Friday, February 28, 2014

8 Things Happy Couples Don't Do

Sometimes, building a solid healthy relationship isn't just about what partners do, but what they don't do.

Here are 8 things that you won't find in the habits of happy couples.

Discourage each other.
Two people who love and care for each other would never attempt to discourage their partner or hold them back in life. They encourage and support each other when it comes to chasing after goals and dreams.

Holding someone else back while in a relationship will only lead to resentment in the long run -- ironically, loosening your grip often keeps someone closer.

Play mind games.
Even something as simple as "how long do I wait before I call?" goes out the window when you're with the right person who is mature and understands you. Call when you want to call, text when you want to text. There will be no games or manipulation when building a solid foundation for a relationship.

Doubt each other's feelings.
In a happy relationship, both partners know how much they mean to each other. Open communication and affection are important to minimizing insecurities and doubts.

Stop trying.
You know you've found a quality partner when they keep showing you how much you mean to them... long after they've got you.

Brush issues under the rug.
No relationship is sunshine and rainbows all the time, but the challenges you face together are what make you stronger, both as individuals and as a couple. No problem can be extinguished unless it is faced, and couples who care for each other will be mature enough to have mature discussions and reach a conclusion.

When feelings are hidden, the other partner won't know what they need to do or change in order to keep the other happy, so nothing will improve.

Snoop around.
One of the key ingredients to a happy relationship is trust, and people who trust each other don't invade each others' privacy by snooping around. There should be no need for a password protected phone or deleting your Facebook chat history. Trusting couples should be open books to one another and will have no use for being sneaky.

Dig up the past.
We all have a past that has shaped us into who we are today. Some experiences for better, and others for worse. Happy, mature couples understand that about each other and don't use each others' pasts as ammunition in arguments or to start issues.

Let things get stale.
Both inside and outside of the bedroom, it's important that neither partner gets bored or feels as though things are getting stale. Often times intimacy in the bedroom is actually built outside of it through romantic gestures, showing of appreciation and affection, and always letting your partner know how much they mean to you.

Happiness in relationships is built on communication, trust, loyalty, and mutual respect. These are some of the cornerstones of love -- without one, the other cannot exist.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Top 10 Bachelorette Party Destinations in 2014—Plus, a Cool Online Tool for Planning Your Weekend


Where bachelorette parties used to be one wild night on the town, more brides are using their bachelorette as an excuse for a real girlfriends' getaway with their 'maids. Both party options (one day vs. several) have their merits, but I'm a fan of the mini-vacay, when money permits. With that in mind, here are the 10 hottest destinations for bachelorette parties in 2014, according to the clever gal behind The Bach, an online tool that helps streamline bachelorette party planning while you're busy with, you know, everything else that comes with planning a wedding (and having a life).

Fabulous Las Vegas is still the number one destination for both bachelor and bachelorette parties. Head here for rowdy pool parties, elaborate clubs, lively casinos, fantastic restaurants, and entertaining shows.

If your group loves warm weather and exciting nightlife, Miami is the perfect destination. Bachelorette parties flock to South Beach for wild pool parties, white sand beaches, and some of the steamiest nightclubs in the country.

NYC is known for its amazing nightlife and award-winning restaurants. With a huge variety of unique daytime activity options to add, your bachelorette group can do anything from a trapeze class to a sail around Manhattan.

If the bride is looking for a truly rowdy party scene, nothing compares to the bars on Bourbon Street. By day, your group can try flavorful creole cuisine, admire the distinct NOLA architecture, and enjoy some great jazz.

Napa Valley is all about drinking in style and relaxing over incredible wine-country views. Here you can taste some of the best wines in the country, relax at world-class spas, do a river cruise along the Napa River, or try something adventurous, like a hot-air balloon ride.

As the live music capital of the world, Austin is the perfect destination if the bride loves catching shows. During the day, go tubing or rent a boat, and don't miss out on Austin's delicious Tex-Mex and barbecue spots.

The always-charming Charleston offers beautiful architecture, delicious Southern-style cooking, and a lively bar scene. During the day stroll through the quaint streets, hit the beach, or go out on a boat for the afternoon.

Scottsdale's warm weather, scenic landscapes, and gorgeous spas provide an ideal setting for a relaxing girls' getaway. At night, check out the lively bars and restaurants in the Old Town.

Atlantic City is a favorite with many East Coast brides because they can relax on the beach during the day, then try their luck at gambling before dinner and dancing at one of the casino clubs.

This cosmopolitan city has a fantastic restaurant and bar scene and tons of fun group activities to try. Bachelorette parties can choose from cooking and art classes, comedy and cabaret shows, burlesque classes, and more.

Do you want a bachelorette weekend? Or just one night? Which of these cities would you pick?
Brides who want a multi-day party, remember: The bachelorette getaway is a luxury, not a mandatory event, so you need to graciously give cash-strapped bridesmaids or those with kids—or, heck, those who just don't want to use their vacation days—a break.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How Couples Can Avoid Fighting About the Wedding

Now that you are in the midst of planning your big day, you may find yourself feeling so crazed by wedding planning that you forget to nurture your relationship. It is not uncommon for couples to temporarily leave the "Love Boat" and hop a ride on the "Stress Express" before they even make it down the aisle.

Even when you steeped in tasks and tackling a huge to-do list, stressed-out couples need to take time out to honor the love they have and keep the lines of communication open.

If you ever feel your relationship needs a tune up, the first thing you can do is think back to the early days of love, when all you could think about was each other. And think back to the moment when you became engaged, when you were floating on air! Remember the things that led you to want to marry in the first place.

Here's a little exercise for clearing the air if you ever find yourself annoyed with each other, unloving toward each other, or stuck in a wedding planning rut. Just set aside some special time to share what's on your mind.

Designate a special "Us Time." Make sure you have an appropriate setting and privacy and take a few moments to sit together quietly, decompressing from every day stress.

Share a few moments of silent meditation. Just hold hands, look deeply into each others eyes and breathe in unison.

Once you feel calm and connected, take turns sharing what is on your minds. For example, you speak for 15 to 30 minutes then your beloved speaks for 15 to 30 minutes.

Don't yell, shame, or blame your beloved. If you are feeling unhappy about something, be careful not to blame or dump on your partner. Instead of saying, "I am so upset because you did this ... use statements that allow you to take responsibility. For example, "I would feel very supported if you would ... "

Communicate clearly. Tell each other what your needs are so that you do not have to argue or try to act out your upsets. Makes sure each of you gets a chance to share and that the other listens in silence so that you can both clear whatever is weighing on you.

Be loving. Although each of you must bear witness when the other talks, don't hesitate to touch one another or look at one another tenderly.

Seal it with a kiss. Once you've both had a chance to say all that's on your mind, seal it with a hug and a kiss --and a vow to keep the channels of communication open.

If you find yourself coming up against an issue - over and over -- that neither of you seems to be able to come to truce about, consider counseling. Even a session or two with a trained therapist can be helpful.

Feel free to use this exercise after the wedding day and any time your relationship needs a tune-up!
Note: I first learned about this technique from therapist Richard Cohn, PhD.

