature cocktails, a vintage clutch that does double duty as your something blue. These thoughtful items will be the things your wedding guests gush about, but they can also quickly add up to additional costs in your wedding budget.

As luck would have it, we happen to be "in the know" when it comes to how to save money without sacrificing style. (Consider these 30+ wedding dresses we love, all of which cost less than $1500!) In an effort to bring you the most creative ways to personalize your big day, we reached out to some of the wedding industry's most talented planners, florists and event designers along with a few of our favorite wedding bloggers for ingenious ideas that don't cost a thing. In other words, wedding freebies you can't live without! From a hardware store find that lends a colorful touch to your escort card table to printable drink straws that put a cheeky spin on your signature cocktail, we found affordable ways to let your wedding guests know you left no detail undone.

Here, ten extra-special ways to add personal touches to your wedding without blowing the budget.

There's a Band
"Why not turn the walk from the ceremony to the reception into a parade? Have the band lead the way for you and your guests. The pictures—and the moment—will be priceless."—Maria Baer, Ritzy Bee Events, Washington, D.C.

Family Heirloom Centerpieces
"Dress up reception tables with old wedding photos of family members and VIPs. You'll get guests talking and spread the love." —Kara Delay, Love This Day Events, Fraser, Colorado

Free Confetti
"One month before the wedding, collect flowers and hang them up to dry. When they're done, you can use them as flower confetti for guests to toss after the ceremony."—Kristen Caissie, Moon Canyon Design Co., Los Angeles

Creative (and Low Maintenance) Escort Cards
"Use paint chips for your escort cards! They're free at any hardware store. Grab a bunch in your color palette and either hand write guests' names or tape each card to letter-size paper and run them through a printer."—Nole Garey, Oh So Beautiful Paper

Original Vows
"The best way to create a day that's really you? Write your own vows. Feel free to be as funny—or sappy—as you want!" —Nicole Arena, the Green Ribbon Party Planning Co., Los Angeles
Follow Los Angeles-based event planner Nicole Arena on Instagram for even more thoughtful wedding décor details .
Free Printable Stationery
"There is so much cute—and free!—printable stationery online. Bribe your bridesmaids (wine helps!) to give you a hand with assembly." —Ami Price, Elizabeth Anne Designs

Something Borrowed Clutch
"I love it when brides break out the family heirlooms. Not only does using grandma's clutch or mom's veil cut costs, it makes the whole day more meaningful."—Linda Wright, Cedarwood Weddings, Nashville

Handwritten Notes
"Get personal with your guests by leaving handwritten notes at every place setting. So sweet—and totally worth the effort!" —Amy Nichols, Amy Nichols Special Events, San Francisco

Crowd-Pleasing Wedding Playlist
"Want to get everyone on the dance floor? Ask guests for their favorite dance song on the RSVP card. They'll go nuts when their song plays at the reception!"—Aimee Monihan, Mountain Occasions, Denver, and Tropical Occasions, Costa Rica

Homespun DIY Quilt
"Here's one for the crafty girls: Mail a fabric square to guests and ask them to write a message on it. Stitch them all into a quilt and hang it at your bash."—Amanda Nistor, Ruffled


Thursday, January 30, 2014

11 Ways to Look Like You, Only Better, On Your Wedding Day

You want to look and feel your best when you slip into your wedding dress, and sometimes that means switching up your routine a bit. Before you start walking down the aisle, consider these small beauty tweaks—a professional teeth whitening, a tough-as-nails manicure, and even a salt-free diet—that work with, not against, your natural assets.

1. Start Self-Tanning
Lots of brides want a touch of just-back-from-Ibiza radiance. But while a spray tan can be fraught with peril (streaks! spots! pumpkin-colored palms!), liquid and powder bronzers put you firmly in control of your beauty destiny. Start your self-tanning regime at least one month before the wedding day so you grow into your glow.

2. Choose a Signature Scent
Sniffing out a pretty wedding-day perfume will be one of the most delicious parts of your journey. You'll want to try plenty of options (plus you'll need leave enough time to see how they wear through the day) so it's best to start experimenting at least four weeks before the big day.

3. Whiten Your Smile
If you really want a radiant smile in your wedding photos, whitening your teeth can make a big difference. If your dentist offers an in-office whitening procedure, book an appointment at least two weeks before the big day to avoid post-bleaching gum sensitivity. At-home whitening treatments like strips and gels can also work wonders. To maintain a bright smile, avoid stain-causing foods and drinks like blueberries, black coffee, and red wine.

4. Get a Gel Manicure
While we don't advocate making them a weekly habit, gel manicures, when done correctly, give your nails a near-perfect shine and are almost 100% guaranteed not to chip. That means you can grab your favorite shade of polish, head to the salon for a pre-wedding day color fest, and forget about it. No touch-ups required.

5. Touch Up Your Hair Color
For color that looks fresh but still natural, a quick touch up is all you need. Covering your roots will boost your confidence and a few highlights will instantly lighten your look. Nothing major, mind you.

6. Add an Extra Set of Lashes
Appear bright eyed in your wedding photos by extending the length of your lashes. Applying a set of false lashes takes some practice, so plan accordingly. Start with an inexpensive pair and build up to a professional-quality set. Soon you'll be batting your lashes like a pro.

7. Wax One Last Time
Swap shaving for regular waxing treatments to reduce hair growth, and book a final wax treatment one week before the wedding. Sun can irritate just-waxed skin, which could put a damper on your tropical honeymoon.

8. Catch Some ZZZs
Your body and skin repairs itself while you're sleeping, so make sure you're logging at least eight hours a night in the days leading up to your wedding. A good night of sleep not only leads to a better complexion, it helps with destressing too.

9. Ditch Salty Snacks
Salty snacks are notorious for causing water retention, and even the slightest bit of bloat can wreak major havoc on you expertly-tailored wedding dress. Instead, add more water-rich fruits and fresh veggies to your diet.

10. Drink Buckets of Water
Keep a water bottle with you in the days leading up to your wedding and guzzle your way to glowing skin. Studies show water works wonders for both your complexion and energy level.

11. Squeeze in a Massage
Book a last-minute massage to ensure a blissed-out trip down the aisle.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

6 Compromises Every New Wife Should Make (Yes, Really!)

Have you had your first fight yet? Or your second or your third? If you're still figuring out what results in a simple skirmish and what leads to an all-out battle, consider the compromises wives in happy relationships often make. Before you draw a line in the sand, read on.

1. He forgot to take out the trash, again. Yes, it's annoying that you've taken out the trash four days in a row. And yes, you hate to nag when he really should be pitching in on household chores thankyouverymuch, but the truth is this: His forgetfulness about housekeeping isn't a sign of an unhealthy marriage. Don't escalate this to World War III, just tell him (again) how happy it would make you if he helped out a little more.

2. He works late, a lot. If he loves his career and he works late often, you might find yourself feeling a tad resentful (especially if you're home by 5:00 every night and imagined a marriage where the two of you sat down to an early dinner each night!). Instead of blowing up, try to accept that your husband's drive to achieve is part of why you fell in love with him. And consider pushing back your dinner hour a little bit—after all, in many parts of Europe it's chic to dine late at night!

3. He has a favorite spot on the couch, and he's not budging. Men (and women) can get territorial about their comfort spot in the living room, especially when it's in perfect viewing proximity to the big-screen TV. Take our advice: This one's not worth the fight. Men are creatures of routine, and if he's staked out his spot, let him have it. You can fight over the remote instead.

4. He refuses to take dancing lessons with you. Maybe your best friend and her husband learned to salsa dance last fall, and you dream of doing the same, but your husband has zero interest. Instead of making it a big deal, remember that dancing is one of many areas where people have trouble breaking out of comfort zones. He'll show he loves you in other ways, but if it's not on the dance floor, be cool with that.

