An Emotionally Sustainable Wedding: Part 1

Dear Thriving Bride,

It is 33 days before my wedding, and I want to encourage you to have an “Emotionally Sustainable Wedding.”

From the Thriving Bride Glossary:

Emotionally Sustainable Wedding: Everyone knows it’s better to eat less meat, ride your bike instead of drive all the time and recycle your bottles and cans as well as paper goods.  It’s better for the planet–Right?  So, we know about Eco Friendly Green Weddings, but what about Emotionally Friendly Weddings.  Why not?  Our emotional health is just as important as our environmental health.  So, go green for your wedding by figuring out how to recycle the challenges into something that can be reused for the good of all.  Again, this phrase alone deserves its own post! Do it for the emotional well-being of your community, your family and the planet!

So, this definition and idea is one I came up with after thinking long and hard about what some of the most challenging parts of the wedding planning process can be.  But, it does not have to be this way.  You cannot make anyone behave differently, but you can make your boundaries very clear.

Everyone says that weddings are a very stressful time in a person’s life, but they don’t have to make you want to pull your hair out or lose your hair before you walk down the aisle.  So, the things I’ve learned are related to working with family to create the day that you want, and speaking up when things don’t feel as they should.

You know when you get that knot in your stomach, but you don’t know why and you can’t explain it.  I’ve had that a few times during this process, and I’ve spoken up and said something to my partner.  Sometimes everything looks great, but it does not feel great. Maybe it’s the artist in me that’s most sensitive to this, but I think first and foremost it’s the truth teller in me.  I simply can’t go along with something when it nags at me, and especially when my body feels it as well.

So, do you know what it’s like to have an Ecologically Green Wedding?: use less paper, recycle as much waste as you can, reuse as much as you can, etc.  So, let’s switch that thinking over to the emotional side of your wedding.  I want this to be clear, and I also do love recycling emotions and experiences for the good of the planet and the people I love.

Let’s just say you’ve figured out the place settings and the flowers and your grandmother does not like them.  You have a few choices here.  You can tell her to f…..k off, you can ignore her but still feel pretty awful about it, or you can look her in the face, grab her hand, lean over the table and tell her this: Grandma, I really appreciate your perspective, but I also value my happiness.  I need to choose the things that me and my fiance want, and right now I need to go with this flower arrangement. 

Hopefully, that will take care of things.  If you still hear Grandma whispering in the background every time she sees your flower arrangements, you might need to have her engaging in a different activity during this time.   Note:  The goal is to feel emotionally sound during this time.  There will be stress and emotions, but it should not be coming from family.  If it is, it is time to put your foot down.  I am not joking!

And what if Grandma is your mother-in-law instead.  What if your partner’s mother wants to tell you what kind of food you should serve and what kind of food you should not serve.  I would take the same approach.  I believe in giving people opportunities, but I also believe in setting boundaries when you see that the people you love do not have the capacity to respect your boundaries.

It is important to remember that this is a letting go for most members of your family. You will always be their child, but you are shifting how you identify.  You may now have a different last name or a hyphenated last name, and soon there may be children coming along.  It is an exciting and emotionally triggering time as well.

So, my advice to you is this: Don’t be afraid of all the emotions.  Let them come, and feel free to find a corner and cry when you need to.  But if and when the emotions start pouring out from a place of feeling pressured to do what you don’t want to do, it’s time to speak up and talk to the people around you.

Last night as I sat having dinner with my future mother-in-law, we spoke about the process we’ve been through and I felt very grateful that we could talk about what’s come up for each of us throughout this process. We’ve had many discussions from the beginning that has helped us get to this place of laughter and understanding.  She reminded me that there will always be challenges with family while planning a wedding, but that the most important thing is to deal with it in a positive way.  I understand and value her perspective.

This is the goal and the hope, but trying to be positive and trying to be nice for the sake of not hurting any feelings is not the same thing.  You may not want to go to that place of being very frank with your Grandma, but you’ll know when you have to. To my future mother-in-law’s  credit, she has been very positive throughout the process, even when we did not agree on everything.  There’s not way we could have.  I spoke up when something did not feel right to me, and I encouraged her to do the same.

