Questions to Ask Before You Get Married

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This weekend Theo and I went back to our hometown of Geneva for the annual Grape JAMboree. It reminded me of the last time we passed through when I took this photo: This summer we took a trip to the Rochester, New York Area where his brother, sister-in-law and niece lives. From Toledo that’s quite a drive and we had a great time; I finally got to meet his sweet little niece.

One of the things we did to pass the time was some questions I had found online of “Questions to Ask Before You Get Married”. Below I have listed a bunch of the ones I picked out and categorized for your convenience. There are tons more on the internet so don’t stop here if you want to get to know your significant other better. Theo and I have been together for over 6 years and based on our personality types one of the ways we really connect is through long, thoughtful conversations so this is great for us and we’ve already covered the basics. For example, we’ve already discussed many parenting ideas not just “Do you want to have kids?” “How many?” So without further adieu, here are some more in-depth questions to discuss before you get married AND the bottom has a surprise for you all!

LOVE, COMMUNICATION & SEX

What is the best way for me to show you that I love you?
If I put on weight will it affect our relationship? How?
What turns you off sexually?
Do you think being in love means (1) Never having to say you’re sorry, (2) always having to say you’re sorry, (3) knowing when to say you’re sorry, (4) being the first to say I’m sorry?
Have the been times when you were uncomfortable I behaved with the opposite sex? If so, when?
Suppose we are experiencing trouble in our marriage, in what order will you seek help to resolve our conflicts: (1) divorce lawyer, (2) your parents, (3) sibling(s) [we also included friends here] (4) marriage counselor, (5) me, (6) clergy
Do you believe that you should stick with a marriage if you are unhappy all the time?
When do you need space away from me?
Whenever we have difficult feelings about each other should we (1) remain silent, (2) say something as soon as the difficult feelings arise (3) wait a certain amount of time before raising the issue, (4) do something else (if so, what?)?
What is the best way for me to communicate difficult feelings about you so that you are not offended?
Who should know about the arguments we have?
What makes you not want to talk to me?
Do you feel you could communicate with me under any circumstances about any subject?
When you are in a bad mood how should I deal with it?
What are your views on pornography?

FINANCES

Would you be comfortable transferring all of your money into my bank account?
Do you trust me with money?
What justifies going in to debt?
What are your current personal debts?
Do you feel stress when facing financial problems? How do you deal with that stress?
How often do you use credit cards and what do you buy with them?
How should we prepare for a financial emergency?
Do you feel that lack of money is a good reason not for us to have children?
When our child is very young, will he or she go to daycare or will one of us stay home and take care of the child? (If yes to the second, who would work and who would stay home?)
Will we have a budget?
Who will pay the bills?
How do you feel about helping me pay my debts?
What are your feelings about saving money?
Do you prefer separate bank accounts or assets in different names? Why?
Do you believe our parents should know our financial condition whether good or bad just because they want to? How far should this go?

FAMILY & FUTURE

How would our relationship be affected if for medical reasons we could not have children?
If we are unable to have children, should we adopt?
Who comes first—your spouse or your children?
When we are married do you anticipate spending just as much time with friends, family and coworkers as you do now? Why or why not?
How did your family resolve conflicts when you were growing up? Do you approve or disapprove of that method?
Would you prefer to live in the city, country, by the beach (etc.)? Why?
If I wanted to move away from our families would you support me?
How do feel about having our parents come live with us if the need arises?
How will we schedule holidays with our families?
How long would you like to wait before we have children?
Do you anticipate raising our children (1) the same way you were raised (2) completely different from the way you were raised (3) a mixture of both?
Other than formal schooling what types of education will our children receive and how will they receive them?
When we have children who will change the diapers, heat the bottles, prepare the meals, do the housework, bathe the child, get up in the middle of the night, take the child to the doctor, buy clothing, dress the child?
What types of discipline would you implement to correct a child or teenager’s behavior? Were these practices you experienced or are they new ones you have developed on your own?
What does my family do that annoys you?
How would you react if our son or daughter told us they were gay?
What influence, if any, do you believe my family should have on our relationship?

