4 Steps for Getting Through Wedding Withdrawal

So. It’s been three days since you got back from your honeymoon. And, I mean, it was great and all. Really great. You loved it.

But something is amiss.

What is this weird sensation you have to search Pinterest for bouquet ideas? Why haven’t you cancelled your membership to the various online wedding planning sites you joined a few months ago? We all know you totally baited your coworker into bringing up that wedding she’s going to next week just so you could talk about it.

What you’re experiencing is wedding withdrawal, and there is a cure.

1. You don’t have to let go completely…yet.

There are still a few wedding-related tasks to accomplish after you say “I do.” Get your wedding dress cleaned and preserved (or donate it!), mail out those thank-you notes, and get on the arduous process of changing your name.

That’s bound to keep you preoccupied for at least a month, right?

2. Indulge your desire to plan by offering to host any baby or bridal showers that pop up.

Your husband’s cousin just found out she’s pregnant? You can totally plan her gender reveal party. Your sister’s friend just got engaged? DIBS ON THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY.

I mean, you needed to do something with that binder of centerpiece ideas.

3. Break up with your message boards.

I know, I know. You may have spent the last year chatting with those girls about your evil sister-in-law and whether or not your should alter your dress’s neckline, but hanging on (and getting inundated with wedding-themed newsletters) is only going to make the break-up harder.

Say your good-byes and delete your account—after you’ve become Facebook friends with the ones you would actually hang out with.

4. Remember that the wedding is supposed to end sometime.

You might have loved planning, but now it’s time to enjoy what really matters: your marriage! But don’t worry, it’s still okay to thumb through your wedding album (or even pop in the wedding video) whenever you get a craving.


What Guys Should Wear for Pictures

Ok, I know I said there wouldn’t be much posting this week, but I did want to share one thing.

So remember how my sister is a super cool model/photographer? SO cool, in fact, that she was also the genius behind my engagement pictures?

Well, since then, her photography business has been blowin’ up (as the kids say) with engagement, family, and head shot shoots. (Seriously, check it out.)(And if you’re in the Des Moines area, HIRE HER NOW.)

And since we’re still (sort of) near our 1-year anniversary, I asked her to photograph Joey and I for posterity. And I’m really excited! If she can make us look half as good as her other subjects, we should end up with some pretty sweet pictures.

But, since I’m me, my first concern is naturally what the heck we’re going to wear. Actually, I should clarify. It’s what the heck Joey is going to wear.

I feel like the internet is pretty helpful to girls trying to figure out what to wear in engagement pictures/portraits/etc., but it seems like there is less advice out there for dudes. Dudes are important too!

So I put together a quick round-up of guy ensembles that I think photograph pretty well, based on the literally thousands of engagement shoots I’ve seen. Let’s start with the formal look.

1. You really can never go wrong with a well-cut blazer, like this American Rag Jacket. It will give even jeans a little polish, and it’s also helpful for streamlining any look.

2. Am I the only one who’s a sucker for a guy in gingham? Get one that actually fits you, like this ASOS Slim Fit Gingham Shirt, for a tailored look. (Or, here’s an idea: Actually get it tailored. You’re welcome.)

3. Your pants should fit too. Try these ASOS Slim Fit Smart Pants in Black. Trust me when I say you’ll wear them a million times.

4. Another shirt option? Try a charcoal button-down with a black skinny tie. To make it super easy, just buy this Merona Men’s Shirt & Tie 2-Piece Combo. One-stop shopping!

5. A classic watch (like the Citizen Eco-Drive Watch) will make it look like you actually put a little effort into your look.

6. You can never own too many skinny ties. I also like this Sovereign Code Stripe Skinny Tie.

7. I don’t care how old you are; you’re too old for ugly shoes. Invest in a classic pair of shoes, like these Banana Republic Thomas Dress Oxford Shoes.

Now, most photographers will also let you incorporate a second look into your photo shoot, so it’s ok to go a little more casual this time around. What ISN’T ok? Sloppy T-shirts. Here’s how to do casual correctly.

1. Yeah…so…I have a thing for boys in henleys. Let’s not talk about it. I’m just saying…buy this Converse One Star Men’s Double Layer Henley.

2. If you’re one of those guys who is already freaking out about the idea of dressing up at all, shame on you. But because I’m eternally generous, I’m going to say it’s ok to wear a T-shirt IF AND ONLY IF you truly have the figure to pull it off and it fits as well as this G by GUESS Element Short-Sleeve Slit Shirt. IF AND ONLY IF.

