Contents

Preface Part I - Insight: ♥A Picture is Worth 1000 Words – Kricia Morris ♥For the Love of Men and a Free Spirit – Anna Coker, LPC, LCAS-P (licensed counselor and addictions specialist) ♥Handmade + DIY Wedding Love – Emma Arendoski – ♥Heels Down – Amy McKay Rodriguez ♥Four Things to Know Before You Plan Your Fairytale Wedding Amanda Roquemore♥The Chocolate Fountain Was a Hit – Alex Remon ♥Don’t Go Plain White Shoes – Nora K. Gonzalez ♥I Took The Cheap Photographer Route – Lauren Grove – Every Last Detail ♥My Mother-in-Law, My Friend – Sally ♥The Ultimate Post-Honeymoon Buzz Kill – Kate Washington – ♥The Wedding Is a Day, the Marriage Is a Lifetime – Sandy Philpott – ♥Mother of the Bride – Denée King –

Part II – Information: ♥The Top 5 Things that Grooms Wish They Had Known Before the Wedding - Chris Easter ♥Simple, Online Solution to the Married Name-Change Nightmare! – Liz McGinty and Gina ♥Tight Shoes? Who Knew? – Kimberly Leatherdale ♥Wedding Hair Disaster – Renee C. Krejci ♥Dr. Romance's 7 Things to Consider Before Moving in Together or Making Emotional and Financial Commitments: - Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr. Romance")Part III – Humor: ♥Seized by a Greek Mother-in-law – Robin Q. Daumit ♥My Big Fat Swedish Honeymoon – Lena Carpelan ♥Where Are My Clothes? – Kenya Hegazy ♥Investigate Before You Set a Date – Stu Gray ♥Let Them Eat Cake – Denée King – Part IV – Short and Sweet ♥Snipets of Wisdom Sharon Gilchrest ONeill, Ed.S., LMFT – Michelle R. Morton Marty Babbington Jann Foy Lynn Blumenfeld

Preface

If knowledge is power, then after reading these stories of What I Wish I'd Known Before The Wedding, you are certain to feel more powerful in preparing yourself for that "one perfect day" and for all the days to follow. The personal experiences shared by these writers are told with humor and candor but are rich with insight, information, and inspiration. We are honored to be able to share our own unique glimpses into the past but with a focus on new beginnings…from this day forward. ♥

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words
by Kricia Morris On April 30, 2005 I married my amazing husband Matthew after months of planning, phone calls, vendor meetings and scouring online sources. I remember the downpour of rain that cascaded down on me and my bridesmaids as we left the hair salon. I remember the red clay that caked the tires of our guests as they parked outside our backyard gathering. I remember that my wedding cake was not the flavor that I ordered. What I don't remember about my wedding day however, was anything else! If there is anything that I can express to upcoming brides and grooms it would absolutely be the importance of finding a wedding photographer who will capture not only your family portraits, but your details, your memories and your personality to remember for a lifetime. I don't think any bride truly realizes how quickly their wedding day flies by. They plan a beautiful fairytale day that has been in their minds since they were little girls, and all of a sudden, the bubbles are flying and the getaway car is sweeping you away to your honeymoon. Where did those moments go? That is where a wedding photographer can save the day. Weeks after the flowers have wilted and the dress has been packed away a bride can turn back to their wedding album and relive the memories of their wedding day in full, colorful and dramatic detail. That is, IF they selected the correct photographer for them in the beginning. When I look back at my personal wedding photos I see a collection of technically sound shots that are unfortunately entirely lacking in emotion. The standards are there with the family shots, the obligatory first kiss and the clinking glasses of the first toast. Beyond that, my photos are lacking in creativity, originality and most importantly the life that was such an integral part of my wedding day. I truly feel that the outcome of my photos is nobody's fault but my own however. I was on a very strict budget (who isn't these days!?) and I settled. I located the first photographer who would do what I asked and booked them without even asking to see a wedding portfolio. Today's bride is definitely more educated with online resources

and countless wedding magazines, so I don't expect many make that same mistake. However, one mistake that is commonly made is that brides book based on price, not on connection. I took my experience as a bride and have subsequently turned it into a career in wedding and lifestyle portrait photography. I pride myself on the fact that I connect with my clients. Living in Hawaii, I work in a predominantly destination environment and I know that face to face meetings aren't typically feasible. However, with options such as Facebook, IM, Skype and good old telephone conversations I see no reason why my brides can't enter their wedding days comfortable and secure in the fact that I know them, I know what they want in their images, and they're confident that I will be able to deliver on their expectations. Brides please take a lesson from a former bride who has learned from her mistakes; PLEASE find a vendor that you love. A vendor that by the end of the night feels more like a member of the family than the hired help, someone who you're going to shoot an email to when you and your husband find out you're having your first child. That kind of connection will bring you nothing but happiness with your images, which in turn will provide beautiful and tangible memories of the most monumental day of your life. A picture is worth 1000 words; please ensure that your words are happy ones now and always.
Kricia Morris is a wedding and lifestyle portrait photographer serving the Hawaiian Islands.

Kricia Morris Photography http://www.Kriciamorris.com kricia@kriciamorris.com 850.419.2266

For the Love of Men and a Free Spirit
by Anna Coker

life as a wife. It wasn’t until a couple months into our marriage did I fully grasp the unnecessary stress I’d put myself through. Another nightmare of my father dying woke me out of a deep sleep and like the hundred times before; I sat up shaking and sobbing. As was routine to then call my dad, grabbing my phone I snuck out of bed and headed for the door. Standing alone on our back porch surrounded by the darkness of the morning, I cried on the phone to my dad; he was used to this. On the other hand, my new husband had never seen me this way. Dan appeared at the back door and embarrassment overshadowed my emotions. Now annoyed at myself, I shooed him away. He didn't leave. He stood waiting patiently; seemingly comfortable with my range of emotions. After I hung up, Dan inquired about what happened with genuine concern. Through my blubbering and nose-blowing, I attempted to explain. While making an effort to decipher the words through my tears, he gently led me back to the bedroom where we climbed into our blanketed cocoon of a bed. As Dan drew me into his arms, I could almost feel those tears crawling back up my cheeks. Perhaps words were no longer necessary. Cozily ensconced in his embrace, I fell peacefully and soundly asleep. What do I wish I’d known before my wedding day? That driving myself crazy planning our wedding offered not one thing toward a successful marriage. That no dollar amount, no flower arrangement, and no dress offered me the security I find in my marital relationship. Most importantly, the engagement period is meant to be a time to plan the marriage, not the wedding. It was within moments of waking that morning, I sensed no sign of the bittersweetness I’d felt walking down the aisle. The dirty kneed little girl turned free-spirited and independent woman unreservedly made her rite of passage as a wife through the love of the two men in her life. Anna Coker LPC, LCAS-P (licensed counselor and th addictions specialist)– Married October, 6 , 2007 www.thecurrentwife.blogspot.com Twitter: @pixography