MISCELLANEOUS

What childhood experiences influence your behavior and attitude the most?
Is trust automatic until something occurs that takes it away, or does it evolve over time?
Would it be permissible for us to open each other’s mail?
How are we different? Could this be a source of future conflict? Do our differences complement one another?
Is there anything about marriage that frightens you?
How would it affect you if I traveled frequently on my own to (1) visit family, (2) earn income, (3) pursue a hobby, (4) deal with stress?
How will you support my hobbies?
Is there anything you would regret not being able to do or accomplish if you married me?
What is nagging? Do I nag? How does it make you feel?
Do you approve without reservation of the way I dress?
If you always say you are going to do something but never do it, what is the most effective way to bring this problem to your attention?
What holidays are most important to celebrate to you?
Are there certain holiday traditions you want to establish or maintain?
Do you harbor any racial/ spiritual etc. prejudice?
How do you feel about having guns in our home?
What health problems do you have?
Have you ever had any psychological problems?
Is there anything in your past I should be aware of?
Do you keep letters/ memorabilia from past relationships? Why or why not?
If I had bad breath or an odor would you tell me? Should I tell you? How should I tell you?
Do you look forward to at least one night out a week, or do you prefer to stay at home?
How would you rank the priorities in your life: work, school, family, spouse, friends, hobbies? Does your ranking reflect the amount of time you spend on each?
Do you prefer to set a daily work schedule or flexible work activities and time tables?
What do you fear?
What is your all-time favorite Halloween costume?

vampire theo

Theo as a Vampire, what a little cutie!

Here’s your surprise: Theo’s answer to this question was one that he described to me as we were driving in the car. I had never seen the picture. I saw the picture a few days later on Facebook. The first Halloween photo I found of him was above. Typical Theo, flashing a beaming smile even when he was supposed to be Dracula.

What was his actual answer to his favorite Halloween costume of all time?

His mom made him into Uncle Fester  from the Addams Family. His outfit was covered in nails and check out “Thing” (the creepy doll arm) on his shoulder. This was definitely an awesomely creative work of art by his Mom—and potentially the creepiest photo I have ever seen of my amazing boyfriend. My personal answer? I was little orphan Annie one year but there are no photos to show a record of that. I’ll see what I can scrounge up later today for your enjoyment!

Theo's All-Time Favorite Halloween Costume: Uncle Fester from the Addams Family!

Theo’s All-Time Favorite Halloween Costume: Uncle Fester from the Addams Family!

What are your favorite questions that I missed? What is your favorite Halloween costume of all time?

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Have you head about Lover.ly? My personal Review

loverly logo

After finding a blog post about Lover.ly I went to look it up. It’s similar to Pinterest but exclusive to weddings. It has a goregous home page—my first thought? “This is very Style-Me-Pretty-esque”. I found out why.

Unlike Pinterest you cannot add your own inspiration from outside sources you can only re-select what already exists on their site. They get these images from popular blogs (eg. Style Me Pretty Weddings) and retailers (eg. David’s Bridal, Watters). If you wanted to replicate a Style Me Pretty wedding this is your complete source for those items. Otherwise I might just stick to my tried-and-true Pinterest. Although the same concept of collecting images into personal categories is very similar, I don’t think it’s as easy to use as Pinterest UNLESS you have a strong intention of buying exactly the item you found rather than using it as inspiration. (They have a LOT of the purchase links or brand names attached.)

However, if you do like Lover.ly and want to keep using it but also want to use your Pinterest….LUCKY YOU—I tried it and you can definitely Pin an image from Lover.ly to Pinterest.

So, happy pinning (on Pinterest) and bundling (on Lover.ly)!! If you need some wedding inspiration check out my themed “I. Do. Dreams.” Boards! I’m not sure if you can find someone on Lover.ly—maybe that privacy is a nice feature if you want your wedding ideas to be a surprise!

http://www.pinterest.com/myerz2008/boards/

Disney Princess Engagement Rings

Disney did it again…found a way to weasel itself into your wedding. But that’s okay because these engagement rings are gorgeous!

