February 27, 2009

A Note of Thanks

Thank you notes are an absolute essential for bridal showers and wedding gifts. They acknowledge the receipt of your gift, as well as your thankfulness in receiving it.

There are many "rules and guidelines" when it comes to writing and sending thank you cards. I have several friends who years after their wedding still have a cousin or some other relative who isn't happy because their thank you card didn't come in a timely manner, or thought the wording wasn't "appreciative enough."

Personally, I am terrible when it comes to sending thank you notes. Seriously terrible. Even now, when someone brings me dinner or a gift, I verbally tell them thank you and am very honest in letting them know I'm terrible at sending notes - but that I truly appreciate their help or gift. Since I hate writing thank you notes so much, I never expect to get one. And if I do, I just glance over it, then into the recycle bin it goes.

Note to reader: This technique does NOT work for weddings. Not one little bit! (Trust me, I know!)

With my flawed thank you note skills, I turned to the internet to research proper thank you note etiquette. Some tips I think were ridiculous, others important to remember. Here are a few of the important ones:

1. Time Lines: Bridal shower thank you notes should be sent out within 10 days. Wedding thank you notes should be sent out within 2 weeks after returning from your honeymoon. (Just for this reason, all couples should take a full two week honeymoon!!!)

2. Thank you notes don't need to be long, but not matter the length they should be warm and show you appreciate the giver's thoughtfulness.

3. Be sure to put your new return address on the envelopes. Your family and friends will appreciate having this updated information for their Christmas card lists. I suggest ordering new return address labels before you get married.

A note about pre-printed thank you cards: Many etiquette "experts" say this is a faux-pas, but if you are as terrible at sending thank you notes as I am, then you may want to consider this method. My hubby and I had our cards pre-printed with a beautiful thank you for sharing our day and celebrating the beginning of our new life together. Yes, a handwritten thank you is definitely better than a pre-printed one . . . But a pre-printed thank you note is better than no thank you note at all. Be realistic and plan according to your needs.

There's only one redeeming quality to your anticipated writer's cramp . . . Totally awesome thank you notes. Check out some of these fabulous cards from Exclusively Weddings:

A Sweet Note
Color Chic with pale pink border

A Touch of Romance
Letterpress LOVE Note Card

Colorful Chic Monogram

Boldly Beautiful
Black Brocade Notes

Whimsical Silhouette
Butterfly Kisses in Black Note Card

I have just one more bit of advice for your thank you note marathon - take lots of breaks for kisses and chocolate!

Happy Wedding Preparations!


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February 23, 2009

Latter-Day Bride Semi-Annual Sale

Looking for a modest wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses, or prom gowns?

Be sure to go over and check out Latter-Day Bride's semi-annual Sample Dress Sale. All in-stock gowns are on sale and those that were used as samples for display, etc are deeply discounted. Prices start at $49! Check out their website for locations or online shopping.

February 20, 2009

Signed with Love

Guest books are essential for any wedding reception - no matter how intimate or large your gathering may be. Guest books are one of those sentimental items you'll love to pull out over the years, read through, and remember all your family, friends, and co-workers.

When you think of a guest book, most likely you think of something like this traditional book from USA Bride (all of the products featured today are from USA Bride). Traditional guest books may be white or black - some even come in other colors as well. They are all the same in that when you open the book, it's filled with blank lined pages where your guests will sign their names, and possibly add their addresses. If you're planning a truly large reception then a traditional book would be perfect.

If you're looking for a book and find that the traditional rectangular ones are a bit on the boring side for you, then consider something a bit more flirty such as this heart shaped guest book.

Another fun twist on the traditional book, but still have lots of room for guest signatures, is this photo album guest book. I've seen variations of this idea and it's really fun for the guests to flip through and browse the engagement or bridal photos. It also gives the wedding couple something fun to look at as they reminisce and remember their wedding guests.

