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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Holidays are a time traditionally spent with family and friends.  Many of you are used to celebrating them with your parents or siblings and in specific ways.  Whether it's lighting the menorah or decorating the Christmas tree, there are certain practices you look forward to each year.  Now that there is a new person in your life, however, you may ask yourself 'how am I going to celebrate this year?' It's a fair question asked by many a bride.  After all, two people means two families and many families celebrate holidays differently.  Not to mention, if both families live on opposite sides of the country, how do you choose which family to spend which holiday with?  These aren't simple decisions to be made, but like most decisions it begins with a conversation.  It's important for you and your fiance to talk about the holidays and what they mean to you.  Share with each other how you are used to spending it and if there are certain holidays that have more significance to you.  If spending time with family is important to both of you, make an effort to spend different holidays with each of your folks.  Maybe one year you will decide to spend Christmas with your parents and the next with his.  The idea is to show each family that you care about and want to spend time with them, but want to share your time equally with both sides.  Discussing your decision with your respective family members will also help.
Keep in mind that various other factors will likely occur when making your decision.   Things like finances, time off from work, and other commitments may play a role in where you choose to spend which holidays.  Talking about things in advance and splitting your time fairly (or close to it) between families is a good start to reducing holiday stress or feuds and keeping all parties happy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Feeling the Spirit

Last month I was out for a walk with my daughter.  The vibrant colors of the trees surrounded us, leaves were crunching under our feet,  and the smell of a fireplace filled the air. The spirit of the holidays was upon us and something sparked within me.  It's amazing how the little things around us can create a whole new feeling inside of us. So often we rush through our days without taking the time to notice the small details.  And maybe if we looked a little closer, breathed a bit deeper, or listened more carefully we would recognize something we didn't notice before.  Maybe there would be a spark within that would help us feel happier, calmer, or more positive throughout our days.  Sure we can argue that the opposite effect can take place too.  But it all depends on what you're looking for.  If your goal is to find goodness and happiness in yourself and the world, you're more likely to see the positive side of things.  Same holds true for all your goals, including your wedding.  If you try and maintain a positive, balanced approach to the planning process and you aim to slow down and focus on the world around you, you may begin to find all the pieces falling together.  Maybe you'll hear a song in a store or notice some flowers in a window, that will be right for your wedding.  And even if the "little things" you notice aren't directly related to your planning, it could help with the emotional aspect of wedding planning, like feeling more relaxed or taking more time for you.
During my walk, I wondered why the spark within was more prominent during this season than any other time.  I came to the conclusion that between the holiday music and movies, decorations, sweet smells in the air, and people being in a generally happier mood, it must be because we taste it all around us in some sense or other.  And while it's wonderful to have the holiday spirit, during this time of year, I challenge myself and each of us to feel the same spark even when it's not right in front of us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Standing Up for Your Dreams

The wedding industry can be a tough business.  And while everyone is clamoring for your patronage, it's important that your voice isn't lost in the mix.  For some brides, meeting with wedding professionals can be intimidating.  Brides may feel inclined to think that vendors have been in the business for years, so naturally they know what's best.  But what's best for them may not always be the right fit for you. I've heard the stories.  One bride met with a top hair stylist to the stars, who tried to convince her that she didn't want an updo for her wedding.  She told me she always pictured herself having her hair up on her wedding day, but was having second thoughts after her meeting.  Another bride admitted that she started feeling uncomfortable when interviewing a potential caterer who began the interview with a montage of the latest foods trends in wedding affairs, when she wanted something much simpler.  In both cases, the brides didn't know how to initially respond.  They felt eager to please the wedding professional, but uneasy about compromising their original plans.  In the end, the brides decided that despite the high credentials each professional had, it was better for them to part ways and find someone else who would work with them to make their dreams a reality.
It seems simple enough, but sometimes a bride gets so caught up in all the excitement and wants to make everyone else happy that she ends up pleasing everyone but herself.  Just because a professional has been in the business for years or has an "A" list of clients, doesn't mean they should tell you how something should be done.  Stand up and speak up for your hopes and dreams;  you are the bride and deserved to be heard.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Good Night's Sleep

Life is busy.  And since your engagement it likely became a lot busier.  With so much to do and so little time, it's easy to start short changing yourself in areas that you think can take a back seat to everything else you have to accomplish.   Unfortunately, your sleep is often affected first. Between work, family, social life, and wedding planning it seems to make sense that you need to stay up later in the night to get it all done.  What you may not realize is that depriving yourself of a healthy night's sleep affects your body mentally and physically.  It can decrease your ability to pay attention or retain new information, and decrease your reaction to external stimuli.  In addition to these negative cognitive consequences, sleep deprivation can also put you at risk for health problems and depression.  You have to make important decisions daily and with a poor night's sleep, your brain doesn't function as well.   Research has shown that sleep is broken down into various stages in which damage in the brain caused by daily metabolism is repaired and "re-energized."  Cognitive processes that help your memory functioning and ability to learn new skills are also refreshed with a good night's sleep (Monitor on Psychology, 2006).
Everyone's sleeping habits are a bit different, but most studies show that 7-9 hours of sleep is best for optimal functioning.  To get restorative, healthy sleep, maintain a schedule and stick to it.  Save your to do list for another day and definitely, don't take it to bed with you! Take a warm bath, practice meditation, or do something else relaxing to help you wind down.  This lets your body and mind know you are quieting down and getting ready to sleep.   Release all your worries and tension and know that having a good night's sleep will help you deal with whatever you need to tomorrow.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Responding vs. Reacting

