Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to Be a Great Wife (Even If You're Single)

How to Be a Great Wife
Photo Credit: Veronica Marché Miller
It was March 2003 when I uttered, "I want to be a great wife" to a woman I barely knew. She was the owner of the hair salon I frequented and I was the business manager of one of L.A.'s hottest eateries. Every week I'd come into the salon with little time for small talk as I worked on my phone and computer. On this day I had left my laptop and cell phone at the office. So we talked and talked. I later learned that after I left the salon, she called her only son and told him, "I just met your wife."
After a month of her endless prodding, he called. Four months later he proposed and eight months from our first date I became the wife of the kindest and most brilliant man I've ever known. And it began with me deciding while I was still single that I would be a great wife. There is a widely accepted myth within the African-American community that men are intimidated by confident women. In reality, strong men love independent women who know exactly who they are and who they want to become, and love themselves, flaws and all.

As the founder of the Happy Wives Club, I manage a community with nearly 1 million women in more than 110 countries around the world. Several years ago, with the support of my husband, I packed my bags and traveled the globe. My mission was simple: to find the common denominator of couples who were happily married for 25 years or more.

I visited 12 countries on six continents and interviewed couples of every ethnic background. I shared my journey in The New York Times best-selling book Happy Wives Club: One Woman's Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage (Thomas Nelson). It was mind-boggling that there were 11 common keys that every one of the hundreds of couples I interviewed—from South Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North and South America—claimed were their "secrets" to a happy union. Even more astonishing to me than all their similarities in spite of their vast geographical differences was this: All the happily married women I interviewed were some of the strongest women I've ever met. Here are the actions I observed of these women from all around the world:

1. BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. The happiest women in the world, married or single, are those who know who they are and fully embrace themselves. There are more than 7 billion people in the world. Your spouse forsook all others for you. Don't let her go. Grow together. Blossom alongside each other. But don't become so different your spouse no longer remembers why he chose you.

2. STAY CONNECTED TO GOD. Every happily married couple I've interviewed believes in a higher power. They may not all agree on who God is but they do believe their creator made them to love and respect their spouse. Do not underestimate the importance of this in the happiness of your marriage and in your own life.

3. MAKE THE TIME FOR DAILY CHECKUPS. I have yet to interview a couple who have been happily married for 25-plus years that did not have a daily ritual. In South Africa, one couple had what they called their "daily board meeting." Before dawn each morning, the husband brews two cups of coffee and the wife opens all the windows in their bedroom. They return to bed and watch the city lights turn on while talking about everything on their mind. An Israeli couple I interviewed have been having port and appetizers together for an hour before dinner for more than 30 years. Your daily checkups allow your spouse to express to you all that's on the mind ensuring that nothing goes unsaid or gets swept under the rug. It's a time to sync schedules for the day to make certain you stay connected. These checkups allow you to become a great wife while building a foundation of trust with your spouse.

4. COMMUNICATE YOUR DESIRES CLEARLY AND SUCCINCTLY. Didn't mama tell you that nagging is just plain silly? Well, she was right. Nagging will never get you anywhere. Neither will yelling. If you want something, inform your spouse calmly, and then figure out together how you can get what you wish.

5. PUT YOUR PARTNER'S NEEDS ABOVE YOUR OWN. The happiest couples in the world each place their spouse's needs and wants ahead of their own. It is the humility in this act that lets your partner know, "You mean the world to me." And in return, they want to give you the world.

6. EMBRACE YOUR LOCAL SOUS CHEF. I am a believer that we, as women, can do anything we want, just maybe not everything at the same time. So if you don't have time to be the chef of the house, then take off the chef's hat and pass it to someone else. Trader Joe's, Sprouts Farmers Market—if they've got great healthy food that's preprepared, rest assured it has made its way to my dinner table. I am the "dial it in, take out" queen. And my family is just as grateful and happy as if I'd made it myself.

