Happy Father’s Day!!

Just as I wrote this past Mother’s Day (to read more click here) this is my first year honoring both of the men who now call me daughter. They are both hard working men who love the simple yet important elements of life: time with family, good homemade meals, the great outdoors, leading and teaching others, and working with their hands.

Luke and his father John

Luke and his father John

the men in my life (minus the brother/brother-in-law)

the men in my life (minus the brother/brother-in-law)

As with Mother’s Day, I could continue this blog post with compliments and tell of great moments with my fathers, but will continue with the wedding theme and again tell a story:

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As I mentioned in No bring bearer? No problem!!  I chose not to have a ring bearer and therefore no pillow to carry the rings down the aisle for our wedding. So what did we do instead?

My dad is a very skilled woodworker. Growing up the garage was always a woodshop. I can only remember one time my car was strategically placed in the garage around the table saws, lathes, and current projects. So when I asked my dad if he’d be willing to make a wood ring box to place in our flower girl’s basket I knew I was in for some surprising, creative, quality work.

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The result: three different wooden boxes all intricately designed, interesting, and beautiful. My father even considered my wedding colors picking light colored woods to balance out a dark strip of a highly valuable purple heart. He even asked my mom for some plush beige fabric which he used to line the boxes, making them into true jewelry boxes.

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In the end we chose the box pictured in the middle above partially for the craftsmen style and color contrast, but also because the lid slid open through grooves in the top of the box. This feature made it less likely anything would fall off or out the wedding .

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In the end all boxes were sanded, finished with layers of lacquer, and lined with the felt fabric. Now we have all three placed around the house one in our bedroom on my dresser, one in the pass through in the kitchen, and one in the built in bookshelf in the living room.

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Each serve as a safe place to put my wedding rings while I am working around the house and remind me of the patient, detailed, diligent, creative work and character of the one who made them.

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Love you Dad, hope you have a great Father’s Day!!!

Memorial Day Flashback!

Memorial day weekend is often a time for family, BBQs and of course honoring those who have served our country. But for Luke and I it will also always signify the anniversary of our engagement. That’s right a year ago today we got engaged!

Luke and I had just graduated two weeks earlier with our Masters degrees from APU. Our many friends and family wondered if Luke might propose at our graduation BBQ that afternoon in front of everyone. Fortunately, Luke knew that this would not work for me. I wanted our engagement to be an “us” moment. I wanted us to be able to share the news with family, friends, and facebook on our terms and in our timing.

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So back to Memorial day weekend. Many times over we had been invited to Morro Bay to stay with my grandparents for the weekend.  And finally with our Masters degrees over we drove the four hours north to their beach house.

Friday we decided to take some time to ourselves. We pack up some picnic lunches and headed to Montana de Oro State Park. It was a sunny windy beautiful day. Driving through the eucalyptus trees and past the dunes we parked near a trail that followed the cliffs down to the ocean. We took a few relaxing moments to enjoy the view and walk down the trail.

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We stopped at a look-out spot where the waves crashed on large rocks on the cliff below. Luke turned to me and said he had an important question to ask me.

Now we had brought up the conversation of engagement and timing many times in the past few months. So when he asked me, “are you ready to get married?” I just had to double check what I was hearing.

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Luke joked about saying that ” cheesy line” but before he could launch into it I stopped him. He followed this up by  teasing, “I can get on one knee if you want”. I told him no. He understood that I didn’t like the attention and knows I don’t like being put on the spot so he didn’t expect and immediate response. I took a second to take in the moment. After what was probably an eternity for Luke, I finally said “You knew my answer would always be yes”.

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As you can imagine that was followed by a kiss, a twirl, and a big hug. We stood there enjoying the view and the moment until we realized that we were hogging the look-out spot. Not wanting a crowd we decided to walk on down the path and contemplate the huge step we just made towards our future.

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Now we knew that the picnic lunch in our car just wouldn’t do. So we drove to Lynn’s Easy as Pie for lunch in Cambria to have quiche and pie to celebrate.

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Luke's was raspberry rhubarb and mine was boysenberry

Luke’s was raspberry rhubarb and mine was boysenberry

We then drove back into Morro Bay and toured the Morro Bay Rock. Parking near the docks, we decided it was time to call our parents and share the news.

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When we got back to my grandparent’s house we told them the good news too. The rest of the weekend was spent looking at vintage rings online and talking about dates.

Happy Mother’s Day

We are spending this Mother’s day sleeping off last nights travels back to New York. We had a wonderful time with family out in Oregon. We wish we could spend mother’s day with our moms but I think we did the next best thing by seeing them the week before.

