Posts in the 'wedding advice' Category

Ask Heather: Bronx Wedding for $8000 and Parties for A Second-Time Bride

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Photo courtesy of Christopher Duggan

Dear Heather,

Our wedding is this coming August, 2014. Due to a job loss, our financial situation has changed majorly. I  have a venue – Maestro in the Bronx, NY – which  I love. I’m on a minimal budget of $8,000 and postponing isn’t an option. My venue, which comes with a videographer, eats up most of my budget and I’m downgrading my video package to raw video, but that’s only because I can’t break my contract with my videographer; they have already threatened me with legal action if I want to cancel, which would mean I’d have to pay 25% of our $6000 for no services. They got us when we first got engaged and offered us a free 3-day hotel stay and cruise gimmick, and I didn’t know to read the whole contract. This was obviously a hard lesson to learn. I tried cutting the guest list but I really have to find another option. My fiance proposed to me at my church school site, so I must invite not my whole congregation, but a good size. No offense to our church, but we just got our church building, and I wouldn’t have it there because there’s no drinking or playing mainstream music allowed. It’s not the wedding I imagine; I want to party. My dress is under $500. I have a friend taking my pictures for $400, a DJ for $600 and a make up artist for $75 each. I have to pay for my two of my bridesmaids because they want their faces done, too. Thank the lord my maid of honor said she would do her own. I’m paying for that because I can’t do the bridal luncheon or the spa day they wanted and they are on their own with their hair. I have no idea what I’m going to do for transportation and no family to ask for a loan. I’m doing the centerpieces and invitations on my with my Cricut cutting machine; It’s small, but it will have to do. I have a bunch of scrapbook paper and more craft supplies, so I want to use what I have and hope people will take them as favors. I haven’t even figured out how I’m going to have a cake and so many other things I’m sure I am leaving out. I so wanted this to be a day of love, but it seem to be turning into what one of my bridesmaid said that hurt my feeling so much: “You’re going to have a tacky wedding with all this arts and craft stuff you’re doing. It’s going to look like you had your students put together your wedding.” If you can help me I would greatly appreciate it.

$8000 Bronx Wedding

Dear Bronx,

For the majority of weddings, venue and catering take up 50% of the total budget. I’m hoping that the $6000 you’re paying for your venue covers catering. If not, you’ll likely be better off paying the 25% penalty and walking away from that venue, or it will decimate your budget. For all the other folks out there – read your contracts carefully!!! I cannot possibly stress this enough. Bronx learned her lesson; please learn from her.

You say you cannot cut your guest list, but I sincerely doubt that’s true. You should invite people you genuinely want to be there. Don’t feel required to invite obligatory guests. You might end up hurting some people’s feelings, but odds are, most folks will understand. Weddings are expensive, and each guest can add a sizable amount to an already small budget.

You mentioned being worried about favors and your cake. Don’t bother with favors if they’re going to impact your budget. I don’t know anyone, ever, who has left a wedding saying, “Man, that would have been an awesome event, if only they’d given out favors.” As for your cake -  get a sheet cake from a local grocery store. They’re often quite good, and way cheaper than going with a bakery and getting an official wedding cake.

I’d also consider dropping the DJ and just going with an iPod. It will be more work for you, but it’ll also save you that $600. I just coordinated a wedding recently that used a laptop and a set of speakers, and it was fabulous. When people requested songs, if we didn’t already have them, we could just download them from YouTube. I also wouldn’t worry about providing transportation. Your guests and wedding party can probably figure out how to get themselves from Point A to Point B.

And now, your bridesmaids. First off, they are not entitled to you paying for their hair or makeup. If they want to have their makeup professionally done, they can most definitely pay for that themselves. Second, they are also not entitled to having a bridal luncheon or spa day, so do not feel guilty about not providing that for them. If you can afford it, anything nice you can do for your ladies is great, but that’s only if you can afford it!

As for your bridesmaid who called your wedding tacky … I want to use substantially angrier language, but I’m going to be all polite and simply say please ignore her opinion. I have been to plenty of weddings with handmade decorations, and I have consistently loved them! It adds a really personal touch and shows that you put a lot of love into the day.

Dear Heather,

I’m on my 2nd wedding, and people keep asking if I’m having a bridal shower or bachelorette party. Is it common to have another, or is it usually foregone?

