Maori Ritual for Modern Wedding Reception

Would you sign up for this emotional haka?

An emotional haka performed at a wedding reception in Auckland last weekend is taking the internet by storm.


In the video clip the newlyweds, Benjamin and Aaliyah Armstrong, stand and watch their family members and friends with tears in their eyes.

emotional haka

Benjamin shared the clip on his Facebook page on Wednesday morning and it was quickly picked up by various pages and shared around the world.

Ben and Aaliyah Armstrong were married in Auckland over the weekend. Photo: Facebook/Aaliyah Armstrong

In his post Mr Armstrong stated: “Maori up brothers!! heres the footage of the haka from the Hettig brothers. Thank you so much for this. Mean Maori mean.”

Comments from his friends and family included, “the most outstanding Haka that I’ve ever seen!”, “got the meanest goosebumps” and “that was alot of mana my brother i wish you and your beautiful wife the best for the future”.

Curated by Timothy
Original Article

The Married Millennial: What Marriage Isn’t

The Wedding industry in the United States has an estimated worth of nearly $60 Billion. That may be no surprise, but did you know that the Divorce industry is booming, too?

Recent findings suggest that the Divorce industry’s total worth in the U.S. is $50 Billion or more. It makes sense, then, that most lifestyle websites will have a “Weddings” section and a “Divorce” section, with little to say about the marriage in between.

Marriage isn’t cool, these days. Stable relationships simply don’t make headlines. Hollywood magazines are constantly on the lookout for wedding announcements and breakup scandals. Paparazzi follow newly married celebrity couples, denying them privacy. When the whole world is waiting for them to screw up, is it any wonder that most famous marriages fail?

If our famous role models are divorcing, our parents have been separated, and our newly engaged friends are over-sharing ring selfies left and right, it’s understandable that we have warped ideas of marriage.

To define what marriage actually is, let’s consider what it isn’t.

Marriage is not a blissful horseback ride into the sunset.

Most people do not have their lives figured out, their hearts fully mended, or their finances in perfect shape before tying the knot.

Before I met my husband, I said I would never marry unless I: (1) had become wildly successful, (2) conquered my anxiety, (3) made a million dollars, and (4) owned my own home. But then, I met him…and there went all my plans.

On the other hand – marriage is not a bummer. At all.

Our relationships reflect our inner states – and how you value your partner shouldn’t change just because you’re married. Happy unions are not as rare as you’d think. People who are genuinely happy with their partners are actually less likely to talk about it on social media, or in public. Unhappy people, on the other hand, are much louder about their dissatisfaction. Marriage, by itself, does not make people unhappy. Life does. It’s been said to “Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.” This applies to marriage tips, too.

Marriage is not about “settling” or compromising on your dreams.

Sure, my checklist didn’t happen in the order in which I planned it, but since being with my husband, I’ve accomplished more than ever before. He encourages me – and because we have similar goals, we work well as a team. You don’t have to be alone in order to achieve your dreams, as long as your partner is truly supportive.

If you expect your partner to set aside their goals in order to make the relationship work, this is a problem. If you’re thinking that marriage will change your partner (or you), it won’t.

Marriage is not about you.

It’s not your partner’s job to make you happy – it’s yours. We all have problems, but your spouse can only do so much. There’s a reason why people say the first year is the hardest: our personal expectations almost never match the reality of a lifelong partnership. Nobody “fixes” us.

When we date, we often present the perfect package. We offer the best versions of ourselves – and this is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, there are two sides to every coin, and you need to be willing to work on your issues. Marriage brings only one guarantee, and that’s vulnerability. It is a commitment to working on yourself, while encouraging your partner in their journey.

Marriage is not the end of freedom – not anymore.

I can’t tell you how many people asked me “why?” when I said I was getting married in my early twenties. There’s an outdated image of a 1940’s housewife begrudging her chores, and a 1940’s husband who’s dying to cheat on her.

It’s 2016, people! Marriage has changed as much as we have. My partner has a career, and so do I. He has friends, and I have mine. We do fun things together, and have no qualms about going places on our own. Nowadays, people can get married because we want to. Not because we have to.

Marriage is not the end of sex, or dating.

The longer you’re together, the more opportunities there are to be creative. Being married is not an excuse for complacency. You may not sweep your partner off their feet every day, but don’t forget to make them feel valued. Intimacy is only as important as you make it…So make it important.

Marriage is not everything.

My relationship with my husband is number one to me. But if I don’t have a life outside of our marriage, it’s unhealthy. Maybe that’s why marriage doesn’t make headlines: we’re all just people living our lives. It’s not as glamorous as a wedding, or as dramatic as a divorce, but I like this better. Much better.

In the end, Marriage is what you make it.

It’s like any other thing, except it involves another person who is equally important and committed. Marriage might have changed in meaning, but love itself has not. Commitment relies on communication in order to thrive.

Marriage looks different on everyone. Choose your own adventure.

There are countless variations to the traditional marriage model. In the Western World, gender roles don’t matter the way they used to. Women can choose to have careers, or stay at home – and so can men. These days, most of us get married for love, and having children is optional. Some couples live together, and some live apart. Monogamy is a choice between two people, and some marriages skip it altogether. Regardless of gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, married or unmarried, we all deserve to love – and be loved – in the way that’s right for us.

5 Honeymoon Tips for Twenty-Somethings

A lot of young newlyweds feel too broke, too stressed, or too busy to go all-out on their honeymoon. If that’s you, don’t stress! When you’re young and in your twenties, a boring adventure is out of the question.

You can have an amazing time without breaking the bank. And once you’ve reached your destination, there are plenty of creative ways to make the most of it.

Here are five of the most important things I learned during the honeymoon planning process.

  1. Have an open mind.

I like museums, but my husband likes the beach. We made a list of places that had both. My first choice was France; he wanted Fiji. Both were WAY out of our price range. So when we couldn’t make up our minds, we decided to pick an affordable place that we were least likely to visit any other time.

The last place we ever expected to travel (but still really wanted to go) was Bali. So that’s where we went.

To my surprise, it actually ended up being much cheaper than our other options. And because we knew very little about the culture going into it, Bali was an amazing learning experience for both of us. I can’t imagine what would have happened if we had remained stubborn with our first choices. We might never have seen this faraway place!

If all goes well, you two have the rest of your lives to travel together. Don’t stress about the where so much. Talk about your interests, and make it a fun discussion. Draw destinations out of a hat if you must, but make the decision together.

  1. Less is more.

Our trip was three weeks long. For a couple on a budget, this was quite ambitious. And to spend so long in a place we’d never been, well…that took some daring! If trekking around a foreign land for a month seems like your cup of tea, go for it. But if relaxation is what you’re into, don’t underestimate what you can accomplish in a week or two.

Pros of a longer trip: Total cultural immersion, seeing more sights, and adjusting to a new way of life together.

Cons of a longer trip: It’s more expensive and stressful, especially if you’re staying in a lot of different places.

In the end, we were glad we spent three weeks in Bali. But everyone is different, so make sure you know what you’re in for before booking tickets!

  1. Do your research when buying cheaper airfare.

We bought our tickets on the Kayak app, which made our airfare significantly cheaper than anywhere else. But what we didn’t realize was just how long our layovers were. Often, cheap tickets mean longer layovers and no checked bags. It’s definitely something to talk about before you book.

Because we ignored the fine print, my husband and I spent the first three nights of our honeymoon sleeping in airports. If you don’t want this to be you… do your research!

  1. Define your comfort level in advance.

Do you want a luxurious hotel, or does AirBnB sound more fun? If you’re the adventurous type, I highly recommend AirBnB. But if you’re set on luxury, skip the guesswork and book a hotel in advance.

We stayed in several AirBnBs, which had its ups and downs. While staying in private rentals was cheaper and gave us a better understanding of Bali’s culture, we didn’t have hot water for most of our trip. When we finally splurged on a luxury hotel, I nearly cried with joy. Two weeks into our trip, we were finally enjoying bubble baths and drinking wine together. If I had been up front about my comfort level in advance, we might have avoided cold showers altogether!

