guest post: weddings and marriage!

May 10, 2011


Well, I’m off on my honeymoon! I’m so thankful we had a couple days between the wedding and honeymoon to pack and get all our travel documents in order. Also, I was able to line up some amazing guest posters for you while I’m gone! I love all these girls so much and they inspire me in so many ways. I know you’ll love them too!  Have a great couple weeks everyone!! Can’t wait to share all the photos and stories when we get back from Italy. Maybe I’ll pull an Audrey Hepburn and cut off all my hair in Rome, like Ann did in Roman Holiday. hmm maybe! xox mara

Hello everyone!  I’m so honored to be a guest contributor here on Mara’s blog.  We have become fast friends over the past couple of months and I want to take this opportunity to send a HUGE public congratulations to her and Matthew as they begin their lives together as husband & wife.  🙂
I am a wedding planner, designer, and coordinator here in southern California (my company is called Love and Splendor) and have had this dream job for over 5 years.  I wasn’t one of those girls who grew up dreaming of becoming a wedding planner — I didn’t even think about my own wedding until I was engaged.  🙂  That said, I am now daily immersed in the extraordinary plans of dozens of couples at a time, and have seen nearly 150 gorgeous weddings come to fruition.  Another role I’ve had for over 5 years: I’m a wife!  I’ve been married for almost 6 years to my sweetie, Erik.  Living life alongside my best friend is something I cherish every single day.  I can honestly say that our love has never been stronger.

photos from a wedding I did last year with the lovely Elizabeth Messina

As I pondered what I might share with you all in my guest blog, I thought I’d put together a combo-post based on two things Mara has had on her mind lately: weddings and marriage!  Consider this a two-for-one deal.  😉 Here are my top 5 tips for wedding planning, and then my top 10 tips for a blissful marriage.
stunning tablescape at a Napa wedding I did in 2008 with Jose Villa

{ Angel’s Top 5 Tips For Planning Your Wedding }

  1. Set a “budget ceiling” before you book ANYTHING.  It is so important to lay out the maximum amount of money you’d feel comfortable spending on your wedding… even if money is no object for you.  (LOL wouldn’t that be nice??)  Setting a firm budget from the get-go will help you prevent unnecessary heartache later (i.e. contacting vendors who would blow your budget out of the stratosphere, or booking a venue that leaves no funds for things like food and rentals!).
  2. Hire wedding vendors who make you *excited* about your wedding.  Your vendors shouldn’t just be people you trust to be competent (because any number of people are going to be able to complete a list of tasks for you), but should also be people who inspire you about your wedding.  Their passion and enthusiasm will be contagious, and the result will be more creative ideas for your wedding, not to mention a joyful planning experience.  Conversely, lazy, lackluster vendors are going to stress you out more (which defeats the purpose of hiring them in the first place!).  Once you assemble your team of experts, trust & allow them to do what they do best.
  3. Identify your “must-haves” early in the planning process.  I often ask my clients to break down their “must haves” for me.  Some clients must have a showstopping wedding cake — a five-tiered confection that is worthy of a feature on TLC’s “Fabulous Cakes.”  Others would rather save on the cake, and splurge on a pair of $800 red-soled Louboutins.  When you figure out what matters most to you in advance, you can brainstorm how to redistribute your funds to make the “must-haves” possible.
  4. Make your wedding vision uniquely yours.  When I work with a client, I always try to coax out their personal style through in-depth questionnaires and conversations.  I want every interaction I have with them to teach me something about them as a couple.  My goal is to then infuse their celebration with the personal details that will translate to their guests that their wedding is one-of-a-kind and totally “them.”  When perusing stunning blogs and magazines, don’t think about how you can replicate something.  Dissect what it is that appeals to you in each photo, and then interpret it in your own way.  😉  This is where an excellent vendor team can help in taking your vision to the next level.
  5. Retain focus on what matters most: your relationship with your sweetie.  Don’t allow the logistics and details to come between you and your love.  The engagement is such an exciting time, because you are anticipating the start of a new chapter in life.  Once wedding planning is underway, however, it is easy to become distracted and overwhelmed by the to-do’s.  Make it a priority to carve out special time on a weekly basis to take a break from wedding planning and just enjoy being together.  Go on a date, read books together, shop for decorations for your new home, discuss short and long-term family and personal goals…  This will set you up for a healthy pattern after you’re married. Once your wedding day is over, you have the rest of your lives ahead of you.  Marriage, not an 8-hour wedding, is the ultimate result of your engagement.  🙂
a cake almost too gorgeous to eat — by my friends at Sweet and Saucy, from a wedding we did last year that *was* on TLC’s “Fabulous Cakes.”

And once you’ve said I do…
me and my sweetie, captured by Amelia Lyon in 2008.

{ Top 5 Priorities For a Blissful Marriage }

  1. Keep the courtship alive!  Never stop “dating” your sweetheart.  Erik and I still spend at least one night a week on a date.  It can be as simple as dinner and a movie at home.  It’s not about spending a lot of money, but demonstrating your prioritization of the relationship and commitment to its growth.  We also still take the time to write each other notes and letters, text each other throughout the day, and go out of way to surprise one another on special occasions.  🙂
  2. Give & take. Marriage is a balance of give & take.  Some things are worth fighting for… while others are definitely not.  Erik and I always try to “give in” to each other as much as possible.  I want to put his needs/preferences before my own as much as I can.  If you’ve selected your mate wisely, you know he/she won’t abuse that generosity.  In fact, you will find that you both are constantly trying to “out-give” one another, which is a beautiful ‘problem’ to have.
  3. Nurture common interests.  If you have any loves in common (and I imagine you do!), share them together.  It will help you grow closer to one another, and will serve as a special bond between the two of you.  Erik and I love doing the following things together: traveling, mini-golfing, reading our Bibles in bed in the a.m., watching movies, playing German board games.
  4. Maintain personal ones, too.  Keeping up with your own hobbies and interests will give you a great outlet for personal refreshment and revitalization.  For us, Erik has his mountain biking and video games, and I have my blog-reading and wedding planning!
  5. Remember no one is perfect…  Every couple is going to have their hiccups here and there.  Seek to be as loving, gracious and forgiving as possible with your partner.  You will be grateful when they return the same love, grace and forgiveness to you, too.  😉  Be patient, bite back your tongue once in a while… and love fiercely.  🙂
us in 2009, shot by the incredible Jessica Claire (whose wedding I also planned!)
I hope there was at least one helpful tip somewhere in there for all of you.  😉  Mara — thank you for letting me share here!  Lots of love to you on your honeymoon.  I cannot wait for our catch-up sesh when you return!!

xoxo, Angel
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