7. CHOOSE HAPPINESS DAILY. Happiness is a choice that exists only in the present moment. It is like a perfume that will rub off on your partner each and every day. There is nothing greater than coming home to a happy spouse. With every interview, I watched each couple gaze into each other's eyes and marveled at how the men doted over their wives like they were still high school sweethearts after 25 years.

8. TAKE TIME OUT FOR FRIENDS, FAMILY AND YOURSELF. Marriage is one of the greatest gifts in the universe. But it is not meant to be your entire world. Make sure to continue feeding your soul, and that involves taking care of yourself. Spending time with friends and family, eating healthy and staying in shape are a part of that equation.

9. TOSS OUT THE LINGERIE (IF IT DOESN'T MAKE YOU COMFORTABLE). The sexiest thing you can ever wear is confidence. If lingerie is important to your partner, then take the time to find some you also enjoy.

10. LIGHTEN UP. This is one of the best things about being around a couple happily married for decades. They laugh until their bellies hurt. They can tease and joke with each other without either becoming offended. Neither partner is perfect and they embrace that fully.

11. PURSUE YOUR DREAMS. So many, for whatever reason, believe that in order to have a successful and happy marriage you have to give up a part of yourself. That is absolutely false. As the quote goes. "Marriage is not 50-50; that's divorce. Marriage is 100-100." You need to be a whole and fulfilled person, not in need of anyone but God, in order to truly be a great partner. Because you can't give 100 percent if you are not 100 percent. A happy woman becomes a happy wife.

Fawn Weaver is a happy wife, best-selling author and creator of Happy Wives Club (

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Unforgettable Celebrity Weddings Of 2014

Ah, 2014. The year of the celebrity wedding.

Not only did Hollywood's most eligible bachelor, George Clooney, tie the knot, possibly the most famous couple in the world, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, did too. And how could we forget about Kimye? (Now that was an extravagant affair.)

