Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Why Consider Sending Email Wedding Invitations?

And with this post, we’re wrapping up the week of guest posts.  I’d like to thank everyone who posted for me—you guys are amazing!  I’ll be back next week to regale you with stories of our wedding and honeymoon (oh my gosh, I can’t believe we’re married!).  In the meantime, we’re going to finish up this week with a guest post written by the founder of Glö.  Guys, this is such a neat idea.  So, without further ado, here is Taryn Westberg with a post about online wedding invitations!

I receive lots of questions from couples who ask: “Are email wedding invitations an appropriate option for my celebration?” Now I am a little biased, but I think email wedding invitations are a smart, savvy and sophisticated choice! My husband and I sent email wedding invitations for our own wedding in 2007 (supplemented with 5 simple paper invitations for our older relatives.) Our guests loved them and they made wedding planning SO much easier for me.

Based on my own experiences, plus feedback from the modern-minded couples who are using Glö  to send their invites online, here are some of the key benefits I can rave about:

1) They save LOTs of time!

Let’s face it – you are busy! It’s not like work, your social life or other activities simply dissolve because you’re planning a wedding. Think about the time it takes to address envelopes and stuff them (not to mention sticking stamps.) Also, I found that it was WAY easier to collect my guests’ email addresses, as opposed to their snail mail addresses. I had most of the emails to begin with, and I haven’t collected mailing addresses in a book since my summer camp days.

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2) They save trees

Now I don’t know exactly how many trees it takes for all the world’s couples to get married each year, but between wedding cards, envelopes, RSVP cards, RSVP envelopes, and anything else stuffed inside envelopes – It’s a lot! Yikes! If trees could talk, they’d probably say, “Come lie in my shade and have a cuddle with your honey.” And probably not, “Cut me down and mail me out so that someone can throw me away.”

3) They save your budget

The postage alone for 150 invitations and RSVP reply cards costs around US $150. Plus the average couple in the US spends between US$650-850 on the actual invitations. That’s a lot of budget that could go towards food, wine and music.

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4) They offer instant RSVP Gratification

The thing we loved the most about sending wedding invites by email was that we could instantly see who had opened them and who had RSVPed. The night we sent our invitations, we stayed up until 3am refreshing the site and high-fiving one another with happiness at each ‘YES!’ response.

5) They are convenient for your guests

One thing I hear over and over from Glö couples is how much their guests have loved receiving email invitations and RSVPing online. With email wedding invitations and a wedding website, guests have all the information they need at their fingertips and can easily RSVP for themselves and anyone else in their party. Plus they can access the information at any time on a computer or smart phone, or they can decide whether to print anything out and stick it on the wall or carry it with them.

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Email wedding invitations aren’t right for every couple, but they definitely make a statement. They say, “we’re modern, smart and savvy and I care about making my wedding fun and easy for my guests to attend.”

I am constantly amazed at how each Glö-couple’s personality shines through in their email wedding invitations and wedding website designs. For some inspiration – check out the real Glö-bie posts on glo-bride.com.

About Taryn:  Taryn is the founder of Glö, where she works to provide modern-minded couples with personalized online wedding communications — from email invitations and save the dates, to wedding websites with online RSVPs. Learn more about Glö at www.glosite.com or follow Taryn and her staff on Twitter @GloWedding.

*Editor’s Disclaimer:  I did not receive any compensation for this post…I just think that the staff at Glö is really awesome and this is such a great idea!  Mmmkay?  Mmmk.  [I’m lookin’ at you, FCC!]

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Top Ten Tips for Saving Money on your Wedding Vendors

This morning’s guest post comes from Ashley over at Bride on a Budget.  Her blog is amazing for keeping your sanity when you’re trying to plan a wedding (and save your budget!).  Thanks so much for posting for me, Ashley!  Here she is with her best money-saving tips:

1. Do your research. The more vendors you look at, the more likely you’re going to find one that you love in your budget.

2. Ask other brides who they used. Go on wedding message boards like The Knot and Project Wedding to find brides in your area. They can give you first hand opinion on who to use and who to avoid.

3. Look in places you wouldn’t normally look. Vendors that are just starting out often post on Craigslist advertising their low prices. Also, check out Weddingbee, where vendors will sometimes give away services for free in exchange for a review.