Speaking of moms-I’ve got great ones. That being that I include both my mother and my mother-in-law. I am blessed to be able to celebrate two amazing women this year 🙂

Mom 2 aka my mother-in-law

Mom 2 aka my mother-in-law

My mom

My mom

I could write forever about my moms but I think for this year, continuing on the wedding season theme, I will share a story:

My bridal shower was on a hot sunny September day this past fall in SoCal. As my mom and I packed gifts in the car from those who couldn’t come, in also went a big black and white rose print bag which I couldn’t place. It was from my mom. She told me I would have no clue what it was, which of course made me so curious I couldn’t wait to open it at the shower.

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After some fun games, great treats, and catching up with my female friends and family it was finally gift-time. There were some great surprises, sentimental touches, and awesome picks from our registry. But nothing prepared me for what was in that rose printed bag.

I looked at the card : “something from home to take with you no matter where you live”. I pulled the heavy bag onto my lap, quickly tore out the tissue paper and began to pull out a red and white quilt pattern. I asked my mom: “Did you make a tree skirt for me or is this yours?” See my mom had been taking quilting classes for the past six months. In that time she had made a Christmas and Thanksgiving wall hanging and a beautiful tree skirt. So my first thought was that she was either giving away her tree skirt or she had made one for me.

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Then she encouraged me to pull the whole thing out. I was shocked as she and my grandmother helped me unfold a complete queen size quilt all in red and white to match my beautiful red headboard (see sleep after marriage ).

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As I admired the details she told me the story: My mom had been working on this since the beginning of her quilting class, the second she knew I was engaged. She casually asked me to look at some of her quilting magazines and noticed me eyeing the  red and white pattern with the 8 point stars. She quickly took the pattern, went to the store and got started.

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All those other quilting projects were cover ups for her real masterpiece. The many annoying times she asked when I was going to be home or how long I’d be gone was so she knew when she could secretly sew the quilt.  This gift was gorgeous, totally unexpected, and I know my mom put hard work into it. The pattern was for intermediate to advance quilters but she did it anyways. That’s my mom for you.

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It took on even more significance when we found out we were moving to the East Coast. I would still have this beautiful piece  from my mom that would remind me of home. Through the winter my mom’s cotton quilt has sat folded on top of the cedar chest in our bedroom.

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Now that it is spring we have moved it to the bed.

So Happy Mother’s day Mom! And thank you for the hours of prayer stitched into each piece of this quilt-I love you.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Favors from Friends (a great way to save)

Your friend/family network is one of your most important assets during engagement. And a great way to save when wedding planning is to ask favors from these talented people. It saves you time, money, but also stress because it surrounds you with the people you care about and trust in this important time.

Here are some areas you can call in favors for:

Hairstylist

I asked a close friend in our college group who has experience working in salons to do my hair.  I loved that I could be honest with her about what I liked and wanted.  It was nice to have someone I enjoy spending time with curling my hair the morning of the wedding and styling my hair in the bridal room. I am grateful I got to skip the hair salon all together.

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Personalized Bridesmaids/Groomsmen gifts

I also asked a good family friend to make my bridesmaid gifts. She is an esthetician but her hobby is to make crystal jewelry. We met up at a Starbucks and talked through the designs and sizes for bracelets. The end products were dark purple glass bracelets with golden clasps. She went above and beyond what I asked, making purple dress-shaped gift bags for each bridesmaid.

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Makeup

I enlisted another close family friend who is a Mary Kay consultant to do my makeup. We love to talk and laugh and could honestly share with her what I wanted.  I was glad to avoid a high fee for a makeup artist or a trip to the mall.

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Photography/Videography

I was able to ask a close friend to do my photography. She had done several weddings and engagements before.  I am a little camera shy and especially when I’m expected to be affectionate in public while photos are being taken. But it helped that I knew her so well because eventually I relaxed and learned to be myself around the camera.

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Our photographer suggested we rent out video equipment and have someone we trusted film it.  So we asked a trusted friend in the college group to do the video for our wedding. He knew the photographer so they worked well as a team.  Then the photographer and her husband edited the film, made copies, and mailed the DVDs out.

Officiant

Last of all, we chose to ask my great uncle to preform our wedding (he helped my great-grandfather preform my parent’s wedding) but due to his busy schedule he didn’t think he could come. While we were at lunch with his family his daughter , also a pastor, offered to be our officiant.  We met up with her and her husband for some awesome dinner and talked through the ceremony. She  got to know our hearts and personal story. In the end we were able to keep up a family tradition and my great uncle did get a chance to come and do our communion and prayer time.

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You may be thinking . . .well I don’t have a network with those talents.  But you may have friends and family with other talents. What about cake decorating? or catering? Maybe they are good with arranging flowers? Maybe you know musicians who would love to preform at the wedding? or who are good with a sound board who could be your MC or DJ? Or maybe they are just good at organizing details. If you can trust them and they have expirence-ask for their help! If you can’t ask them to do a large favor, there are still many little things that can be delegated out. ( Stayed tuned for more on delegating).

