Category Archives: Advice

Sweet Wedding Idea: Travel Inspired

It’s funny how a sweet song, a scrap of fabric, a special color, or a favorite place can set your wedding planning in motion.

I spotted this stunning photograph from an Atlanta wedding, designed by the talented team of Amy Osaba.

This wedding had an Old Hollywood inspired travel theme, but all it reminded me of was the raspy and soulful, “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones.


You never know where you’ll find inspiration, or when it will find you.

Open your eyes, ears, and heart to be inspired.

Gifts for the Grad

I love Dr. Seuss as much as the next gal, but on the day she graduates she really doesn’t need another book, never mind a rhyming one.  Here are some great ideas, both big and small, for the girl who you think deserves it all. (Rhyme intended)

Shop: Essie, Handbag, Wallet, Blazer, Pump, Charms, Journal, Stationary

The Art of Marriage

Normally I post on the style of a wedding, but there is something to be said for spending some time thinking about the style of a marriage.

A few months ago I stumbled across an article about the 50 year marriage between Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.  They got married in a simple ceremony in Las Vegas in 1958 and we’re married until Newman died in 2008.

Wedding Day in 1958

Wedding lore suggests that at the Newman and Woodward wedding the “Art of Marriage” by Wilferd Arlan Peterson was recited.

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
it should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude
of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation
and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience,
understanding and a sense of humour.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal,
dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.

Fifty Years, via Snippet and Ink

Are there married or forever-together couples whose style you admire?  Maybe you’re team Tom+Rita, Michelle+Barack, or maybe you have grandparents who have been married forever you inspire you.  Either way, I think it is important to be inspired by those that get it right.

Wedding Advice: Planning Marriage

In a new installment on The Daily Batch I will share wedding advice, tips, creative ideas and answers to some of the more difficult wedding questions that the magazines “gloss over”.  If there is an issue you want me to tackle, tell me in the comments!

You’ve planned every element of the big day, and now it’s time to plan the marriage, and prepare for what happens after “I do”.

Together Mark and I planned our wedding, he was the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and I was the CCO (Chief Creative Officer).  Together we also planned our marriage.

Prior to getting married, or even engaged, we discussed our finances, our careers, our ambitions, our faiths, our practices, our families of origin and the family we would create together, where we would live, what holidays we would celebrate and how… we planned our life. We poetically wrote those plans into our ketubah, and on our wedding day we shared sweetly simple vows from our officiant, Cantor Debbi Ballard.

Less than 9 months after we said “I do” we got our first test to vows.  On Wednesday, September 15, 2010, two days after returning from India, Mark woke up at 7am blind in one eye.  To contextualize this, he has always had weak vision in his left eye and has never relied on it, so the blindness in his right eye left him completely without vision.

Together we managed to get to the emergency room. My adrenaline and his memory of Northern Virginia is the only way we made it there.  And so began a series of questions, blood tests, and CAT Scans, when those proved inconclusive we were sent off to an eye specialist.

When that visit also proved inconclusive, we were sent back to the emergency room, with the early diagnosis of optic neuritis, the inflammation of the optic nerve, which typically has an 86% recovery rate.

The first 24 hours of any drama are the worst, because in those hours, you have no answers and only questions.  The questions come from doctors, nurses, and interns, they come from very helpful and supportive family and friends, but the loudest and scariest questions are the ones you ask yourself.

They are practical and short term: What is happening? What is the treatment?  What is the recovery?

And they are long term: Will he be able to drive, work, surf, snowboard again?  Will he ever see me again? Will he see the faces of our future children?

For the next five days we made Mark’s small hospital room at the end of the hall our home away from home.  We had visitors, homemade foods and snacks, take out from a favorite restaurant, flowers audio books, and cheerful texts, phone calls and emails.

Everyday there would be new tests, visits from a vampire between 3-4am to collect blood, scans, and visits from doctors and nurses with giant flashlights and the question, “Can you see me now?”  The answer was always “no”.

Together we were realizing the meaning of the vows, “in sickness and in health”.  When Mark and I first started dating we called ourselves “Team MC,” and in those days in the hospital, and as Mark’s vision in his left-eye strengthened, and the 8 months of doctor visits, trips to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Mayo Clinic, that followed, our being a team and partners is what got us through.

His resilience, my perseverance. 
His calm, my questions. 
His steadiness, my ability to cry in the other room – we made the room a no cry zone.

Mark’s right eye did not recover as originally projected.  A year later the cause of this is still unknown and is somewhat of a medical fluke.  The right eye that was completely dark, now filters in some light and shadows.  His left eye has grown stronger, and he works, drives, surfs, runs, does yoga and lives his life like nothing ever happened.

