Planning, Wedding

Making the Most of Your Christmas Wedding

It might seem like overkill to celebrate your wedding during the Christmas season, but it’s actually a great way to make the most of two very special occasions. To that end, here are some ideas that mix traditions from both occasions into something unique and enjoyable.

Themed Invitations

Instead of formal white invitations that have become the standard, choose something more colorful. Red and green are the predominant Christmas hues, so work with your designer and create something that mixes the formal and the fun.  The wedding programs will also benefit from this approach, so keep them in mind, too.

Christmas Bouquets

You can really shake up the traditional bouquet design by using Christmas colors instead. Ever seen a rose bouquet? They’re lovely! You can also be imaginative with the bridesmaids’ bouquets.

The Boutonnieres

Make the boutonnieres seasonally appropriate as well with a berry spray, pine needles, or even mini pine cones.

Christmas Decorations

Decorate your reception hall in lovely Christmas themed decorations. They can be natural and include live foliage, or go for a lovely artificial approach. Choose what feels right for the couple and their tastes.

You can also adorn the tables with a beautiful red and green centerpiece, plus Christmas standards, such as gingerbread houses and candy canes and cranberries. Red and green plaid tablecloths also provide a nice touch, and be sure to include a packet of Christmas candy with everyone’s utensils and napkins.

Christmas Wedding Cake

Now, here is where you can really have some fun. Given the near universal revulsion for Christmas cake, you don’t want to go that route. Substitute one that includes a lot of fruit while also offering the texture and taste most guests prefer.

Cocoa

In addition to the usual selection of coffees to have with dessert, why not also offer some hot cocoa with marshmallows? Throw in a serving of Christmas cookies with each cup.

Wedding

Can’t Think of a Wedding Gift? Try One of These Suggestions

The big day is coming up, but you’re still stumped about what to get the lucky couple? In most cases, a gift registry can make things easier, but not when every appealing item on them has already been taken. If you’re thinking of the gift last resort —money— don’t worry, we’re here to help save you from looking lazy and unimaginative! Try one of the following instead:

4K Television

These are the height of current TV technology, but have not been on the market too long, so there is a good chance that the couple does not already have one. The good news is that, as long as you don’t choose one 80 inches and up, they are surprisingly cheap considering the incredibly high-quality picture they deliver.

Keepsake Box

Your friends will be inundated with cards, small gifts, and other special things that can lost or stolen if not properly filed. A sturdy and very nicely designed keepsake box will help them to properly store these items so they can be enjoyed in excellent condition at a later date.

Special Gift Card

We know what you’re thinking! This sounds lazy, but it’s not because the gift card will be used in the place where the couple is honeymooning. Find out where they are staying and choose a nice restaurant nearby.

Food or Drink Subscription

Think about the food or wine the couple enjoys. Many of these are now available via subscription and can be sent directly to their home on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. If you are stumped about these categories, you can also do the same with flowers.

Bluetooth Stereo Speakers

One of the great things about smartphones is their bluetooth functions. Buy a portable speaker for the couple and they can listen to music anywhere inside or outside their home. Some also allow you to make and receive phone calls.

Planning, Wedding

Would You Accept Corporate Money to Pay for Your Wedding?

We all know just how expensive a wedding can be. Perhaps you have spend many a sleepless night thinking about it? Between the clothes, the rings, the food, the alcohol, the hall rental, and every other incidental, you could make a very large house down payment for what the average wedding now goes for. We do not for one second blame anyone who wishes to thoroughly analyze their wedding preparations and make cost-cutting changes where appropriate.

But how far would you be willing to go in compromising your vision of the perfect wedding ceremony and reception? Some couples have also now turned to the recent trend of crowdfunding in order to help meet their nuptial bills. Would you be willing to accept advertising in order to help defray the cost?

Sponsor My Event is one such site where you can find couples can solicit sponsors to make their dream day everything they hoped it would be. In exchange, the company would be able to feature advertising at the event.

Our take is that it just sounds tacky. Certainly everyone has their dream of what a wedding should be, but it should also be something that centres solely on the union of the couple, not some company’s desire to further promote itself.

If your wedding plans are beyond your budget, and there is no feasible way for you to raise the necessary funds, then you must be willing to compromise. What are the things you truly don’t absolutely need? Do you really need 150 people? Cut it down to 75. Do you really need a free bar? Make it a cash bar. Do you need such a big reception hall? Rent a smaller venue.

Be realistic and you can still have a very magical day. When all is said and done, it’s the couple that counts, not the frills.