Having a budget is one thing, but don’t compromise your comfort level on a honeymoon. Know your non-negotiable desire. If it’s romance, make decisions with that in mind. If both of you crave adventure, then that’s where you should splurge.

For a honeymoon, put your money where your needs are. Save the stress for a different trip.

  1. Remember your first priority: each other.

The most important thing on any honeymoon is your partnership. Your trip will only be as fun as you are. So, relax! There will definitely be obstacles during your trip. Things won’t always go as planned, because that’s life. But don’t let the logistics of your trip get in the way of why you’re there.

Look at your honeymoon as an allegory for your marriage: You can’t control the future, but you can love each other as life unfolds. Solve problems together, be considerate of each other’s needs, and have fun like the best friends that you are.

In the grand scheme of things, your honeymoon won’t matter too much. You can travel the world right after your wedding, or save money to go all-out years later. You can enjoy celebrating each other in a foreign country, or fake a weekend getaway with a tent in your backyard and a bottle of wine. Either way, have a blast!

You’ve made the commitment to be adventure buddies for life. Vacation is what you make it. Marriage is what you make it. So make the most of both.

Why We Choose a Big Wedding When We Don’t Want One

Do you want to have a ginormous wedding, or have you seriously considered eloping just to avoid the chaos? Did you have the kind of wedding that you and your fiancé wanted, or did you cave to somebody else’s wishes? I always find it fascinating to learn why brides and grooms have chosen the kind of wedding they’re planning.

Although the wedding day is supposed to be about the couple formally expressing their love, and making a commitment to one another, all the things you can have and do for your wedding often eclipse the main point of the day. It can be overwhelming and not that much fun for the couple if the bride or groom doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention at a large gathering.

Most of the brides who moan and groan to me about how they didn’t want to have a big wedding will blame it on their parents. I only believe that up to a certain point – I think brides and grooms get sucked into a competitive spirit when all their other friends are getting married around them.

Dr. Jane Greer, relationship expert and author of “What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship” has some interesting insight to share on this topic. She says lots of couples cave under parental pressure.

“Sometimes they do it because their families have a certain social obligation and standing – perhaps they have a vast array of friends and want to include all of them,” Dr. Greer explains. “The wedding becomes an event for them and their social happening, as much as it is for the actual bride and groom. If they’re comfortable paying for it, they figure, what’s the big deal? They want a big wedding and they’ll pay.”

This underscores another theory I’ve had that many couples who say they don’t want a big wedding really mean they don’t want to PAY for a big wedding. But if somebody else is picking up the entire tab, they’re okay with it. It would seem selfish to me except their parents are getting what they wanted, and nobody’s upset about the outcome. It isn’t that they don’t want to be part of a big wedding, but they’re not willing to incur the expense.

Not everybody wants a small wedding, and those choosing to throw extravagant affairs have their own reasons as well. As I said before, weddings can inspire competition. Couples whose friend-group are all getting married, too, may feel additional pressure to throw the biggest and best party in their crowd.

There’s also peer-pressure, from friends who’ve already been brides, and from single friends who just want to help, but really think you MUST do this or that, or your wedding will be incomplete. Brides and grooms who plan their own weddings without input from the peanut gallery find themselves considerably less stressed than those who have put things to a vote. And the professionals agree with me.

Alien Encounter (AKA: A Non-Monogamist Goes to a Wedding)

“’Til death do us part,” has always been replaced in my mind with, “’Til next Tuesday, then…we’ll see.”

When I was a child, I used to play house. Like most children, I would mimic what I grew up with, so, of course, I was often a single mother. I did have a healthy example of a relationship through my grandparents who to this are completely and madly in love. While I realize that high levels of commitment are possible, I tend to find them improbable, and have never desired them in my own life. I haven’t entertained the concept of marriage or long-term monogamy since back in the days of cabbage patch kids when I would receive pretend phone calls from a pretend absentee husband (who was always named after the boy I had a current crush on) telling me he’d be late again and to go ahead and start pretend dinner without him.

In my more recent romantic endeavors, which are slightly more real, I still never pretend to say forever. I’m the kind of person who changes so much from day to day, let alone year to year, that I think it’s unfair to make such a promise when you know it can’t be kept. I believe that marriage is great for some people, but fewer than we’re willing to admit, and definitely not me. “’Til death do us part,” has always been replaced in my mind with, “’Til next Tuesday, then…we’ll see.” So the thought of weddings seemed as make-believe as the phone calls I was receiving from Scott when I was seven years old in my playroom kitchen.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of queer friends, who up until recently didn’t even have the legal right to exchange vows, in addition to a lot of nomadic wanderers like myself who are equally either against or afraid of commitment. Those I know who are married were already in their matrimonial state when I found them, and lucky for me, I’ve never had to buy a dress just to watch them prove their love for one another. This luck has lasted for about fifteen years, but came to an abrupt end this last winter.

My current partner, like so many others, has a family. And his family, also like so many others, likes to get together around the holidays. His cousin happened to plan her wedding on January 2 in Florida. A strange date to me, but who am I to judge? This date happened to be a great way to ensure that everyone’s holidays revolve around a one special bride. Because it’s really the only time of year his family sees him, he was guilted into attending this silliness. Now, I’m not big on holidays, but I love New Years Eve. I also love trips to Florida, hotel sex, and free cake. I was promised all of these if I were to accompany him on this journey. So I went. And I discovered a few things, including but not limited to: weddings are weird.

The first thing I learned was that weddings have websites. As if the bride and groom are comedians trying to get road gigs, they’ve got an “about” page, a bio, and a schedule of events. Upon visiting their dot com, I discovered many things about the bride and groom. Apparently the bride was romantically sleeping off a headache before she came out of the bedroom. That’s when the groom got down on one knee! They like each other because they both like board games. Amazing that two people with such distinct similarities could ever have found each other. The schedule of events page at one point actually read, “the bride and groom will then go to their room, and be in there for approximately a half hour, before coming down to the reception…” Did they just tell us they were gonna fuck?! I’m sorry. “Consummate?” And a half hour? I can’t tell if they’re joking.

Before the ceremony

So we drive from California to Daytona where we meet his family with the usual, “hey how are ya, nice to meet ya, please don’t think of me as your next daughter-in-law…” greetings. Oh, did I mention I hadn’t met his parents yet? Yeah, so that happens. It’s fine. When you’re in a place surrounded by alligators, your partner’s parents don’t seem so bad.

The next day is the big event. Until now the only weddings I’d ever attended were Catholic, so I’m expecting a long ceremony including a full mass and no kiss at the end. I’m wrong. I’ve already had much of the hotel sex I’d been promised so I’m in a fairly good mood. It also helps that the wedding was not at a church, but rather held on a large patio at a hotel with a nicer pool than ours, making me wish I’d worn my swimsuit under my dress.

The ceremony

As soon as we get there, I feel as though I’m being sized-up by the entire family. I wish I’d brought a sign to wear around my neck that reads, “I’m not trying to join. I’m also not the reason he got divorced.” But I hear signs are out of fashion for weddings these days. In an attempt to keep it cool and casual, I stuff my face with hors d’oeuvres. I look around and there doesn’t appear to be any free cake just yet. Then I remember from the few weddings I’ve been to that the cake comes later. I decide I can wait, but not long.

Everyone eventually starts to head over to the chairs, set up in two separate columns, as if to say, “we like each other but we’re not family YET.” All the guests are asked to grab a rock from a basket. I think my question, “are we going to stone the bride?” is a fair one at this point. We take our seats and I learn something else about weddings: they have programs. Great, I love plays! I look for the bride’s headshot and bio with a blurb about how she’s been doing off-Broadway projects for so long and she’s super grateful to join the touring cast of RENT. It’s not there. But a schedule is, which is nice because I’m able to treat it like a countdown to cake.

