10 Tips for Choosing Bridesmaid Dresses Everyone Will Love

Before choosing bridesmaid dresses for the big day, review these 10 tips to alleviate stress and make things fun for everyone involved. This is one of those items on the guest list where you may need to “let go” of your control a little, but that very action may just allow you to enjoy this process all the more.

  1. Don’t go crazy with color choice. Yes, a bold color might pop in pictures, but that’s not to say that a more subdued hue won’t look equally as good…and it may actually look classier with a more understated choice of color. And don’t forget, with a color choice like black or another neutral color, your bridesmaids will be glad that this purchase will be able to be worn more than once.
  2. Keep fabrics and styles simple too. Your bridesmaid dresses should not compete with your own gown, so it makes sense to err on the side of classic styles and fabrics. One exception to this would be in the case of a theme wedding where you are trying to tie everything together around a specific look (vintage weddings, beach weddings, etc.)
  3. Let your bridesmaids select their own dresses for the big day. Simply send each bridesmaid a color swatch and some general ideas about types of dresses to look for, and leave the rest up to them! Not only will they be able to shop within their own budget by having more options to choose from rather than having to purchase a specific bridesmaid dress, they’ll also likely be able to wear the new dress they pick out to other occasions in the future.
  4. Use flowers to tie things together. If you’ve opted to let your bridesmaids select their own styles of dress (and even if the exact colors of the dresses vary slightly), elegant bridesmaid bouquets are a great way to create an elegant unified look even with the different dress styles.
  5. Consider time of day and season. If you are planning an outdoor wedding especially, it’s a good idea to plan for weather extremes or inclement weather just in case. Make sure your bridesmaids will be comfortable not just with styles, but with the temperature. You may want to consider shawls or wraps for the dresses just in case the weather is on the cooler side.
  6. Keep it practical (think dancing). Your bridesmaids will want to be able to dance the night away just as much as you; don’t make them wear dresses that will make them uncomfortable doing that.
  7. Respect budgets. Not everyone will be able to afford a $200 bridesmaid dress, so if you know that this will be the case for your bridal party, choose some less expensive options right up front…your bridesmaids will appreciate it!
  8. Don’t overthink it! Your family and friends attending the wedding will more than likely remember the special moments from the big day–your vows, your first dance, the kiss. Try not to worry so much about the details that only you would notice like the style and cut of the bridesmaid dresses.
  9. Delegate. If your own wedding to-do list is out of control, don’t be afraid to ask your maid of honor to oversee the bridesmaid dress process and perhaps have her even pick out some initial choices for you to look at.
  10. Remember that the wedding is only one day–your friendships are forever. Rather than getting worked up over a dress disagreement, try to find a way to put differences aside and be thankful for these amazing friendships that will carry you through a lifetime. 

Source: http://www.littleweddingguide.com/attire-and-beauty/10-tips-for-choosing-bridesmaid-dresses-everyone-will-love/

Posted on March 21, 2017 .

Keep it Cheap!

The Wedding Budget

As I mentioned in my last post on planning tips for newly engaged couples, a key area to consider as you start wedding planning is the budget. How much money can you afford to spend and how much do you want to spend on your wedding? How can you keep track of your expenditure and stop your budget from spiralling out of control?

The answer, as always, comes in the form of organisation!

Do your research

Asking how much a wedding costs is similar to questioning how long a piece of string is. It really does depend on a number of factors, including the style, location and date of the wedding. Once you’ve established these logistics, you can start looking into the different costs in each area. Disregard the average prices magazines give you and concentrate on researching suppliers in your chosen location to build your own list of prices. By researching these costs you will then have a realistic idea of what you can get for your money.

What’s your wedding going to cost?

Having done your research you will now have some guide prices to work towards and you can start thinking about how much you want to spend. This is when prioritising the most important elements of your wedding becomes crucial, as you may want to allocate more money to certain areas and source them early.

As a rough guide, I would designate 40-50% of your budget for your reception (including the venue, food and drink costs), leaving the rest of your budget to cover everything else. Be aware that just because something’s important to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend more on it, so much as it’s something you won’t want to compromise on.

Who’s paying?

Will both you and your fiancé be covering the cost of your wedding? Be realistic, look at your finances and work out how much you can afford. The start of married life is not the time to be getting into debt. Will you need to start saving or do you already have a pot put aside?

Are there any family members who want to help? If so it’s worth talking to them early on to establish what they’re expecting in return: is it a no obligation gift or are they going to want a large say in what the money is being spent on?

It’s always a good idea to use gifted money for a particular area of the wedding (such as the flowers or drinks) and give them some input into that particular element. If you feel it’s going to compromise the kind of wedding you want then consider declining their generosity.

Get Organised

One of the first things I do for my clients is set up a budget spreadsheet where I list everything needed for the wedding, especially the little things like postage for invitations, alteration costs for dresses, accessories and so on, and allocate the estimated spend. I also add a column for the actual spend – you can then compare the two columns and reallocate funds within your budget if necessary to keep to your target.

Give Yourself A Contingency Budget

Inevitably things may end up costing more than you thought or something might come up that you hadn’t budgeted for, so always cost in a contingency budget. Have a figure you’d like to spend and then another figure that if really pushed you could stretch to. General wisdom states that your contingency fund should be 20% of your budget.

Finally, whatever your budget is there will always be areas where, with a little time and some creativity, you can make great savings. We’ll be looking at that in a later post in this series so don’t worry if you’re feeling the financial strain, I might just have some money-saving tips for you!

Source: http://bridalmusings.com/2013/04/wedding-budget-tips/

Posted on March 21, 2017 .

Tips and Tricks

When planning your wedding, there are things that are nice to know, and then there are things you need to know—advice so essential that any bride who's lucky enough to hear it thinks, "I'm so glad someone told me that!" If you're wondering whether there's something you may have missed (or even if you've got everything under control), check out our indispensable planning secrets below.