 

beautyandthebeastbelleengagementring

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mulanengagementring

pocahontasengagementring

princessarielring

princessjasmineengagementring

princesstianaengagementring

sleepingbeautyengagementring

snowwhiteengagementring

tangledengagementrings

The coolest part about these rings you ask? They are customizable on http://www.gemvara.com ! (But quite pricey as  you can expect.) You can change your stones and your metals to be exactly as you want your princess ring to be!

As much as I’ve always been obsessed with Ariel from the Little Mermaid her themed engagment ring would not be my personal pick…I’m personally a fan of (traditional) yellow gold and love the way the Rapunzel ring is detailed…which is your favorite? Do you think the ring provided reflects your favorite Disney Princess?

Best Wedding Books (in my personal opinion)

It’s been a while but since a friend was posting on Facebook about recently starting her blog I thought it was due time to catch back up on mine.

Another friend who has been dating her boyfriend almost exactly a year longer than Theo and I have been dating was proposed to—FINALLY. Needless to say she agreed and is now planning her wedding. A friend gave her advice to use a wedding timeline from WeddingBee.

WeddingBee is a very useful website–its advice for brides-to-be from brides and brides-to-be. It’s great if you want a second opinion on a veil or shoes -or- someone to listen to you talk nonstop about wedding planning, since they’ve been there.

Oh, FYI I am not being paid to recommend any of the items below–I’m just providing my honest opinions and hopefully that can help someone out there!

I’ve invested in several wedding planning books and a considerable amount of time on wedding planning websites getting ideas of what would be great for my own wedding someday. From this research I’ve gained a better understanding of how things probably should be done in order to have the least problems along the way. (Also I’m very much a crafter and DIY-er so I’m looking to make beautiful things cheaply.) My favorite two books as a result are:

1. The Knot Book of Wedding Lists by Carley Roney

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I recommend this book to anyone planning a wedding because it gives a really detailed breakdown of all of the things that can/should be done along the way. Obviously feel free to skip things you find unneccessary but it gives a lot of help if you’re looking to hire a wedding planner, hire vendors for your reception, get married in a religious chapel, set up a gift registry etc. It tells you what to do and when throughout the process to do it which is nice since the list can be seriously daunting. This book is amazing if you A) are super organized and LOVE lists or B) are disorganized or extremely overwhelmed and need help.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Knot-Book-Wedding-Lists/dp/0307341933/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372096530&sr=8-1&keywords=the+knot+book+of+wedding+lists

I personally bought a “like-new” used copy from Amazon and it was about  $7 dollars and was definitely worth it. Thats the cost of 2 bridal magazines (or maybe only one and a half) so I definitely thought this was more helpful than tons of pictures of rings and gowns out of my price range that I could have found on Pinterest.

(Side Note: I’m obsessed with Pinterest. I have several boards devoted exclusively to different parts of the wedding: eg. attire, decor, food and cakes, invitations etc. so check that out if you’re looking for some ideas!)

The second book I would advise getting is much more hefty than the petite book of lists:

2. The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day by Mindy Weiss & Lisbeth Levine

theweddingbook

If you want to be a wedding expert, read this book. OR if you are an etiquette queen and love knowing exactly what to do if the situation ever arises, this is definitely the book for you. This will give advice on sticky situations like bridesmaids with attitude as well as divorced parents who don’t get along but are both attending the wedding. It uses drawings and detailed explanations to illustrate the differences between the types of veils, necklines and trains you can find for your bridal attire as well as similar details for the gentlemen (ties, lapels etc.)

http://www.amazon.com/The-Wedding-Book-Big-Your/dp/0761139605/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372097177&sr=8-1&keywords=wedding+planning

Again, I bought mine used on Amazon for a greatly discounted price and it has made me into a self-proclaimed wedding expert. As previously stated I’m an overachiever so this gave me enough knowledge to be dangerous. This book is an excellent guide for a bride who wants to know all of the possible options.

Both books have decent sections on writing up contracts with vendors and other important-but-forgotten subjects as well as all of the fun details that you can consider.

