Staying Close During Added Relationship Pressures

My husband and I had one of our biggest fights (ever) on Valentines Day on the year that we were engaged. It came as a surprise to me and was tied up into a ball of multiple complexities. We barely ever fight outside of tiffs here and there so this was a rare moment, especially on (what’s supposed to be) the most romantic time of the year.

While I wish the fight didn’t happen, it allowed us to move into the next stage of our commitment and reminded us of how important it is to treat each other with the utmost care. The argument wasn’t over any of the wedding details in particular, it was magnified because of the amount of pressure around us at the time. There were likely also some unspoken fears and nerves that were brewing under the surface about the upcoming changes.

The time of your engagement will likely come with a lot of stress and quick decisions to be made. You’ll both be working through your own individual emotions and stresses and they can come out in different ways at unique times. Stay close to one another and be open about how you’re feeling. Most importantly, start to take steps towards viewing life as a “we” instead of a “me.” By beginning to transition to this new mindset prior to your wedding day, it will set you both up for success in the long run.

Oh and the good news? All Valentines since have been wonderful! No fights here!

With love,

Girl with a Diamond Ring

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Answers to Real Bride Questions: Wedding Registry

Real bride and GWADR blog reader, Kayla, asked:

Do you have any tips for creating a wedding registry for couples that already live together?

Great question, and congrats on your upcoming nuptials! We live in a new world where couples are able to challenge traditions to create their own, and this is becoming a more popular subject. So while many couples use a wedding registry to create their new home environment together typically from scratch, what happens if they already have a home together?

I did some research and have curated some of my favorite tips:

1. Upgrade what you already own and sign up for a traditional wedding registry like Macy’s, Wayfair or Crate & Barrel. Have your guests invest in new bedding or kitchen gadgets that you’ve never been able to afford. This gives your loved ones a chance to invest in your new life together and there’s no downside to getting a new comfy pillow or shiny blender! (And don’t forget a new vacuum or pet bed!)

2. Sign up for a specialty gift registry like Bottlenotes or Beer of the Month (if you like a glass of something special at dinner) or Seven Hopes United (if you want eco friendly gifts.)

3. Have guests chip in towards your honeymoon experiences through Honeyfund, The Honeymoon, and Wanderable. This is a time that you’ll really want to enjoy and it’d be nice to not feel like you’re having to penny pinch (especially after an expensive wedding!) You might also ask the hotel where you’re staying at ahead of time if guests are able to chip in for your on-site activities.

4. Foodies? Ask a few people to chip in with gift cards for monthly food services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh or Sun Basket. This will allow you to have a few meals a week at home so you can have some quiet time together and get some good cooking practice in.

5. You can request gift cards to things like the local movie theater or your favorite restaurants through Card Avenue; they even have cards for Lowe’s and Whole Foods! There’s NOTHING wrong with this route but do give your guests some options. Some people won’t want to buy you a gift card so having a physical list is still nice to have.

6. Use a cross-company registry so you can curate items from multiple places. This will allow you to be more eclectic without making it confusing for your guests. Sites include Zola, Simpleregistry and CheckedTwice.

7. If you have something really specific in mind, it’s ok to ask a few people close to you for that one gift or two that would make you really happy. For example, you could ask for someone to buy you an annual Movie Pass (unlimited date nights!) or a gift card/Groupon voucher towards a local wine tour or spa service. You could also select a large gift for people to split like a home theater system, concert tickets or an expensive luggage set. These might be one offs that won’t make sense to share as a broader request of your guests, but could be really special for your life as newlyweds.

8. Don’t forget the more sensible options like Amazon or Walmart. These will allow you to select items from all across the board that can help you in your new life together, from grocery shopping trips to new tech toys like matching FitBits for both of you to wear!

Now register away and enjoy your upgraded home life with your new spouse. And thanks for your question, Kayla!

With love,

Girl with a Diamond Ring

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Marriage Insights in a New Year

I enjoyed a relaxing time off over the holidays and had a great time filling my free time with Pinterest wedding searches, sappy Hallmark movies and Say Yes to the Dress episode marathons!

