Thursday, September 29, 2016

Marriage Advice: A Thoughtful Place

While I'm planning my last minute wedding details, getting hitched and enjoying our honeymoon, I'm excited to have a few of my favorite blog friends (and in real life friends, too!) filling in for me! Courtney, from A Thoughtful Place, is here today sharing some wonderful marriage tips. I just love this lady + have been tucking her wisdom away for years!

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I am so exited to be hanging out on Michaela's blog today. Michaela and I go way back as we have both been blogging for some time and I just adore her. We've even been able to spend time together in California and I couldn't be happier to see her embarking on marriage. My hubby and I have been married for 13 years and have two children. I thought it would be fun to share what we feel are key aspects to maintaining a truly happy marriage.

Mutual Respect

No matter what we have each other's back. We are big believers in being respectful towards each other at all times. Of course we joke around and tease each other all the time, but we don't cross the line and we always appreciate each other's contributions. It's the little things. Thanking each other for unloading the dishwasher or taking out the trash. Those tasks only multiply over the years and it helps to appreciate the work each person does. It's easy to start taking things for granted and that's when resentment can creep in. Thank each other daily.

Date Night

We are HUGE on weekly date nights. I even blog about them with my "It's a Date" series because we really do feel that putting each other first is crucial. You have to take care of the relationship. And a date night doesn't have to cost money. When we met we didn't have two pennies to our name and we would get take out and play games. It's just about spending uninterrupted time with one another. We swear by these nights.

Adventure

Life is flipping short. We have been through quite a lot in our 15 years together. We recognize that this life is fleeting and we choose adventures together whenever we can. Whether that is traveling or just trying something new. When you think about it, it's pretty awesome to have your best friend to do things with. So do them!

Family First

Say no to things that might get in the way of family. As a society we rarely unplug and are pulled in so many different directions. It's hard. It's a constant struggle to cut back and always be sure the time is there for family. Investing in family time is the greatest investment of them all. 

Communication

Bottom line you need to communicate. Every. Day. It's so easy when life is running smoothly. But when hardship and trials pop up, and they always do, it's so key to always let each other know what you need and how you're feeling. Little issues can become giant ones in a blink of an eye if you don't talk. I can do enough talking for the both of us so I have learned to zip it and be a good listener.

Michaela, Ryan and I couldn't be happier for you. This is the beginning of such an amazing journey. May you always find the humor in every day and never take life too seriously. 
xoxo
Courtney

 Blog: A Thoughtful Place  || Instagram: @athoughtfulplace





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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Marriage More Beautiful Than Your Wedding: Nicole Cole

While I'm planning my last minute wedding details, getting hitched and enjoying our honeymoon, I'm excited to have a few of my favorite blog friends (and in real life friends, too!) filling in for me! Today I'm honored to have one of my earliest and kindest friends, Nicole, here to share some marriage with us. As I write this, I'm not a wife yet, but goodness, I read Nicole's words slowly to savor her wisdom. So thankful for a friend like her!
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I'm Nicole, a longtime blog friend of Michaela's!  We "met" early on in our blogging years and we've had the pleasure of becoming sweet friends over the years.  Michaela, I'm SO HAPPY FOR YOU, sweet friend, and overjoyed that you get to experience the incredible responsibility of marriage.  Enjoy the honeymoon, my friend! :) 




I married my husband Tyler in March of 2013 and we're in the process of adopting and we're pregnant with a sweet little girl due in January!  In our 3 years of marriage, we've been through many ups and downs, many trials and joys.  We went through a long distance season as Tyler trained for a new job shortly after we were married, we've started a business together (we're photographers and videographers for 314 Productions!), and we've struggled to get pregnant.  All are struggles and joys and seasons that I wasn't anticipating when we said "I do" 3.5 years ago.  Especially in today's Pinterest obsessed world, many brides pour over the details of a wedding day.  They plan for months, sometimes years, for their big day and no detail is left undone.  While I have a huge appreciation for a beautiful celebration and I think there will always be room for gorgeous, meaningful details, I think we, as a culture, could use a little encouragement when it comes to preparing for the actual marriage. The wedding is just one day.  Just a few hours of celebration.  But, the marriage is going to last a lifetime.  If you're a single or engaged gal, here are a few things you can consider as you prepare your heart for your one day marriage.  If you're married, my heart's desire is that these things would remind you of the importance of your marriage and that we would strive as wives to love our husbands well!


