Friday, January 31, 2014

On Premarital Counseling

A recent poll on The Knot Blog asked readers and brides-to-be whether or not they felt premarital counseling should be mandatory. Nearly half responded affirmatively, some indicated it was required by their religious institution, and the remainder did not think about it or were not planning on any counseling. So I thought I'd weigh in on the subject matter.
Let me start by saying that while I feel premarital counseling can be quite insightful, I don't think it ought to be mandatory for all couples. There may be a misconception that premarital counseling is only for people in rocky relationships or who are in need of help. But that is not the case. Premarital counseling is a wonderful way for couples to learn more about each other in (hopefully) a non-threatening environment. With the support and encouragement of a qualified professional or spiritual leader, newly engaged couples have a forum where they can address their concerns, ask questions, and discuss their future as husband and wife. People can also utilize it to give them better direction or achieve marriage goals. These are positive ways that premarital counseling benefits all couples.
For couples who find themselves having communication issues, numerous physical, religious, or emotional concerns, or anxiety about moving onto this next stage in life, premarital counseling is a good idea. It's always helpful to get your feelings out in the open and see where the issues truly lie. Having a professional sort through them with you and guide the two of you in the right direction can be invaluable in improving your relationship or helping you see that it may not be the best fit, if that's the case. Working together to resolve any underlying problems is a good way to start your marriage off on the right foot too.
Choosing to have premarital counseling is a personal decision. Couples who feel that they can benefit from it or learn more about each other should seek out a qualified professional who they feel comfortable with to provide the counseling. Ask up front about fees, number of sessions, qualifications, and what topics will be covered. If you already have an idea of what you want to discuss, see if it's okay to focus on that instead of a more structured program. Make certain that you and your fiance are on the same page too, as premarital counseling works best when you're both open to the idea and willing to participate fully and honestly.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dealing with Awkward Wedding Moments

You want your wedding day to be perfect, but just can't seem to shake that nagging feeling that something awkward or embarrassing is bound to spoil your big day. Whether you're afraid one of your friends may drink too much, a relative will give the never ending speech, a disgruntled guest will give you a few choice words, or some uninvited plus ones show up you can prepare yourself for how to deal with such situations. Here are five ways to help: Be Proactive:If you're concerned about something specific that could pose a problem, like a family history of alcohol abuse, you can choose to nip it in the bud by not serving alcohol at all. Having a dry wedding can be just as fun and exciting, without all the worry about what might happen if people drink more than they should. You'll have to weigh the advantages versus the disadvantages on this one. But it should come out pretty clear, what would serve you and your wedding day best. Same goes for uninvited guests. If you know who you're dealing with, order extras from the caterer.
Give Instruction Ahead of Time: Where at all possible, give the people who have a role in your wedding instruction on what is appropriate or not. That includes length of speeches and even stories or photos they might share that you'd rather them not. Appoint a Keeper of the Rules to make sure everyone is following your wishes and have a plan in place if they don't. Cue the music, anyone?
Keep Your Wedding Planner in the Loop:If there is someone in particular who concerns you, let your planner in on the secret. She can be on the lookout for any potential crisis and may be able to intervene if necessary.
Pick a Point Person: If you don't have a wedding planner or aren't comfortable with them handling awkward family affairs, pick a friend or relative you do feel comfortable with to handle sticky situations. It's usually best to choose an individual who's not emotionally attached to the circumstances; that's why wedding planners work so well. But definitely ask someone ahead of time if he can run interference if called for.
Laugh it Off:Let's face it, even with all the preparation in the world, something may happen on your wedding day that you weren't planning and you can either let it ruin your day or you can laugh it off. Sometimes chalking things up to life's little problems is easier than having to explain everything. You can even come up with some prepared lines to help you get through the moment. After all, "if my wedding was perfect, I wouldn't have such funny stories to tell years from now!"