On your special day Dear Bride, I hope you are smiling because you want to and that you are not holding any regrets or resentments. You may not know it now, but speaking up is usually better than hiding your feelings.  When you hide, you bury what is true for you and that does not usually do anyone any good.  Do you want to have and Emotionally Sustainable Wedding?  Then, now is the time to be open, honest, and work towards a wedding with no regrets.  At least not the kind that may mean you are not speaking to your mother for some time after the wedding.

More to come on this topic!  I could write a book about this alone, but next time I will give you some tips for how to do this.


Episode 1: Interview with Wedding Dance Instructor Christie Olvera

This week, author, poet and blogger Uchechi Kalu had the opportunity to interview Christie Olvera, dance instructor and owner at Arthur Murray Dance Studios in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  Christie sat down with her and talked about why dancing together is a vital part of maintaining a good relationship with your partner, the importance of the wedding dance, and the reasons why couples who dance together often stay together.  Please send your comments/feedback and find more information at

Catering Your Wedding with No Regrets: Part 1

Dear Thriving Bride,

It is 34 days before my wedding, and I want to talk to you about the food at your wedding.  When we first started planning our wedding, my future mother-in-law told us not to worry too much about the food because most of our guests would not care much about it.  She might be right, but the thing that matters most is that WE REALLY CARE ABOUT FOOD.  It’s not exactly in our bloodlines, but it’s definitely part of our shared history.  You see, PJ and I both lived in California and cooked professionally while living there.  He worked in some pretty well known restaurants and I was a personal chef.

Even before I cooked professionally, I was always fascinated by how food brought people together and how one simple ingredient could change a whole meal.  I am gushing about food today because a soon to be bride requested that I talk about it and because we had our tasting with our wedding planner and chef.  It was incredible to see the menu we collectively  created.  It was even more amazing to have the opportunity to savor the flavors, to be cautious to not finish all  of the margarita samples in order to walk out of there in a straight line, and luckily we did!  The food was wonderful, but most importantly it was representative of who we are.

Throughout this planning process, we’ve found the following things to be true: if we stick to the essence (and not the form) of what we want and what is important to us, it usually works out quite perfectly.

So far, the food journey has looked something like this:

1.We thought we were having the wedding at  local hotel, and we loved the chef there because he did things according to some of the ideas that were important to us: local, organic and well executed food.

2. When we decided not to have the wedding at the hotel, we felt disappointed that we would not have the chef,  but we stuck with the important ideas we wanted at our wedding and told our new wedding planner about our disappointment.  Note: Being honest with whomever is helping you plan your wedding (wedding planner, friends, relative, etc) is extremely important.

3. She suggested we meet with a local woman who is a Mexican culinary cuisine expert, who had also worked as  personal chef and had worked with some celebrity chefs.  Now, here’s where the gold was.  We thought that we just might get what we wanted, or something even better.  This is where we got to see our vision come together without losing what we always wanted.

Kirsten West  describes herself as a “Culinary Explorer in Mexico”, and we were very excited to have her help us come up with a menu that we could then present to our wedding planner’s chef (she has a catering company) and he would execute the menu.  Note: The most exciting part of all of this was that we got to talk about our wedding, but we also got to use our past experiences to create a new experience, which was utterly wonderful and tasty!

Eat (and serve) what YOU want. It’s YOUR WEDDING.

So, we’re still getting what we wanted: Mexican fine dining cuisine with local and organic ingredients that creatively includes our intercultural celebration.  The former chef turned culinary consultant has also worked with one of my favorite celebrity chefs Rick Bayless, who is known for his ability to execute exquisite Mexican dishes.  Now, it does not get much better than that!  Who says you can’t have a soup with three colors that represent three different cultures?    You can!

Basically, I am urging you to stick to what’s important to you and it will be hard to go wrong. It’s also important to trust the process, even when you feel disappointed.  Stick with your vision, but be open to how it manifests.  Kirsten West was a big gift that we received because we were honest and open with our wedding planner.

The one thing piece of advice I can give here that is most is essential is this:  It is extremely important that you TRUST YOURSELF IN THIS PROCESS.  So what if you mother thinks Mexican food is not a great idea?  She will most likely forgive you, but you might have a hard time forgiving yourself if you do what she wants and not what you want.  YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO SOMETHING YOU ARE GOING TO REGRET!

