Coffee Break

How to Choose His Wedding Gift

By guest blogger Natasha Burton

One of the most special enduring wedding day traditions is when the bride and groom exchange gifts. This is typically done pre-ceremony, separately, as a way for the couple to connect and feel loved amid the chaos of getting hair and make-up done and wrangling groomsmen.

But finding a special something for this moment—especially for a guy—is no easy task. (Grooms have it easy: They can just buy a little bling and their brides are sure to swoon!)

So, if you’re stumped trying to figure out what to gift the man of your dreams on your big day, here are some key questions to help those ideas flow.

1. Would he prefer a less pricey, heartfelt gift (like a love letter) or something a bit more fancy and tangible?

2. Are there any elements of his wedding attire that you haven’t purchased yet, which could make good gifts? (As in, cuff links, a monogrammed pocket square, or a nice watch?)

3. Have you considered doing a boudoir shoot? (Giving your man pin-up style photos of you the day of the wedding is a popular trend right now.)

Budior Shoot--photo courtesy of

Boudior Shoot–photo courtesy of

4. Does he have a favorite sport or sports player? (You could give him a signed baseball or something small that he would consider special to mark the day.)

5. Are you two all about coziness comfort? (Consider getting coordinating robes and slippers for each other that you can wear while getting ready—and beyond!)

6. Have you settled all of your honeymoon activities yet? (Perhaps a voucher for a fun excursion could be an exciting day-of surprise for him?)

7. Does your man like to be pampered? (Consider an experiential gift, like an in-room massage at his hotel or a stylist to come give him a haircut and shave before the ceremony.)

8. Does your groom have a quirky sense of humor? (Give him funny “groom” boxers to wear or special socks for keeping his “cold feet” warm.)

9. Is your groom getting ready with his boys? (Make it a party by gifting him a nice bottle of whiskey or a beer tower for them to all enjoy…responsibly, of course.)

beer cake

10. Have you considered engraving something he already has? (Surprise him with a sweet message inside his wedding band or on the back of his favorite watch.)

Robbins Brothers Wedding Band with Inscription

Robbins Brothers Wedding Band with Inscription

Natasha Burton is an author, freelance writer and editor.
101 Quizzes for Couples

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8 Ways to Keep the Romance Alive During Wedding Planning


By guest blogger Natasha Burton

As any engaged couple will tell you, wedding planning is stressful. (Those who say otherwise, well…I’ve never met any.) Not only are you putting together the largest event you’ve likely ever thrown, but you’ve got two families and tons of friends to cater to, meaning that there’s a litany of relationships and emotions thrown into the planning mix.

So, it’s not unusual for romance to take a backseat to your wedding-related to-do lists and anxieties. However, you don’t have to wait until the honeymoon to take a deep breath and rekindle the passion that made you want to get married in the first place. The following eight tips will have you buzzing with love again in no time.

1. Don’t Replace Date Night with Wedding Planning Night
Carving out a time every week to romantically connect can be difficult for any couple, but wedding planning makes this ritual even more elusive. You may start setting aside time each week for wedding planning, eventually replacing your regular date nights with discussions on venues, flowers, what have you—but resist this at all costs. Keeping romance alive requires spending some time and energy being romantic. And while planning does have fun aspects, there is nothing romantic about balancing your wedding budget in an Excel spreadsheet, even if you’re both finance geeks.

2. Make Date Night a No-Wedding-Talk Time
When you do go out to revive the romance, fight the urge to fall into wedding planning chitchat. Yes, you may be stressed about the fact that your wedding coordinator still hasn’t answered your last email but try not to let that dominate your night. A few hours of relaxing and really enjoying each other’s company will make you realize that, whether she gets back to you or not, you’re really, really excited to get married and spend your lives together. And that’s what’s important.

3. Delegate Some Wedding To-Dos
If you’re feeling so overwhelmed that, between work and your other obligations, you just can’t find time to spend non-wedding planning time together, enlist support. Whether that looks like hiring a wedding planner or asking your bridesmaids to take over a DIY task, asking for help will keep stress from overwhelming you—and your relationship.