Most importantly: Do not forget to say THANK YOU!!!!

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I am blessed with wonderful family and friends who were willing to help make our wedding day amazing without any expectations in return. But just because they are volunteers does not mean you shouldn’t thank them. We wrote thank you letters to everyone who helped contribute, paid the photographer, videographer, and pastor (and invited them to the rehearsal dinner since they came to the rehearsal). I paid for the supplies for the bracelets, although not for the labor. And for my hair and makeup stylists? Well they got gift certificates for facials from our esthetician friend.

It all tied together so well. Thank you once again to all those who volunteered to make our wedding day so special.

Who to choose for your bridal party?

The people in your bridal party are there to support you, help you prepare for and celebrate in your marriage. Too often though bridal parties cause conflict, drama, and stress for the engaged couple. It all comes down to who you choose to be in your bridal party. (And when I say bridal party I am speaking bridesmaids and groomsmen!)

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Here are 3 things you should know:

1a Know your expectations

Planning a wedding puts the bridal party and the future bride/ groom under a lot of pressure. Before choosing your bridal party, consider who is up for the challenge. Only you know what responsibilities and expectations you hope to delegate to your party. Ask yourself:

Do I want them to help with the invitations? Dress shopping? Registry?

What type of “day of” events do I hope they will take care of?

Do I want them to help organize my schedule?

I would suggest not having more than a few (1/2 ) bridesmaids/groomsmen that live far away. This is especially true for bridesmaids. You need some people  less than 4/6 hours away to help plan a bridal shower and be available to meet with you face-to-face.

My in-state support team : first cousin and college roommate

My in-state support team : first cousin and maid of honor my college roommate

Still do not dismiss your out-of-staters. Know when they can come into town for the wedding and let them help the week-of. Delegate things to them you know they can do long distance or that you won’t need until the week-of. They want to help even if they are not close.

Luke and his best-man who lives in Luke's home state of OR

Luke and his best-man who lives in Luke’s home state of OR

My matron-of-honor who lives in the state of  WA where I went to college

My matron-of-honor who lives in the state of WA

1b Know your values

I have heard several couples less than five years into their marriage share they are no longer in contact with their bridal party. If you are a young couple, you have a lot of change down the road: moves, careers, children, all of this can cause separation from those you are close to when you get married.

So think about:

– In 10 years will I still be in contact with my wedding party? Will that matter to me?

-Is it important that my future kids know who they are/or that they are involved in their lives?

-Why do I want them standing next to me at the wedding and in my family pictures?

It may be old fashion, but I see the bridal party as literally standing with you in agreement of your marriage. They are the people who I can go to or them to me as accountability to the promise I made on my wedding day. I want my future children to either know who they are or I will be able to quickly tell them their importance in my life.

My younger Engaged! brother and my first  cousin

My younger Engaged! brother and my first cousin

I would encourage you to include family in your bridal party. Even if you move far away, they will be around for holidays. There is a guarantee you children will know their aunts, uncles, your cousins etc. Also, if they grew up with you, they know your values, and expectations pretty well.

2. Know their personalities and character

A lot of problems and drama occur because the bride or groom do not want to hurt someone’s feelings by not choosing them to be in the wedding.  But often friendships end after a wedding because of  bridesmaid/groomsmen conflicts. You want people who are truly responsible and capable of being there for you in this important and stressful time.

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So mull over this:

-Are they encouragers/can they tell when I need help or a break?

-Are they trustworthy/reliable/dependable/on time?

-Will they be respectful of my family and work well with the other bridal party members? (AKA Would grandma like them?)

-Are they apt to push their wants on my wedding? Or be impolite in expressing their dislike for my plans?

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It is a privilege to be asked to participate in planning and/or being in someone’s wedding. The person has probably earned a special place in your life, gained your trust and respect. If you choose someone who is unreliable, disrespectful, or inappropriate then you will find yourself with unnecessary drama instead of encouraging help.

3.Know their experience and talents

Even if the people you are considering for your bridal party understand your expectations, are mature, and willing to help they may not know what to do. Once again, if you are a young couple then it is likely that your peers are not married, have not been in a lot of weddings, and very possibly have not been to many weddings. You may be surprised how many people don’t know what is included in wedding planning, or typical groomsmen/bridesmaid responsibilities.

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Consider this:

-Have they ever been in a wedding before? Have they been to a wedding before?

(If no then ask: are they quick learners?)

-Are they creative and independent?

-Are they flexible and organized?

I would highly suggest choosing at least one married matron of honor/bridesmaid. Having one or two people in your wedding party who have “been there done that” is helpful. They have perspective, experience, and can help you prioritize. They will know what you are going through and are less apt to project their thoughts on your wedding.

