The Wedding Basics, Step Two: The Budget

So, your guest list is finished! Now you have to start thinking about the money.We know, that almost made you close your browser, right? This is no one’s favorite topic. But we promise you’ll feel so much better once you’ve got all the numbers nailed down! Here’s how to land on your final budget without running away screaming.

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Who’s Paying for This Party?

If you and your partner are solely funding this event, then this step is easier. Take a look at what’s in your bank account, and figure out how much of it you want to spend.

…Okay, that may not be as easy as it sounds. Some things you might want to take into consideration are how big you’re imagining the wedding to be and what you can’t live without. Maybe it’s a great photographer or a top-notch meal. But whatever it is, start getting some quotes from local vendors to figure out what’s feasible with what you’ve got. And no matter what things are most important, it’s also good to start getting an understanding of the things that will probably cost the most no matter what, like the venue and catering.

But let’s talk for now about if someone else is paying for your wedding. You may know right off the bat if your family is willing to contribute, but if you don’t, please borrow our script on how you can non-awkwardly ask them:

“Hey [Mom/Dad/Aunt Betty]! We’re so excited to start planning our wedding, and are sitting down today to get the budget figured out. There’s no pressure to contribute, but we wanted to find out now if there’s anything you felt strongly enough about having at the wedding that you’d like to help pay for it. If not, then we’ll just look forward to celebrating with you on the day-of! Can’t wait!”

Obviously feel free to adjust this as needed, but what we hope to accomplish here is both to find out if anyone wants to contribute and also to set the clear ground rule that if your family really, really, really wants you to have flowers at the wedding, and you personally don’t care if there are flowers or not, then they can either offer to contribute them or accept your final call on where the money gets spent. Which leads us to…

The Payments and the Power

If you’re paying for the wedding entirely on your own, you may wind up having a smaller affair, but you also get to completely decide every detail. If someone else is paying for it, then like it or not, their opinion matters.

Obviously, this is still your wedding, so you’ll need to decide how much control you’re willing to give away. If someone offers to, say, pay for your wedding outfit, but then will only pay for it if you pick the one they like, maybe that’s money you don’t want to take.

The best way to work with the people paying for your wedding is to start laying down ground rules from the get-go. What are you willing to compromise on? What absolutely has to stay the way you’ve pictured? Try to have a conversation with the person who’s funding the wedding about what accepting that money means and how much of a say that person is now expecting to have. Getting these big, hard conversations out of the way early on will mean a much more relaxed wedding planning process down the line.

Where the Money Goes

Once you’ve got your budget all figured out, you have to decide where to spend it. Let’s get back to talking about where you want the money to go. What’s most important to you? Being able to invite whoever you want? Decor? Hair and makeup? Narrow it down to three things that are really important to you so that when you have to start making hard choices, you know what’s been important to you from the get-go.

One of the things that was most important to my husband and me was inviting the guests we wanted to invite and making sure they felt comfortable. That meant arranging shuttles to and from their hotels, hosting a brunch the day after the wedding so we could spend more time with them, and putting together lists of things they could do if they were traveling from out of town and staying a few extra days in our city. Overall, this meant more of our time and money went to our guests than to many other parts of our wedding, but that’s what made us happy.

So, what will make you happy? You may not be able to have everything on your list in just the way you pictured, but by picking a few key things that you want your time and money to go to, you’ll still wind up with a wedding you can happily tell stories about for the rest of your life.

Lifting the Veil: The History Behind One of Our Oldest Wedding Traditions

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Wearing a veil to your wedding is a tradition with roots so deep that it predates white wedding gowns. And like many other wedding traditions, this one exists because of the patriarchy. We’re all surprised, I’m sure. That said, I still wore a veil to my wedding. I’ll get to my own reasoning why, but first, let’s ask a much bigger “why:” why do we wear veils at all?

Origin of the Bridal Veil

From Judaism to Christianity to Hinduism, wedding ceremonies have involved veils for thousands of years. Ancient cultures used veils to hide the bride from evil spirits, but as time went on, veils became a symbol of purity and chastity – yet another way to signal to everyone present that the bride was a virgin. There’s some speculation that in the cases of arranged marriages, the veil was lifted from the bride’s face so she could be presented to the groom either right before or after the ceremony for approval. The “right before the ceremony” lore says that the groom and his family had to make sure they were being given the right daughter and weren’t the victims of a bait-and-switch. The “after the ceremony” lore says that the veil is lifted after marriage in case the groom doesn’t like what he sees. Then the marriage is already finalized and he can’t back out.

