Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Recycled Wedding: It's nothing new...

The Recycled Wedding: It's Nothing New... 
~Tips for Conscious Peacock Brides~

People have been recycling things since the beginning of time; however, since the industrial revolution, we've seen the growth of consumerism. That then produces waste. When things become common, we forget how much energy was put into creating them. We cast things into the trash that are 100% reusable  The fact that you want to hug Mother Earth while getting hitched is nothing new. And you shouldn't feel bad about wanting to reuse items that were trash-bound. You can buy stuff new and use old things as well. Either way, being a conscious bride is a good thing. Don't be ashamed of it! 

I'm not a hipster. I'm not a hippie. I don't really know what you'd label me these days...but there is one thing I know for sure: I am very concerned about is the health of the planet. Weddings are wonderful parties...but those parties last one day. How much of our hard-earned money is going to the trash, then the landfill, then into our waters after our wedding day? You can have so much more if you reuse things that you can find for free. Abundance is hidden sometimes. 

The "Mason Jar" Phenomenon in weddings has taken over Pintrest, Etsy, and all corners of the wedding internets. The most appealing part of jars is that they are made of glass. Glass is strong and durable, while being fragile and simple--Just like a relationship. Nothing is more dynamic than watching light hit glass. That is the ambiance of romance...that's the stuff that dreams and babies are made of; but you know what's not so sexy? Garbage patches in the ocean. 

I decided that I want to use a lot of recycled materials in my wedding. Not only are they free, but they are still usable. I've been saving glass jars for over a year. I work in a place where we "demo" food items. Most of these jars are cast into the trash. No one recycles them because they don't get a return value like cans and bottles for beverages. So I decided to adopt over 100 jars of various sizes. I didn't turn a jar away! 

Here is a jar that I first frosted with glass frosting and then applied muti-colored rhinestones by hand. I took some pictures before they are finished so you can see what it looks like in-progress. 

Here are some ombre drip-painted mason jars. Look how beautifully the light blue ombre plays off of the peacock feather!! 

We are going to be doing all different types of jars in the blue ombre color scheme and the peacock color scheme. They will match because they will all be different. So far, when I put everything together, I am so happy that it is going so well!! 

The main thing you'll have to get over about using recycled materials is: Not everything is going to match!! However, if everything is a little mismatched, then a new pattern is created. There is beauty in imperfection!! We need to embrace that. I plan on keeping or selling the jars I have created. Now things that we once landfill-bound will now grace the shelves of homes as treasured lanterns. These might be donated to another bride who cannot afford to make this many lanterns for herself. These things are beautiful and have purpose now. 

Be conscious...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Here, judge the bride....Snarking in the Wedding Community

Here, Judge the Bride....

Women are always pressured to fit into someone's box...

...but what if you don't fit into the boxes 
that are handed to you?

As a bride, I am somewhere between traditional and offbeat. I read articles or threads on various Facebook pages and websites and sometimes I stare at my screen, downright offended by our culture's propensity to judge a bride's choices for one of the most important days of her life. I have found this to be true on both traditional message boards and offbeat sites. The popularity of "snarking" is rattling me to the core.

What is a snark? Snark is mix of "snide" and "remark"=a snide remark that is said only to be mean spirited and has no base in actual fact. Snarking is damaging because it seems to be totally acceptable to talk about people as if they are just images or robots that have no feelings. It's okay to snark. And if you like to snark, you will find yourself in great company on the internet. As a humanist, I have realized that it's not okay to judge people in this way. I used to snark people all the time, until I met people that educated me about why we snark (to project our insecurities on others) and how damaging it is to other women and ourselves. They pulled my card and I had to change my ways. 

It seems to be a socially acceptable norm to haphazardly throw around words like "tacky", "ugly", "fat", "skinny", "anorexic", "tasteless", etc when commenting on all things wedding. Judging brides seems to be an extension of the judgment that women face on a global scale. Judging a bride, though, seems heartless on every level because in essence it is attacking the expression of someone's way of being...and how they choose to celebrate what I consider to be a great victory in life: To meet someone, fall in love, make a life-long commitment, and to celebrate that commitment in the presence of those who will support that union. It is an attack on womanhood as a whole. Telling a woman her wedding is ugly is like telling her that her baby is ugly. Now don't get me wrong...I've seen what I consider to be ugly wedding choices, and I've seen a few ugly babies too...but to tell someone that their choices are wrong or that their children are ugly is just as tasteless and tactless as the wedding choices they are attacking. I wish someone had told me that as a bride, I would spend many nights confused, upset, and questioning myself and my decisions because everyone and their mom wants to judge my choices for my day. 

