Wednesday, April 30, 2014

4 Great Things About Being Married To A Younger Man

When I married my husband in 1991, I was in my late 20s and my husband was, well, a few years younger. It wasn't a massive age gap but -- as the years went on -- I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it from time to time. Living in a society that greatly prefers the toned 'yoga body' of a 21-year-old over the turkey neck of someone 30 years older, I admit I tossed out the AARP card I received last year with the ferocity of a wolverine so that my husband wouldn't see it.

I know there are many with strong opinions on the issue of age. For example, one of our bloggers, Emma Nicholson, recently wrote about the drawbacks associated with being married to a younger man including the assumption they're having sex 24/7.

But even if I do cringe when examining the ever-deepening creases below my eyes in the mirror -- making me (at times) slightly insecure about our age difference -- there are, for me, some great things about being married to a younger man. I've listed just four of them below.

1. He still loves to do sporty activities with the kids.In our early years of marriage, we often went skiing and diving. And while I enjoyed these activities, my passion hardly matched my husband's. Now that I'm middle age, it's not anything as dire as a bad hip that's put me off skiing and diving. It's simply that -- after years of managing three kids in bitter cold on a variety of slopes -- I've thrown my lot in with my less-stressed runner friends. It's a lot easier to grab a pair of tennis shoes and go than it is to rent boots, organize lessons and sort through a pile of single gloves in a usually fruitless search for a match. That sense of impending doom that used to engulf me on the chairlift? You can have it. My husband, on the other hand, still has the fearlessness of a 20-something and truly enjoys taking the kids skiing, diving and even surfing. And I sure love watching them.

2. He keeps me young.It may sound cliche, but my husband really does make me feel younger. He enjoys going to concerts, planning fun family holidays, and talking tech with the same aplomb as our Web-savvy 13-year-old daughter. That sense of I-can-accomplish-anything-I-set-my-mind-to mindset everyone enjoys in their 20s? He still has that -- and it's contagious. Henry Ford was onto something when he said that those "who stop learning are old, whether at twenty or eighty." My husband always wants to learn new things, whether it's how to cook leeks or use his new GoPro.

3. He doesn't mind switching roles.Raised on "The Cosby Show" and "The Golden Girls" -- and not on "Leave It To Beaver" -- the idea of a wife being the primary or sole breadwinner isn't foreign to our family. As my husband has transitioned into a new business, I've probably contributed more to household expenses than he has in recent years. Meanwhile, he's done the lion's share of household chores. My husband was a short-order cook in high school and has no problem doing almost all the cooking. After I started a new job that had me commuting into New York City, my husband took over walking the dog, mopping the floors, and ferrying the kids to doctor's appointments. When he commuted, those tasks fell to me. This effortless back-and-forth has made for a real partnership.

4. He's genuinely excited about his professional future.My husband, in his mid-40s, is at the pinnacle of his career. He's recently launched a new business and is genuinely excited about the future. Indeed his love of journalism -- and now new media -- is one of the things that initially drew us together. I know older couples who have clocked out of the working world -- and who don't know what to do with themselves. The changes in circumstances -- shifting roles, reduction of income -- have wreaked havoc on their relationships. I feel as though my husband and I have yet to completely work out the roadmap of our lives, even after 23 years of marriage. In other words, we're still winging it, meaning there are plenty of surprises in store.
In the end, though, age differences probably don't matter that much in marriages. After all, two people the same age can be as different as night and day just as easily as two people decades apart can be. And no doubt I've come across a lot of 70 year olds who have more energy than 50 year olds.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

10 Marriage Vows You Couldn't Possibly Have Known to Make On Your Wedding Day

Winifred M. Reilly
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of the relationship advice blog Speaking of Marriage

Let's be honest. Most of us are more likely to upgrade the operating system on our iPhone than to revise the vows that we made at our wedding.

As I sat writing my vows on the eve of my marriage (yes, it's true, I'm a big-time procrastinator) I was no better prepared to face the rigors of marriage than I was to pilot a jumbo jet. And, no surprise, like most soon-to-be newlyweds, the promises I made were idealistic and romantic -- based on what I imagined it would take to create a marriage that lasts.