And these are all lovely traditions surely designed to make women feel wonderful about themselves.

Sheesh.

A funny side effect of those long-ago veils from Ancient Greece and Rome? They were floor length and flame-colored, and while they definitely obscured the bride’s face, they also obscured her vision. That’s why brides were walked down the aisle by someone. They couldn’t see and someone had to make sure the bride wouldn’t trip and fall.

The Veil in Everyday Life

Veils weren’t just a symbol of the bride – they were (and in many places, still are!) a symbol of being a married woman. In Ancient Rome, wearing a veil signified that you were under your husband’s control. Conversely, not wearing a veil meant your marriage was dissolving. By the Middle Ages, this had evolved into a married woman covering her hair, but not her face. Christianity and Judaism continued to slowly eliminate the veil as a mandatory item of clothing, replacing it with hats (sometimes with a short piece of lace attached) or head scarfs. But the veil is still used in many religions as a symbol of purity. Consider, for instance, the last time you saw a statue or painting of the Virgin Mary. She was wearing a veil, wasn’t she?  

For remaining such a staple in wedding culture, and for having such deep roots in religions around the world, the veil has become a controversial topic, particularly in regards to Muslim women. Some countries have gone as far as to ban veil-wearing by Muslim women, including France. It’s the subject of a lot of heated discussion across Europe, the UK, and the US. Who would have thought that such a small piece of fabric would cause such a ruckus?

So, Do You Want to Wear a Veil to Your Wedding?

I did. My husband is Hindu, and for the Hindu portion of our ceremony, I was required to wear a veil to show my respect to the deities as well as to the elders present. My mother-in-law had a veil made for me, and my sister-in-law put it on me at the appropriate moment.

And since our wedding was all about combining worlds (I am not Hindu), I decided to wear a western-style veil for the western portion of our wedding. For me, it was about celebrating the traditions of both of our cultures. Though I will mention that I lifted my own veil from my face before the ceremony started. It felt like a nice way to honor the past while embracing a more independent, feminist future.

If you’re considering wearing a veil, you might want to ask yourself what’s important about it to you, and how much the sometimes-troubling history of the veil means to you.

Either way, the same rule applies to veils as well as to everything else on your wedding day: your wedding gets to look however you want it to. Wearing a veil can be wonderful, but not wearing a veil doesn’t make you any less married.

Did you or are you considering wearing a veil to your wedding? Why or why not?

Wedding Planning Basics, Step One: The Guest List

So you got engaged, you and your fiancé have spent a couple weeks basking in the glow of happiness, and now you’re coming out of the haze and realizing you need to plan a wedding (did anyone else just think, Oh, sugar?) While I’m sure there are five dozen different ways to take a concrete first step, I’m going to definitively declare a clear winner here: make a guest list. Knowing who, and how many, folks you plan to invite gives you and your sweetheart a jumping off point for what your wedding looks like. So, how to go beyond putting together a comprehensive list of your family and friends? Read on…

Call your mom (or dad. Or other important/influential parental figures).

Close family will likely have an idea of who you should invite, and if you’re thinking about a guest list of over 20 people, it’s good to ask for their opinion (opinion being the operative word).

Doing so will will give you an idea of exactly how big or small your relatives are envisioning your wedding will be, which gives you a great excuse to start practicing loving but firm conversations tempering those expectations. It won’t all be rough conversations, though; their input gives you an extra set of eyes to make sure you didn’t accidentally leave off anyone important.

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“Hey, stranger at Starbucks. Want to come to our wedding?”

If you’re my husband, you don’t just call your parents and grandparents for a list. You involve everyone, like  siblings and great aunts and make an enormous list of people who could be invited. That third cousin you’ve only met once? Absolutely they should come. Your siblings’ ten best friends? How could the wedding even happen without them! After a couple weeks of gathering names, you look at an Excel spreadsheet with five different tabs for various branches of the family plus your friends, and you add up all the names, and you discover there are 600 people listed there, and then you invite them.

Yes. All six hundred of them.

Why did we do this? Simple. The guest list was, easily, the thing my husband cared most about. He wanted absolutely everyone we wanted to invite to get invited.

Calculating out who would realistically come to our wedding, my husband and I were left with a grand total of three venues where we could host our nuptials. And then we could move on to deciding everything else.