1. Guests Come First

Get a grip on the approximate number of guests you'll invite before settling on a venue. This will ensure there's ample space for your crew. As a rule of thumb, allow for 25 to 30 square feet per guest. That may seem like a lot, but it's not if you count the space you'll need for the tables, bustling waiters, the band and a dance floor.

2. Investigate Wedding Blackout Dates

Know ahead of time if your wedding date falls on the same day as a trade conference, charity walk, or other local event that could affect traffic and hotel room availability. Here's a handy list of potentially problematic wedding datescoming up in the calendar.

3. Listen to Mother Nature

Heed the weather and other potential annoyances. Guests have been known to skip out early from hotter-than-hot summer tent weddings and improperly heated winter loft receptions. Bugs (gnats, deer flies and mosquitos) also swarm in certain areas during certain seasons. Consider renting pest control tanks to alleviate the problem or including bug repellent in guests' gift bags. And if you want a sunset ceremony, make sure you know when to say your vows by checking SunriseSunset.com.

4. Check Your Credit

Take advantage of the high cost of weddings and sign up for a credit card with a rewards program. Whether it gives you airline miles or great shopping deals, consolidating all wedding-related purchases to this card will help you accumulate thousands of rewards points (which could be used for your honeymoon).

5. Pay It Forward

Let one vendor lead you to another. Your wedding photographer can tell you which florist's blooms really pop, and your reception manager should know which band packs the dance floor.

6. Lighten Your List

The easiest way to trim your wedding budget? Cut your guest list. Remember, half of your wedding expenses go to wining and dining your guests. If it's costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000.

7. Ask and You Might Receive

Request an extra hour for cocktails or for your band to throw in that Frank Sinatra sound-alike before you sign on the dotted line. Most vendors would rather secure the reservation than nickel-and-dime you early on (which might turn you off of them). Later on, though, they may be less inclined to meet you halfway.

8. Make a Meal Plan

Another unforeseen expense? Feeding your wedding day crew. Before you sign the contracts, make sure you're not required to serve the same meal to your vendors that guests will receive. Otherwise, you could be paying for 20 additional lobster tails. Choose a less expensive (but equally hearty) meal for them instead. You will have to let your wedding caterer know a couple of days before the wedding exactly how many vendors you need to feed (don't forget photography assistants and band roadies) and what you want them to serve.

9. Get Organizationally Focused

In a three-ring binder, compile all your correspondences with vendors, notes you make during meetings, and photos or tear sheets from magazines you want vendors to see. Set up a special email address dedicated to your wedding, and store important vendor numbers in your cell phone. For on-the-go planning, download the The Knot Wedding Planner app to keep all of your planning info digitally on-hand at all times. 

10. Tend to Your Bar

Typically, you need one bartender per 50 guests to keep the line at a minimum. But if you're serving a signature cocktail that cannot be made ahead of time (or in large quantities), consider adding an extra server designated to this task.

11. Leave Some Room in Your Wallet

Your wedding budget should follow this formula: 48 to 50 percent of total budget to reception; 8 to 10 percent for flowers; 8 to 10 percent for attire; 8 to 10 percent for entertainment/music; 10 to 12 percent for photo/video; 2 to 3 percent for invites; 2 to 3 percent for gifts; and 8 percent for miscellaneous items like a wedding coordinator. It's essential to allocate an extra 5 to 10 percent of your money for surprise expenses like printing extra invites because of mistakes, additional tailoring needs, umbrellas for a rainy day and ribbons for the wedding programs.

12. Don't Be Afraid to Ask

Your wedding vendors should be your go-to, most-trusted experts during the planning process. When working with them, you should feel free to really explore what it is you want—maybe it's serving a late-night snack instead of a first course or doing a bridal portrait session rather than an engagement session. The bottom line is that you should feel like you can have an honest conversation with them about what it is you want. Their job will be to tell you what you can and can't make work given your wedding budget.

13. Wait for a Date

Sometimes, last-minute planning can work in your favor. The closer your date, the more bargaining power you have. Since most people book their wedding venues at least six months in advance, calling for open dates two months prior to your desired time can save you up to 25 percent. And, Friday and Sunday weddings should cost about 30 percent less than Saturday weddings.

14. Manage the Mail

Of course you want the perfect stamps for your wedding invitations. But not all stamps are widely available at every post office, especially in large quantities. Save yourself scouting time by ordering them online at USPS.com. And be sure to weigh your invitation and all the additional paper products before you send them out so you can attach the right amount of postage. Ask your stationer about the need for additional postage for oddly shaped envelopes.

15. Prepare for Rejection

Know that as a rule, about 30 percent of the people you invite won't attend. Naturally, this depends on the location of your wedding (destination weddings are harder to attend), how many out-of-towners are on your list, and the timing of the event (some guests may have annual holiday or summer plans).

16. Make a Uniform Kids Policy

You have four choices: You can welcome children with open arms; you can decide to have an "adults only" wedding; you can include immediate family only; or, you can hire a child care service to provide day care either at the reception space, in a hotel room or at a family member's home. To prevent hurt feelings, it's wise to avoid allowing some families to bring children while excluding others (unless, of course, the children are in your bridal party).

17. Prioritize Your People

Pare down your guest list with the "tiers of priority" trick. Place immediate family, the bridal party and best friends on top of the list; follow with aunts, uncles, cousins and close friends you can't imagine celebrating without. Under that, list your parents' friends, neighbors, coworkers and so on. If you need to make some cuts, start from the bottom until you reach your ideal number.

18. Take It One Step at a Time

Put together a wedding planning schedule and do things one by one, in a logical order, so you don't take on too much too fast and end up with everything snowballing around you. Don't hire any vendors before you've confirmed your date; don't design your cake before you've envisioned your flowers; and don't book a band before you've settled on a space.

19. No Ring, No Bring

If your guest list is bursting at the seams, assess the plus-one scenario. Do a faux seating chart in your mind, and imagine whom your single pal would sit with. If it's a table of singles that she knows pretty well, then you're all set. If it's a table of couples (making her the odd one out) or if it's a table of singles where she won't know anyone, consider bending the rules. If asked why you're not allowing single friends to bring guests, size or budget constraints or your parents' never-ending guest list are always good reasons. 