This Man Bravely Pranked His Girlfriend Days Before Proposing

For some, the days leading up to a marriage proposal are stressful and filled with unknowns: Will she (or he!) be surprised? Will she like the ring? What will she say?
For others, it's a time to prank their significant others -- like the brave man below who snapped photos of himself holding the engagement ring in plain sight of his true love and posted them to Reddit. Check them out below:

"The weekend before popping the question, I decided to be ballsy and see just how far I could go with taking pictures of myself with the ring with my girlfriend in the background and not realizing."
Test picture

"She didn't realize it was right over her head, she was too into watching TV. The best was we were watching one of those bridal shows on TLC, Friday is Bride Day."

"She really likes Eeyore."
She really likes Eeyore

"Visiting her at work."
visiting her at work

"Needed some eggs for dinner that night."
Needed some eggs for dinner that night
"She was getting annoyed why I was taking so many selfies for no reason."
Nailed it

Of course, his girlfriend's annoyance quickly turned to joy when she found out what he was up to. Our man did finally stop taking selfies and got down on one knee.

"She thought it was all hilarious after the fact. Bonus picture of popping the question just before she said "yes."

We love happy endings.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How To Deal With Wedding Guests Who Don't RSVP On Time

The rules of wedding etiquette are constantly changing, making it difficult for modern brides, grooms and guests to find up-to-date and correct information. That's why we've launched #MannersMondays, a weekly series in which we ask our followers on Twitter and Facebook to submit their most burning etiquette-related questions. Then, with the help of our team of etiquette experts, we get you the right answers to your biggest Big Day dilemmas. Check out this week's question below!


Anna Post -- great-great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post and author of Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette -- is here to help us answer this week's question. Find out what she had to say below:

"Necessary? No. But I think you’ve answered your own question: You don’t want surprises. Unfortunately, some people do just show up, thinking it isn’t a big deal, when in fact it can cause a huge amount of stress, distraction and annoyance on a day when those are the last things you want to experience.

So that means you need to make some phone calls. There’s a good plan of attack for this, but first, a word on fairness. This isn’t fair — you have put a lot of effort and expense into planning a wedding. The least a guest can do is acknowledge your desire to include them with a yes or no (there’s even a convenient little form with check boxes! And a self-addressed, stamped envelope!) But if it’s the position you find yourself in, you might want to take a moment and think about the big picture: There’s a reason you invited this person in the first place, and presumably you still want them to share in your Big Day. Letting annoyance drip from your voice when you call — even though they are in the wrong — won’t do much good.

After you’ve squared away any frustration, start making calls about a week before you need to give your numbers to the caterer and/or venue. (Note: It’s smart to set the RSVP date a week or two prior to this deadline.) This is a great time to enlist any offers of help from close friends, family and members of the wedding party to help you make calls. Remember that this is not required duty -- it’s a favor. When you call, start by giving your errant guest the benefit of the doubt: 'I wanted to be sure you received our invitation. I need to give final numbers to my caterer on Friday, and wanted to know if you’ll be able to attend. We hope you can! Thanks.' If you are worried this won’t cover it, you can always add, 'I won’t be able to change the numbers after this.'

There’s no need for lengthy explanations — 'numbers to the caterer' in a wedding setting is about as clear as it gets. And, if someone does roll in on the wedding day who never replied, save any lecture on inconvenience for a later date. Delegate someone else to alert the caterers and squeeze them in — and hopefully it won't be at the kids' table."

3 Reasons Why You Should Brag About Your Awesome Hubby

Selfie couple
Photo: Getty Images

Okay, ladies. Raise your hand if any of the following sound familiar: You've rolled your eyes when your married friends gush a little too much about their relationships on Facebook. You've carped about your hubby's faults to your friends on girls' night out. (That's why it exists, right?) You've heard him refer to you as "the boss" or, worse, "the old ball and chain" to his buddies (especially when he needs an excuse to bail on plans.)

Even the most happily hitched among us downplay the awesomeness of marriage every once in a while. But from one married woman to another, I have this request: Please stop! Instead, start bragging about your husband. Boast about your marriage. Profess your love for your husband, publicly.

Why? Not just because he deserves it, but because it will make your relationship even better. Here's why:

1. It will make him to want to do more. When you plant seeds of affirmation, they grow. Say, "My husband is amazing!" and see how long it takes for him to live up to that affirmation. I'm betting he'll rise to occasion, because that's what great men do. Bragging about your guy will inspire him to love you better.

2. It'll make him look good (or bad—in a good way). "Man, pull back a bit. You're making the rest of us look bad!" Start bragging about your man, and he'll probably start hearing that from his fellow married friends. And trust me: It's one of the most uplifting statements a man can hear from his buddies. He'll feel good about it, even if he takes a little ribbing.

3. The happiest wives in the world do it. As part of my research for my book, Happy Wives Club, I traveled to 12 countries on six continents to interview couples who have been happily married 25 years or more. One common denominator—and one of the things that struck me the most—was how unashamed these spouses were to dote on one another. The wives bragged about their husbands and their husbands boasted about them in return. These couples have clearly found a happy-marriage secret that works!

In a world when 47 percent of marriages end in divorce, we all need to see and hear from the other 53 percent. So don't be afraid to celebrate your marriage—and your man—with a little Facebook love.

Monday, February 24, 2014

After the Wedding: 5 Things You'll Love to Do Once You're Married

5 Things to Do After Wedding
Photo: Getty Images

When you're in the thick of planning your wedding, it's easy to get so focused on the to-dos and details that you forget about the end goal. (You know, your actual marriage.) If the stress of wedding planning is getting you down, just think about your future as a married woman—and these sweet newlywed firsts that you have to look forward to...

1. Make a dinner reservation under your married name. "I'd like a table for two for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, please." It both feels like an out-of-body experience and also so incredibly real and amazing to use your new name, officially, in real life. (Not to mention the fact that dinner dates are still important even though you're no longer actually dating!)

2. Say the phrase "my husband." For the first dozen times (and maybe two dozen), it will give you such a thrill to refer to this man you love as your husband—to a cab driver, to your hairdresser, or even your boss. Relish in that newness.

3. Brush your teeth together in the bathroom as a married couple. Even if you've already lived together before the wedding, doing everyday little things together will feel intimate in a totally new way. Anna, a newlywed reader in San Diego, agrees. "After the wedding, it was so special just to stand in the bathroom together and be brushing our teeth and know that we were brushing our teeth as two married people who'd be brushing our teeth together for the next 50 years and beyond. It still gives me goose bumps."

4. Buy some "Mrs." gear. Admit it: You've seen (and secretly coveted) those Kate Space "Mrs." necklaces and earrings, not to mention the Mrs." tee shirts all over Etsy. Even if you only wear it at home in your yoga pants, you'll beam when you do—even if you're a honest-to-goodness Ms.

