Category Archives for "Marriage Preparation"

Feb 10

How To Deal With A New City, A New Spouse And A New Life

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

New City, New Spouse, New LifeYour long distance engagement has led to a decision to move to a new city for your new spouse.

While it’s certainly exciting, it’s also a little scary because you’re diving head first into the unknown.

Yes, you’re doing it with an open mind and an open heart, but you’re also leaving behind your family, friends, and hometown conveniences, routines, and comforts.

Only too often people fear the unknown without pausing to consider that with risk come rewards, and moving to a new place where you only know one person is an opportunity for personal growth.

7 Opportunities for Personal Growth

Here are at least 7 wonderful discoveries awaiting you:

1. You’ll make new friends.

In a new city, you’ll meet people refreshingly different from the people you now know. They’ll have different ideas, perspectives, and experiences from your own, and by meeting them you’ll enrich your own view of life.

2. You’ll be free of your family’s expectations.

The new people you’ll meet will know nothing about you, and it will be like starting over with a clean slate. If you’re normally shy, for example, you can practice being extroverted. Can you change your personality?

Yes and no. You may not be able to change everything, but you have some leeway when it comes to changing your self-beliefs and your habits.

3. You’ll be exposed to different social patterns.

With new places to go and new people to meet, you’ll find new way to stretch and stimulate you.

4. You’ll have a chance to try out a new lifestyle.

If the city is in a different state or you’re a country person exposed to life in the big city, you’ll find new adventures, new perspectives, and new ways of having fun.

5. You’ll have a chance to reinvent your work.

If you have to work, you may find a new field to interest you, or to go back to school to learn new work skills. You might even be able to try things that you were not able to do before, like start an Internet Marketing business working from home because now you won’t be the only income earner in the household.

When trying to reinvent yourself, value investor Guy Spiers suggest that you should learn from the best, associate with all the right people, and stay honest with yourself and others. Although he was mainly talking about business success, these rules apply to almost everything in life.

In your new environment, you may come across all three of these opportunities.

6. You’ll learn new things.

Your new spouse will probably want to interest you in things that you’ve never tried before—new sports, new hobbies, and new books and courses.

7. You’ll have a chance to drop things that didn’t work.

You’ll have an opportunity to leave behind those aspects of your life that didn’t work too well—cranky friends who complained about everything, dominant bosses who expected too much from you, and even bad habits encouraged by your circle of friends that no longer serve you.

You can bring out hidden or repressed parts of yourself, contemplate your ideals self, and work to become the person that you always wanted to be. This can include improving how you handle relationships, finances, and a lot of other things.

7 Practical Steps to Take

While your new spouse may be able to help you with settling in, you’ll probably have to take many practical steps to make the move.

Here are some things that you will probably want to consider:

1. Get rid of years of clutter.

Deciding what you want to take, leave behind with family, put in storage, sell at a garage sale, post for sale on eBay, donate to a local thrift store, or simply throw away.

Now is a good time for purging old things that you have let clutter your life—from old clothes to things that you haven’t used in years.

2. Sort out your financial affairs.

They may be many things to reconsider and new decisions to make—ranging from loans and leases to banking and insurance.

3. Review your organizational activities.

Close out memberships or transfer memberships in groups or organizations that you’re now participating in.

4. Get help with packing and shipping.

Arrange for long distance movers to help you get all your stuff to your new home.

5. Depart gracefully and cordially.

Start saying goodbye to family and friends early so that you don’t hurt anybody’s feelings by simply packing your bags and disappearing.

6. Learn new skills.

If you’ve lived at home, you may need to learn new domestic skills like how to do laundry, cook meals, or sew.

7. Organize change of address.

You will have to direct all your current mail to your new address.


You’re in for a complete change in your life—a new city, a new spouse, and a new way of living. It can be both exciting and terrifying.

If you take this as an opportunity to grow, adapt, and learn, as well as take care of things before you leave, it will be a wonderful opportunity for you to create a whole new life for yourself.