Some people may say that weddings are about what other people want and it’s also a time to make sacrifices.  In some ways this may be true for you, but everyone knows that a resentful bride is not much fun.  I’ve been perusing other blogs (and comments) related to wedding planning, and it seems like it’s pretty normal for family members to bring all their issues out on the table during this time.  That’s just fine. Everyone gets to be who they are, but you Dear Bride get to set the tone of this day and the rest of your life.  Remember that you are officially moving on from your family of origin and starting your own family.  The food and what you decide to do is really just a metaphor for so much more.  It is a way to say that what you think and value matters, and it’s a great way to imprint that idea in the minds of everyone involved.

Are you dying to have the taco truck come to your wedding or rehearsal dinner?  Just go for it!  Again, think about the essence of what you want and make it happen.  If you can pack organic local ingredients into a taco, then why not?  As I keep telling you, it’s the essence that matters.  Now, that’s what you’ll feel and remember for the rest of your life.

Stay tuned for  Part 2 and my interview with Kirsten West!



The Importance of Belonging: Part 1

Dear Thriving Bride,

Today marks 34 days before my wedding and I need to admit this to you: I have always wanted to belong to someone. There, I said it!

Now, let me be clear about what this means.  I have never wanted to be owned by someone, as in property.  Property is something that you hope the owner will take care of, but it is also something that can be devalued based on the owner’s lack of care and due to the moodiness of the market on any given day.

Something that belongs to someone else has value based on the relationship that person has to it, and can only be devalued if that person chooses to mistreat it or lose sense of its full value.  I hope you are following me.  What I am saying is this:  I want to be married once and only once and I want that man to be PJ because I want to belong to him, and to give him the opportunity to allow himself to belong to me.

This idea of belonging has always been in the back of my mind, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately.  The other day I was opening a bottle with a sharp knife, and all of a sudden my hands started bleeding.  PJ came to the rescue amidst my screaming, and he kissed me.  In that moment, he gave me a look that he has given me so many times since we got engaged.  That look said: We belong to each other, and that means I have to take care of you and you have to take care of you too.  He did not have to say anything, but those eyes brought me back to this idea that I find emotionally overwhelming  and amazing all at once.

Thank you Dictionary for giving me the following definition:

   [bih-lawng, -long] Show IPA
verb (used without object)

1. to be in the relation of a member, adherent, inhabitant, etc. (usually followed by to ): He belongs to the Knights of Columbus.

2. to be proper or due; be properly or appropriately placed, situated, etc.: Books belong in every home. This belongs on the shelf. He is a statesman who belongs among the great.

I love the first and last definition.  The second one doesn’t really apply to what I am saying, so I will skip it for now.  I love that it talks about belonging as something that has to happen in relation to another person, member of a group, etc.  I also love that the third definition talks about being “properly or appropriately placed.”
Did you ever have a doll or favorite sweater that said “This belongs to” and then the item left a little tag or white space for you to write your name?  Remember those?  For some reason, when I could name something as belonging to me, I would always make sure I took extra care of it, and if my special doll ever went missing I would not go to sleep until I found it.  There was a certain level of responsibility involved in having that specific toy, doll or shirt.   And that responsibility made me aware of the consequences of not “properly or appropriately” placing something that belonged to me, which includes myself.
When the person you love has shown up in your life and given you the awesome honor and responsibility of giving you permission to belong to them and them to you, please know where and how to properly place them in your life.  Please know that they matter so much, and that there are consequences when you don’t remember the things that are important to them.
Please know that when they go missing, you won’t be able to sleep until you find them or comfort them.  Please know that this journey you have said yes to is about much more than a ring, a dress or how much you spend to feed all of your guests.  It is about knowing and understanding a person’s value, and it is only then that you can see the invisible tag on their skin with a white space that says “This beloved belongs to his/her beloved.”
There aren’t many opportunities like this in life.  So, just forget about the music choice for one minute and remember that nothing you ever own can ever belong to you, but how amazing is it that the things we can never own can belong to us if we understand the awesome opportunity and responsibility and act accordingly.
Now, that’s a pretty incredible chance to have.  For most people it only happens once and for you dear bride it is happening now and it’s pretty darn incredible.  So whatever you do, don’t let everything else get in the way and make you miss it.  That invisible white tag attached to your fiance is waiting for you to etch your name where it belongs.

