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When planning for a wedding, vows often either seem completely overlooked or a big source of stress from the start. Not only do you have to listen, remember, and repeat a bunch of words in front of hundreds of people, but you’re expected to speak them flawlessly! (Side note, if you haven’t seen the video of the guy saying “waffley wedded wife” instead of “lawfully wedded wife,” do yourself a favor and go watch it here.)

I’m not sure if that video struck fear in the minds of the newlyweds to follow or what exactly happened, but it seems like recently, the traditional vow is dying a slow death. 

Nearly every wedding I’ve been to within the last three years (including my own) did not include the familiar words. Instead, those 3-5 minutes were full of words directly from the bride and groom.

My husband and I chose to ditch the “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse…” etc., because it was not as meaningful to us as what we wanted to promise each other. So instead, we came up with our own list of vows we wanted to make and chose to speak those instead.

But here’s the issue… most of the weddings I mentioned earlier – to put it lightly – didn’t actually have any vows.

No real promises made, no list of actions they vowed to their partner. Rather, it basically felt like a mushy-gushy love letter with a few jokes thrown in there. Instead of “until death do us part,” it was, “even if I get tired of you.” (Oh yeah, that happened.)

The definition of the word vow from the good ol’ Merriam Webster is “to promise solemnly.” That doesn’t mean wedding vows are restricted to the somewhat rigid words in the traditional vows, but it also doesn’t mean that it is the time to write a love letter to your soon-to-be spouse for all to hear! Alternatively, focus on the marriage that you are promising. Instead of writing them as if you were only going to be speaking to your partner, they should be written as words you are speaking to everyone in attendance: the close family and friends who will keep you accountable in keeping those vows.

If you do choose to let the traditional vow keep fading away and instead write your own (I’m definitely not judging, I did that too!), here are steps you can take that will help you make sure you’re making solid promises, not just serenading a love letter!

  1. First of all, write down bullet points of major moments in your relationship so far that have defined your love and the way the two of you work. It’s also a good idea to come up with a few things that make your relationship unique!
  2. Then, make a few sentences around those memories. These sentences will help you see the core values that will be in your marriage, and therefore will help you define what exactly you want (and need) to promise to your spouse.
  3. From there, start making a list of promises you want to make so that your marriage stays strong from the start. Know that some of them won’t feel comfortable or easy, and that’s actually a good thing. A vow can be something that you know you struggle with, because what good is a promise if it comes naturally? Plus, knowing the areas where you can improve will help your relationship in the long run!
  4. Research examples of other vows when you feel stuck. A lot of things won’t apply to your own relationship. But it’s a good way to get ideas of areas in which you can make a promise!
  5. Finally, write from your heart. This one is kinda obvious, but it was a struggle when I was writing mine. I wanted them to sound more poetic than unique to our marriage, and for a while I was stuck. Then I started writing down promises. The promises included things I knew I needed to say to my soon-to-be husband. Only then did things start flowing naturally!

Whether you are sticking with the traditional vow or writing your own, take note of the words you are speaking. It’s not just another part of the ceremony. It’s not merely something you should do before you say “I do.” They are a vital piece of a strong marriage. They are something you will cherish, even as the years start to fly by and until death do you part.

Looking for more resources for your engagement? Click here!

Image from Pexels.com

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

*Note: I’m an early riser. Always have been, always will be. My husband, on the other hand… not so much. Being newlywed and trying to stick to a routine, I’ve learned to let him sleep until I’ve had my coffee, had my shower, and have start working on breakfast. And for about a month, it has actually worked! That is, until one morning, I had gotten my coffee and was in the shower when I heard that knock….

“Hey, Caroline?”

Surprised that he was even awake enough to voice a question, I responded, “Yes…?”

“I really need to use the bathroom. Are you done yet?”