This morning when I told Mark I wanted to write about the past year and what happened he said to me “make sure you write about the fun stuff…”

That is the essence of Mark, he is the most fiercely determined person I know, his energy knows no limits, and he finds the beauty, strength and purpose in every moment.

On the first night in the hospital we stepped away from his room and went outside.  It was still and quiet, and calm.  The moon was bright and high over our heads and Mark couldn’t see it.  And in that moment he recounted how everything was going so right in our world; careers, our new marriage, and exciting opportunities and until this.  It’s the only time Mark ever complained.

Reflecting back on this part of the past year sometimes gives me a lump in my throat.  However, it is an ongoing reminder that we can plan our marriages, and our lives, down to the second, but things will always happen and when they do the timing is never right.  There is no time to waste before beginning the next great challenge or adventure.  The way you overcome the surprises or struggles in life is not by planning for them but finding the right people to overcome them with.


Wedding Advice: To See or Not to See

In a new weekly installment on The Daily Batch I will share wedding advice, tips, creative ideas and answers to your most difficult wedding questions based on the issues and questions I am asked about in real life. If there is an issue you want me to tackle, tell me in the comments!

You’ve lived together for two years, you’ve seen each other through everything, but you can’t quite decide if you should see each other before walking down the aisle.

Question 1: My fiance and I can’t decide whether to see each other before we get married.  My photographer suggests that we do, but I am just not sure…  I’m not really superstitious about it being bad luck, but I just wonder if it takes some of the specialness away from the moment when I walk down the aisle… – Mr. and Mrs. Surprise Love

Answer:  Today, I am fully supportive of the first look, and I admit I did not always feel that way.  When I first heard of this concept, I thought it might be a little too cheesy (even for me), or that it wasn’t quite so magical as it appeared in photos.  I was wrong. (8/10/2011 – 9:45am)

Early on, when we started planning our photography with the amazing photography wife-husband duo of  Ashley and Philip at 1313, we planned to have a first look session primarily for practicality:

  • I was pushing our ceremony until as late as possible, but before sunset – that’s about 5:58pm – leaving little time for well-lit photos after the “I-do’s”
  • We wanted to have a consistent flow from ceremony, to cocktail hour, to reception
  • The majority of our guests had traveled from out of town and we didn’t want to miss out on spending any time with while they were partying, and we were take pictures

Like most practical wedding decisions, eventually emotion crept in.

I spent the day with my mother, sister, friends and family getting ready at one hotel.  A block away, Mark was with his friends also getting ready.  Ashley and Philip arrived to take my “getting ready” photos, and then they left to take Mark’s.

Then Ashley and Philip coordinated my arrival to Mark’s hotel, via limousine, to find Mark for our first look.

He was standing at the middle of a courtyard, by himself, with his back towards me.  It seemed as if time stood still.  I didn’t hear anyone, or see anyone.

First Look: 1313 Photography

I was walking, and walking and walking…

First Look: 1313 Photography

And then, I arrived.

First Look: 1313 Photography

I touched his shoulder, he turned around, and then it was all shock and awe(some)…

First Look: 1313 Photography

What was the most special about the first look moment for me, was that as soon as it happened it became “our wedding day”.  The planning was over.  The license was signed.  We were going to be moving forward from that moment, through the rest of the day, and our lives as partners, as a team and as husband and wife.

That may seem like a lot to capture in a photograph, but that’s how I feel.  That look in our faces is as much of “I can’t believe today is the day” as it is “I can’t believe how lucky I am.”

In the planning of a wedding there are lots of opportunities to lose sight of each other, the intimacy of moments, and the magnitude of the marriage versus the wedding.  By securing those first few moments, just for us, without our friends and family I feel like we were able to connect, release any lingering stomach butterflies, and smile like husband and wife.

Also, to calm any fears that this moment, the first look, lessens the significance of the second “first look” your partner has when they see you walk down the aisle, I will say that’s simply not the case.   When you walk down the aisle it is music, theatrics, flowers, families, flash bulbs, and ironically, you won’t hear a beat, see a face you recognize, again you will only see the face at the end of the aisle.

Do you agree or disagree with this advice? Let me know. And, if there a wedding related issue you want advice on or just some tips – leave a note in the comments.

Wedding Advice: Planning for Plan B

In a new weekly installment on The Daily Batch I will share wedding advice, tips, creative ideas and answers to your most difficult wedding questions based on the issues and questions I am asked about in real life. If there is an issue you want me to tackle, tell me in the comments!

You consulted a numerologist, checked the calendar and picked the perfect wedding date and the perfect wedding venue for your perfect wedding day. But sometimes, something is less than perfect. Let’s plan for less than perfect.