20. Release Rooms

As soon as you've picked a date, start to look for hotels in a wide variety of price points. Many hotels allow you to reserve rooms for guests under a special wedding block and a reduced rate. You can then release any unbooked rooms a month prior to your wedding. If the hotels you contact insist upon contracts with cancellation penalties, just say no—you don't want to be responsible for rooms you can't fill.

21. Provide Accurate Driving Directions

Make sure guests know where they're going. As easy as online map programs are to use, sometimes the directions are wrong or there's a quicker, less traffic-prone route to take. Ask your ceremony and reception sites for printouts or digital copies of recommended driving directions and even test out the routes yourself. Then include the best directions on your wedding website or email them to your guests to print out if they'd like. 

22. Keep a Paper Trail

Get any nonstandard changes to your agreements in writing or send the vendor a confirmation email saying, "Hello, just confirming that you'll keep the venue open until 2 a.m. versus midnight." Don't just assume everything's all set—sometimes, by the time the actual day rolls around, your contact for a certain may no longer be working there to vouch for you.

23. Schedule the Setup

You must make sure there's ample time for setup. If you're renting a venue and bringing in outside help, ask what time people can come in to start setting. Preston Bailey, author of Preston Bailey's Fantasy Weddings, recommends seeing if they can do it the day before, or at the very least the entire wedding day, before the event starts.

24. Learn About Marriage Licenses

You can check your state's license requirements online, but confirm with a call to the county clerk's office to see when they're open. Even if it's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they may issue marriage licenses only during slower times like, say, Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Give a copy of your marriage license to your mom or your maid of honor (just in case you lose yours during the final days before your wedding).

25. Go Over Ground Rules

Be prepared—ask the manager of the house of worship or site where you'll be married for the list of restrictions (if any). For instance, is flash photography or bare shoulders prohibited? Or, if you're exchanging vows outdoors, are you allowed to plant tent stakes in the lawn (which is often not allowed)?

26. Classify Your Cash

Wedding budgets are all about balance. Start your budget planning by making a checklist of the crucial details, like the music, your wedding gown, the invitations, the flowers and the photographer, and assign a number to each—one being the most important and three being the least. Invest your money in all your number ones and cut corners on your number threes. (But everything can't fall into the number one category!) For example, if a designer gown and fabulous food are what really matter, you may have to choose simple invitations and smaller floral arrangements.

27. Help Guests Pay Attention

Make sure your guests can both see and hear from their seats. If people are seated farther than 15 rows back from your ceremony altar or podium, consider renting a mic and a riser. This could range anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on the equipment used. You'll need to coordinate the delivery and setup with your ceremony space, so put your wedding planner or best man in charge of this task.

28. Write Down Your Digits

Keep an emergency contact sheet or phone with your vendor contacts on you on your wedding day—it may come in handy in case your limo driver gets lost or you decide you'd like your photographer to take some behind-the-scenes shots.

29. Call the Fashion Police

Don't go dress shopping on your own—all the gowns will start to look the same after a while and it will be harder to recall which style you really loved. But be careful about who you do bring. If your mom or sibling can't make the trip, ask a friend who is truly honest. This is the time when you really need to know which dress looks best.

30. Be Realistic With Your Time

When it comes down to the last month of your planning (and when you're particularly harried) look at your mile long to-do list and cut three things. Yes, cut three things. Not crucial things that you just don't feel like doing, such as picking a processional song or confirming final details with all of your vendors. Eliminate only the over-the-top tasks like hand-painting "Just Married" signs, or baking cookies for all of the welcome bags. Cross them off and make a pledge not to think about them again.

Source: https://www.theknot.com/content/expert-wedding-planning-tips-and-tricks

Posted on March 21, 2017 .

Wedding Budget Planning and Rentals

Gatsby glam. Boho chic. Minimalist zen. If you can envision your ceremony style and décor, you can create it in real life. Such is the state of party and event rentals today. And while the biggest cities offer the widest range of options, if you do some online digging, you’ll be surprised at how much is available, no matter your wedding locale. 

Tips for Your Rentals

Make it fun! Consider renting crowd-pleasers such as cotton candy makers and popcorn machines. For outdoor areas, offer games like bocce ball and a beanbag toss.

Your best source for rentals? Ask your caterer, floral designer or venue site manager for referrals. Or go to RentalHQ.com, a website run by the American Rental Association. Type in what you’re looking for (anything from tables to tents, etc.), and your location to find companies in your area.

How much do you need? Order at least three to four dishes, glasses, stemware and flatware pieces per guest, says Jenny Orsini, owner and creative director at Jenny Orsini Events in New Jersey. For a cocktail hour, you’ll need at least three glasses for each person. And order at least 10 extra chairs for your ceremony, plus 10 extras for your cocktail party and reception in case any chairs arrive cracked or broken.

The essential questions to ask

  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Have you worked events at our ceremony/reception venue(s) before? (A very important question, especially for tent rentals!)
  • Can we view item selections before renting?
  • Will we be able to view actual rental items from your supply, or will we be shown samples?
  • Will we be able to contact you on the day of our event? (Get the name and cell phone number of an in-charge person in case of problems and needed solutions.)
  • Are setup and delivery fees included in our order? Or are they extra?
  • What are delivery charges for our locations?
  • How much is required for deposit?
  • When is deposit due? (Most companies require a non-refundable deposit, roughly equal to one-third of the total rental package price. This amount is usually due when you book your rental items.)
  • When is final payment due?
  • Which methods of payment do you accept?
  • When will our rented items be delivered to the venue? Arrange for a time that allows setup without pressure, at least several hours before your event starts.
  • Will delivery workers bring all rented items inside the venue and set everything up? Or do you offer ‘tailgate service’ delivery, wherein the company just drops off your rented items in a driveway or at the venue entrance, leaving you to carry everything inside and set up yourself?
  • Will someone instruct us on how to operate the rented item? (Especially key for lighting rentals.)
  • When will delivery workers return to collect all rented items after the wedding?
  • How do we prepare rented items for pickup? Do we have to clean dishes, glasses, flatware first, or do we load dirties into their crates?
  • How will rented chairs need to be arranged for pickup? Some companies require you to fold chairs closed and some require sliding them into padded delivery bags in which they came.
  • What are the costs and details in case any items are broken or lost?
  • What is your cancellation/refund policy?