The music begins and I can’t help but be distracted by a couple making out on the beach. They look like they’re really going for it, and I don’t understand why we’re all looking back at a bunch of girls in bad dresses walking awkwardly down an aisle when sexy fun times are happening right in front of us. The bride is wearing white, adding to the ever-growing list of things I don’t understand. I mean, we all read the website, right? They were living together. Am I being presumptuous when I say she’s probably not a virgin anymore? Maybe it’s possible with this couple, but honestly, why are we all so inclined to pretend? It’s like the “ooos” and “aaahhhs” that come out of everyone’s mouths as they look at the people marching one by one. It all feels so rehearsed, and why? BECAUSE IT IS! They rehearse these things! “Ooooo, the bride is glowing!” Well sure she is, and so are all of us. This is Florida, and that’s not glow, that’s sweat.

Dad symbolically kisses the bride goodbye forever, like he’s never going to see her again, before sitting in the front row where he’s got a better view of her now than he did when she went to college. “Goodbye forever…or until you move back in with me and your mom because you realize you shouldn’t have spent so much on a wedding and should’ve used that money for a down payment on a house.”

The next thing that happens is possibly my favorite thing in the world. The bride’s aunt gets up to speak. She reads a passage from one of the bride’s favorite books, which happens to be a Winnie the Pooh book. It’s cute because it’s about friends that last forever, but that’s not why I’m so psyched. The passage begins with the words, “Pooh is in me, Pooh is in all of us.” How am I not supposed to laugh?!?! WHY IS NO ONE ELSE LAUGHING?!?!?!

The man wearing the white collar tells us to think a positive thought for the bride and groom and put that energy into the rock before we pass the rock toward the middle of the aisle where someone with a basket will collect it. Great, I don’t even get to keep the rock?! Fine, I wish them good sex for as long as they can stand each other and the courage to get out of it if and when they ever feel it’s time before passing my rock to the middle.

As people are talking about forever, I can’t help but think to myself, how can you be so bold? How can anyone make a promise even for tomorrow, in a world where literally the only thing that’s for sure is change? How do you know you’re still going to be boring two years from now? Let alone fifty?! Why are you doing this to yourself? You’re an American woman who can buy her own land! You don’t need this. And his family doesn’t need goats in exchange for you. So why go through all of it? If you need the attention, become an actor.

The wedding is officially over and it’s time for cake! No? Still no cake?! Oh great, pictures. My partner’s mom tries to get me to pose with the family. I politely decline, three times. After two it feels a little less polite but I just don’t want to be a part of this memory. I want to be like a ghost. You feel my presence but you can’t quite put a finger on just how I look or what I say or how much cake I eat. Speaking of cake…

The reception

We head up to the reception and the bride and groom theoretically head up to their room to fuck like they said they would. I finally get some free food, and quickly realize that nothing’s free. My asparagus and potatoes come at the cost of waiting through several speeches before my partner’s mother switches her seat so she can sit next to me and attempt a Spanish Inquisition about her son, and myself, and how we met. It’s as though she’s expecting a sweet, romantic story. I tell her “online” and am vague with my answers in hopes to shut it down.

Throughout the evening, people cling on their glasses prompting the bride and groom to kiss. That’s right, like dogs with a pre-conditioned response. It’s Pavlov’s kiss. I can only hope this trained response carries over into their day-to-day lives. Maybe after the honeymoon, he’s at a work meeting and someone at the conference table accidentally hits their water glass with a pen. Next thing you know, he’s planting a big wet one on his boss. “Oops. Sorry about that, boss. I just got married.” “Ahh,” everyone gets it and laughs it off because he’s trained now.

I think it’s important to mention that I’m a person who likes to play games when she’s bored. So, I begin to play a game with my partner. I tell him that every time we hear the group say “Aw” at something adorable and/or sickeningly sweet, it’s one more guy that gets added to the gangbang he owes me for coming to this wedding. We may not be quite as traditional as the bride and groom, but we like games just as much!

So, we’ve watched the ancient tradition of a woman being given away as though she’s switching owners. We’ve also watched a series of awkward dances while I successfully avoided the dance floor myself, not because I don’t love dancing, but because I feel twerking is inappropriate in front of Christian grandparents with heart conditions. I’ve also successfully avoided pretending like I care about catching fake flowers at the end of the night. And best of all, I finally get my cake!!!

So, why do we get married?

The night was as successful as it could be, but I can’t help but wonder why this all still happens? Why do we still feel the need? I understand there are tax breaks that come with marriage, and certain rights that a married couple has that no one else does, like insurance coverage and other protections. But it doesn’t seem to be about that. If it were, everyone would just do this in a courtroom. So why? Why do people who are supposedly utterly and completely in love feel a need to go through this whole charade? And why is it so highly valued by some? I’ve grown up with girls whose main goal in life was marriage, and who feel like they’re not whole until they find someone to take through this archaic ritual.

It’s my understanding that love is between the people who are in it, and if it’s real, it doesn’t need to be shouted about. If you happen to be a person who needs a promise of forever, why do these particular traditions stick around? Why does the female need a rock that was probably found by an African living a terrible life just so some woman living across the globe can have something shiny on her finger? Why does she wear a big white dress to pretend like she’s this pristine, virginal thing when really she’s someone who should be proud of her past, whether it’s peppered with mistakes or not, because it’s what got her to where she is now? Why does the groom dress like all the other men and just stand there while he’s “given” a woman, “his” woman? Why is there an aisle? Why do all of these people need to be here to watch? When you look at it, really look at it, the only thing that makes sense about a wedding is the cake. I know why there’s cake.

The entire event left me feeling like an alien or a time traveler who knows the truth but can’t say anything because it’ll mess with the time space continuum. So I’ll say it now: if you’re in love, just be in love, for however long, with whomever it happens to be with. Be nice to each other. Listen to each other. Talk to each other. And if it fades away or becomes less fun, then allow each other to go your separate ways amicably and know that you’ll always have those beautiful memories of great hotel sex.

Through Thick and Thin …Your Biggest Argument Before and After the Wedding

There is one fight that all couples have before they tie the knot.

Mike reared his wide eyes toward Julie. “That is NOT the reception budget that we agreed on last week!”

Julie, dumbfounded, blinked back at her red-faced betrothed. “We’ve discussed this at least three times already. You always go back on your word about these things.”

Lacy: “Which color do you like better for the boutonnieres, pink or teal?”
Robert: “Sure. Whichever. I really don’t care.”
Lacy: “Why can’t you act like you care about this wedding for five seconds??”
Robert: [Blank stare]
Lacy: “Pick your own colors. I’m done.”

Jake: “You do realize that once we’re married, you can’t go to your parents every single night for dinner.”
Josh: “Um, dear, you knew you were marrying my whole family when you said yes.”

It is the fight for control

Although this fight is usually subdued, it can be emotionally reactive and masked by the denial of both partners. Engaged couples are especially at risk of mishandling this pattern because greater issues are often disguised as wedding planning stress, or the conflict is avoided altogether because of the myth that premarital couples shouldn’t fight.

Behaving in controlling ways – either overtly or covertly – gives a person a semblance of certainty and comfort, usually as a way to manage their own insecurities about the relationship or their own self-worth. In the moment when we should team up with our partner and share our vulnerabilities with them most, we wall ourselves off to emotionally protect ourselves.

Marriage is about bringing two completely different worlds together to create a shared experience of life and love. It makes sense, then, that this transition often consists of friction, disagreements, and a normal resistance to change – like a “my way or the highway” mentality.

Underneath all fights for control are deeper questions of:

“Can I really trust that we are a team? That you will stand up for me to the rest of the world above all else? Do you really, truly GET me? Will you still love me, even if I completely disagree?”
Dr. John Gottman’s research revealed that couples wait an average of six years before seeking help. So, what can you do to tackle the pattern of control before it starts?

Do not wait until things get worse to address them. Learn how to manage these patterns in a healthy way for your relationship right now.

Here are some ways to avoid getting caught in the fight for control:

1. Don’t sweep it under the rug

Avoidance will only prolong conflict and make it messier and harder to deal with the next time. When you are experiencing frustration, resistance, or insecurity with your partner about something, bring it up by using a softened startup. A trap that couples often struggle with is the “I was waiting for you to bring it up first” paradox. Be assertive, be brave, and be respectful of your partner’s otherness when it comes to conflict and differences.