The 5 Snarks that need to be exposed...

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings: Snark #1--Creative Expression

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings: 

Creative Expression

1. Snarking a bride's taste or competency in making decisions for herself. I've spent more than a few moments of my life since I've gotten engaged second guessing myself. At first, I was easily influenced by what people thought. Now I've realized that I am a competent woman who is creative, intelligent, and pretty organized. I don't need to rationalize every decision I make when it comes to decisions about the wedding I am throwing and paying for to someone else. 

Why is this sore subject so fresh on my mind?? Well, mainly because some reality star (I use the term "star" loosely, mind you...) got married and everyone began attacking her because of what some consider to be poor taste in wedding attire and dinner selection. "Momma June" Shannon (Mother of child-pageant participant Alana, aka Honey Boo Boo) and Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson got married. Now mind you, I have never once watched their show and I don't care to. I did read about their wedding though. Their spread sounded pretty good for a Southern Down-home BBQ wedding. They had a whole roasted pig that was made into pulled pork sandwiches and ribs. They had corn on the cob, mac and cheese, baked beans and sweet tea. Hey...we wouldn't serve this, but I don't know many Southerners or fan of comfort food that would turn this down. 

Miss Alana wore a pretty cute pageant dress made up of pink and orange ruffles. Momma June wore a camouflage dress with bright orange accents. I admit, this dress is not for me at all...but who am I to judge what Honey Boo Boo's mom does? What authority do I have to tell someone they can't have Airheads and Sour Patch Kids at their candy table? I happen to like those candies. I would probably snag a few, even though I would worry about all the high fructose corn syrup that I would be consuming for the day. No one is under my jurisdiction. If you want a camo dress, and your daughter wants to wear some frilly pageant dress, why not? It's your day to do as you please. I'm wearing a blue peacock embroidered dress. I'm sure someone will think it's tacky...and guess what? I don't give a fluffy bunny fuck about what they think. I even had a friend tell me my engagement ring was tacky. Who cares? She doesn't have to wear it; I do. 

For all these people thinking that her dress is ugly and tacky, remember beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Don't think your toilet smells like roses. I am sure some of your guests might have whispers behind your back about how tacky your bridesmaids' dresses are. Your grandma might think your makeup is too dark and looks slutty. Everyone gets to have their day the way they want it...tacky or not. And that includes your tacky wedding too...

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings: Snark #2--Body Snarking

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings:

 #2 Body Snarking

2. Body-snarking other brides or models. As I've surfed, debated and people-watched the internet, it's apparent that women have been totally brainwashed by the media to not only hate themselves, but other women as well. There are two-sides of the nasty wooden-nickel of body snarking: Fat shaming and skinny shaming. It's all body shaming in an attempt to make people feel guilty for what they look like. Simply put, when you shame other people's body, it tells more about how you feel about your body than it does about how you feel about theirs. 

This post was on HuffPost Wedding's Facebook page:

 The question was: Do you think this Reem Acra gown is too sexy for a bride?

 Then the nasty, hideous (and predictable) comments followed: 

"Yes and she is way too thin"

"Way too [sexy]. And she looks like an anorexic skeleton with chapped elbows!"

Yeah, evil bitches. Way to keep it classy. If you were one of these women making these comments--shame on you. I clicked through to the woman's page who called the model an anorexic skeleton, and she had posted that she was working with a trainer, trying to get in shape after having 2 kids. It seemed to be, on her part, a bit of projection. She is not satisfied with her own body, so she attacks an innocent person whom she does not even know. It's funny...I was on another site where this SAME WOMAN made nasty comments about another woman's body. She just goes around trolling and snarking. How sad. You cannot judge someone's health by one photo. This model is thin. But she is also a person. This person is not just a body, but a human being who has value and worth; no matter what her body looks like. You can judge the dress...sure. To each his own. But you really shouldn't snark bodies. It shows a level of insecurity and ugliness that is unbecoming to anyone who chooses to do that. Clean up your own house. Hope that trainer is working for that trolly-snarker. 

                                                 Back to Snark List

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings: Snark #3--Relationship/Engagement Duration & Timing of Marriage

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings: 

#3 Relationship/Engagement Duration
 & Timing of Marriage

3. Snarking a relationship for it's length instead of admiring its strength. Now here's where I'm going to get a little personal. I've felt a bit of snark about the length of my relationship in relation to us getting married and I've find it to be a tired and annoying subject to hear over and over again. 

