While I have remained active on my Girl With a Diamond Ring (GWDR) social media accounts, it has been a very long time since I’ve blogged on here. Earlier this year, I began supporting the social media for a company called Joy Photo and Video on their social channels and blog articles. My role with the Joy team has recently expanded, to now include their sister company, Joy Weddings and Events. I am so proud of the work that the Joy team is doing and have been thrilled to be a part of it.
Because of the expansion of my freelance work, in addition to my full time job in another industry (which I also love), I’ll be taking a break from Girl with a Diamond Ring. I know that I will come back one day because this has been such a meaningful passion project for the last few years.
Feel free to reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, but know that I won’t be actively posting. To hear from me through the work that I am doing with the Joy team, check out:
I have gotten out of my blogging habits here on GWADR as I’ve been busy supporting the launch and creation of blog content for the company Joy Photo and Video, an awesome wedding photography and videography company that provides services in Texas and Florida. Catch up on my blogs here and check back weekly. I will get back in the swing of things on here with my personal wedding blog as it brings me a lot of happiness. Thanks for your patience!
As we acknowledge Mother’s Day around the world, I wanted to share my thoughts on the role a mother plays throughout the wedding planning process, along with a few tips for after the wedding.
For The Bride
Recognize that the wedding planning process will shine the spotlight on both your strengths and weaknesses. It will likely also magnify the differences that you have with those closest to you. If you’re the bride who is planning her big day and your mom is involved in this process, it’s important to communicate what matters most to you. Your future mother-in-law will also probably be trying to find the role that she will play so make sure that she feels welcome and heard. With both of them, aim to set clear boundaries and focus more the things that you agree on than those that you disagree on. Have these discussions when you are calm and not in a chaotic frenzy—you should be able to be clear and focused so that emotions aren’t unnecessarily heightened.
What most brides miss out on is taking this time during wedding planning to have deeper dialogue with their parents (if they are able) about the things they learned amidst their love story and all that they would have done differently. These discussions will give you the opportunity to see your mom as a wife more clearly and that may help you both learn and see one another in a new light.
After you recuperate from the wedding and all that went into making it a reality, take your mom to get a meal or a manicure and swap stories about your big day. If there was anything tense that occurred between the two of you during the planning process then this will help you reconnect, smooth things over, and allow you to hit the reset button for the new chapter of your life. Show her your appreciation and find new ways for you and your spouse include her in the redefined version of your family. Do the same with your future mother-in-law to set new and healthy foundations for your future together as a new family.
For The Groom
Your mom likely has a special place in your heart, as does your future spouse. There may be points in the planning process where you have to balance both your mother, her mother, as well as your spouses’ needs. Be intentional about spending time with each of these women to keep your relationships strong. But make sure you stand up for your wife-to-be when the situation may call for it. Work with her privately to define what boundaries may need to look like and then help her draw these lines.
If there are unbalanced powers and drama between the women in your life during this season, you may find that deep wounds begin which are hard to come back from. Do what you can to prevent these hurts and play an active role in healing—because this season will set the standard for a long future together. Don’t just get in the backseat and ignore what’s going on during the planning process; your leadership role in connecting these relationships is critical. And then on the wedding day, take some time to be alone with your mom if you have the chance to. Share your gratitude with her and show her the honor that she deserves. Do the same for your future mother-in-law, too. This will go a long way for your relationship.
For The Mother Of The Bride Or Groom
Remember that you aren’t losing a child; you’re simply getting a new one who will be added to your family. You will need to pay close attention to the moments where you will need to step back and those where you will need to step forward. Pick up on the subtle cues from your child and their future spouse and be open to having transparent discussion about what each of you are experiencing emotionally during this time. Recognize that dynamics will change during the planning process and after the wedding day; they have to.
Change does not mean it will be negative. However, it will take some time for the dust to settle after the wedding. Make sure to allow the new couple to settle in and find their routine and traditions before you find your place in the new normal. You will find it and it will be special, but it’s important to be patient in defining your new role. There was probably a lot of stress that led up to the big day (and maybe even some drama within the family) so allow them space to adjust—and don’t take this personal. You’re entering a new season of your family with new family dynamics so do what you can to be thoughtful, supportive and understanding. Your child and their new spouse will appreciate this more than you know.
Moms play such a special role in our lives. I hope these tips helped.
A shout out to my mom, the most courageous and amazing woman that I know. She was everything I needed during my wedding planning process, on the wedding day, and beyond. One of my best memories from my wedding day: seeing my parents on the dance floor together with the biggest smiles on their faces while relishing in all that their love story created. I love you, Mom, and I’ll step in to be dance partner at any wedding we attend in the future (because I know that’s what Dad would have wanted. You know that he taught me all of the moves I know…)
There are so many decisions to make when you’re planning a wedding. If it’s a life event that you’ve always dreamed of or held in high regard, it can also feel like there’s a lot of pressure on you to make the ‘right’ decision. (Newsflash: there isn’t one right way to plan a wedding.)