1.  Marriage is about sacrifice. 
It takes a lot of sacrifice to make a marriage work!  You have to be willing to give up your own desires and opinions at times for the good of your spouse.  You have to be willing to put another human's needs in front of yours.  Great, deep, intimate love will come from sacrifice and service.  Sometimes that sacrifice isn't easy, but it's always worth it.  Which leads us to our second way you can prepare yourself for marriage...


2.  Say those three little words often... "I am sorry".
If there's one thing marriage will teach you, it's that you're selfish.  Realllyyyyy selfish. :)  We want our own way, our own stuff, our own desires, etc. etc. etc.  In marriage, there is no room for pride.  With pride grows all sort of problems.  Problems we absolutely don't want in our marriage!  So get used to saying "I'm sorry" and be willing to say it first.  The more that you're willing to sacrifice your own opinions and desires, the more that you'll be able to love your spouse fully.  Being humble in marriage will grow your relationship in so many ways!


3.  Be your husband's biggest cheerleader.
We have the unique privilege of being our husband's biggest encourager and cheerleader!  As a wife, I want to strive to always speak uplifting and encouraging words over my husband.  I want others to hear me say positive things and for our children to see how we respect each other with our words.  Our words hold so much weight and we have the power to either encourage or tear down our husbands.  Let's use our words to build them up!


4.  Choose to laugh often.
Throughout your years of marriage, there will no doubt be tough, hard days.  Or weeks.  Or seasons.  There will be struggles and trials, but even in the midst of the hard things we can choose joy and laughter.  Even when it hard, choose to be silly.  Choose to go on a fun date or turn off your phones for a day or go for a walk.  Choose to let go of the struggles of the day and just have joy in your marriage.  Choosing to have fun and enjoy the little things with your husband will create some precious memories you'll hold onto forever! 


5.  Make sex a priority. 
Yep. I said it. ;)  Sex is a vital part of marriage.  At first, it might be fun and easy and keeping it a priority won't be a problem.  But there will be seasons where it might be a little more tough to make it a priority.  When sex is a priority in marriage, SO MANY GOOD THINGS will come.  God created sex for our good and He intends for it to be an important aspect of our marriage.  Have a girlfriend that you trust that you can share things with.  If you struggle in this area... you aren't alone!  There is always someone out there who is where you are or has been where you are.  Allow yourself to be encouraged and choose to love your husband well in this area. 



Marriage is such a sweet joy and it's my heart's desire for couples to spend as much time preparing for their marriages and they do their wedding days.  If you have any encouraging marriage advice, share it in the comments!  Let's flood Michaela with encouragement as she returns home as a sweet new wife! 

~Nicole
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Friends, if you don't already follow Nicole's blog and/or instagram, you should start now! Their journey of adoption and pregnancy is so beautiful and will certainly encourage you as she shares her heart. 

xoxo
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Simple & Sweet DIY Project: Ten June

While I'm planning my last minute wedding details, getting hitched and enjoying our honeymoon, I'm excited to have a few of my favorite blog friends (and in real life friends, too!) filling in for me! Today one of my dearest friends, Michelle from Ten June, is here to share a simple and sweet DIY project. We met in the early days of blogging, almost 6 years ago. We've been able to see each other a few times over the past few years, which has been so fun. You'll love her as much as I do :)

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Hi there! I'm Michelle from the blog Ten June. I'm happy to be here chatting with y'all while Michaela is away getting hitched! Michaela and I met through blogging years ago and have remained close friends for years. In fact, I'll be in California attending her wedding, so make sure you follow me on Instagram for behind the scenes fun : )

When it comes to being married, I think one major piece of advice is to make everyday life special together. My husband, David, and I have been married for eight years and have two little ones. We both work full time and right now we're also juggling designing and building our new house (a modern farmhouse! so fun!). Needless to say, remembering romance and savoring special moments doesn't always hit the top of our to-do list.

