Orange, Blue, & Pink

Orange (Leukemia), Blue (Prostate), & Pink (Breast)

My husband never had the pleasure of meeting my grandfathers (specifically my mother’s father) and I never had the honor of meeting one of his.

Why? Because cancer is an evil and cruel thing.

Leukemia shortened my grandpa’s life and prostate cancer took the life of my husband’s grandpa… both were taken from this world far too early.

My grandfather never had the chance to meet any of his great-grandchildren. He wasn’t able to watch all of his grandchildren graduate from high school or college or get married. He didn’t get to meet all his in-laws and they didn’t get the chance to meet him, because of complications due to cancer.

I never had the change to meet my grandpa-in-law. I have seen photos of him and I have been told of his character and it hurts my heart to know that I missed my chance to meet him on this earth because of cancer.

My mother was also a near-victim of cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she fought hard and won her battle. Many aren’t so blessed.

That is why I volunteer for organizations like Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana. That is why I champion causes that bring awareness of this disease. That is why I help raise money for cancer research. Because grandpa’s shouldn’t die so early. Mother’s shouldn’t be at risk of leaving their children behind. Because too many people suffer each year. Too many people die each day.

Cancer is a predator, but we can help the victims and we can attack back!


Weddings: A lesson in…

Patience, Conviction, Priorities, & Negotiation.

I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance, A church filled with family and friends.I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for, He said one that would make me his wife.~Author Unknown

After nearly two years of marriage, the nightmares about the wedding planning are finally decreasing in frequency. I can now walk past a wedding boutique without cringing and feeling tulle crawling on my skin. I can eat cake without imagining if guests will like it. I can enjoy flowers for the prettiness and not for there potential in a bouquet.

Long story short, the therapy is working!

Okay, so I’m being extremely sarcastic. Don’t misunderstand, I Love being married, but the wedding planning… well, let’s just say that if I could do it all over again it would be Vegas-style all the way!

Recently, however, a dear friend asked me if I have any wedding-planning advice. Well dear friend (and anyone else planning a wedding), this blog is for you! Keep in mind, though, these are my opinions, I’m sure there are many that would disagree with me, but each wedding is different. It’s up to you whose advice you take. Also, this blog is long and I’m sorry for that, but I feel that everything in the list is important.

Thought #1: Remember that your wedding day is only one day. Yes, there is that perfect dress that you love and you are contemplating selling your car to pay for it, but it’s not really worth it. Make the day about you and your spouse, but don’t get so carried away that you don’t have any money left at the end of the day or that your parents are suffering because of your wedding choices.

Thought #2: I enjoy doing my own make-up. It relaxes me. I thought that having a professional do my make-up on the big day would make life easier, but it stressed me out. I ended up washing off some of what she did (though it looked fine) and redoing it because it was something I enjoy doing and it helped me relax. Think about the things in your life that relax you and make those a part of your day. Be that your hair or your nails or your make-up.

Thought #3: Be kind to your bridal party. Keep their budget it mind as well. I have been many a wedding and have paid a large sum of money for bridesmaid’s dresses that I haven’t worn again (save one which was a fluke… two brides I stood up for chose the same dress in the same color one year apart… don’t count on this happening to you). My choice for my wedding: I gave the bridesmaids a color and a few perimeters (length, solid color, etc.) and let them choose something they loved. Groomsmen wore stuff that they already had in their closets and we rented their vests instead of asking them to rent tuxes. Though these options might not be what you want to do, still keep budgets in mind and don’t ask them to sell their blood on the black market to pay for a dress that you want.

Thought #4: Don’t get so wrapped up in appearances that you spend tons extra on things that aren’t necessary. For instance, if it’s cheaper for you to get married and have a reception at the same location and you like the look of the place, don’t discount this idea just because others think it’s “lame.” It’s your wedding; don’t loose sight of that (though a caveat with that: there is a find line between “this is our wedding” and “I want everything my way”).

Thought#5: Flowers are pricey (and heavy!). When picking bouquets, think about what is common for the season you are getting married in. Also, don’t ask your bridesmaids to hold large bouquets for the entire ceremony (the large the bouquet, the most costly, also).