Moving is stressful as is getting married, and when you combine the two together, expect radical change.

This post was contributed by guest writer Christine Michaels.

Jan 21

The Real Secret to a Happy Marriage…and 2 More Marriage Myths Debunked

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Marriage Myths DebunkedFrom the minute a couple gets engaged (and sometimes before), they start hearing marriage myths.

Well-meaning or not, people often give advice that simply isn’t true — whether because of their own experience or because of what others have said to them.

But for couples that are trying to make sense of it all, the conflicting counsel can be confusing.

So with that in mind, here’s a look at three false marriage clichés.

If someone tells you one of these things is true, think twice before you believe it.

Myth #1 – To Have a Happy Marriage, Live Together First

Conventional wisdom these days says cohabitation is a good idea.

By setting up house before the commitment of marriage, the theory goes, couples have a chance to take a test run on what married life could be like. But research shows that living together could actually be a poor choice in terms of finding ultimate marriage success.

“Living together actually gets in the way of the kind of deliberative and conscious decision-making that the commitment of marriage requires,” according to findings cited at Psychology Today. “Previously cohabitating couples ‘slide’ into marriage in largely unexamined ways, accounting for their greater probability of divorce and weaker communication skills.”

An article at TIME Magazine, on the other hand, suggests it’s not living together that is the problem, but living together too soon and too young. “Economist Evelyn Lehrer (University of Illinois at Chicago) says the longer people wait past 23, the more likely a marriage is to stick.”

In either case, the secret to a happy marriage isn’t cohabitation — so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Myth #2 – Women Are the Ones Who Want Romance

It’s a long-held misconception that women are the only ones who want romance, but research shows 33% more men than women around the world say it bothers them that their significant other isn’t more romantic, according to Reader’s Digest.

This finding came as the result of more than 80,000 people around the world being interviewed on love, sex, trust and more.

What does this mean for your marriage?

Never assume only one of you cares about being close — just because society portrays men a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s true in your relationship.

[PSST…If you want an easy way to be romantic to your wife – or your husband!grab our free Perfect Love Letter Checklist and put it to good use]

Myth #3 – The Secret to a Good Marriage is Luck

A lot of people will say things like marital success is a roll of the dice — you have no way of moving toward or away from a good marriage, but you just take the hand you’re dealt.

In reality though, this isn’t true. Most couples that experience long-term marital bliss will cite commitment and companionship as the crucial factors that keep their marriages working.

They understand that building a solid relationship takes hard work, determination and loyalty.

According to writer David Popenoe at, “the happiest couples are friends who share lives and are compatible in interests and values.”

Do the three myths listed above sound familiar to you?

Have you heard conventional advice like this and wondered if it were true?

When it comes to marriage, remember not to believe everything you’re told. Every couple is unique, so what’s true for one couple may not be true for another.

But more importantly, just because people are saying something, that doesn’t mean it’s worth taking to heart.

BONUS TIP from Dustin – There’s a Myth #4 that we hear way too often, too.  It’s the idea that “good couples don’t fight” and I can only laugh at that idea.

All couples have disagreements, but the happiest know how to “fight” constructively and stop the escalation of tempers before someone gets hurt emotionally.

I highly recommend you grab this free resource from our friends at ONE Extraordinary Marriage to stop your next argument in its tracks.

It’s so simple and so effective.

John and WendyJohn and Wendy who both have Masters degrees in Clinical Counseling run a crisis marriage counseling practice, Marriage Rescue Associates, and have years of experience dealing with married couples.

They offer everything from counseling to marriage retreats, which attributes to their 90% success rate.


Feb 21

4 Wedding Buffet Table Setting Ideas That Work

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

4 Wedding Buffet Table Setting Ideas That WorkEating is a pretty simple event, isn’t it?

You sit at the chair, place the table napkin on your lap, grab the food from the serving plates, place them in yours, take the cutleries (spoon, fork, and knife), use them to make bite-sized portions of the food, and then put the food in your mouth.

