Friday, February 28, 2014

Guest Blogger- Nina Newton: Home Buying 101

Our guest blogger today is Richmond Realtor, Nina Newton, who discusses the basics when it comes to home buying.
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! You have so much to prepare and think about during this exciting time, so if you are considering purchasing a home, it helps to break down the process.
Before you even start to look at homes you should speak to a mortgage lender who will take the time to explain different programs and the best way to structure a loan that suits your finances.  There is much more to the financial picture than the mortgage rate and points!  Not sure where to find a mortgage lender? Realtors can recommend lenders who will look out for your best interests. Once you have had your mortgage consultation, you will have a better understanding of the price range for your home purchase, your monthly payments, and the amount of money you will need for your down payment and your closing.
Next it is time to meet with a Realtor who should be able to explain the steps to finding a home, negotiating the contract, the inspection process and closing process.  Do you know where you want to live? How close to work do you want to live? Do you wish to be adjacent to particular schools, sports or other activities?  Your Realtor should take the time to show you homes in several areas, so you can learn about different neighborhoods to decide which one suits your needs best.
Working with a Realtor will streamline the process for you because she can tailor the search for your particular needs and preferences.  An experienced Realtor will also know about homes in many neighborhoods and will know if they are the style construction you like too.
You will also want to be familiar with the purchase contract of a home.  Why, you may ask?  So, you are aware of the conditions of the contract and know what to look for during your visit to various homes.  A good Realtor will look for potential problems and benefits of a particular house and will see what types of specialty inspections may be needed if the buyer makes an offer on the house.
The real estate market is strong right now with a limited inventory of homes in many locations.  This might result in multiple offers arriving at the same time for the house you love.  You need to hold on for the ride!  Your Realtor should help you make your best offer.  How you feel if it's not accepted will help determine how aggressive you should be.  There are several ways to sweeten the deal but remember if the seller accepts your offer, you are obligated to perform on it.  Be sure that you will be happy to comply with the terms of your offer too.
How long will it take to finally move into your new home, you wonder? It takes 45-60 days to close on a home from the time the contract is accepted until the day you sign the loan and closing papers and receive the keys to your new home.  Welcome home!
Nina Newton has been a realtor for 17 years with Long and Foster Realtors working in Richmond and the surrounding counties. She is a Richmond Association of Realtors Distinguished Achiever and Long and Foster Gold Team member. Nina loves to work with both home buyers and home sellers to make their move as smooth as possible. She can be reached directly at (804)334-6849 or by email at or visit her website at

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Where Wedding Meet Tradition

Whether in the form of cultural or religious practices or keeping in with a family custom, traditions in weddings can take on any given form. The question is what the tradition means to you and how you feel about keeping it alive. For some brides it's a given. Family, cultural, or religious beliefs play an important role in your life and therefore will be a big part of the wedding ceremony or reception. For other brides, it's not as simple. Maybe there are some traditions you like and others you're not as comfortable with. Or maybe you would rather keep things more modern and in step with your generation. Knowing what's important to you and your family will help you decide what your wedding day might look like.
If things aren't so clear cut for you or you're struggling with your family's traditional expectations versus your own, take a moment for introspection. How do you envision your wedding day? What family or cultural practices are making you uneasy? What about these traditions might you like or dislike? Are there ways you can incorporate parts of it into your wedding ceremony or reception, without sacrificing your wedding day dreams?
If part of you is worried that some traditions seem outdated or you're concerned with what your guests might think, keep in mind that lots of folks find different cultural and religious practices interesting. It may be a first experience for some guests, making it unlike most weddings they have been to. This can make things more memorable since it's so unique. If your worries are less about others and more about yourself not fitting into the role your family expects, you need to talk to them. See if there are any acceptable compromises both sides can make, especially if they are helping to foot the bill. If your mother wants you to wear your Great Grandmother's dress that has been passed down from generation to generation, but is not quite your style, ask if you can alter it to suit your needs, if at all possible. Or explain how you've always dreamed of a different type of gown, but maybe could wear her veil. Of course, if neither of those options feel right for you, let them know. As the bride, you want to look and feel your best.
Keeping some form of tradition is always meaningful at a wedding. There are creative ways to incorporate beliefs and practices into you wedding, even if not outwardly visible. Decide what is important to you and your loved ones and what ways incorporating those traditions might help all parties be happy with the outcome.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Laugh a Little

