Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Staying Within Your Wedding Day Budget

Paying for your wedding can be one of the most stressful parts of the planning process. You have a budget, but how can you stick to it? Almost always, people tend to spend more than their budget accounts for. Here are five things to consider to help you stay within your means.
1) Budget Accurately: When coming up with your budget, you might include obvious wedding day needs like the reception site and flowers, but what about the hidden costs? Some costs are often overlooked. Things like stamps for your invitations, tips for vendors, or gifts for bridesmaids aren't factored into the overall budget and can end up leaving you short before the big day arrives. When creating your budget, try to include all of these little aspects of planning and then add some extra bucks as a cushion in case there is something you missed. 
2) Be Flexible: If you're trying to cut costs and trim your budget, you'll have to be flexible while planning your wedding. You may have to opt for a DJ over a live band or scrap wedding favors for the guests. Look at your overall budget and decide what's most important to you and start cutting costs based on your observations. Being flexible also means shopping around for cost effective alternatives. That might mean a social hall instead of a luxury hotel, opting for candles instead of costly flower for centerpieces, or seeking out vendors in less expensive neighborhoods, .
3) Stick to Your Guest Count: One of the most effective ways to cut costs is to limit your guest count. Once you and your groom have decided on a number, stick with it. The more people you add to your list, the more you're going to pay. By limiting plus ones or even children, in some cases, you can help yourself stay within budget too. Remember this point when a friend asks if she can bring a date. While it would be nice if you could invite him, it's important to let guests know that you're on a budget and can't accommodate everyone.
4) Don't Splurge: It's easy to want to splurge for your wedding. You see something beautiful and you must have it for the big day. Unless you can afford it or factored it into your overall budget, don't do it, or at least, limit it to a single splurge. But remember you'll have to tweak the rest of your budget to make up for it. 
5) Keep Your Wedding Finances Up to Date: To ensure you're staying within your means, make sure to keep your wedding finances separate and updated. Use a spreadsheet or other way to make it easy to see what you're spending on and how much money you have left. Keep all your receipts and review your budget regularly to make sure everything is in financial order and on track. The more you keep yourself apprised of your financial status, the more likely you'll stay within your means.

Friday, July 25, 2014

It's Always Happily Ever After, Right?

You love your husband, being married, and sharing your life together. It feels like a fairy tale, until one day you're ready to scream! Maybe it's something he said or did or didn't say or didn't do, but you've had it. It was supposed to always be happily ever after, wasn't it?
Join the hopeless romantic club. Yes, it is happily ever after or more aptly "almost" always happily ever after. Life is full of ups and downs and to think marriage is otherwise is misleading. Everybody make mistakes. You respond too quickly, forget to listen, or ignore feelings. To sum it up you're human. And when your spouse blunders, you're bound to get upset.
The very first thing you need to do when you start to get angry at something he did or said is to take a break. Better than fly off the handle, get out and get some air. This is probably the hardest step, since it's human nature to react if triggered. But it's also the most effective way to help you calm down and get your feelings in check. It's always best to approach an uncomfortable situation with a level head. You can rant and rave alone in the car, if you must, to get it off your chest. But somehow find a way to get your emotions together before you talk it out with your spouse.
Once you feel in control and have a good idea of how to communicate your feelings, ask to have a little talk. Express yourself in non-judgmental ways and how whatever occurred made you feel. Wait for his response. Try not to get defensive. It rarely helps. Discuss ways you might be able to handle a similar situation in the future. Remember to listen to his side too. To minimize uncomfortable situations and unhappy moments you'll both have to work on yourselves and remember what you each need in the relationship. The more you make his emotional needs a priority, the more likely he'll respond in kind.
Will this be a one time occurrence? Probably not. But with practice, you'll learn to control your emotions better and to communicate more effectively. Hopefully, it will also make each of you more aware of where your weaknesses lie. And once you're aware, you'll be able to work on it and bring your relationship to a whole new level of happiness.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Do's & Don'ts for a Stress-Free Wedding Day

Every bride wants her wedding day to be happy, fun, and stress-free. Here are 5 do's and don't to help you find peace of mind and enjoy your wedding.
1) Do find time to meditate and find your inner balance on the big day. With so much going on around you, it might be the last thing on your mind, but taking a few minutes to collect your thoughts, examine your emotions, and find calmness and serenity within will prepare you to take the first step down the aisle.
2) Don't worry yourself with wedding details on the big day. Your job is to focus on your groom and the love surrounding you. Have someone else on hand take care of any last minute concerns or hiccups during the ceremony or reception.
3) Do have a wedding day emergency kit handy. Life happens and being prepared is one way to keep you from worrying more than you need to. An emergency kit might include stain remover, hairpins, tissues, Band-Aids, deodorant, contact solution or anything else you might think would come be useful. Make sure to have it ready in the bridal suite should you need it.
4) Don't forget to eat and drink. Sure you'll be busy getting dressed, taking pictures, visiting with guests and well, being the bride, but that doesn't mean there's no time for nourishment and staying hydrated. Forgetting to eat or drink on your wedding day could cause fatigue, headaches, and general feelings of blah. If you want to feel good physically, definitely don't forget this point during the celebration.
5) Do enjoy the moment and have fun! Your wedding day is sure to be one of the most memorable days of your life. It's also likely to be one of the busiest. From the minute you wake up until the moment you and your groom exit the reception, you'll be in the spotlight. With all that attention, you might focus on your "bridal responsibilities" or worry about being on schedule. Leave those thoughts behind and remember to be in the moment. Be mindful and fully engaged whether you're toasting or dancing. It's these moments that will last a lifetime.