Not that there was anything wrong with my vow to be loyal and honest or my promise to stand by my husband through life's ups and downs. But in order to follow through with those commitments, it became clear, over time, that I needed a new set of promises that went beyond my lofty aspirations and vows of undying love. I needed vows that would address what marriage actually required.
Yes, marriage vows are meant to be idyllic and inspiring, to remind us that true love still exists, to bring an entire room to tears. Our wedding day promises are about love and hope and how we'll come from our best, not about housecleaning or self-development or what to do when we feel like murdering each other. Imagine the nervous laughter (or horror) if someone vowed to only hate her husband for short periods of time?

None of us can possibly know at the outset what our marriage will bring or what tools we will need. Marriage has challenged almost every assumption I had about myself and my husband. It has asked me to stretch and to grow beyond what I thought possible; to be bigger and more resilient and exponentially more flexible. It has presented challenges that seemed insurmountable and then demanded that I surmount them.

Why not think of our original vows as a first draft that we will eventually replace with a set of promises that reflect a deeper, broader and more realistic understanding of what marriage calls us to do?

Knowing what I now know about the challenges of marriage and what I aspire to as a spouse, here are the vows I would make:

1. I promise to notice and acknowledge the positive things that you do, rather than get hung up on the negatives.

2. I promise to accept that we are different -- that we will see the world differently and over the course of our marriage we will want different things. Though I don't expect this to be easy, I will strive to be open-minded and loving about the way that you see things. Failing that, I will do my best to be tolerant.

3. I promise to do more than my fair share when necessary and to not grouse about it. Keeping score is about fear and stinginess, not about love.

4. I promise to release my end of the rope when we're in a tug of war, knowing that there's a cost to my winning when it means that you lose.

5. I promise to not ask you to change in ways that I'm unwilling to change.

6. I promise to not take your annoying behaviors personally, even though I really, really wish you would wash out the sponge.

7. I promise to keep in mind that your basic intention is to be a loving and decent husband, even when you're not doing so.

8. I promise to drop my expectations of your becoming the man I want you to be as opposed to the man you are.

9. I promise to focus a lot more on my shortcomings and a lot less on yours.

10. I promise to forgive both of us for having not known from the start how to be the kind and generous partners we've finally become.

Now that you've read my vows, tell me, how would you update yours?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Till debt do us part?

From beachside nuptials to extravagant floral arrangements, it's no shocker that weddings can cost a pretty penny. Just how much, though, may surprise you. According to wedding planning website TheKnot, the average cost of a wedding in America last year was roughly the price of a new car, or about $30,000 (excluding the honeymoon).

For its annual Real Weddings Study, released March 27, TheKnot surveyed 13,000 brides and grooms across the country and sourced statistics on everything from "location fees" to tuxedo costs. It found that tying the knot just keeps growing more expensive, despite the trend for casual weddings. The average wedding cost in 2013 was the highest since the website began monitoring prices in 2007.
One cause may be couples' greater attention to guest experience.

"Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests -- plus they're doing so in a modern way, by planning from their smartphones, publicizing details on social media and more," Carley Roney, co-founder of The Knot, said in a statement.

Overwhelmed by images of celebrity wedding extravagance and a surplus of wedding planning glossies, couples are pressured to put on a show-stopping Big Day.

"We've created this fairy tale thought in our mind of what our wedding has to be, and it has to be perfect," Stacy Francis, the CEO of financial planning and wealth management firm Francis Financial, told USA Today.
The survey of and members revealed some other interesting data about modern weddings:

Most expensive place to wed: Manhattan, $86,916 on average

Average marrying age: bride, 29; groom, 31

Wedding dress cost: New York City (and Long Island) brides spent the most money on their gowns ($3,027 and $2,160, respectively), while brides in Alaska and Oklahoma spent far less ($804 and $859, respectively)

To trim costs and score vendor deals, financial planning website LearnVest has some incredible tips from recent bride Jane Bianchi, who saved $21,000 on her big day.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Three Least Sexy Yet Most Important Things to Do Before Your Wedding

Things to Do Before the Weddding
Photo: Kina Wicks

Everything about getting married is exciting — well, almost everything. Along with buying your dress and honeymoon lingerie, there's something else you need to check off your wedding to-do list that's not as sexy but just as important: filing paper work. Below are three important steps to take care of (name change, anyone?) to avoid unnecessary headaches before and after the big day.

