What Every Groom-to-be Should Know About Weddings

What Every Groom-to-be Should Know About Weddings

While traditionally the bride’s family pays for the wedding, that doesn’t mean the groom and his family are completely off the hook. In addition to paying for the rehearsal dinner, did you know it’s custom for the groom to pay for transportation and flowers?

Why a Winter Wedding is Wonderful

Why a Winter Wedding is Wonderful

Amidst the bleak and cold, in a season where lesser things shrivel and die, love thrives. It's a romantic idea in a peaceful season… with the added benefit of stunning photography backgrounds and inexpensive accommodations.

Read on for a few things that make winter weddings so perfect…

Eight New Year’s Resolutions for Your Wedding

Eight New Year’s Resolutions for Your Wedding

Happy New Year! The concept of "New Year's Resolutions" is a valiant one. Though in practice, they're usually a bit of a flop. Still, we always strive to begin each year with a fresh mindset and bring it all back to basics. Here are eight "resolutions" we at Vow Muse made—or wish we had made—when planning our own weddings…

6 Wedding Ideas I Didn’t Know Existed Until After I Got Married

6 Wedding Ideas I Didn’t Know Existed Until After I Got Married

Like a lot of brides, when it came to my wedding I had a vision. But I realize now I planned my own wedding with blinders on. Since then, I’ve come across some really awesome wedding resources, tools, services, and ideas I had never thought to even consider. Hopefully these ideas might help you!

A Halloween Wedding to Die For

A Halloween Wedding to Die For

There's something idyllic about gothic castles and fog rolling across an overgrown cemetery. This time of year there are so many classic Halloween touches you can add to your nuptials to capture all of the spooky and all of the gothic chic with none of the boring cliché!

Take back the night with a bewitching Halloween wedding!

To Have and to Register

To Have and to Register

Sometimes, one's enthusiasm for price guns leads to a towering display case of chinaware crashing down in the middle of a Macy's champagne wedding registry event.

And sometimes, that means traditional registries aren't for you. But you have options…

Bound by Love, Law, and a Lengthy Name Change Process

Bound by Love, Law, and a Lengthy Name Change Process

For most of history, the decision to change your name—or not—after marriage wasn't a decision at all. It was assumed that a woman would adopt her husband's name…But now, in many circles, the answer comes only after a lot of soul searching.


Seven Things to Do on Your Wedding Day

Seven Things to Do on Your Wedding Day

Look, we'd be lying if we told you that your wedding day will be anything less than a bustling blur . But after preparing, attending, and participating in countless weddings over the years, we've boiled it all down to the seven most important things you can do to keep your sanity and make your special day actually feel special.

2017 Wedding Trend Alert: The Wedding Letter

2017 Wedding Trend Alert: The Wedding Letter

Yep, we are talking old-fashioned missives — no postage required!

Think of wedding letters as the ultimate love letter. Something you write for your sweetheart, and just your sweetheart, on your wedding day. These wedding letters often encompass what DIY vows historically have, but are read privately before or after the ceremony.

The Wedding Basics, Step Two: The Budget

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.

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

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

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?

Wedding Planning Basics, Step One: The Guest List

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:

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

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

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.

chairs

chairs

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

DIY Edition: How To Actually Enjoy Your Destination Wedding

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

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. 

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

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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il_570xN.711627920_f57m 2

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.