Thought #6: Remember who you know. I don’t mean hunt down everyone who owns you a favor and call it in. I mean, you went to your friends wedding two months ago and you loved the votives she used… ask if you can borrow them for your wedding and arrange them differently. Your aunt has a large number of tablecloths in the perfect shade of green? Ask if you can use them on your gifts table, head table, etc. The less you rent, the more you save.

Thought #7: If you choose to do a dinner or finger-foods for your reception, I would recommend having it catered. Yes, it costs more, but peace-of-mind and allowing your friends and family to relax during the reception makes it worth it. Remember, there are no requirements about what you must do for your reception. A 5-course meal isn’t a must, it’s a choice. But you must keep in mind the time of day your reception will fall in. If your reception will fall around dinnertime, be kind to your guests and feed them at least something! If it falls around 3pm, finger-foods will be cheaper (probably). Also, a good rule of thumb to remember about the number of invitations you send versus how many people will attend is: (# of Invitations x 2) x 80% = the number of people you should expect.

Thought #8: Don’t get to fancy with food. Beef wellington is tasty, but it’s pricey. Unless it’s your favorite, why serve it on your big day? This is where a themed reception can be nice, because it can lend itself to food decisions. How so? Here’s an example: We had a carnival themed wedding, which meant that we could have coney dogs and sno-cones! Cheap, tasty, and all stuff we love!

Thought #9: Invitations are pricey and a pain in the butt. If you know a graphic artist (not just someone that can draw, but an actual graphic artist!), see if you can make a deal with them. You can have one-of-a-kind invitations, have them printed at Kinkos, and save yourself money.

Thought #10: Set up a wedding website ASAP. Make sure you choose to set up a site on a website that offers to do RSVPs. This will make your existence much happier. It also allows you to give people/guests information during the planning process.

Thought #11: Register is meant to be fun, don’t let it be a chore or cause fights! Set aside an entire day for this experience. It may not take all day (hopefully for your feet it won’t take that long), but if you plan it this way, you won’t be rushed. Make a date out of it and allow yourselves to dream and have fun picking things. Remember to pick things in a variety of price ranges. Guys can get really bored with this project, so I recommend letting your man hold the gun and scan things. It keeps them a bit more engaged. Also, don’t be selfish on this day; let your man choose things he might want too (tools, electronics, etc.). Oh, check the return policy for places you register. Oh and one more thing on this subject: Bed Bath & Beyond is the most fun place to register!

Thought #12: Pick someone, either a professional wedding coordinator or someone you know and trust, to act as coordinator for the day. I think hiring a wedding coordinator is overkill if you are worrying about a budget (in other words, if money was no object, I would have hired one). I would recommend picking someone you trust who is organized and is comfortable with the gig who isn’t going to try to take over to coordinate the day (i.e. make sure everyone is where they need to be at the right time, work with photographer so that you get some “getting ready” shots, makes sure that the reception is ready to go, that the emcee has the proper notes for the reception, etc.).

Thought #13: Speaking of emcees, if you are having dancing at your reception, a DJ isn’t a bad idea (though this can be expensive) because they have experience. However, picking a few hours worth of your favorite music also works. Just make sure you have someone picked to act as emcee for the reception (i.e. introduce the couple and attendant, announce the cutting of the cake, intro the toasts, etc.). Theatre and communication students tend to be good at this task.

Thought #14: Don’t think that everything you need for the wedding must be purchased in a store. For instance, my veil was purchased from It cost me $15 and was identical to the $85 one at a bridal boutique. Same story can be said for the corset I wore under my dress: $20 online, $65 in stores. The jewelry that I gave my bridesmaids as a thank you, it was all purchased at and was far more unique than anything I could have found in a store for the same price.

Thought #15: Shoes. This can be a tough subject because there are so many cute shoes in the world, but be kind to your feet. You may say, “but I love wearing heels” and that may be true, but if you can avoid it, don’t wear stilettos at your wedding. Wear cute, but comfy shoes, and make sure you break them in before the wedding (can I get an AMEN from other past brides out there?). Also, I’m an advocate for changing shoes for the reception. Don’t go barefoot if you can avoid it; you don’t want to have super messy feet on your wedding day or your wedding night and people can step on your toes (literally) and that hurts. Wear shoes of some kind.