But what if your reception is on a smaller scale or is truly going to be an intimate affair with just family and close friends? In this case, you may not be very excited about having a big book with lots of blank pages. There are other options besides the traditional book. For instance, this guest book platter would be such fun for an intimate reception.

For a more elegant display, consider these photo frame guest books. You could have lots of fun choosing pictures and mat sizes with this idea. I think a square 10x10 black mat with 5x5 black and white engagement photos or bridal photos in the center would look absolutely elegant. Your guests could sign with silver or gold metallic colored pens. What a beautiful display they would make in your new home.

Speaking of pens . . . No matter what type of guest book you choose, be sure to have your guests sign using acid-free, archival quality pens. Believe me, these are mementos you want to last for more than just one lifetime. You'll want your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to be able to enjoy them just as much as you will.

Happy Wedding Preparations!


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February 14, 2009

A Not-So-Valentine Post

This past week has been very interesting for my family. My nine-year-old son had surgery and we spent the week in the hospital with him. Much of that time was spent sitting together, watching TV - well, at least he was watching TV, I was zoning out and thinking about other things.

One of those things was how awesome Valentine's Day can be - and how much it can totally suck. (Not quite what you'd expect to hear on a wedding blog, eh?)

I think a lot about marriage this time of the year. Mainly because the first time my hubby asked me to marry him (yes, I said the 1st time), we were considering getting married around Valentine's Day. Since things didn't work out that way, I often wonder what our life would be like today if we had been married earlier, rather than later.

Today would have marked our 11th anniversary, rather than last August marking our 10th.

Would we have had more children? Perhaps different job opportunities? Would we even be here in Kansas City now had we made different choices?

So many questions. My hubby tells me I over-think things sometimes. This is probably one of those instances.

You're probably wondering why we delayed our wedding. Well, it was certainly no fault of my hubby's. It was all me. You see, I had been married once before and let's just say that my "prince charming" had a nasty streak I didn't discover until after the I Do. It ended up being a very short lived marriage. After three months, I wised up, finally recognized the cycle of abuse, and called it quits. I received lots of not-so-nice comments from some of my family, many of whom didn't know the full story.

After moving out of state, I met John. We became great friends. Then we fell "in-like" and eventually in love. But even that potent feeling of love and acceptance wasn't enough to combat my feelings of fear about getting married again. I was so scared, I kept going back and forth, yes and no - until I finally just had to say no because I was too scared to say yes. It was very difficult for both of us.

Still, we remained friends - emailing each other and keeping in touch. During those seven months, I dated a lot and prayed even more. I met with a psychologist at the University of Utah and started working through my feelings about trust, relationships, and marriage. Eventually, I got up the guts to ask John if he'd ever consider dating me again . . . and somehow we were blessed and ended up where we are today - with an incredible relationship and a happy marriage.

So, what was the point of all that info about moi? Well, I just want to leave you with a few thoughts.

Sometimes, Valentine's Day really does stink. It can be an especially unhappy day for anyone who just came out of a bad relationship, unexpectedly broke up, or has no love relationship at all. But let me tell you what girls (and guys), go out and do something fun or special anyway. Ignore all those disgusting kissy-kissy people and celebrate a more important relationship - the love you share with your Father in Heaven.

If you are going through an abusive relationship and trying to recover, then I encourage you to have faith and to pray. I promise you will be blessed and strengthened by Heavenly Father.

If Mr. Perfecto or Miss Right is no where to be seen on your horizon, don't obsess about it. Instead pray about what you can do to enrich your life. Volunteer to help with Special Olympics, learn something you've always been interested in, or save your money and go on a cruise with your friends. Cherish the opportunity you have here and now to become the person you dream of being - with no husband, wife, mom, or dad titles involved. Who do YOU want to be?

And if you do have Mr. or Mrs. I DO in your life, then I hope you will be grateful for each other and the unique relationship you share. Be extra kind to each other every day and enjoy every one of the kissy-kissies others like to roll their eyes and ignore.

No matter where you find yourself today, I wish you each a fabulous Valentine's Day. May you find lots of love from your family and friends this day.