Every Bride Needs A “Go To Girlfriend”

Dear Thriving Bride,

It is 35 days before my wedding and I am feeling very thankful for my “go to” girlfriends, also known as my GTF’s. Now, these are people in my  life who serve two very essential purposes, especially leading up to my wedding day: They are there to make me laugh when I need it and they are there to laugh at me when I need it as well. This may seem harsh, but it’s true.

Let’s just say you just got off the phone with your parents for the 30th time in about two weeks and you are crying and lamenting the fact that they just can’t support you in the way that you need and want.  Okay, now I am not really telling you how I feel.  Take 2. Let’s try that again!

Let’s just say you just got off the phone with your parents for the 30th time in about two weeks and you are crying and feeling like you can’t wait to change your last name so no one will ever associate you with your family name anymore.  Now, that’s really how I am feeling today.  So, now that I’ve stopped covering up the real truth, I can get on with what I wanted to say to you.

Last week, I realized that MW was one of my GTF’s.  I always thought of her that way, but I did not have a special name for her yet. Yes, she’s in my wedding and she is also very honest with me.  I was telling her how much I did not want anyone who was helping me plan my bridal shower (including her) to feel like they had to contribute above and beyond what they felt comfortable doing, and she flat out told me to stop talking like that.

We had our girl, please moment, which is the moment when your GTF sees right through you and tells it like it is.  Hopefully, you are able to hear it and know that her sentiments come from a place of deep caring and love. So, MW made it clear to me that everyone was contributing because they loved me and wanted to support me.  It’s important to remember that it makes so much sense for you to have moments of insecurity on this journey. That’s pretty normal for any bride, but especially for brides with really challenging circumstances.

In that moment of emotion and sadness (or should I say being pissed off),  you will need a friend who will be there to listen, hold your hand and maybe even make you a cup of tea after fetching the Kleenex box for you.  But, you also need that same person to have the capacity to stop and say ” Enough of that, we’ve got a wedding to plan.”  And if you continue, that shocking but necessary moment of truth will happen when she will muster the courage to simply say: Girl, please.  And that moment will probably be such an essential part of your relationship with this person, especially as you prepare for your wedding.

Why do you need a “Go To Girlfriend?”  Well, she’s the person who can tell you to go to the mall to ease your frustrations or to go to hell when you are turning into not so beautiful bitch instead of the beautiful bride you had hoped to be.  She’s not there to make fun of you or poke you where it hurts, but she is there to show you the sides of yourself that need some fine-tuning.  She is there to say, ” I am sorry that happened, but the rest of your life is waiting for you and I can’t wait to join you on this journey.”  I hope this is becoming clearer and clearer to you.

In a previous post, I spoke about the importance of surrounding yourself with people who have the capacity to support you.  For you Thriving Bride, support is something that has to be about accountability, responsibility and unconditional love.  Let me break it down for you a bit more here.

During my childhood, I did not understand that being an accountable, responsible and unconditionally loved person could all fit in the same sentence.  Words like responsibility were misused and mistreated so I always thought I was not responsible if I did not do every and anything my abusive father asked me to do.  After I left my home of origin and started understanding the world in a different way, I finally connected the dots and realized that the people who truly love you ask you to be accountable for your actions, responsible for your life and remain committed to loving you even when your ability to do all of these things is severely compromised.  You don’t have to be perfect dear bride.  You probably felt like you had to be perfect then, but you don’t have to be now.

You need someone who will be frank with you.  You need someone who can take you aside and say “girl, please” if and when you start getting crazy.  You also need that person to hug you after telling you all of that , and you need to know they will still stand with you as your maid of honor on your special day.  IT IS NOW THAT YOU ARE UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU CAN BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE WITHOUT BEING ABANDONED.  I know this may hit on some nerves, but there are many women out there (including myself) that need to hear this, so I am saying it.

So, do you have a Go To Girlfriend?  Do you look around you and notice your best friend, bridesmaid or maid of honor is just as sweet as pie, but won’t say a word to you about how bitchy you’ve been lately?  Well, those women can still take part in your wedding, but you might want to see who’s willing to be real with you.  What’s there to lose?  And if you can’t find that person, it might be time to go looking.