3. You probably already own a pair of great jeans, so you’re set. If not, buy these Joe’s Jeans Classic Straight Leg Jeans.

4. Here’s a secret: Every girl loves a guy in a plaid shirt. Plus, they happen to photograph pretty darn well. Try this Crate Benchmark Tissue Long-Sleeved Plaid Shirt.

5. I’m only going to say this once: Real men wear cardigans. WELL. If you don’t already have one, try this Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen Basic Solid Cardigan.

6. WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT SKINNY TIES? Try this Wembley Camden Plaid Skinny Tie tucked under a grey cardigan with jeans. Because you did listen to me about the cardigan and jeans, right?

7. A pair of really cool canvas shoes finish off this look. These are Vans, but I couldn’t find a link to purchase, which leads me to think they might be custom. Anyone know where to find them?

So there you have it! Did any of you take engagement photos? What did you wear?

What Working at a Wedding Planning Website Taught Me About Planning a Wedding

I spent the first two years after graduating from college working for a wedding planning website. It’s not really important which one, but it’s worth noting that it’s the “#1 online wedding destination.” So…yeah. The people who work there know quite a bit about this whole wedding-planning thing.

I was even working there while I was planning my own wedding. (Weddings were my life for a while.) And I like to think that I was able to go into that process a little better prepared than I would have been if I had gone in cold because a large portion of my job was to, well, plan weddings. Plus, I managed our message boards, where brides from around the world aired their complaints, bragged about their details, and begged advice from their more experienced peers.

And now I want to pass the lessons I learned on to you. Here are 7 things working at a wedding planning website taught me about planning a wedding.

{father-daughter dance}

1. If they pay, they get a (very large) say.
In short, the only way to have complete control over your big day is to pay for every single thing yourself. And, honestly, even then you’ll have to deal with a lot of opinions. If I had a dollar for every bride who went on our message boards to whine about over-bearing parents (who also happened to be footing the bill), well, I could have covered all my own wedding costs. Knowing this fact, it’s important to enter wedding planning with a lot of communication up front. Make sure you and your parents or future-in-laws are on the same page about what you want. And if you just don’t want to deal with it, scale back your wedding and pay for it yourself. You’ll be saving yourself a lot of headaches (and possibly a wedding you hate) down the line.

{man of honor & bridesmaids}

2. Be nice to your bridesmaids.
It should be an honor to be asked to be in someone’s wedding. You should be asking people you love and who have been a big part of your relationship to be part of one of the most important decisions of your life. You shouldn’t think that the second they agree they have signed a contract to be your personal slaves.

Your bridesmaids really don’t have to do anything except wear the agreed-upon dress and show up on-time and relatively sober. So no, they don’t have to plan or attend every pre-wedding party, they don’t have to construct your bouquets the night before the wedding, and they don’t have buy you a lavish gift. But if you’re as nice to them as you were before you got a ring on your finger, they might actually want to do those things for you.

{bridal party}

3. Don’t be a burden.
Speaking of that bridesmaid dress, you really don’t need to have the $500 brand name to have a beautiful wedding. Either consult with your girls (one-on-one) before making a choice so you know what everyone’s budget is or give them a choice based on a color palette or style. And don’t demand an exotic bachelorette party or that they stay in an expensive hotel the night before (unless you’re buying…and even then, ask nicely). They’ll have a lot more fun at your wedding (and helping you plan) if they’re not tormented by a credit card bill along the way.

{my dress}

4. Once you buy a dress, you really need to stop looking at dresses.
You know why? Because there are always going to be more/prettier/trendier dresses out there. Trust me. Bridal Fashion Week happens twice a year, every year, and that fact isn’t going anywhere. You will only drive yourself crazy if you keep scoping out your options after you’ve made a purchase. The same is true for reception halls, color palettes, and, well, spouses.

5. Engagement season lasts from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day.
Wedding season is technically from June to October, but even that’s broadening every year. Translation: You are not allowed to get upset when someone else gets engaged or is getting married around the same time you are. Prepare for the onslaught of “We’re getting married!” Facebook updates and back-to-back save-the-dates, and don’t expect your friends’ lives to stop for a full month or year just because you’re hitting a major milestone. Because, trust me, they won’t.