4. Negotiate. Most vendors are willing to go cheaper than what they originally quoted you. Tell them how much you like their work, but you just can’t afford it. Give them your budget and see what they can provide you with for that amount.

5. Don’t be afraid to use your discounts. A lot of vendors will give discounts to military personnel. Also, some will give discounts for students, teachers, medical professionals, etc. You won’t know unless you ask.

6. Decide what you have to have and what you’re more flexible on. This will allow vendors to be more flexible and give you more for your money.

7. Use friends and family members who have talents. If you have a friend who is a fantastic musician, ask if they’re perform at your wedding ceremony. If your uncle owns a restaurant, see if he’ll cater for a discounted price.

8. Branch out from traditional wedding vendors. Just because a vendor doesn’t have wedding in front of their title doesn’t mean they aren’t just as good. A lot of photographers who do mostly family shoots will also do weddings on the side. And florists who don’t often do wedding bouquets could still make a gorgeous one for you. Meet with them and see if you like their style and ideas.

9. Have your wedding in an off-season. A lot of vendors will give discounts during their less busy parts of the year. They don’t get as much business in December as they do in June, so they’re willing to book you for cheaper because some money is better than no money.

10. Have your wedding on an off day. If you really have you heart set on having a wedding in June, but can’t afford it, look into having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday. Less people get married on those days and wedding vendors love the extra business.

Now that you’ve heard my top tips for saving money on your wedding vendors, feel free to share your own tips with us. What did you do to save money?

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Second Chances

Today’s guest post comes from Amanda, over at Manda:  In Training.  We actually just recently became blog friends, so I am so happy that she is able to guest post for me!  Take it away, Amanda!

I’m going to tell you a classic love story. Boy is born and raised in New Jersey. Girl is born and raised in Wisconsin. Boy and girl meet on the internet. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy proposes to girl. Boy moves halfway across the country to be with girl. Boy and girl get married exactly a year after they meet. Boy and girl have a luxurious and relaxing honeymoon in lovely…Rhinelander?

I know, I know. Not your typical love story. Then again, Blake and I aren’t your typical couple. Allow me to explain.

Blake and I met on a website called LiveJournal, which was THE site to be on before blogs became THE thing to have. Both of us, huge fans of American Idol, joined a community to discuss the show with other people. I read one of his posts and agreed 100%. I commented, we became “friends,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

He was in love with his best friend at the time, as was I. The more we talked on the phone and computer, the more we forgot about them. We decided that we were going to exchange Christmas cards. I am really glad I waited to send mine, because I was not expecting a bracelet or the request to come visit me in my card. Needless to say, we set a date for him to visit, and I was elated because I would have my first real Valentine. I, however, did not expect one of the best days of my life to occur at one of the worst times in my life.

You see, part of the reason that Blake and I bonded was that we were raised so similarly. Growing up in proud Sicilian households, we were both raised in tri-generational households. We were both so used to having our grandparents around. A stroke the year before had left my grandmother paralyzed on her left side and she was losing the will to fight. Cancer struck Blake’s grandfather and he was deteriorating a little bit more each day. The day that Blake and I met face to face was the day of my grandmother’s funeral.

When I called to tell him that she passed, I expected for him to reschedule his visit. Instead, he stood by my side the entire night and met my entire family at once. I should have known then that he was the one for me, but it was only after a pep talk from my mother that I truly realized that my angel in heaven had brought me my angel on Earth.

Fast forward six months and we are engaged and moving Blake to Milwaukee so that we can be together forever. Fast forward another six months and we are married. We really did not waste much time because we knew that we wanted to be together.

Wedding 
However, being two twenty-somethings in school full-time and working full-time, proved to have the best of our honeymoon plans. A honeymoon in February was just not in the cards for us. We spent two lovely days holed up in a hotel, but that wasn’t a honeymoon. It was a breather from all of the pomp and circumstance of a wedding, and all of the after-wedding events. We knew that we would have to have a honeymoon in August because it was when we were both eligible for time off from our jobs. We did not have a lot of money, so even with Blake’s flight benefits (he works for an airline), we would not be able to leave the state.

My mother found an ad in my father’s union newspaper for a cottage in Rhinelander for $300 for the entire week. It was right near a lake and it was completely furnished with a full kitchen. It sounded like the perfect plan. We jumped at it, and that August we were off for a week of sunshine, water and domestic life with few worries. We thought it was going to be our own, cheaper, version of paradise. Boy, were we wrong!