When someone tells you something you'd rather not hear or gives you upsetting news, it's a good idea to take a step back and pause before you reply.   Taking a minute to collect your thoughts can mean the difference between maintaining your peace of mind or escalating an adverse situation. While it's good practice to train yourself to do this in all situations, it's definitely something you will want to do as you prepare for your wedding.   Between the wedding vendors, friends, or family members, someone is bound to tick you off.  When people are upset and angry about something, they tend to react to the situation rather than respond in a strong but civil manner.  These reactions trigger more negative reactions from the other party and people can end up in a full scale war of words.  Needless to say, in most cases this kind of escalation serves no purpose and nothing is accomplished.
Instead, if a friend makes a rude comment or a vendor doesn't follow through with your wedding request, think a moment about how you can respond in manner that shows how you feel but doesn't allow you to lose control.  Speaking what is on your mind fairly and confidently keeps you in control of the situation.  The other party can better hear what you are saying and is more likely to understand your needs.  It's not easy to get to this point and in some situations, you may need a day or two to collect your thoughts before you can respond.  If it works out right, you get what you want without losing your cool.  Now that's a confident bride!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Power of Our Thoughts

So much has been written about the power of positive thinking.  It is such a simple concept, yet many times it's hard to put into practice.  Worries and fears can seep into our consciousness and take us further away from positivity and deprive us of peace of mind. Take a moment to think of the following scenario.  You are going about your day in a good mood and had some great meetings with a couple of your wedding vendors.  Everything seems to be running smoothly.  Later that afternoon, you receive a phone call from your future mother-in-law, who tells you she is really not happy with your choice of wedding colors and asks if  she can wear something else.  Viola! A negative seed was planted.  So now, your mood may change from happy and excited to angry and hurt. You ask yourself, "how could she not like my colors and how could she have the audacity to ask if she can wear something else?  And why is she always so critical? How will we ever get along?"  In one quick minute, your positive thinking can be replaced with a barrage of negativity.
Your thoughts are powerful; so you need to learn to protect them.  Put on an invisible coat of armor, so that negative thoughts can bounce off.  Don't let them inside if you don't want it to control you.  Let positive thinking and thoughts flow freely through your mind to counterattack.  It's not an easy battle to be won, but the more practice, we all have, the better we become at deflecting unconstructive thoughts.  And the more we change our thoughts to being positive, the better we feel regardless of the circumstance.  As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Slowing Down

Do you ever feel like you're constantly moving, always on the go and trying to get things done?  Just the other day while my husband and I were having dinner, we looked at each other and said, "let's just slow down and take a minute."  Even while eating, we felt this haste and had to remind each other to relax a bit and tend to the moment. Life is busy.  Planning a wedding is even more so.  There is a lot to do and it's hard not to quicken the pace to make sure everything is accomplished in a timely fashion.  By living life in fast forward, however, we miss out on the little things: a quiet dinner for two, a walk through the park, or a relaxing bubble bath.  These kinds of activities are meant to help us unwind from a busy day or week.  But if we rush through it or do it by rote, we devalue these times and ourselves.  Slowing down and giving your attention to the activity at hand allows you to enjoy more, focus better, and feel refreshed.
There will be times, of course, when you will need to work harder or faster to accomplish something;  but it doesn't have to come at the expense of your well being.  Think about one area where you could benefit from slowing down.  Challenge yourself to work on that area so that you are better in tune with the activity and the moment.  You'll be surprised at how much more meaningful it becomes and how much better you feel.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Forgiveness

Forgive and forget: if only it were that simple.  In life, it's easy to hold grudges.  Someone wrongs us and we feel the need to get even.  We hold onto misdeeds and wrongdoings for weeks, months, or even years.  Sometimes we don't even remember what the argument was about, but we know we were right and so, we don't forgive and we don't forget. At times in our lives when we embark on new journeys and open new chapters, it's a good practice to reflect on the act of forgiveness.  When planning your wedding, you may find yourself come across a family member or friend that did something hurtful to you in the past or vice versa.  Ask yourself if the hurt is worth the effects of holding a grudge.  Bottling our emotions and negative feelings inside can cause anxiety, stress, restlessness, and a general sense of uneasiness.  It can create bitterness and resentment.  Most would agree, these aren't emotions you want to begin a happy time in your life with.  Forgiveness, whether face to face or internally (i.e., forgiving yourself for something), can give you a sense of freedom.  Many people who embrace forgiveness say they feel a weight lifted off their shoulders.  They are no longer burdened by the negative feelings that surrounded them prior.  They are happier and healthier.
If there is someone you need to forgive or need to ask forgiveness from, think about it.  Consider your situation and feelings, and decide how you can move forward in a way that will help and heal you, if necessary.  Challenge yourself to go to your wedding ceremony with a clean slate, ready to be filled with positive emotions, energy, and relationships.   The act of forgiveness may help you get there.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Keeping Up with the Joneses