Here are all the celebrities who said "I do" this year:
  • Kaley Cuoco & Ryan Sweeting
    Kaley Cuoco/Instagram
    The "Big Bang Theory" star tied the knot with her tennis pro beau on New Year's Eve 2013-2014.
  • Leighton Meester & Adam Brody
    The pair tied the knot in a super secret wedding in early 2014.
  • Justin Bartha & Lia Smith
    Pacific Coast News
    The Hangover" star said "I do" to Smith on Jan. 4, 2014 in Oahu, Hawaii.
  • Alexa Vega & Carlos Pena, Jr.
    The "Spy Kids" star married Big Time Rush singer Pena Jr. in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on Jan. 4, 2014.
  • Kimora Lee Simmons & Tim Leissner
    The former model secretly married Leissner earlier this year, her ex-husband Russell Simmons revealed.
  • Teresa Palmer & Mark Webber
    Teresa Palmer/Instagram
    Palmer legally married her fiance on Feb. 7, 2014 while pregnant with their son, Bodhi.
  • Stacy Keibler & Jared Pobre
     Stacy Keibler/Instagram
    Keibler married Pobre on March 8, 2014 while pregnant with their first child, daughter Ava.
  • Jamie Lynn Spears & Jamie Watson
    Britney Spears' little sister tied the knot with businessman Watson in New Orleans on March 14, 2014.
  • Ginnifer Goodwin & Josh Dallas
    Splash News
    The co-stars tied the knot on April 12, 2014, while Goodwin was pregnant with their son Oliver.
  • Jodie Foster & Alexandra Hedison
    After dating for almost a year, Foster and photographer Hedison exchanged vows in April 2014.
  • Brian Baumgartner & Celeste Ackelson
    "The Office" star married Ackleson on April 26, 2014. His former co-stars were there to cheer him on!
  • Kim Kardashian & Kanye West
    Kim Kardashian/Instagram
    The pair tied the knot in an extravagant wedding in Florence on May 24, 2014.
  • Casey Wilson & David Caspe
    Casey Wilson/Instagram
    The actress married the "Happy Endings" creator in Ojai, California on May 25, 2014.
  • Emily Maynard & Tyler Johnson
    Emily Maynard/Instagram
    The former "Bachelorette" star married Johnson in a surprise ceremony on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at her new husband's parents' estate in South Carolina.
  • Alexis Bledel & Vincent Kartheiser
    The pair tied the knot very quietly in California in June 2014.
  • Zachary Levi & Missy Peregrym
    Zachary Levi/Twitter
    The "Chuck" star married Peregrym in Maui, Hawaii on June 14, 2014.
  • Katie Couric & John Molner
    Katie Couric/Instagram
    Couric tied the not on June 21, 2014 in a ceremony held at the couple's home in East Hampton, New York.
  • Olivia Palermo & Johannes Huebl
    Courtesy of Olivia Palermo
    Palermo married Huebl on June 28, 2014 nuptials in Bedford, New York.
  • Jessica Simpson & Eric Johnson
    The longtime couple wed at the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California on July 5, 2014.
  • Naya Rivera & Ryan Dorsey
    The "Glee" star married Dorsey during an intimate ceremony in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on July 19, 2014.
  • Adam Levine & Behati Prinsloo
    Adam Levine married Behati Prinsloo in Mexico on July 19, 2014 in front of an intimate group of approximately 275 guests, which included Robert Downey Jr.
  • Piper Perabo & Stephen Kay
    The "Cover Affairs" star married Kay on July 26, 2014 in NYC.
  • Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie
    The couple tied the knot in August 2014 after nearly a decade together.
  • Gabrielle Union & Dwyane Wade
     Gabrielle Union/Instagram
    The longtime loves married on Aug. 30, 2014 in Miami, Florida.
  • Ashlee Simpson & Evan Ross
    The couple wed in Greenwich, Connecticut on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in front of friends and family.
  • Jenny McCarthy & Donnie Wahlberg
    Jenny McCarthy/Instagram
    The lovebirds tied the knot in St. Charles, Ill., outside Chicago on Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.
  • Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka
    The partners of 10 years said "I do" in Italy on Sept. 6, 2014.
  • Fran Drescher & Shiva Ayyadurai
    Fran Drescher/Twitter
    The couple tied the knot on Sept. 6, 2014.
  • Ashley Tisdale & Christopher French
    Ashley Tisdale/Instagram
    The former "High School Musical" star and her musician fiancé French wed on Sept. 8, 2014.
  • George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin
    The couple tied the knot at the historic Aman Canal Grande Venice in Italy on Sept. 27, 2014.
  • Scarlett Johansson & Romain Dauriac
    The pair secretly tied the knot on Oct. 1, 2014 in Philipsburg, Montana, shortly after the birth of their daughter Rose.

Monday, December 29, 2014

7 Best Proposals Caught on Camera From 2014!

Andrew and Caroline got engaged in South Carolina Moreland Photography
With the most awesomely creative proposal stories of 2014 inevitably come the statement: “Pics or it didn’t happen!” Luckily, seven of our favorite engagements that happened this year were caught on camera, and from football teams to finish lines, you might need a tissue or two as you relive the romance.

1. For Andrew’s proposal to Caroline in July, it took him eight months to plan, since it was all about the details. And we mean all about the details. Starting with a mysterious note and ending with fireworks, this couple’s engagement story is too indescribable for words.

2. This year’s Boston Marathon was even more emotional when four couples got engaged during the event — including two finish line proposals. After runner Greg Picklesimer proposed to his girlfriend Carla White after he finished the marathon, he told CBS Boston, “After last year I realized the people you love and your life can be taken so easily, so quickly. I didn’t want to lose that so I decided to come back and seal the deal.”

Proposals at the Boston Marathon

3. Photos and videos are great for capturing proposals, but GIFs can be even more hilarious — especially when this girl got proposed to when she thought she was just getting her picture taken!