5. He has zero interest in becoming a vegetarian. You may have been blown away by the research in the documentary Forks Over Knives but if he's not ready to give up his meat-eating ways, it's best not to force it. Yes, it would be so convenient if the two of you were in sync nutritionally, but don't hold his love of steak over his head.

6. He has opposite interior design style as you. He thinks the mantel in the living room is the place for his collection of sports memorabilia, and you, well, don't. It's rare that couples' style preferences are completely in line, so don't feel alone if you find yourself bickering over decor in your new home together. And try (really try) to compromise on style decisions. In other words, the mantel is not worthy of a knock-down-drag-out fight!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

4 Must-Haves For An Epic Bachelorette Party

Having an epic bachelorette party isn’t rocket science. You only need a few basic (and hilarious) items to take it from boring to bail out in ten seconds flat.

1. You Need A Headpiece!
You want everyone you encounter (the limo driver, the mini-mart clerk, bartenders and cute guys at bar) to know what’s coming when they see your entourage. Crazy colored wigs, tiaras and witty hats will do the trick in a pinch — but the mini-veil screams, “It’s my bachelorette and I’m here to party.”

2. A Booze Container (For the Pre-Party)
Let’s be real, you’re probably going to have plenty of booze to get the party going. And while you don’t necessarily need a flask to make that happen, these neon flasks are way too cute not to have on hand. Who says debauchery can’t be fashion-forward? $43,
3. An Outrageous Accessory Or Two
When it comes to getting outfitted for a bachelorette party there is no such thing as over-the-top. Oversized kitchsy rings that light up or even personalized Ring Pops for all the ladies (yep, you read that right — they’re new!) are a fun idea.
4. A Hangover Helper Kit
Take care of the morning-after with a little personal hangover helper kits. Must-haves include bottle water, Advil, Alka Seltzer, chapstick, a cooling eye-mask and flip flops or foldable flats (because no one should have to walk home in heels). If you don’t have time (or the will) to make your own, you can buy ready-made kits or just have over-the-counter remedies on hand like Aspirin. Blowfish also works wonders!

This Is Marriage

Right now I'm sitting in a hospital.

I am waiting for my husband, Joe. He is gowned and unconscious, undergoing a surgery called a discectomy, where they cut a teeny tiny hole in his lower back and shave away the bulging disc that's been infringing on his sciatic nerve for five months.

This bulging disc has likely been in progress for years -- decades, even. Years of poor posture and carrying toddlers and stacking wood has contributed to the slow pop of an unhappy disc. And finally, a heavy deadlift at Crossfit was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

About an hour ago I watched while Joe undressed and put on his pale blue hospital gown. I watched him kick off the new brown shoes I made him buy during a recent trip to the outlets, so I could get a pair of orange suede heels half off.

Dressed in light blue scrubs, the surgeon popped into the room just as Joe settled into the hospital bed. The two of them started to go over the procedure, to talk about how Joe would not breathe on his own during the two-hour surgery. I focused my gaze on the toe of his brown shoe sticking out of the shiny bag.

And I thought; this is marriage. One day you're shopping for shoes at the outlets and just a few weeks later, the new shoes your husband reluctantly bought for himself will sit, discarded, in a room down the hall while someone else breathes for him.

I write a lot about raising our five kids and our son Jack's autism and teamwork and blah blah blah-dey blah. But the truth is, some days this marriage is so hard. It is so hard I can barely breathe. No one -- and I do mean no one -- makes me as angry, as frustrated, as enraged, as this man does.
The biggest argument we've ever had -- and believe me, we've had some doozies -- was over Oreos. Yes, you read that right: the biggest fight I've ever had with my husband was over a chocolate wafer cookie. (To be fair, they were double-stuffed, and I think that ups the ante a bit.)

We'd been married less than a year, and I had to go to a dinner for work. It was incredibly boring, and I spent most of the long evening nodding my head and looking forward to going home, climbing into my pajamas, and eating a few cookies before bed.

I walked into our apartment just in time to see Joe holding the empty blue cellophane bag -- plastic cookie divider cast aside on the floor -- and shaking the last of the chocolate crumbs into his mouth.
I was outraged. How selfish! How greedy and thoughtless and disgusting. Before long, the argument took on a life of its own, launching itself from a Nabisco product to everything that was wrong with us as a couple. You never think about anyone but yourself! You overreact to everything!

We didn't speak for days.

In the middle of huge arguments like 'The Great Oreo Fight,' I often have the sensation I am teetering on the edge of a large abyss, that Joe and I are separated by the deepest chasm. Married, yes. But also so very alone.

I know divorce. I've personally experienced three divorces, not one of which has been my own. I am not afraid of divorce. But somehow, thus far, Joe and I have always managed to cross the gulf that separates us. To buy a new bag of Oreos and move on.

This is marriage. It is standing on the edge of the abyss and saying, I choose to stay. Today, I will stay.

As Joe's leg pain worsened and two cortisone shots did nothing to help the inflammation, to relieve the pressure on his aggravated nerve, it became clear that surgery was the next step.

Once he explained the recovery to me -- no lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk for six weeks, no driving for two, no twisting or bending -- I developed a plan for him. He would go to his parents for at least a week, where he could rest and recuperate without a 55-pound four-year old launching at him like a cannonball. When he came home I would drive him back and forth to work.
But Joe didn't want this. He didn't want to go to his parents for that long and he didn't want me driving him around and in general he didn't want me to be the boss of him. It was infuriating.

I confided in Jack's psychologist when we met to talk about his anxiety over fire drills, figuring she would take my side. She didn't.

Instead she said, "I hear fear in your voice. So why do you go straight to anger? Stay with the fear a moment. Let yourself feel it."

Sitting on her light brown couch with a giant Elmo peering over my shoulder, I did. I let myself feel my fear.

For the first time since June, I talked about how scared I was to see Joe's health decline, to see him wait ten minutes before getting out of the car. I wept describing how he struggled to toss the football with the boys and twirl our daughter Rose in the air.

How terrifying it is to see the strongest man I know falter.

This is marriage.

A few years ago I got up in the middle of the night for some water. I walked towards the door as Joe came out of the bathroom, and when we passed each other sleepily he reached out his arms and hugged me for a long moment.

For days afterwards I lived with that moment in my heart and my mind. I marveled that this person could love me so instinctively, so thoroughly, to reach out half awake and embrace me without even thinking about it.

It is this memory I cling to like a life preserver when the storms of marital rage and frustration sweep over me. This is the Joe I am thinking of now.

Shifting a little in my hard plastic chair, I go online and look up Webster-Merriam's definition of marriage. It uses weird words like state of being united and recognized by law and intimate union.
But to me, it's so much more.

It is sitting in a hospital fifteen years later and realizing it wasn't about the cookies after all, that I went straight to anger in order to avoid the really scary thoughts; you don't love me enough and I have made a mistake and this marriage will never work. To avoid my fear.

It is finding grace again and again in the small gestures; buying shoes and eating Oreos and spontaneously embracing in the dark hours of the night.

It is complicated and raw and tender and long and giddy and miserable and scary and exhausting and exhilarating and broken and yet whole and I know this is a lot of adjectives but they're all true.

It is waiting, waiting, waiting for the surgeon in the blue scrubs to tap me on the shoulder and tell me it all went fine, that within a few hours my husband will slip on his new brown shoes and walk out of the door -- sore from surgery, groggy from anesthesia, but free of the live wire that has electrified his leg for the past five months.

That he is breathing on his own so I don't have to do it alone.

This is marriage.