Tables

Essentials: Guest tables in a collection of rounds, long family-style, or a mix of table shapes and sizes. You might also consider sweetheart and buffet tables and separate tables for gifts, guest book and family photos.

What's Hot: Mixing table sizes and shapes to maximize your space. Rustic-wooden tables are a major trend, as are mixes of wood and glass table tops.

Don't Forget: If you don’t have a wedding coordinator to handle this task, bring layouts of your ceremony and reception sites to your rental agent, so that he or she can advise on your table choice and arrangements.

Chairs

Essentials: Chairs for ceremony, cocktail party and reception.

What's Hot: Vintage armchairs, chiavari chairs, acrylic chairs, simple chairs dressed up in tie-on ruffled fabric covers.

Don't Forget: High chairs and booster seats for the littlest guests and a pair of decorative chairs for you and your new hubby at the sweetheart table.

Linens

Essentials: Guest table tablecloths, table runners, napkins for both cocktail party and reception, as well as luxe or vintage linens for the cake, gift, sweetheart and photo tables. Also consider chair linens: they are a great way to add color and texture to your space.

What’s Hot: “We are seeing luxury materials, supple leathers, monochromatic earth tones, and also color in bright jewel tones such as plum, ruby, emerald, citrine, and sapphire, says Elle Can, senior VP at Taylor Creative Inc. in New York City. Organic linens are in demand as well, with soft bamboo being a top touchable fabric.

Don’t Forget: Napkin rings and hidden clips to keep table linens from whipping around in breezes at outdoor weddings. Plus table pads to protect wood tables from damaging water stains and spills.

Dishes

Essentials: Cocktail-party appetizer plates, china patterns, chargers, dessert plates, footed bowls for desserts.

What’s Hot: Color in plates, especially in chargers, add flair. Gold- or platinum- rimmed plates and gold or metallic chargers also lead the trends, as well as eclectic vintage collections.

Don’t Forget: Unbreakable plates for the little ones — no one wants to deal with expensive breakage.

Stem & Glassware

Essentials: Champagne flutes, bar glasses in various sizes, red and/or white wine glasses, beer mugs, soft-drink glasses, water glasses.

What’s Hot: Gold-rimmed stemware, stemless wine glasses (so chic — plus they are well-balanced, which lessens the hance of breakage fees).

Don’t Forget: Martini glasses for dessert servings; appropriate glassware for your signature cocktails. (Know what you’ll serve before you order your glassware.)

Flatware

Essentials: Utensils for the cocktail party, plus knives, forks and spoons for the reception dinner.

What’s Hot: Luxe gold flatware, vintage, heirloom-style silver and mix-and-match utensil patterns.

Don’t Forget: Serving utensils, if you’ll have family-style service at your reception. And don’t forget serving bowls and platters. Rental companies offer gor- geous hammered silver or copper serving bowls and chafing dishes.

Tents

Essentials: Whether simple and utilitarian or fully outfitted with entrance canopies, chandeliers and luxe draping, professional installation is a must.

What's Hot: Clear-topped tents, luxe tent liners, fabric draping in tent ceiling, chandelier lighting, quality flooring so you can dance all night.

Don't Forget: Check with your site to be sure they allow tents. Have your tent rental company conduct a site visit to assess the space, and suggest the ideal tent size and flooring options.

Lighting

Essentials: Lighting for the ceremony site, cocktail party space, reception area and exterior, if desired.

What's Hot: Vintage chandeliers, pendant lamps suspended from the ceiling, exotic, Moroccan-style pendant lamps and metal lanterns.

Don't Forget: Check with your site about their electrical capabilities. You may need a generator to help power your party.

Photo Booth

Essentials: Fun props and at least one attendant — ideally two — to man the photo-booth technology and handle props.

What's Hot: Laura Adaza, owner of Royal Photo Booth in New York City, says that photo booths are available either in open or closed configurations. “Some couples think the closed photo booth is more elegant and nostalgic,” she tells us.

Don't Forget: Get measurements of doorways, and let your rental company know if your wedding takes place up or down stairs. Some photo booths weigh over 700 pounds, and wrong measurements can mean your photo booth doesn’t get into your site!

Heating & Cooling

Essentials: Portable fans and electric or gas heating units for outdoor weddings.

What's Hot: Outdoor fire pits with surrounding seating.

Don't Forget: Events leading into nighttime can often be cooler than you expect. Fans are essential to keep elderly, pregnant and/or special-needs guests comfortable on a hot summer day.

Eclectic Décor

Essentials: Pedestals for floral arrangements; antiques and ephemera matched to your wedding theme.

What's Hot: Vintage items like books, cameras, birdcages, teapots and tiered serving platters.

Don't Forget: Prop houses provide a variety of décor items for rent, so check with your local theater for the best referrals.

Source: http://www.bridalguide.com/planning/wedding-reception/wedding-rentals

 

 

 

Posted on March 21, 2017 .

20 Tips For Newlyweds Guaranteed To Make Your Marriage Stronger

1. Keep communicating.

The number one most important thing that every married couple needs to do is communicate. This doesn't mean you need to text nonstop throughout the work day, but never stop getting to know your spouse. Talk about politics, music, food, and whatever else is important in your life. When you are entirely comfortable having meaningful conversations, you'll find it a lot easier to broach more difficult topics.