Marriage License: Check your state's application rules six months before the big day, says Ali Phillips, president of Chicago's Engaging Events by Ali. On the day of, have a plan for when you, your officiant, and witnesses (if they're required) will sign — usually right after the ceremony. Phillips also suggests asking the officiant to make a copy before she sends it in. Destination brides: Quadruple-check local laws; some countries have residency or blood-test requirements. Or hold a quiet (even secret!) civil ceremony in the U.S. before you go to be safe.

Name Change: Start with your Social Security card, then your driver's license (both in person). The rest (credit cards, bank accounts, airline rewards programs, et cetera) can usually be done online. Check your spelling, because a mistake equals disaster. It all must match.

Passport: You may be gung ho to change your name before the honeymoon, but the application process can take up to six weeks. If there's any chance you won't get it all done, wait until your return; the name on your tickets must match the one on your passport or you'll have trouble at customs, says Kara Bebell of the Travel Siblings. Also, if your passport doesn't have several empty pages and at least six months until it expires, it will be difficult to get into certain countries, especially with a visa. "This is an incredibly common mistake," says Bebell. "Update it!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

10 Creative Ways to Make Your Wedding Stand Out

Every couple wants their wedding to be unique, but with the abundance of inspiration and sites like Pinterest, it can be challenging to really mix it up. With that in mind, below are a few of the most innovative details I have seen over the past year.

1. The Not (Even Close To) White Wedding Dress

A lot of brides are starting to play with color by experimenting with blush tones and light grays, but this bride really pushed the enveloped in this stunning Monique Lhuillier. To keep the look "bridal," she kept her hair and makeup classic and selected a simple veil for the ceremony.
blue wedding dress

Photo Credit: Manuel Meszarovits / See more from this wedding ►

2. Flower Power

After the "I dos," guests are often handed rice or, more recently, bottles of bubbles to shower the newly-married couple as they walk back down the aisle. This couple decided to let their guests sit back and relax as thousands of rose petals were blown out of cannons across the ceremony site!
flower petal release

Photo Credit: Heather Kincaid / See more from this wedding ►

3. Fan Program

This couple was married outside under the California sun. Instead of handing guests both wedding programs and cooling mechanisms, they decided to go with a two-for-one: The program was designed like a fan so guests could read about the wedding party while simultaneously lowering their body temperatures.
fan wedding programs

Photo Credit: Yvette Roman / See more from this wedding ►

4. Alcoholic Escort Cards

To really get the party started, this couple showed guests to their tables with a signature cocktail. It's definitely a step up from your more traditional escort card.
cocktail escort cards

Photo Credit: Ira Lippke Studios / See more from this wedding ►

5. Orchids in the Sky

The flowers are often my favorite part of a wedding (anyone who follows me on Instagram knows I am a little petal obsessed!). This couple created a really unique experience by cascading orchids from the roof of the tent.
suspended orchids wedding decor

Photo Credit: Trent Bailey / See more from this wedding

6. Innovative Seat Settings

To eliminate any need for musical chairs, the newlywed couple’s seats are usually clearly marked (I'm sure we've all seen the "bride and groom" signs adorning the back of a chair). This couple still made it easy for their guests to know where they would be seated, but these sculptural rose gold pieces were a unique take on the practical need.
mr and mrs table cards

Photo Credit: Joielala / See more from this wedding ►

7. Not your normal cake stand

Recently, wedding cakes and dessert bars have become an integral part of the reception d├ęcor. This couple decided to forgo your typical cake stand and go for a cake swing.
floating wedding cake