5. Plan your one-year anniversary together. One of the most beautiful things you can do as a couple is dream together (and if you ask any relationship expert, they'll tell you it's not only the key to relationship happiness, but that you should never, ever stop!). Why not put your heads together and brainstorm some fun ways to mark the occasion of your first year together (even if it's 11 months away). Make a reservation at the nicest restaurant in town (the one that always books up months in advance), or block off some time on your work calendars to take a trip together.

Friday, February 21, 2014

10 Things You Should Never Tell Your Wedding Florist

Wedding Bouquet

After designing weddings for eight years, I decided to pursue my love of writing over my love of floral design. The result was the Elly in Bloom series. It gave an honest (and often sharp) behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be "the help" on every bride's perfect day. Here are some of my favorite (real!) lines from hundreds of consultations. And let me just add that for every bridezilla, there were probably 10 delightful brides, something that those in the industry know very well...

1. "I love (enter expensive flower name here), but I have a really small budget." 
This is like telling a car salesperson, "I love Mercedes Benz, but I have a used KIA budget... but can I still get a Mercedes Benz?"

2. "My dress is not quite ivory, not quite white, but like a diamond-white, only more like a champagne eggshell, but with cosmic latte pearls, which add kind of this creamy-white to it, but I don't want flowers that are snow-white, I want a ghost linen with hints of..."

There are two shades of white to wedding florists: cream and white. Please pick one.

3. Slides pictures of Tom Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes across the table. "Can you do something like this for an $800 budget?"

How do I say this in the kindest way... NO.

4. "I love the look of lilacs, but the smell makes my eyes water. Is there any way we can remove the scent but keep the flowers?"

Absolutely. Totally a normal request. Let me grab my vacuum cleaner hose.

5. "I would like to take pictures outside on the surface of the sun (i.e, Colorado, Arizona, California, middle of the summer, hottest day EVER) or in Antarctica (Chicago, Minnesota, mid winter, -102 degrees), will my antique hydrangeas last?"

Nope. But let me guess, you still want them...

6. "I would like an exact replica of Princess Kate's bouquet, but have a very limited budget."

A safe assumption would be that if the Duchess of Cambridge can afford it, us mere mortals cannot. May I interest you in a bouquet rocked by that girl you went to high school with?

7. "Is there going to be someone who will stay at the wedding to watch the flowers?"

They are flowers, not children. Besides, if I want my flowers to become alive and eat people like in Little Shop of Horrors, I will give them the command BEFORE the wedding.

8. "I know you are on your way to my wedding right now, but I was wondering if we could change our theme from Great Gatsby to Vintage Southern, and make all the white flowers a soft green and maybe add some yellow and pink shades? Is it too late? I mean, we are paying you to get what we want."

*Bangs head on steering wheel*

9. "I don't want to pay for something that just dies in a day."

That's okay, I completely understand not wanting to pay for something that will only be used for one special day. You also might have a problem with the following items: venue, wedding food, wedding cake, wedding dress, invitations, favors, alcohol, officiants, musicians, bridesmaid dresses, "Bride" embroidered underwear, 242 umbrellas and 30 tiny bags of personalized M&M's.

10. "So, I've made a few thousand Pinterest boards containing a few hundred pins each for you to look at for inspiration. We'll just start with the 'Wrap Inspiration Board'..."

Oh please, Lord no...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The 4 Things A Bride Should Absolutely Never Ask Of Her Bridesmaids


Asking your bridesmaids to stand beside you on your special day is a big deal, and it goes without saying that it's important to choose wisely! The best friends and/or family members you choose to include in your bridal party will be with you from the start to finish of your wedding planning whirlwind, and you'll be depending on them to support you when you're inches away from an apocalyptic bridal meltdown.

While your bridesmaids are going to be there for you, that doesn't mean you should abuse your bridal power! No one likes a bridezilla, but as some of you past brides must know, sometimes walking the line between bride and friend is tricky. Want some tips on how to make sure your friendships stay intact after you're back from your honeymoon? Here are four things you should never, ever ask your bridesmaids to do for you.

1. Never ask your bridesmaids to diet/lose weight.
I feel like this one goes without saying, but you should love your bridesmaids the way they are and the way they look. When you stand up there on your special day with your best friends, you're not only celebrating your marriage, but you're celebrating the people closest to you who have supported your relationship. That means celebrating your best friends, just the way they are.

2. Never ask your bridesmaids to approve haircuts/tattoos/other appearance changes with you.
It's okay to ask for your bridesmaids to wear a certain dress or do their hair a special way for the wedding. However, that should really be the only day you're asking them to look and dress a certain way. This means if they want to cut off all their hair the week before your wedding day, that should be okay!

3. Never ask your bridesmaids to spend more than necessary.
Be considerate to your bridesmaids' wallets. Being a 'maid is not only a big time commitment, but it's a big financial commitment as well. Take into consideration what they can afford before you pick out $500 bridesmaid dresses and ask them to have their hair done for the rehearsal and ceremony.

4. Never ask your bridesmaids for specific bachelorette/bridal shower party events.
I'm sure you've always envisioned your bachelorette party playing out a certain way, but the truth of the matter is that it's up to your bridesmaids and maid of honor to plan the party. If they're your besties, they'll know exactly what to do without you getting involved. Telling them what you want for a bachelorette or bridal shower is a big no-no, so trust them to do it right.
Hopefully you brides won't actually need these tips. If you're ever in doubt and wondering whether or not you're crossing the line, just follow this one simple rule: be nice! And those four rules above are pretty good guidelines too. Former bridesmaids: any rules we forgot?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

3 Things I've Learned About Myself While Planning My Wedding

In a smidge less than four months, I'll be a married lady. It's still surreal to think that, even though my fiance and I have been together for nearly seven years at this point (we started dating very young). Lately, my life has been consumed by selecting bridal attire, choosing a cocktail-style dinner menu, picking out just the right stoneware dishes to replace our mismatched hand-me-down plates, and deciding on modern-looking wedding invitation suites. I really wish that I could say that I was one of those brides who revels in all of this, but the truth is that I'm not. I actually find most of this highly stressful and not as enjoyable as the wedding industry has ingrained in me that it should be. So far, in the past year of planning my spring wedding, I've learned more than just what kind of flowers and colors I do or don't like -- I've learned a few things about myself along the way too.

1. I Just Don't Care That Much About the Tiny Details.
It's funny, because naturally, I'm kind of a control freak about most things in my life. I like consistent schedules, I'm not big on drastic change, I really like to make sure I know what's coming next at all times. I make lists for everything because they calm my naturally anxious state. So it was kind of shocking to realize I just don't care all that much about, say, my bridesmaids matching. I just want them to be comfortable, happy with what they're wearing, and standing up there with me because I love them all. They chose their dress colors and the dresses can all be individualized on top so each one can have a different look. I recently sent them all (them being my two sisters and my two future sisters-in-law) an email in which I stated that I forgot to mention anything about shoes, but I actually am not a stickler about it, so whatever you find that you like, kind of matches your dress and is comfortable works for me. At the end of the day, my sisters will be up there and that's good enough for me. Why waste energy on something so small and insignificant as bridesmaid shoes? They're just going to kick them off at the reception anyway.