Thought #16: Photography is a BIG deal. You photos are a big deal. If you are going to skimp on cost for your wedding, DON’T DO IT HERE! I’m not saying spend a couple thousand dollars, but don’t ask your Aunt Wanda to take your photos because she has a camera and you want to save money. Ask around, look at samples, see who you like, and then barter with them for the price you want. But don’t skimp on this step just to save a few bucks.

Thought #17: Lots of people in this world do hair, not all of them do it well, but many do it just fine. Find someone you trust to do a good job (do at least one test run!!!!) but don’t feel like you have to go to some fancy boutique to get a good hair-do. It’s not worth it. You’re hair needs to look pretty and stay all day, not cure cancer.

Thought #18: Rent a room SOMEWHERE for you wedding night. Don’t get on a plane that same day and expect it to be darling. Find a nice, quiet hotel somewhere close-ish to the place you got hitched and hunker down there for your wedding night. You will be tired and so will your groom. Don’t set expectations that are too high for this evening. As for the honeymoon, I would recommend taking a few days and going somewhere that will relax you. Save up for a bigger honeymoon on your first anniversary or something like that. Right after the wedding, the most important thing is relaxing and getting used to being with your new spouse. Taking a week in Cancun would be a blast, but it’s pricey and isn’t the most important thing in the world and you shouldn’t go in debt for it. Save your money and take a more exciting trip on your first or second anniversary. By that time, you will know your spouse and things can be a lot more relaxed, fun, and exciting at that point!

Thought #19: Cake is tasty and fun, no questions there. But choose a design and style (and flavor) that you want, don’t give in to what other say you should do. Another option is to forgo cake and do cookies or cupcakes. This can sometimes be cheaper. Ask around, get prices. And remember this, the cake is no longer a HUGE focal point of the wedding, it is just a tradition. Don’t spend tons on this tradition just for traditions sake; allow yourself to think outside the box.

Thought #20: You have the engagement ring, now it’s time to choose the wedding bands. This is what you make of it. My husband and I didn’t spend thousands, but we did select a budget and we stuck to it. We both got something we love! But the key is to decide on a budget and stick to it. Shop around, but make sure you get a warranty of some kind. Rings deal with a lot of wear and tear and damage happens. You don’t want to have to pay tons for your ring repairs because you skimped and didn’t get a warranty.

Thought #21: Becoming a Mrs. is tough work. It takes time and paperwork. Don’t think that changing your name will happen overnight and all will be right in the world, because it won’t. I’ll debunk the Santa Clause myth here to if you like. Gather the paperwork you need and hit the pavement. You need to change your social security card, your bank cards, your license, your mailing address name, etc. Make a list of everything that needs to confirm that you are  now Mrs. [insert your new last name here] and start making calls, seeing what paperwork you need before you go to the office to change it, and don’t get discouraged. This is important, but time consuming.

Thought #22: Thank you notes are a chore, but a necessary chore. People appreciate your thanks. But brides, the gifts weren’t all for you, they were for your husband too! He can help with thank you notes! They aren’t rocket science! These also don’t have to cost a fortune. You can get blank postcards and stamp them and send them as postcards (i.e. without envelopes) and save some money.

Thought #23: This is more of a helpful thought for your receptions, but actually take time to SEE your guests. It flies by and once it’s over, there is no going back. Make the rounds and see the people that have traveled to be part of your day. Don’t let Auntie Velma horde your time and attention.

Thought #24: Bridezilla Syndrome: this is a very real and all-to-common disease that can be avoided if brides realize that their wedding day is ONE day of their life and that things WILL go wrong. It may be little things, but things will go wrong. Prepare yourself to roll with the punches. Don’t get so attached to something that if it doesn’t pan out, you hate life. Remember that at the end of the day, only one thing matters: you said “I Do” and so did he.

And my final thought (at least for now) on weddings is this: A wedding is one day. It’s only ONE day. Don’t let that one day stop you or hinder you in any way from preparing for your actual marriage. Many a good relationship is tarnished during the months of wedding planning. Don’t get so wrapped up in the wedding that you forget that what comes after is FAR more important.

Tale as old as time…

Song as old as rhyme, only this time, Beauty was the Beast.

Check out this artists renditions of Disney Classics to Twisted Princess.

It’s things like this that make me desperately wish I could do ANYTHING artistic. Yes, the images are a bit disturbing, but brilliant in their darkness – desperate in their haunting.