Monday, January 27, 2014

This One Direction Lip Dub Proposal Is Pure, Unadulterated Joy

Using a One Direction song as your music choice for a marriage proposal is a bold move. But one brave man -- along with the help of friends and family -- pulled it off with flying colors, creating a proposal video that pretty much forces you to smile every second that it's playing.

In the video posted to Vimeo on Thursday, 24-year-old Bradley Jansen asks his college sweetheart, Emily Kaplan, to marry him on the shores of Lake Michigan -- but this isn't just any ol' proposal.
Jansen enlisted the help of 90 (yes 90!) of Kaplan's friends and family members to help him pull it off, along with the musical stylings of one insanely popular boy band.

Watch the video above, but warning: It will make you really, really happy.

10 things... Disney has taught us about love and marriage

True love will conquer all - even wicked step-mothers...
1. Your Prince Charming is out there somewhere

Chances are he actually is a prince, too. But you might have to kiss some frogs to find him - slimy but necessary to find the one your heart desires.

2. Love is blind

Yes, he may well be a hairy-backed monster recluse, who hasn't left his castle home since that wicked witch put a curse on him - but even so. When you love someone, you see past all their flaws (and hair) to the person within. Aw.

3. When you love someone, you will make sacrifices

Whilst The Little Mermaid's Ariel took her dedication a tad too far by abandoning life under the ocean in favour of the dashing Eric, making the odd small sacrifice (giving away your last Rolo, for example) for your betrothed is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Love makes you do crazy things, after all...

4. True love will conquer all - even wicked step-sisters...

And wicked step-uncles (hello, Scar from The Lion King). Oh, and horrendous witches who will try to kill you. But don't worry, you'll outsmart them.

5. We all know (and need) our own Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, et al

If the only woman in your life turns out to be an evil stepmother, trade in the bridesmaids for seven ushers instead. If they work in a gem mine they might even be able to sort you out with some cheap rings. An all-round win-win situation.

6. You'll travel to your wedding in style

Er, hello, Aladdin's carpet. Why drive when you can fly?

7. Your wedding will most likely take place in a huge ballroom. Just to warn you

There will be a first dance and your guests will expect it to be spectacular. You and Prince Charming had better get practising.

8. You should probably have a drastic hair change the day before

Actually, we're not so sure about this one - but it worked for Rapunzel.

9. Your wedding dress will be amazing. Just saying

Can't decide on one colour? Or one dress, for that matter? Make like Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and ask your lovely fairy godmother to change the colour of your gown as you enjoy your reception. Simple. Make sure you have a few talking birds on-hand to hold up your veil as you leave the church, too. They're always handy...

10. You will live happily ever after

Don't ask us why. Just believe.

Friday, January 24, 2014

10 Questions Your Partner Still Needs To Answer

questions for your partner
You've covered the hot-button topics: child-rearing philosophies, the true meaning of Christmas, your feelings about cilantro. But at a certain point, every couple needs to have the really tricky conversations.
By Amy Shearn
1. Why did you take so long to ask me on a second date?
In the beginning of a relationship, you don't want to seem needy or nosy. Certain topics are simply not your business (not yet, anyway). So when Ed waited a few months to call you after the two of you met at a friend's party, you assumed he had been seeing someone else. But you didn't ask about it. You just went to dinner with him. Over time, you got to know one another. You grew closer. Your businesses mingled, and soon you were " RachelAndEd." As in, your friends say, "Who else should we invite? What about RachelAndEd?" Which is when it is finally the time to fill in the blanks, and ask what happened in that months-long gap between the first enchanting conversation by the guacamole bowl and when he actually called to see if you wanted to get dinner. Ed's answer -- he wanted to make sure your mutual friend was okay with his asking you out -- could surprise you. And make you love him even more. As if that were possible.

2. What beloved dinner do you no longer love?

I was bursting with pride the first time I made my husband dinner and he adored it. The dish was called... drum roll, please...chicken and broccoli on rice. The secret ingredient is -- shhh! -- soy sauce. Actually, after the chicken and broccoli and rice, soy sauce is the only other ingredient. This meal has taken us through the lean years of graduate school (more rice than chicken), through times when we both worked full time (more chicken than rice), through our childrens picky-eating stages (hold the sauce). And then came the day that so many marriages eventually face. He looked at the chicken and broccoli and rice and couldn't bring himself to eat another bite. I can't blame him. I felt the same way. So don't waste a perfectly good plate of bland food by failing to inquire: What dinner did he once love that he would now prefer never to eat again? And then, you tell him yours. This is a safe place. Get it out. You might just be saving your marriage from soy sauce.

3. What do you think of therapy?

When the big things come up -- career strife, dying family members, the various typical but nevertheless excruciating heartbreaks of everyone's life -- you need to know if talking to someone is an option. Is he up for bringing in outside help for the two of you, or even just the one of you (if that one needs it)? Or will he say, "Psychotherapy? Like for crazy people? Doesn't that cost an awful lot?" Some people find clarity in talking out the big issues with an objective outside party. Others see the whole enterprise as futile, or invasive. It's a conversation to have before you're at that completely-overwhelmed-something's-gotta-give point, when you're still talking about the idea of therapy and not about the personal issue you can hardly think your way through.

4. What's the number you're not sharing?
His student-debt balance, his weight before you met, his 545 dusty Star Wars collectors' items, his 3.2 gray hairs, the 365 letters to the editor he sends every year, his actual desired number of children, his 17 identical shirts... There is likely some number you don't know about. It might be intimidating. It might be relieving. Either way, it's bound to be revealing.

5. How are we going to take care of your parents?
No one wants to, but at some point we all have to put on our big-girl pants and manage to make a will, consider our future funerals, alert spouses to our feelings on plug-pulling. Maybe you've even thought about what will happen as your parents age, whether you'll install some bars in your bath tub or rack up frequent-flyer miles. But have you two discussed what will happen as his parents age? (Bet you never thought about that one, did you?) Much has been written about the difficulties of caring for an elderly parent, but less about when the elderly (and often persnickety, uncomfortable, dissatisfied) parent is not yours. Are you in assumed line to be the de facto care giver for your already-crabby mother-in-law? Are you headed toward an argument with your husband's sister about the merits of nursing care? Put a plan in place now for a smoother road ahead.

6. What's boring you about your life?
The authors of the book The Normal Bar, an extensive survey on romantic relationships, found that "boredom was the reason 71 percent of unfaithful men and 49 percent of the women gave for acting on sexual temptation." So please, yes, find out if he's bored in bed. But also know what's boring him about life in general. Have your weekends become a tedious tangle of other people's agendas -- children's birthday parties, neighborhood obligations, lawn care, children's birthday parties, oh and children's birthday parties? Is he so sick of his pants he groans whenever he takes another pair of khakis out of the drawer? To paraphrase Mary Oliver, this is your one wild and precious life, people, and there is no time for the guy you love (or you) to be bored by pants.

7. If you could have any car in the world, what would it be?
Hey, you're grown-ups. This might actually be within reach.

8. Can you smell this peanut butter?
Sounds strange, but a loss of the ability to smell may signal a larger health issue. Surely I don't have to remind you that the ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve (all right, I only learned that two seconds ago). This explains why that guy I knew in college lost his ability to smell in a car wreck -- apparently head trauma often damages this first cranial nerve. This also explains why smell is one of the first senses affected by cognitive decline. In fact, graduate students at the University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste have found a link between a patient's ability to smell and early-onset Alzheimer's disease. (They used peanut butter because it is an easy-to-access "pure odorant.") While we don't recommend self-diagnosing based on this early study, sniffing some PB with your S.O. may pave the way for some important conversations about health -- yours, his, individual family histories and potential future shared histories.

9. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
We all have our moments of career malaise. But when it's not your own career, not your own malaise, it's difficult to know what to say, other than, "Oh... Yeah... Man. That stinks. Sorry." A more manageable way to discuss this is to start with specifics: What does your partner wish were different at work right now? What doesn't your partner like? This avoids that big question: Do you want to quit and find a totally new career path? But it still gets him thinking, helps him list the things he actually wants to do and offers you insights into your partner's unspoken life.

10. What's the one (doable) thing you wish I'd stop doing?
Considering all the ways in which you might be annoying the bejesus out of your partner can be a little terrifying. Certainly, we could all be better people, better partners. I would like to be a kinder, more patient and giving person who is about 5 inches taller. There are other smaller things I do actually have control over, however, that I could actually change. For example, the tea bags. I am perpetually leaving old tea bags on the counter. My husband finds the resulting slimy counter-slugs to be most repellent, and is constantly saying, in a pointed, exaggeratedly patient way, "Are you done with this tea bag?" Perhaps, as a kind of gift to him, I could give him a weeklong reprieve. Tea bags will be doomed to immediate interment in the trash the moment they have finished steeping. This wild, new habit would not ever become my new state of being, we both know me too well by now to expect that. (After all, dunk that shriveled, secondhand tea bag in boiled water and you've got a perfectly acceptable cup of tea, and I mean, what, does he think tea grows on trees?) But it's something I could do for a week, if it would make him happy. What's the one tiny week-shift that could relieve some pressure; show, if nothing else, that you're willing to try, willing to listen. You know whom to ask. Go, ask him.

Amy Shearn is the author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn: A Novel.

This Couple Understands The True Meaning Of 'In Sickness And In Health'

The year 2013 was full of highs and lows for Redditor wellyjup and her husband.

On Thursday, she shared a couple of photos -- one from after her husband's brain surgery and one from their wedding day in December -- to celebrate everything they've been through together in the last year.

"A year ago today, my favourite person had a brain hemorrhage," she wrote. "Following a subdural hematoma, three angiograms, an open brain surgery, and relearning how to walk, talk and write, we're now hitched and expecting spawn."

(Story continues after photos)

In the comments, wellyjup told the story of that "sticky Melbourne summer" day when her then-boyfriend complained of a terrible headache and then started to vomit, convulse and became unconscious. Wellyjup took him to the hospital where they later learned he had had a brain hemorrhage. He was in the hospital for two months getting various tests and procedures and eventually, an open brain surgery. Wellyjup opened up about the recovery process on Reddit, writing:
They wanted him to try to walk. He struggled. His legs wouldn't work, and his balance was tricking him. Little by little, with the help of physiotherapists and a walking frame, he learned to steady himself. Speech therapy slowly allowed him intelligible sentences. We practiced drawing clocks and cubes, and saying tongue twisters slowly. On one wonderful day, we figured out that if I very gently lay down on his left hand side, we could cuddle each other. One morning I came in and his tubes were gone. A few days later, he surprised us all by walking without a walker. He was proud and shaky as a toddler. The next week, nearly two months after the first bleed, they sent him home. The next few months were hard -- he was exhausted and limited, and still coming to terms with what had happened to him. Gradually, he eased back to himself, and was able to return to work. He won't ever be the same -- his speech is still affected, and he gets tired and headachey easily. Compared to what it could have been, this is remarkable. We are so fortunate for the public healthcare system in Australia -- the nurses and doctors were remarkable. They saved his life. We got married in December, and mini-us arrives in May. She has a remarkable Daddy. We're ridiculously lucky.
For more on their incredible journey, head over to Reddit.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Best Man With Cerebral Palsy Toasts Twin In Unforgettable Speech

Korey Soderman has all the dirt on his twin brother, Kyle.

Korey, who has cerebral palsy, let some of those secrets fly during his best man speech at Kyle's wedding two weeks ago. Because Korey can't speak, Kyle read the speech out loud -- once he choked back happy tears, of course.

The Sodermans, from West Palm Beach, Fla., have never let Korey's condition get in their way. His mom, Wendy, started her own private school, IDEAL & Dream School, when she had difficulty finding a preschool for Korey, according to an A&E documentary about the family.

Korey, meanwhile, founded his own nonprofit, Korey's Krew, which works with teens and young adults with physical disabilities.

"I'm differently abled," he told the Palm Beach Post in 2010, after winning an award for his community service. "I can do what others do, I just do it differently."

You can watch Korey's full speech above. It starts at the 2:50 mark, after a clip of Korey and Kyle's appearance on TLC's "Miami Ink."

Six Wedding Invitation Mistakes to Avoid

In The Emily Post Institute's latest book, Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette: 6th Edition, Emily's great-great-granddaughters Anna and Lizzie Post tackle modern-day wedding questions that the original etiquette expert never could've dreamed about, from how to use (wisely) use technology, the rules for same-sex weddings, and much more. Here, the fourth generation of Posts tackle the biggest wedding invitation mistakes.

calligraphy wedding envelopes

Photo Credit: Paperfinger via

Before you okay your proofs or send your invitations to the printer, review them for the following:
Check, double-check, and then have others check the wording. Be particularly attentive to spelling, the correct names and addresses of ceremony and reception sites, and the correct date and time.

Avoid any mention of gifts or listing of gift registries. Also, don’t include a notation such as “No gifts, please,” tempting as it may be. This keeps the entire focus of the invitation on the person you are inviting, not on any implied obligation to bring a gift. You can put registry or charitable-giving information on your website, or have family members and attendants help spread the word.

Don’t write “Adults only” or “No children” on the invitation. If you aren’t inviting children to your ceremony or reception, then simply don’t list their names on the inner envelope (or outer, if there is only one) of their parents’ invitation.

Dress notations aren’t included on invitations to the ceremony, unless the ceremony and reception invitations are combined. If it’s essential to indicate “black tie” or the rare “white tie,” add the notation to the reception invitation in the lower right corner.

References to alcohol service aren’t included on invitations, although menu choices may be listed on reply cards.

Don’t use stick-on labels to address your invitations; they are far too impersonal. Plan ahead and take the time to hand-address your invitations, or hire a calligrapher or someone with good handwriting to do it for you.

—Anna Post and Lizzie Post, as seen in Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette: 6th Edition. Published with permission from It Books/HarperColilns Publishers. © 2014 The Emily Post Institute.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

20 Ways Married Women Betray Our Single Girlfriends

I got to chatting online with a friend this week, a single, child-free woman in her mid-thirties who I think -- and you would too, if you met her -- is extraordinary. She's wicked smart, super attractive and she is dedicating her career to helping make the world a better place. She's a total catch.

But here's the catch: She's single. And worried, or at least feeling a gentle yet persistent tug, as if she's missing out on something because of her relationship status. My conversation with her affirmed something I've known for a while, which many of us married ladies will probably never willingly admit: We are betraying our single female friends in a really big way.

"Oh no, not me!" you declare. You love your single friends. You value the diversity they bring to your life. Who cares if they're married? Not you. You are a loving, empathic, supportive and non-judgmental woman who wants your friends to find happiness and fulfillment in life and that's it. If marriage is not in the cards for them, well, who the heck cares?