I’m a Bride Again

Dear Again,

Normally, a 2nd wedding doesn’t include a bridal shower or bachelorette party. However, if you want to have them and have people who want to throw them for you, I say go for it! Two of my friends got married last year and it was a 2nd wedding for both of them. The bride didn’t want a shower, and I was bummed! We did end up doing a low-key dinner for her bachelorette party, but I would have loved more ways to celebrate her upcoming nuptials.

Some folks might get all judgmental if you have additional celebrations for a 2nd wedding. Those people are just mean. If you are truly concerned about their opinion, though, you could consider doing a “no gifts” shower, if you’re worried about looking gift-grabby.

And now, I’m going to hop on my soapbox about 2nd weddings, because I just cannot resist. Some people get all cranky about 2nd weddings, about how they aren’t “real” and blah blah blah. This is nonsense. Second weddings involve people who have already been married, been through the life-altering, decimating experience of divorce, and have the courage to try again. They’ve loved, had that loved ripped away, but care about this new person so much that they’re willing to risk that pain all over again. I think they’re brave. So there, society!

What do you think, lovely readers? Any suggestions for Bronx on how to cut costs? Have you ever learned your lesson from not reading a contract thoroughly? And how about Again? Would you have a shower and bachelorette party for a 2nd wedding? Are you like me, and always looking for a reason to celebrate? Let me know in the comments below!

Real Bride Andrea: A Fly on the Wall

I had the rare opportunity this weekend to attend a wedding where I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t a guest or a guest’s date so therefore I was able have a completely objective, fly-on-the-wall perspective of someone else’s special day. I got to watch a shoe-string budget wedding almost fail. But guess what? I was the only one who seemed to notice.


Our food at the Gedding. Simple and beautiful. We were proud!

A chef friend of mine asked if I would be her sous-chef for a wedding for about 40 people in Nipomo, CA. I love to cook and I love weddings and now I love to see what other couples are doing, so I agreed to do it with her. It should be noted here that one of the grooms (it was a gay wedding, a Gedding) is a co-worker of my chef friend. So, she (and I) were doing this for free. Free Catering from a genius chef and her cute sidekick? Nicely done, Grooms. Nicely done. The wedding was held at a modestly beautiful, country home. The ceremony was set up outside in the backyard with white folding chairs and several vases of flowers. The reception tables surrounded the ceremony area, ready to have the ceremony chairs added as soon as it was time to eat. About 5 hours before the ceremony was to begin, we arrived to several family members and friends (half the wedding guests) making favors, stringing lights and putting together flowers. From the looks on everyone’s faces, it was clear they’d been working all morning. There were people running around asking where things were, who was supposed to be where, etc. It seemed a little stressful to say the least.

We found the kitchen to be really well stocked for our needs, so we got to work on what seemed like 57 different small plates the grooms wanted us to put together. Stuffed mushrooms, pesto chicken, pulled pork sliders, curried cauliflower, crème fraiche potatoes, tapenade, etc, etc. (It all ended up being delicious!) The kitchen was a central location so I got to see and hear everything. So many things went awry, that even I was getting stressed out.


This is the “Chef friend,” Stephanie. We call her “Chefani.” I suppose I could’ve named her in the post before now. She is also one of my bridesmaids!

It seemed to be due to sheer lack of organization, so as a soon-to-be bride, I was taking notes! I got to see a lot of mistakes addressed in The Broke-Ass Bride book first hand! Here is what I learned for my own wedding:

Lesson 1: Be careful in using friends as vendors and have a back-up plan! The Dj cancelled last minute and they decided to “just turn on the iPod” (Yikes.) The DJ was “an old friend” of one of the grooms. Why would he cancel last minute?! From what I could tell, there was no other entertainment planned for the reception. After everyone had eaten and they had cut the cake, the sun had not even gone down yet and there was NUTHIN’ going on. By the time my chef friend and I left, (6pm) people were shuffling around to get ready to leave.

Lesson 2:  Limit alcohol consumption (and Lesson 1 again.) The owner of the venue (another friend of the Grooms’) began taking tequila shots at 1pm. Approximately 7-8 of those shots later, (And 7-8 times that I turned her down in joining her) she had, (surprise, surprise,) forgotten to make her special BBQ sauce for the pulled pork sliders. (I still haven’t decided if all the tequila was because she was nervous or that was a regular thing. Either way, it was impressive because despite 1,000 repeats of the joke that she was “trying to sauce the cooks” by offering us shots, she stayed pretty with it.) When she finally did remember, she barreled into the kitchen, pulled out several pots and pans, her laptop for the recipe (for her special sauce,) all the ingredients she might need, and more tequila. She started her sauce and promptly forgot that she was making said sauce so my chef friend came in to save it. Thank goodness! (I’m pretty sure the owner of the venue took all the credit for that sauce that she didn’t really make.) By the time the wedding was to begin, she had cleaned up pretty well but had a little sway to her. After the ceremony, she had moved on to wine and probably didn’t last much longer after we left. She invited us to Christmas Eve dinner, but probably won’t remember.