{one of my favorite photos of my mom and me before the wedding}

6. You are not the first or the only person to deal with that issue.
So stop the pity party. I promise you that no matter what your story is, I have heard crazier. There are people out there with truly insane (and sometimes dangerous) family situations, horrible diseases and financial burdens, and virtually any other issue you can think of. The second you start letting your problems be your excuse to misbehave or treat others poorly is the second you become a bad bride.

Don’t be a bad bride.

7. Sometimes, even those really pretty weddings fall apart.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I got an email from a bride who had been featured on our website asking me to take her wedding down. Her husband had cheated on her only three years after they said “I do,” they were now divorced, and she would prefer if every Google search of her name didn’t bring up that pretty little reminder of the happy day they had shared.

The fact is, you can get every detail exactly right. Your color palette can be exactly on trend, you can be exactly the weight you want to be, your bridesmaids’ shoes can complement their dresses exactly, your flowers can never wilt, and you can even provide favors people actually want. But that doesn’t mean life is going to be perfect when the last of the confetti is swept away.

In turn, not everyone will love their wedding. Sometimes weddings just aren’t the fairy wonderland of perfection and joy that the wedding industry makes them out to be. Sometimes they’re just a big, complicated event that bring out the worst in people you thought you knew and you’re just happy the day is finally over. So if the cake is knocked over and the DJ plays the songs on your do-not-play list and your mom gets drunk and throws a temper tantrum, it’s important to remember that the wedding isn’t the important part; the marriage is.

{the walk down the aisle}

The rest? Well, the rest is just cake.

{all photos by Lime Green Photography}

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Have a Movie-Themed Wedding

There’s an alarming trend running through the wedding industry.

You’ve probably seen it, and—even worse—you’ve probably been swayed by a pretty inspiration shoot into thinking that it’s not that bad of an idea.

I’m talking about movie-themed weddings. And I’m here to tell you why you should back away from those wand favors and reconsider.


1. Today’s hottest trends are tomorrow’s fodder for VH1’s I Heart the ‘10s.
It’s one thing to say you want to incorporate timeless, Gothic-style decor into your reception space. It’s a whole other to want “Edward” and “Bella” signs hanging on your chairs at dinner. I’m firmly convinced that movie-themed weddings will be for our generation what feathered bangs and bell-bottom trouser pants were for our parents—quickly outdated and the subject of much mockery by posterity.

Besides, your wedding photos are going to be prominently displayed in your home (and your parents’ and grandparents’ homes) probably forever. Unless you plan to live in a haunted castle or a thatched-roof cottage, movie-themed wedding photos might not exactly match the curtains. (At the very least, be sure to order a few prints in black and white.)

{bridal party source, decor source}

2. Your wedding should be a reflection of you.
“But Justine,” you say, “I love Harry Potter! Harry Potter is me!” No, dear reader. Harry Potter is a fictional (sorry, fans) character that you really enjoy reading about and possibly watching on screen. Harry Potter is a fantasy who lives in a fantasy world you like to escape to now and then. You might wish it was all real, but you also (hopefully) acknowledge that it isn’t.

You know what is real and should be taken seriously? Your marriage. And there’s something about basing the most important relationship of your life on a fairy tale that spells trouble for the future. Besides, if your relationship really is based on the eternal battle between good and evil, the struggle of the people versus an oppressive government regime, or your fiance’s struggle to not drink your blood, you have issues beyond the scope of my advice.

{dress source, cake source, hair source}

3. I’m not sure that means what you think it means.
Yup, I’m dedicating an entire point to one movie: The Hunger Games weddings. Can we just…not? You have read the books right? Then you should know these books are not about romance. They never are, and they never will be. Just trust me that you don’t want to base your wedding day on a story about children murdering children. Something about that is just a turn-off. And I say that as someone who really likes this trilogy.

What you really mean when you say you want a Hunger Games wedding is, “I want a woodsy wedding theme and to wear a side braid.” Just do that. Including a mockingjay monogram on your stationery is just unnecessary. (Unless you’re planning to have your bridal party battle to the death to see who gets the bouquet. In which case, maybe you live in more of a fantasy land than I thought.)

Now, obviously I’m not saying you shouldn’t incorporate the things you and your fiance are passionate about in your wedding. You should. And if one of those things happens to be the latest YA lit craze, by all means, incorporate details into your wedding. (Even some of the examples I showed above can be pretty.)