The best man is married and my brother and the other groomsmen are both engaged

The best man is married and my brother and the other groomsmen are both engaged

Answer these questions honestly. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in planning for the wedding and choose people who are strong in your areas of weakness. But be realistic, no one is perfect.  Consider these questions and suggestions and you will be on your way to building a strong support team!

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Wedding Season has Begun!

I choice to take a mini-spring-break from blogging because I haven’t felt much like writing about our real-life stuff right now. Were are in the middle of some car drama and I’m in the up’s and downs of job searching. (And yes I’ll share that all with you . . . eventually).

But let’s change topics shall we?

A week ago when I was in the middle of a hectic run-around I received a very anticipated phone call. So I pulled my Walmart grocery cart to a traffic free zone and answering my phone. It was my brother  sharing the good news that he and his girlfriend had just gotten engaged!  Everyone knew it would happen very soon and we are all thrilled.

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Pacific City OR

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Thinking about their wedding plans I began to look back on some of the details of my own wedding almost 6 months ago. I didn’t pintrest my way through my engagement or blog it out. But knowing at least 8 (probably closer to 10) couples who got engaged so far this year I thought: maybe I should take sometime to share advice and details from my wedding? Maybe it will spark some creativity for those planning their weddings?

As we head into this wedding season I’ll be dispersing some details and advice blogs from a bride who has been there done that. (I think 6 months is long enough to reflect back but not so long ago that I’ve forgotten the little things.)

So for all of my engaged couples-enjoy! And for my single friends these blogs may be good to ear-mark for that future special day down the road. Or if you are not one of those single “one day, day-dreamer” types remember you’ll probably be involved in a friend or family member’s wedding in the next 5 years. Even if you were at my wedding you may be surprised by some of the sentimental small details you probably didn’t know about.

Here are some topics to look forward to:

Who to choose for the bridal party?

Special Guests: how to care for kids, grandparents, and those with allergies

4 month engagement- a timeline and some big helps

Favors from friends :a great way to $ave

The Sentimental Personal details

No ring bearer? No problem

Things to double check with DJ/MC/Video/photographer

Advice for the Bride on her big day

Tips for Bridal Party including: when planning a bridal shower/ Bachelor(ette) party

Invitations, Thank you cards, and Gratuity

And that is not all! (Yes I went on a brainstorming craze). What do you think? And don’t worry tons of pics from my wedding and updates on the bro’s wedding plans will be shared along the way!

Wedding Season had Begun!

Becoming Mrs. ______________

It is interesting, in American culture, once a woman becomes engaged it is all about preparing for a wedding.

It is only after you get married the government asks: “are you sure?  . . . is this relationship worth the red-tape?”.

I don’t question the decision to get married. But the weight of what I consider to be a permanent legal change did not hit until I had to fill out piles of government paperwork. (I even learned to bring a personal profile of all my legal documents with me places to show proof of my name change.)

For those of you who are/will be engaged soon, let me give you a heads up on the legal stuff required after you get married to become Mrs. ___________:

1.  Your officiant has to sign and deliver the marriage certificate to the country clerk within 10 days after the wedding. Then you can file for copies which includes having your paperwork notarized. Once you pay the fee and mail off the paperwork you wait.

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2. Eventually you receive copies (more than one is helpful) of your marriage certificate. You can then file to change your last name with Social Security. This  requires another form, another fee, copy of your marriage certificate, and your passport/birth certificate. Then you wait again.

3. When your new social card comes you can go to the DMV! At the DMV you need your social, copy of marriage cert., your license, and of course the name changing forms. You take a new photo, pay another fee, and wait.

4. When you will get your new driver’s license  you can apply for a new passport! For this you need copy of your marriage cert., your old passport, new passport photos, the name changing forms, and another fee.

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So yes becoming Mrs. __________ on Facebook is the easiest thing you will do.

You don’t know how many times I became confused as to when to write/sign my maiden name and when to write/sign my married name. (Let’s just say I had to fill out some forms more than once.)

For any women the journey of adjusting to a new personal identity, becoming  Mrs. _________ is greater than the legal name-changing saga. Every piece of paperwork in the name-changing process or new piece of mail addressed to a Mrs. ________ is a reminder of a permanent change in social and lifestyle status. After four months of marriage I am still asking myself: who is Mrs. Amanda Greene ? What is or will be different about my identity or roles as Mrs. Greene over when I was Ms. Halvorson?

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Although my name changing process is finally over my  journey to become Mrs. Greene, to adjust to the meaning behind the name-change, has just begun.

For those recently married: any thoughts to share on adjusting to new roles/identity?

Any other newlyweds find it takes awhile for the name-change to sink in?