Control is about winning. If 69% of the things couples fight about are completely unsolvable, then the goal should be less about being right and more about understanding, validating one another’s point of view, and maintaining respect.

2. Know yourself

Become aware of how you tend to fight for control. Do you put others down, shame your partner, or shame yourself? Do you play the victim role or manipulate through blame or entitlement? Do you hide your emotions from your partner but feel lonely, disconnected, or anxious about certain aspects of marriage?

Self-awareness takes mindfulness, vulnerability, and a willingness to accept responsibility for your part in the conflict. It is not your partner’s job to uncover your tactics. Accountability will allow you to be more assertive and honest in those moments when you want to shut down or lash out the most.

3. Check your connection

How are you doing at staying connected to each other? Feeling validated by your partner through the thick and thin of wedding planning holds so much value. Dr. John Gottman’s research has shown the importance of maintaining intentional connection by creating shared meaning and responding to your partner’s bids for connection. Prioritize date nights and quality time together with no wedding talk allowed.

As marriage and family therapist Terry Real, author of The New Rules of Marriage, says: “control is just an illusion.” You will never be able to control, change, or know with complete certainty that your partner will be there for you and show up for the relationship at all times. There is no guarantee that your marriage will last. This is the risk of being in a relationship.

What you can guarantee is your own willingness to show up, to resist the need to be right or to control your partner, and to turn towards the opportunities to address your differences in order to build a strong foundation toward lasting marital vitality and success.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

5 Wedding Traditions That Need to Go

This one needs to go right now. Guess which one?

It’s wedding season. The time of year where the most common question asked is “What’s your address?” Sifting through countless invitations, those in our mid twenties to mid thirties must decide which weddings we are going to go into debt for this year. Weddings can be a lot of fun, and are a great place to meet people, however here are 5 wedding traditions that need to go:

Speeches That Need to Go

“Hi, I’m Tiara, and I met Heidi when we were pledging Tri Delt — and here’s a completely irrelevant story that no one can relate to but us.”


I am a firm believer that you should only get up to make a speech if you are a public speaker, host, or entertainer. Otherwise, you most likely have no idea how to give a speech. It is a skillset. Listening to 5 or 6 people in the field of anywhere from personal training to accounting prattle on about how they know the bride and groom is a total drag. Let’s keep it short. Make a toast, and let’s get on with it.

Bridesmaid Dresses That Need to Go

They are expensive. They are most likely hideous, and you never wear them again. Also, they are uniform. What if I have armpit fat and a tube top style dress doesn’t really work for my body type? Why are we putting those closest and dearest to us through this emotional turmoil? How about a color scheme? i.e. all my bridesmaids please wear a version of ____ color. Look how lovely that looks:


Marriage 101: Expectations Vs. Reality

 Once upon a time, two newlywed lovers rode off into the sunset.

just marriedIt was a perfect end to a perfect day: The Bride (wearing an off-beat vintage dress that totally said “I’m not like other brides”) took a celebratory swig from a flask in the passenger seat. Her Groom squinted like a sultry James Dean, driving toward the horizon with wind in his hair. The sexy beats of Arctic Monkeys accompanied them as they drove; they thought of the red-hot road trips they took when they had first been dating. This new beginning was just a continuation of a love that was already good.

The couple held hands and agreed: this was perfect, they were perfect, and the future was going to be perfect.

Being married wouldn’t change a thing, they swore. This was the happy ending they’d always wanted. Two lifetimes of buildup and anticipation, all those years of searching…everything led up to this moment.

Soooo…what now? Neither one knew for sure.

The Bride kept drinking her whiskey and the Groom kept playing the same songs on repeat and they tried to do the same things they did before the ceremony, before the proposal, before moving in.

It worked, for a while. But the sunset had to end sometime. What would they do in the morning?

Clouds moved in to cover the stars. The Bride and Groom were now Wife and Husband, and they tried their best not to mess things up.

“What do married people do?” they asked themselves. Both came up with their own answer, based on what they’d seen their parents, friends and TV couples do.

Wife made a nice dinner and set the table for Husband, because she heard she should prioritize quality time. Meanwhile, Husband picked up an extra evening shift at his job, because he heard he should save to buy nice things for Wife.

All it took was a phone call to disappoint them both. Gone were the days of long drives and free flying and throwing bouquets out the window. Now, he was a husband who worked long hours and she was a wife who ate pot roast alone.

“Why does he make me so sad?” She sighed. “This doesn’t seem like us.”

“Why does she make me so angry?” He groaned. “I thought that we would be different.”

She expected a date night; he chose a night with the boys. He expected they’d spend their day off at the beach; she preferred couples’ counseling. On and on and on it went.

One year later, this perfect pairing was dissatisfied in every way. Why?

Things weren’t really that bad, were they? He didn’t cheat, she didn’t lie, and neither one spent all their money. Plus, they were trying so hard! It didn’t make sense that they’d be so unhappy. Was marriage itself to blame?

True story: When my husband and I were married, we were convinced we’d never be like “other” couples. We felt like two single people who just happened to be getting married. “Nothing would change!” we vowed.

In five years, we imagined that of course we’d have romantic evenings of punk records and bourbon on the rocks. And in ten years, naturally we’d have the same careers and wear the same styles of clothing. And in twenty years, obviously we’d be the coolest parents/best friends/partners on Earth. Everyone would envy how non-traditional and happy and open we were. “Traditional” marriage was for the birds, we said!

These weren’t bad intentions at all. But eventually, our unconscious expectations of what should be threatened our conscious dreams of what could be. It took a great deal of listening on both sides to dissect the reasons why we expected the things that we did. And it was hard to admit that people weren’t lying when they warned us that marriage would change things.

Here’s where we went wrong: My expectations and his expectations did not match our collaborative goals. And the higher our expectations, the greater our potential for disappointment.

As much as we denied it, that piece of paper became more than ‘just a piece of paper’ the second we went beyond “I do” and claimed our “supposed tos” and “should.” And it’s okay. I believe that most couples go through this, at some point.

The first few years of committed cohabitation are specifically primed for chaos. The people you both were when you met will have changed by the time you walk down the aisle. And it’s often not until the glow wears off that you notice that anything’s changed. When that happens, it’s not necessarily bad. Just hang on. It takes love, patience and a sense of adventure to navigate what happens next.

I’d thought marriage would be just like dating, just with both of our names on a contract. I imagined we’d be the same people, forever. But that’s like saying “if I win millions in the lottery, I’ll still act like I do making $20,000 a year!” How silly.

When an event or person changes your life, your identity must be affected somehow. If this didn’t happen, no one would grow or evolve. We’d all still be raging toddlers, learning nothing and accomplishing nothing. But while change is a good thing, it’s stressful.

Sometimes opportunity feels like a crisis. Even something as wonderful as finding your soul mate can spark a personal breakdown. But the difference between a breakdown and breakthrough is the way you go about handling it. Change works in your favor, if you let it.

Expansion requires letting go of old limits, and this includes unrealistic expectations. And it’s not as scary as you might think. You can lower your expectations without compromising your standards. 

It’s common for couples to articulate the same vision for their marriage, but display conflicting expectations through their actions down the road.

Nobody’s immune to unrealistic expectations, even the most non-traditional of couples. Overcoming this pattern is a challenge that can only make you better, together.

I’m grateful for all of it, now. Good and bad. We’ve been through a lot, and we’re stronger for it. We’re clear on what our relationship is and have chosen to accept and love it for what it is now, not what it “could” or “should” be down the road. At first, I thought letting go would mean accepting failure. But the results proved me wrong in the best way.

Now that we’ve stopped judging ourselves by old rules that don’t work, we’re free to meet the ideals we’d envisioned at the start! Our worst fears were never realized, once we learned to let go of them.

just marriedLove is not a perpetual ride into the sunset. Sometimes it’s two flat tires in a blizzard. And that’s fine! At least it’s not boring.