You're planning your dream wedding and think you have it all figured out until you hear what someone else is doing for their wedding.  Now you begin second guessing yourself.  It happens all the time in life and may pop up as you plan this special occasion. It's the popular notion of "keeping up with the Joneses." If your neighbor, friend, relative, etc.  has a brand new luxury car, you want one too.  If they show up to dinner wearing designer clothes, you start reconsidering your wardrobe.  And if they just returned from their grand vacation at a Five Star resort, your weekend getaway at the local beach suddenly doesn't sound all that exciting.  Feelings of jealousy or inadequacy and second-guessing our choices surface.  It happens to all of us at some point or other in our lives, and can have overarching effects if not kept in check.
As you plan, think of your hopes and dreams for your wedding.  Remind yourself that it doesn't have to be the biggest or flashiest to be beautiful.   Don't think about what other brides are doing, unless it's something that appeals to you.  Make sure your choices are coming from a place within you and are not a nagging influence to keep up with the trends.   Stay within your means and always keep it real.  The moments you create during the wedding will be far more memorable than having a dessert buffet, ice sculptures, or a ten piece band.
The wonderful thing about weddings is that there are so many ways to do it.  You have the chance to make it your own.  Be creative, be unique, and most importantly, be  you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In the Face of Tragedy

How can we continue to be happy in the face of tragedy? Feelings of guilt sometimes creep up on us as we try to navigate our feelings of joy and happiness (as in the case of getting married), with those of suffering around us. People deal with calamities, be it on a personal or national level, in different ways.  You will recognize how you handle such situations and determine whether it is helpful or not in your ability to cope.  If the initial shock of a tragedy passes and you are able to move forward with your daily activities, even though you may continue feeling the pain and suffering, you are likely coping effectively.  If, however, you are finding it difficult to do things you normally do months after the tragedy occurred, you may need to ask for additional help.  Keep in mind that there are too many variables to suggest there is a clear cut way of determining how effective a person is at coping.  Every situation is different and needs its own assessment.
As you deal with tragedy, know that it is okay to still feel happiness and joy.   The opposite emotions you may be feeling do not need to be mingled together, as each situation warrants its own sentiment.  If you are planning a wedding and are suddenly hit with bad news, take some time to understand it.  Then remind yourself, that although there is misfortune, there is also happiness that lies ahead.  And your happiness and joy deserve the same consideration.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Agree to Disagree

People don't always agree, even if we're madly in love with each other.  As individuals, we formulate our own ideas and opinions.  When we come together as a couple or in a group, opinions vary and ideas multiply.  That's the nature of mankind.  Keep that in mind as you plan your wedding, which comes with a good deal of decision making. From the start, tell your fiance you want to have an "agree to disagree" policy.  Have an open and honest discussion on how it's okay to not agree on everything.  There will be some decisions that are harder to make than others.  For those, the two of you will have to compromise or find another way of coming to the conclusion.  Disagreeing with one another, doesn't have to mean that one of you is right and one of you is wrong.  Keep judgments out of it.  It simply means you have differing views and for the sake of maintaining a healthy and peaceful relationship while planning a wedding, you will commit to one or the other.  I often hear brides remark about wedding planning, "I just want my fiance and I to be talking at the end of this."  That's how stressful this entire process can be!
Remember that your relationship takes a front seat to the wedding planning.  Don't let the color scheme or guest list come in between you.  If you disagree, talk it out, make a decision or compromise, and move forward.  If there is something important that you cannot agree on, ask an impartial person to help the two of you come to a conclusion.  At the end of the day, your wedding choices last for one day, while your relationship with each other lasts a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meditation

As you plan your wedding, you have many things to do and a lot on your mind.   You may be rushing through the day hoping to cross off as many items as you can from your check list.  You do your best to fit in family and social time.  You're even committed to your daily exercise routine.  You are a power bride getting it all done.  Stop now and turn yourself and all of the busyness surrounding you off. Including meditation in your daily regimen will help you relax, stay focused, and reduce some of your unhealthy stress.  It also helps you tune in to you and work on your relationship with yourself.  Meditation generally involves finding a quiet spot away from any distractions, paying attention to your breathing, and observing your body and mind.  It is "not just sitting quietly," as B. Allan Wallace, says in his book, Genuine Happiness.  "It is sitting quietly and then getting up and moving in stillness, remaining silent, in a sense, even as you are speaking," Wallace explains.  In other words, the more we practice meditation, the more likely we can get to this point of always being in a meditative state no matter where we are or what our circumstance.   Wouldn't that be wonderful?!
We are all within reach of this lofty goal.  Everyone can meditate.  It costs nothing but time, once you learn how and put it into practice.  There are different kinds of meditation and many books and CDs to match.  Find the one that fits for you and add it to your daily routine.  Many people practice meditating when they wake up and before they go to sleep.  Do what works for you and as you see the benefits, you will decide the best ways of implementing it.  More importantly, if you continue meditating regularly, the peacefulness that comes from it will stay with you long after you plan your wedding.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Independence Day