2. Keeping My Maiden Name in Some Form Means More to Me Than I Thought.
When I first got engaged, I was kind of horrified by the idea of changing my name at all. I never thought I would feel that way -- wouldn't I naturally want to take my husband's name? Isn't that what I've been taught? Ladies, it's 2014. You can do whatever the heck you want. Which is what I realized I can do too. At first, I was pretty staunchly against changing my name... and then time went on and I started to warm up to the idea of adding my fiance's name onto my name. I like the idea of being a cohesive family unit and having that connection with him and our future children. However, I have not for one second entertained the notion of dropping my last name entirely -- I'm sorry, but it's my NAME, for Pete's sake. I can't just get rid of it, it's part of my identity. Luckily for me, my parents were trendsetters 25 years ago and didn't give me a middle name (try getting through elementary school when everyone is comparing middle names and you don't have one at all -- you just start to make stuff up, which I did to be "cool" or something. I don't know, why did we even compare middle names? What was that?). Currently, my plan is to keep my maiden name as my middle name, which will be a novelty for me after going 25 years middle name-less. For me, this feels right and this feels comfortable. I don't know who Alexandra Kelly is and she just feels foreign to me. But I can get behind Alexandra Rosario Kelly. There just has never been a question of letting go of "Rosario" entirely.

3. I Can't Wait For the Wedding to Be Over... Because I'm Excited to Start My Marriage.
If there's anything I've learned while being engaged it's that there is so much focus on this one day and not enough focus on what comes after. Isn't that exciting, too? Isn't that the whole reason for all this pageantry? Can't someone write an article on the 10 Things You Should Know In Your First Year Of Marriage so I know what the heck I'm getting myself into after all the hoopla of my "one perfect day" is over? This is not to say I'm not looking forward to my wedding -- I am, it's going to be a great day with all of our family and friends surrounding us with love. But it's why I'm unconcerned about matching bridesmaid attire for instance, and with having anything resembling a "traditional" type of wedding. (For background, our ceremony is outdoors and our reception is at our local brewery. We will be having passed food and a taco station, because, tacos. There will be no wedding cake because we're not really into wedding cake and our caterer has better dessert options. There will most likely be no favors because do you really want a champagne flute with my new monogrammed initials on it? No? I didn't think so.) You know what I want? I want to dance my ass off in celebration with my new husband and our families, wake up the next day and say, this is it -- we're on a new journey and I can't wait to see where it takes us. I'm looking forward to building a life with someone. The wedding is but one day in a series of days that I'm sure will, at some point, pale in comparison to some newer, better moment in the future. This is what I'm excited about -- stringing those moments together to create a life with a man who I love dearly.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Get Wedding Photos You'll Love: One Bride Shares Her Tips

Carolyn Hsu wedding photography tips 1
Photo: Christian Oth

What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Well, it's not all happy tears at the bridal boutique and indulgent cake tastings. Guest blogger Carolyn Hsu, founder of The Hsu Closet, is sharing the ins and outs of planning a New York City wedding, picking the perfect venue, crafting a day-of beauty look and finding inspiration in the strangest of places.

When it comes to wedding regrets, one thing I heard a lot from my friends is that they weren't thrilled with their wedding day photography. So when it came time to hire my own wedding photographer, I chose carefully. Luckily, I ended up being thrilled with my choice. Here's how I found the perfect photographer, and got the beautiful wedding photos I wanted.

Know Your Style
Knowing your favorite style is key to finding a photographer who can shoot images you'll love. Do you like pictures that look romantic and ethereal, or more like a fashion editorial? Do you prefer formal staged shots or candids? Do you gravitate toward unusual, artsy photos...or away from them?
I wanted something that looked like a cross between a luxury ad and fashion reportage. I loved the idea of documenting my wedding day in a natural, photojournalistic way, but wanted all my candid shots to look glamorous. And most of all, I wanted my photos to be bright and vibrant, not vintage-looking, overprocessed, or filtered. Knowing what you like best and applying that criteria to your search is the first step in finding (and eliminating!) photographers.

Carolyn Hsu wedding photography tips 2
Photo: Christian Oth

Go With Your Gut Feeling
Consider every recommendation you receive, but ultimately, let the photos do the talking. One night while on Pinterest, I stumbled upon this image by Christian Oth and was hooked. I couldn't look away! Soon I was clicking through every photo on his studio website and loving each one more than the last. Since the photos will be the biggest keepsakes from your wedding day, finding the perfect photographer isn't something to be rushed. Take your time and keep looking until you find someone whose work you absolutely love.

Don't Be Shy
If you pick the right photographer, you should already trust their skill, aesthetic, professionalism, and vision. Since I already had so much admiration for my photographer's work, I felt confident letting him shoot the way he wanted to on my wedding day. To help you get to that level of trust with your photographer, there are a few things I recommend:

1. Have an in-person meeting. This is key because the way you describe or envision something may not be how your photographer understands it. If you can point out photos that you love (or don't), this will help your photographer better understand your vision and how best to capture your day.
2. Ask for what you want. We all have our "good side," body parts we love, and body parts we don't. Let your photographer know if you want him to shoot from a specific angle or avoid something altogether. It's better to give clear direction upfront than be disappointed later because you were too shy to communicate something.
3. Book an engagement session. Initially, I was reluctant to have an engagement shoot, but in retrospect, I'm so glad I did! My husband and I both got to experience what it was like being in front of our photographer's camera—and let me tell you, getting those perfect shots (walking! kissing! looking lovingly into each other's eyes!) takes practice. It also gives you a chance to see what you two look like in the photos—so you can tweak things on the big day.
4. Ask for your photographer's opinion. Ask your photographer for his thoughts on things like venue décor or your dress, because those things can have a big impact on your photos. I had two questions I wanted my photographer to weigh in on: Which room at my venue to use for my ceremony should it rain (luckily, I didn't have to go there); and should I add a belt to my wedding dress (yes). I'm glad I got his opinion, because in the end, I was really happy with how everything looked in the pictures.

Carolyn Hsu wedding photography tips 3
Photo: Christian Oth

Make Photos a Priority
I was all about maximizing photo opportunities throughout the day, from the first look to the last dance. To do this, I opted to take portraits before the ceremony so we'd have more time to get the shots we wanted. I also wanted to get a variety of photos with different backdrops that captured the feel of New York City. We shot in the gorgeous roof terrace of the hotel where we had our first look, in front of the New York Public Library, outside Grand Central, and finally in the garden and throughout our venue.

If you also want to incorporate a variety of backgrounds for your photos, factor in some time to take photos in different places. An experienced photographer should have some go-to locations in mind. And if traveling around the city before your ceremony isn't feasible, then consider getting ready or having your first look at a venue that offers a few different backdrops, such as a rooftop, balcony, garden, or other private space. Looking back, those photos added unique character and personality to my wedding album.

Monday, February 17, 2014

10 Items Couples Forget to Register For-- But Shouldn't

Even if you're mentally prepared to sift through china patterns, registering for everything you'll need for the rest of your life -- the fun stuff and the essentials -- can be overwhelming. With all of that pressure, you're bound to forget a towel or two.