When that sunset ride ends and you run out of gas, get out of the car and push. Hold on to each other through the next morning, the next sunset, the next disaster and dream come true. Have faith in your future beginnings, because there will always be more.


P.S…Laugh, if you can. It helps.

How to Take Wedding Photos That Slay

5 tips for insta-worthy engagement and wedding photos.

Recently, the internet has been enthralled with a newly-married couple’s wedding photos. These pictures are intimate, full of happy-tears and close-up shots of true love. Perfection!

I’m engaged and I keep thinking about how badly I want my wedding pictures to turn out this nice.

So, I’ve compiled all my best tips from my own engagement shoot, other photo sessions, and even advice from my favorite photographers to make sure you (and I) can have viral-worthy couple photos.

Guess you could re-wear this 😍 dress as a Cinderella costume… 😘👑📷: @3photographytoronto

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Check out photos from the same venue

A great way to prepare for your session is to look up past photos from the location you’ll be taking pictures. Whether it’s your wedding or an engagement shoot, you’re probably not the first one to take pictures there.

Look up photos online, find what looks best to you, and share them with your photographer. You might get some good lighting ideas or find some great backdrops.

If you’re still picking out a venue, this is a great way to narrow down locations. Maybe a couple took “okay” pictures in the garden at one place but another couple took super cute pictures on a swing set at different locations.

It will help give you ideas and narrow your choices.

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Come prepared with poses

An engagement shoot might be you and your beau’s first time taking professional photos together and it can be a little awkward to have someone take pics of you being cuddly.

If you have some poses in your back pocket, you might feel more comfortable.

With that being said, of course, your photographer will have pose ideas, but you still want to come to your session well-educated. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity for a great shot.

Look on Pinterest for some good ideas for poses. While you’re there you might get ideas for themes or even props you’ll want in the picture. A sign with your wedding date? Great! A picnic basket and blanket? Perfect!

And beyond the ideas online, you’ll want to pick something all your own. If he always kisses you on the forehead, tell your photographer you really want to get some shots of that. It’ll be personal and special to you later, and it will feel natural.

During my engagement shoot on the beach, the photographer asked if there were any poses we wanted to do. We ended up leaning against a large rock— only because it felt natural to us. Those ended up being some of our cutest photos because (as silly as it sounds) it was so “us.”

We never look the way we do in most of the pictures (of course—the pics make us look better) but it was nice to have a few photos of us “in our natural state.”

Take pictures in the outfit beforehand

You already know you shouldn’t wear large brands or bold patterns (or anything that takes away from you.) But even if you think you’ve found the perfect engagement session outfit, you’ll want to take it for a test run.

I’ve worn dresses that I thought looked great, only to find they looked horrible in pictures. A dry run is important because photos will pick out details you might not catch— you would hate it if your bra strap were showing through the back of your shirt the whole time, or if your skirt billowed out too much.

Take pictures in a few outfits before your session. And if you can, take those pics at the location you picked. Move around, take candids, try to do everything you will do on the shoot day.

This is helpful if you’re choosing between outfits, too. You can see what colors look good with the background, and narrow down your choices.

While you might not want to take your wedding dress to the location to take pictures, it’s smart to take photos from every angle in the dress you want. Even when you’re picking a dress, have someone take candids of you, so you can see how it looks on camera.

Tell your photographer how you want to look

Your photographer isn’t a mind reader, but she does want you to be happy. Any feedback you can give will make both of your experiences better. Showing her photos of couples beforehand is great, but remember to use your words during the shoot too.

If the photographer keeps telling you to pose a way you don’t like, tell her that. Maybe you don’t like that angle, or you aren’t crazy about lifting poses. Also, if you want the shoot to be more funny than romantic, say that. If you are aiming for soft looks and poses, with a lot of close ups, let her know.

Also, if you’re comfortable with it, tell the photographer you want to do candid shots. It’s fun to take some time to walk around and talk to your significant other and let the photographer click away. Get comfortable and act the way you would normally. Those are the best shots.

Sorry in advance but y’all are going to be seeing a lot of photos of these two because 😍

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Check yourself

Ask if it’s possible to see a couple of shots on the camera screen during the shoot, just to make sure you look the way you want.

I hate this one curl in my hair that always pops out, so before I take pictures, I bobby-pin that sucker down. But outside, in the middle of a shoot, my hair might move, and I would hate to have that one curl sticking out in all my pictures. Sure, things can be changed with Photoshop, but it’s important to feel confidant during the shoot too.

You should also bring a bag with a mirror, some tissues, and maybe a little bit of make up. If you’re a crier, you always want to be prepared. And if you do see a problem, you’ll want to fix it ASAP.

Planning a wedding? Love TV’s got your back in sickness and in health. Read more about planning for love that lasts a lifetime. 

How to Pick and Choose the Wedding Advice That Works For You

5 tips on how to find good wedding advice — and when to stick your fingers in your ears.

When you get engaged, everyone wants to give you all kinds of advice. Some of them will even straight-up tell you what to do. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “you can’t wear a tea length dress” or “you need to get married in Spring” or “I know exactly how you need to do your hair.”

It made me want to scream.

And unfortunately, the stuff you don’t want to listen to can drown out the actual, good wedding advice that you might be lucky enough to get. Here are some things I’ve learned about the dreaded “two cents” and what to do with it.

First, do not punch your friends in the face.

couple romance planning a wedding

Lol…but really. After the 30th “great flower guy” recommended to you, you’ll never want to hear about roses again. I guarantee it. But remember that you’re going to be really stressed out about planning a wedding, and if it weren’t for this stressful time, you might not be so upset when your friend says something you’ve heard before. Remember that you actually like these people in real life. You don’t want to risk losing a friend or starting a fight over something that is probably coming from a good place.

Instead, no matter how ridiculous the suggestion, just thank them and tell them you’ll consider it. Every. Damn. Time. Most of your family and friends will feel happy with this answer. And they’ll feel satisfied in thinking you’re listening to them.

It’ll be hard, at first, to get into the habit, but you can practice in your mirror until it’s second nature. Practice it on your dog, the friend you haven’t seen since college, even the guy at the car repair shop. They say, “You should probably change your oil once in awhile.” You say, “Thank you so much for your help, we’ll take that into consideration.” Good job!

Write it down anyway.

When Cousin Suzy gives you the name of her roommate, who (apparently) is an amazing photographer, you might want to toss it. Hiring her might sound like the bad idea and, besides, you might already have your photographer set up.

But, when someone gives you a card or makes a suggestion, keep a list. You never know — a list of “back ups” might come in handy. What if the venue has a fire a month before the wedding or the perfect bakery goes under? Last minute, you could have a list of people to call, which is especially handy if it’s full of people like your cousin’s roommate, because maybe they’ll pull last minute strings for a friend of a friend.

Plus, a list of recommended vendors could be good just in case you change your mind. Maybe you were dead set against serving cupcakes until your fiancé pulls one of those last-minute, “wouldn’t it be great if we had cupcakes?” Don’t panic, because you have the number of a great cupcake bakery you got from Aunt Carol!

Don’t trust anyone with old information.

Be careful not to get too excited about a seemingly perfect recommendation. I’ve gotten heart-set-on-it, gotta-have-it, excited over venues that had been closed for ten years, and dress shops that are now banks. If the people you’re talking to have old information, you’re bound to get disappointed.

This is especially true when they start pulling out prices. You might think you found a gem when you hear about some cake shop that sells a three-layer cake for double digits, but if that bakery is still open, prepare to find that it’s been hit with inflation, just like everywhere else.

A good rule of thumb is four years: any wedding advice older than that and you’ll want to start Google-ing first.

Think about the messenger and not just the message.

If the suggestion is from your mom, and she thinks it’s really, REALLY important to have yellow flower centerpieces instead of blue, you might actually want to take it into consideration. Even if that’s not what you were thinking, throwing your parents (or whoever is important to you) one or two things will make them feel special, and it will mean a lot to them later.