Wedding

How to Make Sure Your Friendship Survives the Wedding

For all the social change that has occurred over the past hundred years, the today’s typical wedding is still steeped heavily in tradition. Even offbeat brides and grooms follow many of the same customs as their ancestors. Whether the ceremony takes place in a church, on a beach, aboard an airplane, or any number of creative venues, most couples comply with the social expectation of a bridal party, including a maid of honour and best man.

There are variations to this tradition, sure. I once attended a wedding where the bride selected a ‘man of honour’ in lieu of a female friend. But the point remains – it’s a decisive declaration of who is most important to the bride and groom.

Nowhere else is it acceptable to rank and label one’s own closes friends and family, let alone so publicly!

It’s no surprise that bridal party selection can lead to rifts in the relationship between once-close friends and family members. You can’t make everyone a bridesmaid or groomsman (or bridesman/groomsmaid, if you’re a bit of a radical), because that would defeat the purpose. But nor can most people choose their select few without hurting a few feelings.

There are other clear social signals that come to play in planning a wedding. Where people are seated in the ceremony is one. Those with a front-row seat are clearly favoured in one way or another, be it by blood or by friendship. Seating at the reception is also significant. The greater the distance between the guest and bride and groom, the less perceived closeness.

No one likes to feel left out. But this process can also be tough on the couple, especially the bride, who is the one left to make these decisions.

Perhaps the easiest way to head off this conflict is to do away with the practice of selecting a bridal party altogether. However, it’s clear the tradition is still important to most couples (or at least to their families). It’s not going anywhere fast.

To make sure your friendship survives the wedding planning process, be proactive about acknowledging anyone who may feel hurt by their exclusion from the bridal party:

  • Once you’ve decided who will join, make a point of sending a note to those who didn’t make the cut. You don’t have to explain why.
  • Reaffirm their relationship to you. Emphasize that their attendance at the wedding is important to you.
  • Consider giving them an opportunity to be a part of the process in another way. The bridal party doesn’t have to handle everything. For example, you could ask them to help you research vendors, select music, or find a DJ. If you’re adding a bit of DIY flair to the wedding, perhaps they could help out.

 

Love Advice

Is It Normal to Have Doubts Before the Wedding?

Suppose your best friend is getting married next month, having spent the last six months planning a picturesque autumn wedding with the love of her life. As the two of you are catching up over a couple of chai lattes, she raises an unexpected and alarming concern.

“She has been on my nerves constantly”, your friend says with great emphasis, speaking of her future wife’s role in the wedding planning process. “She obsesses over the smallest, stupidest details no one would ever notice. And it’s not like she’s the one who has to pay for all this. She’s just become so…annoying.”

The trials and tribulations of planning the big event are often rife with emotions. Sometimes, it brings up behaviours someone has never seen in their future spouse before, giving rise to concerns about future marital issues may lie ahead.

“And that’s not all”, your friend continues, recounting an ever-expanding list of potential problems with her incoming marriage.

What would you tell your dear friend? Is it normal to sense marriage problems ahead of what’s supposed to be the happiest day of one’s life? Should people heed their doubts and call off the wedding?

A quick Google search on “doubts before wedding” reveals many contradictory viewpoints on this issue. Very few people seem to linger in the middle – either they say it’s totally normal or it undoubtedly spells doom for the future marriage. It offers little comfort for those who may be stewing in their own concerns in advance of their wedding.

In 2012, a UCLA study found that men and women who harboured doubts about marrying their partners have a higher divorce rate after the first four years of marriage than those who did not. Of the women interviewed for the study, 19% who expressed pre-wedding doubts were divorced four years later, compared to 8% who didn’t. For men, the stats were similar, with 14% of doubting husbands divorcing compared to 9% who had no doubts.

This may not come as a surprise, but what is shocking is just how many of the participants did have doubt in the first place. Almost half of all men in the study (47%) and over a third of women (38%) had doubts about marrying their partner.

In summary, the lead author of the study wrote that premarital doubts are “common but not benign.”

That’s a lot of ambivalence.

Of course, to accept the findings means accepting that all the couples interviewed were honest about their feelings. However, as therapist Daniela Tempesta points out in this blog, people face enormous social pressure to feel confident and excited about their upcoming weddings no matter what. This casts doubt on whether people can truly and honestly express their fears in such a study.

Daniela goes on to argue that harbouring concerns about one’s future marriage is not only normal, but that people should feel ambivalent before their wedding day.

“This is a huge decision, perhaps one of the largest and most important you’ll ever make in your life”, she writes. “The presence of ambivalence shows that you fully grasp the momentousness of this change in your life. Additionally, given the current divorce rate and the pain and suffering that results from that process, you’d be naive not to think twice about this.”

