Advice to Brides–Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling
This photo is why you need premarital counseling…

I’m about five years removed from my time of being engaged, so I can look back with clarity now. There are a few things I would go back and change (conversations I would approach differently, time I would have spent differently, details I would have worried less about, details I would have worried more about, etc.), but the one thing I would NEVER change is the fact that we did premarital counseling.

Many of my successfully married friends would also tell you to do just regular old marital counseling, but to be honest we haven’t so I can’t speak to that. But premarital counseling? For the love of all things good, do it.

A lot of people probably have a negative reaction to premarital counseling because you don’t want to pay to talk to a stranger about your relationship, but it doesn’t have to be like that.

Here’s what our premarital counseling looked like: we met weekly for 4 months with a couple from our church (who had been trained for this sort of informal counseling) and went through a book that was really just  a way to guide our conversations. It was so helpful to have a set time each week that The Guns and I would sit down with a more experienced couple and go through the things that are not fun to bring up in conversation. Like chores, plans for visiting in-laws, how we’ll handle conflict, money, kids, debt, free time, vacations, and the list goes on and on. These meetings, even though we sometimes had to talk about not fun stuff, were honestly the best part of our week!

You think you’ll talk about that stuff while you’re engaged, but honestly you’re more likely to talk about what excursions you want to do on your honeymoon or that annoying distant family member that you must invite.

There’s a lot of formats for premarital counseling if you’re still not sure. You can try a conference near you, heading to your church and meeting with a pastor or minister, finding a family counselor, or even just finding a couple that’s been married and asking them (they will be flattered that you asked!). However you do it, just make it happen. As much as it’s important to plan a beautiful wedding, it’s also insanely important to plan a beautiful marriage.

Are you married or engaged? Did you or do you plan to go to premarital counseling?

Advice to Brides: that weird wedding gift

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With wedding season upon us I thought I’d give some advice for brides and future wives periodically here on the blog.

So if any brides are reading, let’s take a moment to be honest.  You’ll receive at least one gift that’s totally weird, wacky, random, or maybe a little tacky.  Here’s my suggestion to you, and it may surprise you.

Keep it.

Unless you just really really hate it. Then throw it out.  But if it’s just sort of wacky, or almost humorous to you, I say keep it.

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One of our weird wedding gifts was this wooden rabbit bowl. We received it as a joint gift from a couple of my dad’s employees.

To those ladies, if you read this blog (and I doubt you do), please don’t take offense.  I now understand what a nice gift it was, I’m sorry I didn’t get that when I was 23.

We opened it up and just sort of looked at it, befuddled. We then looked it up online and realized that it cost more that $60 (which I still kind of don’t get…). We didn’t get rid of it, but weren’t sure what to do with it (the only thing I could think of at the time was to use it as a salad or fruit bowl) since it didn’t really fit in with the rest of our stuff. So for awhile it sat outside on our patio, and at one point The Guns was growing basil and parsley inside of it, but it was always just sort of shoved in a corner outside, and when I got to our new home I found it laying on our deck with a football sitting in it.

Looking at it now, it is clearly expertly handcrafted, and now that I have a love for woodland creatures in design I actually think it might eventually have a place among the décor in my home. The only problem it’s been a little bleached by the sun and beat up from weather and moving. But maybe I’ll paint it or something and put it somewhere that will make me smile.

So when you open that weird wacky wedding gift, resist the urge to chuck it, and hang onto it, repurpose it, and if nothing else, let it be a reminder to have a little chuckle.

A glorious day

I got to spend the weekend with two of my oldest friends. Keri, Lauren and I grew up dancing together in middle school and high school. Lauren got married in 2007, I got married in 2009, and Keri got married on Saturday. We were all in each other’s weddings in various ways, but I have to admit Keri’s day was the most anticipated and the best. Why? Well, she and her husband (!) Andrew started dating in 2007 (I think?), the same year that Lauren got married (though it is always noted that Andrew was working a Hootie and the Blowfish concert rather than being with Keri at Lauren’s wedding. In 2008, The Guns (a nickname given by Keri and Andrew) and I started dating and in just over a year, in 2009, they were at our wedding (I have many friends that have been together longer than The Guns and I, though we have been married almost 5 years now… we just decided to skip that whole lengthy dating relationship thing).

Now, I honestly didn’t expect Keri to marry quickly. That never seemed like her jam. So when we got to 2010 and Keri and Andrew weren’t married I was a bit unfazed. It was occasionally mentioned, I think mainly because there has never been 2 people more perfect for one another (everyone says that… but these two are the perfect example of this idea. ALL OTHER “PERFECT” COUPLES MEASURE AGAINST THEIR RELATIONSHIP!). I mean seriously, if you look at The Guns and I… I mean, we are awesome, but we are not “perfect” for each other. If you met us individually you wouldn’t be like “I see you with a partner that is like [insert perfect description of The Guns or me here]” but you meet us together and you’ll probably think “ah, I get it.” But Keri and Andrew? They don’t share my spiritual views, but I will say that God made them for each other. And it’s pretty obvious.