By the way, if you are without this kind of person in your life it may not be the time to judge the gender of the GTF who is willing to be there for you in this way.  There are some pretty amazing men in my life (gay and straight) who do a great job as a GTF.  No, seriously!   The point is you are going to need one, and even if you are just weeks away from your wedding, it is never to late to get a GTF.  They’re  like a pretty awesome insurance policy in cases of severe self-doubt and sabotage.  You’re about to get married, so you probably don’t want to go down that road. And if you do, at least there will be someone there to pass you the tissues and let you cry for an hour or so, but then that same person will give you that look and say: Girl, please.

The Importance of The Wedding Dance: Part 1

Dear Thriving Bride,

It is 36 days until my wedding, and I just got home from our second wedding dance class. We are both pretty good dancers, so we thought we could put a few of our moves in there, learn a few new moves and be good to go.  Well, we were wrong.  The truth is, I was wrong.  I don’t think PJ knew (or had any idea) about what to expect.  He said it would be fun to learn the Tango and I debated if I had a short enough dress in my closet.  He said maybe we could also talk to our instructor about dancing into the wedding instead of doing the regular mannequin wedding march, and I thought that was a great idea.  And then, today happened. Note to brides: PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO EVERY PART OF THE PREPARATION. THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING THERE THAT WILL ENRICH YOUR RELATIONSHIP.

Today we arrived for class and I had prepared by sending a few songs we both liked to our instructor.  I was looking pretty fly in my black sequined fancy dress.  PJ insisted that I mention this part, so I will. The truth is, I wanted to wear something similar to my wedding gown so I could get a feel for moving in such a long dress.  We all listened to them and picked our top three.  And then we started to dance.  For the sake of clarity, let me back up here.  I am writing this just after returning from our class because I believe that there is nothing like documenting the real time experience of this wedding journey.  During our initial class last week, we just started dancing and PJ tried to turn me around and I went the other way. He flat out called me out when he said “she’s not letting me lead.”  And I flat out said “I am fine to let you lead, but I need you to lead so I am not confused.”  And these statements were goldmines for our instructor. She then proceeded to teach PJ how to lead with a few tricks of the trade.  I noticed that the more he understood what leading meant (and how to do it) the more he relaxed and allowed me to follow.

I hope you got all of that.  I am telling you all of this because just when you think that this process is all about the flowers and the color of your dress, you run right straight into reality and realize that it is about the relationship you want to have and build starting now.   I needed him to lead and to take charge, which is not the same as controlling.  Leading feels like he’s inviting me to share my life with him, and the dance is a metaphor.  In the dance, he’s letting me know that he’s got me and even if we fumble, he’s got me.

I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to fully have my back.  As much as I love being a modern woman, I want the man I love to lead me, support me and protect me.  So, I said it! Usually, I am pretty laid back and am okay with not knowing what will come next.  For me, that’s pretty incredible considering the fact that I could not do this when I first left home and went to college.  But after the death of two brothers and the realization that life gives you opportunities to accept what it has to offer, I know I can’t control anything.

During this whole planning process, I’ve been very casual about many things and everything has worked out just fine.  For some reason, today was different .Today I thought that I had worked out my issues last week with the whole leading thing and then I ran right into another wall.  Actually, I will leave the word wall here because it is exactly what is true for me.  But in this moment there is also something else very true for me (and rewarding) as well.  Today, I ran right into a space that was waiting for me to find it and realize it needed to be healed.  I ran right into the way I felt when my parents said they would “have my back”, but instead they let me fall.  I ran right into unsigned permission slips and waiting many hours for someone to realize I was sitting in front of the school and pick me up.  I ran  into the space that allowed me to see my girl self and tell her “he’s got you.”

I also ran right into acknowledging how important dance is for me.  It is important for me to move, and to do that with my partner.  I ran into facing the fact that PJ and I have not done much of it because since I’ve known him he has dealt with a neurological condition that affects his leg.  The man I love walks with a cane, and he’s the one who suggested we take a class.  The man I love wants me to always know “he’s got me” even if he can’t do everything that he thinks he’s supposed to do, which includes dancing “like the other guys.”  I ran right into wondering how much we will dance and knowing that this man will do whatever it takes.  I ran right into space that was enough for me, for him and for all that we are and will become.

