Monday, August 31, 2015

What’s a Bro-dal Shower and Why You Should Have One


One of the hottest wedding trends right now is wedding showers for men. These showers are called “bro-dal showers,” and stories about them are popping up all over the internet. Whether you’re having a traditional or same-sex wedding, we think bro-dal showers are a great idea. It’s time for grooms to share some of the pre-wedding fun!

The folks at Buzzfeed featured two bro-dal shower themes that lit up the blog-o-sphere: Batman & Robin and Lumberjack. We were so inspired by these ideas that we just had to come up with a few of our own! Here are five of our favorites:

Speakeasy – Imagine a venue with a hidden bar, posted “security guards,” and posted signs reading “Closed for violation of the National Prohibition Act by the order of the United States District Court.” Ask guests to come in period-specific garb and enter through a lesser-used back entrance to enhance the theme.

Cigar Bar – Find a venue that will allow a cigar bar, maybe a pool hall or dueling piano bar. Offer guests two or three different cigar blends or flavors, and possibly more than one size, such as a mini cigarillo. Top it off with a signature drink or dessert station and you’ll be all set!
All-American – Think vintage baseball or football, or even vintage military (a la Captain America). Serve bro-dal shower fare like popcorn or chips and dip, grilled hot dogs or sausages, sliders, and beer.

Casino Night – You could do a Las Vegas theme and really get guests in the mood for some gaming. Get the poker and blackjack tables ready, set out some dice, and let the good times roll!

Mad Men – Go retro with a 1960’s Mad Men theme and have guests arrive in a suit and tie. Decorate with retro advertisements and serve classy martinis, Cuba Libres, or gin and tonics.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Things To Consider When Making Accommodations for Traveling Guests


Despite the checklists, apps, and overeager advice-giving friends available to most couples when planning weddings, there is one very important detail that is frequently overlooked– accommodations. If your guests are traveling in to join you on your big day, whether your wedding is local or considered “destination,” they must have someplace to stay.


It’s tempting to refer your guests to one of the many discount travel sites and let them choose their deal. This has dangers, though. You relinquish control over their guest experience and you lose the convenience factor of having your loved ones concentrated at one site, which can aid in providing amenities and transportation. Instead of falling back on the latest travel search engine, we recommend investing the necessary time and negotiate a room block contract that will not only keep your guests together, but keep them comfortable and happy from the moment they arrive for your special weekend.

What are the Priorities?

As hotels expand their lists of creative amenities, guests now expect more than just a bed and shower. Start by compiling a list of important factors beginning with how many rooms you might need. Don’t forget rooms where the wedding party will get ready and your own wedding night accommodations.
What kind of properties are your friends and family accustomed to, luxury, or budget?
Most guests want easy access to major transportation hub and to local attractions. Are there shuttles available? Can guests easily get to your wedding events? The cost of private group transportation dramatically impacts a wedding budget. Imagine being in your guests’ shoes and making the transfers they will encounter. Does one property offer a service that will make these transitions easier than another?

In terms of conveniences, what about a restaurant on-site, a hospitality suite during the day, or world-class fitness and spa facilities? Jot down every possible priority so you can rank the most necessary as your must-have list when you negotiate with your chosen hotels.

Room Block Contracts
Armed with this information, scrutinize any contract you receive. Compare online rates to the contract rates to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Ask about attrition – It is common for a hotel to hold you personally responsible for a percentage of the rooms (i.e. financially responsible) after certain cutoff dates. There may also be extra fees for gift bag delivery, wifi, parking, or breakfast. Are more rooms available to you at the rate if your guests pick them up faster than accepted? Can you reduce your room numbers, and can guests cancel reservations up to a cutoff date without penalty?
Who should you ask all of these detail questions? Your wedding planning, venue coordinator, or hotel sales manager are all good choices. You might also enlist the assistance of a wedding planner, or, a company with a decade of expertise that specializes in guest accommodations like Where Will They Stay?.

Extending the courtesy of making room block arrangements for your guests is just one way to thank them for celebrating with you on your big day. Make it the first of the many expressions of love that result from your new lives together.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

6 Tips to Plan a Romantic Wedding Night

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Weddings can take more than a year to plan. In the process, couples can lose sight of what is arguably supposed to be the most romantic night of your lives . . . your first night as a married couple. Today we thought we’d share some tips to make sure your wedding night is everything you hope it will be!

To plan your romantic wedding night:

1. Wrap things up at a reasonable time. If you don’t want to be so exhausted that you head to bed and immediately fall asleep, get a full night’s sleep the night before and end your reception at a reasonable time. Remember, you and your spouse can leave a little before everyone else if you want. You’re the guests of honor!

2. Curb the alcohol intake. Many couples want to celebrate their nuptials with champagne and/or cocktails, and that’s okay. It’s a celebration, after all! But know your limits, and keep the coming wedding night in mind. You want to be clear-headed and alert to focus on your new spouse.

