“Practicing Divorce”

Last weekend, during a business trip to Miami, I met a 23-year-old Marine who is engaged to marry the girl of his dreams. As my husband and I stood around chatting about love and relationships with him, this college student passed on some words of wisdom that would have impressed me coming from someone twice his age — but from someone even younger than I am, I was floored by the simple yet significant insight.

He’d chosen not to date anyone in high school, he told us. That’s because he knew whoever he and his potential girlfriends were at that age, they would be completely different people by the time they were ready to settle down — and he was pretty sure “completely different” would translate to “completely incompatible.” So, while many people would have encouraged him to learn how to navigate romantic relationships, he decided to avoid inevitable breakups instead.

“I knew all I’d be doing was practicing divorce,” he said.

As a firm believer in dating people only when you see a potential for lifelong togetherness, I not only understood where he was coming from, but developed a new appreciation for our shared philosophy thanks to his choice of words.

While learning how to compromise and work together in a relationship is definitely good for your future marriage, the breakup that follows isn’t: it sets a precedent that relationships, like any other form of entertainment, must come to an end. And I’m willing to bet that, if you’re reading a wedding blog, you’re not interested in thinking about the end of relationships — specifically marriages. If you’re a bride, it’s your worst nightmare . . . if the possibility has crossed your mind at all.

My takeaway lesson wasn’t that young people shouldn’t date or that anyone who goes through several failed relationships is also doomed to eventual divorce. It’s that there’s more at stake than hurt feelings when you go into a relationship that you think won’t last. You’re starting a pattern you won’t want to continue once you’re married — but once walking away from a relationship is your standard behavior, it’s going to seem like a much more viable possibility when your marriage hits a rough patch.

So if you’re single and reading this, take the advice a wise soon-to-be-wed passed on to me: be choosy about what you practice.

~ Laura

Bride Bio # 4: Kelly Matthews Delph

Wedding date: April 3, 2010
The groom: Joel
Ages at wedding: both were 26
Wedding location: Arkansas
Honeymoon: California
Now living in: North Carolina
Photographer: Jason Crader

Kelly and Joel are, simply put, one of the best-together couples I’ve ever met. They’re fun-loving but sincere, and simply a blast to be around. That’s the perfect way to describe their April 2010 wedding, too.

Since Kelly said she’s a list master, we’re doing this Bride Bio slightly differently — it’s not a Q & A where I ask the questions and she supplies the answers; instead, Kelly just ticked off the 10 most important pieces of advice she feels she has to share with other brides. Enjoy!

1. Have FUN.

2. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

4. Make time for family and friends during the wedding weekend…don’t schedule yourself doing last minute details….let your friends help you with those things!

5. Live in and enjoy every experience, don’t worry about the next thing on the list.

6. Pray with your fiance constantly and keep things in perspective. It’s the beginning of the rest of your life together…not one day that has to go perfectly or else.

7. Choose your battles.

8. I wrote a letter and sent flowers to my mother the week of the wedding and reminded her of how thankful I was for all the planning and time she had spent on the wedding and that I didn’t forget that.

9. Plan something special, a gift or a surprise for your fiance the day of the wedding, something unexpected. He did just endure 9-12 months of planning with you. I arranged for our exit car to be a fun sporty bmw convertible, since my husband is a car guy. He loved it.

10. Remember that this is a weekend where all of your closest friends and family will be together to celebrate you and your hubby, enjoy it fully!

[Note: Bride Bio interviews may be edited for grammar, spelling and length.]

~ Laura

Best Wishes to Elizabeth & Ly!

I’m absolutely bubbling with excitement right now: I just found out my wonderful friend Elizabeth is going to marry her boyfriend, Ly, this summer. I couldn’t be happier for two people — even though I’ve never met him, since they both live overseas. But that can’t lessen my joy for them both!

Congratulations, lovebirds.

~ Laura

When a Lie Seems Like the Only Answer….

I would have a hard time keeping a straight face if I saw a bride wearing this 2008 Angel Sanchez gown -- but when you're at a wedding that's not to your taste, you've still got to come up with something nice to say to the bride!

Remember a couple posts back when I gushed about how I loved, loved, loved Steph and Rob’s wedding pictures? Well, what happens when a wedding isn’t so . . . remotely appealing?

I poured over their pictures, in love with every last detail. In contrast, I just saw some photos from another 2010 wedding, and I hated nearly all of it. I thought the venue looked ill-set up; the color combo didn’t work; the bridesmaids’ dresses were unflattering in fit and style. Even the bride’s gown was — to my taste — incredibly unattractive.

As I had all those thoughts, I began feeling guilty for so disliking another bride’s dream day. Thank goodness, I thought, that I didn’t have to lie to that bride that her wedding was beautiful.

But what happens when you do attend a wedding that you think is less than lovely, or dignified, or hospitable? What do you say when you, inevitably, congratulate the bride and groom? Do you lie through your teeth — “Oh, sweetie, what a gorgeous wedding! You’re the prettiest bride ever, and I love the leopard spotted tablecloths!” — or do you say something noncommittal — “I’m so happy for you both. You must be walking on clouds!” Much as you don’t want to rain on someone else’s parade — it is their wedding, not yours, after all, and you have no business whatsoever telling any bride that you don’t like her arrangements! — if you truly dislike a wedding and you’re caught off guard, you might be at a loss for words when the bride pops by to say hello to your table.

Be prepared! Keep each friend’s personality in mind. Will she want you to ooh and aah over the details, or will she be just as happy if you simply tell her how much it means to you that you can be there to celebrate with her? See, there’s no one answer as to what you should say — just make sure you don’t say something you’ll regret!