Here are the five things that I wish someone told me during the wedding planning process, because I know it would have saved me some heartache!
Don’t add items to your wedding registry that you will never use. It’s incredibly helpful to get engagement and wedding gifts based on the kindness of your loved ones. A registry is very smart because it can help give people ideas of what you actually want and will use. While you’ll register for the basics, you may feel pressured to add items to your list that you ‘feel’ you should have. Don’t add an expensive hand mixer if you know you’ll never take up baking. Or if you don’t drink wine very often, don’t get a fancy aerator. While it’s nice to splurge on things that you can use for special occasions, it will make more sense to double up on the things you’ll need and use (like an extra set of silverware.)
You don’t have to choose any details based on an image you used to have in your mind. It’s likely that you have a wedding vision made up in your mind that you may feel the need to execute on. Just remember that the wedding you once envisioned likely didn’t take personal preference (for you or your spouse), changing personalities, season, family changes or even budget in mind. It’s ok to alter your decisions (from the goal wedding dress to the wedding theme) so that the final outcome looks different from what you had in mind. The end result will be special and meaningful, no matter how much it strays from what you initially had in mind.
If you’re second guessing having someone in your wedding party, trust your gut. Choosing who will be a bridesmaid or groomsmen is a decision that you should consider thoughtfully. These individuals will not only be cornerstones to your wedding events but they will be in the photos that you keep for a lifetime. If there’s a childhood friend that’s all-drama, a cousin who you barely speak to, or an individual who you don’t see in your life for the long-haul because they don’t support your relationship, then don’t ask them to be in the wedding party. You won’t regret having a smaller Team Bride or Team Groom if it’s filled with genuine people who are lifelong friends. If it’s important to still find a way to honor this person, give them a different job like saying grace over the reception meal.
It’s ok to have an unplugged wedding. One of the reasons that some couples say they would not have an unplugged wedding is because they want their guests to feel comfortable and don’t want to ‘tell them what to do.’ Here’s the thing. An unplugged wedding (where guests are politely told not to have their phones or cameras out, for at least the ceremony) will actually lead to better memories. Guests will be more present and the videographer/photographer who you’re paying good money for will get much better results. There’s nothing worse than an auntie with her iPad behind the scenes of your wedding photos. You aren’t asking too much of your guests and if they actually have an emergency or real reason that they can’t unplug, then they will still tend to what’s needed.
Don’t get so caught up in planning that you neglect your relationship. So often couples end up fighting over the smallest to biggest wedding related decisions. Instead of being a season in your courtship where you’re brought together, you can end up at the aisle on shaky ground. Take the time you need to continue dating your spouse to be. Don’t make everything about your upcoming nuptials. And start paving the way for your future marriage. At the end of the day it isn’t about a color swatch or a playlist but about the promise of forever.
This weekend marked a day that the courts in my state recognized my marriage as ‘dissolved.’ As of last March, my then-husband and I have been going through a divorce. We had a beautiful decade-long relationship and five of those were in marriage.
During my time of separation, I’ve continued sharing marriage-related content because I still have the experience. I still have a passion and genuine desire to encourage and support those who are going through wedding planning and beyond. And I know that when the dust settles, I will be able to look back on my wedding day as one of the top 5 days of my life—so I’ll share these memories and pieces of advice with my readers. The end of my love story doesn’t take away from the beginning of it and I am still grateful for the chance to go through a marriage experience because I have learned so much.
Even though this chapter in my life is finished, I still believe in love. And I believe in lifelong fairytales. But while in a season of reflection, I have been thinking a lot about what could have gone differently. So I wanted to share tips that I think will be relevant regardless of where you’re at on your relationship journey. These are the things that I either tried to do or wished that I did to protect my marriage.
Remember that the vows you made are active, living and breathing commitments made to the other person. Take this seriously. Look back on the words of your vows, display them in your home or watch your wedding video together to be reminded of the promises made.
Recognize that there is so much that changes once you were married, outside of a dating situation. Even though you will jump right into the day-to-day, you have to find ways to keep things light, romantic and sweet. What did you both love about the season when you were dating? Try and carry some of those things through. Then come up with new ideas to keep things fun and creative. It’s never too late to reinvent your relationship.
Realize that ‘the small things are the big things’. Notice that they got their haircut. Ask how the meeting when at work. Complement the new outfit. Show up with their favorite meal. Aim to do something at least once a week spoken in their love language.
Find something that you can share at a meaningful level. There’s so much that is surface in life and you need some thing you believe in together that you can embed into your rituals. If you are faith-based, this could be a nightly prayer or joining a Bible study group. It could also be daily habits like coffee on the porch together or a meditation or exercise routine, no matter what is going on. These activities are important for your foundation and helping to keep you connected.
Have continued dialogue, even when it’s not what you want to hear. Speak up about what you need. Ask them how you can support them and seek honest feedback. Get to know them, especially if who they are has changed over time.
