Wedding Etiquette

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


On Having Wedding Nightmares

wedding dreams2

By guest blogger Natasha Burton, 101 Quizzes for Couples

There are many annoying things that people don’t tell you about wedding planning. Like, how wedding coordinators may try to shame you out of using Pachelbel Canon in D because it’s too stereotypical. Or, how those free cake tastings you’ve been looking forward to aren’t actually free. Or even how your fiancé will tell you he has no opinion about anything only to suddenly become very opinionated indeed about the most random details.

Oh, and how planning a wedding will literally give you nightmares.

My fiancé and I have just hit our five-months-to-go mark after getting engaged over a year ago. And while I can recount a number of bad dreams from which I’ve awoken, terrified, that the wedding we’ve been planning turned out to be a complete disaster, I have yet to have a happy one about our impending nuptials. This worries me.

To give you a sense of what these dreams are about, here’s a brief list:

1. That my (in real life very sweet) future mother-in-law demands I wear a different wedding dress and I comply because I don’t want her to be mad at me.
2. That I forget to get my wedding dress tailored and thus, can’t wear it because it pools in yards of extra fabric at my feet.
3. That my fiancé and I spend our entire wedding looking for each other, unable to reunite.
4. That the wedding happened but I can’t remember any of it.

Sure, these aren’t nightmares in the traditional sense—I’m not dreaming of, say, a serial killer chopping up our wedding guests while they’re dining on tri-tip or anything like that. But, after looking forward to our wedding day pretty much since I started dating my fiancé (like a total weirdo), and after having over a year to plan the actual event, I feel deeply emotionally invested in the outcome of the day itself. Which, I imagine is pretty typical of brides-to-be.

It’s this investment that’s likely causing the nightmares, if dream research has anything to say about it: In the 1950s, psychology professor Calvin Hall found that we use dreams to explore what concerns us in our waking hours, albeit in a way that’s not always rooted in reality. More recently, sleep researcher Rosalind D. Cartwright theorized in her book, The Twenty-four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives, that dreams actually regulate our negative emotions, allowing us to process them and, hopefully, transcend our fears.

Plus, my gender is also to blame: According to a study by the University of Montreal, inter-personal conflicts and emotional drama is more common in women’s dreams. Meaning that I suppose I shouldn’t feel totally insane for having these bad dreams.

Another thing that makes me feel better is knowing that I’m not the only one. Before one of my best friends married her boyfriend of nearly a decade, she had a recurring nightmare in which her upper arms swelled to the size of watermelons. However, my college roommate, who’s getting married less than two months before I am, has been having a different kind of wedding-related nightmare, one that I can relate to all too well: The ex dreams.

Yes, I admit it, I’ve been dreaming about my ex. Typically, the scenario involves a wedding in which I’m marrying him, not my fiancé. Or I wake up, in the dream world, only to see that my ex is lying next to me. Or, I’m told that I need to choose between my current man and my former one, both of them standing before me.

I wake up from these dreams panicked, as you might imagine. But, rather than making me question my love for my fiancé—as dreaming about one’s ex can certainly do—these nightmares only reaffirm my appreciation and love for the man I’m about to marry. Because every time “dream Natasha” is forced to pick one or the other, she (I) always chooses my future husband. (Thank goodness, right?)

So, while I’m sure these wedding nightmares will continue (they’ve become more frequent the closer our date gets) I just need to remind myself that these latent fears are playing out because I really care about our wedding—these bad dreams are simply an inevitable part of the process. Just like my fiancé’s spontaneous feelings about signature cocktails.

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Can I Wear My Wedding Ring…Before My Wedding?

By guest blogger Natasha Burton


As of this week, I’ve been engaged for a year. And I still have a while to go — seven months and change until the big day arrives. To some people, this might seem like a ridiculously long engagement but, for me, having just less than 18 months to plan every detail has been a relief. At this point, I really just have to finalize the menu, go with my fiancé to get his suit, and, well, show up.

Yes, even with more than half a year to go, we already have our wedding bands. (Which the lovely David Lee at the Woodland Hills store helped us pick out, I must add!)

The rings are sitting in their snap-close boxes, in their Robbins Brothers’ boxes, in our shared closet on a shelf that holds the rest of my jewelry and sunglasses. I know these specifics not only because I’m slightly concerned about misplacing our rings with so much time before our wedding but also because I can’t stop thinking about them.

You guys, I am dying to wear my wedding ring.

I know, I know, I’m going to wear it for the rest of my life so what’s the rush, right? And I’m sure it’s some sort of bad luck to wear your wedding ring before the ceremony. But the thought of my delicate, pretty pave band confined to its dark box-within-a-box makes me want to rescue it from its lonesome existence and slide it right on my ring finger.

Plus, I’d love to be able to wear it just out of convenience: My solitaire engagement ring isn’t the best thing to wear to the gym or while making dinner. My more subtle wedding ring? Much better.

Once a day, I’ll take it out and try it on just to, you know, remind myself how it looks on my finger. I know that, once it’s on, it’s on forever. And maybe it’s because my fiancé and I have been engaged for what feels like a long time now, but I’m pretty ready for forever to start already.

Natasha Burton is a blogger for and the coauthor of “The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags.” Her most recent book is 101 Quizzes for Couples.

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Things You Should Never Do Right After a Friend’s Wedding


Over the past three years, I have attended nearly a dozen weddings for various friends. And while there is a ton of advice out there on engagement and wedding etiquette, there aren’t many guidelines on post-wedding Ps and Qs. So, I thought I would outline some, all based on my pals’ experiences. While most of these don’ts are common sense, you’d be surprised at how many times I’ve heard about — or actually seen — people committing these uncool no-nos.

1. Pop the question
A couple at a friend of a friend’s destination nuptials got engaged less than 12 hours after the wedding itself ended, just following the next-day brunch, at the very hotel the bride and groom and all of their friends were staying. Sure, they were technically on vacation too, and, technically, the festivities were over. But, when they mass-texted the news to all of their mutual friends, their engagement took attention away from the couple everyone was there to celebrate — who was still on the property basking in the post-wedding glow with their friends.

2. Post all of your photos
Some couples prefer to keep all of their wedding photos private, which is their prerogative no matter how much you want to share how cute you looked in your semi-formal dress that night. Before you post anything to Facebook and Instagram, be sure your doing so is cool with the bride and groom — especially when it comes to images of their ceremony, which tend to be more sacred to couples.

3. Pester about the Facebook relationship status
You may be excited for your friend to change her status from “Engaged” to “Married,” but there’s no need to write annoying comments on her wall about it.

4. Text your friend when she’s on her honeymoon
Every friendship is different, so it might be totally natural for you and your bestie to message each other while she’s on a deserted island with her new husband. But, for the most part, you should refrain from sending her texts when she’s on this once-in-a-lifetime vacation, especially if said texts are about your guy problems or work crises.

5. Ask for her decorations
So, your wedding is in a few months and you would LOVE to reuse a bride’s table numbers, wood vase risers, or votives on your big day. Awesome! She’d probably love to sell you them for cheap (or even just give them to you). But definitely give her some breathing room before asking for her goods — during the reception is not the right time to make these kinds of inquiries.

6. Inquire about personal decisions
Pestering a couple about their name change decisions (or lack thereof), baby plans, et al, is off limits for at least six months post-wedding. Let them enjoy being newlyweds without any kind of social pressure.

7. Joke about the divorce rate
I think we all know why this is not okay, right?

What else constitutes bad post-wedding behavior in your book?

Natasha Burton is a blogger for and the coauthor of “The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags.” Her most recent book is 101 Quizzes for Couples.

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