(And don’t feel guilty for being relieved that your wedding doesn’t have to look like hers.)

~ Laura

Help in Heartbreak

You’re engaged, you’re all set to marry your best friend, and you couldn’t squeeze even another ounce of happiness out of your charmed life.

But while you and your fiancé are all sunshine and butterflies, your friends might not be having the same luck with love. How’s a bride-to-be to handle a friend who is dealing with a breakup during the stretch run to the wedding?

After the fact, I found out that happened with one of my friends who wasn’t able to attend my wedding. She’d gotten engaged nearly a year before I had, but as I was preparing to promise to love my husband forever, she was going through a painful breakup. And she didn’t tell me till well after my honeymoon because she didn’t want to cast a cloud over my happiness.

While I truly appreciated her thoughtfulness in not wanting to pass that burden on to me, I wished I could have been there for her when she needed support. If we’d been closer geographically, she probably wouldn’t have been able to keep it a secret – and chances are, your friends might not, either.

A bubbly bride may not seem like the best form of support for someone suffering through a breakup, though, so don’t take offense if your friends don’t come rushing to you for comfort. Instead, whether you find out about a friend’s breakup from the friend herself or by another means, take a step back and handle the situation with kid gloves.

  • If your friend wants you to know about her relationship struggles, she’ll tell you, but she might also not want to bring you down from your pre-wedding high. Don’t push her to talk – just let her know you’re there for her, in whatever capacity she needs.
  • Since weddings are all about love and romance, realize your friend might want to distance herself a bit from your festivities or lose interest in hearing all about your big day plans. Don’t take it personally. She isn’t trying to distance herself from you, just from the raw emotions wedding talk is sure to churn up – especially if she was already planning a wedding of her own.
  • Although you’re enjoying love in its fullest bloom, resist the urge to try to pair your friend up with someone new or point single men in her direction at your wedding reception unless she specifically tells you she’s ready to move on. Let her bounce back at her own pace.
  • Carve some time out of your busy schedule to focus on your friend. Grab lunch during the week or hit the beach or go shopping over the weekend. Make sure she knows for certain that you – the almost-married one – aren’t going to ditch her – the newly-single one – now that your romantic statuses are different.
  • Hard as it might be, try not to gush too much about your wonderful fiancé. Yes, he’s wonderful, and yes, your friend definitely wants you to think he’s wonderful. But if she’s nursing a bruised heart, try to keep the mushiness and PDA to a minimum.
  • While you don’t want to deluge your friend with details of your undying love, if she’s still showing interest in your wedding preparations, do not shut her out of the process. Just as she won’t want to lose your friendship because she’s suddenly being the single girl, she won’t necessarily want to be cut off from the fun because you’re worried she’ll be upset by anything wedding related. Take your cues from your friend.
  • If your other friends aren’t aware of the recent breakup, you might want to quietly clue them in – so they can be sensitive, not so you all have something to gossip about. Keep the information brief and as detail-free as possible, and let them know you’d appreciate it if they would be especially kind to your friend during this time.

Of course, every situation will be different and every friend will need to be treated differently. But she’s your friend. You know her – and this is one instance when you shouldn’t treat others as you’d want to be treated; make sure you treat her the way she wants. Yes, you’re the bride – but she’s the one who really needs support.

~ Laura

To Have and to Hold – and Hold On Tight!

Before you and your beloved commit to a lifetime together, make sure you're on the same page about what marriage means to you. Photo by Laura Yang.

I read something in the news yesterday that floored me. I mean, eating-carpet floored me. Here is is, straight from an article in USAToday:

“Many young American couples can’t agree on whether they’ve decided to have sex only with each other, a new study shows.”

Okay, so I could understand how this might happen in a college dorm setting where some promiscuous teens mix up booze and boyfriends into a dizzying array of concoctions. But the couples in this study included married adults. Wouldn’t you think, by default, taking those marriage vows means any rational person realizes s/he has just committed to a life of having sex only with that one legally-bound significant other?

While it would never occur to me — or my husband, for that matter — to think a marriage might be construed as an open relationship, this study highlights the need to make sure you and your intended are truly on the same page. No, not just about sex — whether you both think marriage makes you an exclusive couple requires a simple yes or no answer. But there are plenty of other issues you might think you agree on, only to find out when you’re knee-deep in the much of married life that your differing perspectives create quite the quagmire.

So take the time to talk through some of the things that have been your hot-button issues and make sure — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that you have them resolved before you exchange your vows.

How, when and where you’ll interact with your families; where you see yourselves in ten years; when you want to have children and how to raise them; the way you want to manage your finances; how you plan to prioritize work and family life — all these things, and so many more, can turn into monster issues and rear their ugly heads when you least except it. Talking things through early on will at least let you know where the other person stands, and will build a solid foundation for your next . . . ahem, discussion . . . on the topic.

Good luck — marriage, and even preparing for marriage, takes a lot of hard work and more energy than you might think you have. But a happy marriage is worth every moment of frustration and every tear. So keep that goal in mind and keep working toward happy compatibility.

~ Laura

A Picture’s Worth . . . Everything

I don’t usually do this, but I simply must post a link to the photos from Steph & Rob’s New Year’s Eve wedding. A favorite guilty pleasure of mine is perusing wedding photographer’s websites (frequently while I should be getting productive things done!), and I always like seeing friends’ photos.

The photos from Steph and Rob’s wedding, shot by iDropPhoto out of Fresno, CA, made me really happy! I hope you enjoy the unique details and great photography skills as much as I did.

You can find the photos here.

(And after seeing the pictures, I want to offer a second round of congratulations to Steph and Rob!)

~ Laura