What is that magical everything else?  

Maybe you’ll draw a lot more hard lines than we did about how many people ultimately get a save-the-date, or maybe you’ll do what we did and start inviting people we’d met the week before. But in either case, it’s going to be the first big discussion you have with each other and your family about what this wedding might look like, and it’s going to determine everything that comes afterwards: the venue; the catering; the size of the dance floor. It will also, most importantly, give you an idea for about how much you should budget.

And hey, maybe you’ve always dreamed of getting married in the same church your parents got married in, and it seats 20 and so that’s how many people are going to get invited. Great! But unless you already know of a solid reason why the guest list shouldn’t be the first thing you knock out, then officially consider this your first step.

How to elope: four steps to making it happen without hurting everyone’s feelings

My older brother and his wife considered eloping. They talked to their families and friends about it, and everyone had pretty much the same reaction: we’d all understand and support them, and we’d all have our feelings hurt. They weighed the pros and cons, and wound up combining some ideas so they could still have the small, intimate ceremony they wanted while also giving their friends some space to celebrate them.

If you’re thinking about eloping, my guess is that one main question is stopping you from just getting a license and doing it tomorrow: how many people are going to be mad at you?

We’ve got some tips for getting through the process with the most care possible.

Step one: creating space for feelings

Whether you elope and then tell everyone afterwards or tell everyone you’re going to elope before you actually do it, people are going to be upset that they can’t be there. Maybe it’s born out of genuine love and desire to celebrate your union, or maybe it’s one really opinionated relative who’s going to be mad if you do anything but the exact wedding they’ve pictured for you.

In either case, your friends and family are going to have feelings to express. And you don’t have to change your plans to accommodate their feelings, but you really should listen to them and acknowledge you’ve heard them. (I say this on the assumption that these are people you love and want to maintain a relationship with. You do not have to listen to your toxic friends/family members unleash their anger on you. Self-care, folks.)

Step two: draw some boundaries

Develop a sense of what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not. Would you be okay with a party somewhere down the line? Dinner afterwards with a few people? Sending out cards/emails to announce your union? Figure out what you feel comfortable doing to include others while maintaining some amount of privacy. If you have some ideas up front, great! You can tell your friends/family exactly how they’ll be included when you tell them you’re eloping. If you don’t, also great! When you tell the above-mentioned awesome people in your life about eloping, you can also tell them you know they’ll want to be included somehow and get their thoughts about what they’d like to do that doesn’t essentially mean “having the big wedding you don’t want to have.”

And then — here’s the hard part — don’t let people talk you into something you know you’d hate.

You can’t preserve everyone’s feelings. But you can show some love to the people who love you so they don’t think you don’t care, and then stick to your plan.

Step three: make it awesome

Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the traditional wedding stuff if you want it. Get your hair and/or makeup done if it would make you feel special. Hire a photographer. Send out cards.

As someone who loved the idea of eloping and couldn’t do it for a myriad of reasons, please steal my plan to wear a flower crown and get married at the Ventana Inn in Big Sur, CA. And send me pictures, maybe.

Step four: you only get one wedding, unless you want to have more of them, and then you get as many weddings as you want

If you really want to elope, and if your friends/family just can’t handle it, remember that your options aren’t “elope OR having a wedding.” You can elope AND have a wedding.

My cousin and her husband secretly went to a courthouse and got married, had photos taken, and went out to a kickass dinner. And then a year later, they had a wedding. By that point, they’d been married a while, they were happy, and their families still wanted to do a big celebration, so when it finally didn’t feel stressful or like a huge financial burden, they went ahead and had that huge wedding.

You get to design whatever kind of wedding works for you. Going into it with your eyes wide open and plenty of space to have emotional conversations will make a world of difference.

Anyone out there who wants to elope or did elope? What are your best pieces of advice to those still wondering how they’ll manage it?

The great compromise: wedding planning

Every once in a great while, I hear about engaged couples who have the exact same vision for their wedding. For them, planning just means getting all the vendors booked (no small task in itself). And then there’s the rest of us.Wedding planning, in my experience, is a giant series of compromises.

I now pronounce thee overwhelmed

My husband and I think about almost everything in exact opposite terms. We’re on the same page for all the really important stuff — what we want out of life, what joy we find in new adventures, whether we want kids, and how much Netflix is too much Netflix (answer: no amount). Generally, it’s something we both enjoy about our relationship, but the wedding brought into focus how much we could differ on really simple questions. Here’s a partial list:

Big or small wedding?