We finally find the cottage after four plus hours of driving, pay the remainder of the fee, and go to settle in for the week. It happened to be the hottest week of the year, might I add. We expect to be cooled off as we enter our haven, and realize that it is not air conditioned. We forgot to ask and assumed. As my grandfather always said, what happens when you assume is that you make an “ass of u and me.”

Not quite discouraged yet, we decided to unpack later and take a trip around the lake in the peddle boat we were told we could use. The lake stunk like a sewer, and the peddle boat squeaked so loudly that we could not hear one another. Our relaxing afternoon turned into a comedy as we tried to turn the boat around. My husband accidentally knocked me in the pungent water and fell in himself trying to save me.

Drenched in what looked and smelled like pond scum, we decide go inside and wash up. I quite honestly think I’ve seen larger bathrooms in Polly Pocket toys. After my shower, I decide to take a nap and realize the bed in the “master suite” was a double. We are used to a king-sized bed. Blake, not much of a napper, decided to lounge around by the television, which shockingly was not black and white. When I awoke, we decided to make dinner together. The “fully-furnished kitchen” was older than either one of us and all of the appliances worked as such.

We still tried to make the best of it by using the grill instead and eating outside, which was cooler than the inside. We were eaten alive by mosquitoes and flies, and even the bug spray we were wearing did not help. After running inside, we did not even think about the bag of lingerie I had packed. Our evening was spent playing card games and watching Degrassi: The Next Generation on DVD. Warm, itchy, and frustrated, we went to bed.

Waking up the next morning, we realized we could not spend another night like that. We quickly devised a plan to set the mattress up with the couch pillows to make a larger bed in the kitchen. Not the most ideal setup, but it worked. We went shopping in wonderful downtown Rhinelander for the half-hour it took us to get around. We tried the lake again, but the smell still turned us off. We played more card games and finished our DVD set.

After the fourth day of this, we realized we couldn’t take anymore. We drove home the next morning. We were not relaxed and did not enjoy our honeymoon. When we came home, my parents told us that they had a very similar experience on their honeymoon twenty-five years ago. We were comforted, but still could not laugh about the fact that we did not have the honeymoon of our dreams. At the end of the day, we enjoyed each other’s company and that is what mattered.

That, my friends, was almost five years ago. February 11, 2011 marks our five-year anniversary. These five years haven’t all been sugar and spice, however. We have dealt with successes and failures, births and deaths, greatest joys and seemingly unbearable sorrows. The very same thing that brought us together, the computer, almost tore us apart. Curiosity almost killed the cat, you could say. Amid all of that, we started our own family, and put our all into our son. In a family of three, sometimes you forget that it all happened because two people fell in love. It’s easy to put the spouse on the backburner and focus on the child. We were both guilty of this.

We decided on our fourth anniversary that we were going to go all out for our fifth anniversary. Most people did not think we would make it past our first, so this was big. Besides, we wanted to celebrate not giving up when it was the easiest thing to do. Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, making it to a fifth anniversary is a huge deal. We had seen more divorces than happy endings in our friendships. Lastly, we decided that we needed to do something to focus on the two of us.

We knew that we did not want to stay in the state. This meant that we had to get the “okay” from my parents. After we got the okay, we jumped into a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. A few months later, when it was time to make the necessary plans, we realized that we may have bitten off a little more than we could chew. First off, we would not be able to get to our son easily if something happened. We trust my parents, but accidents happen, especially with a terribly two-year-old who may be just a little hyper. Secondly, “free flight benefits” is a fancy term for standby. If we got bumped on our flight, we missed our cruise.

My parents returned from Las Vegas completely refreshed and happy (not to mention $1,000 richer, but Mom was lucky this time around). We started thinking that maybe that could be an option. As we started looking at the prices, we realized that we should have done this all along. So we booked a hotel at a great price farther down the strip. The South Point (where Jerry Lewis holds his telethons) has a bowling alley, a bingo hall, a movie theatre, and restaurants galore. We are a far cry from no air conditioning, a double bed, an ancient kitchen, and mosquitoes galore. We can walk the strip and do all of the gambling and drinking we wish, but then we can walk back to our quiet hotel.