2. Learn the art of compromise.

No matter how well-suited a couple is, it's just not possible to see eye to eye in every situation. From ordering dinner to renovating the kitchen, nobody is going to be 100% happy with every situation, but it's important to pick battles and take turns making decisions. The reality is that if you're mature enough to be married, you're mature enough to listen to your spouse and give a little. 

3. Learn to attack problems, not each other.

When things go wrong, it's easy to assign blame and use that as ammunition to win a fight. Marriage isn't about being right; it's about being a team. Rather than wasting energy attacking one another in an argument, just focus your attention on the problem at hand instead. There will always be problems and things that go wrong, and how you choose to handle them will define your marriage.

4. Know that it's okay to have separate interests.

While it's important to share interests with your spouse, there will eventually be something they like to do that you have zero interest in. This doesn't mean that you'll never have to suck it up and tag along for a car show or a night at the ballet, but acknowledge early on where those differences lie, and let them just go do that with their friends. Togetherness is always good for a marriage, but each person needs to take time for themselves as well.

5. Set aside time to connect every day.

If you can, try to eat dinner with your spouse every night. It'll be a great time to connect about the day, destress, and enjoy one another. If work schedules make dinner out of the question, try breakfast or lunch instead. If you get in the habit of making time for each other right out of the gate, it'll be a lot easier to keep that connection as time goes on and if your family expands to include children.

6. Get your finances in order.

Money is the number one cause of divorce, so set yourself up for success right out of the gate. Meet with a financial planner to discuss your goals and how you can best achieve them. While you probably should have done this before getting married, figure out where each one is sitting in terms of debt and credit rating, and decide what to do about improving both of those. Be proactive, and you should be fine.

7. Be open about what you want out of your sex life.

Waiting for marriage to have sex isn't nearly as common nowadays, so many couples have usually found a sexual rhythm before walking down the aisle. However, it's still important to talk about what each person wants so no one is dissatisfied with the level of intimacy in the marriage.

8. Figure out what you're going to do for holidays.

When you're dating, it's okay for one person to spend a holiday with their family, while the other visits their own family. After getting married, however, it's a team effort. Talk about what holiday traditions are the most important for each person and figure out how to best accommodate both sides of the family.

9. Continue dating each other.

After you've been married for a while and jobs, kids, and routine start to set in, married couples don't always go out as much as they used to. While date nights might need a bit more planning ahead of time, but you need that time to reconnect. Even if you just get some steaks to cook on the grill and have date night at home, taking time out to remind yourself how special your spouse is is incredibly important.

10. Sometimes, it's okay to go to bed angry.

2 a.m. is not the time for a fight. If you and your spouse are annoyed at one another, the middle of the night when you are both exhausted and not thinking clearly will not produce a productive conversation. If it's something that won't get resolved quickly, remind your spouse how much you love him or her, and then set a time to resume the discussion later, when cooler and more well-rested minds can prevail.

11. Love your spouse the way he or she needs to be loved.

Not everyone views love the same. Some people think material possessions show affection, while others prefer physical connections. If you are constantly telling your spouse how much you love them but they would prefer that you show it in a different way, do what you can to let them know where your affections are. 

12. Don't give up on each other.

When you are with someone for several years, your lives are generally entrenched in routine, which can feel boring at times. Sometimes things happen and you think you never want to speak to your spouse again, but all isn't lost. Don't give up. If something isn't working, figure out a way to fix it. 

13. Take them for who they are, not who you want them to be.

Getting married does not change a person. At least, it shouldn't. Quirks or bad habits that your new spouse had before saying "I do" will still be there. Let them be themselves and don't force them to adopt a new persona just because that's what you think they should do. Time has a way of changing people, so when you love them for who they are without judgment, you'll grow closer over the years.

14. Never stop kissing.

It sounds strange, but there is a certain point in marriage where having sex comes easier than kissing. Take time to kiss your spouse every day, as couples who make time to smooch are less likely to get divorced. Don't make it a quick peck as you're rolling over to go to sleep; take a few seconds to kiss them properly and really mean it.

15. Have fun!

You and your spouse are sharing a life together, and what good is that if you can't even have fun together? Remember that it's okay to be silly and to laugh. It'll actually be pretty helpful when tough times come in life if you have someone who can always make you smile.

16. Figure out the roles of in-laws.

When two families blend, it's not uncommon for the respective matriarch and patriarch to be unsure of their new role. Talk to your spouse and have a frank discussion about in-laws coming over for visits, how involved they will be in your day-to-day lives, and things of that nature. While in-law relationships are hardly the dramatic situation you see on TV, it's still helpful to get things settled up front.

17. Don't talk badly about your spouse. 

Yes, your spouse will annoy you at times, and you'll want to vent that out, but think of a better way to do it than to run your mouth to other people. Your spouse is the person you promised to love and share your life with, so why would you want anyone to think badly about them? Don't make a negative Facebook status about them, and just work out your problems in private.

18. Compliment your spouse and show your appreciation.

Of course your spouse knows that you love them, otherwise you would not have just gotten married. Over time, it becomes really easy to take them for granted. Make sure that you use basic manners and thank them for doing things, and pay them compliments. It's a good way to make sure you don't slip into complacency with letting them know how great you think they are.

19. Even if you don't want them right away, talk about kids as soon as possible.

The decision to have kids is not one that should be taken lightly, so it's best to plan ahead. Discuss when you think you'd like to have kids, how many you'd like to have, and it wouldn't hurt to discuss parenting styles either. Even if you both think you don't ever want kids, it might be nice to have a hypothetical conversation, should anyone change their minds down the road.

20. When all else fails, remember what is important.

At the end of the day, marriage is a commitment between two people as you journey through life. Life will bring happiness, hardship, opportunity, and loss, and you will experience it all with your spouse. Marriage won't always be fun, and it certainly won't always be easy, but as long as you keep that mutual love as a center point in your life, it'll all be worth it.

Posted on March 20, 2017 .