With all of the romance in the air, I have been thinking a lot about the importance of wedding prep and what that means for a long and happy marriage. Why I love wedding planning so much is because it’s so much more than planning that one day; you are planning the rest of your life! This quote stands out to me:

“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make–not just on your wedding day, but over and over again–and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.” – Barbara de Angelis

Now that I’ve been married (almost) three years, I am reminded of a few key things and I hope they can encourage you, too.

Marriage is a gift. Marriage is long lasting. And you are entering into a partnership for the rest of your life with your love and your best friend. That’s the best part and all that really matters!

If you’re newly engaged, make sure you (try to) enjoy the planning process as you lead up to your big day. It will get chaotic and stressful but it will be a day that will kick off the next season of your relationship. Don’t lose sight of your “forever” by getting ok wrapped up in the details and remember that you’re both on the same team.

Most importantly… be kind to one another, show your appreciation for your partner in big and small ways, and never stop dating.

I am looking forward to kicking off 2018 and will see you back here every Saturday with new wedding blog posts!

With love,

Girl with a Diamond Ring

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Top Performing Blogs from 2017

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It’s been my first official full year with my very own wedding blog! (WOW-ZA!) I have SO enjoyed diving deeper into my passion through this weekly blog post, my Instagram channel, and my Pinterest page. I am still a happy “newlywed” (almost 3 years in) and I love all-things-weddings more than ever.

In case you missed them, here are the most popular posts from my year:

  1. 10 Things I Loved About the Miya Wedding
  2. 10 Things I Loved About the Puff Wedding
  3. The Second Guessing Bride
  4. The Two Best Pieces of Marriage Advice
  5. Wedding Theme Spotlight: Time for Brunch

I’m looking forward to sharing more sparkle and wedding planning tips with you in 2018! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for automatic updates via email. See you next year!

With love,

Girl with a Diamond Ring

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How to Fix 5 Wedding Invitation Mistakes

7-18-2017 5-30-31 PMWhen I first started planning my wedding, I realized fairly quickly how easy it would be too make mistakes throughout the process because most of tasks were being completed for the first time. “You don’t know what you don’t know” is extremely accurate.

Invitations were such a fun part of the planning process but I learned a few really important things that I hope can help you based on personal mistakes that I made.

  • Don’t feel like your theme has to be 100% set in stone before you send them out. As long as you have a general color scheme or foundational idea of the style, you can decide on your invites. While these should support your overall vision, it doesn’t need to be exact. Some people wait too long feeling like every detail needs to be ironed out and they get invitations out later than they should. It’s not worth lower headcount on your big day just so it’s perfect.
  • Order more than you think you’ll need. You WILL have last minute additions to your list that you’ll need to either mail or personally hand out. Ordering a whole new smaller second batch will be much more expensive than just ordering 10-20 extra with your first purchase.
  • Remember that invitations are piece of paper that will eventually get thrown away. Sorry, I know that doesn’t sound very romantic! While invites are what might make it feel “real” to you and your spouse, don’t go overboard. Details like lace or ribbon can be nice, but can also add to the final cost of the wedding. Keep this in mind when you’re selecting the style and weighing your options. Speaking of weight…unique sizes or thicker card stock can add to shipping costs. While a few cents or even a dollar doesn’t sound that bad, if you’re having a big wedding then this will really add up.
  • Do your research to compare vendor prices, both online and in local businesses. I personally got my wedding invitations from Wedding Paper Divas (who have now partnered with Shutterfly) and I’m so glad that I did. The invites came in a beautiful box (that I still have) and the team was professional every step of the way. But after my wedding, I started to realize how many options are available. Get recommendations from married friends. Search on the internet and social media hashtags. And take advantage of coupons and seasonal sales !
  • Your invitations don’t HAVE to be “wedding invitations.” There are tons of invitation types available and usually more specific themes will increase in price. Look around at regular event and party invites that can be personalized for a wedding invitation, instead of solely looking at things in “wedding” categories. Most of these items have a premium, just because the retailers can.

With love,

Girl with a Diamond Ring

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10 Things I Loved About Your Wedding

Over the years I have attended a lot of weddings, and each stand out in their own unique ways. One that knocked me off my feet earlier this year was the wedding between Isabella Ella and Ivan Miya, now the Miyas!