Tripping over his foot was hardly the way I’d dreamed of my first encounter with my future husband, “Hi, my name is Clumsy, nice to meet you.” Yet, it is this theme I continue to see throughout our marriage; free spirit meets strong and stable. Dan’s strength of character had my heart before I fell in love with him as a man. Saying ‘yes’ on the night of our engagement was not because I felt butterflies, but knowing when the butterflies were gone, he’d still be there. Not long after our engagement did the realization of what I was looking for in this future husband of mine was what I’d had in my father for the last twentynine years; a rock, loyalty, kindness, strength of mind, wisdom and a survivor’s spirit. Mom left us when I was eighteen months old and he stayed to raise me and my brother, provide for us, and love us the only way he knew; he didn’t leave. Growing up, shopping and spa days were replaced by dirtying my knees laying tile and playing baseball with the boys. I adore my dad for that. It didn’t take long to lose sight of my original instincts, as for the entirety of the year from ‘yes’ to ‘dress’, I didn’t just plan our wedding. I attended grad school, completed an 8 month internship, worked part-time, moved twice and mourned with Dan the death of his father. Yet, ‘bound and determined’ would be my mantra. This bride-to-be was going to do it all despite driving herself into a crazed state of mind and maybe her fiancé, too. I spent money I didn’t have, time I couldn’t spare and energy that was clearly being stolen from various caffeine products. Working full-time at assessing this future husband of mine was also on my to-do list. The standard of measurement was my dad, of course and while it may not seem fair, this was the only process worthy of my trust. By the time I stood still long enough to take a deep breath, I was standing at the opposite end of the aisle as Dan. It was then, with my hand wrapped securely in place around Dad’s arm, the bitter-sweet awareness came that I was leaving Dad behind to start my new

Handmade + DIY Wedding Love
by Emma Arendoski
One day while I was planning my wedding, I went to the store to look at wedding day accessories. I began sorting through their ‘Wedding Accessories’ – a collection of plastic, over-priced stacks of junk, dusty and piled up in ugly-looking boxes. I remember thinking to myself, is this it? This is the beautiful wedding section? They were poor quality, painted in dull colors, and lacked any type of individuality. I knew there had to be something better out there. If I could give advice to a bride-to-be, it would be simple: buy handmade. It wasn’t until I was further into my wedding planning that I discovered the wonderful world of handmade: unique, personalized, high-quality wedding accessories, handcrafted with love by indie artists from across the globe! Button bouquets, birdcage veils, bridesmaid totes, flower girl baskets, ring pillows, cuff links, cake toppers, pinwheels, parasols, bridal clutches… you name it, someone made it! The more I searched, the more impressed – and inspired! – I became. The beautiful items kept flowing in, one after another, hitting me like a tidal wave! Sweet, personal, chic, custom, and yes, handcrafted with care. I was in love! Traditional (yawn) wedding accessories have been done, and re-done, to the max. Boring! Handmade is unique. It unleashes creativity and breaks the mold of the traditional wedding. Give your guests something to remember about your day by incorporating details about you and your future spouse. I’ve found robot wedding cake toppers for the techy bride and groom; Mr. T cuff links for the groomsmen; hand-painted caricature wine glasses for the bridesmaids; romantic ring bearer pillows; embroidered bridesmaid clutches; teeny-tiny flower girl jewelry; college-themed garters; birdcage veils with a true 1940’s vintage charm; and many more awe-inspiring items. So, if you are a bride who is tired of mass production, you’re ready to ditch the commercial crap, and skip the long lines, take my advice and buy handmade for your wedding

(and beyond). Where to buy? Search in Google for handmade wedding items. Check out sites like Etsy or Artfire. Visit Twitter and Facebook and look up handmade vendors. Handmade is everywhere! And, remember, handmade does not mean second hand. In fact, I’ve found handmade to be of higher quality standards than anything I’ve ever found in a store! There is a whole world out there filled with talented artisans who would be absolutely delighted to help you create the wedding of your dreams! Enjoy! After her wedding, Emma wanted to help spread the love for handmade weddings. She launched http://Emmalinebride.com, the handmade wedding marketplace and blog. It promotes unique wedding accessories and bridal couture – handmade by indie artists – and incorporates DIY wedding ideas, tips, trends, and real wedding features. Check it out or tell a friend!

"Heels-Down"
By Amy McKay Rodriguez Before my big day, I wish I’d known that four-inch heels should not be found on the bottom of any wedding shoe. Ever. Now, before you go all “duh?” on me, hear me out. My feet are very used to high-heels. They like them, they feel soft and pretty in them a feeling every bride wants her feet to feel on their wondrous wedding day. The chosen shoes were a smashing pair of pewter pumps from “Carlos by Carlos Santana.” Carlos makes my favorite shoes of all time and I just knew my feet would appreciate a stunning new pair for me to strut around in on the biggest day of my life. Apparently, I don’t know my feet as well as I thought I did; they didn’t appreciate it in the least bit. To I say that my feet felt like they were on fire each time I took a single step for five solid days after the wedding would be an understatement. Way, way under the statement. Had I thought it out a little longer, I’d have realized that my little paws are used to sitting down or walking short distances in four-inch heels, not dancing the night away. Seven hours, 420 minutes, 25,200 seconds of standing/dancing in four-inch heels! Insanity at its finest. Clearly, I was under the influence of my favorite brand of Merlot when I thought that was a novel idea! So here’s my advice to you soon-to-bebrides: get your shoe game in order if you know what’s best for you. It’s okay to have a beautiful stiletto under that gorgeous gown to make you feel like a million bucks...for a bit; don’t plan on wearing them all night long.

You might be saying in your stubborn little head, “I can just take them off when my feet start to hurt.” Yeah, not a good look for a blushing bride; don’t do that either. Have a cute little pair of fabulous flats to switch into or a fun pair of low heels to match a chic getaway dress toward the end of the reception. Trust me, your feet will thank you later. ♥ Amy

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Amy is a Wedding and Event Planner for All Things Planned engineering wondrous weddings and exquisite events in South Texas. (www.allthingsplanned.net) You can follow her blog at All Things Wedding (www.amysallthingswedding.com) for inspiration and “a bride’s confession to a wedding obsession.”