After a few months of being with, a co-worker snarked me for saying, "I love you" to my beau as I was ending a phone call. She said, "You guys are saying I love you already? Haven't you been together for like a week or two?"  How dismissive and crude. Actually, we had been together for 2 months. And I thought...of course I love him! I wouldn't be in a relationship with someone I didn't love! It seemed absurd to me that she would snark me for saying I love you to a man that I was in a committed relationship with and also having sex with! Not saying you have to be in love every time you have sex, but I would hope that you're in a relationship with someone because you have grown to love them. 

Here's the timeline of my relationship:
  • Almost 4 years ago we met through work. 
  • We were friends for about 1 1/2 to 2 years before we started dating. 
  • We were Facebook friends for that time as well. 
  • We realized we liked each other in 2011. 
  • We talked on the phone for almost 2 months before going on our first date. 
  • We went on our first date on July 8th, 2011. 
  • We became a couple 2 or 3 weeks after. 
  • We  first talked about marriage within our first month of being together. 
  • I gave him a key to my apartment after month one of dating. 
  • We moved in with each other after 2 months of dating. 
  • We spoke about engagement after 3 months of being together. 
  • We told a few people about our plans to get married after month 6. 
  • We officially announced our engagement after he met my parents for the first time after 1 year of being together. 
  • He officially proposed on March 21st, 2013 (my birthday). 
  • We booked our venue and our parents met for the first time in April of 2013. 
  • We have been together for 2 years now. 
  • We will be wed in the 3rd year of our relationship. 
  • We will have been engaged for 2 1/2 years by the time we get married. 
I heard a lot of comments about us moving too fast. But what does "too fast" even mean? What I knew in month 1 that is still true today two years later is: I love this man, he's the best friend I've ever had, and this relationship is the best I've ever been in. It's not like we just met and got engaged. We knew each other for almost 2 years before we even dated! That doesn't seem whirlwind to me at all, as some people I've talked to made it seem. That seems like two people that took a long time to get to know one another before jumping into a relationship. Sure, I know him way better now than month one...but I have loved him from the beginning. I've liked him since the moment we met and he felt the same about me.

So why did we choose to get married within 3 years? Well, that's very simple. I'm 32, he's 38. We are two very grown people who are ready to settle down together. We know what we want. And with me being 32, I have to face the fact that my optimal child-bearing years are coming to an end. After 35, it's harder to get pregnant. We want the option of trying for a child and we want to be married before bringing a child into the world. It's important for us to be married because we want to express to the world our higher commitment. We aren't just boyfriend and girlfriend. We aren't just shacking up. We aren't just here until something better comes along. We are a family. And I want legal documentation that says we are one. Period. We're both old enough to know what we want and the gravity of the commitment we have made. Marriage just makes it legal.

Our relationship has had its own course. There is no one way to fall in love and get married. Some people I know have waited 9 or 10 years and had children and houses before getting married. Some have been together longer than that with no marriage. I know one couple that was married within a year of knowing each other and now have 3 beautiful children together. You can't judge a relationship by the time is has existed. You have to judge it on the accomplishments, mutual respect, and happiness of the people in the relationship. 

                                                 Back to Snark List

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings: Snark #4--Budget Snarking

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings:

#4 Budget Snarking

4. Budget snarking. Arrrghghh. This one bothers me almost more than anything else. The offbeat, DIY, I-paid-$7-for-my-wedding-dress-at-the-thrift-store-$500-potluck-hipster brides are the WORST when it comes to budget snarking. Hey, having a $1000 wedding means you are clever, crafty, and that you had certain resources available to you to pull it off. That's it. Nothing more. Making all your invitations by hand doesn't make your invitations more "real" than someone who had them made by an invitation artist. The fact that your aunt allowed you to use their backyard free of charge makes you LUCKY, not better than someone who puts $10,000 down on their venue. Not everyone has the same resources as you do. For instance, my family lives in the Midwest. I don't have an aunt Sally with a big backyard for me to get hitched in. And the fact that you bought your entire wedding off of etsy just makes you...well, that makes you awesome...but that's not the point. The point is: Get off your high-hipster-horse and realize that you're not doing anything original in the sense of getting married. People have been having DIY weddings before there was ever a thing such as the wedding industry. With all due respect, please get over yourselves. Stop downing people for spending as little as $5,000 on a wedding for 100 people. And stop pushing those goddamned potluck dinners on the rest of us! Peacock Brides ain't got time for that...

