A Lesson In Trust

This is a little less wedding planning and a little more engagement survival. I want to be clear that engagement, and marriage for that matter, is not always pretty and it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It can be hard, it can test you, and if you aren’t careful it could break you. It is also however, an overall beautiful thing that should be cherished and enjoyed. Constantly remind yourselves of your love for each other and the reason for the planning and stress – you are coming together as one, and at the end of your wedding day that’s all that matters. (You should probably know now – don’t expect your male counterpart to do a whole lot of the planning with you. It’s a girl thing. But do try to include him as much as possible, and if you really want him to go with you somewhere to do something wedding related, tell him so.)

The longer your engagement, the more  issues you may run into (just a gander really, seeing as mine was 6 months long). At first everything was great. We were very happy and excited about planning our wedding. But it very soon occurred to me that there was no “we” in planning… My fiance was indifferent, unexcitable, and at the worst irritable. If I so much as asked him a question related to the wedding he would get angry at me and impatient. My excitement for the wedding was hard to keep up, and my self esteem was pretty low too. We fought. Quite a bit, and way more than usual. I was under an unimaginable amount of stress (being a full time college student, working 25 hours a week, and planning my own wedding…) and my being stressed made him stressed. Especially after a long day at work for him. And all the fighting and tension between us left me feeling like crying and just clamming up.

There came a time where I was nearing rock bottom. I had no one to turn to that would genuinely listen or understand my position. I remember waking up one morning thinking, “I should call this off. This isn’t right.” For days I worked up the courage to tell Andy it was off, we weren’t getting married. I felt as though I was getting no support from Andy; not just physically, but emotionally as well. And there were days where I questioned if he even still wanted to marry me. We had a few heart-to-heart talks, and things would improve for a few days, but I always ended up back there. I even straight up asked him if he loved me and if he wanted this wedding. I know now that I hurt him by doing so, but I was desperate.

I literally cried out to God. Not just in quiet prayer, but literally spoke out and asked Him, “Is this what you have meant for us?” and “Am I doing what you have planned for me to do? Am I doing the right thing?” I told God I needed to know, I needed assurance, because I don’t believe in divorce and I was facing a very scary situation. I asked him to show me what He has planned, to give me the courage and the strength to do whatever was right. I cried out on more than one occasion, and probably more than two or three occasions. I started to notice that when I did, I felt a sense of peace. And soon I was noticing a change in Andy’s behavior as well (praying for your spouse is important, and I will elaborate more on this in the future). Andy even began to reassure me that it would be okay, and that after the wedding all the stress would be gone and we would be just fine.

Then I knew. I heard a voice inside my head that told me, “Trust the Lord in this. Place this in His hands and let Him do it.” So I did. Our engagement not only strengthened Andy and I’s relationship and marriage, but it also taught me how to trust in God and in His plan. This was something I had struggled with in my walk with Christ, and He used such an important time in my life to teach me. Learning to trust in God was the most important thing I learned through our entire engagement, and it has helped me tremendously in my everyday life.

You know in Sunday school and High School groups they always told us to “Trust in the Lord” and “Take your biggest problem or worry and place it in God’s hands”? That is some of the greatest advice you can receive, and I’m telling you it again here. Trust Him. He really does know what is best for our lives and He really does have our best interests in mind. A Christ centered marriage (and family) is such an amazing, rewarding, and beautiful thing. I’m by no means saying we’re perfect, because clearly we’re not. But we are working toward that goal, and with the help of the Lord and by placing our trust in Him, I know He’ll lead us there. I have faith.

So in this precious time of your life, remember to pray. Give thanks, pray for your fiance, pray for guidance and strength, and pray for your upcoming marriage. Place your wedding and engagement in His hands, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Gift Registires – Where To & Not To

Oh yes, this time has come. Gift registries can be a serious nightmare, not gonna lie. But before we get into that, I’ll give you some tips.