With Independence Day on the horizon, I decided it was appropriate to tackle the topic of going from Miss Independent to Mrs. Married.  Some women are afraid that stepping into matrimony means stepping out of an independent lifestyle and into a more dependent one.  With marriage your sense of freedom may decrease, but that doesn't mean your actual independence does.  It is rather a change in feeling. Whether you're the type of woman who is used to spontaneous weekend getaways or enjoys hosting intimate parties with friends, once you are married you'll find you have to take into consideration your significant other.  Your plans may or may not be as easy to arrange as they used to be, depending on your spouse and his feelings about it.  This can feel limiting, especially if you are accustomed to a particular lifestyle or habit.  Share your feelings and hopes with your significant other and find a way to compromise.  Remember that he wants to retain his sense of independence too.
Both you and your fiance are separate individuals.  When united by marriage, you will become dependent on each other to make the right choices as a couple.  Compromise and mutual decision making comes with the territory.  It's a change from what you may be used to, but if the two of you work together to make sure both of your needs are being met, you will continue to feel your personal independence through the  support of each other.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Goals Revisited

We're just about at the halfway mark of 2012.  That means it's a good time to look back and reflect on your New Year's resolutions. Remember the goals you set out to achieve earlier this year?  How did you fare?  Give yourself credit and congratulations for any goals you completed or a firm pat on the back for others you are still working on.  For many of us, however, New Year's resolutions tend to be short lived. No worries.  All is not lost.  Recognizing where we went wrong along the way is half the battle.  The biggest culprit is generally not creating a goal that is specific enough or time bound.  Giving yourself a detailed description of your goal and a date you expect to complete it by will help you have a clear picture of what you intend to do and when you hope to get it done.  Undefined goals or goals that are too broad leave plenty of room for wavering.   Having a time bound resolution creates a sense of urgency to get it done.  If your boss gives you a deadline for a project, for example, you're much more likely to complete it faster than if you had no time frame at all.
The good news is that you can always revisit goals and tweak them as needed.  Make them more specific, measurable, and time bound and you're more likely to see positive results.  Also make sure your resolutions are realistic for where you are at in life or what you hope to accomplish.  Like all goals, your wedding goals should follow a similar criteria if you want to stay focused and on track.

Monday, June 18, 2012

'Tis the Season

Summer is almost here and that means the wedding season is heating up.  If you're a summer bride, you may be busy taking care of last minute details, going over your wedding checklist, or starting to get anxious about the big day.  Whatever you find yourself doing or feeling, relax, it's likely normal. Your wedding day is going to be one of the most memorable days in your life.  That said, make sure you treat it as such.  Often times, we get so caught up in the details, we forget to enjoy the moment.  If you have a wedding planner, great.  He or she should be the one taking care of all the details or any unexpected situations.  If you don't have an event planner, ask a trusted friend or relative to act as your point person during the wedding.  Explain that you want to be able to enjoy your wedding day and not have to deal with any hiccups along the way.  In most cases,  they would be honored that you trust them and glad to help you out.  Choosing a relative may not be as good an option as a friend because relatives, especially close ones, want to share in the festivities of the day too.  They may not want the responsibility of managing details.  Use your judgment to pick someone you trust will be able to carry out this role and be happy to do so.   Venue managers or coordinators are also very helpful.  They want you to have a positive experience; so enlist their help where appropriate.
The last thing you want to do on your wedding day is worry about a missing centerpiece, the extra guests that showed up, or anything else unexpected.  If you happen to notice something awry, do tell your wedding planner, point person, or some other individual, who can take care of it.   Your job is to be the bride, enjoy your special day, and cherish the beautiful memories you and your groom create.  Leave the details to someone else.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Daddy's Girl

As Father's Day is quickly approaching, let's turn our attention to dad.  While it appears that dad may not be interested in your color scheme or the type of gown you'll be wearing, it doesn't mean he doesn't care or want to be involved in the wedding plans.   After all, many fathers are the primary ones taking care of the financial bill for your special day;  so it's only fair to include him in your planning discussions. Depending on how financially involved your father is in your wedding, you can decide how much you need to confer with him about your choices.  Ask dad what he needs to know and wants to know.  If he needs to know costs, give him all the details.  If he wants to hear about other things as well, like the types of flowers or the music you'll be playing, great!  What a nice way to share in the excitement and strengthen your relationship.
Most father-daughter relationships are special.  If you have a good relationship with your dad, you may notice that this is a bittersweet time for him.  He's happy that you've found someone to love and care for, but a little sad to see his girl all grown up and moving on and possibly moving away.  Since you were a kid, dad has told you that time flies.  Your engagement and wedding is a testament to that.  Instead of rushing it on, stop and enjoy these days with your family, who helped raise you to this point.  Give dad a hug, share with him some favorite memories and let him know that you'll always be daddy's girl!  Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Room For Error

