December 29, 2008

Platinum, Gold, and Silver - Oh My!

Have you been ring shopping lately? If so, then your head is probably spinning! Personally, once I get past the traditional gold settings, I'm lost. Platinum, white gold, silver, titanium, and tungsten - they all look the same to me. So what's the difference? And why should I fork out extra moolah just because the guy behind the counter says it's better?

Well, I did lots of research and here's the low-down on all these different metals.

First, have you ever heard a jeweler refer to a ring as having "noble metal"? As if that makes it more desirable? The term noble metals comes from back in the old days (and I'm talking really old days - as in ancient times) when only nobles could afford fine jewelry. Today, these fine metals are more affordable to the general public. So don't get fooled into forking over extra money just for a title. Noble metals include gold, silver, and platinum.


Traditional gold is the most popular choice for engagement and wedding rings. It comes in several different carats (ct or kt). Gold is a soft metal and needs to be mixed with other metals to make it stronger and more durable. Carat refers to the amount of gold which was mixed with these other metals. The higher the carat is, the more gold was used. Typically, engagement and wedding rings come in 9, 14, or 18 ct gold. Beware of 22 or 24 ct gold, as it's too soft to be worn every day without lots of dents and scratches.

When gold comes out of the ground, it's always yellow in color. By mixing other metals with the gold, jewelers have created many different shades to choose from such as white, rose, bronze, red, and lime gold.

White Gold

Next to the traditional yellow gold, white gold is the next most popular shade of gold.

White gold is created by adding alloys such as nickel, silver, or palladium to the yellow gold. This combination of metals also makes it harder and more rigid, allowing the gold to hold it's shape and finish better than platinum.

White gold also comes in carats, just like yellow gold. 18 and 14 ct are best.

The only downside to white gold is that because it's predominantly yellow gold, a slight yellow tint can be detected at times (see men's wedding band above). Some jewelers apply a thin layer of rhodium to create a whiter appearance (more about rhodium below).


Platinum and White Gold are very similar in appearance. In fact, most people can't tell the two apart. So what is the difference?

Platinum is a pure metal, which means it doesn't have as many metals mixed into it. Generally, it's 95% platinum, mixed with 5% other metals. While white gold may have a slight yellow tint, platinum has a grayish tint. To give it a more silver color, a thin layer of Rhodium is sometimes applied. Platinum is also much denser than white gold. It can weigh as much as 1 1/2 times more than 18k gold. That's one heavy ring! It not only weighs more, but it also costs more as well. If you compare two exact same rings, one in platinum and the other in 18ct gold, the platinum ring's price will be double the price.


So, what's the deal with this rhodium stuff? Basically, rhodium is a derivative of platinum and is white in color. It's used to plate white gold and platinum (ironically enough) to make them look whiter. If you purchase a ring that's been rhodium plated, be sure to ask about the jeweler's maintenance plan. It's suggested that rhodium be reapplied every 12-18 months.

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver is a white-gray colored metal that is less expensive than gold, platinum or titanium. It's also softer than them, too. Silver is best for jewelry that isn't worn every day, which is why it generally isn't used for engagement or wedding rings anymore. If you truly want a silver ring, you can have one custom made. The down-side to silver is it's prone to oxidization, which turns the metal black. This can easily be remedied by using a silver jewelry cleaner available in more department stores.


I don't know why, but every time I see the word Titanium, I think Titanic instead. Silly, but true.

Titanium is a natural element with a silver-grayish-white color. It's also the hardest natural metal in the world. It's three times stronger than steel and much stronger then either gold, silver, or platinum. It's also very lightweight whereas platinum is very heavy. If either the bride or groom work in a very hands-on, rough environment, then titanium is perfect for you! It doesn't bend, dent or scratch like other metals and it's 100% hypp-allergenic, too. It's kind of like the super-hero of metals.

But like most super-heroes, it does have a weakness or two . . . If there's ever an emergency and your ring needs to be cut off, it may be either extremely difficult or impossible depending on the grade of titanium your ring is made of. If it's aircraft grade titanium, then it can't be cut off. The other down-side of titanium is that it can't be soldered - so no resizing. And ladies, if you're planning on having kids, you definitely want to be able to resize your rings. Between my four kids, my rings have been resized three times.