Highlights

  1. The Theme Both Isabella and Ivan have strong Christian faith and have made it a very personal foundation for their future marriage. This was very clear through their theme. The bride told me, “We really wanted our guests to feel a touch of heaven. It was planned to be an experience that gave them pieces of what heaven might feel like.”

Both the ceremony and reception were held on the grounds of a beautiful home that was rented out for the evening. There was lush greenery and flowers almost everywhere you looked which made it feel magical.

  1. The Music Once all guests were seated at the ceremony, you could tell it was a formal and special event. When the music started, it was beautiful. The Godparents and parents walked down to an instrumental version of “When I Fall in Love.” And then the groom walked down the aisle…and the Super Mario Brothers theme song began to play! Not only did this add to the youthfulness and festive spirit, but it also taught you something about the groom (who is a 3D character artist) and his love for video games.

And then the bride walked down to “Best of My Love” which was a proclamation to her groom. This also let you know about her joyful personality and desire for their future together. The best part? They were both played with saxophone instrumental track so it still felt very uniform.

  1. The Flower Girls Angels Isabella’s nieces came down the aisle wearing wings (made by the Mother of the Bride)! I had never seen this and it really took their heavenly detail to perfection over the top.

  1. The Bride’s Entrance She stood at the top of a grand staircase and literally threw the bottom of her two-piece flowy dress in the air. It was a stunning moment and everyone was in awe. She took her time and gracefully walked down the stairs towards her father.

  1. The Vows They had their own vows written on scrolls. The bride started hers with “Hear ye, hear ye!” which led to a really cute moment of laughter between them and their guests. The vows were heartfelt and spoke of how they believe that God has ordained their love story and brought them together after years of praying for the right mate.

  1. The Seating Chart and Table Names There were beautiful large antique mirrors adorned with gorgeous flowers that displayed the seating assignments. Each of the tables were named after words found in the Bible that they wanted to plant into their marriage as well as speak into the lives of their guests. Words included things like “gratitude”, “faith”, and “patience.” Once you got to the table, each of the names were written on gold terrariums displayed in the center of each table. The terrariums represented gems that will be found in heaven, and added to the sweet sentiment of the reception.

  1. The Sweetheart Table There was a grand sofa settee where the bride and groom sat for the reception. It had flowers around it and felt luxurious.

  1. The Photo Booth Photo booths are ALWAYS fun and let’s just say…they even had a prop of a green Hulk hand! The backdrop of the photo booth was a stunning gold glitter drape that made it feel really elevated, and the bride and groom even got in there to take their own shots! (A MUST!) Once the photos were posted, guests were encouraged to post their photos and snapshots from their wedding experience with the hashtag “#CincoDeMiya.” (The wedding was ON Cinco De Mayo…get it?!)

  1. The Guestbook The Dr. Seuss book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” was laid out to be signed by each of the guests. According to the couple, it’s a statement of their upcoming life adventures and is a book that their future kids can read one day. It was a colorful and youthful pop.
  1. The Favors There were two! Each seat at the reception had a bottle opener with a sign that said “Keys to the Kingdom.” Useful AND tied in to their faith-based theme! And then, as guests were leaving, they were each able to take home a small box with a Tiramisu macaroon called “Tira-miss-you.”

These were just my top 10 details of a very special day that showcased the love between two very special people. Truly a slice of heaven! Thanks for sharing your special day with me, Isabella and Ivan.

Before we go, here is some more vendor love:

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Creating New Traditions

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! This has me thinking about traditions and the fact that one of the best parts of being a newlywed comes down to the ability to create new traditions that will continue for the rest of your life. While this is one of the best parts, it can also be quite challenging.

Creating new traditions will depend a lot on how each of you are as individuals. Do both of you have set plans that take place every year, that you’ll now need to compromise on or combine? Does one of you have a stronger connection to specific holidays or family traditions? Or are you both starting from scratch?

Take some time to spend time talking about it with your future spouse. Do it when you’re both calm and not in the middle of something. Take your time to really think it through, and be open to trying new things.