Lesson 3: No matter how small the wedding, make sure your wedding guests know where to go and when to go.  As the guests arrived, not one person knew where to go, not even the officiant! With all the family and friends helping with wedding favors and decorations when we arrived, you’d think they would’ve made some cute signs directing people where to go. They had so many cool areas set up, the ceremony area, a wine and beverage bar, the food tables, etc. Let people know that’s what’s happening! I was just the caterer’s assistant, and part of my job became directing people where to go and greeting other vendors (more friends) as they arrived. Throughout the wedding, people were like, “I guess the ceremony’s starting?” “Do we eat now?” “Is the bar open or what?” My chef friend and I had all the food set and ready to go as soon as the ceremony ended. Everyone approached the food tables and NO ONE partook. We had to run outside and yell, “Go ahead! Eat!” People really need to be given permission at weddings. Even small weddings need timelines.

Lesson 4: If you do use friends as vendors, figure out a way to thank them that doesn’t involve making your wedding a walking advertisement for their companies/services. There were, what seemed like, 100 “toasts” that went on forever thanking all the friends for their contributions for the wedding. “Thank you to Ben from Cakes R’ Us for the beautiful cake. You can find more of his cakes at!” or “We can’t thank our good friends at Wines R’ Us enough for their contributions today. They’ve been making wine since 1986 …”  Maybe some people might disagree with me on this and I do think that friends and family who make a wedding possible should be thanked, but this wedding sounded more like a golf charity event.

Lesson 5: As long as you’re happy, your guests will be happy. Ultimately, everyone was there to see the couple get married. They looked handsome and seemed really happy and that is really what matters. It is really a comforting feeling to know that, even if all my grand plans for the most awesome wedding of all time don’t all work out, people are still going to be happy to be there for us. And for that reason, we cannot fail.

But in all seriousness grooms, no entertainment? The iPod never even got turned on.

Catering a Gedding wouldn't be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.

Catering a Gedding wouldn’t be complete without a good selfie. Pardon my bangs, I worked pretty hard that day.

Still don’t have a venue …


Ask Heather: Asking Your Family For Money

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Alexander Cornelious

Dear Heather,

I just discovered The Broke Ass Bride and I’m happy. I really needed a website like this. My fiance and I had been together for 7 years, lived together for 4 and have a 3 year old son. We got engaged last October and are planning our wedding for next December. The problem is it is really going to be a low budget wedding. Most of everything, including my dress, the catering, flowers, the music, the photographer, the cake, some decoration, and even the alcohol has been covered by relatives since my fiance’s family is extremely close and really love throwing parties and helping each other in every way, including economically.

The problem is this: my family is big, my fiance’s family is huge. After taking out every single person that does not HAVE to be there, our guest list is 205 people. My fiance and I have been facing a hard time economically, which happened after we started planning and set a date, so we didn’t know we were going to have money problems. This is causing us to have a very hard time paying for a venue and we may not have a honeymoon right away. We will also need money for decorations, his tuxedo rental, and my dress accessories and alterations. A LOT of people have been telling us that if we need anything we should just say so because THEY WILL help with something for the wedding, but they don’t come asking what we need or offering anything. However, we need that help now or otherwise we will miss the venue due to availability. Plus, some relatives have made arrangements already to spend the holidays here because of the wedding.

We are trying to decide if we should write a note politely asking for help with the wedding planning instead of wedding gifts, since we don’t need anything for our home. The only thing we need is help for the wedding, be it money or other kind of help. I have read that it is always wrong to ask for money; that if I don’t have it, I shouldn’t be celebrating the wedding. I don’t want a big wedding. Right now, everything I need for the wedding to happen is the money for the venue.

What should I do? This is really stressing me out. Your response would really be a blessing.

Thank you very much!!