Tungsten Carbide

For me, this is the new new metal on the block. I have just recently started seeing tungsten show up as a choice in men's jewelry. Tungsten is a very hard, strong, durable metal. It's also very heavy, so not ideal for an engagement and wedding ring set. It's highly scratch resistant, which is very appealing to men. It has what my hubby likes to call "macho factor". Another very cool attribute of tungsten is that it always looks new - all bright and shiny. It never needs polishing maintenance like gold, platinum, and titanium do. This is an extra bonus for guys who don't like to take their ring off or who hate going to a jeweler to have their ring cleaned.

As you can see, each metal has it's pros and cons. I would suggest by starting with what qualities you most need in a ring. If you work in construction and you want your ring to continue looking new, then you may want to consider either tungsten or titanium. Ladies traditionally prefer either yellow gold or white gold, although platinum is becoming popular as well. Ultimately, the best way to decide is by trying on rings made with different metals until you find the one that works with your skin tone and feels the best on your hand. Once you narrow it down, then you can look for the perfect setting! Happy ring shopping!



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December 26, 2008

How to Know if the Person You're Dating is "The One"

So you've been dating this incredible person and things are starting to get pretty serious. At some point, you start to wonder, "Is he (or she) the one?"

How do you know? How can you be sure?

Glitzy magazine articles will give you lots of advice. Some of it's horrible, and some isn't so bad. Such as this article from BestEzines "12 Signs on How to Know if He is The One" Before you start reading, let me point out that while this article's target is for women, these suggestions go both ways. It shouldn't just be the guy who's interested, listening, compromising, caring, etc. If you want someone to think you're The One, then you need to have these qualities as well - no matter if you're the girl or the guy.

1. He understands.

He always tries to see your side of things. This means that even if he's seen you get upset or cry about something a hundred times before, he still tries to calm you down and makes you feel better.

2. He tells you.

Oh those three special words, the words some men have major trouble saying. Well, if he says them often, count yourself lucky. Hearing him say "I love you," and knowing he means every word, is proof that he's one of a kind.

3. He shows you.

We all know most men have trouble expressing their feelings with words. So, sometimes they use other forms of expression. Forms of expression include: taking you out for dinner when he thinks you need a break from cooking or understanding that you might need some time to yourself. While you may like to hear those sweet whispers of affection from him, it's a fact that actions speak louder than words.

4. He listens to you.

Is he's genuinely interested in what you're saying when you talk to him? Does he give you his undivided attention during your conversations, instead of having the television blaring in the background? It's an important sign, if he shows he's really concerned about your feelings, and especially what you have to say.

5. He's happy around you.

Smiles? Laughter? Excited to spend time with you and not his guy friends? Glad just to be with you? If he can't get enough of you, it's a sure sign that he's really attracted and in love.

6. He compliments you.

He notices when you change something about your appearance. He appreciates when you take the time to look great. When he looks you up and down admiringly with a little smile and tells you how beautiful you are, you know you matter.

7. He takes care of you.

Is he your own personal guardian angel? Does he baby you when you're sick and nurse you back to health? If the answer is 'yes', then it's a pretty sure bet you've got a good thing going.

8. His friends and family like you.

You can gauge how a man feels about you from the way his circle of friends and family treat you. If you are held in high regard, and they have embraced you like one of their own, it's a fact he's been telling them how happy he is to have you in his life.

9. He appreciates you:

Telling you how proud he is of your achievements or praising you to his family and friends is a wonderful signal. It's a sign he is in deep appreciation of who you are to him.

10. He asks for your opinion.

He asks for your advice, considers it and may put it to good use. When important decisions are at stake concerning him, he doesn't just go ahead and decide on his own what he thinks is right.

11. He's interested in what you want too.

Let's say you're both watching television and you want to watch Desperate Housewives while he'd like to catch 24. You know how men are when it comes to the remote control! If he lets you watch your show of choice, not in a grudging manner, but because he wants you to be happy, you've got a winner. Give him extra points if he actually sits through it with you!