4 Things to Know Before You Plan Your Fairytale Wedding!
by Amanda Roquemore

recommend HOLDING OFF until you have more time to plan. ♥You’re Not Going to Please Everybody! One of the biggest decisions that may ruffle feathers is your guest list. My husband and I have a large family on all sides and had a small budget on top of it all. We could only afford small venues for our wedding celebration. We left out many friends and distant relatives, which saddened us, but we were very limited financially. But, just know your decisions may disappoint others and it is just part of the process. Your day will be fabulous despite other people’s disappointments. In the end, they will be happy for the two of you regardless. ♥Your wedding is one of the biggest emotional roller coasters you’ll ever go through- be Flexible! You’ve envisioned your special day as a beautiful fairytale, but remember reality has a way of sneaking in. I realized this when I came across some things and events that upset me. I found out I had melanoma cancer on my leg. I went through an emotional rollercoaster fearing my health was at stake. I was scared but relieved when I caught it early enough to have it removed while it was still contained. Shortly after, I discovered one of my bridesmaids wasn’t my true friend. It was painful and hurtful process to go through, but it is better to know beforehand and handle the situation so I could resume my venture toward wedding bliss. ♥Surround Yourself With the Most Supportive, Positive People You Know! I can’t emphasize how important it is to find people who will listen to your ideas with an open mind and have your true interests at heart- and not their own. It certainly helped having positive people to count on during this time because it helped me nail down decisions quickly. But I was painfully aware of those who did not. So keep in mind that everyone you know will not be your “sounding board.” Take time to really find your close few. Overall, try to stay calm and flexible throughout your wedding planning process in order to fully enjoy yourself. I promise there is a positive outcome for any negative situation you face. Hang in there and your fairytale wedding will come true! All the effort is worth it! Amanda Roquemore is the author of the blog Fashionista On A Dime (http://fashionistaonadime.blogspot.com)

My husband proposed to me after 3 ½ years of dating- on 9/27/2008. He took me to a nice dinner by the sea. It was like a sweet story you’d come across on “He Proposed!” or in a book. I always knew he was the one. My dreams of marrying my soul-mate would finally come true! However, I didn’t realize how hectic the process would be with mine and my future-husband’s over-packed schedules, family obligations, and merging of two customs and lives. Here’s what I wish I knew before I planned my wedding. ♥ Plan your wedding when you have FREE TIME! If you can help it, let work be the only thing going on in your life while planning your wedding! I barely had the time to plan and get things done because I worked full time; I was finishing my Bachelor’s Degree and graduating 4 months prior to my wedding and house hunting an hour away from home. My husband worked the night shifts and slept during the day which hindered us from getting any planning done let alone meet vendors. Thankfully, I was able to get wedding stuff done at work and on my lunch breaks. I was an Administrative Assistant at a real estate company at the time. Work was scarce and my free time was abundant due to the economic state we were in. So, I used the internet to research bridesmaid dresses, schedule appointments, interview vendors, etc. I know it’s really exciting to plan your wedding and live your dream. Part of you feels like you can do it all. But trust me, you’ll burn out and spread yourself too thin. You won’t enjoy the process. I highly

The Chocolate Fountain was a Hit!
By Alex Remon
I’m a videographer so here’s my advice from both the videographer, and the bride’s point of view on that. Ask the videographer how many cameras they are using and what exactly those cameras are. If one camera is a Panasonic, you want them all to be Panasonic so the colors match. If they only use one camera, find another videographer. With just one camera, every time the camera swings to capture the action, you’re going to watch it do so, and if the videographer can’t get a good angle, or if Uncle Fred decides to stand directly in front of the camera, you’re stuck with a video from a bad angle. If they have 2 cameras set up, they can get more closeups because they can edit to the wide angle camera while they are moving the camera. Make sure that the groom meets with the videographer prior to the actual wedding to learn how the microphone works. The mic is usually a wireless lav on the groom’s lapel. A five minute meeting a week before the wedding will allow the videographer to show the groom how to turn it on, how to double check that it is indeed ON, and they can do a preliminary sound check by having the groom and the bride standing next to him speak in normal tones and then a whisper. This will allow the videographer to note how loud the normal voices are and what they might be if the bride and groom get choked up at the altar and start whispering. They should be able to write down the levels and have that available to them on the day of the wedding so they can make quick adjustments rather than desperately trying to find the right balance during the ceremony. ♥Have one of the bridesmaids give the groom a good looking over before they go up to the altar. My husband had some sort of shmutz on his lapel (like some makeup or something) that I noticed as soon as I got down the aisle. It was subtle but it showed up in every single picture. ♥Before the wedding, have the DJ play you a snippet of each of your main songs. For our first dance, he played a different song from the same artist and they sound very similar but it was the lyrics that were important to me. I realized halfway through our first dance that he was playing the wrong song. ♥Write down your vows in a large font on 3x5 cards. You’re going to get choked up and forget stuff but if you tuck those cards into the groom’s pocket, he can give them to you and you’ll be able to read your notes. Trust me, no one will think any less of you for it.

♥Have a speech prepared for the reception. I was surprised when they handed us the mic for a toast of some sort at the reception and I had to address the crowd on the fly. I had used up all of my eloquence in the vows and made felt rather foolish. So even if you don’t plan on speaking, have a few words of thanks for your family joining you on such a wonderful day prepared just in case someone hands you the mic and directs all attention to you. ♥Have something happening to entertain the kids. We had a chocolate fountain and since we were the youngest in our respective families, the usual bouquet and garter throwing traditions didn’t make any sense. So I threw the bouquet to all the little girls and a paper crown to the little boys and they became the Prince and Princess of the wedding and got to be the first at the chocolate fountain. I don’t remember much from my wedding, but I do remember one little cousin running up to me, covered in chocolate screaming “This is the best wedding EVER!” Something will, more than likely, go wrong, so just hope it’s something small and laugh about it. It’s mostly going to be a haze in your memory anyway and the marriage is much more important than the wedding. Alex Remon President, MegaMouth Productions www.MegaMouthProductions.com

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Don't go plain white shoes!
By Nora K. Gonzalez When I got married 20 years ago nobody talked about shoes matching the dress or something blue, even less something borrowed. I just worn plain white shoes, very pretty ones, made of leather with very tiny punch holes, elegant but still boring. Then I graduated as a Fashion Designer and many years later I started a line of custom designed shoes. If someone told me this story I would have said “that is a nice fantasy!” But today, that is my reality. I design shoes for weddings every single day with original motifs: peacocks, in every style ,even albinos, feathers, something blue, swans and hearts, beach weddings, tropical, ethnic, Victorian, traditional, gothic, abstracts, butterflies, paisleys, peonies, fall and autumn, midsummer's night dream, chains and coins, humming birds, Indian weddings,1930's style,1940's vintage and 1970's funk, owls, cameos and pearls, pheasants, pythons, black and gold, black and white, winter crystal ice, palace, Victorian lace, hot pinks and polka dots, Boston terriers, winter wonderland,1960's blast from the past, fire and phoenix, carousels, art noveau, art deco, Marie Antoinette styled, and strawberries …just to mention a few of the themes. Most of the times I work with the bride and the bridal party to create a wholesome project matching her gown or the bridesmaids’ dresses, the flower girl or wherever the bride's takes her.

I custom design and dye shoes on different backgrounds: white, silver, gold, pewter, black, copper, turquoise, neutrals, beige, nude, green, aqua, purple, ivory and also different materials: satin, leather, synthetics, faux crocodrile skins and other man made. My customers are from all around the globe: from Miami and California to Europe and Australia and everywhere in between. I personally work with my clients to try to make the online shopping experience feel as personal as purchasing from your favorite boutique around the corner. So,my advice now is this: contact me and ask for the shoes you really desire for the Big Day in your life, don't go plain white.