It’s that straightforward.

But if you look much deeper, there’s a lot more that meets the eye.

There is a particular order for things to be arranged in. For example, when setting the table, the placemat goes first, then the plate, napkin, cutleries (fork to the left of the plate, and then knife and spoon to the right of the plate), coaster, and then drinking glass on the right of the placemat. Then, the food is set in the middle of the table for easy access for everyone eating. Sometimes, there’s even a Lazy Susan in order to move the food around for even more accessibility.

The setup is very organized.

For huge events like weddings, organization is a must. Wedding catering services need to be mindful about the way they set the buffet and dining tables in order to boost the eating experience of the guests. So how do you that to buffet and dining tables at a wedding?

That’s a lot of physical and mental work. But don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be hard. Here are simple wedding buffet table setting ideas that work.

Idea #1: Place cutleries on the dining tables
Some buffets have spoons, forks, and knives at the end of the buffet line so when guests finish getting their meal portions, they can get their utensils.

But Manilyn Moreno from Better Cater advises to place the utensils on the dining tables instead. “That way, your guests can focus on getting food without the worrying about dropping something along the way.”

Idea #2: Put the expensive viands at the last part of the buffet line
Moreno advises this because based on her observations, guests are used to getting more portions at the start (best for appetizers), while viands (like beef, fish, or pork) only come in smaller amounts.

Having this order allows almost all the guests to get a taste of the costlier food.

Idea #3: Group items in an odd number
Notice that an ordinary dining table setup has 7 main items (spoon, fork, knife, plate, drinking glass, placemat, and a table napkin). This group is paired in an odd number. Even serving plates are grouped into three (rice, viand, and vegetables).

A Decorating For Events article notes that this grouping is visually pleasing, which is why you probably never noticed anything wrong about that set up at home.

Idea #4: Get creative
Instead of the traditional spoon, fork, knife, and napkin placed right next to the plate, why not put them together with a piece of string and put them on top of the plate, with a lovely card with the bride and groom’s name on it?

With these 4 ideas, your wedding buffet experience won’t just be ordinary, but absolutely distinctive and memorable for all your family and friends.

Julieane Hernandez is a Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate turned Wedding designer. She’s an advanced tri-athlete during weekends. She’s been in the Wedding industry for about 5 years now and She’s learned so much from all the experiences she’s been through. Follow her on twitter and google+.

(photo source)

Aug 09

How to Know if You’re Ready to Say “I Do”

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

How to Know if You’re Ready to Say "I Do"Many people dream of getting married to “the one”, but how do you know when you and your partner are ready to take the plunge?

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking of making plans to step the relationship up to the next level:


Do you know each other’s email and Facebook passwords but never feel the urge to use them to snoop? That’s trust.

Can you happily wave your partner goodbye as they go for a coffee with a friend of the same sex? That’s trust.

Would you tell them your deepest secrets? That’s trust, too.

It’s an essential ingredient to a happy, healthy relationship. Make sure you’ve got that down pat before thinking about getting married.


If your ultimate goal is to be a Hollywood movie star and your partner’s is to live a quiet life in the country, this could become a source of conflict – you will be focusing energy on different goals.

Aiming for the same objectives in life brings you closer together and also makes you more likely to achieve them because you’re encouraging each other and working together to get there. Those who have met via a dating site like have a good basis for shared goals since they will have been matched on compatibility.


This is another crucial ingredient in a marriage-ready relationship.

You won’t be able to happily share your life with someone who you don’t respect, or who doesn’t respect you. This includes their opinions and perspective on life, their beliefs, values and intelligence.

Signs of mutual respect include listening to the other’s opinions, taking them and their ideas seriously and responding in kind.


This one goes without saying, but if you don’t have a deep love for your prospective fiancée, then don’t even consider getting married.