No Money For Venue

Dear Money,

It sounds like your main struggle right now is finding money for the venue you want. Is this particular venue nonnegotiable? If you haven’t considered all of your options, including finding a less expensive venue, do that first. If that venue is the only one that will work in your area, then you should talk to your fiance’s family. Since they’ve already offered money for various aspects of the wedding, ask if some of that money could be transferred to paying for the cost of the venue, especially if you have your heart set on a particular place. If they’re amenable to that option, then work on decreasing the cost of the other things they were going to pay for. Find a less expensive dress. Downscale on flowers and use only things in season. Talk to your caterer about ways to make the menu less expensive. Hire a more affordable DJ (or do an iPod reception) and photographer.

Once you’ve done all that, realize that it’s extremely unlikely that everyone on the invite list will attend. You said that you don’t want a big wedding. I’m not sure what constitutes “big” to you. While I don’t think that your invite list of 205 will ever turn into a 15-person super-intimate ceremony, I also don’t think that you’ll truly have 205 guests. Obviously, though, if you can cut the invite list, it will make other things more affordable, what with fewer meals, tables, chairs, centerpieces, etc. If you cannot cut the list, though, prepare to cut everything else, as referenced in the previous paragraph.

Speaking of invitees … some of them have offered to help. Take them up on it! When it comes to weddings, people want to help, but they need to know what you want. It’s extraordinarily unlikely that anyone will come up to you and say, “You know, I really want to do [x] to help with your wedding.” Instead, they make general offers of assistance, and it’s up to you to take the next step. Figure out some ways they could help – put the crafty ones to work on making decorations, have your seamstress friend help with dress alterations, tell the friend who makes jewelery what you want in regards to accessories and let her run wild – and give them specific tasks. The key here is that you have to actually ask them to help and give them achievable jobs.

You mentioned that you might not be able to afford a honeymoon right away. While it sucks, this is not the end of the world. I would suggest doing some sort of mini-moon; maybe see if there’s an affordable nearby bed and breakfast that you could escape to for a couple of days immediately after the wedding. And then, on your one-year-anniversary, take a bigger trip.

As for asking for money – I agree that writing a letter and explicitly asking for money is a no-go. However, there are plenty of registries out there now that let you ask for cash. We actually did a post recently about Present Value, which you should check out. I think something like that could serve you quite well.

Have you had friends or family offer to help? Did you take them up on it? How did it go? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Ask Heather: Dark Romance NYC Wedding on a Budget

Photo courtesy of Weddingbee

Dear Heather,

I’m a broke ass bride. My fiance and I are paying for our whole wedding, and my really optimistic budget is $8,000. My MIL keeps telling me not to worry about money, that she is going to help, but I’ve asked her directly what she can contribute and she doesn’t know… So I am planning the wedding as if that money does not exist. Did I mention, to make it all tougher, we are based in NYC?

The wedding is the evening of 10/25. So far we have a (probable) venue and a (probable) caterer. We’re transforming a raw gallery space and having a BBQ buffet. Because we are getting married close to Halloween, we are planning a red and black, dark romance, wrought iron and roses feel.

My question is, with my limited budget, how do I set a casual, fun feel for the wedding without looking cheap or tacky? What should I specifically avoid? I can’t afford a stylist or planner, so I’m looking for your good taste and lessons learned.

Ansley (and Derrick)

Dear Ansley (and Derrick),

Before I tackle your stylistic questions, I want to make sure that you’re on track with your budget. As a general guideline, approximately half of the total wedding budget tends to go toward venue and catering. Based on your probable vendors, hopefully this is realistic. If not, you need to reexamine some priorities. Also, I think it’s wise to not count on your MIL’s possible contributions until she gives you a hard and fast number. Worst case scenario – she chips in and you have extra funds. Whoohoo!

As far as your letter … the word “tacky” makes me sad. No matter what you do, odds are someone at your wedding or someone who hears about your wedding will find something about it that’s tacky. All weddings are at least a little tacky. Let’s all please promise to let go of tacky. All it does is tear us down. And now, a pause while I climb off my soapbox.

Okay. Now onto your questions! Quite honestly, I’m not really sure that “a red and black, dark romance, wrought iron and roses feel” meshes with “a casual, fun feel”. The former seems quite formal, while the latter obviously is not. So, I’m going to do my best, but I suggest that you give more consideration to how you want your wedding to look and feel, as there is a bit of a disconnect right now.