Hotel 
We also decided that since we are in Sin City, we should rent a cheesy chapel and renew our vows. We had thought about doing that on the cruise, but it proved to be more expensive than our budget would allow. So I looked around and we’ve rented the Victorian Chapel at the Chapel of the Flowers. It’s a cute little chapel and even with just the two of us and the officiant, it’s going to be special.

If anything, I see this as our second chance. Our honeydoom, as I like to call it, did not start our marriage off on the right foot. We, however, persevered and made it through all of the struggles. Without those rough times, we would not enjoy and cherish the good times as much as we do. I am excited to spend an entire week with just my husband and get back to basics. It all started with just him and I and it will all end the same.

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The 5 Love Languages

This morning’s guest post comes from Kelly, otherwise known as KJPugs.  Ok, you guys?  Seriously?  This is girl is, in a word, awesome-sauce.  If you don’t already read her blog or follow her on Twitter, you better get to it, because she is so much fun.  I’m so honored she could post for me, as she is quickly becoming one of my favorite blog friends!  Thanks so much, Kelly…you rule.

I was thrilled thrilled thrilllllled when Amy asked me to do a guest post for her blog! She’s one of my fave bloggers, (and WORDPRESS gals!) has the most amazing, traffic-stopping smile, and I’m really jazzed that she’s getting married. Although right now as you read this, I guess she’s ALREADY married. Ahh, Marriage. Let’s just jump in, shall we?

There wasn’t that much of a difference in how we felt after we got married. Maybe some of you guys felt different, but the weirdest thing was just switching to saying "my Husband." The point is, not much changed when we got married last March. Except this awesome (but tiny) feeling of settled satisfaction – just a liiiittttlllle bit smug – almost a sense of well-being. But it’s not this all-encompassing fairy-tale feeling. Just a tiny warm little buzz, like a sip of caffeine.

Even though marriage is awesome, my hubby (B aka Big Daddy) and I know we still have to constantly work on our relationship.
It’s like a living, breathing thing and we have to treat it accordingly. Sometimes it’s sick, sometime it’s a Kenyan kicking everyone’s butt in a triathlon. I’m not writing here to give you the impression that Big Daddy and I are crazy relationship experts though. No, far from it! We are both stubborn, hot-tempered people and tend to have random blow-outs where we scream over things that are so stupid, we laugh about them the next day – if we can even remember them. We aren’t authorities on marriage. But we’ve improved and grown our marriage nonetheless.

One of the things that I really enjoyed doing was reading the famous The Five Love Languages book. My friend who I call my "Twinner" told me about her and her hubby’s love languages. It put the idea of the book in my head. Then right after we got back from our honeymoon, we celebrated my birthday. The day before, our car had issues. The day after, we had to buy a new car and I sacrificed mine for the trade in, accepting B’s financially upside-down, unreliable Jeep as my new vehicle. Because of all the expenses, we agreed no gifts for my birthday.

And what did I get? No gifts. Or cards. Or flowers. Or anything. Ask B, and he’ll tell you about the great big hug he gave me, and the dinner we went to. But I realized gifts – even just a card – were important to me, and decided to take the Love Languages quiz online. Turns out, Receiving Gifts was my love language (score of 11) followed by Words of Affirmation (9), Quality Time (5), Physical Touch (4), and Acts of Service (1).

I bought the book and made B take the quiz. That complex guy got a three-way tie. He scored an 8 each in Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, and Quality Time. Then he scored a measly 3 each in Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts. I begged him to re-take it or read the descriptions and pick a main language, but B couldn’t choose – they all fit him equally. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.

We’ve done a great job affirming each other in the four or five months since we discovered the book. And B realized that little notes or cards he draws mean the WORLD to me. In fact, he even delivered cupcakes for me and my coworkers one day! I make sure to tell B how much I appreciate his hard work, and try to plan things for us to do, like taking the dogs to the park, when we have days off together.

You tend to GIVE love in the language you wish to receive it in. It’s easy to tell your partner "I NEED GIFTS DARN IT!" But it’s hard to step out of your language comfort zone. While I try to use B’s love languages, I continue to give B "gifts," which he does appreciate. When we got a little money from our wedding celebration in my home state, I decided it would be best used getting him a new computer- even though I would have loved to plan a trip back home for a cousin’s wedding. He really needed the computer, and deserved it as well. He was trilled- but a back massage after a long day would mean just as much to him, as far as my "giving him love" goes. I guess a computer can’t give you a back rub!