Don’t take them for granted – show your love in some small way every day – whether it’s by spending quality time, being physically affectionate, giving words of encouragement and praise, or helping them out in some small way.

Ready to Get Married?


We all know that talking about your problems is better than bottling them up – but this is easier said than done. Many people feel it’s easier to ignore a problem than to bring it up – but if you ignore it, there’s no chance of it being resolved.

Communication is one of the key foundations of a strong relationship, and without it, marriages flounder.


How do you want to spend your days? Are you homebodies or party animals? Do you want to travel or live abroad?

How will you distribute the household chores? Are you dog people or cat people?

It’s important to have these discussions before tying the knot.

If you’re still looking for the love of your life, whether in Adelaide or Melbourne, click here to sign up to online dating. Through the online dating system you can easily be matched with singles in your area who are compatible with you, meaning you are more likely to have a committed, long-term relationship.

Note: This is a guest post from Laura James in Australia.

(photo 1) (photo 2)

May 17

Getting Engaged – Romantic Surprise or Planned Event?

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Getting Engaged - Romantic Surprise or Planned Event?The classic scene from every jewelry store commercial or romantic comedy has the suitor dropping to one knee to present a shiny engagement ring to his gleaming girlfriend.

She puts her hands to her mouth and gasps with excitement – and surprise!

The more I hear engagement stories nowadays the more I wonder whether she was really all that shocked.

Chances are she may have picked out that shiny diamond ring herself and maybe even helped to plan the romantic night out where the question was popped.  I’ve even had friends whose girlfriend basically dictated every detail of their engagement.

And given that nearly half of couples now live together before marriage, could she really be all that surprised when the night arrives for the proposal?  After all, she may have helped pay for the ring herself.

Yet, the hopeless romantic in me has to believe that there are still couples out there doing it right!

Our Engagement Story

I don’t think I’ve ever shared the story of how I proposed to Bethany, so I’ll give the quick version here.

Keep in mind that we were high school sweethearts (gag if you must), and we’d been together for around 4 years at the time.  I believe I was 20, and she had just turned 19 so we were pretty young…and broke.

While Bethany certainly had some idea this next step in our relationship was coming, I did my best to keep it romantic and tried to surprise her.

We had visited ring stores a few times where she slyly (or not so slyly) hinted about the types of engagement rings she liked…a classic solitaire with a gold band…the bigger the better. 🙂

I bought the ring without her finding out, and I actually took out my one and only student loan to help pay for it.  I do not recommend doing the same, but I was desperate to get this ring!

Before the night came, I very nervously called up her Dad to ask his permission not just for his daughter’s hand in marriage (the easy part) but if I could take her somewhere overnight (NOT easy to ask) – I unwisely chose a time when she was back home on a college break.

I lucked out and got to talk to her Mom instead, which was a bit easier.  The stage was set.

I sent her a letter beforehand using fancy language to explain what she should wear and that she should pack a bag.  I picked her up from her parents’ house and headed to downtown St. Louis for dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town – Tony’s.

At the time, I hadn’t spent much time in the city, and I couldn’t find the restaurant!  We drove all around and finally found it, nearly losing our reservation after showing up 20 minutes late.

We enjoyed an extremely nice and super expensive meal that took much longer than I had anticipated.  I was nervous the entire meal and felt completely out of place with the tuxedo-wearing waiters that swooped in to clear every crumb and tried to help you sit down when you returned from the bathroom.  I was just a simple country boy.

The next part of the night was supposed to happen outside in a quaint river town called Elsah, Illinois where Bethany had mentioned she’d love to visit sometime for a romantic getaway when we were older.  I had reserved a room at a nice little bed and breakfast on the riverfront.

I had plans to take her to a park in town to pop the question, but with my poor planning it turned out to be pitch black dark outside when we arrived.  We walked to the park, but we actually found it eery since everyone in the town was already asleep!

I abandoned those plans and nervously returned to our room at the B&B.  I decided just to go for it, so I gave Bethany a card that shared my feelings, and at the end it asked her to turn around to make me the happiest man alive.