On the other hand, feel free to brush off the ideas your weird cousin Alan offers. Don’t bend over backwards to please people if you don’t care what they think.

Remember, a good wedding is a wedding of your choosing.

You and your future spouse are in charge. It’s a whole day just for the two of you, and you’ll want it to come from your hearts. When you’re choosing between venues, or flower arrangements, or menus, try to think of what best represents you. If you’re a laid-back couple, don’t be afraid to serve nachos and burritos in your backyard. If you two are bold and adventurous, don’t hesitate to make it a destination wedding. Good wedding advice may just come from within yourselves.

At the end of the day, you’ll want something that you both love, and something that represents you as a couple. And following the above tips may help guide you — or someone you love — on how to handle it through the planning of your special day.

For more interesting perspectives on modern marriage, check out this comparison of the expectations vs. the reality of marriage, how to determine whether you’re in a real partnership, or this story about a couple who waited longer than their friends to get hitched.

How Goals For My Best Wedding Body Happily Didn’t Go As Planned

I struggled with the pressure of getting in shape with a “bride body” for my wedding, eventually I shifted my focus.

When I first got engaged, I was determined to get in great shape. I was all about “sweating for the wedding” and was ready to “squat before tying the knot.”

I’m already a regular gym-goer, but I thought my wedding was a good excuse to tone up my arms, get some abs, and lose a few pounds. Plus, I really wanted those beautiful, magical, perfect wedding photos where I would look toned, fit, and like I just stepped out of a magical fantasy land of unicorns and glitter.

I mean, that’s “the dream,” right?

But as time passed and I got busy with wedding planning, something weird started happening. I found that lots of people were asking me about whether or not I was doing a new workout regimen before the wedding.

Now, these weren’t friends who I’d talked to about my plan to get in shape. These were mostly acquaintances, distant family members, and Uber drivers. I would mention that I’d just gotten engaged and they’d ask questions like whether I had colors picked out, where we were honeymooning, and if I was on a special diet in preparation for the big day.

Then I started seeing the ads. Pop-ups for weight loss tips showed up on wedding websites and ads to get a “bride body” snuck into my Instagram feed. I suddenly felt a lot of pressure to have a wedding weight loss plan, and that took the fun right out of my goal.

I mean, I’m all for brides supporting brides, sharing tips and comparing notes, but this was different. It seemed like I was expected to lose weight for the wedding, or better yet, like I was expected to want to lose weight.

Then a personal challenge became a personal hell.

bridal body bride body bridal workout

A fun personal challenge to get healthier and score some great pics quickly turned into a stressful situation that made me question my body and even feel a little self-conscious. I was having none of it.

So, I tried to ignore the dieting and weight loss voices in the wedding world for a while and I focused on the aspects of wedding planning that I really liked.

So far, one of my favorite parts of being engaged has been collecting old pictures of my fiancé and I for framed decorations at the wedding. Because my future husband and I have been together for nearly a decade, there’s a lot of photos to go through and it’s been a lot of fun.

I’ll look back and fondly remember that summer I got pink streaks in my hair or laugh at the time I was so sunburnt that my arms were red for a month. I’ll smile when I find pics of my fiancé wearing his old favorite jacket and my heart will melt when I find silly photo booth pictures we took during college. I love seeing us at different points in our lives, literally a snapshot of that time in our relationship.

This made me think of the photos that will be taken at our wedding: capturing our faces as we say our vows during the ceremony and forever immortalizing our awesome dance moves at the reception. Those photos will document us as we are now, on the year we’re getting married. And I really like that.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why I even wanted to lose weight for the wedding in the first place. I mean, sure, it’s a big event and I wanted to look good, but I couldn’t help wondering if my size really mattered.

Why do we need to be that skinny?

beautiful bride kissing tenderly handsome man

I’ve seen so many friends get married in the past few years (it’s that time in my mid-twenties where I’m going to weddings every other weekend) and I’ve seen a lot of brides get really thin for their weddings. I want to celebrate women who accomplish their goals, but there’s so much pressure to be skinny that some women I know ended up going on crash diets right before the big day, which isn’t healthy.

Or, even when my friends have lost weight the right way, they ended up getting discouraged when they gained it back. A big part a new regimen is keeping up the lifestyle, and if your goal is to look good for a wedding, when the day is over, it’s easy to go back to old habits.

While seeing a higher number on the scale shouldn’t be that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, gaining weight back after working really hard at the gym can be really disheartening, and I didn’t want to go through that.

At first, I told myself that I wouldn’t make those mistakes. I’d lose weight the right way, get super healthy, work out every day, and forever look like I just got off the set of a NordicTrack commercial. Hashtag: new marriage, new me.

But honestly… that doesn’t sound like something I’d do. It’s not like I have really unhealthy habits right now that need to be changed. I’m realistic with my lifestyle, I have a good balance when it comes to nutrition and exercise, and I like the way I live.

Of course, I think that brides and grooms should be able to do whatever they need to do in order to feel confident and happy on their wedding. If that includes dropping a few pounds, I say: more power to ya. But there’s so much pressure (especially on brides) to look great on their wedding day and to have those amazing pictures, and I can’t help but think that maybe I didn’t need that.

hipster wedding

For most of those old photos of my fiancé and I, I didn’t try to look extra beautiful and I wasn’t on a special diet. I was just being me, and I think that’s part of why I like them.

Some of my favorite photos are the ones where we’re screaming on a roller coaster or wiping ice cream on each others’ faces. I like the ones where we’re just being us, maybe not even knowing (or caring) that a photo is being taken.

Some of the best pictures are ones where I don’t even look good, maybe it was taken at a weird angle or I’m making a funny face, but it’s a photo of us laughing and having fun, and that’s what makes it special.

And sure, maybe without the awesome workouts and dieting I won’t look truly “perfect” on my wedding day. Maybe I won’t look like I just stepped out of a magical fantasy land with unicorns, but I want to look back on my wedding pictures and see the people my fiancé and I are today. Not perfect, not glamorous, but definitely “us.”

I’ll show off what I have, extra few pounds and all, and be excited to look back on all those imperfect, but wonderful, photos.

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15 Ways to Model Your Wedding Just Like Meghan and Harry’s

Are you still swooning over the fairy tale romantic morning that was Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry’s wedding?

If you’re anything like me, you are still obsessing over every minute detail of the royal couple’s gorgeous wedding at St. George’s Chapel.

Whether you were smitten with the gaggle of children walking behind Meghan or the way Harry wiped tears from his eyes when he saw his bride for the first time, it wasn’t hard to get caught up in the absolute loveliness of it all.

For engaged couples getting married soon who want to emulate Meghan and Harry’s elegant and romantic style, here are 17 ways to do so.

1. Gather up your favorite kids as your bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Meghan and Harry used godchildren, nieces, nephews and children of their best friends. Sit down with your fiancé and think about what little ones you’d want to walk up the aisle with you. Family and friends may be surprised by your decision but it eliminates a lot of drama and money that bridesmaids and groomsmen would have to spend.

2. Use white flowers.


It may seem boring, but white flowers offer a gorgeous, romantic and clean aesthetic. The royal couple used white roses (one of Princess Diana’s favorites) and white peonies (Meghan’s favorite flower).

3. Choose a simple, classic wedding dress.


Part of what made Meghan look so incredibly amazing that day was her wedding dress. By going quite simple in Givenchy, she created a timeless style that would work in eras past and for years to come. In other words, if you want to create the romanticism of “my future daughter could wear this someday,” make like Meghan and go with a classic style.

4. In lieu of wedding gifts, offer the opportunity to donate to a charity.

Meghan and Harry asked for donations to their favorite charities instead of wedding gifts. They chose a diverse group—a charity for children who have lost a parent in the armed forces, a children’s HIV association and Surfers Against Sewage (perhaps a nod to Meghan’s home state of California). Think about your favorite charities and make a list for donations in instead of wedding gifts.