For your wedding, I suggest focusing on a few things: (1) Rather than doing formal floral centerpieces, I love the look of candles and scattered petals. This will likely be less costly, and everyone looks fabulous in candlelight. The catch here – make sure your venue allows candles, as some do not. (2) Give a thought to using some DIY uplighting. Lighting can have a really dramatic effect on an event, and it gives you a lot of bang for your buck. This will be especially helpful if your rental company only has white linens, which leads us nicely into (3) Don’t be afraid of using linens with a bit of color to them. Some rental places will charge extra for non-white tablecloths and napkins, but this is not universally true. Having some colorful linens will help with the dark romance theme without damaging your budget. (4) Do your best to buy used decor from another couple and sell the stuff you use when you’re done with it. There are a lot of sites that allow you to list and browse merchandise (the classified section on Weddingbee is the one that springs to mind most readily, but there are definitely more out there), so go to town seeing what you can find. (5) Definitely look for wedding inspiration online–I’ve seen gorgeous gothic weddings that pull off reds and blacks beautifully.

As for what to avoid … You’ll likely want to smack me for my lack of specificity, but avoid anything that doesn’t make you happy. People will judge you no matter what you choose, but if you and your fiance like something, that’s all that really matters.

Do you have any other suggestions as to what decor Ansley (and Derrick) could use? Or did you have something “tacky” at your wedding? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

On Marriage: Is Marriage An All or Nothing Proposition?

I have a number of friends who are somewhat cynical about weddings: they point to the divorce statistics and scoff that people spent so much money only to be single again a few years later. But the divorce statistic alone doesn’t tell the entire story. The idea of what a marriage entails has evolved as a cultural notion, and with it, so have our individual expectations of it. Among the marriages that endure, those who are happiest in their marriages now are actually happier than at any point in history. Conversely, those who are unhappy in their marriages are more unhappy than ever before. But still, isn’t sublime happiness worth taking the chance and making the effort? You don’t gain anything by refusing to try.



ARE marriages today better or worse than they used to be?

This vexing question is usually answered in one of two ways. According to the marital decline camp, marriage has weakened: Higher divorce rates reflect a lack of commitment and a decline of moral character that have harmed adults, children and society in general. But according to the marital resilience camp, though marriage has experienced disruptive changes like higher divorce rates, such developments are a sign that the institution has evolved to better respect individual autonomy, particularly for women. The true harm, by these lights, would have been for marriage to remain as confining as it was half a century ago.

As a psychological researcher who studies human relationships, I would like to offer a third view. Over the past year I immersed myself in the scholarly literature on marriage: not just the psychological studies but also work from sociologists, economists and historians. Perhaps the most striking thing I learned is that the answer to whether today’s marriages are better or worse is “both”: The average marriage today is weaker than the average marriage of yore, in terms of both satisfaction and divorce rate, but the best marriages today are much stronger, in terms of both satisfaction and personal well-being, than the best marriages of yore.

Consider, for example, that while the divorce rate has settled since the early 1980s at around 45 percent, even those marriages that have remained intact have generally become less satisfying. At the same time, consider the findings of a recent analysis, led by the University of Missouri researcher Christine M. Proulx, of 14 longitudinal studies between 1979 and 2002 that concerned marital quality and personal well-being. In addition to showing that marital quality uniformly predicts better personal well-being (unsurprisingly, happier marriages make happier people), the analysis revealed that this effect has become much stronger over time. The gap between the benefits of good and mediocre marriages has increased.

How and why did this divergence occur? In answering this question, I worked with the psychologists Chin Ming Hui, Kathleen L. Carswell and Grace M. Larson to develop a new theory of marriage, which we will publish later this year in a pair of articles in the journal Psychological Inquiry. Our central claim is that Americans today have elevated their expectations of marriage and can in fact achieve an unprecedentedly high level of marital quality — but only if they are able to invest a great deal of time and energy in their partnership. If they are not able to do so, their marriage will likely fall short of these new expectations. Indeed, it will fall further short of people’s expectations than at any time in the past.

Marriage, then, has increasingly become an “all or nothing” proposition. This conclusion not only challenges the conventional opposition between marital decline and marital resilience; but it also has implications for policy makers looking to bolster the institution of marriage — and for individual Americans seeking to strengthen their own relationships.

Intrigued? Read the rest at The New York Times.

Ask Heather: My Sister Planned Her Bridal Shower On My Anniversary

Image courtesy of Joe Lanman

Dear Heather,

I just found out that my sister planned her bridal shower on the same day as my wedding anniversary. It is out of town so I’ll have to go away the whole weekend away from my husband. I already committed to bringing all the food, so I am pretty involved and wish I had been considered in the decision.