When we were registering, someone told us to take the number of guests you’re inviting, multiply by three, and register for that many gifts. This gives your guests lots and lots of things to choose from for you two. You should also register at a minimum of 3 different retailers, again giving your guests a selection. We did not register for that many gifts, and we only registered at 3 retailers. We found that more guests purchased from our Bed, Bath, and Beyond registry than our other two (which was fine by us! We love them), but that was also the store we had the most gifts registered for. I think we got more money and gift cards than anything else (which again was fine by us!)

As you probably saw in the Invitations & Save the Dates post, we registered at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, JC Penny, and Sears. BBB was absolutely wonderful. The registry consultant sat down with us, filled out all the paperwork with us, and even walked around the entire store and scanned items with us. We must have been in there at least 3 whole hours. But it was so much fun. Best part about the BBB bridal registry is after your event, if you don’t get everything you wanted, you can go back and get 20% off anything you buy. We made a killing after our wedding! And got everything we needed for our home together. My advice: GO TO BBB. RIGHT NOW. Okay maybe not right now, but definitely register there.

Sears and Penny’s were not such great experiences unfortunately. For JCP, we drove all the way downtown to the Anchorage store, just to find out they don’t do registries in-store. You have to do it all online. And the lady we talked to was very rude to us. So not all bad, but online registering isn’t as fun and it’s a little harder since you can’t see the item or check it out.

Our experience with Sears was terrible. Downright awful. I never should have bothered with them. Before going I signed up online so I wouldn’t have to do that part in the store. Then when we got there and asked about registering for gifts, the first couple associates we talked to didn’t know what the heck we were talking about, and when we found someone who did they didn’t know where the scanner was. Someone ELSE found the scanner, then no one knew how it worked. I finally got a manager who knew how everything worked, and he helped us set it up and start scanning. Not 10 minutes into scanning the scanners battery died… Oh LORD! I took it back to the counter – where four girls had been standing around chatting and joking so loud we could hear them from the next department – it took me a minute to get their attention, and when I did they didn’t know how to change the battery. One of them actually took it from me and said “What is this? Why do you have this? Who let you have this?” Oh I was furious. I got the manager again, told him what was going on, and after fidgeting with the scanner some more we gave up and left. I was so angry. The customer service was so bad (I’ve been there two other times and gotten the same cruddy service). The other con is their online registry doesn’t make gifts you’ve already received unavailable, so multiple people can purchase the same gift. Which happened to us. Duplicate gifts wouldn’t be an issue if Sears would issue you store credit. No. They told me it would be returned to the original credit card. Meaning the person who purchased the gift would know that we had to return it!

Oh my, that makes me mad all over again just thinking about it! Okay, off my soapbox here. You should think about doing your gift registries right around 5-6 months prior to the wedding, and definitely before sending out your invitations (since you’re going to make those registry cards, right?).  Also, don’t forget to add your registries to your wedding website when you’ve finished! (I found that Bed, Bath, and Beyond and JC Penny’s both automatically showed up on our website. Which was awesome.) Other places to think about registering are Scan Home, Lennox, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel, Target, and Pottery Barn. Among many others I’m sure.

If you have a great experience, or a terrible one, please share! (Or vent, whichever you need)

I thought this was an appropriate verse to go with this. It reminds us that God’s light shines through us as Christians, so no matter how mad we are about a gift registry, we should still demonstrate the heart of Christ to those we deal with.


“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV84)

Invitations & Save The Dates

This is one of the most expensive parts of a wedding, and strangely also one of the easiest (perhaps cost and difficulty level have an inverse relationship…) Invitations can cost you hundreds of dollars, and combine that with RSVP cards, Save the Date’s, and registry cards, you could easily be looking at upwards of $1,000 or more in paper.