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 challenging 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 hoped. As 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 difficult periods. Ask yourself, is this worth getting upset over? It’s easy to get upset, but it’s healthier not to let unexpected situations get your mood down. From family drama or missing centerpieces to absent best men or hair and makeup disasters, every wedding faces challenges. It’s rare that a wedding goes off without any glitches. So it’s best to learn now, how to laugh off the little things. Once you change your wedding planning woes into stories of comic relief, it becomes easier to move forward. It is also important to note that your bodies respond positively to positive thoughts and emotions, such as those from laughter. You naturally feel better when you are in a good mood and vice versa. And since this is a time in your life when you want to feel good in body and spirit, learn to shake off the low points and laugh out loud.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you never take things seriously. There is a time for everything. If there is something you can do to correct a situation or right a wrong, go ahead and do it. Then decide not to worry about it anymore. But if you can picture yourself laughing about it in ten years, then let it set you free now and don't hang onto the negative feelings. Later, you and your husband will find ways to laugh about all the little stuff that went wrong and learn that they make great stories to tell.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Our Top 5 Nontraditional Valentine's Day Gifts

With Valentine's Day upon you, you or your fiance might find yourselves hurrying about to get the usual chocolate, flowers, or balloons. And while that's a nice gesture, we feel that gifts between partners can have so much more meaning to them. Valentine's Day is about the love you have for each other, so why not let your gift match the sentiment. On that note, we've outlined five great gifts for brides to give their grooms or vice versa on Valentine's Day (or any day):
1) Weekend Getaway- Let's face it, both of you have been busy with planning your wedding, work, and other life commitments. Spending time away not only gives you much needed down time, but also recharges your relationship. You don't have to travel miles either. There are usually plenty of towns within driving distance worth exploring. But make sure it's truly a mini vacation. Agree ahead of time, not to let work interfere with your time away and to make the most of enjoying each other's company.
2) Boudoir Photos- Okay ladies, want to spice up your life? Have some professional boudoir pictures taken to give to your groom. You decide how sexy you want the pictures to be and surprise, he's in for a real treat! Self conscious? Boudoir photographers have a way of making you look your best. But do consult with them ahead of time. You want to hire someone you feel comfortable with and wear something you feel confident in to get the most out of your pictures.
3) Love Letters- Not all gifts have to be expensive. Exchanging love letters with each other is a wonderful way to express your feelings and give your partner a token of that love. Choose to read it aloud to each other or silently. Or if either of you are musicians, write a song for the other describing your love. Lots of room for creativity here. Do what feels best for both of you. The point is to express your love creatively to one another.
4) Keepsakes- This may take a bit more time and planning ahead, but is well worth it. If you have kept any love tokens from your relationship together, like flowers, cards, or other small gifts, arrange them into a keepsake gift for your partner. Tap into your artistic side and bring all the tokens together in a shadow box, frame, vase, or other appropriate piece. Showcasing the keepsakes you've collected over the course of time is a sentimental, yet meaningful expression of your love. It will also make a lovely addition to your new home together.
5) Recreate the Day You Met or Your First Date- What better way to celebrate your love for each other, than by returning to where it started?! Whether you met at a bookstore or had your first date at a quaint restaurant, it will be fun to relive that moment over again. Add special touches, like wearing the same outfit or ordering the same dish. Or do it over the way you envisioned it, if it wasn't what you hoped for the first time around. However you choose to relive the moment, have fun reminiscing the beginning of what turned into a happily ever after.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Brides Need to Consider When Working with Vendors

A couple months back, I wrote a post entitled "A Bride's Bill of Rights." I outlined various aspects brides need to consider to better care for themselves and happily plan their wedding. But as with any relationship, there are two sides to the story. Wedding professionals, like brides, are entitled to their rights too. And only when both needs are being met, do you have great working relationships.
So here are the top rights for wedding professionals and how it affects you:
The right to select brides they want to work with: this is pretty straight forward. Not all vendors will be a match for you for one reason or other. So don't be offended if you are turned down. Continue searching for the best fit for your personality, requirements, and needs.
The right to set boundaries: we know you're excited about planning your wedding, but popping in on your event planner after hours or "bumping" into your caterer at another event is not okay. Unless you agreed on it ahead of time, stick to your scheduled meetings.
The right to work-life balance: the people you hire to help you are just like you. They need breaks and down time too. That means they are entitled to time off. So don't become upset if your messages aren't returned on weekends or holidays. The better balanced your wedding vendors, the likelier they are to have more energy and drive when it comes to working for you.
The right to be treated with respect and professionalism: always treat the people you are working with the way you expect to be treated. No matter what incident or problem comes up, try to respond in a calm and rational manner. Use appropriate channels (e.g., poor reviews, reporting to BBB) to vent your frustration.
The right to set guidelines ahead of time for what brides can expect: good vendors will let you know what and when to expect certain things to get done. This way you both feel like you're on the same page. Calling or emailing wedding professionals constantly makes it hard for them to do their work, without becoming frustrated. Of course, if something doesn't make sense or seems to be running behind, definitely follow up. Simply use your judgment as to how often is too often.
The right to honesty: be honest with your vendors about what you expect from them, what you can afford, and any issues that might get in the way of a happy working relationship (e.g., a meddlesome mother). The more open and truthful you are, the better job they can do for you with your wedding day details.
The right to set reasonable fees given their experience and expertise: All wedding professionals are different and will charge differently. Don't string along wedding vendors if you know you can't afford their services. Ask about alternatives or other options, but if none fit the bill, continue searching for something within your budget.
The right to feel good about the work  they do and to ask for testimonials: ultimately wedding professionals want to do a good job for you because their reputation is on the line. If everything is running smoothly and seems to be falling into place as you imagined, let go of worrying and trust the people you hired. Once the big day has come and gone, consider writing a testimonial for them. Testimonials are a great way for you to thank the people who made your wedding so special and helps future brides in their selection process.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Mindful Bride