The instructor said that many couples come to her to save their marriage.  We are going to her to inspire ours. I am going to her to find a space where I can see myself clearly and love the woman I am becoming.  So dear brides, pay attention to this journey.  Pay attention to every moment.  Even if you are angry or scared, pay attention don’t be afraid to run into any wall that presents itself to you.  All of these things are like preventative medicine.  For us, it’s like going to the doctor before you are sick, so you don’t have to go later.  Why not do preventative wedding planning?  Don’t be afraid to run into walls or spaces.  Usually, you are running into yourself, and if you pay attention and listen to yourself, there will be so much to learn there.   So, I’ve got my dancing shoes off until next Monday, but  I absolutely look forward to the next dance!

Keep an eye out for Part 2.  I will be interviewing our dance instructor!



10 Most Important Things To Think About After He Pops the Question

Dear Thriving Bride,

It is 39 days before my wedding, and I want to share some things for your to think about after you say “yes.”  These are things that I’ve learned along the way, and I hope you find something useful to apply to your special day.  So, he popped the question, you said yes and now you are ready to call up the wedding planner of your dreams, book the venue and start going.  Slow down, take a deep breath, and check out a few of these things that I think you should think about before you get going.

1. Who do you want to share your big news with and how?  I chose to call a few close friends and tell them.  It was really great because we got to chat on the phone, and for me that was really special.  We also posted it on Facebook for our friends who we could not call.  It was really fun to see all the congratulations.  It is about the two of us, but it is also about our community as well.

2. Do you want to spend some time away to celebrate this wonderful beginning of the rest of your lives? Maybe a small getaway out of town is the way to go.

3. What kind of bride do you want to be?  This is a very important question.  Now is a good time to sit down and discuss the traditions that are important to the both of you, and to also look at ways to enjoy yourself and limit your stress level.

4. How soon do you want to get married? I’ve always been the kind of person who did not want to wait too long after getting engaged before my wedding.  I know that sometimes extenuating circumstances or your individual choice can dictate what you choose to do, but it’s a good  time to talk about it.  If you don’t want to be engaged for 2 years, now is the time to speak up.

5. What’s your story?  People will ask once you are engaged and in all honesty you will want to know it and share it with others.  You might be thinking: We are getting married, so of course we know our story!  Well, you probably do but this is a time to think about how you want to tell it  and to remember just how you got to this very moment.

6.  Rallying the Community Support! This may be blood family or family by experience, but whoever these people are, you will need them and they will need you.  Start having conversations with friends and family about the type of wedding you want to have and be open to receiving the love and support you need and deserve.

7. Why do you want to get married? He obviously gave you the ring, so there is the desire to get married.  But what if you asked yourself “why?”  I suggest this because I always knew I did not want to get married for the following reasons: fear of becoming old and lonely, wanting children with the wrong partner, wanting to escape something within myself that I needed to deal with.  I wanted to get married because I always knew that I had so much love to give to someone who was capable of receiving it, and that if I did not have this opportunity I would not fully use my potential in the world.  This may seem long and thought out, but I did think about it.

8. Now you know why, what about how?  I am asking you to think about this because not every couple that gets engaged actually gets married.  Now is the time to really look at what you both want.  Do you want to elope?  Do you want a small ceremony? Do you want a destination wedding?

9. Remember that the wedding is a small part of this life that you have nourished and will continue to nourish. Let it be significant, but not so life altering that your partner (or you) don’t show up at the altar!

10.  Have fun!  Remember that this is about discovering more about this person you have chosen to travel with in this life.  Enjoy them and who they are and look forward to who they show you they are as well.  Be open to the surprise!



Redefining Your Wedding: A Different Kind of Party

Dear Thriving Bride,

It is 40 days before my wedding, and all I can say is thank you for taking this journey with me.  As I am writing this PJ says “Holy crap, we are getting close to a month.” Yes, holy crap!  I am inspired by the many women in my life who are sharing their wedding stories with me for the first time.  I have known some of them for some time now, but for some reason we never spoke about their wedding day and how they went about planning it.  Some people had to choose to have their parents there or not, one woman couldn’t believe how nuts she went in order to plan the perfect wedding for her daughter and another woman had three different weddings: one for one set of parents, one for the other set of parents, and one for themselves.

Her story is important mostly because it helps me show you some options for what to do when the ones you love have very different ideas of what the day should look like.  Remember, there is always possibility to have the day be a pleasant one for all involved as long as you remain open to what can happen when you get creative.