First, Save the Dates are definitely not a must. They are spendy, and there is little to no way around it. They are, however, very cute, very nice, and a great way to send a happy announcement to all your friends and family of your engagement and your chosen wedding date. If you choose to send Save the Dates, keep in mind that you should not send them to folks that will not be receiving a formal invitation. This should go without saying, but I stated it just in case…  A couple places to order them from are Wedding Paper Divas or Vistaprint. Wedding Paper Divas has hundreds of super cute designs. Vistaprint does too, and theirs are much cheaper (I’m a huge Vistaprint fan, you’ll find out shortly).

Your invitations should be mailed out about 2-3 months before the wedding. I mailed ours 3 months in advance, and asked people to RSVP by May 1. David’s Bridal, Wedding Paper Divas, Invitations By Dawn, and Vistaprint all have beautiful, unique invitations and matching RSVP cards. I went through Vistaprint for mine, and I was one extremely happy camper. I got 150 invitations and 150 RSVP cards both with white envelopes for $120.23, not counting shipping (which was $17.60 to Alaska). They were printed on card stock, the colors were perfect, and I was very impressed with the quality. Everywhere else I would have paid well over $300, maybe upwards of $500. For something most if not all people are just going to throw away? No thanks!

Wherever you choose to get them, the site should tell you what information to put on the invitation such as time and date (duh), address of the venue, address of the reception site, time of the reception, etc. On your RSVP cards, put a place for your guests to write down how many will be attending from that family or group. I also saw a neat idea (on Pinterest of course) to put a line for your guests to request a song they’d like played at your reception. It will help you get an idea of guests taste in music and it makes it kinda fun.

Here’s what our invitation package looked like:

The RSVP card goes in its own envelope, then that, a registry card, a photo, and the invitation all go inside the big envelope.

A tidbit of advice: buy a stamp with your address on it for this and for when you write all those thank you cards after the wedding. Your hand will thank you. I went through and stamped every RSVP envelope with our address on it so guests could just throw a stamp on it and drop it in the mail. Your choice though.

Since we didn’t do Save the Dates, I went to WalMart and printed wallet sized copies of one of our engagement pictures and put one in each invite packet. It was inexpensive, and it let everyone see our faces. The registry card I made myself. I went to WalMart and bought the perforated business cards by Avery, downloaded a free template from their website, and designed the cards in Microsoft Word. I was able to print them from my own printer, and I added the stores we registered at and the URL for our wedding website. This turned out to be an excellent idea and I highly suggest doing this yourself.

The registry cards. The bride and groom was a clip art picture off the internet, and the fonts are regular ones from Word. Very easy!


“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)

The Brides Attire

It’s one of those moments we girls dream of from a young age – getting to try on those pretty white dresses and pick out the one. And now it’s your turn. There are lots of great bridal boutiques out there and there is bound to be one near you (unless of course you’re reading this from anywhere in Alaska… then you’re pickin’s are slim). Here in Anchorage, there is a dress shop called Anderson’s Bride, and the service there is wonderful and the gowns are always beautiful. One of my girlfriends who was married the year before I was got her dress there and I had the privilege to travel up here to Anchorage with her to enjoy the experience. I myself, however, did not go there… I went with David’s Bridal.

You should pick out and order your dress at least 6 months in advance of the wedding, to allow time for shipping, any mishaps (Lord forbid), and alterations. I highly, highly recommend David’s Bridal, wherever you may be, for all your wedding apparel and accessory needs. You can sign up on their website and save dresses, shoes, veils, headpieces, accessories, bridesmaids dresses, and everything to your favorites. They also send you monthly emails with tips, advice, and a cute countdown, too. Then when you go in for your first appointment, you can print off your favorites sheet and bring it with you.

David’s Bridal also gives you all sorts of benefits just for buying your dress from them. You get a book of coupons, discounts on shoes and dresses for the bridesmaids and mother of the bride/groom, and save on your headpiece and veil. You also get a deal on tuxedo rentals from Men’s Warehouse and their colors are the same as David’s. David’s bridal has 44 colors to choose from, and bridesmaids dresses, shoes, and sashes in almost all of them.