Friday, July 18, 2014

5 Communication Tips to Remember Once You're Married

We speak a lot about communication. And there's good reason. It's one of the biggest culprits in relationship woes. It's also something you can control and work on throughout marriage. While there are lots of ways to improve your communication, these 5 do's and don'ts will help you get started on the right foot towards a happy marriage:
1) Do Be Thankful: It goes without saying, that when someone does something nice for you, you offer some form of gratitude. But when you live with someone, often the lines of what's considered "nice" is blurred. Once you get married, you may come to expect certain things from each other and not think to say thank you. You do the shopping and laundry; he does the cooking and dishes. It's the household game plan. Even so, acknowledging someone else and offering thanks goes a long way to show how much you appreciate each other and all that you do.
2) Do Compliment: When we talk about compliments, we tend to think about appearances. "I love your new haircut" or "You look amazing in that dress." And while those types of compliments are good to give and receive, there are many more that go beyond looks. Compliments on listening skills, generosity, honesty or other good character traits are also important. It's important to note that the more your compliment in these areas, the more likely you'll see the repeated behavior. So if your husband isn't the best listener, for example, and one day he really tries hard and hears what you're saying, you need to compliment him on that if you want him to improve those skills. An example might be, " I love when we can sit down and talk like this. I feel like you really listened and understand me; and that makes me feel more connected with you."
3) Do Be Open & Honest: Marriage comes with ups and downs. There will be times when one of you says or does something the other doesn't like. People aren't mind readers. So if it's something that is bothering you or on your mind a lot, let him know. Take a moment to collect your thoughts and think through what you want to say. Speaking in terms of how it made you feel works best. "I felt bad when you decided to go see XYZ movie with the guys before you asked if I'd like to see it. I was actually looking forward to watching it with you."
4) Do Not Kid About Sensitive Issues: Humor is a good, healthy aspect of any relationship. But taking jabs at your partner on issues that are sensitive for him is a no-no. Whether it's his weight or receding hairline, it's no fun to be laughed at, even if it's "just a joke." No one wants to be that person, least of all, your spouse. Always think before you speak and put yourself in his shoes.
5) Do Not Nag: It's true now that you're married, you have some shared responsibilities. You need the money to pay the rent, the light bulb in the kitchen replaced, and the tire in your car to be changed. And although these are all things your husband has agreed to take care of, don't inundate him with requests the minute he walks in the door. Block off a time when you can discuss your to-do list, but save when you come home from work to hear about each other's day. It's important to unwind from work and not be bogged down with more work to do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What's Zapping Your Energy?

It's true that planning a wedding can cause more stress in your life. After all, you are practically adding a new part time job to your resume. If you're beginning to feel more stressed out than usual, it's worth having a look at where all your energy might be going.
Get out a clean sheet of paper and start writing down all the things going on in your life that are draining you of your energy. Be specific. Don't just write down "wedding planning" or "my boss." Instead, you might jot down, "not having my guest seating chart completed" or "my boss not respecting my personal boundaries." Go ahead and list everything. It can be wedding, work, family, or life related. Whatever it is, it's important to write it out. Once you're done, review the list. Notice anything interesting? Do you see any patterns? Does anything surprise you? Is there one area in your life that is taking up a lot of your energy?
Simply acknowledging some of these zappers is beneficial. Sometimes you get so busy with everything you have to get done, you're not even aware of what's draining you. This little exercise is a start to help you get clarity over the things that might be bogging you down. If you decide you want to take back control and not let some of these situations stress you out, choose one item on your list and tackle it. It might be helpful to address the easiest one first. Getting one of them out of the way fast, will motivate you to keep working at it. So if you're stressed because you haven't got around to clearing off your desk at work yet, go in a little earlier or stay bit later to get it done. Once it's done, it's one less thing you have to worry about. Do the same for whatever items you can on your list. The more you take care of the better you'll feel. And that means putting your energy towards what's really important.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How Planning Your Wedding Can Help You Even After You're Married