She adds, however, that you should never ignore your feelings leading up to the wedding. If you have a nagging sense that something’s not right, there’s a reason for it. Instead, she says you should investigate the feelings and try to understand what’s behind them.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, the friend in the above scenario took the right step by airing her concerns with someone else. The only thing worse than ignoring the feelings would be to deal with them in darkness.

Wedding

A Big Wedding Could Mean a Better Marriage

Studies suggest that saying “I Do” in front a larger number of people may decrease the odds of divorce.

When it comes to the ideal wedding, many couples picture a small, modest ceremony in the company of their closest friends and immediate family.

Along with the intimate atmosphere, there are definite advantages to going small. Weddings are expensive to start, and the cost typically increases by $250-$400 with each additional guest. Finding a venue meant to accommodate large groups can also be difficult.

However, a study by two University of Denver researchers suggest that bigger weddings are actually better – at least when it comes to marital satisfaction.

The report, written for the National Marriage Project, is called Before I do: What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults? It may be a mouthful, but it’s full of fascinating insights about how a couple’s premarital history impacts their future marriage.

Researchers Scott M. Stanley and Galena K. Rhodes interviews 418 people who were single at the start of the study and married five years later. They looked at the history of the subjects’ relationships before the marriage, premarital experiences with their spouse, and the wedding itself.

Those people who reported having more guests at their wedding also reported, on average, better quality marriages than those who kept it small.

47% of people who got married in front of 150 or more guests had high-quality marriages. Only 37% of those who had between 50 and 150 guests could say the same.

As for those who had less than 50 wedding guests? Just 31% reported having a high-quality marriage.

What do these numbers mean for couples planning a wedding?

Safety in Numbers

There are several possible explanations for this trend. Charles Kiesler, who studied the same subject earlier, believed a couple’s commitment is stronger when they declare it publicly. People strive to maintain consistency between what they say and what they do in order to avoid cognitive dissonance.

In short, it means we want to do what we say, especially once we’ve said it to many people.

Stanley and Rhodes, the researchers behind the present study, considered alternative possibilities. One explanation could be that the cost of the wedding, rather than the number of guests, was what really set the stage for a happier marriage.

After all, more guests means a bigger price tag, and couples who can afford big weddings likely have greater economic resources. That makes it easier to succeed in other areas of life, including marriage.

However, other studies contradict this idea. One study by economists Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon examined how the expenses of a wedding, including the cost of an engagement ring, impact the chance of divorce. They found that more money was not associated with a more stable marriage, and that pricer weddings could actually increase the risk of divorce.

However, Francis and Mialon did find a pattern related to the number of guests at these weddings: higher attendance was, once again, associated with lower odds of divorce.

There are other possibilities as well. Rhodes and Stanley concede that the study didn’t account for the size of the couples’ social networks, which could also weigh heavily on marital success. Couples with more close friends and family they can lean on for support are also at an advantage when it comes to building a life together.

What’s the Ideal Number of Wedding Guests?

As the researcher note, the number of guests at a wedding is just a tiny piece of the puzzle when it comes to a couple’s life together. Obviously, getting married in front of a large, lively crowd doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage, and small weddings aren’t a recipe for disaster.

The number of people at an average wedding is 150, which is right in the ‘safe zone’ according to Rhodes and Stanley. This would suggest that 150 is an affordable and desirable number for most.

But that doesn’t mean bigger is better. Going over budget and into debt to accommodate that magic number is likely a greater risk to marital stability than a slimmed-down guest list.

Love Advice

Is Going to Sleep Angry Really That Bad?

The science is split.

Never go to sleep angry.

It’s a classic wedding speech fodder. And like most wedding well-wishes, it comes from a good place. But is this really the best approach to conflict in relationships? Is it so essential to wrap up an argument before bedtime?

One study suggests that a good night’s sleep can reinforce negative memories, making them more difficult to get over. Sleep is known to affect how your brain stores and processes new information. That’s why they recommend studying the night before a test rather than cramming in the morning – the information will sink in better if you can sleep on it.

The same goes for negative feelings and information. If you and your partner have an argument before you sleep, the freshly-formed bad memory is more likely to stick in your brain.

A researcher in the study gives advice that echoes the age-old adage: resolve the argument before going to bed and you’ll feel better in the morning.