Question 1: My fiance and I are getting married in August in Florida. Our ceremony and reception will be on the beach so our guests can enjoy a starry night. However, the meteorologist says a stormy night is also possible. What do I do?- Mr. and Mrs. On the Beach without an Umbrella

Answer: Picking your wedding date and location involves a number of factors: schedules, budgets, sentimental value, and seasonal availability, among others. What it should also include is the weather.

There is nothing wrong with getting married during hurricane season, snow season, heat wave season, or heck, even football season, but you’ve got to have a plan.

Rainy Wedding Day, via Pinterest

Well in advance of your wedding, map out the environmental (weather patterns, storms, high heat, low temperatures) and logistical issues (road closures, construction, Oh, the Super Bowl is in your town?!) and prepare so that on the day of your wedding your biggest decision is between a mimosa or a bellini.

Speak with your event director or venue manager when you go on your initial tours and ask about how many events the venue will book on the same date/time – if there are two rooms and two weddings, you’re out of options.  Ask about the Plan B room if there is bad weather and go see it.  If you hate it, this might not be the venue for you.  Speak with your decorator and florist about their ability to be flexible in case of a last minute change of location/room plans.  Ask your venue and/or your florist what their access is to rental tents, space-heaters, umbrellas, etc.

Be prepared.  I’m sure in your mind, you’ll be getting married rain or shine, but the point of planning is to avoid the stress, rain or shine.

Mark and I got married on January 23, 2010, during one of the worst winters on record on the Eastern seaboard. In the month before and after our wedding there was more than 55 inches of snow in DC, where we live, and in Florida, where we got married, the temperatures were shockingly cold.

It turned out that the weather was just fine the weekend of our wedding.  But, I was also prepared. In the weeks before we inquired about space heaters for our outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour, and soft and warm pashminas for our guests. This would have been an unexpected bump in our budget, but I felt a sense of calm knowing we had a plan.

What I didn’t expect is that on the morning of the wedding the skies would be gray.  Gray, ominous and foreshadowing of rain.  Florida is known for mid-afternoon thunderstorms, but not in January!  So, as we prepped and primped in a hotel, I was on the phone with the florist, requesting to go ahead with the original plan of setting up the chuppah and chairs outside in our Plan A courtyard, as opposed to the Plan B “room”. Again, the point I am stressing is, I had a Plan B.

Again, I got lucky, there was a light mist that magically seemed to stop when the musicians started, and the real rain didn’t come until after midnight when most people had gone home, and the friends who were still out celebrating had celebrated enough all night that the rain didn’t dampen their fun.


Do you agree or disagree with this advice? Let me know. And, if there a wedding related issue you want advice on or just some tips – leave a note in the comments.

Wedding Advice: It’s Time to Eat

In a new weekly installment on The Daily Batch I will share wedding advice, tips, creative ideas and answers to your most difficult wedding questions and the issues and questions I am asked about in real life.  If there is an issue you want me to tackle, tell me in the comments!


So, you’re supposed to “Eat, Drink and be Married” but the question of what to eat can often pose a major problem.  Here’s some advice!

Vegetarian Wedding Food Ideas

 Question 1: My fiancee and I are vegetarians, should we serve meat at our reception? – Mr. and Mrs. Loves Lettuce

Answer: Without knowing if you are a vegetarian for health reasons, or moral reasons, I fall back on the principle that guided all of my wedding planning: the reception you host should be a reflection of who you are, individually, but most importantly as a couple. 

If you maintained a gluten-free diet (for health) would you serve breaded chicken with a side of pasta and bread pudding for dessert?  If you kept Kosher (for moral/religious reasons) would you serve shrimp cocktail followed by pork chops in a cheese sauce?  The answers to both of these questions are likely “no”.

If you and your fiancee live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, then the day and night of your wedding should be no different.  The people you invite to celebrate with you are presumably the most important people in your lives and they would not want you to compromise your health or morals in favor of beef, which as it turns it not always “what’s for dinner”.

Work with your catering director to develop a menu that is reflective of your dietary needs, and suits the needs of your families.  Push the limits beyond the standard vegetable plate., aka steamed vegetables and brown rice.   Look for ways to appease all tastes without offending anyone’s sensibilities.  A good place to sneak in some “traditional protein” might be the cocktail hour, if you feel so obliged.  And, remember tempeh, tofu, portobello mushrooms, and hearty root vegetables have all been known to make a carnivore smile.

Marc Mezvinsky, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and former President Bill Clinton

Or, follow the lead of one famous 2010 bride, Chelsea Clinton who served a vegan menu and a gluten-free cake, and but threw a bone to meat eaters, by serving up some organic grass-fed beef.

Do you agree or disagree with this advice?  Let me know.  And, if there a wedding related issue you want advice on or just some tips – leave a note in the comments.