I had lunch today with a friend of mine from San Francisco, and she told me her story.  Basically, her husband’s parents were very social and enjoyed entertaining and dreamed of a wedding with 150 people.  On the other hand, her immigrant father was more intent on showcasing his Russian immigrant roots by serving Russian food. You see, there were two clans of “traditional” people here.  Her husband’s parents were more in line with American traditions of how a wedding “should” be and her dad was part of the “old world traditional” ideas that stems from the desire to embrace the new country without forgetting the old country.

Note: She told me that her father had not served Russian food when she was growing up, but that now he wanted to. 

Warning to Brides: Don’t freak out when your loved one seems to be someone you don’t recognize.  They are still the same person, but they have never been in the kind of situation like this that forces them to think about what is most important to them, how they want to present that on behalf of their child and/or friend and “what everyone else might think” if they do or don’t do that specific tradition.

So, I love what they chose to do.  I think it’s pretty brilliant.  They understood who their parents were.  So, they had three “weddings.”  Well, it was more like one wedding and two receptions, but it went something like this:

The first ceremony and reception was  for themselves, their immediate family and their friends.

On another day, his parents had their version of a wedding reception according to the traditions that were important to them.  It included the 150 people that would have been invited to the original wedding if the bride and groom didn’t see the red flags early enough.  Thankfully, they did!

On another day, her parents had a smaller and quieter reception at their home.  Her parents  had the opportunity to. respect their wishes as well.

So, Dear Bride.  Nothing about this process has to be either/or.  Either you invite all the people you don’t want but your parents want or you just invite your friends.  Either you have a sit down dinner or a potluck in a friend’s home.  Either you have a day filled with your vision or you relent and give up to avoid the stress and regret that choice when you look around and none of your friends are there to represent you on your special day.

What if you adopt a vision of your day that includes the word “and.”  What if you can get married at a church and a local park?  What if you can have a sit down dinner and a taco truck?  What if?  What if ? What if?  I just like thinking about this because the possibilities are endless.  You just have to know that!

Stay tuned for more ideas for paying respects to your family traditions without sacrificing your own!


Two Kinds of Love

for WCC

Dear Thriving Bride,

I am getting married in 42 days, and I have to get this down on paper before I forget exactly what I wanted to say to you.  This post is inspired by a recent conversation I had with a friend.  We spent time talking over tea,  and  I am so thankful for the conversation I had with her.  As we sat in my living room and talked about our weddings (mine is upcoming and hers happened two years ago), she shared things with me that let me know that she was also a “different kind of bride” based on challenging circumstances as well.  We talked about our families, their abilities (or inabilities) to show up, if we were sad or relieved that they could not/chose not to come to our weddings, other people’s reactions to our “different kind of bride” status and the general things that people don’t talk about after a woman says yes to the “bling.”

So, let’s get it out there and into the open and let’s tell the truth about ourselves. This is what I talked about with my girlfriend and we spoke about how “excited” a bride to be is supposed to be according to cultural norms.  We spoke about the fact  that people  don’t often talk about the heart wrenching and often heart breaking stories that we as women about to build new families with people we have chosen to love is complicated by the difficulty and trauma brought into our lives by people we did not choose.  Now, that’s a mouthful! I know!

So, what’s on your mind that you want to talk about.  My advice for you today is to just get it out there.  If the man you love chose you and you chose him, then hopefully he knows your history and can be there with you when you get giddy about your dress, and also when you are crumpled up and bowled over crying in his arms because maybe your mother not only is not coming, but decided to remind you that your arms never looked good in a sleeveless dress.  I know this is painful stuff, but it happens.

From my perspective, there are two ways in which we love the people in our lives.  There are people we love from a place of grace,  and there are people we love from a place of space (the space we  have for them inside of ourselves).  These two ways of loving are definitely not the same thing.  I will always love my parents from that place of grace:  that place that makes compassion, forgiveness and openness possible in the face of so many disappointments with the people who were supposed to look after you and care for you the most.