Ok, I believe you. And despite the fact that I believe you, I still think many of us, myself included, are betraying (or being less than forthright with) our single gal pals. To prove my point, I now present the top 20 ways married women suck when it comes to our single girlfriends:

1. We ask you if you've met "someone special" too often.

2. We tell our hubbies way too much about your relationship troubles.

3. We use your breakups to feel relief that no matter how bad our marriage gets, at least we're not dating anymore.

4. We don't share with you that some of our loneliest life moments have taken place during marriage.

5. We think you're better in bed than we are.

6. We're jealous of your freedom.

7. We secretly think you'd be more flexible if you had a partner.

8. We envy that you don't have to compromise all the time.

9. We wish we had time, like you do, to do whatever the heck we want.

10. We tell you awful things about our partners and then expect you to forget them once we've moved on.

11. We worry about you being alone. And lonely.

12. We put pressure on you to get married and have kids.

13. We're embarrassed that you see how we launder our husbands' underwear, give up our careers and take on other traditional gender roles.

14. We expect you to understand and immediately forgive us when we don't call, email or text you back.

15. We sometimes make you feel, intentionally or not, that your life is not complete until you find a spouse and have a family.

16. We think you're too picky.

17. We don't tell you that you should be exactly who you are when you meet someone, because he will see every good and bad thing about you eventually, so you might as well get it out now.

18. We don't tell you we notice that you keep making the same mistakes with the people you date.

19. We give you relationship advice even though we have no idea what we're talking about and haven't had sex with our husbands in months.

20. We don't tell you that getting hitched will not solve your problems or make you feel better about yourself.

If you're like me, you figured out pretty quickly that marriage is not a magic bullet. It does not take away your problems or improve your self-esteem. If you're like me, you know that attempting to blend your bumps and bruises with another person's is a lifelong project that requires infinite amounts of care, patience and forgiveness. So, why do we subtly pressure our friends to join us? And why do we encourage them to buy into the notion that we are not complete as women until we find a life partner and have kids?

To all the single gals in my life, I apologize for asking you too often if you've met someone special or for telling hubby about your relationship woes. I'm sorry I haven't shared with you that I think the guys you date have serious intimacy issues and will probably never give you what you want. I hope you will always tell me about your latest adventure in some far-off land, the awesome gig you just landed or a new, sexy move that I can try out with my honey. Our marital status might be different, but I can promise you this: We're far more alike than you'll ever know.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Adorable Couple Of 70 Years Shares Key To Marital Bliss

long married couple

Want to know the secret to marital bliss? Just ask Oregon couple Wally Christianson and Beth Robertson, who recently celebrated 70 years of marriage and opened up to a local newspaper about what makes love last a lifetime.

Christianson and Robertson were set up by two friends at a Christmas party back in 1942. A few dances led to a few dates, which culminated in a wedding on January 14, 1944. The couple went on to have four children and eight grandchildren, the Corvallis Gazette Times reported.

So what's the secret to their success? "We both had similar backgrounds; both raised on farms. What else is there to say?" 93-year-old Christianson told the Times. "We’ve been together since.” He also said that "having mutual interests" is key.

One of those shared interests was traveling. In retirement, the couple moved from Illinois to Oregon, purchased a motor home and traveled everywhere. "We’ve been to all 50 states and Europe," Christianson said.

His wife, 90-year-old Robertson, had a more pragmatic view on sustaining long-term marital bliss.

"There is no key," she told the paper. "You have to work it out. Usually, you have more good times than bad.”

10 Ways to Maximize Your Floral Budget

bride with bridesmaids

Photo Credit: Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography on Grey Likes Weddings via

1. Use in-season or locally grown flowers. They're a much better value than the flown-in, hothouse varieties.

2. Holidays can affect prices. Around Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, general demand for flowers increases, as do their costs. On the other hand, if your wedding is held on a holiday, the church or reception site may already be festively decorated with flowers and lights and you'll need less adornment.

3. Add greenery — such as ivory or ferns — to a bouquet or the chuppah. Greenery looks lush, and you'll find it's less expensive than flowers.

4. Choose larger blooms for your bouquets, like orchids and calla lilies. You'll need fewer of them.
5. Add ribbon or tulle to an arrangement — this sweet, romantic detail will make the arrangement look larger and helps keep your expenditures down.

6. Rent trees to decorate the ceremony and reception sites; they look especially romantic when the branches are woven with masses of tiny white lights.

7. Fill in empty table spots with votives or small potted plants that can also be used as wedding favors.

8. Split the cost of decorating a ceremony site with another couple getting married in your church/synagogue on the same day.

9. Let your ceremony bouquets do double-duty. Most florists can creatively repurpose them into centerpieces on reception tables.

10. Elaborate arrangements mean more of your money is going for the florist's labor than for the flowers themselves.

17 Signs You're Ready To Settle Down

They say "when you know, you know" -- but how can you really be sure you're ready to tie the knot?

Our friends at The Stir recently published a story titled "11 Signs You Know You're Ready To Settle Down". One sign? You'd pick a Netflix binge over a drinking one -- any time.

Their list inspired us to ask HuffPost readers how they knew they were ready for marriage. Below are 17 telltale signs it's time to settle down:

1. You suddenly start planning projects that will take more than a year and think of them as short-term.

2. When you are ready to listen and compromise on almost anything, from breakfast to money.

3. You get a dog (or cat, or some other living thing) together.

4. When you no longer feel like you might be missing out on something better.

5. When it doesn't feel like "settling down," but rather continuing the adventure.

6. After you've started saving money for a house, a car or a baby.

7. You accept all of your partner's flaws unconditionally.

8. When you don't want that person driving a long distance without you because you're worried that something might happen to him or her.
9. You're fully prepared to put someone else ahead of yourself.

10. You actually can't imagine your life without that person.

11. When it seems ridiculous to contemplate the idea of NOT getting married.

12. When you stop hiding your stretch marks and other so-called "imperfections" because you know your partner loves you anyway.

13. You realize you want to spend every waking moment with that person.

14. You stop questioning whether you may want to be with someone else down the line.

15. When the only person you want to notice you is the one that already does.

16. When you can be yourself with confidence and know that the person brings out the best version of "you".

17. When you're emotionally, spiritually and financially stable.

Monday, January 20, 2014

10 Ways To Improve Your Marriage Right Now

Written by Sasha Brown Worsham on CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

Marriage is not easy. When you've seen people who make it 10, 15, and 30 years together, you know you are looking at two people who have fought, compromised, and stayed committed to one another through a lot. There's a lot to be learned from these people.

But marriages don't fail from big problems, at least not all the time. Very often, people end up splitting over the small things, especially once the small things add up.

With this in mind, I asked around for advice, small ways that people can improve their love and their marriage today. This doesn't include therapy or major sucking up or any major effort on the part of anyone. These are small things that can make a big difference. So here are 10 important ways you can improve your marriage right now.

Apologize when you are wrong: Forget pride. If you realize you are wrong in a fight, admit it and say you are sorry. It will make a world of difference in terms of staying close.

Imagine the other person gone during a fight: There is no better way to stop a fight than to imagine losing or missing the other person. That sadness? That tightness in your chest? That's the love you feel for them.

Laugh more: For me, this is the biggest secret to 10 years of marriage. My husband and I crack each other up. We roll on the floor laughing and genuinely enjoy each other's company. This is what keeps us strong.

Arrange weekly meetings: If you have young kids and two careers, there is nothing more important than having weekly "meetings." It may not be romantic, but neither is nagging, and this curbs that a lot. From a friend who has started them: "It has been very helpful from a practical side of just getting through everyday life as a team." Amen.

Schedule sex: It's not romantic, but in our busy lives, it's necessary. Pencil that shite in, because you know what's less romantic? A sexless marriage.

Talk about the little things: Talk about the big things, but also discuss the little things. Talk and then talk some more. The more you talk, the more you learn.

Have your own life: No one likes someone with no friends. So get hobbies. Get friends. Get a life! Now! It will make your spouse appreciate you more.