Happy wedding planning!

“Minor” Details: Favors

There are so many details in a wedding to consider and one of the less crucial are favors. But as you may already know I’m an overachiever and am planning every detail in advance so I’ve given favors some thoughts; here’s what I’ve come up with.

How much are you “supposed” to spend on favors? I have no idea. Just about everything I found about keeping them within a reasonable budget recommends buying in bulk and self-packaging. It makes sense especially for someone as craft-savvy as me.
There’s lots of pre made options out there today including all kinds of things you can write you and your spouse’s name and wedding date on (matches were always classic for this) but unless they are matches those just won’t get used to be honest and some of the interesting options are quite expensive.

Ooh! Unless your wedding is on the Fourth of July—sparklers and matches are a perfect combo, just be careful in your gown around those open flames!!

So after some research I’ve come up with many fun options:

Miniature Succulents (or other small plants) in miniature clay pots (maybe handpainted to match the decor?) –these can get kind of costly pretty quickly but may help me cut down on the professional floral budget a bit
It may also be super cute to stick a little sign in it as the escort card as well?

The infamous Candy Bar
Since I’m a perfectionist and a creative type to boot there is no way I could/would have a candy bar without a few gorgeous apothecary jars to hold them in. Even with the cheapest ones available (see http://www.save-on-crafts.com and http://www.jarstore.com for some great options) and some of least expensive but still yummy candy and baggies to put them in (see http://www.papermart.com for cute but inexpensive small bags, OOT (out-of-town) bags and tissue paper) it would be near-impossible to keep the price below $2.00 a person where ultimately I’m shooting for closer to $1.50 each.

Chocolate-covered Strawberries are always delicious  but would likely be very pricey unless perhaps I did the work myself.

My newest favorite? Handmade caramel apple. Seems like something I can make and package to my standard for about $1.50 a head. This would be ideal for a fall wedding when apples are in season and you and your soon-to-be spouse can handpick the apples at an orchard. Date with a purpose—love it! Check out the recipe options I found here:
http://www.theyummylife.com/Gourmet_Caramel_Apples

Another recent favorite: Personalized Sharpie Markers! Who doesn’t love Sharpies? It’s super practical and if you buy it promotional-item style  its inexpensive, as it comes automatically in large quantities.

Any interesting favors you’ve heard of? Any favors that should be avoided? Let me know what you think!

Writing Your Own Wedding Ceremony & Traditions to Consider

So after doing way too much research on the topic (like I said before, I likely won’t even be engaged until about this time next year) I found some general guidelines for writing your own wedding ceremony.

I probably should backtrack first. I don’t really have a lot of interest in having my wedding in a church. I’ve never been closely affiliated with a church and neither has Theo. There’s no “getting married in the church my parents got married in” since it is a Catholic church and my parents broke their “promise” to bring their children up Catholic.  The church that my Dad and my new stepmom Dorothy got married in is not my personal style and and we didn’t have my sister or Mom’s funerals in a church (another post about losing close loved ones and grief another day). So overall, I feel no need to have a wedding in a church. Neither does Theo. So that’s settled.

I have thought about getting married in a garden for some time. Theo didn’t mind this idea but suggested the addition of a lighthouse. (Maybe, it’s possible?) I love gardens and since we are shooting for nuptials in late spring/summer that seems ideal. Plus its practical–which I very much am. Why pay for the flowers/lighting/decorative stuff to “transform” a space when you can get one that’s already beautiful? The trouble is just finding the right place with the right amount of space for the people you’re pretty sure you “have to” invite to your wedding (again, another post I promise!).

garden

So non-traditional location could still mean a traditional ceremony you say? That’s true, but again, not my cup of tea; I’ve always been one to exert my own style and ideas even if they weren’t necessarily “popular”. When we’ve been dating as long as we have I’ve had lots of time to mentally prepare details of our wedding. We’re only getting married once and they say it’s your day, so I want it to feel like our thoughts were put into every part of it, starting with the ceremony.