Photo Source: Top, L – R: Design Sponge, Pinterest, Showfood, Pinterest. Bridal Bar, Once Upon a Plate, Martha Stewart, Bridal Bar, Martha Stewart


On Being a Princess

Tomorrow, Waity Katy will wait no more.  Tomorrow, Kate Middleton, the future Catherine, the Something of Somewhere will be a bride, and the most watched bride of all time.

Kate and William via
I mentioned in conversation the other day that I sort of feel badly for Kate – yea, we’re on a first name basis.  It can be tough to be a bride, especially when your every move is scrutinized and then compared to one of the world’s most beloved women, your groom’s mother.  

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, July 29, 1981via
But, it also got me thinking, how unique is her situation, really?  On her wedding day she will become a princess, and on your wedding day so will you.  Stay with me here…

You might hate the idea of being a princess, and what is stands for: the patriarchy, and pomp and circumstance.  
You might be a beach bride, a ballroom bride, a courtroom bride or a castle bride.  
You might get your dress off the rack, at a sample sale, or have it be the most highly speculated gown of the year.  
You might share donuts with your spouse, cupcakes, or a multi-tiered traditional English fruitcake (*yikes!).
You might have a very small budget, be a DIY-er, or be employing a royal army of vendors for your wedding day.

It makes no difference.  On the day you put on your dress (maybe it’s red, “diamond” white, ivory, or somewhere in between) and walk towards your groom, (up the stairs of the courthouse or down the long and storied aisle of Westminster Abbey), you will be the only person anyone looks at, the only person anyone talks about, and the only Princess for your Prince Charming.
Mark and I on our Wedding Day, via
I will be watching tomorrow as William and Kate say “I do” and share their awkward first public kiss as husband and wife.  

If you’re in need of more Royal Wedding info, People has done a great job of pulling it all together, and you can watch it live online at 5 AM, EST.  You can also follow the wedding news on Twitter with #rw2011.
Now all that’s left is seeing what she wears!

Be Engaging

So, you’re engaged.  Mazel Tov!  Now what?

I was once engaged, and now have friends who are or who will be, and maybe you are, or you have friends/sisters/daughters who are or will be.  Here is where I am going to share some frank advice.

When you are engaged to be married, that is the time between “Will you marry me?” and “I do”.  You might have one of these on your finger, or a string, or maybe you’re not a ring kind of girl – hey, Carrie wanted a closet, no judgement.
Ali Fedotowsky’s Neil Lane Engagement Ring via
Anyway, after you move beyond the proposal and calling your parents, siblings, friends and families, there is a lot to do and consider.  The first thing to remember, tell people before posting on Facebook – some news is worthy of a phone call!

Take the time to enjoy your engagement.  Before buying a magazine, looking at dresses (this might be hard to resist), before even booking a date, take time to enjoy your engagement.  

Be silly, take kissy face pictures, talk with your hands more than normal, tell people you’re affianced, introduce your “fiancee”, get a manicure.

Happily Ever After by Essie
Taking time helps get you ready to plan, which can sometimes feel like the other definitions of “engaged” such as:
  • having ones attention or mind or energy engaged; “she keeps herself fully occupied with vendor phone calls and magazines”
  • involved in military hostilities; “she was engaged in a heated battle for the perfectly pink peony bouquet”
  • booked: reserved in advance; “she has engaged a room block at every hotel within a 10 mile radius of her reception”
  • busy; “she was engaged in all the planning, she forgot to work out, see friends, relax”
To the newly engaged meet some of my favorite friends on the Internet:

And when you’re ready to start planning and talking and looking for inspiration, don’t forget to come here!

Getting Married, for Less

Weddings can become expensive, like shockingly so.  While there are many different types of weddings from the courthouse to the beach to the grand ballroom, they all come with a price and these days there is always a way to do it for less.

When shopping for the wedding dress of your dreams the sticker shock can become a bit of a nightmare.  New online flash sale site, The Aisle New York, has worked with the best in the wedding industry to offer serious discounts on wedding finery including new designer gowns, shoes, veils, jewelry and other accessories.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal with dresses retailing for up to 50%+ off.
Rubia Gown by Junko Yoshioka, Aisle Price: $1590, from $3650
The Aisle offers specific sizing guides, and returns for up to 5 days and return insurance.  The dress of your dreams, for a steal!

Don’t forget about your friends, and the many other occasions for dressing up when you get married.  My favorite site to browse, for the events and parties not on my calendar, has now joined the wedding party.

The new wedding section offers suggestions for the bride dresses to take her from her engagement party to the honeymoon, all from today’s top designers at often 15% of the regular price.  The rental option lets you live like a star with new dresses showing up all the time, without having to pay star prices.

Rent the Runway also has terrific options for bridesmaids, whether you want to go the traditional route or high fashion, they can also get a fabulous look, for much less.

Saving money, is always in fashion!