To make sure you cover all of your bases, we consulted Kristy Welker, a Target spokesperson and an authority on wedding registries. Whether it's a digital camera to record your memories or something as simple as a gift card, she knows exactly what you'll need. Here are the top ten things you and your future hubby shouldn't overlook.

Barware"Wine glasses and drinking glasses appear on most registry lists, but accessories like pitchers, cocktail shakers and decanters are often overlooked."

Items for Hobbies"Love being outdoors? Register for a tent for a camping adventure or for bikes to hit the trails. Love the latest movies? Register for DVDs so you'll have a collection of favorites on hand for nights spent at home."

Beach Towels"Going on a tropical honeymoon? Register for some fun beach towels to take on your unforgettable vacation."

Digital Camera"You'll be creating lots of memories in the years ahead. Why not ask for a new digital camera or camcorder to record all of the great moments?"

Picture Frames"You'll want beautiful frames to display your fabulous wedding and honeymoon photos. Don't forget to add a few of your favorites to your registry."

Gift Cards"A gift card will come in handy when unexpected things pop up. It'll be nice to have some extra cash available for future purchases at your favorite store."

Outdoor/Indoor Grill"If you have a backyard or a patio, a grill is great thing to add to your registry. If grilling outdoors isn't an option, an indoor grill can be almost as much fun."

Luggage"Whether for the honeymoon or for vacations in years to come, a nice set of matching luggage will make any couple feel like they belong together."

Extra Towels"Towels typically are included on registry lists, but make sure to register for a few extra sets so you'll have enough on hand to replace those that get a lot of use—and for unexpected guests."

Vacuum Cleaner"Couples frequently leave this essential item off their lists, but it's the perfect opportunity to snag something super practical."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone out there but especially to my Valentine, My Husband. I hope that everyone enjoys their day of love, romance and magic.
Jasmine Cameron

Thursday, February 13, 2014

8 Fun Bridal Shower Games

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 discuss the most common bridal shower games and traditions.

bridal shower game toilet paper wedding dress

Photo Credit: Day 7 Photography on DIY Bride via

Party games for bridal showers are greeted with groans or giggles. It’s all in good fun, and even if party games aren’t your thing, as the guest of honor, be a good sport and go along with what your hosts have planned. Here are some of the more popular, time-tested traditions and entertainments.

The Ribbon Bouquet
The bridesmaids collect all the ribbons from the bride’s shower presents and gather them into a bouquet for the bride to carry at the wedding rehearsal. (My grandmother remembers doing this at her bridal showers!).

Forbidden Words
Arriving shower guests receive a clothespin or safety pin to attach to her clothing. If a guest mentions any of a list of words having to do with a wedding — church, marriage, bride, groom’s name — another quick-witted guest “steals” her pin. The guest with the most pins at the end of the party wins a prize.

Shower Gift Bingo
Each guest is given a bingo card, printed with a blank 5x5 grid, and a pencil. Guests fill in the blanks with gifts they think the bride will receive at her shower. The middle spot is “free” and of course a guest can fill in her own gift. As the bride opens her gifts, players cross them off the card. The first to have five in a row across, vertically, or diagonally, wins a prize.

What the Bride Said
Put a guest in charge of writing down all the comments the bride makes (shh…don’t tell her!) as she opens her gifts: “Oh, it’s adorable!” “My mom has one of those, and I always wanted one.” “How do you wear this?” After all the gifts are opened, have someone read them aloud (or take turns), telling the bride these are the comments she'll make on her wedding night.

The Bride and Me
Have each guest bring a photo of herself with the bride. Provide a blank album as each guest puts her photo in it, she tells the story behind the photo. A twist on this game is for guests to tell a story about the bride and/or groom, say something from childhood, or share something guests might not know about the bride and her fiancé.

Marriage Recipes
Give guests recipe cards and ask them to write their recipe for a good marriage. The bride reads them aloud and tries to guess who wrote what.

Wedding Pictionary
Divide guests into two teams. Provide a large drawing pad, perhaps on an easel. One person draws while her team tries to guess a wedding-related word or phrase: “honeymoon,” “elope,” “pop the question.” Have prizes for the winning team.

Toilet Tissue Wedding Gown
Divide the group into two teams, and give each team four rolls of toilet tissue. Pick two people, say the mother of the bride and mother of the groom, to be “models.” Using only the tissue, the teams design and then dress the models in a wedding gown. The bride chooses the winning dress. Or forget the contest and just dress the bride.

—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.

28 Most Romantic Things a Man Can Do

Being romantic isn't always about wining and dining and buying fancy jewelry. In fact, a lot of times that could be done without thought. We want your brains to excite us! Show us you are thinking -- truly thinking -- and we find that completely romantic.

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I polled women and asked them what were some of the most romantic things their men could do for them. Men, do this this Valentine's Day ... or any day.

  1. Brush my hair out of the blue, not because it's needed but because it feels nice.
  2. Give me a massage that doesn't end in sex. Unless you want it to. I mean REALLY want it to.
  3. Write me a poem.
  4. Feed the kids dinner, give them baths, and put them to bed. So I don't have to.
  5. Put fuzzy socks on my feet when I'm cold without being asked.
  6. Cook and serve me a nice dinner (and major bonus for doing the dishes afterward).
  7. Wake me up with coffee in hand.
  8. Wake me up by rubbing my arm and kissing my neck while we are both still in bed.
  9. He sends me romantic songs and calls out lyrics that he thinks fits us perfectly.
  10. When he brings home my favorite Prosecco.
  11. I find his patience with my crazy to be super romantic.
  12. When he tells me I'm beautiful and says he still feels like he got the hot chick to go to the prom with him, and damn, how did that happen?
  13. When he calls me by a nickname that only he knows.
  14. When we go out in public, he'll reach out from time to time and put his hand in a specific place on on my hip, like he can't stand to not touch me when we're within arm's reach of each other. Actually, he touches me whenever we're in arm's reach of each other, no matter what.
  15. He buys me little gifts (nothing big; a brand of chocolate I'm partial to, the type of pens I prefer) just out of the blue, because he thought I'd like it.
  16. He always, always, always opens doors for me, waits for me to be seated first, and holds my hand wherever we go.
  17. When he takes me to Godiva to pick out my own individual truffles.
  18. Make a public show of something. Hell, a heartfelt note on my Facebook Wall would be cool.
  19. Draws me a hot bath and takes over putting the kids to bed so we can have alone time.
  20. Plan a mini-vacation! And handle all the details.
  21. He traces his fingers on my arm, my back, my leg, and tells me he loves my skin.
  22. He'll lean into me and tell me I smell good.
  23. Bring me home a treat or flowers when he knows I've had a bad day.
  24. Surprise me with a sitter and a night out to a quiet place for dinner.
  25. When he gets up with the kids and lets me sleep in.
  26. Every single night he spoons with me before we go to sleep, and he insists that I go to bed with him because he has a hard time falling asleep without me there.
  27. He challenges my intellect because he knows I'm up for it and respects the prowess of my gray matter.
  28. He sends me love texts from time to time, sometimes in Spanish, because "the English translation doesn't quite do it justice" about my smile, my eyes, my hair, my spirit.