Anyways, I found this super-helpful blog post:

http://offbeatbride.com/2012/10/wedding-ceremony-101

This post gives a really good outline of what can (and should, to some degree) be included in a wedding ceremony. It got me thinking about a lot of things. I definitely want to tell our love story and how we’ve been there with each other through everything (him going to Florida for college, me going to Northwest Ohio. My mom getting cancer and inevitably losing her battle. Many holidays and birthdays, many wishes at 11:11 and his puppy Teddy among many other things). 6 Years is a long time and a lot has happened in our lives during that time so it should be a great story to tell!

Theres also a lot of options for unity ceremonies: some of the fun ones are:
(Uber traditional)

1. Unity candle
2. Sand ceremony/ Dirt ceremony (becoming the popular alternative to the unity candle)
3. Water ceremony (I’ve also heard of this done more chemistry style where it’s not water but two chemicals that make a colored/glowing liquid)
4. Science Fair style volcano (similar concept)
5. (Dutch tradition) sealed wine box with love notes (sealed wooden wine box with bottle and glasses and a love note from you each–to be used on the 25th wedding anniversary or sooner if you hit a rocky point)
6. Tree planting together
7. Blanket sharing/shoulder draping (very cute when the blanket is sewn from scraps provided by the guests)
8. God’s Knot (3 braided cords one for you, one for your love and one for God)
9. Hand tying (where the term “tying the knot” came from!)
(See more options and details here: http://proudtoplan.blogspot.com/2011/05/ceremonies-within-your-ceremony.html)
There are tons more especially related to religions and cultural backgrounds that I don’t fully understand, but feel free to adapt those things and make them work for you!

There are lots of other traditions you can add in, one I like the sound of is the “Ring Warming”. You pass the rings to family/friends/wedding party/entire group of guests as you so choose and they can hold the ring and say a prayer for your marriage. I think to keep it short and sweet we might pass to my parents and Grandparents and his Mom, favorite Aunt and Grandma. Something like that.
rings pre warmingring warming

I also have an obsession with Corinthians 1:13. This is a reading typically done at weddings since it does relate to the idea of the love without being super church-y. I’m very much in love with the King James Version though because it just sounds so pretty, in the more recent versions “charity” has been replaced with “love” and this is what I intend to do.

My friend (and sorority sister) is also obsessed with this excerpt and is one of those people who is friends with everybody. Therefore she’s probably going to be a bridesmaid in somewhere close to 10 weddings since she would not dare turn down that opportunity. Since I want to keep my bridal party small but find it important to include her, I think Theo and I are going to ask her to be our officiant, we would cover the costs of getting ordained online and then she could add that skill to her resume! Ha! I really think she would be psyched and she’s not shy so it would be fun. Plus, it will just make everything more interesting photographically since she’s shorter than I am (and I’m 5’0″) and not sure if I mentioned this before….but Theo is 6’4″. Maybe we’ll get her a ceremonial stool or something hahaha. It will be great, I hope she says yes! I asked Theo if we could ask her a long time ago and it just feels like one of those things that feels really right. If nothing else I totally want her to be the one to read Corinthians. Sentimental story over.

For those you designing your own ceremonies a great place for a reading (often something about love) is after the introduction of the couple/love story (replacing a sermon) and before the formal vows and ring vows.

Being my overachieving self, I didn’t stop there. I’ve also looked into the various types of music you’ll need/want for the ceremony. Here’s a breakdown and some of my personal thoughts on what I might use:

Pre-ceremony music (1-1.5hours worth) Soft music to play while your guests are seated– I’ll probably stick with VSQ (Vitamin String Quartet) or perhaps a real string quartet of talented college students in the local music program!

Processional (1-2 songs depending upon the length of your aisle and how many attendants you have) This is the song(s) your partner-to-be will enter to as well as all attendants/bridesmaids/groomsmen/ring bearer/flowergirls

In my opinion VSQ versions are always classic, check out their version of “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars. 

(Bridal Processional) You want a different song for yourself. Since its traditional for everyone to stand for the bride this helps notify the change towards that gesture. Also its your day so do your thing! (This where the traditional “Here Comes the Bride” would go.)