Wedding Planning

There's a lot of wedding advice floating around the Internet. Problem is, a lot of it is useless fluff dreamed up by a) relatively well-heeled editors contractually obligated to spend their days inventing absurd nonsense to fill pages surrounded by advertisements b) people who've never planned a wedding/mistakenly think their very specific experience can be extrapolated. Or both! 

Sure, those mason jars wrapped in polka-dotted ribbon are a cute idea on Pinterest, but it's a good way to wind up sobbing in the middle of your local Michael's two weeks before the big day. And all that money-saving advice? Yeah, the buffet's going to save you $10 per person, tops. 

Maybe you're planning to tie the knot at a 50-person backyard barbecue. Or maybe you're hosting 350 friends, family and business associates to some Gilded Age castle. Whatever. A month out from my own wedding, here are a few pieces of real-talk wedding advice that you can actually fucking use. 

1. Maybe pay someone to do that. Are you supremely artistic and experienced in the ways of crafting? Is your great aunt Martha Stewart? Unless the answer to one of these questions is yes, think very carefully about any D.I.Y. projects. Examine your own abilities with a critical eye. For instance, I once tried to complete a "Cosmos manicure" and ended up looking like I'd let a four-year-old paint my nails. Face the music: Despite what Pinterest would have you believe, some of us are just shit at art. And your wedding is probably not the time to learn that lesson. It'll only be more expensive when you have to replace everything at the last minute. 

2. Not everyone gets a date, and that's fine. Look, lots of us wanted everyone we've ever known and loved at the ceremony. But that's just not feasible unless your daddy is a robber baron. You'll want to invite as many significant others as possible, of course, and if someone is flying from Shanghai to Cleveland for your reception, you'd better allow them a date. But at some point, it's time to hitch the caboose to the gravy train, and once you do, stick 100 percent to your guns. Consider preparing an email in advance for anyone who truly does not understand that money doesn't grow on trees. 

3. You are not the Lone Ranger. Perhaps you want to be the Stanley Kubrick of weddings, strictly controlling every single aspect of the entire production. But that way lies The Shining, my friend. When someone graciously offers to help, come up with some very specific detail they're well-equipped to handle. (If you've got it covered or this person is an absolute incompetent, politely decline, but I urge you to consider the offer, even if it's as simple as logging RSVPs.)

Also, on a more specific note, unless you're wearing that $100 H&M dress, seriously consider having more than one bridesmaid. If I'd known how much work getting my girdle on was going to be, I'd have a bridal party of eight or nine really strapping gals. 

4. Write thank-you notes as gifts come in. Do not get behind, unless you want to spend your honeymoon crafting odes to the lovely Waterford from Aunt Mildred.

5. Be ready to show some backbone. I'm willing to bet that most readers of this blog are very, very committed to not being a power-drunk nightmare-person Bridezilla during their planning process—and that's great! Never, ever be nasty. But know that it's perfectly okay to say no, no thanks, not gonna to happen when your florist tries to talk you into expensive hot-pink table overlays. (You'll also need to be prepared to wield that NOPE like a broadsword if you've laid down a law like no kids or no cellphones, by the way.) Let's practice together!

And once you put down a deposit on something, don't feel guilty about making sure that vendor gets her damn job done. If you're paying for a wedding planner, don't let her drop the ball. If your sample floral arrangements are the wrong color, speak up. 

Now, a corollary: Pick your battles and save your emotional energy for the big stuff. Maybe you hate your cousin's formal kilt, or your bridesmaid's spray tan, or the best man's habit of wearing lime-green socks with dress shoes. For God's sake, just let it ride. Save your fury in case the limo never shows. 

6. All you need is Google Docs. I've got a binder, a website, several notebooks and pieces of wedding-related paper lying all over my apartment. But the only tool I really needed to get through this without rending my garments and running screaming into the night was Google Docs. Sure, maybe your dad still hasn't gotten the hang of the Internet. But that's what the export to PDF function is for! 

7. If you must give favors, give food. Don't give your guests something they're just going to throw away. No one in the history of party planning has ever gone wrong with a light snack. Definitely do not D.I.Y. anything. (See above.) 

8. Limit your options. I couldn't have any old thing that flitted into my brain, because I am a reporter and not the third employee of Google. A lot of things were simply out of budget. But honestly? THANK GOD. There are too damn many options out there, and limitations are your friend. The name of the game in wedding planning is eliminating as many possibilities as fast as possible. If you're pretty sure you don't want to get married in a barn, put your blinders on and stop looking at barns. 

And for the love of God, do not let yourself get bogged down in any single decision. I spent weeks scouring New York City for wedding shoes and a hair comb. My mistake was ever considering more than five options in the first place. 

9. Ask (politely!) for discounts. Hey, it can't hurt. 

10. Treat thy bridesmaids as thou would like to be treated. I'm not talking no diet commands and no haircut lectures. That's table stakes. I mean don't pick a bridesmaid dress that would look good on you but not them. There are more body types than stars in the sky; maybe give them a choice of five dresses and let each pick her fave. It's not the end of the world if they don't match. Don't ask them to spend a fortune on something they'll never wear again, and give them some sort of thank you at the end. 

11. Stop trying to be so damn unique. Look, weddings are not original. They are a template, a form letter drawn up hundreds of years before we were born. No matter how much money you throw at the planning process, your wedding is not going to be one of a kind. You don't need a special, hand-crafted symbol of your cosmic love on every escort card. Chill. 

12. There is no perfect dress. You're probably not a paragon, and you're not marrying one, either. We live in the world of reality, not Platonic ideals. So do yourself a favor and pick a gown that's beautiful and within budget. Don't let the dress shopping drag on until the entire experience curdles. 

13. Ask yourself: Who actually cares? Agonizing over whether to have a champagne toast, or pay for chiavari chairs, or (god forbid) shell out for peonies? Here's a question you should seriously ask yourself: Are my guests really going to care? Because this is technically a celebration of you, but REALLY it's an enormous party that you're throwing for your friends and family. This is not your fifth birthday party at McDonalds. You are hosting these people that you love. Every decision should come down to whether the guests like it, appreciate it, or notice it at all. 