Nora K. Gonzalez, Owner and Fahion Designer for Nora Karen, has been featured on many blogs, websites, microblogs, shops and e-magazines. e-mail: norakaren2002@yahoo.com http://www.NoraKaren.com

"I Took the Cheap Photographer Route"
By Lauren Grove An example of a good photo, by Studio 222 Photography

And another example of a good photo, by Ashley Brockinton Photography

One of the reasons why I’m always talking about the importance of quality photography is because I made a mistake that I hope to prevent other brides from making. I took the cheap photographer route. I attribute this to the fact that when I was planning my wedding, I had no clue. The only resources I used were [two very popular wedding resource sites] because that’s all I knew about. However, when using their budget recommendations (which was all I had to go off of), their recommended photography percentage was way below what I was realistically seeing for photographer pricing. I didn’t have anyone to tell me what the “norm” pricing was for a good photographer. I was counting on those resources to help me, and they didn’t. So, while we wait for these resources to catch up to 2010, this is my warning! I’m in no way a photographer, but I want to pass along some tidbits that I wish I had known as a bride. One of the first things that I tell new brides is the normal cost for decent photography, because I myself had no idea. Here in Florida, photography packages usually start at $2000, and that’s that bare minimum. It varies everywhere, and of course it also varies with the photographers and their experience. Keep in mind that photographers are not just taking photos of you on your wedding day. They also have to edit the photos (which can take up to 30 hours), design the album, answer your emails and phone calls, and carry out all of the other administrative duties that owning a business entails. (There is so much more, but I’ll leave that to the photographers to explain!) Most of all, bottom line: you get what you pay for. It really can’t be said any differently.

Needless to say, I’m still pretty heartbroken about my lack of knowledge when I chose my photographer. I wish I had known about so many things when I was planning my wedding. Now that I look at amazing work from photographers every day, I know that my photos could have been so much better. But you live and you learn, right? There’s always our vow renewal to make up for it! [Disclaimer: Don't get me wrong when I say "cheap photographer". I paid more than what would normally be considered "cheap". But when you consider what was included in the price (my 12 hour wedding day, engagement session, bridal session, album and prints), and then when you see the pretty much unedited images, then yes, it was indeed cheap.] If you have any questions about choosing your photographer, please ask! I don’t want anyone else to feel the way that I do, and this is one of the many reasons why I write my blog and why I entered the wedding industry. I want to help everyone have the absolute best wedding possible! Lauren Grove lauren@everylastdetailblog.com Every Last Detail Blog http://EveryLastDetailBlog.com

My Mother-In-Law, My Friend
by Sally Shields

I wish I had applied the 7th spiritual law of success, which is, the quickest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. And by that I mean, be a loving, kind-hearted, sensitive, open person, and that the world will reflect that back to you, even in the form of your mother-in-law. I wish I had known that if I had just done all these things, that she would have eventually turned out to be an ally and a friend.

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I wish I had known how important it was to make friends with my mother- in-law; how to make her feel special and appreciated, and how vital it was to compliment her, send her flowers and cards on her special days and call her at least once a week. I wish I had known that she would have been pleased to have me call her "Mom," and I wish I had asked her how she was feeling on a regular basis. I wish I had told her what a great job she did as a mother, and I wish I hadn't given away some of the household items she had given me, even though I didn't like them. I wish I had known how not to get defensive, and to ask her for lots of advice. I wish I had taken the time to get to know about her past, and to compliment the way she kept house and to tell her how delicious her cooking was. I wish I had known that it was a BIG ‘no no’ to criticize her to my husband, and I wish I had known that imitating her voice was something that was hurtful and to be avoided at all costs. I wish I had appreciated her for who she was, and given her the benefit of the doubt.

Please visit Sally Shields, speaker, radio personality, free publicity specialist and author of the #1 Amazon.com bestseller, The Daughter-in-Law Rules www.theDILrules.com on the web at: for contest giveaways, free bonus gifts, Sally’s newsletter, free music, ... and more!

The Ultimate Post-Honeymoon Buzz Kill
by Kate Washington What would be your ultimate post-honeymoon buzz kill?

photos and call it good. Had I known these people would be exiting my life so soon, I wouldn't have included them. Those extra invitations could have alleviated a good deal of stress. Most of all, I would have planned a different honeymoon. Even if it had been the most perfect, magical week imaginable, it was $2,000 that could have been put to better use these past few months. Considering what we got in Puerto Vallarta, we could have enjoyed something better and closer to home for a fraction of the cost. There is one thing I'm very grateful we did do: we paid for our entire wedding in cash and started our married life free of debt (except for the mortgage). This was not because I suspected I'd be losing my job, but a lifestyle we'd chosen. What a relief to not be saddled with thousands of dollars of debt on top of losing my income. That has afforded us a great deal of security in an unstable time. Lessons learned?

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Finding out you're pregnant? A flooded house, a broken limb? Or getting fired? If you think those events would tarnish your happy honeymoon shine, you're right. And I know: The day after my honeymoon, I got fired. I'd suspected it was coming and spent three stressful months trying to prevent it – I only wish she'd done it before the honeymoon. Letting me drag my carcass back to work after a week in Mexico only to get canned was a cruel trick. Would I have done some things differently if I'd known? You bet. I would not have let my manager get to me. She'd already fired three other women that year and I knew she wanted me gone too. I wish I'd accepted that she was going to get her way eventually and kept my head down. Instead, I got riled up week after week and even ended up in the emergency room with an anxiety attack! Speaking of the ER, I'd have used up all my sick time. I scrimped on half days and worked through lunches to avoid burning my days on the emergency room, the ensuing appointments and the blood work. But as it was, when I got fired, I lost all that sick time anyway. I would not have invited coworkers to my wedding. For months, they heard all the wedding drama and I felt it would be a little anti-climactic to return to work with a few

Don't let pressure affect me on a personal level. It doesn't change the outcome. Insist on my rights, protections and privileges at work. Those things are owed any employee and I don't have to feel guilty for using them. Weddings are about our nearest and dearest. Don't feel compelled to invite acquaintances and coworkers. Money and exotic location are not what make a honeymoon special. No matter where you go together, your honeymoon is a once in a lifetime experience. Live debt free. You never know when your circumstances might change.

Kate Washington is a creative woman on a mission to invest in herself, her marriage, her home and her friendships. She was raised in a large family, is drawn to earthy pursuits and happily resides it the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband Gary. Join her at www.newlywedandunemployed.blogspot.com as she navigates life after the honeymoon.