4. Make Wedding Tasks Passionate
Some parts of wedding planning are decidedly unsexy—i.e. choosing pima cotton or polyester table linens—but there are many to-dos that can be fun, even romantic. Some caterers offer take-home tastings, so why not turn trying food into a picnic? Or, if you’re stressed out about your first dance, why not take a few dance lessons? Even flipping through old photos to create a slideshow for the reception is a chance to reconnect: As you go through the images, allow yourselves to reminisce about all the fun times you’ve had together.

5. Don’t Hit “Pause” on Your Relationship
Engagement can sometimes feel like a purgatorial zone between “in a relationship” and “married” in which the only purpose is to plan a big party. But when you let the wedding overtake this special step in your relationship, you’re not honoring the fact that this time is incredibly unique—you’re more committed than ever but you’re still unmarried. Use these months to continue learning about each other, especially the aspects of your partner you may not know everything about yet (particularly bigger topics like kids, careers, family rituals and such). Really mapping out your future together can be a very intimate experience and bring you even closer together.

6. Try a New Activity
According to a study about what keeps couples happy in the long term, going on regular date nights alone won’t keep love alive. The key is continuing to try different types of activities and hobbies together, which will fuel your curiosity as well as strengthen your bond and your passion for each other. So, check out that spoken word event or try paddle boarding or take that tapas cooking class together now, don’t push fun new experiences back until “after the wedding.”

7. Make Honeymoon Planning a Priority
Even if you’re not taking a honeymoon right after your wedding (or even until months later), it’s important to take some time to at least conceptualize or dream about where you might want to go. While wedding planning can be punctuated with worry, honeymoon planning is all about fun—there are no parents to please, no expectations to fulfill but your own, and no dreaded seating chart (except for choosing where you’ll sit on the airplane). Honeymoon planning can balance out wedding planning and get you both excited for the big day to come—because afterward, you’ll be on your way to the paradise of your choice.

8. Verbalize Your Love
Wedding planning creates lots of to-dos—and honey-dos—so make a commitment to devoting as much of your talk time to expressing devotion as you do to giving tasks. Yes, actions may speak louder than words but talk ain’t cheap when it comes to keeping passion alive. Telling your partner you love him or her in the midst of wedding planning chaos can go a long way toward keeping you both sane.

Natasha Burton is an author, freelance writer and editor.
101 Quizzes for Couples


5 Different Ways to Say Your Wedding Vows

Robbins Brothers San Diego Customers.

Robbins Brothers San Diego Customers.

By guest blogger Natasha Burton

One question engaged couples get asked again and again—besides, of course, “what are your colors?”—is whether or not you’ll write your own vows.

Vows are, obviously, a big deal. I’d argue that they’re actually the most important part of the wedding. And as weddings become more personalized and tailored to each couple’s characteristics and idiosyncrasies, writing your own vows is becoming more and more the norm as well.

But, there is more than one way to DIY your vows. (In full disclosure, this statement is coming from a writer who’s choosing to say traditional vows rather than write my own.) For some couples, saying what they feel deep in their hearts in front of a crowd of people (even if said crowd is a collection of lovely people you care about), can be daunting. For others, writing isn’t the ideal means to express themselves.

So, for all the couples out there who want to write their own vows… but don’t want to actually write their own vows (*raises hand*), here are some alternative ideas that are in a similar spirit.

1. Write Each Other Letters
Rather than say them during your ceremony, shyer or non-writerly couples may opt to jot down their feelings—what they would have said in their vows—and exchange these letters the night before the wedding to be read the day of pre-ceremony. My fiancé and I plan to do this and I think it will not only allow us to express our love (without the pressure or possible censorship of doing so publicly), but it will get us even more excited to marry each other, too.