Long or short ceremony?

Religious or non-denominational?

Get married inside or outside?

Should we have a first dance?

Should we see each other before the ceremony?

Do we want flowers as centerpieces?

Are we fine with the black folding chairs the venue provides or should we rent different ones?

Write our own vows or not?

How many people in the wedding party?

And here’s the complete list of things we agreed on right off the bat:

Do we want cake? (Yep.)

How many flavors of cake? (Three.)

Cake tasting was definitely our strong point in the whole process.

But outside of dessert, we knew right away we’d need to have a lot of long, emotional conversations about everything in the wedding. Around the point that we got to “wow, we both have really strong feelings about chairs,” I was so. Done.

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How to compromise when you both have strong opinions

Our saving grace as we moved through the wedding was this question: Who cares most about this?

He cared most about chairs. I cared most about centerpieces. Sometimes the small details meant the most to our families; my mom definitely cared most about whether or not I walked down a traditional aisle, and his cared the most about having a brunch the day after the wedding.

It didn’t mean we were suddenly able to relinquish the things with grace and let someone else handle it since it clearly held more meaning for them, but it got easier with time, and eventually, it even felt great to let go of some stuff, and to give myself permission to let someone else care about certain details instead.

But sometimes, the simple truth was that we both cared exactly the same amount.

“And” instead of “or”

I’m not religious. My husband is.

I tried really, really hard to get comfortable having a religious ceremony because it was important to him.

But about six months before the wedding, I realized I was never going to be okay with it. I felt like I wasn’t being represented, because even though I don’t have religious beliefs, I still have beliefs about our life together and our relationship, and I wanted those to be discussed, too.

So when it became clear that I’d be unhappy having a religious ceremony and he’d be unhappy not having a religious ceremony, we just…decided to have both.

A lot of couples in our situation wind up having two ceremonies, usually accompanied by a break between them and an outfit change. But we had this vision of one ceremony with two officiants, combining everything that was important to us. That’s actually how I first met Vow Muse, and we sat down with them for a couple hours outlining everything we needed to have happen. They worked with our religious officiant to blend things together seamlessly. When I first read the ceremony draft they’d created, a weight lifted off me. I felt so much better, and so much more represented, and overall our ceremony just really felt like us.

It went so well, we wondered why we hadn’t just been doing what we both wanted all along. Though, admittedly, I’m not sure this strategy would have worked as well with the chairs situation. Overall for us, it meant a less traditional wedding, but also a way more personal one, and in the end, that’s what really mattered to us: that we felt like ourselves.

What are the big compromises you’re making or have made? Was anyone else really surprised that their partner cared so much about chairs? (I just really didn’t see that coming, guys.) Give us your best tips!

DIY Edition: How To Actually Enjoy Your Destination Wedding

Photo by Justin Bench at 1takewonders.com
Photo by Justin Bench at 1takewonders.com

Destination weddings aren’t for everyone. The sun, the umbrellas in the cocktails, not to mention hanging out with your friends and family nonstop for a few days — ugh, sounds terrible! Ok I’m (mostly) kidding. But seriously, if you dream about picking the right texture of frosting for your caramel frappuccino chocolate cake and are excited by the challenge of finding a third gluten-free, vegan appetizer so your second cousin will have something to eat, then the laidback vibe of a destination wedding might not be for you.

If, on the other hand, you’re down for an adventure with your besties that might not go exactly as planned, but is sure to be memorable, then you might be a candidate for a destination wedding! I chose a destination wedding in Hawaii to save money,  keep the guest list short, and get an affordable, intimate weekend trip with our closest friends. We hung out on the beach,  grabbed food together,  took hikes — it was like we were at summer camp, in paradise and with our BFFs.

So how do you enjoy your destination wedding and not get drawn into the drama and details that can accompany any wedding?

  1. Decide (early) what’s important

My fiance and I talked  extensively before the wedding about what mattered. We even settled on a theme to guide us: love is the greatest adventure! We wanted a meaningful ceremony, so we spent time and got help (thanks Muses!) writing our vows and ceremony. Quality time with our guests was key, so we planned shindigs before and after the ceremony. And we really wanted money left in the bank when it was all over. So for something like food, we looked for great Yelp reviews and moved on with our lives. (And ended up with delish Hawaiian BBQ , without agonizing over the exact menu — time and money saved!)