Going to bed angry can also impact the quality of sleep. Often, when two partners are angry at each other, one will avoid escalating by going to sleep. Meanwhile, the second partner is restless, stewing in their anger while the other snores away peacefully. Neither party is happy, the problem is no closer to resolution, and one or both of them gets a poor-night’s sleep for their trouble.

But that’s not the only perspective on the issue.

You may think it’s better to forego sleep in order to resolve an argument, but that could do more harm than good. One of the primary purposes of sleep is to replenish your energy stores. The longer you stay awake, the less efficiently your brain can process your depleting energy. That impacts different parts of your brain, including the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for your judgement and self-control.

Anyone who’s stayed late at work knows it’s hard to perform at your best when you’re tired. Your judgement and reasoning skills are the same. If you prolong an argument long into the late hours, you risk saying things you don’t mean. A simple argument can devolve into something much worse – one that definitely won’t go away with a good night’s rest.

There are benefits to resolving a conflict when it comes up, but if you’re already tired, it’s usually best to postpone. Explain to your partner that now’s not a good time to talk about this, and you’d rather revisit it with a clear mind tomorrow.

Wedding

How to Avoid Bad Speeches at Your Wedding

There are practical things a bride or groom can do to minimize the chance for catastrophe.

Love it or hate it, the wedding toast is a firmly-established wedding tradition. Snub it and you risk offending your well-meaning family members; give it a shake and you risk having someone let a bad joke or embarrassing anecdote slip.

But speeches don’t have to be a lose-lose situation. There are a few practical things you can do as a bride or groom to make sure your wedding speeches go as smoothly as possible.

Tell People Well in Advance

Decide who you want to take the podium at least three months before the wedding. The longer, the better. This will give them time to think about what they say, rehearse (hopefully), and swallow their nerves about speaking.

Set a Time Limit

Pretend you’re in the control booth at the Oscars. You’re running a tight ship here – there’s no time to for a fifteen minute tale regaling guests with that-thing-you-did-in-college. Give your speakers a hard limit of three to five minutes per speech.

You don’t have to play them off if they go over, but setting a time limit will help them stay on track and encourage them to rehearse ahead of time.

Schedule the Order in Advance

The more information they have about the evening, the less nervous your speakers will be. Let them know what order they’ll be speaking in so they can relax and prepare for the moment. It helps to have a confident speaker go first to set a good tone.

You should also give a note to the band or DJ to fire up the music as soon as the last speaker finishes. This will keep well-meaning ‘surprise’ speakers from taking the floor.

Start Early, Finish Early

Many people feel nervous enough speaking up in front of a small boardroom or classroom of people; the idea of speaking to hundreds of guests can be nauseating. Because of this, if you give them the chance, speakers will often imbibe in alcohol to relax before they go up. This doesn’t always have the desired result.

To prevent that sort of mishap, you’re best to schedule the speeches for earlier in the evening, before your guests hit the open bar. Most planners recommend doing it right after dinner.

If They’re Lost, Give Them Guidance

Not all speeches are bad because they’re rushed, or crude, or because the speaker is intoxicated. Sometimes, people just can’t nail down a good theme. You can’t write your guests’ speeches for them, but you can help give them some direction.

A few weeks before the wedding, check in with your chosen speakers and ask them how it’s going. You don’t need a sneak peak at the content of their speech – just ask if they have an idea of what they’d like to talk about. If not, there’s nothing wrong with making suggestions. Maybe you have a shared memory you’d love for them to explore, or a positive story about your partner you want the world to hear. The final result will be better, and they’ll probably appreciate that extra bit of help.

Wedding

5 Tough Questions to Ask Before Your Wedding

In marriage, what’s left unsaid can do more harm than careless words.

There are some matters we all know to discuss with a partner before marriage. Will we have children, and if so, how will we raise them? How will we manage our money? What’s the status of religion in our household?

With any luck, you sorted these issues long before you started planning the wedding. Most people do. The advent of online dating has been a benefit in this area – you can often tell whether a potential partner is on the same level as you just by reading their profile.

But a lifelong commitment calls for deeper discussions. Failing to ask the right questions of your partner before the wedding can lead to disappointment down the line. These questions aren’t always easy to answer, but they help pin down the foundation for a stable and honest marriage.

Where Do We Stand On Our Past Relationships?

Marriage occurs in media res. No matter how long ago a past relationship ended, they always have some impact on the present. This isn’t always a bad thing – often, past experiences in love help us see ourselves in a new light and understand what we want and need from a relationship.

But previous partners can be a major source of tension. You might think the details of your past are best left unsaid, but that can be recipe for disaster. It’s natural to be curious about your spouse’s past. Sealing that information away can inadvertently cause jealous and judgement. Those negative feelings often resurface in the midst of other conflicts, compounding the problem.