Am I being overly sensitive that I wish she would have considered our own anniversary being an important day that I’d want to spend with my husband? I probably would have said it was ok had she asked first, but felt caught off-guard that invitations were sent out with the date chosen already.


Dueling Dates

Dear Dueling,

I do think that you’re being a little sensitive. Here are a few reasons why: (1) Because it’s a shower, I’m assuming someone is throwing it for her, so your sister might not have been the one who chose the date. If the host simply asked about your sister’s availability, she likely just gave that person a list of dates when she was free. (2) Even if your sister did choose the date herself, I suspect it was simply an oversight that she happened to choose your anniversary. Quite honestly, I have no idea when my sister’s anniversary even is, so if I planned something on that date, it wouldn’t dawn on me. And even if your sister knows exactly when your anniversary is, in the moment and with the stress of planning a wedding, she might have forgotten. (3) For some people, anniversaries aren’t all that important. My husband and I rarely do anything for our anniversary, so if one of us were out of town, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Your sister might not have realized that this was going to upset you.

Given all that, it would have been courteous of your sister to check with you in advance, especially if she definitely knew it was your anniversary and knew that it was important to you to spend that specific day with your husband. Unfortunately, you’re now stuck in a situation that will entail being away from your husband on your anniversary, so the two of you need to make the best of it. I have a friend whose husband travels all the time for work, and he’s always out of town for both Valentine’s Day and their anniversary, so they make it work by celebrating on other days. When you really think about it, it isn’t the specific day that matters. What’s important is that you and your husband have been together for another year, and that can be celebrated on any day.

Have you been apart from your spouse on your anniversary? How did you end up celebrating the occasion?

On Marriage: The science of happily ever after

This article in the New York Post riveted me. Whether you’re looking for love, currently engaged, or already wedded to your mate… the statistics revealing what qualities in a person makes them likely to be candidates for happy marriage that Susannah Cahalan presents herein are boggling. In the details of piece, I can see why my first marriage – though brilliant on paper – was far from perfect in reality. I can see how much better suited Paul is for me, as a life partner. I can see how legions of ex-boyfriends past fit perfectly in their place of “not for me.”

And I came away from it knowing what traits to better focus on cultivating within myself as time goes on, to make me a better partner for Paul, and do my part in ensuring the future satisfaction of our marriage. It’s fascinating, what science is capable of understanding, and predicting. And it’s amazing, to see where our priorities, as humans, really shake down, in terms of seeking a mate. Give it a read, and see what you think. Does it resonate with your past, present or vision of your future? Does it motivate you to nurture different attitudes within yourself, about what “true love” means?

I hope you like it as much as I did! 

Make a mental list of attributes you’d require in your perfect mate. Do you picture a handsome, tall man, with six figures in the bank, a sharp wit, a sweet sensibility and an Ivy League diploma to round him out?

Well, I have a bridge to sell you.

That’s because in love, as with genies, we only get three wishes, says relationship expert Ty Tashiro. The more traits you pick that are above the average, the lower the statistical odds that you’ll find a match. And three is the tipping point.

Imagine you have a room of 100 men. If you choose mediocrity — the trifecta of average income, looks and height — you’ll have, statistically, only 13 suitors out of 100 to choose from. Increase your criteria to an attractive man at least 6-feet tall who makes $87,000, and you’re left with only one.

Add another trait — funny, kind, even a political affiliation — and it becomes statistically impossible to find him out of 100 men.

Tashiro, a professor at the Center for Addictions, Personality, and Emotion Research at the University of Maryland, has run the numbers and thinks we’re approaching this whole finding-a-mate thing wrong. He urges singles to be more statistical in their approach to the “irrational” world of dating.

“All this wishing has led to a case of wanting everything and getting nothing,” Tashiro writes in his first book, “The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love” (Harlequin). Dating should be “about learning to weed out the undesirable traits and rethinking our views about what really matters in a romantic partner.”

Our fairy-tale view of romance — 88 percent of adults believe in soul mates — has contributed to the fact that although 90 percent of people will marry in their lifetimes, only three in 10 will find enduring love, Tashiro says. (He gets this statistic by adding unhappy marriages and separations to the 50 percent divorce rate).

When finding a long-term partner, don’t waste your wishes, he warns.