Remind yourself (as others have reminded me) that people care about the dancing, the food and whether a good time was had by all. They don't care about how much painstaking effort you put into the hand-aged programs and the very firm email you wrote to get the perfect amount of greenery in the centerpieces. You're better off focusing on the broad strokes that best facilitate the party than bothering overmuch with piddly shit. 

14. Have fun. Unless you are Olivia Pope and thrive on details and chaos, it's easy to get overwhelmed. (Yes, even if your plan is simply to order 25 pizzas and surprise all your buds at a bar, you still have to write the ceremony, write up the invites, etc., etc.) But this is fun! It's a happy occasion! Go forth and drink until you can't feel your face! And remember, as long as you're married at the end of the night, it was a success. 

 

 

Posted on March 20, 2017 .

Newlywed Tips Married Couples want you to know

Getting married is quite possibly the biggest commitment two people can ever make to each other — but how do you make sure that promise lasts a lifetime? 

Thanks to a recent Reddit thread that asked married couples to share their best piece of advice for newlyweds, we have a better understanding of how to make a marriage work for the long haul. 

Here 17 small nuggets of wisdom worth taking to heart:

  1. “Love is an action verb. Love your spouse actively, every day.”
  2. “Argue all you want, but it shouldn’t be you vs. your SO. It should be you (TOGETHER) vs. the problem.”
  3. “There is more than one right way to do something (e.g. load the dishwasher, fold the laundry, etc).”
  4. Never stop dating your spouse.”
  5. “When you are angry and having a fight, refrain from calling your spouse names of any kind.”
  6. “Make sure that you make time for sex.”
  7. Choose your battles. Sometimes you just need to breathe and carry on. Communication. Communication. Communication.”
  8. “Always have each other’s back in public. Never belittle your spouse. Have all the disagreements people normally do but let the world know you two are best friends.”
  9. “Show appreciation! Always say thank you, even for little things. Being married to someone doesn’t make you entitled to anything that they do for you.”
  10. “Arguing occurs when being right is more important than listening to your spouse.”
  11. “Always assume the other person has the best intentions. Let the small stuff go. Never stop being considerate or doing small gestures ‘just because.’” 
  12. “No matter how bad the fight, how frustrated you are, look for something to be thankful for in your spouse. It will help calm you and give you a second to clear your head.”
  13. “Kiss each other EVERYDAY.”
  14. “Never stop listening.”
  15. “No one argues well at midnight. So sometimes it is ok to go to bed angry. Consider it a timeout to regroup.”
  16. “You must remember: You’re not in a battle. You’re not boxing. You are not opponents. You are working towards a common cause: A happy, healthy, productive life together.”
  17. “You put her first, she puts you first. If you’re always more concerned about her needs than your own, and she’s more concerned about your needs than her own, you won’t have many problems.”
Posted on March 18, 2017 .

Financial Advice for newlyweds

Married last June, Maria and Victor Martin* are bubbling with plans. Within the next five years, they want to have two kids and upgrade from their recently purchased two-bedroom condo in Chicago. And Maria, 33, an assistant psychology professor, and Victor, 37, who is finishing his doctorate in clinical psychology, are eager to add to the $60,000 they already have in retirement savings. "Marriage, babies, new home, new job—we're on the brink of a lot of beginnings," Maria told me. "I want to make sure we're prioritizing the way we should be." 

I love that this couple is looking toward the future. And they have a lot going for them in the present: no credit card debt, both cars paid off, and enough income each month to cover their expenses. But when Maria and Victor contacted me to help plot their next steps, I warned them of some potential obstacles that could block their dreams—especially if the newlyweds don't plan carefully. Here's the strategy I laid out for Maria and Victor: 

Take Guidance with a Grain of Salt 

When I asked Maria and Victor why they'd bought a condo if they were intending to move within five years, and why Victor's IRA was invested in an account that charges 2.42 percent in fees (anything above 1 percent sets off my alarms), they both mentioned family advice as a big factor in their decision making. In fact, Maria's family helped with the down payment, and Victor's IRA is managed by his parents' financial adviser. (Note to Victor's parents: Get a new adviser!) 

It's natural to rely on family for guidance—but sadly, they often know as little as you do when it comes to smart money management. It's time for Maria and Victor to educate themselves and take responsibility for the money they have—and the money they want to have. 

Protect the Love of Your Life 

Maria and Victor are focused on building a family—yet they're blind to taking care of each other. More than 80 percent of the couple's after-tax income of $5,100 each month comes from Maria's work. So when they applied for a mortgage, it was based only on her income, and she's listed alone on the mortgage. That's not uncommon. But what jumped out at me is that the title to the condo is also in Maria's name only. That has to change and change fast. If anything were to happen to Maria, Victor would find himself in a lengthy and costly legal tangle to keep the home, especially because they have no will or revocable living trust in place—another item that should be high on their to-do list. 

The couple needs term life insurance as well—at a minimum a $250,000 level term policy, to cover the $244,000 they owe on their mortgage. But my advice was to aim for much larger death benefits. At their age, Maria and Victor should both be able to purchase $1 million policies for a combined premium around $150 a month. That's a lot of peace of mind for a low price, and as their family grows, such coverage will be crucial. I pointed them to online term insurance specialists selectquote.com and accuquote.com

Get Real About Real Estate 

A $30,000 gift from family and an $8,000 federal first-time homebuyer's tax credit (in place through spring 2010) were enough to coax Maria and Victor into purchasing a condo last year. But when I asked if they would have bought without the credit, there was a long pause. "That's a good question," said Victor. "I don't really know." His answer was a red flag that they shouldn't have bought (see more reasons in "House Rules," below). You should never base a financial decision on a tax break. But with that bad decision already behind them, I urged them to think of their condo as a longer-term home. The kids will be just fine sharing the second bedroom. 