So, what did your ex mean to you? Where do you stand today? It’s better to answer that now, when the waters are calm, than in the heat of conflict years down the road.

How Much Are You Willing to Spend On…

The wedding is often the first big test of how well the couple’s financial goals align. But we often take for granted the fact that weddings are, well, expensive. There’s a lot more than that to discuss in terms of spending.

Spending habits are a constant point of conflict in many long-term relationships. It’s not just about big purchases, either. Many couples argue about minor things as well, like how much to tip a server.

Before you get married, you should ask specific questions about your spending habits and future plans for big purchases. A good test case is that of a car. How much are you each willing to spend on a new vehicle? Will you buy new, or used? This can be instructive as to whether your future spouse’s spending habits will get on your nerves.

How Did Your Family Resolve Conflict?

There’s no such thing as a conflict-free marriage. Not every couple gets into serious fights, but everyone disagrees on things from time to time. If it hasn’t happened yet (I’d love to know your secret!), it’s going to happen once you’re married.

Without a means of resolving day-to-day conflict, tension builds and the relationship deteriorates.

People are shaped by the family dynamics they grew up with, especially when it comes to resolving conflict. Talking about it can tell you whether your partner’s conflict resolution habits will work with yours.

Awkward as it may be, asking your partner what their family fought about and how they dealt with it can give you some valuable insight.

What If One of Us Gets Sick?

Most wedding vows include a line about loving your partner in sickness and in health. It’s a very important vow. Just about everyone falls ill at some point in their lives, and we trust our partners to support us through the worst of times.

Loving someone in hard times is easy – but maintaining a healthy relationship in the midst of a medical crisis can be hard for even the most stable and committed couples. You can’t imagine what it’s going to be like until it happens. And once it does, you may not have the time or the will to discuss it.

Just as couples should discuss their wills, they should ask questions regarding a potential health crisis. What happens if I can’t walk anymore? What if I need to quit my job? What if we need to move to another city, or state, to be closer to medical treatment? This will provide peace of mind.

How Much “Me” Time Do We Expect?

By the time you get engaged, you probably have a sense of how much independence your partner desires. However, those expectations can change once you’re married and living together full-time.

To avoid feelings of tension or rejection, you should discuss which hobbies, friends, and activities you’re going to share post-wedding, and what areas of your lives you wish to remain independent.

 

Planning, Wedding

Budgeting for a Wedding? Don’t Forget These 5 Hidden Expenses

 

So, what’s our budget for this thing?

It’s the first question most couples ask when they’re planning a wedding. Or, at least it should be. You can’t have a productive conversation about venues, florists, food, or decorations until you know how much money you’re working with.

Failing to set expectations about budget early on in the planning process can lead to conflict and disappointment down the road. That’s the last thing you need in the days leading up to your wedding.

We rhymed off a few of the obvious expenses above, but there’s more to the wedding budget than cakes and caterers. Writing for Apartment Therapy, Taryn Williford points out five hidden wedding expenses people tend to forget. Mark these on your budget to stay in good financial shape from the start.

Decorations, Especially the Small Stuff

The big-ticket items on the list, like chairs and centrepieces, are safely tucked in with your rental and florist budget. Of course, you’ll need more than that to make your venue pop in those wedding photos.

There will be lots of little decorations, like candles, signs, or a ceremony backdrop, that bump up the expense as well. Don’t think you can avoid it by doing it all yourself – craft supplies add up quick. It’s good to set a budget for “small stuff” before you get started.

Beyond Hair and Makeup

For some, getting your hair and makeup done is enough for your wedding day. Some of us are even more low-maintenance than that! But others (and you’ll know if this is you) will require other pre-wedding beauty prep, like a tan, manicure, waxing, haircut or colour. Don’t add this to an already-bloated budget at the last minute.

Meals Before the Wedding

The wedding party will arrive at the venue before everyone else. If you’re having the ceremony before lunch time, you may want to arrange meals for you and your closest allies. This intimate meal could add more great memories to an already-special day, but only if you budget for it properly.

Gratuities

Turns out you’re supposed to tip in the wedding industry. Who knew? You do, now. Check out this guide to wedding etiquette to find out how much should set aside for vendor tips.

Gifts

Your friends and family gave it their all to give you a wedding day to remember. How could you ever thank them? Well, words may not need enough! Make room in your wedding budget for gifts. You may want to leave a little extra for unexpected MVPs, like florist or DJ who goes above and beyond on the big day.