Think about all the hours you spent planning your wedding. The sleepless nights. The countless decisions. Your wedding was splendid. The honeymoon fantastic. And now, life begins. But that doesn't mean you should throw all the lessons learned from planning your wedding by the wayside.
With marriage comes lots of new adventures and decision making. You learned how to interview vendors for your wedding celebration and how to decide who would work best with you for the job at hand. The same goes for buying a house or hiring home improvement professionals. Like your wedding professionals, you need to have a solid relationship with someone to trust them enough to work on important projects such as buying a home or renovating a room. Use the same tools you used when planning your wedding. Ask lots of questions, get references, and go with your gut. Make sure your personalities click too, as some of these people may be working with you for a while.
Stay organized. You had to do it for your wedding. Now try to keep it going. Things can become a bit more confusing when you get double the mail, bank statements, and the like. As a couple, decide how you plan on organizing your files and paperwork. Who will be in charge of the mail or paying the bills? Who will file important documents away or shred unnecessary ones? Where will you store everything? Having a plan and knowing who does what, will save you time and prevent any misunderstandings about each other's roles.
Keep each other in the loop. When you were engaged you wanted to share all the little details of the big day with each other. Don't slack off now, when it comes to important matters. Make sure to keep each other apprised of account changes, medical issues, financial concerns, home improvement work necessary, etc. It's a good idea to let each other in on PIN numbers or passwords to important accounts too, in the event of an unforeseen emergency.
There are lots of other tools you can apply, like your listening skills, time management, and gratitude. But just like when you were planning your wedding, remember to enjoy the journey. It's for a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wedding Planning in a Social Media Age

You're the bride. You've looked over hundreds of wedding related Pinterest pages. You've tweeted your wedding planning progress daily. Your Instagram account is loaded with inspirational pictures of cakes, flowers, and gowns. And you've lost track of just how frequently you update your Facebook status. You're having fun. Your friends seem to like the updates. So what's the problem?
Social media can be a good tool. It can help you research ideas and share your thoughts with lots of people in a single stroke. It can also waste valuable time or add to feelings of overwhelm. Ask yourself, how often are you on the computer? What are you doing? Did you get something accomplished (e.g., you placed an order, booked an appointment, etc.)? If you don't know the answers to some of these questions, next time you sit down for a "pinning" session, clock yourself in and out. You may be surprised to see how long you are actually there. What was the end result? If you're not getting much done, save for "inspiration," you're likely not managing your time efficiently. That's not to say you shouldn't look for wedding inspiration. Of course, that's part of the fun. But there is a point when enough is enough and it's time for action.
If you've narrowed down the list of flowers you might want, stop the "inspiration sessions." You'll only overwhelm yourself more. Take what you have and go to a florist. Talk to the professionals. See what it might look like in person. Same goes for other big day decisions. Already chose a wedding gown? Then stop looking at other gowns. You already made a choice. Continuing to peruse wedding sites for gowns, will start to make you second-guess yourself, not to mention waste more of your precious time.
But my friends want to know. Sure they do. It's exciting to be in the loop. But sharing too many details will leave little to look forward to on the wedding day. Plus, you never know who may actually start getting bored of constant updates. In addition, posting all your choices or decisions opens the door for other people's opinions. And even if you think you want other's input, there will come a time when you're tired of so many differing viewpoints. It may make things more confusing and stressful than you anticipated.
So how do you find a balance in this social media age? Give yourself guidelines and time limits. Only update statuses with absolute musts or limit yourself to an hour a week on social media. No more "researching" inspiration once you make a decision. Striking a balance, means finding more time to get things done and putting your energy towards more important matters.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Your Bridal Self-Care Quiz

Sure, you're busy making a living, planning a wedding and getting stuff done. But are you taking care of yourself? Of course, you answer. Or maybe, you think. Um, not quite sure, you admit. To help you learn how well you are actually taking care of yourself, we've got a short quiz for you. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements. Be honest and don't judge:
1) I am happy with my level of energy and physical fitness.
2) I get enough sleep and feel well rested when I wake up.
3) I eat healthy foods and try not to skip meals.
4) My environment is clean and organized.
5) I make time to meditate or relax in some other way that is calming for me.
6) I am aware when I begin to feel stressed and take a break from whatever is triggering me.
7) I find the time to participate in healthy activities I enjoy and that are fun for me.
8) I surround myself with people who love and support me.
9) I know how to express my feelings and take care of my emotional health.
10) I am able to say "no" to myself and others if I feel overwhelmed, uninterested, or haven't the time.
Now add up your agrees and disagrees. How did you do? If you agreed with 8-10 of the statements:  You're doing a good job at putting yourself first. 5-7: You're trying and on the right track, but may need to ramp it up a bit more. Less than 5: You may be experiencing more stress or anxiety than normal. Go through each statement and see how you can improve in that area. Remember, this exercise is not about judgment. It simply helps you see where you are at and how you can start putting yourself first and feeling better. Challenge yourself to make a change in the right direction today!