3. Get away from it all. Consider booking a room somewhere away from where your guests are staying. If you stay near everyone else, you run the risk of getting disturbed by well-wishers, or even thinking more about whether your guests are comfortable than about your new spouse.

4. Stay somewhere sumptuous (or at least nicer than usual). It’s your wedding night…of course you should indulge! Even if you can’t afford the honeymoon suite, spring for something nicer than you usually would. It will help to set the mood if you’re feeling like royalty.

5. Have a late-night snack. Many couples get so caught up with making the rounds to thank their guests and dancing the night away that they neglect to eat much of their reception food. Arrange for a light snack of cheese and crackers, chocolate-covered strawberries, or something similar that the two of you can enjoy while you relax and revisit the wedding day together.

6. Exchange gifts. Some couples exchange tokens of affection before the wedding, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to exchange them after the wedding. In fact, we think it’s a lovely way to begin your new life together!

Yes, your wedding night is meant to be romantic, but be realistic. It will come at the end of an exciting and exhausting day. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to make it “perfect.” Just celebrate your love for each other and prepare for a very happy marriage to come!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

7 Things to Love About Brunch Wedding Receptions

wedding blog, brunch wedding reception
Happy National Orange Juice Day! Orange juice makes me think about mimosas. Mimosas make me think about brunch. Brunch makes me think about the many benefits to having your wedding midday.
Take these thoughts into consideration as you plan a brunch wedding reception to celebrate your marriage.
wedding blog, wedding brunch, champagne brunch

1. Your photos will never suffer from lack of light. One of the trickiest tasks a wedding photographer faces is dealing with light. When you have an evening wedding and a gorgeous backdrop for that wedding, your photographer has to quickly shoot your images before sunset. Once the sun goes down, no amount of flash will make up for the lack of sunlight, so your beautiful setting won’t show up as well in your photos. Move your wedding to brunch time and light will be in abundance.

2. Fill your wedding with fun activities. Brunch weddings lend themselves to outdoor celebrations. Plan your reception on a lawn and have alternative entertainment for your guests like horseshoes, croquet, and cornhole.

3. You will have time to make a quick getaway for your honeymoon. If you’d like to leave right away for your honeymoon, there will likely be evening flights available after your reception is over.

4. If you want to spend quality time with family, friends, or each other after the wedding, you won’t be exhausted. If your celebration ends by three or four, you can grab a quick nap and then plan something fun for the evening.

5. You likely won’t have to spend as much money on alcohol. Guests don’t typically expect mixed drinks at an early afternoon reception. Serve mimosas and Bloody Marys along with lemonade, flavored waters, tea and coffee, and you’ll spend quite a bit less on your bar bill.

6. You won’t spend your day being nervous about the wedding. If you’re anxious about how your wedding day will go, you won’t have to wait to get ready for your ceremony and reception. Wake up early, get groomed and primped, then walk down the aisle and relax!

7. Brunch is Yummy! Work with your chef to come up with a variety of foods that will cater to every diet and taste. Combine breakfast items and lunch items, both hearty and light.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

9 Thoughtful Ways to Thank Your Wedding Vendors

wedding blog, wedding vendors, how to thank your wedding vendors

Today is National Waitstaff Day, so it seemed like a good time to offer some tips on ways to thank the people who do all the work to make sure your wedding is absolutely perfect. From the venue’s catering team who makes sure your guests are fed and happy to the photographer who toils to capture every breathtaking moment to the wedding planner who brings it all together, there are going to be many wedding vendors to thank after the wedding. Here are nine ways to show your gratitude:

1. Leave a review about our services. Especially in today’s world, couples rely on reviews by other couples who have used a vendor’s services when making their own hiring decisions. We love it when you post feedback on social media or wedding-related websites.

2. Offer to provide a testimonial. We use testimonials (positive statements about our services made by our clients) in our marketing materials. We’ll take them written, given over the phone, or in video form . . . whatever works for you! (If your wedding vendor is on, you can leave a review for them there, too!)

3. Refer us to your friends. Word of mouth is probably the most impactful way we can get business. It’s a tremendous compliment when you refer us business.

4. Send us a handwritten note. It’s a little old-fashioned, which makes getting snail-mail even more touching and fun for us. Include something specific that we did to make your wedding day a success. We love feeling good about our work!

5. Toast us at your reception. If we’re there while you and your guests are dining and dancing, hearing a kind word about our work with you will make every minute of our time well worth it. Plus, all of your guests will hear the toast, which could lead to more business for us.

6. Give us credit when you post your photos online. If we took your wedding photos, designed your gorgeous centerpieces, helped set up your ceremony décor, or in any way impacted a significant part of your wedding, we really appreciate it when you mention us while posting wedding photos on social media. That way, any friends who might need the services we provide can look us up, and we can share them on our sites, too!