2. Put It on Scraps of Paper
About a year ago, I saw a cute idea on Pinterest in which a wife collected things she loved about her husband on little pieces of paper and then presented them to him in a jar. I think this idea would work really well for engaged couples: A few months before the wedding, cut up an even number of paper scraps for both of you—25 is a reasonable number—and then spend the weeks before the wedding filling up a jar with them. Write down everything from reasons you’re excited to marry your partner to promises you want to make to him or her. Then, the night before the wedding (or a few days before if you’re sleeping apart), tip over the jar and take turns reading the pieces of paper aloud to each other. Kinda like saying vows before the vows, eh?

3. Sing a Song
If writing isn’t your thing—and stage fright isn’t either—do as Justin Timberlake and John Legend did and serenade your sweetheart either during the ceremony or at the reception. This heartfelt gesture would go a long way, especially if you are musically talented and could write a song just for your soon-to-be spouse. Just be sure that you have the right acoustics (you want to make sure everyone can hear you) and have practiced before the big moment.

4. Create a Piece of Art
Whether it’s a painting or a sculpture you can unveil and display, or a film for your guests to watch at the reception, a surprise work of art can express what your words may not be able to. Your beloved will be touched by the time and commitment you put into your project and your creation would be something you can both cherish for years to come.

Robbins Brothers San Diego Customers.

Robbins Brothers San Diego Customers.

5. Read Something Special
Surprise your partner with a reading that has a significant meaning to your relationship, like a poem, a passage from a book you love or even song lyrics that speak to your feelings. Even though the words themselves aren’t original, the depth of your emotions will be clear when you say the words.

Natasha Burton is an author, freelance writer and editor.
101 Quizzes for Couples


10 “Essentials” You Can Take Off Your Wedding Checklist

By guest blogger Natasha Burton

Visit any bridal website and you’ll likely find a link to its all-encompassing, all-knowing master wedding checklist—a collection of all the must-haves and to-dos you need to complete before you can get yourself down that aisle.

Of course, having a checklist is super handy—and necessary—for keeping you on task as you plan your Big Day. But the bulk of this list often feels obligatory and overwhelming… and it doesn’t need to. Every wedding, every bride, every groom is different. And just because a magazine or website tells you “this is how things are done,” or “this is what you should do,” that’s definitely not the case.

As a wise relationship expert, and friend of mine, Andrea Syrtash, writes in one of her books, “Don’t should all over yourself.” (Heh. Clever, eh?) This advice is easier said than done when you’re immersed in wedding planning. (I have less than three months to go before I say my vows, so I get the pressure brides-to-be can feel.) But in the spirit of separating the actual “musts” from the “eh, you’ll be fine without it,” I am giving you permission to take the following completely unnecessary items off that checklist. And perhaps you’ll be inspired to cross off a few more on your own.

1. Choose your wedding theme.
After you’re engaged, you’re going to get a lot of people asking you what your theme is and what your colors are. It’s an easy way to make conversation. But you don’t, by any means, need to pinpoint an actual theme—i.e. Rustic Chic or Classic Country or Mod Hipster—for your wedding. As the folks at A Practical Wedding say, the theme of your wedding can just be, well, marriage. Or what about fun?

2. Look through wedding magazine for “gown-piration.”
Trust me, I love a lazy afternoon spent leafing through Brides and Martha Stewart Weddings. But what I’ve come to realize is that wedding magazines are a lot like fashion magazines—the models donning those gowns are stick-thin (or perfectly shapely in the few plus size options) and seven feet tall. The dresses they model are in the thousands of dollars. If this inspires you, awesome. But these images don’t really make me feel anything but inadequate, bodily and financially.

Hayley Paige Designer Wedding Dress from Mon Amie Bridal Salon

Designer Hayley Paige Wedding Dress from Mon Amie Bridal Salon














3. Get a monthly manicure. (Because everyone’s going to ask to see THE RING!)
If you’re the type who already gets regular manis, you don’t need this item on your list anyway. And if you’re like me, and you ruin your nails approximately three-to-six seconds after they’re painted, and thus you rarely get professional manicures, then there is no point in getting them. You’re not going to magically change into some mani-prioritizing, no-polish smearing lady once there’s a diamond on one of your digits. (And, if you think about it, a super awesome manicure might even overshadow your bling…)

Same thing goes for checklist items reminding you to “get a tan,” “find a facialist,” and “buy your shapewear.” Yes, you may be prepping to becoming a Bride, but you’re still you. A wedding is a great excuse to finally go see the dermatologist and rein in your cuticles if you want it to be, but you don’t need to completely transform your beauty routine in order to become someone’s wife. (And do note that men don’t get the same beauty “suggestions” in the wedding checklist.)