In wedding planning, as in life, you are bound to make mistakes.  Not all decisions come easily, especially ones made under pressure and time constraints.  Recognizing errors early so you can correct them and not getting bogged down with the notion of perfection will alleviate some of the pressure. Once you notice that something doesn't seem to be going right, take steps to navigate in a better direction.  Ask family, friends, and/or vendors for their help where appropriate.  Remember that your vendors want you to have a positive experience with them, so they may have good ideas and suggestions for you.  Experienced vendors probably have seen it all and your problem area may not be new to them.  It can never hurt to ask.  And if they can't assist you, maybe they can recommend someone who can.
Another important concept to remember is to give yourself permission to make mistakes.  We are all human and we all make mistakes, big and small.  By allowing yourself this margin for error, you take a huge burden off your shoulders.  You will experience less anxiety and stress because you do not submit to the pressure of having to do everything perfectly.  Write yourself a wedding planning mantra to read daily giving yourself permission to make mistakes, to not feel guilty about them, and to enjoy your wedding despite any imperfections.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mothers and Daughters

Let's face it: not all brides and their mothers are going to have a picture perfect wedding planning relationship.  So many emotions and feelings get stirred up when you become engaged and begin planning your wedding.  Disagreements are bound to happen.  If your mother has very different ideas than you for your wedding and is short of being supportive, you may decide it's best not have her involved in major decision making. Whatever you mother's involvement in your wedding plans, remember that she is your mother.  She brought you into this world and because of that you will be able to get married and start a new life of your own.  Mother-daughter relationships, like all relationships, need to be nurtured.  If planning your wedding together is becoming troublesome, think about doing what's best for your relationship with each other.  Talk to your mother about what's working and what's not working.  And if what's not working can't be fixed, consider discussing limited parental involvement in the planning in order to salvage the relationship.
Your wedding is meant to be a joyous occasion and should bring families together, not tear them apart.  As Mother's Day approaches, remember that regardless of what is going on between you and your mom when it comes to the wedding plans, it is still important that she knows you love and appreciate her.  Whether you buy her chocolates or plan a quick getaway for some quality time, take a break from the wedding stuff.  Celebrate mom and your relationship with her or the relationship you hope to achieve.  Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Stress 101

The concept of stress and anxiety is often lumped into one category.  In reality, there are various types of stress, some of which is  quite good for you.  One's perception of stress to the body is also important in the big picture.  If it's a rational perception it's called fear, and if it's an irrational anticipation it's referred to as anxiety.  Acute stress is a temporary exposure to a stressor that generally doesn't have long term physical effects.  Chronic stress, on the other hand, is long term exposure to a stressor or perceived stressor, which can, in fact, result in illness or disease. How you view stress determines how well you cope with it and whether or not it becomes anxiety or chronic stress, which can be harmful to your body.  Keep in mind that is many cases stress is good for you.  For example, think of  athletes in training.  They are constantly stressing their muscles so they can reach new levels in their sport.  In much the same way, we need stress to stimulate our mental, physical, and even spiritual growth.  It is in the moments of tension and pressure that we often learn more about ourselves and how to improve.
Seeing the stress that revolves around your wedding planning as an opportunity to grow, rather than a insurmountable task will help curb your anxiety and keep your stress from becoming chronic.  There are a few things you can do to ensure you're on the right path.  First, be in control of your emotions and your ability to act with good judgment based on your emotions and the emotions of those around you.  Next, eliminate any fears you may be having by getting the appropriate knowledge.  If you're scared you won't be able to afford your wedding, for example, find out how much all the specifics costs and work from there.  Or if you have fears about the future of the relationship itself, talk to your partner or seek professional help.  The more knowledge you have, the less afraid you will be.  Finally, be optimistic.  Know that some things in the process will go smoothly and others may not; if something isn't working out, it doesn't mean that everything is going to fall apart.  Understanding that life is full of balances and not personalizing everything will make you a healthier and happier bride.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Getting Along

The joining of two people and families in marriage is not always a smooth transition.  With different people comes differing views and opinions.  It's likely that not everyone will get along. You may already know which family members aren't on the best of terms.  But how do you make sure it doesn't dampen your joyous day?  While there are no guarantees, it's best to have a positive attitude and take some steps to ensure a peaceful ceremony.  Communicate with both parties your gratitude for their participation in your wedding and your hope that they can put differences aside for the sake of your happiness.  Take action to minimize the potential for conflict.  That might mean seating two parties on opposite sides of the room or having a mutual friend buddy up with them during the wedding to lighten the mood.  It may also be beneficial to have your wedding planner do the dirty work.  If family members are not talking, let your planner be the impartial mediator who can give direction to both sides without being involved in the conflict.  As a professional, your planner can set the stage for how the wedding should look, while reminding all parties to remember the reason they are at your wedding: to celebrate your happiness.  If you don't have a wedding planner,  an impartial friend may be able to do the job too.
Your happiness is paramount on your wedding day.  So whatever happens, focus on the positive aspects of the day and delegate someone you trust to deal with any potential family drama.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Invited Guests