7. Allow us to feature your wedding. We write blogs, create galleries of images on our websites, and rely on events we’ve serviced to provide examples to potential clients. By giving us permission to share your wedding photos, you help us market ourselves.

8. Tip us. To some, this may seem obvious, but just like with other people who work in the service industry, we appreciate gratuities if you feel we’ve provided you with excellent service.

9. Hire us again. Most people in the wedding industry (photographers, florists, event planners, musicians, venues, caterers, etc.) also do work in social events. We consider it the ultimate sign of customer satisfaction when you return to us for future social event needs.

Jenn & Solomon Chau Wedding

Jenn & Solomon Chau Wedding Highlight Film by Boundless Weddings from Boundless Weddings on Vimeo.

How do you start a story about a man who was buried on his wedding day?

For now, I'll start with the facts. Solomon Chau died in his sleep on Aug. 17, 2015 — eight months after being diagnosed with liver cancer.
That was four days ago as of this writing.

This time last year, Chau and his beloved fiancee, Jennifer Carter, were looking forward to their wedding day, which was scheduled for Aug. 22, 2015.

That's tomorrow, as of this writing. It's hard to know the proper verb tense when you're talking about death. I mean that literally, though it is a strangely apt metaphor befitting of the subject matter.

The point is this: Aug. 22, 2015, is the day of Sol's funeral. In another world, it would have been the start of his married life with Jenn.

Jennifer Carter's wedding dress. Photo by Red Earth Photography. Used with permission.

I could start this story at the beginning, when Sol and Jenn first met.

According to Sol's obituary, it was pure happenstance that Jenn was visiting a friend at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, in October 2007 and that she would wind up at a house party celebrating Sol's 19th birthday.

It was less happenstance that Jenn would catch Sol's eye amidst the flurry of the evening. And it was absolutely deliberate when he took a more-than-three-hour bus ride around Lake Ontario during a snowstorm in December just to show up at her door and ask her out.

This is the love-conquers-all version, where the happy not-quite-a-couple-yet overcomes adversity — in this case, an actual storm — just to end up in each others' arms.

Jennifer and Solomon together. Photo taken from the GoFundMe campaign run by Solomon's childhood friend.

I could start their story somewhere in the middle, with the epic flash mob Sol used to ask Jenn to be his wife.

It was the spring of 2014, as the obituary tells it. Sol organized a flash mob in the plaza beneath Toronto's CN Tower, complete with dolphin balloons to match Jenn's tattoo in honor of her late sister.
There'd be an intermission, of course; a chance for the audience to catch their breath and revel in the couple's joyous day before the tragic ending in Act III.

Or I could begin closer to the end, with the day that Sol was diagnosed with cancer.

As explained in the couple's GoFundMe campaign, the news came in December 2014, and in those 48 frantic hours, Sol was diagnosed and rushed right into surgery. The doctors were able to successfully remove the tumor that was poisoning his liver. It was scary, sure, and Sol was weak. But then the New Year came, and things were looking up.
The tumor was gone. The cancer wasn't.

The couple's wedding rings. Photo by Red Earth Photography. Used with permission.

The truth is, no matter where I start the story, it still ends the same way: Sol died Aug. 17, 2015.

I wish I could tell you about the power of love, or Sol's miraculous recovery on their wedding day. But I told you up top that that wasn't how this story went. Real life is ugly, and cancer doesn't care for poetry or happy endings.

But what kind of storyteller would I be if I didn't save the best part of their story for last?

You see, Solomon Chau and Jennifer Carter did get to enjoy 128 precious days as husband and wife.
Jenn and Sol's first look on their wedding day. Photo by Red Earth Photography. Used with permission. 

It was March 2015 when Sol's cancer returned — just three months after his initial diagnosis and the emergency surgery they thought had been successful. This time, he and Jenn were told that the ending was inevitable, just as I told you.

Less than two weeks after Sol's fateful diagnosis, the city of Toronto rallied together behind the couple and surprised them with an unforgettable wedding on April 11, 2015.

Jenn and Sol with their bridal party. Photo by Red Earth Photography. Used with permission. 

In just three days, more than $50,000 was raised on GoFundMe to throw the couple a lavish wedding, and otherwise-expensive wedding vendors like Boundless Wedding video (who shared this story with me) and Red Earth Photography and Liberty Entertainment Group volunteered their services free of charge to give Sol and Jenn the happy day they deserved. The events of the day took place across Toronto, everywhere from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel to Toronto's picturesque Casa Loma castle and featured a brief reprise of Sol's flash-mob proposal.

All 70 guests kept their spirits high despite the tragic elephant in the room. Because sometimes, that's the only thing you can do.

And even though Sol was buried on the day his wedding was supposed to take place, Jenn will always have memories of their happy wedding day.