So what should be on your list? Keep attractiveness off the table, if you can. Looks are not a predictor of sexual satisfaction, nor do they correlate to happier marriages. In fact, there “is no reliable association between physical attractiveness and relationship satisfaction,” he writes, quoting from his own research.

A study at the University of Tennessee, which recruited 82 newlyweds to rate each other’s attractiveness (to keep it honest they also had the research assistants rate their hotness factor), corroborates his conclusions. What they found was that there was “no relationship between either partner’s level of physical attractiveness and either partner’s relationship satisfaction.” The only significant association found was that the most physically attractive men were least satisfied with their marriages.

Read the rest of the article, here! 


Real Bride Kate: The Engagement Peanut Gallery

From the time Daniel and I started considering marriage, the wedding world and its inhabitants had warned me about the inevitable wedding inquisition. As a newly engaged woman, I expected to be bombarded by questions about the proposal, the wedding date, and even wedding minutiae like the kind of veil I may wear. And trust me, I have been. However, I was not expecting inquiries that are blatantly sexist and, for lack of a better word, question the integrity of my and Daniel’s relationship. I realize our situation is unorthodox – being a young, international couple is not normal, especially in not-so-urban midwest America – but I am still shocked by some of the questions we’ve been forced to answer.

Before I go any further, I want to offer a disclaimer. Daniel and I love our friends and family, and the majority of them have been entirely supportive. When we have received inappropriate questions, we know they come from a place of love and concern for us, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.

Now then, listen up! If you are under 25 and in any kind of long distance (especially international) relationship, here are 12 tough (and some just plain dumb) questions to watch out for.

These first four questions are only for me, and I hate to play the gender card, but…

1. Are you going to finish college?

Well, since it’s still the 1950s, and I was only at university to receive my MRS. degree anyway, you’re right! I may as well drop my books and pick up a spatula. My simple mind clearly can’t juggle academics and housewifery at the same time. (For the record, if you’re the domestic type – fantastic, I’m not knocking it! But if you knew me, you’d know how ridiculous this question is.)

Seriously, though. I’m only one semester away from graduation. Even if I weren’t that close to done, my personal growth is more important to me AND to Daniel than my “wifely” duties.

2. Are you still going to graduate school?

See question 1. In case that’s not clear enough, I’m still going when I am ready. In fact, being engaged to Daniel only increases my desire to go, because we will be going to graduate school together and supporting one another through it.

3. When are you going to start a family?

Well, we already have a son, Thomas (my cat). We’ll probably expand when we live in an apartment or house that allows us to have two pets, and then we’ll get a dog (to be named Sigmund). Oh? You mean human children? Ha! Never.

4. Don’t you think you’re a little young to get married?

Did I miss something in Biology class? Is there some magical age where the “marriage gene” switches on and one is suddenly fit for life-long monogamy? No. I think marriage “age” is about maturity level. I think I’m ready. I was just lucky enough to find the perfect partner early in life, just like my parents did before me.

Now for the international gems. We’re not amused by those either.

5. How can you possibly know each other well enough to get married?

This is one we get a lot, because from the outside, our relationship seems like five visits, totaling about 14 weeks. So, for those of you who don’t know, thanks to modern technology, people can now communicate face-to-face via the internet and spend hours upon hours getting to know one another. Like Daniel and I have, every day, for multiple hours a day, for the last year and a half.

6. Are you just marrying Daniel for immigration purposes?

No. If you knew how time-consuming and how expensive the visa process was, you wouldn’t even ask such a thing.

7. Are you worried Daniel is just using you for a green card?

No. Trust me, if all he wanted was a mail-order bride for immigration purposes, he could have found someone much less emotionally-demanding than me. Not to sound high-maintenance, but I expect a lot of emotional commitment in a marriage-worthy relationship, and if he were just looking for a green card, he would be idiotic to pick me.

FYI: From a legal standpoint, a green card is a few steps after marriage. So, asking if I’m a green card ticket is inaccurate. A green card is a work permit, not an immigration visa. And besides, have you seen the American job market lately? Just saying, the economic recession is still real in a lot of job fields.

8. What if Daniel moves here and it doesn’t work out?

What if you get married to your next door neighbor and it doesn’t work out? Then, it doesn’t work out! At least we gave it a proper shot. Legally speaking, he’ll get deported and go home to his beautiful native country and his loving family and friends. I’ll go home to my beautiful native state and my loving family and friends. Seriously, though, thanks for assuming our marriage will fail.