12. He makes you feel special.

Finally, is he the kind of guy who's always trying to keep the romance alive? Bringing you flowers or breakfast in bed are both really wonderful ways to know he cares. If he's always going out of his way to make you feel exceptional hold on tight, the man is a keeper.

Not bad advice, eh? But really, these all point to a great relationship. A relationship built on friendship and trust could take a different turn and if anything, you still have a great friend. But how do you really know if the person you're dating is The One.

When I attended LDS Business College, I had a very wise Church leader, Bishop Steve Facer. The first time my hubby asked me to marry him (yes, there's more than one proposal in our story), it was a confusing time for me. On one hand, I loved my boyfriend very, very much. He really was my best friend. On the other hand, it hadn't been long since I had ended an abusive relationship, which left me very cautious and a bit scared to make a commitment.

The advice Bishop Facer gave me was this: Pray and fast for an answer.

He told me I needed to know in both my heart and my mind, an undeniable witness from Heavenly Father that John was the one I should be joined with for eternity. A firm witness with no doubts. He went on to tell me this was incredibly important because every marriage goes through difficult times. During those times, many couples think, "What if . . . " or "Maybe we should just get a divorce and move on . . . " This is precisely why you need that firm, strong answer from Heavenly Father. When you and your spouse hit bumps in the road, rather than doubt, you will be able to remember your answer and that Heavenly Father blessed your union. Then with His help, you will be able to get through the bumps together.

I have been grateful for this advice. The first time John asked me to marry him, I prayed and went to the temple, but continued to waiver between yes and no. Finally, I told him that as much as I yearned to say yes, I couldn't, and so my answer had to be no. It was heartbreaking for both him and me.

But an incredible thing happened. While we took a break from dating each other, we remained close friends. We lived about an hour from each other and would email a few times each week. If one or the other was in town visiting other friends, we'd stop to say hello. I started dating other guys from my college and kept busy with work, school, and church callings. About six months later, I read a book that really got me thinking about my relationships and I realized that the one person I had dated and been the most happy with had been John.

So one evening, I drove down to visit him. We went for a walk around BYU campus. I finally got up enough courage to ask him if he'd ever consider dating me again. He told me he'd have to think about it. Then he sat down on the nearest bench and proceeded thinking! It was the longest ten minutes ever! He finally said he'd love to date me again, but that he had chased me the first time, so this time it was my turn to chase him.

Two months later, after praying, fasting, and attending the temple, I gained the firm, strong witness I was seeking for six months before. The difference though was that this time I was ready. During the six months we were apart, I had encountered many different challenges and learned many things about myself. This time, I wasn't confused or afraid. I knew exactly what I wanted and asked for Heavenly Father's blessing. And for a little twist in our story, I asked John if he'd marry me. Of course, he asked me again when he surprised me with my engagement ring.

And my Bishop was right. We have encountered many challenges in our marriage and family. We've hit lots of bumps in the road. But because of the answers we both received, we've remained committed to working together with Heavenly Father to navigate each of those bumps.

I'm grateful for Bishop Facer's wise advice. I've passed it on to many friends and young women and am happy to pass it along here as well. I hope that as you search for your eternal partner, that you will find someone who meets many of the 12 Signs criteria, but I also hope you will take the time to sincerely pray and follow the answers you receive from above.



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December 19, 2008

Tuxedo Heaven

Amy from Utah emailed to ask:

"On the wedding to-do lists, it mentions ordering Tuxedos. Is that something the Bride needs to be concerned with or is it more of a task for the groom? Especially if the bride doesn't really care whether the groom wears a tux or a suit, as long as it looks good."

That's a great question, Amy. Like you said, it depends on the bride . . . and also the groom. I went with my hubby to check out tuxes, but all of his family lived out of state so it was just us making the decisions. For the most part, he chose the tux he liked with just a little feedback from me.

Usually the groom chooses the design of tuxedo he prefers before-hand, then makes a group appointment for fittings. Who needs tuxedos? The groom, guys from both immediate families, and any groomsmen. .

Sometimes the groom doesn't care what he wears, but the bride has specific ideas of what type/color of tux she prefers. In this case, the bride and groom may go in ahead of time, choose the tuxes, then the guys just show up for the measurements and fittings.