Tighten Your Belt Before the Baby 

Maria and Victor have about three months' living expenses set aside. That's actually pretty good, considering that Victor's current take-home pay is $900 a month. But I urged them to do better, as they anticipate starting a family. Looking at their monthly expenses, we found a few pieces of low-hanging fruit: Two hundred dollars a month on clothes? I don't think so. Another $155 for hair and manicures? Denied. A combined $825 on food and dining? Not for long. 

Fast-track Student Debt 

When Victor graduates in 2013, he expects to make about $60,000, nearly quadrupling his monthly take-home pay to around $3,500. Yet he'll also have about $150,000 in student loans. Victor can consolidate these federal loans into one with a fixed interest rate that should be below 7.5 percent. (Learn more about federal loan consolidation at loanconsolidation.ed.gov.) The hard part will be choosing a payment plan. If he pays $1,100 a month, he'll be making payments for 30 years. I just don't think it's smart to be paying off your own loans when your kids are in college. If Maria and Victor commit to $1,800 a month—setting aside money from his new job and expenses they've trimmed—the loans will be paid off in ten years. Bonus: Less debt will mean better mortgage terms when they do eventually move to a bigger place. 

When in Doubt, Roth IRA 

Maria puts $250 a month into her employer's 403(b) plan, the nonprofit sector equivalent of a 401(k). Her employer will soon begin contributing an amount equal to 7 percent of Maria's annual salary, regardless of whether she puts in anything. I think Maria should stop contributing. Surprised? Here's the logic: She will still get the 7 percent, but a 403(b), like a 401(k), isn't easy to access. We shouldn't blithely take money out of our retirement accounts, of course, but newlyweds have to balance retirement needs against the reality of limited savings. If they had a serious emergency, a withdrawal from the 403(b) could be hit with income tax and a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. So I'd prefer that Maria (and Victor, when he settles into a full-time job) focus on Roth IRAs. I hope they don't need to touch that money until they retire. But if they do, only the earnings can be taxed and penalized—never the principal. I stressed that long-term, they'll want to fund work-based retirement plans and Roth IRAs. But first they need to focus on establishing a firm foundation for what is real right now.

The newlyweds thought buying a condo in 2010 made sense. If they'd come to me earlier, I would have explained why renting was smarter. 

1. Condos Are Especially Risky 
One of the units in the couple's building is now in a short sale, with a price below what Maria and Victor paid. Whatever that unit sells for can become the new "value" for every other comparable unit in the building. Moreover, if one unit goes into foreclosure or a lengthy short-sale process, other owners often wind up shouldering a larger share of common charges. 

2. Prices Can Always Dip Lower 
Victor mentioned that they bought their unit for well below what it sold for a few years ago. That's irrelevant; all that matters is its current value. They paid $311,000 for their condo last year. Another unit recently failed to sell at $280,000. Suddenly, the great deal they got doesn't seem so great. That doesn't mean I'm against buying today, but I'd bid at least 20 percent below today's fair market value to provide some cushion if prices fall. 

3. A Profit May Take Many Years 
In a normal market, homes should appreciate at about 4 percent a year—but these aren't normal times. And when Maria and Victor eventually sell, they'll likely spend 10 percent of the sale price on the agent's commission and other expenses. That means they need at least 10 percent appreciation to break even, and we can't assume that will happen in the next five years. The good news is, the couple love their condo, so they were open to my suggestion to stay put until a move makes financial sense. 

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/money/financial-advice-for-newlyweds-managing-money-after-marriage#ixzz4bhBYZUFZ

 

Posted on March 18, 2017 .

forget sex couples quizzed advice newlyweds say secret happy marriage talking other

Newlyweds, are you rushing home to your loved one, ready to fling off your coats and get on that sofa...for a good natter? Well you should be, because, forget sex -  the secret of a happy marriage is real conversation.

A study of 2,000 men and women who have been married for a decade or more revealed their best single piece of advice to newlyweds was that it's good to talk.

The second-placed piece of advice was to compromise, followed by 'keep going' and persevere with the marriage, despite tough times and obstacles.

Only one per cent of respondents specifically mentioned the importance of a good sex life. The research quizzed long standing couples on the secrets of how to survive 10 years of marriage. 

Interestingly just three per cent mentioned being faithful in their words of wisdom while other nuggets of advice to newlyweds was to 'keep working on it', 'listen' and 'have patience'. 

Reinforcing the importance of keeping things light, another popular piece of advice was to 'have a good sense of humour' and 'keep laughing'. Another often-quoted piece of advice was 'never go to sleep on an argument'.

There were some unexpected pieces of advice too, with a number of people simply stating 'don't get married', while others cautioned: 'don't let the in-laws interfere'.

Children were also a bone of contention for some couples, with a small number of people advising 'don't have children', while others said: 'don't have kids until you have saved up loads of money' or 'don't have kids straight away'.

Those who go into marriage hoping to change their partners were given a dose of reality, with the advice: 'Don't have unrealistic expectations of changing someone to suit yourself'.

Remembering that a marriage lasts well beyond the wedding day was another popular theme with couples being urged to stick at their relationship and 'expect the ups and downs, it's not all a bed of roses, but don't give up too easily'.

Sarah Thompson, a lawyer for Slater & Gordon, who commissioned the study, said: 'What's clear from my work as a family lawyer is that marriage can be hard work.

'When I speak to clients about the reasons their relationship has ended, it's often for the same reasons: problems communicating and not being able to compromise.

'Sadly, despite the best intentions in the world, not every marriage will last forever. That is why I'm delighted that Slater & Gordon is now offering lawyer-supported mediation to couples who would like to sort out their differences at the end of their relationship away from the courts.

'As this research has shown, communication and compromise can be the key to a happy marriage, but they are also the attributes that can help resolve a relationship that is over in the best possible way for all parties involved.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2800087/forget-sex-couples-quizzed-advice-newlyweds-say-secret-happy-marriage-talking-other.html#ixzz4bh9AcN00 
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Posted on March 18, 2017 .