  1. Don’t compare your wedding to a traditional wedding

You can’t compare a destination wedding to a detailed, super-planned hometown wedding — it will only lead to disappointment because something will inevitably go “wrong.”

For example, we didn’t account for the tide, so our beach wedding got moved from the sandy shore to a bluff with the ocean in the background.

Let go of that image in your mind, of the other wedding you could have had. The sooner you stop comparing the two, the sooner you can enjoy the wedding you’re actually having!

Photo by Justin Bench of 1takewonders.com
Photo by Justin Bench of 1takewonders.com
  1. Delegate, delegate, delegate!

Regardless of if you’re going with a package wedding at a resort or a complete DIY on the beach, there will still be decisions to be made once you arrive. But if you already decided what you care about, everything else can be handled by deferring to your proxy.

This part is worth repeating: defer to your proxy.

My elementary school teacher friend  (read: organized, action-oriented and great at wrangling people) stepped up and fielded the questions I didn’t care about. Eventually, I realized I was redundant, looked her in the eye and said, “Thank you, I trust your judgment,” and then left to do some yoga before the ceremony.

Decide ahead of time who is making the decisions you don’t care about and then let them do their job!

  1. Pick your battles

Weddings equal at least a little bit of drama. People will ask you if the decorations are just right, if the bridesmaid dresses are all the same amount of wrinkled, if there’s enough food. Remember, everyone means well: they just want everything perfect for your big day.

Does your soon-to-be mother-in-law have really strong feelings about how the tables should be set up, and you couldn't care less? Let her win this one, because it’s really a win-win. You don’t have to make the decision and she gets what she wants.

If you did step one, you know what the most important aspects of your wedding — focus on those, try to let everything else go and practice saying “I trust your judgment” while smiling and walking away from the drama.

Photo by Justin Bench at 1takewonders.com
Photo by Justin Bench at 1takewonders.com
  1. Enjoy!

Do what you need to do before your wedding to be present and relaxed. The morning of my big day I started off trying to do too much — prepping food, consulting on decorations — instead of letting my wonderful friends handle all the things, thus stressing myself out. I eventually left the prep area, and made time for myself to get excited about what was happening: marriage!

My advice: Decide ahead of time what you want to do before the wedding, instead of micromanaging the details, so you can pack any necessary supplies like a yoga mat or running shoes.

Last thoughts

Half the fun of a destination wedding is that the fun doesn’t end after the ceremony. We scheduled a brunch, beach time and another dinner for the next day. What do you and your fiancee love doing? Rock-climbing? Surfing? Treasure hunting? Plan activities that reflect both your personalities (and  consider your friends’ lifestyles). Just make sure to give your friends and family a heads up on all the extra activities so they can come early and stay late!

Are you considering a destination wedding? What questions do you have?

Tami Weiss is a writer, photographer and environmentalist living in Santa Cruz, CA. Her favorite hobbies are brunching, reading, organizing and yoga-ing. 

Jewelry Bender: Engagement Rings for Men?

In today's edition of “the patriarchy hurts us all,” let's look at how one-sided wedding jewelry has been since the middle ages. Did you know men didn't even regularly wear wedding bands until the 20th century? But now in century 21, thanks to the rising spread of equality and the slowly-being-chipped-away wall of traditional gender roles, we've arrived at a really simple, really basic concept about wedding and engagement rings: if you want to wear them, you should, and if you don't want to, you shouldn't. Moment of silence for how long it took us to reach this conclusion. One of the last bastions of “this is only for ladies” in weddingland is engagement rings, and it's high time we stopped indulging that fantasy. In an effort to be part of the solution and not the problem, let’s look at engagement rings for men.

Do men wear engagement rings? 

According to a 2014 survey by The Knot, about 5% of men wear engagement rings. (Please note this article calls them “man-gagement” rings, because heaven forbid we break down a small gender barrier without creating another, but that's a feminist lecture for another day.) I can't find a more recent survey, but given the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country and a push toward creating more equal, loving wedding ceremonies overall, I would be surprised if that number hasn't grown.But if you're reading this and the real thing you're wondering is “Can I wear an engagement ring? Can my partner?” then the answer is yes.

Why don't more men wear rings? 