It's a given that some wedding planning decisions will be more challenging than others.  One of the trickier ones is who to invite.  And while the old adage, "the more the merrier" sounds great, it may not be the best decision for you.  In addition to the obvious family and friends you plan on inviting, take into account you and your fiance's budget and wedding vision when creating your guest list. The number of guests you invite is linked to your wedding budget, so make sure you are staying within your financial margins.  Depending on who is footing the bill, you may not be the only one who has a say on the guest list.  If your parents or in-laws are paying for your wedding, they have a legitimate claim to inviting many of their friends as well.  Most couples have limits on the number of people they can invite and it's not easy to leave some friends or co-workers off the list.  Couples may feel bad or guilty for inviting some and not others.  In these cases and if it feels comfortable, you may want to talk to the individuals you cannot invite.  Let them know your budget constraints and your guest limits. It may also help to let them know that someone else is responsible for that part of the budget and therefore, the guest list numbers.  Most people are understanding.  Some couples even have a small party after their wedding for uninvited guests to toast the couple and their recent nuptials.
The number of guests should correspond with how you visualize your wedding too.  If you pictured a small wedding, don't feel pressured into planning a grand event on someone else's account.  Of course, you still have to take into consideration who is paying for your wedding.  As you're composing the guest list, be confident with your decision making.  Know that while you'd love to invite everybody, it's not always possible.  Remember that you determine how you feel and if someone who doesn't receive an invitation tries to make you feel bad, you can shut those negative feelings out.  Choose to stand by your decisions instead, knowing that they are what's best for you and your wedding day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Into Action

As the spring season begins, it's an ideal time to make sure you have an exercise routine in place.  Regular exercise has so many benefits, it'll be hard to find an excuse not to squeeze in a half hour several times a week. For starters, exercising will help keep you in shape for your wedding.  Instead of worrying about fitting into your wedding gown on your wedding day or your swimsuit for your honeymoon, start exercising to maintain your current figure or to get into the shape you want.   You will also feel more energized when you exercise.  As you work off fat and build more muscle, your body becomes stronger and your endurance lasts longer.  Regular physical activity is linked to improved sleep too.   What bride can't use a bit more energy and better sleep while planning her wedding?!
In addition to helping you physically, exercise plays an important part in your mental health.  Working out is a great stress reliever.  Being physically active, is a healthy way to deal with the many emotions you're going through.  Most people feel more relaxed and in a better mood after exercising.  It also gives you some much needed time for yourself, away from wedding planning.
If you already exercise regularly, keep it up!  If you don't, it's not too late to start.  To successfully begin an exercise routine, pick an activity you enjoy.  It doesn't matter whether you go to the gym, swim, play tennis, or bike ride, as long as you commit to doing it for a set period of time several times a week.  Make sure not to set your goals too lofty if you're just beginning.  You can always work your way up.  If you're afraid you won't be able to follow through, ask a friend to partner up with you.  The more enjoyable and fun you can make your exercise routine, the more likely you are to stick with it.  Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Time Management

With the recent change in time and losing an extra hour, we are all feeling the days speeding by.  Those of you planning a wedding may feel it more since you have time commitments and dates to contend with.  So it's critical that you utilize key time management skills to help you accomplish all of your goals. Here's a brief overview of some time management basics.  The first step in time management is to make sure you have some set goals that are clearly defined.  A good goal will be specific, measurable, and time bound.  For example, I will choose and order 100 party favors for wedding guests by next Sunday. In this example, you are specifying what you need (i.e., party favors ), how you will measure this goal (i.e., once it's purchased, you've achieved your goal), and when you plan to have your goal completed (i.e., next Sunday).  Now create a list of your goals, big and small.
Looking at everything you have to do for your big day is overwhelming; breaking it down into more manageable pieces will help you achieve better outcomes, not to mention decrease your anxiety.  Next, you want to prioritize your goals.  Ask yourself which goals are most important or need to be taken care of first.  Keep in mind, that while some goals may seem more important, others, like buying a wedding gown, may take more time.  Use your judgment to determine which goals need to be at the top of your list, taking into consideration time limits, booking schedules, ordering issues, vendor availability, etc.  Delegate some of your to do list to your fiance or others who can help you.  Remember to give them specific and time bound duties.  It will help keep them on the right track, as well.  Once you've prioritized your list and determined what needs to be done first, you're ready to get started!  Work at it and cross it off your list, once you've completed a goal. Wedding planning books and organizers can  be helpful too.   In all cases, don't forget to feel the sense of satisfaction once you've achieved each goal.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Lighter Side

Groucho Marx famously said, "a clown is like aspirin, only he works twice as fast."  While you're busy with the many things you have to do to prepare for your wedding, take note, that laughter can help you get through some of the more stressful moments.  You will no doubt come across times where things don't seem to be working out or falling into place as smoothly as you had hoped.  Your stress levels increase.  You may begin to feel more overwhelmed or anxious.  Stop and breathe. People handle stress in different ways.  Taking a step back and trying to look on the lighter side is one way to manage through challenging periods.  Ask yourself, is this worth getting upset over? It's easy to get upset, but it's healthier for you not to let unexpected situations get your mood down.  I remember some of the challenges I faced during my wedding planning.  In retrospect, is was a good learning experience and my husband and I were able to find and share the funny side of it.  Once we changed our wedding planning woes into stories of comic relief, it was easier to move forward.  It is also important to note that our bodies respond positively to positive thoughts and emotions, such as those from laughter.  We naturally feel better when we are in a good mood and vice versa.  And since this should be a time you're feeling good in body and spirit, I'd encourage you to shake off the stress and laugh out loud .