Friday, January 24, 2014

SMART Wedding Day Goals

Okay. So I'm going to cheat a little with this blog. Well, not really. I recently wrote a piece on creating goals for the latest Richmond Weddings Magazine. For local brides, check out their site to see where you can get a free copy. You can see the full article there, plus the magazine is gorgeous and filled with tons of planning information. I'm not going to copy the article; but I do want to let brides in on the SMART concept.
As you plan your wedding, you'll find you have many goals that need to be accomplished. A good way to head in that direction is to use the SMART method. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, actionable or achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Let's look at each of those briefly.
Specific:  Goals have to be specific or detailed enough that you know what you need to do in order to accomplish it. You can't simply say, "I want to look good for my wedding." That statement can mean any number of things. Instead, define what "looking good" means. Are you talking about losing weight, toning up, or getting a makeover? Once you're specific about what you want, move on to the next letter.
Measurable:  How will you know if you achieved your goal or how will it be measured? Answers might include achieving a certain weight, getting a new hairstyle, or resolving a skin problem. You know you can measure it because, you know your intended outcome.
Actionable/Achievable:  Having a goal means you actually have to take some action or achieve something on your own accord to get the desired result. Winning the lottery, wouldn't be a good goal since it's based on luck rather than you working at accomplishing a goal.
Realistic:  Brides, please make your goals realistic given your finances, time, and other commitments. Unrealistic goals or ones that are way out of reach are doomed to failure. Wedding professionals and others can keep you in check in terms of what might be doable or not.
Time-Bound:  Finally, give yourself an end date to see your results. By default, your wedding date will be one way to keep your goals time-bound, but there are many other wedding goals that need to be accomplished prior to the big day. Think guest list, invitations, gift registry, etc. By giving yourself due dates, you're much more likely to follow through and be on top of your to-do list.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Bridal Showers, Bachelorette Parties and Doing it Your Way

Let the festivities begin! Since your engagement, family and friends may be wanting to throw some traditional or not so traditional parties for you. Whether it's a bridal shower, bachelorette party, or some other celebratory gathering, be prepared for some spotlight. That said, whatever is being planned, make certain it's the type of thing you're comfortable with and want.
This can be tricky, especially if you're on the shy side. Part of you may feel grateful for your relatives or best friend throwing a shower for you, but at the same time anxious over the possibility of being embarrassed. This is where you need to be confident enough to speak your mind. You are the bride and regardless of who is planning a party for you or how they envision it, it must be something appropriate for your taste and liking. So if you're uncomfortable with lingerie at your bridal shower, let your hosts know, so they can plan ahead. There are lots of options or themes for wedding showers, and with a little creativity everybody's needs can be met.
Don't be afraid to turn down a request either. If you don't want a bachelorette party, don't have one. There is no need to feel bad about it either. Remember that every bride is different and what works for one may not necessarily work for another. Maybe a relaxing weekend getaway with your best friends or a day at the spa would be enough. Or maybe you do want a fun and a little crazy evening out with the girls before the big day. If that's not typically your personality, then you better let someone in on the secret. Just be clear on what exactly fun and crazy means to you.
There are as many unique ways to celebrate your upcoming nuptials, as there are unique brides. Don't feel pressured into agreeing to a party that makes you uneasy. Instead, share your thoughts and ideas on the type of celebration that would make you a happy bride and have them plan from there.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Importance of Sleep While Planning Your Wedding

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. But depriving yourself of a healthy night’s sleep affects your body mentally and physically. In addition to feeling sluggish, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that getting less than seven hours of sleep each night puts you at greater risk for developing depression or health problems like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. You may also notice cognitive changes such as a decreased ability to pay attention, to retain new information, or to react as quickly to your surroundings.
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 helps repair and "re-energize" the damage in the brain caused by daily metabolism. Cognitive processes that help your memory functioning and ability to learn new skills are also refreshed with a good night’s sleep.
As a bride, you want to be physically healthy so you can look and feel good. You want to be at your optimal mental health to deal with all the emotions swirling around you and within you. And you need your cognitive health, so that your mind is sharp enough to make sound decisions, remember important names and dates, and be able to focus on all the details of your wedding preparations. Each of these aspects in your life can be bolstered by a good night’s sleep. Everyone’s sleeping habits are a bit different, but most studies show that seven to nine hours of sleep is best for optimal functioning. To get restorative, healthy sleep, maintain a schedule and stick to it. Put your health first!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Long Distance Factor