Most guys would prefer to just walk into a tuxedo store and say, "I need a tux." and have the assistant measure him, then hand him something from off the rack. But it just doesn't work that way. It's actually much more complicated than it seems. Brides have tons of style choices for their dresses. Well guess what? The groom has almost as many style choices for their tuxedos as well.

Choosing a tuxedo can be quite overwhelming. When I think of a tux, I think black pants, black coat, white shirt, black cumber bun, and black tie. But did you know the choices range from jackets with one, two, three, four, or five buttons? Or that lapels can be either a notch, shawl, peak, or double-breasted? Or that tails come in different styles, two of which are cutaway tails and full dress tails? The following examples are from MW Tux.

This classic style is a Joseph & Feiss Black Cutaway, featuring a single button, center-vented jacket with peak lapel. Very dashing, don't you think?

For a more modern look, try this stylish two-button satin edge notch lapel tuxedo from Wilke-Rodriguez.

If you're having a themed wedding, check out the following two tuxedos . . .

This morning wedding tuxedo is a Joseph & Feiss Gray Cutaway. These morning wedding suits remind me of Mr. Darcy for some reason. Mmm . . . love them!

The website actually recommended this suit for an outdoor wedding/reception. But hello? It's WHITE! I recommend avoiding white for outdoor receptions. I wore a white gown for my oldest brother's wedding. The reception was outdoors. We sat on a bench for some pictures and when I got up, I had a huge dirt mark on the back of my dress (of course located right on my tush!). It was so embarrassing, especially since I was only 14 years old at the time. But I do think this Joseph & Feiss two-tone ivory notch lapel tuxedo is gorgeous for a white wedding party. You can add color to the vest and tie to break up the white. Very elegant.

Once the style of tuxedo is decided, then you get to figure out if you want a cumber bun or a vest for under the jacket, and if you prefer a bow tie or regular tie. At this point, color really comes into play. As you can see from the pictures above, you can choose traditional white or black for the accessories or you can choose to co-ordinate with the bridesmaid dresses. These days there's a whole rainbow of colors available for ties, vests, and cumber buns. All you need to do is bring in a color swatch from the bridesmaid dresses and it can be matched up for the tuxedo accessories.

So while the bride doesn't neccessarily need to go with the groom to choose a tuxedo, I would recommend that the bride and groom at least take an evening to browse through either a tuxedo magazine or a website like MW Tux. This way they can eliminate options they don't like and narrow down their choices to a few styles they both prefer. Then when the groom is at the store, he can make the final decision of which tuxedo he likes best.



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December 15, 2008

Getting to Know the Bride

Today, I received this email from Kimber, who asked:

"I'm helping throw a shower for my soon-to-be new sister-in-law. It's mostly going to be a family shower, and none of us know her very well yet. (I've never even met her). Any ideas for fun getting-to-know-the-bride/ welcome-to-the-family shower games or activities?"

Get your printer ready, Kimber, because I have several fun ideas for you.

Introductions Game

Typically at a bridal shower, everyone goes around the room and introduces themselves, usually saying her name and if she's related or a friend. At my friend Camille's baby shower (yes, I said baby not bridal - but hey, we use many of the same games at either one. So it works, right?), we were asked to introduce ourselves, but to also tell either a story about the first time we met Camille or our favorite story of our adventures together.

This is a fun way for others to see a little bit of the different connections and relationships the bride has with everyone in attendance. It's also fun for the bride to relive all those memories with her friends and family.

For those that may not know the bride as well, they can tell a bit of how they know her even if it's just from excited phone conversations with the groom. When I was at Camille's shower, she had lots of close family and friends there. But my relationship with Camille was a bit different. She was married to the missionary who taught me the first discussion when I was sixteen years old. While Camille and I had become friends, we didn't live close enough to each other to spend a lot of time together. But it was still fun to share the first time Camille and I had met. One weekend I decided I needed a break from Salt Lake and went to visit some friends in Provo. While I was in town, Jeff (formerly Elder Beard) brought Camille over to meet me. It was fun to see Jeff all sweet and lovey. At the shower, Camille shared that it had also been the first night Jeff had held her hand and been snugly in public. That night had not only been the first time we had met, but a turning point in their relationship as they became more serious about each other. What a fun memory to share together!