And I'll leave you with this, something to think about:

Some people joke about their " Kardash-iversary" — 73 days after the wedding, at which point their marriage has officially lasted longer than that of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. I was recently married, and instead, I'll be thinking about our Sol-iversary. That will be in October (coincidentally, on Sol's birthday), 128 days after our own wedding — the amount of time that Sol and Jenn had together, and how grateful we all should be for every single day.

I didn't know of Solomon Chau until Thursday afternoon (which is today, or two days ago, depending how we're counting). I don't presume to know what legacy he would have liked to leave behind, and it would be a disservice if I wrote some cliche platitudes about life and love and death. What I can do is what I've done here, which is share his story, and hope that maybe Sol's story could bring some light into your life, too.

Monday, August 24, 2015

5 Creative Ways to Get Your Guests to RSVP

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One of the most frustrating parts of planning a wedding is getting a final head count. If you don’t order enough food and have enough place settings, you’ll have unhappy guests on your hands. If you order too much, you’re overpaying. But outside of personally calling every single person you invite, getting RSVPs can be a challenge.

There are ways to motivate guests to respond, though, and one way is to make RSVPing fun and memorable. Here are five of our favorite ideas:

1. Make them mad. (As in Mad Libs, of course!). Have your guests show their creativity and share a little about themselves by presenting them with a Mad Libs RSVP like these on Etsy. You can read a few at your rehearsal dinner to get guests laughing and in the wedding spirit.

2. Give them something to vote on. I’m sure you’ve discovered that guests love to share their opinions about your wedding plans. Include a ballot on the RSVP that allows guests to vote on something, such as the first dance song or what style of dance the bridal party should do. Make sure you pick options you like, of course, so you’ll be happy with the outcome!

3. Include pictures or graphics. Some of the cutest RSVPs we’ve seen include graphics in the place of words, such as for meal choices. Guests are meant to circle the picture that reflects their choice. One RSVP had a small thermometer that they called the Excite-O-Meter, and they asked guests to fill it in to their level of excitement. It catches the eye and entices guests to fill it out.

4. Design them in a format that invokes excitement. You’re inviting your guests to the biggest celebration of your lives, so make it feel like one by choosing movie or concert ticket style RSVPs. We found these on Zazzle and found them, well, dazzling!

5. Word it creatively. These days, couples are changing up traditional RSVP wording to include some personality and spark. Many creative (read: snarky) wording choices, such as these, will definitely invoke a response. Just try to avoid curse words or anything inflammatory. It’s still a wedding, after all!

Regardless of how you word and format your RSVP, make sure it includes all of the pertinent information: guest name(s), whether or not they will attend, if they have any dietary restrictions, and (if applicable), their meal choice. Keep it short, simple, and easy for them to return to you. That way, you’ll have one less thing to worry about while planning your big day!

Friday, August 21, 2015

11 Summer Proposals That Might Make You Melt

When you run a marriage proposal website (, you come across a lot of amazing proposal ideas. Some are over the top, some are wildly emotional, and others are simply drop-dead gorgeous. Summer proposals are usually the latter. There's something about love under the sun that always makes a proposal glow.
Below, enjoy 11 of our favorite summer proposal moments (with a really cute quote to go along) and feel free to share your proposal story with us too.
Photo by Conway Captions
"We met at our church on September 15, 2014. I was sitting with my friends at the beginning of an activity when I saw him walk in the door and I thought "He's cute!" Then, I rethought to myself, "Nope, too cute." and dropped it."
Read their full proposal here.
Photo by Emily Jane Photography
"When I looked up, I saw Josh coming towards me and that's when I knew what was going to happen. He gave me a hug, fropped to his knee, and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him!"
See the full Federal Hill marriage proposal story here.
Photo by Kim Le Photography
"A few minutes into our 'session', he drops to his knee and pulls out the most beautiful ring ever! I barely remember what he said, but I remember saying 'thank you' many times through my tears! It's funny but I never thought of ever getting married. I never realized how important it was until that moment."
Read the full proposal story!
Photo by Michelle Scotti
"When we arrived I took our camera. Snapping pictures at random, I spotted Michelle (the photographer) and told my fiance, Kristyn, 'Hey, let's ask that lady if she will take a picture of us,' she responded, 'I hate asking people to do that.' So, we made our way over to Michelle, who I had never met, and I asked, 'Do you mind taking a picture?" She responded, 'sure,' and took a picture with my camera. Afterwords she said, 'Do you mind me taking a picture with my camera and i can send it to you?' My fiance responded, 'Oh thank you so much, that's so nice of you!' The pictures that Michelle took explain the rest of our story as you can see the emotion on our faces."
Full proposal here.
Photo by: David Guenther Photography
"Caleb and I met at a kids summer camp we both worked at. He was the head lifeguard and I was on the program staff. Camp is where we met, fell in love, and SURPRISE...popped the question!"
Read the marriage proposal story.
Photo by Carly Fuller Photography