Being engaged comes with many emotions: joy, excitement, happiness, anxiety, and many others. If you live in the same city as your fiance, you are likely able to share your feelings and decisions with each other easily. But what if you are in a long distance relationship or your fiance is abroad for work or in the military? You might share the same feelings, mixed with others due to the distance between the two of you.
So how do you cope with all the stresses of wedding planning when your fiance is not close by? Firstly, acknowledge your feelings. Planning a wedding is overwhelming and not having your partner around to help you with all the details makes it more challenging and sometimes, just plain lonely. Also if your fiance is on active duty, you may have additional fears and worries that come with military life. So express your feelings, dreams, and concerns with the one you love. It will strengthen your relationship and hopefully, give you the support you need from your future husband. And don't forget to surround yourself with other supportive people either.
Next, keep him in the loop as much as possible. Depending on your situation, inform him on your progress and involve him with decision making. It keeps you both connected in the planning process and part of creating your wedding. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. If your fiance isn't able to assist you, don't expect that you have to do it all on your own. Reach out to family and friends on both sides and see where they can be involved or hire a wedding planner to alleviate some of the pressure.
Finally, remember that your relationship is the most important aspect. Whether you have a small or big wedding, simple or fancy, let it be something that works for the both of you, in terms of time, distance, and emotional factors.  When all is said and done, whatever decisions you make, let them strengthen your bond together and move you into the next chapter in your life.

Friday, January 10, 2014

On Your Mark, Get Set, Goal!

Last blog, we talked about brainstorming your goals. But let's assume, you just got engaged over the holidays and you're on cloud nine. It's a wonderful feeling. You're enjoying being newly engaged and then it hits you: you better start preparing! But where on earth do you start?
For those brides-to-be with little or no wedding planning experience or involvement, this can be a daunting task. Your mother says you should begin with the venue, your sister wants to take you dress shopping, and your best friend forwards you a plethora of wedding websites that will surely help you create the perfect day. So who's right? Everybody and nobody. Your wedding will be one of the most significant and special days in your life, so you need to treat it as such from the start. In the big scheme of things, you will definitely have to prioritize your wedding day goals.  But for now, and if you have plenty of time before the big day, pick the thing that excites you most. Choose the action that will get you in the wedding planning mentality and inspired to make your day uniquely yours.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, feel confident to pick the thing you want to do most as a newly engaged woman. The key here is to choose one thing. The good news is that there are no right or wrong answers. Trust that wherever you decide to start, it will carry you to your next goal to accomplish, person to meet, or decision to make. You will meet people or a planner along the way, who will guide you with all the details and timelines. Your job is simply to get the ball rolling. Make the one thing, that feels right to you, your first goal in this exciting journey!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Brainstorming Your Resolutions

There are three types of New Year's resolutions: those that aim to change everything, those that aren't substantial enough to create change, and those that are clear and reasonable to produce the change you want in life. Some people desire change in so many aspects of their lives, that it becomes unreasonable to expect any change at all. This is not the path you want to take. You also don't want to fall in the category of those with sketchy or uncertain goals. Instead, it's best to create enough good goals to make them count.
As a bride, you have wedding day goals. But you may also want to accomplish some non-wedding related goals for the year, as well. So start by categorizing your goals. Ask yourself, what are your wedding goals? What about personal goals? Relationship goals? Career goals? You get the idea. Write down whatever it is you've been wanting to do and then separate them into whichever category it fits best. This is the brainstorming phase. You can jot down as many things as you like, but realize that only a handful may actually come to fruition. This phase is great to get the wheels turning and put onto paper any ideas that might be floating around. It can bring to life subjects you gave little attention to before or help you narrow your focus on what's most important to you at this time in your life.
Once you've written out and sorted your 2014 goals, rank them by category. For example, number your wedding day goals in order of importance (1,2,3,4,etc.).  Do the same for your personal, career, and other goals. Take the top one or two from each category, except the wedding one, and make them your goals for the year. Ideally, you want to accomplish all your wedding day goals, so rank that list, but put it in your MUST pile. It will be interesting to see what is most important to you, especially as you plan your big day. Once you've refined your list, you'll be ready to write out your goals more clearly and with the best likelihood of being achieved.