So it was starting to get a little “I mean do you really think you’re going to find anyone better? You’re not. It’s not happening” jokingly because of course that wasn’t what was happening, but then I got a phone call in early 2013 that Andrew had proposed on New Year’s Eve. It was a very happy day.

Fast forward a year and 3 months later and I got to be in a wedding that had possibly the most beautiful, fitting, and honest ceremony I’ve ever seen, a flash mob, a photobooth, the best bridesmaids dresses of ALL time (future brides take note: charcoal grey infinity dresses… YOU’RE WELCOME!) and a bride wearing orange shoes. So it was a good day.

I could write thousands more words, but instead I’ll share my favorite photos from the day (only wish I took more).
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Best Wishes and Congrats to one of my favorite couples!

Wedding Gifts We Still Use and Love – monogrammed cheese board

Wedding season is upon us friends!  Over the next few months, I thought I’d share with you the wedding gifts we still use and love, in case you need some inspiration for what to bring to those upcoming nuptials.

The first is a monogrammed cheese board.
cheese board

Yep, someone bought us this, and it is super cool.  It’s not looking as awesome as it used to (can you even tell that there’s an L there amongst all the scratches?), but it’s because we use it a lot (we could never go vegan because oh my gosh CHEESE!)
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(close up to prove that’s an L)

A cheese board is a great example of a functional but decorative kitchen item, I leave it in sight because 1) it’s pretty 2) it makes us look sophisticated 3) it reminds us that we have cheese and should eat it 4) anything monogrammed is automatically ok for decorative use.

Think you know a bride who needs/wants one of these?  Here are some great (and affordable!) options from Amazon, Williams and Sonoma, and here’s a whole bunch of options from Etsy!

What do you think? Would this make a great wedding gift?

Try a little harder: go to weddings

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A few months ago, The Guns and I went to an amAHzing wedding in New Jersey.  But we almost didn’t go.  It was the travel, and the money, and the logistics of it that almost held us back.  But we ended up using some travel and credit card points to pay for it, we dealt with the logistics, and it was a great trip and we were SO glad we went.  We DID have to try a little harder; it wasn’t the easiest wedding to get to, but we have no regrets.

The New Jersey wedding couple had met on ships, and we had met them on a ship after they had been dating for quite some time.  I realized when we got there that we were one of only a few guests who really knew them both as a couple, because much of their relationship played out while traveling for work.  That made me think about the people who attended my wedding.  I was grateful for every last guest, but the people who knew us both, and saw us grow as a couple, it was doubly important to me that they be in attendance (and give a wedding toast in the case of my friend who essentially set us up on our first date).  I’m so glad we went to share in their day, like so many travelled cross country to share in ours.

Plus, weddings are just a good time.  It’s a huge party where you probably get to dress up.  What could be better?

Because of our work schedule we haven’t made it to every wedding we’ve been invited to (actually, I can think of 2 that we wouldn’t have missed for the world, except we were out in the ocean), but we’ve been to quite a few since we’ve been married.  And while all have had their challenges in terms of scheduling or travelling or parking or what are we going to do with the dog, I’ve never regretted going through the trouble to join someone on their big day.

So today, I would encourage everyone to try a little harder when it comes to weddings.  I think most people do this anyway, but remember that you were special enough for the happy couple to think to invite you, so if you can swing it… GO!  Sure if it’s a destination wedding that’s unreasonably out of your budget, or if it falls on the same day as another important family event, you get a free pass.  But if it’s possible, go.  You won’t regret it, and you’ll help make wonderful memories on the bride and groom’s big day.  They’ll be so glad you were there.

Can’t get enough!

I will never tire of looking at wedding photos.  Especially my own.  Which is why opening this mystery box was so great….

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what is it??
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Is that…
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It is!
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Our wedding album!
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It took almost 2 years for us to pick the photos and then for the album to be made,
but it was well worth the wait.
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If you have the chance to order an album from your wedding photographer, I would highly recommend it.  They can be quite expensive,
but they are your best memories turned into a piece of art.
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Whenever we’re back on land, I plan on keeping our album on a coffee or end table in our living room.  It will look sophisticated and visitors can browse any time they want.
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A couple of suggestions for keeping the costs down (at least based on our experience)… wait to pick out your photos for the album.  We didn’t choose photos until last summer, which meant that we had a year to really decide what photos were most important.  If you pick the images within a month (or for me, 6 months) you might (wrongly) assume that you need almost all the photos. You don’t. Wait, get some distance, and then pick your MOST favorites, not all the ones you love.DSCN1242
Another thing that helped us: My mom made a couple scrapbooks of our wedding, which meant that I had wonderful photo keepsakes of all the photos.  Then the album didn’t have to have all of those too.  Again, just my MOST favorites.
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Since I knew that we had a limit on photos (40) I decided to seriously focus the types of photos that went into the album.  What did I choose?  Well, I made sure the photos were chronological (so the album truly represents each part of our wedding day), and most of the images I chose (minus a few to show off our wedding party) either showcase wedding details or candid moments.  View your album as more of an artistic expression of your wedding, not just a way to view photos.
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As I mentioned earlier, wedding albums are usually pretty expensive, but the new style is meant to last, and (I think) is worth the money since they’ll withstand the test of time- both physically and emotionally.
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You may be able to tell, but the photos are printed on the pages.  No corners lifting up off the page.  No faded photos.  No photos yellowing.DSCN1247
Plus the pages are thick, and meant to withstand basic wear and tear.
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sigh.  I just love it.