What are you favorite romantic things on this list? What would you add?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

9 Ways To Build A Happy And Long-Lasting Marriage

No can say for sure which ingredients and qualities are guaranteed predictors of a happy and successful marriage. Sometimes, the best we can do is piece together advice from real-life husbands and wives who've been there.

On Wednesday, Redditor maxandtheband posed a question to the married men and women of Reddit, asking, "What is the most important thing to make sure about your relationship before getting married?"

We rounded up some of the best matrimonial wisdom below.

1) Agree -- or at least agree to disagree -- on major life decisions, like religious affiliations and whether or not to have kids.

2) Make sure that you can live together and tolerate each other's behavior, habits and quirks. "With marriage, culture makes us focus so much on love," one Redditor writes. "They say things like 'follow your heart' or 'if you love each other, that's all that matters'. Love is important to relationships, but there's a huge practical side to it too. In addition to your spouse, they're your roommate, co-owner of all your stuff, co-parent, etc. If you can't work with them on those issues, love isn't going to help you."

3) Learn how to fight constructively. "You have to be able to fight just as effectively as you talk about the weather," another Redditor said. "Everyone will have a fight in their relationship at some point. Even if you have to take space and come back to the issue to discuss it rationally, you're still communicating and fighting well."

4) Discuss your personal philosophies about money. After you tie the knot, will you create a joint bank account or keep them separate? What about retirement planning? If one of you is a saver and the other a spender, how are you going to come up with a system that works for both of you?

5) Remember that communication is key. "Talk now about everything -- money, dreams/goals, expectations, likes/dislikes," a Redditor writes. "You need to know that, even if you disagree on something, you can take the time to have a discussion about it."

6) When your partner is talking to you, put down the devices. "I don't think [people] realize how devastating it is to feel like the person you love the most is ignoring you, or only giving you 50 percent attention," one Redditor explained."I listen very well while multitasking but if I am looking at the iPad or the TV, it gives the impression that I don't care," said another.

7) Be friends. Do not underestimate the importance of being friends with your spouse -- it holds as much weight as the romantic and physical attraction. "There is so much quiet, uneventful time that you will spend together, and if you're not friends as well as lovers, then I'd imagine marriage would get difficult very quickly," one Redditor wrote. Another Redditor shared some advice that his uncle -- married for 45 years -- gave before he died: "Marry your best friend. The sex and looks will eventually go away, but your friendship will last a lifetime."

8) Laugh together. "I try to get my wife to laugh every morning before we get out of bed, even if she is laughing at me, at least she starts her day with a grin on her face," one man said. "Been doing it for 34 years."

9) Admit when you're wrong. "So many fights can be ended once I admit I'm wrong instead of stubbornly holding my ground long after we both realize my arguments make no sense," a Redditor explained.

Ten Valentine's Day Ideas to Keep the Spark in Your Marriage

Valentine's Day is typically thought of as an occasion for exchanging flowers, cards and chocolates. For some it is a night spent enjoying romantic dinners, all in order to capture the hearts of one's intended. The essence of the holiday lies in the hopes that this will be the year that Cupid's arrow will strike its mark. But what if Cupid's arrow hit its target years ago? Valentine's Day tends to be seen as a single person's pursuit, but the truth is that married couples can, more than anyone else, benefit from the spirit of the day as a way to celebrate their time tested love. It is important for those who are married to maintain a romantic spark. Just because you found the one, does not mean that the courtship phase of your relationship is over. To that end, here is a top ten list of ways that the matrimonial set can make the most of their Valentine's Day:

1. Set your alarm clock earlier than usual, so that you can have time for coffee together, deviating from the hectic morning routine of an energy bar and a mug to go.

2. Tuck a sweet message under your mate's pillow offering up just a hint of the evening's plan.

3. Engage in flirty texts to one another during the day in order to build anticipation of the quality time you'll be spending together later on.

4. Send her flowers to work. Yes, ladies want all their co-workers to ooh and ahh over the roses rather than just having them wilting away without an audience on the kitchen counter.

5. Pick out a cute gift such as a frame to put your favorite photo in, or even a poem dedicated to your beloved. Of course gents, if you are feeling generous, not too many woman will walk away from a bling filled gesture!

6. Make the dinner reservation at a meaningful place from your courtship such as your first date spot or where you first said "I love you". Take time to turn back the clock and retell the stories about how you knew that the other was Mr. or Mrs. Right.

7. If there are kids in the equation, book a baby sitter in advance if you are planning on going out. If not, Feb. 14th may require two dinner seatings (one at 5:30p.m. with nuggets and fries followed by a table for two at 8p.m. just for you and your honey).

8. The ambiance of dinner can set the tone as you both finally have alone time. Include candles, mood lighting and a pact to only discuss uplifting topics (note: extended family and work issues are off the table). This romantic setting is the perfect backdrop for making toasts of gratitude that your relationship is going strong.

9. Whether dining in or out, dessert is best served back home with a serenade of Barry White's music and a tub full of bubbles equipped with champagne flutes to continue the toasting of your love.

10. As the two of you tuck in for the night, what could be more fun than sharing the map inside the lid of a Whitman's sampler as it reveals the location of just the right sweet to fulfill your desires?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Love!!!

There are so many things I can say and so many words that can be written about how awesome, loving, supportative and great my husband is. The easy way for me to say it on this day in particular is..... I Love You!
Happy Birthday Scott A. Cameron!

Monday, February 10, 2014

5 Lies the Wedding Industry Is Selling (But We're Not Buying)

I love weddings. Weddings are the soul of my work as a photographer. But they're also the foundation of a multi-billion dollar industry rife with questionable traditions and irrational expenses. Before you dive into wedding planning, here are five myths you need to identify -- and dismiss! -- the moment they show their ugly faces.

1.) It's the bride's day.
This is absurd for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that many weddings don't even HAVE a bride. What if neither of you is a bride? What if both of you are brides? What if the word "bride" makes you want to punch babies? Whose day is it then?
Gender sensitivity aside, the notion that ONE person is the primary focus of the wedding day is ridiculous. Your wedding day belongs to both you and your partner, and to your loved ones who have gathered to celebrate. Don't be selfish. And don't let anyone put selfishness upon you, as if "it's MY day" is an honorable and precious sentiment. It's not. The only thing honorable and precious at a wedding is the love.

Here is your new mantra: "It's OUR day." Because it is. And together, you can do anything.

2.) Your guests need favors.
If you hang around at a wedding after the newlyweds have left, you'll see the cleaning staff swarm the room, tossing baggies of monogrammed candies and sachets of loose-leaf tea into the garbage. Before you drop money on landfill fodder, ask yourself one question: Will my guests actually use these favors? Shocking though it may be, once your guests have enjoyed an adult beverage (or three), they're not going home to plant a tree with that packet of elm seeds you adorned with a ribbon and presented in the center of their dinner plate.