When you speak, make sure to also listen to one another. No matter how much chaos is around you, stay alert and pay attention to what they’re saying (and what they are not saying.) And when you are sitting together in silence, don’t pick up your phone or magazine or lean on other daily routines to distract you. Sit in these moments and cherish them.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re individuals who bring your whole selves to a relationship. If you need to work on yourself through self care, counseling to deal with past hurts, or by joining a support group, then do it. You have to bring your best self to your relationship (but know that this will take effort).
Work at making your relationship a priority and ask for help when you need it. You can rely on resources like friends with more marital experience, a counselor, podcast, book or seminar. (It’s likely that one person in the relationship will not be as willing. Do what you can with self-study and change your own behavior. Share your findings but then make it clear that it’s important to you…sometimes you just need to take the time and find the medium that works for both of you.’)
Don’t take your relationship for granted. Enjoy the laughs at the inside jokes, having someone to go to a Christmas party with and knowing you have a built-in travel companion. If you appreciate these moments, then say it out loud and let them know. (Don’t assume they know how you feel.)
I recently asked my Instagram community for blog topic requests and received this one from COVID-bride and friend, Kristin! She wanted to hear about wedding songs so here are my playlist tips. (If there are any tasks to try and tackle for your 2021 wedding during a holiday season amidst a pandemic, this is a good one!)
Don’t get overwhelmed, start with a template. Open an excel document and create three columns titles on the top row: EVENT, SONG ARTIST, SONG TITLE. Event would be things like ‘ceremony’ or ‘first dance’ and the song details don’t have to be exact, but put down what you know (even if names are spelled wrong or titles are incomplete because you can clean it up later.) You don’t need to fill this all out yet, but it will be a good template to refer to. This will also allow you to filter and sort so that you can get a quick glance of any artists repeated too many times or missing items like the exit song at the ceremony.
If you’re working with a professional who will be taking care of your music, ask them what they need along with any due dates since there will be varying levels of support. If anything, they will need some guidance and requests for specific points of the wedding, like the first/family dance song requests. You could also give them directional genre guidance, like ‘No Country’, ‘Make it family friendly’, or ‘We love artists like _____________’ or ‘Like oldies that are upbeat.’
Put down the first songs that come to mind. Once you have your template crafted, just start typing. You and your fiancé likely have songs that are important to your relationship so fill those out first. Then think about songs that you both really enjoy. You know, the songs that you turn up the volume on when you’re in the car together or is connected to a special memory. To begin to add length to the playlist, start to think about weddings you’ve been with music vibes that you enjoyed and try to emulate that. While this is your day, do consider your guest preferences. To meet diverse needs, you will likely have things on your list that aren’t personal all-time favorites but that your guests will enjoy.
When you need inspiration, do some research. You will get stuck. Here are some ways to get inspired:
Scroll through your own music library as well as other playlists. Music platforms like Apple Music, Pandora or Spotify have a variety of playlists that have already been created. Type in things like Wedding Playlist or Party Vibes. These playlists will help point you in the right direction and make you think of songs that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Google and YouTube will be your friend, along with any of your go-to wedding planning sites (like Brides or The Knot) that you have bookmarked. When you search, try using specific search terms, like ‘Unique Acoustic Wedding Songs’ or ‘Modern First Dance Songs’ or even ‘Wedding Playlists That Aren’t Cheesy’.
Have you attended a wedding where you loved the music or are you close with a bride that just went through the planning process? Check with the couple to see if they have a copy of their playlist to give you some ideas. If you have a wedding planner or friend in the music/DJ industry, they may be able to help, too.
Don’t expect to finish it in one sitting and editing will be your friend. Keep it in mind as you hear songs on the radio or make new memories with your spouse. While this can be an intimidating exercise, music should be FUN. This is going to set the tone of the entire timeline of your event so spend some time settling in to making these decisions. When you have your playlist close to complete, play some of the songs on your list to make sure they still feel right.
If you have some extra time, don’t underestimate the joy that a ‘Morning of’ playlist will bring to you. Press PLAY when you’re getting ready with your girls and have music in the background that will put you in the right mood. You don’t have to be overly selective here, and this would be where a pre-made one on YouTube or Spotify would be suitable. Too much? Ask your MOH to be in charge of this task.
Remember that more is better. I got confused about how many should be on the list. While the number will vary based on length of your event, more is better and not all songs have to be ones that you absolutely love because there will be a lot going on that day. Most weddings have a solid 1 or 2 hours of ‘dance time’ but there will be moments where music can be played but won’t be the focal point (like when you greet your guests at each reception table). I used a DJ at a destination wedding so didn’t have to be overly prescriptive but still provided a list of 60 songs. Not all were played but many were. When our special song collections came on, they made me smile, and some of the wildcards selected by the DJ to match the energy were the best.
Lastly, if you’re able to, SAVE your wedding playlist document and then create a physical playlist on your music devices. You can play it once you’re married to remind you of your special day.
Kristin, I hope this helps! I am excited that you were able to have a micro-wedding to become a new Mrs. and know that you’re looking forward to your future wedding celebration.