The Wedding Is a Day, the Marriage Is a Lifetime
By Sandy Philpott

When I got married, I had several advantages in terms of wedding planning. First, I was nearly 40 years old, and second, my wedding was only three months after I got engaged. Having a short engagement made wedding planning much easier because I didn’t have time to second-guess my decisions. If we’d had a year or more to plan our wedding, we’d probably have visited a dozen venues and then been torn between the one with the most photogenic grounds, the one with the best food, the one that provided the loveliest cake, the one closest to the ceremony, etc. Instead, we visited two, picked the one we liked better, and never looked back. When I shopped for my gown, I found one I loved and bought it the same day. I didn’t drive myself crazy waiting to find something better. I saved myself so much stress by having to make decisions quickly and live with them instead of wavering back and forth for months. Also, being an older bride who has been to (and in) many other weddings, I already knew what I liked and what I didn’t. I had seen every style of ceremony, from ultra-formal Catholic masses to ceremonies on the beach with a J.P. to multi-denominational weddings with a rabbi and a pastor sharing officiate duties. I had seen every kind of reception, from elaborate sitdown dinners with toast after toast to a pig roast in the churchyard with guests changing into shorts and T-shirts to play horseshoes. I had seen what worked and what didn’t, I had recalled the details (good and bad) that stuck out in my mind even years later, and I had seen what I loved and what was not quite to my taste. Another advantage of my age was that I had

learned to trust myself, and to trust others. So on my wedding day, I didn’t worry or even think about the details. I had planned carefully and chosen vendors that I trusted, so I let them deal with any problems that arose and I just enjoyed my day. One of the best pieces of advice I received before my wedding was to take moments throughout the day to pause and take in what was happening. When the doors at the back of the church opened and I made my entrance, I stopped for a moment to lock eyes with my beaming groom and admire how handsome he looked. I gazed around the church at the family and friends who had gathered to celebrate with us. When we first went into the reception hall, I paused to admire the glorious results of all my careful planning, from the linens to the centerpieces to the seating arrangements. I wasn’t checking to see if the vendors had followed my orders to the letter, I was merely admiring and enjoying their hard work – and my own. And yet, no wedding goes perfectly according to plan. So when our limo broke down on the way to pick up the groom and best man, noone panicked; the men just drove themselves and when the limo finally did arrive, my two young nieces got to enjoy their first limo ride. Don’t view those little glitches as disasters, just accept them and look for the silver lining. And there always is one – at the end of the day, as long as you’re now married to the love of your life, the wedding was a success! After all, the wedding is only a day, but the marriage is a lifetime. More than just planning our wedding, my fiancé and I spent our engagement planning our marriage. We talked about how we would handle our finances, where we would live, how we would handle job changes, whether we wanted children and how many, our parenting styles, our religious practices, how we would divide up chores – everything we could think of that could have an impact on our relationship as husband and wife. And two years later, there isn’t a thing I would change about our wedding – or our marriage. Sandy Philpott Sandy@Philpott.org
http://www.SandysMotherhoodBlog.blogspot.com

Mother of the Bride
by Denée King

this particular day but of the ones she had for her new home and life as a married woman. How I was amazed at discovering the extent of the organizational gene she inherited from her grandfather (which, as he said, skipped a generation!). And just how crazy I was that I almost let the exaggerated media influence my thinking. I wish I’d known how quickly the time would fly by and how I would look back and wish I had taken more pictures of the little moments….the cake tasting, visiting the funky, Bohemian-like little flower shop, trips to the mall to find the perfect shoes, the nights we set up assembling hand-made ‘save the dates’, the trial run at the beauty shop watching the hair dresser fret (a tiny bit) trying to figure out how to re-create the look from the picture my daughter presented her with the massive amount of hair she was trying to work with. I wish someone had told me that these moments would be just as priceless as the wedding itself. What did I learn? Trust my heart! Truthfully, I always knew it would be a wonderful, lifechanging experience. I learned to not take the everyday experiences for granted and to take a camera with me wherever I go!
Denée King and daughter, Shaylan Brown are co-founders of “She Just Got Married” (www.SheJustGotMarried.com) , a Social community that celebrates the joy of love and the journey of a newlywed woman, a place to Discover You After 'I do'.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of good mother/daughter relationships gone bad when it comes to planning a wedding….kind of like when a husband and wife attempt to assemble a piece of furniture…together. It sounded like a fun idea because, well, we just really, really love being together. **collective awwwww** I even watched an episode of “Bridezilla” so I would be prepared…like going through childbirth class so I would fully understand beforehand what giving birth would be like. *NEWSFLASH* …No amount of reading or attending a class can prepare you for childbirth. The same is true for being the mother of a bride who has opted to plan her own wedding. You just won’t know until you experience it firsthand. What I wish I’d known before the wedding was how this experience would be one of the most wonderful and downright fun times in my life…. how amazed I would be watching my daughter delight in each day and every detail of the process. How she would share with me her dreams of not just

The Top 5 Things That Grooms Wish They Had Known Before the Wedding
By Chris Easter
Being in business as groom experts, we get the chance to meet lots of newlyweds, and more specifically, grooms. Over the past year, we’ve talked to hundreds of men who have taken “the plunge” and gotten married. We always like to ask them what they liked, disliked and wish they had known about the wedding experience beforehand. We do get some pretty interesting answers (some of which can’t be shared here); however there are a few things that seem to come up over and over again. We want to help out future grooms by sharing this list so they can be better prepared. Here is our list of top five things that grooms wish they had known before planning their wedding. ♣Vendor’s gratuity If gratuity isn’t included in your contract with a wedding vendor, it’s considered courtesy to tip a wedding vendor. For the groom’s side of the wedding, this would include caterers at the rehearsal dinner, the limo driver, and a DJ or band. Tipping the Wedding Officiant isn’t necessary, but it’s nice to present them with a donation to the church. ♣Fathers’ Tuxes If you’re renting tuxes, another common courtesy is to pick up the tab for the father-ofthe-groom and father-of-the-bride. A lot of tux shops will give you a free rental if you book a certain number of tuxedos. Many grooms just pass the free rental on to one of the fathers. ♣Drink slowly at the reception We’re not telling you to cut back on your fun at the reception, but just keep in mind that anytime anyone sees you with an empty hand at the reception, they’ll promptly fill it with a drink. By the end of the night, it’s easy to be feeling shaky and wonder how it happened.

♣Get in on the shower fun A lot of guys assume that the wedding shower festivities are just for the bride. All grooms should be aware of the growing trend of couples and “man” wedding showers and the many wedding gifts for men that are out there to be had. ♣Destination weddings are affordable It’s natural to hear the word “destination wedding” and immediately think that it’s out of your price range. The truth is quite the contrary. While you do pay for travel and lodging, most resorts do offer packages that include everything you will need. Think of all the money that will be saved that would normally go to wedding vendors. Chris Easter of www.TheManRegistry.com