Getting to Know You Jar

My all time favorite bridal shower game is one of sharing stories. For each gift the bride opens, she tells a story about herself and her sweetheart while they were dating. Some brides are a bit shy when put on the spot, so I came up with this fun game that can be used in multiple ways.

1. Find a container. This could be a quart-size canning jar, a large decorative bowl, or if you want to be crafty, an empty formula container that has been wrapped with paper and decorated. Be sure the mouth of the container is wide enough to draw questions out of. It's also helpful if the container has a lid, but it's optional.

2. Have you ever . . . ? Create cute tags or cut strips of paper. On each tag or strip, write a question for the bride to answer. You can start with some of the sample questions below. To add to the fun, leave some blank tags or strips out for guests to write their own question on and have them add it to the container.

Sample Questions:

Where was your first date?

How did you meet?

Who introduced you to your sweetheart?

How did he propose?

What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened on a date (to either the bride or the groom)?

What is the funniest thing the groom has ever done for you?

What's the most romantic thing he's done for you?

Was your first kiss: a) sweet b) foot-popping or c) spine-tingling?

How long did you date before the first kiss?

3. Shaky, shaky. Shake up the container or mix the questions up with your hand before pulling any out. Ask a question before the bride opens each gift. Then she should tell you a story before opening her gift.

Additional Options:

-Extend the game by pulling a question out of the jar every fifteen minutes while everyone is eating and visiting.

-To learn more about the bride, add questions about when she was growing up, her family, favorite vacations, favorite toy, pets, etc.

-For some silly fun, ask the family of the bride and groom to come prepared with funny short stories or pictures of the couple when they were growing up. The family members can be called upon to share alternately throughout the shower or they could take turns sharing stories after the bride opens each present. This is a wonderful way to fill the shower with laughter without bringing out any embarrassing gifts!

I hope these ideas have inspired you to create more intimate and fun bridal showers. And Kimber, I hope this was just what you were looking for! Please let us know how your bridal shower turns out.



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December 13, 2008

Wedding To-Do Lists

I love bridal magazines. I ooh and aah over the gorgeous dresses, drool over the cakes, and try to keep my eyes from popping out when I see the huge rocks on the engagement rings.

But there's one section I always skip right over – the wedding to-do list.

Engaged couples who are not LDS, tend to have very long engagements. My sister's wedding is the perfect example. She got engaged over Christmas and was married in June. Not the June that was six months later, but the one that was eighteen months later. This is typical for weddings outside of the LDS Church. According to the National Association of Wedding Ministers, the average American engagement is sixteen months long and that most brides plan their wedding for seven to twelve months. This is why most wedding to-do lists found in magazines or online range from twelve to eighteen months before the wedding.

In the LDS Church, we tend to do weddings on a shorter time-frame. The average LDS engagement is about three months long. When my husband and I got officially engaged, it was the beginning of July. After going back and forth on wedding dates, we settled on mid-August. Yep, that's only six weeks. Definitely on the short end of engagement time scales.

Caterers, florists, and reception centers in Utah are used to receiving wedding orders on short notice. But outside of Utah, these shorter time-lines can really stress-out both the bride and business owners.

For example, if you have a specific location you truly want your reception to be held, then you may need to be flexible with your wedding date. This could extend your engagement, which is fine if that works for both you and your fiancé.

On the other hand if you have a certain time period you need to work within, such as before the next semester of college starts, then you will need to be willing to compromise and put forth some extra foot-work for everything to come together. In this case, you may call a florist and their response could be that they are booked solid that day. Just keep working your way down the list of florists, or explore other options, for example purchasing silk flowers and making your own bouquets.

You may be wondering how to organize your wedding if the to-do list in your bridal magazine doesn't work for you. I found some excellent LDS wedding to-do lists on They even have separate lists for different engagement lengths – two months, four months, and six months.

And just remember, no matter what the length of your engagement may be, your wedding will be absolutely beautiful and perfect for you and your sweetheart.