You guessed it, I was there on one knee with that sparkly ring.  Fortunately, she said yes and we’ve pretty much lived happily ever after.

What’s YOUR Engagement Story?

I’d love to hear your engagement story in the comments below.  Was it a planned event or did he surprise you?  Did she do the proposing?  What went right or wrong in the process?

Share your story in the comments!

May 08

Down the Aisle: How to Get Married and Stay Debt-Free

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

How to Get Married and Stay Debt-FreeAfter dating for some time, you decide it’s time to pop the big question: “Will you marry me”?

Tying the knot is wonderful, but the pre-wedding preparation process can be painful, especially when it comes to planning the budget.

You can choose to have a low-budget wedding – some couples are even getting married inside McDonald’s fast food restaurants for just £250 in Europe these days.

Yes, this includes your ceremony, reception, wedding cake and catering for about 100 guests, according to the Daily Mail. However, there is no special treatment such as jumping the queue to collect your Big Mac burger and fries because McDonald’s will operate as usual. Moreover, alcohol is banned inside the family-friendly restaurant chain.

Most couples don’t have to resort to a fast food outlet and you can still have the perfect wedding with wine, gold rings, exotic food and a magical honeymoon without breaking the bank. Here are some tips for saving and planning so that you ensure you have a magical day whilst also keeping your HSBC current account in check.

The Big Day

Determine your approximate budget beforehand. Work out what you intend to spend on the venue, tuxedos for the bridegroom and yourself, dresses for your bride and bridesmaids, wedding rings, honeymoon and so on. Then think about how you can meet the expenses.

If you are someone who wants to plan ahead before your big day, map out a timeline to help you stay on target. Wedding planners told the Washington Post that planning should start immediately after the engagement.

If you do so and your wedding is several months (or years) out, you can work extra and cut out other expenses to save a large amount of money. Ensure that you maximize the interest by putting the money in a fixed deposit or a tax free ISA.

It is more likely that you stay debt-free if you are organized.  Develop a budget and make a plan – be proactive!

Don’t panic if you are leaving it until the last-minute, as there are a few alternative ways to finance your wedding. You can take a wedding loan from either of your families, relatives or friends.

Alternatively, you can use your credit card to pay for part of your wedding expenses and repay the balance and interest over time. Just be sure to think about how much you will realistically be able to pay back over time without causing a lot of marital distress about money in your first few years as Mr. and Mrs.!

Affordable Honeymoon Destinations (European Edition)

After several months of stress leading up to the wedding, you definitely need to relax and spend some romantic time with your new husband or wife.  However, this is another area to plan carefully so you don’t break the bank.

If you’re looking for clear blue waters and soft white beaches, the Indian Ocean is a perfect destination for pampering yourself and your other half. The island of Mauritius is rich in architecture and food; you can enjoy fine dining and beautiful beaches, watch the sunset and ride a horse on the beach.

For those who want to hide away from the world, the Maldives is a beautiful location to swim in the clear lagoons or play water sports.

Alternatively, Oman’s spectacular mountain scenery, deserts plus beach hotels, offer a calm and relaxing atmosphere where you can enjoy spa treatments and snorkeling along the coast. There are additionally a variety of water sports for those who are active.

If you are really struggling to finance your honeymoon, why not think about cheaper all-inclusive or package holidays somewhere closer to home, or ask your wedding guests for money towards your once-in-a-lifetime trip instead of gifts?

How do you manage your honeymoon expenses while you are away? If you have a current account with a bank and if you’re eligible, you will be issued with a visa debit card that provides instant access to your money while you’re overseas. You can use your card to pay for the hotel and food in the restaurant. You can also withdraw cash from cash machines worldwide, and linking the card to a special “honeymoon only” account will ensure you stay on track with your spending.

Of course, you probably won’t experience smooth sailing the entire way. You need to adjust your wedding budget and make allowances to account for unforeseeable expenses.