"I was so surprised that a few profanities may have even slipped out, but it was but it was absolutely perfect. Surrounded by great friends on a monumental holiday, one of the greatest parts about living in this country; the freedom to love whomever you want. There may not have been fireworks in the sky, but there were plenty in my heart."
See the rest of this 4th of July proposal!
Photographer: Anna K. Photography
"When we arrived, we walked out to the beach to start taking pictures. That night couldn't have been any more perfect. The sunset was breathtaking, and the temperature was just right. I grabbed my bouquet and we started our 'photo shoot.' About 15 minutes in, I suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder and I turned around to my David."
The rest of their photoshoot marriage proposal can be seen here.
Photo by Christy Swanberg Photography
"I had done some work with a local boutique where I had seen this pink tulle skirt. I told Jonathan that if something hypothetically was going to happen, then that is the skirt I want to be wearing...A letter was on the table telling me to meet Jonathan in the park in the pretty pink skirt."
Watch this truly tear-jerking proposal video.
Photo by Sarah Postma Photography
"In the bag was the binder of 'work', but also a photo album Amanda had made me for a gift almost a year ago and that I had packed in the the bag. Amanda had left the last page blank which presented a perfect opportunity for me. I changed the last page to read "September 7th, 2013" as a header, a space for a photo, and 'He popped the question...' as a footer."
The rest of this Chicago proposal is adorable.
Photo by Melissa DeLorme Photography
"Chip heard I moved back into to town and conveniently decided he need to have his eyes checked. He came in for his eye exam and we caught up on old times...Weeks later he had me over for dinner at his house and I noticed in his bathroom an unopened box of contact lenses I had prescribed him almost a year ago. He said his vision was actually fine, he just needed an excuse to ask me out to dinner."
See the full La Jolla Proposal.
Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero Photography
"Having someone you love ask you to close your eyes as they want to walk you out to the 'restaurant' where he had a reservation is not a typical question, but why not have a good time and go for it. As we were walking to the 'restaurant', I begin to question exactly where we are heading. I thought to myself, this is definitely not indoor dining, more so a hot air balloon ride type of date because I smelled candles. As I begin to get overwhelmed with the anxiety of not knowing what was going on, he asked me to open my eyes.
Read the full sunset marriage proposal.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

11 Things No One Tells You About Wedding Planning

Wedding reception at vineyard
Photo by Bev + Banjo 
When it comes to planning your day, at least a few surprises are, well, straight-up unavoidable. Of course, it pays to be prepared, but know that even the most
meticulous preparation won't make you completely curveball-exempt.

1. Throwing a casual wedding is just as much work as throwing a fancy one.

Whether the napkins you'll use are made of paper or of silk flown in from France that was handwoven by master craftsmen, you've still got to pick those suckers. And whether you'll serve French fries or filet, wear couture or a simple vintage frock, the same holds true.
Solved: Though this realization tends to hit brides-to-be like the proverbial ton of bricks, the realization alone is half the battle. The second half? Allotting a generous portion of time in which to plan -- sans panic. No matter your style, a year is typically just about right.

2. You're talking wedding way, way more than you think.

Have you busted your bestie rolling her eyes when she thought you were too busy expanding on the virtues of fondant vs. buttercream to see? Did your mom start to glaze over the last time you tried to show her pictures of bouquets? Yeah, you're guilty.
Solved: First, accept that you might not actually be able to press pause on the compulsive wedding chatter. Hey, you're excited, and that's cool! But expecting one or two people to listen to all of it? Too much. Share the love. Spread the obsessing out over a wider circle of friends (that's what cubemates are for, right?) and space it out, so you can spare them all, including your fiance, from bride (that would be you) burnout.

3. Words like "classic" are highly subjective. Highly.

Your definition of the word "classic" may mean preppy yellow and blue at a yacht club, but to your planner, it could mean black-tie ballroom with ornate décor, and to your florist, it might mean a tented affair with a romantic look -- leaving you with a confused aesthetic that doesn't fit anyone's vision.
Solved: No matter what detail you're planning, a picture is worth a thousand words. Show your vendors what "classic" means to you by bringing them examples of what you want, lest you waste precious time (or budget) wandering down the road to so-not-what-you-wanted town.

4. You will randomly stress-cry over something, be it tablecloths, invites or the dress your mom has chosen.

Your florist tells you pink peonies won't be in-season, and you burst into tears. No matter that you don't even like peonies -- or pink. Your mom is mad that your fiance's stepmom chose the same color dress, and suddenly, you're bawling that your marriage is doomed.
Solved: Let 'em flow, but then let it go. Think of it as a sign you need a wedding planning break.

5. You will randomly happy-cry over something, be it tablecloths, invites or the dress your mom has chosen.

As you mail your invites, you can barely choke back the tears long enough to say "hand stamp." Your mom shows you the muumuu she plans to wear, and you tear up over how pretty she looks.
Solved: Savor it. As cliché as it sounds, these are the moments you'll remember forever.