I don't particularly like the idea of potluck. I got food poisoning at a potluck celebration for graduates at my childhood church. I spent my graduation weekend puking while I watched my friends party. So no. I don't do potlucks and I generally don't eat potato salad that someone else has made. Should I feel bad or less down to earth because I would rather a restaurant cater than have random food show up on the table? No. I don't have to explain my budget to you. I don't have to justify my expenses. This is my money that I've worked hard to save and I will spend it as I please.

You know what's the best part of someone else's wedding? The fact that you don't have to pay for it. I applaud any bride who can pull off a wedding for almost nothing. Realistically, many people can't or don't want to. It's none of your business what someone else spends and it's not right to down people because they are receiving financial help from family members. 

                                                      Back to Snark List

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings: Snark #5--Divorce Snark

The Five Deadly Snarks of Weddings: 

#5 Divorce Snark

5. Snarks eluding to inevitable divorce. I have encountered this mainly from people who have been divorced, or from people who are cynical toward marriage because of divorce rates. Divorce is not an easy thing and I highly doubt anyone goes into their marriage hoping for divorce (unless they are a gold-digger, but that's another topic entirely). If you have been divorced, listen up: Don't use engaged couples as the dumping ground for your divorce baggage. Just because you got divorced doesn't mean that everyone else will eventually divorce too. 

The divorce statistics in the US are around 50%, give or take a few percents. That means that there are another 50% of marriages, give or take a few percents, that actually do stay together. That means your marriage has an approximate 50/50 chance of ending or not ending in divorce. Reminds me of a coin toss. 

Here's the thing: Your situation doesn't apply to everyone else. I've had a lot of examples of lasting and healthy relationships, including my parents and my in-laws. They have both been married for 38-43 years. I believe that relationships can last and I want a shot at lasting love. Don't ruin other's happiness because you had a bad relationship. You have to learn to separate your feelings from what others might be feeling. 

Engaged couples already are filled with fear and doubt. Your cynicism might lead someone to back out of a good situation because they fear ending up like you. Sometimes you need to really look at the negativity you are projecting onto others. 

                                                   Back to Snark List

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shopping for Dresses Online: A success story!!

Online Dress Success Story

Alika Circle Off White
$144 at 
So, I did exactly what David Tutera says NOT to do. I bought my dresses online. Yes. Not one dress, but two. And although I took a big risk, the pay off was amazing! I got two stunning dresses that fit me very well, even before I get them altered. In all, I paid  less than $1000 for two dresses--Almost a 1/3 of what some brides pay for one white dress.

The best thing I like about shopping online is the price point. I saved almost $100 with coupon codes that I found online. Instead of buying traditional wedding dresses, I bought prom/pageant dresses--and both of them are more stunning that any wedding dress I've seen. I am completely satisfied.

I was worried about my mom not being able to shop with me for my dress, so I arranged with a local clothing store to let me try on both the gowns, as well as purchase a dress for my engagement photos. My mom and all my bridesmaids are coming, and my mom will see me in my dresses for the first time. I feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds.

My suggestions for you if you are going to buy online:

1. Have a seamstress, your mom, or a friend take accurate measurements. A lot of designer dresses are made to their own specifications, so make sure you look at the sizing chart for THAT DESIGNER. All you have to do is Google the name of the designer and "sizing chart", and most likely one will come up.

2. Make sure that the company is a verified dealer of the designer, or that their site says "Designer Dress Guaranteed". You will see the difference when you put on a designer gown. No matter what size you are, they seem to make you look better. There are a lot of online places that sell knock-offs, so make sure if you are paying designer prices, you are getting a designer dress.

3. Make sure you have ample time (I'd say about 6 months) to order your dress. You may have to exchange it for a different size. Most sites seem to have an exchange policy where you can exchange in X amount of days for a small fee. Others charge you a restocking fee...usually about 25% of the cost for exchanges and returns, so make sure you read their exchange and refund policies before purchasing. Another reason you will want to give yourself time is because you probably will have to have your dress altered. Giving yourself time makes things so much better because you don't have to worry if you need to make an exchange or you decide to change your mind and get another dress.

4. Look for coupon codes. Just go to and look up the website of the place you are going to buy from. They may have a coupon code for free shipping or a percentage off of your purchase.

5. If you are having a spring or summer wedding, consider prom season if you are buying a non-traditional dress, (i.e. prom or pageant dress). Many of these items are on back-order because of proms. Some sites also have a lay-away program to reserve your dress. 