9. Why can’t you wait a few more years to get married?

This question normally has different angles. Why can’t we wait until we’re both done with graduate school? Because we don’t want to wait another five to seven years to be together. Why can’t we wait until we know each other better? Because we already know each other better than we know anyone…and don’t you think we’d know each other even better if we could spend more time together in person? Oh, and maybe, it’s because we love each other and want to be married.

10. How do your families feel about all of this?

Honestly, this is really difficult for them. Daniel’s family is losing him to another country. My family is gaining the responsibility of helping Daniel when he arrives. Both families are facing an unorthodox situation the likes of which they never dreamed would happen. We’re all just making the best of it. Overall, though, both sides are handling it with optimism and goodwill.

11. Is 90 days really enough time to plan a wedding?

To quote my mother, “I threw together a wedding in six weeks, and my marriage has lasted 25 years.” So, yes, it is possible. It is not ideal. That is why we are thinking of doing two “weddings” – one to handle the legal side and one to handle the celebration side.

12. Why couldn’t you find a nice American boy/Australian girl?

This is the WORST question ever. A) It implies that the other person is not “nice” because of his/her respective nationality. B) It implies that we chose to fall in love with each other. C) It implies that the burden of the relationship is on our family/friends, who we have gravely disappointed. Our answer? WE JUST DIDN’T. We found each other, and we’re happy. Capiche?

On the bright side, these questions have really benefited Daniel and me. Even though they can be a bit scary and upsetting to answer, their persistence in our engagement has forced us to reiterate our commitment to each other and helped us to grow stronger as a couple. No matter what comes next, I know that if we can face these questions, we can face anything together.

Okay, rant over. International Bridezilla out.

Ask Heather: Big vs Small Vow Renewal

Image courtesy of Christy Kellish Photography

Dear Heather,

My husband and I are renewing our vows in October. Our original wedding, ten years ago, only cost $500 TOTAL. It was very small. We only had our parents with us and celebrated with a small dinner after.  I am having a difficult time this time around because 1. I don’t want to spend a ton of money 2. I am torn by the cost of a big party and 3. I want a big party.

My heart tells me I want a Sue Wong gown (or one that looks like her designs). I want to rent a hall and have a traditional reception with friends and family and dancing and food. I want a wedding cake. My head tells me the expense is stupid and to just keep it small again. I don’t want to feel like I missed out … again.

What do I do? Any advice? I think I am sounding whiny and spoiled. Neither are very becoming.

I would appreciate your help and advice.
Thank you,

Dear Angel,

First, congratulations on ten years! That’s definitely worth celebrating! Second, I don’t think you sound either whiny or spoiled. Rather, you sound like someone who is conflicted.

If I’m interpreting your letter correctly, you seem to regret having such a small celebration the first time around. For some folks, what you did at your wedding would have been fantastic and exactly what they wanted. I get the feeling that you aren’t one of those people. Unfortunately, your letter left out a crucial detail: How does your husband feel? For the sake of being able to answer your question, I’m going to assume you two are largely on the same page. If I’m way off base, please don’t take my advice; talk to him instead!

There are basically two ways to approach your concerns – “How can I make my celebration less expensive?” OR “How can I justify to myself what I want to do?” There are plenty of suggestions on this site for making things less expensive (for instance, our Real Budget $5k or less weddings and Can’t Afford It/Get Over It archives). So, I’m going to tackle the latter, more emotionally-loaded question.

Personally, I think you should go with your heart but allow your head to have at least a little input. Your first celebration was quite small, and it sounds like you want your vow renewal to involve more people. There’s nothing at all wrong with this. There’s something really magical about being surrounded by people who love you, and it’s okay to want this! However, more people means more expenses, especially if you intend to feed and entertain those people. Think about having a party at your house – you likely wouldn’t feel guilty spending money to make dinner for your guests. A wedding or vow renewal is similar, just potentially on a bigger scale.

It also sounds like you and your husband need to spend some time figuring out what you want your vow renewal to look like. You mentioned wanting a specific dress and having a more traditional reception. What exactly does this look like to you? As you nail down what you truly want and who you genuinely want to be there, you might realize that it won’t really be all that expensive. Plus, in addition to paying for that one day, you’re also buying a lifetime of memories. Spend your money wisely, but don’t berate yourself for wanting something a big grander this time. You’re celebrating ten whole years!

Did you have a vow renewal? Was it a big or a small affair? Tell us all about it in the comments below!