My consultant brought me every dress I asked for, some I wouldn’t have thought of, and helped me pick out a  tiara and veil to match the dress I chose. Even after my first appointment she continued to check in on me, and whenever I went in for something else she was always there talking to me, joking with me, and again checking on me.

If you choose David’s for your wedding dress or at least your bridesmaids dresses, definitely purchase the color swatch cards they have. They’re $1.00 each and you can carry them in your wedding planner and it will really help you pick out decorations, accents, and flowers.

Any bridal consultant will be able to help you further, but this is my advice, from a bride who’s been there done that. You will be absolutely beautiful no matter what accessories or dress you choose.  But don’t over-do it, and try not to lose sight of what your wedding represents. You are being united in marriage to your husband, and he will love you no matter what dress you wear or how many accessories you choose. Do not become vain or lost in it all, and trust the Lord to help you make your decisions.

One last thing. Be sure to bring people with you; your mother, bridesmaids, maybe sisters if you have them. Since I was living in Anchorage, only one friend was able to go with me, and my mother couldn’t make the trip. It made my decision harder.

Me in my gown, minutes before walking down the aisle. I wore an Oleg Cassini gown from David’s Bridal.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV84)

Getting Organized

You’ve picked your date and all your friends and family are hyped up and excited about your wedding day. Now it’s time to get organized. It’s the easiest way to minimize your stress and keep you from ripping your pretty hair out (which I would not recommend prior to a wedding day. A bald bride is never a good look).

You by no means need a glorified, high tech, marketed wedding planner. They are expensive, and most of what is in them you can find for free on the internet such as countdowns, timelines, and checklists. I went to Barnes and Nobel and bought a regular day planner. I paid around $10-$15 I think, and it was the greatest investment I made! I’ll include a photo at the bottom for you. Maybe you can find the same one. It has a year and a half of calendar space in it, a ribbon place marker, about 15 pages of note space in the back, an address book section, and a magnetic close feature. It even so happened to match my main wedding color. Plus for me!

I also bought a separate address book, because the section in my planner isn’t very big and I wanted them all in one place. It was inexpensive, and I figure I’ll always have it until it falls apart. The address book I got from the Hallmark store. I carried my planner and address book with me in my purse just about everywhere I went for 6 whole months. Just in case I ran into someone or saw something in a store or anywhere that gave me a thought or idea. This is very smart, you should do it too.

I would also suggest buying a tote – you know, the big plastic ones you see at WalMart or Fred Meyer. I waited a little too long to do this, and I lived with wedding items cluttering up my apartment for quite a while before figuring it out. You can store every single wedding related item you purchase in it, and keep it under a table or in a spare room. Mine is big, really big. Like 3 feet long, 2.5 feet wide, and about 2.5 feet tall. Roughly. It fit just about all of our wedding items in it and it was easy to put in the back of the truck for the drive to Homer, AK and the ferry ride to Kodiak.

Lastly, finances. Paying for a wedding is expensive. And I’ll say it now, anyone who tries to tell you “the bride’s family traditionally pays for the wedding” or “[bride or grooms] family pays for [such and such]” is not a person you should talk to anymore. Walk away. It’s 2012, not 1952, and both families should decide what works best. We decided to divide the costs as equally as possible. And it worked out rather well (for the most part…) One of the best things you can do, to minimize “cost shock”, is buy a little at a time over your whole engagement (another reason why 6+ months is best). So maybe this paycheck order the invites, next paycheck pick up some decorations, paycheck after that… you get the picture.

Being extra organized will save you time and energy. Believe me, your body will thank you, because stress takes its toll and you’re going to have plenty of it.

My “wedding planner”. Served its purpose and then some.

The opened view of the planner. I kept important wedding related things in there too such as my color swatches, business cards for my bridal consultant, photographer, etc, and shopping lists and sticky notes. MUST DO!