As we mentioned in an article we wrote about wedding bands vs engagement rings, De Beers is the big reason we have diamond engagement rings at all. They ran a very convincing ad campaign in the late 1930s. These were heteronormative years where men were expected to be the active partner (buy the diamond! Propose!) and women were expected to be the passive party (wait for a diamond! Hope he proposes!). Women wear engagement rings because women have historically been the people being proposed to. That’s the big secret. And I bet you already knew it.

Isn’t this a double standard, you might be wondering? Yes, I would say. Yes, it is.

What kind of engagement rings do men wear? 

Because this is still relatively new territory, let’s break down some options here. But the bottom line is you can wear whatever kind of ring you want. Glide that puppy down your left ring finger and bam! Engaged.

Men's engagement rings with stones. 

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14k-white-gold-ring-with-white-sapphire-and-diamond

This beauty from Gemvara showcases a popular style for men looking for a ring with a stone. Many men’s engagement rings have stones set into the band instead of above it. However, the styles of inset stones are many and varied. You can have one in the center, ten all the way around, a cluster of six or seven -- there are more possibilities than you can probably imagine.

Men's engagement rings without stones. 

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If you’re not into the look of stones, you can get a plain band. Note this looks similar to a traditional wedding band, so explore some possibilities. You can wear your engagement ring as a wedding ring if you love it, or even have it engraved before the wedding day to mark the change. You can also consider getting an engagement ring and a wedding band that interlock with each other.

Rose gold, copper and even wood make for stunning men's engagement rings. 

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il_570xN.730589587_p9n7 2

Get creative! You’re not limited to silver and gold. “Engagement ring” shouldn’t be a term that means “only diamonds and only for women.” There’s a whole wide world of materials and stones to craft a ring to mark this huge life transition. If it’s an occasion you want to mark with a physical symbol like a ring, then by all means, do it. And maybe send us a picture (like one of our faves, Skylar Astin). 

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Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 2.43.50 PM

Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.

Things I Didn't Expect to Happen After I Got Married

I was really sure that being married would feel the same as not being married. But in reality, I can't believe how different my relationship is. It shouldn't be, logically speaking. We'd dated for five years before tying the knot. We'd lived together for two of them. We'd had our dog for a year. After we got married, we came home to the same apartment and the life we'd already built. It was all very familiar. But it was different. It was better. Here’s a few more things that happened after I got married that I truly didn’t expect.

Safety in Numbers

I feel safer. I can't explain this. Where once I used to worry about earthquakes and fires and escape plans, now I just...don't. It could all still happen. My marriage didn't stop natural disasters. I mean, obviously. Come on. And theoretically, I even have more to lose with each passing day. But it's like that part of my brain just got quieter. I sleep easier. I don't panic much anymore. I really wonder why this is the case, but I’m mostly just stoked that it is.

Endless Possibilities

All my little regrets morphed into possibilities. I didn't study abroad in college, for instance. I used to think “you should have done that!” And now I think, “we’ll go wherever we want for as long as we want.” Like somehow marriage has bestowed upon me riches and limitless time.

Live Long and Prosper

Life feels long. I have a friend who told me that when he proposed, he was crushed under the weight of his own mortality. This was the person he’d die with. Life would end! It freaked me out when he told me, which was like a year and a half before I actually got engaged, because I was already living with a pretty firm grasp of “BUT SOMEDAY I WILL DIE” and applying it far more liberally than is wise to every aspect of my life. (See above about how much I used to worry about natural disasters.) I think my husband has some of this too. For how quickly these first months have gone, it's like everything slowed down at the same time. Our marriage stretches before us. We have so much time together. And I no longer feel like my life’s motto could be summed up in a giant musical montage called “Death Is Just Around the Corner.” Are you seeing a theme to the ways in which I've changed? I literally just saw it.

Though Some Things Will Never Change

I am still the worst blanket-stealer this side of the Mississippi. I am also offended every single time someone brings this up. Some things just don't change, apparently.

Children on the Horizon

I feel fine about having kids. I think I'll be excited about it someday sooner rather than later. I was always on the fence about it, and was always going to come down on the same side as my partner, assuming I wound up with one. I think I'd also genuinely be happy without kids. But ever since meeting my husband, who loves kids and wants them badly, I’ve really started to see myself with them. I'm surprised that I am actually looking forward to having them in a few years.

Freedom!!