One way to make sure you remember those special moments with your spouse in the day-to-day is by creating a simple, DIY piece of art to keep in a space you both see it every day. A quick little reminder of your love. It may be song lyrics, a Bible verse, whatever is special to you. My husband likes to flash me (woah, where is this going!.... I kid) the sign language sign for "I love you" as he's walking out the door or across the room if we're out in public. So I commemorated that special, sweet act by simply printing a black and white image of the sign, added some simple type with the phrase "I love you," layered it on patterned card stock and framed in a nice frame. And now that sweet little sign greets us on our bedroom dresser every day. So easy but so sweet!

Congratulations to Michaela and McCann, I'm so excited for you guys and can't wait for you guys to start your own family and create your own sweet memories and daily moments!

~Michelle



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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wedding Day: Keep & Change with Victoria Strader

While I'm planning my last minute wedding details, getting hitched and enjoying our honeymoon, I'm excited to have a few of my favorite blog friends (and in real life friends, too!) filling in for me! Today my sweet friend Victoria is here sharing about her own wedding day-- what she'd keep and what she'd do differently. Enjoy!!
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Hi! My name is Victoria Strader and I'm so blessed to be posting for Michaela while she is away on her honeymoon. What an incredibly sweet time for her and her new husband! I'm already giddy at the thought of seeing all the photos from their gorgeous day, and I'm sure y'all are with me on that! :)

I loved our wedding. Every single second of it. This past week I actually watched back our wedding ceremony with a friend, and it was so sweet to look back and still remember feeling like everything was perfect. However, I thought it might be helpful/fun to look back on our day and make note of a few things I learned from having a wedding of my very own, as opposed to from reading online or observing other weddings. I genuinely can't believe that this day was almost 4 years ago. Sometimes I still catch a glimpse of my husband across the room and think how lucky I am to even know him, let alone be living this sweet life together with our newest addition, our precious son who was born in May.


Thoughts on Engagement Photos:
We actually traveled to Austin to take our photos with our amazing photographer, Caroline. If I could only keep one thing about our wedding the same (besides my groom, of course!) it would be the decision to have her shoot our wedding. Sadly, I don't think Caroline is shooting weddings anymore, but you may recognize her from the popular style blog, Un-fancy. :)

Keep:
I LOVED taking a little day trip with Ben for these photos. It was really fun for us to get out of town during the crazy season of wedding planning, and truly enjoy our session. It was really sweet.

Change:
I remember trying to be frugal and use what I had for photo outfits, which is totally great and fine.. but I changed my mind last minute and ended up running out and choosing the first dress I didn't hate. I do like it, but if I would have researched like I usually do with things, I might have actually ended up saving more $$ and ending up with something I'd been happier with. In this case, the dress I purchased was from LOFT, a retailer that has 40% off sales every weekend or every other weekend. I got this dress during the week because I was on a time crunch.. no discount. Another thing I might have considered is the time of year we took the photos. We got engaged June 1 and were planning for a December wedding. I was SO eager to get photos done that we took them in the middle of one of the hottest Texas Julys in years! Our timeline didn't really allow for much flexibility, but if yours does, Spring or Fall would be an amazing time for photos!

Thoughts on Our Wedding:



Keep: We chose to get married at the church Ben grew up in, that I attended in high school. The only problem was that it isn't a very attractive space. And beautiful photos were a huge priority for me. The house pictured above belongs to Ben's aunt and uncle. It's just two blocks away from our current home, and about a minute away from the church. It's beautiful and Southern.. my favorite! One day inspiration struck and we decided to have all the girls get ready at the Thomas home, and to do our first look and all the portraits there. One of the best decisions we made! Aunt Cathy took such good care of us, and feeling the comforts of home leading up to our big day was incredibly sweet to me. If you're dissatisfied with the outer appearance of where you're getting married, I highly recommend looking into an alternate portrait venue.