Me, knowing that I probably didn’t want to be in the bathroom once he came in, but also in the middle of shampooing my hair, responded to his question and said, “Not really, but hold on… I can step out in just a second.” In slight frustration, I quickly rinsed the shampoo, turned off the water, and grabbed my towel.

You see, my husband and I are trying our best to save for a house as soon as we can, which meant signing a lease on a tiny apartment for the time being. One bedroom. Barely enough space for a couch in the living room. And, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, one bathroom.

Moving in, neither of us thought it would be a problem! I’d just get up early, get things done, then he would be able to do the same after me. But, as with everything in life, things don’t always go according to plan.

That morning threw off the rest of my day, and it took me quite a while to understand why.

But by that evening, I realized something: I was frustrated with him, despite neither of us being to blame for the situation. I was upset, not because he had to use the bathroom, but because it wasn’t a part of our original plan. I wanted to be in control.

Yes, it seems a little exaggerated to get to that conclusion from a disrupted morning routine. But let me tell you. It opened my eyes to a whole different perspective of myself that I was not at all aware of.

So many people warned us that marriage is a great magnifying glass on all your flaws. But I didn’t realize how true it was until the honeymoon phase had left, and our true, imperfect selves showed again. Since that day, I have been very conscious of what I can and cannot control and my reactions to those things.

So, bottom line. Never assume that just because you have a plan or routine in your newlywed relationship, everything will go according to plan. A spouse is not there to point out your flaws, but to walk with you. They are there to support you and grow with you through each and every interruption.

Lastly, and most importantly: if possible… have more than one bathroom for your first year if you can.

Looking for more engagement resources? Click here!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Your wedding day is one of the most stressful times of the engagement season. But there are things you can do the morning of your wedding to help you relax and enjoy the day!

Picture this: For two years you’ve been planning this awesome party for all your friends and family to enjoy.

You’ve got everything completely lined up, from the menu for the day to the height of every candle. Everyone involved has a detailed spreadsheet of where they need to be and when, and you are excited beyond belief! Not only will you get to hang out with all your favorite people, but you get to MARRY your most favorite person! Can it get much better than that?!

However, there’s this (ever so slight) hint of fear that’s always looming over. There’s a lot that could go wrong the morning of your wedding in all those details! And, on top of that, everyone constantly tells you that something will go wrong, and you’re just expected to accept that. Even more, you’re making a life-long commitment to one person that you’ve known for less than your family’s known you. It’s a big deal!

But there are a few things you can do to soothe those worries, calm your nerves, and fully enjoy the day! It requires focused attention to your emotional and mental needs, but here are 5 ways you can do just that!

To care for your emotional and mental needs the morning of your wedding:

  • Do some breathing exercises as soon as you wake up. And, if you have even just one extra minute, lie in bed and take a sec to really realize what’s happening today. Don’t run through the list of things to happen or panic about all that can go wrong. Just take in the fact that you’re marrying your best friend!
  • Have a poppin’ playlist ready to go! Your bridal party is going to want to get excited with you before you walk down the aisle! If you have too much on your plate, give the job to a friend – but just make sure you’re not taking it too seriously. Plus, singing and dancing will help with your stress levels, too!
  • Schedule time with your bridal party to have fun. Whether that means playing some card games or just sharing your favorite memories of the bride/groom, it’s a great way to distract you from the craziness around you and enjoy the time with your girls/guys!
  • Remember that it’s only one day. No matter what happens, it will all be done with in 24 hours. And, as long as you and your love are married by the end of the day, what else really matters? (The answer is nothing, in case you were wondering…)
  • Unplug from all devices. Even better, just pack your phone in your honeymoon bag! Give all the important contact info to a friend and trust that everyone will be able to figure things out. You need to focus on the only thing that matters: becoming one with your spouse – not whether or not your guests are supposed to follow the parking signs you put out, or just make their own path (which they’re going to do anyway, trust me). You don’t need the extra stress, so just avoid it all together from the beginning!

A wedding day really can be the happiest day of your life!