Remember to thank the other person: It's true. However small it seems, remember to say thanks for small things, even if they are expected. "Hey, thanks for making dinner tonight." It creates a lot of goodwill and helps each person feel appreciated.

Stop yelling: No one is suggesting you stop fighting. Some fights are needed. But stop yelling. And name calling. And fighting dirty. Trust me.

Hold hands: Even when you are mad at each other, just touch. Whether it's in bed or out of bed. Sometimes the simple act of touching one another can help curb angry feelings.

Friday, January 17, 2014

50 Reasons To Love Being Married

Written by Jennifer Cullen on CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

Husbands aren't perfect. Sorry if that bursts your bubble, but it's true.

But I'll take an imperfect husband over a non-existent husband any day. I believe in the institution of marriage, even having had a first marriage that didn't make it to the 10-year mark. But my second marriage will make it to infinity, and beyond.

So here are 50 reasons why being married is great:

1. You have someone to grow old with.

2. Sex gets better the longer you’re together.

3. You are each other’s biggest fans.

4. Passing gas is not a deal breaker.

5. You get to kiss a lot (and there are health benefits from that).

6. Marriage is a two-member team that always wins.

7. Having a human blanket to keep you warm at night. Cheaper than electric heat.

8. Being tied up is fun, not creepy.

9. A spouse can make you laugh even when you don’t want to.

10. Your best friend is also your f*@k buddy.

11. Married men earn more.

12. Condoms only need to be used for birth control, not for fear of STDs.

13. You have someone who’s not going to laugh at your dreams.

14. Sexual experimentation can be done without worry.

15. You don’t have to go to Uncle Simon’s third wedding by yourself.

16. It’s not embarrassing if you queef.

17. Your spouse knows you. All of you. And still adores you.

18. The earning power of two is more than one.

19. You can talk dirty in bed. Really dirty. And it's a turn-on.

20. When you look deep into each other’s eyes, it feels great, not weird.

21. A husband is not battery-operated.

22. There’s always someone to celebrate with: birthdays, anniversaries, and of course Valentine’s Day.

23. You get to take advantage of married tax breaks.

24. You don’t have to talk to yourself all the time.

25. Married people experience less incidence of depression.

26. A husband will get you tampons from the store, even if it’s late at night.

27. A spouse challenges you to be the best you can be.

28. And then helps you reach those goals.

29. With the kids, it’s the two of you against them.

30. It’s helpful to have a human ladder around.

31. Road-trips are not tedious. They are opportunities to spend time together.

32. Being alone, together, is your first choice.

33. Companionship is comforting.

34. Marriage makes you live longer.

35. Having differences is a good thing.

36. A wedding ring on a man is sexy.

37. In sickness and in health is one of the most important vows you can make.

38. You complement each other, like two pieces of a puzzle.

39. You can say whatever’s on your mind. And not worry about breaking up.

40. Romantic comedy movies are not your only experience with romance.

41. PMS-ing (overdosing on chocolate, tearing up watching Hallmark commercials) is okay.

42. Anal sex counts as a birthday present.

43. A spouse is a built-in exercise partner.

44. Every day has the possibility to be Valentine’s Day.

45. Knowing that no one will ever love you like your better half does.

46. Being in a committed relationship reduces stress.

47. There’s someone to hold your hair back when you’re getting sick.

48. The emotional support of a spouse is priceless.

49. Doesn’t matter what the gift is. It truly is the thought that counts.

50. Getting married is the most romantic act of all.

Any more reasons to add to this list of why marriage is great?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Couple Injured In Boston Marathon Bombing Will Get A Fairy Tale Wedding

boston bombing wedding
Rebekah Gregory and Pete DiMartino were waiting at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off on April 15, 2013. Now, almost a year later, the couple is getting ready to walk down the aisle. And thanks to wedding planning website The Knot, they'll receive the wedding of their dreams.

Gregroy and DiMartino met in 2012 and began a long-distance relationship. In April 2013, they were in Boston to cheer on DiMartino's mother as she ran the marathon. Gregory's 6-year-old son was there too. When the bombs went off, Gregory instinctively shielded her son, and in the process, broke almost every bone in her foot, leg and ankle. She is still in a wheelchair.

DiMartino lost 90 percent of his right Achilles tendon and suffered broken ankle bones and a ruptured eardrum.

But the tragic events of that day put the couple's love in perspective. In October 2013, DiMartino proposed and Gregory, of course, said "Yes."

"[In] the end, we decided our relationship was worth more," Gregory told People. "We realized that we didn't have to survive that day -– we could've lost one another –- and for me, I knew I didn't want to spend another day without this guy. For whatever time I have left on Earth I want to be with him."
The Knot heard about the couple's hardship and chose them as the 2014 Dream Wedding recipients. The couple's entire wedding -- from flowers, to the dress, to the cake -- will all be voted on by readers, but The Knot will foot the bill.

"Being able to show people that you can take something so horrible and turn it into something so beautiful has been such a blessing for us," Gregory told The Knot. "I don't know if I'll be able to walk down the aisle, but all I want to do is marry the love of my life, Pete."

This is not the only love story to come out of the tragic events that day. Boston bombing survivor Jamse Costello is set to marry the nurse who helped him recover after he was badly burned and hurt by shrapnel in the blasts. 

The New Rules: When You Should (and Shouldn't) Use Email or Social Media

In The Emily Post Institute's latest book, Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette: 6th Edition, Emily's great-great-granddaughters Anna and Lizzie Post tackle modern-day wedding questions that the original etiquette expert never could've dreamed about, from how to use (wisely) use technology, the rules for same-sex weddings, and much more. Here, the fourth generation of Posts tackle the big question of when you should (and shouldn't) take advantage of email and social media.
bridesmaids with iphones taking picture of the bride

Photo Credit: CINEMATICbyDavidM

Do Not Use Email or Social Media For:

Wedding invitations.
Emailing a wedding invitation, even to your closest friend or relative, generally is not appropriate. The wedding invitation serves to set the tone for the ceremony and reception to come in a way that an email just can’t. Pinned on refrigerators or tucked on mantels, they also act as reminders and help build anticipation. Lastly, for many guests, they are keepsakes. The only exception, and it’s quite rare, is in the case of extremely rushed circumstances — if, for example, you and your fiancé(e) are moving overseas and you’ve decided at the last minute to get married before you leave. A good way to judge is that if the invitation is so hurried or informal that your only other option would be to invite someone over the phone, then using email to extend the invitation would be probably be fine.

Thank-you notes.
For each wedding gift you receive, always pen a handwritten note and send it through the mail. No exceptions, unless you’re ship-wrecked on a desert island. If you’ve fallen behind on your note writing, or know you can’t write a note right away, you can send an email or private Facebook message as a stopgap measure to let the gift giver know you’ve received his or her gift and will be sending a formal thank-you soon. “So wonderful to see you at the wedding! We love the vase. Note to follow soon.” Just remember this message doesn’t replace the actual thank-you note.

Discussing personal or thorny issues.
It’s easy for communication over texting, Facebook, and email to be misconstrued, which can make working out compromises or resolving emotional conflicts difficult. You don’t have tone of voice or body language to help interpret or smooth over a difference of opinion. Despite the fact that you wrote the words, it’s also less personal than a direct conversation. If a tricky issue comes up, pick up the phone and call to talk it over, or arrange to meet face-to-face with those involved. It will get you back on the right track much more quickly than waiting for someone to reply. When others need to know personally, privately, or ahead of time.