Don’t forget to compromise. While you might have your mind set on things going a certain way, make sure you meet your spouse in the middle.  And don’t feel pressured that just because you do something a certain way in your first year of marriage that it always has to be that way. Discuss flexibility with your spouse and try a few different things. You might be able to swap out traditions from one holiday to another or one year to another.

Take this seriously and think through brand new traditions that you can create together. This will make it feel really special and original, and you’ll then have a new fresh start that you both can completely get behind. For example, my husband and I have never had real Christmas trees in either of our childhood homes. So this year, we’re excited to pick out a fresh new tree for our home.

Make sure you both feel like you have your own time with your side of the family and friends, and find a way to combine some of the past traditions from your single-lives. Between that and your brand new traditions together, you’ll have some really special moments together as a married couple.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Tips for Engaged Couples from a Newlywed

The holiday season comes with gifts of all types, and often times, it might mean a ring!

If you’re a newly engaged couple, you’re probably going to quickly fill your calendar with all-things-wedding-planning. Here are five things my husband-to-be and I did before the big day that helped us stay centered in our relationship (as it’s so easy to get off track because of the stress of all of the logistics.)

  1. Keep dating! Don’t forget that this is the last season that you have together where you’re still “courting” so enjoy date nights together before you become just another old married couple. (Although, that comes with its perks, too!)
  2. Say thank you. While you’ll both have a lot on your plate leading up to the wedding, take a few minutes to say “thank you” to your partner for the time that they spend on wedding tasks. It can be so easy to nag or keep moving on to the next, so stop to show some gratitude when as task has been accomplished.
  3. Spend time with other married couples. Plan a few get togethers with other married couples. It will be a good influence for you and your partner to spend time with others who are married because you can begin to learn what you want and don’t want in your future marriage. You might also get some really helpful tips on wedding prep or marriage prep from people who were where you are right now at a previous point in their lives.
  4. Take pre-marital counseling/marriage relationship prep seriously. I’m a big fan of pre-marital counseling and my husband and I really enjoyed the time that we spent with the pastor from our church leading up to the big day. Whether you take a class for newly engaged couples, meet with a pastor one-on-one, read a book, or watch YouTube videos, take this seriously. Everything you hear might not be applicable right then, but the tips you pick up will come in handy later.
  5. Start to change your mindset from “me” to “we”. The more you can plan for a “we” mindset before you actually get married, the better set up for success you will be. Get used to compromising and putting the needs of your partner first. If you can do this when you’re still engaged, it will be a much smoother transition once you’re married. (Don’t worry…it’s AWESOME.)

Hope this helps. Don’t lose sight of what made you initially fall in love!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Planning a Winter Wedding

7-18-2017 5-30-31 PMIs it just me or is this year flying by??? For those of you brides who are planning to get married this winter, or you’re looking to do a winter wedding in 2018, this post is for you. (PS If you are planning a wedding that’s a year out, plan to score on some major discounts the week after Christmas this year so you can stock up on decor.)

“Winter” can be a really broad theme that can go in a variety of directions. Hone in on what you and your fiance like most about the season before you create the final theme. Is it the weather? The holiday spirit? The Christmas season? The hint of wintery blue in a color palette? Snowflakes?

Try not to forget it’s a wedding. While Christmas-themed weddings can be fantastic, having a Santa Claus impersonator show up might be a little overboard.

One easy way to make it feel seasonal is to think about the music! There are a lot of Christmas-themed albums that feel more modern than the classic renditions. Mariah Carey and Kelly Clarkson are some of my favorites. And songs like “Baby it’s cold outside” can add to the romance in the air.

If you expect that guests will be traveling in, make sure they know well in advance. Traveling this time of year can be more expensive and schedules fill up fast. Make attire really clear on the invite ahead of time if your guests are going to be outside for any period of time so they can show up prepared. And once they are there, keep your guests warm and comfortable. Offer cozy blankets, scarves or gloves if it’s going to be cold. And have a formal coat-check available since most guests will come inside with big jackets.

For your own style, don’t underestimate how gorgeous a faux-fur bridal jacket can be. Most bridal gown stores have them available but they can be a little pricey because they are created specifically with weddings in mind. Take advantage of the season and look for any clothing store that offers nice jackets or shawls. Make sure your bridal party is comfortable, too! The worst thing about outdoor winter photos are bridal party shots where the girls look freezing! You can add winter muffs on the girls side (instead of flowers) and give your groomsman cozy socks or scarves as gifts.