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Fights

Whether you're newly engaged or recently married, you and your partner are bound to have disagreements on things.   Having different opinions and ideas is perfectly normal.  Sharing your different views is also a healthy part of any relationship.   It's important, however, to limit those disagreements from turning into heated arguments and escalated fights. When it appears that an argument is on the way, try to curtail it by trying some of these ideas: 1) Listen, listen, listen- regardless of the conversation, make sure you are listening to each other.  Hear out you fiance or spouse.  What are they saying and is there some underlying message they are trying to get across.  2) Approach all topics of conversation with an open mind- ask your partner about whatever is on his mind and make sure you're understanding it correctly.  Try and put yourself in his shoes to see where he is coming from. 3) Disagree with calm and class- if you're still in disagreement, try and keep your cool, while explaining your point of view.  If possible, find a point of his that you agree with and see if some sort of compromise will work out. 4) Take a break- if the conversation doesn't appear to be taking the right turn, excuse yourselves for a breather until you both feel composed and even-headed enough to continue your discussion.
Remember that verbal abuse, property destruction, and physical violence have no place in a healthy relationship.  If you fall into one of these categories or if you and your partner are having more arguments than seems normal, it may be helpful to seek professional help.  Couples counseling gives you both a forum to address your concerns with an impartial "mediator" and to learn healthy communication styles. Self-help books and other motivational books or seminars may also prove beneficial.  Don't think that just because you want counseling or had a fight that you and your significant other aren't meant for each other.  We all need a little help now and again and in some cases, that makes the relationship stronger.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Moving In

All changes, whether good or bad, carry some level of stress.  Taking the plunge to get married and move in together is no different.  After all the excitement is said and done, you and your husband will have to figure out your living arrangements and adjust accordingly. For some couples, the decision to move in with one or the other partner is a given.  One of you may already have an apartment or a  house that works well for the both of you and that you agreed would be the best solution.  In this situation, the partner moving in may feel a little awkward.  After all, one of you will be trying to fit into a place that spells your spouse all over it.  Not feeling the mutuality of the home can become a point of contention; therefore, make sure you talk about your plans to move in beforehand.  Figure out together where "your space" will be, what closets you'll be using, whose furniture or home accents will be moving in or out, etc.  It may sound tedious, but having it squared away ahead of time will make the transition easier.
In my opinion, the ideal situation would be moving into a home that is new to both of you.  This way the two of you can build and create your home equally from the start.  You'll still have to discuss some of the basic questions addressed above, but neither of you will feel like you're walking onto someone else's turf.  For many couples, a new home also signifies a fresh start that comes with being newly married.  If the two of you decide on buying a new home together talk with a real estate agent about your hopes and dreams for your future house. Remember, that deciding your living arrangements is an important discussion that should be addressed before your wedding, so that you're ready to make the move after yours vows.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Gift Registry

Most engaged couples will set up a wedding gift registry at some point.  This can be tedious and stressful or engaging and fun, depending on how each of you look at it.  It can also be a great learning experience.  I encourage couples to complete their registry together.   In addition to learning more about each other's likes and dislikes, it may also be the first step in creating your home together.   By choosing items that you both like and want, you begin building the home you dreamed of. If you're finding it's hard to choose a time you and your fiance are both available to go to a store to register, do it online.  It's not as interactive, but it will serve it's purpose and teach you a lot.  If it seems like your fiance is dragging his feet and doesn't want to be involved in this aspect of the wedding, then tell him he can't complain when you bring home the pink floral bedding you've been eyeing for the Master Bedroom!  A little humor is always helpful.
In truth, the registry process will teach you the importance of listening and compromising.  You like patterns and he likes solids, so how do you choose?  Each couple will determine how to compromise on their own.  To be successful, each of you will listen to what's most important to the other and work around it.  Or maybe you get to pick out the style and colors for one room and your groom picks out the colors for another room.  However your decision making process goes, it's likely to stick with you through marriage.  Getting it right from the start will be beneficial in the long run

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Keeping the Romance Alive

Most engaged couples are inundated with so many things to do before their wedding, it becomes easy to put important things, like making time for each other, on the back burner.  One of the keys to a successful relationship, however, is making sure the two of you are getting enough quality time together. Whether for Valentine's Day coming up or not,  pick a day in the coming week to plan something romantic with your significant other.  Including your partner in your plans gives you both some responsibility and something to look forward to.  Your plans don't have to be expensive or gift wrapped.  Try something different or something you can do together:  write a letter or a poem to one another; cook dinner together; or share a slow dance to your favorite song.  Make sure you are both happy with your romantic plans and that you share an equal part in it.  This way you can also enjoy your time together with less focus on meeting expectations.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Staying in Control

I hear lots of stories of brides who complain that some member of their family or other is trying to call the shots in their wedding planning process.  Regardless of who it is or whether they are trying to persuade you to use a certain venue or wear a dress they made, it becomes uncomfortable always having to avert the inevitable.  As the bride, you are the most important person in your wedding.  This is the magic day you dreamed of for a long time.  That means all final decisions should be yours and your grooms.  Sometimes relating that message can be hard especially if someone else is paying for your wedding.  In such instances, make sure you're working within the budget allotted to you.  Talk to whoever is paying for your wedding and tell them your dreams for your wedding day.  Let them know that you hope they can respect your choices.  And in all circumstances, regardless of who is footing the bill, acknowledge people's advice and suggestions, but inform them you and your groom have made alternative plans.  Make sure that you and your groom are on the same page and respond accordingly. If someone is overstepping their boundaries, let them know.  Share this burden with your groom, as a message from the two of you may be stronger than from one of you alone.  Also inform your vendors, that you are the final decision makers in such cases and that they should not be communicating with people outside of whom the two of you approve.  Most importantly, go through your wedding planning with confidence and calm.  That will help you maintain control.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Always a Bridesmaid