4. How could reigning eight-time Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest champion Joey Chestnut propose anywhere but the annual contest on July 4?

5. Ryan’s sweet and novel proposal to Clayton happened at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, (that happens to be the world’s largest independent bookstore) just one month after Oregon’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying was struck down.

6. Is there anyone better to help orchestrate a proposal than Ellen DeGeneres? Tim Crainick wanted to propose to his girlfriend Jamie Soricelli when they went to a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show on April 18, but Ellen helped put an even more special spin on their engagement.

7. When Houston-based special education teacher and football coach Justin Outten proposed to his girlfriend Vanessa, he included his entire high school football team in a very special video. “It’s a great combination of sports and true love,” Justin says.

The Most Touching Wedding Stories Of 2014

This past year, Bridal Guide profiled extraordinary couples who triumphed and overcame all odds to get married, as well as those who opened their hearts and helped those in need. Their kindness, resilience and unwavering courage serves as a reminder of what's truly important on the wedding day.

10. Second chance: Bride gets a wedding re-do after suffering devastating memory loss
Just hours after Amanda and Cody Karth became husband and wife, the bride suffered an unusual medical condition referred to as Broken Heart Syndrome (where the heart muscle suddenly becomes dysfunctional). Paramedics were able to resuscitate her, but she fell into a coma for four days. When she woke up and began to recover, she discovered that she couldn't recall a single detail from her wedding. "The one day that every girl dreams of, I don't remember," Amanda revealed to "Inside Edition." Moved by their story, the show threw a second wedding celebration for the Karths. Amanda's vows included the line "You were there, overcoming devastating blows. My hero."


Photo Credit: Inside Edition

9. Woman wears a wedding dress every day for ten years
Xiang Junfeng is referred to as "Sister Wedding Gowns" in her Chinese province because she wears wedding dresses on a daily basis, even while working in the fields! Her wedding has special significance to her because she's a survivor of domestic abuse; she was forced to marry an elderly man when she was just 18. She was his slave for 15 years, until she was able to escape to another village. With the help of a local woman, she not only got back on her feet, but she also fell in love — with her benefactor's brother! "I had only ever known a violent and abusive man, and I avoided men until I met my new partner, who brought me truly out of my shell and treated me so differently...I am very happy now, as my husband is very good to me," Xiang said in an interview with The Daily Mail.

Photo Credit:

8. How 15 bulldogs helped one man propose
2014 had its fair share of noteworthy proposal moments — starring a penguin, Peter Pan, a military dad, a video that inspired a high school bully to apologize, and a proposal that was filmed in 26 different countries. But the reader's choice award goes to Rob Micallef, who proposed to his girlfriend, Jessica Sammut, with the help of a Meetup group called "A Frenchie in Brooklyn." The couple went for a walk in a local park and followed an adorable pup wearing a heart-shaped balloon, which led them to a group of 14 more bulldogs. Their owners flipped over signs to reveal a "marry me" message and Jessica's answer was "yes"!

Photo Credit: Anne Hugus and Juan Cespedes for Exposure Media Studio

7. After Marine dies, Facebook keeps their love alive
Marine Sgt. William Stacey was killed by an improvised explosive device during a tour in Afghanistan, shortly before he was planning to propose to his girlfriend, Kimmy Kirkwood. After Kimmy had received the tragic news that Will passed away, she posted one final "I love you" message on Facebook. There she rediscovered a treasure trove of photos and notes that they had sent to one another throughout their courtship. She writes that having this amazing reminder of their relationship "took on a complete new meaning when I lost Will forever." The couple's love story was posted on a special website that Facebook created to commemorate its 10th anniversary this year. It went 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.