This book drastically improved our understanding of one another. Which might have added to that great "settled satisfaction" feeling. The other part of that feeling though, is being a unit and a team. We feel so solid, and it’s great making decisions together and feeling less like we’re "playing house." But the thing that made me realize this solidarity with B was when a family member of his got married unexpectedly. She has made a lot of selfish decisions, but getting married when only one of the family members could attend pushed it to another level. Asking for gifts after practically eloping didn’t help her case. And she married someone who she has really changed herself for. Being able to look at her situation, and know we are proud of how we got married, and how family-oriented we are, makes us stronger. Knowing I didn’t have to change for B makes me feel even more assured.

And then eventually, we’ll get Mexican take-out and I’ll complain too much about how he ate more than half of our chips that we’ll end up not talking to each other. Until we end up laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. You gotta accept each others’ flaws, people!

I don’t claim to be perfect. Only happy.

(Oh and in case you’re like who the heck is this chick, I’m Kelly aka kjpugs. I blogged my wedding over at Miss Pug’s Pawfect Wedding, and now blog my awkwardness at kjpugs: Ordinary in Indiana. Please visit me and enjoy! Oh and if you’re a tweeter, you can reach me on there as well @kjpugs.)

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What a Bride Wants To Hear

Today’s guest post comes from my dear friend Em.  Ladies, this girl kept me SANE during the wedding planning process.  She was always there for me—letting me vent, offering advice, and just being an all-around awesome friend.  I am so excited that she is guest posting for me.  Thanks again, Em—you rule!

 

Hello, Little Miss Wedding Planner readers! My name is Emily (just call me Em) and I’m THRILLED to be here guest-posting for Amy. Amy and I have been blog friends for quite some time and she even wrote a guest post for me when I got married back in May. I can’t wait to read all about her wedding! I’m sure both she and the day were beautiful. 🙂

 

Brides are a sensitive bunch. The wrong word from any individual can set us into a fit of anger/tears/rage. We work SO hard to make sure our day is perfect, our decisions diplomatic, and our appearance *just* right and damn it, we want to hear that we did a good job!

We’re all guilty of putting our foot in our mouth at one point or another, but a couple’s wedding day is NOT the day for that to happen. Whether you’re a guest, a bridesmaid, a mom, or the in-laws, here is what the bride wants to hear on her wedding day. (Maybe not this exact phrasing, but the general idea.)

From Her Guests:

"This is a FABULOUS party! We’re having such a great time. You did a really good job."

At our wedding, so many guests came up to tell me how beautiful I looked. I smiled, thanked them, and silently waited for them to tell me what a great party I’d thrown. Our wedding was 22 months in the making. I’d put in so much work, cried over logistics, and stressed over the details, so what I looked liked was secondary to my guests enjoying themselves. The next time I’m invited to a wedding, I’ll be sure to tell the bride what a fantastic job she’s done.

From Her Bridesmaids (aka Her Best Friends):

"We’re so happy you found some one that makes *you* so happy!"

When you’re one of the first of in your group to get married, and even if you’re the last, your friends might worry they’ll "lose" you. That you’ll pack up your social life, shove it in the back of a closet, never to be seen again. (Ok, maybe that’s a tad dramatic, but *I’m* a tad dramatic. It’s a gift.) It’s so important that you let the bride know you support her relationship and understand that while weekends in da club might become less frequent, that doesn’t mean she loves you any less.

From Her Mom:

"I’m so proud of you and I’m ready for you to live your own life with this man."

Weddings are an incredibly emotional time for not just the bride and groom, but also the families involved. Whether a bride has a great relationship or a not-so-great relationship with her mom, she’s always aiming to please. Like it or not, we always want our mom’s approval. Knowing that our mom approves of our choices and is ready to "let go" (or "cut the cord" in some cases) is a major stress-reliever.

From Her In-Laws:

"Welcome to the family! You make our son incredibly happy and for that, we love you."

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a great relationship with their in-laws. Even if this is the case, there still needs to be a mutual respect between the two parties. Remember, you are not just marrying your husband, you’re also marrying his family (just as he’s marrying your family.) The simple gesture of "officially" welcoming the bride into the family goes a long way toward familial bliss.