Photo Credit: Samuel Lippke Studios / See more from this wedding ►

8. Mad Libs: the Wedding Edition

A big trend lately is to provide a way for guests to offer well wishes and advice to the newlywed couple; the entrance to the reception is often marked by a table with blank cards and pens. I love how this couple had fun with it by providing their guests with personalized Mad Libs.
wedding mad libs

Photo Credit: Jeff Newsom Photographer / See more from this wedding ►

9. Add Color to Your Reception Dress

Even though color has adorned the runway as of late, most brides still opt for the classic white dress. I loved how this bride changed into this blood red Monique Lhuillier dress post-ceremony. The more traditional ball gown shape was still elegant, but the color was so unexpected.
red wedding reception dress

Photo Credit: Lisa Poggi / See more from this wedding ►

10. The Getaway Vespa

Most couples make their grand exit from the reception in a fancy chauffeured vehicle. I love how these newlyweds kept it simple with a Vespa for two.
wedding getaway vespa

Photo Credit: Xavier Navarro Photographie / See more from this wedding ►

—Jess Levin

Bad Wedding Etiquette Comebacks

Ever been faced with a wedding comment that was so inappropriate it left you tongue-tied? Among the congratulations and well-wishing, you're bound to hear a few remarks that are rude, annoying, or flat-out appalling. Be prepared and you'll leave them sputtering.

"Are you sure you're ready?"

Translation: Coming from an unmarried acquaintance, this sort of question is likely a projection of their own fears -- they're not in a position to make a lifelong commitment, so it's hard to imagine that you could be.

Quick comeback: Exude confidence and leave no room for anyone to debate if you or your fiance is in any way unprepared for what you're getting into: "Absolutely! We are completely in love and ready to be together forever."

"The marriage won't last."

Translation: Whether it's a reflection of their own marriage problems or a past incident that convinced them monogamy is impossible, this person has a knack for souring good news.

Quick comeback: It's easy to get seriously offended by this one, but take the high road and try cheesy humor. Ask if their favorite precious stone is "jaded" or whether they hit any traffic on the Pessimist Expressway that morning.

"Your engagement is too long."

Translation: Any engagement over a year might seem excessive to some, but it takes a lot of time to pull everything together. The person's comment may be out of surprise, not ill will.

Quick comeback: You have a few acceptable options: Explain that the best wedding vendors are booked more than a year in advance, that you're extending the engagement to save more money, or that you have something you want to accomplish (finish your degree, settle into a new job) before you make your marriage official.

"Your engagement is too short."

Translation: While you and your fiance have probably discussed getting engaged for a while, the news might be a shock to some. The person who says this doubts you'll have enough time to plan a nice wedding.

Quick comeback: Reassure them that though your engagement is brief, you set the wedding planning wheels in motion well before he popped the question. Be calm -- if you seem too swept up in the excitement of the proposal, it supports the idea that you're rushing things.

"Is that really the ring you wanted?"

Translation: Almost any engagement ring can elicit a snide remark, whether it's too big, too small, too sparkly, or not sparkly enough. This sort of nastiness undoubtedly stems from jealously that you've been proposed to, and the ring is an object that provides an outlet for them to concentrate all their envious feelings on.

Quick comeback: It's every newly engaged woman's right to show off her rock, but if you get negative vibes from someone, draw focus away from the ring with a simple reply like, "We're both really happy and excited."

"This bridesmaid dress is ugly."
Translation: While it's a cliche for a bridesmaid to gripe about the dress, it still happens. If she's strapped for cash, her disapproval may be in hopes that you'll pick something less expensive. Or she could really think it's hideous.
Quick comeback: Find out why she doesn't like it and try to locate some middle ground. Suggest that she stick with the dress color but then let her choose her own silhouette.

"That's a great idea...I'll do it too!"

Translation: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it's aggravating when a friend steals a unique wedding idea. Take it as a compliment that your ideas are so great; then steer your friend in a new direction.