February 5, 2009

25 Random Things About Moi

YourLDSNeighborhood tagged me and asked that I share 25 things you may not know about me. How fun!

Rules: Once you've been tagged, write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 10 people to be tagged. Please link back to the person who tagged you.

1. I grew up in Pennsylvania.

2. I love anything made by Hershey's Chocolate Factory.

3. In high school, I took second place in the VFW Scholarship Essay Contest. Sadly, I didn't get any money, but I did get a cool certificate!

4. When I was 7 years old, I won the Flaming Foliage Future Miss Clinton County contest. I got to wear a crown and an incredible velvet cape lined with white fur and ride in parades. I think that started my fascination with princesses - leading to my love of Cinderella and Prince Charming! (Although I must admit that with my dark hair, I looked a lot more like Snow White.)

5. I LOVE Anne of Green Gables books. I every year I watch the first two movies (Anne of Green Gables & Anne of Avonlea) at least once, usually more like two or three times. I didn't like the third Anne movie though. It was very disappointing.

6. If you count all of my half-siblings, I have five sisters and four brothers. But lucky me, I only had to share a house with one brother and one sister!

7. My mom had cancer three times. The first time, it was kidney cancer. The next two times, lung cancer. She passed away when I was 19 years old.

8. I went to France as a foreign exchange student my senior year of high school. I lived in Rochefort, France. It was an eye-opening experience that made me truly grateful to live in the USA.

9. At my high school graduation, I received a four-year scholarship as a French major.

10. I went to LDS Business College and didn't major in French. :)

11. I still dream in French.

12. I met the missionaries when I was 16 years old. I was baptized on January 23rd, 1994. My oldest daughter was just baptized on the 15th anniversary of my baptism (her choice!).

13. I'm married to an incredible guy. When I was pregnant, he'd hold my hair back while I puked, then tried to make me laugh by telling me horrible jokes. Even though I was in no laughing mood, his effort was appreciated. Since then, he's acquired a huge selection of corny jokes I've heard about hundred times each - and over ten years later, he still makes me at least crack a smile. :)

14. When we got married, my hubby started calling me "Dear". I asked him if I had suddenly aged fifty years or what? He replied that he called me that because I'm so dear to him.

15. So I started calling him "Sweetie".

16. He now marks any gifts to me as "To Dear . . . From Sweetie".

17. We have four awesome kids - two boys, two girls.

18. Our oldest son was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 1/2 years old.

19. My hubby, myself, and our friend Karen Fairchild, co-founded Friends of Giant Steps, which is a non-profit organization that raises money to support the Giant Steps Autism Preschool in Orem, UT.

20. I am addicted to books. My favorite thing to do is run a super hot bath, light some fabulous candles, and soak while I read the newest book out by one of my author friends.

21. I have been writing short stories and poetry since grade school. I wrote my "first book" in 6th grade. It was titled, Electric Youth. (Any guesses why?) I gave it to my great-aunt for Christmas. She recently sent it back to me, thinking I'd get a kick out of it. She was right!

22. I love to write fiction - anything with a quirky female main character and a hunky male main character. And yes, it's all G-rated. Well, at least PG rated. :)

23. I also write non-fiction. I have a book titled, Teaching Special Spirits, in with Deseret Book right now. Still waiting for the verdict to arrive. Meanwhile, all my fingers, toes, and eyes get tired from trying to stay crossed.

24. I LOVE my freckles. And I absolutely love that my kids have inherited them, too.

25. I get motion sick. For our 5th anniversary, I got brave and decided to go on a cruise with my hubby. Every kept telling me that I wouldn't get sick because the ship is so big and all. Three days into the cruise, I discovered they all lied. No more cruises for me.

Now I get to tag 10 of my friends. Here we go:

1. Nikkicrumpet
2. Carolyn
3. Kathalog
4. KC Mom
5. Carrie
6. Sara Register
7. Devon Mylinski
8. De
9. Joni Gardine
10. Amy Marble