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December 8, 2008

A Blue and Silver Winter Bridal Shower

Planning a bridal shower in the winter for your soon-to-be bride is simple and quite affordable. Here's one fun idea. The theme for this party is Blue & Silver Ball Ornaments.

Decorations: You can raid your stash of ornaments, borrow from friends, or purchase some at your local dollar store. To decorate, simply arrange the ornaments in bowls or hat boxes lined with white tissue paper. Be creative! For an elegant look, arrange your ornaments in a large pedestal-type bowl, then place white pillar candles on each side. Finish the look by draping silver garland around the bottom of the candles and bowl.

Appetizers: For some yummy theme related snacks, try making some beautiful wedding cookies.

These cookies are from Crazy Amy's Cakes.

To make your own delicious (and gorgeous) cookies, try this recipe. It's our family's favorite!

Butter Cookie Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture, blending well. Dough will be very stiff.

Divide the dough into thirds. Roll each portion to 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured work area. If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit of flour to it until it's easier to work with. Cut with assorted cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets, sprayed with nonstick spray.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Removed to wire racks to cool. Frost and decorate.

Frosting Ingredients:
3 TBSP commercial meringue powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup + 2 TBSP warm water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
Food coloring

Beat on high speed with an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes. Divide into separate bowls and add drops of food color. Be sure cookies are completely cooled before decorating.

Some ideas for cookie cutters to match this theme would be Christmas ornaments, wedding cakes, and snowflakes, all decorated with shades of blue and white.

Activities: Rather than having a book for guests to sign, have them sign some large glass ornaments instead. You'll need some large blue and silver ball ornaments and fine-tipped permanent markers. You can even decorate the balls before-hand with the bride and grooms names and wedding date with custom vinyl lettering or scrapbooking stickers. Then shower guests can write short messages and sign their names all around the ornaments.

Party Favors: Be sure to send your guests away with a something small to say Thank You for coming to celebrate. has some delightful winter bridal shower party favors. Some of my favorites are . . .

These Mini-Felt Winter Mittens can be stuffed with a little lip gloss or mini-candy cane. Aren't they cute?

As a Pennsylvania girl, I'm always big on Hershey bars. These wrappers go perfectly with this shower's blue and white theme and can be personalized with the wedding couple's name.

I hope you enjoyed this bridal shower idea. I'd love to hear your ideas for other winter themed bridal showers!



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December 4, 2008

New to the Neighborhood

Hello, my name is Danyelle and I'm a wedding addict. What? This isn't Wedding-Addicts-Anonymous? Oops!

Seriously, I truly love weddings. My husband and I worked at our friends' wedding planner business when we were newly-weds. We did everything from bridal fittings and cake tasting to reception plans and honeymoon getaways. I've also attended seminars on color-draping, make-up, hair designs, and clothing types.

But the real reason I love weddings is because I'm a true-through-and-through romantic. When I was little, I fell in love with Cinderella and Prince Charming . . . and to this day, I continue to dream about happily ever after.

Every time I get a thick, padded envelope in the mail, I cross my fingers and wish for a wedding announcement. I love marking bridal showers, weddings, and receptions in my planner. I just can't help but feel giddy and excited.

Aside from a wedding junkie, I'm also a wife, mother, and writer. I spend most of my days alternating between changing diapers, running kids to activities, and typing like a mad woman at my desk during precious "quiet" moments. But I'm happy to say that my little girls are just as in love with Cinderella and happily ever after as I am.

When Candace Salima told me YourLDSNeighborhood needed a wedding blogger and asked if I'd be interested, it was all I could do not to jump out of my chair as I typed back, "Yes! Yes! YES!"

I have big plans for this blog. And don't even think for one minute it will be boring. Oh no! I have a huge list of topics to explore. Everything from pre-engagement to happy newly-wed status and everything in-between. More serious topics will be discussed such as getting remarried and what to do when your non-LDS family can't attend the wedding. In fact, I have so much to say that if you have a question, please email me and I will bump that topic up on my list.

I'm very excited to share my love for weddings with you . . . and I hope that through this journey, you'll share your happy stories with me, too.



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