Similarly, while it’s extremely convenient to be able to send group messages about wedding-related plans (“As mother of the groom, I’m pleased to invite you to a bridal shower for my future daughter-in-Iaw...”), it’s still important to check your plans personally with other key people first. Otherwise, you run the risk of ruffling feathers (“Well! As mother of the bride, I thought we were going to host the shower together!”) and putting a serious damper on the whole event.
bride and groom at computer

Photo Credit: Cramer Photo on Scratch Weddings via

Use Email or Social Media For:

Aside from the specific instances cited previously, email and social media are generally acceptable options for wedding-related communications — including the following:

"Save the Date” notices.
Many couples, once they’ve pinned down their wedding day, choose to send out an early informal note alerting friends and family to put that date aside. It’s perfectly fine to email this note.

Wedding RSVPs.
When sending out your wedding invi- tations, it is acceptable to give your guests the option of emailing their RSVPs to you. Simply add a sentence at the bottom of your printed response card saying, “Replies also welcome at by (date).” This is especially appropriate in the case of a short turnaround time for responses, if you are planning a relatively informal wedding, or if you are already in regular email contact with a majority of your invited guests.

Wedding announcements.
Sure, lots of your friends in your Facebook world will know you got married, but you or your parents may have friends or more distant family who don’t keep in touch through social media. Typically, printed announcements are mailed after the wedding itself to friends and family who weren’t on the guest list as well as to acquaintances and business associates you think might wish to hear the news. While many couples and their parents still prefer this more formal way of sharing their happy news, it’s also acceptable to send wedding announcements out via email — particularly if you and the recipient are on infor- mal terms or if the wedding itself was informal. Use the bcc line on your email so that you don’t share recipients’ addresses, or use a service that gives you that option.

Invitations to informal or casual engagement parties, bridal showers, and other prewedding get-togethers.
These are all extremely important occasions, and most couples and their families will want to honor this fact by sending out printed invitations. Emailed invitations, or e-vitations, can be an acceptable alternative, however, particularly if you are planning an informal party or you’re sure the people on your guest list are computer-friendly. This is not the time to create a Facebook event, though — each invitation should be sent to the intended recipient.

Information on lodging and destination.
When sending out your wedding invitations, it’s fine to include an enclosure containing a map and directions for out-of-town guests. To avoid overloading the mailing and detracting from the invitation itself, however, it may make sense to include any other material — including information on hotels, restaurants, and points of local interest — in a separate mailing. For those of your guests who are online, a group email is ideal for this purpose. It’s also standard to include this information on a wedding website.

Wedding updates.
Many couples enjoy keeping their family and friends updated on the progress of their wedding plans. Group emails, Facebook, and Twitter are perfect for this sort of informal communication. Again, though, this convenience factor makes it all the more important to use common sense and consideration: Don’t flood the in-boxes of your entire guest list with daily news flashes and don’t share every tiny detail or development that are best saved for your clos- est friends. If you do decide to send out regular electronic updates, also send a printed copy to any friends and family who aren’t connected through email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Keep in mind proper group email etiquette. Begin any group emails to your guests with a general salutation — “Dear All” — and sign the email as you would on an individual message. To avoid annoying group “Reply All” messages and to respect guests’ privacy, use the “bcc” (blind carbon copy) feature. Put your email address in the “To” line and add your other addresses to the “bcc” line. Your guests’ email addresses will remain hidden and only your email will be available for a reply. Just be certain any guests who might not be online regularly receive the information they need in another form.

It’s not a bad idea to create an email list in your contacts for all of the wedding guests who have accepted your invitation. You may not need to use it, but if anything comes up at the last minute, such as a change in venue due to weather, it’s a quick way to reach a large group at once. Just be sure to remember to phone any guests who might not use email regularly, if at all.

—Anna Post and Lizzie Post, as seen in Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette: 6th Edition. Published with permission from It Books/HarperColilns Publishers. © 2014 The Emily Post Institute.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

5 Signs You're Being a Bad Friend (And How to Turn Things Around!)

Signs of a Bad Friendship

Photo: Getty Images

It's a given that friendships change over time, and there's no doubt that your friendships will be strained a bit through the stress of wedding planning, and that's fine and normal. But be careful you're not becoming a delinquent friend in the process. Here are five warning signs to watch out for:

1. She does all the calling. When we get busy and feel stressed, we can sometimes retreat, become more self-focused and forget the importance of reaching out to others, even the people we love most. And when your best friend is doing all the calling, you might not even notice that it's happening until she starts to feel like you don't care about her as much as you used to. Try to remember to set your stress aside now and then and initiate contact with your closest friends: suggest a run, a girls' night out, or a shopping trip.

2. You cancelled on her a few times in a row. Once is forgivable, twice is ... a little rude. Three times? She's going to be miffed. She knows you're busy, exhausted, and you have a lot on your plate, but she still expects your best self and your time, just as you deserve hers.

3. Your conversations are all about you. When you talk, is it all about you? Is she always helping you solve your problems? And as the hours pass when you're out to dinner, have you hardly scratched the surface of her life? Red flag! When things weigh too heavily in your direction, tip the scale back to her. Refocus and ask her how things are going in her life. Even if you feel like you have more to vent about and discuss, redirect the conversation by saying something like, "Boy, we've talked a lot about me tonight; Let's catch up on your life!"

4. You haven't asked her "How can I help?" in a while. Of course, your wedding's coming up, and you need help (which is why you're so grateful to your maid-of-honor for handling so many items on the wedding to-do-list!), but if you can't remember the last time you offered to help her with something in her life, time for a redirect!

5. She's stopped sharing secrets with you. Yes, your BFF is a great listener and a sponge for your stress, and while this arrangement can work during a stressful period (i.e., planning your wedding!), if it's a one-way street, it is unsustainable forever. Friendship is a give and take, and she's going to need you to be there for her too. She needs to vent and share her innermost secrets with you, just as you have done. Try to get the two-way street back for the health of your friendship.

Sarah Jio

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

5 Ways To Secure Your Happy-ish Ever After

My friend Fawn, over at Happy Wives Club asked me to answer this question for her:
Glennon, what do you believe about marriage?

Um, WOW. Well, a lot of things. Here are five:

1. If neglect or abuse is present in your marriage and you are being hurt, get the hell out. If your church tells you to stay, get the hell out of your church. Any decent church will promise you that God loves you more than any institution God made for you -- including marriage and including church. If you are telling yourself that you are staying for the kids, tell yourself to leave for the kids so you do not teach them that love is pain. If you have no one to help you get out of an abusive, neglectful, hurtful marriage, start here.

2. If you are not hurt or neglected, but you've "fallen out of love" and are disillusioned about marriage, join the club. All married people in the whole world are in the club. Being disillusioned is good. It means you've stopped believing a lie. The lie is that marriage is like it is in the movies and that everyone else is having hot love affairs while you are cleaning up smelly socks and trying to get someone to actually listen to you instead of pretending to listen to you. The truth is that cleaning up socks and trying to get someone to really listen to you is marriage. It's less sweep you off your feet and more sweep the kitchen four times a day. Like everything good in life, it's 98% back-breaking work and 2% moments that make the work worthwhile. So get ready to sweat. Despite what the movies tell you, you'll sweat less often in bed and more often in therapist's offices, in front of the clothes dryer and in line at the grocery store while the children lick used gum off the floor and you silently curse your partner for existing. I'm actually surprised more of us married folk are not constantly dehydrated from all the sweating.