I’m in love with VSQ’s version of “Stolen” by Dashboard Confessional. I’ve always been a huge Dashboard fan and so is Theo and the lyrics (even though they wont be heard) are so appropriate. It has a lovely melody too so anyone not familiar with the song will just find it pretty—which is pretty much why I love VSQ music anyways.

Then comes the wedding. You don’t need music in that unless its something that you want (think: sing along like Becky and Jesse in Full House?  or maybe friends or family who would/should rather sing than do a reading?)

Again, do your thing, it’s your day.

Recessional: (1-2 songs again depending on your aisle and your attendants. This tends to move more quickly than everyone walking in and the music tends to be faster in tempo.) You’ve said I do and kissed and its official. You take your first walk down the aisle as partners and typically this song is a little more fun/spunky/joyous since the next portion begins the celebration part of the traditional wedding.

My Dad and Stepmom did Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah for theirs and it was really sweet.

 

From there now you’re off to photos and your guests are off to cocktail hour and then dinner and possibly dancing to celebrate that you and yours are now a singular family unit. Congratulations and on to the Reception!

Brides Against Breast Cancer

Brides Against Breast Cancer is something I’m very interested in as my mother died of colorectal cancer and my Grandma had a double mastectomy to beat breast cancer. Basically I’m quite at risk for cancer since my Mom and Grandma are on opposite sides of the Family Tree.—Just another reason to support cancer research and take steps towards healthier living.

Anyways, I heard about this company, Brides Against Breast Cancer which sells used and new bridal gowns. Many of the gowns have been worn but many are new donated from designers and/or are sample gowns. Brides can donate their used gowns to this organization for taxable purposes as well as out of the goodness of their hearts. The organization does (essentially) trunk shows across the country to sell the gowns at discounted prices (mostly $400-$800 with some as high as $4000).This is a significant discount as many bridal salons offer prices $1000-1500 being closer to average with higher costs from there. Personally I’m very into the idea of a tea-length gown as I’m only 5’0″ tall and REALLY REALLY want to have a garden wedding. My dream dress? Alencon (French) lace along the top of the bodice and some kind of straps/ cap sleeves to help hold it up.

Image

Upon reading more about Brides Against Breast Cancer I came across a few things I’m glad to have learned:

1. Typically they charge you to get in the door- It seemed it was average to charge $20.00 per person to enter the event.

2. (Sort of obvious) It’s best to go early on the first day of the few days they are in town- Having more options will always be in your favor, especially when you’re not a common size and finding a dress is going to be enough of a hassle.

3. The V.I.P. event is and isn’t worth it- The V.I.P. event starts 2 hours before the formal event BUT you only have the second hour to get a head start on dress shopping. The first hour is cocktails and listening to all of the vendors  present (wedding services eg. salons, dj’s who want you to buy their stuff) then after that you can get a move on shopping in the racks.

4. Wear the underwear you intend to wear on your wedding—unless its revealing-  After doing my research it seems that the dressing rooms at these events are made from pipe and drape event curtains (i.e. not suitable for a real dressing room) since you have all sorts of complications in getting a dress on to begin with, make sure you’re wearing spanx on top and bottom to make things fit nicely as well as keeping yourself covered when changing (especially since it might be easier to have your helpers change you in the dressing open space rather than waiting in line for one of the few private rooms).

5. (Again, sort of obvious) Bring a small entourage- When I say small I mean like 2 or 3 people to help you get the dresses on and off and carry things around for you. You won’t have any bridal consultants to help you carry the gowns around or lace you up and get you in and out over and over again so bring your trusty helpers.

Side note to this memo: Everything I read said they have a policy where only 3 gowns at a time can be taken into the dressing room so if you like more maybe have a friend hold onto them and switch things out?

Another side note: Everything I read also said that there is always a seamstress there who can help by giving you some idea of the necessary alterations to make that dress fit you—which is nice if you find out one can be hemmed and another would have to be entirely reconstructed; alterations need to be taken into consideration of the dress budget.