Simple, Online Solution to the Married Name-Change Nightmare!
By Liz McGinty and Gina Dziak
“Fast, easy, effective! This website was my one-stop-shop for changing my name.” -Jamie, TX At this point you probably do not know too much about the name-change process or how to even begin to change your name from your maiden, to your new married name! You may even have a few questions and concerns about changing your name due to marriage, and why wouldn’t you?! You would think that in 2010, changing your name after marriage would be easier, but to most people it is an overwhelming process that can create unnecessary confusion and stress. This is why we are here to assist! Over the past few years, we at www.MissNowMrs.com have happily assisted over 60,000 Brides through our “onestop-shop”, nationwide easy online namechange service; saving an average of 13 hours on research and form completion! Here are some details for you… One of our prominent findings has been to recognize your options before it is time to change your name so that you’re not overwhelmed with anxiety when the time comes to actually make the change. Will you hyphenate, take your spouse’s last name, replace your middle name with your maiden name, or simply keep your maiden name? You should spend time prior to the wedding discussing these options with your fiancé to ensure that you come to a conclusion that makes both of you happy. Whatever decision you make, you should be sure to book your travel plans for the honeymoon under your maiden name because you most likely will not have enough time to change your name on your social security card, driver’s license, and passport before you depart! Regardless of what state you reside in, you will benefit from requesting additional certified copies of your marriage certificate after your wedding, to use during the name-change process. Several state and U.S. government agencies require a certified copy of your

marriage certificate as legal proof of your marriage before they will proceed with your name change. Now, you are ready to begin the name-change process! There is a certain procedure required when submitting your State and U.S. Government name-change forms, luckily we have already taken the research out of the picture for you. We will also offer you our inside details and recommendations coming straight from the U.S. Government office personnel themselves! Once you have changed all of your state and U.S. Government documents, it is equally important to notify creditors of your name change. You may elect to make phone calls to each office or write a letter stating your previous name, new name, and that you are changing your name due to marriage. Some offices will require you to fill-out a name change request form or letter (along with a certified copy of your marriage certificate) before they will process your name change. After planning a wedding, (or even if you are just getting around to changing your name now, years after marriage) the last thing you want to do is stress out about the name change process and paperwork! This is why we, at MissNowMrs.com offer you an online account to provide you with a simplified transition, from Miss…to…Mrs. in 3 simple steps: Questions, Forms, File! Come visit us and register for your account today; we are happy to assist! www.MissNowMrs.com

Tight Shoes? Who Knew?
By Kim Leatherdale

At a friend's wedding, her younger brother laid his whole 6 foot frame out on the floor when he passed out during the ceremony. The reason? His shoes were too small. I never knew standing in a warm room in too tight shoes could make you pass out, but it did. And he was in the wedding party, so it wasn't subtle. My advice? Make sure everyone knows to have correctly fitted clothes, top to bottom. Kim Leatherdale is a relationship expert who provides video and in-person counseling. Read her relationship skills at Creating Rewarding Relationships

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www.CreatingRewardingRelationships.blogspot.com

As a couples' counselor (and relationship blogger) I hear many stories of what went wrong even as early as the planning stages. I'd like to share two wedding events and what I learned. In my own wedding, one of my bride's maids called me a week before to say when she went to get her dress sized the store had not ordered it (even though she had a credit card receipt from 3 months earlier.) I told her to go back to them and insist they find her the same dress from one of their other stores and they did (good news, it wasn't a clashing color.) I would advise brides and grooms to not be intimidated by problems or unprofessional stores.

Kimberly Leatherdale LPC, ATR-BC, NCC Creating Rewarding Relationships with yourself, others, and the world. Get daily hints, ideas, and quotes from Kim on Twitter: @HappyCoupleXprt

My Wedding Hair Disaster, My Disaster Photographer and My Honeymoon Mishaps… What I Wish I’d Known Before the Wedding
By Renee C Krejci Planning weddings is fun. Along with the fun is of course the stress and some of the incidents that can happen that may or may not be avoidable. As a wedding planner I know of many of those things that can happen and try to help all my brides avoid those incidences. Back in the day, though I was a bride without any wedding planner helping me or warning me of things to look out for. I would like to share these moments with you in hoping to avoid these disasters in your wedding. These are the three incidences I wish I knew before the wedding.

to our wedding, my husband and I filled out a detailed form on which photos the photographer was to take photos of. We took the time to fill it out so nothing was missed that was important to us. After the wedding we got the call from our photographer to look at our proofs. This was before digital cameras were taking over in the wedding world. We arrived at his studio looking at the proofs. As we were looking at them, we noticed some of the photos we asked him to take were missing. He told us that either he lost the roll of film or never put film in the camera before taking them. And other photos that he took, he decided they didn’t turn out and got rid of them. We were devastated. Important pictures of our mothers at the ceremony were gone and pictures he was supposed to take of the children in our wedding were missing. The photos that weren’t lost and were in the camera got developed and they turned out beautiful, but it doesn’t replace the photos that were missing. ♥Lesson learned: Keep checking with photographer to see if he/she is taking the right photos. Third, I will tell about our honeymoon. We went to Cancun, Mexico. We loved it there. We had so much fun, with a few mishaps. First, we got sick eating foods that aren’t Mexico’s specialty such as the sea food and sushi. We should have stuck with American food and Mexican. Second, we lost money, $200 worth, in the ocean. My husband put our money in a waterproof wallet that was supposed to be hung around his neck. Well, instead he put it in his pocket and it floated out in to the ocean. Third, I got sunburned terribly the last day. I put sunscreen on, but it wasn’t high enough of a number. Also, the heat is so much hotter. It is dry heat and not humid. I laid out too long and didn’t wear strong enough sunscreen. ♥Lessons learned: Put money in a safe spot that you can’t lose it. Wear high enough sun screen. Don’t eat foods you’re not familiar with in a country that doesn’t specialize in making it. Renee C Krejci, PBC Certified Professional Bridal Consultant www.RCKWeddingsandmore.com Renee enjoys the love stories behind each couple and embraces their ideas for their wedding.

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First, I want to mention hair. I, like most brides, had my hair done by a stylist. I went to the salon wearing a sweatshirt and shorts. When I arrived my stylist said “You didn’t wear a button shirt?” I said “no, why?” She said “well, your sweatshirt might mess up your hair. Button shirts work best for that.” I felt stupid, but thought ‘I’ll just be careful’. She did my hair and it turned out gorgeous. I couldn’t wait to go home and put my wedding dress on. Well, trying to take the sweatshirt off with a veil pinned on my head did mess up my hair. My bridesmaids and I tried to comb it in to smooth it over, but it didn’t help much. It was ruined. I still looked decent, but my hair mess up was definitely noticeable. Luckily in most of my professional photos, my photographer touched them up. ♥Lesson learned: Wear a button shirt when getting your hair styled for any event. Second, I will mention my photographer. Prior

Dr. Romance's 7 Things to Consider Before Moving in Together or Making Emotional and Financial Commitments:
By Tina B. Tessina

redecorating it. ♥ How close are you to family or friends? If one of you has a lot of family or friends, and the other does not, or if you both have big families, find out what those relationships mean. Where will you spend holidays? If there are family members who have problems, such as financial stress, addiction or mental illness, how much will that impactyour relationship? ♥How do you handle anger and other emotions? We all get upset from time to time. If you are usually good at diffusing each other's anger and being supportive through times of grief or pain, your emotional bond will deepen as time goes on. If your tendency is to react to each other and make the situation more volatile and destructive, you need to correct that problem before you live together. ♥How do you show love to each other? Talking about which actions and words mean love to you may be surprising. Discussing how you give and receive love will improve your relationship, and help you understand what makes each of you feel loved, and how to express love effectively. ♥How well did you discuss these very questions? These questions are excellent tests of your ability to define and work out problems. Constructive discussion that leads to a mutually satisfactory solution means you know how to solve problems in your relationship. If you fight, get counseling before going further. Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr. Romance") Psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) 1-59869-325-6 Tina Tessina – email: Tina@Tinatessina.com Dr. Romance Blog http://www.drromance.typepad.com/dr_romanc e_blog
Other Published books: *It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction *How To Be a Couple and Still Be Free *The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again *Gay Relationships *The REAL 13th Step