There is so much that goes into this one day, but it is truly worth it. And besides, once it’s over, you’ll have a spouse to adventure through life with! Hopefully, with the help of these 5 tips, you and your love can fully enjoy your special day and all that comes with it.

*(This is part two of a series. To see the first part, click here!)

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

Wedding planning: The thing that everyone tells you to enjoy, but you more so feel like you’re drowning without a lifeline. BUT you’ve made it! You’ve finally arrived to the morning of your wedding day! It’s here! Now… what was that thing you HAD to tell your DJ today? And why have THREE people asked you for your florist’s phone number?? And WHERE is your maid of honor?!?

The morning of a wedding can be kind of a mess! But I have some fresh tips to share with you!

Regardless of whether you yourself are about to be in this position or if you only know someone who is, there are 5 things the bride and groom can do the morning of the wedding to help fill their physical needs. (I’m NOT saying, though that these things will make everything run smoothly, I’m just saying they’ll help.) Anyway, without further ado… Here are 5 things you NEED to do the morning of the wedding! (By the way, this is the first part of a series. To see the second piece about caring for your emotional and mental needs, click here!)

Here are the first five things to care for your physical needs the morning of your wedding:

1. Drink. Water. And. Eat. Food.

This one might seem pretty obvious right now, but trust me. You’ll need to be reminded. Have your bridesmaids/groomsmen, mom, or whoever else is by your side throughout the day carry some snacks and water on them and periodically feed you! Trust me, no one wants a fainting bride or groom. (Pro Tip: Brides, bring a straw so you don’t mess up your lipstick!)

2. Only drink ONE cup of coffee, if any.

If coffee is part of your regular routine, don’t just cut it out together! Having a caffeine headache on the day of your wedding would not be pleasant. However, be sure to limit your intake. You’re going to be jittery enough as it is, and you won’t need caffeine’s help on that one!

3. Bring an emergency kit.

These can seriously be a life saver. I once had the zipper of a bridesmaid dress completely burst open 5 minutes before we walked down the aisle. The only way I made it through it was because someone was smart enough to pack a sewing kit in the emergency supplies. If you need a list, here’s a good one!

4. Practice your vows.

Whether you’re goin’ old school traditional or you chose to write your own, practicing those words (out loud!) will help prevent you from fumbling over them in just a few hours. Even though saying “waffely wedded wife” is funny, it’s still a little embarrassing…

5. Make someone in charge of getting your honeymoon items into the getaway car.

It might work that you yourself can do that, but having a friend double check is always a great idea! Have a list of what they need to check on before the send-off so that you don’t have to make an emergency trip back to your place (or worse, the venue) to grab whatever you forgot! (Bonus tip: Put someone in charge of taking your veil and bouquet, too!)

Don’t forget that this day is once-in-a-lifetime!

If you’re panicking about the suitcase you forgot or passed out on the stage from lack of food, it might not be the fondest of memories to look back on. To take a look at how you can fill your emotional and mental needs the morning of your wedding, click here!

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

5 Things Every Engaged Couple Should Know:

1. Marriage is a magnifier.

Some couples think a bad habit or irritating trait will disappear after they say, “I do…” The reality is that marriage is a magnifier – both positively and negatively. See a little bit of this trait while dating or engaged? You’ll be seeing a lot of it after you get married.

2. Money is a big part of life.

Have you had some honest communication about student loans, credit scores, spending/saving habits? Money is often the number one thing couples fight about in marriage.

3. Do they know how to “fight nice?”

How do they handle conflict, stress and anger? Life will flip you for real and you won’t always agree on how to handle it! Now what? Do they get loud? Do they withdraw? Can they disagree without it getting personal? Do they bring up past mistakes constantly? Learn how to fight nice, fight fair and argue constructively toward solutions – NOT tear down and just hurt each other. (And remember – marriage is a magnifier…)

4. Get around each other’s friends and family.

Love is blind but your uncle might be an eye-opener. He might see a quality or trait that you flat-out missed. What are their friends and family like? How do they communicate and manage conflict? Does his mom dote on him all the time because “he’s her little baby?” Is he going to be expecting that same doting treatment from you?