Quick comeback: Agree the idea would work well in your friend's wedding, but suggest she personalize it to better fit her style. Encourage some brainstorming and change an element of the concept so it's similar but not identical.

"Who is paying for all this?"

Translation: Maybe they're surprised by all of the nice details you've included in your wedding, or perhaps they're wondering how your parents could afford to host such a great party on their own dime. Either way, this one ranks near the very top of the bad etiquette list.

Quick comeback: Unless you're willing to share that info, immediately let the person know they've crossed the line: "I'm sorry, but that's between my fiance and me."

"Am I going to be invited?"

Translation: No need to decipher this one -- this person simply wants to attend the party. Tactless on their part, sure, but don't be surprised when an annoying coworker, excitable neighbor, or wayward cousin asks for an invite.

Quick comeback: Rather than postpone the awkwardness with a dodgy line like, "We haven't finalized the list yet," tell them that, due to a tight budget, you're keeping things intimate and the guest list will be mostly close family.

"How much did that cost?"

Translation: This can be interpreted in a few ways. If the person is planning their own wedding, they're probably asking out of genuine interest because they like what you're doing. If, however, there's no chance they're planning their nuptials, odds are whatever you tell them will garner an obnoxious response.

Quick comeback: A simple "That's none of your business" will suffice, or you could throw them off with some dramatics: "It cost me an arm and my fiance a leg -- next week we're going in for surgery together. Romantic, right?"

"I'm RSVPing...with guest."

Translation: Some people think that it's fine to tack on a "plus one" to any wedding invite. Though it's definitely a wedding etiquette faux pas, you should give your guest the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to an innocent misunderstanding rather than a snobby "I don't go anywhere without a date" attitude.

Quick comeback: Call as soon as you receive the offending RSVP and gently explain: "I'm sorry that it wasn't clearer, and we're excited you're coming, but our guest list is packed so we can't include a date for every guest."

"I want to make a toast."

Translation: They want the world (or at least the reception) to know how proud they are you tied the knot. And a minute in the spotlight satisfies any extrovert tendencies they might have.

Quick comeback: Say that you're flattered by the offer, but you want to keep the toasts to a minimum -- just the parents and honor attendants. If a close family member really wants to speak, you should consider letting them say a few words at the rehearsal dinner.
"So when are you going to have kids?"

Translation: The joy of a wedding leaves some people overly enthusiastic about the next huge life event: starting a family. Curiosity about baby plans is natural -- most people keep those thoughts to themselves, while others prove to be significantly less reserved.

Quick comeback: Even if you have a clear plan about when you want to start having babies, be vague in discussing a timeline. Try, "We'd love to be parents someday, but we're taking things one step at a time -- starting with the wedding."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

8 Signs You're In The Right Relationship

When it comes to finding "The One" -- that one special person and relationship that will last a lifetime -- the conventional wisdom is simply, "When you know, you know." That's all fine and dandy, but many of us require something more concrete than just a gut feeling.

We reached out to marriage and relationship experts to help us pinpoint the most telling signs that you're in the right relationship. Find out what they had to say below.

1. You know what your partner needs to feel loved -- even if those needs are different than yours.

Some people feel loved when their partner brings them a cup of coffee in the morning. Some need their spouse to tell them how beautiful or handsome they look. Others require sex and physical forms of affection. The point is, each of us has different preferences when it comes to giving and receiving love.

"We have to teach our partner to love us and not expect them to read our minds," sex and relationship expert Dr. Tammy Nelson said. "You know you are with the right person when they tell you what makes them feel loved and you are happy to generously lather them with whatever they need. And they do the same for you."

2. You fight, but you do it productively.

Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, but how you handle those disagreements can predict whether or not you'll be together in the long-run. "How both of you behave now when you have a disagreement also says a lot about how you will (or won't) resolve problems in the future," Dr. Terri Orbuch -- relationship expert and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship -- told The Huffington Post. "A good relationship is one where the two of you fight fair. In other words, you don't curse, scream, talk down to each other or dismiss each other."