Life is busy. So is the world around you. Staying in the present moment and being mindful to the sounds around you and more importantly, the sounds within you, play an important role in your mental health. Being present minded, means focusing your energy on where you are, in the moment. It means, if you are in a meeting with you caterer, you are wholeheartedly listening to what they are saying and not thinking about your next appointment or when you’ll have time to pick up the dry cleaning. It means not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. You are simply mindful of your present situation.
When you becomes accustomed to all the noises in life, you learn to tune out what isn’t relevant. This is an important ability so you don’t become overwhelmed with every sound you hear. But sometimes you can become so used to tuning out what’s around you, that you also don’t notice the feelings inside of you. The practice of mindfulness extends far beyond your environment to your inner self. What thoughts are running through your head? What is your body communicating to you? What kinds of feelings are you having? Rarely does one sit down and ask themselves these questions; but checking in with your inner self keeps you in control of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Answer these questions honestly. Is your body saying you’re fatigued and need a break? Are you feeling so anxious, that you are unsure how to cope? Or maybe your stomach is growling because you forgot to eat lunch? Once you have the questions, work on resolving them. Take a nap or go to sleep earlier if you’re tired, seek out coaching or counseling if you need help dealing with stress, or eat a healthy meal to satisfy your hunger.
Quiet the world around you and listen to what’s inside, not only to see what your needs are, but where you are in life. It sounds obvious, but knowing where you are at helps you get to where you’re going. This is a good lesson to remember whether for your wedding planning or for life in general. It becomes easier to map out a plan of action with these answers. Practicing mindfulness also invites calmness into your life, a quality you can definitely count on as you get more involved in your wedding planning. Sometimes it’s helpful to write everything down and work from there. Your body was created in an amazing fashion and will tell you exactly what it needs, if only you are listening.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What's Your Bridal Personality?

Not all brides are the same. You have different hopes, dreams, and wedding aspirations. You also have different personalities. There is the easy going, carefree bride. The bride who knows what she wants, but also when and where to get help when she needs it. And then there is the bride who wants to be in charge of everything. Of course, there are plenty of brides who fall somewhere in between these descriptions, but for the sake of this blog, we'll deal with these three.
The easygoing, carefree bride is just that. You are easy to work with; and while you know what you like, you are open to ideas and not too worried about the process, how things will get done, or events beyond your control. You may have friends or family help with wedding planning or be the do-it-yourself bride. Either way, you enjoy your engagement, planning the wedding, and know that everything will work out on the big day. If you're this type of bride, you're good at taking care of yourself and not letting the stress of wedding planning get to you. That's a great advantage. But be careful. You don't want your relaxed style to get the better of you. You still have to be organized and keep on top of your priorities. Preparing for a wedding comes with deadlines, so make sure you're keeping up with what has to get done.
Many of you may find yourselves knowing what you want, but also understanding when you could use some help. This is an essential characteristic not only in helping yourself physically and mentally, but also in moving you forward with your wedding details. Getting assistance can help guide you in the right direction and reduce your stress.  But if you find yourself having doubts or not feeling confident enough to stand up for your wishes, take stock and make sure that your wedding day dreams don't get lost in the planning process or rearranged by those helping you.
Finally, there is the take charge bride. Maybe you are a Type A Personality. You know what you want and feel the need to be in charge and on top of everything. Being in control can be a good quality, but unless you're planning your wedding yourself, it could also rub family, friends, or vendors the wrong way. If you hire someone or enlist the help of people along the way, at some point you have to be willing to trust them, otherwise a lot of people are going to end up feeling frustrated and unhappy. Remember, if you're working with professionals, their reputation is on the line too and they want to do a good job for you. Constantly checking in on them or hovering in some other way, makes their work a lot harder. If you can't seem to break the urge of second guessing your vendors or help, you might be better off doing it yourself. And while doing everything on your own may make you feel better, it might also burn you out.
So what type of bride you are? Look at the advantages and disadvantages of each and try to modify your style so it benefits you best. That's the key to happily planning ever after!