Photo courtesy of Kimmy Kirkwood / Facebook

6. The most heartbreaking wedding video you will ever watch
Rowden Go Pangcoga and his fiancée Leizel planned to tie the knot on July 8, 2014 — which would have been his 30th birthday — but in May, their dreams were dashed when he was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. His last request was to marry his one true love before it was too late. In just 12 hours, family members and friends of the Philippines couple managed to prepare all of the arrangements. Rowden's brother, Hasset, posted a same-day edit by Snap Creatives on YouTube, writing that "Unable to take him outside the hospital, we brought the church to him. It was like a heartbreaking fairy tale." The groom passed away less than 10 hours after saying "I do."

Related: Couple Plans Wedding in 24 Hours so That Terminally Ill Mom Can Attend

5. Couple finally gets their dream wedding after 72 years of marriage
Mira and Bob Graves eloped in 1942 before Bob was shipped off to war. Fast-forward seven decades later, and the happy couple lives at Antioch's Quail Lodge Retirement Home. When the director of the home, Jennifer Noble, asked them to provide a photo of their wedding for a Valentine's Day party, they couldn't because no film had been taken of their no-frills ceremony. She suggested that they have a wedding do-over and the couple relished the chance to re-live their "I dos." Their vow renewal not only included a professional photographer, but they also had a gown, tux, cake, flowers, and music.


4. The best mother-son dance we've ever seen
This mother-son dance had us cheering and clapping, and we weren't the only ones who loved it — it has over 9 million views on YouTube. The duo tricked their guests by starting off with a classic song before performing to different hits throughout the decades, including "The Twist," "Thriller" and "Bye Bye Bye." The best part is that unlike other wedding dances that have gone viral, they never practiced their moves together before the big day. They learned their parts separately and performed it for the first time together at the reception!

Related: Wedding Speech Turns Into Epic Britney Spears Dance

3. Widower pays it forward to a couple who reminded him of his marriage
After Lee Ballantyne's wife, Carol passed away from cancer, even the most routine activities became a painful reminder of what he had lost. They were married for 43 years, and they had three sons and five grandchildren together. After dining alone for the first time at an Italian restaurant and spotting a couple enjoying a romantic meal together, he decided to honor Carol's memory by paying for their bill and sending them a lovely note. "Watching them smile and chat as they studied the menu at first made me envious, but the longer I watched, the more I came to realize they are on the same journey as Carol and I experienced over the years," Ballantyne told the Daily Mail.

Photo Credit: The Daily Mail

2. Couple overcomes all odds to get married at Disneyland
Larry Ragsdale planned to propose to his high school sweetheart, Kelcie Yeoman, during a family trip to Disneyland. However, fate intervened when his car was hit by a drunk driver a week before they were supposed to leave. The former star athlete was left partially paralyzed, and Kelcie was with him every step of the way during his recovery. For three years, he endured grueling surgeries and physical therapy sessions, until he was finally able to propose to his longtime love with the same ring he'd chosen before his accident. However, after all of the medical bills, they couldn't afford to pay for the wedding they had originally envisioned, so Kelcie's sister, McKenzie, launched a fundraising campaign. They met their goal of $20,000 in just 11 days, and the couple got married in Disneyland this past September! "It was magical," the bride tells People.

Related: Triumph Over Tragedy at This Year's Boston Marathon

1. Dying father walks his 11-year-old daughter down the aisle
When Jim Zetz was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer, his biggest regret was that he'd never be able to attend his daughter Josie's wedding. He hired photographer Lindsey Villatoro of Love Song Events & Photography to capture one last family photo session. Touched by their story, she secretly reached out to local vendors to organize a special ceremony. In just 72 hours, she'd received donations for a wedding dress, a tuxedo, cake, catering, flowers and more. Understandably, Josie was initially overwhelmed by the idea, but later, she told the photographer that "this is the best day of my life."