If giving small gifts to people is one of your great joys in life, then make sure the gifts are thoughtful. My favorite wedding favors of 2013 were vintage records taken from the groom's personal collection. Each guest's place setting was marked with an album hand-picked by the couple to celebrate that guest's presence. Not a single record was left behind.

3.) You shouldn't see your spouse-to-be until the ceremony.
I realized how ingrained this ritual has become when one couple told me they wouldn't see one another until their ceremony because, "Isn't that in the Bible somewhere?" (No, it isn't.)
You already know you won't spend much time with your guests on your wedding day. But many couples don't consider how little time they'll get to spend with each other. Between all the meeting, greeting, drinking, and dancing, if you don't see your partner until the ceremony, it's likely that you'll spend more time with your photographer than with the love of your life. To me, that's just crazy talk.
What are your alternatives? Connect over brunch on the morning of your wedding; take a walk together before the chaos sets in; or (yes, I'll say it) get ready together. Just be in the same space while makeup is applied and ties are tied. Your wedding day belongs to both of you. Share as much of it as you possibly can.

4.) You must have a wedding party.
I was flipping through a friend's wedding album when she began pointing out her bridesmaids. "We aren't really friends anymore... We lost touch after a few years... I only asked her to be a bridesmaid because I didn't want to offend her..." Out of eight bridesmaids, only three of them were still involved in my friend's life in any meaningful way.

Sadly, many couples feel pressured to have a large wedding party, even when their relationships with those individuals aren't especially strong. And the social stigma of refusing this "terrific honor" often traps the attendants-to-be into spending money they don't have on weddings they don't care about.
Before you ask your friends to drop a week's income on outfits they will not wear again (I don't care what the salesperson told you), put serious thought into who you truly want by your side at your wedding. Maybe it's your mom or your grandfather. Maybe it's that one close friend you've known since grade school. Maybe it's... nobody. No choice is the wrong choice, as long as it's your choice.

5.) This is the most important day of your life.
Don't make me cry. If your wedding day is the most important day of your life, you are bound for a future of insignificance and monotony.

Yes, your wedding day marks the start of a new journey, the establishment of a new family. But it is just one important day in your life.

You will have other parties. You will make new friends. Your family will grow with the addition of cats and dogs and maybe even real human children. You will buy a house, travel to amazing places, get your dream job.

Your life will be full of so many wonderful, terrible, important days, that eventually your wedding will fade to a sweet haze of a memory, with only your photographs to recall your dad's mismatched socks or your cake with the very definite lean to the left.

When you find yourself panicking because your invitations look more purple than eggplant, it's time to stop, take a deep breath, and remember that this isn't the most important day. Your wedding day is one very important day in a series of important days that will make up all the days of your very full, very rich, very wonderful life.

Friday, February 7, 2014

America's 'Longest Married Couple' Has Super Sweet Love Story

After 82 years of wedded bliss, Harold and Edna Owings were voted America's longest married couple by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter.

The couple met when they were in 5th grade. Harold used to bring Edna candy bars from his parents' store -- specifically, Baby Ruths. "I was his girlfriend and there’d be a candy bar Baby Ruth on my desk every day,” Edna told the Las Vegas Review Journal earlier this year. “Two if he thought I was mad.”


So it's only fitting that for their 82nd anniversary, which they celebrated November 24, 2013 in Las Vegas, the couple celebrated with a Baby Ruth shaped caked and T-shirts that read, "Together since 1931" on the back.

"What an inspiration Mr. & Owings are to all of us," a representative from the Worldwide Marriage Encounter said in a press release. "They made a commitment to each other 82 years ago and they have kept that commitment over these many years. They truly are a sign of hope to us all."

The couple currently lives in Burbank, CA. They have two children (both deceased), four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, the oldest of which is 27.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter -- a faith based organization dedicated to improving marriages -- chose the longest married couple based off nominations sent in from all over the country. While there may be a couple who has been married longer, only those nominated between October 15, 2013 and January 10, 2014 were eligible for the award.

An awards ceremony will take place on Valentine's Day in Burbank

This Is The Happiest Relationship Ever, According To Science

Decades' worth of research has attempted to pinpoint what, exactly, makes a couple happy. Scientists have followed relationships over the course of years, administered surveys and studied pre-existing data to give the rest of us insightful nuggets of information.

So, who's really the happiest with their significant other? Here's the picture you get when you cobble together the results of various studies on relationships -- a totally implausible pair that reminds us not to put too much stock in these things. There's no reason to force yourself into this idealistic mold when every relationship is, of course, different. But that said, the science is fascinating.

And so, according to research, the happiest couple is...

Not big on texting.
Last year, researchers at Brigham Young University found that couples who apologize, hash out problems or make decisions via text message tend to be less happy in their relationship. Use that handy "call" feature on your phones, people.


A 2014 Open University study of 5,000 people of all ages in long-term relationships found that childless married and unmarried couples were happiest.

Married, or not. It's whatever.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Marriage and Family reported few benefits of being married vs. being in a long-term relationship and living together. Marriage was correlated with slight health gains -- probably due to shared healthcare plans -- but there were no significant benefits over cohabitation without tying the knot.

Not fighting a lot anymore, but definitely was at one point.
A 2012 Florida State study found that couples who had "angry but honest" conversations early on in their relationship were happier in the long run.


A first-born and a last-born.
Some psychologists say that when a youngest and oldest child couple up, you've got one person who generally enjoys being taken care of and one who tends to take care of others. This is one of the happiest pairings, according to researchers who believe birth order has a strong effect on relationships.

Not bored.
Boredom begets a feeling of greater distance and unhappiness, say the results of a 2009 study published in the academic journal Psychological Science. Couples asked to select one of seven pairs of circles overlapping in various amounts to represent their marriage were most likely to select separated circles -- representing emotional separation between themselves and their partner -- when bored.

Contributing equally to the household.
Those who agree to share household chores and clearly outline each person's responsibilities are more likely to feel satisfied in their relationship, according to a UCLA study conducted between 2001 and 2004.

Britain's 2014 Open University recently published a study [of 5,000 people] suggesting gay couples are "happier and more positive" about their relationships. Heterosexual couples, on the other hand, were found less likely to make time for each other, pursue shared interests and communicate well.

Or straight and feminist...
A 2007 Rutgers study of over 500 individuals found that men and women with feminist partners were more satisfied in their heterosexual relationships.

With a pretty lady and a less-attractive gentleman.
A good-looking wife leads men (and, interestingly, the wives themselves) to feel more satisfied in their marriages, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The same didn't hold true when husbands believed themselves to be better looking than their wives.

lily marshall how i met your mother

Not into online gaming.
Unless both play. But still, a 2012 study by Brigham Young University researchers found that out of 349 married gamers, 75 percent of their spouses wished their partners would put more effort into their marriage. The researchers posited that it's the hours spent on the game instead of engaging in daily routines that make a difference.