6. At least one not-so-minor unexpected expense will pop up.

Whether it's weather (gotta rent a tent 'cause it looks like rain) or whimsy (gotta get a backup gown 'cause I can't make up my mind), something that wasn't in your budget will materialize.
Solved: Even the tightest budget needs a little wiggle room. Build in a buffer (5 percent of the overall budget) from the start, so you won't have to worry every time the wind blows.

7. Idiot spats will happen.

You feel deeply betrayed over his dislike of fondant. He claims you "don't get who he really is" after you nix all Metallica songs from the reception playlist. Um, who are you?
Solved: Because the stakes (one day, one chance to get it right) feel so high, nerves fray, and flare-ups happen fast. It's easy to forget that you're on the same team. Scheduling in regular romantic time will help -- as will lots of kissing and making up when you (inevitably) slip up.

8. The groom-to-be won't care about things you thought he would.

From planning the menu (shrug) to picking the music (yawn), your guy's uninterested reactions even to the "fun stuff" might catch you off guard and bum you out. After all, these are the things you were sure he'd enjoy -- so what will this mean for all the not-so-fun details?
Solved: Ask him what he wants to do and then listen. He may not be as disinterested as he's acting. It's possible that you've overridden his opinions one too many times and his pride is hurting. Of course, he may just have no interest in wedding planning at all. Can you make peace with it, temper your expectations and give him a few to-dos? Or can you live with him just handling the honeymoon and the music? Remember, you're marrying this guy. He needs to be a good husband -- not a good wedding planner.

9. The groom-to-be will care about things you never dreamed he would.

Whether it's the color of paper stock for the invites or a preference for a certain species of peony, your man will give you at least one case of the what-the-what's by expressing strong feelings about something totally unexpected and out of character. Even cooler? His new interest might be a shock to him too!
Solved: As the saying goes, if it ain't broke.... Why not raise a glass to a lifetime of more quirky little surprises from your man? That said, if he's venturing into groomzilla territory (it happens), divvy up the decision-making tasks so you can each be master of your own domains.

10. Everyone (and we do mean everyone) has an opinion.

"Whatever you do," says a random coworker, "don't hire a band." Too bad you just did. "Hope you're not wearing's so boring," says your teenage cousin. Too bad you totally are. "You know what's the worst?" says the checkout lady at the grocery store. "Wedding cake." Too bad that lady was insane.
Solved: While people will likely keep spouting opinions about every detail the second they hear you're aisle-bound, it's okay to remind them (and yourself) that they can put their opinions to good use at their own weddings...and pretty much nowhere else. Stick to your guns and rely on your team of pros for solid, unbiased advice. This is where it pays to remember it's your day.

11. You (yes, you) will probably have at least one 'zilla moment.

It might be a quick blip, or it may last for weeks, but there will come a time when you temporarily cross over to the dark side of the aisle. While you're there, you may truly believe that a pink chocolate fountain, a rose-petal cannon and a Cinderella coach pulled by horses dressed as unicorns are just basic wedding essentials every bride deserves.
Solved: Since 'zilla outbreaks are tricky to self-diagnose, it's time to call up your most truth-telling friend and run your new, big plans past her. If she utters any iteration of the words, "Have you lost your mind?" a time-out is in order. Or just run the idea by any of the major bill footers to see how they react. Fidgeting, fumbling and fuming are all good indications that what you're saying is crazy talk. (Or way outside your budget.) The good news is, it happens to the best of brides. And after a brief break from wedding planning, most brides report a return to sane thinking -- followed by a good, long WTF?!?! laugh with their fiance.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The 6 Secrets Of Couples Who Stick Together Forever

Recognize and embrace change

People change throughout their lives. The “ultimate key to successful relationships is the ability to grow and adapt together,” says Dr. Steven Craig, a clinical psychologist and author of The 6 Husbands Every Wife Should Have. This is especially important once couples reach their 50s and 60s and tackle significant life changes like their kids leaving home, careers coming to an end, health changes, and becoming grandparents. Continuously recognizing the changes that are happening, and understanding your partner's needs and talking about them are important for your relationship to thrive, says Craig.


Successful relationships are not marked by the absence of fights. In fact, you should have arguments with your spouse, says Craig. The way couples fight and what they fight about are more important than not fighting at all. Unhealthy arguments focus on things from the past, Craig says - like bringing up something you’re mad about from 20 years ago. When you do fight, avoid the following unhealthy behaviors, identified by marriage researcher and psychologist John M. Gottman, Ph.D.: contempt for your partner, defensiveness, refusing to talk, and negative remarks about your partner or name-calling.