Most importantly, ensure that you don’t overspend on one day so that you have some savings left over for starting to build your new life together.

Jay Marcelo is a freelance writer who loves spending time with his new wife while traveling Europe (for cheap when possible).

Aug 16

The (Im)Perfect Wedding

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

The word “industry” has a lot of masculine connotations.

Going back for decades, this country has been run on the backbone of the steel, oil industry and manufacturing industries. In any town, the industrial area will be filled with large blank-faced warehouses or billowing smokestacks.

But at least one industry definitely has a more feminine bent.

Image source:

Each year in the United States, there are approximately 2.5 million weddings which drive a forty billion dollar wedding industry.

Flowers and lace and tiered cakes may seem delicate and ephemeral, but they can come with a hefty price tag. A wedding gown from an upscale bridal boutique like Kleinfeld (as portrayed on TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress) can cost as much as a new car; a fully-catered wedding in a nice venue can cost as much as a down payment on a house.

Image source:

In the book One Perfect Day, author Rebecca Mead investigates the profitable world of weddings, from highly-paid event planners to profit-generating department store bridal registries.

It quickly becomes clear that the societal obsession with having the fairytale wedding contributed to the Bridezilla culture. So much emphasis gets put on this dream day that people focus on the wedding and forget about what comes after: marriage.

The truth is no wedding is perfect.

No matter how obsessively you plan your special day, something will go wrong. Your flowers will start to wilt too early. Your shoes will pinch. Your caterer will put bacon in the vegetarian entrée. Your mother-in-law will show up dressed in black. Your nephew will stick his hand in the cake before you’ve even cut into it.

And that’s okay! Because you know what else isn’t perfect? Marriage.

Image source:

Even when you’ve found the right partner to spend the rest of your life with, you will inevitably hit speed bumps.

You’ll argue about things you never even thought to discuss before you said “I do”. Every year there might be a standoff over which family to spend Christmas with. You may find yourself in a protracted argument over the merits of private school versus public school before your baby has even figured out how to roll over.

Planning your wedding is a great time to practice flexibility.

When the wedding cake shows up with fondant instead of buttercream frosting, shake it off. When Grandma indulges in one too many cocktails at the open bar, roll with the punches and promise to laugh about it later.

Don’t worry about breaking the bank on a pricey wedding, because it will never be flawless, no matter what you spend.

And the earlier you learn to relax and enjoy things the way they are, the richer your eventual marriage will be.

Anni M. is a writer, biology student, science artist, nerdcore rapper, and heliocentrist. She enjoys bats, fake news, cartoon classics, and mushroom hunting. She is currently working on Prism, a speculative science fiction story cycle and is a regular contributor to the blog at Green Bride Guide.

Aug 09

How to “Craft” the Perfect Wedding Day

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Nine theme crafts to brighten your ideal DIY wedding by Rhonda Walinga

There are so many possibilities for decorating your wedding and reception that it’s easy to get lost in the madness of magazines, websites and the ever-present “friendly” advice.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with the options, take a moment, step back, and consider your overall theme.

Are you a vintage fanatic who’s already sent out your daguerreotype-inspired wedding invites? Or are you already considering what gauzy fabrics to drape about the reception for just the right Midsummer’s Night Dream feel?

Wherever your heart lies, make sure you’ve narrowed down your direction before diving into the details.

To help you out, here are a few broad themes and fun do-it-yourself craft ideas that should help you along in the right direction. Once you settle on vintage lace light globes, for example, you can use that to inspire your table decorations and food displays.

Like the “Love Potion” glass bottle idea for keeping your guests hydrated? Consider using those design elements to inspire your guest book.

Bohemian Wedding

Bohemian is such a beautiful theme to work with, and it’s incredibly flexible. You can certainly go high end with eclectic design elements, but if you’re looking to save some change for the honeymoon, these inexpensive yet impressive projects will help set the tone for less than you’d expect.