So, do you think this is pretty accurate? What do you hope to hear on your wedding day?

Want to read more of my ramblings? You can find me on my wedding blog and my general lifestyle/newlywed blog!

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On Being Judgmental

This morning’s guest post comes Laura of Lucky in Love (and now, The Luckiest in Love).  Laura is a wonderful blog friend of mine who also just recently got married!  It was such a pleasure to follow along on her planning journey and have her follow on mine.  Thanks so much for posting for me, Laura!  Take it away!

Hi! This is Laura from Lucky in Love and now The Luckiest in Love, my post wedding/newlywed blog. I’m honored to be guest posting for Amy while she’s enjoying some time away on her honeymoon – Amy is one of my favorite bride bloggers! I am seriously so excited to see pictures and read about how everything came together on her big day. 

If you followed my wedding blog, it’s pretty obvious that I love weddings. I honestly enjoyed every part of our planning process and I especially loved blogging about it, reading other blogs and finding inspiration from them, and ‘meeting’ other brides. Unfortunately, I think there’s one downside to weddings today being all over the internet – Brides lose sight of the fact that each of those weddings is a celebration of two real people’s relationship. There’s so much judgment and forgetting that the point of a wedding isn’t the pretty pictures, the trendy details, or the hope of being blogged/featured in a magazine.

I’ve always loved crafty things, but I’d never really had a reason to be crafty aside from scrapbooking or making gifts. My wedding was a chance for me to enjoy tons of DIY projects and craft until I was sick of it. I loved that those details reflected my personality and hobbies. My husband, David, and I also decided we wanted to put as little financial burden on my parents as possible and that we didn’t want to go into debt for our wedding. It was our decision as a couple to have a budget wedding for 250+ guests.

Did I love our wedding? You bet I did!! But do I love weddings that have absolutely no DIY projects and cost $30,000? You bet I do! I love that each wedding is a reflection of a loving relationship and exactly what the bride and groom wanted. No bride has any right or reason to think that some detail of another wedding is ‘tacky’ (PLEASE get rid of that word!) just because she chose not to do it. You hate the dollar dance? Don’t do it. You’re convinced a first look is the only way to go? Have one. And let everyone else choose what works for them.

I can’t say that I’ve never made a comment about a picture of someone’s wedding on facebook or one of the weddings on TV (Four Weddings, anyone?), but I’m seriously making an honest effort to get rid of that negativity. The wedding blog/bride blogger network is such a great one – The only thing that would make it better is a huge push to eliminate the judgmental attitude that’s become so popular.

Ok, I’m stepping off my soap box. And I apologize for the lack of pictures! I promise I’m usually a little more exciting. If you’d like, feel free to check out either one (or both!) of my blogs! I’m in the process or finishing my recaps on my wedding blog, and I talk about a whole lot of random stuff – newlywed life, DIY projects, home décor, etc – on my other one.

Thanks, Amy for having me! I’m sure you were an absolutely stunning bride and I know your day was beautiful! Enjoy some quality time and relaxation with your new hubby!

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Becoming a Healthy Bride

This afternoon’s post comes from another dear friend, Kayla.  She is getting married next June and we can’t wait to attend her wedding (her fiance, Chris, is a high school friend of Dr. Groomy’s).  Kayla blogs her midwestern life over at Midwestern Musings. Kayla, thanks so much for guest posting for me!  I hope I can return the favor for you next year.  Love you, dear!

Hello everyone!

I’m Kayla, and I’m filling in for Amy while she’s off honeymooning in lovely San Francisco!

I have been racking my brain to think of a wedding-related topic to write about that would be relevant not only to me but to those reading this little blog, and I decided to go with my gut: How does a bride-to-be get ready to look and feel smashing on her wedding day?

I’m getting married next June. I already have a lot of the big things (wedding gown, bridesmaids dresses, tuxes, ceremony site, reception venue, etc.) planned, booked or purchased. But among all those big things and all the little things that are on the way, I also am working on perhaps the biggest project of all—eating right and getting fit.

I haven’t “officially” started my plan, and I don’t even have a plan set in stone, but I have some ideas. And maybe you can use them, too!