And my favorite part…tie it all together with warm food and drink. Set up a hot chocolate bar with different flavors and toppings. Have a signature hot coffee drink (with/without alcohol). Add sugar crystals on the rim of the drink or put a peppermint stick in place of a coffee stirrer. S’mores, anyone?

For more ideas, check out my Pinterest board called Winter Dream!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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10 Things I Loved About Your Wedding

I’m excited to kick off a new blog series with highlights of real weddings. I’ll pick my top 10 favorite aspects of the big day to share with my readers. I recently had the pleasure of attending the wedding of Amanda and Ben, now, Mr. and Mrs. Puff! It was a special family-oriented event with amazing food and drink, all on the backdrop of a beautiful castle from the 1800s.

Highlights

  1. Venue The wedding took place on the grounds of the Lyndhurst Mansion which had sprawling green hills and a formal gothic-style castle. It was positioned right next to the Hudson river which added beautiful views, especially when the sun was setting.Puff Wedding - 718
  2. Photographer While the photography was also a highlight, the actual photographer was a stand out! Luisa Wall is a personal friend of the bride and she was absolutely beaming. Any time you looked over at her, she had a big grin on her face. She was one of the first people there and the last to leave but you never saw her sweat. Her love and dedication put towards to capturing the special moments was really touching to see.Luisa.png
  3. Flowers The flowers were all silk and fit in perfectly with the shabby chic theme. While I’m normally not a big fan of silk flowers, the bouquets and centerpieces were absolutely stunning. Each piece was hand crafted by the brides mom and really added to the special day. The flowers were a smart investment because they now double-up as home decor for the bridal party. (Don’t you love this photo?!)
    Puff Wedding - 852.jpg
  4. Bride’s Incorporation of Diabetes Amanda lives with type 1 diabetes and manages her health with an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor. These are two separate devices that she wears all of the time, and she knew she had to wear them on her wedding day. When she searched for a dress, she found one with pockets that could hold her diabetes devices. (She even worked with her seamstress to make some alterations to the pockets so she could easily access what she needed.) Since diabetes is a big part of her life story, it was nice to see that it didn’t hold her back and she was able to find a way to incorporate it into her big day.Puff Wedding - 124
  5. Bride’s Manicure Amanda always has a perfect manicure so her wedding day was no exception! She used a beautiful rose gold color on her ring finger and light pink nails on the rest of her hand. This made her ring finger stand out and tied together beautifully with her rose gold jewelry. All of her bridesmaids also incorporated rose gold into their manicures in different ways.Puff Wedding - 1072(1)
  6. Bride’s Dancing Shoes Her Toms wedges were gorgeous for the ceremony and first dance, and then she put on her dancing shoes! I’ve seen Converse done before at weddings, but never with ribbon-shoe laces!
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  7. The Shabby Chic Theme The dainty yet rustic decor was tied throughout all of the details, both big and small. Their guestbook and gift table were great examples of that. The guestbook in particular was so smart because it also matches their home decor and will look really nice on a wall displaying their last initial and wedding wishes!Puff Wedding - 346
  8. The Quote in the Toast  The Maid of Honor gave a lovely toast at the reception and shared this Dr. Suess quote which was completely wedding-appropriate! “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whos weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
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  9. The Gender Reveal While the couple were celebrating their life of newlyweds, they also celebrated another life chapter: becoming new parents. At their reception, the bride and groom opened up poppers with their bridal party that shared the gender reveal! They were able to announce to all of their guests that they would be having a baby girl this fall.Puff Wedding - 1269.jpg
  10. Dessert Parade All of the food from the cocktail hour through to the reception was amazing, but the dessert “took the cake.” After a traditional cake-cutting and serving, the servers came by each table one by one, each with a unique dessert in their hand. They called it a “dessert parade.” It was decadent, extravagant and absolutely delicious.Puff Wedding - 1855

These were just my top 10 details of a very special day that showcased the love between two very special people. I hope you liked them, too!

Before we go, here is some more vendor love:

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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