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♥What is your definition of commitment? You and your partner define your relationship. Know what your relationship means to each of you, to avoid repeating past mistakes, getting stuck in uncomfortable roles, or fighting about what your commitment is. Talk about what you mean by relationship, commitment, love, and faithfulness. You'll be amazed by what you learn. ♥Have you discussed finances? Money is a big generator of problems, arguments, and resentment in long-term relationships. Don't assume money should be pooled. For many couples separating the money makes things run smoother; you don't wind up struggling for control of who pays or whose income determines your lifestyle. Different financial habits (one likes to save, the other spends more, or doesn't keep track) can generate fights. Whether you split expenses evenly, or on a percentage basis, learn to talk about money in a businesslike manner. ♥What about household responsibilities? Drastically different decorating styles, neatness, and organization levels can become sources of argument, as can housekeeping and chores. Different tastes may require creativity and negotiation to decorate a shared home that makes both of you comfortable. Negotiate before moving into your partner's established home. You may have trouble feeling as if you "belong" in a home previously established by your partner, unless you participate together in reorganizing and

Seized by a Greek mother-in-law!
By Robin Q Daumit
I had been dating Stavros, a first generation Greek American from immigrant parents. I was the nonGreek, and so for three years his family managed to ignore my presence through all holidays and festive events; a little difficult, I thought, since I was usually the only blond in the bunch. Well, that is, except for a few scattered peroxide blonds with black roots, and a five-o-clock shadow where their mustache use to be only hours earlier. Ignored. That is, until Stavros announced to his family that we were engaged. Of course I was given a big fat diamond that was a family heirloom, a few other pieces of gold from the family jewels, and an engagement party that would have topped most American weddings. Jewels were admired; I was ignored. My friends told me that I needed to get one of those ‘Eyes’ that are set in a piece of jewelry, to ward off the evil wishes I was sure to receive throughout this entire wedding preparation. I did. I even hid a few in my shoes and underwear. Well, as fate would have it, my mother-in-law to be was a dressmaker. Not just any dressmaker but sought out among the who’s-who elite in the Washington DC social society. And, of course, she insisted on making my dress. Making it? Try creating it, designing it, ordering imported Italian lace for it (without ever asking what I might like to wear on my day), and taking over every tiny detail of the wedding. My body was called upon for fittings. I was ignored. What was I getting myself into? Everything had been planned, and not by me. My veil, my money purse (how embarrassing), our honeymoon, which of course would be to go to Greece to meet all the relatives there, and my shoes. At each fitting for the dress, a satin bag was pulled out, and the most perfect and delicate pair of Nina Ricci shoes, costing at least $500.00, was placed on my feet while I was stuck like a pincushion. Of course, I was ignored. My shoes. Yes. My shoes. Who said I had to wear these perfect pair of shoes to go along with the perfect dress, perfect wedding event and perfect honeymoon; all of which I had nothing to do with? My shoes would be the last things to go on my body once everyone was seated in the Greek Cathedral adorned with flowers from all the Greek family florists. (Now don’t get me wrong, I fell in love

with an amazing Greek man, and met wonderful people with him... but a Greek mother-in-law to a non-Greek daughter-in-law can be, and often is: a horror.) For just a few moments before I would walk down the isle, no one would be with me as I slipped into my shoes. My shoes. I was elated at the thought of walking down the aisle in ‘Their’ dress, but I would be wearing My Shoes! Did I have the guts to do it? You bet I did. Wedding day arrived. His family filled the church while my family huddled together in their corner. And then, my moment arrived. At the reception I sat in a chair in front of all the wedding guests. The dress was pulled up around my thighs for my garter to be removed from my leg; and in that moment in which I stole completely for myself, the room was filled with gasps and whispers. My shoes. Oh how horrid they were, much to my immense delight! My mother-in-law threw me an evil eye that was sure to crack the little glass blue eye I had pinned to my thong. I looked directly into her face: beaming. Suddenly, as my husband removed my garter, I noticed many of the guests from his family, look directly into my eyes and smile. They understood. And with that, I was no longer ignored, nor seized! Robin Q. Daumit is the author of Confessions of a Hairdresser: Amazon.com Author of Beauty Shop Buzz www.BeautyShopBuzz.com

My Big Fat Swedish Honeymoon
By Lena Carpelan

When my shy, northern Indiana farm boy groom arrived in Sweden to meet my family and was crowned an honorary Viking—which meant wearing a silvery spandex helmet with droopy horns that my mother had fashioned from one of her old glamour tops, while being inspected at a family dinner full of new relatives—he wished he’d looked closer at the perils of crosscultural courtships. When my 80-year-old grandmother coolly treated my one-beer dear to a series of potent “snaps” toasts to test his mettle…when the relatives launched an inquisition in rusty English as to his interests in life (Yoo say dairy cows? Vell, hov kvaint!)…when he was met by a plethora of confusing silverware and goblets, and observant second-cousins-once-removed nodded knowingly as he picked up the wrong fork…not to mention when his undistinguished ancestry was rapidly dissected by a new father-in-law who wished his only daughter had married a nobleman…then he knew he hadn’t asked enough questions before the wedding! Lena Carpelan is the author of The Adventures of the Blackberry Hill Kids, http://www.BlackberryHillKids.com - a rollicking insider look at the life of a Swedish-American family with three lively rapscallions who cheerfully romp through life as their rapidly aging parents valiantly try to keep order in the midst of chaos. The kids’ further adventures are chronicled at Musings and Mayhem at Blackberry Hill (www.blog.blackberryhillkids.com )

Where are my clothes?!?!
by: Kenya Hegazy
My name is Kenya and I have been married since November 16, 2008. My husband, Yosef, is a really cool, down to earth guy. You can say that he was like other husbands; not as involved with the wedding planning details as I was. I literally tried to take care of everything. When it came closer to the wedding I started to think about the day after the wedding. We, as many other couples, chose to stay at a hotel on our wedding night near our reception site. A couple of weeks before the wedding I drove my husband insane about the items he needed to pack for the wedding night. You know, the essentials such as a change of clothes, toothbrush, underwear, etc. Fast forward to the day after the wedding. We woke up in the morning and decided that we would head down to grab some breakfast. I opened my “packed” bag and, at that moment, realized that I had forgotten certain essential items. These items include: • Bra • Coat (it was 40 degrees!) • Shoes and socks • Shirt • Long pants • Garment bag for my wedding dress I know what you are thinking. How did I forget to pack the above items, especially after bugging my husband to be sure to remember the items that he needed to pack? I have no answer. I can only say that my mind must have been on another planet at that point in the wedding planning.