A lot alike...
Couples who shared many of the same traits -- such as "ambitious" or "artistic" -- were predicted to have increased levels of happiness in long-term relationships, according to researchers. “If your partner is helping you become a better person," one researcher told the New York Times, "you become happier and more satisfied in the relationship.”

But without a lot of overlapping Facebook friends.
According to a report that looked at 1.3 million Facebook users, published by employees of the site in 2013, relationship staying power depends on "social dispersion." Couples whose mutual friends know each other are more likely to break up, while couples whose friend circles don't overlap much stay together longer.

Equally thrifty.
A 2009 University of Michigan survey of 1,000 married and unmarried people showed that people tend to choose their spending opposite in marriage -- i.e. over-spenders tend to go for partners who budget carefully -- but that decision leads to more fights and less satisfaction. The happiest couples spend money the same way, whether that means a tendency to splurge or to save.


Very sexually active...
The authors of the 2004 paper "Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study" estimate that increasing sexual activity from once a month to once a week increases happiness by the same amount as getting paid an extra $50,000 per year. In a 2011 Australian study of over 6,500 people in long-term relationships, a majority of men and 42 percent of women said they were unhappy with their sex lives -- mostly due to a lack of it.

But took it slow at the start of the relationship.
A 2012 Cornell University study suggested a positive link between waiting over a month to have sex at the beginning of a relationship and perception of long-term satisfaction (at least in women).

A 2009 University of Arizona study found that better sleep helps men feel better about their relationship, and women who sleep poorly often reported having problems in their relationship.


A 2010 Pew study found a link between college education and the risk of divorce -- that is, people with college degrees were less likely to divorce than their less-educated counterparts. A University of Pittsburgh sociologist also found education and intelligence to be one of the most desirable traits in a partner.

Not winning Oscars.
The "Oscar Curse" is a real thing, say researchers from the University of Toronto. Women who won Oscars between 1936 to 2010 were 1.68 times more likely to divorce, the 2011 report found. Men, however, didn't seem to be significantly affected.

Laughing at the same jokes.
Laughter is good for everyone, but researchers have argued that it's particularly beneficial to long-term relationships. In one study of couples married for at least 45 years, published in 1990, sense of humor was among the top three reasons given for the pair's success.

Genuinely happy for each other.
People who celebrated their partner's achievements as if they were their own experienced greater relationship satisfaction than those who reacted with indifference or belittled the news, according to a study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2006.


Surrounded by people who aren't divorced.
Brown University researchers unveiled a study last year suggesting that married people are 75 percent more likely to divorce if a friend has already done so, and 33 percent more likely if a friend of a friend divorces.

On the same level of drunkenness. Or sobriety.
Couples with uneven drinking habits -- where one was a heavy drinker and the other not -- are significantly more likely to split, a 2013 University at Buffalo Research Institute study found.

Sound like anyone you know? Yeah, maybe not.

What works for some people, mes chers, is of course not bound to work for everyone. The person who does fewer chores might make up for it by cooking amazing meals for their partner, or the couple that spends money differently might also keep separate bank accounts. Two first-borns could break their Type-A molds and stick together forever.

While interesting to read about, researchers likely won't ever be able to give us a recipe for the perfect couple. There are always outliers in any study, and the findings of research like this is likely to change as relationships, as well as the people in them, continue to evolve.

Lady and the tramp

Second Chance: Bride Gets a Wedding Re-Do After Suffering Devastating Memory Loss

amanda and cody kart

Childhood friends Amanda and Cody Karth, who fell in love years later, spent months planning their dream wedding. But just hours after the celebration, Amanda suffered a devastating medical emergency that completely erased all memories of her wedding day.

"The one day that every girl dreams of, I don't remember," Amanda revealed to "Inside Edition."

Just before sunrise the next day, Cody woke up to the sound of his new wife gasping for air. He desperately performed CPR while calling 911. Amanda went into cardiac arrest and had no pulse when the paramedics arrived; the life-saving team shocked back to life and rushed her to the emergency room.

"Amanda was about as close to death as you're going to get," said Dr. Adam Frank of the NCH Heart Institute in Naples, FL.

As she lay unconscious for four days, her doctor worried about brain damage. She'd sustained an unusual medical phenomena called Broken Heart Syndrome, where the heart muscle suddenly becomes dysfunctional.

When she woke up, Amanda miraculously recovered quickly — but she never gained back the memories from her wedding day.

With the help of "Inside Edition," she and Cody got a second chance at their big day. The crew rounded up their friends, family members, and the paramedics who saved her life as Amanda got to relive her wedding day and make new memories. The one change — her new vows: "You were there, overcoming devastating blows. My hero."

Watch the video:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

After Marine Dies, Facebook Keeps Their Love Alive

Kimmy Kirkwood lost the love of her life on January 31, 2012 and although nothing will ever be able to bring him back, she finds solace in reconnecting with him through Facebook posts and photos they had shared. Her boyfriend, Marine Sgt. William Stacey, was killed by an improvised explosive device during a tour in Afghanistan, shortly before he was planning to propose to her.

Kimmy and Will's love story was posted on a special website that Facebook created to commemorate its 10th anniversary earlier this week. Since then, it's gone viral and struck a chord with millions of readers, serving as a testament to the power of eternal love, which can endure even after someone has passed.
To understand why what Will and Kimmy had was so special, you need to take a look back at their Facebook timeline:
2007: They met in high school but their opposites-attract romance — she's a self-described goody two-shoes and he's a bad boy — didn't blossom until Kimmy's sophomore year of college at Chapman University, when she discovered Will was stationed just 20 miles away. He asked her out on a date, but she turned him down ("I was too wrapped up in my own world to see what was standing in front of me").

August 2008: They wouldn't cross paths again until seven months later, when Will returned from his deployment in the South Pacific and something finally clicked.

September 2008: The couple's honeymoon period was abruptly cut short when Will left for a tour of duty in Afghanistan and Kimmy studied abroad in Italy.

2008: They reunited and enjoyed the longest amount of time they would ever get to spend together (10 months), during which they moved in together and turned 21. Kimmy writes that, "I was a better person when we were together; he brought out a side of me I had no idea existed."

2009: Will left for another deployment in the South Pacific. Like many other couples where one (or both) partners devote themselves to serving their country, their love was tested. A low point: Will was sent to the coast of Yemen and wasn't able to contact Kimmy for two months.

2010: Will came home, bought Kimmy a dog named Otis and the two enjoyed acting like "normal 20-somethings" — until he decided to re-enlist.

2011: After four deployments in three and a half years, the couple looked forward to getting engaged and starting their future together.

January 2012: After Kimmy received the tragic news that Will has passed away, she sent one final "I love you" message on Facebook and rediscovered a treasure trove of photos and posts that they had sent to one another throughout their courtship.

She writes that, "There were a lot of tears, followed by laughs and more tears. I felt my heart break again and again, but I realized how amazing it was to have this reminder of who we were together...I didn't think about it much then, but having it all in one place took on a complete new meaning when I lost Will forever."

All photos courtesy of Kimmy Kirkwood / Facebook

—Stefania Sainato