I'm freer. There's a lot being said right now about the importance of single women (HIGHLY recommend Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of the Independent Nation) and I agree that now that women aren't financially dependent on men and don't really NEED them to have a perfectly fulfilling life, the world is a far better place. I think those same principles apply to how marriage has changed for the better. It's no longer the end of adventures. The end of fun. It's also no longer relegated to just a man and a woman. All those things tie into each other, don't they? We’re all freer. Get married. Don't get married. Live your life. But if you do want to get married, it isn't the end of all things. For me, it feels like the beginning. Here we are, together, and we get to decide now where we want to go.

Did things seem unexpectedly different for you after tying the knot too? Let us know in the comments!


Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.

 

Ring Lingo: Everything You Need to Know About Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands

Before we get into the history of the rings, let’s just say this up front: getting married doesn’t actually require fancy jewelry. If you want rings, great. If you want bracelets, great. If you want nothing, great. If you want to celebrate your commitment to each other by going skydiving and then signing some papers at the end, GREAT (ps: if you did this, can we watch your wedding video? That sounds amazing). But for everyone curious about the difference between a wedding band and an engagement ring, this post is for you. In a traditional western wedding, you’re looking at an engagement ring (for one or both spouses) and a wedding ring (usually for both spouses). But...why?

The Not-So-Hidden Secrets of Why We Buy Engagement Rings

Today, we buy engagement rings to signify to ourselves and to the world, “Hey, I intend to marry that person” (and subconsciously at bars, “I’m taken, back off” — sometimes). Engagement rings are worn roughly between the period of deciding to get married and actually getting married, though many people go right on wearing them after the wedding too (they’re so pretty! Why not?), with the wedding band typically worn beneath the engagement ring.

Are Engagement Rings Always Sporting Diamonds?

In 2013, The New York Times reported that 75% of women wear diamond engagement rings. But the tradition stems from marketing of all places. Back in 1938,  De Beers hired the New York ad agency N.W. Ayer to give a boost to diamond sales, and those guys did some Mad Men style magic on those particular gems. The Atlantic reports that it wasn’t the first time anyone would buy a diamond engagement ring — the practice was unevenly gaining some ground even then — but people weren’t spending a lot of money on the diamonds, opting for lower-quality, smaller stones. Ayer set out to convince us all that the money you spent on a diamond was directly proportional to the love you felt, and we super believed them.

But here’s the fun news: not all engagement rings have to have a diamond. You could have literally any stone you wanted, or no stone at all. Things to keep in mind while you’re considering a stone choice if you decide you want an engagement ring: pick something that won’t easily dent, chip, or discolor. If you think you’ll wear your ring every day, you want something that will stand up to the wear and tear of washing dishes, eating popcorn while binge-watching Making a Murderer, and gesturing wildly while talking about Making a Murderer and hitting your hand into stuff.

And With This Second Ring, I Thee Wed: Why We Buy Wedding Bands

Wedding rings are typically exchanged during the wedding ceremony, and signify, “Hey, I married that person!” As opposed to engagement rings, which might only be worn for the period of the engagement, wedding bands are worn for the whole marriage. Yes, even when you’re fighting.

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Rose Gold: Help? The Color Spectrum of Wedding Bands

Both men’s and women’s wedding bands come in (most popularly) gold, white gold, or platinum, though you can find them in a wide variety of metals. Basically, the periodic table is your oyster when it comes to what mental you prefer, so long as you take a few things into consideration, like: do you want the color of your rings to match? (Meaning, are you okay having a gold ring while your partner has a platinum one?) How often do you see yourself getting your ring cleaned? Would you be willing to have it re-dipped if you choose white gold and it starts to wear off eventually? All of these questions can help you figure out which high- or low-maintenance band would be best for you.

Pro tips:

Higher-maintenance = white gold, which will need the plating re-applied when the yellow gold beneath starts to show through.

Lower maintenance = platinum, which may outlast the apocalypse in perfect condition, though keep in mind it’s pretty heavy .

The Million Dollar Question: Should You Buy an Engagement Ring or Wedding Bands?

Honestly, the better question is, why do you think you want one? For me, that physical symbol of “I love you today and I’m going to love you all the other days too” was really meaningful. I like being able to see it; I like the reminder of it on my hand. One of my best friends could not care less about rings. Her long-term partner has expressed an interest in having wedding bracelets someday, and that’s about as much as they feel comfortable doing. They’d rather spend that money somewhere else, and they don’t feel like they’d miss having rings.

The best answer is this: You and your partner will have to make that decision together. Yay communication!

Love your engagement ring? Love NOT having an engagement ring? Tell us all about it in the comments!


Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.