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Just a close up of the back.  This is an eco-friendly, leather-like material.
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Do you have a wedding album?

PS- all photos  and album layout by Scott Wang Photography.  Take a look at his site, he and his wife are AWESOME!

I Heart Weddings

But you knew that already.  The Guns was once again a groomsman in a wedding at the beginning of this summer (he’s such a good friend, no?), and we had such a great time during the entire wedding weekend, so just had to share some photos.

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We are not color coordinated, but check out The Guns’ stellar pattern mixing!  (must admit, I didn’t think this would work… but it did! but we’re still working on the mixing of brown and black, but oh well)

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Beautiful table at the rehearsal dinner, love those bride and groom chair backs, still getting used to identifying myself as “Mrs. Jacob Langford” but love the place card, and the food was good enough to eat- but also photograph.
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Not great lighting, but here’s the wedding party!
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Got this dress for a steal from the Gap.  Love that dress, shoes and purse are all the same shade of purple!  Winning!
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The Happy Couple – Congrats!

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What were your summer weddings like?

A Plug

It has been about 2 years since my wedding, but I’m still obsessed with it, and I still love all things wedding.  So I was excited to find a fun blog for people like me:

Wedding Lovers Anonymous

Lexie blogs about all things bridal, encouraging brides to avoid the “generic wedding,” while still avoiding being featured on one of those “Platinum Wedding- How I spent 1 million dollars to become a bride while going into debt and turning into a monster” shows.  I think she does a great job.

Oh, and she featured our wedding just a couple days ago.  Check it out!

by my side, nic and jess’ wedding

When I was working at Six Flags I met two great singer-performers who had recently started dating: Nic and Jess.  I made a joke about them getting married, and they both nervously laughed.  Well, they did just that in July, and The Guns and I were able to attend their beautiful and unique ceremony and reception.  It was a great time of celebration with lots of friends that we don’t see very often. 
We were greeted with wedding programs titled: WEDBILL- as in playbill.  These two love performing, so they transformed their wedding program into a wedding-themed playbill. At the bottom of the program cover was the groom’s last name- the name of their production (cropped out for privacy purposes).  How cute is that???  The Wedbill included bios of the wedding party that read like actors’ bios in a broadway production, as well as a plot synopsis that described how they met and how Nic proposed.  And, of course, they had a red carpet entering their reception hall.  It was great because the night was like the premiere of the show that is their life, and we were all invited.  Normally, I don’t really like themed weddings.  But the way they did it worked really well because the theme was personal to them and showed off their unique story.  Their music was great too… all contemporary including “Grow Old with You” from The Wedding Singer for the seating of the parents, , “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds for the unity candle, and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” for the exit!
This is the only acceptable photo I have of the ceremony- the chair cover!  Jess is a girl after my own heart in terms of decor, everything was simple and elegant.  Her colors were black, white, and red.  So chic.  Her bridesmaids wore gorgeous black satin cocktail dresses in different styles.  They each carried a single white rose.  Jess carried a bouquet of red roses.  The guys wore black suits with black shirts, white ties, and white boutonniere, while Nic wore all white with a red boutonniere.
My friend made the cake which tasted awesome and looked beautiful!
Like I said, we were greeted by a red carpet at the reception along with tons of white and red roses.  We ate some of the best food (and a great variety) I’ve ever eaten at a wedding.  An antipasto tray, fruits, mini crab cakes, turkey, GREAT beef, mushroom caps, fried ravioli, a cheese tray, plus the amazing cake and champagne for toasts (plus they offered soft drinks with the meal, so I was a happy girl). 
Jess and Nic looked so happy and beautiful.  Here they are dancing to a recording of Nic singing “The Way you Look Tonight.”
Oh, and this is what I wore!
I’ll admit, if I’d known it was a black and white wedding I would have worn a little black dress, but I still liked my outfit.  A great summer dress, that’s not a throw-it-on sundress.  Plus I wore the shoes from my own wedding, a little over a year before.
Congratulations Nic and Jess!  I hope you love married life as much as I do.  Your wedding was fabulous!