So, go ahead. Name your tables after the Hogwart’s houses. Decorate your tables with a few black candelabras. But for the love of all that is holy, leave your bow and arrow at home.


It’s going to be a long one, folks. We went to Bryan and Brittany’s wedding last night (and had a fabulous time!), but work the day after a wedding is not exactly what I would prefer to be doing.

In case you’re wondering, what I’d prefer to be doing is still sleeping. Alas…

Suffice to say, I’m too tired to post anything requiring a lot of brain power. Which means…an Instagram picture montage! Enjoy.

1. Getting primped with one of my besties, Heather.
2. Post make-up application. (I barely recognize myself ha.)
3. Giant group of friends at the wedding!
4. The hubs and me. (And yeah, got a spray tan…I had a Groupon. It didn’t look quite as orange-y in person. Live and learn.)
5. First dance. (The place was GORGEOUS.)(As was the couple :))
6. Megan and I in the photo booth.
7. Heather, Megan and me.
8. Even more photo booth madness. (If you’re getting married and NOT having a photo booth…you should reconsider that. Stat.)
9. Joey and our pal Phil looking studly as always.

Anyone else going to weddings this month?

4 Lessons Mothers-in-Law Could Learn From Mine

I am extremely fortunate in that I can say I love my mother-in-law.

No, really. I’m serious.

Both of my in-laws, in fact, are pretty darn great. (We often joke that my husband’s father might actually love me more than he loves him.) And while this doesn’t mean my mother-in-law hasn’t (or never will) do anything that I disagree with, there are a few specific things she does that keep us far away from “monster-in-law” territory.

1. She respects our space. My in-laws live all of 20 minutes from us. While to some brides this might seem like a prison sentence, I didn’t think twice about it and they have never abused the proximity. I actually found out from my father-in-law that they intentionally left us alone during our busy first year of our marriage because they didn’t want us to feel pestered to hang out with them all the time. (I know, right? I told you, they are ridiculously considerate.)

Why it’s a good rule for all in-laws: It’s a known fact that the less you feel forced to do something, the more you actually want to do it. When I invite my in-laws over (or vice versa), it’s out of a genuine desire to hang out—and we all know it.

2. She’s, you know, a nice person. My mother-in-law buys us random presents from time to time. She keeps tabs on us without being annoying about it. She reads my blog and supports all my freelance work. Before I had my own car, she would occasionally step in to pick me up from the train station when I came home from work and my husband couldn’t get me. She and my father-in-law have dropped us off and picked us up from the airport countless times. In short, she treats me like family, instead of like some girl who stole her son away.

Why it’s a good rule for all in-laws: You ever notice how much easier it is to be nice to people who are nice to you? Our relationship of mutual kindness and respect lays the groundwork for even more kindness and respect down the line.

3. She takes her issues to my husband. Whenever any tension arose during wedding planning (and since), my MIL firmly respects the rule that “if it’s his family, he is the one to address it.” She never criticizes me or underhandedly goes behind either of our backs to divide and conquer or stir us up in any way. If there is a problem, she takes it up with him and then lets us deal with it together.

Why it’s a good rule for all in-laws: A lot of daughters-in-law balk at the mere mention of a mother-in-law’s opinion. While I like to think I would be able to keep an open mind based on our prior relationship, sometimes it’s easier hearing a concern from your spouse’s mouth instead of his parents’. You can’t get in the middle of the marriage relationship, but your child can be your liaison. (Though this doesn’t necessarily give you free reign to air grievances with your kid. Which leads us to…)

4. And she knows when to keep her opinions to herself. Here’s a fun fact: My mother-in-law wants grandchildren. My husband is her only married child thus far, so a more accurate statement would be: My mother-in-law wants me and my husband to give her grandchildren. Preferably now. And even though I am aware of this, it isn’t because she’s constantly reminding or pressuring me. In fact, I can only think of one time she even mentioned that she would like grandchildren to me, and it was in a sort-of-joking-but-not-really email. I only know because she has mentioned it to people who have mentioned it to me. Because as much as my mother-in-law wants grandchildren, what she really wants is to be a good mother-in-law. (Even if that means waiting a couple of years until we’re ready.)

Why it’s a good rule for all in-laws: Every couple has to live by a schedule that works for them. It’s important to remember what is your business—and what isn’t—to keep the peace. Think about it this way: Would you have wanted your mother-in-law bugging you about it?