1. Eat healthy, nutritious foods to fuel your body, not satisfy your cravings or emotions.

It’s hard to make good choices. But it’s a lot easier to make good choices if you:

· Clean up your kitchen. Get rid of tempting “junk” foods and replace them with comparable but nutrient-dense items (e.g. veggie chips or baked whole-wheat pita chips instead of potato chips).

· Learn how to cook—or at least learn some basic healthy recipes. Keep it simple and use good, wholesome ingredients (e.g. whole grains, fresh vegetables, etc.)

· Keep track of what you put into your body. Join a website like SparkPeople.com or CalorieKing.com and log your eats every day. (I did this several years ago, and I was shocked!)

· Drink water—lots and lots of water! (Sometimes, you’re not hungry; sometimes, you’re actually thirsty but think you’re hungry end up eating an unnecessary snack.)

· Drink very little alcohol. (I can’t give up a glass of wine here or there, but I can slash the number of beers I have during a football game.)

2. Exercise to burn calories and to clear your mind.

Again, it’s hard to get motivated to go to the gym or to get out for a run or a walk. But it’s easier if you set some short-term goals as well as long-term goals.

  • Vow to try something new. Try a new piece of equipment or take a new class. Give that workout routine you saw in a magazine a try. Rent or buy an exercise DVD. (Mixing it up can not only get you out of the doldrums but also over weight-loss or strength-training plateaus.)
  • Set your sights on something small. Work on being able to run a mile without stopping. Work on getting your heels to touch the floor in downward dog. Work on being able to lift more than ever.
  • Set your sights on something big. Train for a race. Conquer a local hiking or biking trail. Fit into your “skinny” jeans.

3. Stay motivated.

It’s really hard to balance a healthy lifestyle with busy work and home lives, with wedding planning, with everything we do that demands our time and energy. And it’s really hard to see the big picture and remember why you have to lace up your running shoes rather than flip on the boob tube. But it can be done if you remind yourself.

  • Surround yourself with motivating, inspiring people. Take the healthy-living journey with a family member or close friend or favorite co-worker. Read about people who’ve reached their goals and channel their good vibes. Connect with people (in real life or online) to whom you feel accountable.
  • Reward yourself. Put a quarter in a jar every time you exercise or every time you pass on dessert or drinks out with friends. Use the money to buy yourself a new pair of running shoes, to get a manicure, to get a massage after a month, two months, whatever time element you put on it.
  • Talk to anyone who will listen. Remind your family and friends what you’re up to and ask them to support you. Start a journal or blog to chronicle your journey. Update your Facebook and Twitter statuses with positive thoughts.
  • Make an inspiration/motivation poster and hang it somewhere prominent.

I know this all sounds really obvious, but I think it bears repeating—and I know it works for me to sort of sit down and regroup.

So how do I plan to put this all into practice? Well, I’ve got a several years of better eating under my belt, and I’ve got almost a year of running under my best. I’ve also got some new goals and thoughts on staying motivated.

It’s those last two that are going to be key for me…

New goals:

  • Cut down on alcohol and desserts, my two stumbling blocks.
  • Improve my strength training to trim and tone my body.
  • Practice yoga more often to improve my flexibility, to trim and tone my body and to clear my head.
  • Train for a half marathon.

I started training for a half marathon in May, and I got to a point where I could run 7 miles at a crack, which was a huge thing for me, but I had to stop to search for an apartment and a job and move from Wisconsin to Michigan this summer. I have been dying to start over…

Amy ran a marathon last fall and has been interested in doing another half marathon (she also ran one of those, back in September of 2008).

We decided it would be smart to do it together! We don’t live in the same city—or even in the same state—and we don’t see each other often, but we talk and tweet back and forth frequently enough that we think we will be successful and effective virtual training partners.

We’re leaning toward the Oshkosh, Wisconsin, half marathon in mid-April, and we’re hoping our significant others will join us. I’ll chronicle my experience on my blog and I’ll bet Amy will keep track on hers, too.

I hope my sort-of-plan works—and I hope that even if this was repeat for you, that you took a minute to think about your health and fitness and consider what you’re doing to take care of yourself…because you have a lot going on, and you can’t get through it if you don’t feel your best.

Good luck on getting to the altar and on completing your journey to being the healthiest, sexiest bride you can be.

And thanks to Amy for letting me fill in for her!

Take care!

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