3. Happily Ever After is not a thing. We are all trained by Disney to believe that the wedding is the finish line, but the wedding is just another starting line. In light of this fact, we should quit the huge, fancy, debt-inducing weddings. When I asked my parents to help pay for my wedding, they said they'd give me a little bit and then if Craig and I made it to our ten-year anniversary, they'd give us some more to throw a big party. "That's the time to celebrate," they said. My parents were right.* Celebrate after hard work, not before. Young people: marry simply, start your life, and party later. Think of how much babysitting for your future colicky baby you could buy with that wedding budget. Think of how much marriage therapy you could buy. Invest in your marriage, not your wedding. Spending all your money on a wedding and leaving nothing for marriage is as irresponsible as foregoing health insurance for your baby so that you can throw her a kick-ass birthday party. It's as backwards as circling the stadium with your arms in the air -- waiting for applause -- before you start the race. Sweat a little, then celebrate. And don't forget the good news/bad news: there is no finish line. Marriage starts over again

4. Sex is really, really freaking confusing. No one talks about this, which is a shame. I've been married for eleven years and my husband and I are still trying to figure out how to make sex enjoyable for both of us. Right now sex is a source off all kinds of confusion and resentment and shame and pain for us. But we don't think this means that there's anything "wrong" with us or our marriage. We just assume that our confusion means we're normal people who've been paying attention to the world's mixed, dangerous sex messages forever and so we have some unlearning to do. When our kids were young, we knew we were stuck when it came to sex but we couldn't find an extra hour or dollar to spend figuring it out. Now that the kids are older, we spend hours a week in therapy muddling through this stuff. It's annoying and painful and expensive and necessary. Mating comes naturally, but healthy sex lives don't. They take work.

5. Marriage is still the best chance we have to become evolved, loving people. We live in a transient, disposable world that teaches us that if we are uncomfortable, we should change our surroundings and people instead of ourselves. I do it all the time. New friends, new house, new church, new, new, better, better. It never works, because wherever you go, there you are. If you keep swapping partners because the ass is always greener, you'll just end up poorer and more exhausted, but with all the same issues. We are like butterflies who want to keep moving, keep flitting around and being free, but freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose (thank you, Janis). What we want even more than freedom is to be loved, and we can only be loved when we are truly known. It takes a lifetime of tears, laughter, arguments, loss and conversation with another human being to be truly known. We have to be patient. Marriage is dogged, determined patience. It's also one of the only ways we'll ever truly know ourselves. Because to know ourselves we have to stop flitting and face our demons in the face of another person who serves as our mirror. Who reflects the best and worst of ourselves back to us. Sometimes I feel like marriage is more a constant relationship with myself than it is with Craig. I've learned to quit listing things he could do to be a better partner and ask myself instead what I can do to be a better partner. If I get stuck in comparison induced self-pity and start feeling like others have better love affairs than mine, I don't need to look for another person to love, I just need to start actively loving the person I already have. Because love is not something to wait for or hope for or look for -- it's something to do. Do not measure your marriage by how much love you feel today, measure it by how much love you've offered today. When you don't feel love, do love. Feelings follow doing, not the other way around. Lasting, true love is not about being swept off your feet. Sometimes love is just sweeping the kitchen and being grateful that there is a kitchen and a partner who is contractually obligated to share it with you forever.

*Hey! Dad! Where the Sam Hill's our ten-year money, Bubba?!? Well-played.

Monday, January 13, 2014

9 Real Brides' Wedding Ring Engravings

Photo: Danielle Fleck Events

By the editors of

The custom of engraving wedding bands dates back to medieval Europe, when couples would include phrases from romantic poetry on their bands -- and we love how romantic this tradition is. We asked real brides on Facebook about their wedding ring engravings, and many of them were creative and unexpected. Get inspiration and ideas right here.

1. You are the best part of my day. -Lindsay
2. His says, "My favorite souvenir." We met at Disney world. -Brandice
3. Mine: "I love you," His: "I know." -Kait
4. Mine will say "I believe in us ." -Sharolyn
5. My engagement ring has "I will..." and the date of our engagement. Our wedding bands will say "I do..." With our wedding date. -Dana
6. "Forever," simple as that. -Sarah
7. Mine will say "to infinity" and his will say "and beyond" possibly the date as well. -Amanda
8. Ours say "Happily ever after 11-8-13″ -Holly
9. "Forever - Pinky Promise" bc we always pinky promise whenever we really mean something. -Lexi

Friday, January 10, 2014

Four Expert Tips On How To Set Your Wedding Budget

OK, so picking your wedding budget isn't the most glamorous part of planning. But you need to nail down your number before you can get to the good stuff. Here's how to make the process practically painless.

Have the money talk

Thirty-six percent of couples now foot the whole wedding bill themselves. That means the majority ask for some help—most likely from mom and dad. Ease the awkwardness by sitting down with each set of parents individually—you with yours, he with his—and asking what they can contribute. They may give you a figure, or they may opt to cover a certain part of the celebration (the catering, the dress, etc.).

Add it up

Your parents' contribution plus yours equals your total budget. Note: Do not include your credit card limits in the total. You don't want to start married life in debt.

Spend it wisely

Now that you have a figure, start thinking about your priorities. What do you want most out of your wedding? A jam-packed dance floor? Crazy-good food? Allot the bulk of your budget there, and find ways to save in other areas.

Consider every cost

"Most couples go over budget by at least thirty percent because they didn't account for everything up front," says wedding planner Annie Lee. Be sure to include the following hidden costs on your spreadsheet: dress alterations, tips, weather backup plans (tents, heaters), taxes, vendor meals, and even postage!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Your Wedding Dress: How Do You Know When You Have Found the 'One'?

Looking for the "one" can take time, so give yourself plenty of it, work backwards from your wedding date and plan your appointments. The search may seem endless at certain points, and if you let it, it may drive you crazy! Here are my tips on finding your dream dress while having fun.

Be honest with yourself
. Spend time considering your personality and imagine how your wedding day will be. Ask yourself, "Is this me? Will I feel comfortable in this dress? Will it suit my venue?" Even though you are thinking it is just one day, it is a special day and the memories and photos are forever. It is important to see yourself in this moment and feel confident in your dress -- you will shine!

Define your style to the fullest
. Before even stepping into a store, give yourself time to figure out what your true style really is. Is it glamorous? Modern? Romantic? Something entirely different? Let go of all inhibitions and be proud of who you are and what you feel comfortable in. You could start by pulling out your favorite dresses in your wardrobe to understand why they make you feel good -- Is it strapless? Sleeved? Or waisted shapes? Also consider the fabric -- Is it lace you love? Or embellishment? You should see similar shapes and details being repeated and you should find it easier to discuss with your bridal consultant.

Compliment your figure. Highlight the best part of your body -- again, be honest with yourself. We all have a great part; we do not need to have the perfect body. Emphasize your favorite feature, as identifying a dress that works for you and your body is key to finding the right dress. To highlight your slim frame you might choose a slinky beaded gown, or to show off your back go low and sexy. If you'd prefer to de-emphasize your arms, go for a sheer sleeved gown, or to minimize your tummy consider a ball gown. You can work around your personal likes and dislikes and it will build your confidence. When making all of these decisions, always take a friend or a family member, someone who clearly knows you inside and out as they can offer you support. They can help guide you, but remember ultimately this is your full decision, and you need to connect with the dress. Only you will know when this emotional connection has happened.

Make believe. When I am designing dresses, I like to take this thought into consideration: working with three distinct aesthetics, my Amsale, Kenneth Pool, and Christos collections, I imagine the bride and the setting -- I make believe I am there. For example, the Kenneth Pool bride is sexy and daring and very confident. The wedding might be elegant and lavish in an Italian villa. There are lots of people, it is black tie and the bride is always center of attention. When I think about the Amsale bride, she is the perfect balance between classic and modern. This blend is very important so the dress does not look dated. The Amsale wedding is timeless but perfectly polished in an understated cool tone. It is so important that this understanding reflects the way the gown looks and feels.

My advice is, understand your style. When the dress mirrors who you are, you feel confident. The right dress will speak to you. If you love it, wear it!