5. Think about sentimentality when it comes to your jewelry.

For her second outfit of the day, Meghan jetted off to her reception in a show-stopping Stella McCartney dress. What many noticed though was what was on her finger—Princess Diana’s aquamarine ring. Many speculated it could have been a gift from Harry and Meghan’s “something blue.” If you have heirlooms like this in your family collection, your wedding day might be time to think about wearing them.

6. Get married early in the day.


There’s something to be said for the song “Get Me to the Church on Time” from My Fair Lady. The excitement and anticipation from the morning wedding at St. George’s chapel helped nerves to get out of the way early and allowed for partying all day long. Also, there’s less of a chance of bad weather in the morning!

7. Consider marrying in a church.


Neither Harry nor Meghan are particularly religious, but they married in the historic, 500+ year old St. George’s Chapel. If you crave the beauty of having your wedding ceremony in a church just as Meghan and Harry did, consider marrying in a religious building.

8. Incorporate both of your backgrounds into your ceremony.

Part of what made Meghan and Harry’s ceremony so beautiful was that it included traditional British wedding songs and prayers, but also included Bishop Curry and his sermon that went viral and a gospel choir singing a version of “Stand By Me” that caused many to shed a tear. If your fiancé and you are from different countries like Meghan and Harry, your wedding is a wonderful time to showcase what makes you who you are.

9. Incorporate your cultures into your reception in a clever way.

Guests at the royal couple’s reception said that table names revolved around different pronunciations of the same words by Americans and the British. There was potato, tomato and oregano just to name a few. Consider fun ways like this to mash up your two families’ backgrounds.

10. Honeymoon in a quiet, secluded place.

Nothing is worse than having so many people around that your privacy is threatened, and Meghan and Harry know this all too well. They were at first rumored to be heading to Namibia, but now rumors are swirling the couple will be visiting a secluded resort in Alberta, Canada.

11. Recreate the royal couple’s wedding cake.


The lemon elderflower confection was one to remember. Luckily, if you want to budget for your wedding, HGTV offers a copycat recipe to make on your own.

12. Honor your family.

Harry is close to his brother and father and Meghan and her mother have a deep relationship. If you have that special friend or family member, don’t forget to thank them and let them know how much you love them. Harry and Meghan gave speeches, but you could always handwrite a letter to your loved ones and deliver it on your wedding day.

13. Do things your way.


When Thomas Markle turned out to not be able to make it to the wedding, Meghan opted to walk herself down half of the aisle before she met up with Prince Charles. It was a strong statement of modern feminism and showed the royal family exactly how she planned to live her life as an ex-pat. Don’t be afraid to shun tradition and plan your wedding your way.

14. Make music a central part of your ceremony.

There’s a certain romantic and emotional nature to music. It can bring you back to certain times in your life, making you remember both good times and bad. Consider adding touches of music to your ceremony as Meghan and Harry did. From the Kingdom Choir to 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, everything was picture perfect at St. George’s Chapel that day.

15. Don’t be afraid to show your affection.


Weddings don’t have to be stuffy! Harry and Meghan are known for their adorable PDA and single-handedly have made kissing and holding hands in public sweet again.

Meghan and Harry ushered in a new generation of British royalty when they married.

It was hard not to get caught up in the breathtaking, romantic wedding that was Harry and Meghan’s big day. If you are getting married soon or newly engaged, these 15 suggestions are great ways to model your nuptials just like the modern fairy-tale that was the royal couple’s.

Can’t get enough Harry and Meghan? Check out this essay on how the duo are the perfect example of a modern, empowered couple.

A Guide to Planning, Attending (and Surviving) Bridal Showers

Because wedding season doesn’t start and end the day they say “I do.”

This year, I’m getting married. Being engaged has been exciting and wonderful, but the wedding planning itself has been, well, pretty stressful.

Organizing any event can difficult, and if you’re not a professional party planner (I can barely plan my own meals), putting together a wedding can be downright exhausting.

And to make matters worse, there’s more than just the wedding to focus on. There’s the bridal shower, a bachelorette party, an engagement party, and the rehearsal dinner. There’s so much going on that it’s almost impossible for the engaged couple to do it all themselves.

In the end, a lot of the responsibility usually falls on the bridal party, the couple’s families, and close friends. I’ve seen it from both sides: I’ve been bridesmaid offering to help pick up some slack, to being the bride delegating numerous tasks to the kind (and unsuspecting) friends who offered to help.

So, I know that it can be a bummer if you’re suddenly being given a ton of responsibility. You’re stuck between what the bride and groom wants, what you’re able to do, and how much time/energy you can actually dedicate to making it all happen.

So, in order to help ease the stress of party planning, here’s my guide to planning, assisting with, and enjoying this year’s bridal showers. Whether you’re a bridesmaid, a close family member, or the bride, this list will help you feel confidant, have fun, and get through wedding season with ease.

1. Find out what your role is.

First things first. Before you start booking the venue and ordering champagne, find out what exactly you’re expected to do when it comes to this shower. Because when it comes to showers, there isn’t exactly a hard and fast rule on who is going to be taking the reins.

Sometimes a maid of honor will throw the whole bridal shower herself, other times it’s a parent or grandparent who wants to host it. Sometimes the couple decides to throw a shower together.

With all these different options and expectations, sometimes it can be tricky to walk the line between offering to help and stepping on someone’s toes.

Just make sure you know what the couple wants and what your role in it is. If that means stepping back to watch someone else handle it, great, but you also don’t want to be surprised with a “so… you guys are throwing me a shower right?” — when you had no plans to do so.

On that note, If you’re the bride, remember to be clear about what you want.

For me, I’m really close with my mom and she was so excited to throw me an amazing shower, but we did need some help. My maid of honor did a bunch of crafts for me leading up to the party, and on the day of, we couldn’t have gotten everything set up without my bridesmaids’ help.

2. A good theme is your best friend.

A shower theme can add a little extra fun to the party, serve as inspiration for games and decorations, and help tie everything together.

There are fun and simple themes like “afternoon tea” or “love in Paris” that are easy to find decorations for, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box too.

It could be a scavenger hunt or a pool party bridal shower. You could decorate the party area to look like the set of Stranger Things or model the party after Great Gatsby parties.

For my shower, I decided on a Sound of Music theme. It’s my favorite movie and getting to live in The Sound of Music world made the party extra special for me. Two of my bridesmaids and I dressed up as “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes” (from the song “My Favorite Things”) and my mom had a dress made to look like one Julie Andrews wears in the movie. I had pictures from the film decorating the party space, tables were named after the von Trapp children, and I even had themed party favors and desserts.

I had so much fun finding new ways to incorporate the theme into the party. For example, I liked the idea of candles for party favors, so I ordered ones that were apple strudel scented. I even had themed tea cups made for prizes.

In a world of Etsy and Amazon it’s easy to order almost anything for your party-planning needs, so it’s easy to get creative.

3. Put a new twist on old games.

You’ve probably played the typical bridal shower games a million times. There’s a certain sense of comfort in a good “how well do you know the bride” quiz or a “make a wedding dress out of toilet paper” game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up a little.

For my Sound of Music shower, I took inspiration from the movie when it came to games. I always liked the scene where Maria gets the idea to make her old curtains into play clothes for the children. So, I went to Target and got a few packs of curtains (whichever ones were on sale) and split my guests into teams to create dresses. Everyone got into it and I had a lot of fun judging the best dress.

We also had a sound of music quiz with questions like “What city is The Sound of Music set in?” and “What are the names of the seven von Trapp children?” to test guests’ movie knowledge.

4. A gift-giving guide.


Gifts are often a big part of a bridal shower. In fact, it’s in the name: you’re supposed to “shower” the bride with love, attention, and of course, new stuff.

A lot of times, guests are expected to bring gifts from the registry and watch as the bride opens them. But that doesn’t mean that’s what happens every time. At lingerie parties, guests bring cute underwear (or fun pajamas) and at a “stock the bar” party guests are expected to bring bottles of alcohol for the couple’s home.

When it came to my bridal shower, I decided that I really didn’t want gifts. My fiancé and I already have everything we need, plus, I wanted to fill the shower time with games and socializing rather than gift opening. So, I asked guests to instead make donations to charity.