Vintage lace doily lamps are one way to add a touch of Victorian elegance to your reception. Super simple and quick to make, consider some other ways you can use the wallpaper paste and balloon combination for unique lamp shades such as raw cotton string or distressed linens.

If you’re leaning more toward the early 1900’s plantation feel, another lighting option could be Mason sun jars. With a little solar snagging, these jars will glow for hours after the sun sets and they take very little time to create.

If your heart’s with the silver screen, however, nothing beats sharing your movie passion with film candle jars. Another quick project, these film-decorated candle holders add a touch of the retro class to any reception layout.

Casual Wedding

Casual weddings are always filled with touches of the elegantly natural. From billowing slips of loosely woven fabrics to raw wood inspiration and delicate sprigs of blossoms, casual weddings can be as stylish as they are natural.

Along the lines of lighting, a nature-inspired approach could include tastefully placed cherry blossom lights. For the cost of some tissue paper, tape, Christmas lights, and dollar store blossoms, these decorations appear far more expensive than they actually are.

To enhance the light in the room and perhaps give a little more dimension to a smaller space, twig-framed mirrors are easy to make, inexpensive and can be naturally dyed to just about any color.

Thirsty guests? It’s always smart to have a beverage bar, but keeping jugs of water out for guests to replenish with is a thoughtful touch that will be much appreciated. These whimsical “Love Potion” glass water bottles are a great way to provide refreshment and add another impressive design element to your reception.

Glamorous Wedding

It’s easy to come up with a ton of directions to take the glamorous theme, but these ideas might help narrow it down.

Photo coasters, for example, can go in just about any direction. You can use sepia images of you and your new mate, reprinted old family photos, pictures of friends, or even images of things you both enjoy.

Another ultra-versatile idea is book-page flower hangers. These can be placed throughout the reception to hold small pictures by thick lengths of ribbon, or for guests to hang fun little ribboned comment cards as a form of guest book.

Finally, you can also make these celebrity-style paper fortune cookies in almost no time out of the glitzy paper of your choice and place them around the reception. Making up the phrases for the inside will be half the fun!

No matter what your theme, it helps to come up with a few core ideas that you love and build the rest of your wedding and reception decorations around them instead of piecing together multiple random elements.

And speaking of theme, picking just the right type of entertainment – be it live jazz, a trivia-popping DJ, or a cut-loose party band – is a lot easier once you’ve settled on your decoration direction!

Rhonda Wallinga manages social media programs for, a leading provider of custom wedding necessities like wedding invitations, personalized letterhead, RSVP cards and wedding programs.

(Photo by David Ball)

Aug 02

7 Questions You Must Ask Your Wedding Photographer Before Hiring Them

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

When planning your wedding, there is so much you need to take care of – from caterers, to the venue, the honeymoon and of course the wedding photographer.

However, only one of these will produce a keepsake that will last for a lifetime, and that’s the wedding photos.

For this reason, it is crucial that you find the right photographer for you, who can capture your special day and save those memories for a lifetime.

To help you do this, I have compiled 7 questions you must ask your wedding photographer before hiring them, to help you make the right decision.

What Experience do they have?

Wedding photography is different from a photo shoot with models. A wedding is in ‘real time’, many of the shots are only there for a split second and opportunities must be taken at the time.

Also, the photographer is not working with professionals who are used to posing for pictures, so he must be able to direct the pictures.

Can they show you examples of past wedding works?

An example of previous works will put your mind at rest as to the quality of the work you can expect at your wedding. Make sure you see previous examples of weddings they have photographed and not just their great photography skills.

As stated before, a wedding is in real time and its all about capturing moments as they happen, in the best light.

Do they have insurance?

This protects the photographer against equipment theft. It also protects all parties if a guest or member of the staff trips over the photographer’s equipment resulting in injury. That person could take legal action, an unwelcome headache for you on your wedding day.