Getting engaged is a happy and exciting time.  Your excitement is contagious and people are happy for you.  But what happens when relatives or close friends who have also been longing to get engaged and married find themselves a bridesmaid once again.  For some, your engagement may be bittersweet news.  They are happy for you, but sad for themselves.  Not surprisingly, these feelings can be common among many single women wanting to get married.  They may feel bad they aren't married yet, feel deficient in some way or as though something must be wrong with them.  Low self-esteem or depression may even be a factor.  Whatever the case, another engagement that's not their own can feel like another blow to their hopes and dreams.  So how do you navigate these emotional waters. First and foremost, remind yourself that you deserve to be happy and that your happiness does not contribute to someone else's feelings of loneliness or unhappiness.  After acknowledging this, you can decide how to best approach the situation.  Observe how your bridesmaid, we'll call her, is interacting with you.  Pay specific attention to body language and behavior changes.  If you notice she is not as talkative or more distant with you, sit down with her and have a heart to heart.  Tell her what you've observed and ask what's going on.  If she confirms your observations and confesses her bittersweet feelings, acknowledge these feelings.  Let her know that you want her to be a part of your wedding and involved in the planning (if that's the case), but also that you respect her mixed emotions.  Ask what parts in the wedding process she'll feel most comfortable with and see if you can work with it.  These are sensitive issues and being open, honest and working together is the best way to meet both your needs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cold Feet

As you move along in your wedding planning process, some of you may feel 100% certain that marriage is the right decision and others of you may begin to question if you're making the right move or marrying the right person.  Rest assured that both feelings are completely natural.  Getting married is one of the biggest decisions you'll ever have to make and it's normal to feel a bit anxious as your wedding date approaches.  For those of you with no worries and doubts, great! If you are, however, getting cold feet, do some introspection.  Ask yourself, where is the anxiety stemming from?  Is it the notion of being married and spending a lifetime with someone?  Are you beginning to doubt your relationship with your fiance?  Have you or your fiance had previous failed marriages or commitment issues?  Getting to the heart of the matter will help you understand your underlying anxiety.  Depending on your answers to these and other questions will also help you take the best approach to dealing with it.  It may be beneficial talking to a relative,  close friend,  your fiance or in some cases, a licensed professional.  Remember that just because you feel like you're getting cold feet, doesn't mean there is something wrong with you or your relationship.   Change, in general, naturally comes with some discomfort, stress, and anxiety.  And marriage, by nature, is change on multiple levels.  When you get married, you change your marital status, dwelling arrangements, and your lifestyle.  You do this to accommodate each other and the new life you'll be creating together.   That is why the first year of marriage is so challenging.  You have an entirely different life you have to get used to.  Anticipating all of that while you're still engaged, it's easy to see how many brides would get cold feet.  Finding comfort and support from those around you as you deal with all these emotions can ease your worries and normalize your feelings.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Following Your Intuition

There's something to be said for going with your gut feelings.  Wedding planning involves many decisions.  Who to invite, what foods to have, which vendors to use, where to have the ceremony, reception, etc. Some decisions will be easy and others will be more difficult.  In all decisions, however, you should go with what feels right.

As you begin the interviewing process of various vendors, treat it as just that-an interview.  Remind yourself that you are the bride and the one doing the hiring, which means they have to fit the profile of who you are looking for.  I say "who" because often we tend to focus on the end result and forget about the process it takes to get there.  A florist may show you pictures and samples of beautiful floral displays and bouquets, but if she does not communicate well, get back to you in a timely fashion, or she has an attitude or personality that does not seem to mesh well with yours, you may want to consider looking elsewhere.  You want to work with someone who not only does a great job, but also who you get along with.  Remember that you'll be working with this individual up until your wedding day and that working with your vendors should be fun and easy going.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing your vendors (beyond the basic questions you would ask about their products or services):

  • Do they return my calls/emails in a timely matter?
  • Does they treat me with respect and respect my ideas?
  • Do they listen while I speak?
  • Do they take my ideas into consideration?
  • Do they understand my wedding wishes?
  • Do they treat me like a VIP client?
  • Are they often busy with other multiple projects/people during a scheduled visit with me?
  • Do they come highly recommended?                                                                                               


Consider the answers to those questions before you finalize any details.  Regarding recommendations, while helpful, it should not be your sole determining factor in choosing a vendor.  Firstly, consider who is making the recommendation. Is it another bride with a similar personality as you or your cousin who is the polar opposite personality.  These things do matter.  Secondly, are the answers to the above questions to your satisfaction.  Finally, go with your gut.  If everything looks great on paper, but you have a nagging feeling inside of you that it just isn't the right fit, follow your intuition.  There are plenty of wedding vendors out there and you want to work with one who is happy to work with you in making your wedding dreams come true.