4. Remind your fiancé to XYZ.
Yes, men can be forgetful—and less into wedding planning—but some of the most annoying tasks on these checklists are the ones that make it the bride’s job to wrangle everyone, including her fiancé. Supposedly, these lists are for couples to tackle together. If not, your man can make his own damn list. And if he forgets to buy his accessories and wears the wrong socks, who really cares?

5. Research travel for out of town guests
Unless you’re getting married in Siberia or Timbuktu, you can rest assured that your guests know how to use the Internet (or can call a travel agent) to figure out how to get to your wedding and where they need to stay. While it’s awesome to reserve hotel blocks for people, some cities (ahem, my own) don’t have a ton of available options unless you’re actually holding your wedding at that hotel. To again quote the bible of all wedding reason, A Practical Wedding, your wedding is not an inconvenience. It’s not up to you to find the cheapest or easiest hotel and air travel options for 100 friends and family members. People can use AAA,, Airbnb, Travelocity—the list goes on.

6. Create detailed shot list for your photographer.
Yes, you might want to let your photographer know that you need a picture with your great-great aunt Madga, who is practically a grandmother to you. But, other than giving her a list of who’s who and your must-have snaps, you don’t need to outline every photo you want her to take the entire eight hours for which you booked her. She knows to take a photo of you coming down the aisle. And that you may want a picture of you and your groom cutting the cake. At some point (or, hey, from the get-go), you need to just trust your vendors. They’re pros. That’s why you hired them.

7. Order programs.
The way I see it, if the people at your wedding can’t identify any of your bridesmaids, don’t know who your brother is, or can’t figure out why you’d be walking down the aisle with two men (your dad and your stepdad), then they don’t need to be at your wedding. A bold statement, I know. Some people really, really care about having programs, and if that’s you, great. But many people don’t and they worry that if they don’t have them, their guests will be confused. They’ll live. If you don’t think programs are dire, then they’re a waste of paper and, I’d argue, a big waste of time.

8. Plan post-wedding brunch
First came the engagement party. Then the shower. Then the bachelor/ettes. Then the welcome dinner followed by the wedding. And now you’re having another event?! Unless you’re hosting a destination wedding and feel obligated to feed your guests one more time, remove this one off the list. Or, do as one of my friends is and put Starbucks cards in your hotel welcome bags, to give guests breakfast on you without the obligation to get up early and dress nice the day after. Seriously, no one likes the morning after brunch. Except maybe the person who insists on throwing you one.

9. Buy gifts for each other.
Personally, I think this is unnecessary. Your guy has purchased you an engagement ring. You’ve purchased wedding bands for each other. You’ve likely put down some major cash for your honeymoon, and you may even be footing the bill for your wedding. And now you need to think of a thoughtful, pricey—but not too pricey—extra gift? If money is no object, by all means, have at it. But don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you or your relationship if you just can’t make this happen (or don’t want to). Write sweet notes for each other to read the morning of the wedding instead and save your shekels for meaningful one-year anniversary gifts.

10. Schedule caterer, if desired, for gift-opening party.
I saw this “to-do” on an Arizona-based bridal magazine checklist and, needless to say, I was shocked and appalled. I’m pretty sure you don’t “have” to, number one, have a gift-opening party (who would honestly want to attend an event that solely consists of watching someone else open presents?), and, number two, that it doesn’t need to be formally catered. Also, is a “gift-opening party” actually a thing? Because…scary.

Natasha Burton is an author, freelance writer and editor.
101 Quizzes for Couples