You may notice the David’s Bridal color swatches sticking out. Please see my “The Brides Attire” post to see why I highly recommend David’s and why you should get those color cards.

I haven’t said this before, but if any of you have a question you don’t see answered or have a problem you need some help with, please please please leave me a comment. Don’t hesitate! Now go get organized!


“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’.” (Psalm 91:2 NIV84)

Engagement Photos – Yay or Nay?

Engagement photos are, in all honesty, not a must. But I still highly suggest getting them. These will be your first real photos together, something you can treasure in your family for the rest of your lives. And they can serve many purposes for you. If you are getting save the dates (which is another thing you do not have to do…see more on this in the Invitations & Save the Dates post), you can use these pictures.

If you’re worried about cost, stop right now. Engagement photos do not need to be expensive, nor highly professional. When we had ours done, they were taken by a friend and former coworker of mine who had taken high school photography classes and been on the yearbook committee. She did a great job, and I paid her $30 (and that was more than she was charging…) So don’t be afraid to go cheap on these. What you should not go cheap with is the actual wedding photos. So save here, splurge there.

Another couple uses for them are emailing to family who may not know your fiance (this goes for his family that doesn’t know you too), posting them on your Facebook as a general announcement, and if you get a signing mat for your reception (more on this later, too. See Reception related posts) you can put an engagement photo in the frame until you get your wedding photos. AND, heaven forbid I forget this one, if you are a scrapbooker like me, you’ll want them. Trust me.

Depending on how far apart your engagement and your wedding are, the pictures you get from both occasions may serve as a nice contrast in frames and photo albums. Our engagement photos were taken in the winter, when there was snow on the ground and it was cold out; while our wedding photos were in the summer, with green grass and wildflowers all over. See how nice that sounds?

Again, engagement photos are not a must. But I think you’d regret not having them taken. So like I said – save here, splurge for the wedding photos.

These are some of ours:

One of our engagement photos. We did them at the fairgrounds in Kodiak.

Another engagement photo…

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NIV84)

I’m Newly Engaged, Where Do I Start?

Congratulations on your engagement! This is where the fun begins leading up to your happily ever after.

No one should need to tell you this, but it’s good advice anyway: be sure to notify close family and maybe your best friends before making it Facebook official. This means a phone call, or a text message at the very least. Believe me, they will appreciate it and it will save you a lot of grief in the aftermath.

If you are planning a big wedding (and by big I mean the whole shebang – ceremony, photos, reception, food, guests…) you will want to give yourselves at least 6 whole months. The longer the better. Our engagement was about 6 and a half months, and I felt rather pressured. However, when I look back on it it was plenty of time and we didn’t want to wait a year or more. If you are not planning a big wedding (maybe you’re just having a few close friends and your family for a short and simple ceremony and party) then all this wedding stuff in this blog is probably not for you; skip ahead to my newly wed stuff.

Next is pick a date! You can’t do much more before this part! After you have a date, make a wedding website. TheKnot offers free wedding websites which are amazing and beautiful and did I mention helpful!? You can view ours here for inspiration: www.andrewandlynda.ourwedding.com. It was pretty time consuming, but believe me it will be more than worth it in the end. You can post photos, list all the information about your big day, and add your gift registries. Guests can view your site by going to your unique URL and can access your registries right off of it, without going to the website you registered on and searching for you.

TheKnot also has much, much more wedding tips for you like hair styles, bouquets, cake designs, and dresses. They even have a store you can order favors, gifts, and reception items from. You’ll love them as much as I did, I promise.

My last bit of advice: get a Pinterest account if you don’t already have one. More on Pinterest to come later.

This should be a decent start for you. When you’ve done this, come back and move on to the next thing. Remember, this is the very beginning of a long journey for you and your soon to be husband. Get used to thinking in terms of “we” and not “me”. Good luck!

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV84)