Then there is that love that comes from that place of space: That place that allows you to have the space and capacity inside yourself to give to someone and to want to keep giving to them each and every day.  This is the how I love PJ. And most of all, it is that space inside you that makes you want to give the “truth” of yourself as well.  There is a quote from Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner that I absolutely hold close to me and try not to forget.  He says: “You can only truly love something that you allow to reveal itself to you.”  So, when you love from a place of having the space inside you to put aside the fear, the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the disappointments of everyone who you trusted and allow yourself to reveal yourself to another person for the sake of intimacy, this is the love you have found and that you are about the embark on and carry for the rest of your life.

Give yourself credit Dear Bride.  How wonderful is it that you have found the space inside you to be capable enough to have this kind of love in your life and to give it to someone else? This is what you are about to celebrate.  And guess what?  No one (not even your condescending mother or your mean mouthed father) can take that away.  So, when you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions and you want to go to that place of self doubt and fear, find a quiet place to sit and see if you can find that space inside you where your love wells up.  And if you cannot find it, see if there is something you are hiding  from your fiance out of fear that if he knew this truth he would not marry you.  And if there is something there, tell the truth about it and let him see you. 

Note: I am not advocating that you say things that you are not ready to share, but I am saying that we all know when we are hiding ourselves out of fear of rejection and disappointment.  In the end, it is up to you what you choose to share.  This is just my opinion.

You are so capable Dear Bride.  I just need you to trust yourself.

Getting Creative while Creating your Wedding Budget

Dear Thriving Bride,

It is 44 days before my wedding and I seem to be finding everyday inspirations for this blog.  Today I want to talk about your wedding budget.  I know it is a hard pill to swallow, especially if you are absolutely convinced that your budget is directly tied to manifesting the essence of your wedding.  I’m here to tell you that it’s just not true!

I absolutely love recycling, and I definitely love FreeCycling.  If you don’t know the Freecycle site,  and you are intent on throwing a bad ass wedding without stressing,  you should check it out immediately.  Today I was browsing my local site and searching for the word “wedding.”  After all, it serves the community by allowing individuals to post items that they either want to give away or receive.  No money is involved!  As I searched, I thought of my friend JG.  We’ve talked about the challenges of wedding planning, especially when it comes to the budget, but I was amazed to find a wedding photographer who wants to gift her skills for free in order to build her portfolio.  Now, ain’t that something!

So, first things first.  Did your read my  Top 10 Tips for Having a Low Stress Wedding Planning Process?  If you didn’t, you should!  But you can proceed with this information and catch up with that post later.  Basically, one of my tips was encouraging couples to make a wedding budget.  While this is very important, the most important thing you need to do is to decide what is important for you to have as the essence of your wedding first and foremost, and then you can start crunching numbers.

Let me explain a bit further.  When I was shopping for my wedding gown, I focused on how I wanted to feel while wearing the dress.  Of course every woman wants to feel beautiful, but I’m talking about something else here.  I knew that I wanted a dress made of natural materials that was also strapless and ivory colored instead of the traditional white wedding dress.  I also knew that I wanted the dress to be in line with  the essence of my wedding: simplicity and elegance.  So, this is what I thought about and took notes about first.

Then, I went dress shopping.  My guide was not the name of a particular store or the price tag on a dress.  My guide came from the notes that I had scribbled down about how I wanted to feel while wearing that dress.

Now you’ve taken those notes, what if you make a budget and decide you can spend 300 dollars on a dress?  Yes, I know some people may cringe here because most modern day wedding dresses range in price from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.  Again, remember that this is not about comparing yourself to your friends and how much their dresses cost.  It’s about what you want!

So, here are a few things to think about after you make your list:
1. Can you use the internet as a resource?  Who says you have to go to a formal bridal shop?  Okay, maybe your mother says so but THIS IS YOUR WEDDING AND YOU HAVE AGENCY!
2. Can you buy a used or vintage dress? Why not look to sites like Ebay, or Recycled Bride for inspiration.  They both have some pretty amazing options and you never know what you will find!
3. Are you open and/or willing to receive your dress as a gift from someone else.  Maybe your girlfriend has hers in the closet and doesn’t know what to do with it after wearing it once and dry cleaning it.  I understand the sentiment behind saving it, but there are tons of women out there who want to pass their dresses on.  You may be able to find a dress on FreeCycle as well.

So, the point is to make your list of what you want your day to feel like, then to think about what that would look like and then you can put together a budget.  Unless you do that, you may end up basing your budget on other people’s ideas of what a wedding should cost.  And who wants to do that?

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