Some venues will insist any photographer working on the premises has insurance. Not having insurance implies the person is new in the business or isn’t taking it very seriously.

What do you get for your money?

This will save you and your family a lot of disappointment if after the wedding you find out you have paid for less than you thought you were getting. Maybe you paid for only one set of pictures, or no pictures were taken in real time?

Either way, you don’t want to realize this when it’s too late!

What package is right for your wedding?

Wedding photographers normally offer different packages for your special day. It is important that you go through the packages and find out what’s right for you.

This will include things like what parts of the day do you want to be recorded, and what parts do you not want recorded? You may want pictures of the bride and her bridesmaids having their hair and makeup done, or you may want the photos to start with the bride getting into the car on her way to the ceremony.

Either way, asking about different packages will help you pick one that’s right for you.

Will you be visible at the wedding?

This question is one many forget to ask. Will your photographer be in the background, taking photos, barely noticeable to your guests, or will they be asking the guests to pose for pictures throughout the day?

A photographer running around bugging your guests for photos constantly will interfere with them enjoying the day, so clearly you don’t want this. You may however want a few pictures posed for by the guests.

Make sure you make this clear to your photographer. The more experienced the photographer the better he will be at this.

Can you give the photographer a list of the shots you want?

Everyone has an idea of at least some of the shots they want on their wedding day. You may have an image of where you want shots taken before moving on to your reception, you may want pictures in the church from a specific angle, or you may want photos of you tasting the cake.

With this in mind you must speak to your photographer and share your vision. If he doesn’t share your vision, maybe you should look elsewhere for your wedding photographer?

These seven questions will help you make the right decision for your wedding day, leaving you with pictures that you will enjoy for a lifetime.

It is important to remember that this is your day, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you get what you want, so don’t be afraid to ask the necessary questions to make that happen.

Rob Lowry specializes in making sure your big day really is the best day of your life. His expertise has been sought by brides nationwide as well as by where he advises on creating wedding lists for themed and seasonal weddings.

May 17

Preparing Your Wedding Image

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

In preparation for your wedding day, one of your main focuses will certainly be on looking your very best for the big occasion.

Not only is this nice for you and the people around you (not to mention the person you are marrying), but it will also be worthwhile in years to come, when you look back at pictures from your wedding.

These are pictures and moments that you will remember for your whole life, so you will certainly want to have taken care of a few things with regard to your appearance.

Here are a few tips for you to consider:

1. If you have time, get in shape now!

Lots of people suddenly realize when it’s too late that they would like to be in slightly better shape for their wedding day. So, while it may be unrealistic to make drastic changes by the time your big day rolls around, do give some advance thought to getting fit.

If you’re a bit trimmer and healthier looking than usual, you’ll look all the better for your wedding, and for the pictures that will be taken there.  For busy couples, check out the fast and fun program from Thrive90 Fitness.

2. Take care of your smile.

This may seem like a bit of a random suggestion, but one thing that often bothers people in their wedding photos is that they feel their smiles aren’t bright or white enough.

Particularly if you are posing in or next to a white dress or a bright white shirt, it will be obvious if your teeth are a bit yellow or unclean. Take a few minutes to visit or consult your local dentist about quick whitening methods, and when your wedding day arrives, you can flash your smile with confidence and pride.

3. Take care to address any facial blemishes you may have in advance of your wedding.

This may mean acne, scarring, cuts, or even baggy eyes and wrinkles. Some of these problems are difficult to address permanently, but you can take steps to make sure that your face looks smooth and healthy for the wedding. Use skin-care products and address specific concerns, and you will be satisfied with the way you look for the occasion.

Of course, these are just a few of the many image-related things you’ll want to consider in the weeks and months before your wedding. You’ll also need to consider other factors, such as what to wear, what your rings will look like, how to do your hair, how to arrange your wedding parties, etc.

Overall, it can be a bit overwhelming. But remember, the most important thing that happens on your wedding day is the formation of your new marriage!

(photo source)
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