5. Saying, “I Don’t…”

It is better to break off an engagement than to move forward into a marriage that your heart really isn’t into, you have a bad feeling about, or all the people close to you are warning you about. It might feel too late in the game, you may have spent money, rented out space and even sent invitations, but until you say, “I do…” you can still say “I don’t…” And that may be best in some cases. Maybe you just need to date a little longer and get to know each other better. Maybe you have some real concerns that have to be addressed. Remember: Marriage is for life, “‘til death do us part…”

No matter what, these 5 things that every engaged couple should know can guide you and your potential spouse through this season of unknown, planning, and celebrations!

Looking for more engagement resources? Click here!

Image from Unsplash.com

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

There’s nothing worse than getting into the same argument, again and again and again. Amirite? The sheer repetition is enough to drive one MAD. And sadly, that tends to happen quite a bit in marriage. When we get really upset, we can go from zero to 60 in two seconds flat. We don’t want to fight. We don’t want to be angry. But WE ARE LIVID. And ya know what? We have every right to be! But.

Read more

If you’re anything like me, I used to (literally) dream about the day that the love of my life would take a knee, spout off some poetry, and say those four long-awaited words that made up the question that would change my life forever: “Will you marry me?”

Read more

Opposites attract. They really do! Then you get married and often opposites repel.

When my wife and I began dating in college, we couldn’t have been more different. Ours was really a case of “opposites attract.” Frankly, the differences were enchanting, fascinating and intriguing. Then we got married. About six to eight months in, those differences were not nearly as charming anymore – they were were just different. I remember thinking, “That thing you do that when we were dating was so beguiling and fascinating? Yeah, well it’s annoying now.” And my wife was feeling the same thing with my differences…

What did we get ourselves into? The rest of our lives seems like a long time to put up with this!

Are you really opposites? Below are some questions to turn this obstacle into an opportunity:

*Is this a problem to be solved or a tension to be managed?

What kind of differences are we talking about here? Is one person laid-back and the other more assertive? That’s a tension to be managed – probably your whole life. Is one person trying to save money while the other person is blowing through it? That’s a problem that is a problem that is gonna have to be solved.

*Is one person taking the moral high ground?

I was fond of saying that all our differences were equal but some were more equal than others. My wife was more assertive, list-driven and task-oriented. I was laid-back and cared more about people. She always had “The Moral High Ground.” My wife would often say, “Well, at least I get things done!” (Aaaand you’re gonna die from a heart attack.) Try not to label the differences good & bad, right & wrong, helpful & unhelpful. They can just be different.

*Is there a duty to validate your spouse and their differences?

Do you have a chance to celebrate your spouse and the unique things that they bring to the relationship and the family? Be sincere and not condescending.

*Is there an opportunity for you to provide each other balance?

My wife and I finally learned that our differences should not be competing with each other, but rather, they could be complimenting each other.

*Is there wisdom in playing to your strengths?

Sadly, there are many “gendered” jobs around the house where we often just expect a certain partner to do it. But what if that is not their skill-set or passion? The other spouse is like, “I LOVE doing that job and I’m awesome at it!” Play to your strengths, not stereotypes.

*Is there a way for your kids to benefit from seeing your differences?

Absolutely – especially if you can show them how you work together through your differences. With an example like that, it’s more likely that your kids will be able to work well with people who are different than them. Plus, if you allow your differences to balance each other out, it’s more likely that your kid will follow suit. So, instead of constantly planning or constantly sleeping, they’ll have a deeper understanding of how to “work hard, play hard,” so to speak.

An important thing to remember is that a relationship with two people wired the exact same way comes with plenty of problems of its own.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***