Related: Coping With Grief: One Bride's Inspiring Photo Shoot

Friday, December 26, 2014

9 Ways Wedding Planning Will Strengthen Your Relationship

Planning a wedding brings out the best and the worst in all of us. From the late nights putting together the seating chart to early morning appointments with florists, a lot of hours are logged planning the celebration. And while there's plenty of stress associated with the process, wedding planning can also be an unexpected way to strengthen you relationship with your partner. If you can make it through the highs and lows of the year leading up to your "I dos," you'll make it through anything. Here are 9 ways wedding planning will help make your relationship even more solid than it already is.
Black and White Wedding Inspiration from Atrendy Wedding
1. You'll learn how to make (and stick to) a budget. While dating or living together, it can be common to "go dutch" on dinner or split the rent in two, but many couples don't find themselves actually managing a budget until they're planning their big day. Putting aside a set amount of money (whether it's large or small) and keeping track of how it's being spent can be a great way to work together and start to demonstrate to one another how responsible you are. Not a bad way to start off your life together.
2. You'll master the art of compromise. You may be dreaming of an elegant black tie affair while he's leaning towards a laid-back beachfront bash. Planning a large-scale event like a wedding will test your ability to compromise. You'll quickly figure out how to pick your battles, learning when it's important to give in and when you should really stick to your guns. This skill will come in handy throughout your married life, so you'll be happy you learned it early on!
3. You'll have to share responsibility. As soon as you dive into planning your nuptials, you'll quickly realize you can't plan a wedding by yourself. You and your partner will figure out how to work with each other to play up your strengths and minimize any weaknesses you may discover along the way. Putting one another in charge of different aspects of the wedding is a great exercise in trust. Watching your partner come through for you again and again will strengthen your faith in him/her, and will put you at ease when considering the bigger when it comes time to buy a house and raise children.
4. You'll figure out how to fight fair. Disagreements are bound to happen during the planning process, and learning how to talk it out is key. Between buying your dress, picking out your venue, deciding on flowers, and selecting your photographers, there's plenty of room for you to have differing opinions. But when you have a hard deadline (your wedding day), you'll be forced to figure things out and effectively find resolution. As a result, when life gives you lemons, you'll be able to make lemonade together.
5. You'll determine how to make room for each other's family. Everyone from your soon-to-be mother-in-law to your grandma is going to be excited about your big day. That's not a bad thing, but all the external excitement can get overwhelming from time to time. The wedding planning process will put a microscope on your relationships with your family (the one you were born with, the one you're starting, and the one you're being welcomed into), and will help you have the hard conversations of how to manage your mom, how your partner can better establish boundaries, and how to make room in your lives for both of your family's opinions.
6. You'll get to know each other. You've probably been in a relationship for a while by the time you decided to get engaged, so you probably already know a thing or two about your partner. But while working on a major project together (like planning a wedding), some new things will undoubtedly be revealed. Who knew he cared so much about flowers? Who knew she had a knack for DIY? The months leading up to your big day should be a fun way to get to know each other again, so relish in these new aspects of your partner's personality to love.
7. You'll figure out how to balance your time. For most couples, planning a wedding isn't their full-time job. They're balancing that major to-do list with their day jobs, family commitments, and social obligations. While you and your beloved may want to just get through some planning tasks, remember to take time to be together that does NOT involved the wedding. Order some pizza and a bottle of wine, and just be together. You'll learn how important alone time is, and how amazing it feels to take the time to reconnect when life gets too busy.
8. You'll learn what it means to make something together. Although you've spent a significant about of time together and shared some of life's biggest moments as a couple, many to-be-weds haven't had the opportunity to actually build something together before they get engaged. Watching an idea become a reality will be a significant reward for you and your partner. And, hopefully, it will encourage you to build many more things together (a house, a family, even a business!) once you tie the knot.
9. You'll become a united front. When differences of opinion, budget or family disagreements come into play, remember that you and your partner are planning your big day TOGETHER. Be sure to protect what the two of you are working on, defend the compromises that you've made, and move forward confidently together. Being united will set the tone for a phenomenal wedding and for a strong marriage for years to come.

Thursday, December 25, 2014