I’ll give you the answer to the other question which is floating in your head… “what did you end up wearing?” My outfit consisted of a black zip-up velour jacket (no bra, no shirt), black gaucho pants, and the white flip flops that I used to wear during the reception to dance the night away with. In that outfit, we marched downstairs to grab some breakfast. Thankfully, the breakfast room wasn’t crowded! We went back to the room to pack up and leave to go home. I had no coat. I only had my white fur short wrap that I used with my wedding dress. Also, I realized that I did not bring the wedding dress garment bag. So, when we were leaving the hotel to check out. I walked around in the horrendous outfit with my wedding dress draped over my body, my veil and crinoline stuffed in a laundry bag that was provided by the hotel, and wearing short Capri pants and flip flops. It was about 42 degrees out that morning. It was cold, even colder with just the black velour jacket I had on. Forgetting the essential items didn’t ruin my day, it just made me giggle about it. As a matter of fact, writing this article is making me giggle. Blog: Newlywed Giggles www.FunTimesofMarriedLife.blogspot.com

Investigate Before You Set a Date
By Stu Gray We had an adventurous wedding. Being married in New Orleans, Louisiana -- of course, all of our friends and family wanted to come enjoy our marriage celebration; After all, The Big Easy is a fun place to visit! When you're planning a wedding in a city that you are not familiar with, you might want to check out more than the weather forecast! There were two things we didn’t know about New Orleans in August… Boys and Bugs! The first thing we didn't know is that New Orleans hosts 'Southern Decadence' - A week-end dedicated to "gay pride" in late summer -- so, as our friends and family ended up downtown in the French quarter for our rehearsal dinner, we knew something was amiss; Especially when we noticed several men in bright colored boas, and various states of undress.

We were married in the Louisiana Castle, an hour north of New Orleans. It's a real castle nestled in the woods--truly a beautiful setting. As I was driving up toward the castle on Friday before our wedding, I noticed these little black bugs were everywhere. Several of them looked connected together -- two bugs, with their back sides attached, clumsily flying through the air. Locals call them “Love Bugs”. On the weekend of our wedding, I didn't find them that loving. I found them rather disgusting. And that's the problem. You do find them everywhere. They get in and on, everything -- your hair, your clothes, your car -- you name it, Love Bugs were everywhere. Our friends and family got to enjoy the love bugs and all of the swatting and peeling them out of their hair during our wedding ceremony. Ahh, Love. Sweet Love…Bugs. Who knew that we'd have to deal with the Love Bug Season, and Southern Decadence Weekend!? We didn't! So, take it from me. If you are new to a city, make sure you know the crazy things that happen there around the time when you’re planning your wedding!! When Stu Gray isn't having nightmares about love bugs, or pink feather boas, he is writing about what makes Stupendous Marriages at http://www.TheMarryBlogger.com (so after your big day – make sure you check out his website!)

We didn't know until later that my friend, who officiated our wedding, and his wife, ventured out into the French quarter and got some memorable pictures of guys wearing leather chaps and nothing else! I have to say that those pictures are much more memorable than our wedding pictures. The second thing we didn’t know is that at the end of August the skies are full of love… Love Bugs, that is.

Let Them Eat Cake
By Denée King www.SheJustGotMarried.com

At your wedding….let them eat cake…but let it reflect your personality. ♥

I’ve been to many a wedding and seen everything from simple to sensational easy going to elaborate. I’ve seen the groomsmen strut down the aisle in top hats as the band played show tunes and bridesmaids wearing everything from formal elegance to renaissance replicates. But one wedding took the cake (surely, you can appreciate the double entendre!). At the reception the bride’s table boasted a beautiful, traditional cake. At the groom’s table, in all its Texas glory - a cake made in the shape of an armadillo. Oh, wait….it gets even better! When the groom cut into the cake it was ‘red velvet’. Yes…it looked like the infamous road-kill. Everyone loved it!

Looking back at my own wedding I wish my husband and I had been a bit more creative with our cake selection. It was beautiful and delicious but it didn’t really express our personalities. If I had it to do over again it would have some type of Caribbean ocean design with a variety of colorful tropical fish ‘splashed’ about.

Cakes (above) by Sharon Alexander Sweet-Sensations http://www.Sweet-Sensations.com/blog

Snipets of Wisdom
♥Looking back (a few years!) to 1983, the one thing I would have changed about my wonderful champagne brunch wedding that continued at our home till midnight, was not to have immediately followed it the next day with boarding a plane for a three-week honeymoon to Europe! ♥ ♥I wish I would have had the Bride Body Now weight loss program to help me lose 25 pounds prior to my big day, instead of paying a trainer. But, my trainer and I later became business partners to provide the www.BrideBodyNow.com weight loss program. ~Marty Babbington

Sharon Gilchrest ONeill, Ed.S., LMFT Marriage Therapist/Consultant/Author A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage www.ashortguidetoahappymarriage.com

♥I would not have shared a ride to the airport the next day with a couple who attended the wedding. She spent the 30 minute ride telling me everything that she thought went wrong at my wedding and reception! Instead of saving a few $$, my new husband and I should have shared a quiet ride together. Jann Foy, Realtor,
http://Jannfoy.housingtrendsnewsletter.com

♥To make sure the day is about the two of you and you take time to really enjoy the day. Do not worry about the little stuff because in the end what matters is the two of you and your love for each other! Keep it simple as it should not be stressful (bad stress) - once you take out all the stress and just focus on having fun and enjoying this special journey together it should all fall into place. I know easier said than done but we tend to put too much into the material things for the wedding when it should just be the bride and groom and their vows. Michelle Morton - Send Out Cards https://www.sendoutcards.com/9961

♥I wish I'd invited fewer people and I wish I'd said something at the toast. I thought, let everyone else toast you - but I wish I'd toasted them for traveling and for loving us. I am glad I didn't have bridesmaids. I’m glad we had a DJ and not a band but I wish the DJ had followed my list of songs. But in the end it didn't really matter because we had a good time. I am glad, however, that we brought a few props (funny sunglasses, a magic wand) to the beach for our photos. Lynn Blumenfeld of blumenfeld + fleming http://blumenfeldandfleming.com

Looking forward….. It’s easy to look back and say “If I knew then what I know now I’d have done things differently”. Maybe, maybe not. We can’t go back….but we can learn from our past. Regrets pull us down but choosing to share our insights from the lessons we all learn in life allows us the privilege of helping others. I hope you were inspired by the stories of things that went wrong (or so it seemed at the time) that led some to launch their own careers. Some chose to just see the humor and share those moments through stories that let us laugh at life’s more challenging situations. And some touch our hearts and allow us to reflect and, perhaps, rethink our own relationships. If you were inspired, informed or just had a good laugh we’d be honored if you’d share this with a friend. As the publisher of this E-Book, I’d like to thank each you who participated in this collaborative project….for your contribution through your heartfelt words and for the time you gave to make this such a success! I’d also like to thank my son, Kevin Blackwell of Studio French (www.studiofrench.com) for the beautiful cover design. But most of all, I want to thank him for putting up with my 997 changes of mind, for his tireless dedication and the many revisions (sorry!) and for his never-ending encouragement and support. I ♥ you all! ~ Denée, CEO, www.SheJustGotMarried.com If you’d like to contact me please email me at: Denee@SheJustGotMarried.com

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