Good luck! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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Friday, January 25, 2013

10 Things My Mother Did Right to Prepare Me to be a Good Wife

10 Things My Mother Did Right

The closer I get to my wedding and entering into the contract of marriage, the more I reflect on my mother and what a wonderful woman she is. They say that you turn into your mother. Well, that's 100% true. I've turned into my mother and I'm not ashamed to say so. Through my mother's example, I learned what it means to be a good wife and a respectable woman. 

I don't know if moms are told how fucking awesome they are often enough. They are not told that the things they did in your childhood affected you in a positive way. They generally hear the things that they messed up on, what they did wrong, and the ways that they damaged you; but I thought this blog should be different. My mother is not perfect, but she is an amazing mother and a wonderful wife. These are the things she taught me:

1. She always corrected my grammar and made education a priority. It was annoying when I was growing up, but I really appreciate the fact that I know how to speak, read, and write proper English. I have a really strong intellect and amazing attention to detail that I can directly thank my mother for. The skills she taught me help me in my job(s), my life, and also in my relationship--because I have learned how to communicate, how to seek help, and how to logically evaluate situations in order to get the best outcome. 

2. She kept our home clean and safe. Every single Saturday, she would wake us up to help her clean. I'm sure as the dirt crept up the wall, it made every cell in her body curdle and vibrate with disgust. We unwillingly helped her with chores. I wasn't always a clean or tidy person, but the older I got, the more interested in cleaning and keeping my home orderly and neat. I'm still not as good of a housekeeper as my mom, but I also don't live in squalor

3. She did arts and crafts with us every weekend. We affectionately call my mother the Black Martha Stewart and the MacGyver of crafts. She taught me abstract problem solving through doing crafts. The best memories of my childhood were doing crafts with my mom, but they also prepared me for my career as an artist. A lot of the crafting techniques I am using for my wedding, I learned from my mother. I'm not as handy with a glue gun as she is, but damn it...I'm going to die trying to be. 

4. She cooked meals at home, from scratch, and taught us how to cook. My mother taught us how to cook as soon as we were tall enough to reach the counter. She never shooed us away from the kitchen. She taught us how to bake, how to use spices, and bought a lot of raw materials for us to make food from scratch. She taught us how to follow recipes, which is basically teaching you how to follow directions. I'm not the world's greatest cook, but I'm pretty damned good. My momma is gourmet, and she set the bar for food quality to a high standard! 

5. She treated my father with respect. This is one of the most important things my mother did for us growing up. She treated my father with the utmost respect in word and deed. My mother NEVER complained about my father, never called him no-good, and never criticized him in front of us. I realized that a good wife respects her partner and also does nice things to make him happy. I've found in my own relationship that giving my partner reinforcement that he is an amazing man deserving of my respect and admiration has made him love me even more. That's something I've learned from my mother. 

6. She took us to cultural events. Our childhood was filled with song and dance, the arts, plays, and music!! I don't know any kids that I grew up with that did those kinds of things. And I'm sure my mom spent tons of money on doing these things. She could have kept that money for herself, but she spent it on us so we would have an open mind about the world. 

7. She made sure we traveled. My mother worked for a major airline for most of our lives. She has made it possible for us to visit amazing places like Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii,  The Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, and almost every state in the Union--just to name a few. If it wasn't for my mother being a world traveler, I wouldn't have realized how big the world is, and that I have the right and duty to explore that world! 

8. She went back to school. When I was in Jr. High, and my sister was in High School, my mother returned to school to pursue a Master's degree. It was really hard on the family, because not only did she work full-time, she also took care of us and had to go to class and do homework. My mother graduated with honors, despite all of her responsibilities. She set a great example that if you want to do great things in your life, you can...even when you're not getting as much support as you need from the people around you. 

9. She is my dad's best friend. I've really enjoyed watching my parents grow old together. The older they become, the happier they seem to be with their relationship. My parents, through their example, showed me that the best relationship you can be in is marrying your best friend. My mom still lights up like a candle when she talks about how handsome, cute, or daring my dad was in his younger years. They do everything together, and they seem to be okay with that. I realized the most important thing in a marriage is to never forget your partner is your best friend! 

10. She understands the correlation between success and sacrifice. My mother sacrificed a lot for her family. She gave up her career as an actress to raise us. She worked long hours in order for us to have all of the things we needed, and probably more of what we wanted than we ever deserved. She taught me, if you want something, you have to earn it. And she never let any limitation prevent her from reaching her goals. 

All of these wonderful qualities of my mother have rubbed off on me. There are more than 10 things my mother did right...sure...there are probably countless ones. But when my fiance tells me that he loves certain things about me, I have my mother to thank for that. Thanks mom!