Forgive and move on

Bringing up past hurts does nobody any favors in a relationship.
“Be willing to forgive and remember you are not always right. It takes two in a marriage.” — Diana D., Facebook
When photographer Lauren Fleishman interviewed couples who have been together for more than 50 years for her book,  The Lovers, Jake Jacobs, who has been married to his wife Mary since April 1948, said: “What I would say is this—in order to have a successful marriage, the man has to be very tolerant. He has to hear and don’t hear if you understand what I mean. And he has to be very versatile, always willing to say sorry.”

Give and take

Compromise is important for any relationship, especially a marriage.

“No one can always be right or always get what they want. Marriage is work and both of you must participate for it to be successful!” — Patti W., Facebook
Knowing when to argue (the right way) and when to make a compromise can make for much smoother sailing and a stronger bond with your spouse.

Remember why you love them

When the going gets tough, successful couples remember why they want to be with each other.
“We don’t always like each other, but we always love each other.” — Lorraine S., Facebook
Focus on the positives in your relationship, like how you make each other laugh and how supportive you are of each other. Remembering why you fell in love and got married can help you through the inevitable rough patches.
"Hubby and I like to turn on the radio to just dance in the living room.” — Teresa B., Facebook

"Always hold hands"

Sometimes the best secrets are the simplest. Many Facebook users we polled cited holding hands as their secret to a happy marriage. They may be on to something — a study published in Psychological Science found that holding hands with a spouse lowered stress levels.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Couple's Shower Planning Basics

Couple's outdoor bridal shower
Photo by Paper Antler
Why spend your Saturday afternoon yawning over the ribbon bouquet when you can hang with a crowd far more entertaining than Mom's country-club friends? Go ahead and attend those must-attend functions, but think about putting together a party that includes the guys too. Here's the dirt on throwing a Jack & Jill party.

The Idea

A couple shower is closer to a cocktail or dinner party than it is to a bridal shower. Female and male relatives, as well as close friends, are invited. The party still revolves around gifts, but they're presented to both the bride and the groom, and generally they are a mix of home goods and guy-friendly gadgets. The shower can range from an afternoon barbecue at your parents' place to a cocktail party at your favorite restaurant or bar. There are no hard-and-fast rules about planning, though, so do what feels best.

The Guest List

You might want to limit the guest list to the couple's contemporaries who consider girl/boy proximity a given. Steer clear of people who may be offended by a coed shower, but don't neglect loved ones who wouldn't want to miss out on these festivities.

Rethink Tradition

Try cocktails in lieu of tea, barbecue instead of buttered scones. Think about themes:
  • Entertainment Shower, where guests dress up as famous characters and bring gifts like videos, CDs, and theater tickets. Assign everyone to perform their favorite movie lines.
  • Sports Shower, where you could organize a basketball game, rounds of tennis, Ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, or tag football. Chip in for his-and-her in-line skates, tennis rackets, or snorkeling gear.
  • Around-the-World Shower, where you serve international cuisine like paella, stir-fried vegetables, or gnocchi, and salivate over gifts such as a pasta maker, a wok, or a fondue pot.
  • Beach Shower, where everyone plays paddleball and splashes in the waves. Set up a tent and keep the cooler full of drinks. Gifts could be picnic baskets for two or matching beach towels.
  • Pool Party Shower, where you set up relay races and diving-board contests. Cook hamburgers by the pool and give gifts such as portable grills and plastic serving items like trays and martini glasses.
  • Games Shower, where you dream up your own version of The Newlywed Game or Jeopardy. Or host a cook off a la Iron Chef. Present the happy couple with stacks of board games or kitchenware.

Make Everyone Feel Comfortable

  • Since the rowdiness factor can shoot sky-high when boys are involved, make sure the girls know that the guest list includes folks of both genders. Include this information on the invitation, or call everyone to clue them in to the fact that this won't just be an afternoon of girl talk and lingerie-giving.
  • As guests arrive, play a name game so that everyone gets introduced and feels at ease. Have everyone say how they know the couple of honor.
  • When playing games, put the girls on one team and the men on the other to keep physical contact among possible strangers at a comfy minimum.

Monday, August 17, 2015

6 Things That Will Change After You Say "I Do"

Relationship Advice for Your First Year of Marriage
Photo: Elisa Bricker
Anybody who tells you that life won't change after you get married is lying... or they've never been married. Even if you've been living together for a couple of years, things change after the honeymoon. The first year of marriage can be hard, but if you know what to expect and you're prepared for it, it's a lot easier to tackle and enjoy. Here are a few changes you can definitely expect:

1. Your friendships
You relationships with your girlfriends will change — especially if you're first in your crew to get married.

2. Your privacy expectations
You may have to ask some friends to give you back their copies of your keys and tell your besties not to flop on your bed or dig through your drawers, even if they've been doing it for 15 years.

3. Holiday season
Holiday plans are no longer assumed and may become more of a negotiation. You'll probably find yourself hosting more of them at your house in order to include everyone and keep the peace. For many couples, the first Thanksgiving and Christmas are political quagmires.