3. You get a confidence boost from your mutual physical attraction.

"Feeling sexual attraction and sexually attractive is a life force like nothing else," Iris Krasnow, author of Sex After...Women Share How Intimacy Changes As Life Changes said. "That person who ignites you from within, boosting your self-esteem and also offers external pleasures is definitely a keeper."

4. You two are different enough to keep things interesting, but you're on the same page where it matters most.

They say that opposites attract, and while that may be true at first, it's not necessarily a long-term predictor of relationship success. In fact, Orbuch's research has shown that the strongest relationships are those built on a foundation of similar underlying values and beliefs.
"It is okay to have different interests or movie likes, but similarity in key life values (e.g., views on money, the importance of religion or how you raise children) is what keeps people together over the long-term," she explained.

5. Your family and friends give the relationship their stamp of approval.

Despite what your once-rebellious heart might have told you, your family's approval of your significant other does matter. W. Bradford Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project, told HuffPost Weddings that high levels of social support from your nearest and dearest are crucial to a happy marriage. "Such friends and family often have a more objective view of your partner than you do," he said. "And their support can be invaluable after the wedding. We know that couples who have parents, in-laws, and friends who support them as a couple are much more likely to go the distance."

6. You feel comfortable getting a little adventurous between the sheets.

Couples in secure relationships report that they can combine spontaneous acts of intimacy with tender expressions of their love. "The best recipe for great ongoing sex does not seem to be finding more manuals to get bigger and bigger orgasms but tuning into each other and feeling safe enough to go with the thrill when it comes," Dr. Sue Johnson, a clinical psychologist and author of Love Sense, told The Huffington Post.

7. You are willing to put the "we" before the "me."

A commitment to doing what is best for the relationship, rather than what is best for the individual partner, is a strong predictor of future marital satisfaction. "People who are marriage-minded should look for a partner who talks and thinks in terms of 'we' not 'me'," Wilcox said. "Someone who articulates shared dreams, shared values, and a willingness to put the relationship above his or her desires. Couples who put their marriage above their own desires are more likely to flourish."

8. You find yourself missing your partner when he or she isn't around.

Benjamin Le -- co-founder of -- says it's important to miss your partner when he or she is away. "If they are 'out of sight, out of mind,' that doesn't bode well," he said. "But if you have an emotional response to him or her being away, it's a signal that you really want to be with him or her."

Monday, April 21, 2014

These Wedding Shoes Are Way Better Than Heels (Your Feet Will Thank You Later)

Brides, if you want to rock a sassy pair of designer stilettos on your Big Day, who are we to stop you? After all, it might be the only time in your life that you'll be able to justify dropping that kind of cash on a pair of pumps.

But your wedding day is also a long day and one that requires a lot of standing, moving and grooving -- there's no time for blisters and achy feet. Below, we rounded up some of our favorite offbeat wedding shoes that are just as cute and quirky as they are comfortable.
Cowboy boots
Credit: Lauren Scotti
Ballet shoes
Credit: The Nichols
Rain boots
Credit: Meg Perotti
Credit: Kate Connolly/Off BEET Productions via Love Toast

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Last Boston Marathon Survivor To Leave The Hospital Gets Married

Marc Fucarile and Jen Regan were in the midst of planning their wedding when two bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

Fucarile was gravely injured in the attacks, breaking his spine and losing his right leg. He was the last of the survivors to leave the hospital after a 100-day stay.

On April 17, 2014 -- just a little over a year later -- the couple was able to tie the knot at Fenway Park, thanks to a lot of strength, perseverance and help from Boston-area event planning company Gracie Lou Events, who donated the dream wedding through their Love Runs Through Boston contest.

The color theme for Thursday's celebration was blue and yellow, to match the "Boston Strong" logo. The band Dropkick Murphys even stopped by to do a surprise performance.

“We’re super proud of [Marc] and Jen,” Julie Callahan, the groom's cousin, told CBS Boston. “They’ve had a very trying year and we’re very proud of them and so happy to celebrating here today.”

Check out photos from the beautiful celebration below.

Credit on all photos: Nicole Chan Photography