If you’re the bride, just remember that you have options, and if you’re a guest, remember to be appropriate. Don’t bring crazy kinky underwear to your friend’s shower if she would be embarrassed to open it in front of family and future in-laws.

5. Take plenty of pictures.

For my shower, I decided to have my wedding photographers come to take pictures. It worked out wonderfully and I got a lot of great shots, but not everyone has the budget to do that.

If you’re attending as a guest, take the time to snap some pictures for the bride. She’ll love to have memories of the decorations, candids from the party, and photos of her having a good time. It’s a thoughtful gesture that she’ll enjoy for years to come.

And, if you’re the party planner, think about posting the wedding hashtag up somewhere for people to see. That way, guests can get pictures to the bride easily.

6. Know when to come and go.

One key to surviving bridal showers is knowing when to end it. Make sure that there’s a start and end time for the event, and figure out how much time you’re willing to dedicate to putting up and pulling down decorations.

You might consider offering to come twenty minutes early to help set up, or plan to stay past the end time to help load everything in the cars. Or, if you know you’ve got to head out early, just make sure everyone knows ahead of time that you have somewhere to be.

While planning all those wedding events may seem daunting, these tips will definitely help make it all less stressful. Whether you’re planning the event or just helping out, you’re sure to have a fun shower and a great wedding season.

Wedding Planning Woes: Questioning Traditions that Separate the Bride and Groom

I was on a mission to make our wedding more modern, more inclusive, more about “us.”

When I got engaged, I started planning my wedding right away.

Before I knew it, I was waist-deep in Pinterest boards, bridal magazines, and cake samples—and loving it. There was just one problem: in all my planning, I realized that there were a lot of wedding traditions that I didn’t like. Or, at least, didn’t connect with.

Of course, I knew that some wedding traditions are old-fashioned (looking at you bride-wears-virginal-white), but I was prepared for that.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how many traditions separated the bride and groom.

Between the separate bachelor/bachelorette parties, ladies-only wedding dress shopping excursions, and even the tradition of not seeing each other the day of the wedding, I felt like my fiancé and I were being pushed away from each other. Which, call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure is the opposite of what’s supposed to happen with a wedding.

Between a bridal shower, bachelorette party, and more, I would spend a lot of time with my mom and my friends, but I really wanted my future husband to be there too. It was our wedding and I wanted to share every experience leading up to it with him.

In my frustration and (moderate) case of wedding planning mania, I did some Googling. I wanted to find out where these separation traditions came from in the first place. As it turns out, back when most of these practices started, it was common for couples to only know each other for a short period of time before getting married, if they’d even met at all.

So, It makes sense that the couple would spend more time with their friends and family than they would with each other (after all- they likely knew their friends better than their future spouse).

But these days, people date for a long time. My husband and I were together for nearly a decade before we got engaged, so when it came to wedding plans and pre-wedding parties we decided to do things a little differently.

Here are some of the things we did to put a twist on wedding traditions, making our wedding more modern and more about us.

1. Shopping for the dress together.

I know that it’s supposed to be bad luck to see the bride’s dress before the wedding, but I was willing to take that risk.

I wanted my husband to help me dress shop because I knew he’d be good at it. He’s always been pretty stylish and he has a good eye for what looks good (and bad) on me.

Plus, I didn’t want to (potentially) spend thousands of dollars on a dress without at least getting his opinion on it. If seeing the dress before the wedding was bad luck, spending lots of money on an outfit the groom hated had to be even worse.

We ended up going to a few different shops and, while I felt like dress shopping took a long time, having my fiancé there made it so much fun. Shopping for a dress can be stressful and it was nice to be able to talk to my future husband about it, look at pictures together, and get his opinion on different styles. I wanted the wedding to be about both of us, and both of our tastes, and I was happy my dress was included in that.

I know you might be thinking that maybe some grooms won’t care that much about what their brides wear, or that they won’t be able to pick up on subtle differences between dresses (to be fair- I was useless when trying to help my husband pick out a suit). But at the end of the day I loved having the experience of shopping together and it made me feel even more confident with my dress.

Jilly Pretzel wedding photos

2. Throwing a duel wedding shower.

When it came time for my bridal shower, I had decided that I wanted a more traditional shower- just me and all our closest female friends and relatives. But lots of couples think it’s even better to do it together. And I think they’re on to something.

While I had a more traditional bridal shower, my husband and I also threw a duel engagement party. Right after we got engaged, we invited our closest family and friends over for drinks and appetizers to kick off our marriage celebration. It was a great way for our families to get to know each other, and it felt good to have a casual pre-wedding celebration we could enjoy together.

3. Choosing decor and decorations as a team.

Maybe it’s not necessarily a written tradition, but after seeing a lot of friends get married, I realized that a lot of times the bride plans the bulk of the wedding and makes almost all the style decisions. I thought that sounded unfair: I didn’t want to plan a whole wedding by myself and I also didn’t want to leave my fiancé’s style out of our big day.

In the end, we found that we were able to do almost everything together.

We went on every venue tour together, we looked on Pinterest for flower ideas together, and even picked out wedding favors together (we decided on cookies- they were delicious). In the end, it was a great way to practice making decisions as a couple and we got to spend some quality time together looking forward to our big day.

Jilly Pretzel wedding photos

4. A combined bachelor/bachelorette party.

The idea of a “last fling before the ring” or “last night of freedom” seemed so unnatural to me. My husband and I have never been big party-goers, but when we do go out, we’re always together. We liked the idea of going out with our friends for a “girl’s night” or “guy’s night” but we decided that this particular party was in celebration of our wedding, and we wanted to be together.

In the end, the two of us, plus all the bridesmaids and groomsmen, rented a house for a weekend-long pool party—and had a ton of fun. It was a great way to let the bridal party get to know each other before the wedding and it was a chance for my future husband and I to spend some relaxing quality time together before getting back to wedding planning.

5. Walking down the aisle together.

There’s nothing quite like those pictures of the groom getting teary eyed as he watches his bride come down the aisle… but I found that walking down the aisle together is just as special.

I always hated the idea of being walked down the aisle and being “given away.” It just wasn’t something I was comfortable with—so I decided early on that I didn’t want to have a parent walk with me. To make matters worse, I can get pretty bad stage fright and didn’t love the idea of walking down the aisle alone (with everyone looking at me).

In the end, my fiancé and I decided that we should walk down the aisle together. We felt that it symbolized our togetherness and support for one another, and we liked that it was a little different from the tradition. As an added bonus, I loved having a quiet moment alone with my soon-to-be husband outside the venue, peeking in at everyone in their seats, before we walked in.

Jilly Pretzel wedding photos

6. Writing your ceremony together.

Just because others use those classic vows doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, it could feel even more special if you write your own together.

Of course, some religious ceremonies will have a set script, but when you can personalize your ceremony, I say do it. When we were getting ready for our ceremony, our officiant sent us a few different ceremony scripts to choose, combine, and change as we pleased. My fiancé and I sat down at the computer one night and cut and paste together an original ceremony that we thought fit us.

We loved how personal our ceremony was and, on top of that, we had fun working on them together.

7. Spending the wedding day together.

It’s tradition to have the bride and groom in separate rooms before the wedding, but it’s your special day, and you deserve to enjoy it together.

You might want to have breakfast together, get ready together, or just set aside a good amount of time for pictures before the ceremony. My husband and I loved taking pictures before our wedding because it gave us some time to enjoy each other’s company before our guests arrived. Seeing each other helped us both stay calm before the ceremony and we were so thankful for the extra time together on our wedding day.

Time goes by so quickly during the ceremony, and before you know it, the reception is over. That time of excitement spent together before the ceremony might just end up being what you cherish most.

There are so many wedding traditions… but that doesn’t mean you have to follow every one of them. You’ll find that the best wedding memories are the ones you and your spouse share together, so don’t be afraid to put a twist on tradition and make your wedding your own.

Jilly Pretzel wedding photos