4. Your spending habits
No more shopping on a whim for expensive items, you'll have to coordinate all of your financial matters as a couple. There will have to be a budget (hopefully a somewhat flexible one) and you have to be completely honest about your spending with each other.

5. Your bank accounts
You're not financially "independent" anymore — you're half of a couple. You need to create a joint checking account and put each other on all of each other's accounts, not forgetting to change beneficiaries on existing paperwork at your office and financial institutions. You have to establish a savings plan and financial goals.

6. Your schedule
Hopefully, the two of you are sharing household chores and responsibilities, but whether it's work or play, you'll be spending more time together. And you have two families you're obligated to spend time with and professional obligations you must attend as a couple. Even if you've been together awhile, how much time these things consume will double.

Friday, August 14, 2015

9 Etsy Shops Every Bride Should Know About

There’s nothing simple about planning a wedding, but we’re here to take hours of research off your plate (with great results to boot) by introducing you to this talented bunch of vendors. 



Flapper Doodle

Photo by
The seller: After an image of one of Kate Gabrielle’s casual doodles got lots of attention on Flickr, the self-taught illustrator and painter opened shop selling pen and ink drawings.

What they offer: Personalized cards that brides can use to help pop “the question” to their bridesmaids. Each card features a customized drawing of your bridal party—you choose the wording and even the hair color and style, skin color, and dress color and style for up to 15 bridesmaids.

To buy: $4 per card (four card minimum),


Verde Studio

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The seller: When Virginia Sauder was a child, her mother would ask the postmaster to set aside newly released stamps until Sauder could save up enough allowance to buy them. Soon after Sauder began crafting postage stamps into pendants, a blogger asked her to pair similarly themed vintage stamps for wedding invitations—and a shop was born!

What they offer: Curated arrangements of uncancelled (still valid!) postage to give your envelopes an extra-special vintage vibe.

To buy: From $7 for five letters,


Sweet Carolina Collective

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The seller: Meg Lane started selling rustic table numbers and signage (bar menus, welcome messages, and more) to other brides after a friend asked for help crafting signs for her wedding. Just a year later, she was selling enough to quit her full-time job—and even had to hire a neighbor to help with orders. Now, Lane has a staff of full-time employees to process orders quickly.

What they offer: Table numbers and signs for nearly any element of the wedding (guest book, welcome, menus). In addition to items already listed in the Etsy shop, Lane and her staff can create custom orders.

To buy: From $20,


Ink and Water Designs

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The seller: To save her sister from having to handwrite all of the envelopes for her wedding invitations, Linsey Rampello created a return-address stamp that matched the design, streamlining the process. When three friends who were also planning weddings asked for personalized stamps, Rampello’s business was born.

What they offer: Handcrafted stamps for save the dates, monograms, thank-you notes, and more. Choose from pre-existing designs or ask for something custom (including non-wedding related items).

To buy: From $30,


Pink Owl Gifts

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The seller: When planning her own wedding in 2004, Cristin Kirkland struggled to find high-quality personalized items. She decided to try to fill that gap in the marketplace by making monogrammed cake toppers with her mother. What was once “an eBay store and a dream” has evolved into a robust Etsy shop that the entire Kirkland family is involved in.

What they offer: More than a hundred custom cake toppers featuring short phrases, names, or dates.

To buy: From $28,


Picture Perfect Papier

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The seller: A small group of designers in Chicago, Illinois, work together to bring shoppers a beautifully curated collection of personalized products—napkins, coasters, matches—that add the finishing touch to any wedding or event.

What to look for: Custom foil-stamped products—from envelope liners to custom coasters, napkins, and matches. Coming soon: an array of letterpress items.

To buy: From $1,


Lila Frances

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The seller: A young Anna Hartshorn would twist anything (bendable pipe cleaners, found pieces of telephone wire) into little trinkets (faces, cats) for her mom, who always encouraged her to turn the hobby into a business. As the saying goes, Mom knows best: Hartshorn started the first Etsy shop to design custom wire hangers.

What they offer: Personalized wire hangers (in natural or glittered wood) with your wedding date, name, or a short phrase. Wire cake toppers and accessories are also available.

To buy: From $10, ​



Photo by
The seller: Owner and designer Stefanie Lynton turned her passion for typography, design, and all things weddings into a booming business over the course of 5 years.

What they offer: Wedding cards given by the bride and groom to those who mean the most to them (bridal party, family, readers), menus, programs, escort cards, tags, and more.

To buy: From $4,


Mint Tea Calligraphy

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The seller: After starting calligraphy as a hobby a few years ago, Elsa Duncan left her job in finance to make her newfound passion a career: “Making beautiful letters and helping brides create personal, memorable touches beats crunching numbers any day of the week.”

What they offer: Fresh, modern calligraphy fonts for envelopes, place cards, signage, vows, and more.

To buy: From $1.50,