Change: We got married at 3pm, meaning our first look was at 12:30. The whole morning I just wanted to savor the time getting ready with everyone, and I ended up not having time to write Ben's wedding day letter. Worst wife ever, I know. If you think your schedule might be tight or you know yourself. Write it the day before. It will still be sweet. :) This notecard is literally still in my nightstand drawer. I'll save it for our 5th or 10th anniversary or something.


Keep: I let Ben pick out my wedding shoes and surprise me with them day of. I realize this could have gone really wrong.. but in our case, it went WAY right. :)


Keep: wearing a veil was what made me really feel like a bride. :)


Change: Put your MOH first on the hairdo schedule. Sweet Lucy looked beautiful in every shot of our video and in photos, but it ended up she got her hair done last, and so she was left with normal hair in some shots. It doesn't bother me at all, but I would hate it if she ever felt weird about that. It could have been eliminated with just a little bit of extra thought.



Keep: While on the topic of my sweet MOH, the morning of our wedding she stitched my new monogram into my dress. It was last minute but is one of my favorite details of the day. She completed the monogram first thing in the morning and then stitched it into the dress once our photographer was there to record the sweet moment.


Keep: Being lead in prayer with my bridesmaids by my highschool/college/forever mentor was one of the sweetest parts of the day, and it was a great way to include Christ in our day. She also played the piano, but I loved getting to see her before walking down the aisle and to bring our focus to Jesus before the big shebang!



Keep: I had saved some wedding inspiration throughout college, it was one image of bridesmaids with their arms linked, all wearing crochet shawls. I am so pleased that we chose to order them for our bridesmaids, I think it really completed the look. And kept them warm! You wouldn't know looking at photos.. but it was freezing! And just a few days before there was snow on the ground.


Keep: I didn't realize it was true until the morning of our wedding.. but I'll never forget our sweet photographer commenting on what a classic bride I was. The strand of pearls I was gifted by my hubby morning of really added to that, too! I might have chosen slightly differently now, but I am so thankful I didn't go overly trendy. I'll always be attracted to different gown styles, but I think what I ended up with was truly timeless.


Keep: Because our venue wasn't exactly beautiful, I'm really glad we invested in a few personal details that really made it special. Example: overly expensive VW van cake. :)


Keep: I used our wedding as a shameless excuse to purchase this beautiful canvas. It now hangs in our home and is one of our most complimented pieces.


Keep: This week my friend Susan told me that her favorite detail of our wedding was that we had a violinist. I'm so glad we got connected with Ashley, because the strings really formalized the feel of our mostly laid back affair.


Keep: I love that we got to include several subtle family shout outs during our reception!


Keep: One of the perks of choosing the church over a formal venue is that we had an unlimited guest list. We gave our parents the freedom to invite whoever they wanted, and I invited pretty much everyone and anyone that I wanted. This isn't for everyone, but we loved being surrounded by such a large and varied support system. I wish I could go back and relive having so many special people gathered together.



Keep: We are graduates of Texas A&M University, and we included the Aggie War Hymn in our reception.. and it was such a blast. I also think it was a really fun way to let our guests feel involved in our celebration!


Change: My cousins from England who I rarely see made the trip for our wedding. So thankful for that! I wish they had been included in formal portraits. It's an error 100% on me.. but because of the distance it would have been sweet to take advantage of it. We do have the photo below, from the rehearsal. It's one of my all-time favorites, because it was the first time my Nanny saw all four of her grandchildren at once. She's seen us in different combinations, but never all together!


You can find more details and posts from our wedding here.

Thank y'all so much for letting me take this trip down memory lane, I hope it's helpful! I'd love for you to come say hi over at my blog, or on Instagram: @victoriastrader! Sending a big hug from Texas! XO
~Victoria



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