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The (Im)Perfect Wedding

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The truth is no wedding is perfect.

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

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

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

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

Planning your wedding is a great time to practice flexibility.

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

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

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

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

How to “Craft” the Perfect Wedding Day

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bohemian Wedding

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

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

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

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

Casual Wedding

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

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

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

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

Glamorous Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo by David Ball)

Preparing Your Wedding Image

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

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

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

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

Here are a few tips for you to consider:

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

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

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

2. Take care of your smile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7 Romantic Gestures for Your Wedding Week

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

7 Romantic Gestures for Your Wedding Week.001

If you have been with your partner for a few years and you’ve recently gotten engaged, then you are sure to be in one of the most exciting times of your relationship.

If you are a romantic person who loves making whimsical gestures, then why not surprise your partner with some spontaneous surprises in the week leading up to your wedding?

If it’s the week before your wedding and everything is arranged, paid for and sorted, from the bridesmaid’s dresses with their matching jewelery, to the band and the venue, then you and your partner deserve a well earned break from all the organizing you have done. But why not add an extra bit of romance and excitement by surprising your other half with something special each day before the wedding?

Here are seven romantic gestures to make the week before your wedding even more exciting:

1. Buy some heart shaped pieces of paper and on each one, write something loving and romantic. Hide them around the house and see if your partner can find them all before the big day.

2. On a warm summer’s evening, take your partner to a quiet spot in your local park where you can surprise them with a sunset picnic.

3. Make a CD of the most romantic songs you can find and spend the night dancing together.

4. Surprise your partner with a collage, made up of photos from when you were first dating.

5. Buy a chocolate fondue set and indulge yourselves all evening while watching your favorite films.

6. Wake up a little bit earlier than normal to beautifully decorate the dining table and make a special breakfast for you both to enjoy.

7. If you are sticking to tradition by not seeing each other the night before your wedding, send flowers or champagne to where they are staying with a romantic note.

Your wedding will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable days of your life.  Why not add some romance and make it a wedding week to remember?

Arranged Marriage: A Look from the Inside

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Note: This guest post was written by Surabhi Surendra of Womantics.  I know I found this insight on arranged marriages to be fascinating, and I hope you enjoy learning about this cultural practice from a woman who is living it.

Arranged marriage.

This is how we refer to the practice that led me to my husband  in my home country of India.

Are you familiar with the term?  Whether you are new to the idea or understand how it works, I’d like to tell you more about it from my perspective.

It is an arrangement in which the parents or the close relatives arrange the marriage or, in better words, find a suitable match for their daughter or son.  In earlier times, marriage was solely a right of the parents or guardians and prospects hardly had any say in it, but with changing times and better education, the system has refined itself into a more friendly practice.

Today, prospects can not only voice their preferences, but they can even outright refuse a match if they are not comfortable with it.

My Personal Experience with Arranged Marriage

I will give my own personal experience.

Since my childhood, I somehow never believed in the concept of arranged marriages. Being a hard core romantic movie fan, I always dreamed of a prince charming who would suddenly appear (from no where) and would treat me like his princess. Being an Aries by sun sign added to my languidness of fairy world.

I told this to my parents. My father, an extremely understanding man, explained to me that I was free to get married to a man of my choice provided I complete my studies well and took up a secure job.

I did. At 23, I had an envious job and a likeable personality. Soon, I had the urge of falling in love.

I did.  Sadly, it was a bad choice. I tried it again with another man and failed despondently.

I spent around 4 years looking for my soul mate who was no where to be seen. Along the way, my parents were anyway looking for a match for me. They even introduced me to some of them – but I was not supposed to like them, I was waiting for my prince.

After four years of futile attempts, I became hopeless and started to believe that marital bliss was probably not in my destiny.

And then arranged marriage came to my rescue.

Dad introduced me to him. We talked on the phone and at once we knew we had a connection. We got married in three months, and I feel elated in announcing that today we are happily married and have a pretty daughter.

So what does the system of “arranged marriage” have to do with my story? A lot, I must say.

We all hanker upon the typical stereotypes associated with beauty, success and all materialistic attributes. So much so that we innocuously move away from reality and start chasing the non-existent. Meanwhile, our parents, being the more experienced and reasonable, know the harsh realities of the world and thus keep their expectations at a real level.

The only thing that distinguishes arranged marriages in the east from love marriages in the west is the way two prospects meet.

In the west, it is mostly an accidental meeting, while in the east the initial meeting is planned. From the first meeting on, the people involved decide how they take it forward. And nowadays this first meeting is often taken care of by the various matrimony websites where singles create their profiles and look for a matching partner.

Why Arranged Marriage is Not a Bad Idea

1)      Picking the best of the lot – the arranged marriage system lets one pick the best prospect. With preferences well chalked out, one can actually choose their partner instead of accidentally meeting their would-be mate.

2)      More informed decision with background check – as the prospects are suggested by family and relatives, one makes an informed decision. A thorough background check can be done to discover any hidden “skeletons.”

3)      Seeing the unseen – the biggest advantage of an arranged marriage lies in the fact that through it, we see what we don’t see otherwise. Sometimes in our endeavour to find love, we rush into things and mistakenly consider it as true love.

Arranged marriages let us see the not-so-obvious facts.

4)      Marriage is not an individual thing, it is a family affair – at least that’s what we believe in India. Here, marriages are about two families that bond together and not just two individuals. And thus when parents find a match, they take families into consideration and try to find not just a suitable match but also a suitable family.

5)      Arranged marriages are taken seriously – it is true. People take arranged marriages very seriously as two families are involved. One decision of divorce gives a jolt to two families.

The decision of getting married is taken with consent of elders and thus even the decision of divorce has to be pondered over by the entire family. Also at the time of courtship, the couple spends lot of time in understanding each other’s family and that simply adds to the foundation of the marriage.

6)      Love lasts longer – in a typical arranged marriage, two people meet, get to know each other, realize that they can spend the rest of their lives with one another and then get married. Once they get into the committed relationship of marriage, they discover each other more and with a sense of commitment, they fall in love.

In the process, they develop the trust, respect and deep love for their each other as well for the relationship. In this case, there is no fear of commitment and thus the love that develops out of it lasts longer.

7)      Parents know better – when I talked to my hubby for the first time on phone, I was not quite impressed initially as he seemed to be a tongue tied person very much in contrast with my extrovert nature. But one thing about him simply struck me – his honesty. He called me and the phone got disconnected. It took him 10 minutes to call back. When I picked up he said, ‘sorry, my phone ran out of talk time. In order to save money, I try to keep minimum talk time on my phone. The lesser the better for me ’.

Had it been any other guy, he would have certainly tried to flaunt his money, but here I was talking to a person who had no qualms whatsoever in accepting his financial constraints, despite the fact that he is an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer, the highest civil service in the country.

That very moment, I recollected what my dad had told me about him-  ‘you just can’t refuse him. He is too honest to be refused’. I thought to myself, ‘I am not sure of finding true love but at least I should settle down with a true person’. And that’s when I decided to say yes!  Parents are involved in every step of the relationship, and thus their guidance and experience is always there to show the right direction.

I do not blindly advocate arranged marriages.  Of course, like every other thing, arranged marriages also fail at times. After all, the success of a marriage does not depend on how you first met your partner but rather on how you take that meeting forward.

What are your thoughts and/or questions on arranged marriage?

Surabhi Surendra, a blogger and home maker by profession, blogs at womanatics.